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 recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Image via PSquared Photography for Brooklyn Vegan
Image via PSquared Photography for Brooklyn Vegan

My Bloody Valentine, live at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City

Culturally, this felt like a particularly rich week. I’ve gotten into some really great books and movies, and the albums coming out lately are killer. But I knew early on that there was no way anything I’ve done this week would top finally seeing My Bloody Valentine in the flesh. It should come as no surprise that the hype of their live shows is absolutely 100 percent justified. In person, their songs are so full-bodied that the deeply complex studio recordings seem weak by comparison. The music became so thick and physical and alive, but I felt fairly incapable of moving — I could only stand there and react (with what I imagine were extremely revealing, unflattering facial expressions). A My Bloody Valentine show is like the most violent, visceral religious revival I could imagine. The notorious, unfortunately nicknamed “holocaust” section of “You Made Me Realise” didn’t feel so much like an assault on my eardrums as it did a shamanistic ritual. Something about all of that noise in one place felt strangely soothing and a little holy, and I walked out feeling rejuvenated. At some point in my years of obsessing over shoegaze, I came to the conclusion that the genre is the most fully realized attempt to actualize heaven through music. After seeing My Bloody Valentine, I have no reason to think otherwise. —Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

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Mad Men

I’m a big proponent of re-watching, and I’ve been re-watching Mad Men at the gym this week. Mad Men began to lose me around the time Jessica Paré showed up, and now it’s more of a hate-watch. It’s a terribly refreshing experience to go back to the first few episodes of a show you were once enamored of, post-disillusionment. It’s like remembering that you still have the capacity to fall in love. —Michelle Dean, Editor-at-Large

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The Criterion Collection at Hulu Plus

I signed up for a Hulu Plus account to help get me through the winter. The collection of Criterion films was what really sold me, and I promised myself that if I’m going to spend a few bucks a month, I definitely need to watch a few movies a week to make it worth it. I started off with Ingmar Bergman’s The Devil’s Eye, and figure I’ll get through his movies in the collection, then go from there. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

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Dirty Hits by Tony O’Neill

Former keyboardist for the Brian Jonestown Massacre and New York Times best-selling author (Hero of the Underground) Tony O’Neill has quietly released a ridiculously affordable collection of works from out-of-print anthologies, lit zines, and old websites spanning the past ten years. Dirty Hits is the first e-book release on the Sick City author’s VICON label, which will see an edition of his first novel, Digging the Vein (inspired by O’Neill’s early struggles with addiction and his experience in the music industry), if all goes well. That title is also out of print and not cheap when available — which prompted O’Neill to take control of his back catalog. “I really loved these stories and it seemed a shame that they’d vanished… ” the author told me in an email. Judging by O’Neill’s description of several stories in Dirty Hits, we can look forward to the fringe characters and dark humor people appreciate about his work:

There’s one story called Roach Killer that I sat on for years because it was just so dark and vile and strange.  It ended up in a tiny French fanzine called Invisible Insurrection and even they seemed to be a little scared about what it said about me after they’d read it. Let’s just say I wrote that one during a pretty low period of my life and it’s almost like an expression of my bleak mental state at the time. Definitely one of the strangest and most disgusting things I ever wrote. In many of the others like Frank the Dog Walker, or Our Mission Was To Take Out The Chemist, you see the first appearances of characters who would later show up in Sick City and Black Neon… in the intervening years I’d almost forgotten they’d first appeared in these stories — so it was almost like bumping into old friends when I started editing the collection together.

Pick up a copy of Dirty Hits on Amazon. —Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

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Flirting With Disaster (dir. David O. Russell)

I’ve been on a big mid-’90s movie kick lately, catching up on all the films I missed while I was busy being a teen. One highlight was The Last Days of Disco, but my favorite so far has been Flirting With Disaster. Russell’s second feature, it hails from the days when he was still making smart, dark, and deeply weird comedies, and stars Ben Stiller as a neurotic adoptee who finds himself unable to name his own newborn son without meeting his biological parents. The cast is a dream: George Segal and Mary Tyler Moore play Stiller’s adoptive parents, while Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda are the hippie couple who gave him up. And then there’s Patricia Arquette, a magnificently cold Téa Leoni, Josh Brolin, Six Feet Under dad Richard Jenkins, and a delightfully batshit-crazy script full of twists, turns, and searing dialogue. Watch it while it’s still streaming on Netflix! —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=malJUMz2A9Y]

Songs: Ohia — The Magnolia Electric Co.

I’ve been feeling a general sense of malaise this week, and I can place part of the blame on the time change, the early sunset, and the fact that winter came swooping in with a vengeance. Plus, I’ve been re-listening to The Magnolia Electric Co., which I wrote about yesterday. Not to beat a dead horse, but there’s something so melancholy about the album, which I’ve professed to be my second-favorite record of all time (after the also-sad Exile in Guyville). I was listening to “Farewell Transmission” while I walked through the Lower East Side to work this morning and it struck me, weirdly, for the first time time that I would never see Jason Molina and Co. live ever again, and it’s such a damn shame. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor