DEVOUR {things to watch, read, and listen to}

DEVOUR {things to watch, read, and listen to}

. 63 min read

In our monthly DEVOUR column we share all the things we think you should eat up.

From Natalie: Listen.

Barges and breweries: Sofar Sounds hosts secret concerts in Brooklyn's most  unique locations

I hope CRUSH Music Lovers have heard of SoFarSounds. A friend of mine left Spotify to run SoFarSounds after being at Spotify (in order to grow, a song suggestion algorithm that supports more up-and-coming musicians). SFS does live house concert-style events with three 'new' songwriters and is rolling out new locations regularly. Right now they are in a number of major cities, including New York, Boston, Miami, Denver. You pay $20 to attend, you don't know where it is (sometimes a yoga studio, or a bar, or an art space), you don't know who is playing, and sometimes you BYOB. It is always an interesting and diverse crowd and usually 1.5-2 of the artists are pretty rocking. It's a fun model, somewhat campy or even a bit too earnest at times, but also vulnerable, intimate and fresh.

From Jim: Read.

The Last Days of Night - Moore, Graham

The Last Days of Night Written by the screenwriter of The Imitation Game. Read this next, Dish! It is a superb historical thriller based on actual events around the race between enemies Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla to roll out electricity in the late 1800’s. It swerves from high society parties to backroom manipulations and contemplates the good and bad of genius, and ambition.

From Nina: Watch/Listen.

If you loved the movie Barbie, love/hated the movie Barbie or just want a deeper dive into the thinking of Greta Gerwig as a filmmaker, and on life, then watch this. It’s very good.

From Natalie: Read.

Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting - Gauthier, Mary

Mary Gauthier's book "Saved By A Song" is a heartfelt exploration of her road to becoming a songwriter. Through what she found in that process, she volunteers time at therapeutic retreats for Veterans - using the healing power of songwriting to help them and their families process the complicated feelings they harbor around serving. I can't highly recommend the writing of the book but still, it is straightforward, an easy and quick read, and the content and the story are wonderful. Talk about LOVE, in the Love, Actually category. Couple it with Gaultier’s song 'Mercy Now' and you have a really real, if you know what I mean. My boyfriend and I saw her perform troubadour style at Fruitlands last summer and she was so humble and piercing.

ReadProject Unlonely by Dr. Jeremy Nobel

Project Unlonely: Healing Our Crisis of Disconnection - Nobel, Jeremy

Though loneliness has always existed, it seems that it was never more talked about until the world experienced a pandemic. Now considered a public health crisis, the consequences of loneliness are thoroughly addressed in this important book by Dr. Jeremy Nobel, the founder of Project UnLonely. Through interviews with researchers and people in business, the arts, education, and healthcare, Dr. Nobel “takes us through steps to find comfort and connection.”

To learn more about Project UnLonely, listen to Dr. Nobel’s interview with NPR’s Marielle Segarra:

How to combat loneliness : Life Kit
1 in 4 adults says they’re lonely. The consequences of long-term social disconnection can be dire — everything from an increased risk of heart attacks to dementia and premature death. Primary care physician and author of the new book Project UnLonely Dr. Jeremy Nobel offers tips to feel less lonely and open up to connection again.

Watch.  Love in the Time of Cholera (HBO Max)

Realizing it’s been more than 15 years since its release, I decided it was time to revisit this jewel. The 2007 film adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1985 novel is the perfect period piece to keep you warm this winter.  Beginning in 1880 Columbia, this engrossing story of love and longing moves through five decades to 1930 and every frame is visually stunning. After his childhood love is set to marry Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt), messenger boy Florentino (deliciously portrayed by the one and only Javier Bardem) painfully yet patiently waits fifty years for the opportunity to be reunited with his beloved.  As we experience his character age from a boy to a very old man, Bardem beautifully relays all the pathos and humor Marquez has written into his novel.


WatchThe Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (HBO Max)

Originally released in 2020, this poignant and in-depth documentary chronicles the rise of The Bee Gees, four musician brothers who dominated the Billboard charts with 29 top 40 hits, 15 top ten hits, 9 number one records, and created the soundtrack that defined the disco era– Saturday Night Fever. Adored worldwide for their extraordinary vocals and intricate harmonies, the Bee Gees have written hits for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, and many more artists. Sadly, three of the Gibbs brothers have been lost to addiction or disease, leaving Barry Gibb as the band’s sole survivor, but this documentary is a beautiful retrospect of the music they leave behind.


WatchAlbert Brooks: Defending My Life (HBO Max)

Revered director Rob Reiner may know actor/writer/director Albert Brooks better than any one.  After all, they’ve been friends since childhood. So who better to make a documentary on Brooks than Reiner?  In this charming, smart, and entertaining documentary, the two pals reminisce on Brooks’ rich career, recount stories of growing up with famous fathers, laugh a lot (I promise you will, too), and are joined by appearances from friends, family, and colleagues, all celebrating the genius of Brooks. 


ReadMy Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand

My Name Is Barbra

Most octogenarians have lived a life interesting enough to fill a book, but when the octogenarian is Barbra Streisand, the memoir is a 970-page tour de force.  Whether reading the book or listening to her voice of buttah on the audio version, you’ll hang on to her every word as Streisand shares stories of nearly seventy years of dominating music, movies, television, and stage, and tells (almost) all about her life and loves. Brava, Babs!


ReadThe Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story by Sam Wasson

The Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story

Through hundreds of hours of interviews with the man said to be one of film’s greatest directors, New York Times best-selling author (Fifth Avenue, Five A.M.), Sam Wasson, has constructed a work that is sure to become a piece of history.  Whether you're a film buff or a lover of the American Dream or the human condition, you’ll love reading about director Francis Ford Coppola’s vision and the extremes that make him tick.  From Coppola’s first feature, Dementia 13, through The Godfather movies, Apocalypse Now, the soon-to-be-released Megalopolis and everything in between, Wasson leaves no questions unanswered.


ListenYou Are What You Read podcast

Best-selling author, playwright, screenwriter, and director Adriana Trigiani has done it again!  Her new podcast, You Are What You Read, kicked off in October 2023 with inaugural guest Sarah Jessica Parker.  Covering all things literary, Trigiani talks with authors about what started their love of books, what they read, and what they’re writing about right now.  A new guest each week.  Former guests include Lidia Bastianich, Craig Ferguson, Mitch Albom, Katie Couric, and Fannie Flagg.  Click the link below for the full series:

youarewhatyoureadpodcast | Instagram | Linktree
Linktree. Make your link do more.

From Susie*Listen. Bad Dates Podcast & Normal Gossip Podcast 

Bad Dates affirms that everyone, no matter how beautiful or famous, has had weird, uncomfortable or awkward stuff happen on a date. And we all overlook a lot of behavior because we want to be loved or have sex (or both). It’s a funny reminder (especially as I embark on dating in midlife) that even if it’s bad, it’s still a good story.

Normal Gossip is just good fun. The host shares a story from “a friend of a friend” with a guest on each episode, and the two discuss. These are not juicy tabloid fodder; they are everyday situations that have plot twists and recognizable characters from most of our lives. A frequent commenter in the Facebook group, a questionable dog owner, the hot guy from the farmers market. It’s just fun and light, and sometimes that’s what you need.”


From "Andrew": Listen. To Lucinda Williams on Tour!

My daughter and I saw Lucinda Williams last weekend in St. Louis (I was visiting her at WashU). Williams had a stroke last year and has been physically compromised but I want her die-hard fans to know that she still sings and talks very well. It is one of the bravest performances I have ever seen. She is currently touring, so if you want to be deeply inspired and moved, by her music as well as her performance, go see her. You can check out her tour schedule here.

Listen to her new album here

From "Steve": Watch. Old Dads (Netflix)

If you like Bill Burr, watch Old Dads. It's about a middle-aged Dad and his two best friends, based on Burr’s own experience being an older father. (If you don’t like Burr don’t bother.)


Edouard Manet, Olympia (1863). Collection of Musee D'Orsay.

From Diane: Read. What Makes ‘Olympia’ So Astoundingly Modern?

If you saw the Manet/Degas exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, or even if you didn’t, you might enjoy this article about why Manet’s painting Olympia is considered the star of the exhibit.

What Makes ‘Olympia’ So Astoundingly Modern? Here Are 3 Things That Help Unlock Manet’s Enigmatic Canvas | Artnet News
‘Olympia’, Manet’s ’scandalous 1863 painting of a courtesan and her maid is on view in New York for the first time.

Do. Consider taking up (or working on your ) art this winter! I enrolled in a well-known online class, Gregory’s Sketchbook Skool, and it’s fabulous. It is a very well-thought-out, structured online program for furthering anyone’s interest area for art. I took the watercolor class, but there are a wide variety of classes, from drawing to colored pencils to “being an iPad artist.” And it is not just classes, there are a lot of resources, plus you are part of a community. Depending on what you want, you can include “studio time” on Zoom where you work on your art alongside other students and a professor and have the opportunity to ask questions as you work. It’s very cool.

