💌 Stuff You Should #14: September 2019

Foul balls, headphone upgrades, googly eyes, and more.

Hi! You're reading a monthly newsletter in which I, perpetual opinion-haver Laura Reineke, share with you some Stuff that I endorse. Got stuff you think *I* Should? Reply to this email or holler at me on Twitter @ohonestly. Thx for reading. Love u.

👋 Know About Me

Reflecting on what’s changed in my life since I last sent this newsletter a year ago, the first thing that comes to mind is the fire escapes.

The board of my NYC apartment co-op (of which I am, hilariously, a member) decided this summer to repaint our buildings’ fire escapes. Until June, they’d been a cheery shade of red. Now? Basic black - a color I endorse in literally every other context but which has in this case diminished the view out my windows considerably. It’s dimmer now. Neutered. Boring.

I voted against the black paint, obviously, but found it difficult to make my case. “Keep the fire escapes red because I like it!!!” felt a little too millennial, u know? “Keep them red because it was that detail that convinced me to choose this apartment from allll the other apartments I toured” isn’t very convincing, either, to a buncha folks motivated less by personal taste than by pragmatism. “Black is straightforward and inoffensive,” etc.

But it really was the red fire escapes, set against the canopy of brilliant yellow autumn leaves out the fourth-story window, perfectly matched to the custom red cabinets in the kitchen, that made 2015 Laura look around approvingly: Now this, THIS could be my cozy little nest.

A cozy little nest, indeed! And one that four years later has lost a little of its charm. But as the kids say, WHATEVER, man. Everything else is great right now, so having a dumb small thing like this to whine about feels…kinda nice, actually.

An otherwise idyllic moment ruined by BORING BLACK FIRE ESCAPES okay I’m done I swear

🔗 Read Online

The Coast of Utopia - "Inspiring this many people really is a lot of work." On the gorgeous gaggle of affluent mommy bloggers leading Instagram-friendly lives of organic foods n fabrics on Australia's eastern shore. (Carina Chocano/Vanity Fair)

What A Foul Ball Can Do - Foul balls in baseball are wildly dangerous. There's a simple solution to keep people safe from them. So why do MLB fans - three in June alone - keep getting hurt? (Kelsey McKinney/Deadspin)

‘Urgent needs from head to toe’ - Overwhelming need meets temporary relief at a pop-up medical clinic in rural Tennessee, where the awful ripple effects of our disastrous healthcare system are on full display. (Eli Saslow/WaPo)

The American Missionary and the Uncontacted Tribe - There's an arrogance specific to missionary work that makes me uncomfortable. This very good piece on John Chau, a young Christian who died in 2018 at the hands of an isolationist Indian tribe he hoped to convert, didn't change my feelings. (Doug Bock Clark/GQ)

“Tangerines,” Haio Jang, 2018

👍 Follow

Got Distracted - My brilliant coworker Logan Sachon is writing every week about "brief obsessions and shallow rabbit holes." So far: timelines, Russian oral histories, passive income, and more, all appraised with her signature wit and candor.

Design Twitter Roundup - Chappell Ellison compiles threads of weird n wonderful design-related things (like awkward ‘70s stock photography, or a pool float shaped like a coffin) on Twitter, then sends 'em out as a newsletter. A delightful midweek diversion.

🗣️ Quote

"Don't shove me into your pigeonhole, where I don't fit, because I'm all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions." - Ursula K. Le Guin

📖 Read Elsewhere

Less by Andrew Sean Greer - I found myself rereading whole paragraphs of this Pulitzer Prize winner because I was so charmed by the author’s way with words. Wistful, sweet, funny.

My Year of Rest & Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh - If you need to Like a book’s main character in order to read it, avoid this one, in which a godawful twentysomething living in NYC in 2000 finds a batty shrink who’ll prescribe her enough drugs to facilitate a yearlong vacation from life. Like the detached materialism of American Psycho crossed with the obnoxious faux-enlightened self-centeredness of, idk, Lena Dunham. Anyway I devoured it in one weekend.

💰 Buy

Diptyque candles - Yes, I have purchased more than one of these absurdly expensive "status candles," and yes, they are #worthit. The burn time is long, the scents are strong but not cloying, and the packaging is chef's-kiss perfect. Sue me!!!

Wicked Cushions headphone ear pads - This company's $21 replacement ear pads have added years of use to my over-ear headphones, which can get kinda grody from daily use. People who've complimented the white floral ones I got for my Beats: post office staffer, two random subway teens, counter guy at the bodega, coworkers, enemies.

📺 Watch

Diagnosis - A doctor-slash-NYT columnist crowdsources diagnoses for patients with mysteries medical afflictions in this miniseries that's simultaneously upsetting (we know SO little about the human body, actually?!) and inspiring (people can be so resilient and helpful and kind!!). (Netflix)


Listing related items alphabetically to fall asleep faster - Trying to fall asleep? Get comfy, close yr eyes, and pick a category of things. I usually go with musicals bc of course I do. Then list items in that category alphabetically until you reach snoozeville. Amour, Bandstand, Cats, Dreamgirls, etc. Apparently the focus this requires helps to distract your brain from overthinking or thwarting the falling-asleep process? I'm no insomniac so I can't promise it'll help those of y'all who are, but in the months that I've been using this trick I've never once made it all the way to Z.

🗣️ Quote

"Live or die, but don't poison everything." - Ann Sexton, The Complete Poems

🎧 Listen To

Bear Brook - This true crime podcast is ostensibly about a decades-old New Hampshire murder case, but it's also a sensitive exploration of the very real people whose lives were cut short and scarred by it.

Song Exploder #153: "Scott Street" - Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers (heart emoji x1000) and drummer Marshall Vore break down the origins n structure of my favorite song from Bridgers' 2017 album Stranger in the Alps.

Running From COPS - A lift-up-the-rock-to-see-the-bugs-underneath investigation into the ways that COPS and Live PD*, TV shows which claim to depict "real policing," shape the lived realities of people in depressed communities and affect the attitudes and motivation of law enforcement. What you see on camera is always shaped by what you don't.

*Produced by my old employer, A+E Networks! Cool 🙃

I ordered googly eyes from Amazon and put them on everything in the office, including this TANGLE of CARPET FIBERS. 10/10 would recommend.

☀️ My Forecast

Visiting Maine; finishing Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys; trying my hand at random recipes for vegan treats I see on Instagram but subbing the vegan ingredients for whatever’s in my pantry, thereby missing the point entirely; welcoming autumn with open arms and a joyful screech.

Til next month,

xo Laura