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Home: The Toast

I read this whole long thing on suicide and depression and Elliott Smith and there were things about it that really bothered me and parts that were really great, too:

You know how it feels to deprive yourself. But Elliott was a virtuoso of this kind of privation, on a scale beyond (at least my) capability. He funded the substance habits that accelerated his misery with the music about that misery. He was fascinated by self-destruction. One of his best songs, Needle in the Hay,” is a paean to heroin he wrote five years before heroin ever touched his bloodstream. One of his girlfriends left him because, among other reasons, he couldn’t shut up about wondering what it would like to be a heroin addict. Lou Reed once said: “You know, some people got no choice / and they can never find a voice to talk with that they can even call their own / So the first thing that they see / that allows them the right to be / why they follow it, you know, it’s called bad luck.”

This is about Lamar Odom, and it’s great, and really sad:

“Be nice to everybody,” his mother told him on her deathbed, and he followed those words like gospel. He invited D-Leaguers to expensive dinners. He paid private-school tuition for kids he’d never met. He incurred fines for holding up theLakers bus so he could sign more autographs. He invested in one cockamamie project after another, from the T-shirt line to the fancy restaurant. “No was not in his vocabulary,” an Odom confidante says. His benevolent spirit earned him every benefit of the doubt. Questionable behavior was chalked up to loveable eccentricity. Blow off a meeting? Oh, that’s just Lamar. Report to camp hopelessly out of shape? Oh, that’s just Lamar. Skip out on the Mavericks following the All-Star break? Oh, that’s just Lamar. I once heard him ask a locker-room attendant to fetch $60 in Red Bull. Again, Lamar.

Being black, but not TOO black in the workplace:

In particular, black professionals had to be very careful to show feelings of conviviality and pleasantness, even—especially—in response to racial issues. They felt that emotions of anger, frustration, and annoyance were discouraged, even when they worked in settings where these emotions were generally welcomed in certain contexts—think litigators interacting with opposing counsel, or financial analysts responding to a stressful day on Wall Street. Interestingly, this often played out at trainings meant to encourage racial sensitivity. Many of the black professionals I interviewed found that diversity trainings—intended to improve the work environment for minorities—actually became a source of emotional stress, as they perceived that their white colleagues could use these trainings to express negative emotions about people of color, but that they were expected not to disclose their own honest emotional reactions to such statements.

I love Jim Croce:

My friend Carrie’s new puppy has ears:


Effie Brown is great:

“I had no choice really. I’ve been black and a woman all my life. I have worked in this business for 20 years. I’m 43. It was one of those things. Literally in that moment, was I going to risk public humiliation, bringing up this opinion, or deal with shame and excuses: ‘You let that go by?’ That’s a big responsibility. I was more afraid of my mother: ‘That’s how we raised you and sacrificed, that’s it? When the time was for you to stand and be counted?’ That’s all that went thorough my head: damned if I was going to do that. At the same time, Matt was the biggest movie star in the world, he could win the Oscar with ‘The Martian,’ he’s incredibly thoughtful, so smart, so sensitive. Before that all happened, I am with Jason Bourne and Batman, I loved it. It was disheartening, to be ‘Oh, like, ok.'”

The Intercept’s massive treasure drove of FUCKED UP INFORMATION about the drone program is incredible.

This is HUGE and really important and great:

A new report from the U.S. government calls for an end to the discredited practice known as conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youths.

The report released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) comes less than a year after the Obama administration endorsed efforts to ban the practice, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“Conversion therapies or other efforts to change sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression are not effective, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and are not appropriate mental health treatments,” said SAMHSA Special Expert on LGBT Affairs Elliot Kennedy.

Here is a great piece of writing about zombies:

For some a contemplation of the apocalypse functions as abject wish fulfillment. Petty frustrations and mundane realities of real life all disappear, as do the complexities: this is often the set-up of many of these stories; say, a divorce proceeding is the most traumatic experience of a hero’s life right up until at that exact moment the world is invaded by aliens or nuked into oblivion or a disease wipes out almost everyone overnight, making this interpersonal pain insignificant in the face of their new task of saving the world. Apocalypse stories enduring appeal as a genre is in the thought experiment undertaken by the viewer or reader: if this actually happened, what kind of person would I be?

After the fall no one will care about your outstanding taxes or your unserviceable student loans or the job that you hate, or your failing relationship, or the family you cannot make peace with—they’re all gone. In this world civilization might have fallen, but so have all your debts. Your very existence might be threatened in your every waking moment, but you are made new. No trees may ever grow again, but who cares, you can prove your mettle against the world with nothing but a golf club at your disposal and see how far you get.

This is the end of the world as escape fantasy.

Historic black cemeteries are overgrown and used as trash dumps, Confederate memorials get government funding:

In the community that helped the Black Lives Matter movement grip the national conscience, all three commercial cemeteries founded for the burial of black bodies have fallen into disrepair. In the 1990s, one of these was dug up to make room for an airport expansion. In Greenwood, in the bareness of winter, fallen gravestones can be spotted through brittle reeds. By summertime, they’ve disappeared. Barbara Harris’s story is repeated by one St. Louis family after the next: visits to loved ones’ graves thwarted by overgrowth and poison ivy.

It’s the same across the United States. “This is the situation we observe: There’s a black cemetery on the other side of the hill, and it began around the same time as the white one, and the white one is in fine shape—the black one is not,” says Michael Trinkley, whose South Carolina–based Chicora Foundation conducts archeological studies of cemeteries. Their decline is tied directly to past and present patterns of investment: Memorials to white lives are left in trust, padded with private and public wealth; collective memorials to black lives fall into the red financially and slip from view. “The underlying problem is that black cemeteries have been left without the resources necessary to operate,” Trinkley notes.

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