Dear Friends:

Welcome to 2021! Isn’t it amazing how everything changed overnight from a smoldering apocalyptic doomscape to a brand new hell free world???? Ughhhh, right. What the fuck were we thinking.

It’s time to combine post-holiday, seasonal, AND pandemic related depression into one giant FERAL SADNESS KRAKEN that will drag us through this next month or two. I recommend beer, cheetos, and true crime documentaries as the only resolutions for *this* New Year. OR you could go down a super niche historical rathole – personally, I’ve been doing some light genealogy on my ancestors who fought in the Civil War. They fought for the Union but were from Southern Illinois – basically in between Missouri and Kentucky – which was probably a whole mess in itself. These men volunteered, so they must have felt strongly enough to get involved.

One of them made it all the way to North Carolina in Sherman’s March to the Sea; one of them deserted somewhere in Tennessee TWICE. One of them was FORTY TWO WHEN HE JOINED which led to a fun sister text thread on “can you imagine if one of us had to fight in the fucking civil war at this age.” Listen friends, you need to catch some joy wherever you can and that includes imagining me and Meg slogging through swamps on foot for 3 years in our power-walker Nikes without wine, 90 Day Fiance, or Advil. HAHAHAHA NO WE WOULD NOT HAVE MADE IT. We would have been twice-deserted in Tennessee queens.


Featured Post

Buena Vista Park, San Francisco

Let’s go for a jog with the dead!

I don’t have a new post up this week – I’m working on Part 3 of the Cemetery Series – but this is the FIRST POST I wrote for HLAS and it has a great overview of the history of the cemeteries and their removal, but also WHAT THEY DID WITH ALL THE TOMBSTONES. One day, when this bullshit is over, I will take you all on a Tombstone Tour of San Francisco. You can hide your Whiteclaws in paper bags.

Read this Featured Post »


Ghostly shapes move between the trees in a forested park
A promotional image for the Netflix series La Révolution showing a masked woman about to throw a lit Molotov Cocktail

Watch This

La Révolution

I know we’re all obsessed with Bridgerton (AND I MEAN WE), but when you finish it and you have a hole in your heart for 18th century European costume extravaganza, you can fill it with LA REVOLUTION.

This show is fucking gorgeous and it’s DARK. It’s a retelling of the French Revolution with ZOMBIES and NOT IN THE WAY YOU EXPECT. Here, the aristocracy is infected with “blue blood,” which seems like a corny metaphor but I promise you in context is not. The blue blood comes from the curse of the conquered peoples of the New World, and it makes them stronger than ever but ultimately destroys them. This show is fucking BRILLIANT and full of gore, scenery, costumes, beautiful people, terrifying monsters, and a sublime, bloody fairy tale aesthetic. Watch NOW.

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘La Révolution’ On Netflix, A Horror Series That Reimagines French History »


Internet Finds

An illustration by Elliott Robbins of three black men drawn in a more gestural/abstract style

This article from ProPublica relates the myth of John Henry to the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had on the black community, men in particular. As you know from reading this newsletter, the intersection of folk stories and real history is a particular favorite of mine. I knew the story of John Henry because my son loves trains, and a book about JH was in heavy rotation in our house when he was younger.

The mythical John Henry was a black man who worked twice as hard and twice as fast as a steam powered engine to dig a tunnel through a mountain, only to collapse and die once he finished it. It’s a story of striving to compete in a racist world, and the toll it takes on black bodies. ProPublica’s piece is beautifully illustrated and written; the animation evokes the children’s story while connecting it to real suffering.

How Covid 19 Hollowed Out a Generation of Black Men »

A small and furry vaguely dog-shaped mummy

A mummified puppy YOU’RE WELCOME. Found in Canada, she was only six weeks old when she died, but that was 50,000 years ago. The museum that studied her named her Zhur, which means “wolf” in the language of Yukon’s indigenous people. Her face is still super snarly and cute!!

Expect to see more of this shit as the permafrost melts and long hidden prehistoric objects are uncovered. A weird side benefit to global warming for scientists and creeps who love mummified animals.

A Wolf Pup Mummy From the Ancient Arctic »

“The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” a mural by Diego Rivera

Good news for the San Francisco Art Institute, which is housed in an old building containing some famous murals from Diego Rivera. You know what else resides there? A GHOST. Specifically, the ghost is said to haunt the tower on the structure. The tower is weird – it has no bell, no lookout – it seems to be purely a design feature. Folks have reported hearing footsteps, and tools rattle, seeing doors open on their own, and lights come on and off. There’s even a curse that reportedly caused polio and a motorcycle accident. We’ll cover this one on the blog one day – but in the meantime, I’m glad the building is saved!

UC Regents Become SF Art Institute’s Landlord After Paying Off Its Debt »