• Watch 25-Year-Old Sabrina Ionescu Beat Steph Curry’s 3-Point Contest Record

    Michael Conroy/AP

    New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu set WNBA and NBA records Friday during All-Star Weekend’s three-point contest—a feat that basketball legend Steph Curry on Twitter celebrated as “RIDICULOUS!”

    The 25-year-old point guard landed all but two of 27 possible shots for a total score of 37 out of 40—outscoring Curry’s single-round NBA record of 31 points, and Allie Quigley’s WNBA record last year of 30 points. On Twitter, Quigley exclaimed, “UNBELIEVABLE!!! This record won’t ever be broken.”

    Players in the contest compete to make the most three-point shots within 70 seconds from five different positions around the three-point line.

    Ionescu’s score is the latest in a career marked with records—one that is a far cry from her earlier years, when her school didn’t have enough players to field a girls’ basketball team. “My middle school said I should be playing with dolls. Seriously, word-for-word,” Ionescu told the Washington Post in 2019. “So I went out and recruited a bunch of girls to sign up for the team, and then I would just play. It’s funny now. I wish I could go back and just tell those people they had made a mistake.”

    Watch Ionescu here:

  • Experiencing Space Flight Just Got a Lot More Accessible

    Space Portal

    Over the weekend, as my colleague Isabela Dias reported, NASA’s lunar capsule made its historic reentry to Earth’s atmosphere at a staggering 32 times the speed of sound. That is, to quote our colleague Abigail Weinberg about space generally, “really fucking cool.” Because the cosmos, you see, is mesmerizing, and this genre of RFC space stories keeps expanding.

    The latest chapter in space exploration and education is a free app, Space Portal, that’s the first to let you witness moments like the capsule’s reentry as if you were looking out its window in real time. It’s also the first to let you orbit the Earth, the moon, and Mars through publicly available images in highly accurate virtual reality, filling a vital need for people with limited mobility and a range of disabilities who want to discover space as experientially as possible. You can replicate the results of peering out from the International Space Station for views previously available only to astronauts.

    Personally, I’ve grown skeptical of lofty claims to democratize space flight, as if “democratizing space” were anything more than a euphemism for exploiting it for brand gain. Not so with Space Portal. It actually advances that goal by opening up space more accessibly. It’s impressively un-gamified, with no cryptocurrency or NFTs or other convoluted barriers to entry, and it’s a refreshing break from much of the wildly expensive space tourism of tech adventurists. Space Portal is the independent passion project of planetary science professor Ian Garrick-Bethell of the University of California, Santa Cruz, a NASA-participating scientist on South Korea’s robotic lunar mission.

    I spoke with Garrick-Bethell after the lunar launch. For disclosure, we were grade-school classmates, and he, in our physics class, did all the work building a laser while I took half the credit:

    Ian, what motivated you to create Space Portal?

    Just curiosity about what the Earth and the moon and Mars look like from these vehicles in space, and no one had done it before. I used five weather satellites to collect real-time imagery of Earth, and for Mars and the moon I used imagery collected by NASA spacecraft. I combined this with publicly available information about the real-time positions of space vehicles. I’ve worked on it for a few years, and the pandemic afforded me this opportunity, while caring for my parents and isolated with my computer, to pursue a hobby that became something I could share with the world.

    Tell me about the appeal of virtual reality in space.

    Many people think of “virtual” as make-believe, but the power of VR is not just creating synthetic worlds—it’s making real worlds accessible. It’s one thing to see space on a flat screen, but we have the tools to pull those views into immersive three-dimensional experience. The portal shows places in our solar system as they actually exist at this very moment, sights that were previously unwitnessable.

    Is it not something Google Earth in VR can do? How is Space Portal different?

    Google Earth doesn’t let you see the same real-time imagery and doesn’t replicate the real-time position and motion of the International Space Station or other Earth-orbiting spacecraft. Space Portal does.

    How does this expand access to space flight?

    Flying in space has always been an extremely exclusive club. Almost no one gets a taste of it other than by looking at videos. VR has the power to change that. Soon it’ll feel more like you’re in space and there will be less need to ride a rocket, risk your life, and pay millions.

    What’s next?

    I’d consider this a first-generation app. I believe improvements in resolution will allow us within a decade to approach a synthetic perception of space that starts to become indistinguishable from reality. Even deeper in the future, we can simulate places where people have never gone, like the moons of Jupiter.

    Settle a question for me: “Laser” means light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Shouldn’t that be all-caps as an acronym?

    I always capitalize L.A.S.E.R. and use periods between letters.

    No you don’t.

    No I don’t.

    Do you need a Meta Quest 2 headset to use the portal?

    For the immersive version, yes, but you can head to the app’s YouTube channel for glimpses.

    What’s one thing you’d like to see in VR we don’t have now?

    I want to see where whales sleep. I want to swim around some actual sleeping whales in real time.

    Is that your next app?

    I’m working on it.

  • Remembering George Pérez, a Superhero of Superhero Comics

    Paul Butterfield/Getty/Amazing Comic Conventions

    One of the first comics I remember reading was Crisis on Infinite Earths, an altogether ridiculous DC Comics series from the mid-’80s that featured approximately 1 billion characters fighting a villain named the Anti-Monitor. I don’t know why or how I stumbled upon a collected edition of those 12 comics, which require a PhD in dense comics lore to understand, but I absolutely loved them.

    And the reason why was George Pérez.

    The Anti-Monitor’s days are numbered.

    George Pérez/DC Comics

    For young fans like me, superhero comics felt like a secret passcode only you and your friends knew. Sure, the world might think this is silly, but to us, it’s the coolest thing going. How can you explain to someone what works about a bunch of weirdos in spandex fighting aliens or robots? It just does.

    Pérez, an iconic artist and writer who died Friday, at 67, following a battle with pancreatic cancer, was as important as anyone else in giving comics that sense of wonder and dynamism. 

    His prolific career extended across decades at both major comics publishers, DC and Marvel, but his ’80s work is what I remember best. The ’80s was an incredible decade for superhero comics. The year Crisis wrapped up, DC started publishing two massively influential series: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, arguably the most critically acclaimed comic of all time. Those comics, like much good art, revolutionized the form by making its competition look dated, overly simplistic, and morally suspect. Superheroes are not to be idealized or worshipped, Watchmen tells us. They are just as greedy and vain and violent as the rest of us. If anything, their power makes them act worse.

    But in Crisis and his long-running stint on The New Teen Titans, Pérez had an old-school appreciation for the joy of serialized superhero comics. His colorful characters burst off the page and sometimes barely fit on it—literally. His ability to draw crowd scenes, something other comics artists loathe, was legendary. In a time when superheroes have taken over popular culture, Pérez reminds us why they appealed to readers in the first place. 

