Are there three words in the English more disheartening than “no unplayed episodes,” (maybe “you have gonorrhoea,” but only by a hair)? After twelve weeks of hand-wringing episodes from the podcast Serial, I found myself, at the end of December, without a mystery to solve. The series had ended and a new season wouldn’t be coming for at least a year. This was particularly disconcerting because my job provides two weeks of holiday for Christmas and the New Year so I would be waiting in airports, taking long car rides, going for leisurely runs through the city, all without the benefit of Sarah Koenig to keep my brain busy.
The English translation of Valeria Luiselli’s essay collection Sidewalks is a slim volume that you can finish in an afternoon or on a couple of commutes to and from your job in the city. You’ll be sad to see it end when you look back out the streetcar window at a place less beautiful than what Luiselli describes in her book. Because you are more mature than me, your first thought won’t be “oh cool, another successful work of creativity by someone younger than I am.” You’ll probably just think you want more.
If you haven’t thought about Jean-Michel Basquiat or Jay Z in a little while, head over to The Rumpus, where I review Jennifer Clement’s beautiful Widow Basquiat.
I received a reminder from the Toronto Public Library that my copy of Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators was due on Thursday December 4th. I started reading it a week ago and was only about halfway through, so I knew I had to pick up the pace. It’s a big book so I haven’t been bringing it to read on my commute (part of the reason it’s taking me so long to get through) but today I relented and dragged the book along. Standing at the corner of Bloor and Ossington, waiting for a streetcar at 7:45 this morning, I pulled the book out of my bag. It’s a cold day, but I was wearing gloves and a toque so I stood outside instead of in the crowded bus shelter.
A minute later – “plop.”
I looked around, confused at first about where the sound had come from, but then I looked down. Pages 245 and 246 were covered in green and white pigeon shit.
Serial isn’t a book but it is a piece of reporting (piece of art? piece of work?) that I am currently obsessed with because it is brilliant but no one else in my circle seems to be talking about it.
(What’s up Toronto friends? You’re too cool for pod casts now?)
Is there anything better than a music man? I read Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s memoir Mo’ Meta Blues during my vacation last week and it confirmed the things I already thought about Questlove and The Roots. Questlove is a better musician than you are. He may not be as cool as you but he has access to cooler things and people than you do. He’s definitely smarter than you.
Preferably in essay form (so you can read in a lounge chair while sipping a cocktail) and by someone who generally agrees with you about all things West-related (because it’s the long weekend and you ain’t got no time for dissent).