Some longer reads if you’re looking for something to do on your sunday afternoon/evening.

An essay on lesbian separatists in the 1970s, one on being the smartest girl in the room, one on what genius does in a country where it’s not met with opportunity, and finally, a magical tale about a musical prodigy.

Lesbian Nation

Ariel Levy, the New Yorker

writes about the groups of lesbians that sought to remove themselves from male contact in the 70s. This piece focuses mainly on members of the Van Dyke group, women who traveled around the country (Van? Get it?) and were also some of the pioneers of the BDSM scene in the lesbian community. Entertaining read.

They had a fantasy that a maître d’ somewhere would one day call out, “Van Dyke, party of four?” and dozens of lesbians would stand up, to the horror of the assembled heterosexuals.

Also funny:

The feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson went so far as to claim that her brand of celibate “political lesbianism” was morally superior to the sexually active version practiced in her midst. Atkinson was not alone in this martyred line of reasoning; a 1975 essay by the separatist Barbara Lipschutz entitled “Nobody Needs to Get Fucked” urged women to “free the libido from the tyranny of orgasm-seeking. Sometimes hugging is nicer.” This argument was never particularly compelling to the lesbians in the movement who were actually gay.


The Wiz

By David Finkel, The Washington Post

On growing up smart and female.

She is in her second year of this class, of being the girl among the boys, and by now she knows the pattern. The discussion resumes, voices again overlap, and Elizabeth says nothing more, not until long after the bell has rung, when she tries to explain why the class, once her favorite, has lately made her feel uncomfortable. She says, “All last year I loved it, and for most of the beginning of this year I did, and now sometimes I’m just scared.” She says, “I feel like ‘The Girl’ in the class. It’s something I’m very conscious of, almost every minute in there.” She says, “I have a certain fear that somehow when I’m in that class, I’m this impostor who doesn’t really understand.”


The Chilling Story of Genius in a Land of Chronic Unemployment
Sarah Lacy, Techchrunch.com

One of the many reasons stark inequality is so reprehensible is that it is, among other things, a waste. A colossal waste of talent and energy. Take, for examples, the talents of those who run scams on the west:

One of the active scammers I spoke with is supporting his whole family, including several siblings he is putting through university, so they have a chance at a better life. But one of them has been out of school for years, and still can’t find a job. It’s not a ringing endorsement to go legit. This guy doesn’t feel great about what he does, but he says he has no other option. He goes to church several times a week, where he wrestles with it. He tells himself he is on God’s path, and he has faith it ends with him leaving this life behind.



Todd Scott Moffett, Cricket Online Review

Not sure whether to file this under fiction or memoir; this account of a record store owner meeting a young musical prodigy and watching his development is certainly infused with a healthy dose of magical realism.

As calm as could be, he pulled out a record: Cream. Clapton and Bruce. The music in his eyes focused into a single stream of notes. He was listening to that record, colors and shapes and notes spinning in that clear light — you know how dead leaves swirl in the eddy of a big river? That’s the way those shapes danced. And I could hear the music on that record more clearly than I had ever heard it before. No crackles, pops, or distortions. Like it’s in my head, perfectly preserved. You think you’ve heard “Sunshine of Your Love”? No. You’ve never heard it. Not like I heard it that moment. Those guys sounded better than they could ever sound themselves. I’ve never heard it like that again, either, not in the hundreds of times I’ve played that track, vinyl or CD. Clapton’s vocals crooning through the verses, howling through the chorus, Bruce’s bass forming the tonics of all the chord progressions, building with Clapton’s guitar. The kid was infusing their music, infusing them, with the awesome sound he knew lay in that song. He was just bringing it to the surface in a way they could not.


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