Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

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Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers each recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed the most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Let Me Be Your Star by Rachel Shukert

NBC’s failed experiment in bringing the backstage drama of Broadway to television was good for one single thing: it inspired Rachel Shukert’s hilarious and amazing recaps on Vulture. Before I gave up on the show, I was regularly tuning in (via Hulu, of course) just so I would have context to read Shukert’s fantastic response pieces, which were less like the typical TV recap and more an appreciation for the Broadway world that Smash couldn’t accurately portray on the small screen. (There was also a good heaping of a fan-fiction sensibility.) Just a few months after the show was canceled, Shukert has published a very good essay as a Kindle Single that is not a collection of her recaps (although her complete list of the disparaging ways she described Katharine McPhee’s character is included, thankfully; my favorite: “Damp Scrabble rack of only Is and Us.”). Rather, it’s a look at the more creative side of cultural criticism, and a thankful reminder to those of us who were nutty enough to want to write for a living why we do what we love to do. — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

The OC

Can you believe The OC is ten years old? This Friday, TV Hangover is celebrating its anniversary at Brooklyn’s Videology, and I’ve been doing a minor rewatch to prepare for what is sure to be brutal trivia. Trivia preparation or no, watching The OC with a beer (and the TV Hangover drinking game) is one of the most soothing things I can think of for a lazy summer night. It’s also easy to forget that this show is so much more than pure melodrama, and the Cohens are still one of the most compelling families to ever grace television. If you’ve never seen The OC and are looking for something to fill your idle afternoons, I highly recommend you start watching. You could even start at the Videology party, but it’s really just going to be a bunch of dorks screaming “yogalates” for hours, and I imagine that’s kind of a turn-off to new viewers. — Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

Priests — Tape Two

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a band that writes songs about both Lillian Hellman and Lana Del Rey, it’s time to acquaint yourself with Priests. The DC punk quartet has been kicking around for a few years now, putting out tapes and tearing up DIY spaces around the country and engaging in various forms of spirited cultural and political criticism on tracks like “Diet Coke” (from last year’s Tape One) and Tape Two‘s “USA (Incantations).” You owe it to yourself to see Priests — and, in particular, electric frontwoman Katie Alice Greer — live, so spend some time catching up with them on Bandcamp and cross your fingers they’re coming to your town sometime soon. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

“A Job of Work” by Luc Sante

Luc Sante continues to be one of my favorite people on the planet with this essay he wrote about working at the New York Review of Books. Sante is one of the few authors whose name alone will instantly get me to read anything, and this time I was rewarded with Sante making maybe the first reference to the NYC punk space ABC No Rio that has ever appeared in the quintessential smart-person journal. — Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

Tura Satana on Reel Wild Cinema

Today is the late Tura Satana’s birthday. The actress is best known for playing the trash-talking go-go gang leader Varla in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, directed by Russ Meyer. The film icon had a troubled childhood and formed a real gang after being raped to “prevent trouble, especially to other girls.” She mastered aikido and karate, became a teenage exotic dancer, had a relationship with Elvis, and kicked ass in a series of unforgettable cult films. Here’s a short interview the actress did for Reel Wild Cinema — an old TV series spotlighting B-cinema, hosted by Sandra Bernhard. Satana discusses what it was like to work on low-budget films, twirling her tassels, and Russ Meyer. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

“Janelle Monáe: A New Pioneer Of Afrofuturism” by John Calvert

This week, in advance of the release of the new Janelle Monáe record, I’ve been revisiting From Slave Ships to Spaceships, John Calvert’s excellent 2010 essay for The Quietus, which placed The ArchAndroid within the context of Afrofuturist aesthetics and ideas. It was (and is) fascinating to trace the line from Sun Ra through Parliament to Monáe and the future, and I can’t wait to hear where she’s going next. —Tom Hawking, Music Editor