After the Hurricanes, the Holidays

    It is 72 degrees and raining again in Lake Charles. It has been raining off and on for days. There is an ongoing mosquito infestation, despite two US Air Force C-130s bombing the city with insecticide. Lake Charles, Louisiana, a city of 78,000 on the Gulf Coast, was hit directly by two hurricanes […]

Why We Try So Hard to Change Our Beloved

Late at night, watching a doting mad-scientist husband slowly poison his wife in order to bring her back to life, I sigh. It never works. Then I wonder why love makes us monsters. Most of us do not live in The Twilight Zone, where we could literally poison our beloved. Yet we begin a relationship […]

Pathetic ‘Mischief’: 3 Figures of the Alt-Right

    The Atlantic’s first documentary, White Noise, is directed by Daniel Lombroso, who also did the camera work. It was Lombroso who captured the images in 2016 of white nationalist Richard Spencer (“a kind of professional racist in khakis,” says the SPLC) chanting “Hail, Trump!” at an event, and members of the audience giving […]

Why TV People Speak in Front of Bookshelves

Concentrating on the talking heads is tougher, now that they have all positioned themselves in front of bookshelves. I keep trying to read the titles. Is it odd that people who make their living with the liquid authority of their voice all chose to pose in front of silent squiggles of ink? It is honest: […]

What We Will Miss About Life in a Pandemic

Stop the world. Take people who have been leading active, engaged lives and throw them into a scary, unprecedented isolation. How many will wind up loving the limitations? Curious about the past year’s wrenching experiment, I asked on social: What will you miss when the pandemic is finally over? Some folks spat back “Nothing.” Others […]

My Friend the Supertaster

“Try a bite,” I urged. She did, and winced. Then she explained. Sus is a supertaster—and she would prefer to leave this particular superpower behind. Again and again she has to explain that she is not just “a picky eater,” as she has been branded her entire life. This is genetic: She was born with […]

Lost References

Last week, I wanted to quote a line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” so, in this sad time when none of us can trust our poetic memory, I Googled it. This is what I most envy my elders: Their brains were honed and polished by all they committed (apt word) to memory, […]

Innocence and Experience

At the start of my twenties, I was still filled with sweet virtue (or romantic folly, you choose) and determined to, quaint phrase, “wait until marriage.” Which took so long that my own mother finally said, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, just sleep with somebody and get it over with.” And so I did, and I […]

Why We Are Always Trying to Measure Up

“What am I supposed to do with this?” my friend demands, referring to the recipe I emailed. “It’s soup,” I reply, thinking that sufficient. “There are no measurements!” “Just go with your gut. Sauté a bunch of onions, add enough broth, as many veggies as you can stand to chop up, then when they’ve cooked […]

Love and Stuff, an Auto-Documentary

    Judith Helfand’s newest film, Love and Stuff, puts the past in conversation with the present, and the results are moving. Helfand is known for socially-engaged films such as Blue Vinyl, an Emmy-nominated documentary about health risks from the PVC industry, and Cooked: Survival by Zip Code (reviewed previously, here). This film is more […]