I'd call it love if love
didn't take so many years
but lust too is a jewel.
Adrienne Rich, Two Songs
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"Business owners around the country are offering up a lament: 'no one wants to work.' A McDonalds franchise said they had to close because no one wants to work; North Carolina congressman David Rouzer claimed that a too-generous welfare state has turned us all lazy as he circulated photos of a shuttered fast-food restaurant supposedly closed 'due to NO STAFF.'
Most of these complaints seem to be coming from franchised restaurants. Why? Well, it’s not complicated. Service workers didn’t decide one day to stop working — rather huge numbers of them cannot work anymore. Because they’ve died of coronavirus.
A recent study from the University of California–San Francisco looks at increased morbidity rates due to COVID, stratified by profession, from the height of the pandemic last year. They find that food and agricultural workers morbidity rates increased by the widest margins by far, much more so than medical professionals or other occupations generally considered to be on the 'front lines' of the pandemic. Within the food industry, the morbidity rates of line cooks increased by 60 percent, making it the deadliest profession in America under coronavirus pandemic.
Line cooks are especially at risk because of notoriously bad ventilation systems in restaurant kitchens and preparation areas. Anyone who has ever worked a back-of-the-house job knows that it’s hot, smelly, and crowded back there, all of which indicate poor indoor air quality. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency recommended increasing indoor ventilation to fight the virus, but such upgrades are costly and time consuming. There is no data available on how many restaurants chose not to upgrade their ventilation systems, but given how miserly franchise owners are with everything else, one could guess that many, if not most, made no upgrades at all.
Ventilation issues are deadliest for line cooks and other back-of-house jobs, but there are other reasons why food workers’ morbidity rates shot up. Food workers are much more likely to be poor and/or a racial or national minority, and poor people and black and Latino workers are much more likely to die of complications from the coronavirus.
Restaurants are often intentionally short staffed, making it difficult to take time off, so sick workers likely still came to work (and infected others in the process). Bars and restaurants are COVID-19 hotspots, and service workers and customers alike get sick after prolonged restaurant exposure. The difference is that many of those customers have health insurance and other safeguards to prevent them from dying of the illness; 69 percent of restaurants, on the other hand, offer their employees no health benefits at all.
When coronavirus is spread at restaurants, and restaurant workers make little money and rarely earn health benefits, it’s no wonder morbidity rates are so much higher for food service workers. But rather than collectively grieve the deaths of tens of thousands of the people who serve us and keep us fed, and keep such tragedies in mind when considering the state of the food-service industry labor market today, business owners and their political lackeys call these workers 'lazy.'
There are, of course, also living, breathing people who have decided they do not want to risk their lives for $7.25 per hour and no health benefits. That is a perfectly rational decision for the homo economicus to make. Given how dangerous restaurant work is during a viral pandemic, if restaurant owners really wanted more workers, they would offer living wages, health benefits, and adequate personal protective equipment. But all the wage increases in the world won’t bring back the dead.
There aren’t enough people working in the service industry, and service bosses have somehow turned that into our problem, into something we ought to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t fall for it. Profits accumulate because of labor — without workers to exploit, the owning class can’t get richer. Capitalists cannot exploit the labor of the dead, so when large swathes of the working class die, they turn their ire on the living.
This is a barbaric response to mass tragedy. Workers across the country and the globe are dead or grieving. We shouldn’t risk further tragedies for a paltry minimum wage."
- Sandy Barnard, "Service Workers Aren’t Lazy — They Just Don’t Want to Risk Dying for Minimum Wage." Jacobin, 5 May 2021.
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Airea D. Matthews, “Select passages from The Holy Writ of Us,” from Simulacra
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I think a lot about queer villains, the problem and pleasure and audacity of them.
I know I should have a very specific political response to them. I know, for example, I should be offended by Disney's lineup of vain, effete, ne'er-do-wells (Scar, Jafar), sinister drag queens (Ursula, Cruella de Vil), and constipated, man-hating power dykes (Lady Tremaine, Maleficent). I should be furious at Downton Abbey's scheming gay butler and Girlfriend's controlling lunatic lesbian, and I should be indignant about Rebecca and Strangers on a Train and Laura and The Terror and All About Eve, and every other classic and contemporary foppish, conniving, sissy, cruel, humorless, depraved, evil, insane homosexual on the large and small screen.
And yet, while I recognize the problem intellectually--the system of coding, the way villainy and queerness become a kind of shorthand for each other--I cannot help but love these fictional queer villains. I love them for all of their aesthetic lushness and theatrical glee, their fabulousness, their ruthlessness, their power. They're always by far the most interesting characters on the screen. After all, they live in a world that hates them. They've adapted; they've learned to conceal themselves. They've survived.
“Dream House as Queer Villainy” from In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
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don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers, plant your own garden - xoxo.
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“Would it be too childish of me to say: I want? But I do want: theater, light, color, paintings, wine and wonder.”
–Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
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What she needs are stories. Stories are a way to preserve one's self. To be remembered. And to forget. Stories come in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books. Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.”
― V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
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"The heavens are their battlefield. They are the Cavalry of the Clouds. High above the squalor and the mud, so high in the firmament that they are not visible from earth, they fight out the eternal issues of right and wrong. They are struggling there by day, yea and by night in that titanic conflict between the great foes of light and of darkness. They fight the foe high up and they fight low down. They skim like armed swallows along the front, taking in their flights men armed with rifle and machine gun. They scatter infantry on the march, they destroy convoys, the scatter dismay. Every flight is romance, every record is an epic. They are the knight errants of this war, without fear and without reproach. They recall the old legends of chivalry, not merely by the daring of individual exploits, but by the nobility of their spirit and amongst the multitudes of heroes, we must continuously thank the cavalry of the air"
― David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister, speech to the House of Commons in movement of a motion of thanks to the armed services, 29 October 1917.
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Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies.
Terri Guillemets (b.1973) American quotation anthologist
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Every reader wants the same thing: to open the cover of a book and watch the words explode like fireworks off the page.
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Pay attention to what people say out of anger, they’ve been dying to tell you that.
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Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West (1910-21)
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Many people are good to me. Many hate me. But there are some out there who know that I'm truly some kind of simple soul caught in a wild gamble. They know me. They know that I sit between these walls. They know I've been burned. And that I still laugh.
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In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
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If two points are destined to touch, the universe will always find a way to make the connection - even when all seems to be lost. Certain ties cannot be broken. Across time, across space, among paths we cannot predict - nature always finds a way.
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I think we've all lost some kind of feeling.
Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero
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“I love books. I adore everything about them. I love the feel of the pages on my fingertips. They are light enough to carry, yet so heavy with worlds and ideas. I love the sound of the pages flicking against my fingers. Print against fingerprints. Books make people quiet, yet they are so loud.”
– Nnedi Okorafor.
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But he's in love with the lady of the waters
And she lives somewhere up around Cheauxvan
He's gonna circle high her runway of love
Until she gives him her permission to land
― Jimmy Buffett, Song Strange Bird
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And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees—just as things grow in fast movies—I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
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