Erin Keane

'Govern me, daddy': How Kentucky's Governor Andy Beshear became a clean-cut sex symbol for the coronavirus age

Of all the wild turns 2020 could have taken, I doubt anyone had "Kentucky's new governor becomes a sex symbol during the coronavirus crisis" on their bingo card, but here we are. Or rather, here we were until Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, 42, delivered a loving yet stern call-out during his press briefing Wednesday to defiant bingo halls that weren't closing to enforce social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These updates, live-streamed daily at 5 p.m. Eastern time, have become must-see and -listen events for Kentuckians thanks to Beshear's combo of trustworthy information, empathy, and uplifting we're all in this together messages. "If you are a bingo parlor in Pike County, you ought to be closed by the end of today," he said, with unmistakable concern in his eyes. "Those parlors cater to an older and more at-risk crowd." Forget being brave enough to face the toilet paper-hoarding supermarket crowds, there's a new benchmark for courage: Andy Beshear's not scared of angering stir-crazy grandmothers in order to protect his people.

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Here are 7 must-read novels to kick off 2020 right

The new year brings so many tantalizing possibilities, including a resolution to read more – whether it's to fulfill a shiny new book challenge for 2020 or just fill your brain with something more nourishing than the noise from the depressing news cycle and social media. This is a chance to make a new author discovery, enjoy the next bestseller, or even possibly change your life. It's a new decade; bring on the books!

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Now that Ivanka can't pretend there's not a gigantic mess in the White House, she appeals to her core audience

On Thursday, as the House of Representatives voted to proceed with a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, his Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump — first daughter, daughter first — met the extraordinary circumstances of this historic moment with an unusual reaction of her own: She acknowledged that the dumpster she’s sitting in is actually on fire.

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Ronan Farrow's high-wire act: Why it matters that 'Catch and Kill' is such a page-turner

Most stories about journalism, outside of active war zone reporting, are not exactly thrilling to observe. Journalism itself — the grinding, sometimes grubby, day-to-day practice of it — rarely is. A lot of the work behind even the most explosive stories can be tedious; for every heart-racing secret meeting in a parking garage, there are thousands of hours spent waiting to be called back by people who do not really want to call you back. Even acclaimed films like “The Post” and “Spotlight” — built around the biggest, era-defining investigations — must work their cinematic tension exquisitely to make document diving and note taking exciting enough to watch, let alone stand for Best Picture.

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Americans are sitting so much it's becoming a public health issue

It seems that exercise trends and a rise in the popularity of standing desks have not been doing much for our sedentary lifestyles: A new study finds that American are sitting more than we were 10 years ago.

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The paradox of toxic masculinity: Why gender norms are set up to privilege straight white men — who in turn 'are eating themselves alive'

Novelist Jared Yates Sexton catapulted onto the national media radar in 2016 when his dispatches from Donald Trump presidential campaign rallies — prompting me to ask him once, "how does a nice creative writing professor end up covering the presidential election?" — revealed a cultural insider's perspective on the rise of Trump. He avoided the press pen and moved among Trump's rowdiest supporters, where he was able to observe up close the toxic levels of white-male rage directed at Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and their supporters, which Trump exploited all the way to the White House.

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Game of Thrones recap: Don’t send a king to do an assassin’s job

The opening shot of “The Long Night,” episode three of the final “Game of Thrones” season — which we know will bring the fight between the dead and the living, foretold in that very first episode, to Winterfell — is a close-up of a pair of shaking hands. Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) is not a warrior — he knows this, we know this — but the scholar and former Night’s Watchman has refused to hide in the crypts with the women and children, so into his trembling hands a pair of dragonglass daggers go. The dead are coming, and if they’re lucky the ensuing battle will make heroes of a few, along with the expected martyrs. A good deal more will be slain on the field, where the best they can hope for then is to stay dead where they fall.(Melanie McFarland, Salon’s TV critic and your regular guide to “Game of Thrones” episodes, is off this weekend, so you’re stuck with me, a person who dreads long battle scenes so much she signed up to recap one of the most important in TV history to date. Just picture me in Night King “bring it” stance.)Even the battleworn among them are terrified, with good reason. If you want to make the Lord of Light LOL, make plans. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) skulks off to the crypts, wine sack in hand, to wait it out with Varys (Conleth Hill) and the women and kids. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is wheeled to his rendezvous with death, the blood-red leaves of the godswood rising menacingly above the ramparts, where Theon (Alfie Allen) and a handful of extras will guard him until the Night King comes to finish old business.

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'They were our electorate': David Carr's daughter explains why MSNBC, CNN and Fox News elected Donald Trump

Documentary filmmaker Erin Lee Carr is known for her incisive portraits of complicated, dark subjects: "Mommy Dead and Dearest," the HBO documentary that led the current media avalanche of attention on Munchausen syndrome by proxy victim Gypsy Rose Blanchard's murder of her mother Dee Dee; "Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop" and "I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter," both of which, like "Mommy Dead and Dearest," examine the intersections of technology and criminal law; and "At the Heart of Gold," premiering this month at Tribeca Film Festival, about the U.S. gymnastics team sexual abuse survivors whose powerful statements at the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar captivated a nation in the midst of reckoning openly with the #MeToo movement.

