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Kiki was still on the circuit, though now she had some freedom to come and go. She had chosen Houston as her base. It was cheap, there was a large Thai population, and the balmy weather reminded her of home. And business was booming. Like many cities in America, Houston has long regarded prostitution as a victimless crime. For most of the city’s history, it has been a man’s town, rough-and-tumble, contemptuous of rules, filled with wildcatters and blue-collar workers who resist the constraints of civility that women can bring. This is the city where the lavish “gentlemen’s clubs” were invented in the seventies, a decade after the breast implant was born there. Another local invention? The lap dance. By 2006, Houston had more sexually oriented businesses than any other American city. An unspoken agreement seems to hold that prostitution is good for business, particularly convention dollars. It was no accident that one of the city’s most renowned brothels operated for many years in the shadow of the George R. Brown Convention Center. –“The Lost Girls,” Mimi Swartz, Texas Monthly
He had had a magnificent career, and his in-ring work was by that point almost certainly over. But there was a pervading sense in his obituaries that he had lived up only to the cusp of something, that pro wrestling was about to become bigger than ever, that André was a sort of Moses, unable to get to the promised land. It’s certainly the case that he didn’t live to see the full explosion of the modern era of wrestling, but that’s just as well. He was an icon of a different era, the last in a long line of real men — William Wallace, Vlad the Impaler, Davy Crockett, etc. — who became gods in the retelling of their tales. In the modern era, with television and, later, the Internet, there is no folklore, no mythmaking outside of the sort of postmortem buffering that’s been done to Ronald Reagan’s legacy. André’s death, heartbreaking as it was, elevated him into the pantheon, into the world of memory and legend, which is where he always belonged anyway. –“Dead Wrestler of the Week: André the Giant,” the Masked Man, Deadspin
The hotel provides a little zone where you can drink Ciego Montero sodas and watch the cars go by, and I spend a few hours picking dead ants from my dress and reading a book. When I can’t read I try to understand the idea of an artificially fixed currency and do not succeed.
The zone where I sit watching cars is marked by tables, a carpet of cigarette butts, and a cannon that was used to sink an American battleship, the USS Montgomery, in the mid-1950s. A few blocks to the west there’s an ice cream stand surrounded by shady tables that also functions as a hub for prostitutes. At each table sits a foreign man and one or two local girls drinking Red Bull with a bored expression.
There are no places to read after dark. The only light sources are compact fluorescent bulbs which burn dim and contain mercury (if one breaks you have to sprint in the opposite direction.) –“Christmas in Havana,” Molly Young, n+1
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”