Combination: Eric Reads the Week, #58

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

This week: Blue Ivy wins the Grammys, a Groundhog Day investigation, and Maxine Waters up close.

The baker at the doughnut shop was wearing a Ravens jersey this morning, which is like "Cool story and I support your right to do that but also have you ever thought about not?" Wearing a Ravens jersey a Super Bowl Sunday in which the Ravens are not playing is like going to 80s night at a club and screaming at the DJ to play "Despacito."

"867-53-Oh my God, I can't get enough of Luis Fonsi.

True story: Stacy's mom and Daddy Yankee are the parents of the nation.

Anyway, the doughnut baker! I kind of love that this woman is rocking her Ravens purple today. That's the most Baltimore thing I can think of. Baltimore is the second most Baltimore city in the world. Philadelphia is the most Baltimore city. I'm not 100% what this means but I'm certain that it's true and I will fight you if you disagree. It's because I'm from Baltimore.

::whispers:: But I love Philadelphia so much.

The doughnut baker is the same woman who, a few weeks back told me she didn't want to sound racist but she thought it was good that Baltimore's new police chief was black because it would help "with the criminal element." What's wonderful about our interactions is that they're good for no one and everyone comes away worse for it.

Why do I continue to go to this doughnut shop? Honey, I don't know. I'm an American; I'm used to acting against my own self-interest. Especially if there is food involved.

This morning the doughnut shop's special flavors were "Buffalo Chicken," "Jalapeño Popper," and "Chesapeake." The Chesapeake was a CRAB-FILLED doughnut. Now that is actually the most Baltimore thing I can think of.

It was topped with ARUGULA! I was like "Why and for what purpose?!" Like, I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of slightly sweetened crab dip sitting at room temperature under an arugula hat! That is a dough-not. Arugula is bitter and it makes me angry!

Somehow, the doughnut baker hornswoggled me into buying a Buffalo Chicken doughnut, though. Well, it wasn't actually her. Literally no one spoke to me until I ordered. The terrible decision-making is coming from inside the house. It had a little fried... thing on top, a buffalo glaze, and a sweet bleu cheese cream center. It was like biting into the gates of hell. It was like the Eye of Sauron was an amuse bouche. It was so sweet but also my mouth was burning and I imagine that what's death is like in Willy Wonka's Factory. My brain actually could not figure out what was happening so it rebooted. There was a moment where I forgot my name, my age, my race, my nationality. I was a blank slate chewing on a buffalo sauce-flavored cake in an empty parking lot in the middle of America, trying to figure out how it all began.

This week, a number of unlikely combinations. I wrote two long form pieces: a profile on Maxine Waters and a meditation on narrative, memory, and Groundhog Day. I'm really happy with both of them; I hope you'll give them a read. We also have to talk about Rihanna x Macron: Part Deux, the emotional support peacock, and The Bachelor. But first: all things Bey.

All Hail Your New Meme Queen: This Person Seeing Beyoncé

The Looking at Beyoncé meme is the only thing I'm using from now on. "Looking at Beyoncé" is a good name for a meme but it’s also just, like, a practice everyone should engage in once a day. Have you looked at Beyoncé today? Are you serious about your spiritual health and well-being? You know why January is so long? Because you haven’t looked at Beyoncé enough. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Blue Ivy Is Literally the Only Person Who Can Tell Bey to Chill

I'm actually shewk! Blue is the first child in history to successfully tell their parent to chill out a bit. She is also the first person ever to tell Beyoncé to do less. [SEE THE VIDEO]

Groundhog Date: How a Classic Comedy Taught Me About Love, Healing, and Existential Angst

A lot of romantic comedies hinge on one person changing for another, which is maybe unhealthy and unrealistic. What's interesting about Groundhog Day is that it engages with that trope but it pulls back the curtain. Phil doesn't make a dramatic about face and go running through an airport or bursting into a wedding ceremony to make a declaration. He puts in thousands of days of work to become a better person. He gets broken down by life and then puts himself together, day by day. In that sense, Groundhog Day is the realest thing I've ever seen. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

President Meets With French Leader

And now some international political news. Today the President of the United States met with French president and Nutella snack, Emmanuel Macron. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]


“Right now Democrats have been quiet, and everybody's wondering, ‘Where are they?’” When she speaks, there is a clarity in her tone and her preciseness. It summons your attention. She is building a narrative. She continued, “Now, the leadership has a different take, and what they're thinking is we can't get diverted from tax reform that we've been working on… The leadership does not want to be diverted into talking about impeachment.” After the briefest pause, this particular narrative reached its conclusion. “I mean,” she said, “I respect that they don't necessarily think about it the way that I think about it, but I don't let that interfere with what I do.” [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

It's Been a Terrible Week for the Bird Community

This week began with an egregious and disrespectful slander against one person's emotional support peacock that I am still not over. According to the aptly named blog Live and Let Fly, United Airlines recently refused to allow Dexter, an emotional support peacock to board a flight. Hello?! Message to United Airlines. This peacock is a glamorous winged alien creature and it is doing you a favor by gracing you with its presence. Peacocks are the drag queens of the animal kingdom. Would you kick Alyssa Edwards off of a plane? I don't think you would but honestly I guess it depends on the lip-sync. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

The Pop Solo Grammy Snubs Are Shocking

Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" bested a nouveau country jam by Gaga, instant classic bops by P!nk and Kelly Clarkson, and a career redefining ballad by Kesha and I'm taking to the streets to protest. Memo to Ed Sheeran Nation: I'm not saying this to, what's the word, Divide us. I don't want to get you bent out of shape. Please stay in whatever shape you're in, presumably that shape is... the shape of you. I'm just... thinking out loud. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

Strike: Arbitrary Rankings from The Bachelor, Ep. 5

This is a performance, honey, and she is living for it. She tells the other women that Arie was disrespectful. With a straight face! No, not a straight face. She is smiling SO WIDELY! She is speechifying! She is enswathed in a bathrobe! Krystal is a Melrose Place character full-stop. [READ THE FULL RECAP]

Random thing from the internet...

I love The New Yorker and I love articles about food and I love anything that gives me a new perspective on a regular citizen getting caught up in a political fight. This article is all of that.


Let's hang out in Chicago March 1 through April 7! Purchase tickets.

Let's hang out in Philadelphia May 2-20! Tickets are pay-what-you-decide after the show! Reserve here.

Birds! Of some sort!