The Post Where I Become a COVID-Content Influencer

I have 5 posts just sitting in the queue right now waiting to be released, but full disclosure: it feels wrong to be posting about businesses that aren’t currently able to operate, so they’re going to stay queued until things start to open. But! The 6 of you currently following this demand new content—I know none of you have reached out to explicitly say this, but my intuition is heeding your cry regardless. I’m here as a humbled public servant, essential you might even say, to share my words.

Since none of us have been going much of anywhere and nothing has really been going on sans the reopen-the-country rallies I opted out of attending, I decided to do something unprecedented: I’m going to offer some viewing, reading, and watching recommendations for you to take advantage of during this time of self-quarantine. Don’t worry though—I’m not going to share a single recipe, and it’s important for you to know I’m not a regular media consumer, but a cool one; nowhere on this list will you see such basic recommendations as Tiger King (listened to the podcast a year ago, natch) or Love is Blind (already watched, already forgotten).

I’ve actually done very little binge-watching during isolation. There’s no real reason why other than the fact that I’ve been devoting most of my down time to reading, so while the bulk of my recommendations will be for my fellow disciples of the written word, I am going to take this time to say that if you were one of the millions of Americans sleeping on The Americans (Editor’s note: Amazon Prime) during its run on FX, then now is the time to rectify that. This is also your chance to get ahead of the curve, because I’d bet money that much like my beloved Friday Nights Lights, this will be one of those shows the general cultural zeitgeist will eventually catch onto and admit was both before its time and underappreciated while it lived. I watched The Americans with just as much, if not more, anxiety than Game of the Thrones, the 80’s soundtrack is phenomenal, the 80’s hair is phenomenal, and is there anything more topical than Russian spies attempting to influence our country while disguising themselves as middle-class-fancy suburbanites? I think not. I have to give a shout out to my brother Shawn for this suggestion, as he is one of the 6 people reading this blog, and also using his quarantine downtime to revisit the Jennings family.

I know podcasts outside the car aren’t ideal, but I need to  sing the praises of Wild Thing, which may be responsible for turning me into a legitimate Sasquatch enthusiast (I’m like 80% sure I believe…). The Dream is also a phenomenal listen. The first season takes aim at pyramid schemes (aka multi-level marketing, ie. the guy you went to high school with who hawks Spark Energy Drink on Facebook, the girl you went to high school with who hawks leggings on Facebook, anyone on Facebook who claims to be an “independent business owner”, Betsy DeVos, etc., etc.). The second season attacks MLM’s close friend wellness, extremely topical since all these wellness quacks are currently advising a middling reality TV star on his approach to COVID (a companion reading piece I’d highly recommend is this CUT article explaining how wellness is 100% a bipartisan fraud with Gwyneth Paltrow and Alex Jones essentially shilling the same bullshit to two very different sides utilizing two very different approaches).

I have one more listening recommendation. If you’re unfamiliar with the phenomenon that is yacht rock, this is also the time to rectify that extremely troubling life choice. Yacht rock is what the youths call a mood, and that mood could be anything from mowing the lawn whilst enjoying a crisp Coors Light can or doing anything dressed as a parrothead. I recommend starting with the Yacht Rock Pandora before graduating to the Yacht Rock Revue (Live in Boston) album on Spotify. This has been the soundtrack of my isolation, a true oxymoron as it’s virtually impossible to feel alone when you’re jamming out in your kitchen to the sounds of the “Lido Shuffle” before 7 am.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to bullet point my reading recommendations:

  • Since I’ve already conquered Yetis, I figured why not add devil worship to the mix? This is a wild read.
  • I read Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile, which I already semi-covered here. I feel like history fans will loves this, so feel comfortable recommending it even though I didn’t love it myself. I found it interesting, but I’m finding I have less and less tolerance for hearing about the infighting and soap operatic shenanigans of the 1% who make decisions in times of crisis. I think COVID has perhaps made me go full socialist, while still allowing me to maintain a healthy skepticism for Bernie Sander supporters.
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney was legit. Those of you who follow literary trends (certainly not anyone visited this blog) probably already read this. I’m both late to the party and a complete band wagon jumper as I loved this book and read it over the course of one Saturday afternoon. I particularly love stories that are less about plot and more about people. That’s not a knock. It’s precisely why I’m a diehard Friday Night Lights fan.
  • If you’d have told me three years ago that I’d be the type of guy who loved essay collections, I’d tell you I’m not a pretentious douche, but it turns out I do and I am. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino was also a one afternoon read for me—I respect the high-brow/low-brow approach she takes; anyone who can write about a “queef attack” while dropping mythological allusions within pages of each other is the kind of writer I aspire to be one day.
  • Matthew Neil Null’s Allegheny Front is a collection of short stories I bought from Downtown Books & News simply because Allegheny was in the title (aka on the cover) and a PA-centric word. I wasn’t far off. These stories all take place in West Virginia, and while the part of PA I hail from is about as far from West Virginia as Pennsylvania can get, I recognized the hell out of the people in these stories.

That’s it. Those are my recommendations for now. It’s important to me to be the kind of approachable (yet aspirational!) content creator who doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.

What about you? Any good reads, listens, or watches I should consider taking advantage of? Leave me a comment, or Shawn, just text me since you’re actually the only person I know who’ll read past the first paragraph.


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