Culture Break: 05/18

In order to call attention to the greatness all around us, the thinking and ideas moving our culture forward, every month I’m going to post a selection of the most interesting stuff/things I think you should know about.

Music, film, podcasts, books, TV, websites. Whatever breaks through the noise and touches the soul. In a time when it feels like beauty, storytelling, reflection, empathy, and creativity are being overlooked, this list will highlight examples of these in action. What we’re capable of when we’re at our best. If I miss something, please send it to me.

Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
ALBUM — Certainly the best new album of 2018 to this point. Janelle “my oh my” Monáe! I am currently being fully engulfed by the sensual, sonic creations of this fantastic collection of songs, start to finish. Partying hard, sex in the swimming pool? Yes, of course. The politics are powerful, the beats enthusiastic, the message inclusive. Yeah, I like it.

Young Fathers, Cocoa Sugar
ALBUM — I first heard Young Fathers on KEXP. I was in the office working away listening to the best radio station in the world when I was hit with this driving, melodic, unconventional sound. “Ooooh, what is this?” Whatever it is, it feels a little dangerous, a little prophetic, and a whole lot captivating. I loved White Men Are Black Men Too and this new album is even better.

Ugly Delicious
TV SHOW — In my attempts to get better at cooking, David Chang’s Netflix show gives me something to strive for. And new places to travel to for the food alone. His message of pushing forward the medium, getting good by copying, and celebrating the inclusive nature of food resonates in this time of our backwards politics of ruthless exclusion. I also have a new found appreciation for tacos. And I bought the book.

The Monk of Mokha
BOOK — I’m not ashamed to say I cried at one point while reading this book. Dave Eggers definitely knows how to paint a picture with his wit, charm, and direct delivery of the written word. An immigrant story of self-discovery and crazy adventure, it lets you know that an unwavering relentlessness might be the only thing we need to make our dreams come true. That, and plenty of coffee.

DOCUMENTARY — Go see RBG. Not only is Ruth Bader Ginsburg a total badass and wicked smart, the law is where the direction of our country is solidified. The law matters greatly. And voices like hers have made America better for so many people. Let’s hope she’s in the Supreme Court for (many) years to come.

Isle of Dogs
FILM — The new Wes Andersen is absolutely stunning. An amazing visual masterpiece with an infinite number of beautiful and precise compositions. To the critiques of it being problematic at best and at worst racist, my response seems to be, “I don’t know, I guess, but goddamn that soundtrack is fucking awesome.”

awards for good boys 
INSTAGRAM — I’ve been thinking a lot these days about what it means to be a man in this particular America at this particular time. This Instagram account does a good job of awarding good behavior. Like when you read the headline of the article about toxic masculinity and then share it on Facebook.

This Is America (Official Video)
VIDEO — The surreal new video from Childish Gambino is, surreal. Shirtless, groovin’ and shootin’ and spinnin’ and twistin’ and smokin’ and runnin’ ... The melodic singalongs brutally interrupted with violence, I guess that is America. Get down! 

I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye
ARTICLE — The latest from Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic on Kanye West’s embrace of Donald Trump. On the subject of freedom, at the heart of the article:

... a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own.