Staunchly, vol. 104: Flute-proof, Goof-proof



It Was Never About Busing by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the NY Times magazine is Essential Reading. It elucidates what exactly is so harmful, misguided, hypocritical, and racist about Joe Biden’s record on busing, and his stubborn defense of that record in the context of the current Democratic primary. Hannah-Jones unpacks all the myths we’ve been fed on the failures of busing, a propagandistic, “race-neutral euphemism that allows people to pretend white opposition was not about integration but simply about a desire for their children to attend neighborhood schools.”

In essence, there’s a lot of bullshit, and a lot of veiled racism, in the way people talk about busing, which we should all commit to simply understand as desegregation. And Biden, whether intentionally or not, is the posterboy for his own sloppy past: his membership in a collective of northern Democrats who cared more about assuaging their white constituents’ bigotry-motivated anxieties than actually remedying the most pernicious ills of racism.

Hard to convey how disappointed I’ll be if I have to vote for him in 2020.


How the Stress of Separation and Detention Changes the Lives of Children by Isaac Chotiner (New Yorker)

The magnitude of the nature of the crisis for a child’s health and well-being cannot be overstated. Abrupt separation from primary caregivers or parents is a major psychological emergency.

In his latest interview, Chotiner speaks with a Harvard professor of child health and development about the lasting horrors of the border crisis. This is one of those articles that I almost didn’t read because I felt like I’d read it before—like I keep reading it, every week. Maybe I have—maybe you have—but I urge you to still read it in full. We have a responsibility to keep reminding ourselves of the ways our government is traumatizing scores of innocent children in the name of white supremacy, lest we forget for a second the imperativeness of replacing Trump in 2020.

In Patriarchy No One Can Hear You Scream: Rebecca Solnit on Jeffrey Epstein and the Silencing Machine by Rebecca Solnit (LitHub)

If Jeffrey Epstein goes to jail for the new round of indictments—which only came about because one investigative journalist, Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald, did an extraordinary job of digging up what had been buried in his case—a host of people who knew, laughed, looked the other way, allegedly helped him sexually abuse children for years will still be at large, and the circumstances that allow other Epsteins to attack other children will still exist.

Powerful men defend powerful men. We need a full fucking revolution.

Here’s a rolodex of people in Epstein’s circle who defended him and perhaps benefitted from his criminal behavior, which includes sex trafficking. The list of attendees at a 2010 dinner party is particularly fascinating, when you consider how knowledge of Epstein’s pedophilia has been widespread for decades.

Facing Deployment While Fearing That Family Members Will Be Deported by Franco Ordoñez (NPR)

The Trump administration wants to end a program that grants temporary protection against deportation for undocumented family members of active-duty service members. You read that right: active-duty service members. I long ago ran out of jazzy alarmist adjectives to capture the depravity of Trump’s immigration agenda, so let’s just leave it at this: unbearably cruel.

Related: the raids have begun.

Here’s what to do if you are an undocumented immigrant (send to anyone who might be affected).
Here’s what to do if you are a citizen.

Mermaids Have Always Been Black by Tracey Baptiste (NY Times)

A reminder that white people don’t own mermaids. They’ve played a significant role in African and Caribbean folklore and other non-Western cultures long before Ariel was even a twinkle in Hans’ eye.

Black mermaids have always existed: long before Andersen, certainly long before Disney. Given the way African stories have been taken and twisted, I wonder just where Andersen got his idea in the first place. He was writing at the height of the colonial period as people were being stripped from African lands, clinging to the stories that made them who they were. The focus on Eurocentric stories and storytelling has done us a disservice, leaving most totally ignorant of the fact that mermaid stories have been told throughout the African continent for millenniums.


How Trump’s labor department is making it harder for trafficking victims to get visas. This headline: The US is quietly opening shelters for babies and young kids. One has 12 children and no mothers. Shelters for babies! It’s like that Zoolander joke about a center for ants except instead of a joke it’s a real fucking mind-scrambling policy that puts the US squarely in the company of some of the most brutal fascist regimes in modern world history.

Speaking of fascism (A+ transition, Carebear): “How, if at all, does a country market a homegrown monster to the rest of the world?” Well, don’t mention the gulag. (The Stalin tote bags are really fucking me up).

