Smart Reads: Homophobic One-Percenters in Drag, Living at 93, and Interminable Winters


Behold, the resurrection of Smart Reads! In which I highlight some fun or intriguing or culturally crucial corners of the internet which I happened to have read. And so should you, smart reader. Click the SmartReads tag and bask in the Smart!

  • Kevin Roose has published an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Young Money, at New York Magazine and it is a doozy. Titled “One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society,” he describes his unlikely undercover investigation of the secret society known as Kappa Beta Phi. That members of the One Percent would gather to further insulate themselves from the reality of this economic crisis they helped cause does not surprise me. It’s repulsive, but not terribly surprising. That members of this cult would celebrate their own soulless greed in the form of homophobic jokes, musical theater parodies, and drag…? I’d be interested to hear what both Sigmund Freud and RuPaul have to say about that.
  • “My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I’ve learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. If he sends back a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind.” So sayeth Roger Angell in the New Yorker, in a remarkably warm and charming reflection on aging. At an impressive 93, Angell hasn’t lost an iota of his wit, shifting between bemusement and ache and simple joy in poignant passages that brought tears to my eyes. Of the many friends and family who have died during his lifetime, he asks, “Why am I not endlessly grieving?” Clearly buoyed by their memory, Angell imbues an essay that should sound somber with an infectious sense of gratitude.
  • And lastly, Erin Gloria Ryan offers thoughts on the “foot-deep layer of dread so thick we can’t feel anything anymore,” aka this brutal winter. I admire her ability to really put things into perspective; that is, this relentless snow turns so much of our daily lives into a despair so utterly overwhelming, it’s underwhelming. There’s an almost comforting undercurrent of solidarity, though, so that’s nice. Reading this piece was not the first time I wondered why I’m trudging through gray slush here, and not blogging from a beach back in Hawai’i.

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