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Is Amy Klobuchar is being smeared by sexist 'mean boss' stories?

On Friday, the New York Times published a story with a deceptively understated headline: “How Amy Klobuchar Treats Her Staff.” The first implication carried by such a headline is “poorly,” of course — happy workplace families, being all alike, are not stories. The second is “exceptionally so,” positioned as crucial information for voters to have going forward into the interminable Democratic presidential primary.

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'There's no way to save up money': 'Maid' author Stephanie Land on the rigged math of being poor

"I'm sorry I'm so distracted," Stephanie Land says to me. Not that I could tell.  At that point we had been on the phone for 45 minutes talking about her new memoir "Maid," which chronicles the years she spent working as a housecleaner, balancing hard physical labor in a low-wage, high-stress job with single parenting and college, and throughout our conversation Land's focus has not ever appeared to waver.

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Here's what a skeptic learned from consulting psychics, astrologers, tarot readers, empaths and more

Victoria Loustalot didn't set out to write another memoir, exactly, when she decided to spend a year interviewing psychics, astrologers, tarot card readers, shamans and other mystic art professionals about their work to examine what's real, what's fake and what's just wishful thinking in the relationship between them and their customers and fans. Unlike her acclaimed memoir "How You Say Goodbye," this story — "a skeptic's search for an honest mystic," as it's billed — wasn't initially meant to be about a personal journey. And yet a psychic she visited on a bachelorette party trip gave her a preview of a future relationship that ended up coming eerily true, and after she embarked down the path of investigation that became her new book "Future Perfect," she told me, "it ended up being by far one of my most personal projects."

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins the rigged conservative shame game - by refusing to play

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can’t win.

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A literature professor explains what everyone gets wrong about Hunter S. Thompson

It's easy to appreciate Hunter S. Thompson first and foremost for his style, for that famous Gonzo prose knocked off so often (and often so poorly) it's almost startling to revisit his work and realize how clear-eyed and articulate both his fear and loathing always were on the page. In Timothy Denevi's new biography, "Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson's Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism," fear and loathing receive a re-appraisal as the rhetorical framework that Thompson employed deliberately and with very specific ends in mind while creating some of the most influential journalism of the 1960s and '70s.

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With Kavanaugh's Confirmation, the Patriarchy Strikes Back

When Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, made the dramatic announcement on Friday afternoon that she would vote in favor of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, she took pains to paint herself first as supportive of Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who testified to the Senate that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school (an allegation the judge denied under oath), and of the #MeToo movement in general.

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The 'Roseanne' Revival We Really Needed is the One They’d Never Make

In the end, ABC’s experiment of reviving “Roseanne” — a sitcom once beloved for its portrayal of the loving and lovingly imperfect working-class Connor family during a time when such families were hard to come by on primetime — was a failure.

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'Bullsh*t Jobs' is the One Book Every Millennial and Generation Z New Graduate Should Read

When I graduated college in the late ’90s, I carried forth into the cold wage-paying world the career wisdom of Lloyd Dobler on how to avoid losing my soul to undesirable work. Big-hearted slacker Lloyd (John Cusack), the hero of Cameron Crowe’s 1989 romantic comedy “Say Anything,” is asked by the father (the late, great John Mahoney) of his date, valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye, in a once-in-a-generation role), what he wants to do now that they have graduated from high school.

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It's Too Early To Forgive Male Celebrities Taken Down By #MeToo

Even F. Scott Fitzgerald learned — flogged-to-death quote from his unfinished novel “The Last Tycoon” notwithstanding — that second acts in American lives are possible, as he wrote in his less-frequently quoted essay “My Lost City”: “I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days.”

Several recent stories suggest a collective hope for second acts endures, as speculation gathers on how celebrity men disgraced by #MeToo reporting might stage comebacks after being accused of sexual harassment, misconduct or abuse, and losing lofty platforms and incredibly lucrative jobs as a result.

The truth is America can’t resist a second act; our national myths are founded on them. A fervent belief in personal reinvention for men (of mostly European heritage) runs through the country’s creation. And so it’s no wonder that after several months of what was described as a “reckoning” — the falls from grace of many powerful men accused of sexual harassment and abuse, sparked by the New York Times and New Yorker Pulitzer Prize-winning exposés of Harvey Weinstein’s long trail of rape and abuse allegations and fueled by the rallying cry of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement — which is by no means over yet, we're simultaneously waiting for the curtain to rise on the next part of the story.

Whiling away the days in shamed exile? Boring. A redemption arc — now there’s a story.

