#FridayReads: ‘Good News’ from n + 1 on multiple fronts

trustfundThe three-times-a-year Brooklyn journal, n + 1, is always packed with an ecelectic mix of goods and Number Eighteen, which is called “Good News,” is no exception.

The book-size publication includes a terrific piece by Richard Beck on the child sexual abuse panic of the 1980s — pegged to the family profiled in the popular documentary “Capturing the Friedmans” — as well as pointed critical articles on the NSA’s use of social media and many folks’ need to express opinions about everything on Facebook and Twitter.

n + 1 provides fresh, youthful points of view on issues and concerns that are rarely written about. Filmmaker Brandon Harris (below) contributes a wonderful article, “On Bed Stuy,” that manages to combine pointed commentary on New York City gentrification with a more personal examination of how financial imbalances can destroy friendships when college buds move into the real world.

Here’s Harris on the mystery of rooming with someone who appears to be a trust fund baby:

“At first it really didn’t seem possible that he would never get a job in the two years I lived there, nor even so much as appear to be looking for one, eventually allowing the sheer fact of his effortless affluence to overwhelm our shared space and, in the end, our friendship.”

Adding to the misery of the situation was the fact that the real estate business had pulled a bait-trustfund1and-switch by calling their part of Brooklyn “Clinton Hill”:

“We never admitted to each other that we lived in an over-priced Bedford-Stuyvesant loft, one that was slowly choking away my desires and our friendship…So I kept borrowing money on credit cards and deferring my student loans.”

Not for the first time, n + 1 opens a window into the challenges faced by today’s post-collegiate generation, with the triple whammy of enormous college loan debt, very limited job opportunities, and a barren urban real estate scene for young people.

Although it would be hard to imagine a more tuned-in-to-the-zeitgeist journal, there is a refreshing Luddite strain to a lot of the commentary regarding our new online lives.

“To say ‘I deserve to be heard!’ today is a vexed proposition. Right and left, tech corporations beg you to say your piece for the sake of content-generation, free publicity, hype and ad sales. America’s speech is so free, it pays — just not you,” an anonymous editor writes in “Against the Rage Machine.”

“…they enjoin us to care, and about so many things. Why? Our attention is both finite and worth something; we should not spend it on the VMAs, Anthony Weiner, recreational misandry, or the boilerplate opinions of others. And yet these things enrage us. We can’t live this way. We were so mad, staring at our phone, reading opinions, we just walked into a planter.”

“…Always pick sides! Team Aniston!! The internet demands it, even if it’s only half-thoughts it wants, thoughts like ‘This, just this’ or ‘This is everything.’ ‘This’ is not a sentence. Nor is ‘Best. Thing. Ever.’”

I love the beginning of the final paragraph of the piece, which sounds like a new, 21st century internet watchcry:

“Truth is not an imperative, but something that must be discovered. Unlike liquid opinion, truth does not always circulate. It is that which you experience, deeply, and cannot forget. The right to not care is the right to sit still, to not talk, to be subject to unclarity and allow knowledge to come unbidden to you.”