Harm to Ongoing Matters Edition


The following podcast contains explicit language. I'm Steven McCarron this culture gabfest harm to ongoing matters addition. It's Wednesday April twenty fourth two thousand nineteen ratio show Queen bay and bay L. I have no idea whether I'm pronouncing any of those things, right? We talk about the Netflix documentary on his now legendary Coachella set from last year that's called homecoming. And then Jordan Peele is the sketch comedian turned cleaned film director. He's now the hosts van golly of revived twilight zone TV series. And finally, the mullahs report as text taxed were culture. Critics after all we should be able to read it as a quasi novel work of fiction. Great nonfiction, whatever we will discuss with Karen Schwarz participated in making it into an audio book. Joining me today is a Harris who is late of slate. You may remember she's now a staff writer at the New York Times. I welcome back. Hello, steve. It's great to be back. It is superb to have you. And of course, Dana Stevens is the film critic of slow. Dot com. Hey, Dana Hayes how you doing. Good. Quick break to talk about a sponsor absolute loves our planet, and they helped prove it by using non GMO wheat and pure water from Sweden while sending almost no waste from the production process to landfill. They also care about how they make their product. All absolute bottles are made with at least forty percent recycled glass in one of the world's most energy efficient distilleries, plus they use their leftover Stiller's two feet two hundred and fifty thousand farm animals every day. That's why absolute is planet earth favourite vodka joined the movement at absolute planet dot com. Seaview actually, the pronunciation is not bay. It is be. The beehive clean be bitch. Ella is. No, no. It's it's as as DJ colored said pronounce during the Coachella performance, it's beach Chela. It is now known as beach, and you also say you pronounce it beyond say, not oh Jesus Queen bee. Of sense, a powerful demonic from the us going forward to recall that it's beyond say's. Now, legendary set at the Coachella music festival from festival from about a year ago. Now Netflix documentary part concert film, part confessional tells among other things the story of losing weight after a grueling pregnancy to get back into concert shape. But it's way way way more than that as we'll discuss its compendium of black culture musical and otherwise, especially where that culture touches on the collective political identity of black people in America. The whole aesthetic is built around each BC. You historically, black college or university the homecoming. Right. So there's a marching band and risers will get into that as well. Anyway, hence, the title of the Netflix documentary about the performance in the run-up to it homecoming, let's listen to a clip. Periods of rehearsals with Derek and the band before we started the four months of dance her cels the music in those cars throws as the heartbeat of the show. I wanted all of these different characters. And I wanted to feel the way I felt when I went to battle of the bands because I grew up seeing those shows in that being the highlight of my year. My history I studied my past. And I'm put every mistake all of my triumphs my twenty two year career and to my to our homecoming performance art show. I'm going to quote from your piece in the times, which is great, by the way. This was a career defining performance beyond say who became the first black woman to headline the festival since its debut in nineteen ninety nine for nearly two hours. She an astounding cast of dancers singers musicians will together a beloved unparalleled collection of hits deep cuts interpolated with music from the dirty south and civil rights activists like Nina Simone. I am just going to pick away in because this thing is gigantic and its way, but Nina Simone is not a bad one because she sort of picks, Nina Simone to voice, you really here. A number of times, very meaningfully over the course of this documentary. Maybe talk a little bit about that. And then move over you'd like. Yeah. I mean, I think one of the things that is really interesting about this documentary is that there isn't really much new that we haven't already seen if you saw the Coachella performance, and I've seen it and have seen it many times over since then it was you know, exactly what you saw on. It's great to have this document, finally like in a legal form where like you can watch it on that flakes instead of having to like watch clips of it in bits and pieces or like, you know, the downloaded form. But then there are these vignettes in between the performances, and I will say the performances are actually splice. It's two different versions. It's the first week in a second version seamlessly interwoven, and you can tell usually by different costumes that she wore which performance it is. But the vignettes are her way of kind of laying out a little bit more explicitly. What the point of the performance was that we didn't get when watching the. Performance or you know, if you were not familiar with all the references. I think it's very useful Nina Simone, actually, the, quote, she uses involves Nina Simone, sort of talking about how she wanted black people to love themselves and to make them realize that like blackness is great. It can be beautiful, and that seems to be beyond say's theme of the entire homecoming special is I wanted to get this for the culture as we say, it is for black people to celebrate to appreciate everything that they have created everything that they can create at one point beyond saying voice over says, you know, like I like there's been so much pain and so much suffering. But then out of all of that comes like so much damn swag. And it's just beyond say marveling at what not only she can do and what she has worked very hard to do. But what the hundreds of dancers, and and and singers and the band that that she brought together it's them all creating this beautiful masterpiece that celebrates black halter in that is that is what beyond say is doing. She's both anointing herself yet again as the Queen of pop culture of of music, popular music, in general and also anointing black hole -ture as the sort of the reigning American culture that we have we'll talk about in two of its aspects as she seems to, you know, get into them one of which is kind of you know, your culture, she she talks about Curtis Mayfield Coltrane news, the Mon. So the just unparalleled greats of black music as black music became a form of of of protests. And as weird as it might be to talk about a part of black culture in America is being top down. Maybe in two. Thousand nineteen there is a way in which that's a little bit top down. And then there's the bottom up aesthetic of the whole thing, which is the homecoming theme, which is kind of this remarkable marching band is virtually omnipresent all the way through and the clip that we heard really speaks to this. As a almost like, you know, when you read nineteenth century, people talk about what it was like to go see a Wagner opera. Right. Like, it's the total sensory experience of which music is really only one part. And it remakes you're like expectation of what can happen on a stage. Maybe talk about those two elements and how they interact with one another. Yeah. I mean, the homecoming aspect she another part the throughout the the vignettes that we see we don't actually usually see it's very rare to see Beyonce. As speaking at the same time as we see her that makes sense. So a lot of it is voice over kind of in the distorted it sounded at first I didn't realize it was her. Looking for some reason because her voice sounded kind of different it sounded like she was talking to someone on the phone. Yes. Filters everywhere there sound filters. There's visual filters. I think some of that is because