As a theater critic, the suspension of in-person performing arts experiences has been tough. My inner cultural arbiter needs an outlet to place all of my unsolicited opinions and recommendations. An arts column would be an ideal place for such whims to flutter, but NPR hasn’t called yet. So, I’ve decided to put together my recommendations and commentary about all of the cool things I’m engaging with during this awkward time. Every week, I’ll compile a short blog post of five things that I’ve discovered. Some are new, some old and some silly, but all with the intention of spreading cheer. Here we go!
- TO WATCH: I am so caught up in watching the series Hunters on Amazon Prime. It is loosely based on true events, and is about a misfit gang of Nazi hunters in 1977 New York City. In the show, the U.S. government has brought Nazis into the U.S. and a successful Jewish businessman and his friends are set on getting revenge for the Holocaust. While watching the show, I was curious about how much of it is true. It turns out that (1) There is an organization that was started in NYC after World War II that sought to charge Nazis who snuck into the U.S. through the southern border with war crimes and (2) The U.S. did recruit Nazis, wipe their records clean, and use them to spy on the Soviets. It’s an intense and wild ride of a show. It brings up some important questions about who we will allow to enact violence and who we will use violence against.
- TO EAT: I found this incredibly simple salmon chowder recipe and it turned out great. It is easy, economical and tasty. Since I had to cancel my trips to Maine and Martha’s Vineyard this summer, this will have to do.
- TO DRINK: In the film Cabin in the Sky, Ethel Waters sang a song “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe.” She clearly never had a Godiva chocolate martini with Jeni’s Savannah Buttermint Ice Cream. I use the recipe linked here and then add the ice cream in place of the half-and-half. Thank me later.
- TO PLAY: My Spotify playlist knows me better than an inanimate object should. This week, my “Discover Weekly” playlist gave me a song called “Paper Thin” by Lianne La Havas. I first fell in love with her music a few years ago when I heard the remix of her hit “What You Don’t Do.” Her voice is fluid, sultry and soulful. Do yourself a favor and press play.
- TO READ: Audible and Libby are my preferred apps for taking in books these days. Often, I’ll listen to a book on one of the apps and then purchase it and read it on paper. I know, nerd alert. Right now, I’m listening to Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It’s so tragically funny and finds Lincoln facing the loss of his sickly son during the Civil War. The audiobook is more radio play with performances by David Sedaris and Nick Offerman. Sidebar: I stood right next to Offerman waiting in a press line at Sundance Film Festival a few years ago, and as a Parks & Recreation fan, that was enough to make my day. Saunders is a masterful writer and if you’ve never read his 2013 commencement speech at Syracuse University, I highly recommend it. Happy reading!