Going to Graceland

      Today is the day I drive, bleary-eyed, to Graceland. First time ever. So excited I was up before dawn—not because this is my world but because it is not. I love the music, love what came through of who that boy was. But I long to rinse away the kitsch, the glitz, […]

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

        As a kid, I watched with fascination as my beautiful olive-skinned mother spackled her upper lip with Jolen cream bleach and set a timer. Woozy from the fumes, I made a secret vow to prefer a mustache. But shaving my legs? I could not wait. She tried to stall me. “Oh, […]

Politics and the English Language’s Failures

      If I hear one more White person say “All lives matter”—and I am still hearing that, heard it just the other day—I will scream. Why the ruffled feathers? White lives have always mattered; that was never in question. Feel lucky. But language matters, too, and we have been sloppy. Had we just […]

In Case These Are the Endtimes

      I always felt so sorry for the deluded folks who believed they were living in the endtimes. Now I have a feeling they might be right. So, as the planet spins toward God knows what fate, I calm myself by deciding that what feels like the endtimes is just one more stage […]

Why We Love to Kill Wolves

      Move among the wolf hunters, and you will find bumper stickers emblazoned with a wolf’s image and the suggestion to “Smoke a Pack a Day.” Protest signs that call wolves “Illegal Immigrants” or “terrorists on the order of Osama bin Laden.” Photographs of men posing, proud, holding up bloodied wolves whose lifeless […]

Loyalty Tests

      China is developing artificial intelligence programs that “extract and integrate facial expressions, EEG readings and skin conductivity” in order to measure someone’s “mastery of ideological and political education.” A loyalty test, in other words. The announcement came from the Heifei Comprehensive National Science Center, which posted it this summer on the Weibo […]

Village Gossip, Daily Paper, Metaverse

      Usually I need coffee, pastry, and an uninterrupted hour to properly read one of L.M. Sacasas’s essays in The Convivial Society, a newsletter about technology, culture, and morality. They are dense, brilliant, and provocative, and they refuse to be skimmed. But recently Sacasas sent a piece so short and strong, it punched […]

Thank You, Lt. Uhura, for Your Starship Service

    Nichelle Nichols, who died on July 30 at age 89, exemplified two things for me. One involves acting, and to discuss that, it is necessary to say a little about Star Trek, the TV series on which she played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura—her best-known role. Star Trek may be unique in its mix of […]

Affinities Only Now Visible

      After years of fretting about the way the internet is flattening history, stripping away context, jumbling bits of every culture…I have found a book that makes me glad of it. Affinities is a gorgeous journey through ten years of images in The Public Domain Review. Images that belong to all of us, […]