Here For It! (the newsletter formerly known as Eric Reads the Week), #81

Hi! It's still R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

This week: Congress has a new reading representative, Cardi B's baby name is perfect, and Ferris Barack-ller's Day Off.

I left the house about an hour ago in search of a blueberry muffin. Despite the fact that I'm trying to get a summer body (just in time for winter) and despite the fact that I have fresh blueberries, flour, sugar, butter and the rest of that song from Waitress in my own house, I decided that I needed to participate in capitalism and buy a muffin someone else made. That was the objective. I got in my car and I realized I just wanted to be out of the house. I've been super sick all week (thanks for your cards and flowers) and had barely left the apartment. I cancelled all of my social obligations this week; it was a whole thing. The wild thing about having a job where you work from home is that there's sort of no point in calling in sick because your ass is already in bed, so you might as well just pop a Dayquil and hope for the best.

In any case, I'm finally starting to feel a little better and, like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, I wanted to be where the people are. Separated from them by my steel car and my rolled up windows because it's a little warm, tbh. I took myself to scenic Whole Foods, still on this quest for the phantom blueberry muffin of my dreams, but then detoured to Starbucks, where I inexplicably ordered a latte with an extra shot, did not order a blueberry muffin, and peeled off in my car toward Druid Hill Park. Apparently, sometimes when you think you want a muffin, what you really want is to take a leisurely drive through one of America's largest and oldest public parks. That's a self-help tip from me to you.

I queued up a Spotify playlist I made called "Belting, Screlting, and Face-melting." It's like 85% showtunes, plus Whitney Houston, Patti Labelle, and Celine Dion. So it's perfect. Some people like to jam along to Ariana or Gaga or Bon Jovi in the car; for me a perfect drive is screaming the entirety of "I'm Here" from The Color Purple (Cynthia version, then Fantasia version, then LaChanze version, then back to Cynthia). It's just who I am and it's wonderful. There is very little in this world that I love more than a show tune. I get so hype. Give me a riff belted directly to the balcony every day please; "I'm Here" (for it). (Pause for applause.)

I turned off the A/C because I need to protect my vocal chord (singular) from the forced air. I'm basically Aretha Franklin in concert. I rolled down the windows and crept through the park at 12 miles per hour, nodding to the people I passed as "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" from Rent reached a crescendo and a single tear wound its way down my cheek.

At the edge of Druid Hill Park is a neighborhood called Reservoir Hill that we sometimes think about buying a house in. Like so many neighborhoods in Baltimore--including the one in which I grew up--it features huge, three- and four-story homes that have been thrust into disrepair because of red-lining. It's experiencing something of a resurgence right now because of a core of long-time residents who are committed to its success and an influx of new and returning residents who are purchasing, refurbishing, and investing in the neighborhood as it is. It's not being gentrified. There is no Starbucks; the homes aren't being knocked down to make room for those weird insta-townhouses with the green siding. It's a community that is using its roots to expand its branches. And for that reason, I wonder how far it will be allowed to grow. I think it's important that any neighborhood have a mix of economic levels, as well as a diverse population along other demographic lines, but for many a successful or safe neighborhood is not one where there is visible poverty. I don't know; I'd rather someone experiencing poverty live next to me, so that we can build a relationship and, hopefully, help each other, than for them to be forced out so that I can have neighbors who are exactly like me. I'm driving slowly past boarded up mansions blasting "I Am What I Am" from La Cafe Aux Folles and tweeting about the superb orchestrations in it; one of me is enough.

I drove around that neighborhood for, like, 30 minutes. I doubled-back so much that people sitting on the steps started nodding at me. It's a sign of a good neighborhood that nobody wearing sunglasses on their head called the cops on me. "Officer, someone is driving slowly down the street, gawking out of the window. It sounds like... 'Buenes Aires' from Evita is playing, but it's unclear. It's the Lupone version so she could literally be singing anything." I don't know what I was looking for. Perhaps it was nothing, perhaps I'd found it. The nitty-gritty of figuring out how and when and why to buy a house or rent or whatever is so terrible, or, not terrible but consuming. However, looking and dreaming in that space is the exact opposite experience. It's allowing yourself to simply be in another version of your life, like Audrey singing "Somewhere That's Green" in Little Shop of Horrors.