    Superhero comics are not just for children—sorry, Alan Moore—but at their best, they do evoke a sort of childlike wonder that is hard to explain. (Though when your boyfriend is 20 minutes into explaining the Doctor Strange post-credits scene, you may know what I mean.) I can’t remember much about Crisis or the individual issues of Teen Titans, but I know how important the characters felt to me. I was invested in Robin and Beast Boy and Raven as if they were longtime friends.

    Part of the beauty of comics—despite being an industry rife with some not-so-beautiful things—is how easy it is for fans to come to know, or at least feel like they know, popular creators. When Pérez announced in December that his cancer was inoperable and that he had denied further treatment, I was struck by the unbelievable generosity he showed his fans. “I hope to coordinate one last mass book signing to help make my passing a bit easier,” he wrote on Facebook. “I also hope that I will be able to make one last public appearance wherein I can be photographed with as many of my fans as possible, with the proviso that I get to hug each and every one of them. I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears.” 

    The following months brought more Facebook updates as Pérez visited with fans and fellow comics creators like Kurt Busiek, with whom he published an amazing DC/Marvel crossover series featuring the Avengers and the Justice League. That series, like Pérez at his best, evoked the thrill of seeing your childhood dreams made manifest. 

    I’ll never feel about today’s comics now the way I did as a kid. The ever-expanding superhero-industrial complex has robbed some of that context-free glee from the material, but every time I look at one of Pérez’s pages, I remember what made me sit next to a bookshelf in my parents’ basement, racing to see how the Anti-Monitor would be defeated.

    I don’t remember how the heroes won. I just remember how it made me feel. 

  • Ukrainian and Russian Dancers Join Onstage (in Italy) to Fundraise for the Red Cross

    As atrocities mount in Ukraine and global leaders languish in gridlocked debates over sanctions against Russia, artists are finding more personal ways to fundraise for action.

    Ballerinas from both countries convened in Italy this week to drum up donations for the Red Cross. Among them are Russians Maria Yakovleva and Olga Smirnova, who quit the Bolshoi Ballet in protest of the Kremlin’s invasion, and Ukrainians Anastasia Gurskaya and Denys Cherevychko, who fled the war.

    The result, Stand With Ukraine: Ballet for Peace, is a powerful staging. It came to my attention yesterday when my colleague Cathy Asmus shared this three-minute video. While the performance won’t stop Russia’s madness, it will help raise sorely needed funds for those who can. Catch Cathy’s own thoughts on dance, one and two, after watching below:

  • Mass Shootings Persist, But a New Book Brings Hope and Science to Grappling With Their Prevention

    It’s become all too common in media and politics to assume that we can’t stop mass shootings. But in his new book, Mother Jones National Affairs Editor Mark Follman demonstrates how many of these massacres are preventable, and traces the promising path and strategies to thwart them.

    Follman, who has maintained a first-of-its-kind open-source database of mass shootings since 2012, documents the latest in the emerging field of behavioral threat assessment. Trigger Points: Inside the Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America, published on Tuesday, walks us through the progress of forensic psychologists, FBI agents, and other experts and educators.

    My reading list is impossibly long, but I’m all in on this one. I suggest you join me, and if you want a teaser, catch his conversation at the Commonwealth Club of California with MoJo’s Monika Bauerlein. I’d already known the contours from having read his investigation in our upcoming print magazine, but each time Follman speaks or writes on it, I get a fresh look at the prevalence and prospects of stopping mass shootings. He delivers evidence and reasons for cautious hope.

    “Years ago I had the feeling there had to be other ways to look at this problem, and when I learned about behavioral threat assessment and started digging into it, I learned there’s a very different way to look at this that gets past the familiar noise” of defeatism and inevitability, he says.

    Get the insightful book, and watch below:

  • Yeah, I’m Gonna Need You to Go Ahead and Celebrate Michael Boltons’ Birthdays

    Michael Bolton (left), Michael Bolton (right)Tim Mosenfelder/Getty; Judgemental Films/Twentieth Century Fox

    Today is the 55th birthday of David Herman, the actor, comedian, noted linguist, and assclownologist forever fixed in movie history for popularizing “no-talent assclown” and bestowing the title on Michael Bolton. The line is enshrined in American letters. It is a contribution so crucial that Bolton himself is cited in Merriam-Webster’s etymology of “assclown.”

    The oldest dictionary publisher in the United States mentions his Office Space namesake to illustrate a “socially inept or stupid person,” but Bolton is gravely maligned. The singer is whip-smart. He is socially progressive, a champion of human rights. Yet there he is: “There was nothing wrong with [the name] until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent assclown became famous and started winning Grammys.”

    Bolton has rolled with it, recording a remix, giving it a kiss, and moving on. Michael Bolton Charities’ 30th anniversary is coming up, and his birthday is this week. But today we mark the actor’s own birthday, for Herman too is a champion of human rights, raising funds for hunger relief and poverty alleviation in Los Angeles.

    To revisit the role that fueled his career, which spans Bob’s BurgersFuturama, King of the Hill, Disenchantment, Brickleberry, and MadTV, I spoke with him. Our fireside chat has been edited and condensed:

    Happy birthday Dave—or David? Dave or David?

    Oh, I’m easy. Mr. Herman is fine.

    Mr. Herman, does the Dave/David choice matter as much to you as Mike/Michael did to Bolton?

    No, doesn’t matter to me: Mr. Herman or Rev. Dr. Herman. Either one.

    Dr. Herman, what’s the 2022 equivalent of the printer? What today would you destroy?

    Non-fungible tokens? I don’t even know what they are. My 21-year-old son tried to explain them to me and I almost body-slammed him.

    Mike Judge wrote that part with you in mind. His eye for talent and radar for social and political bullshit in the world are laser sharp. He heaps fresh ridicule on tech, media, and politics. If you share that sweet tooth for skewering, is there anything specific in the news right now that grinds your gears?

    As far as I know, everything’s peachy these days. I mean, I guess if everybody names their child Wordle, there might be some confusion in the future.

    As words go, I want Merriam-Webster to credit you for coining “assclown”—it cites Michael Bolton, not David Herman, but you wrote it into the script. Would you mind if I petition the dictionary’s editors to credit you? Knock myself out?

    Why stop at the dictionary? Petition the atlas too. Rename the South Pole “Ass Clown” and make me king.

    You once said you’ve never actually met Bolton. The pandemic hasn’t pulled you together in an overdue video chat for shits and giggles? I hear he’s not so self-serious these days, so who knows, might not be fun since he’s not easily offended. Would you consider it if he’s down? What’s the ideal hang?

    Ideally he wouldn’t kick my ass. Yeah, that wouldn’t be ideal.

