Slate's Culture Blog

July 22 2014 2:09 PM

The New Yorker Stories You Should Read Before the Paywall Goes Up

Yesterday, The New Yorker made all of its magazine pieces since 2007 freely available online for three months. After that time, everything will go behind a metered paywall, along the lines of what the New York Times has in place. So what should you read during this three-month free-for-all? We canvassed Slatestaff for their favorite New Yorkerarticles, essays, profiles, and fiction from 2007 to the present. Our annotated list of 30 stories, divided semi-arbitrarily into seven categories, is below.

Video Advertisement

July 22 2014 12:14 PM

Spoon’s New Single Is Gorgeous

We’ve already heard a couple tracks from Spoon’s forthcoming album, They Want My Soul, the rocking, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”-esque “The Rent I Pay” and the breezy “Do You.” Now, fresh off releasing the video for “Do You,” they’re back with a new single.

If “Do You” centers around a question of romance versus religion (“Do you want one thing or are you looking for sainthood?” the chorus asks), “Inside Out” finds Britt Daniel giving his answer. Over airy synths and twinkling harps, Daniel sings, “I don’t make time for holy rollers/ There’s only you I need/ They do not make me complete.”

July 22 2014 11:30 AM

Agent Scully’s Love of Science Set to Music

In “Scully Likes Science” Ryan English takes the biggest understatement one could make about Gillian Anderson’s character on The X-Files and turns it into a delightfully danceable tribute to her skeptical nature and her unwavering devotion to science. Hard, hard science.

July 21 2014 10:22 PM

Kids Say the Darndest Things: A Supercut of Children Cursing in Movies

There’s not much to say here, except to laud Avaryl Halley’s important work: a supercut of kids cursing in movies. The video kicks off with Ralphie from A Christmas Story, then gives us a nice compilation of innocent, adorable children at their most foul-mouthed and profane. Included are classic moments of obscenity from The Sandlot, Little Miss Sunshine, and, of course, South Park.

July 21 2014 9:05 PM

The Members of Weezer Just Want to Be Nerds Again in “Back to the Shack”

Weezer has always relied on nostalgia. Even in 1994—when the band's members were just some baby-faced, uncool college kids who started a rock band—their brand of pop-rock turned on remembered pleasures, bygone loves, and adolescent embarrassments. Not much has changed: the band’s first song in four years, “Back to the Shack,” is basically an apology for the past two decades and a promise to embrace their nerdy roots.

July 21 2014 5:53 PM

Robyn and Röyksopp Incite Revolution in Their Cinematic New Video

Last year, Swedish singer Robyn and Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp rejoined musical forces to create one of 2014’s best EPs, a five-track, collaborative mini-album, Do It Again. And while their last video, for “Sayit,” was a sensory spectacle, it didn’t quite capture the essence of their music. Their newly released video for the EP’s title track—a Song of the Summer contender—hits the mark.

July 21 2014 5:33 PM

Spike Lee Edits Footage of Eric Garner’s Death Together With the Killing of Radio Raheem

If you thought of Do the Right Thing and Radio Raheem after hearing of the death of Eric Garner, who died after being put in a banned chokehold by police on Thursday, you were not alone. Spike Lee himself apparently thought of Raheem, and took to Twitter this afternoon to share a video that cuts together footage of Garner’s arrest (“I can’t breathe,” repeats Garner, who had asthma) with the scene in which Raheem is killed in a chokehold by police.

It’s worth noting that Radio Raheem’s death in Do the Right Thing was itself inspired by the real-life death of Michael Stewart in 1983: Raheem is killed by the same chokehold that witnesses said police used against Stewart. In the crowd in the movie, a voice can be heard saying, “They did it again. Just like Michael Stewart.”

July 21 2014 4:55 PM

Why Is Magic’s “Rude” No. 1?

If you need evidence that America is having its ’90s-revival moment—right on thetwo-decades-later nostalgia schedule—look no further than “Rude” by Magic, the new No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart. “Rude” is essentially an amalgam of two smash hits that rode the Top 10 together in the spring of 1993: the Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes,” from which it borrows its hey-pops-let-me-marry-your-daughter lyrical theme and knit-cap sartorial style; and Snow’s “Informer,” the last Canadian reggae tune to reach the top spot.

That’s right, Canadian: The four guys in Magic, the first band of Canucks to top the Hot 100 since Nickelback more than a decade ago, hail from the Toronto area, just like Darrin “Snow” O’Brien. So why are all these Great White North folks jammin’?

July 21 2014 3:52 PM

The Decline of Harper Lee

This post originally appeared in Vulture.

For Monroeville, Alabama, population 6,400 and shrinking, the summer of 2010 was momentous. Over a long July weekend, locals reenacted historical vignettes, held a silent auction, cooked a southern feast, and led tours of local landmarks. There was a documentary screening, two lawn parties, and a marathon reading of the novel whose 50th anniversary was the grand occasion. To Kill a Mockingbird, which needs no introduction—because it is the introduction, for most American children, to civil rights, literature, and the justice system—had sold nearly a million copies for each year in print. There were at least 50 other celebrations nationwide, but the epicenter was Monroeville, a place whose only real industry (the lingerie plant having recently shuttered) was Mockingbird-related tourism. It was not only the model for the novel’s fictional Maycomb but the home of its author, Harper Lee. She lived less than a mile from the festival, but she never came.

If our country had a formalized process for anointing literary saints, Harper Lee might be first in line, and one of the miracles held up as proof would be her choice to live out her final years in the small town that became the blueprint for our collective ideal of the Small Town. But at 88, the author finds her life and legacy in disarray, a sad state of litigious chaos brought on by ill health and, in no small part, the very community she always believed, for all its flaws, would ultimately protect her. Maycomb was a town where love and neighborly decency could overcome prejudice. To the woman who immortalized it and retreated to it for stability and safety, Monroeville is something very different: suffocating, predatory, and treacherous.

For much of her life, Nelle Harper Lee (known to friends as Nelle) spent more time in the comforting anonymity of New York than in the Monroeville redbrick ranch house her family had occupied since 1952. Then, in 2007, a stroke left her wheelchair-bound, forgetful, and largely deaf and blind—forced to sell her Upper East Side apartment and move into a Monroeville assisted-living facility. It was a loss but also a homecoming: For decades she’d relied on another local living legend, Alice Lee—her older sister, part-time housemate, and lawyer—to maintain her uneasy armistice with her hometown and her fame.

July 21 2014 1:03 PM

Hear “Another One Bites the Dust” Sung Entirely by Screaming Movie Characters

Taking one of the most instantly recognizable bass lines in rock history and aligning it with screaming movie characters is a fairly random idea, but YouTube user Ryan Mitchell’s mashup of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” with the anguished cries of the likes of Marion Crane and Batman is goofy fun, with each high-pitched squeal nicely matched to the notes of the song.