Playing in my sketchbook Skok studio class. This drawing is a riff of a tiny drawing I saw somewhere?

From "Allison": Watch. Lincoln Lawyer (Netflix)

I wanted to share a Netflix recommendation: Lincoln Lawyer. The trial part is improbable (like every TV law show) but the storyline is amazing. The characters are great and the crime unfolds with such unexpected twists and turns - my husband and I binged the first season together. I am an attorney and he is not, but he liked it as much as I did.


Thank you to the CRUSH Readers who sent in DEVOUR recommendations. If you've devoured something you loved, please let us know!

And now for some recommendations from Lisa Ellex and me.

Watch. Taste of Things (in movie theaters). An extended metaphor on the ‘food is love” theme, this is the love story of two people who share a passion for the art of fine cooking, which is inextricably intertwined with their passion for each other. It is a story of profound, nuanced, mature love that unfolds slowly, like a long-braised coq au vin. The opening is a 38-minute montage that follows the two main characters as they wordlessly, sensually select produce, prep and cook all the elements for an eight course feast, working side-by-side with a well-oiled rhythm that doesn’t require discussion. (Hint: if you find yourself nodding off during the opener, this film is not to your taste, as the deliberate pacing continues throughout.) It is situated in the French country in the late 1800’s and is beautifully filmed in amber shades. For those of us who find the making of a subtle veloute engrossing, this is a remarkable story of radical love.


Watch. The Crime Is Mine (Prime Video, Apple+). A stylish, mischievous French crime romp set in 1930’s Paris, this is a light, entertaining film that would be perfect for capping off a long week. It is the story of Madeleine, a beautiful but not terribly talented and thoroughly broke actress who gets caught up in a high-profile trial after a run-in with a predatory producer. It is more light froth than substance, but it is delicious froth.


WatchCrash Landing on You. (Netflix)This is the unpredictable, utterly addictive series you didn’t know you needed. While paragliding, a South Korean heiress accidentally drops into the demilitarized zone in North Korea, and into the life of a military officer who is also the son of a leader in the Korean People’s Army. He agrees to hide her; they fall in love. It was aired starting in 2019 and a huge hit in Asia, and made its way to me by word of mouth (from two separate friends) in the last couple of weeks. With 16 episodes, it is an entertaining distraction to keep you going for a while.


Listen A Love Supreme. Bring Me A Higher Love. February has been chock full of celebration. In addition to Black History Month, the calendar is spotted with notable days such as Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Groundhog Day, Presidents’ Day and, of course, Valentine’s Day. It’s the perfect time of year to listen (or re-listen) to John Coltrane’s masterpiece, A Love Supreme.  Recorded sixty years ago, the four-part jazz suite is considered to be among Coltrane’s greatest works. The four tracks ("Acknowledgement", "Resolution", "Pursuance", and "Psalm") materialized after his awakening following years of addiction, and is his acknowledgement that his talent is owned by a spiritual higher power.

Coltrane’s quartet is masterful here.  With McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums, one cannot imagine a more suitable personnel. In Eric Weservelt’s 2012 NPR interview with the late, great Tyner, the pianist speaks to the freedom and communion that transpired when performing the piece. 

The Story Of ‘A Love Supreme’
John Coltrane presented ‘A Love Supreme’ as a spiritual declaration that his musical devotion was now intertwined with his faith in God.

Watch.  The Last Repair Shop(Disney+). In their documentary short, The Last Repair ShopOscar-nominated filmmakers Kris Bowers and Ben Proudfoot take us inside The LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) Music Repair Shop where dedicated technicians have been repairing and providing musical instruments to L.A. public school children – free of charge  – since 1959. The personal stories of how music shaped and – in some cases – saved the lives of technicians and students will truly move you. 

Streaming now on Disney+ and Hulu but you can access it at no charge on the Los Angeles Times’ YouTube channel linked above.


Watch.  Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO Max). Sunday Will Never Be The Same. There’s a little Larry in us all. Perhaps that’s why we tuned in for 12 seasons, but it’s the last stop for Larry on this final season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. What started as a one-hour HBO mockumentary in 2009 has grown to the long-running series that garnered 47 Emmys, thanks to the neurotic persona of creator Larry David and the talent of his stellar cast of regulars that includes Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, and J.B. Smoove.  


ListenCrime Junkie. If you’re obsessed with “who-dun-its” (and who isn’t?), you won’t want to miss a single episode of this t podcast.  Each week, hosts Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat cleverly recount chilling real-life cases that let listeners play detective. This podcast takes crime seriously.  So serious that it invites the listening audience to fill out an “If I Go Missing” form because, well, you can never be too careful.

Episodes | Crime Junkie Podcast
Be Weird. Be Rude. Stay Alive.

ListenPre-Loved PodcastPoppin’ Tags. Do you sift through the thrift?  If so, you won’t want to miss Pre-Loved Podcast with Emily Stochl.  In this weekly vintage fashion interview show, Stochl talks with guests from all walks of the thrifting community, from thrift and consignment shop owners the world over, to stylists, luxury resale outlets, authenticators, dealers, fashion writers, and fellow thrifters.

‎Pre-Loved Podcast with Emily Stochl on Apple Podcasts
‎Arts · 2024

Read Glimpses: A Comedy Writer’s Take on Life, Love, and All That Spiritual Stuff by Matt WilliamsWhat The World Needs Now... Matt Williams, best known as the writer, producer, and award-winning creator of the television shows Roseanne and Home Improvement, can add yet another feather to his creative cap.  Never one for the hubbub of Hollywood, Williams was in constant pursuit of finding a higher purpose in everyday life.  In this thoughtful collection of stories of humanity and humor, Williams shares with readers the “glimpses” that allowed him to see “goodness (and God) in the small, everyday moments of kindness and grace.”

Bonus: All proceeds from the sale of the book will be distributed to children in need. 


Why Jake Tapper made a new series about pre-Trump political scandals | CNN  Politics

Watch. United States of Scandal with Jake Tapper (CNN). Falling From Grace. Beginning Sunday, February 18th, you can be front row center as CNN anchor, Jake Tapper, interviews the subjects of some of our nation’s most outrageous scandals. Tapper gets inside the heads of figures such as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, actress Rielle Hunter, and former New Jersey Gov. Jim McCreevy to find out just what motivated them to risk their careers, their families, and in some cases– their freedom.


WatchThe Greatest Night In Pop (Netflix). Our Lips Are Sealed. Quincy Jones can keep a secret.  So can Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, and 40 other of the greatest names in music as they so brilliantly proved when they conspired to write, produce, and create the single, “We Are The World”.

In this new documentary chronicling the clandestine recording session that immediately followed the 1985 American Music Awards, filmmaker Bao Nguyen uses original footage and interviews with some superstars of music to tell the story of how Harry Belafonte’s vision gave birth to the single “We Are The World” and created a charity that has raised more than $214 million (to date) for humanitarian aid in Africa.

Featuring our era’s greatest musicians including, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, and so many others, this improbable, feel-good story is not to be missed.


Watch. Zero Gravity on Amazon PrimeA Gentle Genius. In the opening of the three-part docuseries, Zero Gravity, the voice of composer, bandleader, and saxophone great, Wayne Shorter, is heard saying, “There are two great events in one’s life; one is being born, the other is knowing why.”  There is no doubt that Shorter was born to make music, and his music is divine. Before his passing in March of this year, Shorter created a legacy that included over 100 recordings, contributions to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Miles Davis’ Second Quintet, Horace Silver, and his own fusion band, Weather Report. Eight years in the making, the docuseries features an illustrious list of musicians including Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Sonny Rollins, and Carlos Santana, who come together to celebrate the man who has been called the greatest improviser of the soprano and tenor saxophone. With a sound that is complex and mystical, Shorter will forever remain one of music’s greatest contributors to the jazz, bop, post-bop, and fusion eras.


Get. The Toto Washlet C5 Seat. Please be seated. Invented in 1710 by French craftsman Christophe des Rosiers, the bidet is finally finding its way into more U.S. households. Though mainstream in France, Japan, Italy, and Portugal, Americans are beginning to enjoy the benefits of a beautifully buffed booty. Want Santa to leave a bidet seat under your Christmas tree this year? Read all about it:

This Pricey Bidet Is an Investment We Can Get Behind (It’s Been Our Pick for 7 Years!)
This bidet offers an experience most people agree is excellent, whether they’ve used one for years or are totally new to it.

Listen. The Love Commandos. Prisoner of Love. A 5-episode NPR series that follows Indian newlyweds who ran away with their “love mates” after refusing to enter arranged marriages.  Told that “love marriage” is a selfish act punishable by imprisonment, these newlyweds seek the shelter of “The Love Commandos” after being cut off by their families. The Commandos bring the newlyweds to a safe house where they can safely celebrate their marriage, but are the Commandos comrades or kidnappers?

