The “Walking into the Abyss” Edition

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S2: I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest. Walking into the Abyss, Ed.. It’s Wednesday, March 25th, 2020. On today’s show, the Philip Roth novel Plot Against America has been adapted by David Simon and Ed Burns, the geniuses behind the Wire. It’s unsettlingly topical counter history about a fascist America in the 1940s, and it’s on HBO. We’ll be joined by Laura Miller to discuss it. And then during this period of self isolation, we’re gonna be talking about comfort culture or go to movies, shows, books, et cetera, for dark times.

S3: This week, we talk Big Night, the 1996 movie starring Stanley Tucci, and that is Dan Courses Pick. He’ll join us to discuss.

S4: And finally, all truly great thoughts are conceived when walking. So said some bloke named Nuture. We will discuss walking as a way of maintaining our sanity, as well as stimulating great thoughts and friendships during the coronavirus outbreak, as is probably true of all the podcasts you are listening to.

S5: Now we are recording remotely and from home on jerry rigged equipment, so the audio might sound a little different. Maybe it doesn’t, maybe it does. But bear with us and everyone, please stay safe. And here we go.

S3: Joining me today is Dana Stevens, who is, of course, the film critic for Slate. Hey, Dana.

S6: Hey, good to hear your voice, Steve.

S3: Yeah, great to hear yours, as always. And Laura Miller, who is up in Maine, who is a book critic and general cultural commentator, dris for Slate. Laura, hey, welcome back to the show. It’s great to be with you. It’s great to have you. And I’m very psyched to talk about this particular topic with you.

S4: So let’s plunge in. Little could Philip Roth have known in 2004 when he published his novel Plot Against America. What relevance season dark resonance is it would later take on the book tells the story of counterfactual history, kind of in which the heroic aviator and notorious anti Semite Charles Lindbergh runs for president and defeats FDR in 1940. He runs sort of as an isolationist or at least an anti-war candidate, and thus keeps America out of the war against the Nazis. I don’t want to give anything away, but as one character says in Episode 1, the goyim are sharpening their knives again. The adaptation comes courtesy of David Simon and Ed Burns, the guys behind what I think of as the greatest television show of all time, for what it’s worth. The Wire. It stars Zoe Kazan, Winona Ryder, Morgan Spector, John Turturro. Many other wonderful performance when we listen to a little bit of the trailer.

S7: So many don’t trust. I’m gonna do my best to convince them otherwise.

S8: You just want to hate out there. You knows how to tap into it.

S9: Admittedly, Mr. Lindbergh made statements grounded in an Semetic cliche, but it did show at eight minutes, which starts since everywhere he goes, he Lebech down and shoots the Jews.

S10: It may be a time when he comes here. To beat down and shoot us. What will our president do that? We only think Americans. It’s too early to leave.

S11: It’s not too early to have a backup plan. I’m tired of turning my cheek. Charles Lindbergh is a hero. This is not the. Tell me. Does that begin to address your fears?

S3: Right. Well, as we said, we’re joined by Laura Miller Laura. Your review of this is wonderful. I’m so eager to talk to you about it because I think we’re both pretty committed members of the church or synagogue. Philip Roth.

S12: No, we are not. We’re not.

S3: Oh, my lord. Okay. Even better. I suspected you were because you called this one of his better novels, but you were grading on it.

S12: I was grading on a curve. I quite liked this book, which is kind of exceptional for me and Philip Roth novels.

S3: Well, we’ll have that fight another day or two.

S12: Yeah, it’s a long one in Maine.

S3: It is. But in the meantime, I’m very curious what you made of this adaptation.

S12: Well, I think it worked to as a piece of storytelling, sort of taken out of any particular very current cultural context. You know, it’s it’s suspenseful. It is close enough to what we know happened in Germany that we recognize it as plausible as as as this is the way that a republic slides in to autocracy and minorities are demonized. I do feel that it was this weird chimaera of a lot of period fidelity in terms of how it looked and sounded. You know, it was like seemed like a very committed attempt to sort of reproduce the the texture visually of of life in the late 30s, early 40s. But the messages that it was constantly delivering, which are obviously meant to apply to Donald Trump, who David Simon spends so much time on Twitter denouncing in the most florid terms. It felt a little bit like everything was a delivery system for this preaching against Trump as a sort of version of of this autocrat that Lindbergh becomes in in the story. And that was a little distracting. Like I couldn’t really, you know, visually and in terms of the soundtrack and the music. You know, it it was asking me to sort of just immerse myself in this mid 20th century world. But then the very timely pointed relevance of so many of the remarks the characters make kept pulling me back into the present.

S13: Now, that’s interesting, Dana. I can’t remember where you come out on Philip Roth.

S14: I mean, I don’t think I’ve read enough to have a strong position if I was having tea with you guys in Maine discussing Roth. I think I would probably go and, you know, bake some cookies while pursuing the discussion because I probably only read three or four of his books. Well, one of them, the ghostwriter we talked about in sort of a gabfests book club one time. But I have not read the plot against America. This did make me want to read the book a lot, though. It’s a great idea for a book that Lindbergh became president in in 1940 and what America would be like. But I do know that Philip Roth has famously said to be unfilmable, as many great novelists are. Right. I mean, there have not been many, if any, successful, really, truly artistically successful on their own adaptations of a Roth book. And I think in part that must be because his books depend so heavily on point of view. Right. Laura, this book is written from the 10 year old kids point of view and we don’t really get that in the series. He’s not the kid who’s named Philip and is clearly meant to be little. Philip Roth is not the protagonist of the story at all.

S12: Yeah, it’s the world or this horrible degeneration viewed through the eyes of a somewhat naive child. I mean, it’s interesting in the history of Roth’s work, because he spent so much of his career resisting being identified as a Jewish novelist to the extent that he resisted being told by other Jews what his fiction should be like. It’s not that he pretended he wasn’t Jewish, but he really just liked the idea that he had some responsibility to his community and that he really didn’t want to be subsumed in that identity. And then this is obviously a story about what if you were forced to be subsumed by that identity? What if, you know, sort of merging with the mainstream culture was no longer even really an option? And that, I think, makes it interesting because there’s this ambivalence to it. But also, again, it’s you know, I don’t want to get into what I don’t like about Philip Roth, but this this book, which I found really compelling, it lacks all of the things that I don’t like about Philip Roth. I really enjoyed it a lot and I do recommend it very highly.

S3: Right. Well, this I will say this adaptation and presumably, therefore, the book has everything that I do like about Philip Roth. And it is like rhapsodic, nostalgic love for the new work of his childhood, his capacity to see it for what it was and what its limitations were, especially to him as a as you say, sort of young, ambitious son of a Jewish family who wanted to break out of both this neighborhood, out of the city and out of the set of stereotypes that he felt, you know, maybe shouldn’t have to apply to him. But nonetheless, this annotation is very beautiful looking. It’s bathed in that nostalgia. It’s handsome through and through. At first I thought, Dana, this is gonna be unadoptable and all the ways that Philip Roth tends to be because he’s he’s such a exquisite model, August, and it’s very hard to put that up on screen. I think it’s because I haven’t read this book. I find this gripping in some sense, in part because so much historical fiction, especially as I grew up with it and let’s say the nineteen seventies and eighties, a lot of highly self-congratulatory television mini series like Roots or about the Nazis or whatever these stories whose endings we thought we knew at least I mean we were fatuously kidding ourselves. But you know, some sense that the sweep of history ultimately flatters the viewer was what these delivered, rightly or wrongly, and therefore the trauma depicted on screen in some sense has a redemptive undertone to it. That’s highly, highly, highly sentimental. And you can’t have that degree of sentimentality watching something like this in the Trump era. So what put Laura off about it actually heightened me to it. I don’t know that I would respond to a scarcely disguised or thinly disguised harangue on the part of David Simon against Donald Trump. So certainly partially what I’m referring to is, for example, the incredibly tender way at focus lies as the story down to the young wrath. stand in character. That actor is just lovely. He’s so tender, he’s so fragile, he’s so delicate. He’s so confused by what his world is presenting.

S14: Can I hop in and say that that little boy is is as you Robertson, who was in marriage story, is the kid marriage story, which I didn’t realize until working in the credit because he’s growing up. He already looks older than he did in marriage story. But he’s he’s an extraordinary young actor.

S13: He’s wonderful in it. And let me just quickly wrap by saying, I mean to me, Zoe Kazan is emerging as an actress, the places his mother sort of at the center of the store. I mean, not really. I wouldn’t say that the story really centers on anybody.

S3: But certainly her moral presence as the mother who’s attempting to keep a world in tact as the world outside of the four walls begins to fall apart. I mean, she’s she’s just turning to me into an actress who can’t present herself on screen without telling the truth. So it’s a combination of just that intelligence that suffuses it and that uneasiness of watching it. Now, I’m two and a half hours in and fully committed to watching it all the way through.

S14: Yeah, I’m with you there, Steve. It’s only six hours long, which in in modern television parlance is a good short series, a six hour limited series. And I’m I’m in for the duration. I think my main criticism of it from a political point of view as a political allegory would be that Lindbergh is not in a readable character. He seems to be at least in the like. You, Steve, I’m two and a half episodes in or so. So far he seems to be presented and almost deliberately so. Almost mockingly so is this very wooden orator who always has the same 41 word speech in every newsreel he appears in. And, you know, he’s handsome. He’s this famous aviator, but you don’t really see his populist appeal. And so as a Trump allegory, it doesn’t work that well, because we don’t understand exactly who Lindbergh is or why the people that are drawn to him, which include the older brother of the Philip Roth, stand in character. Why these Jews that feel this need to apologize for him? NARRATOR John Turturro character also why they feel that why he has won over so many hearts and minds. Do you all agree?

S12: Well, I think the underlying question there is identity versus assimilation. And so for the older brother in the family, Sandy, he is in a way like more like Philip Roth than the younger characters. You know, he is caught up in the sort of romance of American all American ness and not that interested in focusing on his Jewish identity. And I mean, there are several like amazing performances in this series. Zoe Carson’s performance is so has so much depth and subtlety and the way that she shifts from being completely focused on the well-being of her family, you know, afraid because she has you know, her husband believes that as Americans, you know, he is a slightly different definition of what it means to be American because he doesn’t want to sort of lose his Jewishness in a larger American identity. But he believes profoundly in his rights as an American and their rights as an American. And in defending them and fighting for them. And she is fearful because she doesn’t have the confidence that that can be achieved. And then when you get towards the end of the story, she has this moment of greater moral purpose. I would say that is very powerful. But then also John Turturro, as the sort of accommodationist rabbi who allows himself to be flattered by Lindbergh in-to sort of greasing the slow slide up into oppression that the father character can see coming, but he can’t. That is also an amazing performance. And Wenonah writer as his girlfriend and eventually wife. Just the way that people lie to themselves because it gets them closer to power, they lie about how that powers working. I mean, these are these are great characters and great performances that definitely compensate for the sort of slightly agitprop quality of some of the moments in the show.

S14: Yeah, I completely agree with that, Laura. I mean, if you think of this more as a family drama than a political allegory, it’s extremely enjoyable to watch when you start paying attention to it as a political allegory. There are moments that it’s just too signposted for me. And I agree that the the the parallels with current reality are a little bit too direct, as you say, in your great piece about it on Slate. They’re not they’re not subtext. They’re text writer. You say they’re not they’re not undertones. They’re just Yeon’s. But one particular aspect of that family portrait that I love so much is just all the scenes with Zoe Kazan and Winona Ryder as sisters. Right. We’re known as the oldest sister who is the spinster who isn’t married off, which obviously in 1940 is this big deal. This kind of shame in her life that she hasn’t been able to land a man and their cities drama in the early episodes about, you know, her having an affair with a married man and her younger sister disapproving, but also wanting her sister to be happy in any moment that the two of them were just sitting at a Newark kitchen table, having coffee and being sisters together was so felt so real and so kind of granular details.

S3: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, this did not klunk for me and I am super sensitive. Took being clunked over the head with historical analogies or signposts falling on my brain, telling me what to think and how to feel when something’s unfolding as would be political parable. I don’t feel that with this. I mean, I’ll give you a couple of reasons why. The first is that as we have all discovered the hard way over the last several years, when a huge historical event is unfolding around you, you do in fact talk about it a lot. You chew over it with other people in your life. It invades your life. It heaves and holds into your life in this horribly intrusive way to the point that it almost smothers everything else. I think that that actually is quite a real depiction of what this might have been like back in the 19 late thirties or early forties had a fascist leader arisen in this country. And then secondly, I think it’s a huge such an important subject. Right. Like what? To what extent is there an awesome latent fascist energy in this country? It has been dealt with in a lot of different media. And also Roth was very savvy about this. And he picked a moment where, you know, there was, in fact, a very powerful isolationist street to the country. There was a total indifference on the part of American gentiles to the fate of American Jews, not total. But I mean, an overwhelming indifference to the fate of Jews. There is a huge German contingent in this country that everyone was politically, especially politicians were very aware of when they were treading this line between intervention and isolation. And it was an accident of history that we went the other way. And that fascist energy, that potential fascist force in this country got fragmented and scattered because we did enter the war. We entered it fully, totally and finally heroically. And we rewrote we sort of rewrote it out of the national myth of that period. And to reintroduce it into our consciousness in a way that strikes me is not actually overly false. I think it’s quite powerful.