The possibilities are so intriguing that similar comeback narratives have been floated recently about Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Mario Batali and Matt Lauer, all wondering if — but mostly about when and how — the fallen heroes will stage their triumphant second acts.

Louis C.K.: Just tell jokes about it!

Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter talked to a number of comedians about whether or not a comeback is feasible for Louis C.K., who admitted to acts of sexual misconduct after years of rumors about his abusive treatment of women comedians finally became a reported story in the New York Times.

THR posits that this is basically a done deal, as in, “the question is not really whether C.K. will eventually come back but when, where and how” perhaps because the “consensus is that while his behavior was clearly wrong it was not at the level of a Harvey Weinstein, James Toback or Bill Cosby.”

Christopher Titus thinks C.K. should avoid the mea culpa interviews. “He needs to work on his best comedy about how he was a douche and how he is trying to make amends to women.”

Comic Sean Patton echoes that notion, saying, “The only way he comes back is if he heals — he should do an hour special that breaks down why it was wrong and how he’s made amends.”

Both [Carolines’ executive talent producer Louis] Faranda and [Comedy Cellar owner Noam] Dworman say they’d hand C.K. their microphones tomorrow.

If a genius like C.K. could just apply his talent to his current predicament, this thinking goes, he could buy his way out of exile with the powerful currency of his act. (Self-deprecation, it would seem in his case, would qualify as “punching up.”)

Charlie Rose: Just make yourself the story!

Meanwhile, at home in tony yet low-key Bellport, Long Island — the “un-Hamptons,” if you will — Charlie Rose lurks where he once held court, an April 12 feature from THR reports. Rose was fired from CBS and PBS for sexual harassment allegations made by eight women, including Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, who worked for his show in 2003 and 2004 and, according to THR, “feels both anger and sympathy” for Rose.

"I believe he is struggling, and it pains me knowing he is in pain," she says. "Charlie's entire life was defined by who he was as a journalist — and he is one of the best we have ever had … [but] Charlie used his power, at times, to assault many women who worked for him. This pattern went on for almost 30 years," continues Godfrey-Ryan, who says she endured Rose's nudity as well as phone calls expressing his fantasies of seeing her naked in his pool.

The consensus among Rose’s friends seems to be that he won’t return to the public eye, but an ostensibly accidental tweet — simply the letter “H” posted on March 18 on his timeline, which had been silent since he posted his statement responding to the accusations on November 20 — elicited an outpouring of enthusiasm from fans who would love to see him return to work.

“I miss U on tv!” replied one fan, adding a sad emoji face. “Please come back,” another implored. “We've all made mistakes in life but it's how we learn and grow that matters,” writes another. “Keep your head up. This too shall pass.”

At 76, it might simply be time for Rose to retire. But there still remains some interest in how Rose might have reported on the #MeToo movement and his role in it. Godfrey-Ryan, who tells THR that she is rooting for Rose to undergo a transformation and get his second chance, thinks “someone as brilliant as Charlie” could have found a way to pull it off.

"He could have dived into research about the male ego and tried to get to the root of why this pattern of abuse is so common with positions of power. He could have used this moment to change the state-of-play in journalism," she said.

Louis C.K. and Charlie Rose don’t have similar careers — one’s a profane comedian, one a venerable TV news anchor — but they both occupy a similarly breathless stratosphere of respect from audiences who apparently find a certain combination of intellectual rigor and relentless self-absorption irresistible.

If geniuses like these two men can apply their superior talents to telling their own sordid stories, evidently, fans won’t be able to help but welcome them back into the spotlight.

Mario Batali Who Just Do Good Stuff?

On April 2, New York Times food writer Kim Severson reported from a meeting between Mario Batali and a member of an ad hoc war council of trusted advisors who have been helping the celebrity chef “figure out how his life and career might recover from a disastrous turn.”

That disastrous turn, as Severson explains, happened to be the fallout from allegations of “a decades-long pattern of abusive behavior” in the workplace and at his friends’ restaurants, “from lewd, drunken propositions to physical groping, including one incident at the Spotted Pig in the West Village in which a woman appeared too intoxicated to respond.”

Fired by his TV network gigs with his branded merchandise yanked off shelves, he has largely dropped out of professional sight, following a time-honored script of celebrity scandal-weathering.

In his downtime, Batali's been working on some ideas for the next act: Create “a new company led by a powerful woman chief executive,” traveling to Rwanda and Greece to work with refugees and launching a program to travel with fellow chefs to work with displaced Rwandans. Good deeds are a time-honored PR strategy for repairing a damaged reputation, and one of the handiest tools in a beleaguered celeb's box.

It might even work, although one of Batali’s advisors cautioned, in regards to the entire industry, “this is not a scandal, this is a paradigm shift. The old ‘wait it out and return appearing humbled’ prescription no longer applies.”

According to Severson, though, while his fellow food celebrities might be shunning him publicly, privately, some “suggest the time has come for a more nuanced approach to replace the scorched-earth policy toward men who have harassed women — one that allows something resembling redemption.”