    Madonna told Mike Judge, “That Michael Bolton guy is my favorite character. There’s something sexy about how angry he is.” To which you replied, “How am I ever going to tell people, ‘You know who’s into me? Madonna’?” As it happens, Madonna is holding auditions right now for her upcoming biopic. Got me thinking, if you collaborate, hypothetically, would you and Madonna join an interview about media and politics? If the opportunity arises?

    I asked Madonna to do THIS interview with me. Her representatives have not responded.

    Editor’s note: We also asked Madonna for an interview about Office Space. Her representatives have yet to reply. We also asked the real Michael Bolton. His publicist answered, “Thank you for extending the offer, we will have to kindly pass.”

    Mr. Herman, Mother Jones is the longest-running investigative nonprofit newsroom in the country. Are there any causes or human rights stories you wish the wider media shined more light on?

    Well, I can’t joke around about that, so this is probably a good spot for a plug: I joined Cameo around the time the pandemic started and I’ve been making videos to raise money for charity. All of my proceeds go to St. Francis Center Los Angeles. They provide food and comprehensive services to low-income and homeless individuals and families in the Greater Los Angeles area. You can find me on Cameo or Instagram @mr.davidherman. Also Lauren Tom, my friend and fellow cast member from Futurama and King of the Hill, and I raise money for Homeboy Industries. You can also go straight to St. Francis Center or Homeboy Industries and donate there and avoid me altogether. Also like to give a shoutout (I’ve always wanted to say that) to San Gabriel Habitat for Humanity. They do great work too and you can donate to them here.

    Lauren Tom and you are teaming up in Futurama’s return with 20 episodes on Hulu, with Katey Sagal and many others. What draws you to the reboot?

    I’d like to say it’s the amazing writers, animators, producers, and actors that draw me to the reboot, but it’s probably just the free lunch.

    Reverend Herman, I do celebrate your catalog. The whole thing, consistently funny, sharp, creatively cathartic. Do you celebrate it equally or more your animated voice work than physical screen roles?

    I’ve yet to celebrate my work. I suppose I could rent out a Moose Lodge and make Three Bean Casserole.

    You and Artie Lange used to love Norm Macdonald when you were at MadTV and Norm was at SNL. Norm’s death hit hard, but he left a long trail of ways he wished to be remembered. I remember his underrated filthy pigeon in the animated Mike Tyson Mysteries. You ever talk shop with Norm?

    Only met Norm once. It was on the set of his sitcom The Norm Show. Didn’t talk shop. We talked about I Love Lucy. Made him laugh with my Fred Mertz. Took it as a personal triumph. He was a true comedy great.

    As are you, Dr. Herman. Happy birthday.

    William Frawley as Fred Mertz in “I Love Lucy”

    Globe Photos/Zuma

    Very talented assclown whose name I will try to get in the dictionary.

    Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic/Getty

  • 50 Years After Recording “No Knock,” Gil Scott-Heron’s Protest Song Contains a Prescription


    No-knock raids are in the news again after last week’s police killing of Amir Locke, but the tactic and its impact have never left the minds of artists and activists calling for its end. As you follow along with our colleague Eamon Whalen’s reporting on the Locke case, take a listen to Gil Scott-Heron’s “No Knock,” recorded 50 years ago.

    “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” gets more plays and shares, but “No Knock,” from 1972, is more freshly resonant. Scott-Heron’s poem is rapped over a pulsing beat. It’s concise, with tight lines. It’s spare, with minimal instrumentation. And it’s specific: It names names, closing in on “one of our unfavorite people,” John Mitchell.

    Mitchell was the attorney general who called for no-knocks, and he became Nixon’s presidential reelection campaign chair. Mitchell approved wiretapping without court authorization, tried to spike the Pentagon Papers’ publication, advocated the prosecution of antiwar demonstrators, and was convicted of perjury, conspiracy, and obstruction in the Watergate cover-up. A statesman.

    Mitchell isn’t the only bad actor in Scott-Heron’s sights. “No Knock” has a long reach. It presses for a multigenerational movement against the tactic that not only disparately kills civilians but results in the preventable deaths of the very police using the tactic. The poem is as much a pushing back as a lament. And it taps into Scott-Heron’s twin talents: resistance and results. If “No Knock” expresses fury, it lands on another beat: a policy proposal to end it.

    Let us know at recharge@motherjones.com if you see good news in national or local no-knock coverage.

  • Politics Is Fun, Actually: City Council Edition

    Stein, who also goes by "Prime Time #99 Alex Stein," raps his delightfully weird heart out.City of Dallas

    Let’s face it: Everybody’s brain is broken. Spending two years in a pandemic, with no end in sight, has made everyone—on all sides of the political spectrum—act a little…out of pocket. Nowhere is this more true than the public comment portions of City Council meetings, the closest thing to a wildlife refuge for the American weirdo.

    At Wednesday’s meeting of the Dallas City Council, the people of Dallas were greeted with perhaps the most perplexing public comment yet: a man dressed in blue surgical scrubs, shouting a pro-vaccination song.

    Alex Stein, a YouTube comedian, hit the podium and performed a rap to the tune of Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady,” with lyrics including “vaccinate me in my thong” and “Dr. Fauci, give me that ouchie.” His audience: some two dozen council members in a largely empty and silent conference room.

    This isn’t the first time ordinary people have trolled City Council meetings (nor will it be the last). In December, as it deliberated whether to extend a local Covid emergency order, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors was met with this Santa hat–wearing anti-vaxxer:

    A woman identifying herself as Bridget fielded her own (botched) take on Mariah Carey’s record-breaking “All I Want for Christmas Is You”: I don’t want a lot for Christmas, just body autonomy / I don’t care about the variants, because of natural immunity. She promoted ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, drugs supported by anti-vaxxers, and argued for keeping schools open. (She starts spreading the holiday cheer at 2:03:50).

    Or take June 2020, when dozens of upset citizens called in to a public meeting of the Los Angeles Police Department Commission to dunk on the city’s police chief. One viewer, Jeremy Frisch, entered legend with his takedown of LAPD Chief Michel Moore: “I refuse to call you an officer or a chief because you don’t deserve those titles. You are a disgrace. Suck my dick and choke on it. I yield my time. FUCK YOU,” Frisch said. He later told Jezebel he’d practiced his sermon for six hours.

    Blessed be public comment for making the mundanity of city governance a little more thrilling.

  • When Communists and Hippies Fought Over Wheatgerm and Wonder Bread in Minneapolis

    Members of the Powderhorn Food Community rally to defend it.Minnesota Historical Society

    As a college student in San Francisco tasked with feeding myself full-time for the first time in my life, I wondered, “Where are all the natural food co-ops?” Growing up in Minneapolis, I was under the impression that every big city (much less a countercultural foodie mecca like San Francisco) was teeming with organic food cooperative grocery stores. Little did I know, my hometown was the headquarters of the 1970s movement that popularized such shops. Not everyone has a place like the Wedge Community Co-op, where my mother has been a member-owner since the late 1980s, let alone a robust network of similar stores.