S13: And then the second reason is something like this is only going to work if the relationship between that giant heaving juggernaut of history, it enters into the parlors of lower middle class aspiring Jewish people and newer. It’s only going to work if that heaving force takes place in relation to highly specific and believable personal stories. And I’ll give you one that I absolutely love and that rings so true to me.

S3: It’s between the younger son and a new, wealthier friend who’s worldly, cynical, funny rule breaking and the little misadventures that they go on.

S15: Points to something very true about why it rings so true of my own childhood.

S3: Having been that kid who comes across a bedazzling figure who seems to understand sex, money, corruption, power, and just the geography of the city far better than you do.

S13: I mean, that’s I just thought that was so true to what that experience can be. And I feel as though it is thematically related in an important way to the larger story. So this is this is working for me and I’m committed to it to the very end by far.

S12: I would just say that I recommend this and that my reservations about, you know, it’s more just moments where the contemporary parallel is kind of obvious to anyone, but somebody has to make a speech that that sort of underlines it and makes it a little on the nose. It’s not like the whole thing is tendentious. And like I said, it’s really well plotted. It has some great tense scenes. It is really gripping to see how the society sort of slides into this. And again, the tragic figure of the John Turturro character and the incredible stature that the Zoe Kazan character attained. I mean, all these things make it really worth your time. Definitely.

S13: Okay, Laura. Before I lose you, I got ask you a. OK. Ready? Ready. OK. You’re St. Peter at the pearly gates of the English Canon. OK. And up to the gates come. Norman Mailer. John Updike. Philip Roth and Tom Wolfe only will only only one of them gets in. Who? Who gets internal?

S12: I think it would be definitely Philip Roth.

S16: Hi. I feel so vindicated by that.

S17: Yeah. Just I don’t like he doesn’t want any part of your Christian heaven. It’s not the English get of the English canon. Yeah.

S12: No, I just because I don’t like a particular writer’s work or I find it uncongenial doesn’t mean that I can’t recognize that it’s important to a lot of other people or that it has other fine qualities to it. We all have writers who are like that for us.

S13: Laura, it’s always just the maximum. Pleasure to have you on the podcast. Thank you for dialing in.

S12: It’s been a pleasure for me too.

S18: We’re all pretty much rooted indoors until further notice and in dire need of shots of well-being wherever we can find them each week for the foreseeable future, one of us is going to be picking up film, a TV show, a book or whatever that reliably delivers comfort in uncertain times.

S19: This week we were discussing Big Night, the 1996 comedy about an Italian restaurant struggling for its life. Somewhere along the Jersey Shore, I believe we will explore that with Dan Quayle, who suggests that any way is back in the 50s or early 60s. It’s a period film star Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as two brothers, first generation Italian-Americans whose restaurant Paradiso is a beautiful Amar’s to real Italian cooking. Tucci is front of the house. He’s ingratiating, charming one eye on the books. Shalhoub is back at the house, an artist in the kitchen and completely unwilling to compromise his principles. Their rival across the street. Meanwhile, runs a Red Sox joint that packs him in every night. He decides to help them out. He’s gonna send a jazz great Louis Prima to Edith, their joint on a specific night, which will bring press customers into their temple and maybe revive their commercial fortunes. The movie stars Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini in home, various others, I should say. It’s co-written and co-directed by two g.d, the co-directors, Campbell Scott, who’s also in the film.

S20: Let’s let’s listen to a clip, please. Just. For the lady that she likes.

S21: I don’t know. Come on, bitch. I need to talk to her. That’s what she wants.

S22: The customer ask for. Make it. Make the pasta. Make it. Make it.

S21: Make them go. Maybe I should run the other side because the fucking pipes. She’s a criminal.

S23: I want to talk to you.

S21: Now she’s a philistine. I’m going to talk to it. She no, I understand anyway.

S19: All right. Well, we’re joined, as I said, by Dan Quayle, staff writer for Slate. He’s the author of How to Be a Family The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to find a New Way to Be Together. Dan, welcome back to the podcast.

S24: Thank you so much. I’m delighted to be talking about this movie.

S25: I have never seen it. I finally had a chance to I.

S26: It’s true.

S19: I watched it with my 14 year old daughter last night. We were both fairly well delighted by it. Dan, talk to me about this movie and what it has meant to you.

S27: I chose this one because it seemed like the perfect kind of cinematic comfort food and a couple of different ways. One is the obvious way in which the movie itself is an ode to comfort food of a sort. Right. There’s all these wonderful scenes of people cooking the the grand centerpiece of this dinner that they cook for Louis Prima. Is this insane dish called the Tim Pado, just a gigantic just wad of pasta and eggs and sausage that is in the shape of a drum and that you gently coax out of a big ceramic pot that you cook it in. And it just looks so delicious. There’s these incredible scenes of them cutting edge and the steam rising up. And there’s even a wonderful scene late in the movie of of the simple comfort of someone cooking an omelet for his for his co-workers and relatives. So there’s that aspect where it’s where the movie delivers comfort just in these wonderful scenes of people eating this wonderful food.

S28: There’s a second aspect for me, too, which is in this time right now where I can’t be together with friends, I can’t join together for any kind of collective. I mean, for a dinner party or really any kind of get together. The the socializing in this movie I found just very invigorating and warm and wonderful to the big party. That is the centerpiece of the movie I found very comforting. And then the third way and this is what initially led to me choosing this movie up above and beyond any of these things, is that the very specific era of moviemaking that this film, I think is emblematic of his so formative for me at my exact age. And the actors and the filmmakers of this movie, Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub and Campbell Scott and Minnie Driver and Allison Janney and Leo Schrieber and all this cavalcade of faces who all represent to me the kinds of movies that I was watching and delighting in in my early 20s that I just find so comforting. This this little ecosystem of weirdos who for this brief period could just like get together and make an old fashioned movie about Italian brothers and they could take it to Sundance and win some awards and make 15 million bucks. Like, man, that that just felt great to be to revisit that time. So sort of all three of those things were why I chose this movie and rewatching it. It really delivered on all those fronts.

S29: I thought you just wanted to make us think about how fucking sad it is when a small restaurant business faces financial ruin. I did not find this to be escapist while it happened even before the premiere. Minus Linus to Julia.