And the guy to pull that off just might be Batali, they’re saying — he’s that talented, and has a committed fan base calling for his return. A bold charitable gesture would give his more conscientious fans reason enough to claim that he’s a good man under it all, so can't we move on and get back to business?

Matt Lauer: Find out if anyone actually misses you first

Disgraced former “Today” host Matt Lauer, fired from his plum NBC perch after a laundry list of allegations of sexual harassment and predatory behavior in the workplace came out back in November, recently emerged from the actual Hamptons to let himself be spotted — oh so casually — by Page Six at the same Manhattan restaurant where Donald Trump’s embattled attorney Michael Cohen was dining.

Lauer, who ate with the owner of Modell’s Sporting Goods, “is said to be testing the waters for a public comeback by coming out of hiding.” Now that his marriage is over, “he’s ready to restart his life, pals say.”

This is a shrewd approach — let the gossip trickle out that Lauer is considering a comeback, and see how people react. Too much shade and he might, like the groundhog after seeing the shadow of his bold-faced name, decide to retreat back to the Hamptons to continue to lick his wounds and wait for the details around his firing to become a bit fuzzier in the collective memory.

After all, Lauer — unlike C.K. and Rose and Batali — is not often hailed as a genius. He’s a decent TV anchor who is now known as “the guy with a dungeon button in his office,” and that guy is a guy the entire universe can probably live without. He wasn't even particularly beloved before the terrible stories came out. And as Harvey Weinstein could tell him, when the guy everyone secretly hates gets taken down, few will stand around cheering for him to get back up.

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Should We Let 'Roseanne' Speak for the Rust Belt?

ABC’s “Roseanne” revival is officially a hit, and not only because it’s reaping the fruits of network TV nostalgia like “Will & Grace” and “Fuller House” before it. Because of the scrutiny the national media has placed on voters like those at the center of the show — a working-class household headed by white Baby Boomers with high school educations in post-industrial middle America — “Roseanne” is under the microscope not only for whether its humor holds up, but for what the show and its reception might tell us about the state of American politics. Critics and viewers alike are watching for the intersection points between the politics of its outspoken eponymous star, a Donald Trump supporter, and the politics of the show itself.

When Trump made a point to call Roseanne Barr and congratulate her on the premiere’s high ratings, and then praised the show’s success in a speech, saying “it was about us,” he cemented the show’s place in the current culture war. Now “Roseanne” can’t possibly be just a TV show. It’s going to be the blue-collar story we talk about, no matter how many other shows today, as my colleague Melanie McFarland points out, also depict the struggles of a struggling America.

This is by design. There was no way America could watch “Roseanne” in 2018, knowing what we had been told about the show ahead of its premiere, without wondering what it could tell us about “Trump voters” as they have been reductively painted by reportersand think-pieces galore. The premiere delivered on that promise, painting Roseanne Connor's "it's about jobs!" support for Trump against her sister Jackie's "nasty woman"-style preaching in an intrafamily war of archetypes: It's snowflakes vs. deplorables, round 37!

Barr herself told a room full of TV critics back in January, "I've always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people and of working-class people. And in fact it was working-class people who elected Trump.” In fact it wasn’t, but Barr — who is in many ways Exhibit A, as a Trump supporter who paid $1.78 million for a macadamia farm in Hawaii — is hardly alone in believing in this wildly persistent myth.

Back in January, executive producer and co-showrunner Whitney Cummings explained in an essay for Vulture that one reason she wanted to work on the new “Roseanne” — aside from the fact that the original had been a touchstone of her childhood, like so many of us who grew up loving the snarky, loud, loving Connor clan — was that “giving my brain to a show that touched the hearts and got the eyeballs of so many working-class people is how I could finally do my part to help us all make sense of the election. Working on 'Roseanne' meant I could write for characters who had different beliefs and experiences than me and who may even have voted differently than me.”

Since Cummings tasked the act of reviving a beloved sitcom with the responsibility of "help[ing] us all make sense of the election," consuming “Roseanne” became an act fraught with meaning. White liberal viewers are supposed to tune in not because Roseanne's perspective will necessarily resonate with them, but because it’s not supposed to — watching the unapologetic Trump voter be the heroine of her mixed-politics family is more an act of penance for co-signing Hillary Clinton’s dismissal of the "basket of deplorables” and for freezing out Trump voters in their own personal circles after the election.

Trump voters, for their part, can tune in to feel absolved of all charges of racism, homophobia and misogyny via the show's cleansing of Roseanne's motives: she supports a woman's right to bodily autonomy, she loves her black granddaughter and her gender-fluid grandson. See? No deplorable! When Roseanne gets her laughs from the studio audience — and make no mistake, the laugh track is on her side — perhaps they are supposed to feel by extension that they are finally being painted in a favorable light by the very liberal Hollywood elites they are constantly being told to distrust by their president and preferred pundits.

