Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A podcast, a Broadway ballad, and a punk publication both timely and timeless

Cover detail of No Friends zine #4

On The Media podcast


Like everyone else I know, I spent last week a) drinking and b) slowly acclimating myself to the reality of the world in which we live. Last week’s news felt like a floodlight, too bright and too hot to look at directly. One of my first orders of business was to catch up on all of those podcasts with titles like “How Did This Happen” and “The Morning After” that I couldn’t bear to look at before. There is none that I’m more ready to listen to—both this weekend and in the coming months and years—than WNYC’s On The Media, hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone. While ostensibly focused on journalism and technology, the show’s editorial confidence allows it to produce some of the most incisive, actionable reporting on politics and human communication anywhere. In the months leading up to the election, they’ve published a long, deeply reported series on poverty; a scabrous interview with the newly woke Glenn Beck; and an ongoing dialogue with journalists about how to cover “post-fact” debates like the existence of climate change. The show is funny, smart, brave, humane, and relentlessly fair. We’re going to need it. [Clayton Purdom]

“Waving Through A Window” from the musical Dear Evan Hansen

I’ve recently been listening to the song “Waving Through A Window” from the upcoming Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen quite a bit. I got a chance to see the show off-Broadway earlier this year, and I wasn’t completely taken by it as a whole. Here’s an oversimplification of the plot: Evan, played remarkably by Ben Platt, is a teenager with severe anxiety. He gets mistaken for the secret best friend of a classmate who committed suicide, and therefore embraced by his community. Naturally, this leads to a world of internal conflict. The entire thing feels a bit like a John Green novel, and not just because of the YA aspects. There are a lot of tasty elements, but you leave feeling a bit manipulated. However, I absolutely love Platt’s performance and this song by composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. (They’ve also written the lyrics for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s La La Land and are taking on a new Snow White adaptation.) The song comes early on in the show and finds Evan articulating his loneliness and isolation. He describes how his own fears have crippled him and wonders as to whether he’ll ever surmount them to amount to anything. It’s the kind of “I want” ballad I always long for, emotionally gripping and exquisitely performed. Platt’s voice on the tune is shattering, both powerful and laced with the sadness of his character. [Esther Zuckerman]

No Friends zine


I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for zines, especially those of the handcrafted, photocopied variety. Over the past year, I’ve been taken with No Friends, a zine made in Chicago that covers punk, hardcore, and anything else that enters that orbit. Across its four-issue run, No Friends has featured interviews with Kyle Kinane, Tenement, W. Kamau Bell, and many more, highlighting everything from the music to the messages of people it’s chosen to cover. Aside from the great interviews, columns, and record reviews, each issue comes with a 7-inch flexi featuring new songs from bands featured, which only adds to No Friends’ allure. Unlike a lot of zines, the copy editing is top-notch, making it an easy read that’s short on errors and overrunning with thoughtful writing. No Friends finds a way to feel both timely and timeless, the kind of thing all good music-focused zines should be. [David Anthony]

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