From John Berger to Disney Channel hits to Coney Island hot dogs, our team shares the very best of what we consumed this month
Watched Strange Days: Tech-torn Los Angeles worn by violence. Sexy cyberpunk nightclubs. Stylish street gangs. Ralph Fiennes lays out the mold for every Bradley Cooper character to come as an equal parts earnest and hardened ex-cop-turned-street hustler with perfectly scraggly hair. He deals these sorts of full-bodied films, almost drug-like in their effects, allowing their watcher to live through another’s experiences without actually doing the thing in question: committing crime and having sex, mostly. Things—as they do in most science-fictional stories—take a bad turn. The storyline is shocking, and requires a number of trigger warnings, but amid the explicit horrors, there are philosophical musings (“Paranoia is just reality on a finer scale”) and music (Juliette Lewis offers a surprisingly resonant rendition of PJ Harvey’s “Hardly Wait”) and humor. (“His ass is so tight, when he farts, only dogs can hear it.”)
—Megan Hullander, Print Managing Editor
Listened to Aly & AJ’s Into The Rush, like, a million times: It’s a Friday night. It’s too humid to have plans. I’m sat on my couch, large bowl of snacks on my lap; the deliciously feel-good Ice Princess (2005) fades onto the screen, along with the shimmery guitar only a Disney girl could strum. Being so for-real: Aly & AJ are some of the best teen indie pop lyricists in the whole world. ‘No One,’ moves me every time: ‘And I ask myself / Who do I wanna be? / Do I wanna throw away the key? / And invent a whole new me?’ The rest of Into The Rush perfectly straddles the Disney Channel Original score—the titular track was also used in Twitches—and Grammy-viable original songwriting. I have not been able to stop listening to it, specifically while getting ready in the morning.
—Maya Kotomori, Assistant Editor
Watched Mitski’s Bug Like an Angel music video: When Mitski announced the title of her upcoming album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, I joked to my friend that she was referencing the American South. The hundred-degree summers and ambient racism we both grew up with—my friend in North Louisiana, and me in Southeast Texas—would suggest as much. Still, I was surprised by the region’s mementos in this music video for the album’s lead single: a rusted pickup truck, a haunting church choir, a neon cross glowing silver in the dark. Mitski may no longer be the cowboy, but she’s still making music for Southern girls.
—Yasmeen Khan, Editorial Intern
Discovered Kieran Culkin lives on my street: I almost completed July’s Bookmarked before remembering this absolute glitch in the matrix I experienced with my dad while he was visiting on a work trip. Picture us strolling to a lunch spot in my neighborhood, discussing the peaks and valleys of the latest season of Succession (as one does). I—with my bad habit of looking at the ground as I walk—am verbally jousting with my dad. He proceeds to Logan Roy me, and tells me to fuck off. (All in good jest—don’t worry.) Simultaneously, my eyes raise from the sidewalk, locking with none other than Roman taking a baby—his, I assume—on a stroller walk. He quite literally appeared like a genie from the bottle at the beginning of fu-, smirked at us around -ck, and was on his merry way. A man in a suit trailing behind confirmed, ‘Yes, that was Kieran Culkin.’ In short, this is a public service announcement that if you live on my street (you know which street that is, Kieran) and want to attend a dinner party in my backyard at literally any point in time, shoot me an email.
—Syd Walker, Assistant Art and Photo Editor
Read Everything I Need I Get From You: How Fangirls Created the Internet as We Know It: A true deep dive into the One Direction fandom. Which admittedly, I wasn’t expecting. Critiques of this book mostly hover around the discrepancy between the title and the jacket blurb and the actual content, which is fair; it hardly discusses the fandoms that came before this particular English boy band. Author Kaitlyn Tiffany has an insider’s perspective, having discovered—and subsequently stanned—1-D from college onwards. She does make strong arguments about “bedroom culture” and its effects on how we use the internet today. Stanning requires knowledge of an underground language and code of conduct, developed on Tumblr and LiveJournal and then taken to Twitter (sorry, X) before making its way into the vernacular of strange, colloquial, shit-posting brand accounts, among other locales. In other words, fan culture is its own economy, fueled by young girls’ free labor and (often) self-aware obsession. It’s a very rich, very pervasive, boundaryless counterculture. One Direction is just the tip of the iceberg.
—Morgan Becker, Digital Managing Editor
Ate an Italian beef sandwich in Chicago: Eating an Italian beef after touching down at Midway has become something of a ritual for me. Admittedly, it’s an unsexy sandwich—a wet mound of beef on a Turano French roll, which becomes aggressively soggy in its wax-paper casing—but widely beloved nonetheless. A perfect marriage of giardiniera, sweet pepper, garlic, oregano, and Jeremy Allen White in that $95 white t-shirt. *Jeff’s kiss*
—Erin Ikeuchi, Editorial Intern
(Re)read Ways of Seeing: A beach read is supposed to require little thinking—but as it turns out, the beach is also the perfect place to ponder the ontology of images. My summer reading included revisiting John Berger’s seminal text between surfs at Rockaway and swims on Fire Island. There’s sand in all the pages. It haunts me. I can’t stop finding new meanings—especially now, in a posthuman world. I went to my parents’ place last week to find a copy sitting on my librarian mom’s bedside table, which feels significant…
—Anabel Gullo, Social Intern
Was baptized at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Directions for a successful Fourth of July: Take three trains for an hour-and-a-half, out to Coney Island. Wear something skimpy, because it is hot out. Bring your camera, because you could make eye contact with Joey Chestnut. When you arrive, file onto the sidewalk. Do not hold onto the scaffolding; it is made of metal, and you could be electrocuted by the lightning storm that might pass by. Actually, take cover under the scaffolding, because the lightning storm is now definitely passing by. Get baptismally soaked by the rain while an overly-patriotic emcee announces the show has been postponed due to weather. Seek more permanent refuge in a Caribbean restaurant, where you are handed paper towels to wipe yourself down upon entry. Make eye contact with New York Nico at said establishment and think, Close enough. Return to the stands. See an American hero stuff 62 hot dogs into his body, wearing a blank expression that scares you. Feel brand new after.
—Olivia Treynor, Editorial Intern