Then both sides are supposed to come together, harmonicas in hand, and play the theme song? I guess? Then what?

This seems like an absurd amount of weight to put on the shoulders of a single story, but we've been here before. When venture capitalist J.D. Vance published his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” in 2016, during the height of Trump Mania, much of the rest of the country embraced him as the designated Poor White Appalachian Explainer, using his family’s specific story as a way to generalize about the socioeconomic challenges facing people of Appalachia and its diaspora, and by extension, the white, working-class Trump voter.

Historian Elizabeth Catte, whose book “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia” offers a corrective to many of the generalizations in Vance’s book that outside readers were quick to embrace, explains the "Hillbilly Elegy" appeal in an interview with Salon. “They really thought that they had learned a deep truth from this book, and that they could now deploy this truth out in the world to understand these really complex things that were happening around them.”

In a 2009 TED Talk, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explained the dangers of relying on “the single story” to try to understand people and places from afar. The “single story” many Americans grew up knowing of the entire continent of Africa, for example, informed her college roommate’s ignorant assumptions about what a young woman from Nigeria would be like. “She asked if she could listen to what she called my ‘tribal music,’ and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey,” she said.

The true culprit, Adichie elucidates, is power. “It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power,” she said. “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.”

We should no more turn one network sitcom into the definitive story of the working class than we should have enabled a venture capitalist’s memoir to dominate the discourse about poverty, addiction and voting trends in Appalachia; however, ABC and the producers and stars of “Roseanne” enjoy power in the entertainment industry that other storytellers don’t, so their narrative rises to the top. "Roseanne" isn't likely to fade out of the cultural conversation any time soon, but at the same time, we can set our sights on seeing a post-industrial Midwest that is wider than any single living room.

In the introduction to a new anthology from Picador, “Voices from the Rust Belt,” editor Anne Trubek underscores the urgency of the stories in her collection, which are part of an effort to rectify what she calls the "narrative inequality in this nation: some stories are told over and over while others are passed over."

Trubek, founder and director of Belt Publishing (which published Catte’s “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia”), acknowledges that defining the Rust Belt in objective terms is tricky, because its designation is political and historical, not geographic. She lands on a post-industrial Midwest, “anywhere an economy was previously based on manufacturing and has since been losing population" as a broad definition, which seems to include the Connors' home of Lanford, Illinois.

But as this collection of 24 essays shows, the loss of a manufacturing base is only one facet of the Rust Belt. "The first sign of the coming apocalypse is the art walk: the Typhoid Marys of gentrification," writes Eric Anderson in "Pretty Things to Hang on the Wall," an essay on the commodification of the artist's life as a gentrifying lifestyle set against the backdrop of post-industrial Cleveland. Anderson, a comic book store owner, had once worked in steel mills where he'd seen "water so polluted that nothing would float in it . . . dead rats with tumors exploding out of their sides," and yet has good reasons not to view an infusion of privileged young artists into his city as an unequivocal good sign.

How and why people come and go in the Rust Belt is a running theme. In the haunting essay "The Kidnapped Children of Detroit," blogger and self-described "Detroitist" Marsha Music writes about the city's history of white flight from the perspective of being one of the black neighbors who stayed:

One day, we'd be outside with our friends, black, brown, and white, on the warm summer days before the start of the next school semester, playing jacks and hopscotch, riding bikes.

The next day, our white friends would be gone.

Her essay details the patterns of block-busting and restrictive housing covenants and out-migration to the suburbs that left once middle-class urban neighborhoods poorer and underserved by the 1960s, but it's the personal perspective on this public story that gives the essay its impact. One illustration comes by way of her grandmother, who saved up her wages as a domestic worker in the 1950s only to find her purchase of a home blocked by the white neighbors, and only changed her plans after the block club paid back her down payment plus some, which she used to purchase a home in a middle-class black community.

"My grandmother chuckled at the end of her story, at the irony that by the time of her telling, thirty years later, Clairmont and Woodword was all black — the block club had obviously been unable to buy its way against the changing times," she writes.

The newest developments in Detroit's racial and housing politics are placed in the crosshairs in Aaron Foley's "Can Detroit Save White People?," a scathing indictment of neoliberal gentrification practices that threaten to erase black people and black culture in the urban core decades after whites first abandoned it. (Foley is the author of "How to Live In Detroit Without Being a Jackass," if you're wondering how blunt he can be.) Those themes are hardly unique in the region to Detroit, as Henry Louis Taylor Jr., founding director of the Center for Urban Studies at the University of Buffalo, demonstrates in his essay, "Will Blacks Rise or Be Forgotten in the New Buffalo?" Neither of these are questions that surface often in hand-wringing outsider analysis trying to suss out what exactly is holding Rust Belt cities back, which is precisely why Taylor's call for an economically vibrant Buffalo to be "a just city" instead of a "white hedonic latte city" is so valuable.

