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Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers each recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed the most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

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By the Way: In Conversation with Jeff Garlin (Earwolf)

In only eight episodes, By the Way: In Conversation with Jeff Garlin has become my favorite podcast. These hour-plus interviews, conducted live in front of an audience at Largo in LA, are genuinely wonderful, sharp and funny with the feel of an actual conversation between two smart people. Comedian and Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Garlin is an engaging interviewer, loose and free-flowing, with an utterly infectious giggle that makes his guests’ jokes even funnier. And he’s pulling great guests: the Larry David, Lena Dunham, Jeff Tweedy, and Zach Galifianakis shows are my favorites so far (yes, that’s half of them, shut up) but he has yet to land a dud guest or an episode that’s not engaging from beginning to end. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

little known facts

Little Known Facts by Christine Sneed

I’ve been reading Christine Sneed’s debut novel Little Known Facts, a collection of interwoven stories surrounding a fictional Hollywood actor named Renn Ivins, told from the point of view of Ivins as well as the people who surround him: his children, his ex-wives, his girlfriends, his fans. The novel doesn’t just offer a rare, fully formed look at a character who is both shaped by and shapes the world around him; he’s also a character who seems so lifelike because, as a celebrity (and even a fictional one), he’s someone we all know — or at least think we know. Blending a natural style with a light-handed cynicism, Sneed’s novel brings a new approach to the traditional Hollywood narrative. — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

here is new york

Here Is New York by E. B. White
In his slender little essay on what he calls the capital city of the world, E. B. White writes that there are three New Yorks. The first New York belongs to the person who was born here, the second to the commuter, and the third, to “the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities, the greatest is the last — the city of final destination, the city that is a goal.” Writing in the summer of 1948 — a lonely time in the city — that wistful sense of searching can be found in White’s essay. To read it is a kind of beautiful quest in itself, to comb through White’s findings of the New York that existed over 50 years ago, and map and overlap them with those of our own. As the author reassures us in the foreword, it’s a pleasure more than it is a task. Ultimately, White does all the hard work as he gets as close to identifying that un-pin-down-able thing about New York that makes it, well, New York, when he writes: “Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidarity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.” These components are as essential to White’s essay as they are to the city. For those who want to escape from New York without having to leave, this is an absolute delight. — Chloe Pantazi, Editorial Intern
in the house upon the dirt

This week, I’ve been reading Matt Bell’s In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, a terrifying and wonderful fable that has nestled itself somewhere deep inside my shoulder blades. I have never come across a book that is so close to a dream state, with all the wildness and wonder and transfiguration that implies. – Emily Temple, Literary Editor

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Hannibal (NBC)

Despite (tastefully) skipping its third episode in light of the events in Boston, Hannibal has quickly established itself as NBC’s best drama — not that it has much competition. It’s got plenty going for it: a compelling main character the audience already knows, cult favorite showrunner Bryan Fuller, and one of the most star-powered casts on television. Hugh Dancy hasn’t quite perfected his American accent yet, but watching him square off with Mads Mikkelsen’s delightfully creepy Dr. Lecter has made Hannibal pretty much the only non-HBO drama in my regular lineup. — Alison Herman, Editorial Intern

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Impersonator by Majical Cloudz

This week I have been basically listening to nothing but the new Majical Cloudz album Impersonator — I wrote about it in our roundup of albums you need to hear in May, and it’s already one of my favorite records of the year. The whole album is fantastic, but “This Is Magic,” the song with which the duo open their live sets and hasn’t been recorded until now, is one of the most beautiful and profoundly moving songs you’ll ever hear.  — Tom Hawking, Music Editor

Photo Credit: Ryan Muir.

Photo Credit: Ryan Muir.

Iggy and the Stooges at Le Poisson Rouge

Tom Hawking already raved about this show at length, so I won’t repeat what he said. The bottom line is that if you’ve held out on seeing Iggy Pop live because 40 years have passed since his peanut butter-smeared heyday, you need to put aside your fears and catch him while he’s still touring. He may not be rolling in broken glass anymore, but he’s still a more captivating performer than the top ten Brooklyn buzz bands combined. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-chief

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Adult World by Scott Coffey

This was the last film I got to see at the Tribeca Film Fest, and my experience definitely ended on a high note. Following a Girls-like plot of a young, delusional, aspiring female writer who thinks she can just write and become famous while her parents financially support her, it finds Amy (Emma Roberts) crashing back to earth when her parents cut her off and she is forced to work in an adult entertainment store, aptly named “Adult World.” While, structurally, it’s a bit loose (there are a handful of unnecessary scenes that don’t move the plot along), what gives it a leg up on Lena Dunham is that our protagonist is actually a comically bad writer, and clings to famed poet Rat Billings (the wry John Cusack at his best) in the hopes that he will lead her to literary glory, making it a much more entertaining ride. Watch for Armando Riesco’s performance as drag queen Rubia, which is easily on par with Hank Azaria’s Agador in The Birdcage. – Julia Pugachevsky

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