From cult documentaries to vegan hair care to British cuisine, our team shares the very best of what we consumed this month
Watched the Love Has Won documentary: God is a Woman, and she loves Amazon jewelry, Robin Williams, and chicken parm. Amy Carlson—Love Has Won’s leader and self-proclaimed “Mother God”—died in April of 2021, and the body-cam footage of her mummified body being found is quite possibly the most disturbing I’ve ever seen. This is where Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God begins, and the interstate, interplane journey that ensues provides the best cult documentary in modern memory. (Wild Wild Country looks bloated and amateur compared to this three-act tragedy.) Director Hannah Olson’s storytelling cuts through the true crime noise to find glaring despair in the internet age: People are starved for connection—even cult leaders.
—Jayne O’Dwyer, Editorial Intern
Ate at Lord’s: British food gets more shit than probably any cuisine in the world. But Patricia Howard and chef Ed Szymanski’s Greenwich Village bistro (they’re also the pair behind Dame) goes way against the stereotype. I had my first Scotch egg, well-seasoned and very special, made with curried lamb rather than pork. As well as the smoked trout, the duck pie, “proper English chips,” and the last two burgers of the night (off-menu, in a pretzel bun with lots of onion). For real British Food Haters—it’s a must-try before continuing with the smear campaign.
—Morgan Becker, Digital Managing Editor
Visited the Providence Athenæm: While killing time in Rhode Island’s capital before a train ride back to New York, I stumbled across the Providence Athenæm, a nearly 200-year-old independent library in the heart of the city’s university district. Housed in a colonial-style building, the Athenæm’s main hall boasts floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that rise past a mezzanine, where writing desks, tucked between alcoves, overlook the hall. I found myself in the travel writing section. A first-edition of Down and Out in London and Paris caught my eye, but it was not quite as interesting as the crinkled note left on the desk I chose: “If no one has told you they love you today, I love you,” it began. It was signed by an “André” and dated with infinity signs. I could’ve sat there all day, but my train was departing in an hour. I left the note in the compartment and made my way back to the station. If you’re ever in Providence, the Athenæm is a must-see; if you are feeling unloved, go to the travel section.
—Max Taponga, Editorial Intern
Gave myself an emergency blowout: The blowout is a staple for when you: a) can’t be fucked to wash-and-go; b) have run out of hair products; or c) want to channel ’90s supermodel flounce. All of the above become true for me about once a month—however, as a very sweaty person with thick hair, my tresses tend to frizz out into a fluffy mess the second the wind blows, or if I have to run to catch the bus. Not only have I been extremely lazy this month, but I also ran out of literally every single hair product I typically use, apart from a heat protectant and straightening spray. It was time to grab a round brush, switch the diffuser attachment on my hairdryer for the skinny one white women use, and give myself a blowout to last until my usual wash-and-go hair fare would arrive in the mail. (No one in New York carries the Oribe curly collection, FFS!) I have achieved a perfectly bouncy, non-frizzy blowout via the good homies at R+Co. (not sponsored, I just love them.) For my densely follicle-d, 3B curl pattern ladies who want to achieve weather-proof sleekness with the right amount of face-framing: R+Co Hot Spell balm and Mood Swing straightening spray are the way to go.
—Maya Kotomori, Assistant Editor
Watched Written on the Wind at Film Forum: Finally got the chance to watch one of my favorite directors on the big screen thanks to Film Forum’s series 50 FROM THE ’50s. Perhaps no other director has received as drastic a reevaluation over the years as Sirk, who was derided by American critics and audiences during his magnificent run of melodramas in the mid-to-late ’50s. Now, he’s regarded as one of the true artists of American film (although an immigrant from Germany after the rise of the Nazi party), whose work pierced through the considered veil of the white suburban American psyche. But don’t let that fool you—his films are pure, deliciously messy melodrama. Written on the Wind may be the apotheosis of his style. High Opera, featuring vivid ’50s technicolor, dripping in sex and outsized emotions. So sitting in a packed theater on a cold November evening while Dorothy Malone pines over Rock Hudson, while Robert Stack drinks himself under the table, just may be one of the greatest simple pleasures one can experience.
—Phil Backes, Director of Partnerships & Social Media
Tore at Woodbury Commons: I successfully accomplished 99 percent of my holiday gift purchases in a period of four hours during a trip to Woodbury Commons—a tantalizing journey from Brooklyn requiring that you encounter traffic on every major highway leaving the city. Nothing makes me more feverish than a 60 percent discount, coupled with my yearly Auntie Anne’s encounter. The biggest win for me was a pair of Loewe boots for my brother at an almost unfathomable price. If you’re reading this: Merry Christmas, Ryan.
—Colin Boyle, Chief of Staff
(Finally) read A Little Life: My mom gifted me this book for Christmas two years ago, and although it has somewhat faded from the zeitgeist, now felt as good a time as any to read it. Marking the onset of seasonal depression with an equally depressing read evokes a sort of two-negatives-make-a-positive effect in my brain—misery loves company, right? Turns out, A Little Life ruined my life (or at least it has for the past month). After the bleakest chapters, I would reach out to friends and family who had read it, asking them how they could possibly see it through to the end. Several times, I thought about returning it to the shelf where it sat for the past two years, and never opening it again. Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel is praised by many for its undeniably touching prose, and criticized by others—including Pulitzer-winning book critic Andrea Long Chu—for its relentless, and gratuitously dark, depictions of trauma. Having finally finished the novel in a long-anticipated—and only mildly cathartic—mess of tears, I still don’t know how I feel. Needless to say, it was a fever dream that I’m glad is over.
—Anabel Gullo, Social Intern