The Sunday Post for August 28, 2016

The Most Exclusive Restaurant In America

Though exciting at first, this basement restaurant with a supposed years-long waitlist becomes gradually less legitimate the more you try to learn about it. Journalists can’t confirm celebrity visits and numbers don’t add up. Nick Paumgarten writes about his fifteen course meal with a stubbornly self reliant and secretive chef.

If Damon Baehrel is in some measure a fairy tale, what, exactly, isn’t true? And, if it isn’t entirely on the level, what’s the hustle? What’s he up to, out there in the woods? The perception of exclusivity and privileged access enables him to charge big-city prices, but if he were serving only a handful of diners each week it wouldn’t add up to a huge haul. For what, then?

Baehrel has concocted a canny fulfillment of a particular foodie fantasy: an eccentric hermit wrings strange masterpieces from the woods and his scrabbly back yard. The extreme locavore, pure of spade and larder. The toughest ticket in town. Stir in opacity, inaccessibility, and exclusivity, then powder it with lichen: It’s delicious. You can’t get enough. You can’t even get in.

Yes, political parties can die

It’s not a hypothetical — Argentina and Venezuela have already experienced this. And as Seth Masket points out, “Democracies, it seems, are surprisingly fragile in the absence of functional parties.” A lack of parties can lead to violence, such as the American Civil War after the last death of a major political party. As the 2016 elections approach, people are wondering if the death of the Republican Party is imminent. And if so, what will it bring?

What makes a party die? The answer, Lupu argues, is an interaction of forces. It's not just when the economy goes sour while one party is in charge. That will certainly hurt a party, but its most ardent supporters will stick with it even in tough times. Nor is it when a party suddenly changes its brand.

But a combination of those two can be fatal. If a party radically shifts its policy positions, it can alienate its most ardent supporters, who won't be there the next time the party is blamed for something that goes wrong.

Why ‘Maus’ remains ‘the greatest graphic novel ever written,’ 30 years later

From its inception to its completion, Maus took Art Spiegelman 13 years, and this month marks the first volume’s 30th anniversary. The two-part graphic novel is arguably as wide-read as Elie Wiesel’s Night — at least in schools, where it’s become a common item on reading lists.

Today, amid the massive boom in graphic novels, it can be easy to forget how much of a game-changer "Maus" was.

The comic installments ran in serial form in RAW, the indie "graphix" magazine launched in 1980 by Spiegelman and his editor-wife, Francoise Mouly, now art editor at the New Yorker. That’s where rock-star cartoonist Chris Ware ("Building Stories") first read it. "Probably more than any other single comic, it made me see not only the potential for complex, moving and intelligent storytelling in comics, but also galvanized my own resolve to become a graphic novelist," he says.

A Public-School Paradox

According to Alia Wong, DC ties with Hawaii for the nation’s lowest public school attendance rate. That’s why almost every president sent the first kids to private school — except Jimmy Carter, whose decision to enroll his daughter in a predominantly black DC public school carries significant symbolic weight.

Scrutinizing where Malia and Chelsea and Amy went to school as first kids is a reminder that even presidents face the kinds of decisions that everyday parents have to make in an increasingly heterogenous school landscape. Perhaps more importantly, though, it’s a reminder of the disconnect that often separates public-school classrooms from the people who decide what happens in them: Given how much power the president of the United States wields over the nation’s public schools, it’s noteworthy how few of the country’s soon-to-be 45 commanders-in-chief actually had real, personal stakes in the public-education systems they helped—or will soon help—shape.
I Decided Not To Read Books By White Authors For A Year. Conservatives Lost Their Damn Minds.

The responses to Chloe Angyal’s tweet about not reading any white authors in 2016 are hardly surprising, but still rather shocking. Her article perfectly describes the realities reflected in the abusive replies and underscores the importance of her project.

I don’t imagine that merely reading differently and hoping that others will do the same will end racism or sexism. It’s going to take 500,000 things — big and small, public and private, individual and systemic — to do that. I also don’t think it’s showy or superficial to, as a member of a dominant group, make it known to other members of that group when you’re actively working to correct inequities. To hold yourself, and other members of that group, accountable. That’s not going to instantly transport us to a better future — no one thing will — but it is, hopefully, a stop along the road.