I turn 29 on Thursday. Birthdays are intermittently fun and stressful. In a way I’m relieved because I know I’ve already had the worst birthday of my life. Trump was elected on a beautiful fall day two years ago and unless we elect a hologram of Caligula on November 8th, 2040, I can’t see how it could get any worse.
(To the powers in the heavens or the stars or the grass or wherever you are, that is not a challenge).
Anyways if you want to get me a birthday present, I’m registered at your mf ballot box.
If you don’t vote*, here are some of the things you are promoting or hastening: hate, racism, blanket intolerance, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, rape culture, crypto-fascism, regular fascism, environmental destruction, Roseanne, black licorice, anti-semitism, shooting children dead in their classrooms, bad haircuts, police brutality, pure fucking unadulterated evil, toxic masculinity, my stress acne, the end of civilization.
Here’s really good guidance—the best I’ve seen—for voting in Southern California via my friend/partner in newsletter Faye @ Junior High, although I should say I personally don’t subscribe to the “lesser of two evils” thing, but more on that in a second.
(*This refers to anyone who does not face historical or structural barriers to voting)
P.S. I wrote these Vote-iac horoscopes for Crooked Media and they’re kind of fun!
1. You’re Disillusioned. That’s Fine. Vote Anyway. by Roxane Gay (New York Times)
It is cynical to believe that when we vote we are making a choice between the lesser of two evils. We are dealing with a presidency fueled by hate, greed and indifference. We are dealing with a press corps that can sometimes make it seem as though there are two sides to bigotry. Republican politicians share racist memes that spread false propaganda and crow “fake news” when reality interferes with their ambitions. Progressive candidates are not the lesser of two evils here; they are not anywhere on the spectrum of evil we are currently witnessing. – Gay
I don’t always agree with Roxane Gay, but I think she nailed it here.
2. How a Woman Becomes a Lake by Jia Tolentino (the New Yorker)
I love Jia Tolentino’s writing and this piece is so good I don’t want to spoil it, even if it’s not really spoilable, per se. It’s about how man’s approach to practically everything forever has been defined and poisoned by his approach to women: conquest. In essence: men are brutes and everything we know is inextricably linked to that brutality. Although, perhaps, let’s hope, not inextricably.
3. How the News Flubbed a Hate Crime in Kentucky by David M. Perry (PS Mag)
MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE YOU RACIST. MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE YOU RACIST. MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE YOU RACIST. MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE YOU RACIST. MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE YOU RACIST. MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE YOU RACIST.
Do not let the far-right in this country evade responsibility for fomenting a culture of hate and violence by using the perceived mental illness of domestic terrorists as a scapegoat. The defining characteristic of Gregory Bush, the white man who shot and killed two black people, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, at a Kroger supermarket in Kentucky, is not that he is mentally ill (he had written online about his schizophrenia), it’s that he’s a vile, racist person who found inspiration for his hate and kindling for his rage in the dark, grimy corners of the right-wing internet. The media have a duty to hold conservatives responsible for this shit.
Here’s a “Jersey Club” remix of Maya Rudolph as the Hormone Monstress on Big Mouth saying “bubble bath” against a sick beat that I saw on Ann Friedman’s Insta Stories today. And here’s what I did with it:
I opened a new browser and searched “so you think you can dance russian folk dance.” I found what I sought: a videoof tWitch and Joshua from season 4 dancing the traditional Trepak dance from The Nutcracker. I played that on mute (cut to the actual dancing part at 1:51) with the bubble bath jam playing in the background. I did this for a crisp quarter of an hour.
Did this cure cancer? Did it impeach Donald Trump? Did it reverse centuries of environmental devastation? Lol no, but it distracted me for an amazing 15 minutes and that's a huge gd win these days.
I love discovering new-to-me women writers, whether through casually browsing used bookstores around town or reading Emma Garman’s excellent Feminize Your Canon column for the Paris Review. I found my latest read at Stories in Echo Park, which carries a good selection of NYRB classics—an imprint I love (they curate a bunch of lesser-known books and reprint them with beautiful, unique covers). I didn’t study literature at all in college (another way politics ruined my life), and this imprint and its instantly-recognizable design have guided me to some classics I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered.
Like! In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes. I’m only a third of the way through so I’m probably jinxing it, but I’m really digging this book. Originally published in 1947—and made into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart in 1950—it follows Dix Steele (very normal, subtle, non-porny name) as he preys on the young women of Los Angeles. His ex-Army buddy (Brub Nicolai…these names) is the cop who’s looking for him, or rather, looking for the unidentified strangler terrorizing the town.
The book combines three of my favorite things: women writers with twisted brains, noir, and seeing street names I recognize in old books (Camden! Wilshire! Mesa Road!). While violence against women is not my first choice for leisure reading right now or ever, I get the sense from the beginning of the book (and the synopsis on the back cover, tbh) that karma is going to get ole Dix. I think it will be so rewarding when it does.
Is there anything more satisfying than a pint-size Cancerian dunking on her exes with a perfectly ripe, emotionally-evolved jam?
And is there any better shade on earth, in a non-scholastic context, than, “You taught me so much”?
Ariana Grande is an icon. “thank u, next” is the jam.
I spent more than $50 at a gift shop inside the downtown headquarters of the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner on Friday. The store is called Skeletons in the Closet and it had been on my must-visit list for a while. Let me tell you: it’s my new favorite shop. The woman who works there is named Edna and she makes you feel like a million bucks. The selection is dark yet playful—morbid without being sinister: keychains in the shape of tiny chalk outlines; travel mugs that say “Bodily Fluids”; soft pocket tees with tasteful, skeletal designs, you get the picture. What I’m saying is there are worse ways to spend $57 and an afternoon, and you may leave feeling a little better—or at least a little sillier—about your own mortality.