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@)
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.
American culture is becoming more and more preoccupied with nature. What if all the celebrations of the wild world are actually manifestations of grief?
It started, as so many of life’s journeys do, at IKEA. We went one day a few years ago to get bookshelves. We left with some Hemnes and a leafy impulse buy: a giant Dracaena fragrans. A couple of months later, delighted that we had managed to keep it alive, we brought in a spritely little ponytail palm. And then an ivy. A visiting friend brought us a gorgeous snake plant. I bought a Monstera online because it was cheap and I was curious. It arrived in perfect condition, in a big box with several warning labels: perishable: live plants.
Where is the line between “Oh, they have some plants” and “Whoa, they are plant people”? I’m not quite sure, but I am sure that we long ago crossed it. I would read the periodic news articles about Millennials and their houseplants and feel the soft shame of being seen. But I cherished our little garden. Potted plants have a quiet poetry to them, a whirl of wildness and constraint; they make the planet personal. I loved caring for ours. I loved noticing, over time, the way they stretched and flattened and curled and changed. I still do.
When it comes to children’s development, parents should worry less about kids’ screen time—and more about their own.
Smartphones have by now been implicated in so many crummy outcomes—car fatalities, sleep disturbances, empathy loss, relationship problems, failure to notice a clown on a unicycle—that it almost seems easier to list the things they don’t mess up than the things they do. Our society may be reaching peak criticism of digital devices.
Even so, emerging research suggests that a key problem remains underappreciated. It involves kids’ development, but it’s probably not what you think. More than screen-obsessed young children, we should be concerned about tuned-out parents.
Yes, parents now have more face time with their children than did almost any parents in history. Despite a dramatic increase in the percentage of women in the workforce, mothers today astoundingly spend more time caring for their children than mothers did in the 1960s. But the engagement between parent and child is increasingly low-quality, even ersatz. Parents are constantly present in their children’s lives physically, but they are less emotionally attuned. To be clear, I’m not unsympathetic to parents in this predicament. My own adult children like to joke that they wouldn’t have survived infancy if I’d had a smartphone in my clutches 25 years ago.
Neither party should feel confident about how Latinos are going to vote in 2024.
The last election’s most unexpected twist is framing one of the most urgent questions confronting both parties today: What explains Donald Trump’s improved performance among Latino voters?
The president who began his first national campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists,” drug smugglers, and criminals; who labored to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border; who separated undocumented children from their parents; who sought in court to end the “Dreamers” program; who maneuvered to reduce virtually every form of legal immigration; and who told Democratic women of color in the House of Representatives to “go back” to where they came from—that president won a higher share of Latino voters in 2020 than he did four years earlier, according to every major exit poll and precinct-level analysis of last year’s results.
For many of us, when we see the Floyds, we see our family.
An image of George Floyd and his daughter Gianna has been circulating around social media since yesterday. George is sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, wearing a black T-shirt and black baseball cap with the word Houston emblazoned in cursive letters above the brim.
In the passenger seat is Gianna, who is now 7 years old, but in the photo—taken a few years ago—looks as if she isn’t more than 3 or 4. She is wearing a purple-and-pink shirt and matching pants and a small plastic bracelet on her right wrist, and has several silver and pink bobbles tied into her hair. Her right hand is holding a pair of plastic blue-and-black sunglasses—the sort made for children with the expectation that they will not last very long—and she looks as if she has pulled the large glasses down from her face and to her chin specifically for the picture.
The Russian opposition leader is showing what courage means.
When Alexei Navalny boarded a plane to Moscow on January 17, he turned his life into a metaphor. He knew it, his wife knew it, and everybody else on the plane knew it. So did the millions of people who had watched his documentary videos, who had seen the witty interviews he did on the plane, who have since joined demonstrations in his name. So did the leaders of Russia, including the country’s dictator and president, Vladimir Putin. This, Navalny was telling all of them, is what courage looks like.
Navalny is Russia’s most important opposition leader, and he was flying home from Berlin after spending many weeks in a hospital there, following the second or perhaps the third attempt on his life. He’d survived because a German NGO had sent a plane to Omsk to take him out of Russia, because the Novichok nerve agent used to poison him doesn’t always kill you right away, and because the Russian hospital had agreed to let him go, probably on the assumption that he would never return. (For the record: One of the doctors who treated him for poison has since died under odd circumstances, and a hospital official who refused to attribute Navalny’s illness to poison has been promoted to regional health minister.)
