Joining the ranks of the tastemaker elite...
Biking around New York City at Night
It’s dangerous, I won’t deny that. But there is something truly freeing about weaving your way down an empty street at 1 in the morning, wind whistling over your ears, electronic banger or quiet string quartet in your (single) Airpod, 20 full minutes from your destination. Actually, doing this often demonstrates my commitment to abolition: I know that the Hasidic school bus driver that will pancake me one day will never face consequences for it.
Mini Bonus Rec: REI Co-op Junction Pannier
After spending weeks looking for a bike pannier that was affordable and didn’t look like complete ass, I found this excellent one that seems to not be on any Bike Guy lists. I’ve been using it for 6 months now; it’s great.
You know that app, Calm? The one with the meditation? They came to my old office and gave us a bunch of these little spray bottles with nice-smelling mist in them. One spritz on my pillows before bed. It’s the perfect stank to send you straight to dreamland.
The Comedy of Adrian Gray
Criminally undiscovered and extremely funny young man from Britain. All of his stuff is pure dork shit, but in the exact right way, and so it all makes me laugh. So many good ideas!
I love movies that have the words “Life… death… connected… we are all one” in the trailer, and on that front, Cloud Atlas did not disappoint. I think almost everyone I know will like this movie less than me (I, for some reason, loved every second of it), but no one can dispute that the soundtrack, composed by one of the film’s directors, evokes some sort of vague belief in a grand sweeping Truth that connects everyone on Earth.
It almost feels stupid to recommend something from Serious Eats—the site that serves as the Wirecutter of cooking; the go to for a tech guy with a hobby. However, I hate to inform you, dear readers, that Kenji Never Misses, and this tip from him has changed the quality of my caprese salads forever.
I heard about this 1981 memoir in Molly Young’s excellent Read Like The Wind newsletter in January, and immediately knew I’d love it. I was not disappointed. The author was born in Togo, fell in love with the idea of a land covered with snow, and made his way to Greenland. He sucked and fucked his way around the country for two years, recording his adventures and observations in a thrilling and surprisingly clear-eyed way. He certainly isn’t overly charitable in his account of Greenlandic culture, nor is he patronizing; he’s simply fascinated.
One of my favorite authors growing up, Daniel Pinkwater is an actual old-fashioned weirdo. All of his books are about vaguely fat boys with very few friends and an interest in lizards or pirate radio or transcendental meditation. You may remember his name from the very popular The Hoboken Chicken Emergency. His other books have similar heaters as titles; Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars, Fat Men from Space, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, The Worms of Kukumlima. I realize that this recommendation will fall flat to a bunch of adults, but I beg you all: if you ever have children, introduce them to this man; they’ll thank you for life.
Deliciously rich Indian indie album featuring a straight up Hindi crooner. You may recognize his voice from the fantastic Peter Cat Recording Co—I’m not sure if he sounds better solo or with the band, but this album is a true aural treat.
When I went to this exhibit, I learned that bioluminescence has evolved separately around 50 different times. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. A fascinating exploration of how organisms can generate light without heat, firefly mating patterns, whatever was in the movie Life of Pi, and big mushroom. Can’t hate that!
Evolutionary Organics Hella Hot Sauce
Hot Sauce has been completely ruined by the Bald Inquisitor (Sean Evans) and is now in the same vein as like… epic bacon or whatever. But this hot sauce is so good. I put it on everything, it’s made of roasted heirloom tomatoes, and you can basically only get it on Saturday mornings at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket. If you have the chance to pick up a bottle, do. Your mouth will thank you for the baptism.
The greatest deal in Protestant history. Show me an outfit that won't work with a plain white t-shirt, and I'll show you a podcast where the two hosts don't just agree with each other and say, "Yes. Absolutely. Right, right." And, get this—when you buy a 6-pack of t-shirts, you receive six t-shirts. How's that for a recommendation?
I don't even want to talk about the vermin who m*crowave their water for tea. Do not associate with me—and you shouldn't find yourself mixed up in their heinous little crimes, either. But I come bearing news for people who like a stovetop kettle: there's a better world out there, my friends. Take my hand; walk with me into the New Age. You can just put water in this thing and flick a little switch. Give it three minutes. Americans are insane.
I'm not breaking any new ground recommending this straight-up crime fiction classic. But it's 180 pages, 90% of which are just dialogue—the meanest, leanest Boston dialogue you've ever read. It's quite an experience reading this book.
Others can attest: this recipe fucks. I do not know how I found this random woman’s lifestyle blog, but goddamn can white ladies make cookies! This is the chocolate chip cookie you're thinking of. When someone says, “Damn, I love the smell of freshly baked cookies”—this is the one.
note from Ritam: Nabeel makes these like once a week. They’re the best cookies I’ve ever had.
Unfortunately, I'm blowing up my friend and her family's spot here. I tried this once at her house and have never looked back. All their granola flavors absolutely bang. You should order a 3-pack, and then maybe start a subscription. Granola Factory makes sure to let you know they use butter, not oil—“because it's better for you.” I'll believe it, sure. That’s okay, I’ll still keep eating that garbage.
The greatest, most consequential playoff performance in the last 10 years. I'll rewatch this once every couple of weeks. Klay is God.
Experts say this offers you the best chance of protection against SARS-Cov-2.
May I recommend, if you'll allow me, a CBS procedural? No, please—just stay for a second! I promise, it's good! Sometimes I don't know how to sell this show, but here goes. It starts off as a case-of-the-week, cops/robbers show with a killer central premise: a reclusive billionaire (they're always reclusive, aren't they...) created a machine for the government post-9/11 that could predict crimes before they happened. But no one was preoccupied with the smaller, everyday, street-level crime that occurred—so this magnanimous billionaire enlists the help of a former CIA agent to help stop them before they happen.
Sounds interesting enough, right? Morally compromised? Well, guess what—that's part of the goddamn show! On CBS! The show—created by the team now behind Westworld, with a little bit of J.J. Abrams mixed in—somehow morphs into this massive, sci-fi, quasi-superhero, crime techno-thriller with genuinely fascinating questions about A.I. and government surveillance. On CBS! It's way smarter than you think it is, and much more fun than it has any right to be.
Collected Miscellaneous Recommendations
From Jesse Aaronson
please read this in Kate Winslet's MARE OF EASTTOWN accent
Move over Calabrian Peppers in Oil....
Step aside Marinated Olives & Feta
Eradicate yourself from the zeitgeist, Truff Brand Hot Sauce (no really—this shit is mid)
Make way for Cento Brand Hoagie Spread. I first discovered this while living at my girlfriend's parent's house in South Jersey during the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic, and I never looked back. This condiment is a true blue work horse. I put it on my eggs, I throw it in batches of tomato sauce, and I spread it on every sandwich in sight. It's bright, spicy, and acidic, and it will soon become your go-to as well.
Theatre is back, baby!!! Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu's unbelievable play that just opened on Broadway last week. After a run in Chicago at Steppenwolf Theater, a stint at Lincoln Center, and a Spike Lee Directed Amazon Prime Performance, Pass Over is the first play to open up on Broadway post-Covid. Tickets start at $39 bucks, or if you have 45 minutes to kill around 9:45 am on a weekday, you can show up to the August Wilson theater and get $35 Rush Seats (best bet IMHO).
The Films of Preston Sturges
This is neither the time nor the place to get on my Criterion Channel Soap Box, but I recently discovered the oeuvre of Preston Sturges. I stumbled upon his 1942 movie The Palm Beach Story and let me just say....shit had me rooooooooolllllliiiinnnn. You gotta watch. If you don't believe me, listen to Bill Hader.
Hangin out with ur friends, havin a good time, soakin up the summer fun....
love 2 all my friends...love 2 all my haters....love always....