S30: This comes from the golden age of Sundance filmmaking. There as we read, we had a research back that had a Janet Maslin review from March twenty ninth nineteen ninety six, in which she talks about all of its peers from that season flirting with disaster. Fargo, the original Coen Brothers film Fargo Girls Six from Spike Lee. Welcome to The Dollhouse. Walking and talking. That’s quite a year. That’s quite a that’s quite a pure set to be part of.

S31: Yeah. I mean, I was I was graduating from high school. I went on a hot date to flirting with disaster.

S32: I didn’t get to see this movie until this year in college. And weirdly saw this movie and strangely similar circumstances to now. Not that anything is similar to now, but I.

S33: I was the editor of my college newspaper the same semester that I was supposed to write my thesis, and it was during that semester that I discovered I should not be an academic because it was so much more fun to be in a room full of fun, smart people making something that people would read that week rather than like toiling away at a solitary carol, writing something that two or three people would ever read.

S32: And so I didn’t write my thesis, and then it was time to have written my thesis. And so I went away with my family to my grandparents. Old condo on the Florida coast, spent two days relaxing with them. They left and I stayed there for eight more days of spring break and just wrote the whole thing in one go. Not a recommended recipe for either academic brilliance or happiness. And I just like locked myself in this little condo from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Then I took a single walk for an hour before dinner, and then I made myself dinner and allowed myself a few hours of entertainment for going back to bed and doing it again. And I watched Big Night for the first time then. And remember feeling like, gosh, I would sure like this movie a lot more if I were in a happier frame of mind in my current environment is in my ass all day. I don’t leave. I’m just at a desk in a room. And then I let myself out for one hour of air before dinner time.

S34: It was like, wait, how am I watching this movie again in the same kind of setting circumstance?

S32: But I was able to unclench a little bit more and enjoy some of its pleasures at this moment. And the thing that really struck me about it is just what a period piece it is in terms of.

S35: Just that 90’s opposition between Valla rising.

S32: Excellence against the commercial. You know, it’s really.

S36: It’s a prepay optimist film. Not the optimism is necessarily come to food and cinema in the same way that it came to.

S32: To popular music. But the notion that if you give the people what they want, it’s a degradation of art, which was sort of inherent in the whole idea of a couple of raffish leave, Schreiber’s agreeing to play the doorman type people and gathering together to make something indie and anti commercial that ended up having a modest commercial success. It just feels like such a period piece of that oppositional moment of the kind of aesthetically pure versus the commercially Krass which has gotten all scrambled in the twenty. Four years since this movie has come out and I kind of loved thinking about that as well. To some of that, just the whole notion of the purity of risotto reads.

S36: You know, if you feel like you could read an essay about what it suggests about the aesthetics of the 90s.

S24: I mean, I totally agree with you about that. The way that opposition plays out in the film. But I. But I sort of disagree with you about the way the film actually manifest that opposition. Like one thing that really struck me about this, that maybe didn’t strike me at all when I sighed at 22 or whatever, you know, is that this movie, this indie movie made for nothing by people sort of on the edge of the film industry at that time was sappy and old fashioned and squarely like pointed at the heart and the emotions and very obviously commercial ways.

S28: Right. Like my grandma would never, ever have seen big night because she didn’t exist in a world where indie movies ever would occur to her or come to her town or whatever. But if somehow she didn’t see it, I think she would absolutely have loved it.

S5: And also, by the way, I will point out that this movie, doesn’t it? It in some maybe ultimate sense, sides with perfectionism over total crass commercial manipulation.

S18: But the Shalluf character, the older brother, the cook, is meant to be enormously frustrating. I think not only did to gee where a lot of the comic, you know, energy of the film comes from, is is the two of them on each other all the time. But I think it’s meant to rub a little against the sensibilities of the viewer, too. I mean, you you you understand that his perfectionism is an instrument of their do in the movie and is one of the things that has to be overcome in the course of it. You’re rooting for this restaurant to, you know, stay alive. What I like most about the movie, Dan, is that it’s an old fashioned work of cinema. It’s really about stars being stars.

S16: Now, I understand that they weren’t big stars at the time, but they but nonetheless, for everything else that’s charming about the movie, it’s carried almost entirely by actors faces. I mean, the extent to which what happens in the movie is playing out in medium to tight close up of Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Isabella Rossellini, who at that time I have to imagine was a big star. This after, you know, she’d made the Lynch films and there’s just. That next thing that you get out of cinema when you realize it’s being carried only by faces is a feeling of other worldliness that takes place in this world, but not quite in this world, in this heightened semi dream land in which movies really feel like movies. Old fashioned movies. And what’s elevating it isn’t CGI or sci fi or superhero or some, you know, techno gizmo world that you’re re-entering. But it really just is the fact that these people are more charismatic, more beautiful, more interesting. You know, reality appears more heightened for them. And I I was amazed watching this movie to be reminded of the fact that that’s an infrequent experience in moviegoing.

S25: Now, there tends to be to the extent that we have a dichotomy that we’re playing with, of course, it’s like gigantically budgeted sci fi fantasy films or superhero films against which there’s a super naturalistic, very matter of fact, very rugged filmmaking style. That is admirable, but but not this, this, this, this where everything almost feels like a fable simply by the way it’s lit and the way it’s acted. Also, the other thing I’ll say quickly that I really admire about the movie is that it reverses a lot of the clichés about assimilation. You know, first generation assimilation to America and making it in America. I mean it. I don’t want to give anything for those who haven’t seen it away way about the end of the movie. But it is absolutely not a, you know, off the rack garden variety standard issue.

S19: You know, feel good story about people coming from another culture to America, bringing their culture with them, becoming hyphenated and, you know, making a pile of money along the way.

S5: It has the courage of his convictions. And, you know, he’s was very grateful to have finally seen it.

S24: Another thing this movie has as baby Marc Anthony before he was famous playing there like the kitchen guy, his dad in this restaurant, the busboy and man, he boy, does he look good? Yeah. Yeah.

S19: There’s like one line. And then you’ve got Liv Schreiber as the doorman with, I believe no lines. And then you’ve got Allison Janney in a supporting part. And she’s terrific.

S37: Yeah, I think this was the first I know I guess by the time I had seen it. C.J. Cregg had emerged into the world. But it’s a good movie for Janni stands.

S34: I it’s so interesting your point.

S38: It is a kind of conservatively constructed movie.

S39: Dan, even as a valorize is art rather than conventional the conventional.

S40: But apart from the ending, which is not, you know, roses and cupcakes.

S38: But apart from the ending, which I think twenty four years later we can stipulate it’s not roses and cupcakes, but still, yes, there is tension.

