Staff Picks: “Carry That Weight,” Downtown Boys and Julia Roberts on ‘Letterman’


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.

Julia Roberts’ last Letterman

There’s a case to be made (and some pointed satire too) that the retiring Mr. Letterman’s ogling of his younger female guests was more than a little oogy. The longest-running of those flirtations was with Julia Roberts, who first appeared on the show in 1989 (!) to promote Mystic Pizza, and made, last week, her 26th and final appearance with Dave. But somewhere along the way, something sort of wonderful happened in those regular appearances: they ended up bringing out the best in each other. He made her funnier; she made him more human. It became clear that it wasn’t just a phony show-biz TV thing; theirs was a relationship of genuine warmth and affection, their conversations giving the sense (as so few talk show interactions do) of two old friends catching up. And frankly, because of that, hers may end up being the farewell to Dave that means the most. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture and Creativity by Oriana Leckert

If you think you know Brooklyn—the real Brooklyn—you have no idea. In Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture and Creativity, Oriana Leckert takes you on an adventure into many of the still-thriving underground (or lesser known) scenes going on in the borough right now. Find out where you can play giant shuffleboard, see fire-breathers, make anarchist art, throw crazy parties, and keep the DIY spirit of Brooklyn alive. Full of beautiful photographs and interviews with the founders, owners, or guardians of these spaces, this book is the perfect road map for exploring Brooklyn this summer: just open it anywhere and go! — Ona Abelis, Editorial Apprentice

Pondering the amazing show Grace and Frankie could have been

Simply put, I don’t think Grace and Frankie is very good. But I spent my week with it and I’d like to think that it’s not due simply to craving yams and a visit to a non-NYC beach. Unfortunately, it’s also not due entirely to the performances of massive talents like Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, as the two of them have been bestowed with unfunny, broad characters and seemingly poor editing and direction. (We all know Lily Tomlin can deliver a joke, so why do Frankie’s never quite land?) I’d say that, rather, I binged my way through the season with the momentum provided by the potential of their performances in an alternate-universe where this show was better-made: everything they could have done as an electrically dynamic duo with more nuanced material, covering exactly the same subject of septuagenarian friendship, sexuality and loss. Rare glimpses shone through the first season: for example, when, by a campfire, Tomlin’s Frankie first declares why she isn’t angry that her husband’s been cheating on her with Grace’s husband: “because [she’s] heartbroken.” Tomlin’s delivery here is infectiously devastating, and Jane Fonda’s coupling of survival-by-repression and hidden hilariousness is magnetic and poignant. But she’s one of the best actors out there, and deserves to be magnetic and poignant with dialogue, direction and editing that isn’t consistently battling her skill. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

The Finale of Emma Sulkowicz’s “Carry That Weight” Project

It’s continually amazing to me how much hate and vitriol you can receive just writing about sexual assault; this is why I choose the courageous finale of Emma Sulkowicz’s “Carry That Weight” mattress project as my pick. She continued her performance art/protest by carrying her mattress across the stage during her Columbia graduation, and not even the campaign of revenge that went into effect afterwards can diminish the power of her statement. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

Downtown Boys — Full Communism

Short, fast, loud, punk, and political — everything about the Downtown Boys’ newest record appeals to me. Full Communism is only about 23 minutes long but covers everything from the frustrations of racism to the shittiness of entitled boys at punk shows who have wandering hands. It’s a delicate balance, the way they remain political throughout and make a necessary call to arms while remaining fun and danceable (the horns certainly help) but they pull it off without a hitch. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor