Commentary — September 1, 2011, 9:38 am

September Issue Links

Dear Readers,

The September issue should now be in subscribers’ hands. If you’re not yet a subscriber and haven’t picked up a copy of the magazine, it’s also on newsstands around the country. (Subscribing is, of course, an excellent idea, at $19.97 for 12 issues or $29.97 for 24, plus access to an archive that reaches back more than 160 years.)

For those who have the issue or want a preview, we’ve assembled some web links to sources and other material related to our September columns and features:

In “A Letter to Barack Obama,” George McGovern discusses possible cuts to the U.S. defense budget, as proposed by Lawrence J. Korb of the Center for American Progress. Korb’s findings are summarized over at CNN. Since the September issue went to press, he has also written a follow-up article at CAP in which he refines his ideas in light of the debt-ceiling deal.

Darryl Pinckney’s “Deep in the Bowl” traces the history of the New Orleans mayorship since Ernest “Dutch” Morial became the city’s first black mayor. (Ray Nagin, mayor during Hurricane Katrina, was its fourth.) If you have a few hours to spend absorbing late-1980s funeral rites, Dutch’s memorial is online. But you might prefer to remember him by this 1979 speech to the NAACP:

Pinckney also mentions the stunning architecture of New Orleans’s cemeteries, which are well represented on YouTube — particularly the St. Louis Cemetery, the city’s oldest and most renowned sarcophagorium. The best way to sample New Orleans’s boneyard architecture, though, is obviously to watch the NOLA acid-dropping scene from Easy Rider:

Bruce Davenport Jr.’s New Orleans portfolio “Parade’s End” contained an incorrectly oriented image. The illustration is displayed properly below, and you can click here for a larger version:
davenport600px

Elif Batuman alludes to iPhone footage of the Dante Marathon in Florence in “A Divine Comedy.” This clip, set to a truly infernal Los Campesinos! song, lends a sense of the festival (formally named the 100 canti per firenze), while the one below shows an impassioned reading from Canto XXXIII of the Inferno, the same section from which Batuman’s reading was drawn:

Grammarphiles will also want to read Batuman’s two blog posts about the debate she and her editor had over her use of the word “douchebags” in the following passage: “[T]his is one of the basic messages in Dante: nothing is ever truly lost. Dante goes to the afterworld and everyone is there: Homer, Moses, Judas, Jesus, Brunetto Latini, Beatrice, all the thousand and one douchebags of Florence.” After a flirtation with “sleazebags,” it was decided that “douchebags” would be the descriptive noun of record. (In case you think us uptight, please note that an earlier reference to The Big Lebowski passed without incident.) Two final web-friendly tidbits from the piece: The image of Dante’s reconstructed head, and the website of Dante’s descendants, the Serego Alighieri.

The form used in Anthony Lydgate’s Annotation, “Conduct Unbecoming,” can be found on the U.S. military’s website, and we agree with Jonathan Dee in “The Pretender” that the MySpace page of the musician Richard Frasca, a.k.a. Jon Denmar, is worth a visit.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

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