Detroiters is amazing. It's Tim Robinson, the guy who broke Kevin Hart by saying "Wellllll, that's the way the popcorn pops!" and Sam Richardson, the guy who stole the last two (has it been two?) seasons of Veep from everybody. They're two low budge ad guys in Detroit. So there's hilarious lo fi ads and there's just bit after bit after bit of two geniuses just riffing.
There are two kinds of Comedy Central shows, in my estimation. (Okay, maybe not two, but hear me out.) You have the kinds that you will never watch and you know that you will never watch but are still aired and sometimes even renewed for some reason. Then there are these other shows that you hear about and there's just something about them that compels you, tells you, "Hey, maybe try this one out." Like, remember that first season of Workaholics? You'd watch and wonder where something this magical and weird came from? Detroiters is, blissfully, miraculously like that. It's so fucking weird and hilarious and precise. It's brilliant.
(That third kind of Comedy Central is the one that you know will be amazing and is amazing, consistently. Broad City, Review, Kroll Show, Drunk History. You know the ones.)
Anyway. Watch this show.
LIFE AFTER DEATH
So. Folks. I listened to all of Lincoln In The Bardo this week. I don't throw around the words "tour de force" a whole lot (ha ha just kidding that's like literally all I do every day), but this book was just astonishing. I say "listened to" because that's what I did! I'm not an audiobook guy (or rather, I wasn't an audiobook guy, more on that in a little bit.), but this one was hard to resist from jump. The conceit of the book is that it's narrated by dozens of ghosts over the course of a single night in a Civil War era graveyard. So each of those ghosts is voiced by their own blockbuster voice artist: Your Nick Offermans. Your David Sedarises. Your Author George Saunderses. Bill Hader and Megan Mullally are in there. It's fantastic.
The thing is, though, this book is deeply sad and incredibly moving so it's a weird thing to have in your ears every day before and after work or while you're doing the dishes or making breakfast. But there's the unique bonus, for me anyway, of having phenomenal prose broadcast directly into your ears. As someone who's been writing more these days (thank god), it's been invaluable. I mean, how can your writing not improve with this getting pumped into your brain:
...I changed my mind. Only then (nearly out the door, so to speak) did I realize how unspeakably beautiful all of this was, how precisely engineered for our pleasure, and saw that I was on the brink of squandering a wondrous gift, the gift of being allowed, every day, to wander this vast sensual paradise, this grand marketplace lovingly stocked with every sublime thing: swarms of insects dancing in slant-rays of August sun; a trio of black horses standing hock-deep and head-to-head in a field of snow; a waft of beef broth arriving breeze-borne from an orange-hued window on a chill autumn –
I mean. Right?
And so that got me thinking, what other books can I (should I) listen to? I tried out a bunch of samples on Audible and realized that if the prose isn't very interesting, I can safely just read it (on a Kindle, like a regular person). But if something is really well written, listening to it helps it seep into my own writing, elevates it, gives it a different kind of energy. So I'm listening to Zadie Smith's new one, Swing Time, and it's totally working for me.
I also got to see Mr. Saunders "read" and get interviewed in Brooklyn (at a Temple!). (I say "read" because it was actually more like performed by a few actors, much like the audiobook was recorded. It was of course incredibly moving, and then anyone who's read a George Saunders interview (like, my god, this one) knows how smart and funny and humane this guy is and, boy do we need more of that these days or what? Anyway, among the many genius things he said, he talked about the Trump thing he wrote a while ago, and it was right after he put the final touches on this book, and he talked about how much time he spent scrapping it up on social media and how he saw that there were two kinds of writing. The point scoring snark you do on social media to try and "win" and then the exploratory work that you/he do/did writing fiction. I put up both his hands like he was holding something in each to show the distinction between the two. And, friends, I was just like "Oh shit. Do I ever do too much of one and not enough of the other."
So I was very glad to hear that, and I am trying very hard to stay on the good hand.
Listen to this book if you can, or just read it if you must. (Or do both, like me.) It's about life and death and family and America and how deeply incredible the world is. It's a truly essential read for any human being.
WOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC!
I mentioned I've been writing more, and that means I've been listening to a lot more instrumental stuff, because of the writing. So expect that to have a bit of an impact on these remarkably listenable playlists moving forward.
- "Lull" by Radiohead. This is the second best Radiohead song.
- "The Prophet" by Sunny Day Real Estate. I've been talking a lot about them recently, so thus I've been listening to them a lot recently.
- "Much More" by De La Soul. This song just popped into my head the other day. Like everyone else on Earth, I first heard it performed in a tour bus on Chapelle's Show and fell in love instantly.
- "Fruit Touch" by Hudson Mohawke. This dude's early stuff is just so incredible, as you can clearly hear.
- "All Your Way" by Morphine. As you have probably guessed, my 94-98 playlist has been getting quite the workout lately too. This song is perfect, end to end.
- "Medusa" by Helium. Helium is weird. Sometimes there stuff can be super dissonant and off putting, and sometimes it's just perfectly gorgeous. This song has them both in one song.
- "RobertaFlack (Mike Slott's Other Mix)" by Flying Lotus. Great remix of an already classic. Flying Lotus has evolved in a lot of different directions and has clearly gotten even better, but everything he put out in the Los Angeles era is some of my favorite stuff from anybody.
- "#1985" by Gurr. Another pick up from the Bandcamp Blitz from a few weeks back. Pure Birdiecore.
- "Foolish" by Superchunk. I think by the end of the year, every song from Incidental Music: 1991-1995 will have made it onto one of these.
- "Embalses y Rios" by Mus. I came across this album in my never ending quest to rip all the CDs I've accumulated over the years, and this incredible combo of Mazzy Star esque alt-rock with Spanish vocals is something I'm super glad I became reacquainted with.
- "Marriage (Baths Remix)" by Gold Panda. I've always loved this remix. Stark, gorgeous. It's always blissful.
- "Center Your Love" by Machinedrum. I have like thousands of songs I've gotten over the years that I still haven't listened to, and it's always amazing when one of them pops up on the iPod and it's just incredible and an instant favorite. Like this one.