Archive

Essays

29 January 2014

This essay will be a fantasy: varied and halting, devoid of high points, ceaselessly striving and failing to end. It begins with an intimate revelation: I have never had an abortion. Thirty years of untrammeled feminine heterosexuality, zero pregnancies. I never wanted children, so I used other methods of birth control, and they worked. More…

11 December 2013

Five PM at the Sloppy Tuna and the Christians are party ready. The house music started bumping around 11 AM—because it is Saturday in Montauk, and summertime—but five o’clock is the golden hour, when everyone is sundrunk and loose and beautiful. Girls in cutoff shorts and bikini tops throw their arms around boys in Wayfarers, and sway. More…

Originally published in Issue 18: Good News

Purchase in print »

22 July 2013

Over the next fifteen years or so, Wall Street would get used to the spectacular velocity of trading like his. But at the time, in the Art Collector’s strategy, we saw something slightly unseemly rather than illegal, blackjack instead of chess. Maybe that is because it was as interesting as it was new. The Art Collector was trying to corner the market on an edge. More…

6 May 2013

San Francisco’s sexual vanguard might overuse words like “consciousness” and “mindfulness,” but the success of their politicization of sex had repercussions that reached across the country. The mind-set could sometimes seem grim, or at least all that talking kind of dampened the feeling of spontaneity. But they meant it: “Polyamory is a decolonizing force,” one person explained to me. “If you want to transform society, it includes our intimate relations.” More…

24 January 2013

I find, paper after paper, that the good ones, the ones I perceive to be good, are in fact incredibly difficult to follow. I tell people afterwards, “Good paper,” but I hope to God we don’t talk any more about it. I don’t want to reveal that I didn’t know what it was about. Then I think that we might all just come out, just come clean, and say, “We didn’t understand.” More…

20 September 2012

The parallels between parenting and torture, unwittingly created by behavioral psychologists in both camps, suddenly intersect and cross over. We rebel at leaving our child to cry because something about it violates our humanity. We may want our child to get a head start on competition in the global economy or, quite simply, to fall asleep so we can catch up on sleep ourselves. More…

23 July 2012

Coppola’s point seems to be that Hollywood empties the soul. The only route back to grace is the family. Opposing the sacral father-daughter relation, whose genuineness the film signals most directly in an acoustic rendition of “I’ll Try Anything Once,” are all those things Coppola takes to be inauthentic: genital sexuality, gatherings of more than four people, the spoken word. More…

28 July 2011

What is Knowledge? What shape does Knowledge take? It’s not a question we expect to find raised in an Iowa-style workshop, where we turn our attention to concrete things: form, craft, the page, the neat crosses and channels of a line break or an ellipsis or/and especially the poem’s earned/unearned ending. No ideas but in things—Wms. More…

1 April 2011

When it rains above a dry St. Mark’s Square, the stones echo with the sound of falling water, and when it rains above a flooded St. Mark’s Square, the floodwaters amplify the sound of the downpour. But when it snows there are no plows to be heard, and scarcely even a shovel. Reluctant schoolchildren in Venice do not pray to the god of snow: they pray to the god of fog. More…

7 June 2010

The Mexican mode of governance—transparency and accountability alike unknown to it—transformed our slang into a grammar of shadows. Politics was baptized la tenebra, political horse-trading was done in lo oscurito. The coming of light was dangerous; the conspirator had to act under cover of darkness, to get ahead of his adversary by rising before dawn. More…

Originally published in Issue 9: Bad Money

Purchase in print »

23 April 2010

In the late ’90s, when I moved to the city of Monterrey, people made jokes about my origins: surely my father carried a gun, surely I was coarse and crude—I was from a border town. In turn I was certain that Monterrey, that industrial metropolis where I went to pursue my studies, was perfectly safe. Nothing would scare me away from there. More…

Originally published in Issue 9: Bad Money

Purchase in print »