    Eventually, I moved back to Minneapolis. That’s how, last summer, I ended up talking to an eccentric organic farmer friend who told me about the Co-op Wars. A vicious internecine conflict between Maoist revolutionaries and Hippies, the Co-Op Wars threatened to tear the movement apart just as it was blooming. 

    The groups—Co-op loyalists on one side and an insurgent faction called the Co-op Organization, or “The CO,” on the other—fought over who would control the upstart natural food co-op movement in the Twin Cities, how the stores should be staffed and managed, and whether they should sell Campbell’s Soup and Wonder Bread. Hardcore radicals wanted to rally the masses or stick to the wheatgerm and mesclun—cutting-edge health food at the time—instead.

    It may seem trivial, but this disagreement served as a stand-in for “many of the major issues of the tumultuous 1970s, particularly the connections between radical politics and social class,” notes the scholar Mary Rizzo. It also lead to serious violence. The first shot in the war comes when The CO makes a play to seize the People’s Warehouse distribution center, armed with steel pipes and ready to crack some hippie skull. The warehouse takeover begets a series of simmering conflict, culminating in The CO car-bombing the leader of a rival shop.

    I was astonished that I hadn’t heard this story growing up in the city. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long to learn more. This fall, the filmmakers and former co-op workers Deacon Warner and Erik Esse released their hourlong documentary, The Co-Op Wars, delving into what the author and socialist luminary Barbara Ehrenreich has called the “Twinkie wars.”

    In my last freelance assignment before joining Mother Jones, I spoke with the filmmakers for RacketMN, a newly launched, writer-owned online magazine from the editors of the late Minneapolis Alt-Weekly City Pages, if you want to read more.

    And if you want to hear war stories from the “veterans” themselves, The Co-Op Wars is available to stream for free on TPT and YouTube. I also appeared on the podcast Pod Damn America, where I spoke with host Anders Lee about the film and my article. If the story piques your interest like it did mine, I’d point to Storefront Revolution: Food Co-ops and the Counterculture, by Craig Cox, and “Revolution in a Can: Food, Class, and Radicalism in the Minneapolis Co-op Wars of the 1970s,” from Eating in Eden: Food and American Utopias, by Rizzo. Additionally, a former member of The CO and current member of the Democratic Socialists of America named Robbie Orr wrote a critical and reflective review of the film that contains advice for organizers and activists today.

  • New York Magazine’s Union Scores Its First Contract in the Newsroom’s 54-Year History

    Yesterday, after two and a half years of negotiating with magazine management and just hours after Bernie Sanders announced his support for its members, New York magazine’s union announced it had “finally (finally!!!!!!) reached an agreement in principle with management” for the first time in the publication’s 54-year history.

    “More to come soon, but for now we are so incredibly proud of and grateful for our incredible members,” the union tweeted, “(and Bernie).”

    “I stand in solidarity with @NYMagUnion workers,” Sanders had said. “Management must come to the table and agree to a fair contract now.”

    The union’s 130-plus editorial workers have actualized in an agreement the bargaining power accrued across the NewsGuild of New York—which also represents workers at the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Daily Beast, BuzzFeed News, and the Nation. It comes as corporate consolidation accelerates across digital publishing: Vox Media, which owns New York magazine, announced it’s buying Group Nine Media; the combined company is expected to make more than $700 million in revenue and $100 million in pretax profit this year, the Times reports. That’s a massive empire whose workers are already seeking seats at the table.

    And with consolidation’s rise—BuzzFeed gobbled up HuffPost, and Vice Media acquired Refinery29—unions stand to both gain and lose increasingly. Sanders’ support has become familiar fare in that story arc, and media shops continue to leverage his tweets and bring to bear the full force of his 15.5 million followers.

    A classic in the Sanders canon was his 2019 tweet skewering media dingus Jim Spanfeller, the widely despised and journalistically illiterate CEO of G/O Media, which owns Gizmodo, Jezebel, The Root, The Onion, and other sites: “I stand with the former @Deadspin workers who decided not to bow to the greed of private equity vultures like @JimSpanfeller,” Sanders wrote, naming the executive most synonymous with sparking the exodus of highly regarded editors and reporters, the bruising of beloved media brands, and the shelling out of once-great platforms.

    Under Spanfeller, The Root in particular has seen more than two-thirds of its phenomenally talented staff leave, and A.V. Club staff was stunned last week to see hiring notices posted online for their own jobs, a corporate tactic to force them to move offices across the country. “This is the kind of greed that is destroying journalism,” Sanders had said of Spanfeller.

    But while Sanders boosts and bemoans plenty of media outfits, and has endorsed Starbucks unions, Amazon workers, and custodians’ unions, what unites these stories is not their loudest political supporter. It’s their shared recognition that a theory of labor is tenable: Workers unionize when they see that unions work.

    As always, send good news to recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Sleuthing for Al Hirschfeld in the Caricaturist’s First Biography

    The artist widely smiling in 1974Michael Tighe/Donaldson Collection/Getty

    It’s the national pastime that became a national insanity, an obsession shared by millions of people poring over Al Hirschfeld’s caricatures on a scavenger hunt: the Nina challenge. Could you spot the letters of his daughter’s name camouflaged in those lyrically sweeping line drawings?

    Hirschfeld was the most prized and prolific caricaturist of magazines, newspapers, and theater bills in the 20th century. He created some 10,000 drawings. If you squint at many, you’ll find NINA tucked in those tangles of hair, cheeks, grins, and growls of politicians and entertainers. The game was all in good fun, a bit of fan service, but more was going on between the lines.

    The artist’s stamp—hiding a name—was dear to his fatherly heart. It was also a proxy for a larger project, prompting us to look closely and notice the unnoticed, to see big pictures in small details. That’s one of the many insights in the new biography by Ellen Stern, handpicked by Hirschfeld to write it (and an author I’ve long known as a friend’s family member). Her book is a trove of journalistic interviews with 325 people and a deep dive into archives with surprising dispatches and hidden histories.

    It’s a fun read. Formerly of New York and GQ magazines, Stern writes with the same wit that Hirschfeld drew with. Both the author and the artist are vivid storytellers; neither strikes me as pursuing the lofty academic exercise of pondering the pen’s purpose—too heavy for Hirschfeld—but each opens up a new way to understand how caricature reveals essence.

    And there is a saving asymmetry between her style and his. Where Hirschfeld embellished the people he drew, Stern refuses to embellish him. She is unsparingly journalistic, a tireless fact-checker. Take the day in March 1965 when Hirschfeld visits the White House: President Johnson at his desk, Hirschfeld the guest of honor. The White House phone rings. Martin Luther King Jr. is on the line. His voice booms into the Oval Office by speakerphone from Selma, Alabama, where King leads a march into a hornet’s nest of white supremacy. Hirschfeld bears witness to history.