I never got a muffin. I listened to show tunes for an hour, which is sometimes my version of church. And I got a welcome, needed reminder that this city is trying and often succeeding. I dreamed (a dream) a little bit. And then I was done. I pulled into the entrance to our building's garage and fumbled for a comically long time with the key fob while "Who Will Love Me As I Am" from Side Show blasted out of my speakers. I turned and noticed our neighbor (lasik surgery; suspiciously quiet dog) watching me from the sidewalk. "How are ya?" he asked. "I'm fantastic!" I shouted, then I peeled off into the garage, screlting the final notes of the song out the open window.

This week! Despite very foreboding news, there was still plenty to be here for, like perfect celeb baby names, Barack's museum field trip, and John Kelly's war on Continental Breakfast. But first: a READ!

Congressman Reads Trump to Filth Using a Republican Burn Book

Raskin started reading off insults Republicans like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio lobbed at Trump and then asked Strzok if he'd directed them to say those things and if it was part of a Deep State Conspiracy. Honey, rhetorical question shade is perhaps the deepest (state) shade there is and I live. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Dear Boring Normals, It's Time to Start Naming Your Kids Like Celebrities

Hey, listen up you boring normals! Today, Cardi B and Offset announced that their baby girl has been born and that they've named her Kulture Kiari Cephus. And once again, your ham and cheese on untoasted bread baby names have been told to pack up their knives and go home. Normals, you need to start naming your babies like celebrities are naming their babies. Remember when Gwyneth named her children Apple and Moses and everyone was like, "We have to shun her"? Fools! Luddites! Apple and Moses were trendsetters and now your kid's first grade class roster reads like mash-up between a grocery list and a farmer's almanac from 1870. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Meanwhile, Your Ex-Boyfriend Barack Obama Had a Ferris Bueller Day in Spain

Barack H. Obama, spent all day Saturday re-enacting Ferris Bueller's Day Off in Spain. The former president and forever swaggertastic Costco-style jumbo snack pack was photographed doing his best Ferris and Cameron impression with King Felipe VI at the Reina Sofia Museum. Meanwhile, a cleverly disguised mannequin was running things back at the Obama Foundation. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

A Sneak Peek at Trump's List of Possible SCOTUS Nominees

A true respecter of executive authority and the three branches of government, President P. T. Barnum will be preempting television this evening at nine o'clock to announce his nominee via an understated fireworks display in the Rose Garden featuring cast members from CBS's Big Brother who were blind-folded and removed from the house for the occasion. It's an exciting pre-apocalyptic event, unparalleled in presidential history unless you count the time Herbert Hoover nominated Benjamin Cardozo by firing him out of a cannon. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Manic Pixie Dream Markets Are Throwing Themselves at Men to Get Their Attention

Men have discovered the grocery store; the revolution must change headquarters. According to a wild article in the Wall Street Journal, supermarkets across the country are changing things up to attract a hot new demographic: male dudes! That's right, no longer will the men in your life have to waste away in their pizza-box filled apartments, mocked by their empty cabinets and their echoing pantries. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]


New play alert!

I've been developing a play called Safe Space with Cohesion Theatre Company in Baltimore for most of this year. It's a farce set in the present about an antebellum ghost, radical black feminism, do-gooders, and the movie Clue. I've snapped!

We're doing staged readings of it with minimal blocking (that means moving around, for the non-theater folks) and lights and a conversation to follow on Saturday July 21 and Sunday July 22. I'd love to see you there! I'm very excited about it and eager to see how it grows.

Click here to get tickets. Performances will be in “The Fallout Shelter” at United Evangelical Church (923 S. East Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224.

Random Thing on the Internet...

Did you watch that video of the lemon rolling down a hill? The present is so odd and so wonderful.

Here, there, and everywhere,