Matthew Sherrill

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Weekly Review — March 28, 2017, 5:30 pm

Weekly Review

Paul Ryan fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump goes golfing for the thirteenth time as president of the United States, and rivers in India and New Zealand are granted full human rights

Weekly Review — February 7, 2017, 4:22 pm

Weekly Review

The White House puts Iran "on notice," Trump threatens to send U.S. troops into Mexico, and Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter

Index — January 20, 2017, 2:09 pm

Cabinet of Curiosities

A numerical investigation of Donald Trump’s appointees

Weekly Review — November 22, 2016, 5:16 pm

Weekly Review

White nationalists celebrate Trump’s election, and Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote margin of victory climbs to 1.7 million.

Weekly Review — October 4, 2016, 1:34 pm

Weekly Review

A train derails in New Jersey, Rodrigo Duterte likens himself to Adolf Hitler, and a blind hoarder in Brooklyn discovers she has been living with the decomposing corpse of her son for 20 years

Weekly Review — August 16, 2016, 2:50 pm

Weekly Review

U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel becomes the first black woman to win a gold medal in the 100-meter event, a congressman in the Philippines calls for Trump to be banned from the country, and the mayor of Cannes, France, bans the burkini

Weekly Review — July 12, 2016, 1:46 pm

Weekly Review

Philando Castile and Alton Sterling are killed by police officers, Donald Trump says Saddam Hussein was good at fighting terrorism, and a woman in Florida hits her boyfriend with her baby

Weekly Review — May 10, 2016, 1:07 pm

Weekly Review

A Syrian refugee camp is bombed, Londoners elect their first Muslim mayor, and China bans videos of women seductively eating bananas

Weekly Review — March 23, 2016, 12:39 pm

Weekly Review

The Islamic State kills 34 people in Brussels, Raul Castro tells the United States to leave Guantanamo Bay, and Seattle police search for a masturbating ninja

Weekly Review — February 16, 2016, 12:08 pm

Weekly Review

Justice Antonin Scalia dies, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates publishes a poem called “Happy Nation,” and a man in Florida tosses an alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window

Weekly Review — January 26, 2016, 11:04 am

Weekly Review

Winter Storm Jonas strikes the East Coast, al-Shabaab kills at least 20 people at a hotel and restaurant in Mogadishu, and Donald Rumsfeld designs a solitaire app

Weekly Review — November 3, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

China said it was not afraid to start a war with the United States, police officers in Anderson, California, armed themselves with nunchucks, and a witch sued a warlock for harassment

Weekly Review — September 15, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A sandstorm sweeps across the Middle East, a Hungarian camerawoman kicks refugee children, and a subterranean Nazi Complex is discovered in Poland

Weekly Review — July 28, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A gunman kills two people at a movie theater in Louisiana, the world’s largest e-sport league announces that it will give players drug tests, and a “mystery pooper” strikes a Norwegian golf course

Weekly Review — May 12, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

David Cameron is reelected, a Maryland police officer is accused of biting a man in the testicles, and a school teachers allegedly burns “I [heart] Mom” into his students’ arms

Weekly Review — February 25, 2015, 8:30 am

Weekly Review

Egypt launches an airstrike against alleged Islamic State affiliates in Libya, a stampede kills 17 in Haiti, and 15 towns in New York threaten to secede 

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The Red Dot

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Gimme Shelter

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Body Language

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Gimme Shelter·

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I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

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Body Language·

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I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

But somebody has slipped. The school is putting on the musical South Pacific, and there are not enough roles for the girls, and she is as tall as or taller than the boys, and so they have done what is unthinkable in this striving 1980s town, in this place where the men do the driving and the women make their mouths into perfect Os to apply lipstick in the rearview. For the musical, they have made her a boy.

No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

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Trash, Rock, Destroy·

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The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

In an email before our meeting, Despentes asked that we not do a photo shoot. “There are so many images available already,” she explained. Much had been written about her, too. A Google search yielded page after page: profiles, interviews, reviews, bits and bobs—she read from Pasolini at a concert with Béatrice Dalle; someone accused her of plagiarizing a translation; a teacher in Switzerland was fired for teaching her work. The week I met her, she appeared in the culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles in conversation with the rapper-turned-actor JoeyStarr. The woman is simply always in the news.

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Burning Down the House·

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Discussed in this essay:

Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright, by Paul Hendrickson. Knopf. 624 pages. $35.

Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t just the greatest of all American architects. He has so eclipsed the competition that he can sometimes seem the only one. Who are his potential rivals? Henry Hobson Richardson, that Gilded Age starchitect in monumental stone? Louis Sullivan, lyric poet of the office building and Wright’s own Chicago mentor, best known for his dictum that form follows function? “Yes,” Wright corrected him with typical one-upmanship, “but more important now, form and function are one.” For architects with the misfortune to follow him, Wright is seen as having created the standards by which they are judged. If we know the name Frank Gehry, it’s probably because he designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, in 1997. And Gehry’s deconstructed ship of titanium and glass would be unimaginable if Wright hadn’t built his own astonishing Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue some forty years earlier.

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The Red Dot·

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That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to the president who now hosts a radio show called America First, was banned from YouTube for repeatedly uploading audio from the rock band Imagine Dragons without copyright permission.

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Jesus Plus Nothing

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By

At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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