Weekend Reads #123

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I wrote this post and was finished before 3 pm yesterday. I was psyched, I often write Weekend Reads into the evening prior. I closed my laptop, checked in with the family, had a 4 pm friend video chat with a friend and 5 pm business video chat, and then said I would close my laptop for good… maybe for the whole weekend.

My sister called me. She figured I didn't know since she hadn't seen me share anything on social media. We text daily, but we rarely call. In our family, calls are for major things. She said she thought this warranted a phone call. I agreed. We got off the phone and I hugged my daughter tight.

Just this morning I saw a meme on social media that said, “A vote for Trump is a vote for Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court.” Just this morning when I read that I didn't feel the shiver down my spine that I do now, realizing how real and near that meme is. I don't even feel I have the ability to grieve a woman I have admired, no idolized, for the majority of my life because I am in such fear of our future.

I don't know whether to delete everything below or leave it because we sure as hell need something, anything to help us find a way through all this, and sometimes a longread or an interview with a celeb can be the beautiful distraction that we need. I just don't know what to do. It is 8:26 pm and I am going to go to bed so I will have more strength to tackle what tomorrow brings.

Justice Ginsburg dictated a statement before her death: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Rest in power, RBG.

How to Help

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Small businesses are struggling across this country, and that includes arts venues.  Theaters, museums, amphitheaters, galleries, and other locations of this sort have had to shut their doors or drastically reduce those who can attend which is putting many at risk for permanent closure. Let's be real, this virus isn't going to be gone before the end of 2020 and with the weather getting colder, it's harder for these venues to create alternative forms of revenue like drive-in movies, pop-up theaters, outdoor performances, and outdoor dining. 

  • The easiest thing you can do right now is click this link for the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), fill out your info and send a letter to your legislators pleading them to support S. 4258/H.R. 7806, Save Our Stages Act, & S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act.  The site has all the details about this act and how it can help stages across this country survive the pandemic. You can also donate directly to NIVA and buy merch to support this initiative. 
  • Next, stop by #SaveYourCinema which is hosted by the National Association of Theatre Owners to urge Congress to keep movie theaters alive until they can fully reopen.  Like the NIVA site, you fill out your info and it will automatically send a letter to your legislators 
  • Have a local independent theater, music venue, or museum? Even if you can't attend right now there are ways to help it during this time.  Consider purchasing a membership, which for some theaters is a tax-deductible donation. Check out what sorts of events and fundraisers they are hosting and how you can participate or help get the word out. For example:
    • The Old Greenbelt Theatre is an historic nonprofit one-screen theater here in my town that is closed because of the pandemic. This summer they have held Moonlit Movies in a nearby ballfield, offering socially distant spaces to lay out under the stars and watch a classic film. The theater is also available for private rental – bring your favorite DVD or Blu-Ray and a small group of friends (or a romantic date for two or family fun night) and you have a clean theater to yourself, and all attendees get a popcorn and soda with the concessions stand open for additional snacks.  Click here for details; this is a great idea for anyone in the DC area as Greenbelt is less than 20 miles from the city and easily accessed by public transportation and major highways. A milestone birthday, an anniversary, a proposal, or just a fun time with those you care about most, I can't recommend this enough! FYI, you need to be a member of the OGT to rent it but memberships are tax-deductible
    • The New Deal Cafe is not just a plant-based restaurant across the square from the Old Greenbelt Theater, but an award-winning music venue. Unlike many music venues, The New Deal Cafe charges no cover to see live music, they just encourage you to patronize the restaurant and bar and tip the musicians. The New Deal Cafe just won The Best Place to See Local Music by the Washington City Paper! While The New Deal Cafe is still offering takeout food and limited dining on their outdoor patio, they are also in partnership with MCF Community Church to help keep the community fed.  And the New Deal Cafe needs our support to keep its doors open.  Check out the online auction they are currently having; there are amazing items to bid on or purchase outright like private wine classes, hotel stays, discounted gift cards, and private music lessons.

If you aren't sure what independent venues are in your area, this website has a search tool. With so much going on right now and reduced social activity, it's easy to forget about the local arts venues in your community. But they need your support, and we need them to be open when we are again allowed to visit. Remember the positive memories you've had related to music, art, and theater and help these venues to offer amazing memories to many more in the future.

Weekend Reads

For the first time in its 175-year history, Scientific American has endorsed a presidential candidate. (Scientific American)

Are you what you wear? Luxury shoppers and designers are reckoning with the new high stakes of an age-old question. (Town & Country)

She wanted to escape her marriage.  He wanted to escape prison. (The Atlantic)

When does a model own her own image? (The Cut)

If you saw my Barbie-inspired Biden/Harris sweatshirt on Instagram and was interested in one for yourself, I got it at Etsy. I went with an XL worrying it would run small but it seems to run true to size. 