some of the footage might come from home footage people shot from the wings into the side of the stage. Right. But there's a lot of different textures going on with the sound. And the look of this move. Yeah. And and it's all perfectly curated through beyond say's filter, and we can get into that a little bit more about like what she chooses to let a see in. What we don't see what we hear about the process, but she does talk about how you know. She her father went to an HP CU Fisk university. And that like she always wanted to B C you, but you know, being destiny Sheild was her schooling. Which is like it's like great humble brag. But she a lot of the rehearsals that she did as a young performer and with Destiny's Child. She says like we're on. Were on the fields of HP, see when she would go to homecoming and so- homecoming, I did not get an HVAC you. Sometimes I kind of wish I did just based on my friends who have gone to them in that community aspect is. But there is homecoming is the big thing. I think there's a dancer in the documentary. He says that homecomings basically the Super Bowl for HP see us. It's a big deal. It's an entire weekend. There the music the showing out the outfits, you you get prepared. It is a big fancy affair. And so her bringing that culture that is very distinct to HP sees it is very different from a homecoming at Yale or Harvard, or whatever it's it's culturally, very different and her bringing all those aspects of the show into the show, the the the brass band the different songs that are often played. At marching bands at HP, see us. I think that that is her like I for her. I think homecoming is not just about, you know, black like blackness, but also her sort of centering herself in the middle of black culture. As already said, you know, I don't personally, I think that she didn't really come into this very explicit self awareness of her blackness until I would say like beyond say the album the twenty thirteen surprise album and going forward, I think that's when we started to see a different side of beyond say, I'm not saying she was never she's always been black like she's always made music that has been able to appeal to both black and white audiences. But I think now she's kind of shifted. She has commented about how salons her sister. Younger sister has sort of moved her in that direction of being even more explicit. And I think also she's reached a point in her. Career when she can safely make song like formation that directly addresses black lives matter or indirectly addresses as well in a way that she couldn't have done a decade ago. So there's a lot there's so much going on. But I think that that's like one of the biggest things that she has that homecoming brings out is beyond say is like undoubtedly embracing her blackness in a way that she had before I went back and rewatch her HBO doc for a few years ago life is, but a dream which like this documentary it purported to be showing aside to be on. So we haven't seen it. It's sort of did. But it like everything was so vague about what she talked about for the most part that like you walk away thinking. Oh, yeah. Like, it's cool that we get to see a little bit of like her baby bump, but then it's like, but what did we really learn about beyond say. And and so and so with this. It was like we got to see her. You know, kind of lightly scolding her crew cast and crew of like, we're not there yet. She she says like this Janke, I know we'll get there. But like we're not there yet. But then I wanted to hear more about like, okay? So why did she put this song with this song? Like, why did she like, obviously, we know she loves has always admired put herself in conversation. Michael jackson. So there's like a hint of the Jackson song. Can you feel it in there? There's a little bit of dancing machine, and the wiz is in their whizzes in there, you have you have juvenile back that adds up like there's all these different things. And I just wanted to know. Okay. So what was your thought process about like this moment to this moment in this moment to this moment? But yeah, like like all these questions really small questions about like, what her process is of like actual creative process. And that's something we still haven't like, you know, her people people around her from lemonade. And who have directed her and worked with her have talked about it. But like, I also everything they say for the most part also seems like it's definitely been already like vetted by her first. And so there's only so much that we will know about beyond say, which is is a good good in a kind of frustrating thing as a fan. Yeah. I mean, I'm going to be on his that's the thing that frustrated me the most about this documentary and life is, but a dream which I think we talked about on this show the documentary that was on H B O right about after she had her first child. Yeah. As a concert film. This is incredible. Right. I mean, just as a record of this concert, which as you say his mostly come down to us in dribs and drabs or legal torrent since then it really gives a sense of the scale, and why that was such a I mean as as lots of critics said at the time kind of a history making concert, right? Not just because she was the first black woman to headline Coachella and only the third woman ever to headline there, which I hadn't realized, but because of the scale of the performance because of you know, it was two hours long, which assumed for a festival set is extraordinarily extensive, right? And. He was on stage for almost the entire time and dancing and singing, really hard. And there was something. Like, I think at the most two hundred people on stage, they said, which is pretty extraordinary which was something that had not really come across from all the bits that went viral that tended to be either just her or her in a few dancers in the foreground. The fact that she was surrounded by these risers full of drum lines, and you know, orchestras moving in choreography and all of that scale just really comes across beautifully. So the concert stuff is great. And then the behind the scene stuff is so to me was too skimpy for one thing. I mean, this is two hours long already, but I have done with two and a half hours of really had some glimpses into the rehearsal process and even talking about her own what you just referred to famous kind of ability to office, Kate her own self and to kind of polish her own image. But even just talking more, the background dancers. There's one background dancer who's briefly interviewed about how she got there. And who she is. But then the camera doesn't really go to the trouble of picking her out in the risers and showing you her and performance is sort of would've loved some little character sketches of some of the people. In the background who's the choreographer who's the music director throw name or two up. There just it was all as you say. So so vague, and so all about sort of sensation and feeling rather than a learning anything about the process and as much as I love good concert. Doc, I love of behind the scenes feature at even more. And I feel like on that scale this is a little bit disappointing in so devoting itself to the oppo both the show in the documentary or so devoted to the total poppies of Banta, which she may or may not deserve. He probably does. And and the thesis of like authorities signature being felt in every stitch of clothing, every note of music, you know, you know, that a lot of people are going completely ignored or a face to you know, who contributed to. And the one thing I would love to ask you quickly before we wrap as the used the phrase that was going through my head while I watched the documentary, which was bowed down. There is there's something so total about the Wagner in excess. That it's an aesthetic designed to almost completely us to the point where we do cry. Uncle