City Sounds: Eric Reads the Week #39

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

David and I still getting settled into our new kitchen. It's not really a kitchen yet; it's a room full of boxes with a stove. Our movers, in all of their infinite wisdom, packed our belonging like they were contestants on supermarket sweep. I have found, in one box, coffee, shoes, a lamp and two Van Goghs. (Okay they're prints but no one knows that.) (Okay, everyone knows that. But still!)

Cooking for ourselves is a fun challenge because every utensil and dish needed requires psychic projection to obtain. "Okay, the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of curry powder. If you were a tablespoon, which box do you think you'd be in?"

"I'm guessing the one with all of our ties plus a bottle of bleach."

"Agh, I'm sorry. That box only had a teaspoon in it. Next round!"

The disarray that we're working through looks particularly strange against the backdrop of our kitchen itself, which is undeniably very nice. I'm sitting in it right now, between all of our spices and a paint can. This is how we thought we'd be living after moving into this kitchen:

But this is how we're currently living:

Anyway, it'll be fine. Eventually. I've always wanted a kitchen like this with all the Caucasian trappings: a butcher block island, a farmhouse sink, a dishwasher! Oh! And one of those fridges that's vertically divided and has an icemaker. It's the little things, I know. But this kind of stuff is thrilling to me.

I'll tell you, though, I was confounded by this Caucasian fridge this week. I got groceries and started unloading them into the various compartments but was wracked with befuddlement over what I was supposed to put into the Snack Pan.

We have a veggie tray, a deli pan, a bunch of shelves and then this: SNACKS! Caucasian!

What snacks am I putting in this fridge? Emmanuel Macron, Peter from The Bachelorette and a young Jake Gyllenhaal?

I honestly don't know. I took to Twitter to ask for answers. A lot of people said they used it for wine and Babybel cheese which is hilarious and very clearly not the point but live your truth, please.

The general consensus was that it was for cuties and juice boxes to give your kids when they are annoying you about wanting food. This was a surprising idea to me because I never annoyed my parents. I was a very complacent child. I am a moderately annoying adult, though.

(I just made breakfast and found a fork that I've never seen before! This Caucasian kitchen is taking on a life of its own! It's like Martha Stewart wrote mother!)

I joke about things being Caucasian because I am divisive and part of the problem but I do think spaces like this kitchen present cultural differences and challenges that are interesting but not insurmountable. We just never lived like this; we never ate like this, right? But I was very aware that some of my more well-to-do classmates did. And it became aspirational in a very ambiguous way. I was delighted to see the Snack Pan because it said I now possessed something that even I didn't understand! I'm living in the year 3000. Honestly, it's less racial and more socio-economic, though they blend a lot.

I think about that blending and those divisions a lot, especially here in Baltimore where the racial and socio-economic lines are really starkly drawn. Sometimes I realize that because of where my life is now I'm on the other side of a line.

From our apartment, we get a glimpse of I-83, the interstate that my parents would drive us 18 minutes from our inner city home to the private school they sacrificed so much for us to attend. Every day we had a 20 minute transformative journey; we were the same but the world was drastically different.

Now, we can only see a bit of the road because there are trees around our building. There are trees! Can you imagine? On the other side of the interstate is Druid Hill Park, where the zoo is, and beyond that, my parents' house. We can't hear the interstate (they assured of this when we toured the building and it's true. We do hear moterbikes zooming up the road every night at 10, though. That's kind of comforting to me; I'm used to city sounds. Quiet is Caucasian.)

My mother says that when she was growing up, a couple blocks from where they now live, the city was so quiet that you could hear the lions roar at the zoo at night. The city must have seemed so much smaller, though I imagine the length of the journey from one side to the other was even greater.

This week! Honey, the man in the White House is kookoo banana pants and even though I am trying to Marie Kondo my mental life I had to write about him and the threat of nuclear annihilation. LOL. Also! I wrote a book review for the The New York Times! But first we have to talk about Britney and Mariah's reunion, Nicole's smoochfest, Oprah and Chrissy Teigen...

Chrissy Teigen Needed Some Fruit; Twitter Came to the Rescue

Chrissy, Twitter's fun neighbor from downstairs, knocked on everyone's virtual door looking for six brown bananas to aid in her in making banana bread. And, of course, people from here to Holland were quick to offer their bananas. Folks were pressed! I'm not hating. You better believe I jumped in a Lyft and ran up in Trader Joe's screaming "Bring me your most mottled fruit! It's a celebrity emergency." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Does Trump Realize the First Lady Is Standing Next to Him?

