Summer 2021

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3 minutos
a gathering force

WHEN I WAS A KID, I SPENT THE FIRST WEEK-end of August each year at a reunion for my mother’s side of the family, built around a golf tournament they created called the Schmitz Open. (Schmitz is my mom’s maiden name.) The tradition had started in 1978 in Chicago, then the family seat, as an excuse for my six uncles and two great-uncles, their cousins, various in-laws, and close friends to get together and mess around on the golf course. They even made T-shirts—yellow, with fuzzy letters that read schmitz open and an ironed-on cartoon of a guy whacking a ball. By the eighties, the reunion had drifted west, to the original family seat: the heartland of Iowa, where my mom’s brother Jim and his wife, Marla, lived. Uncle Jim and…

4 minutos
the forbidden question

IN APRIL, THE CIA’S TWITTER ACCOUNT REMINISCED ABOUT THE TIME THE United States supplied Afghan guerrillas with Stinger missiles. That was back in the go-go 1980s, when the U. S. national-security establishment was determined to ensure the Soviets, who had invaded Afghanistan, experienced “their own Vietnam.” By 1989, the CIA website crows, “the Soviet Union had concluded that the fight was not worth the cost and withdrew from the country.” The Soviets were in Afghanistan for ten years. The United States has been there for 20. When the U. S. invaded following the attacks of September 11, the Taliban was in control. As President Joe Biden announces plans to withdraw by September 11, 2021—an admission, witting or not, of the arbitrariness of it all—the Taliban rules large swaths of the country.…

1 minutos
from the editors of esquire

SELECT Our brand-new membership club, Esquire Select offers boundless access to what you already love about Esquire including award-winning journalism, big acts of storytelling, celebrity interviews, fashion advice, cultural commentary, cocktail recipes and so much more. But we've also added a few things we hope will up the ante. Become A Member Today AND GET THE BEST OF ESQUIRE IN ITS ENTIRETY INCLUDING: The best damn magazine on the planet, six times a year Unlimited access to Access to every Esquire story ever published via Esquire Classic—plus a weekly newsletter Members-Only Discounts and Deals Unlimited access to Politics with Charles P. Pierce, including Last Call, a members-only newsletter Join now to be a part of this new chapter in Esquire’s story. Head to…

8 minutos
the rise of elevated stupidity

APPROPRIATELY, THE MOMENT THAT DEFINES AMERica in 2021 took place on The Real World Homecoming: New York. In a reboot of their 1992 conversations about race, the reunited loftmates agree that everything Kevin Powell said back then about his lived experience, the words that got him labeled an Angry Black Man, is now the accepted truth of Black life in America. Even Kevin’s old sparring partner Becky Blasband seems to admit systemic racism is real. But here’s where things stop being polite and start getting culturally significant: Becky quickly adds that she does not contribute to systemic racism because she was involved in an Afro-Brazilian dance class, wherein she “lost her skin color.” In other words, Becky—who by now has spent full episodes talking about her NYU education, her brilliant…

2 minutos
the sound of summer ’21

THE SONG OF THE SUMMER IS A PERENnial debate among music journalists that culminates with the naming of one or more tracks that captured the mood of a couple sizzling months. In other words, the songs you’re sick of hearing by Labor Day. It’s too early to tell which one will dominate this complicated summer, but no other genre captures the pent-up frustration and coming bacchanalia like amapiano. Pronounced a-mah-piano, it’s a South African subgenre of deep house with elements of jazz and lounge music. Sexy and hypnotic, with blooming rhythms and ’90s-era bass lines, the music is perfect for long hours at the club. The dance grooves also go down easy enough to serve as the soundtrack to your backyard barbecues. “Amapiano is, first of all, purely for dancing,” says…

1 minutos
the big summer reads

The Sensation-Maker The Other Black Girl BY ZAKIYA DALILA HARRIS Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in the summer’s buzziest debut, a blistering work of autofiction about Nella, the lone Black employee at Wagner Books. The arrival of Hazel, another Black assistant, seems to answer Nella’s prayers—but Hazel isn’t an ally. When Nella receives threatening anonymous notes demanding that she leave Wagner, she immediately suspects Hazel. The truth is far more sinister. In this powerful story of racism, privilege, and gatekeeping’s damage to the Black psyche, Harris puts corporate America on blast. The Nail-Biter Falling BY T. J. NEWMAN Written by a former flight attendant while she worked redeyes, this bruising thriller unfolds over the course of one transcontinental flight. When the pilot’s family is kidnapped, he has a choice: crash the plane to save his…