Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: the hottest World Cup footballers! Experiencing Taylor Mac in Philadelphia! Chris Pine has a fanny pack!
I went to church with my father this morning. My parents go to a different church than the one of which my husband is the pastor. It's huge; they have three services to accommodate the crowds and they just opened up a satellite location and that's where I met my father. I fear I'm describing a mega-church and although it is technically, mega, it's not... what's the word... craven and godless like a lot of mega-churches. I feel like, as a Christian, I need to clarify which kind of Christianity I'm talking about in these times since so many public figures who claim to be devout followers of Jesus are also... what's the word... soulless and evil. Anyway, that's not this church. It's a lovely congregation and they've faithfully supported and nurtured my parents for over ten years, so they get a pass from me when I do my great Church Judgment Day. That's the new reality show I'm pitching: Sunday Skool! It's me in a caftan, judging churches but also maybe helping them to fix themselves question mark. I don't know. All I know is that there's a rousing gospel number at the end and I have a lot of sassy catchphrases. Like, when I'm kicking someone off the show, I shout "Be blessed!!" And when I don't approve of some doctrine a church is preaching, I wag my finger and say "That's apocryphal!" (They're not all winners.)
I've been blasting music in my car a lot lately to drown out my thoughts or maybe to feel my thoughts more intensely. Who can say? I often blast gospel because I feel like gospel should be loud and I like gospel very much and gospel makes me feel things, so it's all a win. When I drove up to church this morning, however, I was blasting the new Christina Aguilera album and it just happened to be on one of her sex ditties. Rolling into a church parking lot, late as usual, with my windows shaking from the sound of Xtina wailing about going to pound town. That's the opening credits to my reality show. I will take my Emmy now, thank you.
My father loves his church. My father is such a good man. And so faithful in his service to the church. So faithful in all the things he does. He's just extraordinary. I also need to tell you that he has recently started drinking kombucha, which I discovered when I went over to my parents' house after church. He and my youngest brother, the former police office, started excitedly sharing their favorite kombucha brands. I was shewk. It was a real Kombucha to Jesus moment. I definitely thought I had the market cornered on hippie flights of fancy and Whole Foods tomfoolery in our family. But even I don't drink kombucha. And no shade to kombucha drinkers, I'm just like, where did this even enter your life, Papa?
Turns out he bought it at Walmart. You can buy kombucha at Walmart. Meanwhile, the other day I Googled "Can you still buy plastic to put on furniture" because we have these expensive chairs in our kitchen and I don't want people putting their butts on them. So, maybe I've passed the hippie mantle on and am settling into my late early middle age as a 50s homemaker. I'm okay with that.
As a Father's Day present, my mother gave my father a scrapbook full of photos of his father that she found in their basement. My father's father, Columbus, died in 1979, a year after they were married and two years before I was born. My father flipped through the photos and talked excitedly about his dad. Columbus was a pastor, among many other jobs. He sang in a group called the Royal Crown Balladeers (it may not have been Balladeers; it may have been Singers. But it was definitely Royal Crown.) He worked for the Social Security administration. He did a lot. "He was real man of influence," my dad noted, proudly.
Watching my dad flip through this scrapbook, and seeing the face of a man I never knew but whose life deeply influenced mine, I, of course, started crying. And it didn't help that I watched Coco for the first time last night and also I am just generally on edge. Hot mess express. My dad was so proud of his dad. And I'm so proud of my dad. And I wrote in my card to him, that it meant a lot to me to know that he's proud of me, too. I'm crying writing this. What a mess. I need to take myself for a walk or something. What is that feeling where you're mourning for the future but also trying to soak up the present? Is there a word for it?
I just wanted to, I don't know, linger in a moment that was simple, and uncomplicated, and beautiful, if not beautifully told here. Without oversharing (he writes in a email newsletter about himself he sends out every week), it's been a really hard couple of weeks for me in a lot of different areas of my life. And it's exacerbated by the fact that some of the things we have to grapple with in the news are impossible to reconcile as a person, let alone to be funny about. I'm somebody who thinks it's important to be able to locate hope and... sometimes hope is taking a sick day. Which is fine. Don't call OSHA; hope has a benefits package, too. It's also important to use your vacation and sick days. Especially your sick days because you don't get those back.
So, this moment with my dad and his dad was an unexpected relief. From everything. There's not really a point to this story. It think it's about just wanting to be now. Which is weird, because now is also bad. But what will it look like in the scrapbooks? What will we remember? Anyway, tell the people that you love that you love them. And write dates on the backs of your photographs. And, I guess, try the kombucha at Walmart?
This week was all about the power of photography and, in one instance, the magic of a moment that defied being captured on film. I found images of the 65 hottest World Cup players, Donald Trump made an iMovie for his best bud Kim Jong Un, and I wrote about seeing Taylor Mac for Philadelphia Magazine. But first! CHRIS PINE IN A FANNY PACK!
Dear Chris Pine, Chris Pine's Wonder Woman 1984 fanny pack, and the fanny that fanny pack is packin':
First of all, how dare you. You secretly scrumptious tub of Talenti in human form. You buttery almond croissant with legs. You juicy biscuit. HOW. DARE. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
In it, we see Steve Trevor looking not so sure about this Awesome '80s Mall where he's suddenly found himself. Which is great and all, but what's most fabulous about this photo, besides his hair, is the gallery of extras hanging out behind him. Jenkins provided no information about these clearly very vital characters, so I've decided to give them backstories myself. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
The World Cup is here to quench your thirst and not a moment too soon. Dozens of teams have descended on Russia for FIFA's battle of the nations and, with them, a smorgasbord of soccer snacks! (Or, if you are anywhere but the United States, a phalanx of fetching footballers.) (I don't want to make an international incident out of this, but we do have to admit that soccer snacks just works better. It rolls off the tongue, as it were. I don't want to discuss this any further. Please do not yell at me about this, Emmanuel Macron. I have made my decision.) [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
I ran into a friend of mine who ushers for the Kimmel Center about eight hours into part two of Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, which took over the Merriam as part of Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts from noon until after midnight on Saturday. I saw my friend’s red usher jacket before I recognized her. I was standing in a doorway, kiki-ing with a couple of queers and eating a falafel, like you do. I thought I was in trouble. My friend,the usher, replied, “There is no getting in trouble. This is Taylor Mac. Do what you want.” This was, it turned out, an understatement. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]
A comprehensive list of movie gangs could on endlessly—if you want to be persnickety about it, every movie cast is a gang if you squint. Tom Hanks and Wilson the Volleyball=#squadgoals. But not all gangs are created equal. So, we called together our techy friend, our friend with a vaguely British accent, our wild friend, our Charlotte, and our friend who likes to eat and make jokes (::raises hand::) to come up with a list of the 10 best movie gangs. To determine their ranking we (me and the gang I am trying to Secret into being real) considered three things: 1) composition of the gang—who are the characters and who play the characters?; 2) the delight derived by their situation or caper; 3) are there fun costumes, disguises, and/or dance sequences? [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]
In the video, which looks like a campaign video made by an 8th grader running for student council president (no shade to 8th graders), the Trump administration seems to invent a fictional movie studio, Destiny Pictures, and launched full-tilt into propaganda films for an audience of one. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Let's Hang Out...
DC: The Moth, TOMORROW, at the Howard Theater
New York: I'm telling a story at Yum's The Word, Robin Gelfenbien's show at Le Poisson Rouge!
Philly: The Moth, July 9th, at World Cafe Live