right. Like, it's it's a little non-participatory in a in a way you, and I, and I I get it that she's like magnificent beyond magnificent. She's probably the greatest live performer of of her generation, and maybe by quite a quite a lot. But it's that feeling of like, I must submit to band say that makes me. Back off a little bit from feeling very much of anything. When I watch it. What he what do you think? It's interesting you say that because I give like despite my reservations, or my my kind of reaction to the behind the scenes stuff. I gave this review a pretty glowing review. I think and then for whatever reason metacritic decided to make a seventy Glick metacritic is one of like like rotten tomatoes, but not rotten tomatoes where they actually write things on a number scale. And so like seventies. Basically, see I didn't give them that number in the New York Times is not rate or rank. It's it's reviews. But once that went up, I had beehive members coming into my mentioned on Twitter being like, how would you give this a seventy this is the greatest thing ever, you're crazy as a black woman. How could you first of all read my review and second of all? I love beyond say. But we end I believe that anyone who says like she doesn't like she doesn't deserve the credit that she's gotten that. She just runs around the sage insane shakes her. But whatever like I think those the like that person has no validity like they are not a real person. But I think that we should be able to critique someone like beyond same and want more from her in terms of like what she gives us about the process. I don't I I could have done without the scene where she's like finally fitting into her outfit and showing Jay z. Like, look, I got like I'm in my often again like I could have done without that scene. Like, I get it beyond say works really hard on her body. Obviously, we know that I would have liked to see more of the process as we already talked about. And so I can understand your frustration. Or like, your your hesitation to fully and brezler. I will say just. Succumb and given. Because she really is. I I don't think it's hyperbole at all to say that she is the the performer of our generation, and I'd say she's as much as I love J. He obviously he had lots of issues, and we're gonna talk about we've already discussed this on other podcasts. But I do think in terms of longevity and what she's been able to do. I would argue that she's either on par with him or might even surpass them at this point in the fact that like she's thirty eight thirty almost thirty eight and she is still on top of it. And how many how many artists regardless of who they are have been able to do that have had a ton of longevity cheese. She's great or will the documentaries called homecoming. It's on net flicks. All right now is the moment in our podcast. We talk about our sponsored Dana would he have. Thank Steve our sponsor this week is the European Weck centers acts the pink tax campaign the pink tax. Of course is the extra money that women are charged every year for basic goods and services, everything from baby bottles to canes toys. Clothes dry cleaning women are even charged more for dry-cleaning than men sometimes for bringing in the exact same shirt on average women pay seven percent more on basic goods and services than men do with personal care products. Running thirteen percent higher for women than for men and Yoder marketed to women costing more fifty six percent of the time the extra amount. The average woman is charged for everyday products and services just for being a woman is one thousand three hundred fifty one dollars every year. But the European wax center is doing something about that. They are known for powering confident women and now they're giving them the tools to claim their worth and take back. What's there's see for yourself at acts the pink tax. That's a ex the pink tax dot com. All right back to the show. Before we go any further Dana. I'm sure we've got some business. What he got Stephen. Yes. First of all we have a fun new feature on the site slate dot com over the years on this show and many other slate podcasts we've been recommending articles books movies, TV shows podcasts products, all the various things that we endorse or cocktail chatter about during the year. Have now been collected in a searchable database called the slate podcast endorse. Oh, Matic, you can find anything we have ever chattered about recommended or endorsed in one handy place slate dot com slash endorsements. Secondly reminder about slate day, which is coming up this Saturday, June the eighth slate will be in the Chelsea market passage on the high line, and in the SV theater, and Chelsea with a day of podcast, energetic conversations and fun experiences and come see some live shows from Dakota ring studio three sixty Trump cast and us this late culture. Gabfest you can come for the whole day with an all excess pass or you can just get tickets for whichever show you want to see either way slate dot com slash live for tickets to sleep day and finally slate. Plus today, we are talking. About beyond say some more because we couldn't stop talking about her during our segment on homecoming, the new movie on Netflix. So a little bit of our excess conversation has been broken out into a slate plus segment, which you can hear the end of this show to hear segments like that. And to get adver podcast you can sign up for membership program slate plus for just thirty five dollars for your first year, go to slate dot com slash culture, plus and joint slate plus today. Okay. Steve back to the show. We'll ask who's called Jordan Pule. America's most exciting film director. It is impossible. I think right now to argue with that assessment after get out and us to huge commercial and critical hits as a child peel wasn't chanted by rod sterling fifties. Cold War era, scifi TV show, the twilight zone, of course, it was sumptuous neurotic and was topical and subversive in slightly hidden ways. He's now presiding very Serlin like over its reboot on CBS. You can watch it a streaming at all access. Let's listen to a clip. So MIR was on an artist of great. Instal a man who refuses to compromise beliefs for cheap joke. Tonight. He felt the rush of the limelight for the first time. Now, you'll have to decide what really matters to him when the laughter stops. And how much he's willing to give. The twilight. So all right, Dana. Let me start with you. These are such wonderful little vignettes in a way. They're so. Counter counter programming really to the direction televisions gone in which is you know, limited series anthologies that get stacked upon season after season or binge worthy. You know, novelist shows that play out over several years, Allah game of thrones. These are just standalone standalone dandelos on and in that sense. Maybe cinematic in an interesting way for TV, would you make this? Yeah. I mean, you just put your finger on one of the things that I like about this new twilight zone, which is as you know, from talking about many a series with me, I love Lauzon show that you can just pop any individual one and it sat at just as satisfying as any other individual one. It does seem like there are few little Easter egg themes that run from from twilight zone to twilight zone at least of the four that aired so far. But it doesn't seem like there's an x file style. Deep narrative. That's that's going to emerge. This really is going to be standalone stories the way. The rod sterling show was that also means though that the different stories can be of radically different varying quality, which I think is really the case. The four that aired so far a couple have been good enough that I would send people to the show and say, you know, definitely see where this is going others have been too long. The fact that they're an hour long and not half an hour is the