From Maya Dalack
If you were in a college a cappella group like I was (embarrassing) or generally enjoy listening to college a cappella (also embarrassing), or even if you literally couldn’t be less in either of those groups, give this video a watch. It’s probably the most iconic a cappella performance I’ve ever seen and I force my friends who absolutely do not give one shit to watch it with me once every 6 months. The soloists? The dramatic dancing? The transition beginning at 7:53? The beat drops? The textured ass background sound? The beatboxing? The “GOD DAMN TURN AROUND NOW”????? If you feel wholly unmoved by this video I’m worried about you. Tag yourself I’m Cheyenne…
Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m no dang medical professional, but regularly taking a probiotic revolutionized my digestive system. If you find yourself struggling with frequent gas, unsatisfying p*ops, or being regular, get yourself to your computer and/or nearest pharmacy and find a probiotic. I personally use this bad boy and have had nothing but Good Results. Again, not a medical professional consult your doctor etc etc
From Som-Mai Nguyen
I listened to this absolute banger a lot growing up, and it's been stuck in my head for weeks now, the latest round of remembering how much I love it. A perfect theme song! I also like this Vietnamese rendition by Doanh Doanh (much more charming than the Như Quỳnh/Nguyễn Hưng cover of the same):
She switches to Cantonese at around 5:20. The contrast might be fun for anyone who doesn't have an immediate sense of what either language sounds like.
It only takes a couple hours to hammer in the few differences from the English alphabet (and it's easier if you're familiar with Greek letters). Low cost, really high fun reward. It's so satisfyingly hard to pry an English phoneme from the letter and splice another, totally different sound into your intuition about that shape, and by the end, you can kind of sound out names and labels. (Also liked this video, though it's a little slow.)
From Alex Senti
you just clocked out of work. another day in the abyss. just a cog in the system, it seems like. ahhh, would you look at that, the lights of the city. you stop for a minute. you watch them flicker. how nice it would be to head towards them, dance among the millions having a night out on the town. but you can’t. you have to be up at 5am for work tomorrow. you head towards the train flipping through your phone’s music library. you see a song called “Didn’t I” by the musician Darondo. you press play. you take a seat on the train and you think maybe, just maybe, this life isn’t so bad after all.
i also recommend putting your oreos in the freezer and every movie albert brooks directed.
From Daniel Sharp
If you, like me, have moved past Big City Nihilism—and instead sit in a state of "maybe I should just passively learn to live in the wild before the world actually, totally, completely collapses"—it's time to get off of Forage Instagram and get into Alone. It is almost, literally, the Hunger Games: 10 survivalists live off the land with 10 items and a few hundred acres each. Whoever stays the longest without starving, vomiting from eating rock tripe, going insane, losing their fire starters, or being hunted by wolves, wins a lot of money. I've learned how to render fat from muskox lips, place a gillnet for lake trout, chink a cabin for insulation, and bathe in charcoal and spruce tips. Will it help me find a free bathroom in Bushwick? No. Will it help me jump the Covid testing line? No. Will it literally help me at all right now? No. But *could* it help me in the future?????? Yes, absolutely, no question.
editors note: I think this show is great. I wrote about it for a previous newsletter!
From Sabina Meschke
Prospect Park Farmers Market
My Recommendation is—hold on to your big, big tote—putting your absolute life on the line at the Prospect Park farmer’s market. I’m talkin’ blindfolding the part of your brain that knows recipes or remembers what foods you like, becoming possessed, and buying a radish. An eggplant. A garlic scape. What on God’s green earth is a scape? Don’t tell me or I’ll commit a huge crime. Truth be told, I have only done this two to three times. The first time I happened upon the farmer’s market, it was by pure accident when I was on my way to go Main Character mode under a freaky tree with my book. I’ve never been a farmer’s market queen—indeed, I’m no farmer, and I’m a buttered noodle girl, and scientists have not yet found a way to make those grow out of the ground. But taking on the alchemical challenge of transforming a zucchini into a weapon against my own body with breadcrumbs and chilis and spices that sound made up is what I imagine BMX biking feels like. Anyway, that’s what I’ve got for y’all.
Wait—a slightly relevant anecdote... even though I am not Miss Veggie Forever, I have always enjoyed vegetables, even as a kid. So one time, my mom told Annabel and I that we were going to a vegetable convention out of town and I was fucked-up excited. Turns out, that was a fake-out and we were actually going to Disney World, which did slap, but I didn’t understand and was like... Ok, are we going to the vegetable convention after this? Or...?
