Before it was a TV series on Comedy Central, South Park was a bootleg: A five-minute foulmouthed holiday cartoon, with crude construction-paper animation and dialogue to match, called “The Spirit of Christmas.” Brian Graden, then an executive at Fox, commissioned the University of Colorado film school graduates Trey Parker and Matt Stone to create a cartoon “Christmas card” he could send to friends for the holidays in 1995. “The Spirit of Christmas” featured prototypes of the characters we now know from South Park–Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny–who witness an expletive-filled fight to the finish between Santa Claus and Jesus.
-David Bianculli, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific
There will come a time when people decide you’ve had enough of your grief, and they’ll try to take it away from you.
-Sarah Manguso, 300 Arguments: Essays
Nobody thought the apocalypse would be so polite and quirky. Things just popped out of existence, like they had forgotten all about themselves. Now when you misplaced your keys, you didn’t go looking for them.
-Alexandra Kleeman, “You, Disappearing,” in Intimations: Stories
Before southern California’s glorious, golden landscape was etched with eight-lane superhighways and tangles of concrete flyovers choreographing a continuous vehicular ballet; before families became enchanted with the thrill and convenience of popping TV dinners into the oven; before preservatives and GMOs allowed food in mass quantities to be processed, preserved, and transported in refrigerated trucks and served up in disposable packaging at fast-food franchises for quick consumption on the go by harried, hungry travelers, there were oranges. Millions of oranges, fragrantly punctuating thousands of acres.
-Lisa Napoli, Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away
Everyone hates email. And yet we can’t stop checking it. Recent studies show that office workers dip into their inboxes on average a whopping 74 times a day and spend roughly 28 percent of their total workday on the task of reading and responding to email. What’s more, scientists have established a clear link between spending time on email and stress: the more frequently we check our email, the more frazzled we feel.
-Jocelyn K. Glei, Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which sits so large and many-stepped on Fifth Avenue in New York, there is a section on the first floor referred to as the sculpture garden, and I must have walked past this particular sculpture many times with my husband, and with the children as they got older, me thinking only of getting food for the kids, and never really knowing what a person did in a museum of this nature where there were so many things to look at. In the middle of these needs and worries is a statue. And only recently–in the last few years–when the light was hitting it with a splendid wash, did I stop and look at it and say: Oh.
-Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel
In the beginning, or right before that, there was no time. According to cosmologists, the universe started nearly fourteen billion years ago with a “big bang” and in an instant expanded to something closer to its current size, and it continues to expand faster than the speed of light. Before all that, though, there was nothing: no mass, no matter, no energy, no gravity, no motion, no change. No time.
It is now widely known that the drug war has caused tremendous damage–especially in the low-income African American communities that have been its primary target….Blacks are much more likely than whites to be arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for drug offenses, even though blacks are no more likely than whites to use drugs.
-James Forman, Jr., Locking Up our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
My name is Livia and I come from Bucharest.
We have a saying in my country: Totul trebuie sa aiba un inceput. Which means: Everything must have a beginning. So I will begin my story like this.
I have been living in London for more than five years, and my job is taking the dogs of very rich people for their daily walk. Most of my clients live in Chelsea. I used to live there myself but then the rents became so high that I moved out to Wandsworth so now every day I begin by taking a bus across the river. I look out through the windows of the bus as we cross the bridge, and from that point on, every time the bus gets to another stop I can see the signs of wealth more and more clearly inscribed in the streets and feel the air itself getting heavier with the tangy scent of money.
-Jonathan Coe, Number 11: A Novel
There’s a hospital room at the end of a life where someone, right in the middle of the floor, has pitched a green tent. A person wakes up inside it, breathless and afraid, not knowing where he is. A young man sitting next to him whispers:
“Don’t be scared.”
-Fredrik Backman, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella