Jordan Calhoun’s Culture Picks: Black Panther, A Strange Loop, and More

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Good morning, and welcome back to The Daily’s new Sunday culture edition, in which one Atlantic writer reveals what’s keeping them entertained.

Today, our special guest is Jordan Calhoun, a contributing writer and the author of the newsletter Humans Being, which blends pop-culture criticism with memoir. Jordan has explained why he loves Stranger Things but cannot recommend it, and why Everything Everywhere All at Once is a masterpiece. He expects that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be a ton of fun, is catastrophizing about the future of HBO Max with his friends, and insists that you watch Station Eleven and read Saga immediately if you haven’t already.

But first, here are three Sunday reads from The Atlantic:

The Culture Survey: Jordan Calhoun

What my friends are talking about most right now: Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law ended two weeks ago, and everyone is sharing how they feel about the finale. Everyone is also catastrophizing about the future of HBO Max after the Discovery Plus and Warner Bros. merger. I’m typically an optimist, so I try not to worry about the fate of my favorite streaming service, but the future looks grim for fans who love good television. [Related, from 2018: Who is the most underrated superhero?]

The upcoming events I’m most looking forward to: I have some Broadway shows to look forward to this fall. I’ve never seen Topdog/Underdog, and it’s returning to Broadway for its 20th anniversary. I still haven’t seen A Strange Loop, which is closing January 15, so I need to see that too. In movie theaters, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is coming out November 11, and I expect that to be a ton of fun. [Related: The provocation and power of Black Panther]

A quiet song that I love: I usually get obsessed with a song, play it to death until it loses all meaning, and then find a new song to continue the cycle. Lately, my favorite song is “Wandering Under the Moon,” from the 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 trivialities of life. I can’t tell if the song is great on its own, but if you’ve seen Station Eleven, its lyrics and tone carry a unique, 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 haven’t seen Station Eleven on HBO Max yet, pause everything nonessential 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 the New York rapper Jadakiss. Dude has so many bars that are basically about achieving a certain level of success but not allowing it to change who he is. I admire the longevity of his career, and his love for the craft and culture of hip-hop.

Pieces of art that I cherish: If my home were on fire, there are two pieces of art I would grab from the walls on my way out: a painting of Ellie and Dina from the video game The Last of Us 2, and a signed, framed cover of Saga #8. (If you haven’t read Saga yet: please, I’m begging you.)

A favorite story I’ve read in The Atlantic: My beloved colleague Xochitl Gonzalez wrote a story called “Why Do Rich People Love Quiet?” about feeling the effects of gentrification and classism through sound. Aside from it being an incredible story, I related to so much of her experience adjusting to affluent white people who found her too loud and wanted to shush her joy.

Jaquel Spivey performs a number from
"I still haven’t seen A Strange Loop, which is closing January 15, so I need to see that too." (Theo Wargo / Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

My favorite way of wasting time on my phone: I make the most ridiculous, tedious to-do lists when I’m wasting time. Currently, I have 13 separate lists on my Reminders app, and no task is too small. Many of them are just to organize the media I consume—I keep running lists for movies, television, books, anime, video games, and Broadway shows—but my main to-do lists are outlets for brain-dumping what I’ll do when I’m finally off the train.

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

The last thing that made me snort with laughter: There’s a scene in Entergalactic—an animated film on Netflix that you should watch—where the protagonist is explaining why he thinks his girlfriend is mad at him. Basically, he believes she saw a text that she wasn’t meant to see.

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

“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 someone’s still in it?”

“Okay, weird.”

“Three, when I text her, she hit me back with the thumbs-up emoji!”

“Yeah, but was the skin color correct?” his friend asks (the girlfriend is a Black woman). The answer comes softly.

“It was yellow, bro.”

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

The Week Ahead
  1. The Season 2 premiere of The White Lotus on HBO (Sunday at 9 p.m. EST)
  2. Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, the actor Matthew Perry’s memoir (Tuesday)
  3. Alpha Zulu, Phoenix’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, Taylor Swift confesses on her new hit “Anti-Hero.” Yet listeners who have issues with her tenth original studio album, Midnights, are blaming someone else: Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote 12 of its 13 songs and co-produced all of them. Ever since the alternative rocker got his big break into pop production with Swift’s 2014 song “Out of the Woods,” he has become a go-to collaborator for titans including Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and Diana Ross. But Midnights is Antonoff and Swift’s first album-length team-up. His guileless, bespectacled face features in her latest music video. And he is the center of the main controversy surrounding her new album: Is it any good?

Read the full article.

More in Culture

Read Jordan Calhoun’s latest culture essay in Humans Being.

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An aerial view of autumn-colored trees, surrounding a small stand of dead trees that were destroyed by a bark-beetle infestation and drought, near Schierke, Germany, on October 23, 2022
(Matthias Schrader / AP)

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