Staff Picks: ‘The Oliver Stone Experience,’ Amoeba Music, Jessamyn Stanley


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. Scroll through for our picks below.

Matt Zoller Seitz’ The Oliver Stone Experience

Matt Zoller Seitz’s latest book (new on the shelves this week) is a giant hardbound coffee-table affair, dense with text and heavy enough to kill another human, so I’m not even close to finishing it yet. But I can tell you already, it’s the must-have movie book of the fall. Similar in form to his wonderful The Wes Anderson Collection, Seitz here explores the vast filmography of Mr. Stone, one of contemporary cinema’s most formidable provocateurs and formal groundbreakers. The bulk of the text is a series of in-depth interviews with Stone, always candid and insightful; Seitz compliments those conversations with thoughtful analysis, and a treasure trove of production photos, scene breakdowns, notes, memos, annotated script pages, storyboards, and on and on. It’s a film school in book form – enlightening, entertaining, and essential. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Mark Greif’s Against Everything, sort of

I have a deep contrarian streak, especially when it comes to self-styled male intellectuals; as soon as I read, and agreed with, Mark Greif’s touchstone essay “Against Exercise,” the opening salvo of his new book Against Everything, I went back to the gym for the first time in months. “We leave the office, and put the conveyor belt under our feet, and run as if chased by devils,” he writes of our treadmill-obsessed culture. Mmm hmm, I found myself nodding along, thinking of the way I look at treadmills lined up against the floor-to-celing windows of New York City buildings. There are so many people lined up and going nowhere, it has the feel of the Industrial-era factory (a connection Greif effectively makes). Then I went to the gym, because our sedentary modern life necessitates that we do something to release built-up tension and enable us to sleep, or relax. It’s a depressing cycle (not a soul cycle, though I wish Greif would take a class there and write about it). Greif slays many of our sacred cows of fitness: “It is a direct invasion of public space,” he writes of jogging. His arguments about the sexualization of youth (and the youth-ifying of sex) are equally bracing. I’ll be honest; I’m not going to read the entire book. But I’m glad I dipped in. See you over by the free weights. — Sarah Seltzer, Deputy Editor

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Hollywood’s Amoeba Music

Fans of the Amoeba Music in Hollywood got a scare earlier this week when an LAist article was published saying the landmark, 50,000 square foot retail music store could be destroyed to make way for — guess what!? — luxury condos! But though the site has indeed been bought by real estate group GPI, their lease lasts several more years, and the store announced they’d be staying until the end of that time, if not longer. Anyway, this is all to say that there was a moment of heartbreak (hyperbole? Hardly.) before the news clarified that rather than feel immediate sadness, one could just revert to the inevitable unease: despite it not being set for demolition any immediate time, these are wildly precarious times for physical businesses we love.

It reminded me of why, as someone who grew up just outside L.A. — a place where hardly anything is centralized around any particular landmark — I liked Amoeba so much to begin with, and why it’s such a great, vital anomaly. Living in the suburbs of L.A., there were hardly any bustling small business districts worth driving to to then walk and browse around; the city itself encapsulated the vibe of digital shopping before digital shopping actually became a thing — essentially, a vibe of unaware self-isolation. Amoeba is a city unto itself, though, where you can walk around for hours and kinda simply coexist among a group of other people equally excited/overwhelmed by the bounty of music and film surrounding them. Not only does it provide a special experience being there, but the pilgrimage to it, and then the lengthy amount of time you can devote to selecting a piece of music to buy, makes the eventual listening experience seem all the more like an Event once you bring it home. I use streaming services. I like immediacy. But goddamn it, nothing compares to feeling less cool than a herd of oddly chill people at listening stations as I try to sort clandestinely through the Used Tori Amos section. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Jessamyn Stanley

I’ve been recovering from an injury over the past few weeks and feeling blah about not being able to keep up with my yoga practice while healing a broken bone. I recently discovered Jessamyn Stanley’s Instagram, which is very inspiring. I love her stance on body positivity. She has a new book coming out called Every Body Yoga (March 2017), which you can read an excerpt from on Glamour. “Maybe you are coming to yoga immediately after pregnancy, or after suffering a major injury,” she writes. “Maybe you’re very fat, and you think that I’m too ‘skinny fat’ to understand the struggles of a real fat person. The fact of the matter is that yoga is for everyone, regardless of what your mind might be telling you.” Yes! — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor