Feeling defeated? Demoralized? Just plain confused? Yeah, us too. That’s why we share with you, dear reader: our weekly roundup of what got us through this week.
To recap: this week our president rescinded the DACA program for young immigrants, while simultaneously saying he has a "great love" for the 800,000 people whose families are now in jeopardy. Many parts of Houston are still underwater from Hurricane Harvey, with Hurricane Irma coming closer. Education Secretary Besty DeVos announced a loosening of the rules on campus sexual assault; Harriet Tubman might not go on the $20 bill after all. And, after its ordered closure, the Russian consulate in San Francisco was spotted with smoke coming from its chimney, burning some stuff. Probably just firewood!
Along the way, art, joy, distraction, beauty and catharsis helped save us. Without further ado: here’s what got us through this week.
Hiller Goodspeed's Simple, Innocent Illustrations
If "warm fuzzies" could be encapsulated in an art work, it would be done with Hiller Godspeed’s work. I usually prefer art that both challenges and agitates my world view. But Hiller Godspeed’s work is anything but political – it’s soft, pure, and simple. There are days I don’t want to look at art that reminds me of the burning shitstorm of our political climate, when I just want to look at crayon drawings of moons and flowers and feel okay. Godspeed’s work is reminiscent of holding a warm cup of tea and watching rain drops stick to the window. I can’t quite explain why Godspeed’s work always makes me feel better, but it always does. —Katherine Manley
Bun B's Set at Hiero Day
Midway through Houston rapper Bun B's set at Hiero Day on Monday, it hit me just how much loss the guy'd been through in his life. Losing his creative partner, first to jail, then to overdose. For a while, losing the interest of the mainstream press. And this week, losing so much back home to Hurricane Harvey. You wouldn't have known it from his performance, a portrait of class and gratitude that ended with "International Players Anthem," which re-enters my life every six months or so and always hangs around for a week straight, buoying my spirit. Even while Bun B organizes a major telethon for Hurricane Harvey victims — with Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Barbra Streisand and more, to be aired Sept. 12 on all TV networks simultaneously — he found time to come to Oakland and share some resilience. It was heavy. —Gabe Meline
Beautifully Bizarre Deleted Wikipedia Titles
In the endless stream of news and outrage that is my Twitter feed -- mostly dominated by journalists, activists, and more journalists -- one account consistently breaks through the chatter by dint of sheer weirdness. It’s a bot, and we should all be following it. @DeletedWikiTitles tweets hourly from the vast and wonderful resource that is Wikipedia’s “Deleted articles with freaky titles" page. Recent tweets include “The whaleshark is only a visitor,” “Emily's Famous Nacho Recipe,” and “SPAM SPAM SPAM!!!!!!” According to Wikipedia, “some of these article names were made for good reasons, on real topics that the writers thought might be useful for Wikipedia.” Trying to imagine a serious impetus behind “The ‘Boss Level’ in Ancient Literature” is half the fun. —Sarah Hotchkiss
JR's Vision of Border Innocence
Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 8:18 am: I'm awoken by a New York Times push notification: "Breaking News: President Trump is ending DACA." Instant feelings of dread fill my stomach — and my feed. Friends instantly taking to the streets. Dreamers asking us to call our representatives. I've always found myself stuck at the crossroads, in the borderlands -- the fate of a second-generation mixed kid whose dad crossed over into El Paso from the dusty highlands of Chihuahua. My family slipped through the border two steps before The Bracero Program ended in 1964. Our time was merely by chance, circumstance.
Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 10:32 pm: Swipe. Swipe. Swipe up. Stop. A child looks over a massive wall from the Mexican side of the U.S./Mexico border. A dreamer with a name that could be any one of our ours. —Lina Blanco-Ogden
BROCKHAMPTON, The Future of Boy Bands
An L.A.-based collective with their eyes set on an empire of Def Jam proportions, BROCKHAMPTON is making the most effortlessly thrilling rap I've born witness to since Kendrick Lamar's VMA performance. Curiously, they bill themselves as an American boy band, though their music sounds nothing like N*SYNC or Backstreet Boys. In any case, I was a One Direction stan in a past life, and I'd be lying if I said "Gold" or "Gummy" didn't make me as giddy as "What Makes You Beautiful." Maybe it's the abundant joy when these friends pass the mic around like they're trying to one-up their idols -- the group's founders met on a Kanye West fan forum. Or maybe it's because their youth, their humor and their willingness to subvert masculinity and homophobia (they have a song called "Queer," for crying out loud) feels like the antithesis of what has become our unfortunate new norm. If BROCKHAMPTON is any indicator of what the kids are into nowadays, they'll be in good hands. —Joshua Bote
Angela Willetts' 'I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty'
The title of Angela Willetts' art show running through Sept. 16 at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture -- I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty -- pretty much sums up how I'm feeling right now. The show takes its inspiration from the language of semaphore, and finds sometimes playful, sometimes painful parallels between the way ships effectively communicate with one another at great distances on the ocean, and how humans largely fail to do the same in close proximity on land. As we try to navigate what feels like a storm of violent opinions and actions -- not to mention real storms wreaking havoc in Texas and Florida as I write -- it's gratifying to anchor oneself in Willetts' sense of bathos as she grapples with the pitfalls of communication. —Chloe Veltman
David Mitchell and Robert Webb
"Laughter is the best medicine" is a cliche, but it's one that's true. When I find myself angrily grinding my teeth after another sleepless night, a good laugh often brings me back to normal. New to my comedy pillbox are the British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb: best known for creating Peep Show, Mitchell and Webb are proven veterans of British sketch comedy with writing that's simultaneously smart and extremely silly. Premises like a Nazi soldier figuring out that he was a "baddie," or a gay couple talking about how James Bond is a horrible houseguest are worth a chuckle on their own, but when the biggest laughs come from jokes about Russian agriculture, you know you've got something special. —Kevin L. Jones
'The Ting Goes'/'Man's Not Hot'
Gun-sound onomatopoeias have become a major staple of rap this decade: Chief Keef often opens his verses by growling “bang-bang”; Quavo trills “prr-prr," imitating an automatic weapon. But no rapper’s pistol impression comes close to Roadman Shaq’s in his freestyle for BBC 1Xtra’s "Fire in the Booth" segment. Roadman Shaq is a persona of British-Ghanaian comedian Michael Dapaah, and a clip from his bizarre appearance on the show has been circulating on Twitter all week. Instead of rapping, Shaq delivers eight bars of animated sound effects: “The ting goes SKRRRRA/Pop pop kak kak kak/Skibibi pop pop,” he enunciates into the mic, then launching into a defiant refusal to remove his jacket because, as he raps, "MAN'S NOT HOT," as the perplexed host stares. Apparently, the meme has become so popular that Dapaah has already performed the song live in London to a jubilant crowd. In a political climate where nothing seems to make sense anymore, maybe a gibberish rap song is what we all needed. —Nastia Voynovskaya
The Joy of Dancing on Your Own
Every time I opened Twitter this week, a new horror awaited. Half the time, I would inform (and depress) myself. The other half? I would yelp, “NOPE!” and head to my new foolproof palate cleanser: these 41 seconds of pure joy, served up hot by a kid getting his entire life through dancing on his own. Every time he claps: endorphins! Every time he points at himself: dopamine! Every time he mugs for the camera: serotonin! Try it! —Emmanuel Hapsis