Over the weekend, I stepped into an independent record store for the first time since the onset of the pandemic and almost immediately committed the faux pas of saying the word Spotify in front of the owner of said independent record store. John, I’m sorry. Please let me back in.
Hosted by writer and poet Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr., Resistance offers a collection of a few different portraits from the front lines of the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the country. I’ve only been able to listen to the first three episodes, and the stories run the gamut. The first sees Tejan-Thomas Jr. grappling with his own feelings about political activation and participation as he follows a young Black man evolve from being a first-time protester to a possible first-time local-office candidate. The second is a gripping account of an activist trapped in his home for hours as the NYPD tries a number of different tactics to flush him out. The third tells the story of the only Black man in a small Nebraskan town trying to organize its first Black Lives Matter rally, working in the face of his own experiences with racism in the locality.
Resistance is a striking and vivid listen, at least based on its early innings, and one of its more interesting contributions is the way in which it creates an emotional space for people to process their own feelings about political mobilization. But it’s not exempt from questions and critiques, of course. That it is the product of a corporate media entity — Gimlet Media, a content division of Spotify — should expose it to some discourse about the rendering of political expression into an entertainment commodity. Folks who are more radical in their politics might also have things to say about the kinds of political action it grapples with and what it leaves out. But on the whole, these are discussions worth having, and the fact that Resistance provokes me to think about it is a sign that it’s doing something right.
Lost Notes: 1980: “John Lennon & Darby Crash”
I can’t even begin to express just how much I love the latest season of Lost Notes, which dropped in its entirety in late September.
Now in its third season, Lost Notes is a nonfiction anthology podcast from KCRW that weaves together great untold stories from the music world. This outing, called Lost Notes: 1980, was entirely curated and hosted by the poet-critic Hanif Abdurraqib, and as you can probably glean from the subtitle, all of its stories revolve around the year 1980. If you’re not familiar with Abdurraqib’s body of work, you should get acquainted; check out Go Ahead in the Rain, his 2019 book-length love letter to A Tribe Called Quest, or pick up any of his poetry collections. Music, legacy, and the active act of loving art are all themes that tend to pop up in Abdurraqib’s creations, and Lost Notes: 1980 is no different.
The enthusiast in me would tell you to work linearly through the season, starting from the Stevie Wonder story all the way down to Grace Jones. But if for some reason you remain skeptical and wish for only a taste, hit up “John Lennon & Darby Crash,” which revisits how Crash, the co-founder of the extremely influential punk band Germs, took his own life as some means toward achieving cultural immortality … only for Lennon’s murder, which happened less than a day later, to completely overshadow Crash’s death.
• With the man at the center of its story finally free, In the Dark is dropping one final episode today to wrap up its second season, and it takes the form of an interview with Curtis Flowers himself.
• Teenager Therapy is a legitimate phenomenon these days, and the chat-cast featuring a group of teens having sincere conversations about mental health and their lives welcomed special guests in a recent episode: the ex-royals Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who popped up on the show in honor of World Mental Health Day.
• Tracy Clayton already co-hosts a nostalgic pop-culture podcast, Back Issue (with Josh Gwynn), and now she’s co-hosting another nostalgic pop-culture podcast, which launches this week: the music-themed My 90s Playlist with Akoto Ofori-Atta.
• Lore’s Aaron Mahnke is producing a fiction podcast series with iHeartMedia and Blumhouse TV that’ll star Keegan-Michael Key in the lead role. It will be called Aaron Mahnke’s 13 Days of Halloween, and it is scheduled to drop for 13 days leading up to Halloween. That means it will actually start on … *checks calendar* October 18, I think?
• Here’s an interesting artifact: Hearing With Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a Pushkin Industries podcast that launched earlier this month, is basically an interview show in lieu of a political campaign. Weinstein, a former counsel to AG Eric Holder, is running for Manhattan district attorney next year, but obviously it isn’t a good idea to be knocking on doors or holding political events right now … hence the podcast.
Reader Pick: Who the Hell Is Hamish?
I thought I’d plug Who the Hell Is Hamish? It’s Australian, which may explain why I didn’t hear about it when it first came out a couple of years ago, but it got me through a notably dark portion of quarantine and seemed to have the same effect on the people I recommended it to.
Who the Hell Is Hamish? follows a con man as he crisscrosses the globe, swindling victims out of millions at ski resorts in Canada and swanky beach communities in Australia — and, despite several near misses, never quite getting caught. At various times, Hamish (a.k.a. Max, a.k.a. Kevin) claims to be an orphan, an orphan who accidentally killed his parents, a twin, a twin who accidentally killed his brother, and a 9/11 survivor. Like most con-man stories, it’s a lot of fun until it isn’t. The second to last episode, an interview with a young woman whose life Hamish upended, is a gut-punch. (Be prepared to spend the next several weeks mistrusting everyone you know.)
It’s a wild con-man story with many of the usual contours of wild con-man stories — the old “he sweeps women off their feet and steals their money” gambit and so on — but it’s unusually attentive and sensitive to the victims. It’s a good example of a true-crime podcast that tells a great story without overlooking the actual pain at the center of things.
Also: great accents, delightfully incomprehensible Aussie slang, and lots of fun to be had Google Mapping the various beach towns that are mentioned. I can’t be the only one who does that, right? —Susie A., Chicago, Illinois
And that’s a wrap for 1.5x Speed! Hope you enjoyed it. We’re back next week, but in the meantime: Send podcast recommendations, feedback, or just say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.