Teenage bounty hunters, the chiffon trenches, Persian ice cream, and more.

Digest #11 - August 24th 2020

Teenage bounty hunters, the chiffon trenches, Persian ice cream, and more.
The Seven - A weekly digest by Keeya-Lee Ayre

Digest #11, August 24th 2020


This week's edition is a little later than usual because I had a killer migraine over the weekend. ​Thank you for your patience, my wonderful readers!

One

Am I the only one who is starting to wonder just how much more content Netflix has sitting around and ready to go? Where networks have faltered under the strain of the pandemic, and shows that were due to air have stopped, Netflix has shown no signs of slowing down. They're still turning out originals at the same rate they always have, but at some point that's going to hit a wall... right? This week, my husband Alex and I indulged in their latest offering, Teenage Bounty Hunters. The show follows two privileged and naive fraternal twins, Blair and Sterling, as they grapple with their sexuality, and dive headfirst into the dark and dingy world of bounty hunting. It's fresh, funny, and unapologetically female-centered. The two lead actresses steal the show, and their chemistry with one another is dynamite. Though the Christian private school setting is satirized, the show handles the material without disrespecting the core of the religion. It manages to balance a highly conservative setting with an extremely progressive approach to social justice. In one scene where the girls find themselves in a strip club chasing a 'skip' (someone who has jumped bail), they remark at how awesome it is to see so many women who are confident in their own skin. The show is a breath of fresh air like that; there's no shame to be found anywhere. The plot isn't predictable either. You think it's going in one direction, and yet the twists keep piling up. Even if teen shows aren't your thing, give it a shot.

A still from the show. Pictured from left, characters Blair Wesley (Anjelica Bette Fellini), Bowser Jenkins (Kadeem Hardison), and Spencer Wesley (Maddie Phillips).

Two

André Leon Talley, fashion journalist and the former American editor-at-large of Vogue magazine, has been someone I've admired for a long time. For those of you who also indulged in the very toxic America's Next Top Model (before we all knew better), you might remember him as a recurring guest judge. This was my earliest introduction to his work, as an impressionable teen. It has always been a mystery to me, how exactly this large, proud Black man from the segregated American South, became one of fashion's most powerful figures. Not for lack of talent or ability, of course, but because of all of the forces working against him. In 2003, he released his first autobiographical work, A.L.T.: A Memoir, which I checked out from my local library and eagerly consumed over a weekend. He was still at Vogue at the time, so while interesting, it felt sanitized and constrained. By contrast, his latest memoir The Chiffon Trenches is bold and ventures into open discussions of his racial identity for the first time. I highly, highly recommend it for any social justice minded fashion-lover.

"For so long I was the only person of color in the upper echelons of fashion journalism, but I was too busy pushing forward, making it to the next day, to really think about the responsibility that came with this role. Memories linger in the mind. Now I realize it is my duty to tell the story of how a Black man survived and thrived in the chiffon trenches."

- Talley, in the introduction of The Chiffon Trenches

Talley, shot by Ike Edeani for The New York Times

Three

I have an ice cream maker. I say this as a guilty admission, like I'm standing in front of you and confessing a sin. It was one of those household purchases I felt I had to convince Alex about; enthusiastically listing all the kinds of ice-creams and sorbets we'd eat. And yet, I've probably made ice-cream six times in the two years I've had it, weirdly mostly in the winter and not now in the peak of summer. Maybe because I am currently non-dairy (nursing my son who is cow's milk allergic), but that still isn't a good excuse, nor does it explain the time before he was born. One amazing ice-cream I did make, while my best friend Sarah was visiting us here in Atlanta from London, was this decadent Persian ice cream bastani, with saffron, pistachios and rosewater. I put photos of it on my Instagram stories when I made it, and every Iranian friend I have came out of the woodwork to tell me memories about eating this with their family, which was lovely. If you also have an ice cream maker in need of usage, this delicious dish is a winner.

A screenshot from my Instagram story, showing the bastani I made earlier this year.

Four

Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods is a very different kind of Vietnam war movie than you'd be used to seeing. It offers a Black perspective on the war, and the military exploitation of Black bodies by and for America. It explores the way we carry past traumas with us, touching on intergenerational trauma too. It's layered, nuanced and culturally complex, showing a range of issues including interracial relationships during the war, biracial children left to grow up in Vietnam, and the social ostracism faced by different groups. The film is very long (2h 34m) so we watched it over two sittings (being baby-parents who go to sleep early). I felt connected to the characters and compelled by the plot. Be warned though: it does contain graphic violence, and some scenes were extremely alarming. It's a journey, not a race, so be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster punctuated by action scenes and flashbacks.

The film's main cast (sans Chadwick Boseman who only appears in flashbacks), pictured alongside Spike Lee (far left).

Five

This 1966 recording of Muddy Waters and his band performing "Got My Mojo Workin'" is an absolute delight. Little Walter Jacobs' harmonica performances in this video is one of the best of all time, and the fact that it was this obscenely perfect live blows my mind. Playing the harmonica is one of those many things I'd theoretically love to do but will likely never have the skill for. It's in the same pile for me as horse riding: the notion is glamorous, but I'm terrible at it. Watch this and then try to tell me you don't want to rock a blues harmonica, too. Alas, we can dream!

A screenshot from the video.

Six

I don't care for the Eiffel Tower. I simply don't understand its appeal. I never go look at it when I'm in Paris, which in a normal pre-corona world is at least an annual occurrence. I would never queue for hours to go up in the elevator, but I've waited in nearby cafes on three separate occasions when travel companions have felt differently. Battle me over this if you want to, but I don't like the thing. This photograph, the aptly titled "La Tour Eiffel", taken by Liza Barker, is as close as I'm ever going to come to looking at it fondly. Perspective is a powerful thing, isn't it? The image won this year's The Mono award, a black and white Australian and New Zealander photography competition, in the 'places' category. There are lots of beautiful photos to look at among the finalists; the other two categories 'people' and 'animals' have some stunning winning shots too

"La Tour Eiffel" by Liza Barker, winner of the 'places' category for 2020, the Mono awards.

Seven

This one is... unexpected. I feel compelled to send it to everyone I know. The friends who have already read this on my recommendation have reacted uniformly: shock and awe. I can't discuss it without ruining it for you. Please do yourself the strange pleasure of reading this Twitter thread. Shout out to my dear friend Evey for sharing on Instagram!

Best Twitter thread of 2019? How have I only just found this?

The Seven is a weekly digest sharing a collection of seven carefully curated stories, recipes, images, movies, essays, books, songs and other content. Thoughtfully contextualised and passed along with consideration, for your mental nourishment.

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