Now is the time where people crack jokes about finishing the entire Netflix catalog. Honestly though, I’m waiting for that to really happen but before it does, us over here at The Current want to help you all out. Cobbling together some books, television and movies, hopefully this list can get you through the endless hours of social isolation.
1. “The Sopranos”: A personal favorite as a resident of the great state of New Jersey, this HBO classic is often heralded as one of the greatest television shows of all time. Created by David Henry Chase, this family drama about the New Jersey mafia from the point of view of the boss to be, while he feeds his ducks. Well actually that’s just the first episode. Following this series, you really get inside the mind of the anti-hero, and come to love and support this overweight, cigar-smoking sociopath through therapy and murder. From 1999 to 2007, “The Sopranos” helped to define the golden age of television throughout the early 2000’s. Just be prepared for the ending once you start, it comes faster than you’ll think.
2. “Let My People Go Surfing,” by Yvon Chouinard: I’ve been recommended this book plenty of times, and I know exactly why: it’s fantastic. Written by the brain behind camping brand and environmental powerhouse Patagonia, this book delves into the process that goes into one of the world’s most forward-thinking brands today. The master environmentalist and mountain climber turned businessman has packed these pages to the brim with knowledge about the world Chouinard created for himself, and his anti-business business mentality. And with 4,731 four-star reviews on Good Reads, the man definitely knows his role and has played it well, especially with the new ten-year anniversary of the book. “Let My People Go Surfing” is if nothing else, a very Eckerd book.
3. “Tokyo Story”: Out of a series by Yasujirō Ozu, Tokyo Story is a 1953 Japanese film that might make you cry just a little bit. Set in the wake of World War II, elderly parents take it upon themselves to visit their younger busy children in the bustling city of Tokyo. During the slow, meditative film you see the growth of children into their own lives and what that can mean for family dynamics. As the parents come to understand this, the film slowly makes its way to a sad but realistic ending that prompts some thoughts after the curtain falls. A good change of pace from action and superheroes, Ozu takes his time to create meticulously crafted movies that hold a mirror to the world we all live in.
4. “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” by Matt Taibbi: With a title like that, this book may seem daunting, but “Rolling Stone” political journalist Matt Taibbi writes with a righteous anger and burning desire to get to the truth. Now of all times, people are looking for a way to make sense of what is going on in the world. This book follows true investigative journalism to give us a clear path on who is to blame for the world we live in. If fiction isn’t your speed, this may be the book for you. Taibbi is the heir to Hunter S. Thompson’s throne, and once you read it will understand why.
5. “MTV Unplugged in New York” by Nirvana: A nice mid-list change of pace, this album is a nice piece of work that can fit perfectly on any music lovers’ shelf, especially for a time like this. The legendary band Nirvana graced the stage for a performance late in their career, and being grunge artists acoustic, it took the formula for a loop. Apologies to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” fanatics, this album is a nice blend of more mellow tracks and covers from end to end. Just to name a few, Kurt Cobain moans out “The Man Who Sold the World” by David Bowie, “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” a parody recorded by The Vaselines, and a scorching rendition of Lead Belly’s classic “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” While it’s always fun to scream along to some music, sometimes it’s better to just close your eyes and attend a concert in your mind for a little while.
6. “The Wire”: Television doesn’t get any better than this. Created by a former police reporter David Simon, the show follows the Baltimore drug trade over five seasons, hitting it from every angle. Pulling no punches, we see the trade from the point of view of police, dealers, and even school children as seasons roll by. “The Wire” is widely considered the greatest television show of all time, and there aren’t many debates against it. With acting, storytelling and what feels like almost a documentary of life in these neighborhoods, the unflinching eye of “The Wire” gave America a look inside of the underbelly many choose to ignore, but many more have no choice but to live in. The episodes may be an hour each, but time will still fly by.
7. “The Illustrated Man,” by Ray Bradbury: Looking for something enticing to draw you in, but don’t have time or attention to dig into a 500-page novel? Try something easier, like some short stories. Written by an American master of literature, “The Illustrated Man” is a wonderful narrative take on the short story collection, creating a small world around all the tales he tells throughout. In a nutshell, a man, who is covered in tattoos, is on the run. Whenever he sleeps, the tattoos come to life, acting out the moment in time they are frozen into. Interested? I thought so. These stories can be read quickly throughout the day if you want to escape, but don’t have the time to devote to the Harry Potter series again.
8. “Natural Born Killers”: If you thought by the title that this movie was by Quinten Tarantino, you’d be half right. Directed by Oliver Stone but written by Tarantino, this over-the-top 1994 film has all the markings of a cult hit. Starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as cross country traveling serial killers, we see tabloid news lose -their minds to chat with the dangerous duo. An amazing movie about the obsession America has with the deranged and demented, Robert Downey Jr. plays a tabloid television host trying to continually interview the two killers to cut his teeth and get rich. A fun mix of animation, over the top cinematic gore and smoke and mirrors you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for entertainment.
9. “The Wall” By Pink Floyd: If you want a movie in your mind, or, well, a real movie as well, click on The Wall and get your mind melted. A 1979 rock opera by psychedelic rock titans Pink Floyd, we follow a character named after the first half of the band, Pink. One of the greatest albums ever put to vinyl, we follow Pink through his descent into mental illness and drug use as a rock star as his morals are nothing short of hollowed out. The film is also an artistic triumph, another iteration of animation and real life to tell the story over the almost 2-hour sonic expedition. Set aside some time for this and be sure to set the album to repeat for a treat at the very end of the record.
10. “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”: It might seem like a cop out, but has any other show played as regularly for as long (outside The Simpsons)? Olivia Benson is inarguably one of the best detectives New York City has ever seen, we all can agree on that one. And now with 21 seasons on Hulu currently, all about 45 minutes long without commercials? If your question to me at this point isn’t ‘Why didn’t I think of this?’ then I’m not sure what it should be. That being said, if the question is, ‘How many times can they reuse the same plot formula?,’ the answer is now 22 years. So if nothing else here appeals to you, tune in, drop out (mentally) and thank me later.