S39: Yes, you are supposed to recognize that. Tony Shalhoub is a is is the ruination of them and his perfectionism. But it’s a noble failure, right. Like the fundamental quality valorized is the art and the arc is that tgf out his frustrations comes to realize that his brother is right to not make a side forgetting what there is at home. To me, that’s it is kind of unequivocal. And what it professes, where it professes to. And even if in its structure, it’s a conventional feel, which may be why it’s a sentence maybe that may $50000000 instead of one that got like applause and then you made a couple hundred thousand dollars.

S24: I think you’re right. But I also think that the party at the center of this movie is a way that the movie tries to sort of square that circle to try and find the middle ground between those two characters. Right. Because here is the element. When Tony Sloops character gets to exercise that as his art and all its glory for the right audience, an audience that will appreciate it, but also to make it whatever the culinary equivalent of like big commercial and crowd pleasing is, he is not making only a risotto that only one person could appreciate. He’s making a goddamn suckling pig and it’s, you know, and all these things that are like us, big, big crowd pleasing dishes, right? Yeah.

S25: I mean, this is not this is neither is a movie nor is a story.

S41: This is not a brief on behalf of, you know, audience confounding esoterica.

S25: I mean, obviously, the analogies between the meal being made in the film being made is meant to please an audience. It’s just not meant to pander to an audience. I mean, the restaurant that you own, a home is probably playing in Italian runs is meant it’s it’s meant to be repulsive to us. I mean, it panders to the lowest, basest instinct and is super popular because of it looks delicious.

S29: Yeah, I would, absolutely.

S42: Fair enough. Bite your teeth into the ass of life.

S33: You know what? It actually reminded me of the aesthetic. I don’t know if you guys have eaten that carb bone, which is one of the restaurants from the major food group that this pair of chefs who had a string of kind of hot restaurants in New York over the last decade or so. And there they have one of their joints is this kind of classic Italian-American. Hi bravado. Somebody makes you a Caesar salad at the table. Gigantic wheels of parmesan are like rolling ostentatiously around and being.

S43: I felt like that whole shot must have been on the mood board for that restaurant cause the feeling of lightly worn pompousness in the service and conviviality. That’s kind of the vibe they’re going for.

S44: I only know Carbo knows the restaurant that now they’re yelling at everyone because so many people are ordering their freshly available takeout that whoever eats guys are waiting in huge clusters for over an hour on the sidewalk outside the restaurant did see that they were the cause of some social distancing violations yesterday. So anyway, do you imagine the poor guys of big night trying to make Carrie out for the people of their neighborhood? Here’s a whole suckling pig for carry out.

S43: Yeah. Oh, my God. I mean, I do. I will. I’m. I was rueful at the beginning, but I just. Thinking about how the small businesses that make pedestrian life in any place that any of us live pleasurable are going to make it through the next few months is just terrifying.

S44: They’re gonna make it through, though, and I can’t fucking wait to go to a restaurant again when all the signs are already to me, too.

S25: It’s gonna really it’s gonna be like, what is it called the E day or something? Right. You know, it’s just gonna be Saylor’s kissing women in the street.

S28: One other thing, Julia. Your description of your experience of watching this movie makes me even sadder, that Dana Stevens, who is in the exact same situation you were in, desperately trying to finish a thing that she absolutely needs to finish, could not take a few hours out of that time to watch Big Night, a movie that I know she loves. And I know she is sad not to be talking about it with us. But, Dana, I urge you in the strongest possible terms, if you’re listening, take an hour and a half out of this book writing watch big night. It’ll make the hours you write later fly by. Just ask Julia Turner, author of the hugely influential and successful thesis titled.

S29: It was called, too, so for millionaires. Something something something about the two Roki Sisters dressmaking shop from 1985 to 1947 in Providence, Rhode Island.

S34: Exactly.

S42: Also apropos about us, about Italian-American immigrant business, in fact, that was more successful than this. It’s all coming together. Perfect.

S2: Philosophers, poets, scientists. So much of our common intellectual and artistic heritage is tied to people walking. The list is endless. Off the top of my head, I would say cure your garden. Copenhagen, WORDSWORTH in the Lake District, Neil’s board in Deer Park. On and on. I’m sure we all have our own personal lists. It is, after all, the simplest, most human act emphasizing our uprightness, our capacity for solitude, contemplation, friendship, for beholding nature, and for talking intimately and at length. The Flaneur in the city, the lyric Pocan poet in the countryside. I could go on and on and on. It’s just the real point of all of this, is that it may be the great activity of our viral days for the simple reason that we’re allowed to do it so long as we socially distance ourselves from strangers we encounter along the way. There’s almost a public injunction at this point to get out of our houses walk. Dana, I assume that this is something you do to a degree anyway, but more so now.

S6: Yeah, definitely something that I was already doing as a person with a dog like you, Steve. There’s a certain amount of urban walking that you have to do just to, um, you know, fulfill your your minimal duties as an owner. But now especially that experience of walking seems very poignant and and important. The pieces that we were reading in preparation for this segment talk about writing and walking is connected together as you were just doing. And I think that is a very old and wonderful tradition. But in a bigger, more important sense, it seems like walking is just thinking, right? I mean, whether you’re going to go and write those thoughts down and turn them into some product or not, walking is a way in the modern world that we just free ourselves from productivity and allow ourselves to move freely. And that seems incredibly important. Now, I just realized last week in texting with a good friend of mine in the city that she wasn’t going out at all. She lives in a tiny apartment and for whatever reason was, you know, not clear on the directions for what is okay to do or not, or maybe just, you know, extra scared, understandably and paranoid about her health and the health of others and had not been walking for 10 days or something like that. And I just sent her article after article saying, this is recommended, this is okay, please do it. Please text me back and tell me that you’ve done it because it’s so important for mental health. I just can’t imagine in this bizarre situation that not just the country, but the whole world is in right now, that that anyone would deny themselves that right to me. What are you staying alive for? Actually, if not for that pleasure of moving through and hearing and seeing the world.

S45: Well, and it’s a place where it feels so different. I mean, I can I was listening to some podcasters based in New York yesterday, one of whom was saying that they weren’t going out for a lark because they were too paranoid. And I can understand that it’s it’s pretty easy here to go out for a walk in my neighborhood.

