This is the Weekly Dingus. The Friday newsletter, where I round up my internet reads, share a drink recipe, and vent about something really dingusy that happened in the news. This week, it’s anyone trying to ban books. But it could be anyone? Maybe it’s a boat? Maybe it’s the New York Times? There is only one way to find out….SUBSCRIBE.
Lawmakers in America looked around at our disease-riddled society, where reproductive rights and voting rights are being reversed, and thought to themselves, “What if we made things more dystopian?”
Well, they did it.
In Iowa, lawmakers are banning LGBTQ-themed books from school libraries.
This is just a sampling of the bans sweeping the nation. Surprise, it’s not liberal cancel culture that’s run amok! It’s fascism.
Using data from EdWeek, Christopher Ingraham in his newsletter, The Why Axis, found that nearly one-third of American K-12 students were experiencing an educational gag order.
And you know what, while we are taking books away, let me tell you about a book I was forced to read as a kid, which has scenes of incest, rape, and murder, and gave me nightmares well into my teens. It’s called the Bible. You might not have heard of it. But in the book this guy named Lot offers his daughters up to be gang raped. Then, later, they have sex with him to preserve the line of succession. There is also mass genocide ordered by God. And in fact, one guy, Saul, gets in trouble with God for not being as murdery as God told him to be. Then, there was the time King David raped a woman, and he also offered his daughter up to be raped by his son.
There’s also a witch, a ghost, a stabbing with a tent peg, multiple beheadings, and a woman is tossed out of a window and eaten by wild dogs.
I used to have nightmares about the torments of hell. Contrast that with Maus, which is a hard but humane portrayal of the Holocaust, one with a clear sense of morality.
And also, nothing makes a kid want to read a book more than having it taken away from them. Trust me. I am an expert on this. I used to sneak books out of the library because my mom said I couldn’t read them.
It’s no surprise, these bans come after successful efforts to create equity and inclusion in the classroom after the summer of 2020. Bans and restrictions in classrooms are racist and homophobic backlash. Last year, I spoke with sociologist Victor Ray, who compared the mothers crying about their white kids’ hurt feelings in school board meetings to white mothers pushing back against school integration. And the movements have only gotten more vitriolic since.
In an interview on CNN, Nikole Hannah-Jones said, “A healthy society does not ban ideas, and it does not ban books.”
If your worldview is so fragile that it crumbles because someone talks about slavery and the reality of history? Your worldview is bad.
What I Am Reading:
I am in a night class about feminist and anti-racist philosophies of love. And one of the readings was really phenomenal. It’s this essay titled, “Decolonising Desire: The Politics of Love.” I have been thinking about it a lot.
There is some noise about the ERA that I think is important and hopeful. Popular.info had a good write-up on the thought police bills.
Esmé Weijun Wang had a beautiful interview with actor Andrew Garfield. Moira Donegan wrote about the connections between the anti-choice movement and white nationalism. And Caitlin Cruz had this wonderful essay about abortion. Read it!
Also, I wrote about THIS MOMENT IN THE PANDEMIC for the Washington Post. Here is a sample of it.
Whatever temporary safety net was constructed in the spring of 2020 has been dismantled. Rent relief. Extended unemployment benefits. The expanded child tax credit. All gone. People are still sick and dying, but the expectation is that Americans get: Back to work. Back to school. Back to everything, while hospitals are overloaded and doctors and nurses are desperate. And the president brags that our economy is strong.
And I went long on gas stations, pizza, and Midwestern culture. I will tell you all that since 2019, I’ve been trying to pitch this exact story to various outlets. And everyone said, “No.” Because they didn’t think it was important. But it’s always stuck with me—these unexamined places that are so essential to our survival and our culture, but are so easily dismissed and mocked. So, last year, I started talking to people about gas stations and food and what they mean to the Midwest. I emailed sociology departments in the Midwest to see if anyone was doing scholarship on this. I read a few food history books. And finally, this year, I wrote 2,000 words. If you read it, then read the comments. You’ll see, even in those 2,000 words, I missed some things. I could have expanded on other aspects of the culture. Such as who can find food in a Casey’s and who can’t? As Avraham Bronstein points out, it’s hard for people who keep kosher for starters.
Anyway, the reason I love this newsletter is because it’s a place where we can have these conversations. There simply is not a food and culture magazine for Iowa like there is for Texas or New York. But there is now!
What I Am Drinking:
It was the last full week of January, and I went to Cobble Hill and had a delicious drink. (If you are local, it was the Ironic Mustache.) So, I didn’t really keep with my dry pledge exactly. But in my defense, I had a great time.
I am also currently infusing vodka with bacon fat, and the result is that there is a jar on my counter that looks like a gross science experiment and I am suddenly wondering if I haven’t made a huge error. I guess I will find out in two more weeks. Stay tuned.
This week’s cocktail is the Vieux Carré. I had never heard of it until this week, and it is a spin-off of a Manhattan with Benedictine liquor. I am currently hunting down some of the ingredients. That recipe has pimento bitters. But I found a recipe on the Benedictine website that seems a little more accessible.
20ml rye whiskey
20ml sweet vermouth
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Dash Angostura bitters
Lemon twist to garnish
All in all, very classy and you can drink it while listening to Linda Ronstadt sing “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” You’ll know why if you listen to the entire song. (This is my favorite karaoke song. If I can ever do karaoke again.)
Thank you so much for reading my newsletter. Please remember to share it with all your friends, family, and enemies. Stay safe out there and buy yourself the flowers.