Archive for March, 2024

the witching year, by diana helmuth

…you have to stop working from a place that is about making some invisible teacher happy.

the last fire season, by manjula martin

…nothing humans do is real, and the trees don’t care, and we are all here together in dirt. This feels to me somehow like the opposite of despair.

a city on mars, by kelly and zach weinersmith

So. Space settlements. Have we really thought this through?

you dreamed of empires, by álvaro enrique

Tenoxtitlan is unshakable, she said, but we are only passing through.

structural violence and little museums

In current traffic conditions, a taxi from JFK takes about seven years to get to Lower Manhattan. It gave me a lot of time to think. The phrase I thought about was structural violence. The soaring new condos with their empty billionaire penthouses are panopticon eyes glaring at the property values below. While as a queer theatre kid I am contractually obligated to love New York, Succession and the art of Diamanda Galas and Basquiat and the memoirs of ballerinas and the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton have always kept its icy, Gothic nature in sharp focus.

That’s incomplete, as anything about the city must necessarily be. We visited the Transit Museum in Brooklyn. It’s extraordinary, an entire subway station filled with buses and old carriages, their period advertisements intact. The surveyors and engineers and miners who built the subway challenge your gaze in exquisite photographs taken during construction. The contributions of immigrant and Black workers, and the way the political machines divided and exploited them, are carefully described.

It’s a terrific museum and I love museums, even the bad ones. I’m still thinking about an hour I spent last year at the museum of Las Vegas, New Mexico. It dwelt on Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, cowboys he recruited as cavalry whose exceedingly brief (and horseless) campaign in Cuba formed the mythos for his presidential bid. The Rough Riders took their name from Buffalo Bill Cody’s stage show, and included Ivy League athletes and glee club singers as well as frontiersmen. The white version of the Wild West is a PR campaign designed to erase the Black and indigenous history of these lands.

The Rough Riders met to celebrate their weeks-long active service every year for the next seventy years. In her book The White Possessive, Aileen Moreton-Robinson writes:

It takes a great deal of work to maintain Canada, the United States, Hawai’i, New Zealand, and Australia as white possessions.

Since I read that I haven’t been able to stop seeing the work, in everything from high-end residential architecture to little museums. What if we just… stopped?

getting lost, by annie ernaux

A sense of my own mediocrity, a general lack of courage, particularly when it comes to writing.

who does that bitch think she is? by craig seligman

…in the years 1985 and 1986 the City of San Francisco’s AIDS budget exceeded the federal government’s.