He was hailed as a crusader for love. Now he’s accused of being a villain
Sanjoy Sachdev was lauded as India’s cupid. But Sachdev and his group have became villains in the eyes of many of the people they promised to help.

Read. Now’s Your Chance to Read These Riveting Books Bound for the Small Screen.

Big Swiss - Beagin, Jen

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin is a very offbeat love story / an anti-trauma screed / dark comedy and highly original novel about one woman (a little lost) who transcribes the sessions for a sex therapist, then falls in love with one of the patients but continues to transcribe her sessions anyway. It is exceptionally well-written, though self-consciously clever at times. It was the subject of a bidding war for screen rights. It will be starring Jodie Comer as the title character, in what is certainly the most perfect get by the casting director. Every bit worth the hype.

Amazon.com: Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song  for an Era (Audible Audio Edition): Laurence Leamer, Carrington MacDuffie,  Penguin Audio: Audible Books & Originals

Capote’s Women by Laurence Leamer is an eye-opening nonfiction exhortation on Truman Capote’s real-life swans (headline: they’re all f*cked up) - and his cold-blooded betrayal of them. The book is the basis for an upcoming FX series Feud: Capote vs. The Swans and the cast includes a fabulous roster: Tom Hollander, Naomi Watts, Chloe Sevigny and Diane Lane.


Listen. BONNET by John Patrick ShanleyRadio Days… The new season of NPR’s outstanding radio play series, Playing On Air, is in full swing, bringing works by playwrights Amanda Quaid, James McLindon, David Ives, and others. The latest episode, Bonnet, by playwright John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea) features actors John Turturro and Debra Messing as a married couple hoping to heat up what’s been cooled down in the bedroom.  Hilarious and touching, you can listen by clicking the image above or wherever you get your podcasts.


Listen. Champian Fulton's New Album, Meet Me At BirdlandLive from New York, it’s… It’s finally here and it’s up for Grammy consideration! Champian Fulton’s Meet Me at Birdland is her latest release, recorded live at one of New York’s finest jazz rooms.  I’ll take a live jazz recording over a studio-produced recording anyday, as it delivers the energy, excitement, and communion of the form in the best possible way. As always, Fulton’s style embodies singer/pianists of days gone by. Listening to her perform the chestnuts on this record one might feel as if they’re sitting in a small, smoky club in 1950, especially on “Just Friends” and “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” though each cut is a gem. Fulton is joined by her bandmates of twenty years, bassist Hide Tanaka and drummer Fukushi Tainaka who make their usual magic with Fulton, but especially on their hypnotic rendition of  “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most.”  Available on CD and limited edition vinyl, be sure to add this new release to your collection. 


HIGH KICKS - playlist by Block Shop Textiles | Spotify

Listen. The Perfect Playlist for Your Next Dinner Party: HIGH KICKS By Block Shop Textiles. Boy, do I love a great playlist. And there are fewer out there than you’d think. Yeah, everybody can do a playlist. It’s a beautifully democratic enterprise, and for that I’m grateful. But doing one well? That’s an art.

Playlists for dinner parties are even trickier because you want upbeat, but you want to be able to converse too. And you want to hit a few moods. You want to start warm and frisky (but not overpowering) when your guests arrive, so they are stepping into something lively. Then you want to lower it A LOT to create much more of a background ambience. In a perfect world, I turn the music off in the dining room for the dinner but leave it on for the kitchen, living room and hallways so people can hear it when they hit the bathrooms and on their way home.

HIGH KICKS is a great playlist for a casual dinner party, especially something where it is indoor/outdoor or people are grabbing food from a buffet and mixing throughout. I have a friend with a dynamite outdoor pizza grill game who often entertains very casually around that. This is her playlist. Or yours, perhaps.


Read. Genealogy of a Murder by Lisa Belkin. Bad Blood. Is murder in our genes? Award-winning journalist Lisa Belkin (New York Times) has written a true-crime work that answers this question as she followed the stories of three families through four generations.  Ten years in the works, the real life story examines how we become what we become – and what changes life’s trajectories – reminding us that there are no accidents.


Read/Listen. Hello, hello…? After losing his cousin in Japan’s 2010 tsunami, Itaru Sasaki created a public “Wind Phone” where he and his neighbors could talk to lost loved ones. With no operating phone connection, Wind Phones have popped up in the U.S., Europe, and Canada and have proved to be an effective bereavement tool, connecting those who grieve with those who have passed. Listen or read about it here and then visit The Original Phone of the Wind to learn about wind phone sites in other locations.

Lost loved ones are just a dial away
Wind phones provide a line to help people cope with the loss of a loved one. They’re not attached to a physical phone line. They can be rotary phones or portable phones. The phones are not in service. And no one is talking back on the other end. The movement that started in Japan has made its way to…

Listen/Read. The Rhythm Method. Ever wonder what musicians and the male palm cockatoo have in common? They both know how to get the chicks! Scientists in ? have discovered a Male Palm Cockatoo drumming mating ritual in which the male bird walks out on a tree limb, plucks a branch, forges it into a drumstick, and plays a rhythm that will attract a mate.  Proving, there’s more than one way to woo a cockatoo!

To woo a cockatoo, scientists find having your own drumsticks and rhythm is key

“If music be the food of " love…”
Read. 
The Enchanted Symphony Written by the mother-daughter team of Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, and illustrated by Elly MacKay, the story is inspired by the June 2020 closing of Barcelona’s Liceu Opera House in the midst of Covid.  In this enchanting story, a town is besieged by a mysterious fog until the young son of the village maestro discovers how to stir the souls of the villagers. The book makes a wonderful children’s holiday gift to help navigate these turbulent times.

The Enchanted Symphony

Then listen to Julie Andrews and her daughter talk about the events that inspired the book and the important themes of nature, arts, family, and community here.

From Mike: Watch. Formula One: Drive to Survive (Netflix)

"I don’t think I saw this in DEVOUR when Season 1 originally came out in 2019, but this wildly popular Netflix show about the fast-paced and fascinating people who make up the world of Formula One racing is up to five seasons now for a reason. It’s surprising and engrossing, and I knew nothing about F1 racing before it started. A sixth season is on its way, so this is a good time for anybody who overlooked this series to catch up."


From SVB: Watch. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story

"This is more than just entertaining, it is loosely based on Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, King George III’s wife. He reigned for over 50 years and had real mental health issues that the series addresses intelligently. It develps a story around why she was the way she was, and how women take charge of their lives when they are constrained by society. It’s an argument against a victim mentality, and toward agency. I had a full, cathartic cry at the end."


From Mark: Read. Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention. By Johann Hari


"We really sort of know that social media (and modern life) have invaded our minds to such an extent that we can’t pay attention, but having all the research in front of you is really powerful. Hari makes the case for why we have lost our focus, and why and how to get it back. Reading it is the first step in beginning to pay attention.


From Sara: Watch. Tetris (Apple TV+)

"It's a biographical thriller based on the true story around the race to license and patent the video game Tetris from Russia in the late 1980s during the Cold War. Has major Bill Brodeur vibes. Exciting and fascinating."

From Peter: Watch. Arnold (Netflix)

"I swear to god this biopic on Arnold Schwarzenegger is really good. It is a true American immigrant story, as Arnold goes from being an Austrian bodybuilder, to a Hollywood actor to an eight-year term Governor of California, our largest state (by population). Oh, and meanwhile, he married Maria Shriver (and into America’s political dynasty) but then fathers a child with their housekeeper. It is sort of a lay-up in the sense that Arnold obviously wouldn’t have participated if the series did not make him likable despite his obvious flaws, but his life and personality are astonishing. And it’s an “only in America” story of rags to riches."


From Sam: Read. 2034: A Novel of the Next World War By Elliott Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis


"This is a geopolitical thriller about the (imagined) next world war written by two former military officers. It constructs an imaginative but believable story about the Chinese maneuvering to draw the United States into a confrontation for control over the South China Seas. While the U.S. focuses on the China threat, Russia unleashes technological warfare on us. Ackerman and Stavridis both have extensive military and policy backgrounds, and a central theme of 2034 is the overextension of American power and an outsized reliance on twentieth century grand strategy principles."


By Lisel: Watch. Foundation (Apple TV+)

"I’m not a big sci-fi fan generally, but I’m really into this series. Based on novels by Isaac Asimov, it builds a world of exiles living in space who are trying to save humanity. Both cerebral and exciting."


From Stephanie: Listen. 235. Tracee Ellis Ross - We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle.

‎We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle: 167. Tracee Ellis Ross: How to Make Peace in Your Own Head on Apple Podcasts
‎Show We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle, Ep 167. Tracee Ellis Ross: How to Make Peace in Your Own Head - Jan 9, 2023

"How to Make Peace in Your Own Head," is the name of this episode, which is one of the most popular episodes of all time for this series. I am not the daughter of a wildly famous person, nor am I a childless woman who never married, yet I could relate to Tracee Ellis Ross's story of not fitting into any archetype. She has done a lot of hard work to carve out her own thoughtful way to be in this world, and the fact that she has done it in the shadows of a superstar Mom (Diana Ross) only makes the peace she has found all the more inspirational and impressive. She is original, thoughtful and in inspiration to all of us trying to find a life lived true to ourselves.