S46: And you see some people there’s this kind of like slow motion, large circumference dosage so that everybody does when they spot someone like, you know, 20 feet, 50 feet away where you’re like, I’ll just cross the street and go to the other side of the street instead of crossing the street being a sign of distrust and disrespect to like, I don’t like the cut of her jib. It’s like a sign of gracious respect. This kind of like all the particles in the street trying to spread out and kind of the one Rufo. Can you fucking believe this shit? Smiles that people exchange if they don’t say something a little cheerier. A lot of people on the phone catching up with people far away, seems like. But I you know, we’ve also gone you know, one thing that has struck me is so California about the way California has approached this is. You know, shut downs from every different sized municipality. But you’re encouraged to go out and exercise and hike and walk and stretch your legs. That’s been kind of explicit in the in the guidance here. But then so many people took advantage of it this weekend. I went for a hike and hiking trail. Hiking trail was crowded. Some people as we were driving out were saying, I haven’t seen it like this since the 4th of July, that there now is apparently some guidance, I think, from the county saying that they’re going to shut the hiking trails down and Santa Monica shut the beaches down because it’s just too tempting.

S37: And then the temptation of the outdoors caused. Density, even if people are being respectful and trying to trying to stay apart, so I can only imagine how much tougher that is in New York. There’s so many more people per square foot. There must be easier in Brooklyn than in Manhattan, too.

S6: Yeah, well, Prospect Park was a place that I had been walking the dog near the beginning of this, and then I started to notice it. It was getting more and more crowded, especially over the weekend. And I am trying to steer clear of it now because you’re right. The very places in the city that there’s open space to congregate then become not open spaces because everybody’s congregating there.

S37: Right.

S15: You know, one of the things. So imagine that we are doing this segment at work. You know, the coronavirus. The occasion for it wasn’t the coronavirus.

S30: It really would have reminded me of the segment that we did that I think about very often about creativity at off hours, just that the person who had written the book about how much.

S47: How many of the breakthroughs of genius over human history occurred when a person woke up at supremely early hour or stayed up to a supremely late time of night in order to work when the rest of the world was sleeping?

S48: You mean Mason Curry’s book you’re talking about? Yes. And Curry’s book. Thank you. Yeah. And just that wonderful idea that somehow the rest of the world has to go to sleep for.

S49: A certain kind of brain to wake up to on. Unconcealed at that moment, unconcealed possibilities. And there’s some equally primitive than necessary and historically demonstrable connection between, you know, ambulate ing out in the world and stimulating new thoughts and ideas. I mean, I’ve been reading. I’ve been reading about the golden age of physics and the sheer I mean.

S47: Okay. Sure. Poets and lake poets. And we know all that already. Right. And philosophers and Netsch in. Guy, we know all that already. Right. But the sheer number of breakthroughs that happened when they when the golden age physicists and we’re talking about Einstein for Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Liesje Meitner, you know, Dirac, Aaron Fast. I mean, we’re talking a really long list of these guys who just would pair off or get into a small group and they would go hiking or walking interminably or sometimes skiing, cross-country skiing. And how much of that stimulated our understanding of the quantum realm is just to me was just astonishing. It was impossible not to note this pattern. On top of which, of course, now we all sort of have to do it in order to keep from going crazy. And I don’t say that that glibly at all. I mean, I’ve always loved walking because it does two things or a bunch of different things at once. One, it rescues us from the sofa and the automobile. Two wonderful inventions, but also skirt potential scourges of modern life.

S1: And secondly, I love the fact that if you do it sociably. You don’t actually have to look at the other person in a way which is enormously liberating excuses to socialize with people where you don’t actually have to inspect their face or look into their face and silence is perfectly normal in the course of walking. And so actually it’s very disinhibited to have a conversation that takes place while hiking or walking. But given what we’re all going through now, it’s just nonnegotiable. I mean, it really is one of the few things that reintroduces mental equilibrium. So we’ve been doing a ton of it.

S6: Can I say something has been different about my walk since since I was 18 started, which which may be a somewhat counterintuitive or shooting oneself in the foot sort of thing for a podcaster to say. But I’m not really listening to podcasts as much when I walk anymore, which used to be part of the joy of it. Right. It would be sort of. Oh, it’s my time to to check out from the world, listen to my favorite podcast while I walk the dog, kind of, you know, doing two things at once. Very satisfying. There’s something wonderful about your walk ending exactly when the podcast ends and feeling like, well, that’s done. But of course, when we have so little contact with the outside world, the last thing I want to do when I’m walking outside is not hear what’s going on. In fact, the auditory experiences is a big part of it. So I’m sort of behind on some of my favorite podcasts. I mean, might the absolute favorites I’ll still listen to, but for at least some part of the walk I want to be hearing the conversations and the birds singing in the wind, in the trees and all that stuff.

S30: Julia, I know.

S1: I note that in one of the articles that we read in preparation for the segment, someone points out quite rightly that walking the ability to walk out, especially alone in nature in a city, this is not a right distributed equally to all of humankind. For a lot of human history and still today, women can’t do it or can’t do it without at least a set of concerns that the average man probably doesn’t have. Poor people, black and brown people. This is not a it seems as if it would be and certainly absolutely ought to have been a universally distributed right to one’s own legs and space and time. But it’s not really frayed.

S45: I mean, it’s the it’s as we can see in the pandemic social media, there is like a lot of people who have who are clearly now ensconced in some kind of country house.

S50: And then you like I guess they have a country house.

S51: And then there’s a lot of people who aren’t and you are where they are. And I think just in general, thinking about how quarantine imposes. The people with your resources and the poor are like you’re stuck in a smaller space. You have less optionality in that space. If you find a place that has a lot of toilet paper, you might be able to afford to stock up on it. The mean furloughs and layoffs are hitting all kinds of industries, but they’re hitting people with less of a cushion harder.

S37: So particularly right now, finding comfort in your home or comfort and walking around your home is especially dependent on means in a way that just seems to exacerbate the the state of things. One thing I’m curious for your guys thoughts on is urban walking versus rural walking.

S52: So I think you’re spot on, Steve, with the condusive ness of walking to talking. That’s one of my favorite things about it.

S51: Like my childhood, I think about Long Beach walks with my mother or my sister, my dad. We always had a joke that my dad and sister would keep stopping to pick up shells and my mom and I were the ones who didn’t want to stop and look at anything and just wanted to keep walking and talking.

S50: We have a routine in my family that you always go right ahead of each. If you’re walking, you walk to the right and back, not to the left and back. And then, you know, if you’re at the beach for long enough, then you get of right.

S52: Then you might try going left. But it was just a family habit. I fell for my husband on a walk.

S32: We were at a party. I think, Dana, you might have been there before you were inside. No, I think you were there at the Jake’s house in.

S6: Yeah. Over that. I remember that that day day hike, Jake’s country asked.

S45: And you know, we just went for a long, long, long tramp.

S37: And this person I had never met. And I fell in step and just talked and talked and talked and talked for three hours. It’s like it’s really fun talking to that fellow. It took us a couple more years.

S46: It’s so romantic to figure that I have to go up there and walk on that same thing again.

S6: That same that same trail.

