Just to let you know that we’re not dead yet; we’re just figuring out the timing of ending the Dish, and hope to have a last hurrah of pure Dishness in the coming days. First up are your emails in response, which we are curating and reading as I write. There was an avalanche of them, so bear with us as we try to sort through it. We’re also a little hung over today, and the Dish team are human beings as I am. They have gone through all this with me, and they need a little time to process. But stay tuned for more Dish. We want to go out with a bang.
One of the things I’ve always tried to do at the Dish is to be up-front with readers. This sometimes means grotesque over-sharing; sometimes it means I write imprudent arguments I have to withdraw; sometimes it just means a monthly update on our revenues and subscriptions; and sometimes I stumble onto something actually interesting. But when you write every day for readers for years and years, as I’ve done, there’s not much left to hide. And that’s why, before our annual auto-renewals, I want to let you know I’ve decided to stop blogging in the near future.
Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.
The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.
I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real.
We’ll have more to say – and we’re sure you will as well – in due course. I particularly want to take some time to thank my indispensable, amazing colleagues in a subsequent post. For the time being, auto-renewals have been suspended and the pay-meter has been disabled. While we’re in this strange, animated suspension, I just wanted to take one post to thank you personally, the readers, founding members and subscribers to the Dish.
It’s been a strange relationship, hasn’t it? Some of you – the original white-on-navy ones – went through the 2000 election and recount with me, when I had to explain the word “blog” to anyone I met; we experienced 9/11 together in real time – and all the fraught months and years after; and then the Iraq War; and the gay marriage struggles of the last fifteen historic years. We endured the Bush re-election together and then championed – before almost anyone else – the Obama candidacy together. Remember that first night of those Iowa caucuses? Remember the titanic fight with the Clintons? And then the entire arc of the Obama presidency.
You were there when it was just me and a tip jar for six years, and at Time, and at The Atlantic, and the Daily Beast, and then as an independent company. When we asked you two years ago to catch us as we jumped into independence, you came through and then some. In just two years, you built a million dollar revenue company, with 30,000 subscribers, a million monthly readers, and revenue growth of 17 percent over the first year. You made us unique in this media world – and we were able to avoid the sirens of clickbait and sponsored content. We will never forget it.
You were there when I couldn’t believe Palin’s fantasies; and when we live-blogged the entire Green Revolution around the clock for nearly a month in 2009. You were there when I freaked out over Obama’s first debate against Romney; and you were with me as I came to realize just how deeply wrong I had been on Iraq. But we also fought for marriage equality together (and won!), and for a new post-Iraq foreign policy (getting there), and for legalizing weed (fuck you, Hickenlooper!). We faced the brutal reality of a Catholic church engaged in the rape of children, and the bleak truth about the United States and torture. And I think we made our contribution to all those struggles. The Dish made the case for Obama in a way that actually mattered when it mattered. I think we made the case for gay equality in a way no other publication did. And we lived through history with the raw intensity of this new medium, and through a media landscape of bewildering change.
I want to thank you, personally, for the honesty and wisdom of so many of your threads and conversations and intimacies, from late-term abortions and the cannabis closet to eggcorns and new poems, from the death of pets, and the meaning of bathroom walls to the views from your windows from all over the world. You became not just readers of the Dish, but active participants, writers, contributors. You trusted us with your own stories; you took no credit for them; and we slowly gathered and built a readership I wouldn’t trade for anyone’s.
You were there before I met my husband; you were there when I actually got married; and when I finally got my green card; and when Dusty – who still adorns the masthead – died. I can’t describe this relationship outside the rather crude term of “mass intimacy” but as I write this, believe me, my eyes are swimming with tears.
How do I say goodbye? How do I walk away from the best daily, hourly, readership a writer could ever have? It’s tough. In fact, it’s brutal. But I know you will understand. Because after all these years, I feel I have come to know you, even as you have come to see me, flaws and all. Some things are worth cherishing precisely because they are finite. Things cannot go on for ever. I learned this in my younger days: it isn’t how long you live that matters. What matters is what you do when you’re alive. And, man, is this place alive.
When I write again, it will be for you, I hope – just in a different form. I need to decompress and get healthy for a while; but I won’t disappear as a writer.
But this much I know: nothing will ever be like this again, which is why it has been so precious; and why it will always be a part of me, wherever I go; and why it is so hard to finish this sentence and publish this post.
Some of it is calculated:
Mitt Romney changes position on climate change, still believes sun revolves around Mitt Romney. motherjones.com/politics/2015/…—
(@LOLGOP) January 20, 2015
Romney wants to fix poverty & climate change; raise teacher pay & min wage. Almost seems like he could run as a Dem. bostonglobe.com/news/politics/…—
Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 23, 2015
But some of it is subconscious, as Eric Posner explains:
To investigate the role of motivated reasoning in the sort of institutional flip-flops that politicians and judges engage in, Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein and I conducted a series of surveys. In one, we asked people whether President Bush acted rightly by using a loophole to make appointments in defiance of Senate opposition.
Katy Steinmetz sees a bright horizon for pot smokers and lovers of liberty:
A new report [from ArcView Market Research] predicts that 18 U.S. states will have legalized recreational marijuana in the next five years, a huge increase from the four states that currently have or are in the process of creating legal markets for pot. …
The map has a lot of overlap with the places where the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the group that helped launch legal weed in Colorado, already has workers on the ground in preparation for legalization votes over the next two years. Yet MPP is a bit more cautious in its outlook: the group believes 12 states could join Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska in allowing recreational pot by 2017. Unlike ArcView (whose executive director sits on MPP’s board), they’re not banking on legalization taking root in Montana, New Jersey or Connecticut over the next few years, according to spokesperson Morgan Fox. He says they’re concentrating current efforts in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. They see Texas — yes, Texas —as an outside possibility.