Thank you to all the CRUSH Readers who sent in DEVOUR recommendations. If you've devoured something you loved, please share it with us! You can write me directly at Dish@PrimeCrush.com, or use the easy link below.

Listen. Huberman Lab, a wonky podcast series on mental, physical, emotional and sexual health. Huberman's podcast dives deep (and I mean really, really deep) into specific topics that relate to various aspects of physical and mental well-being, with a focus on using science-based tools to improve everyday life. He asks, for instance, what do we really know, based on the science, about willpower or motivation or risk taking – or how to protect your hearing, or eyesight? And then he considers the related tools, both behavioral and technological. I'm really excited about a series he is doing this month with Dr. Paul Conti on mental health. It covers what it means to be mentally healthy, and what specific practices we can do to build our mental health: how to address your anxieties, build confidence, change your internal narrative, as well as ways to help with overthinking and defense mechanisms. It's a four-part series (with two of the four published so far), and just the first one alone is 3 hours and 40 minutes. This is serious stuff, CRUSHes and, to me, it's a thrilling and powerful series of conversations that are helpful for examining and, where it makes sense, reshaping thought and emotional and behavioral patterns.

Another recent episode with Dr. Rena Malik provides a deep dive into male and female sexual health, much of which is particularly relevant to us at this phase in our lives. Dr. Malik is illuminating on a range of health issues related to our sexual lives. Dr. Malik points out, for instance, that some men are surprised to learn that not breathing correctly (through the diaphram - exhale on the effort!) or certain weightlifting or abdominal routines can result in erectile dysfunction due to pressure on the pelvic floor and decreasing blood flow (this is at 29:00). Again, it's wonky and very detail-oriented but also practical and helpful to both women and men. The episode also addresses arousal, testosterone, vaginal lubrication, prostate health, orgasms, and male and female hormone health.

‎Huberman Lab: GUEST SERIES | Dr. Paul Conti: How to Understand & Assess Your Mental Health on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Huberman Lab, Ep GUEST SERIES | Dr. Paul Conti: How to Understand & Assess Your Mental Health - Sep 6, 2023
‎Huberman Lab: Dr. Rena Malik: Improving Sexual & Urological Health in Males and Females on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Huberman Lab, Ep Dr. Rena Malik: Improving Sexual & Urological Health in Males and Females - Aug 14, 2023

Follow. Jefferson Fisher "I help people argue less." I started following this personal injury lawyer (yes, he's a personal injury lawyer in Southeast Texas!) in 2022 when his Instagram had about 200k followers. He's up to 2.7M now. He gives short, helpful takes on how to handle a range of ordinary, everyday often awkward interactions. He provides advice that helps you walk the fine line between firmly and honestly holding your own, while respectfully addressing the other person. He just dropped what is probably my favorite one The Right Way to Accept A Compliment. His advice is so obvious, but I am frequently shocked about how none of us do it: Just say "thank you" and tell them how it made you feel, or what it means to you ("that means a lot to me"). Don't downplay, dismiss or deflect the compliment by saying, for instance "this old thing?" or "I wasn't that good." That would actually be negating the thoughts and opinions of the compliment giver, which is not a great way to make them feel.

Another particularly helpful one for me is How to Diffuse An Argument. Fisher suggests that if somebody is adamant about something, you simply respond with "maybe you're right." Especially for something subjective, instead of planting your feet and making it worse, simply indicate that you're considering the possibility that they may be right, which is what they really want. And also, maybe they are, in fact, correct. I also appreciate his advice in the clip What to Say When Someone Asks What's Wrong? If you're not ready to talk about it or not settled in your thoughts about it, he says instead of answering with "nothing" say, "I'm not sure yet. Thanks for asking.'" Soooo much better than "nothing," when that's not actually true.

Watch/Listen. Talking Sopranos Podcast

A new generation of audience has discovered the ground-breaking HBO series, The Sopranos, and they can’t seem to get enough. From 1999 to 2007, creator and head writer David Chase presented a total of 86 hour-long episodes that focused on the home and work life of fictional New Jersey capo dei capi Tony Soprano. With 111 Emmy nominations and 21 wins, the cinematic series enjoyed critical acclaim.

Enter Talking Sopranos Podcast, the weekly one-hour re-watch podcast hosted by Sopranos cast members Michael Imperioli (Chris Moltisanti) and Steve Schirripa (Bobby Baccala). Launched during Covid and recorded in 2020 and 2021, the podcast covers all 86 episodes (6 seasons) and features guests like cast members Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, Aida Turturro, Frankie Valle, and Little Stevie Van Zandt, as well as directors, writers, and other creatives who offer behind-the-scenes stories (Bracco was offered the role of Carmela Soprano but turned it down and asked for the role of psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi). In addition to being a gifted actor, Imperioli is a talented writer who penned several of the episodes in the series. Here, he serves as dramaturg, schooling the audience in symbolism, historical and literary references, imagery, through-lines, recurring themes, and keeps a continuing discussion with Schirripa regarding the use of violence.

Schirripa complements his co-host well, with amusing anecdotes and insightful questions of the guests. The podcast is truly a course in the inner-workings of TV production and would be of special interest to anyone interested in dramatic writing.

When you’re done with the podcast, you can…

Read. Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos

This oral history of the series is a must for any Sopranophile.


Listen. The leaves aren’t the only thing dropping this fall season. Check out these new jams to load onto your Fall Foliage Cruisin’ playlist:

Listen Here

“Lil Boo Thang” by Paul Russell - If you haven’t listened to Paul Russell yet, that’s about to change. The MOR hip-hop/R&B leaning artist out of L.A. recently had his track, “Lil Boo Thang” hit 7.7 million views on Instagram with 75,000 other reels using it – even before his sample was cleared! The sample? It’s the 1977 platinum hit, “Best of My Love” by the Emotions, composed by Maurice White and Al McKay of Earth, Wind & Fire. If this collab doesn’t get you up and dancing, get your pulse checked. Russell’s music is rhythmic and his lyrics are never explicit. In his own words, his sound is “happy and melodic” as exhibited in his summer 2023 single, “Touristy Places” with its undeniable California sound. This is good stuff you’ll enjoy, with or without the kids.



Veronica Swift - You’ve heard us sing her praises here before. Previewing her upcoming release, it’s safe to say that vocal dynamo Veronica Swift is the most versatile vocalist you will ever hear. Growing up at her parent’s jazz gigs groomed her to become one of the most skillful jazz singers on the scene today, but as a teen Swift fantasized about singing with the Dresden Dolls. This year that dream came true when she briefly joined them on tour after coming off the road as a featured vocalist with trumpeter Chris Botti’s band. Trained as a coloratura, Swift perfected her instrument to dizzying heights, as evidenced on this latest self-titled album, Veronica Swift, a “cross-genre” work that drops September 15th. She’s already dropped two singles off the record. The first: is a kick-ass version of the song that has become the LGBTQ anthem, “I Am What I Am”. In her own words, “My new single “I Am What I Am” is an unapologetic manifesto of taking pride in who you are.”

Then, in a hard 180, Swift delivers the next single, a Nine Inch Nails cover of “Closer.

Yes, indeed, Veronica Swift has something for everyone here. Don’t miss it.


How Love Begins by Nicole Zuraitis - Zuraitis’ latest album, How Love Begins, is a glorious labor of love. Each one of the ten original tunes (some co-written by Cyrille Aimee, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Claude Debussy) is a gem, no matter what the form. On “Burn,” “Well Planned, Well Played,” and the gorgeous “Reverie,” Zuraitis is joined by the masterful bassist Christian McBride, while holding it down on drums is her husband and talented musician, Dan Pugach. How Love Begins is the richest of Zuraitis’ albums and my favorite works of hers yet.


Martina DaSilva - It’s been a busy summer for jazz chanteuse, composer, and arranger Martina DaSilva as she dropped two “double singles” just one month apart.

In July she brought us an arrangement of “That Old Black Magic'' that moves like a musical freight train, then slows it down with one of the most gorgeous songs about loss and longing, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.”

August’s release gave us Jobim’s bossa nova standard “Chega de Saudade,” which DaSilva delivers in the original Portuguese. Followed by a delicious duet with vocalist Brigitaa Teuscher, that puts a new spin on the standard “Prisoner of Love.”

It seems like there’s nothing DaSilva can’t conquer– not only does she sing with the famed Post Modern Jukebox, but she makes her own gig clothes!


Low Ridin' by Chris Washburne (2015) - Not a new release but worth a listen, this 2015 instrumental offering from trombonist Chris Washburn is not your grandma’s muzak. Here, Washburne reimagines the tunes you know and love, delivered in a Latin groove.. From Lou Reed’s “Walk On the Wild Side” to The Doors 1967 release, “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” you’ll be ticked by his imaginative arrangements of rock classics.

