In case you missed it, our most popular post last week was Louise Hung’s on the racial politics of Star Trek: Discovery.
Without further ado, here’s what we’re reading…
‘Greta Gerwig’s Radical Confidence‘ (Christine Smallwood for the New York Times Magazine)
Are you a fan of thoughtful, lively, rich profiles of interesting people doing interesting things? You’ll probably like this feature on Greta Gerwig, which manages to be luminous, authentic, and insightful all at the same time.
Her smile is of the huge, gum-baring variety. She talks with her whole body. She was a live wire in Mary Bronstein’s “Yeast” and enchanting in Whit Stillman’s “Damsels in Distress” and a little out of place in Pablo Larraín’s “Jackie,” where all she did was stand around. She needs to be moving — galloping down the street or shoving somebody through a door or doing a shuffle-ball-change. The writer, artist and filmmaker Miranda July, when I asked her about Gerwig’s physicality, told me, “She looks very strong, and she can either spin that into something that’s grounded and familiar and funny or into something that’s really quite beautiful and dancerly.” She can sing and tap too. I’ve heard her compared to Diane Keaton, which I’m sure she’d like — for a while as a teenager she tried to dress like Annie Hall — but I think of her as a taller Irene Dunne. Except that instead of being in movies about love affairs, she is in movies — and making movies — about women self-actualizing and paying their bills.
‘A Very Old Man for a Wolf‘ (Emma Marris for Outside)
With a limited number of wild wolves left, conservationists meticulously study and track every specimen. Though wolves may roam seemingly at will, their lives are more regimented than one might suspect — and sometimes, that ends badly.
The Wallowa Valley, cradled by mountains, was once the home of the Wallowa band of the Nez Percé, and one of its two principal communities is Joseph, named after Chief Joseph, or Hinmatówyalahtqit—Thunder Rises as it Goes. There’s a statue of Chief Joseph in town, and there’s a rodeo named after him, but his descendants are based out of the Colville Indian Reservation in eastern Washington, with the members of 11 other tribes. They were forced to move by the U.S. Army in 1877 so white men could raise livestock here.
‘A Likely Story‘ (Mimi Kramer for Medium)
A considerable number of prominent women are stepping forward to talk about sexual harassment and assault — this is just one among many fantastically thoughtful, probing, sharp essays in circulation at the moment, but it’s a particularly valuable one to read.
That, right there — I’d argue — is the impulse behind sexual harassment. It’s about getting away with something. It’s about seeming to be one sort of person, a “pillar of the community” — responsible, dignified, respectable, a family man, a liberal, a progressive, Presidential, whatever — while really being A Very Bad Boy. That’s exciting for some men. Not the being bad part. The getting-away-with-it part. It isn’t just about power over individuals, the women you victimize. It’s about power over society and the court of public opinion, the thrill of risking everything on one roll of the dice, knowing that it isn’t really all that much of a risk — because nobody will believe her.
‘When a Mother and Daughter Reverse Roles‘ (Marlene Adelstein for Longreads)
As the population ages, more and more people are finding themselves in this position: One in which their parents have become utterly dependent on them, struggling to understand what is happening to them. We all process that experience, however, in very different ways.
Settling my parents into the Windsor and telling Mom where she was and why over and over again was exhausting. She cried, she yelled, she swore. She didn’t want to move, didn’t understand why they had to, or why no one had told her it was happening, despite the fact that she’d visited the place numerous times. How could this difficult woman be my mom? She wore her snow-white hair in the same pixie cut she’d worn for years but her sparkly, sapphire-colored eyes seemed to have become even more intensely blue. She looked at me for help. “Where is this place?” she asked repeatedly as she sat in the living room of the new apartment clutching her purse in her lap.
‘A City’s Lifeblood‘ (Julia Rosen for Oregon Humanities)
This story, about the restoration of a river that’s been polluted and sick for decades, is also a larger story of place, and it’s quite delightful.
Because of its rivers, the Portland area has always been an appealing place to live, first to the Chinookan peoples who called the region home for millennia, and later to the settlers who began flocking to Oregon in the 1830s. Portland was incorporated in 1851, and local Native Americans were removed to reservations in 1856. The young city grew up around the Willamette. The industries along the river’s shores quickly became the city’s beating heart, the current its lifeblood. For the next 150 years, the working river generated both prosperity and pollution—though neither would flow equitably to all of Portland’s residents.
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Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy/Creative Commons