Staff Picks: John Sayles, Public Enemy Selfies, and ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ on Jewish Mothers


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.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “Where’s the Bathroom?”

Is this show still the most unlikely achievement on television? Yes! Will I ever shut up about it? Nope! Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is as strong as ever in its portrayal of mental illness, delusion, and self-destructiveness in general, not to mention funnier than any of those themes suggest. This week, however, the show looks into the origins of Rebecca Bunch’s dysfunction by bringing in musical theater MVP Tovah Feldshuh as the archetypal Jewish mother for its funniest number yet — or maybe I just think that because I have one. You be the judge and watch the clip above, in which Feldshuh hits all the bases: guilt, body-shaming, and a razor-sharp eye for inadequate bathroom decor. — Alison Herman, TV Editor

Fan gives Public Enemy a ride, Public Enemy gives fan Twitter gold

This is what the selfie was invented for. When a taxi failed to pick up Public Enemy from a CD signing at a local record shop in Sheffield, UK, the legendary hip-hop group risked being late to their set in support of The Prodigy. Thankfully, a photographer named Kevin Wells, the last person in line to get his CD signed, offered a ride to the arena in his Ford compact, scoring an all-time group selfie in the process. But the real kicker? The soundtrack: “…It was on low but suddenly when ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ came on, one of the entourage at the front shouted ‘Bo Rap! Waynes World!’ and they all started headbanging in the back of the car,” Wells told the Guardian . “I kept looking in the rear view mirror and I could see Flavor Flav with his sunglasses on and his big clock and I couldn’t believe it.” — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor

Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz

At a few moments in this 1974 book, which has been described variously as an autobiographical novel and a volume of personal essays (it reads more like the latter), the author laments that Los Angeles’ most celebrated writers tend to be people New Yorkers approve of because they look down on the place: your Joan Didions, your Nathanael Wests. Well, Eve’s Hollywood is itself the antidote to that. Reissued by New York Review Books in October, it’s a love letter to the city where the author grew up in the ’50s and became a cultural fixture in the ’60s. From the sororities of Hollywood High to the best taquito stand in Echo Park, Babitz is the perfect tour guide — smart, funny, and full of deceptively casual insights about what it means to live in a place that both produces and is saturated with pop-cultural mythology (especially as a young, pretty woman). Sort of like Lana Del Rey, if she were actually from Southern California and had anything to say. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Eight Men Out (dir. John Sayles)

As much as I’ve always admired his work, I never made it to this 1988 John Sayles film (one of his biggest commercial successes, relative though that may be) until its recent Blu-ray release by Olive Films. And it’s up-and-down terrific, with Sayles marshaling a jaw-dropping cast of then-up-and-comers (John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeney) and some of the best character actors in the business (David Strathairn, John Mahoney, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Edson) to tell the story of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, in which members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw the World Series. Sayles is working with a big canvas and a big cast, yet each character is clearly drawn without resorting to simple caricature. And his script (adapted from Eliot Asinof’s book) dives deep into the complexities of the story: the desperation that drove the players, the way they were exploited by management, the logistics of how the gamblers put it together, the guilt and doubts that plagued the players, the conflict it caused among them. It’s full of great scenes and great speeches — Strathairn’s tearful yet restrained confession, Cusack’s speech about why they play, the elegantly staged “Say it ain’t so, Joe” moment — and it moves like a base stealer, full of crackling, wise-guy dialogue and knockout period touches. A great little movie, overdue for rediscovery. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Shader by Daniel Nester

“Shader” is Jersey slang for the residents of Maple Shade, where God Save My Queen author Daniel Nester hails from. It’s also the title of his new book from 99thepress. “Being a Shader is about being no-nonsense and having a blue-collar outlook,” Nester recently told “It’s an attitude, but it’s also like my conscience.” I’m not finished with the book yet, but Shader is, in part, about finding your friend-family (for better or worse) — in record shops, abandoned parking lots, and split-level houses with wood-paneled basements. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor