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.

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Lilibet Snellings’ Box Girl: My Part-Time Job as an Art Installation

I don’t think it’s particularly easy to write a good memoir about being in your 20s, particularly that of the 20-something fuck-up variety. It’s a tricky genre that can slide very easy into solipsism and narcissism with little to give the reader. But I was really pleasantly surprised by Lilibet Snellings’ Box Girl: My Part-Time Job as an Art Installation, a fast, funny, and sometimes touching look at her early 20 in Los Angeles, where she was paying the bills by being the (blonde) girl in the box behind the Standard Hotel’s check-in desk. It’s an absurd job, and she makes hay of it with sharp observations on what it’s like to be doing a job based on looks, smiling, and availability: a particular sort of shit job that you can only tolerate when you’re in your twenties and a very new person. —Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

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Derek Jarman’s Jubilee

I finally made it out to BAM’s excellent Punk Rock Girls film series over the weekend, for a movie I own on DVD but had never gotten to see in a theater. Perhaps the late Jarman’s greatest masterpiece, Jubilee is the best punk-rock movie ever made, a post-apocalyptic vision of England fueled by its late-’70s economic slump and the nihilistic music it inspired, in which Queen Elizabeth I time-travels to a futuristic wasteland ruled by cops and inhabited by a largely female troupe of rebel freaks. Highlights include the latter group’s intellectual leader, Amyl Nitrate (Jordan), dancing in her underwear to a warped version of “Rule Britannia” and the romantic pairing of voracious Little Nell (aka Columbia from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) with a shy, pre-fame Adam Ant. —Judy Berman, Editor in Chief

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When January Feels Like Summer at the Ensemble Studio Theater

For the first time in a long time, I went out and did something worth recommending! Currently playing at the Ensemble Studio Theater is a fantastic play, When January Feels Like Summer. It’s funny and smart and touching (as any good play should be), but what was really fantastic about it was that it’s wonderfully relatable for anybody and everybody, despite the fact that the lead characters aren’t the sort that get nearly as much attention as they should (African-Americans, Southeast Asians, immigrants, pre-op transsexuals). Don’t let the diverse cast fool you, though: the play isn’t a “message” play, but it is at its core a story about people working through loneliness, loss, self-definition and self-fulfillment. I’ve said before that it would be wonderful to finally see characters of color simply living their lives and fumbling with humanity, rather than simply being vessels for a narrative about epic struggle. This play nails that and it’s so exciting to see that happen. Go see it! —Lillian Ruiz, Social Media Director

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Owen Pallett’s In Conflict

As someone who always appreciated Owen Pallett (especially his music-theory dissections of pop songs on Slate) and loved his contributions to other people’s albums, I’d always thought, back in his Final Fantasy days, that the combination of his crystalline voice and baroque arrangements amounted to music that was a bit too precious to be approached — for that reason I scarcely did approach it. If He Poos Clouds, I thought, how was I going to relate? Well, I finally decided, with his new album In Conflict, that it was time to revisit his work. So glad I did. His darkness as a lyricist here counterbalances the flighty beauty of his instrumentation; while the synths may tickle and the strings may pluck, and most of his sounds may generally mimic the properties of feathers, his confessional lyrics provide just enough fevered ugliness to keep me happy. “I’ll never have any children/ I’d bear them and eat them, my children,” he swoons on opener “I Am Not Afraid,” and in “Infernal Desire,” as he and a lover try to make each other come, he sings, “The mind is merciful in its ignorance/For if we correlated all it contents/ We’d give our bodies over to a fire/ That knows no satisfaction only knows desire.” Pallett’s words teem with worry about the feverishness of his hungers; they wrestle with the prettiness of his soundscape, creating a totally dynamic, varied album. Time to dig into the back-catalog. —Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice

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Mad Men Season 7, Episode 7: “Waterloo”

Hi there, I’m a week late to the party, so I watched the Mad Men mid-season finale after everyone else, and I thank my Twitter and Facebook pals for not being spoiler jerks. And while the split-season thing continues to make me bananas, there’s no denying this was a powerful and effective moment to make that break — with yet another organizational restructuring, an effective out-of-nowhere-but-not-really Don/Megan break, and the sad but inevitable departure of Bert Cooper (sent off in fine musical theater fashion, as a loving farewell to actor Robert Morese, best known pre-Mad Men for his starring turns in such classic musicals as How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying). But what was most satisfying about these last two episodes was the reinvigoration of the Don/Peggy relationship, after several episodes of uneasy tension and resentment. When we look back on this show (and this takes nothing from its fine supporting players), it will be the story of that relationship’s evolution, of how they look out for each other and bring out the best in each other, with the “My Way” scene from episode six and the late-night hotel pitch revamping from the mid-season finale turning up as unforgettalbe highlights in that “best-of” reel. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

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Savage Garden by Savage Garden

“Truly Madly Deeply” got stuck in my head at the beginning of the week like it does a lot. Thanks to Spotify, I started listening to the rest of the 1997 album, which I hadn’t heard completely because I was eight when it came out. Now I’ve heard it completely about 20 times, it holds up SURPRISINGLY WELL in 2014. I want to stand with it on a mountain. —Isabella Biedenharn, Editorial Apprentice