Typically before each listing, I wax poetic about one thing or another. This week, I don’t want to wax poetic about anything. I’m more interested in letting the words be the words. I have been giving thanks a lot lately for having the language to describe my experience of the world. What has become clear to me is that when people don’t have the words, they behave badly. There’s so much power in language. All of this week’s recommendations are about giving voice to people who typically are unheard, and it feels great to listen. Here we go!
- TO WATCH: You ever watch a mediocre documentary, but then can’t get it out of your head? That’s what happened when I watched The Perfect 14 on Amazon Prime. It follows the journeys of plus size models and fashion influencers around the world, and also provides a global examination of size discrimination in the fashion industry. I learned a lot about the pay structure in the industry (one woman was on 7 pages in one issue of Cosmo and got paid $0), how magazine editors choose cover girls, the business of modeling in general, and found some cool new Instagram accounts to follow.
- TO EAT: I was wandering and completely overwhelmed with all of these options at the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market, and I came across Charley King’s Jamaican Mango Barbecue Sauce. It’s great on chicken, salmon and steak and it’s a nice balance of sweet and spicy. The company makes a variety of sauces for all of the home chefs out there.
- TO DRINK: One Sunday afternoon, my search for socially-distanced outings miles away from civilization led me Tilford Winery in Kathleen, Georgia. This Black-owned, veteran-owned winery and farm specializes in producing nine varieties of muscadine wine that range from the driest dry to sugary sweet. The Magnolia wine was my favorite. It’s a pleasant white table wine that is not too sweet and not too dry. Plus, at $15 per bottle, there’s nothing to lose.
- TO PLAY: One of my highlights over the last couple of weeks was listening to Hitting A Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston. The audiobook is brilliantly narrated by Aunjanue Ellis, who folks may recognize from “When They See Us,” “The Clark Sisters,” “The Help,” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” It includes an introduction by Genevieve West about how Zora created a new dialect for everyday Black people to right the wrongs done to Black speech by white performers who capitalized on blackface minstrelsy. What struck me most about the eight, newly discovered short stories is Hurston’s use of verbs. In her voice, fields of flowers roll like new carpet. One story, “Magnolia Flower,” is a conversation between a brook and a river talking about the people who use them. To think that a woman so brilliant was buried in an unmarked grave is still beyond me. The audiobook is available through the public library and on Audible.
- TO READ: One of my favorite fringe magazines is California Sunday. In a recent issue, they interviewed high school students from the Class of 2020 and asked them about the lessons they’ve learned during the pandemic and how it has changed their outlook on life. They share candid stories about missing prom, championships, graduation, and facing the possibility of delaying college. One girl’s whole family contracted COVID-19, and this quote from her was so telling: “I had my mom’s card with me, and we pay our bills online, so I learned how to pay the bills. But when it came to the mortgage, I wasn’t sure how to pay. I just called and asked if I could pay on the phone, so that’s what I did.” Kids are so resilient.