Serling episodes were including commercials seems a little padded to me and an only in one case of these these first four hasn't really deserved earned that length. I think but overall, I think the show is really fun experiment. I wish it was a little bit more Jordan Peele, e you know, he hasn't directed the episode so far he is co written a few of them. And he appears as the rod Serling, you know, the guy who sandwiches the show as we heard in that clip, and he's wonderful in that role. But I'm not sure that I really see necessarily his direct to'real or even product toil touch in the show itself. It feels more like he's one of the show runners who had a cool idea and not so much that he's making individual decisions. They are however, hiring individual directors who are interesting people from cinema from this medic world, in many cases, who are doing cool things. I don't know. I mean. So far, I feel like I don't quite understand the desperate need to remake the twilight zone right now. I think it does a little bit result from the remake fever that culture is caught up in right now and doesn't feel all that necessary. But it's pretty fun. I you're a big fan of the original series. Right. You grew up watching it. So I wanna hear about that. And also about how this stacks up for for a real surly superfan. So I think actually Jordan Peele only Kover one of the episodes, which I think is partially. Why the show doesn't really work for me? He covert the nightmare at thirty thousand feet episode with Adam Scott, yes. So I grew up watching twilight zone. Thanks to the scifi New Year's Eve marathons have every year, and I just I'm not really huge scifi fantasy person. But there was something about this show that just always struck me and got me, I love surly kind of vary. Just sort of hokey semi serious approach to. His hosting and and just kind of showing up in the middle of a scene at the beginning and ends of of episode. I loved the sometimes they scared me as a kid, especially the the one with the dummy the guy who the ventriloquist's dummy who has like the it starts to talk to you. And I say that dummy appeared in the first episode. Yes. So that appeared also the the monster from nightmare twenty thousand feet, the original episode starring William Shatner that also makes an appearance there's a few other Easter eggs throughout the show from the original version, but I think I think I'm more in line with most of the critics out there who have talked about how this just doesn't seem. It seems to be missing like you said data like an urgency like a need for this, especially when you have something like black mirror in black Mira, obviously is not quite the same that is more focused specifically on technology. But then when I look at these first four episodes two of. Them are explicitly about technology. The first one is the thirty thousand feet one with Adam Scott, where he plays a journalist who he's an investigative journalist who suffering from PTSD, and he like stumbles a plot on this MP3. player, which I don't mysterious podcast. I loved it. There's evil podcast. Yeah. Yeah. I was like an MP three player, which is already a Kristich. It's like who has those camcorder to another. You'll seems to be interested in technology, which makes somebody who's remaking a fifty show. Exactly. But yeah, it just there. I agree that it's way too long. It should be noted that the original twilight zone. The I think it was season four where they decided to go do an hour all episodes in season four were hour, long episodes and to me that's like the worst season they that. And then he went back afterwards for the final season. Which was which was a good call. I think that. The the problem is is that especially with something like the very first episode starring on Johnny where he plays a comedian. Who is visited by like a veteran comedian played by Tracy Morgan who was very creepy and a good way like I really liked Tracy Morgan in that role. Who's like you in order to get better. He keeps bombing on stage shows Tracy Morgan's characters like he in order to get better. You have to like give like give up parts of yourself in your in your act, and the one thing that was just weird to me that entire time was so he starts spoilt mild spoiler. But like as soon as the conceit begins I can see where it's going to exactly where it's going. You know, he he starts he stops telling political jokes, which in this era political jokes are the things that make people like excited. I don't understand why that conceit, but he stops playing political jokes and starts like talking about his family and his girlfriend and this nephew. You and then they start this appearing when that happens. I guess it was just like by the end of the episode the hour long episode nothing that happens apprise me will that. That's why I'm saying the link is such a problem in many of these episodes is because the length makes you guessed the twist, right? I mean, if it all moved along swiftly enough, you might not have time to see something happening over and over again and put it together and almost every single one of these. I guessed the twist or sometimes it was more than one twist and part of that was just because it was too luxuriant long. Yeah. And I will say like even the original twilight zone. There were lots of hits and misses like they are not all perfect. And that's what happens with a show like an anthology show like this, especially an analogy show. Like, you mentioned earlier that is like every episode is different. There are going to be some clunkers, and that definitely happens throughout all of the twilight zone original version. But this version has not made me excited to keep watching. You know, what is it to me that I was completely captivated by the two that I saw one of which you guys. Have identified as one of the clunker as the thirty thousand feet one which is as you said, the remake of that, I Kana kep Assode with William Shatner. But I love the first episode the stand up comedian episode, you know, placing other people under a ratio this Faustian bargain. I mean, you know, first of all, Tracy Morgan's. Faust figure is just wonderful. I've never heard him speak in that voice. He's so plausibly sinister and brings with him all of the hideous compromises of of show business, you know, including this idea that, you know, actually found something maybe refreshingly original or bracing. And that these that that, you know, it's only when you connect up your performance as a stand up comedian. But maybe an in all kinds of show business with something true about your and really vulnerable about your own interior and really personal about your own interior that you connect with the audience, and the irony of that is you actually need. Need to both access that vulnerability you probably need to betray other people in order to describe it. Honestly, you bring other people from your life into your novel writing poem writing. Stand up comedy. And for that in a way, you need a tremendous amount of coldness to make that sacrifice. What Graham Greene called the chip of ice? And I thought this was a great. Algarien really that dynamic. So that each time he brings something deeply personal from his life up on stage with them it achieves full metaphysical erasure out in the world. And these are meant to be absurd. They're meant to be over the top. They're meant to have both kind of nauseatingly ambiguous aspect to them at the same time. They're meant to be a little bit puppet chilly in their obviousness. And I thought that line was walked really nicely. And and like we inherit I I mean, I think arguably surly at the time felt what he was doing how to camp element to it. I guess that's arguable. But there's in arguably we inherited as a form of camp. And I think that peel is embracing it a love his deadpan, you know, intros and Atrazine, and I love