The overwhelming racism of COVID coverage. (Indica for Medium)

Who gets to be comfortable? Not plus-size women. (Coveteur)

How bookshelves became the status symbol of 2020. (Financial Times)

At 82 my grandmother has lost her husband – and her life as she knows it. (Buzzfeed)

The incredible legacy of Newark New Jersey's Black women activists. (Zocalo Public Square)

It took more than two decades, but apple breeders have come out with three new apples for American farmers. (Modern Farmer)

How the West became psychologically peculiar and particularly prosperous. (New York Times)

Social media disinformation on US west coast blazes ‘spreading faster than fire'. (The Guardian)

A house is not a home: On moving in, moving up, and domestic consumption. (New Yorker)

In DC we're very excited about the new baby panda at the National Zoo, but there are other animal babies there that deserve some awwws. (Washingtonian)

For DC residents, all you need to know about early voting and mail-in ballots. (Washington Post)

Why everything is sold out. (The Atlantic)

And shared in the WO2 Community: Conspicuous anti-consumption that benefits brands, consumers and the planet. (Seattle Times)


Coming back from the beach, we were able to catch up on two more episodes of Lovecraft Country. Oh my gosh this show is SO GOOD! I hate horror/suspense and this show is constantly both but it's so beautifully filmed and unique and taking concepts from cult-favorite horror and sci-fi shows and books and there are all sorts of Easter eggs in the episodes and the acting is phenomenal… seriously this show is a must-watch.

I finally finished The Year of Living Danishly.  I enjoyed it, and sure Denmark has some great systems in place but it is such a different country, population, history, climate, size, and everything than the United States. But gosh it was enjoyable to read about a country that has more trust and governmental support! 

I have started reading Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.  This is not an easy read, but a necessary one. It's the kind of book you have to put down and take a break from to think about, to let marinate, and then return. 

SNL is returning with five new episodes, three new cast members, and Jim Carrey to play Joe Biden. (Vulture) We DVR SNL and watch it together on Sunday mornings, I look forward to its return.

For Your Entertainment

Lady Gaga dropped her new video for her song, “911” yesterday and it's weird and beautiful and full of allegory and I just love it. This is the kind of weirdness and art and message that makes me love music videos.  And if you are interested in Lady Gaga, I recommend this interview with her via Billboard.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I’m devastated by RBG’s death, and I’m terrified that it could mean the death of democracy in America. She, not the delusional Current Occupant, is the one who stood between us and chaos. I can’t even mourn her properly because there’s too much work to be done between now and January, and it’ll take our combined undivided attention and effort to try to restore our country’s balance.

    There should be a national day of mourning for her next year. I’ll never see her equal again in my generation, and I pray that there are girls and women now who are inspired by her fierce brilliance and compassionate gentleness.

    But in the meantime, we all have to VOTE as if our lives and our children’s and grandchildren’s lives depend on who is inaugurated on January 20, 2021.

  2. I was reeling too much to add a comment yesterday, which was also the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing, so quite a hard day. . . Still very sad this morning but doing slightly better. It is phenomenally hard to experience both the deep sadness of the loss of the amazing, heroic, witty and wise RBG, and the very valid fear–even terror–of what will happen with the Supreme Court. I am trying hard to breathe. . . At least yesterday we were finally done with the terrible air from the fires in Oregon, so I can physically breathe again. . .

    I do have one comment to share about your “How to Help” part of this week’s Weekend Reads. I totally agree that the venues for the arts need our support right now. I am renewing my memberships! And, I want to share a conversation that I had with my son on Friday morning. He is a professional cellist, who splits his time between work in a string quartet and teaching lessons. He pointed out there have been a number of people calling for help for the independent venues that need support, at least in his experience in Seattle; but few people talk about the effect on the individuals who perform in those spaces. He is lucky that he has been able to sustain himself through teaching his lessons over Zoom, but he knows of others who have not been so lucky. And of course his quartet has not been able to practice together, much less perform since the lockdown started, though creatively they turned their usual summer camp for high school string players into a series of podcasts! So. . . I hope people will think also about ways to support the individual musicians and actors and other folks who work in the arts, not just the spaces and venues. . .

  3. Thank you for your words about RBG. I knew you’d acknowledge her death & I knew you’d be struggling, just like so many of us. There’s comfort in that. Last night was hard; I sobbed at times & my mind went negative so fast. This morning, my husband & I already had plans to help campaign for a wonderful & progressive female candidate in our area & you can bet it took on a much greater significance. After that, we met up with family for some outdoor fun & it truly helped my soul. I’ll be enjoying the rest of Weekend Reads tonight. Thank you for posting it.

  4. I had a similar experience to you. I was wrapping up a pretty good last day of work and also went out for a long-needed car wash and pick up a burrito. The air quality is still good outside. Preparing to jump on a happy hour video chat with my sister and a friend. Checked Twitter for something specific and saw the news, which felt like a PUNCH in the gut. Nothing the same after. Our happy hour group texted about it before, but we couldn’t even really talk about it. It is too raw and painful, and we already know how we all feel and think about this.
    There was a candlelit vigil in San Francisco yesterday, and I kind of wish I had gone.

  5. Alison, thank you for this tribute. Joining this good community in mourning RBG and giving thanks for her matchless life and career, and for her legacy to our daughters and sons.

  6. Thank you for this difficult post, which I read before any of my other emails, or the news. I’m glad I learned this news from your post of compassion, loss, and fear, hand-in-hand. I too, shall mourn RBG’s death.

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