Although I am fairly shameless in my love for pop music, I was never a One Direction fan and know very little about Harry Styles other than that he dated Taylor Swift and went on holiday with Adele and James Corden recently. But my friend's daughter introduced me to his new album Fine Line, and I'm in love! The music references the 60s and 70s — I can hear little bits of Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, and CSNY — with a lovely California vibe. Standouts for me are Golden and To Be So Lonely.
The investigative documentary podcast Scene on the Radio(produced by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) should be required listening. In past seasons, the host John Biewen explored racism in America (season 2, "Seeing White") and toxic masculinity (season 3, "Men"), while this season focuses on American democracy ("The Land That Has Never Been Yet"). I was never a good history student — I was more comfortable with the symbolism and language of literature than with memorizing dates, treaties, and facts that felt unrelated to my life. But I LEARN from this podcast, and what I learn feels essential to understanding the time we're living in.
Three different friends within a two-week period recommended that I listen to the Dolly Parton's America podcast. Although I grew up in Virginia, I was never a country music fan — neither the twang or tropes of the genre appealed to me. But who doesn't love Dolly Parton? And that's really the point of this podcast. In the first episode, the host Jad Abumrad explains his personal connection to both Tennessee and Dolly along with the inspiration for the podcast. It's an insightful and fascinating in-depth look at and conversation with a woman and artist who's spanned decades with talent, humor, intelligence, and sass.
For much of my adult life, I have wished that I could find a mentor — someone slightly older who has also forged her own path and who could report back and provide guidance to someone a few steps behind. Last year, I read about the theory of a "mentor from afar," who can be a stranger but whose story or career has meaning for your own life. Lisa Congdon is one of my "mentors from afar." I love that she is a self-taught artist who didn't begin her career until she was 40, that she works in different mediums, that she writes and speaks and teaches and does all the things. In this conversation with Jonathan Fields, Lisa talks about how it's all a process and that when you're a growing, creative person, the process keeps evolving. It was a good reminder that I'll never really have it all figured out, so all I need to worry about are today's small steps.
Keep Going is the third book in Austin Kleon's series that started with Steal Like an Artist and was followed by Show Your Work! I love his style in general — handwriting, collages, blackout poems, great quotes — and this book is the best of the three IMHO. I originally got it from the library and then bought my own copy because I could tell that reading it once wasn't going to be enough. I'm at a new point in my creative life and career, and the messages of this book are just what I need to hear — about hope, perseverance, and art as a fun and meaningful part of your everyday life.
BONUS PODCAST LINK: A great conversation between Austin and Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project podcast, talking about the book and about living creative lives.
WTF is my long-time fave podcast. Marc Maron is an insightful interviewer with a knack for getting people to open up in a way I don't hear on other podcasts. Betty Gilpin stars with Marc on the Netflix series Glow, and their relationship as cast mates is clear in this conversation. The revelation of this interview is Betty Gilpin's completely charming metaphor-laden view of life. How to trust people and let them in "beyond the vestibule," and being all made-up for work and feeling like a "porn poodle" were two of my faves! It's a smart conversation between two "thinky" people who don't trust surfaces or the status quo.