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.

the junket

Mike Albo’s The Junket at Dixon Place

Years ago, I got laid off after the startup I as working for was sold, and I enthusiastically signed my NDAs and accepted my two-month severance package. “Now I’m going to be a writer!” About a week later, Mike Albo’s The Junket was published as a Kindle Single; I read it in an afternoon, and it scared the hell out of me. The Junket details his trip to Jamaica as a part of a ridiculously over-the-top press junket sponsored by a young men’s website and plenty of corporate sponsors; when disaster strikes, news breaks that Albo was on the trip despite being a New York Times freelancer. The Times fired him from his column-writing gig, claiming his trip was an ethics violation. (It’s still very hazy, since he wasn’t on staff in the first place.) Albo wrote a lovely novella about the experience, which details what it’s like to live in New York City at a time when commercialism and marketing affect everyone — particularly the poor creatives who must step into the fold in order to afford to make their art. Luckily, Albo has turned The Junket into a hilarious one-man performance, which ran for three weeks at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side and was just extended for three more weeks. It’s highly entertaining, and a must-see for anyone working in New York media, if only as a reminder of how good and bad it can get, and when to avoid being part of the problem. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

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Kanye West live at Barclays Center, New York City

Last night I went to Kanye West’s first New York stop on the Yeezus tour. There’s been some drama surrounding this tour — Kanye had to reschedule a few dates because the centerpiece of his show, an enormous circular screen, was broken. They fixed it, and last night as it hung over the craggy mountain stage piece it was, at times, as close to art as I could allow myself to admit. The radiant screen wasn’t merely a big television, but rather an instrument through which to convey a feeling, which reminded me at once of Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project at the Tate Modern. It was moody and temperamental, both a way to simulate sun and clouds in a darkened auditorium and a way to more clearly perceive the masked man on stage. It seems like every time something positive about Kanye West is written, there needs to be a qualifier, as if he could not have simply gotten something very right. Allow me to dispense with that tradition momentarily — for the nearly three hours of hits, Kanye West gave the audience what they wanted and what they deserved: a show. I’ve devised a metric of my own for whether a concert was worth going to: I ask myself if I would go again. The answer, undeniably, is yes. —Kevin Pires, Editorial Apprentice

JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America (dir. Nicole Rittenmeyer, Seth Skundrick)

We’re up to our eyeballs in JFK 50th anniversary retrospectives this week, but for me, the only one worth watching is JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America. The documentary, which aired on History in 2009 (and is available on DVD), is what I like to call a “real time” documentary: there is no voice-over narration and no current interviews, merely archival news footage from that day (and the days, and then years, after), artfully arranged to give a sense of what it was like to be there in that moment. (Directors Nicole Rittenmeyer and Seth Skundrick used the same technique to create the stunning 9/11 doc 100 Minutes That Changed the World.) If you haven’t seen it, do; History is re-airing it Friday afternoon from 12 pm to 4 pm (EST), or watch it right now on YouTube. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

betty knows best

Betty Knows Best

Older people are my FAVORITE. Besides years and years of wisdom, they’ve lost any and all filters they may have had, and it is the greatest. So, big surprise, my new favorite clickable website is Betty Knows Best, a Tumblr that juxtaposes some of Bergdorf legend Betty Halbreich’s gem quotes with her prize-winning expressions. There’s nothing quite like old-lady sass, and quips that range from, “Do you really know what you look like in those heels?” to “I’m wearing a panty girdle.” —Brie Hiramine, Editorial Apprentice

Bastards (dir. Claire Denis)

Billed as Denis’ darkest film — and if you’ve seen any of her work, you know that’s saying a lot — Bastards is equally potent as an economic allegory and a classical tragedy, the story of two families brought together by money, violence, and perversion. Of course, it’s also a thriller, one that makes stunning use of the slight 83 minutes allocated for it to do its damage. —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

bodiddley

Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley’s Beach Party

Even though I prefer the cold and welcome the approaching winter with open arms, I love a good beach party record. That’s probably why I’ve spent a lot of time working to Bo Diddley’s 1963 live record, Bo Diddley’s Beach Party. You can’t really go wrong with Bo, but Bo on a beach is something extra special. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

Moshe Kasher, Live in Oakland

This weekend, I really enjoyed watching Moshe Kasher’s standup special from earlier this year, Live in Oakland. It’s probably one of my favorites in a year of great standup, a rare example of comedy that’s both cynical and weirdly childlike. Kasher’s ethics also provide a weird example of why I love modern comedy so much: you can be outrageously raunchy and socially aware at the same time. If you look at comedy over the past few years — most notably after that Daniel Tosh “rape joke” fiasco — you can see a real shift in how comedians talk about women and minorities, and Kasher does a great job of being a kind of “mean” comic without being, well, actually mean. Live in Oakland is really fun to watch, it’s full of surprises, and hey, it’s streaming on Netflix! —Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice