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Art: MRCokeley Design

Disclaimer: A TV show is no substitute for professional mental health support. That said, my favorite cops-and-lawyers procedural has always been there for me.

“Look at this: Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard. Either we’re looking for a philosophy student, or we got one very depressed criminal.” — Detective Lennie Briscoe

When my best friend died unexpectedly on an otherwise unremarkable December day, the police showed up, they investigated, and then ruled out foul play. …


I asked 79 white people if they would give up their whiteness. Here are the results.

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Illustration: Jenn Kitagawa

Sometimes I’ll ask a white person a question I often wonder about. It’s a question only they can answer, and typically one they’ve rarely, if ever, considered:

Would you give up your whiteness?

Generally, when I ask a white person this question they look at me like I’ve just asked: Would you ever walk across the ocean? Or maybe it’s more like: Would you ever light a winning lottery ticket on fire, just to see how it feels?

How could a white person give up their whiteness? It’s not like a gym membership. But ah, in fact, it’s a lot like a gym membership — only it’s one where other people pay your annual fees. …


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(photo by author)

Randy Darling finger-punched buttons of the keypad to show his teenage son the five-number combination to his gun safe. …


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Art: MRCokeley Design

Jennifer Lopez’s new crime drama is about more than strippers striking back

I’d gone to the movies to forget about America. This country had been getting the better of me and I was feeling beaten down. My brain, body, and soul all equally craved distraction. I wanted, no, I needed to go sit in a darkened theater and watch women of color get even. I wanted to see these women drug and rob the Masters of the Universe, aka the bankers of Wall Street.

When I walked out of Hustlers, I did feel better. Much better, in fact. And ironically, I’d also gained a far better understanding of America and why it had been beating me down. …


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There is no known formula for easily calculating prime numbers. Their distribution along the continuum of numbers appears to be random. There are, however, formulas and diophantine equations that will calculate prime numbers. There are algorithms that can calculate primes into the millions of digits. But these prime-finding algorithms require a great deal of time and math to accomplish their task.

I humbly submit that I’ve discovered a super-easy way to find and count prime numbers.

I don’t know what this equation means for math, or number theory; I don’t know if it will help solve the Riemann hypothesis, or if it works with the zeta function. I’m no mathematician. …


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Matthew Cokeley

All men and women are created equal. Equally fast, and furious

Are The Fast and the Furious films ridiculous, outlandish, over-the-top paeans to tanned pecs, peel-outs, and pushing the limits of good taste? Yes.

Are they also important art that might make you weep at the truth of existence? No.

You can’t compare them to The Seven Seal, or Roshomon, or Citizen Kane. Those films are towering cinematic achievements. Yet, in some ways, I think Fast and the Furious are better. More thrilling. Like, if I’m being honest, the Fast and the Furious movies are the nitrous-burning high point of American culture.

These movies — 8 in total — are up there with Casablanca, the timeless classic about what it means to be a man in the world. The entire series is an antihero anthem. …


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Art: Matt Cokeley

The kung fu legend stood up for himself and taught others to do the same, no matter their skin color

“In memory of a once fluid man crammed and distorted by the classical mess.”

— Bruce Lee’s tombstone (which he designed)

I start each day drinking a glass of water. …


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Art: Matt Cokeley

Jim Rockford was a laid-back TV detective who lived in a trailer on the beach… and helped those who needed help

“There ain’t been a lot of love in this rotten life. And I just found out how much I’ve been missing. Find her, Rockfish. Find her.”

— Isaac Hayes as Gandy Fitch from The Rockford Files

My man Jim Rockford helped me solve the mystery of what it means to be a man.

Fictional detectives have always been my thing. Whip-smart sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marples were early boyhood heroes. Hard-boiled gumshoes like Sam Spade, Travis McGee, Easy Rawlins, Phillip Marlowe came later. And then there was The Rockford Files, which originally aired in the ’70s on NBC.

It was a show about a Los Angeles private investigator, Jim Rockford, who worked cases the LAPD wouldn’t handle and who asked all the right questions. He was portrayed with easy-listening macho grace by veteran actor James Garner, who never turned in a dishonest performance in six seasons. …


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[photo by the author]

The paler boy stood in the center of the room and pulled his shoes off, one at a time, and as he bent over he worried he was showing his ass to Miss America. …


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This was a year, alright. And now, thankfully, mercifully, it’s done. We’re on to the next one.

But first, a look back at some of my favorite pieces I wrote this year. This list features a holiday party buffet of options, there are short stories, true crime longform reported pieces, TV/film commentary and criticism, strange tales from the edges and frontiers of humanity’s pursuits, and finally, a pair of personal essays.

Enjoy!

Best Short Stories

The Last Time I Committed Suicide I Used A Time Machine, But I Did It For Love

Time travel teaches you two great truths. One you immediately grasp, the second you come to, eventually. …

About

Zaron Burnett III

writer at MEL magazine, essay & short stories at Medium, and always in the mood for donuts

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