“Black Panther”, “A Strange Loop” and “She-Hulk”: the cultural choices of Jordan Calhoun

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Hello and welcome to the new Sunday edition of the culture of the Daily, in which one Atlantic the writer reveals what entertains them.

Our special guest today is Jordan Calhoun, contributing writer and author of the Humans Being newsletter, which mixes pop culture critique and memoir. Jordan explained why he loves stranger things but I can’t recommend it, and why Everything everywhere all at once is a masterpiece. He expects that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be a lot of fun, catastrophize the future of HBO Max with his friends and insist that you watch station eleven and read Saga immediately if you haven’t already.

But first, here are three Sunday readings from Atlantic:

The Cultural Inquiry: Jordan Calhoun

What my friends are talking about the most right now: marvel’s She-Hulk: Lawyer finished two weeks ago, and everyone is sharing their thoughts on the finale. Everyone is also catastrophizing about the future of HBO Max after the merger of Discovery Plus and Warner Bros. I’m generally optimistic, so I try not to worry about the fate of my favorite streaming service, but the future looks bleak for fans who love good TV. [Related, from 2018: Who is the most underrated superhero?]

The upcoming events I’m most looking forward to: I have a few Broadway shows to look forward to this fall. I’ve never seen Topdog/Underdog, and it returns to Broadway for its 20th anniversary. I still haven’t seen A strange loop, which ends on January 15; so I need to see it too. In movie theatres, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever comes out November 11, and I expect it to be a lot of fun. [Related: The provocation and power of Black Panther]

A quiet song that I love: I usually obsess over a song, play it to death until it loses all meaning, then find a new song to continue the cycle. My favorite song lately is “Wandering Under the Moon”, from station eleven soundtrack. It’s a short, quirky song about being able to enjoy life now that civilization has finally collapsed and we’re relieved of the mundane things in life. I can’t say if the song is great on its own, but if you’ve seen station eleven, his lyrics and tone carry a unique and wonderfully optimistic perspective on the collapse of civilization. (I’m talking with my therapist about what my obsession with this song might mean.) And if you do not have seen station eleven on HBO Max again, pause anything non-essential in your life and go watch it. [Related: Station Eleven and the bravery of desperate hope]

A musical artist who means a lot to me: Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite musical artist is New York rapper Jadakiss. Dude has so many bars that are basically about reaching a certain level of success but not allowing him to change who he is. I admire the longevity of his career and his love for the craft and culture of hip-hop.

Works of art that I cherish: If my house was on fire, there are two pieces of art I’d grab from the walls on my way out: a painting of Ellie and Dina from The Last of Us 2 video game, and a signed and framed cover of Saga #8. (If you haven’t read Saga again: please, please.)

A favorite story I read in Atlantic: My beloved colleague Xochitl Gonzalez wrote a story called “Why Do Rich People Like Quiet?” to feel the effects of gentrification and classism through sound. As well as being an incredible story, I recounted much of her experience adjusting to wealthy white people who found her too loud and wanted to silence her joy.

“I still haven’t seen A strange loopwhich ends on January 15, so I need to see that too.” (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

My favorite way to waste time on my phone: I make the most ridiculous and tedious to-do lists when I waste time. Currently, I have 13 separate lists on my Reminders app, and no task is too small. Many of them are just for organizing the media I consume – I keep lists of movies, TV, books, anime, video games, and Broadway shows – but my main lists of things to do are outlets to clear the brains of what I’m going to do when I finally get off the train.

An online creator I’m a fan of: Someday I’ll write a full story about how I believe live streaming is the only real date TV left. In the meantime, suffice it to say that I tune in faithfully and on time to several Twitch streams each week. My favorites are Dimple, Tiffie Starchild and Black Nerd Problems. You should follow all three. Sometimes they play video games; other times, they’ll do a “Just Chatting” stream to talk with their viewers. If you see ParisTokyoGhoul in chat, say hello. It’s me.

The last thing that made me laugh out loud: There is a scene in entergalactic– an animated movie on Netflix you should watch – where the protagonist explains why he thinks his girlfriend is mad at him. Basically, he thinks she saw a text she wasn’t supposed to see.

“How do you know she even saw it?” asks his friend.

“Okay. One, when I woke up, my phone was on the pillow. Two, she made her side of the bed. You know how hard it is to make a bed when there’s still someone in it?

“Okay, weird.”

“Three, when I texted her, she replied with the thumbs up emoji!”

“Yes, but was the skin color correct?” asks his friend (the girlfriend is a black woman). The answer comes slowly.

“It was yellow, bro.”

[Related: Entergalactic has me believing in love again.]

The week ahead
  1. The premiere of season 2 of The White Lotus on HBO (Sundays at 9 p.m. EST)
  2. Friends, lovers and the terrible big thing, memoir of actor Matthew Perry (Tuesday)
  3. Alpha ZuluPhoenix’s First Album in Five Years (Friday)

Jack Antonoff and Taylor Swift with a Grammy Award
(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Don’t blame a man for Midnights

By Spencer Kornhaber

It’s her; she’s the problem, confesses Taylor Swift on her new hit “Anti-Hero”. Yet listeners who have trouble with his original tenth studio album, Midnights, blame someone else: Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote 12 of his 13 songs and co-produced them all. Since the alternative rocker made his big break into pop production with Swift’s 2014 song “Out of the Woods,” he’s become a go-to collaborator for titans like Lorde, Lana Del Rey and Diana Ross. But Midnights is the debut album by Antonoff and Swift. Her candid, bespectacled face features in her latest music video. And he is at the center of the main controversy around his new album: Is it good?

Read the article completely.

More in Culture

Read Jordan Calhoun’s latest essay on culture in To be human.

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An aerial view of trees in autumn colors, surrounding a small stand of dead trees that have been destroyed by a beetle infestation and drought, near Schierke, Germany, October 23, 2022
(Matthias Schrader/AP)

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