On the sad curve of what passed for big fun in 2020, going for a walk in the woods was the Covid equivalent of… I don’t know, checking into a luxe hotel for a three-day weekend?
My wife and I went for a lot of nature walks this year: the Staten Island Greenbelt, the Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Westchester County, Tallman Mountain State Park across the Hudson along the Palisades. At first, our impulse was anything that gets us out of this apartment. This was back in spring, when the trails were muddy and crowded with masked humans desperate for a little space. …
Of all the stereotypically Gen X things about my taste and overall worldview, probably the most stereotypical of all is my goofy love for Dazed and Confused. That’s why I couldn’t be more delighted to point you to this excerpt from Matthew McConaughey’s new memoir, Greenlights. And not just any excerpt! It’s the origin story of “alright, alright, alright.”
Here’s a taste: “Matching him drink for drink, I had no interest in Don calming down either, so we were unpeacefully escorted out of the Hyatt. …
The 2020 election is tearing retirement communities apart. So I was talking to a source we’ll call my “Mom” (not her real name), and she mentioned that the election-related tension within her North Carolina retirement community has reached a boiling point. Bipartisan dinner parties have become untenable; she was recently mocked for wearing a mask to Docktails. Trolling the Trumpkins in her midst, she and her Biden-supporting friends paid to have a Biden/Harris billboard installed along the nearest highway.
Hearing all this, I thought, “This seems like a great story… but do I really want to send a reporter to report on my Mom?” I don’t, and I’m glad I didn’t, because my old pal and colleague Alex French just published the exact same story in New York magazine, and it is a delight: “Not every Democrat in the Villages is content to go high when her Republican neighbors go low.” …
Will Leitch gets misty for Obama after watching The Way I See It, a documentary about former White House photographer Pete Souza, now an anti-Trump activist. The nostalgia trip is glorious but also strikingly faded, Leitch writes, “a sort of ‘Behind The Music: The Obama Years.’” And when the action cuts from Souza’s photos of Obama to the way we see Trump today, the distance between then and now feels far greater than four years.
“I truly believed that my children would someday ask me what it was like to be alive when Barack Obama was president. It’s fair to say that, if they ever ask me what it was like to live through any particular president’s time in office, it won’t be Obama’s they’ll be most curious about.” …
I’m going to try to capture a mood here, bear with me. I’m not quite sure where this is going, which reflects the mood I’m channeling: Do any of us know where anything is going?
We’re in a profoundly in-between moment, and there’s something about this moment that feels even more disorienting than the dystopian weirdness of total lockdown. Here in New York we’re doing okay, or at least a lot better than we were a few months ago. The other night I was driving down Smith Street, a strip of shops and restaurants near my home in Brooklyn, and it was livelier than I’ve seen it since Christmas. It didn’t look like this, but it didn’t look like this either. It looked…normal? Almost. …
After a month of near-constant coronavirus coverage here at GEN, we finally had a chance this week to slow down and take a look around—and it feels like a lot of the country was doing the same. The past several days have had a different rhythm, a combination of relief that the outbreak has plateaued, tempered by the realization that “normal” remains a long way off.
Glynnis MacNicol wrote lyrically about staying in New York City during the pandemic. Meghan Daum went the opposite direction, fleeing the city to the hills of Appalachia with her Newfoundland puppy. Molly Oswaks explored the pandemic’s two Americas — the suffering and the merely bored — while Sady Doyle wrote about female leadership during the outbreak. …
When this is all over, our world will be different. But how?
To peer into the future, GEN’s editor at large Steve LeVine took a long look at the distant past. “How the Black Death Radically Altered the Course of History” is a brilliant essay about the plague’s seismic impact on society—and how it might help us understand the world we’ll live in once the coronavirus is vanquished.
In a more practical mood? We’ve got you covered with “Your Most Paranoid Pandemic Election Questions, Answered.” (No, Trump can’t cancel the election.)
And if you’re feeling lonely, you’re not alone. In “I Don’t Miss My Friends. I Miss the Strangers,” one self-isolating New Yorker laments the absence of random interactions with the strangers all around him.
Enjoy your Sunday! And stay safe in there.
Editor-in-Chief, GEN // Medium
Hello out there! And welcome to GEN, a new publication we created to help you (and ourselves) better understand the powerful forces reshaping our world.
You say it like this: /jen/. As in GENesis. GENerate. GENuine. GENius. (Fine, that last one doesn’t really work, pronunciation-wise, but let’s not get hung up on that.) Also, and this part is just bonus, “gen” is an obscure British slang word for inside-ish information, e.g. “I’ve got the gen on that.”
So, what is GEN? It is a bold, lively, and modern publication built around the thematic pillars of politics, power, and culture, and it’s situated squarely at the heart of the national conversation. GEN is about the biggest stories of the day, not the fringes, and we are by no means trying to do everything here. We are sense-makers, not news breakers. We are focused on stories that illuminate the many ways in which our world is changing, especially stories that relate to the shifting gears of power. And while we are nonpartisan — you will find a wide range of perspectives in GEN — we are interested in progress and the things that impede it. …