This week's staff picks
Every week, the ASBMB staff shares what we’ve been reading, listening to, watching and doing. As we all weather the COVID-19 pandemic and our new normal of social distancing, we look for ways to cope, connect and entertain ourselves.
How to Fix a Drug Scandal (Netflix)
This fascinating four-episode series looks at the scandals in Massachusetts’ two drug-testing labs. It deals with addiction, the criminal justice system and prosecutorial misconduct. Multiple times watching this made my jaw drop in disbelief! The center of the story is society’s tendency to see science as an infallible deus ex machina that impartially resolves our disputes, rather than a human enterprise conducted by talented, complicated human beings.
— Renee Collins, executive assistant
You’ve got a friend (London City Voices, YouTube)
I love this rendition of the Carole King classic, sung by the London City Voices choir, as part of a fundraising campaign for Women’s Aid, a grassroots group in the UK working against domestic violence. As the YouTube notes say, “Do you have a friend who is calling out your name? We all need friends at this difficult time.”
— Barbara Gordon, executive director
The lonely islands (Sarah Miller, Curbed)
Ah, kitchen islands, archipelagos of aspiration for space-constrained urban- and suburbanites alike. Last summer, my partner and I decided we'd become the kind of people who move into a trendy, amenity-laden apartment in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C., despite those types of developments being anchoring points of gentrification. While social distancing has made a mockery of our vanity — what good are a game room, gym, center courtyard and expansive, grill-replete balcony when you can't access them? — each unit still boasts a standalone counter with weight both sufficient for a strong lean and reasonable enough to be rearranged with moderate exertion.
Over the past two months, our kitchen island has become home to both my DIY standing desk and the ironing board essential for the cotton facemasks we've been putting together for friends and loved ones.
But enough self-roasting: As friends of Sarah Miller at Curbed assert, the promise and pornography of kitchen islands, as powerfully embodied in the interiors Nancy Meyers featured in 2003 in "Something's Gotta Give" and more recently on her Instagram, can be both personal talisman and prideful signifier, a sign that one has arrived and a glimmering impossibility, unreflective of the dirt and toil of everyday life.
— John Arnst, staff writer
Girls (Lena Dunham, HBO)
This TV series follows a group of friends as they navigate their post-college lives in New York City. Millennials that we are, my best friend and I loved this show because the characters reminded us of ourselves. We lived in Minneapolis instead of NYC, but we were about the same age as Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna and at the same place personally and professionally. I recently rewatched the series from beginning to end. I was surprised at the intensity of the nostalgia I felt for the mid-2010s and how fondly I remember the aimlessness and uncertainty of that time in our lives now that we're past it.
— Joanna Kotloski, marketing associate
Helium (Rudy Francisco, Button Poetry)
Rudy Francisco is one of my favorite poets. “Helium” is a beautiful collection of poems. One that seemed fitting for summer arriving soon is “Drive.” Here’s an excerpt: “Let the sky turn the windshield into a stage. Watch it dance like the scenery is auditioning to be a part of our story.”
P.S. Rudy Francisco also performs his poems. I got to see him live in New York City once, and it’s one of my favorite memories. Here’s the “Best of Rudy Francisco” from Button Poetry’s YouTube channel.
— Ally Frick, multimedia and social media content manager
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René Fuanta, a second-year assistant professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, tries to support his students through a semester of unexpected challenges.