S50: I’ve been back to that trail many times, but I don’t think I’ve been back there yet with Ben. So, you know, obviously, you can’t you can’t make new friends on a on a walk these days, but you can you can go out with the people your house with.

S37: And I’ve had the same response, Dana, of sometimes listening to podcasts, sometimes having a phone call with somebody in another city and sometimes just walking around listening. It’s the movement. I think that helps distract you from how oppressive contemplation feels when it seems like that’s what you’re trying to do. You know, there’s always new, new trees to look at, new houses. The neighborhood I live in, in Santa Monica. There are different trees for every street. Like there’s a planting plan. And one street has Canaria Island pines and one street has a certain type of jacaranda and one street has these particular cedars. So it’s just fun to kind of orient and learn. It’s one street has like the classic, you know, double rows of super tall palm trees that looks very kind of California and just quieting your mind and all the things chattering in it and looking around, that’s given me some respite and pleasure.

S6: Oh, that sounds great. I want to walk around your neighborhood when we’re traveling again one day, Julia, and see all the different tree themed streets. I was just going to say that my family’s big recreation that we have planned, the thing that we’re gonna do actually when this book draft is done, which will be before the quarantine is over, I hope to God is that we’re gonna go on a really long walk. We’re gonna pack up a picnic lunch and we’re gonna walk to the neighborhood of some friends and leave a package on their doorstep and hopefully yell up to them through the window. And it’s a neighborhood we would never normally walk to. I mean, we’re just gonna have to walk through parts of the city that we’ve never been through. You know, the sort of Orthodox Jewish enclaves that my daughter doesn’t really even think about existing in the city and and explore parts of New York that we never would have otherwise because we’re not going to get on a train to go do it. So, you know, that’s that’s what passes for a big day now in our lives is we’re going to take a three hour walk.

S5: I mean, I I would just like to, you know, talk very quickly about the difference between city and country walking, because, of course, I went from being a city to a country mouse and now the city has become exotic to me. It’s the thing that breaks up my relationship to trees and chickens and law, you know, the fields and meadows. And that’s become exotic. I mean it. And for my kids, it’s a wildly exotic. And so there is something about the long, slightly undirected walk through an urban landscape. And of course, famously total air, you know, it was the romantic boats back in the 18th, 19th century who sort of invented the idea to a degree of the of the long walk through nature as a way of cleansing the soul of industrialism in the city and that allowing the social mask to fall away or whatever. But it was Buttler in the 19th century who developed the idea of the flaneur and walking through a city whose great appeal was the sheer multitude of strangers. And when you live in the country, it’s like it’s just hard to describe what happens to you when your expectations for being surrounded by literally millions of people whose names and faces you don’t know begins to fall away and what it’s like to reacquire it only in a very intermittent basis. And furthermore, to have raised children for whom these things are not a part of their lives and then reintroduce it. It’s really, really it’s like this. Weird, exhilarating.

S53: Experience to reacquaint oneself with cities when they just aren’t really a part of your daily existence anyway, so that’s a walking walking for me. In the country means. Endless repetition. The same to the 10 mile hikes over and over and over again till they become beloved and just ingrained in your soul. But the city is just unbelievable. Sheer amounts of novelty and and and hubbub, which you city you city mice don’t realize how how thrilling that is us.

S13: All right. Well, now is the moment in our podcast we endorse. We still have Dana Stevens with us. Dana, what do you have?

S6: Stephen, I’ve decided that all of my endorsements during this current pandemic crisis we’re in are going to be comforting and simple. I’m not going to make anybody read any big books or ponder any depressing articles or anything like that, because I feel like we’ve got enough on our plate. So my two comforting small things this week are Patti LuPone journeys around her basement. Are you all familiar with these Twitter posts from Patti in the last couple days?

S46: No, I’ve heard of these, but I have.

S6: Oh, my God. I think they’re so up your alley. So I don’t know. They’re up everyone’s alley. So Patti LuPone great Broadway star has, like everyone else, been confined to her house. And everybody’s been talking about, you know, the insensitive celebrity posts. You know, the the imagine.. song cover, which should have been a whole topic this week, now that I think about it and all the other kind of overprivileged and oblivious things that celebrities are posting. But I think that no one can not get into the joyous spirit of Patti LuPone, bored, cooped up, extremely energetic, as she tends to be, and giving you a tour of her basement, including her pinball machine, her. What else do she show you? Her old clap boards from every movie she’s made when she collects, you know, various little bits of Tin Pan Alley framed music or whatever crazy stuff. Patti LuPone has in her basement. She takes you on this manic tour of it. I think there’s a couple of these posts now. But basically, just if you’re on Twitter, follow Patti LuPone and and enjoy her basement with her. That’s one. And along with that, my recommendation is for a shelf stable grain, which we’re all interested in shopping for these days. But the rice has always gone. The past is always gone. We’re sick of rice. We’re sick of pasta. So I am also endorsing kasha. Are you all familiar with buckwheat groats, the delicious Jewish snack? I mean, ISIS, you hate kasha mainly with Sader dinners and with going with various Jewish foods. You usually find it in the ethnic foods supermarket aisle if there is such an aisle and your supermarket. But it’s one of the things that never sells out because I don’t think it’s everybody’s favorite grain, but it’s this delicious nutty buckwheat and it’s good, sweet or savory.

S17: If you have it in the house, you can make some sort of, you know, poached egg brunch thing with it, or you can put maple syrup on it and have it like oatmeal. Stevens laughing It meets the new nutmeg cash bag. And I’m endorsing Patti LuPone in cash.

S54: Oh, my God. That was the data. Yes. Dana It just was like the crack version of Dana. You’re a nutty alternative. Green Stamos, Steve.

S17: It’s true. I’m a Grote. But you wrote a course of growth.

S19: I love it. That was good. Julia, what do you have?

S32: I also have an escapist joy offering today, which is the remakes of Whitney Houston’s B-side singing the Stevie Winwood song Higher Love by kagome.

S36: So I really wouldn’t say more about it.

S32: Charlie, you can hear the song I love in your head.

S33: And then if you think about it for a minute, you realize it wasn’t actually an eastern sound. But when you hear this cover of it, you will think that it always was awaiting you since on. And that this up tempo, danceable version of it is the jam you’ve needed your entire life, and particularly right now.

S36: So higher love and Kaido and Whitney Houston. Check it out. Nice.

S26: Marvelous. I want to endorse an essay by a friend of mine, Benjamin, and asked this wonderful writer, novelist and essayist.

S5: And it’s in the Oxford American this month. It’s called Black Snake in New England Prep School teacher Walker Percy and the Power of Gullah Folktales. Ben told me about this as a year or so ago, maybe even about a year and a half ago.