Absent also from the typical narratives are histories of the region's LGBTQ communities and their gathering places, such as John Lloyd Clayton's fond ode to a crumbling late Cincinnati gay dive in "A Night at the Golden Lion Lounge," where beers were cheap, nobody under 30 would be caught dead without being paid, and none of the unfashionable regulars ever hooked up.

And while Dearborn, Michigan's robust Muslim community has garnered much coverage, "Cleveland's Little Iraq" offers a glimpse into the personal journey Huda Al-Marashi, a transplant from Queens raised in California by Iraqi immigrant parents, undergoes to bond with her new city's small community of Iraqis, whose numbers steadily climb from 2006-09, during the height of the war. "[We] heard harrowing stories brought from Iraq, of friends gone out to buy groceries and losing their lives to roadside bombs, fathers assassinated on their way to work," stories that, as Al-Marashi writes, "made the Iraq War more real to me than any of the country's past conflicts."

Work in the Rust Belt is represented not only by factory workers but also by ecologists, urban planners and small museum directors, and the overwhelmed case worker in Dave Newman's deeply empathetic essay "A Middle Aged Student's Guide to Social Work," in which he demonstrates how unstable jobs teaching writing at the university level have become — enough for him to go back to school to become a social worker. At 40 and working an unpaid internship, Newman tries to find his way in and around the system of regulations he's still learning that often keep him from helping those who desperately need it.

And while the opioid crisis in the region isn't an under-covered subject at this point, Ben Gwin's "Rust Belt Heroin Chic" chronicles the experience, in harrowing detail, of a recovering alcoholic and single father in graduate school trying to co-parent a child with a heroin-addicted ex. Likewise, the Flint water crisis is illustrated in chillingly domestic terms in Connor Coyne's essay "Bathtime," about reeling from terror every time his toddler attempts that simplest of toddler pleasures: taking a sip of water from the tub. "You feel it, visceral in your gut, like someone sucker punched you and you want to puke. They might be making themselves sick from something much worse than suds and whatever scum has been washed away by the day's play."

The two dozen writers in "Voices from the Rust Belt" can't possibly cover all of the wrinkles and shades particular to a place whose boundaries aren't even unanimously agreed upon, but it's a good place to start. The danger of all single stories is how they flatten their subjects, reducing the complexities of a people and a place to easily digestible narratives, then in turn demand the people themselves conform to those narratives. If we are serious about bridging geographic and cultural divides, we do need more media representation of those living outside of the coastal urban centers and the affluent suburbs. But we should resist the easy solution of dumping all of our political and cultural hopes and anxieties onto one fictional family's kitchen table.

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Does Melania Trump Deserve Any Sympathy Whatsoever?

The recent news cycle has not been kind to Donald Trump’s marriage, no matter what the state of that union had been before Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal spilled their guts on their alleged dalliances with the President of the United States. Even a whiff of celebrity infidelity is usually enough to create a sizable pile-on of public support for the cheated-upon spouse, but over the last two weeks headlines have been conspicuously silent on that front. In the wake of each woman’s televised interview, attention has not exactly pulled away from Melania — we know she stayed behind in Mar-a-Lago as per “tradition” for Spring Break last weekend; she is said to be “focusing on being a mom,” — but noticeably absent has been vocal outrage on her behalf.

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Donald Trump Jr.’s Celebrity-Villain Divorce: Forgive Yourself for Staring

The New York Post broke the news that Vanessa Trump filed for divorce from Donald Trump Jr. this week, and public response has run the gamut from delighted scorn to handwringing over the spiritual utility of Schadenfreude in these ugly times. (OK, maybe that's just me.) Even some journalists, of the ilk that both Donalds Trump, junior and senior, constantly insult, have found themselves on the side of The Mooch here. “Really weird and upsetting to see folks acting gleeful at the Don Jr. divorce news. It’s his private life and he has five kids,” tweeted Sam Stein of the Daily Beast. “Leave it alone.” MSNBC host Chris Hayes agreed, calling Stein’s tweet a “100% Correct Take.”

These are admirable defenses of a fellow human's feelings. As a person who has been trying to combat within herself the discourse-rot that Junior and his father have encouraged over the last few years, I sympathize with the desire to just “leave it alone,” lest I let myself be tempted by the meme-ification of someone else’s sorrow.

And yet Donald Trump Jr. is undeniably a public figure. If the Clintons and the Obamas embraced the celebrity culture surrounding the presidency like none since the Kennedys, the Trumps have exploited it, ruthlessly and with unprecedented efficacy, all the way from Fifth Avenue and NBC into the Oval Office. As the old chestnut goes, live by the sword, die by the sword, and nowhere is that maxim honored more thoroughly than in politics and celebrity culture. Just like his father and his sister Ivanka, Junior has wholeheartedly embraced both cutthroat worlds.