    Or so he’s fond of telling.

    Stern’s research casts damning doubt on whether the call happened that day, and whether Hirschfeld is a reliable narrator of events. The presidential daily diary “does not, in fact, show a phone call to or from Martin Luther King on March 9,” she finds, “nor do the White House operators’ logs,” although MLK and LBJ “meet in person” days earlier “and speak by phone” days later, making Hirschfeld’s boast implausible. The archives confirm that during Hirschfeld’s visit, no same-day call was made in the artist’s presence, though it’s conceivable the president might’ve spoken about MLK. I asked Stern whether a call could’ve happened off the books, unlogged, but her research finds it unlikely. Instead of letting Hirschfeld skate by with a questionable brag, she presents the facts and lands on a deeper point. Memory, in its capacity to construct, is a muscle. It gets flexed, used, and misused. Here we have Hirschfeld as self-caricaturist, his sleight of hand turned on his experiences.

    Stretching the lines was his skill on the page. Stretching events is a skill not far away (take note, journalists). But it’s one of many lively stories in a page-turner that avidly chronicles how brightly he rendered the world. His adulthood was marked by joy as much as anguish; the flu had killed his younger brother, Milton, in 1919. (Al’s life was bookended by pandemics.) But Al never relented in searching for and sharing joy.

    And he did make history. The Federal Aviation Administration’s chief scientist used Hirschfeld’s camouflaged NINAs to test pilots’ perceptual ability to spot hidden targets. Adlai Stevenson invited him on an Army plane to visit King Solomon’s mines on a peace-spreading tour. 14-year-old Al played baseball with 14-year-old Lou Gehrig. And the first caricature stamps in postal history were Hirschfelds (but had to omit NINAs because no stamps can carry “secret marks,” though he slipped them in as signatures anyway).

    At each step, Hirschfeld flirted with the powerful but remained skeptical of power. He never cozied up for careerism. Just the opposite, he joined the fight against fascism and censorship in the ’30s and ’40s by turning out anti-Nazi cartoons. He took aim at senators and status-quo gatekeepers and hate-spewing radio hosts. And he advanced discussions of racial representation in newsrooms by submitting diverse work even when those newsrooms weren’t. Time commissioned him in 1998 to draw five century-defining artists. He rightly included Louis Armstrong. This prompted a debate among editors about the difference between true diversity and performative gestures of inclusion for institutional appearance. It’s all on pages 314 through 316 of the biography, endlessly insightful.

    What I value most in this study is less its granular detail than the vanishing line it traces between how caricature conceals and reveals; the role of artists and reporters in clarifying or obscuring. How many in the media still engage in caricature? For good or ill? How many of us use caricature to get at essence?

    There are many Ninas to find in Hirschfeld’s drawings. And just as many Als in Stern’s biography. He hides, like those he drew in his 99 years, in plain sight.

  • “We Can’t Not Give Back. Randal Was a Giver”: 21 Stories of Strength to Close Out 2021

    As we close the books on 2021, and not a moment too soon, a question I’ve been wrestling with and want your thoughts on, at recharge@motherjones.com, is what to do with fatigue. Pandemic fatigue, pain fatigue, news fatigue, loss fatigue. I’m hardly alone, but I’m also not alone in finding strength in stories that met the moment this year, 21 of them below. Starting with one, from a 19-year-old’s mother, that stopped me in my tracks:

    1. Postscript. On the morning of December 11, postal worker Randal Mosby Jr. started on his route, delivering mail for the holidays. Shortly into his shift, his mother, a school teacher, got a knock at her door from a coroner’s officer telling her Randal had died in the line of work. Details of his death are still emerging, and as his family struggles to piece together what happened, his mother, Tiffany, tells me on the phone days later, introduced by her brother and my Mother Jones colleague Homer, about the brightly compassionate life her son led and the outpouring of support she’s receiving. In his wake, she hopes to honor his life by establishing a family foundation that connects people in need with local resources.

    Tiffany’s process of grief is taking its course. But her efforts to memorialize and expand his impact are already reverberating. Of all the stories she shares, the one I keep thinking about is Randal anonymously stuffing large donations into a USPS co-worker’s coin bank every time he walked by her desk to fulfill her dream of attending a World Series game: “My son was donating the whole time and didn’t say anything. Most teenagers don’t do that. To think that he was selflessly giving, it just touches me. And another co-worker was going through hard times, so Randal searched online for the perfect gift: an engraved keychain with a compass that read ‘Be guided on the right path—fulfill your dreams.’ And another co-worker liked to try recipes and was jokingly nicknamed Betty Crocker by her colleagues, so my son stopped at a neighborhood garage sale and surprised his co-worker with a stack of cookbooks. He was listening to people, doing his best to help. Not only is he hard-working, but he actually cares.”

    “We can’t not give back. Randal was a giver,” his uncle tells me. “In this painful moment, we’re witnessing a community of friends, students, strangers who never knew him, and local businesses come together to support my sister in her loss. Looking ahead to 2022, I hope this spirit of support extends to the countless families grieving for loved ones.”

    A hopeful New Year to Randal’s family and USPS friends. If you have a note for them, send it to recharge@motherjones.com.

    2. Migration music. “What’s a 4-year-old doing in prison for 700 days?” asked poet Paul Flores onstage in CAGES: Ways to Interrogate History, pianist Jon Jang’s latest. I was in the audience, my first in two years, with Jang at his best: acutely alert to political patterns and tightly improvising. “Jon is so quick and well-versed in protest music that he can hear a line from my poem about survival boats carrying Dominicans fleeing to Puerto Rico,” Flores says, “and hear my refrain ‘This is a boat’ and play it back. And suddenly my poem about Caribbean immigration and Native culture becomes a spiritual song.” Catch it February 6.

    3. Beautiful News, a site delivering on its promise.

    4. What Does It Mean to Be American? is Robert Stillman’s new solo album, a mix of minimalist improvisation, layered effects, and pitch-bending drones. His music is lapping, as defamiliarizing as the past year: “I was born and raised in America and identify as American but I’ve lived in the UK for over a decade, and it’s given me the opportunity to consider what being ‘American’ means outside the day-to-day experience.” Two albums coming.

    5. Housing gains. A big win for housing activists putting people over profits as Berliners voted to “seize housing from big corporate landlords,” reports Camille Squires of Quartz.

    6. Climate fix. Beyond the policy fights are immediate efforts in Indigenous communities to take action: A livestream delves in with Melina Laboucan-Massimo of Canada and Tyson Yunkaporta of Australia in #DearWorldLive’s “Protecting the Earth: Indigenous Solutions to the Climate Crisis.”

    7. Spacing out. I can think of lots of ways to spend $10 billion: vaccines, student debt relief. NASA’s idea is fine I guess, a new telescope launched last week to unlock mysteries of the universe.

