Earth is Ghetto

I wanna leave.

Welcome to The JP Pick vol. 13! (to view vol. 12, click here. To see last week’s post about Neil, click here. I love you, Neil).

We’re 3 weeks in and time still feels fluid, though I find myself still clinging to the rosy optimism of Day 1 and 2 of 2021. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional in thinking that an arbitrary “reset button” would suddenly flip our world from “fuck 2020” to however we’ll eventually feel about 2021. I guess I just look forward to when our only problems will be choosing which insanely high-produced reality series covering “The REAL Crazy Rich Asians” is the best for viewer consumption (for the record, they’re both gaudy and awful — but Netflix’s Bling Empire surpasses HBO Max’s House of Ho with flying colors, simply because these rich assholes can at least pretend they’re not on camera to have “real moments” and House of Ho is as staged as an episode of Flip or Flop).

Big week ahead, perhaps one that’ll make the fluid-feeling time a little less amorphous. So let’s savor the last round of rec’s “in the before” and pray to god some assholes don’t try some stupid shit once again.

Let’s get to it!

Movie to Watch

  1. Promising Young Woman

This edition of the Pick is most likely filled with stuff you’ve already known about or have consumed, so apologies in advance — but holy shit this movie. It’s just good. No comment necessary beyond that — except perhaps for the red-light big-sign TRIGGER WARNING for those who have suffered sexual abuse; for those who have ever been hustled by an opportunistic man; for those who have ever attended a party or a club or a gathering while being a woman. Sure, that covers a lot of bases but PYW opened up a lot of trap doors for me and maybe it’ll be the same case for you. It’s amazing, but it may make you cry something deep and hidden. Proceed with caution, but trust that the director/writer is guiding you with safety first in mind.

Song to Play

  1. “Earth is Ghetto” by Nikki Aliah

I have not stopped thinking or humming or playing this GD song since I heard it on my pal’s Katie Willert’s instagram (thanks, Katie!). As Stefon would say, “this song has everything”:

  • Instructions for how to be picked up on Earth

  • Messages akin to “We Are the World” but decidedly less corny

  • Side-eyes with soulful bravado as Nikki sings so so so-fucking-beautifully.

Another great feature of the Internet age is just how many other musicians have chimed in with their “takes” or accompaniments to the original track. And though I dig the bare-bones of the original operation, there’s something particularly undeniable about how hard this horn section slaps. There’s plenty more — check out Nikki’s instagram for the some of the best re-postings, and make sure you find yourself out on the street with a bright t-shirt on.

Show to Stream

  1. WandaVision on Disney+

Yeah yeah. Like I said, I’m not telling you anything particularly new this week. If you were interested in watching this, you probably already did — BUT! If you’re a usual Marvel-agnostic like me, maybe you need some more convincing. I think The Ringer said it best in this article titled, “After a Decade of Episodic Storytelling, Marvel Studios Finally Made Actual TV Episodes”. And as the kids say, “it true”. I’m insanely bowled over at the achievement of delivering us a Bewitched reboot we didn’t anticipate nor ask for. I know mystery is afoot and easter eggs abound. I know this bucolic jaunt into the ‘50s/’60s will be short-lived to anticipate the future decades promised in the epic trailer. I know this will all end! But for now, I’m happy. Watch it and don’t complain about “how slow it is” compared to its zippy Marvel siblings. It’s just weird and good (the best kind of good).

Book to Read

  1. “Stakes is High: Life After the American Dream” by Mychal Denzel Smith

I picked up two books this past week and raced through them both. First, “The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America” by Charlotte Alter and this. “Ones” is serious, but breezy. Written in a narrative storytelling style that begins by answering the question, “Where was Pete Buttigieg on 9/11?” and expands beyond to touch on the home lives and millennial upbringings of the current class of change makers. Where “Ones” tees up the punchline we’re all living, “Stakes” dives right into home. It’s blustery and to the point. Beautifully written and poised in its arguments. I felt smarter after reading. I felt sadder after reading. Often the two are inextricably entwined.

It’s a short read, coming in at half the page count of the average bestseller but that’s just proof that Smith has a point to make and no other time to linger.

Podcast to Download

  1. Reply All: #171 “Account Suspended” on Gimlet Media

You’ve heard me rave about Reply All before — the best “podcast about the Internet” that is about many things decidedly non-”Internet”. It is great. It is good. It truly has something for everyone.

In this week’s ep, the boys (PJ and Alex) sit down for basically an extended version of their popular segment “Yes / Yes / No” where they often volley viral tweets to their boss Alex Blumberg who’s about as outsider to the digital life as they come (despite the fact that he founded a digital podcast company). This week’s Yes / Yes / No topic? Trump’s social media takedown which leads to the natural Schadenfreude we’ve all been basking in — oh probably since he got Covid. But the real gem of this episode comes in the second half…

A couple episodes ago, Alex Goldman made a silly-somewhat-serious “Pop Punk Anthem” about climate change that hinged on a message of “Everything hurts so much all of the time” nihilism. It was an argument not unlike the “Sheet Cake Bit” from Tina Fey’s appearance on SNL’s Weekend Update re: the Charlottesville protests. And sure, Alex’s musical nihilism was tongue in cheek — but Alex Blumberg (yes, I know, too m any Alex’s) pointed out that “that’s precisely the problem”. I loved how hard he grilled Alex on this, because he’s right. It’s reckless to even joke about “not doing anything about climate change” (because as often the lazy-yet-concerned person’s motto, “where do I even start?”). The fact that “things are bad” is of course something we can all agree on. Things are probably the worst they’ve ever been. And they’re getting worse.

So what do you do? We’re a nation and a society that thrives on rules and instructions. But all the “rules” are changing in real time and the instructions aren’t even in English. I loved that Alex highlighted all the good that’s actually happening. That solar power is becoming the strongest source of energy we can employ to power up our homes and then some. That carbon footprints are shrinking, no matter what the conflicting reports may say. There’s stuff to celebrate that accesses that all-too-elusive thing we call hope. It was great. It was good. It was a segment that swung back to being true to the format of the podcast by putting egg on Alex G’s off-screen face.

And sure, this may have been just an elaborate commercial for Alex Blumberg’s new podcast How to Save a Planet. But when the message is this good and pressing— is that really all that bad?

Honorable Mentions

There’s been a lot of staying home and consuming media, so welcome to my lightning round of rec’s:

  1. Podcasts

    • Podcast the Ride is still killing it during covid. I highly recommend their latest ep “Living with the Land”.

    • Sway with Kara Swisher was a great listen this week simply because she handed it to Anna Wintour and NOBODY hands it to Anna Wintour.

    • Doughboys had living future-sax legend Jon Daly on as they reviewed Jersey Mike’s for a second time — and it got bawdy and fun and weid.

  2. TV Shows

    • Of course I’m watching Pretend It’s a City with Fran Lebowitz making Martin Scorsese cackle with laughter every 3 seconds. I’m savoring each episode as my lunchtime treat, like Fran and Marty would want me to.

    • Rupaul’s Drag Race has returned with (I hope) their last “intro episode”. There are many many (MANY) queens, but Olivia Lux is my fave.

    • Real Housewives of SLC continues to amaze me — and I think Jen Shay could be the overall franchise MVP — if’n she’s able to take that title from Ramona Singer’s cold, dead hands.

  3. Movies

    • Sylvie’s Love on Amazon was sweet and throwback-y. Let’s talk about that ending, though!