What a time to be alive! (I have to say that every five minutes to ensure that I am, actually, still alive. You really never know what with Trump and Kim Jong-Un doing their best Feud: Bette and Joan impressions. Like, enough! Neither of you gets the part. Don't call us; we'll call you.) [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

In What World Does Oprah Need an ID Card?

Looking deceptively like a new employee who could not buy the entire network in an instant, Oprah posed in front of the CBS offices where, presumably, she had to find out where the ID card office was, check the hours they were open, fill out a form as if it were not plainly obvious that she was, in fact, Oprah Winfrey, and then stand in front of a blue screen whilst someone took her picture with a little computer desk cam. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Cristiano Ronaldo Is Trying to Hide His Junk From You

Heads up, gumshoes! We've got a new case and it's our hardest one yet. Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer star, businessman, and possessor of fifty-eleven abs, has released his new underwear collection for his line, CR7. The standout design from the new collection is a set of five camouflage-print boxer briefs, which Ronaldo modeled in promotional shots today. Get ready: it's time to play Where in the World is Cristiano Ronaldo's Junk? [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban Couldn't Stop Making Out at the Emmys

Hi, would you like to see 500 photos of an Oscar-winner kissing a country music star? Well, you're going to whether you want it or not because Nicole Kidman is one step closer to an EGOT now and she's feeling romantic! [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Red Alert! Britney Spears and Mariah Carey Reunited at a Dinner Party

Britney, who is currently killing it at a Las Vegas residency, posted an Instagram with Mariah Carey, who is currently killing it in a residency inside my mind every day. Honestly, I am unsure how any of the walls in whatever room they were in are still standing. According to Britney's caption, they ran into each other at a dinner party which brings me to my most pressing question: what is this dinner party that could possibly accommodate the greatness of Britney Spears and Mariah Carey at the same time? Who sat where? Who was at the head of the table? Jesus? [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

FLOTUS Gardens in a $1,380 Balmain Shirt

You may have thought the garden, so beloved by Mrs. Obama, would be replaced by a Trump Steaks outlet or just a pile of ash with a sign that read "Obamacare sux" by now, but you'd be wrong. The green space has not yet been outsourced to a contractor with dubious ties. In fact, unlike the state of the republic, it looks healthy and well cared for! [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

In The New York Times!

I reviewed former White House speechwriter David Litt's very funny memoir for The Times. Coincidentally, he also reached out to me about doing an Q&A for Elle after I wrote and turned in the review. I felt like it was a fun idea and didn't present a conflict of interest so here's my review and after that our very serious Q&A:

What becomes of hope? After the cheers die down and the confetti is swept up, what happens to the initial rush of excitement that a candidate can inspire?

In David Litt’s memoir, “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years,” this question is framed as a kind of love story: a political romantic comedy. Call it, perhaps, “When Speechwriter Met Speech.” Litt winningly details his ascent from campaign volunteer, flushed with the passion of early infatuation, to world-weary member of Barack Obama’s senior speechwriting staff. While it has all the trappings of a coming-of-age tale set inside the Beltway, Litt’s aims are grander. The speechwriter is not just a speechwriter; the speech is never just a speech. “Every speech is a speech about America,” Litt writes. “Every audience is the entire United States.” [READ THE FULL REVIEW]

What Does Obama Smell Like? And Other Pressing Questions for a White House Insider

ELLE: Thanks for talking with me. You have a very illustrious career and have written a great book. However, in these times, we need to be ruthless about getting the truth. So, my first hard-hitting question is: Which Obama family dog is better? If they're both great, which would win on a dog-themed reality show?

DAVID LITT: I address this all-important issue in the book! Both dogs clearly understood that they were canine royalty. Bo strutted and preened around the White House campus, and Sunny put his paws all over everything, like Prince Harry before he settled down. [READ THE FULL INTERVIEW]

Random thing from the internet...

I have listened to Labelle's "You Turn Me On" about 1,000 times over the past two days. It is the sexiest song every written. It features the most dynamic, funky yelping, screlting and wailing I have ever heard. And, invariably, about 90 seconds in, I automatically turn the sound all the way up. It is a MASTERPIECE from the first second to the plinking, dripping organ chords in it's final, fading moments. This song is EVERYTHING.

To making noise and eating snacks!