just the OT nature of the content in between them in the thirty thousand feet one. First of all, I love out of Scott almost always grateful to see him on a screen playing someone. PTSD journalists as as someone who suffers from the men's fear of flying. I'm always in danger of having exactly the. Is the episode. Just like I dunno. I in a weird way. I like the demands that the show doesn't place on me relative for for example, to my current pathetic attempts to catch up with game of thrones. From a standing start in water to do its final episode on our show, and it's like just the sheer mental commitment of internalizing an entire world, and and all of its genealogies and relationships and Beato back stories, and it's like fuck it. I love that. I start tabula, Rasa. And I love that. I'm when I'm done I'm done with each one of these episodes. I love it. I'm sorry. If you are intrigued by the first episodes, you definitely have to go to believe it's the third episode replay. Which is the one that's been the most talked about for sure I'm in in critical response to the show. But I think the best episodes so far too. Although it has its it has its moments that are a little bit at wonky. But it's it's pretty. Great is called replay it stars son Lathon, and I won't give too much about it. But it is about the relationship between the police and young black men, and does some really interesting and scary things with that premise arm so in. Yeah, I thought that was the best episode as well at the same time. I felt like there's been so many shows and movies now that are trying to wrestle with you know, black what being black means and how that is danger to black people to be black. And that was another one where I was like, I know exactly where this is going and that didn't it less. So than the other episodes didn't lessen the impact me it still felt like I think Cinisi is like a treasure and very underrated. And I want her to get more rules like this. But I don't know. I just I also felt like okay I've seen this. I know what it is. I I like the kind of links to having it being. I like the links of it having it be like a camcorder, which makes you think of Rodney King and all these other things, but I don't know. I was still kind of okay onto the maximum wonky moments. I mean, there's places that you know, where it's going gets there. And then it stays there a little bit too long and points out that it is there. But these still seem to me like they could be rough spots in what could be this show could be because it does require a different cast different director different everything every time. It is sort of a mini movie. This is the show that could reinvent itself. Many times. It's not as if it's set itself that it now has to follow could shorten to half an hour. It could do the reverse of the original you could do a reverse Erling. I love the idea that a half hour love the idea of the mini movie and definitely gonna I'm gonna kind of stick with the it's the twilight zone it's presented by Jordan Peele in its you can stream it, it's all access. All right moving on. All right. Now's the moment in our podcast. We talk about our other sponsor Dana. What do you have Stephen are other? Sponsored this week is absolute absolute has always been a brand that stands out, but a lesser-known side of their signature identity is how they treat the world around us. It's made using non GMO wheat and pure water still until it's perfect and sourced from southern Sweden. They also care about how they make their product inside out. That's why all their vodka bottles are made with forty percent recycled glass in one of the most energy efficient distilleries in the world absolutes production since almost no waste to landfill. They recycle everything they can. Plus, they use their leftover still edge to feed two hundred and fifty thousand local farm animals every day with all this care and consideration. You can be sure that your consuming a product from a brand that loves the planet and its people. That's why obselete is planet earth favourite vodka joined the movement at absolute planet dot com. All right back to the show. For the past three years or so since everson's Donald Trump and the toxic soup that surrounds his every word virtually every word gesture hijacked, our national dialogue. It's been commonplace to point out. It's like we're living in some sort of simulation real life. No longer feels like real life. Arlene, a novel not only satire, but all fiction making goes beggared next to the absurd reality. That's brought a fresh to us day after every day. It's been hard for any book or really any kind of piece of fiction making or or or culture to emerge as the definitive text about the Trump years because they themselves are so weirdly, garishly vivid in themselves. They don't need to be fictionalized in any way. But now, we might actually have the definitive text. One critic has called the report the best nonfiction book so far on the Trump administration. We are of course, talking about the mullahs report, which is now not only available in various the text forums on various websites. It's now an audio book. We're now. Joined by Karen Schwarz who is a contributing editor at Marie Claire current welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me. You are considered a serious Twitter friend of the program a t. And it's great to have you on. And the reason is you contributed to the creation of this audio so taught tell us what went into turning what in some people's estimation yet sort of a spy thriller. It's also a giant boring tangle of legal ease of what what what inspired you to make an audio book out of it. Well, I really first off. I should a hundred percent credit. The very great team audible who wanted to do this, and you know, earlier in the year when it sort of the rumblings that Mullah report was going to happen was it. They assembled a team which I'm very proud to have been on to sort of figure out how best to do this. And what they came up with which I love what we came up with which I love is to try to do it as straight down the middle as possible, which is really just to read the source document. And here we have it the Russian government interfered in the two thousand sixteen presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in mid two thousand sixteen in June, the Democratic National Committee, and it cyber response team publicly announced that Russian hackers had compromised, its computer network, you got this together, really fast. Karen? You're the space between the having the idea that we needed an audio book of the Miller report and one existing was something like twenty four to forty eight hours. Can you talk about how you put it together with Virginia Heffernan who I've gathered sort of your co producer glorious Virginia Heffernan. Well, so we didn't the audible team did. And behind the scenes, they thought they had a question. How were they going to handle if it all the Mahler port? And I think, you know, there have been a couple other publishers who are producing the Washington Post is doing something that then they're then they're reporters are also doing sort of some kind of analysis on and there's some other publication where Alan Dershowitz wrote a introduction to from the, and I think what happened is they saw coming down the pike that those things were going to be published, and they sort of said, well, maybe we should do something and the way that it involved. Was to try to do something that would be for the public record really as a as an historic document almost more than anything else. And I can say that like, you know, as chief said, I am contributing editor Marie-Claire, this isn't I'm not like a legal persons completely my background. But one thing that through the this whole crazy adventure wild terrifying roller coaster ride of a presidency. We've all been on that has