Have you seen the new merch* yet. It’s cute and comfy; brains and beauty. I was so honored to see Lily and Timothée repping the new Staunchly hat on their Caprese lover’s cruise. It’s so nice when good, sexy people support your work, ya know?
This week’s Saturday Staunch was a two-part travel diary from my trip to Tahoe last month. I break down our full itinerary, plus! : my thoughts on the moral rot at the heart of ghost towns, how high altitude mimics the choreo of a panic attack, and descriptions of all the male genitalia (“stromboli”) at the nude swingers beach we accidentally stumbled upon.
Here’s an excerpt:
Tahoe is funny. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The views, from the top of Emerald Bay, the lip of Sand Harbor, convince me of something divinely-struck. The coast, the trees, the cold clear water, gosh even the dicks in the right light, they are holy, natural wonders. But there’s a darkness, too. A shadow world untouched by grace, swingers, or sun.
Local rumor holds that hundreds of bodies (mobster hits; Chinese immigrants who built the railroad) rest preserved by the cold water at the bottom of the lake, in a sort of underwater cemetery. Another Tahoe fable goes that legendary marine explorer Jacques Cousteau once took a dive into the lake and refused to tell people what he saw when he came up. It was that bad.
Neither of these stories has been confirmed, and they are both very likely fake, but I think they represent the instinct of visitors and locals alike to communicate, perhaps as a warning, the eerie quality of a beautiful place—a sense of something lurking, haunted and torpid on the lakebed, stuck between the golden and silver states. “Frozen in time” like the boomtowns on the border, where men mined gold into ghosts and a boy burned a whole world down for ice cream.
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Can someone just dm me and let me know if we’re impeaching the president? I’ve lost the thread.
To chase away homeless people, 7-Eleven stores in L.A. use classical music by Benjamin Oreskes (LA Times)
“These are people. They’re not pigeons,” he said. “It’s the auditory equivalent of putting spikes on a bench..”
This story might not seem like a big deal at first—convenience store chain blasts classical music to deter loiterers and panhandlers from congregating outside its stores—until you process the deep intolerance, classism, and cruelty baked into the practice. A capitalistic enterprise using noise as a repellent to clear its sidewalks means it is effectively policing a public space, deciding who belongs where and when, and othering a community already at the apex of vulnerability. It’s all particularly gross given how a long-festering hostility against the homeless has exploded into deadly, pulsingly evil acts of violence in recent weeks—a vibrational maliciousness and insult to human dignity that should touch every single resident in Los Angeles.
All the Worst White People Love Dave Chappelle's Sticks and Stones by Damon Young (Very Smart Brothas)
Young articulates one of the truest, most defining aspects of Troll Content—the kind of content that extols political incorrectness at the expense of marginalized groups: it’s boring. And lazy. And never, ever as funny and daring as it thinks it is. There is nothing punk or outré about upholding traditional (white, male) power structures and calling it Art.
“Sticks and Stones is mostly an hour of Chappelle trolling trans people, rape victims, gay people, and other hyper-vulnerable communities while defending famous millionaires. And something happened while watching it that has never happened to me while watching Dave Chappelle. I got up and did things around the house while it was still on. Not because of some deep offense, but because I was just bored with it. Defending the words and rights of powerful people is perhaps the most mundane and least transgressive thing an artist can do, and last night was trash pickup night, so I multitasked so I could get to bed at a decent hour.”
Environmental racism—and classism—is real. Every natural disaster reminds us.
How the Orange-Wine Fad Became an Irresistible Assault on Pleasure by Troy Patterson (New Yorker)
“Is that a note of melon or is it a hint of Goodyear rubber?”
This is about orange wine, yes, but it’s a piece by Troy Patterson, so it has a grander ambitions, chewy, delicious writing, and nuanced analysis of how good taste, performed in intellectual, oenophile, or just simply stylish circles, does not often actually translate to a high regard for things that taste good.
Funny enough, I ordered a glass of orange wine at Jon & Vinny’s last week, and as I sat drinking it I had the thought: This isn’t very good. It delivered astringency where I expected roundness, like an ancient apothecary tonic composed of toasted botanicals. And yet (!), I enjoyed it. It was like a puzzle, and I’ve been starved for sweet puzzle action since my stunted jigsaw phase this past winter—stunted because it triggered a series of sustained manic OCD episodes that had me crawling on all fours around my apartment at 4 AM hunting for a microscopic cardboard taupe square with 2% yellow flecks like a truffle pig. Anyways! Orange wine! Do you like it?
Meet Chanel Miller: the woman who survived Brock Turner. I don’t think Amy McGrath is the way (her comments on Kavanaugh will forever be disqualifying for me). The horrific, real life hate crime that inspired the opening scene of the second IT movie. The 17th trans person killed in this US this year. How elite institutions keep predators in good standing.
Bari Weiss is an idiot!!!! Scarlett Johannson: also a moron, but this tweet ended me. Serena’s legacy of Black Girl Magic. “‘We’re healers,’ says Jason Widener, the fit, cheerful VP of store development at Erewhon, who is not certified in any modality that the Western medical community would consider curative”—Naomi Fry on Erewhon.
Acting like a messy bitch at Honey Hi, Shia LaBeouf is trying to steal my brand! Speaking of stealing my brand, because everyone is trying it this week, Emma Cline, who wrote a book about the Manson cult, is releasing a short story collection called...Daddy. I’m happy for her!
Finally, in grief, I ask: Where were you when the Jeremy Renner app became a place that is everything Jeremy Renner detests?
My current dose of Prozac is giving me night terrors. The Rodarte spring 2020 campaign is the antidote. Going to look at these photos every night before bed for a hit of pearly aesthetic fantasy. No More Bad Dreams!
“Because freedom, I am told, is nothing but the distance between the hunter and its prey”
This week, I finished On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, a raw, stunning work of autofiction about family, war, love, sexuality, immigration, heartbreak, and epigenetic trauma from a Vietnamese-American poet of almost surreal talent. It’s about the ways we are kept tender, like veal, and made hard. I started it a few weeks ago in the water, just my calves, my back against a tree in an emerald alcove of Lake Tahoe. I took my time. It’s a book I could binge but I wanted to take my time. My friend flipped through my copy this afternoon, crimped pages with little mesas, You cried! I did, but the water stains were from the lake.
I cried a lot. At sentences that felt like knives and sentences that felt like an embrace. I don’t want to say too much about the book because I don’t want to spoil any of its pleasures. There are so many sentences I want to share, but I’ll limit myself to two. Here’s the other, incidentally about spoilage:
“Let no one mistake us for the fruit of violence—but that violence, having passed through the fruit, failed to spoil it.”