Even as cases drop among vaccinated Americans, the coronavirus still can spread among unvaccinated people—who will be disproportionately children.
Like many parents, Jason Newland, a pediatrician at Washington University in St. Louis and a dad to three teens ages 19, 17, and 15, now lives in a mixed-vaccination household. His 19-year-old got vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s shot two weeks ago and the 17-year-old with Pfizer’s, which is available to teens as young as 16.
The 15-year-old is still waiting for her shot, though—a bit impatiently now. “She’s like, ‘Dude, look at me here,’” Newland told me. “‘Why don’t you just tell them I’m 16?’” But because certain pharmaceutical companies set certain age cutoffs for their clinical trial, she alone in her family can’t get a COVID-19 shot. She’s the only one who remains vulnerable. She’s the only one who has to quarantine from all her friends if she gets exposed.
Mare of Easttown, starring Kate Winslet as a Delaware County detective, is brilliantly specific in its portrayal of a community. More of its peers should follow suit.
There’s a scene in the second episode of Mare of Easttown, HBO’s new crime series, that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I watched it. Mare, the show’s titular police detective (played by Kate Winslet), visits a rural spot where a girl’s body has been found and prepares to inform the girl’s father. “I’m on my way over to Kenny’s right now to tell him, and I want John and Billy to meet me there,” she tells her best friend on the phone. “Probably good to have his cousins there for him, you know?” When Kenny (Patrick Murney) learns what has happened, he closes his eyes, shakes his head, then explodes, smashing random objects around him and shoving the other men as they half-hug, half-restrain him. Mare watches them from a distance, her gaze sympathetic but unsurprised. She knew exactly how Kenny would respond, and understood, too, that she would not have been safe with him and his grief.
If you want to improve your well-being, you need to make a plan and act on it.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness.
Arthur C. Brooks will discuss the science of happiness live at 11 a.m. ET on May 20. Register for In Pursuit of Happiness here.
In his 1851 workAmerican Notebooks, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained.” This is basically a restatement of the Stoic philosophers’ “paradox of happiness”: To attain happiness, we must not try to attain it.
A number of scholars have set out to test this claim. For example, researchers writing in the journal Emotion in 2011 found that valuing happiness was associated with lower moods, less well-being, and more depressive symptoms under conditions of low life stress. At first, this would seem to support the happiness paradox—that thinking about it makes it harder to get. But there are alternative explanations. For example, unhappy people might say they “value happiness” more than those who already possess it, just as hungry people value food more than those who are full.
Officers in the United States don’t get as much instruction as police in other rich countries.
In response to the high rate at which American police kill civilians, many on the left have taken up the call for defunding the police, or abolishing the police entirely. But some policing experts are instead emphasizing a different approach that they say could reduce police killings: training officers better, longer, and on different subjects. “We have one of the worst police-training academies in comparison to other democratic countries,” Maria Haberfeld, a police-science professor at John Jay College, told me.
Police in the United States receive less initial training than their counterparts in other rich countries—about five months in a classroom and another three or so months in the field, on average. Many European nations, meanwhile, have something more akin to police universities, which can take three or four years to complete. European countries also have national standards for various elements of a police officer’s job—such as how to search a car and when to use a baton. The U.S. does not.
Governments need to give Americans an off-ramp to the post-pandemic world. Ending outdoor mask requirements would be a good place to start.
Last week, I covered my nose and mouth with close-fitting fabric like a good citizen and walked to a restaurant in Washington, D.C., where I de-masked at a patio table to greet a friend. I sat with my chair facing the entrance and watched dozens of people perform the same ritual, removing a mask they’d worn outside and alone. It seemed like the most normal thing in the world. Until, suddenly, it seemed very weird.
The coronavirus is most transmissible in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, where the aerosolized virus can linger in the air before latching onto our nasal or bronchial cells. In outdoor areas, the viral spray is more likely to disperse. One systematic overview of COVID-19 case studies concluded that the risk of transmission was 19 times higher indoors than outside. That’s why wearing a mask is so important in, say, a CVS, but less crucial in, say, the park.