we found friendmendations in a hopeless place
Boy, remember a mere three weeks ago when I was contemplating what to do for my birthday party? That feels like TEN MILLION YEARS AGO. I really thought we were still gonna have a functioning society at the end of March!
Instead I turned 29 in an apartment alone. (It was fine!)
What are you guys wanting these days? If you want topical reading, I was moved (and admonished) by Jess Zimmerman’s essay “This Is All My Fault.” Or do you prefer that this newsletter stay centered on distractions? We’ve got some more of those this week, too.
Love me an oral history
I enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the “Fire Drill” episode of The Office for two reasons. First, it inspired me to re-watch that scene and laugh a lot. Second, I love getting production details like the network insisting that the episode contain a celebrity guest star and the fact that the prop cat that they made to throw up into the ceiling cost $12,000!?!
Getting creative (or just getting calmer)
Look, no one expects you to write King Lear in quarantine — see Drew Millard’s very sensible “There’s No Such Thing as ‘Productivity’ During a Pandemic.” But you might be finding it hard to do anything creative at all, genius or otherwise (unless I’m just projecting here.)
I’d saved this guide, “4 Ways to Make Space in Your Brain to Create,” probably over a year ago and just rediscovered it recently when cleaning out my bookmarks tab (while procrastinating on being creative). Even if you’re not in an artistic field, I find these tips useful in pushing aside some of the anxious clutter in my brain: concrete activities to work through so you can focus on whatever your task is for the day.
Or just get inspired by Fiona Apple
If you have time to settle in with a cup of tea and a long, engrossing read, I highly recommend Emily Nussbaum’s excellent profile of actual genius Fiona Apple. It covers so much ground, from addiction and mental illness to the various ways culture has shifted since her emergence as a teen prodigy. I was particularly struck by the evolution of her feelings about the accusations against her ex-boyfriend Louis C.K. — she seems to have had a thoughtful, honest reckoning with her own impressions and the facts. And I loved her conclusion about his refusal to actually learn from the consequences he’s faced:
In a text, she told me that, if C.K. wasn’t capable of more severe self-scrutiny, “he’s useless.” She added, “I SHAKE when I have to think and write about myself. It’s scary to go there but I go there. He is so WEAK.”
What’s good in pop
I am fascinated with the story of Eric Nam, who was featured on a recent Song Exploder episode. Nam was born and raised in Atlanta and moved to New York after graduating to work as a business analyst for Deloitte … but he wanted to be a pop star, so he moved to Korea to enter a competition show there. And then he was a K-pop star for years! And now he’s trying to cross over here, in the country he was born in. What a trajectory! I’m rooting for him. His voice is beautiful. I wondered when I first listened to his EP if he was around my age because it reminded me of a pristine vocal style from the ’90s, and my suspicion was confirmed. Now I like him even more. I would like him to collaborate with Carly Rae Jepsen.
Not an endorsement!! At ALL!
Okay while we’re on the topic of pop, I’m going to take the excuse to bring this up. This is NOT an official recommendation, but I was reading Maria Sherman’s interview with Ashley Parker Angel about the original Making the Band run and I decided to watch the music video for one of O-Town’s songs because I never really paid attention to them back then. WHAT IS THIS?!
WHO ALLOWED THIS?! I wanted to say “put that person in jail,” but O-Town was managed by Lou Pearlman and he did go to jail. Not for this, though. Not for greenlighting the phrase “waterfalls and streams, these liquid dreams” in this GODLESS single!!
Okay, we’re done! That’s it for recommendations. I’ll be back on Wednesday (and Friday for some of you, cuz it’s a bonus week!). I hope you all know that I appreciate you very much, and I’m wishing you good health and strong spirits.