Sam Hunt, Southside

Rather low on the list of a plague’s most important consequences is that it suspends our social lives: no parties, no dates, no midnight meet-ups, no new friends, no old friends either, no vacations, no excursions wise or unwise. It would be wrong to shed tears over our temporary loss of access to such things, since periods of “social distancing” is in some sense the price we pay for living in a world that offers us access to those amusements in the first place, but we can of course be forgiven for missing our “real life.”

One…


Illustrations: Johanna Burai

The story of one canine entrepreneur shows that it pays to be a military middleman

At first glance, James Lyle’s life looks ordinary. The 49-year-old is married with two daughters and lives in Pearl River, Louisiana, about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans. Like many small-town dads, Lyle spends his free time attending football games at the local high school and posting on Facebook; recently, he posted a defense of a student kicked out of a football game for wearing a Trump flag, writing that he was “extremely bothered.” And, like many parents, he’s involved in neighborhood politics, having run unsuccessful campaigns in the past few years for the school board and local council.

Lyle’s…


“Big Machine Records” has never felt so fitting.

In 2014 I wrote with horror after hearing “Shake It Off” that Taylor Swift seemed to have lost her light, that she was on the verge of becoming just another vapid pop singer. In 2017, after hearing “Look What You Made Me Do,” I lamented that she seemed to have fallen even further, becoming almost a sociopath, her music emptied not just of deep emotions but also of shallow ones. Though in the years since then I have come around to much of 1989 and Reputation, I stand by these original judgments. …


Love/Hate

They may actually make it worse

Future SKYCITY Hong Kong development design concept. Credit: Airport Authority Hong Kong.

You wouldn’t know it navigating the LaGuardias and Newarks of the world, but airports are getting bigger and fancier. As air travelers fly millions more miles every year, countries are turning away from the utilitarian facilities of decades past and toward awe-inspiring structures designed by celebrity architects.

The supersized airports of the future will have two things in common. The first will be their nature-oriented design — they’ll all be made of glass, soaked with light, filled with trees and other greenery. The second is that they will all help kill the planet.

In Beijing, for instance, the world’s largest…


(Photo by Natasha Major)

In September my cousin and I drove from New York to Nova Scotia to see our grandparents, who spend the summers there. It had been nearly six months since I’d left the city, and even as we drove up the Hudson Valley and through the Berkshires I could feel the knots in my back start to unwind: a mere river or hill, the simple fact of a lake, seemed novel and marvelous. On the second day of driving we followed the northern Appalachians through New Brunswick until they emptied at last onto the Maritime Plain. The fields—a field, what could…


Yeah

Upon its release in June of this year, critical reaction to Drake’s double album Scorpion was nearly unanimous: the album was “conservative,” it was a “retrenchment,” it was somehow “soggy.” Most notably, it failed to adequately address the artist’s cover-up of the existence of his own son. As an unapologetic stan who loves everything that’s ever come out of Drake’s mouth or ass, it was alienating to watch critics dismiss an album that I was certain slapped from the moment I heard it. …


On “Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift

For Foucault, keeping diaries and writing letters were “ethical practices,” processes whereby we cultivate a deeper and more harmonious relationship to ourselves. Confessional writing, whether addressed to ourselves or to others, was for him a way of enriching ourselves as moral beings, making us more charitable and capacious in our everyday interactions.

If there’s anyone who by now should have collected on the moral benefits of this confessional self-expression, it’s Taylor Swift, the grande dame of confessional writing in this century. But despite having spent six years (2006–2012) writing four…


Luke Sironski-White

The first thing I did when I met CJ, before I even asked her name, was compliment the framed picture of Albert Camus she had just set up in her dorm room. At the end of Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger, the main character claims to have “opened himself to the gentle indifference of the universe.” The last thing I ever said to CJ was “I love you. See you soon.” That was last night. This morning I woke up to a phone call.

The great accomplishment of Camus’s protagonist is that he has somehow managed to convince himself that…


Despite all the mystified discussions about it in high school literature classes, there is in fact no real uncertainty about what Fitzgerald’s “green light” is supposed to represent. At the end of the book he tells you exactly what it means:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…”

When I was in high school, The Great Gatsby as a cultural item was the chew-toy of my richest, most vapid peers, those whose…


Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight

Baldwin wrote, “What a journey this life is! Dependent, entirely, on things unseen.” I believe he was right and I am thrilled to say so: at the end of a year whose visible events were so horrific it is only natural that we should want to believe we are animated by things other than those terrors by which we seem to be surrounded. It is always a perverse kind of joy to recognize the nature and extent of a previously unacknowledged influence. …

Jake Bittle

Reporter and researcher based in Brooklyn.

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