Jamie York is a producer for On the Media.
OTM Staff Picks: August 29, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011 - 03:24 PM
Every week the staff of On the Media pick a few of our favorite things. Feel free to offer us feedback in the comments section, and enjoy!
Bob Garfield: There is virtuosity in stage acting. There is virtuosity in stage writing. But what really grabs me is virtuosity in stage direction. Thus I just flipped at the Sydney Theatre Company's staging of Uncle Vanya. The star is Cate Blanchett, who is quite good. The adaptation of Chekhov is by her hubby Andrew Upton, and it is wonderfully witty. But what really makes the production is Tamás Ascher's direction, filled with surprising choices, modern pacing and about 4 zillion bits of business that somehow never tromp on either the bleakness or the comedy of Chekhov's bleak comedy.
Brooke Gladstone: Summer is over and my chosen transitional literature (from werewolves) is the thoroughly absorbing, moving, magisterial novel by A.S. Byatt, The Children’s Book.
Set in England, It spans at least two social classes, three generations and 50 years, culminating in the devastation of the First World War. I felt I had traveled deep into unfamiliar territory with this one. It’s epic. (And incidentally, it’s epic-length, so if you are inclined, block out some time for this one.)
Alex Goldman: The looming threat of a hurricane means that you stock up on things to do without the power on, and you listen to every song you can think of in which a hurricane is mentioned. Even though our power never went out, I ended up reading most of Hackers by Steven Levy about the history of hacking. I played a little Superbrothers’ Sword And Sworcery [sic] on my iPhone (which came highly recommended by Tom Bissell). And in the quest for the best hurricane song, one could certainly do a lot worse than Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Rocketship.”
Chris Neary: My staff pick is the DIAMOND PLANET. Last week an international team of astronomers discovered a planet that, according to Wired UK, is “far denser than any other known planet.” That density means that “the carbon must be crystalline, making a large part of the planet diamond.” This doesn’t mean that it’s a sparkling planet-sized diamond. But what if it were? It could be the basis for the greatest heist movie ever.
Nazanin Rafsanjani: This is my last week at On the Media. So I can’t help but pick some of my favorite OTM segments from years past. It’s hard to do this due to the general awesomeness of the show and the hosts but here goes. If you haven’t heard these segments, you should. (I didn’t produce any of these stories so I feel like I can gush about how great I think they are.)
Here are just some of my favorite OTMs:
I loved Bob’s piece for our 5 year Iraq War anniversary called Stagecrafting the War.
Brooke’s Prime Number story about why the media love the number 50,000
Twenty Years Later: Bob’s interview with the NYT’s Roger Cohen about revisiting people he’d written about 20 years earlier and realizing his story may have changed their lives in a way he never imagined.
There are so many more stories and interviews I love – Bob’s piece about Modern Ferret Magazine. Any time Jerry Mitchell has been on the show. The Blow the Whistle project. Okay, I’m going to stop now.
Katya Rogers: My pick this week is Blue ribbon sushi. Hate to be elitist but its my mum's favorite sushi joint, and when she visiting from london its always the first meal of her stay and the last. So here I sit with the most delicious shrimp shumai and of course melt-in-the-mouth sashimi. Not media at all but its what I'm consuming.
Joe Rosenberg:This weeek's pick is a recent article by Michael Finkel, the former New York Times Magazine writer who was very publicly fired in 2002 after fabricating material for an article on child slavery. Now, of course, for a normal person this would have been a career ending move, except that Finkel is not a normal person. Instead, Finkel is what you might call a TRULY GREAT WRITER. Like so great you don't care that he cheated. Like I cry when I read his stuff -- everytime. And just as Woody Allen can marry his adopted daughter and continue making movies we're still willing to see, so too can Finkel keep writing articles that I will go out of my way to read.
His most recent story, about a group of South Pacific teenagers who are lost at sea, was published in the May issue of GQ, and -- yes -- it's great.
Read it and weep.
Jamie York: I'm only going away for a few months. But before I do I have three picks:
Janet Reitman’s thorough look at the dispiriting lack of progress in Haiti a year and a half after the earthquake. The refrain is how everyone’s driven by the best of intentions and the tone is one of utter futility but it’s a clear-eyed accounting of how Haitians always seem to lose. Longtime veterans of Haiti like Dr. Paul Farmer have insisted that the only way to build viable civil society is to go through the frustrating process of letting Haitians lead their own development. That clearly runs counter to the American insistence that help can be imposed. Reitman goes a long way towards exposing precisely what the consequences of our benevolence are.
Performance is a 1970 Nicholas Roeg film starring Mick Jagger and James Fox. A friend recently recommended it and I loved it. Slightly dated, it’s also brilliantly abstract, inventive and prescient. Like Band of Outsiders, once I’d seen it its influence seemed to be everywhere.
And lastly, Stetson Kennedy’s Palmetto Country. Stetson died on Saturday at the age of 94 and what a life he led. Youngest head of a Federal Writers Project office, oral historian & collaborator with Zora Neale Hurston and Alan Lomax, infiltrator of the Klan, lifelong anti-racism activist, investigative journalist, candidate for U.S. Senate, friend of Woody Guthrie. I spent a couple of days with Kennedy in 2004 and he took me out for hush puppies and told me stories. I promptly read (and loved) Palmetto Country, the fruits of his Florida oral-history work. Woody Guthrie put it best in a letter to Stetson, “If every book on the shelf hit and kicked just 2/3 as much as your Palmetto Country does I’d feel a lot more like a man.’ Stetson will be sorely missed.