Welcome to Growler’s Culture Club, where editors share the best of what they’ve heard, read, and watched.
IIt seems fitting that we’re launching Culture Club in quarantine, where we’ve consumed an unprecedented amount of entertainment to keep ourselves within reach of sanity. While not everything we’ve learned is worth mentioning (this editor is willing to admit he’s reviewed and enjoyed “Rat Race” – taste comes in many forms), it would be a shame to hoard jealously some of the gems that we’ve enjoyed the most.
Without further ado, here are our final recommendations. Take ’em or leave ’em, but we hope we can offer you a brief escape from this strange dystopian reality we find ourselves in.
Jeans Garland, Associate Editor
“Fetch the Bolt Cutters” by Fiona Apple
I’ll be the last to rave about the busiest outing in recent months. “Collect the bolt cutters” is a sonic avalanche of clattering, rattling, and barking dogs (really, his puppies are credited as lyricists). The orchestration is jagged, and the tempo and structure are cursed. But above the tumult, Apple’s voice is dreamlike, diaphanous and lyrical, then suddenly direct and confrontational. She’s been recording it on GarageBand at home for the past five years, and hardly any song works as a single, but it sounds like a Clank One masterstroke.
Li Ziqi, YouTube channel
She is a 29-year-old woman who lives in rural China and does quiet videos of his pastoral life. In one clip, she turns wool into yarn and knits a cape. In the next time frame, which lasts the whole season, she plants and harvests a paddy field. Another, she makes bamboo furniture. Yet another, she fashions makeup from flower petals. Interspersed with dreamlike shots of misty forests over the soothing sounds of a guzheng, it’s mystifying to watch this Renaissance woman at work. His skills are extraordinary.
Lauren Sauer, Associate Editor
A discovery that has sonically transported me out of those trying times is Radiooooo, a website that lets you listen to popular music from all decades up to the 1900s from countries around the world. Want to know what was hot in Azerbaijan in the 70s? Or do you prefer to explore the sounds of 1930s Brazil? While physically traveling the world may be inadvisable for the foreseeable future, with Radiooooo and a little imagination, we can travel – both geographically and temporally – from the safety of our own homes.
“Bless the Phone” by Labi Siffre
In the best case, this song is the sweetest song I know – released in 1971 by London-born Labi Siffre, its lyrics and simple melody bring me to the brink (and depending on my mood, just to the brink) of tears of joy every time I hear it. But, in a time when we literally rely on virtual means to connect with the people we love, the song is more poignant than ever. It’s a lovely reminder that while we’re isolated, we’re not alone.
Brian Kaufenberg, editor
If you’re looking for a video game that offers a deeper experience, do yourself a favor and download “Never alone.” This is an outstanding two-person puzzle platformer in the vein of “Limbo” and “Inside” (but without the morbid atmosphere). What sets it apart is how it incorporates Alaska Native storytelling into the game itself. In the videos you unlock during the game, Inupiaq the elders tell stories of different spirits, sacred places, and how their culture is passed down to Alaska today. It creates a really rich experience that helps preserve a culture in a mid-21st century. The art is gorgeous, the game is relatively short, and the take-home message is touching. Available on Playstation, Xbox, PC, Android and iOS.
“How green my valley was” by Richard Llewellyn
This coming-of-age tale set in a Welsh mining village in the early 20th century has quickly become one of my favorite fictions. Published in 1939, the prose is lyrical and rich (mistakenly) with descriptions of village life that sing and metaphors that remain original even after all these years. It is filled with themes of integrity, hard work, and self-reliance, but it also emphasizes self-sacrifice and the interdependence of community.
James Norton, editor
Haruki Murakami’s vinyl collection
Author Haruki Murakami is one of the world’s most respected fiction writers and the former owner of a jazz club in Tokyo. Unsurprisingly, many of his readers have expressed interest in exploring the writer’s musical space. And to that end, superfan Masamaro Fujiki has collected nearly 3,400 album tracks from the author’s personal collection. The result is a heavy roster of vintage jazz that transitions from smooth listening to challenging abstract soundscapes with plenty of variation in between. It’s a simple hack for curating your own jazz club soundtrack, and it’s an obvious playlist for when you want to put your feet up and dive into “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” or “Killing Commendatore.” . Sometimes living in a dystopian future has its perks! Listen: Spotify
“Escape to Dannemora”
Did you know Ben Stiller could direct? I sure didn’t until I watched the seven-episode series “Escape at Dannemora,” a gripping, Fargo-esque account of the epic 2015 escape of two convicted murderers from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Northeast Florida. New York State, encouraged by a not too brilliant superintendent of the prison store. The two leads in this drama are some of the best working actors in the world: watching Benicio del Toro as scheming sociopath (and convicted murderer) Richard Matt and Paul Dano as seriously screwed up inmate (and convicted murderer) David Sweat is a constant joy. Look: Show time, Amazon Premier
Zach McCormick, Social Media Coordinator
“the last dance”
As a child of the 90s with a parent who grew up in suburban Chicago, Michael Jordan was more than my favorite athlete – he was a cultural touchstone and a conduit to the kind of high-speed, frenzied joy that sports can get us to their peak – I remember crying inconsolably when my parents told me that MJ had retired for the second time. Watching Jason Hehir’s excellent multi-part documentary on Michael Jordan’s breakthrough final and second season on the Bulls instantly transforms me into that same starry-eyed kid with Bulls blankets on his twin bed, jaw dropping and laughing as he watches a metahuman wearing the number “23” perform miracle after miracle via impeccably restored archival footage. Look: ESPN
Caroline Carlson, Writing Intern
Author and consultant Cheryl Strayed has made a career out of trying to unravel life’s puzzles with empathy, grace, humor and wisdom. It all started when she agreed to respond anonymously to letters from the weekly “Dear Sugar” column in an online literary magazine called The Rumpus, and evolved when she – along with fellow author Steve Almond – became one of the two “Sugars” on the New York. Times podcast “Dear Sugars” and co-author of accompanying column. Now, with her new “Sugar Calling” podcast, she talks to beloved and highly acclaimed authors about how the world as we know it may change in light of this pandemic, and the wisdom they have. acquired during their lives and careers. Listen: Spotify, Apple podcast, embroiderer