Online Only

Regular dispatches from our contributors.

Moving Out in Mountains

Moving Out in Mountains

She was a big fan of yard sales

The New People’s cast-off belongings, when they’re not taken home by old-school New Yorkers or gathered into makeshift outdoor homes, end up in sidewalk sales. We used to call them thieves’ markets because many of the objects for sale were stolen. When you got burglarized in the East Village, the police would tell you to check the thieves’ markets where, if you were lucky, you could buy your own stuff back for a bargain. We shopped the markets regularly, furnishing our apartments with the stolen goods of our neighbors. A kind of recycling.

In the Murder Pavilion

In the Murder Pavilion

New York becomes feral again

Sex and aggression, the usual stuff, and the poor rat had to bear it all away. What does my rat hold for me? The return of the repressed. Right now, all of New York feels like that, the rejected, chaotic, sexual, aggressive city returning, pushing up from under the forces of repression. Look at that green skin on Central Park Lake—nature reclaiming her territory.

On Randall Kenan, 1963–2020

On Randall Kenan, 1963–2020

There are writers who should not be allowed to vanish and go silent for so long, much as they might prefer to do so

It was the wrong moment in American letters to be a gay, Black man writing about the South. It didn’t matter if you could write a sex scene of the kind that would, twenty years in the future, earn Garth Greenwell a national book award nomination, while also channeling the blues cadences of Alfred Murray. If you weren’t Toni Morrison or, on the mass market side, Terry McMillan, you weren’t anybody. Publishing had no room for a diversity of diversity.

A Gathering of Wolves

A Gathering of Wolves

Fascist America, like America in general, has rarely had a problem with absorbing the cultural output of those it seeks to destroy

To anyone psychically invested in the velvet glove of normal life, we are already in the throes of an insurrection that must be stamped out. We are nearing the end of a summer that taught us nothing is inviolable, not precincts and not the promise that black people will entertain us to the bitter end. Republicans know that what has been unleashed will not be pacified easily. Pat Lynch, the head of the NYPD union, gave a speech castigating the left and the Democrats and all but swearing fealty to Trump. The congressional Democrats who embarrassingly kneeled in kente cloth were featured in a video roll call of radicalism alongside the DSA and toppled Confederate statues.

Up-Island

Up-Island

Once upon a pastoral time, whenever that time might be, Martha’s Vineyard was paradise

Martha’s Vineyard has always been a place that gives people their privacy and allows separate, siloed communities to have their own social affairs. “Chilmark midnight” is nine o’clock, at which time things are still going strong down-Island. Only Edgartown and Oak Bluffs allow liquor stores. The summer and year-round crowds are separate, too, more so than in the old days, and so are the ethnic communities, less so than in the old days—there are more cross-cutting ties of old classmates and the like, now—but more than one might imagine.

Belarus Dispatch

Belarus Dispatch

Goodbye, Cockroach?

If you’ve ever compared Fox News commentary on Portland to the hours of video that Robert Evans posts, showing actual events on the ground around the federal courthouse there, then you already understand the dynamic. The past week in Belarus has been as clean a story of good versus evil as exists in the world. It is not a surprise that Belarusian state media took up the cause of evil, but Russian state media was at least faced with a choice. They chose evil too.

The Candy

The Candy

One key difference between the new virus and the old virus is shame. It’s basically impossible to imagine the shame that surrounded the old virus, in the ’80s. And the ’90s, for that matter. And still, for that matter. There were, there are—I suppose—a million tiny shames. Like droplets. You didn’t always know when or how they entered. I don’t remember most of the people I worked with at Scribner’s, though I do recall some, and some details.