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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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

This week I’ve been reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet on the recommendation of the redoubtable Anthony Carew of About.com. I’m not generally a huge fan of the historical novel, but this is an engaging and entertaining read, made all the more fascinating by the sheer historical interest of its setting: a Dutch trading post in 18th-century Japan, a period when no foreigner could enter the country on pain of death. –– Tom Hawking, Music Editor

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“Alexis Neiers’s Pretty Wild Road to Recovery” by Mitchell Sunderland

VICE‘s interview with Alexis Neiers is an interesting companion to one of the more viral moments in reality TV history, not to mention Sofia Coppola’s upcoming Bling Ring. Turns out Neiers has since gone to rehab, got married, and even had a baby — plus, she’s very sorry for talking about Lindsay Lohan to the press. The interview is simultaneously a sobering reminder that reality celebrities’ hilarity often belies some very real issues and an entertaining read in its own right (she stands by her claim that, yes, she was in fact wearing little brown Bebe shoes to court that day). –– Alison Herman, Editorial Intern

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Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings

If Brian Eno has one all-encompassing purpose on this planet, it’s to make our lives more thoughtful, tranquil, and (in a thoroughly non-denominational way) spiritual. That’s what he does in his ambient music, but it’s also what he does in his other creative projects, from his Oblique Strategies cards to his ongoing involvement with the strange and fascinating Long Now Foundation. 77 Million Paintings, in which 296 pictures morph into one another in a seemingly endless series of combinations, takes Eno’s philosophy to the visual realm. Although it debuted as computer software in 2006, Eno has brought it to New York as a full-scale video installation. Over the weekend, I had the chance to escape the madness of midtown by spending the better part of an hour in this serene, darkened space, soundtracked by some gently odd music and decorated with only a few couches and chairs and some low, metal cone-shaped objects. New Yorkers in need of some high-quality meditation inspiration should be sure to stop by before 77 Million Paintings closes June 2. –– Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

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King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis

The documentary portrait King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis has long been a tough item to get your eyes on; originally released to theaters for one night only in 1970 (to benefit King’s charity), it was shown occasionally on television — usually in a form that truncated its three-hour length — and never released on DVD. Kino Classics finally gave it that long-overdue release, and it’s an astonishing document, presenting over a decade of newsreel footage, from the bus boycott to the Edmund Pettis Bridge to “I Have a Dream” to the assassination, without narration and without comment, merely with respect and admiration. –– Jason Bailey, Film Editor

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House of Cards (Netflix)

This week, in perhaps the laziest day and a half I’ve enjoyed thus far while living in New York without feeling a pang of remorse about not seeing any of the city, I finally got around to binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix. I devoured the season whole, barely pausing for sleep or a tea break, and it was delicious. The show is worth watching simply to see Kevin Spacey deliver vitriolic asides to the camera in a pitch-perfect Atlanta accent while waving a barbecued rib in one hand, and for Ernest Hemingway Corey Stoll’s nuanced, heart-wrenching performance as a struggling alcoholic, failing father, and politician. Both actors’ nominations for this year’s Critics’ Choice TV awards are more than well deserved, and I hope to see them win — mostly because I just want to see Corey Stoll looking happy. –– Chloe Pantazi, Editorial Intern

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“Peace, Courtney Love, and Understanding” by Debbie Stoller, BUST Magazine, June/July 2013

Twenty years after her heyday, it is still really hard to talk about Courtney Love. Most discussions of the controversial musician quickly devolve into loaded questions about her sanity, artistic integrity, and the nature of her relationship with Kurt Cobain. But few writers are as qualified to set the record straight as BUST editor-in-chief Debbie Stoller, who paints an honest, heartbreaking portrait of Love for the magazine’s 20th anniversary issue. Stoller lends a warm, respectful ear as Love opens up about her upcoming memoir, the weight of her reputation, and why the bastards still can’t grind her down. In four delightfully long pages, Stoller blesses readers with a compassionate portrayal of a woman who refuses to ask for your empathy. –– Sarah Fonder, Editorial Intern

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Veep (HBO)

Thank goodness for HBO’s original programming in the early summer months. Now that everything is going on summer hiatus, I’m still able to keep up with Veep, which is knee-deep in its second season. Sure, it might be one of the very few shows airing right now, but Veep is still one of the best shows on television. This season has really gotten into a great groove, and each week I finish a new episode with the desire to sing hyperbolic graces about how it’s the best episode on television. –– Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

“Turnt” by The-Dream (feat. Beyonce & 2 Chainz) 

A freshman Beyoncé Stan, I first found myself really appreciating the globally touted R&B/pop powerhouse when she released “Party” in October 2011, in which she capitalized on post-summer nostalgia. A favorite within my freshman-year group, “Party” was a raunchier and groovier addition to 4 when compared to the album’s other singles, “Love on Top” and “Countdown.” Back with the same sexual energy and carefree charisma, Beyoncé’s come out with “Turnt” with producer The-Dream and rapper 2 Chainz, a song as seductive as it is irreverent. With The-Dream crooning, “I need this sexy, ratchet, sophisticated, ratchet,” followed with the hook by Beyoncé (just “turn up” repeated in succession), “Turnt” will undoubtedly become this summer’s new party anthem. Full disclosure: I can’t seem to stop dancing in my chair. –– Marcus Hunter, Editorial Intern

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Night Film by Marisha Pessl

This week, I frankly devoured Marisha Pessl’s forthcoming literary thriller, Night Film. I had approached the book with hopeful trepidation: I was in love with her debut, 2006’s much-discussed Special Topics in Calamity Physics, until three-quarters of the way through, when it fell apart for me, and as I neared the halfway mark of Night Film, I feared a similar let down. But: joy. The new novel is a dark, engaging page-turner from start to finish, filled with magic and not-magic in perfect amounts. It’s the kind of book you’ll want to read under the dinner table and only put down for cake. –– Emily Temple, Literary Editor