ethnographic short takes

To be real PPE; Provenance, Parallel, & Ersatz

In the early weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak, most forms of in-person retail experienced a shock.  While some were deemed inessential, and closed, others saw immediate runs on a small set of goods, certain food items, and perhaps most notably hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and all forms of disposable face masks.  At the same time […]

The Game Grumps Go Viral

At the end of the first installment of the Game Grumps’ Super Mario Galaxy 2 playthrough the hosts, Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, change the subject to a seeming nonsequitur: the Backstreet Boys. The two discuss the Backstreet Boys reunion tour at length, warning their fans to stay safe from it, avoid getting tickets, and […]

Noodle and the Pandemic

Cheering for Noodle In the beginning of April 2020, the slogans #Welcome back! Sesame hot noodles# (#欢迎回来热干面#), #Carry on! Sesame hot noodles# (#热干面加油#) became common on China’s top social media platform. Why was a noodle dish trending now? Why did the noodle dish need all this encouragement? And why was support for one specific noodle […]

N95?

One evening in early March, my teenage sister walked to the end of the driveway to check the mailbox. Stuffed inside it was a box of N95 masks. There was no note on the box and no sign of who had left it, and the top of the box was folded together as though it […]


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