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@)
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?
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.
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.
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 ...
A long-time reader in San Francisco contributes to our ongoing series of “weirdest, greatest” running songs:
I submit Florida by Starfucker. It’s fun electro-pop with a solid beat. The weird part is that it features a recording of the late philosopher Alan Watts discussing the wigglyness of the natural world. Somehow it works really well.
Cannot believe I’m admitting this, much less inflicting it on anyone else, but my race-day running playlist has one epic, utterly ridiculous track: MmmmBOP. I put it late in the mix, because after all the great, rhythmic stuff that gets me through 12 or 13 miles, there is nothing better than the track that just cracks you up. Pure joy.
The most under-appreciated running song is Saul Williams’s version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” It’s the same great, recognizable drum as the U2 version, but with a much harder, more aggressive edge. (Also, “List of Demands” by Saul Williams might be the best running/workout song of all time.)
I’m a spinning instructor and an electronic music aficionado, so I’ve given a fair bit of thought to which throbbing songs will best fit with my classes while still being somewhat interesting. Dubstep works well for spin, i.e. trying to time hard efforts to “the drop.” A couple really fun and motivational songs I always turn to on my playlists:
“Exterminate, Annihilate, Destroy” by Rotersand is probably the weirdest song on my running playlist. It’s damn effective, because it has the pace of a march sped up for the purposes of being an EBM [electronic body music] track. It also samples Dr. Who for the duration. So it’s an EBM Dalek march, but it’s wonderful.
M83’s “Oblivion” is my weirdest, greatest pick for your running playlist. It’s from a science fiction movie of the same name that didn’t do very well critically or at the box office, but the track makes up for all of that. There’s M83 creating these immense walls of sound while Susanne Sundfør’s vocals crash against massive drums and a swelling orchestral accompaniment. As it ends, it suddenly vanishes into a tranquil piano outro.
These films, each unforgettable in its own way, are essential viewing.
The word unique has to be one of the most overused descriptors in show business; if every movie that got touted as one-of-a-kind by its marketing team actually was, there’d be no further complaints about Hollywood creativity. But every once in a while, I’ll have a cinematic experience that feels genuinely unprecedented, when a work plays with the medium and its modes of storytelling in ways I didn’t think possible. The 30 movies I’ve gathered below—all of which are available to watch online—are singular, whether they’re experimental documentaries, visionary works of animation, or labyrinthine epics. Each is unforgettable, and a reminder of cinema’s potential to flout narrative convention, subvert visual traditions, and find new ways to express timeless themes.
Why don’t the president’s supporters hold him to their own standard of masculinity?
So many mysteries surround Donald Trump: the contents of his tax returns, the apparent miracle of his graduation from college. Some of them are merely curiosities; others are of national importance, such as whether he understood the nuclear-weapons briefing given to every president. I prefer not to dwell on this question.
But since his first day as a presidential candidate, I have been baffled by one mystery in particular: Why do working-class white men—the most reliable component of Donald Trump’s base—support someone who is, by their own standards, the least masculine man ever to hold the modern presidency? The question is not whether Trump fails to meet some archaic or idealized version of masculinity. The president’s inability to measure up to Marcus Aurelius or Omar Bradley is not the issue. Rather, the question is why so many of Trump’s working-class white male voters refuse to hold Trump to their own standards of masculinity—why they support a man who behaves more like a little boy.
The president is defaming the memory of a woman who died nearly 20 years ago—and inflicting pain upon her family today.
“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him—the memory of my dead wife—and perverted it for perceived political gain.”
There may be a more damning thing that’s been said about an American president, but none immediately comes to mind.
This sentence is from a heartbreaking May 21 letter written by Timothy Klausutis to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, asking Dorsey to delete a series of tweets by Donald Trump. Klausutis is the widower of Lori Kaye Klausutis, who died nearly 20 years ago. (Timothy Klausutis, who never remarried, still lives in the house he shared with his wife.) The autopsy conducted at the time of Lori’s death confirmed that it was an accident; she had fainted as the result of a heart condition, hitting her head on a desk. There’s not a thimble of evidence of foul play.
Staying at home for months is an onerous thing to ask of people, but what it means is easy enough to understand: Unless necessary to keep your job or keep yourself alive, you just don’t leave. When American mayors and governors began asking people to shelter in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the United States, a country generally stewing in deep political acrimony, was unusually united in doing what was asked.
Stay-at-home orders were implemented for many reasons: to stop the virus from silently spreading between people, to prevent the collapse of hospital systems, to allow public-health officials to build up testing capacity, to hire contact tracers to snuff out hot spots before they became full-fledged outbreaks. But at the most basic level, shutdowns bought some time for scientists faced with a novel pathogen to figure out what the hell was going on in the first place. How does the virus spread? What determines how sick someone gets?
American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase.