Watch. Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip Hop (Netflix)

Some of us have been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop music all year but this docu-series shines the spotlight solely on the women in the hip hop industry and their contributions to the culture. Interviews with Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Latto, Saweetie and other artists, writers and industry experts candidly discuss misogyny and racism in this 4 part docuseries.

Read. The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman

Considered the mistress of American literature, the author of The Marriage of Opposites and the Practical Magic series brings us The Invisible Hour, a historical novel centered on a cult in which children are not allowed to read books or go to the library, and all contact with the outside world is forbidden. When Mia, the novel’s main character, finds Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, she travels back in time and falls in love with the revered author.


DEVOUR {things to watch, read & listen to}


From Steve: Listen. Broken Record.


“Rick Rubin’s podcast. I am a big-time fan of his. He does fantastic interviews with fantastic musical artists. Rubin is not just a brilliant artist himself, he is also a huge genuine fan of other artists, which makes him a uniquely talented, thoughtful interviewer.”



From Kathy: Listen. An Owner’s Manual for Your Body | Juliet and Kelly Starrett.

“This episode from the podcast Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris (June 19, 2023) is an interview with the authors of the book Built to Move. Frankly, it is a bite-sized, doable manual on tiny, everyday steps you can do to stay mobile, sturdy and healthy for those who love a Peter Attia approach (Outlive). For instance, the tip I have incorporated is that I brush my teeth standing on one leg. This is not taking any additional time out of my day, but it helps my balance, strengthens my core … The podcast is a great introduction to the concepts in the book.”



From Nina: Read. The Rules of Inheritance.

“If you’re still working through losing a parent before you were fully an adult.”



From Mike: Watch. Quantum Love (Prime Video)

"With the qualifier that I could watch Sophie Marceau read the phone book, check out Quantum Love. Great."


Write me with you recommendations for our next DEVOUR at Dish@PrimeCrush.com. Thank you!

Watch. Oppenheimer

As long-time readers of The Crush Letter know, I grew up in a military family - my Father was a career officer in the Air Force and retired to teach geopolitics at a local college, my brother was a green beret in the Army and my uncle was awarded a Purple Heart for his fighting at Iwo Jima. I also love the study of genuis, and U.S. history. So rushing out to see Oppenheimer with a new guy I'm hanging with (also a U.S. history buff) was a no-brainer. The film is a very thoughtful and well-executed treatment of a monumental historical event, so it was hard to unpack it all over dinner afterward.

Simply put, the film depicts and illuminates the larger-than-life men responsible for the most pivotol event in human history. I have a lot of quibbles with certain aspects of the film – most specifically, the elements of the story that the director Christopher Nolan chose to focus on at the sake of others – but it intelligently and thoughtfully engages us in an important cultural conversation on all the important aspects of this moment in history: the people, the context, the decision, its aftermath and the morality.

"Los Alamos from Below" a lecture by Richard Feynman. After watching Oppenheimer, if you are interested in learning more about the inner-workings of the scientific team at Los Alamos, then you'll appreciate listening to Nobel-prize winning scientist John Feynman, famous for his wit, humor and imagination, talk thirty years later about what it was like to be a junior scientist on a team made up of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world. Not only is Feynman a scientific genuis, his comedic timing is sublime. His closing comments, in which he shares how it feels to him thirty years after the bombs were dropped, are pure gold.

Watch. The Bear Season 2

The Bear (FX/hulu) follows a James Beard-winning chef who leaves the haute restaurant scene of New York City to return to working class Chicago to run his late brother's sandwich shop. In Season 2 we begin to fully understand the source of the demons that the lead character Carmy is battling. There is a tour-de-force episode titled Fishes in which a family Christmas Eve dinner plays out in flashback, but what I appreciated most about this follow-up season was the change-up in pacing – there was room to breathe here, allowing the arc of key characters to develop with nuance and depth. Each and every one was as compelling as an individual, and helps us to appreciate the dynamics of the ensemble as a whole.

Watch. SMARTLESS On the Road (Max)

Now a documentary about the friendship between three famous guys that started a podcast, Smartless is both an ode to their friendship and pure entertainment. Hosted by friends (and actors) Jason Batemen, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett the documentary "goes behind" their road trip doing live versions of their show in major cities. I don't think we have ever had such an intimate look at how three midlife male friends relate and bond. It is an intense look at the very nature of male friendship. It helps, of course, that they are wickedly funny, charming, in-the-know, good-humored, good men with confidence and even moments of vulnerability, but what I really appreciate here is that they are not trying to make the show edifying or political or take on serious issues. They are having a great time together and bringing us along. They have great chemistry and it’s the equivalent of grabbing your drink of choice and hanging out. It’s a good hang.

Here's the podcast that sparked the journey:

Watch. Wynonna Judd: Between Hell and Hallelujah (Paramount+)

Producing 14 number one singles, 5 Grammy Awards and 20 million albums sold, the mother-daughter country music duo, The Judds, is the number one female country duo of all time. After Naomi Judd and daughter Wynonna disbanded in 1991, Wynonna developed a successful solo career and the duo would periodically reunite for audiences as they did for their final performance together at the 2022 CMT Music Awards in April of 2022. 19 days later – and scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame – Naomi Judd ended her life after a long struggle with her mental health.

This moving documentary is a front row seat to Wynonna’s personal and professional relationship with her mother, their Kentucky beginnings, their journey from welfare family to Nashville millionaires, and Wynonna’s difficult decision to go ahead with their previously scheduled tour. Whether or not you’re a fan of this beloved duo, it’s a great recap of their many hits, a fascinating look at the inside workings of touring, and a glimpse into the recovery process of those effected by a loved one’s suicide. Supported by her band, her family, and joined by a star-studded list of female country music singers, including Brandi Carlisle, Martina McBride, Ashley McBryde, Kelsea Ballerini, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Wynonna produced the tour with tremendous success.

Watch. Beyond Wasabi. Morimoto's Sushi Master (Roku)

The latest in chef competition reality shows, Morimoto’s Sushi Master is a 6-part original Roku series centered on the art of sushi making with 8 sushi chefs vying for a $25,000 prize and the title of “Morimoto’s Sushi Master.” Each episode is a lesson in what is called the most difficult cuisine in the world, and is hosted by Iron Chef and sushi master Masaharu Morimoto who is joined by other celebrity judges. Though Morimoto is tough, he graciously ends each episode offering the loser a relevant Japanese proverb. But just who will be saying “sayonara” and who will continue? Tune in to the Roku Channel to find out.

Watch. Working: What We Do All Day (Netflix)

Drop what you’re doing, and watch this series. If you can get a young person to join you, all the better. Inspired by the 1974 book, Working, by the brilliant journalist and oral historian Studs Terkel, this 21st century series version produced by President Barack Obama (yes, that Barack Obama) is a look inside today’s workforce. As Obama explains, “Sometime in college, I came across this book called Working by Studs Terkel which was a chronicle of people from every walk of life and what it was like for them to work. It was the first time anyone had really bothered to ask ordinary people directly what work was like for them. This is right about the time where I became interested in trying to figure out what kind of work I was going to do.”

50 years later, director Caroline Suh brings us intimate portraits of employees inside the fields of homecare, tech, and hospitality, and how they are dealing with AI, remote work, and spiraling inequality. Beginning with “Service Jobs” and moving up through “The Middle,” the “Dream Jobs,” and “The Boss,” each episode examines just how our work is connected to all aspects of our lives. On Netflix now.

Where the series all started…

Read. Stud Terkel’s Working.

In his 1974 masterpiece called “one of the most important works of oral history ever published,” journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Studs Terkel interviews over 100 employees about the jobs they do. From gravediggers to studio heads, Terkel’s subjects share their true feelings about their work and how their jobs fit into the fabric of our American life.

Read. Please Unsubscribe Thanks!: How to Take Back Our Time, Attention and Purpose in a World Designed to Bury Us in Bullshit. By Julio Vincent Gambuto

Just last week, I attempted to explain to a twenty-something relative what it was like to grow up in a pre-electronic age. My heart began to hurt. No, not because I’m old but because I realized that she will never truly understand the carefree existence that came with the pre-cell phone, pre-internet era.

For many, the pandemic brought about the realization that until we “paused” we were a part of an overworked, overthinking, and overindulging society. But just why are so many Americans still exhausted, lonely, and unhappy? Why is mental illness skyrocketing? How did we get here? Author Julio Vincent Gambuto says, “Before we’ve had our morning coffee, we’ve already felt rage…in order to change we have to unsubscribe…from emails and automated subscriptions to reevaluating the presence of people and ideas and habits that no longer serve us or make us happy.” If, like me, you’re with Julio then pre-order this important how-to book for its August 8 pub date. It’s what should be under every Christmas tree this year!

