The Unlikely Rise of Slim Pickins, the First Black-Owned Outdoors Retailer in the Country

While the numbers are slowly getting better, there’s no question that the world of outdoor recreation is still slanted heavily away from Black participation. It’s an imbalance that Jahmicah Dawes is trying mightily to change — and has been ever since he opened his Texas store in 2017. Which isn’t to say he hasn’t weathered some storms along the way, as Ian Dille’s profile makes clear.

Throughout the summer of 2020, Dawes would look at his young sons and wonder, How am I going to keep them safe? Stress mounted. The shop continued to struggle. To make payroll, Dawes took night shifts at Home Depot and H-E-B, stocking shelves. Heather, who at the time ran a nonprofit pregnancy support clinic, found herself looking around their home, thinking, Okay, what can we sell? When Dawes fell asleep driving home from an evening shift, Heather knew he needed help.

Author: Ian Dille
Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Aug 10, 2022
Length: 15 minutes (3,938 words)

The Powerful, Unlikely Force Shaping Modern TV

Eighteen years after Lost premiered, we’re living in a golden age of fan-theory TV. But where once that dynamic rankled showrunners and writers, Shirley Li writes, it’s now more of a symbiotic détente.

That understanding, he said, seems to have led the relationship between writers and fans to “a more mutually beneficial place,” in which writers can appreciate the effort that goes into fan input rather than fear what they produce. But coming up with theories on the internet isn’t the same as outlining a season’s worth of plot in the writers’ room. No amount of detective work will place a viewer directly inside a writer’s head. No amount of soaking up fan commentary will ensure positive feedback in the future.

Author: Shirley Li
Source: The Atlantic
Published: Aug 9, 2022
Length: 7 minutes (1,759 words)

She Never Hurt Her Kids. So Why Is a Mother Serving More Time Than the Man Who Abused Her Daughter?

Oklahoma incarcerates more women than almost any other state. Under its punishing, under-the-radar “failure to protect” law, mothers — even those who are victims of domestic violence — can be sent to prison because of their supposed failure to keep their children out of harm’s way. In this devastating read, Samantha Michaels tells the story of one Oklahoma woman, Kerry King, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison — but had never hurt her kids.

These laws also create an impossible dynamic that makes survivors less likely to report what’s happening to police. When someone calls 911 after being abused by a partner, some cops open a child welfare investigation if there are kids in the family. So if a mother calls 911, she risks losing her kids; if she doesn’t, she risks being prosecuted for failure to protect. As one legal expert suggests, there’s no way to win.

Source: Mother Jones
Published: Aug 9, 2022
Length: 33 minutes (8,303 words)

Looking for Clarence Thomas

He grew up speaking a language of the enslaved on the shores of Pin Point, Georgia. He would become the most powerful Black man in America, using the astonishing power vested in a Supreme Court justice to hold back his own people. Now he sits atop an activist right-wing court poised to undo the progressivism of the past century:

All America has ever seen is race. To pretend otherwise is to deny the truth of your and my life. Ain’t no amount of Federalist Society cant or jurisprudence dressed up in novel and abstruse legal theories or self-serving advice cautioning Black people to cease talking about race is gone change that. How can we stop talking? It boggles my mind that you fetishize a document that held in its original form that women were not and wouldn’t ever be citizens, that your/our people were not and wouldn’t ever be humans.

Like you can’t see that there were many things that document held to be true that were not true, many things that the framers, no few of them our enslavers, got incontrovertibly, manifestly wrong. Like in your “textualist” or “originalist” or “natural law”—or whatever term you apply to give a good account of your work—reading of it, you failed to divine that one of their main intents was for no Black person to set foot in a courthouse less it be in chains. Come the fuck on; that document in its best, most pristine, unblemished, unamended form is a Greatest Hits, circa 1788.

Ain’t that when they had us, Clarence? Ain’t that where they want us?

Easy for you to say, make it on your own, stop talking about race. Did you make it on your own? And of the things that fill that prodigious mind of yours, name one larger than race, Black man. I dare you.

My god, dude, what the hell happened to you?

Source: Esquire
Published: Aug 8, 2022
Length: 26 minutes (6,500 words)

What Is Elon Musk?

Lane Brown’s look at Elon Musk may not offer any answers as to what actually makes him tick — but it’s still a fascinating look at the many facets of this cultural force.

So far, his 2022 has included multiple accusations of racial discrimination from employees; a resurfaced sexual-harassment allegation from a SpaceX flight attendant; the recall of nearly 600,000 Tesla vehicles; animal-cruelty complaints against Neuralink; the discovery of three publicly unacknowledged children; and a Wall Street Journalclaim that he had an affair with Sergey Brin’s estranged wife, Nicole Shanahan, that led to the Google co-founder filing for divorce.