Anyone's divorce has a way of dredging up our own feelings about the end of relationships — disappointment, heartbreak, humiliation, regret, relief, hope, the whole messy ball of human emotions. But high-profile divorces take that to the next level, and can easily turn into a collective exercise in projection. When a celebrity couple splits up — Anna Faris and Chris Pratt, to cite a recent example — it can trigger an irrational sense of introspection from strangers. They seemed so perfect for each other; they looked so happy — is anyone actually happy? As someone who's been through a divorce, I get it. Nobody knows the truth about a marriage except the two people in it, says conventional wisdom, and humans rather like knowing things. When there’s a villain in the mix — via infidelity, abuse, Scientology, general haterade, whatever — the public can rally around the innocent party. Cue the Gloria Gaynor — maybe we will all survive!

I’m not saying divorcing a Trump is exactly like leaving Scientology, but the slice of Americans who were genuinely sad that those crazy kids Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise couldn’t make it work is likely small and very sheltered.

To most of America, Donald Trump Jr. is first and foremost a reality TV personality, having appeared regularly on “The Apprentice” for a decade. If a Real Housewife gets divorced, few question whether the headlines are earned. And if said Housewife has crafted a heel persona, all but the most sanctimonious pearls are going to remain unclutched. Even before his run as the head large adult son of the Trump presidential campaign, before he “out West”-ed himself to the New York Times style section, and even before his whopping seventy-three appearances on “The Apprentice,” Trump Junior displayed, after a period of laying low in early adulthood, a taste for the limelight to rival his old man’s. In 2004, he recreated his proposal to Vanessa, in what the Post called “a taste-deprived ceremony,” at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey in exchange for a free engagement ring. Paparazzi and TV crews were the only “invited” guests, according to the Post. Look, if I know which mall you got engaged in and you didn’t skip geometry with me in 10th grade, you’re definitely a celebrity.

Between his current iteration as “not here to make friends”-style Twitter brawler and Fox News guest to his past as the face of elephant slaughter, the case for Junior’s famous-villain status among the haters is solid.

Vanessa Trump, on the other hand, has kept a fairly low profile as spouse and parent during Big Papa’s political ascendance. She hasn’t helped herself to a White House fiefdom like Jared Kushner or a chair at the Trump propaganda organ like Eric’s wife Lara. The ghastly incident in which Vanessa had to be rushed to the hospital after opening an envelope of white powder sent to her home — a despicable act of terror against anyone, I don’t care what your politics are — appeared to be even more unfair, if that’s possible, when we consider her status as a relative bystander in the Trump political spectacle. Meanwhile Donald Jr., who’s supposed to be running the family business, continues to fling himself into every spotlight he can find — which I suppose is part of his job description, in a way.

There's long been a mandate to leave the children of presidents alone, even though it's been broken time and again, and across partisan lines. Neither Chelsea Clinton nor the Bush twins deserved the media scrutiny, often mean-spirited, that their fathers' jobs brought them. The tide seemed to have turned in the Obama administration, when a GOP staffer had to resign after her snark about Sasha and Malia during the 2014 Thanksgiving turkey pardon went viral. Barron Trump should absolutely be free to grow up as normally as he can in the White House without fear of unwanted media attention, too.

But an adult son of Donald Trump's who worked tirelessly — "if it's what you say, I love it" — to get the president elected and is in possession of an IMDB rap sheet a mile long enjoys no such freedom in America. He may be working toward a classy and conscious uncoupling from Vanessa, and, having been through this as a kid, he will likely do a better job protecting his kids than his own father did. But Junior shouldn't be surprised if a narrative emerges in the wake of Vanessa's filing casting her as the Katie to his Tom. Vanessa could end up becoming an accidental Resistance icon, no matter who she votes for. After all, she's pulling off something more than half the country only dreams of doing — she's divorcing a Donald Trump.

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Hollywood's Pay Gap Doesn't Get Much More Ridiculous Than This

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but women are angry. We are fed up; we have declared #TimesUp on the grabbing and the assaults and the demeaning comments and the gendered expectations in our workplaces. We are tired of being told we are worth less than our male co-workers, both explicitly and implicitly, and when we fail to rectify that through sheer will alone we are tired of being told we must not have wanted it badly enough. And when you’re already angry and fed up with pushing this boulder up a mountain every day with no summit in sight, one small bit of news can feel like enough to make you want to turn around and hurl the rock as hard as you can down the mountain, devastation in your wake be damned.

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What 'Hillbilly Elegy' Won't Tell You About Appalachia

As Donald Trump is fond of pointing out, he won 306 Electoral College votes, claiming states as different from each other as Wisconsin is from Texas, Idaho from Florida. But one red region of the map has become a living symbol of his victories since the contentious 2016 presidential primary season. When you see headlines that begin "In the heart of Trump Country . . . " chances are, you're reading a story about Appalachia written by a writer who doesn't live there. When you see a headline like "No Sympathy for the Hillbilly" on a New York magazine column, you get a glimpse of the mainstream media attitudes that help shape the narrative that Appalachia is, at best, a good place to be from.

