Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

By
Share:

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.

Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre at MASS MoCA

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is my favorite museum in the world, so I make a point to visit it anytime I’m nearby (in this case, just across the border in Vermont for New Year’s). This trip might have been my favorite yet, with exhibitions ranging from Teresita Fernández’s breathtaking works in graphite and gold to Lee Boroson’s Plastic Fantastic, a series of large-scale installations that evoke natural phenomena through human-made materials. For me, the highlight was Filthy Lucre, the centerpiece of Darren Waterston’s Uncertain Beauty show, for which the artist painstakingly recreated James McNeill Whistler’s famous Peacock Room as a ruin. In Waterston’s version, the pottery is warped, the portraits distorted, and gold paint drips off the walls and furniture in puddles — a striking and apt visual metaphor for the conflict between art and commerce and, more generally, what’s lurking behind the luxurious interiors of Gilded Ages past and present. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr

I am a fusty crank sometimes, and when I want to knock people’s hats off and take to the sea, it’s good to read Carr’s elegant look at how the internet is changing our very fabric. Especially when you work on it on a daily basis. Anyways, it’s fairly inspiring — there’s a need to cultivate a bored brain, an idling brain, a brain that’s not always occupied with everything in the world, a brain relaxed in thought. It’s the sort of thought that leads to real inspiration, and that requires boundaries in this modern life. — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

Fallout: New Vegas

This week I choose: the post-apocalyptic landscape of Fallout: New Vegas, where I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time of late. The Fallout games are rightly lauded for their tight plotting and compelling setting, but it’s kinda an indictment on the state of things at the moment that a blasted radioactive version of the Mojave desert feels like a pleasant escape from the real world. Seriously, though, great game, and a fine demonstration that at their best, video games can be and are compelling art in their own right. Bring on Fallout 4 already! — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

Lypsinka

Ben Brantley called her ” the greatest chanteuse who never sung a note.” In Lypsinka (the drag moniker for John Epperson), we see the full potential of the art of lip-syncing: not just in terms of technical mastery, but also in ontological weight. Initially, Lypsinka: The Boxed Set (part of a trilogy of performances — her first on New York stages in 10 years — that just ended January 3) seemed a throwback to a dated form of drag, in its obsession with 1950’s feminine glamour coupled with Lucille Ball-ish physical humor. The drag veteran’s performance may appear stubbornly, and enjoyably, caught in old drag norms — because it is. And it’s an amazing relic. But in its 1.5 hours, its unsettlingly disjointed, mutely tongue-twisting 1950’s mashups began to also seem like a seance: the perfection of her lip-syncing of dead icons — traversing a whole bygone era of exaggerated Hollywood femininity —is uncanny, even a little frightening. It’s part veneration, part spoof, and part horror-movie possession. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

The Limiñanas

I don’t know a whole lot about the Limiñanas, other than the fact that I found them through mindless Spotify wandering, and that they are amazing. They’ve got the easy swagger of a Gainsbourg and the cool-as-shit looseness of the Velvet Underground as heard over the crashing waves of surf rock. Enough with the hyperbole and forced imagery: the Limiñanas are great, and you need to listen to them. — Shane Barnes, Editorial Apprentice

Adam Torres’ Daytrotter Session

I haven’t used the site Daytrotter, the mid-aughts indie tastemaker, in a few years. They’re still doing their sessions with promising up-and-comers and underground favorites, but somewhere along the way it just stopped being something I checked regularly. This week, however, I noticed that the site did a session with Adam Torres, a little-known singer-songwriter I’ve been following for nearly a decade, back when he was all the rage in the small Ohio town (Athens) where I went to college. Torres’ unsung orchestral folk-rock masterwork, 2006’s Nostra Nova, is being reissued from Misra Records later this year, so he naturally he plays a few of those tracks in his session. Thankfully, there are a few new ones thrown in as well, giving me great confidence that Torres’ output will continue publicly beyond the reissue. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl is just the humane and rollicking novel that I need to start my 2015. Somehow only the British can get me to laugh out loud while reading the pages of a novel. It’s a good reminder that affection for your characters and humor can get you just as far if not farther in a reader’s mind then dazzling literary technique or even a tight narrative. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large