Search Results for: Outside

The Weird Space That Lies Outside Our Solar System

Longreads Pick

Launched in the 1970s, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 — the first two spacecraft and human-made objects to leave our solar system — have reached interstellar space and now beam back images from this mysterious region.

Source: BBC
Published: Sep 8, 2020
Length: 8 minutes (2,234 words)

Adventures in Publishing Outside the Gates

Longreads Pick

When Latinx author Wendy C. Ortiz shopped her memoir, Excavation, about the inappropriate sexual relationship her eighth grade English teacher initiated with her, mainstream publishers wouldn’t give her the time of day. She published it with tiny Future Tense Books, and the book gained a strong following. Among her readers was white author Kate Elizabeth Russell, whose forthcoming novel, My Dark Vanessa — for which she received a seven-figure deal and a blurb from Stephen King —  is remarkably similar. In this essay, Ortiz takes the white-dominated publishing industry to task for its longstanding discrimination against, and erasure of, writers of color.

Source: Gay Magazine
Published: Jan 29, 2020
Length: 14 minutes (3,521 words)

‘People Outside This Community Know About Us Because of One Moment in Time.’

Longreads Pick
Source: 5280 Magazine
Published: Apr 1, 2019
Length: 12 minutes (3,216 words)

A Woman’s Work: The Outside Story

Longreads Pick
Source: Longreads
Published: Jan 2, 2019
Length: 23 minutes (5,775 words)

A Woman’s Work: The Outside Story

All artwork by Carolita Johnson

Carolita Johnson | Longreads | January 2019 | 23 minutes (5,775 words)

When I freelanced as a “fit model” in the early aughts (the unglamorous kind of modeling that helps patternmakers adjust their patterns to fit humans correctly) I signed a contract with my agency that legally bound me to “maintain” my “appearance” while they represented me. My skin, all my visible hair (on my head, my eyebrows, my legs, armpits, and face), as well as my weight and several key body measurements all fell under this rubric.

There is nothing unreasonable about this: the main part of the job, besides the obvious — trying clothing on for patternmakers to see if there’s anything in an item that needs correcting, to avoid producing thousands of flawed garments — is to make sure your body is always the same so that a designer can produce clothing that is a consistent fit. The unspoken truth is that even though it’s technically only about measurements, it wouldn’t do to show up without a minimum of good hair and makeup, looking as attractive as you possibly can with whatever looks you pulled in the Lotto of good looks. This goes for all size categories, from junior to plus size.

Accordingly, my accountant and I came up with a deductible category we called “maintenance” — well, I came up with it and she translated it into the IRS-accepted language — and under this category I placed gym membership expenses, haircuts (and eventual hair color as I aged, because my gray hairs upset some designers even if their clothes still fit me perfectly), mani-pedis, and occasional waxing for lingerie and swimwear jobs. I might even have been able to get Botox deducted if I’d kept doing the job long enough. I left it to my accountant to decide what I could legally include.

For context, just because most people are curious about the job description, the ideal fit model has a body that isn’t extraordinary in any way. I was a size 6/junior medium, a size for which there’s a relatively small market, so I didn’t work 9 to 5 like a size 10 or a size 18W would have. This was what made the job perfect for a cartoonist/writer like me.

It was extremely enjoyable to be able to deduct these expenses for that relatively brief period of my life as a woman. It never escaped my ironic notice that with few exceptions, most women feel contractually bound to maintain their appearance in all the same ways I had to as a pro, while paying for it all on a sliding scale from “religiously” to “happily” to “begrudgingly,” usually depending on the amount of social and financial power they are born into or acquire through hard work or marriage.


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Turning Love and Grief into Outsider Art

Photo by Chris Bethell

After one artist’s partner and parents died, he transformed his small London house into his greatest work of art, room by room, covering and filling the space with collage, sculpture, painting, and writing. At Vice, Joe Zadeh takes readers through Stephen Wright’s House of Dreams, where he lives, takes his morning tea, and receives visitors who feel compelled to share their own stories. Wright never intended for his house to become a public shrine, but he’s pleased it did. As he tells Zadeh, “It’s about being human. We are all here to support each other in some way. So it’s not a problem. My heart is big enough to do that.” All in all, this is a love story.

The purely decorative aspect of the House of Dreams fell away and powerful subtexts flooded in. Objects were still chosen for their colours, but also for the memory or symbolism attached to them. Stephen wanted things that were chipped or smelled or sticky or stained. He wanted things that were unwashed. A trace of DNA was important to him. He wanted jackets with mess spilled down them, shoes with a stench, combs with hair in – materials that had life in them. These objects quickly began to fill the walls throughout the house. When he walked from room to room, he could sometimes smell a complete stranger. He liked that.

He cried as he created, but the physical grind of the work itself became a source of solace: the birthing of a sculpture, the mixing of cement, the tedium of mosaicing, the endless sorting of objects. He fed off it. Working with his hands felt like a connection to his parents. He wanted to feel exhausted at the end of each day, he wanted to be hardly able to get into bed.

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Outside Voices

Longreads Pick

After never knowing a moment’s privacy, Sloane Crosley finally moves into the one-bedroom apartment of her dreams in the city that never sleeps. And then she never sleeps again, because all of her windows face Jared.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Mar 16, 2018
Length: 25 minutes (6,250 words)

Outside the Manson Pinkberry

Longreads Pick
Source: The Believer
Published: Nov 6, 2017
Length: 20 minutes (5,150 words)

Why the “Black Grateful Dead” Thrives Outside of Top 40 Radio

Frankie Beverly from Maze performs in Chicago in 1986. (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

For the Undefeated, music writer and essayist Bruce Britt offers a compelling history of soul band Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly, whose ebullient hits like “Before I Let Go,” “Joy and Pain,” and “Happy Feelin’s” have been mainstays of black American social gatherings for nearly half a century. Deeply entrenched racial divisions in the music industry have allowed Maze to become one of American music’s best kept secrets.

Betty Shaw experienced Maze’s engrossing stagecraft firsthand. She was 25 when she first saw the band in 1978. At the time, Shaw was a recently separated mother of three with dim employment prospects and a deeply troubled mind. One day, she took her sister up on an invitation to attend the Kool Jazz Festival in Milwaukee. There, during Maze’s performance of “Happy Feelin’s,” Shaw had an epiphany. “It was such an experience,” she recalled. “I had never even heard ‘Happy Feelin’s’ … but the way Frankie presented the song, it was giving you the feeling like everything is going to be all right. The song says, ‘I’ve got myself to remind me of love,’ and since I have this love in me, I’m not going to give up on life. It was like a turning point in my mind.”

With Maze winning converts on the road and Arnold converting the nation’s programming directors, the stage was set for Maze to become a crossover breakthrough. Yet, despite all the hard work, debut album sales stalled at around 600,000 copies. It was an impressive showing by ’70s industry standards but far from the million-plus units that Arnold had envisioned. He believes Capitol didn’t try hard enough to help the album realize its tremendous sales potential.

“I had a lot of fights with my pop promotion department because they would never expose the album to white FM,” Arnold said. “That first time I saw Maze at the Fillmore West, the whole audience was white. I know if white people were exposed to Maze, they’d like it, but the belief at the time was, ‘Well, white people really don’t want to listen to black music.’ And I’m saying, ‘Look — it’s not just ‘black’ music!’ ”

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