The Intellectual Situation
Who Cares for the Caregivers? by The Editors
If until the 1970s an expanding welfare state helped to create this particular low-wage labor market, welfare retrenchment transformed the market into what it is today: a massive industry run primarily by franchise brands, private-equity firms, and venture-capital enterprises, worth around $97 billion in annual revenue. The majority of the costs are paid for by public programs, primarily Medicaid and Medicare. (The latter, despite its association with seniors, covers only care deemed medically necessary and for short, noncontinuous periods of time.) What this means is that public funds meant for poor and elderly people are being funneled into the coffers of private industry.
Eye to Eye with the Beast by Meg Weeks
After a series of rightward turns in national politics, the activists who inherited the feminist mantle of the democratic transition now find themselves in a position of open and vocal dissent vis-à-vis the state. This tension has proved fruitful in terms of catalyzing cross-class participation and formulating a more expansive and radical agenda, one that regards the decriminalization of abortion as sacrosanct. Reis cited Damares Alves, Bolsonaro’s minister of women, family, and human rights and a fervent antagonist of the feminist movement, as a particularly important galvanizer.
Knowledge Will Not Save Us by Joshua Craze
The sheer variety of groups in southern Sudan—from pastoralists to royal kingdoms—makes it a graveyard for generalities. The most common story told about the area refers to its impenetrable swamps and incomprehensible languages. It’s a place, or so the cliché goes, beyond the pale of history, untouched by the market. The truth is quite the contrary. If anything unites the disparate groups of southern Sudan, it’s their violent inclusion in global politics.
A Trip to Minsk by Victoria Lomasko
On weekdays, Minsk can seem like a sleepy place where nothing much happens. But if you look closely, it’s full of signs of resistance. Everyone is their own leader and any neighborhood spot can become a locus of protest. On a street full of half-empty establishments, there’s a tiny coffee shop with an incredibly long line out the door. A few days ago, O’Petit had sheltered protesters fleeing the police. One of the officers broke the café’s glass door as revenge. Now people stand in line for up to an hour and a half at a time, just to have a cup of coffee here and leave a generous tip. The guestbook is full of hearts, red and white symbols, and messages like, “May the New Free Belarus be filled with people like the ones who work at this café and those who spend all day standing in line outside of it!”
American Accomplice by Matthew Shen Goodman
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.
The Speculator by Vanessa A. Bee
My heart was still in the business of providing safe and affordable housing to all, but I sometimes strained to articulate a clear link between my work and HUD’s responsibilities to the public. There had to be a kind of satisfaction, I imagined, in pointing to a tangible structure and being able to say one’s labor had contributed to housing families in economic precarity. I craved that connection. From what I’d heard, the action was in the regional and field offices, which buzzed with transactional lawyers who inked the deals that turned the agency’s lofty mission into reality. When the time came to select my first-year rotation, I asked Dara to ship me to where the deals were.
Baby Yeah by Anthony Veasna So
For two hours I lay within the confines of “BKNY,” having stepped inside the textured layers of Fat Tony’s chill rapping, like the stoned narrator in the prologue to Invisible Man descending into the depths of Louis Armstrong’s “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue”—a record the narrator longs to hear on five phonographs all playing at once. In brief spurts I remembered, truly or maybe in the closest approximation to the truth I’d experienced since his death, what it felt like to hang out with my friend, that surreal ease we embodied on some good days, with no responsibilities but writing sentences and lines of poetry, or simply hunting for inspiration.
Fiction and Drama
Question Mark by Jenny Zhang
This was all a lead-up to trying to get Julie to agree to spend time with John for free. If famous Hollywood actresses were paying to see him and willing to do just about anything to fuck him, then clearly he was a sought-after man. Only the most superficial dum-dum of dum-dums focused on the glut of his gut that hung over his belt like a fanny pack, and the receding hairline, and his sunken eyes and sloping forehead and yellowing brittle nails and overall repulsive personality! Couldn’t Julie see? He was a dreamboat on the q.t.!
Rumble in the Jungle by Christian Jungersen
It’s as if nothing hurts Ralf. He doesn’t take pain seriously—and in no time, these 19-year-olds learn not to do so either. I imagine it’s all those hours of computer games, for they’ve already absorbed the rules of play—that nothing can hurt Ralf. That he doesn’t suffer pain, and he won’t die. Yet I can see his bruises and scratches and scrapes. He’s closer to my age than theirs. He groans, he shrieks, he gasps for breath. 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.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Defeat by Aaron Timms
Many restaurants, not just those pushing quasi-innovative, social-media-famous degustation “experiences,” transformed themselves into vehicles to reconnect with a lost innocence: the innocence of childhood, of a culinary past, or of “authentic” food locales like the diner, the street cart, the roadside stall, and the snack stand. Hence the curious obsession, among chefs and the food media apparatus that recycled their PR, with “elevating” existing ethnic and historical cuisines: elevated red-sauce Italian, elevated Korean, elevated dim sum, elevated cucina povera, elevated soul food, elevated diner food, elevated street food. Restaurants became stages for chefs to display their mastery of the highbrow-lowbrow genre via the deconstructed taco, the reimagined gyro, the momo given a helping hand, and the pumped-up pupusa.
My Octopus Girlfriend by Sophie Lewis
Are octopuses floods, or are they reservoirs? Are they two-thirds water, like us, or do they explode the body–environment boundary? To be in the (even virtual) presence of an octopus is closely akin to an acid trip, I feel: a hot flood, a visitation of humility, of xenohospitable love, divine trust, comradely fearlessness. These are vantage points from which the anxious hubris of one’s usual subjectivity feels viscerally and philosophically amusing. To be touched, tongued, by the octopus—to be fucked by the universe the octopus-molecule discloses, dense with history, electric with laughter and tears—seems like it would be the end of oneself, in a good way.