Listen. Keep Your Courage, Natalie Merchant

From the first note she sings on Keep Your Courage, her first record of new material since 2014, I instantly recalled the honesty and soulfulness of Merchant’s voice and wondered why I haven’t had her music in my rotation. Recorded in a small setting in Vermont during the main wave of Covid, she is joined on the first and second cuts by Abena Koomson-Davis, performer and musical director for the Resistance Revival Chorus. Merchant’s 9th studio album is referred to as a “song cycle” of courage influenced by a series of events in Merchant’s life: raising a child alone, health issues, the isolation we all experienced during pandemic, directing a documentary on domestic violence, curating her 10-disc box collection, and – as always – love. On several songs, Merchant “speaks to” some mythical characters (“Come on, Aphrodite” and “Narcissus”) but her ode to “Guardian Angel” is perfectly mystical. Of her 9 year absence in the recording studio Merchant says, “My days are so full that it…got to the point where I forgot that I was a songwriter, or that I could write songs.” Thankfully for us, she remembered.

Listen. Natalie Merchant’s interview with WBGO’s Doug Doyle, here:

Don’t Stop The Cycle.

Read. Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement by Nadya Okamoto

Author Nadya Okamoto addresses – and finds solutions to – the imposed taboos that have stigmatized, disempowered, and ultimately silenced menstruating women for centuries. The Harvard grad is also the founder of the non-profit, Period.org, a movement she created with Vincent Fornand while still in high school. In addition to distributing millions of menstrual products at no cost to anyone in need, the organization works to end the menstrual cycle stigma and educate society about menstrual health and “period poverty” through advocacy, education, and service.

Okamoto also hosts the podcast, Tigress, that focuses on all forms of health as well as current social issues.


DEVOUR {things to watch, read & listen to}

Read. An midlife memoir to encourage you to write your own story. You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith is an uplifting midlife memoir that chronicles her emotional recovery following the dissolution of her marriage, and examines “contemporary womanhood and traditional gender roles.” An important journey of unexpectedly discovering how we can find the strength and flexibility to live the biggest life possible, and create beauty from the ugliness of adversity.

You might recall that Maggie Smith is the poet who wrote the poem Good Bones, which originally went viral in 2016 (and has more than a few times since after subsequent catastrophes). Its first few lines are the perfect openers for what follows, at once wrenching and sly:

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.

...

Creating beauty, if not meaning, from ugliness is something Smith excels at. For an introduction to Smith and a touching and honest conversation on the midlife change of course that resulted in her memoir, listen to her conversation with Kara Swisher Making Relationships Work (of Not) with Maggie Smith from Swisher's podcast On.

Read. Something to help you find the work you should be doing. The Search by Bruce Feiler is Feiler's 15th book. He's the seven-time NY Times best-selling author that has most recently created a multigenerational guide to work, purpose, and managing life’s transitions. With 70% of Americans unhappy in the workplace, Feiler explains how we will go through 20 “workquakes” in the course of our lives, asking ourselves, “Am I doing what I want to be doing?” After spending years collecting the life stories of hundreds of Americans from all walks of life who are happy with what they do, Feiler formulated 21 questions to help us find the work we can love right now.

Watch. Lidia Celebrates America: The Flavors That Define Us Celebrity chef, restaurateur, food emporium tycoon, and long-time television host, Lidia Bastianich, shares the story of how she and her family fled the Italian homeland that became Yugoslavian territory and came to America in her new PBS special, Lidia Celebrates America: The Flavors That Define Us.

In this engaging and informative hour, Bastianich celebrates the journeys of immigrants to the United States through their traditional recipes and shares the dishes of their country. Says Bastianich, “Whether coming for safety, opportunity, or a better quality of life, immigrants like me have added to America’s rich and diverse tapestry of culture, religion, and food. I feel lucky that my family was welcomed in the United States, and I am excited to share these stories of more recent immigrants, and those born to immigrants.” Premiered May 30, 2023 on PBS.

You can read the CPB article here.

In addition to the hour long special, Bastianich hosts a digital companion series of three short cooking videos, starting with Making Eggs Jeannette with Jacques Pepin, a French immigrant.

Watch. A sneaky powerhouse. Being Mary Tyler Moore (MAX) is a candid documentary that chronicles Mary Tyler Moore's Brooklyn beginnings, her family’s move to California, her quick rise to a ground-breaking career, her personal loves and losses, her recovery from alcohol abuse, and the opportunities that she afforded to a new generation of women.

She often quoted American feminist writer and activist, Betty Friedan, saying, “Women should be human beings first, women second, wives and mothers, third,” and like Friedan, she was a trailblazer. Actress and activist Mary Tyler Moore was a powerhouse of television, film, and stage. Moving, enlightening, thought-provoking, entertaining, and sometimes heart-breaking, this documentary is sure to run the gamut of your emotions. Premiered May 26th.

Listen. Bossa Nova Queen. Verve Jazz Masters 9: Astrud Gilberto

The woman who introduced Bossa Nova to the U.S. in that 1962 landmark concert at Carnegie Hall has left us but The Girl From Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto – lives on in this perfect 1973 Verve compilation of her most beloved recordings. Obrigado, Ms. Gilberto.

Listen. To these new-ish releases. It’s summer, and for me that means cranking the playlist for those lazy, Sunday afternoon drives. Here’s some new-ish releases that should keep you going ‘till Fall.

Your Mother Should Know Brad Mehldau

Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau plays 11 solo Beatles tunes. I couldn’t resist skipping right to “Here, There And Everywhere.”


Meet Me At Birdland Champian Fulton

Recorded live at Birdland in December 2022, Fulton and her trio dazzles as always.


Quietude Eliane Elias

Queen of the keys, Brazilian pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias delivers her usual bossa brilliance.


Lendas Fabiano do Nascimento

Though released in the winter of 2023, Brazilian guitarist and composer, Fabiano do Nascimento, delivers the perfect instrumental summer sound. Beautiful.


Cannon & Sparrow Emily Braden

With her powerhouse voice, outstanding arrangements, and brilliant interpretations, Braden is always a stand-out. Listen to this right now and be sure to keep your eye (and your ear) on this phenomenally talented vocalist.

Follow. Artist/Therapist, C.J. Shapiro

Their Instagram intro reads, “Queer, feminist artist and psychotherapist dedicated to challenging racism, misogyny, sexism, and fascism.” Focusing on the injustices and atrocities of modern-day society, C.J. Shapiro’s work is impressive. You might be uncomfortable with the subject matter or the startling images, but Shapiro’s oversized canvases are undeniably thought-provoking conversation starters, putting societal issues right in your face.

If you’re a collector or lover of art, you can check out more of their art here

Follow. @caseydressler

If you’ve ever sat in a stylist's chair at a 1980s hair salon then you already know “Hot Looks Donna,” the tell-it-like-it-is hairstylist who was, no doubt, feared by her clients. She’s just one of the many characters of Casey Dressler, the comedian on-the-rise who’s developed a treasure trove of characters bombarding the socials. Can big hair be making a comeback? Ask Donna. If you dare.

Playlist Hot Looks Donna created by @Casey Dressler
Enjoy a curated video list and find more videos on TikTok!

Keep on Dancin'. There would be no better way to remember the wild, mighty, electrifying life of Tina Turner than to dance. Tina Turner's life was legendary at every stage, including the release of What's Love Got to Do with It at 42 that made her a global solo sensation. After reading about her death yesterday I loaded up the HBO documentary Tina for a re-watch. It's big.

What I admire most is how she just kept going. I loved witnessing the very real friendship that she and Oprah developed in midlife, which culminated in a favorite Tina moment for me: Tina flew in from her life in Switzerland to surprise Oprah with a performance for Oprah's 50th birthday. Tina is in her mid-60's at this point, a dazzling star with her high-watt energy, her red lips and sexy moves. She outdances her back-up dancers and absolutely owns the room.

Here's the link.

I am not sure how you will be honoring her toughness, her joy, her artistry and her life, but I can't think of a better way myself than to just keep dancing.

And here are some other ways to partake in Tina this week end.

What's Love Got To Do With It? (Prime Video)

TINA (HBO Max)

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (Prime Video)

Tommy (Prime Video)


Read. Emma Cline’s latest novel will be the summer read you’ll be hearing about. The Guest is a novel about a twenty-something NYC escort with a drug problem who spends a summer in the Hamptons, haphazardly veering between potential danger and scenes of excess. Alex, Cline's protagonist, had a steady live-in gig giving Simon, a wealthy plain vanilla banker 30 years her senior, the "girlfriend experience" until a faux pas she commits at a cocktail party gets her kicked out of her gilded pen. Her dependence on the pain killers she steals from Simon on her way out makes her judgment questionable, and she decides to hang out in the Hamptons for a while until making her re-entry into Simon's life at his splashy annual end-of-season Labor Day party. The fact that she stole copious amounts from her drug dealer Dom in the city makes a return there inconvenient. While Alex is the ultimate unreliable narrator, what she has going for her – which accrues to our benefit, as readers – is that like any gifted grifter, Alex's survival depends on her quick wits, improvisation and, above all, keen ability to observe and understand the most minute nuances and signals from others. This is smarter by a lot than your typical summer read, but worth the extra effort.