    8. Book it. Jennifer Shahade, director of US Chess Women, finished her book Chess Queen: The True Story of a Chess Champion and the Greatest Female Players of All Time. Preorder it and catch her commentary in Louisa Thomas’ New Yorker profile of Hou Yifan.

    9. “Recover Together,” a vital list of pandemic relief, has a spread of resources, from a veterans’ alcohol self-management program to tips for caretakers.

    10. Ringing a bell. Everything Daniel Carter touches is an unconventional recharge, his latest no exception. Start with his classic “Refracted Light and Grace.”

    11. Strong words. Keep these in mind, one from historian Tom Christensen: “Tyranny hates memory.” The other from Mother Jones’ David Corn: “Much of human history is a war against forgetting.”

    12. Defying debt. Jateria Pittman tells me about starting her own business after quitting a corporate finance gig to pursue her passion—creating Debt-Free Travel Journey—thanks to Tulsa Remote paying her $10,000 to move to Oklahoma: “For me, travel was escapism. I was trying to escape reality. But mental health and money are tied to travel, so I thought let’s fix the money mindset. A lot of people hold shame for their debt and can’t move forward because every step feels like a cement block on their foot.” Her tips are practical—tackling debt, building wealth—and psychological: “It’s not just money. Debt is heavily emotional. It costs more to be poor than to be middle class. One thing I tell people is travel doesn’t have to be a big trip abroad. You can travel your backyard, your city, your coast.” Through Tulsa Remote, she’s “getting support from the history of Black Wall Street and so many resources to build my business, all to inspire other millennials to take control of finances so they can build wealth and redefine travel.”

    13. Existential stepback. A promising new podcast is rounding the runway from science educator and children’s book author Annaka Harris. Lights On: My Search for a Theory of Consciousness includes a strong lineup: scientists Lee Smolin, Christof Koch, Sue Blackmore, and George Musser.

    14. Twitchingly funny. The most wryly hilarious graphic designer I’ve seen this year is Jaron Saturnino, the tongue-in-cheek editor and enigma behind Hikaru Nakamura’s video thumbnails and intros, including this one: What happens when the world Speed Chess Champion blunders against a 14-year-old?

    15. Solutions journalism. It’s conventional wisdom, but not actually wise, in certain precincts of progressive media to assume that things are always and irredeemably worse than they appear. But Solutions Journalism Network puts that idea to the test with tips for reporters and readers on telling stories that solve problems.

    16. Reuniting. Two 91-year-old women, best friends as kids before fleeing Germany on the cusp of World War II, reunited for the first time in 82 years. Betty Grebenschikoff had thought Ana María Wahrenberg didn’t survive before they embraced in Florida this winter, a reunion facilitated by several groups.

    17. Landing. The first Native-led marine sanctuary in the United States, on 7,000 square miles off the coast of California, got a boost last month when the Chumash tribe’s proposal moved forward, a big step for Indigenous stewardship. 

    18. Labor win. Workers’ rights organizer LaTanja Silvester, the Louisiana director of disaster preparedness and recovery group Resilience Force, rallied to strengthen emergency response this year. She’s also leading efforts in New Orleans to create jobs through vaccine and food distribution.

    19. Rescue. In honor of five first responders killed in the line of duty, the Tunnel to Towers firefighters foundation has paid off their families’ mortgages.

    20. Recovering. Controversy swarms San Francisco over the state of emergency its mayor declared for homelessness in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Ed Reed once lived there, and he’s now an acclaimed singer who’s headlined Jazz at Lincoln Center. His new book, Double Helix: A Memoir of Addiction, Recovery, and Jazz in Two Voices, is written with his partner, Diane. “I would never have imagined I’d be performing” on the big stage, he writes. “Certainly not when I was shooting heroin and overdosing, spending the better part of 16 years at San Quentin and Folsom Prisons and, for 20 years more, rotating in and out of 25 drug treatment programs, five mental hospitals, and fleabag hotel rooms in San Francisco’s Tenderloin.” His writing, like his music, is unguardedly candid, confessionally deep, and profoundly moving.

    21. “Let’s not forget the very best thing about this year: It’s almost over.”

    Happy ’22. Send good news to recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Canadian Pilots Rally to Supply Towns Isolated by Flooding

    Pilot Kim Alaric prepares to fly a planeload of food and supplies to Merritt, BC, a town cut off by the recent floods. Jesse Winter/Canada's National Observer

    This story was originally published by Canada’s National Observerand is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

    It was cold and near sundown at the Langley, British Columbia, airport Friday afternoon as Shaun Bradley Heaps in his signature shorts greeted a team of fellow pilots returning from an emergency mission delivering food and necessities to flood-ravaged southern BC towns.

    “There’s butter chicken and samosas over there,” said the pilot and member of the West Coast Pilots Club, pointing towards the glowing yellow door of a nearby hangar. The coolers filled with curry, boxes of crispy samosas, and chapatis hand-wrapped in aluminum foil were donated by a local Sikh temple earlier that day, he said.

    Inside, roughly a dozen other pilots and volunteers were relaxing after delivering essential goods through rugged mountain passes. For more than two weeks, this volunteer flying squad—Heaps’ brainchild—has collected thousands of pounds of food and other essentials from across the Lower Mainland and used privately owned propeller planes and helicopters to deliver it to roughly 30 communities isolated after last month’s floods. Money for fuel and supplies has come out of their own pockets or from donations.

    November’s devastating floods storms washed out bridges and roads, including this section of Highway 1, cutting off roughly 30 towns and hamlets across southern BC, including many Indigenous communities, from food and supplies.

    Jesse Winter/Canada’s National Observer

    On Friday alone, the crew shipped roughly 9,000 kilograms of goods to places like Merritt, Boston Bar, and Siska. “A bunch of private pilots are doing more than the federal government,” Heaps said as he waited for another flight to land.

    While he acknowledged authorities have provided some support, people in the stranded communities are telling him the provincial and federal governments seem content to leave it to volunteers and donations to meet people’s ongoing needs. “So we’re just keeping on resupplying and resupplying,” he said. “How [else] are they supposed to survive?”

    Held together with plastic wrap, each pile had been carefully built by the volunteers to contain most items on “shopping” lists sent to the group by impacted communities, said Brenda Lennax, the team’s dispatch manager. Lennax runs several small businesses in Maple Ridge, BC. When the floods hit, she told all her clients she was taking time off to help out—even as her own family was evacuated. “I’m supposed to be here,” she explained during a brief lull in the packing frenzy.

    Volunteers rush to pack planes with food and necessities donated by community churches, temples, and mosques. congregations.

