Erm, the two songs on my running list that stand out the most as simultaneously weird and motivating are Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” and Mika’s “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).” That last one always makes me smile and do odd “jazz hands” type movements if it comes on at the right point in my run. I know ...
For our running playlist series, a reader submits a song from the inimitable Trey Parker and DVDA, his band that contributed all kinds of music to South Park, Team America, and the movie this song was featured in, Orgazmo.
I’m not one for making hard-and-fast New Year’s resolutions. But I do tend to start the year with an idea of how I’d like it to go, who I’d like to be—sort of a rosy view of the months ahead.
I fell out of running last year thanks to a gnarly overuse injury (finishing a half-marathon and an overnight relay in the same month might’ve been a tad ambitious). But after some physical therapy and developing an intimate relationship with my foam roller, I’m ready to pick up where I left off as the new year gets under way. In 2016, I’d like to be a runner again.
So far, that’s meant rediscovering just how many excuses I can make to avoid doing something that doesn’t feel quite so breezy anymore. Thank God for playlists.
Last month, Adrienne put out a call for the underappreciated gems on your running playlists—the weirdest, greatest songs that maybe no one else would understand but get you amped to pound through the next mile.
Unless you’re in the later stages of marathon training (or a maniacal ultramarathoner), you probably don’t need a five-hour-long running playlist. This is meant for you to skip through and find songs that unexpectedly get you vibin’. I tried to include close to all the suggestions we got (Chris’s picks are published here as daily tracks), though some weren’t on Spotify or were too vague to decipher.
After putting Adrienne’s “Boléro” up top for this weirdo playlist, I grouped your submitted jams according to a general run’s flow: easing in at the beginning, building up with some heart-pounders, peaks and valleys throughout to keep your pace interesting (my greatest DJ triumph will surely be Sigur Rós leading into “Baby Got Back”), and some definitively laid-back tracks toward the end for your cool-down.
Have fun with this; try working out to something you never would’ve considered before. How, for example, had it not occurred to me to try sprinting to “In the Hall of the Mountain King”?
I’m a creature of habit in workout jams. And because I’m a weirdly emotional runner, I’ve managed to create some deeply entrenched, nostalgic connections with my playlist mainstays over the years. Kanye West’s “Monster”—specifically Nicki Minaj’s verse—still sounds like the two-mile climb up to Hurricane Point on the Big Sur marathon course, and the elated, rubber-limbed gallop down the other side. Queens of the Stone Age’s “Song for the Dead”—from about 4:40 till the end of the track—sounds like winter sprints, during a post-grad limbo in my hometown of Indianapolis, on what I had euphemistically deemed “the shredmill.” Spank Rock’s “Bump” sounds like jogging down the block near my Spanish Harlem sublet the summer in college I lived in New York, when I hated the city because I didn’t know how to function—but knew I was pretty decent at putting one foot in front of the other.
Most of the songs that readers sent had never appeared on one of my workout playlists, and a few of the artists here I hadn’t even heard before. But for each of the songs I picked in this shorter list, I imagined it playing at just the right moment of a future, deceptively profound run.
A reader submitted this Trina song for our groupthink playlist of greatest, weirdest running songs—which may come as a surprise to any fans of mainstream rap circa the late ‘90s and early aughts. To be fair, our reader did designate it for our “best running tracks” list—surely a more fitting home for Da Baddest Bitch. I suppose we broadened the scope of our main playlist with our latest update, and honestly, who am I to turn away Trina on the grounds of mere semantics?
But the weirdest song—I can’t even remember where I first heard it—is Plaisir de France’s “Le Responsable Revisite.” I can’t even buy this anywhere! So I have to have it queued up on YouTube to work it in, but that’s how good it is.
(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)
Here’s one that I’m sure hasn’t been mentioned: Ben Folds Five’s “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces.” It’s the best track to end on, especially when you need that extra kick. How many workout songs have that much piano in them?
“Army” from Ben Folds has been on my running playlist for years.
(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)
1) “Keep Hope Alive,” The Crystal Method, off their Vegas album (also the soundtrack for The Replacement Killers). When I worked in downtown South Bend, Ind., I ran in Howard Park, which runs along the St. Joseph River and includes a dam and a race waterway/fish ladder and old mills and factories sited on the river that have been turned into apartments among other things. So there is a lot of twisting and turning and little footbridges to run over as well as bridges that carry traffic over the river to run under. It always reminded me of being a little kid just running around outside in a particularly cool backyard. The starts and stops and twists and turns in this track match the mood, plus you feel like Chow Yun Fat or Mira Sorvino escaping gunmen bent on your destruction.