P.S. FROM ANNABEL: Legend has it that my inner child is still roaming I-95, searching for VegCon.
From Annabel Meschke
Gabbie Hanna’s Podcast
TLDR; watch a narcissistic millennial through glass like zoo :-)
My recommendation is twisted, sick, and bad but it single handedly carried me through a 2020 quarantine spent in my adolescent bedroom on the wings of its unchecked narcissism. It’s brainflavor is pungent-- a reality-tv adjacent-adjacent, ignorant-lite, stupidity-heavy, smoking-weed-with-a-theatre-kid type beat. Drama abound. Not a fact in the house. Nothin’ upstairs. Waft this. Know this. It’s Gabbie Hanna’s podcast. I hyperlinked three different pages, because this woman is dedicated to making it impossible to like, let alone witness her. She has at least two YouTube channels over which she sporadically sprinkles content, but don’t worry, thanks to the fact that she changed the name three times (Box of Thoughts to Unfollow Your Dreams to then, aptly, Burnout) and then cancelled it to pursue painting (her paintings are Ass), this podcast is almost impossible to find!
Gabbie cycles through 2 co-hosts: her stoic, bald boyfriend Peyton, and her giggly normie sidekick Irene. Gabbie will sing her own singles mid-conversation without blinking, mercilessly talk over the only people on this earth that love her, and make it abundantly clear within seconds of watching her why she’s never had a repeat guest.
P.S. FROM SABINA: I have both of Gabbie’s god-awful poetry books if anyone wants to borrow. I consider buying these books my ticket to cyberbully this woman for the rest of my life. :-)
From Sahir Jaggi
You should buy all your cookies from this. It’s like Nike ID for your biscuits.
From David Freling
Use An Icicle to Murder Someone
For starters, to the woke skewing reader base I assume you guys have, I am not condoning murder in any way and to be fully transparent this was an idea of my friend from home Brennan back in like 7th grade. If you must murder, maybe your job requires it or you’re pissed at a realtor who is definitely playing you, this needs to be your weapon of choice. Why? It’ll melt—no fingerprints.
From Rachel Coster
I am a zippy girl who likes to travel light. Clunky water bottles weigh me down and jostle my bones when they clink around in my bag. Surely there can’t be a solution to this problem…WRONG. Once your vapur has been drained dry you can roll it up and pop it in ur bag or pocket. Caveat: I have no clue if this bottle will kill me with microplastics
From Charlie Sosnick
Being on Time
Ritam says this is due in 75 minutes. I didn’t have an idea until just now, so I’m typing it on my phone in the Notes app (I haven’t left bed yet). But the beautiful thing is, I’m still on time.
Sometimes you see people describe themselves like a duck: furiously thrashing below the surface, while they appear to gently glide along. But here’s my thing. Why thrash? Seals, penguins, whales, squid, etc. all just seem to glide. And they move a hell of a lot faster than a duck.
It’s due in 71 minutes now. Any recommendations for what I should do with all that time?
From Maria Robins-Somerville
I’ll admit I was a little salty that this place has started getting written up. I had been getting a sick and twisted joy for frantically texting friends about about this Italian grandma-ass place on Tompkins where the pasta is snappy n fresh, the server charmed the hell out of my mom when I took her there, and the menu is written in sharpie on a wrinkly piece of paper every few days.
So yeah I’m possessive of their gnocchi mint pesto, the Arancini, the marinated olives and the bottle of Lambrusco the staff cut us a deal on when my friends and I showed up for dinner on a rainy Thursday, nibbling at our apps like three little drowned rats.
Annoyingly, I think food can be overhyped but vibes cannot. So let’s go get dinner there before some 22 year old on TikTok gets on the A in the wrong direction and kills my non-existent Nonna’s vibe that only exists in my wildest dreams or Tompkins during dinner.
From Rebecca Lerner
If I had to give some unsolicited advice on improving your life, only one thing comes to mind: pottery. Since the invention of the potter's wheels in 6000 BC, pottery has served as a way to meld beauty and functionality, creativity and craft. The tactile nature connects you to the earth and yourself, and the community around this art is truly such a special, special group.
