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Minivans, Kids, And Drugs: The Less Obvious Effects Of The Recession

The Article: The New Dealers by Tony D’Souza in Mother Jones.

The Text: For some time, I’d been hearing stories from my sources in the interstate marijuana racket about law-abiding “civilians” turning to the game because of the recession, and so, armed with introductions, I hit the road to meet some of these unlikely criminals face to face. That’s how, on a hot evening in June, I found myself in Dan’s Northern California kitchen.

Dan isn’t his real name. Nor are any of the names in this story, for obvious reasons. But his situation is a familiar, harsh reality for many Americans, as I learned while doing research for my recent novel [1] on this subject. Dan is in his early 40s, a slim, soft-spoken former short-haul trucker who once owned all the toys: a used Mercedes, snowmobiles, Jet Skis. When they were both employed, he and his wife—a retail manager—easily cleared $100,000 a year. “We ate out breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Dan, now a minimum-wage laborer, tells me with folded arms. “That’s the way life was for 17 years.”

Today, Dan’s toys are gone, sold to support an underwater mortgage. His wife, who kept her job, left him three years ago, driving away in the Mercedes. “She didn’t like the fact that I sat at home and she was going to work,” he tells me. “There were no jobs. I filled out a thing for the city, and 400 people were there for one opening—a garbage truck driver.”

Keeping the house has been Dan’s only real goal since 2008, when he was laid off. It’s a simple three-bedroom, two-bath in a prefab, working-class subdivision off the I-5 corridor. “I wanted my kid to grow up in a safe community,” he explains. “I have always made my house payment, and I’ve always made it on time.” But he fretted over things like gas prices. “My daughter would say, ‘Can I take your truck to the store?’ That’s 1.2 miles, which makes it 2.4 miles round-trip. If she went there once, I would not make it to work the next day. That’s how my money was. I’ve fought for it the past three years working two and three jobs. I’ve even changed my morals.”

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The Rise Of The Conservative Hipster

The Article: Yes, Conservatives Are Hipsters, Too on Think Progress.

The Text: There’s something a bit odd about this GOOD piece about two Christian hipsters who make influential conspiracy-theory oriented viral videos promoting everything from birtherism to Uganda’s anti-gay laws, and have what sounds like a wildly inflammatory anti-abortion movie coming out in February that they’re hoping will catch on because it has a majority-black cast:

Jason “Molotov” Mitchell and his wife, Patricia “DJ Dolce” Mitchell, look like hipsters. She wears a stylish dress and nose stud, her dark hair angled sharply around her face. Jason, who goes by Molotov both socially and professionally, sports a landscaped beard and a tattoo on his forearm that reads “zealot.” They are in tip-top physical condition, they say, because they teach krav maga, an Israeli Defense Force-perfected form of martial arts.

They are charismatic and engaging…I struggle to reconcile this information with the pleasant people I just met…Despite the violent rhetoric, the Mitchells are the friendliest—and some of the savviest—people I have ever interviewed. Avid followers of popular culture, they are not Quiverfull-style Christians who isolate themselves from outside influences. They want to emulate the Biblical mandate to “be in the world but not of it.” So they laugh at The Daily Show and mention that they would enjoy hanging out with Jon Stewart, whom they consider a political foe. Molotov says he wants to emulate Jesus, who, he says, spoke harshly before crowds but showed compassion when people approached him one-on-one.

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Put A Peephole In My Brain

Andy Warhol by Stone Temple Pilots.

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Now You’re Going To Die

Internet Friends by Knife Party.

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