The Mind of Spielberg, the Assault on Antidepressants, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we’ve got a look at Sylvia Patterson’s memoir, I’m Not with the Band, a profile of Steven Spielberg, a review of a book about the war on antidepressants, and a look at why the notebook is flourishing in the time of the iPhone.

At Pitchfork, a look at the life of music journalist Sylvia Patterson, whose new book I’m Not with the Band chronicles her early years as a music journalist. It’s ripe stuff for anyone who begrudges the current state of media, and also juicy enough for those of us who wish we’d lived and worked in a time where glamor or excitement were inherent parts of writing jobs. Also, Patterson is simply a badass.

Patterson and co. sailed Smash Hits through pop’s imperial period, which she captures in I’m Not With the Band: the post-MTV age where “everything just exploded into color,” she explains. By 1988, the magazine was selling a million copies a fortnight. Given the excesses of the age, it’s surprising that Patterson’s Hits career didn’t go out in a similar blaze of glory. Instead, facing the encroach of rave culture, and a miserable interview with “vaporous bubblehead” Sonia, she quit in February 1990—a move that seems incredibly principled, if foolhardy today. “Everything had changed,” she says. “The personnel, the focus.” The final straw came when the powers that be—always referred to as “the Baron”—decided cover stars like Tom Cruise and Beverly Hills 90210 were the way forward. “That was mortifying and unacceptable,” Patterson says. “I was actually devastated.”

The New Republic has a look at the underdog that is the notebook, and the surprising way it’s flourished in the time of iPhones and Android and everything electronic. In a time of productivity apps and checklist apps and Google calendar, do we really need paper notebooks? Apparently, yes.

Several bullet journal gurus in that community have built significant online followings by posting photos of their hypnotically beautiful notebook spreads. “It’s pretty insane, I initially started posting photos of my journal on Instagram just to archive my process, and then I started racking up followers,” said graphic designer Ursala Hudson, who has been keeping bullet journals since December 2015 and whose Instagram account boasts more than 12,000 followers, despite featuring only 43 posts. The design of her journal is about much more than amassing an online following, however: It is integral to her productivity. “If my daily page doesn’t look effortless yet clean and pretty it disrupts my workflow,” Hudson said.

Steven Spielberg has been nearly omnipresent in Hollywood since he broke ground with Jaws. To think of him as anything other than this figurehead is difficult, and stories about the guy are few and far between. This Wired one has about all the access you’d expect when it comes to Spielberg, but it’s still pretty great.

The truth is, Spielberg has always been exceptionally choosy about what he directs. No matter how different his films, they all begin with the same, almost supernatural tingle of predestination when he first reads the script. “I call it That Old Familiar Feeling,” he says. He refuses to trust it at first. “It’s the only way I can test how emotionally involved I want to be. I’m getting married to a movie. I’ve got to know it’s true love. And every time I read the script again, I say, ‘This read—this time around—I’m going to find the fatal flaw that will turn me away from this.’ And when I can’t find it, I throw my hands up in the air, and I say, ‘I surrender, dear!’”

Now, for something different: at The Atlantic, a story about the war on antidepressants, which uses a new book, Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants, by Peter Kramer, as a jumping off point for a look into the state of SSRIs and the stigma surrounding them. Also, he looks at how exactly we got to where we are today.

Randomized trials were a huge medical advance in the 1940s, but Kramer explains that Sir Austin Bradford Hill, the statistician who pioneered the new design, later warned about their limitations. When it came to testing disorders like anxiety and depression, with subjective symptoms, Hill saw that “to optimize outcomes, doctors would need to adjust doses and observe responses,” Kramer writes, and “the clinician’s perception might be the most accurate gauge of results.” This is precisely what the Swiss psychiatrist Roland Kuhn—who discovered imipramine—did in 1956. Both a researcher and a clinician, he was able to prove the efficacy of an antidepressant that even 60 years later remains a standard, because he saw the patients in his asylum every day and carefully calibrated his trials to his patients’ needs, and to their responses to his recalibrations.