Listen. Paul simon’s latest album, Seven Psalms. Who else but one of the greatest lyricists of the 20th century could powerfully convey the notion of life, God, and the great unknown in a mere 33 minutes? Paul Simon’s latest work, Seven Psalms, is a mystical, musical masterpiece, chock with reflection, atonement, and faith. Simon’s timbre is appropriately unadorned and weary, but when he is joined by his wife, Edie Brickell, we can hear the angels sing. Each of these seven psalms is stunning, creating a biblical canon that has critics and fans fearing that Simon has delivered his swan song. Whatever the case, Seven Psalms will endure as the composer/lyricist’s eternal light as he asks, “Two billion heartbeats and out or does it all begin again?”

Paul Simon - Seven Psalms Trailer

Follow/Read. In case you missed the Met Gala… Author and photographer Ari Seth Cohen shares fashion inspiration or, sometimes, just a quick pick-me-up and a smile. Featuring (mostly) New Yorkers of a certain age strutting their own fashion sense, Cohen’s subjects are stylish and sassy and sure to brighten your day. You might even learn a thing or two about style. Pick up his book, Advanced Style, a photographic “collection of street fashion…focused on the over-60 set in the world's most stylish locales.” A great gift for the fashionista in your life – no matter what their age.

And follow him on Instagram here

Watch. Send in the Clowns. Alex Borstein: Corsets & Clown Suits (Prime Video) is a musical comedy by actress/comedian Alex Borstein, who kicks ass. Borstein riffs – well, rants – on topics such as the expectations society foists upon women, the pain and the aftermath of divorce, dating, abortion, childbirth, women and aging, the idea of a non-binary world, assault weapons, being the Jewish child and grandchild of Holocaust survivors, celibacy, and she even sings!

What makes the show so brilliant is that through all of Borstein’s anger, outrage, and bitterness, she genuinely exudes a vulnerability that can bring you to tears. Edgy, smart, and brave, some of her bits – such as a musical rendition of Hitler’s maid, Liesel, cleaning up after Adolf Hitler’s and Eva Braun’s suicide – may make you uncomfortable.

Borstein shares the stage with a musical duo (ukulele/guitar and bass) and an ASL interpreter with whom she sporadically interacts (when Borstein asks the interpreter how to sign, “hot, wet, pussy,” she can hardly keep a straight face). Even with her 80-something-year-old parents in the audience, Borstein holds back nothing, executing her ideas with a raw nerve delivery that cuts to the bone.

Watch. They tried to make me go to rehab… John Mulaney: Baby J (Netflix) is the honest recounting of stand-up master and SNL writer Mulaney’s star-studded intervention and subsequent two-month rehab stint. It includes recollections that will make you simultaneously cringe and laugh out loud. Never has the horror of drug addiction been so hilarious. Through his comedic account of his dark demise and unlikely recovery, Mulaney’s set conveys an overall poignancy seldom seen in standup comedy. Do not miss this.

Watch. Not your grandmother’s spring cleaning. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (Peacock) is a new series on an activity that aims to “declutter your space and soul.” Based on Margareta Magnusson’s best-seller, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, the show follows Americans struggling to declutter their homes with the help of death-cleaning experts. As narrator Amy Poehler says, it’s all about “cleaning your crap so other people don’t have to when you die.” And show psychologist Katarina Blom maintains the activity has a positive impact on your mental health: “A lot of the show’s purpose is actually reminding Americans of all the ways they are alive.” Did someone say, “garage sale??

Read. The Book that inspired the series. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter

Watch. And all this thinking about Swedish death cleaning brings to mind the late, great George Carlin’s classic bit on “stuff” (George was always ahead of his time).

Listen. Table for Two? Cooking by Heart with Chris Sarandon. Chris Sarandon moderates Cooking by Heart, his podcast in which he talks with guests from all walks of life about their “memories of the meals they grew up with, and the stories and people that accompany those memories.” I’ve loved him madly since seeing him play Leon, the husband of Al Pacino’s character, Sonny, in 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon. In episode 20, Sarandon talks with actor/comedian Mario Cantone about his love of baking, his early career path, and his affinity for classic Hollywood movies. Icing on the cake (pun intended): Cantone delivers what may be the best impersonation of Julia Child that ever existed.

‎Cooking By Heart with Chris Sarandon on Apple Podcasts
‎Arts · 2023

Get. Mover over, blue bird, there’s a new kid in town. Bluesky, a Twitter alternative, has taken off with a user roster of well-knowns including Chrissy Teigen, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and prominent journalists from outlets like the New York Times and CNN.

Funded by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, it is independent of Twitter (pre-Musk-Twitter deal) and intent on operating in a socially responsible manner, diverging from the giants who have dominated the game. With users able to control the algorithms that determine what content is served to them, the platform is highly sought after. If you missed getting in on the public beta version that launched in February, waiting to join is like waiting on line at Studio 54 circa 1977. Unless you have an invite code by a current user, you’ll have to put your name on a waiting list.

Listen. Everybody Loves Elaine. Wiser Than Me is a new podcast brilliantly hosted by Julia Louis-Dreyfus in which she speaks to “older and wiser” women who very candidly share their life experience. Louis-Dreyfus’ questions are direct and insightful, and she even shares her own experiences and anecdotes. In the season opener, Jane Fonda reflects on her 85-years, telling us what worked for her and what she’d do differently. Other guests include 80-year-old writer Isabel Allende (she likes a bit of weed before sex), Carol Burnett, Amy Tan, Diane von Furstenberg, Fran Lebowitz, Rhea Perlman, and more. Premiered April 11 on most platforms.

Listen To "Wiser Than Me" Here

Listen. The Song is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On). At The Pershing: But Not For Me by Ahmad Jamal is considered one of the most popular and influential recordings in jazz history. Sadly, the world became a bit less hip on April 16 with the loss of the great 92-year-old pianist and NEA Jazz Master. Whether or not you’re familiar with his music, it’s time for you to listen to his live recording, At The Pershing: But Not For Me. Recorded on the night of January 16,1958 during his trio’s residency at Chicago’s Pershing Hotel, which remained on the Billboard Top 200 album chart for 108 weeks. With Israel Crosby on bass and Vernell Fournier on drums.

Watch. The new political thriller that is a mash-up with I Love Lucy. The Diplomat (Netflix) is a twisty comedy about a marriage between the newly appointed Ambassador to England (played by Keri Russell) and her ambitious, charming, arrogant and charismatic husband (played convincingly by Rufus Sewell). Their marriage, we quickly learn, would be over but for their professional ambitions, and the union is tinged with equal parts slapstick humor, sexual playfulness and extramarital flirtations. As a political thriller the intrigue built slowly for me — more in the style of West Wing and less in the style of the intense (more believable) political thrillers that I tend to prefer (and included on my list of Get Your Spy Thrill On) — but by the last episode I was hooked. There is some terrific acting by the hunky and well-dressed David Gyasi as the British foreign minister and Rory Kinnear as the British Prime Minister.

Listen. A podcast about a 70’s feminist porn magazine that failed. Stiffed is the story of VIVA, an erotic periodical for “intelligent women” launched, owned and run (mostly) by Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse. Over the course of its short life, its editorial vision bounced from that of Guccione’s, to his wife’s, Kathy Keeton (whose story alone is worth the price of admission - we are told Keeton left South Africa for London alone at the age of 13, began supporting herself as an exotic dancer shortly after that, rose to become the highest paid stripper in Europe, and it was while reading the Financial Times on breaks in between performances that she meets Guccione, who convinces her to join him to work in the publishing industry). Eventually, it was run by Patricia Bosworth, a highly respected actress/memoirist/journalist, and included writing by feminist intellectuals Betty Friedan, Anais Nin and Nikki Giovanni. There is all sorts of tumult at the magazine all the time, mostly reflecting the tensions swirling around in society around women, power and sex, including tension between the feminist intellectuals writing for VIVA and the more “working class,” pragmatic and flexible version of Guccione and Keeton’s. And tension between pro-porn and anti-porn feminists, not to mention the rising conservative movement. It's a fascinating, rollicking, in-depth look at our past that forces you to consider how far we have, or haven't, come.

‎Stiffed: Introducing: Stiffed on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Stiffed, Ep Introducing: Stiffed - Mar 23, 2023

Watch. Martin Scorsese’s documentary about David Johansen Personality Crisis: One Night Only (Showtime). It’s been said that one has the same odds of making it in show business as getting struck by lightning. If there’s any truth to that, then David Johansen’s been struck twice. From Johansen’s glory days on the punk scene as frontman for the New York Dolls, to his invention of his alter ego, Buster Pointdexter, director Martin Scorsese chronicles the performer’s success and struggles in his latest documentary, Personality Crisis: One Night Only. Hot, hot, hot!

