In this week's Casamara Club diaries, Jason shares a few indie magazine recs. Plus, he's over supernatural Viking mysticism and onto supernatural cowboy nihilism.
Is it leisure time already?
You already know I'm the year-round proprietor of an old west cantina for feral cats in my backyard. But for the last few weeks, the bird feeder is where the action is. Alongside the usual cardinals, robins, and grackles, a small family of red flickers moved in last week, and a lone goldfinch just pulled up looking for trouble. (By the way, if you don't have the Merlin Bird ID app on your phone, it's worth grabbing. I've found it to be the easiest way to get to know your local birds by sound, color, and plain old popularity.)
You put Ann Friedman's newsletter on my radar back in volume 55, and her letter last week ("Independent Reading Pt. 1") included a fun list of indie magazines worth checking out. Here were some of the highlights from my week of independent reading:
Culture magazine The Drift ran a great piece called "What Was the TED Talk" by Oscar Schwartz, putting his finger on the uncanny feeling those talks tend to give me — creating the sensation of learning, without offering new information or comprehension. If you've ever watched a TED Talk expecting to learn something, but walked away feeling like you just finished a whole bag of Cheetos, this piece is for you.
I'm also really enjoying Aeon magazine. No need to pick up Lina Zeldovich's "The Power of Sh*t: A short biography of human excrement and its value" while you're eating, but this was an otherwise great read about how poorly managed our waste systems are, destroying our waterways, undermining our agriculture, and costing us all more money. And since it's on brand for the leisure diaries, "F*ck Work: What if jobs are not the solution but the problem" by James Livingston is an oldie-but-goodie with a fairly straightforward thesis: it's getting harder to maintain that jobs are necessary to build character in an economy where a quarter of all the full-time jobs pay less than poverty wages, half of all workers are eligible for food stamps, and the wealthiest people tend to be grifters and criminals, from big bankers funding terrorism to startup scammers like WeWork's Adam Neumann.
Now, since I can't get out of here without making a TV recommendation, how about Outer Range on Amazon Prime? Call it a vaguely nihilist, supernatural neo-Western, about a rancher (Josh Brolin) who's trying to keep his sons out of trouble, stop a wealthy, politically connected neighbor from taking a piece of his family's land, and figure out what's up with that unfathomable, infinite void opening up on the west pasture. It's angling to do for the Western what True Detective season one did for the police procedural, and scratching an itch I didn't even know I had. (It's also worth mentioning that three of my favorite shows of the last few years — Atlanta, Better Call Saul, and Barry — are all back with new seasons ranging from very good to excellent.)
Anyway, what have you been up to? Looking forward to hearing all about it next week...