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 recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

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Justin Sayre’s The Meeting* of the International Order of Sodomites

My friend (and one-time Flavorwire contributor) Justin Sayre hosts a monthly variety show, now in its fourth season, that celebrates a gay icon every month. But, more importantly, it gives a chance to see a collection of downtown performers and Broadway icons gather together for a rollicking night of gaiety — with both a musical and comedic spin. Above is a clip from last month’s meeting, wherein Sayre took a quick break from saluting the contributions of David Bowie to share his New Year’s resolutions. Among them? Turning “faggot” into a verb and to stop apologizing to people on Grindr. This Sunday, The Meeting* celebrates Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters at Joe’s Pub at 9:30 —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness

With a rockabilly-tinged vocal through line, Olsen shows off her songwriting versatility, jumping between influences like Leonard Cohen, PJ Harvey, Roy Orbison, and Wanda Jackson. While the album may at first seem an imitative encyclopedia, she has a very distinct virtuosic ability to let her voice crack on exactly the right lyric, pulling vocal somersaults that leave you wholly enthralled. Her form of pastiche risks being derivative, yet somehow this comes out sounding like one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in ages. —Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice

Brett Martin, Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution

In my continuing quest to get through all of the books everyone was reading six months ago, I recently brushed off Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution, Brett Martin’s addictively readable chronicle of the current Golden Age of Television, and the titular fellows who stewarded it. Martin wisely focuses on a handful of key, influential shows — The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, The Shield, Deadwood, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad — and tells the fascinating tales of how they came to be, as well as the day-to-day dysfunction of many of them. I’m not on board with all of Martin’s criticisms (the conventional wisdom that The Wire’s fifth season was somehow vastly inferior to the first four continues to befuddle me), but it’s an insightful bit of pop culture history and a very good read, even if I now just wanna go back and rewatch all these shows. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

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ASTR, “Hold On We’re Going Home”

I love Drake, I love ethereal-electronic music with powerful vocals, and I love covers of songs that are so beautiful they make you appreciate the original even more. This cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home” by NYC duo ASTR checks all these boxes, and then some. Do yourself a favor and put this one on a playlist ASAP. —Isabella Biederharn, Editorial Apprentice

Jenny Offill, Dept. of Sanitation

There have been plenty of books about marriage, betrayal, and what happens after, but Offill’s isn’t quite like any of them. A tightly stitched patchwork of aphorisms and tiny vignettes, Dept. of Speculation is flecked with disconcerting truths about art and family — and the heartbreaking ways in which they’re both necessary and mutually exclusive. —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

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The Handsome Family, “Far From Any Road”

True Detective is a great show, but the music, which has featured Texas bands like 13th Floor Elevators and the Black Angels, only makes me love the show more. That makes the opening credits, featuring the (New Mexico by way of Chicago) Handsome Family’s “Far From Any Road,” the sweet icing on the cake. As a longtime fan of the band, it makes me happy to see people getting excited about the music made by the great Brett and Rennie Spark. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor