“10 Streets that Define America” (Curbed)
Full of cinematic gifs of boulevards, thoroughfares, and tree-lined avenues across the United States, this interactive showcases how new developments and changes have affected ten different cities and neighborhoods. Put it all in perspective with a nifty feature that lets you see how a profiled town compares to your current address.
Further reading: “Return to Ohio” (The Atlantic)
“Brand New Hue: The Quest to Make a True Blue M&M” (New York Times Magazine)
Natural blue food coloring is notoriously difficult to make, but with consumers eschewing artificial anything, food chemists at Mars Chocolate put their thinking caps on and try to recreate the bright hue so easily provided by Blue No. 1. Fun fact: Blue No. 1 is the only food dye that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
“Spoiler Alert” (Pacific Standard)
On the topic of food, a bureaucratic nightmare of regulations and 15 federal agencies maintain the safety of our food supply. Ironically, these rules might make us more susceptible to the next outbreak of foodborne illness.
“How Cubans Live as Long as Americans at a Third of the Cost” (The Atlantic)
Take a peak inside a country where health care is protected as a constitutional right and a holistic and primary care physician–centered approach.
“Speak, Memory” (The Verge)
When Roman Mazurenko passes away, his best friend creates an unusual digital memorial: a bot that responds to texts from his loved ones so uncannily reminiscent like the deceased.
TV accompaniment: “Be Right Back,” Black Mirror
“With Child” (Harper’s Magazine)
With our current administration, we might see more states looking a lot like South Dakota when it comes to abortion access.
“Sex, Drugs, and Bestsellers: The Legend of the Literary Brat Pack” (Harper’s Bazaar)
Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, Donna Tartt and Jill Eisenstadt give the Lost Generation a run for their money.
“Launch Pad” (New York Times Magazine)
Arunachalam Muruganantham made it his mission to design an affordable sanitary pad for the women in his life.
Further reading: “Code Cracking,” “Look Again,” and…actually, the entire Design Issue is worth reading from front to back.
“They Speak Gilmore, Don’t They?” (HazLit)
When I watched the reboot at home, my brother, who was also in the living room, turned to me after the opening scene and asked, “Why are they talking so fast?” Well, here are some thoughts.
“My President Was Black” (The Atlantic)
Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on the promise, disappointments, and experience of America’s first African-American president.
“My Friend Sam” (New Yorker)
Curtis Sittenfeld writes a touching essay to her best friend Sam. Their friendship takes them from their college days to Sam’s cancer diagonsis. I won’t spoil the ending.
“My Son, the Prince of Fashion” (GQ)
Michael Chabon reflects on accompanying his son to Paris Fashion Week, where he begins to understand who is son really is, his passions, hopes, and dreams.
“Every Body Goes Haywire” (n+1)
An author reflects on the neurological disorder that inflicts her and her mother.
Further reading: “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain” by Leslie Jamison
“The Hygge Conspiracy” (The Guardian)
All those cozy nights spent around the fireplace with hand knitted socks, hot cocoa, and the company of family and friends have a dark side.
“The Soccer-Star Refugees of Eritrea” (New Yorker)
The Eritrean soccer team has a field day as they plan a mass defection after a World Cup game. (Sorry for the bad pun.)
“The Afterlife of a Ballerina” (Elle)
Alexandra Ansanelli is exceptional in the ballet world: a prodigy who discovered dance years after most aspiring professional ballerinas put on their first shoes; a principal dancer not only for the New York Ballet but also the Royal Ballet; and in a move that surprised everyone, a rare talent who decided to quit at the height of her powers.
“The Attorney Fighting Revenge Porn” (New Yorker)
Meet Carrie Goldberg: the lawyer fighting in the new frontier of sexual privacy.
“The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close” (New York Times Magazine)
Chuck Close has made his career with larger-than-life, exquisitely rendered portraits, but he has entered a new phase in his life—divorcing his wife, disappearing to Miami Beach, and developing a new mode of painting that is a departure from the pieces that made him famous.
Books/I Recently Read a Lot of Non-Fiction
The Argonaut by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson reflects on family life, motherhood, and her partner’s gender transition in this wondrous essay-memoir. The writing spills over with beautiful turn-of-phrases, and Nelson intersperses her prose with just the right amount of critical theory to keep your brain on your toes.
The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson
For those who are interested in learning more about systemic racism and oral histories, I got you covered. Life for African-Americans was marked by constant terror in a world whose byzantine rules life-threateningly fickle at best.
Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
If you’re looking to escape your liberal bubble with a book, skip Hillbilly Elegy and pick up sociologist Arlie Russell Hoschild’s empathetic, candid account of the people she met in a deeply conservative county of Louisiana.
I know, I’m late to the party, but who knew I would like this nostalgic, creepy, and endearing show so much?
“The Inherent, Unsullied, Qualitative Value of Anything,” You’re the Worst
This episode does impressive work in terms of both its form and content. We pick up (kind of) full-circle with the gang at a wedding, where the continuous camera shots do a wonderful job of depicting the small dramas of the guests. By putting the characters with lots of feelings about their lot in life and their significant others in a social setting that is meant to be celebratory and requires them to be on their best behavior, it’s no wonder that conflicts come to a head.
Black Mirror continues to excel in pinpointing the uncomfortable and unsettling facets of our technology-filled world and taking them to their logical, dystopic extreme.
Further reading: “The Speculative Dread of ‘Black Mirror‘,” New Yorker
This serialized is simultaneously captivating and excruciatingly boring in its careful attention to detail, but if you’re as obsessed with Queen Elizabeth as I am, then you’ll love every minute and be unusually forgiving of the bad CGI animals. The show shines with its nuanced portrayals of the monarchy and the toll it takes on Elizabeth and her relationships with those around her.
In this introspective show, host Jonathan Goldstein takes listeners as he tries to right past wrongs, mend broken hearts, and resolve petty squabbles. Plus, Heavyweight’s theme song is the catchiest.
Highly recommended episodes: “Toby,” “Tara”
“Boy in the Picture,” Reply All
There’s a lot of stuff on the Internet, which means that there are a lot of stories behind the items that wind up there. PJ, Alex, and Sruthi try to track down a boy that’s featured on a meme and create an episode that has a crime-procedural flair and plenty of moments of suspense.
Malcolm Gladwell takes his signature blend of pop social science and passioned polemic to the airwaves with ten episodes that want to challenge your assumptions and make you reconsider the forces that lead to certain decisions and historical events.
Manchester by the Sea
I saw this movie on a Thursday afternoon in a theater filled with senior citizens, one of which fell asleep and snored loudly in a back corner. And it was the perfect way to watch Manchester by the Sea. What this movie does best is capture the funny awkwardness and small tragedies of everyday life. I laughed and cried, sometimes all at the same time, and it’s the type of thing that gels well with my (very) dark sense of humor.
Further reading: “The Cinematic Traumas of Kenneth Lonergan,” (New Yorker)
La La Land
This movie was just so, so charming.