2) “Hope Runs Deep,” Steve Jablonsky, Gears of War 2 soundtrack. The guy who did the music for Transformers also did the music for Gears of War 2, a game that no one in my household plays. Full of anvils and heavy strings and big brass and deep-voiced Viking choirs, it brings to mind straight-to-DVD movies about special ops forces where one guy always gets shot but tries to keep up, shouting “Go on! Save the men!” but manages to stagger along, shouting “I CAN MAKE IT,” which is how I more or less feel by the end of an eight-miler. Helps me stagger along.
3) “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To),” Eurythmics, Savage. One of the group’s weirder singles, but a nice driving beat. At the start of the playlist, it’s optimistic. In the middle, it’s a challenge. If you put it at the end, you’ll feel like that guy in the straight-to-DVD special ops movie and should just skip ahead to “Hope Runs Deep.”
(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)
The rumors began with a video depicting a black-clad figure in the group’s signature Guy Fawkes mask. “Greetings, citizens of the United States,” the figure said in a creepy, distorted voice. “This is a message from Anonymous to the Minneapolis Police Department.” The masked announcer addressed Floyd’s killing and the larger pattern of police misconduct, concluding, “We will be exposing your many crimes to the world. We are legion. Expect us.”
The clip generated a wave of renewed enthusiasm for Anonymous, particularly among young people. Twitter accounts associated with the group saw a surge of new followers, a couple of them by the millions.
Biden’s running mate is two decades younger than he is; the potential vice presidency seems like merely a first step.
If Joe Biden is elected in November, his presidency will likely be defined by history-shaping decisions made after long, deliberative, some might say operatic processes. Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate—the first woman of color to appear on a major-party ticket—was precisely that sort of careful, drawn-out decision.
Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, says that Biden’s selection of a half-Indian, half-Jamaican woman shows that Biden is running a very different campaign than Donald Trump. “In the selection of a vice president, he’s created a deep contrast between the pettiest of men and a man who obviously has no pettiness within him,” Tanden told me, minutes after Harris was announced.
In attacking her record on crime policy, her critics are ignoring how politics actually works.
The racial-justice movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd has had two quite different effects on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. It has intensified the pressure on Biden to choose a Black woman as his running mate. And it has also intensified the pressure on him to choose a running mate with a history of challenging police brutality. Those two political imperatives are now colliding in the debate over whether Biden should pick Senator Kamala Harris—a former prosecutor whom some progressives in California have characterized as too deferential to police.
Biden had previously vowed to choose a female running mate, and the typical vice-presidential pick is a senator or governor. Harris is the sole Black woman in either category. In one sense, therefore, she clearly benefits from the new political reality that the Black Lives Matter movement has created. But that new political reality has also amplified criticism from progressives. In yesterday’s New York Times, the reporters Danny Hakim, Stephanie Saul, and Richard A. Oppel Jr. quoted David Campos, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who argues that when Harris “had the opportunity to do something about police accountability” as the city’s district attorney, “she was either not visible, or when she was, she was on the wrong side.” Criticisms like these, the Times notes, have led progressives to ask: “Is Ms. Harris essentially a political pragmatist, or has she in fact changed?”
The senator from California seems like the obvious choice to be Joe Biden’s running mate. So why is she keeping mum about her thinking?
A few weeks ago, an adviser to Kamala Harris called me to talk through some polling data. “We understand that Joe Biden’s the nominee, but the party is so much different than a septuagenarian white male,” the adviser said. “Kamala Harris is more symbolic of that changing America—America coming together—than some of the other potential candidates” for vice president.
The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity because, officially, Harris is pretending that she’s not campaigning to be Biden’s running mate.
In public, Harris has repeatedly insisted that she’s not talking about or thinking about her prospects of being picked. But judging from my conversations with people around Harris, she and her team use her prospects to book events and television hits that aim to show she’s neither overeager nor overambitious. She and her team are avoiding situations that could create stumbles. They’re hoping that her résumé, her background, and the force of her personality propel her. They’re picking specific moments for her to grab attention on the Senate floor or send a calibrated tweet. They’re tuning out political reporters who are stuck on their couches, looking to drum up content during the pandemic. They’re trying to ease concerns in Biden’s orbit that if she’s picked and they win, she’ll start running for president the morning after the inauguration. They want her on the ticket, and positioned to be the Democratic nominee in 2024.
The ads are everywhere. You can learn to serve like Serena Williams or write like Margaret Atwood. But what MasterClass really delivers is something altogether different.