23 April 2010

We were led to an elevator past tanks filled with pulsing jellyfish lit a glowing indigo. The elevator went down to the basement area where the spa was, and when the door slid open an impossibly tall drag queen greeted us, dressed only in white towels except for the diamonds that twinkled from her earlobes. More…

Originally published in Issue 9: Bad Money

Purchase in print »

23 April 2010

If there is one thing I heard a thousand times in Samarkand, it was how they have the greatest bread in Uzbekistan because of their amazingly clean water and air. The famous bread of Samarkand comes in round, flat loaves, known in Russian as lepyoshka. As legend has it, the Emir of Bukhara once summoned the best baker of Samarkand to bake him some Samarkand bread. More…

Originally published in Issue 9: Bad Money

Purchase in print »

23 April 2010

The octuplets were supposed to be a distraction: an oasis in the midst of the day’s gloomy news of AIG perfidy, mortgage defaults, bank closures, toxic assets, and spiking unemployment. Instead, the camera teams that camped on the lawn of the nice one-story house in Whittier, California, in the glitter of LA winter, got a living metaphor for the crisis. More…

Originally published in Issue 9: Bad Money

Purchase in print »

14 September 2009

More…

Originally published in Issue 8: Recessional

Purchase in print »

14 September 2009

He was directed to take a second test, one he could only recall later as assessing one’s aptitude in “general culture.” This, too, he passed. Finally the government told the remaining fifteen students what the tests were for. With an air of great benevolence and gravity, a functionary from the Ministry of Work told Gabriel he would be working in the movies. More…

Originally published in Issue 8: Recessional

Purchase in print »

14 September 2009

This morning we drove to the storage unit on the outskirts of Albuquerque and put Dan’s possessions neatly into the U-Haul. There was no emotional response from anyone. We approached it as a task to be accomplished, a chore to be done, and we did it, simple as that. A life, or the remnants thereof, packed neatly into a 5×8 trailer. More…

Originally published in Issue 8: Recessional

Purchase in print »

14 September 2009

Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick is a great book to give as a gift to somebody you are hoping to sleep with. Explicit but subtle, its title contains two meanings, the first of which, despite appearances, is not aggressively sexual but in fact gentle and literary. And unlike flowers, which will die in a matter of days, I Love Dick can sit on a bookshelf for years, beguiling and suggestive. More…

Originally published in Issue 8: Recessional

Purchase in print »

14 February 2005

—Well, what would you suggest?

—Write an article.

—That wouldn’t help anything.

—What you’re doing here won’t help anything either.

—But at least I’m doing something. It’s not useless to be here, just 50cm from all these decision makers. I’ve gotten as close as 20, or even 10cm away when the decision makers take sugar. More…

Originally published in Issue 2: Happiness

Purchase in print »

14 February 2005

You could also easily say, how pointless—how uncomfortable I was, how much I disliked that person, how rotten I felt. somehow the experience seems definitive, for better and for worse. What was learned is not unlearned. More…

Originally published in Issue 2: Happiness

Purchase in print »

14 February 2005

Then there’s the comedy of Dennis Miller, who strings together cultural references into rambling sentences that have the rhythm of jokes but are not, frequently, jokes. He’ll say things like, “I haven’t seen a tax plan this poorly constructed since Tony Orlando did Jager shots with Buzz Aldrin,” and the crowd will, inexplicably, bust its gut. More…

Originally published in Issue 2: Happiness

Purchase in print »

14 February 2005

In this gentle and permissive way we were enjoined to get high on pot and take up oral sex, but not do any favors for Philip Morris. Now I know that when shaggy, Dionysian Allen Ginsberg takes on the role of forbidding father, and you still take up smoking, you must really be on the wrong side of history. More…

Originally published in Issue 2: Happiness

Purchase in print »

14 February 2005

“Indeed,” I finally said, “as a six foot tall first-generation Turkish woman growing up in New Jersey, I cannot possibly know as much about alienation as you, a short American Jew.” He nodded: “So you see the problem.” More…

Originally published in Issue 2: Happiness

Purchase in print »