    Jesse Winter/Canada’s National Observer

    The first plane was loaded within 15 minutes: Costco-size boxes of granola bars and Kraft Dinner squeezed behind passenger seats. Twelve-packs of water and pop were propped against mega-packs of diapers, baby wipes, and toilet paper. Bags of chicken and livestock feed covered the floor. Fleece blankets filled any remaining crannies before the pilot latched a cargo net over the load to keep it in place.

    “It has all been coming from all the Sikh temples, Sikh communities, Hindu temples, Jews, Muslims—all community churches are donating a ton of food,” explained the group’s supplies and provisions manager Pritpal Singh Sekhorn as he double-checked each load. “(The flying squad) is bringing everyone under one umbrella to reach the flood-affected communities as soon as possible.”

    There are enough donations to fill three airport hangars and a nearby warehouse nearby—and Heaps said more keeps coming. “It’s endless. And if we need dog food, they send dog food. They bring batteries, horse feed…(we) make a phone call and it shows up.”

    Most communities are still weeks or months away from regular road access and people and animals need to eat, so the excess of supplies is unlikely to go to waste. And with Christmas near, the flying squad is doubling its efforts to make the holiday easier for people cut off from friends and family.

    “It’s all about love,” Lennax said.

  • How Biking Calms My Pandemic Angst

    Mother Jones' director of leadership gifts, Teri Carhart, finishes her first Climate Ride of 273 miles in four days to raise funds and awareness for the climate crisis.@climate_ride

    Last February, in the grips of the pandemic before getting vaccinated, I took stock of my wellbeing, and things weren’t great. I felt depleted. I was slogging through that transitional “sandwich generation” space, which I’m smack in the middle of. Everyone, everything, seemed to signal rising levels of anxiety and stress.

    The January 6 insurrection, mass COVID death—a few within my own circle of family and friends—took their toll. I wasn’t exactly “bouncing back.” I was sleeping poorly and starting each day pissed, sad, or numb. I needed a reset. Gratitude—a healing practice I believe in (my mom calls it “prayer”)—wasn’t enough. I craved something proactive.

    I picked up a nerdy pandemic obsession—kelp harvesting—and buried myself in learning about seaweed’s rich history, feeling buoyed by its carbon-sequestering potential. I kept gravitating to the ocean and a salt marsh for long walks, searching for direction, and somewhere along the way, in my resetting of headspace, I decided I needed an ambitious, joyful goal. So I signed up for a biking fundraiser to support climate advocacy and reset my outlook. I chose a group to support, SeaTrees, whose mission is to restore coastal ecosystems. And I convinced a girlfriend to join me.

    My friend is a school principal who knows that depression and anxiety among kids and teachers have spiked during the pandemic. She needed a recharge as well, so the two of us plunked down deposits and trained for the ride: four days and 273 miles along Maine’s coast. The fundraising was community-building, and I’m still volunteering, but biking a lot—committing to it—was the hard part.

    “Do just one thing”—the wise words of Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a badass marine biologist and co-author of All We Can Save, a collection of musings by powerful women sharing stories and poems about how we can turn the tide on climate catastrophe. It’s as much a blueprint for change as a meditation on health and a racial justice primer that shows how much agency we all have when we lift each other up. My favorite observations about biking through the lens of Johnson’s insight:

    Syncing with the rhythms of nature

    After clocking almost 2,000 miles over seven months, I’m less inclined now to obsessively grab my phone, refresh my inbox, and scroll Twitter. Like the tides, our bodies have rhythms, so I pay closer attention to focusing my behavior for fewer interruptions. My bike paths reward me with a familiar flock of turkeys, “my dudes,” whom I’ve watched grow up into teenagers. I’ve seen their caruncles up close, deer trails on steep hills, a reservoir dry up, trees discolor too early from drought. I’ve seen turkey vultures drying their wings at sunrise. A coyote sunbathing. A meadow where jackrabbits play. I wave to my favorite madrone tree every time I pass her by. Like a swimmer timing ocean waves, I choose my routes to take the headwinds so I can flip around with winds at my back. And when I misread nature, another lesson awaits.

    Take your time (if you can). The journey counts.

    Biking awakens my senses: the sun on my cheeks, fog wetting me down. I’ve gotten cold, overheated, dehydrated, tired, but each brings a reminder: take time to feel, smell, and taste it all, and develop a new skill, like leaning into the turns and looking ahead.

    I’m a lefty politically and handedly. Like most lefties, I tend to be more big-picture when it comes to problem-solving, but a few small modifications serve me well when biking—keeping my speed up, tucking into turns instead of hitting the brakes, with my body aligned to the road’s curves. Taking the turns, instead of being taken by them, is possible in areas of life beyond biking.

    Finding your edges

    Our esteemed colleague Jamilah King, upon leaving her MoJo family recently for exciting new challenges, gave us parting advice: Do something every now and then that scares you. For me, that’s hard to do. My reserves run low. So I’ve tried something similar: finding my edges. None of us know what we’re fully capable of until stepping into uncomfortable spaces, forced to rise to the occasion. The edges are usually farther out than we think.

    Sleeping and eating have never felt so good

    No joke: Bike a lot and your sleep will improve, and food is more delicious. Never has a PB&J felt more satisfying, squished up in my jersey pocket. By the time I pull it out midride, it looks like nothing much but it tastes like five Michelin stars.

    Boosting endorphins by resting up and exercising is a nontoxic, sustainable way to improve my mood and mental health, and biking makes me breathe hard and deeply. Hope follows healing, and I understand now why sunflowers bend toward the sun.

    I’m leaving this Recharge in my editor’s hands as I head out for a Climate Ride. I’m excited and a little scared—to ride and to write—in a way that’s as joyful as it is unsettling. I highly recommend choosing a personal recharge, just one that’s good for you and the planet. As Johnson suggests, “Do just one thing.” The momentum and connections can strengthen us all.


    —Teri Carhart is Mother Jones’ director of leadership gifts. She’s just finished her first Climate Ride, biking 273 miles in four days to raise funds and awareness for the climate crisis. Send a wave to recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Are These Black Leaders on the Cusp of a New National Movement?

    Mother Jones illustration

    With everything going on these days—we’ll spare you the requisite list of existential crises we’re currently living through—now seems like the perfect time to hear from two leaders who have a revolutionary vision of what this country could be.

    Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba is currently the youngest mayor ever of Jackson, Mississippi. India Walton won a historic upset primary against a four-term incumbent and is the Democratic nominee for the mayor of Buffalo, New York. They are from two different cities, over 1,000 miles apart, but both Walton and Lumumba consider themselves to be Black radicals.

    Mother Jones reporter and columnist Nathalie Baptiste sat down with them to dig deep and talk about what’s on their, and our, minds. They both use the term “radical” to describe their politics, but what does that really mean? What do they consider the biggest obstacle to a robust socialist party in the United States? And this wouldn’t be a conversation during the years of the pandemic without finding out what, if any, guilty-pleasure TV shows are on their watch list. (Any Madam Secretary fans in the house?)