happened me personally as I have like kind of fallen love very darkly with reading the source documents to this investigation. Just reading the other indictments reading the transcripts from the various trials, and they're really good. And I mean, Bob Muller is a really good writer and his team collaborating, obviously. But so I out very passionately. I call myself a zealot about the source. Documents. So I'm really really really thrilled that the way that audible decided to go about doing this was to keep it very closely huge to the Muller teams were and also to keep it free. Right. This is actually free on audible for anybody who wants to go. Download it free aren't honorable for anyone who wants to download it. Yeah. Which is great. I think are some occur. And I have to ask the bright up top, even though this is not a really a political segment or any kind of traditional segment on the nuts. And bolts of this report as someone who followed this incredibly closely obsessively. What was the thing that jumped out at you from the report that you didn't already know? Well, you know, you know, what jumped at me it partially something that I did know from reading the other documents. But the thing that drum jumps out at me. And and in your intro, even sort of alluded to this as ended is as literature, and I think it it. Most applicable form of literature. Probably is one of these dents Russian novels. Right. I mean, I gli enough, but what come came out to me? And this is like there's sort of a joke going on now between a, you know, Muller obsessive mal reports as are you a volume one person or volume two person, you know, I am sort of a third category, which is volume two executive summary person. What because what I loved actually in. The report was hearing the reading the analysis of how they came to their destination decisions, and what was up with that. And the reason I loved it is that I love this narrator of this book, you know, if we're thinking of it that way. And and I I love the the concept of the Muller team. As a narrator almost like, you know, venereal the great Gatsby telling the story of Gadsby on the contrast between. Between the people writing report versus the people there describing within the report, I find that very fascinating. Personally, what struck me is that it's it's red very straightforward in kind of mimics sort of dense just very by the books for lack of a better phrase way. The actual report is kind of laid out in. There are several narrators people who are narrating it throughout the entire audible file, did you like are you aware of what they were told like how they were told to read it when they given note says to like don't give too many flourishes or don't, you know, sign post things like what was the sort of the direction that was given to the people who are narrating the audible Rodley speaking, the the tone. They're going for in general of it is certain just the facts, ma'am, like is as closely as we can Hugh. To the actual tax. And I think part I know part of the decision on this is that there's so much noise surrounding it. So, you know, in terms of the punditry the analysis takes or whenever that it what they really wanted to do was produce again like Anna storage for the record. We the people very patriotic tax payers paid for this. This is our country. This is our democracy. And in fact, Muller team make this point, you know, more broadly like that it's our civic responsibility on those to hold the checks and balances up. So I think the honorable team in thought is just as straight ahead closely huge to the report and just bare bones as possible was what they were going for. So I think that's why get the tone. You do when high especially love the first reader. I was a little bit sad when it switched readers. They're all ex. Solent, but I had gotten so into the first guys voice in his just perfectly dry presentation of the facts that it was a little bit of a jolt when a different voice came in. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Actually, I feel like a total. I didn't believe dress your question, which is like with the quick turnaround time. There was sort of go team like ready to go. I assume it had to be like a pit crew in a race or something. Right. I mean, they had to keep on recording. So that's why do have so many voices, and we were really on standby like since prior to the bar Leonard dropping we the team was ready to go as soon as we had something get into the studio Karen of more macro question for you. Which is that on the one hand you have this, you know, vividly salacious president and presidency with this totally on boundary. Toddler in chief just kind of comes out and says it or tweet to and. Can't really like even if there he can't really keep a secret. Exactly. He doesn't really hide his corrupt nature at all. On the other hand, you have this almost anachronistic figure of American probity in Bob Muller who everyone put their bipartisan faith in and to the best of his abilities. He seems to fulfil his mission which isn't in his nonpartisan nonideological way as possible attempted to present Joe Friday, like the facts simply as they presented themselves to him in his investigators. So how does how how do you throw all of this to go that gathering come up with something? That's thrilling were Nava Listrik. When in one sense, we knew so much of this already. So it's anticlimactic and Secondly Muller has gone to great lengths to shroud. It all in a kind of anonymous legal use and make it in some ways as non novelist as possible where where does this all go into the blender and come out as as? Thrilling work of nonfiction. Well, I think it I actually think I mean. I think there'd been commentary to especially volume two is sort of the best sorta insider take down of the White House. You know, and it's better than the Woodward. Book type of thing that kind of stuff I think the facts, I mean, I think what Muller has done here is that let the bananas quotes the bananas actions in whatever speak for themselves. He really is. And you know, his team they really are are very novel Listrik in their details. They've they've done a great job of sort of sticking in quotes. And letting these characters in their outlandishness speak for themselves. And actually the point that you're making is is what I kind of enjoy as a reader of this in a net is the contrast between the narrator and the events. Not just in town. But also, I think what emerges, especially when you you know, it does parts that. I personally love where they explain their thought process is there's such a contrast between the principles of the people writing this report versus the actions of basically, everyone they're quoting in describing that that's just a stark relief. And it's an interesting literary concept that I'm sure they weren't conscious of. But I think comes through very interestingly. And also in the audio where it's so straight ahead. But also outlandish right? I mean, that's that's where the narrator voice that you're talking about really emerges is that there is this very dry legalistic narrator who is recounting these outlandish events without seeming to deliver judgment. But it's not it's impossible as a reader or listener in the case of the audiobook, not to yourself fill in all the emotion and the kind of moral. Space that's being being left open. One example of that. I think we're the understatement of the narrator is almost maddening is in the description of the the access Hollywood tapes, dropping believe the phrasing is something like on whatever date. It was let's say whatever. July sixteenth twenty sixteen. Candidate Trump uttered. Graphic statements about women or something the word graphic is the only word that's used. And there was a part of me. I started railing at the audio book when I heard that line because the problem with the access Hollywood tape was