After a heart attack (perhaps two heart attacks), Jeff Sharlet searches for meaning in his own mortality, “This brilliant darkness, with which I am coming to terms.”
Jeff Sharlet’s review of Frances FitzGerald’s new book, The Evangelicals, is itself an important history lesson on American evangelism and politics.
Celebrities, skinny jeans, reality TV ─ Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. has it all, including DJs working the baptism. This is the new breed of Capitalist America’s pastors.
Sharlet reports from the first national gathering of a large group of “men’s rights activists,” who are convinced that the male species is being endangered by feminists.
“Mary Mazur, 61, shrank into the blankets, muttering into the leaves, whispering to her only friend.” An Instagram essay by Jeff Sharlet.
“She loved me. I’ll probably never see her again.” Excerpts from an Instagram essay.
Late night at the Dunkin Donuts: A series of stories by Jeff Sharlet.
Violence, threats and living in fear that things are only going to get worse:
“Something is coming,” says Pavel. What it will be, he’s not sure. He’s worried about “special departments” in local police stations, dedicated to removing children from gay homes. He’s worried about a co-worker discovering him. He is worried about blackmail. He is worried, and he does not know what else to do. He wishes he could fight, but he doesn’t know how. Sign a petition? March in a parade? Pavel would never do that now. “My children,” he murmurs. “This law,” he says, referring to the ban on “propaganda.” “If something happens, it touches only me. And I can protect myself.” But the next law: “This is about my child. My baby.” If the next law passes, they will leave. The two women are doctors and Nik works in higher education, careers that will require new certification. Which means that only Pavel, a manager for the state oil company, will be able to work right away. They will be poor, but they will leave. They might have to separate, Pavel and Irina and Emma to Israel, where Irina can become a citizen, Nik and Zoya and Kristina to any country that will take them. They might have to become the couples they pretend to be. For now, they are staying. “We’re going to teach them,” he says of his two little girls, Emma and Kristina. “How to protect themselves. How to keep silence.”
As our Longreads Member Drive continues (sign up here to join us), we wanted to share more of our Member Picks with everyone, to show how your financial support helps us find and share outstanding storytelling from the past and present. Today we’re thrilled to feature “Quebrado,” by Jeff Sharlet, a professor at Dartmouth, contributing editor for Rolling Stone and bestselling author. The story was first published in Rolling Stone in 2008 and is featured in Sharlet’s book Sweet Heaven When I Die. Thanks to Sharlet for sharing it with the Longreads community.
The story of Harry Belafonte:
“Belafonte was first. First black man to win a Tony; one of the first to star in an all-black Hollywood hit (Carmen Jones, 1954); first to star in a noir (Odds Against Tomorrow, 1959—’best heist-gone-wrong movie ever made,’ says James Ellroy); first to turn down starring roles (To Sir, With Love ; Lilies of the Field ; Porgy and Bess ; Shaft) because, he said, he’d play no part that put a black man on his knees or made of him a cartoon. We’re here in this screening room to watch a forgotten hour of television for which he won the first Emmy awarded to a black man for production, for being in charge.
“When I found the show in the archive, I thought it would be more of what I believed I already knew about Belafonte. The albums I’d bought were labeled ‘easy listening’ or ‘folk,’ as in harmonizing trios who wore matching sweaters. Then I watched. My eyes went wide. I started shaking my head in disbelief. I think I gasped. I was wearing the archive’s cheap headphones, sitting at a monitor in a dark room. Other researchers hunched over screens, all our faces flickering blue. I laughed. I slapped the desk. My eyes watered. Goddamn. I felt like I was watching a different past, one in which the revolution had been televised. Goddamn. As if that was what TV was for. A signal. This, I thought, this.”