Speaking of monsters (nailed it again, honey): Disgraced IRL rich person Louise Linton is filming a “sex thriller” (which she wrote! feminism!) with disgraced TV rich person Chuck Bass. See y’all at the premiere!

Actual fun interesting things that won’t rot your heart: your literary astrological twin flame (I literally said to myself before I scrolled, if Scorpio isn’t Sylvia Plath this list is trash). I’m addicted to photos of Marilyn Monroe reading. I even once made a compilation of these photos ranked by how engaged I thought Marilyn was with the text (on a dearly departed little social media app where I made some lifelong friends...and some excellent enemies). “I think we could really use humor today to humiliate and embarrass the enemy”—hard to put into words how much I love John Waters. And In Vogue, Lizzo talks about a FLUTE-PROOF lip:

Some days I might not play the flute, so my makeup artist [Alexx Mayo] will be like, 'Flute or no flute?' If I will be playing it, he puts on a matte lip and then will even take some Urban Decay Eyeshadow in the same shade and put that on top. It’s matted out so that it doesn’t stain my flute or get in the way of my embouchure as I’m hitting those notes.



It’s 2019 and I just read my first Elena Ferrante novel. Please don't unsubscribe! It wasn’t even one of the Neopolitan quartet. I read Troubling Love because Maddie told me to and because I found it shortly afterwards on the shelves at Stories in Echo Park and I believe in kismet.

I loved it. It’s vicious. It crawls into you. It’s so compact and violent, like a tick. Are all her books like this? I hope so.

Here’s what Maddie said about it in the Staunchly Spring Fiction Super Bloom:

Ferrante’s psychological mystery follows grieving Delia as she uncovers the truths and lingering mysteries of her mother’s life and romantic affairs after her death. I am assuming that most Staunchly readers can attest to the fact that Ferrante’s Neapolitan series slaps (I’m so sorry), as Ferrante fever came for us all and I, for one, did not recover. Troubling Love is a truly underrated novel that exemplifies the simmering rage, tension, and capricious nature of the women that fill Ferrante’s literary world.

For enthusiasts of: Tana French, Sophia Loren’s bust, opaque humidity before a storm, silk lingerie, sensory overload, slow burns.

I would add: Read if you like the spiritually grimier parts of Moshfegh. Maybe not if you have mommy issues. Or maybe twice!


Here are some of my favorite lines:

I took the beauty case from my mother’s suitcase, went back to the bathroom, opened it, took out a jar of moisturizing cream whose surface bore the timid imprint of Amalia’s finger. I erased the trace of hers with my own and used it generously.


They behaved with that man the way my father imagined women behaved, the way he imagined his wife behaved as soon as he turned his back, the way Amalia, too, perhaps, had for her whole life dreamed of behaving: a woman of the world who bends over without having to place two fingers at the center of her neckline, crosses her legs without worrying about her skirt, laughs coarsely, covers herself with costly objects, her whole body brimming with indiscriminate sexual offerings, ready to joust face to face with men in the arena of the obscene.


We had in common only the violence we had witnessed.


By now I knew that all calls that followed would have the pure function of a reminder, a sort of whistle like the one that in the past men used when they wanted to announce from the street that they were coming home and the women could put the pasta on.


Childhood is a tissue of lies that endure in the past tense: at least, mine was like that.


I don’t know what’s going on in your life. Newsletters are sort of a one-way street. But Mercutio is in marmalade and there are literally 666 eclipses this summer—maybe you need to be told (or reminded) that “3 Small Words” from the Josie and the Pussycats movie is on Spotify?



Soleil tan de Chanel is the best bronzer I’ve ever used and I’m embarrassed at how long it took me to buy it.

It’s an investment at $50 but I’ve heard from friends it lasts a lifetime, or at least the length of a full presidential term. It’s light and creamy and comes whipped in a little container shaped like a hockey puck they poured salted caramel soft-serve in. I apply it on the bridge of my nose and my cheeks for something like a “sunglass tan,” which I first learned about here. To be honest, it doesn’t make me look tan, just a little peachy and healthy. We will take peachy and healthy yes we will.