Inside the Abattoir

PLAY THE PONIES: A tour of the horse-meat food chain, from family pastures to foreign burger tastings, ahead of the opening of horse slaughter in Oklahoma. By James McGirk.

A Battered Bag of Memories

Strangers calling on a Friday night don’t often bring good news. My wife begged me not to pick up. A tiny voice asked if he was speaking to James Brandon McGirk. I told him he was. “A James Brandon McGirk who was born in London in 1979?” Yes, I replied. Yes, I am. Who’s calling? “A Concerned Citizen was his reply…

 

 

Silicon Valley: Literary Capital of the 21st Century

Technology seeps into our imaginations, changes the way we think and the way we write. The novel may seem like a relic, a low-bandwidth version of virtual reality better suited to the 19th and 20th Centuries than today. But beneath its grim monochrome interface (a.k.a. “pages”) it glows like the neon-piped suits in Tron. Contemporary fiction is nearly as much a product of Silicon Valley as the integrated circuit. 

Writing and the World of Tomorrow

Before we had any idea how dangerous it was to bolt human beings to exploding tubes and launch them into space, when inventions like the lightbulb and airplane and telephone were warping the planet at a ferocious pace and escaping the earth’s gravity well suddenly seemed possible —we imagined that exploring the Universe would be a lot like the famous expeditions we had seen before.

A Universal History of Online Iniquity

“BREAKING: Confirmed flooding on NYSE. The trading floor is flooded under more than 3 feet of water.” It was a horrid thought, but Shashank Tripathi’s (i.e. Comfortablysmug’s) infamous Hurricane Sandy tweet had panache. Tripathi mimicked the style of a breaking news tweet perfectly. The image of water sluicing into the New York Stock Exchange was too good to be true. An irresistible nugget of news distilling the potent emotions stirred by the storm: Sorrow for afflicted New Yorkers, fear for the future, the thrill of seeing history unspool in real time, and a dose of snickering glee at the idea of cuff-linked financiers wading through filthy water.

 

The Conspiracy against Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura

Most retired governors use their connections to assume quiet but well-paid positions in the private sector, or loud but well-paid positions as commentators on cable news networks. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura lately, though, has been prowling obscure government facilities, confronting squirming civil servants, and demanding “the truth” while hosting a reality television show on truTV called Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura.

Dave Hickey, Art World Apostate

Dave Hickey had a hell of a month. He announced his retirement from the art world to The Observer: “What can I tell you?” he said. “It’s nasty and it’s stupid. I’m an intellectual and I don’t care if I’m not invited to the party. I quit.”

Privatizing Paradise in the Murder Capital of the World

WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE for a corporation to not only run an entire city, but to have built that city from scratch, to its own specifications, according to a planned, privatized model of everyday life?

M.F.A. Madness

Graduate school is hard for couples to endure. Temptation abounds. You live in penury among ambitious young (for the most part) adults, speaking a peculiar argot, attending what feel like mandatory social events and excursions steeped in alcohol, with superstars dropping in and strutting among you. Plus, there are all those fraught moments that only a fellow student—another insider—can help you soothe. Meanwhile your significant other is likely supporting you, often at a less-than-ideal job in a less-than-ideal place. Resentment builds. Sloughing a partner is easy and commonplace.

The Search for Serious Literary Fiction for Republicans

The shelves of America’s bookstores do not accurately represent the inner life of their customers. Where are the Tea Partiers dreaming of libertarian utopias? Whence the poets who howl for the rights of the unborn? The Mormon missionary comedies of manners? American literature seems to want for authors of a Republican slant.