not that the remarks were graphic, right? It was that they were about assault. It was it had much more to do with the criminality of the act being described. And that was a moment when it was like, the probity of this narrator is driving me insane is not actually an accurate representation of how horrific those remarks were. I love that tension personally like as ignorant. I love that tension where it's like dry as a bone about insanity and just puts the insanity in that much more of stark relief, the now, right, of course, the very last thing I'll say is that this whole weekend since the report released. Well, it was also a holiday weekend. It was Easter has over and everyone was on vacation and people were not reading this report. I just wanna thank you. And the narrators all the reporters like all of the people who are out there spending their holiday weekend sifting through this report and trying to turn it into something that people can understand digest. I think that even you Karen, right? The person who's been working on this since Thursday when the report dropped have not made your way through the entire forward and forty eight page thing yet, right? No, I have not. And I think people who are really like, you know, Muller Tomita sunless. These are we're going to be reading this this warm peace like, we're going to be reading this thing for years and answers. It's show dance. You know, but. Being said, I really really would love to encourage people to read it for themselves, especially and I think the easiest things to sort of dive into or the executive summaries. Probably. But I do I think it's a fun thing to listen to on audio. I don't know that I could have predicted how much fun would be to just to hear it rather than to read it. But I think it's kinda great excellent parent is such a pleasure to finally sort of meet you. Yeah. And a great pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much for coming on. Thanks so much for having me. All right now is the moment in our podcast talk about other other sponsor Dana. What he have Steven are other other sponsor this week is capterra. Whether you're trying to get a sweet deal on something you've been saving for or trying to find the best happy hour in town. It's generally good idea to read the reviews. I so why should finding the right software for your business. Be any different read thousands of real software reviews and find the right software for your business. Capterra dot com slash culture. Capterra is the leading free online resource to help you find the best software solution for your business with over seven hundred fifty thousand reviews of products from real software users you can discover anything you need to make an informed decision. Search more than seven hundred specific categories of software everything from project management to Email marketing to yoga studio management software. No matter what kind of software your business needs. Capterra makes it easy to discover the right solution fast. Join the millions of people who use capterra each month to find the right tools for their business. Visit capterra dot com slash culture for free today. Defined the tools to make an informed soft. Decision for your business. Capterra dot com slash culture. Capterra that C A P T E R R, A dot com slash culture. Capterra software selection simplified all right back to the show. Are knows the moment in our podcast. We endorsed day Naw. You're gargling. My name become a mouthwash dog makes when we're playing tug of war with the sock. I'm honored. Very should be very honored. Dana know out I have to -dorsements this week. I'll make them eat short. But they are one is very on brand. In one is very off brand. I think that you'll be amused by the off brand Wednesdayw the brand one is related to my doors from last week when we were talking about Notre Dom. And I ended up by endorsing some music from the some medieval polyphony from the school of Notre dumb. And as our listeners will do because they're all incredibly brilliant, and interested in interesting, things and know more about those things than we do often. Someone contacted me on Twitter to say I'm surprised that you did not talk about Guillaume Domestos messed Dom, the Notre Dame mass that was written. I guess about a century after the music. I endorsed was influenced by it and was kind of the the flower of that Notre Dame school of music that I was talking about. And and I completely freaked because D'amoto is this huge figure in medieval history. I don't really think of as a composer at all. He's a poet and kind of troubadour in one of the first great lyric poets and was just somebody. I had studied in completely different context. So relay. That he was this polymath, which I guess I kind of knew, but didn't know it was a great discovery. And so my second follow up to the this sort of early school of Notre Dame music that I endorsed last week is it's called the messed in Oakland, the mass of Notre dumb. It's by Guillaume domes- show. It was actually written for a different cathedral. Also called Notre Dame in the town of guns. But it's part of that same kind of flowering of polyphony in the eleventh twelfth century that I was talking about last week, although it's a bit later. So the version of it it's on Spotify. Which is wonderful is by a group called the Oxford cameras. Down by. Sung by the Oxford Cammarata will provide a link to that on the show page and my second endorsement the off brand one has to do with the San Antonio Spurs and their coach Gregg Popovich. CPA defibrillator paddles. Don't worry. I have not become a person who actually watch is basketball or even understands the rules of Ascot ball. But as native of San Antonio, of course, I'm fan of Gregg Popovich, the great coach of the San Antonio Spurs, and who sort of known as one of the great, NBA coaches, and sort of one of the great moral leaders in the NBA who's just always like on the right side of the right issues and completely unafraid to speak into a hot mic about whatever is on his mind, and it's just known essentially for his kind of leadership and devotion to the Spurs franchise. So there's this long article that a friend of mine sent me. Thank you, Michael knowing that I was Gregg Popovich fan about Gregg Popovich is relationship to food and wine and the dinners that he takes the Spurs out to after big gains or I think after almost all game. So there's this tradition. I guess in the in the Spurs franchise that after a game or after any game they will all get together for a dinner at a really nice restaurant because pop as he's known Gregg Popovich is of. A food and wine person. He he loves food, and he loves wine, and he loves throwing these big dinners where everybody eats and drinks for hours and talks, and he sort of goes around the table and speaks to them about their lives about the game. Kind of. It's a bonding experience for for the players, and there's a really long reported piece on ESPN dot com about this tradition of the Popovich dinners for the Spurs by Baxter homes. It's really quite long and reported over seems like almost a period of years because he revisits some stories years after they happened in this in this reported piece. It's really just a beautiful story about leadership and and teamwork and love in the workplace loving your co workers, and how that makes you work better together. And so whether or not your basketball fan or Spurs person, I really really endorse the the piece in ESPN Michelin, restaurants, and fabulous wines inside the secret team dinners that built the Spurs dynasty. It's on ESPN dot com. And it's by Baxter home, a wonderful piece of journalism in Popovich is I think as ever. Ties. Yeah. I it was told I don't return of sports journalism anymore. I just this is so boring and routine in this is anything, but it's a wonderful piece of writing. And I didn't know these