For hundreds of years Baiersdorf, a Bavarian village, has cultivated horseradish. It was quick to put it in use to celebrate the Führer. For the harvest festival peasants made swastikas out of horseradish stalks. Soon, Main Street was renamed Adolf Hitler Street and Seligmann Street became Horst-Wessel Street. The little park in the center of town became Adolf Hitler Park, and its big oak tree the Hitler Oak.
I have plenty of problems with Germany, but its people’s willingness to speak their minds and stand up for others isn’t one of them. Whatever you do, in Germany the public good trumps your individual desires. I believe what often stands in the way is Americans’ compulsive need to be liked. We need to learn to object and intervene—whether in public protest or simply around the family dinner table.
Amid bigotry and intimidation, transgender artists create images to empower their communities and normalize the myriad complexities of their experiences. Their individual voices are well-positioned to speak to the more complicated, emotional and institutional aspects of the trans experience. And their voices are more important than ever in times when we mourn democracy, decency and tolerance.
For several weeks in February and March, the Whitney Museum’s fifth-floor gallery has been drenched in the slamming of gates, the rattling of keys and the bellowing of prisoners and guards. The artist Andrea Fraser recorded the sounds at Sing Sing, the infamous prison 34 miles up the Hudson River, then fed them into a gallery that’s roughly the same size as the prison’s A Block.
A 22-year-old college junior majoring in English literature, Beatrice had barely left her room in two weeks. At first, she’d had a gnawing sense that her friends were talking about her behind her back, privately hissing about what a terrible person she was. Soon, glances from family members telegraphed that they too were against her. She barricaded herself in her room. Her interest in food and sleep faded. She had a powerful urge to keep the TV on.
King Kudzu sits next to his little house by the side of Route 441 surrounded by reindeer. There is kudzu everywhere. Kudzu stars, kudzu Christmas trees, kudzu angels. It is only late August, but already the King is getting ready for Christmas, the busiest season of the year. He is the creator, soaking and cutting and weaving and bending while occasionally glancing up at the sky. The early fog has risen, making space for the summer sun.
When Yasmin Menon and Pablo van Dijk opened the door to their Gramercy Park apartment I was greeted by a black poodle named “Poodle.” They both wore hats and were quick to offer wine and personal compliments. The largest wall of their apartment is entirely covered in clown paintings. “Hey, you! I’m talking to YOU!” The clowns seem to say. As their involuntary audience you can’t help but get a little self-conscious.
Jeffrey Wood and Daniel Reneau had only known each other for a couple of months when Wood waited in the car as his new friend entered a gas station in Kerrville. When Wood, a 22-year-old with no prior criminal record, heard gunshots, he went inside the store to find the attendant shot dead. Reneau then pointed his handgun at him and forced him to steal the surveillance video and drive the getaway car.