Of course, I have never "done pottery" or "been to a pottery class" but I do a) have a weird feeling I would be good at it ??? and b) have a gift card to a class that my sweet sweet friends bequeathed to me that I will one day use!! Yes, I am a potter in theory only. But the idea of wearing a sack-like smock and making a mug or a vase or whatever the fuck... dipping my fingers in the water and seeing the shapes form beneath my hands... this image of myself INSTANTLY calms me in a way that I can not explain. Enjoying a repartee with some cheeky clayheads in neutral colors whilst potting it up and listening to twinkling, ambient music — can you think of anything better? That's why I can't recommend checking out your local studio or center enough <3
From Mariah Oxley
“~Designer. Crafter. Woodland creature. 🍀”
#CottageCore (or #GoblinCore if ya nasty!!!) has become the best part of my infinite scroll.
Allow your feed to be interrupted by carousels of @Liskin_doll wadding into creeks and running through meadows in floor-length euro-peasantry garb. She hawks coin purses embroidered with foxes on Etsy, eats cloudberry jam cakes in meadows, and once listed “cold air, smells, and roads” as among her favorite things in an interview. I think her primary creative partner is her mom, which lends another LAYER to this gothic, woodland, pagan, girly, squirrel-based cinematic universe.
Nothing jolts you out of your digitized slumber like watching a vid of this Tuck Everlasting ho holding up a lavender crown to the sunset. Seeing her posts interspersed between a feed of comedy show promos and hot people vacations is amazing, because sometimes you don’t realize that you’re dreaming until there are sharks at your high school swim meet. And the presence of sharks in a pool, will call the dream’s subtler inconsistencies into question. Like, you were never on the swim team…
From Michael Kandel
I spent the first few months of quarantine cooped up with my roommates, watching some of the dumbest, horniest Americans flop around on Netflix with their U.K. counterparts. Then, around August, I got a Criterion subscription and began watching neorealist films one might call "meditative." Of all the ones I watched, I keep coming back to the two Kelly Reichardt films listed above.
I find one of the best things a movie can be is 90 minutes or less. These movies are under 80. They're both beautifully-shot character studies that draw you in slowly until you get to a point where Michelle Williams talking to an auto mechanic is more tense than anything in Tenet. Yes, there's social commentary, but Reichardt operates with a light touch so it's only on your mind long after the credits roll. I would start with Wendy and Lucy, which is more straightforward plot-wise and a classic woman-and-her-dog tale. If you like that, head over to Old Joy (it's on YouTube!).
From Avery Friedman
Getting Preemptively Hype for Fall
Air that lightly bites our lungs! That niche moment during which one can comfortably wear shorts and a sweater! The co-existence of soft, warm colors and looming, hardened, coolness. The anxious nostalgia of knowing this crunchy beauty really do be fleeting! Fall always zooms right by -- we're lucky to have just one real month of it on the east coast. So I recommend that we extend that season by channeling it now in our anticipation of it.
Some newish, fallish songs to get you there:
Little Things by Big Thief
Phoenix by Big Red Machine, Fleet Foxes and Anais Mitchell
Rae Street by Courtney Barnett
From Alex Brown
Being One of Those Guys Who Road Bikes with All of the Gear
The thing about cycling is that it doesn’t stop with the ass-pads.
Over the past year, I’ve been getting into cycling with my friends, and now I’ve got it all, from the spandex shorts to the spandex shirt to the spandex arm-warmers to the spandex leg-warmers to the glasses that are sort of winking at themselves at how ridiculous this whole set up is but are mostly dead serious. I haven’t gone so far as to get a GPS for my bike or a caffeine vape to bring on rides, but just know, you can.
At the end of the day, it’s just fun to go very fast and very far on a bike. It’s beautiful! You feel so capable! You hypnotize yourself with all the pedaling! And if you go with your friends, you can stop for a snack at the end of the ride, and clop around the tiled cafe with your cleats (essentially ski boots) with your helmet still on your head, uneasily eying your bike that you left outside. Get that latte, you deserve it. Live it up before you get smoked by a truck.