Episode for October 23, 2022
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Maura Quint is a humor writer and activist whose work has been featured in publications such as McSweeneys and The New Yorker. She was named one of Rolling Stone’s top 25 funniest twitter accounts of 2016. When not writing comedy, Maura has worked extensively with non-profits in diverse sectors including political action campaigns, international arts collectives and health and human services organizations. She has never been officially paid to protest but did once find fifteen cents on the ground at an immigrants’ rights rally and wanted to make sure that had been disclosed. She was the co founder and executive director of TaxMarch.org
Gary Rivlin is a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter and the author of five books, including Katrina: After the Flood. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Mother Jones, GQ, and Wired, among other publications. He is a two-time Gerald Loeb Award winner and former reporter for the New York Times. He lives in New York with his wife, theater director Daisy Walker, and two sons.
Journalist Rivlin (Katrina) presents an illuminating account of how several small businesses weathered the Covid-19 pandemic. Rivlin introduces readers to TJ Cusumano, owner of an Italian restaurant in Old Forge, Pa.; Glenda Shoemaker, who runs a card and gift shop in Tunkhannock, Pa.; and the Maloney family, founders of a chocolate business in New York City, among others. They all faced tough decisions, such as having to lay off employees and find ways to pay mortgages and vendors, as well as dealing with the pain of potentially losing their life’s work. Rivlin shows his subjects’ struggles to keep afloat, as when Cusumano established a “pop-up market” to sell food supplies before they spoiled, and when the Maloneys slashed prices in an attempt to boost sales. Rivlin also highlights problems that small businesses have faced for decades, which made them especially vulnerable when the pandemic hit. In particular, he writes of how large corporations crush small businesses by offering low prices their competitors can’t, and how the Small Business Administration often enacts plans “rigged in favor of the large and dominant” (2020’s Paycheck Protection Program among them). This one’s full of insight and shrewd reporting.