Image above, clockwise from top left: MasterClass instructors Serena Williams (who teaches tennis on the platform); Natalie Portman (acting); Gordon Ramsay (cooking); Malcolm Gladwell (writing)
Sometimes an advertisement is so perfectly tailored to a cultural moment that it casts that moment into stark relief, which is how I felt upon first seeing an ad for the mega-best-selling writer James Patterson’s course on MasterClass a few years ago. In the ad, Patterson is sitting at a table, reciting a twisty opening line in voice-over. Then an overhead shot of him gazing out a window, lost in thought like a character in a movie. A title card appears: “Imagine taking a writing class from a master.” It didn’t matter that I’d never read a book by Patterson before—I was hooked. What appealed to me was not whatever actionable thriller-writing tips I might glean, but rather the promise of his story, the story of how a writer becomes a mogul. Any hapless, hand-to-mouth mid-lister can provide instructions on outlining a novel. MasterClass dangled something else, a clear-cut path out of the precariat, the magic-bean shortcut to a fairy-tale ending—the secret to ever-elusive success.
A long obsession with Mars makes all the other worlds seem a little neglected.
Paul Byrne loves Mars. He wrote his doctoral thesis and several research papers about the planet. Most of his graduate students study Mars. And yet, earlier this year, he posed this question on Twitter: “If you could end the pandemic by destroying one of the planets, which one would you choose and why would it be Mars?”
What does Byrne, a planetary scientist at North Carolina State University, have against the red planet? Nothing, he told me. But everyone else loves Mars too, and maybe a little too much.
Aside from Earth and the moon, humankind has studied Mars more than any other world in the universe. In the United States, many planetary scientists are devoted, in one way or another, to the study of Mars. Since 1996, NASA has sent more than a dozen robots to orbit, rove, dig, and hop around the planet. The latest NASA rover, Perseverance, departed for Mars in July, days after China and the United Arab Emirates launched their own missions to the planet.
No matter what happens now, the virus will continue to circulate around the world.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has sickened more than 16.5 million people across six continents. It is raging in countries that never contained the virus. It is resurgingin manyof the ones that did. If there was ever a time when this coronavirus could be contained, it has probably passed. One outcome is now looking almost certain: This virus is never going away.
The coronavirus is simply too widespread and too transmissible. The most likely scenario, experts say, is that the pandemic ends at some point—because enough people have been either infected or vaccinated—but the virus continues to circulate in lower levels around the globe. Cases will wax and wane over time. Outbreaks will pop up here and there. Even when a much-anticipated vaccine arrives, it is likely to only suppress but never completely eradicate the virus. (For context, consider that vaccines exist for more than a dozen human viruses but only one, smallpox, has ever been eradicated from the planet, and that took 15 years of immense global coordination.) We will probably be living with this virus for the rest of our lives.
Saudi leaders have figured out what makes the president tick like few others have.
The joke, a throwaway quip, somehow captured the man and the moment—the end of one era, and the beginning of another. It was January 2017, and then–British Prime Minister Theresa May was in the White House, the first foreign leader to visit the new president of the United States, Donald Trump. For May, the trip had gone well: Pleasantries had been exchanged, faux pas avoided, commitments to NATO and the special relationship gleaned. Then came the press conference.
“Mr. President,” the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, called on by May, began, “you’ve said before that torture works; you’ve praised Russia; you’ve said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America; you’ve suggested there should be punishment for abortion. For many people in Britain, those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and are worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?” A momentary silence followed. Smiling, Trump turned to his guest: “This was your choice of a question?” The room burst into laughter. Then came the punch line: “There goes that relationship.”
Boris Johnson has faced his share of blame for the country’s death count. But the British system was failing long before the coronavirus struck.
Faced with the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s leaders asked their people to do three things, captured in one pithy slogan: “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
On the first of those edicts, Britons largely followed through. Main streets, town centers, and public spaces were mostly abandoned, and the government pulled together a far-reaching job-protection program, ensuring that those who feared losing their jobs felt safe enough to not go to work.
The second request was more unusual. During the pandemic, Britain was the only major country in the world to make protecting its National Health Service a central goal. Signs and placards went up outside people’s homes, declaring their appreciation. The words Thank You NHS can now be seen on sidewalks and soccer jerseys, in children’s bedrooms and even, until recently, the windows of 10 Downing Street. In part, this worked. The NHS adapted to the crisis at extraordinary speed, creating the emergency capacity required to deal with the surge of patients. When Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from the hospital after contracting COVID-19, he said that Britain was winning its battle against the disease because the public had “formed a human shield around this country’s greatest national asset,” the NHS.
A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.
How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.
In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million.