Weekly Review — March 8, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Lost Souls in Hell, 1875]

Lost Souls in Hell, 1875.

President George W. Bush demanded that Syria pull out of Lebanon.New York PostSyria agreed to move its troops into eastern Lebanon, but the U.S. State Department warned that this is not enough.GuardianIraqi insurgents killed seventeen people.New York TimesA poll found that most Americans are against Social Security reform,Bloombergand the U.S. Mint planned to circulate $5 million in new buffalo nickels.New York TimesA 22-pound, century-old lobster was caught off Nantucket,CNNand a 13-pound, 13-ounce baby boy was born in Britain; the boy’s mother credited the boy’s size to her steady diet of cockles, herring, mussels, and crab claws, provided by her fishmonger husband.News & StarA toddler in Deer Park, Texas, drowned in a dirty swimming pool. Click2HoustonNevada announced that it would cost $2 billion to pipe water from rural Nevada to Las Vegas,New York Timesand the town of Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary, offered honorary citizenship to all Hungarians living abroad.New York TimesMost Hungarian adults were found to be single.AFPMicrosoft was developing a teddy bear with a rotating head that will watch little children,APand a toddler in Nebraska strangled himself with an automatic car window as his mother’s boyfriend played soccer nearby.The Omaha ChannelBill Gates was knighted.ABC NewsIn Bangladesh, four infants were on trial for looting, with bail set at fifty dollars per infant.BBC News

U.N. peacekeepers killed sixty Lendu in Congo in order to protect the Hema.New York TimesTwo community colleges in California halted their student-exchange program with Spain after Spain pulled out of the Iraq war.USA TodayA Swiss synesthete who tastes music reported that Bach is creamy;New Scientist50 Cent expelled The Game from G Unit. Gunfire followed.BBC NewsPresident Bush said that his administration granted $2 billion to social programs at churches, synagogues, and mosques in 2004–20 percent more than in 2003. The President made it clear that these programs did not discriminate based on faith. “All drunks are welcome,” he said.New York TimesThe U.S. State Department released a report criticizing other countries for using torture techniques often used by the United States,Washington Postand four Iraqis and four Afghans sued Donald Rumsfeld for torture.Chicago TribuneItaly paid the ransom for a journalist kidnapped in Iraq; U.S. forces then fired on the journalist’s escape car, killing an Italian military intelligence agent and wounding the journalist.BBC NewsAt around the same time, U.S. troops accidentally shot and killed a Bulgarian soldier.ReutersChina condemned the United Stateshuman-rights record,People’s Dailyand Darryl Strawberry said that baseball players who use steroids lack discipline.New York TimesU.S. scientists were working on a device that shoots pain rays up to two kilometers.New ScientistJack Nicklaus’stoddler grandson drowned in a hot tub.SFGateA Maryland woman died after being locked in her bedroom for six years,The WBAL Channeland Sony made a Welshman its chairman.New York Times

Scientists found that a man’s boisterousness is a reflection of whether his index finger is short when compared to his ring finger.BBC NewsThree anonymous donors gave $3 million to resurrect the cancelled TV show “Star Trek: Enterprise,”TrekUnited.comand a very rich man flewsolo around the world in sixty-seven hours.The GuardianMartha Stewart was released from prison. While incarcerated Stewart’s wealth increased $700 million, and her cappuccinomachine broke.Times OnlineAlan Greenspan called for the United States to replace the income tax with a consumption tax.New York TimesThe Department of Homeland Security required 1,700 legal immigrants to wear ankle bracelets,NPRand a toddler was swept away in the Rio Grande as his parents tried to cross into Texas from Mexico.Houston ChronicleRepresentative Jim Gibbons of Nevada called for liberals to be used as human shields in Iraq; he later apologized for plagiarizing his remarks.Reno Gazette-JournalThe House passed a bill that provides for special elections if more than one hundred representatives are killed.CBS NewsA poll found that Americans want a Democrat to be elected president in the next election on the television show “The West Wing.”Zogby InternationalBill Clinton slept on the floor of an airplane so that George H.W. Bush could have a nice soft bed,CNNand in South Africa a goat adopted a baby rhino.NBC5Archaeologists in Ethiopia unearthed several four-million-year-old skeletons believed to be ancestors of modern humans.ReutersThe president of Bolivia resigned,Reutersand Niger decided not to hold a ceremony to free seven thousand slaves, because slavery does not exist in Niger.BBC NewsThe U.N. predicted that 90 million Africans will have HIV by 2025,BBC Newsand the pope could speak again.New York TimesThirty-seven percent of American Jews said that they were “often disturbed” by Israeli policy,Forwardand the Israeli army denied high-level security clearance to soldiers who play Dungeons & Dragons.YNet NewsA U.S. government report suggested that there are more Palestinians than Israelis.Electronic IntifadaBritain’s BAE Systems agreed to buy America’s United Defense Industries, maker of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, for $4 billion.New York TimesThe U.S. Navy was looking into whether sonar confuses dolphins, causing them to surface too quickly and get the bends.Boston.comIn California, a couple visiting an animal sanctuary to celebrate their pet chimp’s thirty-ninth birthday were just about to cut into a birthday cake when two other chimps, presumably jealous, attacked. The chimps, Buddy and Ollie, bit off the sixty-two-year-old man’s fingers, gouged out one of his eyes, ripped off his nose, hacked off a foot and parts of his lips, mutilated his buttocks, and tore off his testicles. The chimps also bit off his wife’s thumb before they were shot and killed. The birthday chimp was unharmed.NewsdayThe New Zealand HeraldSFGateA pedophile marijuana grower shot and killed four Mounties, then himself, in Alberta, Canada.Globe and MailThe White House Press Office approved a press pass for a blogger,Raw Storyand members of Congress were themselves blogging.New York TimesFOX News had over twice as many viewers as CNN.New York PostA toddler was lost in the Alabama woods; police, firemen, and family friends searched for him in vain. Finally, he was rescued by a three-legged dog.NBC 13

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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