    Watch the full conversation below. You don’t want to miss it:

  • Reporters Covering Protests Score New Protections Against Police Interference in California

    In a milestone for press freedom, reporters covering political protests will be allowed to enter areas closed to the general public without interference from cops in California. The law, taking effect in January, extends protections that reporters already have in emergency zones—like wildfires and evacuation sites—to rallies and demonstrations. One would’ve thought this was constitutionally protected practice, but state and local laws shake out variably. Arrests and assaults have recently included a radio journalist shot in the throat by a rubber bullet; a photographer shot at by rubber bullets while wearing a press pass and a visible press jacket; and the zip-tying of a reporter who’d identified himself as a member of the press.

    Opposing the law were police chiefs’ groups and other officers claiming that giving “nearly unfettered access to an emergency” zone could imperil law enforcement. But the measure passed with overwhelming majorities, and reporters will be shielded from citation for refusing to disperse or violating curfew.

    Harm’s way isn’t new to reporters in conflict zones. But the hazards were pronounced during last year’s protests. As Mother Jones contributor Wil Sands documented in a powerful photoessay, he and others have unwillingly joined what they call the Shot in the Eye club. During the uprising, the group’s members—across the country—were hit with “less lethal” ammunition in the face. After losing his retina to a tear gas canister while photographing a protest, he began organizing. His photos are a jolting reminder of what’s on the line.

    One more for press freedom: The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded days ago to two reporters fighting authoritarianism, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitri A. Muratov of Russia, honored for uncovering corrupt forces hostile to public disclosure.

    Keep more press wins coming to recharge@motherjones.com.

  • 25 Years After “The Score,” the Fugees Reunite to Raise Funds for Global Poverty Relief

    The Fugees (here in 2005) reunite for a 2021 tour to raise funds for global poverty relief.Tabatha Fireman/Redferns/Getty

    It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Fugees released The Score and 15 years since they last toured together, remaking the realms of rap, reggae, funk, and rock. It’s even harder to believe, if you’re steeped in Fugee fandom, that they’re playing again, crisscrossing the United States, England, France, Nigeria, and Ghana.

    Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michel are back with charitable shows to raise funds in partnership with the poverty-fighting group Global Citizen. “I decided to honor [our album’s] anniversary and the fans who appreciated the music by creating a peaceful platform where we could unite,” Hill says, “and set an example of reconciliation for the world.”

    Reconciliation on a personal level—the three had vowed to stay apart—and at the level of legacy, testing what time does to a singular sound bound up in 1990s America. “Times have changed, but the vibe remains the same,” the Fugees tweeted. And Fugee fandom has never been just Lauryn fandom—she shares the bill with Wyclef and Pras—but there’s a singular way that a love of Lauryn, the prizing of her vocal and lyrical warmth, and the captivation around her growth enamor listeners. Tour dates are here. If you can’t make it, take a spin of “Killing Me Softy” and “Ready or Not.”

    A second Recharge into the weekend: the mesmerizing new video by Explosions in the Sky, the Austin-based post-rock band. It’s a new soundtrack in honor of Big Bend National Park, accompanying a public TV documentary, to lift all moods.

  • A Meditation on Movement—and Homemade Egg Rolls

    Cathy Asmus, Mother Jones' membership initiatives manager, in a Motion Pacific studio dance showCrystal Birns

    My partner is running his first marathon in the morning, and somehow I’m the one up late worried that I forgot to pack something—anything!—that I might need while standing around in the spectator area tomorrow. He’s fast asleep while I pace. This is how we typically operate; our temperaments must be hardwired by now. But I wouldn’t miss him crossing the finish line for anything, just as he wouldn’t miss my events, though he’d undoubtedly be less stressed getting ready.

    The spectacle of big events isn’t the draw—it’s the chance to deepen our mutual love of movement, whether it’s a marathon, a dance show, a backpacking trip, or a high-five after our daily workout. Movement builds community for us, when our hard work meets peak celebration.

    So I get ready, triple-checking that I packed both sunglasses and layers—San Francisco is temperamental—and find myself thinking of all the ways that movement sustains me. About how movement, both bodily and political, has changed during the pandemic. How old ways of moving, motivating, and gathering expand and contract.

    Social became solitary as the pandemic halted our hangouts, with Zoom lording over us. So we turned our kitchen counters into ballet barres and slid furniture to clear way for YouTube yoga. But I like to think of our insistence on movement as a small rebellion against the forces trying but failing to stop us.

    Moving is so good for me. I wonder if it is for you. And if you can at all. Here I run into a question of just who can move and who can’t, to whom movement is available and whom it’s denied. We each confront movement’s limitations. But we also get closer to its liberation. Recognizing that makes me all the more grateful for the movement I do have access to.

    Cathy Asmus Crystal Birns

    Movement takes lots of cathartic, freeing forms. We should consciously make more time for it. Count and celebrate your small movements. And if you can’t be moved to move, at least sit back and watch one of my favorite chef-lebrities, Lucas Sin, make egg rolls from scratch. That should get you. I defy you not to watch and feel inspired to make them yourself.

    —Cathy Asmus is Mother Jones membership initiatives manager. Send stories about movement, if so moved, to recharge@motherjones.com.

  • As COVID Rages on, the First Malaria Vaccine in History Gets Approval

    Cristina Aldehuela/AFP/Getty

    Good news on the global health front is hard to come by, but the World Health Organization shared a big line of hope today by endorsing the first-ever malaria vaccine. The green light is a gamechanger for one of the oldest and deadliest diseases, which kills half a million people each year, predominantly kids under 5 years old in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The vaccine moves the needle medically and potentially socially—if the rollout is accountable and equitable, a big if. And as COVID consumes wall-to-wall media coverage and eclipses the deadly contagions before it, there’s a welcome note of perspective in marking gains beyond COVID. In a search of MoJo archives, I came across a 2006 headline that asked, “Can Malaria Be Stopped?” The answer is coming into clearer focus.

    The vaccine is not just a breakthrough for malaria. It’s the first for any parasitic disease. Keep an eye on MotherJones.com for broader analysis and updates, and let us know how this could affect your or your family’s lives at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Jon Stewart, After Six Years Off Air, Launches a New Show on Apple TV+

    Jon Stewart (left) returns to the TV.Fernando Leon/Getty

    We’ll keep this short. Jon “Getting Excited!!!” Stewart, an American comedian, devotee of sandwiches, critic of cats, dabbler in democracy, fanboy of Mitch McConnell, publicist of Tucker Carlson, and haver of plans, is back. His new show, The Problem With Jon Stewart, premieres tomorrow on Apple TV+, free for a limited time, after six years hugging the sidelines in cowering fear of his own shadow as the world collapsed. No pressure. Welcome back.