Watch. A docuseries on Tupac Shakur. Dear Mama (FX). When gunned down in 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur had released 4 albums over his 7 years in the music industry. With his message of human rights widely accepted across rap and mainstream audiences, he is still considered one of the most influential rappers of all time with total record sales in excess of 75 million. In this 5-part Hulu docuseries, Dear Mama, director Allen Hughes examines the relationship between Shakur and his mother, Black Panther activist, Afeni Shakur whose life – wrought with activism, incarceration, drug addiction, and teenage pregnancy – shaped her son’s own journey.

Listen/Read. Because breaking up is hard to do. NPR: 5 Things To Remember When A Friendship Ends. In The Crush Letter we’ve written a lot about friendship in midlife — The Midlife Friend Audit: You Need Good Friends. But Who Is Good?; “Don’t Touch My Hat.” Midlife Men & Friendship, Depression & Loneliness; The Dynamics of Friendship: Can Singlehood Withstand the Trials of Friends with Kids?; and a series on friendship called The Friendship Files, so we jumped on this podcast episode. Unfortunately, we can all recall the pain of having romantic relationships come to an end. But as we have pointed out friendships are an important, altogether different animal and mourning friendships that come to an end is a hurt of a different kind. Sometimes, the hurt never ends. Here, NPR speaks with Marisa Franco, author of Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — And Keep — Friends.

5 things to remember when a friendship ends : Life Kit
Not all friends are meant to last forever. Here are 5 things to remember if you’re processing the loss of a friendship — or trying to save one that matters to you.

Listen. Never Say Never. Everything But The Girl retired in 2000 with lead singer Tracey Thorn announcing she’d never again perform live. She married musical partner Ben Watt in 2009 and they raised a family, but as a band they remained musically mum. The couple produced a plethora of solo projects, and now, 24 years after their last album, they’ve released their 11th studio album, Fuse. In a recent Culture / Comments we had informed you that one of the singles from the album had dropped, but the full album is now here. A bit heavier in their usual style of electronic/dubstep/dance vibes (though Thorn insists the band shies away from categorization) but with the added attraction of some deep storytelling. Thorn’s voice is better than ever, thick and rich as raw honey. One particularly moving track is “Lost,” that sets us up, draws us in, then leaves the rest to our imagination. Finally, Thorn’s performance pangs come to the forefront on the album’s closing track “Karaoke.” Could she be getting her act together and taking it on the road? Time will tell.

Listen. If you love a parade, then you’ll love The Evening Tea. If you grew up reading Parade, that nationwide Sunday Newspaper magazine distributed in more than 700 newspapers in the United States, you've no doubt read the column of journalist Dotson Rader. Between 1982 and 2018, Rader spoke with hundreds of notables for the column and banked thousands of hours of recorded interviews. Today, he and writer Tym Matusov are in the process of unearthing the archived tapes to produce the podcast, The Evening Tea– fabulously raw interviews that make us feel as if we’re naughtily eavesdropping. The interviews – most uncut and uncensored – are riveting. To date, the tapes have produced 16 podcast episodes that include an early interview with Beyonce, Norman Mailer on the craft of writing, Hillary Clinton at the White House, Samuel L. Jackson on marching in Memphis when MLK was killed, Betty Ford on recovery, and Freddie Prinze, Jr. Believe me, each episode is a gem! Available on Youtube.

Here’s episode 8 with Hillary Clinton:


DEVOUR {things to watch, read & listen to}

Seeing stars.

Eat. You don’t have to be Italian to be in the loop about the Great Pastina Scandal. After 105 years, Ronzoni has discontinued a staple found in the cupboards of Italian homes for six generations. The little pasta, the main ingredient in what my nonna called “Sicilian penicillin,” has been cut from Ronzoni’s production since January 2023 and hoarders and resellers are still scouring supermarkets for the last of the lot. Yes, other brands are manufacturing pastina, but Ronzoni was the inventor of the star-shaped (“stelline”) OG pasta that brought smiles to the faces of millions of under-the-weather bambini. To mourn the loss, I’m sharing my Nonna’s recipe, a prescription that’s sure to cure any malady of the mind or body.

Nonna Aida’s “Pastina, Egg, and Butter” Recipe

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil*
Add 2 cubes of chicken (or vegetable) bouillon.
Stir. Add 1 cup stelline pastina.
Stir. In a bowl, beat 4 eggs, folding in 2 tablespoons of grated pecorino romano cheese.
Slowly add the egg mixture to the boiling water, stirring until it thickens.
Ladle into a bowl and add a pat of butter.
Stir, and top with more pecorino romano Presto e delicioso!
*no need to salt the water as there’s plenty of salt in the bouillon and pecorino romano.

Hell hath no fury like a comedian scorned.

Watch. Selected Outrage. (Netflix) Comedian Chris Rock has made broadcasting history twice in one year; first by getting publicly assaulted on a live-televised Oscar presentation, and second on Saturday, March 6, when Netflix streamed their first-ever live comedy special from Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theater to an anxiously awaiting global audience. As usual, Rock’s rants were brilliant, covering everything from racism, abortion, economics, dating older women, having daughters raised in privilege to The Royal Family, OJ Simpson, the Kardashians, Elon Musk and – yes – Will and Jada. Always smart, always biting, catch Rock at the top of his game if you haven’t already seen it.

Got Punk?

Watch. Nightclubbing: The Birth of Punk Rock in NYC (Prime Video) Writer/director Danny Garcia says of his documentary, Nightclubbing: The Birth of Punk Rock in NYC, “This is not a film to watch with your kids.” And what else would one expect from a film about the wildest, angriest, most hard-core, drug-laden, anything goes era in music? With appearances and memories by Billy Idol, Alice Cooper, Brian Seltzer, Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group), Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls), Frank Infante (Blondie), and more, the film takes us inside the famed Max’s Kansas City during punk rock’s golden age. Now put the kids to bed, dig out the hair gel for that mohawk, and warm up the telly because Nightclubbing is available on most streaming services on March 10, 2023.

Watch/Read. Martin Scorsese's List of the Best Movies Ever Made. Now that The 95th Academy Awards are behind us and you’re all caught up on the fine films of 2022, it’s time to school yourself on what movie master Martin Scorsese thinks are the 15 greatest films of all time– and Marty knows. What’s your favorite? For me, it’s a tie between Citizen Kane and 8 1/2.

Read. In addition to her fifty books of essays, poetry, and fiction, Margaret Atwood is a playwright, puppeteer, librettist, and painter. The multi-genre Canadian author has been called one of the greatest writers of our time and – at age 83 – has just published her newest work, Old Babes in the Woods. This perfect mid-life read is a collection of 15 short stories examining life, death, love, relationships, the foolishness of youth, the wisdom of aging, and the years that are behind us. A must-read for adults of any age.

Listen. Whatever your faith, whatever your politics, you must listen to this NPR archival interview series with President Jimmy Carter and Fresh Air host, Terry Gross. The 39th U.S. President (1977-1981) and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, best remembered for his efforts in the Iranian hostage crisis and rescue mission, candidly answers some hard questions concerning abortion, the death penalty, and face-to-face negotiations with perpetrators of war crimes. The interviews, conducted between 1993-1996, examine Carter’s deep faith, humanitarian accomplishments, philanthropic causes, a pre-2020 election scandal, and so much more. Especially moving is Carter’s response to Gross asking, “Was there a time you felt your God had forsaken you?” After you hear the interview you may find yourself inspired to…

Jimmy Carter: The ‘Fresh Air’ interviews
At 98, Carter is the oldest living president in U.S. history. After serving his term, he worked to promote safe housing, human rights and conflict resolution. Originally broadcast in ’93, ‘95 and ’96.

Read. The Virtues of Aging Jimmy Carter’s 1998 work on “the new experiences that come to us with age.” At 56-years-old, Carter had lost a presidential election and found himself bankrupt with debt on his farm and warehouse business. If you find yourself starting over, start with this read.

Watch. Succession (HBO) Succession is in session! It’s been a long wait, but the family we love to hate is back! Succession season 4 returns to HBO on Sunday, March 26th at 9pm with ten new – and final – episodes. Yes, Succession-istas, series creator Jesse Armstrong has announced this will be the last season for the sensationalist series. So slip on your gladiator sandals, grab your seat in the coliseum, and let the games begin!

Listen. Darling Be Home Soon. Can dogs smell time? Just ask Donut the dog

I have a friend who would arrive home each night to find her apartment looking like it was burglarized. The burglar, a nine-pound poodle, was the culprit. When she installed a doggie cam and watched the footage, she learned that the dog was ransacking the house each day at the same time, thirty minutes before her usual arrival. She marveled at the dog’s inner clock but always felt there was something more to it. She was right. Psychologist Alexandra Horowitz, who studies dog cognition at Columbia University and Barnard College, tells us– the nose knows.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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