A 100-year-old rumor was confirmed this week when DNA testing proved that President Warren G. Harding fathered an illegitimate child. Nan Britton, Harding's lover who was 30 years his junior, was, throughout history, labeled a liar, a "pervert," and a "degenerate." If you're planning on holding a seance this weekend, it'd be super duper nice if you'd summon Britton's spirit and collectively apologize for how our hetero-patriarchy really fucked her over.
The Washington Post's oral history of 1995 Lollapalooza is maybe the first time a mention of either Courtney Love or Kathleen Hanna was not incredibly annoying but actually funny. After the guitarist of Hole describes a scene in which Love throws candy at Hanna, the bassist relays further that "Courtney did a fake cat hiss, like a joke. Like, 'We're at war' kind of a thing, like 'Sss!' . . . making a weird joke in passing.
"Next thing you know, there's this explosion of arguing. Maybe a shove, I can't remember. Kathleen Hanna screamed at the top of her lungs: 'I challenge you to a feminist debate in any university in America!'"
I recommend this amusing interview with Ann Beattie in which the author breaks her legendary silence on the key to her success in gym class: "In high school gym, which I hated (which we all hated), I figured out that in basketball, where they made me a guard, I could say in a really threatening voice, "Back off, bitch!" to the forward, and the girl would fumble the ball."
This week, I heard Karen Carpenter's "On Top of the World" playing in CVS's laxative aisle. I was buying Nasacort allergy spray, not laxatives (I'm not THAT gay, but the song made me feel incredibly gay). Although love has won or whatever, a Carpenter-esque bitter sweetness still hangs over gay men's lives. You can get married, you can serve in the army, you can occasionally buy cakes in Indiana, but you try getting two guys to care about more than sex. Being gay is bittersweet, and that's part of the sexiness of it. (Do you think Elizabeth Taylor was so glamorous and hot cause she was happy? No!) Rolling Stone's great profile of Karen and her asshole brother leaves out a lot her sadness--few people knew about her personal problems till after her death--but if you're gay or have decent reading comprehension skills, you can recognize the relatable melancholy of Karen Carpenter in the piece. RIP Karen C.
Julia Ioffe profiles a group of women whose children ran away to join ISIS and died fighting in the Middle East. Despite their crippling grief, they've somehow come together to form a pan-global support group. This is not what you call a feel-good story, but it is a strangely redemptive piece on maternal love and female solidarity.
Earlier this week, Zinzi Clemmons at Lit Hub asked several young black writers to reflect on Michael Brown's death a year later. The resulting writing is heartbreaking and infuriating, while also capturing the relentless exhaustion of living under a system of normalized racist police brutality. It's hard to select one piece or quote in particular, but I was really moved by Morgan Parker's A Brief History of the Present: "I worry sometimes I will only be allowed a death story."
I never really allowed myself to believe those "true ghost stories" on TV, but I would like to believe in mysteries like this weird Reddit one. My main question is really around the reliability of this narrator. I would have just pretended to be asleep and gone back to bed. This person makes themselves out to be such a hero that I surmise it's just a ploy to get some Reddit karma. I actually won't pretend to know how Reddit works, but I would like to float this mystery down to the Serial Subreddit garbage hole and see if some people who think Adnan is guilty could throw together some some explanatory time maps for this one.
I love that the AV Club, a site renowned for judging everything on TV with arbitrary school grades, acknowledges that KUWTK is a legitimate form of entertainment, and it's here to stay. Libby Hill managed to explain what I've been unable to put into words when snobbish assholes ask me why I even like the show.