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'So You Want to Talk About Race,' White People? Start Here

A few years into Obama's first term in office, I taught my final section of an interdisciplinary undergraduate seminar I had designed on popular music and American literature. Roughly 75 percent of the time I taught that class at this small liberal arts college, my student roster was 100 percent white. One of my semester-end reading assignments in that course was bell hooks’ essay “Madonna: Soul Sister or Plantation Mistress?” And during one of those final discussion periods of that last semester I taught, one that if I recall correctly was an all-white class, one of my students exploded. “Racism is over,” she fumed. “My friends and I, we don’t see race. We all talk about everything and nobody cares what color anyone is. Professors like you are the reason why racism still exists, because you keep bringing it up.”

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Why Study the History of the KKK? We Are Currently Reliving It

Images of the Ku Klux Klan, forefather of the many white supremacist hate groups that are active and becoming emboldened in America today, often focus on two terror-filled epochs: the group’s genesis during Reconstruction, formed to prevent through violence the gains black Americans stood to make in the former Confederate states during the post-Civil War era, and the mid-20th century third wave that arose in the American South in backlash to the fight for civil rights.

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Ivanka Has Played the Same Role for Her Dad for Over a Decade

Congratulations to everyone with a “found something in common with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, WTF?” square on their 2017, Amirite? Bingo card. During a debt ceiling and disaster relief meeting Wednesday between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders, first lady-daughter Ivanka Trump pulled one of her patented Oval Office pop-ins and, according to CNN, Republican leaders were “visibly annoyed by Ivanka’s presence.”

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First Gourmet Sandwiches, Now Burger-Shaming! Can More Sensitive Lunches Heal America?

Last week, New York Times columnist David Brooks projected all of his anxieties about class in America onto one ill-fated visit to a “gourmet sandwich shop.” This week, Business Insider senior editor Josh Barro followed with his own lamentation on the left’s “hamburger problem.” A sure-fire way to heal America’s politically polarized culture, apparently, is through our stomachs.

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White House Window Dressing: The Myth of Ivanka's Influence

Ivanka Trump’s best trick is her disappearing move. When the White House makes an announcement that’s bad for her personal brand, like withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, Ivanka is somehow nowhere to be found. It’s a Friday night and she’s observing Shabbat, or, like during the first disastrous Affordable Care Act repeal-and-replace attempt, she’s out of town with her kids on a spring break vacation. And on Thursday, Ivanka, who had been working behind the scenes to convince President Trump not to put his fingers in his ears and sing la-la-la while the environmental dystopias of our summer reading list build momentum around us, celebrated the holiday Shavuot with her husband and kids as her father tuned up the jazz band to play a jaunty funeral tune for the planet.

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Let the Wild Romp-Us Begin! What Have Men in Suits Done for Us Lately?

A couple of mornings ago, I woke in a panic. My dreams have been hyper-realistic verging on the hysterical lately, and I had just spent a cycle living out the beginning days of a “Handmaid’s Tale” violent transition to full reproductive martial law. This kind of thing happens when, after a long day of working through a logic-defying, emotionally abusive news cycle, one binges misogynist-dystopia prestige drama to unwind. My first thought was thank god I still live in America, not Gilead. Then I remembered I should check Twitter to confirm; Dear Leader is up and all thumbs while the rest of us dream fitfully of our own subjugation.

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It’s the Wealth Gap, Stupid: Inequality Drives 'Economic Anxiety' - Both Real and Perceived

One of the most prominent story types of 2016 election coverage involved dropping in on Southern and Rust Belt communities that supported Donald Trump and probing the people and their towns for answers. The economic “anxiety” of the white working class emerged as an explanation for why an ill-tempered real estate magnate had become the champion of voters who might in other years have been turned off by his conspicuous affluence, lackadaisical faith and combative demeanor, to say nothing of his “Access Hollywood” tape. Trump voters, it was said, have been left behind economically by globalization and the technological divide and have seen their economic prospects plummet in recent years.

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Ivanka Trump Is Clueless About the Way the World Works and Has Shared It with the World in Her New Book

Ivanka Trump’s new book “Women Who Work” is not, as you may have already guessed or read, particularly useful, even compared to other bland corporate tactical manuals. If you are a woman who works — or know one with a graduation or a promotion or a birthday coming up — save your money. The Trump family’s rapacious worldview is in its full glory in this clip job of a so-called monograph; Ivanka (or whoever “architected” this sugar-, fat- and gluten-free life manual) takes the subhead, “Rewriting the Rules for Success,” to an absurdly literal level. The book is not written so much as it is aggregated, borrowed so heavily from certain individual sources that she ought to owe royalties to Sheryl Sandberg and the estate of Stephen Covey, not that they’re any more likely to collect now that her office is in the West Wing instead of Trump Tower. What else is the intellectual work of others but “content” for “Ivanka” to “curate” (“wordsmith,” even!) for her own profit?

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