We teach our students that the first move in an argument is often one of definition: gun as tool. Gun as "objective correlative" (T. S. Eliot) of "liberty" (Wayne LaPierre). Gun as "right" that, if left "unexercised," will be lost (opencarry.org). While running for president, Jeb Bush argued that our country is a gun when he tweeted a photo of his engraved handgun with a one-word caption, "America." A gun is a little cannon for killing that we've sentimentalized and normalized. [American Weather]
A Highly Irregular Children’s Story: David Gates reviews The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine, a children's book by Donald Barthelme. [Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1976]
It's easy to break a patient like Rogelio—Mexican and poor and chronically ill—down to his potassium level and to make medical decisions according to a number. But that's only part of the story of how the undocumented ill are cared for here in Houston. Within this city's history—a history that includes segregation during the 1960s, a large immigrant population, strong economic growth over the past half century, not to mention the world's largest medical center—is the story of how Houston sought local solutions to provide compassionate care to its indigent and undocumented, the latter of which, some might say, have helped the city grow.Dr. Ricardo Nuila reports from the emergency room at Houston's Ben Taub Hospital, where Harris County's undocumented ill can avail themselves of some of the country's best health care: Taking Care of Our Own. [more inside]
Bias in the Box. "This is where Bryan Stevenson’s 'undeveloped understanding' comes into focus. A prosecutor may say with the utmost sincerity that he doesn’t exclude blacks [from a jury] because of their race, but because they or someone in their family has been a victim of discrimination, which leads them to distrust the system. Because of their experiences, they are believed to be less motivated to sentence someone to die and are therefore less desirable on a jury." (slVQR) [more inside]
2014 might well be "the year of Roxane Gay," but even as Ms. Gay experiences unprecedented personal success, the price of black ambition is never far from her mind.
I am thinking about success, ambition, and blackness and how breaking through while black is tempered by so much burden. Nothing exemplifies black success and ambition like Black History Month, a celebratory month I've come to dread as a time when people take an uncanny interest in sharing black-history facts with me to show how they are not racist. It's the month where we segregate some of history's most significant contributors into black history instead of fully integrating them into American history. Each February, we hold up civil-rights heroes and the black innovators and writers and artists who have made so much possible for this generation. We say, look at what the best of us have achieved. We conjure W. E. B. Du Bois, who once wrote, "The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men." We ask much of our exceptional men and women. We must be exceptional if we are to be anything at all.[more inside]
They didn’t have a permit to rent to a foreigner, but they didn’t have a permit to rent to a Cuban, either. A German wintered in the flat upstairs, and a Chilean political-science student lived below without a problem. I was a yanqui, so the consequences of staying there could be more grave. But Elaine was willing to risk it if I was. Especially if I was staying for more than a few months. Renting was their family’s only source of income, and they needed to save if they ever wanted to move out of Cuba. (SLVQR)
“Oh,” says the ad man. He’s responsible for the hour of primetime television Revlon has bought and turned over to Belafonte, who, by the way, will not be singing “The Banana Boat Song,” and has also decided that he won’t accept commercials. “Oh my god,” says the ad man. Belafonte grins now, and says what he thought then: “Swallow that sh*t, motherf***er.” The Revolutionary Life of Harry Belafonte.
Anne Helen Petersen, the voice behind "Scandals Of Classic Hollywood" (previously) and "doctor of celebrity gossip" gives us an academic rundown of the hows and whys of the last hundred years of Hollywood Star Making, celebrity, PR, marketing, fandom, and scandal management.
Essays on mining and its environmental and human health costs in the Fall 2010 Virginia Quarterly Review: Digging Out; Tin Fever; The Pit; Here Everything is Poison, The Solution: Bolivia's Lithium Dream; The Underground Giant: Life in the Hard Rock Mines of Quebec and Ontario; Jharia Burning; Mother of God, Child of Zeus. Editorial: The Price of the Paperless Revolution.
"It was two final actions in the weeks before Mr. Morrissey's death that his family and friends believe pushed him over the edge. First, Mr. Genoways sent an e-mail message to Mr. Morrissey in mid-July, 10 days before his death (a copy of which The Chronicle has obtained), telling Mr. Morrissey that he had "engaged in unacceptable workplace behavior." [Second,] On the morning of Mr. Morrissey's death, Friday, July 30th, Mr. Genoways sent Mr. Morrissey another e-mail message, says Mr. Morrissey's sister, accusing Mr. Morrissey of ignoring a plea for help from a man who had worked under dangerous conditions to help VQR with a recent story. Ms. Morrissey says Mr. Genoways wrote that in ignoring the man, Mr. Morrissey had put the man's life at risk." A look into the death of Virginia Quarterly Review editor Kevin Morrissey. (Previously)
Heartbreaking news for people who care about reading. Founded in 1925, the Virginia Quarterly Review has become the standard-bearer for long-form narrative journalism - "the sort of articles that make readers want to become writers." "The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce" is a great example of what this kind of writing can achieve, but it's not the only one. The essential Bookslut has called the VQR "the best fucking magazine on the planet right now." Last week Mefi's own Waldo made the blog post we all dread having to make. His friend and boss, the VQR's genius editor Kevin Morrissey made his will, left his affairs in order, called the police to report a shooting that had not yet happened, and took his own life. Previously on the blue.
It has been nearly a year since the Mumbai terror attacks. Journalist Jason Motlagh has written a four part article about them for The Virginia Quarterly Review. The first part is about the initial attacks and the history of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organization responsible. Part two continues describing the events of the first night as well as police and media responses. The third is about the events of the second day and includes intercepted phonecalls between the gunmen and their handlers as well as recounting the initial interrogation of the sole terrorist captured alive. The last part is about the last day of the attacks and the aftermath. The article has a large number of photographs and is a harrowing read.
Waldo Jaquith of The Virginia Quarterly has discovered considerable evidence of plagiarism in Chris Anderson's new book, Free. [more inside]
The Virginia Quarterly Review — "A National Journal of Literature and Discussion" — just made public every article, essay, book review etc. published in its pages between 1975 and 2003. Search the archives here or check out this blog post for some greatest hits.
In 1958, Ezra Pound, after being released from a mental hospital, became a foreign correspondent for the Richmond News Leader. All but one of his dispatches were deemed unprintable by the editor and the one that was printed ran as a letter to the editor. The Virginia Quarterly Review has put scans of the dispatches up on their site. [more inside]