Art for

Contents

Meh!-lennials

When the term was coined in 1991 by demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe, a great deal of hope was placed in millennials (the oldest of whom were around 8, and not especially responsive to polls). Nurtured by caring parents, Strauss and Howe argued, this new generation would be civic-minded and ethical. Not only would they be less interested in TV than their parents, but “what programs Millennials do watch will be sanitized and laden with moral lessons.”

On Becoming More Human

Increased surveillance, tape-recorded representations of life, played back and rewound and remixed over and over again, digitally and virtually, will only remind jurors of an imitation of life, but it won’t revive the real thing. Rather than die knowing my death had been recorded by the camera, I would just rather not die. And rather than not die, I would like to choose to live.

Seeing Through Police

One knows to walk toward where police are standing, where they mark the significance of something else: a parade, a concert, a demonstration, or an arrest, an abuse, an accident. One can go to enjoy them — to watch their offer of theater and ritual to daily occurrences, as they establish a space of eventfulness — or to watchdog them, to make sure that their handling of people can’t occur invisibly and unaccounted for.

Hands Up

Del Rosario-Bell: Black youth are always being seen as irrational and wild, but if you imagine how intelligent you have to be to navigate, not only your personality and what you say but your body in these different spaces . . . when you’re with your friends, you have to act a certain way so you don’t get punked. When you’re in front of white people, you have to act a certain way so that they don’t think you’re violent or threatening. The amount of social and physical intelligence that a 14-year-old is required to have is paralyzing and incredible in the worst way.

Two Stories

The palm reader, when she arrived, moved in a way that suggested she was not in too much of a hurry to arrive in the future. She was like some piece of human clutter purchased to give the room more character. Ceramic roses were clipped to her earlobes and beneath her black crocheted dress her breasts strained to get away from each other. On her left hand was a diamond the size of a Brussels sprout. She was between 40 and 65 years old. I was the guest of honor and I got to go first. She led me away from the drinks and the stereo and the cheese to the corner under the skylight, and sat me on an egg-shaped orange chair. The palm reader sat herself on a low wooden bench, a Shaker pew that had been bought at auction.

Confirmation

Until the moment of that call, whenever I remembered the old man, I found myself tempted by the thought that we could have been friends, real friends, although we probably never were. I’m pretty sure we never were. I’m pretty sure he was plotting and scheming most of the time he knew me, plotting to get into my pants, until I finally caught on, after which it was me plotting to get into his wallet, as deep as I could get without breaking down and becoming his boy toy.

Both Ways

I used to have a recurring nightmare about a wedding. I walk onto a vast green lawn and see rows of wooden white folding chairs. Suited men clump and scatter across the lawn, and women in taffeta and silk circle up and laugh softly. There are half a dozen bridesmaids in pink dresses puffed by tulle. There are flowers woven cinematically into a fucking white wicker archway.

Dispatches From Guerrero

“I’m really out of sorts,” he apologized. “I just dropped off a lady, I took her all around, collecting money, but then I made her get out.” I didn’t understand what he was talking about, until he told me the story from the beginning. That’s when I understood that the lady had a clothing business, and her husband, a high school teacher, had been kidnapped. The lady needed to gather two hundred thousand pesos for her husband to be freed. “She wanted me to accompany her to pay the ransom,” the taxi driver told me.

Those Like Us

I confess that this anecdote and its contents — the theory of the “symbolic mother,” the concept of a “female symbolic,” the school of difference feminism (unfashionable in egalitarian America), and écriture féminine in the French tradition — made no sense to me until I read Ferrante. Not that it’s so crystalline now: a convenient difficulty of difference feminism, for anyone asked to explain it, is its insistence on being inexplicable in legible (“male”) terms. But Ferrante’s novels animate these ideas with a generous clarity.

Blood Couple

Fuck George Jefferson, it’s Spike Lee who has moved on up. He didn’t want to be like Melvin Van Peebles, trumpeting the accomplishments of one movie he made forty-five years ago in some tattered sweatshirt he wore around the apartment — a nice one in Columbus Circle, bought with Wall Street speculation money. He didn’t want to spend thirty years trying to get his first movie distributed and bumming around Africa, as Charles Burnett has, asking dictators and strongmen for funding.

Labor, Letters, Interns; On the Level

It can be difficult for white-collar intellectual workers to identify as workers. We fretted over this most of all: if it came down to it, would we be able to walk out, miss the close, and allow the magazine not to come out as it always had?