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Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

If you’re aiming to feed yourself with some culturally enriching fodder, the Flavorwire team has you covered with our perennial composite of favorite cultural things to keep you engaged throughout the week. Tell us what you’ve enjoyed in the comments below, and stay cultured.

Veep

Veep (HBO)

The general consensus seems to be thatVeep has improved exponentially in this second season, and I certainly agree. But my favorite cultural thing of the week is not the show itself, or even a particular episode. I don’t even think it came from this week’s episode — but it’s been in my head all week. It’s the way Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Selina Meyer tells irritating White House intern Jonah exactly what to do with his passport request: “Go, period. Fuck, period. Yourself, exclamation point!” Creator Armondo Iannucci has always had a knack for the creative, profanity-laden insult, but that one is downright Malcolm Tucker-worthy. – Jason Bailey, Film Editor

James Blake on Letterman

I’ve been a fan of James Blake’s since he released his eponymous album to much acclaim in 2011, and since his latest release, April’s critically lauded electro-soul album Overgrown, I’ve been enraptured by his talent. Having heard Overgrown a few times already, I didn’t spend much time searching for live performances to enrich my experience, which was surely a mistake. Blake’s live performance of the single “Retrograde” is an impeccable rendition of an immaculate tune, with Blake evoking the haunting, melancholic sound he’s been known for since his rise to fame, and giving it new life on the stage. Seeing him layer sound live, taking simple melodies and carefully augment them with more complex rhythms and ethereal effects, makes for a truly mesmerizing experience. And, like, damn, that voiceMarcus Hunter, Editorial Apprentice

Greta Gurwig frances Ha

Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach

I am a few weeks behind things, but I was so thrilled when I walked out of Frances Ha last night. What a gorgeous, smart, and funny film! Greta Gerwig is perfect in the title role (one which she co-wrote), but what really struck me were the actors in supporting roles: Mickey Sumner, Charlotte d’Amboise, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen, Grace Gummer, and especially the cameos from regular Noah Baumbach contributors Josh Hamilton, Dean Wareham, and Britta Phillips. It looks much more like an art film than Baumbach’s recent fare, but it’s a lovely return to his early comic sensibilities. — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

nolita-little-free-library

The Little Free Library

Last week I had the pleasure of stumbling upon the world’s smallest library, hidden in front of a school in Nolita. The “Little Free Library” is a little yellow dome full of books that popped up in the neighborhood only a couple of weeks ago. It can fit about one person inside and only houses about 40 books, so it’s not an extensive collection by any means (the only title I recognized was George Eliot’s Middlemarch). What’s inside is very likely to change, as the incredibly lax setup allows readers to take and return books at their leisure — no library card required. It’s a quiet, shady area with a bunch of tables nearby, so it’s also a perfect place to sit down with whatever book you end up picking. You can find the Little Free Library at 32 Prince Street in Manhattan. -- Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

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Scandal (ABC)

I’m no Shonda Rhimes aficionado; I never had much interest in Grey’s Anatomy or doctor shows in general. And yet, the mounting (largely Twitter-based) hysteria over its high-stakes storylines, crazy plot twists, and mysterious characters finally inspired me to watch Scandal. Now that I’ve made it through the first two seasons, I can confidently say that the story of America’s best political fixer and the “gladiators in suits” who work for her and comprise her surrogate family makes for the most reliably addictive television I’ve ever seen. – Judy Berman, Editor-in-chief

The xx at Governors Ball

Though they were the de facto opener for Kanye West, British trio The xx played like the headliner on the final night of Governors Ball this weekend. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim each has a fantastic stage presence that complements the other, helped along by Jamie Smith’s minimalist production. 3D lasers were the visual cherry on top of an excellent performance, but The xx’s stripped-down, gorgeous sound could have easily stood on its own. — Alison Herman, Editorial Apprentice