S49: And it seemed improbable that someone could bring these elements together.

S55: It’s sort of a remembrance of a prep school teacher of his who turned him on to thinking about literature and a subversive way, who also insist that a white prep school teacher who insisted on teaching Gullah folktales to white prep school students back in. I’m going to guess 80s and also Walker Percy, who also taught and it’s all somehow cohere as it is the most beautifully written, exquisitely felt and thought piece of writing I’ve read in a while.

S47: It is highly recommended. It may not be super easy to find because I do not think it is online.

S56: But it isn’t the Oxford American. And it’s possible that they put some of their material online.

S15: But it’s called Bar B, which Bub Black Snake in New England by Benjamin and asked us. And then quickly, Dana, I want to say I’m not going to mispronounce her name, but civil bear.

S48: Yeah, civil. But I knew it. I knew you’d love her.

S55: It’s it’s a it’s a drug. I mean, it’s just it is. You’re right. It’s just Nick Drake. It’s more from the Nick Drake, you know, stash the the Vashti Bunyan, you know, vol. So, I mean, it’s just that it’s that same genre of of it could almost not exist. It’s so wispy.

S57: But then as it starts to insinuate its way into your nervous system, it’s just, you know, I don’t know. It’s just so narcotic.

S13: I mean, it’s it’s really good. I really love it.

S6: It’s like music for introspection. Right. The album, if anybody didn’t hear this endorsement last week was color green by bear.

S15: Yeah. Then it might easily have never seen the light of day. It was 30 years later. Some homemade real. The reels that she’d made back in the 70s got passed along to somebody who passed them along to Jay Mascot’s of dinosaurs doing well.

S6: It was her son. It was her. Her grown young son who discovered her in a way.

S15: Right. And he gave them to family members and friends. And then it ended up somehow. And Jay Mascot’s his hand. And he was like, this is too good to just be sama’s dog, right? And then we took it to a small indie label. Anyway, check it out. I love that music. It was great. Thank you so much. Stevens totally courtesy of you. How do you listen? All right, guys. It was really nice to have the three of us together in one another’s boats. And let’s please do it again soon. Yes, indeed.

S35: And Steve, before we go to the credits, we should let our listeners know that if you are a member of Slate plus you can tune in for the Daina.

S38: Steve and Julia are reunited. Quarantine Chaykin. We’ll discuss what it feels like for us, how it’s going. We’re worried about what we’re finding comfort in and the rest. If you’re not yet a slate plus member, sign up. It’s a great way to support Slate and its journalism and to hear extra segments of our show.

S58: You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about today on our show page, that Slate.com Splash Culture Fest. You can email us at Culture Fest at Slate.com. We always love that, especially in these tough times. We’d love to hear from you. We will get back to you. Almost inevitably, inevitably, let’s just say inevitably, our producer adjustment Mali, our production assistants, Rachel Allen, Dan cuase Julia Turner, dynasty. even times. Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. And we will see you soon. BRANLEY.

S35: Hello and welcome to these stats, new segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest today. We just convened for a little Check-In. We’ll come by our circle to see how we’re all doing.

S59: After a couple weeks of not taping as usual in this very, very, very strange time in human history and worrisome time clearing it up. Now, our conversation.

S6: I feel the need for a kumbayah moment with you guys to just check in about how we’re all doing. The Political Gabfest did this last week. They had a very guest oriented show with three very good guests talking about, you know, epidemiology and politics and and all of the implications of this global pandemic we’re all living through. But they also had a little moment where just John Emily and David, beloved Political Gabfest hosts all just checked in with each other. And I felt this very sad need to do that with you guys because I’ve missed talking to you over the past month. So I just want to be sure that you’re all well and you’re all mentally doing OK or not.

S60: We are hanging in there. It’s nice to have my daughters home, to have us all tightly clustered together. There are enormous Solis’s to be taken, but against the backdrop of a boob in chief who’s going to get us all killed. But I I don’t see that glibly. I think we’re going to make I think we’re gonna make it through OK. But a lot of people are going to have to suffer first. So but we’re doing okay here again. And I’m relieved to hear your voice.

S5: We’ll see. One thing, Julia, I’ve I’ve discovered the joys of the Xoom cocktail party.

S41: Yeah. No, it’s it’s amazing.

S60: You know, get yourself a scotch on the rocks or, you know, a nice, nice coat around. And, you know, you just zoom just works for heat. I mean, you just get a bunch of friends from all over the world together. I mean, you know, probably keep it a little small to keep it from going, becoming completely chaotic. And then you’d have a nice cocktail and shoot the shit and catch up. It really is nice.

S6: That seems great to do with friends. I’ve had some Xoom family calls. We had an all Stevens Zoo meeting. This thing started and it was really, really fun. And we’re gonna keep it going as a weekly thing, which honestly is way more contact than the Stevens has had before this. So, you know, we I guess we have that to be thankful for, but I hadn’t thought about just getting a bunch of drunk friends to get to it. It sounds great.

S31: It’s awesome. Yeah, I. One of my responses to alcohol is sometimes feeling like I have a sore throat and that’s morning.

S50: And so I have not been drinking as much as I would like to be right now because the I’m choosing to take an approach to Cauvin hyper can Darius this that is that I learned from bedbugs, which is that worrying that you have a thing is often also really, really, really bad.

S33: And if you actually have a thing that will become apparent to you at some point. So we have like a hard and fast. Don’t take anybody’s temperature unless they’re really miserable policy in our house. You know, speculative temperature taking, you know, just hydrate, wash your hands, etc. But I’m not drinking as much as I would like. I will tell you that I’ve had a few glasses of wine and they felt great.

S40: I am supposed to, though, reconvene with my beloved book club that I had to leave when they moved away from New York.

S61: Now that we’re, you know, now that they can’t be with each other either. I think I have one this weekend and I have, you know, I’m much more in touch with my family, you know, talking to them a lot.

S37: Teaching my mom about Instacart, ordering her a remote Wegmans order from Santa Monica so that she can learn how it works and not go out to the fruit center. So that’s been kind of nice.

S35: But I don’t know, I feel it’s funny being a journalist in times like this because sometimes it’s hard to feel the news because you have to do so much thinking about the news and strategizing about the news and doing of the news. And so I don’t know, I I feel like a great squashed anxiety that I’m burying in a cupboard somewhere.

S61: And I open the cover door every so often and look at it.

S62: The guy that shut the door, that sounds healthy. Picture of mental health over here.

S6: I’ll do all the feeling for you. Julia, I I I’ve given up sleeping instead. I just feel intense things until about 4:30 in the morning every night. So I’ll take off some of it for you.