Author: Lane Brown
Source: Intelligencer
Published: Aug 8, 2022
Length: 10 minutes (2,532 words)

Seven Stowaways and a Hijacked Oil Tanker: The Strange Case of The Nave Andromeda

Samira Shackle’s reporting in this piece for The Guardian is both impressive and moving. Investigating the full-scale commando raid that took place after a distress call from the Nave Andromeda, Shackle finds the seven confused, and innocent, stowaways at the heart of it.

Almost three weeks after they had climbed on to the rudder in Lagos, the seven men were led off the Nave Andromeda in handcuffs and taken to Southampton Central police station, a red-brick building across the road from the port. On board the ship, they had felt like they were in prison. But their confinement was just beginning.

Source: The Guardian
Published: Jun 9, 2022
Length: 23 minutes (5,925 words)

The Path Forward

The story behind the disappearance of a young man. The focus is not on the event — what happened is still unknown — but on the people left at home, flailing around to do something useful. Ben Libman is one of them, trying to trace his friend through spreadsheets tracking his movements. A personal and moving account.

There you all are, gliding along the same timeline, the destination obscure but the way predictable. And then, without anyone taking notice, someone falls off. At that very moment, he slips onto another track, and time forks. Only you don’t know it yet.

Author: Ben Libman
Source: Maisonneuve
Published: Jun 24, 2022
Length: 20 minutes (5,177 words)

“We Need to Take Away Children.”

An extraordinary investigation into the Trump administration’s family separation policy:

Over the past year and a half, I have conducted more than 150 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of internal government documents, some of which were turned over to me only after a multiyear lawsuit. These records show that as officials were developing the policy that would ultimately tear thousands of families apart, they minimized its implications so as to obscure what they were doing. Many of these officials now insist that there had been no way to foresee all that would go wrong. But this is not true. The policy’s worst outcomes were all anticipated, and repeated internal and external warnings were ignored. Indeed, the records show that almost no logistical planning took place before the policy was initiated.

It’s been said of other Trump-era projects that the administration’s incompetence mitigated its malevolence; here, the opposite happened. A flagrant failure to prepare meant that courts, detention centers, and children’s shelters became dangerously overwhelmed; that parents and children were lost to each other, sometimes many states apart; that four years later, some families are still separated—and that even many of those who have been reunited have suffered irreparable harm.

Source: The Atlantic
Published: Aug 8, 2022
Length: 114 minutes (28,600 words)

Tinder Hearted

An essay on the author’s “Tinder decade” — ten years spent swiping, dating, ghosting, getting ghosted, and considering how the app shapes lives:

I learned to be buoyant in the face of disappointment. So many of these dates were just people plucked out of a random void and returned to that void after. The memory of their rejection couldn’t last if they didn’t. Plus there was always another message, another hit, another Jay to distract me. If there were long-term effects from this creeping sensation of disposability, I didn’t pay any attention.

Instead, I was like a laboratory: both scientist and experiment, learning what parts of my personality worked on another person. I learned to dress as someone who dated but wasn’t obviously on a date: no dresses, minimal makeup, casual shoes, “accidental” cleavage. I could intuit when the conversation had landed on the right frisson point to offer my number and on the inside joke that would carry us from text to in-person meeting. I had a handful of bars I could rely on for lighting that suited me, music that made me seem knowledgeable, and a repartee with the bartender in case the date was bad. I kept mental notes about what worked. I threw out the Madewell jeans I was wearing when the dude excused himself, talked on the phone for an hour, and came back with a halfhearted excuse about an elevator emergency in the building he managed. It was certainly the jeans’ fault he was setting up his next date while on our date. Every nonstarter was a chance for self-improvement.

Published: Aug 1, 2022
Length: 25 minutes (6,354 words)

The Making of Silent Bruce

The tragic end to Bruce Willis’ career — aphasia that challenges his speaking and cognition — shouldn’t befall anyone. Yet, as Matt Zoller Seitz points out in an incisive reading of the actor’s oeuvre, Willis long ago chose a path that would eerily presage his eventual diagnosis.

You could say Willis’s career was never the same after Pulp Fiction — you could also say it never recovered. He had built a gilded cage for himself, and it was hard to get out. His off-brand, often indie-film performances indicated he didn’t want to be defined solely by glowerers and killers any more than he had wanted to be confined to playing wiseasses back in the Moonlighting days. But whenever he played “character” roles, as in Breakfast of Champions, The Siege, Hart’s War, Alpha Dog, Fast Food Nation, and The Astronaut Farmer, he didn’t pop, as the filmmakers clearly wanted him to. Willis was too subtle to just rumble into a scene and mulch it — an approach his more acclaimed peers (from Jack Nicholson and Robert Duvall to Billy Bob Thornton and John Malkovich) were willing and able to take. For all the manic charisma Willis displayed early in his career, he was unwilling (or unable) to go big in the manner of a movie star hamming it up. He was nuanced in the best and worst way.

Published: Aug 3, 2022
Length: 11 minutes (2,827 words)