Private insurance covering long-term care and the cost of paying out of pocket are both prohibitively expensive, available only to the wealthy. Without a dramatic transformation of this industry, what will old age look like for the rest of us? Indigence for all. If it wasn’t plain before the pandemic, it is undeniable now: the well-being of care recipients is wedded to that of their caregivers.
The Intellectual Situation
For these activists, the issue of abortion is one of paramount importance to nothing less than the future of Brazilian democracy. It’s an institution that is besieged and deeply flawed but also somehow still imbued with the hope and creativity that animated the social movements that more than thirty years ago brought an end to the dictatorship and helped draft an inclusive new constitution. Motherhood, in their eyes, must be elective rather than obligatory, if democracy is to be upheld. As Rosado, the Catholic advocate, told me, “There can be no such thing as dignified motherhood if a woman cannot choose to not be a mother.”
Fiction and Drama
Where did this belief come from, Julie wondered, that she had to please everyone, that she had to do what she was told, that she was so powerful that to deny someone what they wanted from her was to kill them? Literally, an act of murder.
At the same time, I can tell that something big is about to take place. Something extraordinary. If Ralf manages to beat Sune while Sune’s playing full out, it’ll be a gift to the three of us present to witness it. It’ll be a tribute to what human beings can achieve when they’re at their greatest and best. The boys must feel that way too. They’ve come to love Ralf, as I now have. And that’s why Sune is playing as hard as he can. Only then can Ralf show us what a human being can be.
I identified with him immediately. Like me, my friend had assuaged his loneliness by pursuing a relationship with art, and music in particular. And like him, I understood what it meant to come from a tough and bankrupt city, having weathered my childhood and adolescence in Stockton, California, home to the nation’s third largest Cambodian American population, and, originally, Pavement and its band members.
One UN staffer, astonished by my knowledge of the kinship networks of the Nuer leadership in Unity, asked me uncertainly: What is fieldwork, exactly? It’s just talking to people, I said. You should try it.
I was in a cab headed to the Courtyard of Changes when my friends texted to say that the police had just painted over the mural. But by the time I got there, building residents had almost finished repainting it. “This is the sixth time they’ve painted over it, and we always put it up again right away,” they told me, laughing.
More than at any other time in my life, this past year has seen widespread violence against people who look like what non-Asian people think Asian people look like. For a moment it seemed like all those who get mistaken for Chinese—and not Indian or vaguely Arab—might finally solidify into the common collective Hong speaks of. It’s an unpleasant union, one that feels tentative, formed in reaction. Most of us appear unsure what to do besides count the acid attacks and stabbings and verbal slights, as if a sufficient number of them would precipitate some definitive Asian American condition.
My home was a commodity with a life of its own. It operated within DC’s cycle of displacement, increasing in value without much input from me, and regardless of my politics or morals. My income, which in my third year at HUD would approach six figures, made me an economic gentrifier. It had allowed me to pay an absurd amount for 610 square feet.
Pandemic-era restaurant culture extends and amplifies forces that were already apparent under the old regime: the numbing frictionlessness of delivery food, the retreat into private spaces, the appification of everything. By raising the cost of staying afloat online, Grubhub and Yelp have contributed more to the demise of Covid-era restaurants than their survival. Delivery workers’ bodies are now deemed essential, but their paychecks remain as murderously trivial as ever.
In the eyes of a dilettante like me, the entire world of octopodia—from Hokusai to William Burroughs—appears as one big sprawling tapestry of sexual titillation and deliquescence.
Surely the zeitgeist can be found beyond the cloud, I thought. I can’t speak to all printed matter, but the Fiction and Drama section in Issue 38 did prove happily topical. Climate change, 4chan, bullying, viral videos, shit-eating, chads, cucks, birders—the gang’s all here!