stories all I certainly knew. I mean, he's just that. He is an extraordinary figure. He really is. He's been on the right side as you say, Dana of absolutely everything. And he's the he'll be going down as the greatest coach in NBA history. Certainly since read our backer may be all tie, I'm in. But I didn't know these stories they're wonderful. And exactly right that that that that that that positive externalities that he confers on not just players. He's trying to get to give their all for what could be ready, selfish reasons. But everybody write these sommeliers these shafts, these the wine culture of of of the of the country, really, you know, claims to have evolved in part because of his appreciation. It's an amazing piece of writing. It's it's great. Yeah. I usually what do you have? So as one of the TV editors at the times, I watch mostly TV. Now, that's like what I consume. And so I'm going to recommend the TV show that I think is really great. And that would be Rami. It's a new Hulu series. You can stream it now that was created by an stars Robbie USA who's a comedian slash actor. And it's kind of like in the vein of a of a master of none or crashing or even a Louis in which Rami plays a version of himself. But this one is very different in that it deals directly with Rami. He's a Muslim American first generation Muslim American and his quest to like figure out how to be a, you know, quote, unquote, good Muslim, and it's really really just it's a funny show. It's fascinating. He. About him. And also his family his his sister in his mom and dad who live in jersey in an also his friends, and their certain episodes each episode is kind of dedicated to you know, typical millennial stuff like trying to date people like trying to find a new job or figure out what you're passionate about all the stuff that we've seen many sitcoms deal with in the last leg five to ten years when it comes to like twenty thirty somethings. But it's all kind of through the lens of spirituality also of a Muslim American perspective, which is something like we never see. And so I think it's a I think it's important because it's a good sort of counter to so many depictions, we always see Muslims, Muslim Americans in pop culture, and in the news of being dangerous of being super super, religious, and and regressive. There's bits of that. They're definitely charac. Editors who orbit his world that are like that. But because there are so many Muslim American characters we get so many different facets of this life, and we see different people practicing their religion in different ways. And I just think it's really funny. It's smart, and I highly recommend everyone check it out and they're short. They're like, you know, twenty five thirty minute episodes. Where do you watch it again? It's on Hulu. Okay. Duma have you ever read most Michelle short? But I'm Henry atoms. I did way back in the day. I mean, it was when I was majoring in Mabel studies in college. So I hardly remember about it. Tell me about it. Well, I have to preface by saying. Should Henry Adams be cancelled answer? Probably. Yes. He was a Wapping anti Semite of the extreme variety. The now Henry Adams was the whatever the great grandson grandson of the of the atoms political dynasty and inherited that in the most troubled neurotic -ly crippling way possible you not able to live up to the greatness of his lineage. He instead became this observer of American society, and he famously wrote an autobiography called the education of Henry Adams in which he depicts himself in the third person. And in a way, he's he's he is this embodiment of I think what has to be called a kind of semi white supremist definitely like a very white inflected lake Anglo-Saxon Protestant inflicted figure in American thinking nonetheless. He's usually influential wrote very interesting histories of the United States and wrote this kind of quirky. I court to condescending this sort of remarkable spiritual autobiography called Masa, Michelle in Chartres, which I do not recall having an a an explicitly anti semitic sentence in it. And if it does. Someone please pointed out to be I'm not trying to put in Rams back on the map here in any way. He's an equivalent figure the stent that we are capable of consuming people at one hundred years remove who are quick figures. I think Henry Adams is worth encountering in part because he gets at is why the'd roles are such totally encompassing. Exhibits of the human imagination, you know, potentially in some respects at it's kind of hot highest expression in one very particular sense, right as as a kind of total world view. And so the experience that he has of the cathedrals in part is as a person who inherits a specific tradition of Christianity. But in another sense as someone visiting like, a a ruin in Mexico where all of the cumulative ghosts that you know, once lived there and once believed in the totality of cosmological worldview have also totally disappeared. And he just trying to get at what it is about the medieval world view that was able to incorporate absolutely every detail of life into a belief system that then got embodied like physically embodied by the cathedral and in the aftermath of loss of Notre Dame. I thought a high sort of wish that I had. Mentioned that so I'm going to endorse it, but with an asterisk that. I take really seriously. I mean, I anyway, but and then additionally I just like to say like throwing these Hudson valley recommendations, and the one place, I if people want them, they should definitely Email send them they do get revised and updated and attitude if you haven't gotten it in a while go ahead and Email back in it's just a cut and paste for me. But one thing I would say is that little Deb's in a Hudson, which is by far and away my favorite place to go eat in Hudson, New York, I they closed for while heartbreakingly, and then joyously they've reopened. It slightly renovated and expanded. It's like a little easier space to sit in now and they've done a beautiful job. And and the thing they they're barred graduates, they're like gender queer barred graduates who self-consciously went about creating a restaurant as a work of art. And that sounds like such a off. But it shouldn't be at all. They've done it and it like winds James beard awards. You can't believe. Quality of the meal, you're getting and a relative to the just oh, I hate to use such a stupid outmoded word. But it's like it's just so fucking cool in there. I mean, it just it. They've done something really special, and if you're going to Hudson, and you want just one recommendation, that's it for me. So anyway, I should think you so much for coming back on the show. This was a really really good episode. Really fun episode. Thank you. It's fun. Dana as always thank you so much yet, stocking X week, you'll find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page that slate dot com slash culture fest as always you can Email us, and we love it at culture fest at slate dot com, we do have a Twitter feed drop in visit us there. It's at slate cult fest and a reminder that you can find a searchable database of all endorsements. That's at slate dot com slash endorsements. The endorsed matico check it out you can fiddle around in find all the stuff that we've talked about over the years. Our producers Benjamin. Frisch and our production. Assistant is Alex perish for Dana Stevens, Naish, Harris. Thank you so much for doing this. Peek at this week sleepless segment if you want to hear the whole thing plus ad free podcasts. Join us at slate dot com slash culture. Plus is the behalf gonna come after me for even utterings at. I mean, this is where beyond say as a figure gets complicated. I think there's so many things about her that are complicated in ways that a lot of the behind doesn't want to address or admits.

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