Pomo Picks

What to Read, Watch, and Listen to This Week: June 17

The Portland Monthly team shares the content keeping us sane (or somewhere close).

By Portland Monthly Staff June 18, 2020

Dave Chappelle’s 8:46

The news is stressful. We get it—we write it! Maybe you’re protesting, maybe you’re donating, maybe you’re reading up or keeping tabs on the way your representatives are responding to the present moment, maybe you’re buying from one of these Black-owned Portland brands. Keep doing that!

Staying engaged is a marathon, though, not a sprint. You’re gonna need breaks. When you take one, consider checking out some of the stuff keeping us sane (or somewhere close), which we’ve collected here in our weekly culture roundup. 

Dave Chappelle’s 8:46

Dave Chappelle’s surprise new special derives its title from the length of time Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. Chappelle drives the point with a sledgehammer: eight minutes and 46 seconds. It was also the time at which Chappelle was born, he says. 8:46 a.m. “I can’t get that number out of my head,” he says. And, now, neither can we, nor should we. “Who. Are. You. Talking to. What are you signifying? That you can kneel on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds and feel like you wouldn’t get the wrath of God? That’s what is happening right now,” Chappelle says. “It’s not for a single cop. It’s for all of it. Fucking all of it.”

To use a word that’s been used and overused this week, it’s an unflinching observation of the dots that led us to this moment, this legacy of stolen Black lives. Chappelle offers a small apology, saying, “Normally I wouldn't show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand,” but it’s exactly that unrefined anguish that gives every word such depth. It’s a powerful reminder that the road from slavery to Jim Crow to now is not very long at all. George Floyd called to his dead mother as he was dying. Chappelle says in his set that the only other time he’s seen someone do that is when his own father was dying and called out to his grandmother. Later he comes back to his great-grandmother and great-grandfather—“and they were slaves! Are you out of your fucking mind if you can’t see that?”

The streets are speaking, Chappelle says. And it’s time we all listen. —Gabriel Granillo, digital editor

Eloquent Rage

Little did we college students know when this book was assigned to us for an interpersonal communication class how radically powerful it would be. New York Times best-selling author, professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies, public speaker, and Black feminist Brittney Cooper expresses her anger at a perpetual system of racial injustice that is and continues to be reinforced by those who benefit from it. Through the lens of Black feminist theory, in a conversational and at times comedic tone, she reminds us that lived experiences and emotion cannot and should not be erased from the testimonies of women and people of color. As the title suggests, Cooper has a way of channeling her rage—and she knows how to unapologetically call out bullshit when she sees it—into the voice of an activist who genuinely invites readers into the conversation. Listen to Cooper herself read the audiobook aloud to fully experience her superpower come to life. —Lauren Carlos, editorial intern

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Kipo washes up on the surface of a postapocalyptic Earth-like planet, far from the burrow she grew up in and into a world populated by all manner of giant, talking “mutant” animals. She makes friends with some “surface survivors” and an ever-molting insect, adopts a four-eyed pig, and takes her new friends on a quest to find her father. Anime meets action with some wild invention in this Netflix delight—disco bees, lumberjack cats, and fitness-obsessed raccoons make appearances amongst the animal packs that roam the surface—while members of the supporting cast are voiced by Sterling K. Brown, Lea Delaria, and GZA, among others. A musically ranging and glorious soundtrack from Daniel Rojas makes this a particularly palatable series for the grown-up counterparts to its younger audience. —Fiona McCann, senior editor-at-large


Of all the records in all of alt-rock history to name-check Joan Didion and Elliott Smith as influences, Punisher might be the first to remember those California doom poets had jokes. Phoebe Bridgers’s sophomore album (misleading, given the two barnstorming collaborative releases she’s put out since her 2017 debut) is full of the dark, prickly humor she’s become known for on Twitter, where her display name is Traitor Joe. “I hate your mom / I hate it when she opens her mouth,” she spouts suddenly to an ex on “ICU”; “We hate ‘Tears in Heaven’ / But it’s sad that his baby died,” she sings on wrenching standout “Moon Song,” puncturing unbearable emotional tension with a weird, mean jab at Eric Clapton.

Punisher is sad, but it's not a downer. Bridgers expands her sonic palette from the dirgy folk she cut her teeth on, conjuring end-times bluster on “I Know the End,” tense garage rock on “Kyoto,” a trippy fairy tale on the title track. She makes jogging and drinking and sitting in a Goodwill parking lot vibrate with civilization-defining importance; she sings about unsatisfying relationships without admitting or assigning blame. It's staggeringly confident music, so sure of what it wants to say and how it wants to say it that you feel like you’d better wise up or get left behind.

These songs will make you cry and laugh and feel like you've hit a personal breakthrough, and they will make you want to be friends with Phoebe Bridgers, if only so you can hear a mundane afternoon you've spent together through her eyes. —Conner Reed, arts & culture editor

Rick Steves

At the end of the night, I hide my phone. I hide my phone because it bing-bongs with nonstop emails, Twitter notifications, DMs on Instagram with stories people want me to cover, Facebook trolls, and text messages from friends I still haven’t had a moment to respond to. And then I try to find a way to put all that aside long enough to trick the nerves into letting me fall asleep. Several weeks into the pandemic, I found the answer. And that, my friends—when used in conjunction with therapy, daily meditation, Epsom salt baths, and a small amount of wine—is Rick Steves.
The Pacific Northwest icon of all things traveling has a calming voice I have repeated in my head for years. Back in the late fall of 2001 when I was prepping for a backpacking trip around European hostels (to, you know, find myself, on $40 a day) I went to see him talk at a beloved childhood spot, the Salem Public Library. Specifically, I was scared of flying post 9/11 and asked him about it in the Q&A portion, and he said, in a most reassuring tone, “Every single day 30,000 planes go up and 30,000 planes come down. It’s that simple.” For the almost 20 years since, every time my plane hits some turbulence, I repeat the calming sounds of Rick Steves’s wisdom. It works.
It makes absolute sense then to return to him in this anxiety-laden time. Any of the 25-minute episodes of Rick Steves' Europe  (available on YouTube) can act as an informative Ambien. Enjoy his consistent, soothing tones as he discusses local cherry liquor while walking the cobblestone streets of Lisbon. Watch him smile with new friends as he waves above a majestic cliff on a Greek island; learn just as much about the Medici family’s impact on Italian art as you did in an entire semester at college. The views are always stunning, Steves always reminds you how bad fascism has been for these countries, and the dreams of traveling again one day feel truly possible. —Eden Dawn, style editor