“ I was appalled by the New York Times’ coverage of the recession”
March 24, 2020 9:48 AM   Subscribe

What about in terms of the book’s success? It’s sold a million and a half copies. “Oh, yeah, because then I made money. I made money running around the speaking, lecture circuit for years, which combined well with activism for raising wages, to the dismay of the people and the administrators who invited me.” The author of “Nickel And Dimed”, “Bright Sided” and more talks to Jia Tolentino of the New Yorker. Barbara Ehrenreich Is Not an Optimist, but She Has Hope for the Future
posted by The Whelk (35 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
Read this the other day, and this is one of my favorite interviews I've read in ages. I think Jia Tolentino as the interviewer is why it was so fantastic.
posted by mostly vowels at 10:01 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Fantastic interview. Also:

MetaFilter: How did we get into this mayo stuff?
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:58 AM on March 24


I was hoping they'd move on to deconstruct Miracle Whip.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:23 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Years ago she came to speak at my southern mid-tier public university and I was so excited, It was the 'freshman reading experience' book that year- I wasn't a freshman but I read and loved Nickel and Dimed so much. It basically woke me up to class consciousness and I still think about it all the time.

When the floor was opened for questions at the end of her talk, an absolute HORDE of young conservative types lined up to try to score points for liberty with brilliant points like 'the thesis of your book is invalid because you lied on your application for that cleaning job you got in the book by leaving off your PhD' and 'if unskilled laborers aren't starving and suffering they'll have no drive or ambition'. I still cringe thinking about it. She was so calm and articulate in taking them down but so clearly done with their bullshit.The professor who introduced her was visibly upset and cut the question time short rather than let the stupidity continue. The idiots counted it as a victory.

I wonder if it was before or after the incident with the president of the college who cut her speaking time short and tried to embarrass her with a stretch limo after finding out she spoke to a group looking to organise at the school.
posted by cilantro at 11:54 AM on March 24 [32 favorites]


probably after. I have reason to know.
posted by bq at 12:39 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


Ehrenreich's Bright-sided went into the ill effects of positive thinking, and I've read a little about how it played into Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos, which was a gigantic fraud. Does anyone have more details about that?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 12:55 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Once I get older, I want palliative care. Palliative care means magic mushrooms. Bring it on.

I'm ready now, TBH. Bring it on indeed.
posted by klanawa at 12:59 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


I have reason to know.

Mysterious!
posted by cilantro at 1:02 PM on March 24 [6 favorites]


“How many wake-up calls do we need?”
posted by Floydd at 1:13 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


Looking forward to reading this, but I was disappointed with her interview with Ezra Klein. She kept not really answering his questions, and somehow it just kept going in the least interesting direction.
posted by ropeladder at 1:25 PM on March 24


That was an excellent read, and I really am glad you posted that! Thank you!
posted by hippybear at 7:51 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I still cringe thinking about it. She was so calm and articulate in taking them down but so clearly done with their bullshit.

I would pay good money to watch an hour of this
posted by windbox at 10:17 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Mayonnaise is lower class?!? Do the richies eat their bologna sandwiches dry?
posted by Chitownfats at 11:28 PM on March 24 [9 favorites]


Ehrenreich: “I will be convinced that America is not in decline only when our de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo learns to speak English.”

Huh. First time I heard about this. Kind of disappointed, especially in an interview where Ehrenreich talks about the professional-managerial class's knee-jerk disdain for the working class for liking mayonnaise.

Is Ehrenreich expressing the nativist's disdain for the immigrant's inability to speak English? It wouldn't be a surprise if she was expressing a different flavor of anti-globalist MAGA sentiment.

I'm also disappointed that Tolentino allows Ehrenreich to hand-wave off this remark.
posted by Borborygmus at 3:14 AM on March 25 [6 favorites]


I think mustard is supposed to be more mature than mayonnaise.

And in Philly, the more Italian hoagies have olive oil. The others have mayonnaise.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:20 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Ehrenreich: “I will be convinced that America is not in decline only when our de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo learns to speak English.”

Huh. First time I heard about this. Kind of disappointed, especially in an interview where Ehrenreich talks about the professional-managerial class's knee-jerk disdain for the working class for liking mayonnaise.

Is Ehrenreich expressing the nativist's disdain for the immigrant's inability to speak English? It wouldn't be a surprise if she was expressing a different flavor of anti-globalist MAGA sentiment.


That's what is sounds like to me.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:45 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


> Mayonnaise is lower class?!?

Come, now. Rich people eat Miracle Whip. That and the $4000 custom-tailored suits are what really differentiate them from the hoi polloi.
posted by flug at 9:36 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Is Ehrenreich expressing the nativist's disdain for the immigrant's inability to speak English? It wouldn't be a surprise if she was expressing a different flavor of anti-globalist MAGA sentiment.

My slightly more charitable interpretation was that English has been an international language in part due to American cultural hegemony, so someone having great influence in American culture without even needing to learn English shows cracks in that hegemony.

