Scoundrel Time

Essays

Sweet Talk: Refugees and the Language of Community

“Hi sweetheart. I’m on my way. Can’t wait to see you.” The WhatsApp message appeared on my phone, just after my plane touched down in Athens, Greece. A moment later, I heard another ping and looked down to see “I’m here out of the door number four”...

One Year In: How Will It End?

  Special to Scoundrel Time: Twenty-two writers imagine how the current administration will end.   A Note From the Editor One year ago today, we launched Scoundrel Time in response to the devastating U.S. presidential election and clear...

How It Ends: Wonderland/Wasteland

I was raised by a father who self-described as a “realistic optimist” and a mother who oscillated between bracing for the apocalypse and buying outfits for the award ceremony. So it’s no surprise that my own predictive tendencies are tangled up in...

How It Ends: April Fools

On April 1, 1988, my college newspaper published an April Fools article about Donald Trump buying Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center and proclaiming himself its president. It was the last semester of my freshman year and by that point...

How It Ends: Follow the Money

A few years ago I read a biography of Al Capone. I learned a lot about him. He was a good dancer. He had tertiary syphilis that probably caused his erratic mood swings. He grew up a block away from me in Brooklyn. When he got to Chicago, his...

How It Ends – Or Doesn’t

How is the ongoing shitstorm that is Donald Trump’s administration going to end? Though everyone on earth has noted his unpredictability, his year in office may have established, paradoxically, that it’s not so hard to predict where Trump himself is...

How It Ends: Wanna Bet?

  The election of Donald Trump was not a triumph of conservatism or any other set of political values. Like the upsurge of  nativist and far-right  movements in many other countries, and even the rise of Islamic extremism,  it was a huge and...

An Amorality Tale: Fire and Fury, a Review

Now that the shockeroo revelations in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury have subsided into our latest weary Trump-era rearrangement of America’s much abused mental furniture, I’ve got a mildly rude question to ask. To whom, exactly, were they shocking...

The Hierarchy of Suffering

    When I hesitated before posting #MeToo on social media several months ago, I noticed that I wasn’t the only woman wondering if my experiences of workplace sexual harassment fully qualified for this conversation about the ubiquity of...

Dream House: Biography in Brick

At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson built a north octagonal room and dome. The elongated dome with rear windows half clear and half mirrored was Jefferson’s twist on the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum, even though all temples to Vesta are reportedly...

Taking a Knee at the Symphony

  One Sunday evening last month, my husband and I sat in a side balcony in the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center, waiting for the music to begin. We looked down at the stage, where National Symphony Orchestra musicians in tuxes and glittering...

Sanctuary, City

A “new” Lotería card appears spray-painted on a viaduct in Chicago’s near Southwest Side.   While reading Night with high school freshmen on Chicago’s largely Latino Southwest Side, I often had to explain new vocabulary like...

Before & After

7 November (the day before Election Day 2016) Hitler analogies have always disturbed me. As a daughter of two Holocaust survivors, I take this subject very personally. Usually the comparison is intentionally hyperbolic and over-simplistic, designed...

My Trip to Greece

Written by Mostafa Fadi, with an introduction by Dana Sachs I go to Greece regularly with a small aid team, Humanity Now, and on Lesvos Island I met Mostafa Fadi, a 26-year-old refugee from Syria. At the PIKPA Camp, which shelters 85 people, Mostafa...

London’s Calling

Preparing a lamb curry wrap, Borough Market, May 5   I walked around the Borough Market exactly a month ago, reveling in how the South Bank has become a favorite part of the city. The market is a great place to grab a bite to eat or just watch...

The Trumpbox

  The Trumpbox is 12 3/16 tall and 15 7/8 wide. It can hold quite a lot; according to the label, its “capacity gallon” is 14. It is made of Polyethylene, which I cannot say I really know much about, but I can promise you this, it’s strong. If...

My Mother’s Pilgrimage

  In September 2015—the year a crane collapse in Mecca killed 111 people, followed by the deaths of another 2000 in a stampede—my mother returned from the Hajj with flu and was immediately quarantined in a hospital in Indianapolis. It took her...

Artists Dying

  The first time I saw an artist dying onstage, I was a kid. I went to see Rahsaan Roland Kirk at the Village Gate. The great saxophonist, composer, and vocalist had recently suffered a stroke. His body was non-existent inside a rumpled tuxedo...

Laughing at the Demagogues

It’s become predictable—though still, I hope, not normal—that a Saturday Night Live skit will be followed by an angry tweet from the new President, using words like “unwatchable” and “not funny.” If these silly overreactions at times seem like part...

Note from a Mother

My middle child is fascinated by his ethnicity. He looks the most Ecuadorian with his dark almond eyes and wide nose. He stretches his arm next to mine to see the contrast of his brown skin against my white. He teaches his younger brother to say...

The Future Is a Ceiling of Impossible Water

I was driving in a rented yellow convertible through the desert, near the eastern border of California. A bright spring morning: overhead, the sky was brilliant and blue, like a ceiling of impossible water. My forehead was damp. My hair was wild. My...

Disappointment

Remember, remember, the eighth of November; of gunpowder, treason and plot.[1] Benjamin, do you recall sixteen years ago how we sat all night before the black-and-white Great Wall television set (with its hues of light green on a warped electronic...

Depending on How You Look at It

In the weeks before Donald Trump became president of the United States, I travelled to Greece to volunteer and distribute some $35,000 in donations that a group of us from North Carolina had collected for humanitarian relief for refugees. These...

We Need a New Story

A few years ago, a writer friend gave me a bracelet that had a charm on it that said “stories save our souls.” I loved that phrase so much that I began to use it—and a variation (“stories save our lives”) when I signed books. I knew it was true...

I Lift My Lamp

  From the Oxford English Dictionary, digital edition. Asylum. < Latin asȳlum, < Greek ἄσῡλον refuge, sanctuary, neuter of adjective ἄσῡλος inviolable. 1. A sanctuary or inviolable place of refuge and protection for criminals and debtors...

Calm-Downers, Resisters, and Bags by the Door

“Jesus, what are we going to do now?” Out of the mouths of babes, or one babe in particular, comes the question du jour, and possibly du mois and de l’année, too. A day after the recent presidential election, what some grieving voters call...