If you were an adherent, no one would be able to tell. You would look like any other American. You could be a mother, picking leftovers off your toddler’s plate. You could be the young man in headphones across the street. You could be a bookkeeper, a dentist, a grandmother icing cupcakes in her kitchen. You may well have an affiliation with an evangelical church. But you are hard to identify just from the way you look—which is good, because someday soon dark forces may try to track you down. You understand this sounds crazy, but you don’t care. You know that a small group of manipulators, operating in the shadows, pull the planet’s strings. You know that they are powerful enough to abuse children without fear of retribution. You know that the mainstream media are their handmaidens, in partnership with Hillary Clinton and the secretive denizens of the deep state. You know that only Donald Trump stands between you and a damned and ravaged world.
Those who reject facial coverings during the pandemic do so amid broad consensus about what public safety demands.
The woman in the video would like you to know that she is compassionate. She would like you to know that she understands “the virus is real.” She would also like you to know, however, that she has tried wearing a face mask while out in public during the coronavirus pandemic, and that she will not be wearing one again. “I’m at the end of it,” she says tearfully, recording herself in her car after 45 minutes spent wearing a mask. “I’m just simply at the end of it.”
Viewed more than 6 million times since it was posted last week, the woman’s dramatic rejection of mask wearing is part of a burgeoning micro-genre: videos of the masklessthat double as portraits of stubbornness, of selfishness, of rugged individualism run amok. There’s the Costco shopper who refused to wear a mask in the warehouse, because, as he informed a crew member, “I woke up in a free country.” There’s the woman who cut a hole in the center of her mask because the fabric, she explained, made it “hard to breathe.” There’s the woman who informed a clerk at a California supermarket that, although the store’s policy required her to wear a mask, she would not be doing so, because of a “medical condition.” (Do not wonder what condition this might be: “I’m not required by HIPAA rules and regulations to disclose that,” she said.)
Instead of pressing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for answers, the cable network had his younger sibling ask him questions.
America doesn’t have a hereditary aristocracy—it just has members of the same families who occupy powerful positions from generation to generation. Consider the Cuomo family. Mario, the patriarch, rose from humble circumstances in Queens to become the governor of New York. One of his sons, Andrew, now fills the same job; Andrew’s younger brother, Chris, is a high-profile CNN anchor.
For a time years ago, CNN allowed Chris to interview the governor, despite the obvious questions about whether any younger brother could ever conduct an evenhanded interview of his big brother. (As anyone with siblings knows, the problem is as apt to be excessive toughness as going too easy.) Chris Cuomo defended the topics of these interviews as nonpolitical, and insisted that the problem was one of appearance, not substance. Still, CNN heeded the critics and banned Chris Cuomo from interviewing Andrew Cuomo from 2013 until March 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
I didn’t fully appreciate what life on the road gave me until suddenly it was gone.
Near the end of my tour, in March, the coronavirus cases were rising back home in New York, and the emergency declarations kept coming, as we left California, as we left Colorado, as we got to Idaho. “I just want to go home,” I told John, my husband and musical partner, over and over. On the day of our Boise show, the Idaho governor declared a state of emergency. John and I got on the phone with my agent and my manager to discuss the risk—physical and professional—of canceling. But it was too late. Refunding tickets at that point would have been a nightmare, and I felt a responsibility to the audience. Ten minutes before the show, I had the driver drop me at the stage door. I didn’t go into the green room, didn’t look in a mirror and fix my hair, didn’t pace or make tea. I stood like a statue in the wings, then walked onstage, sang, walked off, got in the car, went back to the hotel, packed, and got the earliest flight back home the next day.
Suddenly, many people meet the criteria for clinical depression. Doctors are scrambling to determine who needs urgent intervention, and who is simply the new normal.
Updated at 1:36 p.m. ET on May 22, 2020.
The word I keep hearing is numbness. Not necessarily a sickness, but feeling ill at ease. A sort of detachment or removal from reality. Deb Hawkins, a tech analyst in Michigan, describes the feeling of being stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic as “sleep-walking through my life” or “wading through a physical and mental quicksand.” Even though she has been living in what she calls an “introvert heaven” for the past two months—at home with her family, grateful they are in good health—her brain has dissented. “I feel like I have two modes,” Hawkins says: “barely functioning and boiling angry.”
Many people are even more deeply unmoored. Michael Falcone has run an acupuncture clinic for the past decade in Memphis, Tennessee. When he temporarily shut it down, the toll on his mental health was immediate. “I went into a pretty instant depression when I realized that my actual purpose was disintegrating,” he says. He began spending his days staring at his bookshelves. Falcone and I have exchanged emails for weeks now, and while his notes have been full of whimsical musings about adjusting to home life, one included a jarring line: “I’ve lost faith in myself. I don’t know if I can actually justify taking up space and resources.”
Here in the plague, we are living a story that is global and yet intensely local. While all of us get reams of reporting about national and international COVID-19 trends, most of us get little or no reporting about what’s happening in the communities where we actually live.
Local news has largely disappeared—the phenomenon of news deserts is by now well known. And yet never has the need for local information been greater. The big news can be completely at odds with the small news—and for individuals, it’s the small news that matters most. The crucial virus data is hyper-local. In my neighborhood, hidden within a larger geographic picture whose trends give cause for hope, the disease is spiking dramatically, even scarily. And almost nobody knows.