Obviously, there are still a lot of ... issues, particularly the implication that American cultural hegemony is a good thing, and the racist overtones, but I think maybe that was the point she was trying to grasp at there?
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:37 AM on March 25


Is Ehrenreich expressing the nativist's disdain for the immigrant's inability to speak English?

It was a shitty and very racist thing for her to say, but she I was interested that she admitted she was basically triggered because she has childhood issues about being forced to get rid of her stuff. I was extremely skeptical of the angry criticism of Marie Kondo, and felt most of it was knee-jerk and about personal pain, and I was happy to see someone admit that.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 11:49 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


and I was happy to see someone admit that.

But I don't think you can make such grand projections about the whole of the America (or even the whole of people who don't like Marie Kondo) while also being offended that bringing in working class people is diluting politics or having class-based opinions about mayo. (even more oddly, I mean there are way more class-based foods than mayo - like beef jerky and jello filled with stuff)
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:25 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I think the class associations of food might be regional. I grew up going to NDP (Canada's socialist/labour party) picnics and I can't fucking stand mayo. Fortunately it wasn't a big thing there.

Diss the ambrosia salad or Nanaimo bars, tho? TO THE BARRICADES!
posted by klanawa at 12:46 PM on March 25


Is this why everyone acts like I’m a monster when I say I don’t eat Mayo? Sorry, it upsets my stomach and tastes bad. And if that puts me in the landlord class then fine. Rent is due on the first. Payable in not-Mayo.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:53 PM on March 25


C'mon, mayonnaise is classy as all hell. Look how it's spelled! That's French! Classy!
posted by Chitownfats at 1:40 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]



C'mon, mayonnaise is classy as all hell. Look how it's spelled! That's French! Classy!
posted by Chitownfats

If there ever was a eponysterical post...
posted by mumimor at 2:01 PM on March 25


I personnally like Mayonnaise, but I also think it's kinda wierd & gooey.
posted by ovvl at 2:06 PM on March 25


I bet all y'all professional-managerial class love mayo when it's called aioli or eat it with frites to be European...
posted by Borborygmus at 5:13 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


I personally find it completely bizarre that there is in any way a class association with various condiments. Is this a recent invention? I was raised by a college professor/later Dean, and an elementary school teacher, and we just ate condiments because we liked them. There was no discussion ever about what condiments were acceptable or not based on our parents professional class or our financial status.
posted by hippybear at 6:23 PM on March 25


Miracle whip is gross, if the moneyed class want to think it's somehow better, I'll leave it to 'em. As to Hoagies, well, of course olive oil. What kind of cretin puts mayo, or mustard on one of god's finest creations?! Some peoples children. Yet none of this has anything to do with Nickel & Dimed.
posted by evilDoug at 6:53 PM on March 25


Is this a recent invention?
I mean, there was a period of about 70 years where celery was a critical class marker. If there's a matter of opinion/selection, it'd be rarer for it to not have a class marker associated with it.

Food opinions triply so.
posted by CrystalDave at 6:56 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I agree with Ehrenreich about nearly everything. I'm glad she exists and is doing this work. But, this interview once again proves that I'm a happier person when I don't read what she says. (I suspect I'm secretly afraid that her writing is what I actually sound like when I try to talk about class, as someone who has vague memories of growing up working class and who now lives in a very comfortable academic bubble.)
posted by eotvos at 7:55 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Miracle Whip is the same thing as Mayonnaise, but with more sucrose & water?
posted by ovvl at 8:09 PM on March 25


Miracle Whip has sort of a sideways flavor from mayo, I have never understood exactly what it is, but it is different and I prefer it on some sandwiches over mayo, but prefer mayo on other sandwiches.

I also prefer yellow mustard on some things vs dijon on others vs stone ground on others.

Ketchup goes on some things and not others. Sometimes oil and vinegar is good on a sandwich, other times not.

I mean, it's like... don't people choose condiments based on what kind of sandwich they are eating? Or do people just have a "yeah, I'll have XYZ sandwich with the same condiments every time unthinkingly" sort of thing going on?

Also, how are tuna/chicken/ham/pasta salads made in a life that looks down on mayo?
posted by hippybear at 8:17 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Mayonnaise is lower class?!? Do the richies eat their bologna sandwiches dry?

"I asked for an abalone sandwich!"
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:25 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


The mayo thing is basically about how she's encountered PMC people who express that disdain for mayo, not realizing it's likely because of the class marker it signifies. Remember when Fox news (as counterfeit voice for "working class" Americans) lost their shit over Obama eating Grey Poupon on a burger or somesuch? Same thing. It's more likely about the implied sophistication & refinement of liking certain things over other things. She's describing a legit phenomenon.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:47 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It was a shitty and very racist thing for her to say, but she I was interested that she admitted she was basically triggered because she has childhood issues about being forced to get rid of her stuff. I was extremely skeptical of the angry criticism of Marie Kondo, and felt most of it was knee-jerk and about personal pain, and I was happy to see someone admit that.

Oddly I thought I knew what she meant when she said it - more or less Zalzidrax's literal interpretation, and it was simply a glib bit of cultural analysis phrased poorly - and then in this interview she says she was mad about Marie Kondo at this time?
posted by atoxyl at 2:05 AM on March 26


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