Max Ufberg looks back at the first week of The Nightly Show:
So far, [host Larry] Wilmore has already mocked the Academy Awards, poked fun at Al Sharpton, and taken down Bill Cosby (“That motherfucker did it”). The response has been favorable. Critics have praised Wilmore’s affability and wryness, even his “ideological unpredictability.” He has, as the New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley puts it, “a disarming way of laughing at his own jokes and those of others.” The show’s closing Bill Maher-style roundtable discussion format, while less of an immediate hit, certainly offers long-term potential.
Genetta M. Adams observes that Wilmore “comes at current events in the same manner that brothers at the barber shop or sisters at the hair salon do: straight up and no-holds-barred”:
And even if Wilmore’s takes on topics like Cosby aren’t particularly new, as Slate’s Willa Paskin rightly points out, “There has previously been no black perspective on late night to take these subjects on with such matter-of-fact vigor.” His signature segment, “Keep It 100,” can lead to some squirm-in-their-chairs moments for panelists who have to answer a question honestly or face the prospect of getting some “weak tea”—literally—as they’re handed tea bags. Rapper-activist Talib Kweli had such a moment when he was asked, “When it comes to black images, is hip-hop part of the problem or part of the solution?” …
Variety’s Brian Lowry wondered if The Nightly Show’s format and edgier take on the day’s news would make the show a “no-go zone” for newsmakers and celebrities who wanted to pitch their movies or books. But who cares? The last thing late night needs is another show for celebs to pimp their products.
Rawiya Kameir makes another key point:
One of Wilmore’s most important and praiseworthy attributes is his implicit acknowledgment that “minority issues” are really just American issues, and that they deserve to be treated as such.
We can’t argue with this contribution:
Humanity’s greatest invention? That’s obvious.
Think about it. Wolves are terrifying, but no animal is more loving than a dog. Wolves compete with us in the food chain – even hunt us in the food chain! – but dogs have an ancient tradition of being our best hunting partners. They could rip out our throats, but all they want to do is please us. What other animal is eager and effective at offering comfort in times of grief? And they’re often better at it humans.
Frankly, I like dogs a lot more than I like people. One of the few times I’m wary of a dog is when I see one being walked next to a baby in a stroller. It’s hard to know what that dog will do if you get too close to the baby. And when you think about it, doesn’t that really say it all?
The above video says even more. Another reader on the question at hand:
Indoor plumbing. I know there is a God because I don’t have to shit in the woods. So no one needed to invent religion. All we needed was indoor plumbing and you kill two birds with one stone.
A lot of readers can relate to this state of mind:
My daughter, who is a graduate student in England, says that the rush to buy bread, milk, and eggs before a storm is referred to there as “the French toast panic”.
Another suggests a different meal:
On one level, I can see this as a reasonable approach; with those three staples, you can make a reasonable meal of toast and omelet, providing you have power or a working cooking surface (like a propane grill). You can even keep them fresh in a power outage by simply putting them out in the snow by your door.
I think the urge to get these particular supplies is strongest in a certain age group: those who grew up in the Depression through the early 1950s, when such commodities were delivered daily to your door … and a major storm could halt deliveries for a few days.
A few more readers sound off:
It’s not about hunkering down. It’s about milk, bread, and eggs being items that have to be bought frequently.
Liam Hoare reflects on yesterday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitiz:
Whether at the cement plant in Sachsenhausen, the underground V2 rocket factory in Buchenwald, or the stone quarry at Flossenbürg, homosexuals were subject to deadly assignments and a scarring, bone-shattering system of punishments. Sixty percent of gay internees died in the camps.
For those who remained alive, humiliation was an inevitable part of daily life. The Polish LGBTQ rights activist Robert Biedroń notes that homosexuals in the camps “were forced to sleep in nightshirts and to hold their hands outside the covers,” ostensibly in order to prevent masturbation. In Flossenbürg, homosexuals were required to visit female prostitutes—Jewish and Roma prisoners from a nearby camp—as a form of treatment. “The Nazis cut holes in the walls through which they could observe the ‘behavior’ of their homosexual prisoners,” Biedroń writes.
(Photo: Mug shot of homosexual Auschwitz prisoner August Pfeiffer, servant, born Aug. 8, 1895, in Weferlingen. He arrived to Auschwitz Nov. 1, 1941, and died there Dec. 28, 1941. From the State Museum of Auschwitz, Oswiecim, Poland)
Readers keep the thread going:
In discussing how the sitcom Friends dealt with homosexuality, it is important to note Episode 11 of Season 2, which was titled “The One With The Lesbian Wedding”. It’s funny that even though it was 1996 there was no mention of “commitment ceremonies” or “domestic partnerships”. It was a wedding, plain and simple, no questions asked.
A few more readers delve deeper into that episode and others:
Yes, Chandler at times goes too far in some of his jokes and comments – and actual living. But he also has an incredibly endearing relationship with Joey that he is never afraid to express – largely through hugs, but also through actual words. Their love may not be sexual, but it is real, and unconditional – a bromance not really rivaled until JD and Turk on Scrubs. I know it’s not the same – but Friends does show a tight, healthy friendship between two guys without fear of homophobic reactions. And Chandler continues to evolve, especially after he gets married, embracing his less-than-“manly” side and not making the same kind of jokes.
Also, Friends was the show that featured a gay wedding – and did not play it for laughs.