Happy Thursday, loyal readers, and thank you for being here. Over the past almost-seven years, I’ve liked finding the best-written articles for you to read, no matter their source. Today’s issue includes pieces from well-resourced mainstream publications that everyone knows about (i.e., The Atlantic
Happy Thursday, loyal readers, and thank you for being here.
Over the past almost-seven years, I’ve liked finding the best-written articles for you to read, no matter their source. Today’s issue includes pieces from well-resourced mainstream publications that everyone knows about (i.e., The Atlantic and The Washington Post) and from newish bootstrap magazines with small circulations that maybe you’ve never heard of before (i.e., The Drift and Pipe Wrench). My hope is that you appreciate the range of publications.
In my humble opinion, everyone should read this week’s lead article, “Now We Know Their Names,” in which author Clint Smith writes poignantly about a memorial in Maryland dedicated to two lynching victims. The other pieces – exploring platform capitalism and movie theater concessions and hospice vigil volunteers – are worth your time as well. Please enjoy!
+ Several of you reached out last week to share with me which article resonated with you the most (thank you!), but sadly, no one left me a voice message. (It’s fun, I promise.)
+ This month at Article Club, we’re reading and discussing “When Things Go Missing,” my favorite article of 2017. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Kathryn Schulz has generously agreed to participate. So you should, too! More info is here, and you can sign up for our Feb. 27 discussion here.
How Should America Confront Its History Of Lynchings?
Clint Smith, on lynching and campaigns that seek reconciliation: “One of the most unsettling yet ubiquitous aspects of lynchings across the country is that the people who committed these crimes, who took these artifacts home as souvenirs to share with their families, were rarely two-dimensional caricatures of evil; they were everyday people in the community: the grocer, the postman, the teacher, the doctor.
“This history is never distant; it follows us everywhere we go. It lives under the soil of the playgrounds where we bring our children to play, under the concrete we drive on in our neighborhoods, and under the land upon which we live. It rests beneath our feet in ways that we are — that I am — still discovering.” (19 min)
+ Mr. Smith acknowledges the power and promise of soil-collection ceremonies, the work of community members in partnership with Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative.
Vibe, Mood, Energy: Or, Bust-Time Reenchantment
Back in the day, the terms vibe, mood, and energy belonged to the counterculture and the occult. But now with platform capitalism, centered on harvesting our personal data for profit, companies have co-opted the sensibilities of youth culture and sold them back to the mass public. After all, businesses don’t sell actual goods anymore, and commodities in late capitalism are experiences, each with their own energy and mood. If you get the vibe right, you’ll get rich. (26 min)
+ There’s a ton more in this hard-to-blurb article by Mitch Therieau, who also writes about lofi music and pre-distressed jeans.
Making Concessions: A Tale of Capitalism, Control, And Snacks
Before the pandemic, when people went to the movie theater, did you smuggle in popcorn (or a full burrito) to save money on concessions? Be honest! This article chronicles the history of concessions, charting how theater owners convinced their captive audience to associate seeing a feature film with chomping on Jujyfruits and Junior Mints, thereby protecting profits and staying in business – that is to say, until recently. (26 min)
+ AMC now sells its popcorn outside its theaters. Want it delivered to your couch? Sure. The money is in the concessions, after all, not the ticket sales.
On The Obligation To Prevent People From Dying Alone
Ken Budd used to call his mother every night to check in. Then she died while he was out of the country. Since then, Mr. Budd has served as a vigil volunteer for a hospice organization, doing what he can to make sure nobody dies alone. This article discusses what people need in their final moments, and reminded me, as all pieces on death do, that what’s important is to be present, to listen, and to connect with those I love. (20 min)
+ A national organization with 1,500 local programs, No One Should Die Alone believes that small acts of compassion can have a profound impact on the lives of hospice patients.
+ Reader Annotations: Loyal reader Kati appreciated last week’s lead article, “Free Country,” and shared: “I am always dismayed when guns are considered a partisan issue, and even more dismayed about ‘laws’ that wipe away all common-sense regulations on gun ownership.” I always ask myself, Do these same people who hoard guns and ammo ‘for the apocalypse’ also keep fresh stocks of food, water, medicine, fuel?” Kati, thank you very much for reaching out and sharing your perspective.
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