King David after hearing of the death of his rebellious son Absalom. A painting by Frederic Leighton.

One of my first lessons in morality — real morality, not crowd morality — arrived the morning after Osama bin Laden died. I was 16 and ready to party. I ran into my dad’s room as he was getting ready for work. The TV showed wild throngs in Times Square and at the White House, cheering like we just won the Super Bowl.

My dad gave me a sudden, fiery look. “Look at these people, they’re barbarians!” He said. “This is what barbarians do. Only a barbarian celebrates their enemy’s death.” Now, my dad wanted to see Osama bin Laden…

Magazines suck now. I know, because I’ve written for many of them. In my early 20s, I cut my teeth writing long-form features for publications like Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Vice. The electrifying punk energy those places had is long gone, replaced by clinical wokeness by resentful millennials.

I’m not going to waste my time going into examples, but any fool could see that journalism is decaying — when The Washington Post actively engages in cancel culture against private citizens, or the Pulitzer Prize-winning founder of The Intercept, Green Greenwald, resigns because the editors demanded that he “remove all sections…

Photo credit: Steve Wagner

The man dressed as a crusader knight lifts his megaphone. “C’mon you agitators. Get moving!” He shouts at a group of around fifty protestors and the portly 19-year-old, Juan, leading them over the bridge. A rear wall of Cleveland police inch them along.

One goggled officer bikes to the front. “We don’t need you here! Fucking pigs! Don’t touch me!” Snaps Juan. The man dressed as a crusader knight’s eyes grow wide and angry. “Juan, why do you always do this! You’re gonna get arrested!” He roars. “We have to live in a community with those people!”

It’s September afternoon…

All photos by Samuel Abraham Piland Chiccon

It was all over for 6ix9ine. The improbable rise of the rainbow-haired rapper from Brooklyn had been thwarted by the alphabet boys. The FBI had rained indictments down on him and 11 co-defendants from the Nine Trey Gangsters that he claimed. Facing life in prison, he snitched on them all. The judge rewarded him with two years in the pen, at the cost of becoming the most famous snitch in American culture.

Hip-hop has tolerated a lot of things. Drug dealers, drug addicts, pimps, murderers — but never a rat (at least openly). It seemed unfathomable that 6ix9ine could resume…

Photo credit: Jesse Circelli

Back when we could go outside…

When I was growing up, my Jewish dad told me he would disown me if I got a tattoo. Tattoos are a major taboo in our religion, although it’s a myth that they prevent one from being buried in a Jewish cemetery. Of course, like most things forbidden to kids, I ended up thinking they were really cool. As I got older-just like how I ruefully watched most of my friends lose their virginities-I watched most of my friends get tattoos, some good, some godawful: an outline of Ohio, a “Loyalty” inscription, a Sublime…

TFW NO GF is a movie named after a meme. The new documentary, which trended #1 on Amazon Prime last month, begins with ‘Wojak’-the grey, anguished avatar of the online underworld-and his favorite caption, “TFW NO GF”: “that feel when no girlfriend.”

But TFW NO GF isn’t just a documentary on Wojak, or the r9k board on 4chan that he inhabits; it isn’t an ‘incel movie,’ although it examines them; and it isn’t only about young, alienated men. It covers the gloom of an entire generation-a disaffection overlooked yet fanned by the hysteric social movements of the 2010s.

Most members of the animal kingdom’s lives are consumed by food — the hunt to find it, the struggle to not become it. Our ape ancestors spent 80% of the day chewing. While civilization freed us from such shackles — only about 5% of our time today is spent eating — food remains arguably our most important input, influencing our mood, immune system, sex drive, skin, energy, and health.

In my opinion, the best way to learn about a culture is to eat their food. Could we say the same about a human? Biographers sketch extensive portraits of their subjects…

Credit: James McNellis

The demise of Elizabeth Warren should have been a wake-up call. While not the most formally leftist candidate — that distinction goes to Bernie Sanders — Elizabeth Warren was the most “woke”: the campaigner who couldn’t say the word “woman” without “trans and cis” qualifiers; who told a 9-year old that they could veto her choice for the Secretary of Education; who insistently employed the academic-progressive term Latinx despite some hostility to the word in the actual Hispanic community; who constantly stated her obvious pronouns and offered all the other superficial tributes to the woke gods.

When the campaign was…

In the event of alien invasion, most human conflict would stop instantly. As their leviathan ships rolled shadows over Earth’s cities, world leaders would dial each other, joining militaries and pooling resources. The squabbling that saturates our electromagnetic waves would cease. “Good luck” and “stay safe” would ring from every pulpit. Our combined nuclear arsenals, once meant for each other, would fill the sky like locusts. With alien blood on our hands and faces, we would emerge into the sunlight victorious — but only if we worked together.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This axiom, responsible for…

I quit smoking weed 2 years ago, in September 2017. I’ve struggled on and off since then but I’ve been sober for nearly all of 2019.

Marijuana is medicinal for many but it can also turn into a real addiction. So I made a song & music video about it. Weed addiction is real.

Zachary Schwartz

Taiwanese-American writer from Cleveland, Ohio. Words in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Vice, and Countere Magazine.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store