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Editors Recommend

January

Check out some of our favorite books, shows, and music in the first month of 2021!

Brant




I recently read Elaine Mokhtefi’s memoir Algiers, Third World Capital: Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers. I read this intriguing memoir in a few days and it was a breeze. A good break between bigger books and it reminded me of how much I appreciate the history of the Algerian Revolution, and the role of the Black Panther Party’s internationalism in the global political context of the 1970s. I highly recommend it!

Humble



HBO Max recently downloaded the entire MAD TV series and I’ve been having it in the background when I work. Talk about nostalgia because I used to watch this show back in the day; I was 10 or 11 but I remember it being super vulgar but I just thought it was really funny. Watching it now as an adult, it’s definitely raunchy af but it’s also making me remember the times they reference such as flip phones, Bush’s presidency and it’s almost surreal how we live in a world where we experienced a presidency worse than Bush, saw racism like never before but on the flipside, saw the invention of technology that some of us probably haven’t been able to take the time to appreciate. For instance, I used to record the Mad TV episodes on my VCR when I was a kid and then in 2017, I was thinking about a sketch with Keegan Michael Key (see photo) so I pulled up a blurry video on YouTube and was able to plug my laptop into my TV’s HDMI port and remember thinking how cool it was that I could watch it from there. And later on, I could pull up the video from my phone and “cast” it onto my TV through an app like Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Now in 20-freaking-21 I’ve got every single episode from its inception at my disposal.

Sarah



At the beginning of the month, I read Normal People, which is the story of the intertwined lives of a girl and a boy who share a complicated love affair as they navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Far from the stereotypical romance book, however, Normal People also addresses topics of class difference, family dynamics, mental illness, and the struggles of academia. Rooney writes with a probing, painful clarity that had me stopping in every chapter to highlight moments that I wanted to remember.

Although Normal People is not what Rooney would describe as an explicitly “Marxist novel,” its exploration of intimacy and relationships remains quite powerful in a world where the personal and political are often two sides of the same coin. For more on these ideas, check out this video interview (Sally Rooney Interview: Writing with Marxism), where Rooney shares her perspective as an author on the complexity of Marxism in the context of literary work.

Denise



Recently, I began binge-watching Teen Mom 2. I did not watch this show during its heyday, while I was its target audience (a dramatic high schooler) and it did not cross my mind for years until I saw that Netflix began streaming its first two seasons early this year. I think my latent interest speaks to Netflix’s inescapable influence, which (with Twitter) dictates people’s weekend agendas and too much of Twitter’s commentary. As of right now, I’m hooked, and personally invested in the drama facing its stars, Chelsea, Leah, Jenelle, and Kailyn.

Watching this show, I spend less time reflecting on the hardships of teen motherhood than I do about the messy allure of reality TV, my life-long guilty pleasure. In almost every episode I am forced to watch young mothers navigate toxic relationships with their kids’ fathers. The worst of these relationships belong to Chelsea, who maintains a scene-y aesthetic throughout the show and speaks in a baby voice literally the entire time, and the deadbeat dad Adam, who psychologically tortures her and likes cars. Despite the intoxicating drama that follows that mismatched pair, my favorite mom is Jenelle, who navigates a troubled relationship with her mother, her on/off loser boyfriend Kieffer, and weed. The highlight of the show (so far) was when Jenelle, facing jail time, tried convincing her lawyer to set back a jail date so that she could attend a Kesha concert. Jenelle makes it to the concert, but admits during a “Check up with Dr. Drew” special that the concert wasn’t really worth it. The Dr. Drew check ups are weird, purifying “wrap-up” episodes that I looked forward to for the first two seasons until I realized that Dr. Drew makes a point of asking about the girls sex lives and makes them very uncomfortable. 

All-in-all, the entire series and the people connected to it are messy. But that is why I watch it.

Rafael



I’ve been listening to a lot of Drakeo the Ruler this month. His new project We Know the Truth is great with Lil Boosie being my favorite. Also been revisiting the @HellaBlackPod episode on Drakeo and what he’s going through with the US criminal justice system(Ep. 82). Blake and Delency are also a part of @ppls_programs who do excellent community work in Oakland. I’ve also been watching the new Attack on Titan season which has been fantastic and picked back up Huey Newton’s Revolutionary Suicide.

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