What Got Us Through This Week: 'Loser Terrorists' Edition

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Image: Emmanuel Hapsis / Calendar icon courtesy of Vexels

What a week, eh? In a speech to the U.N., our president threatened to "totally destroy" a country experimenting with nuclear missiles, and rebuked "loser terrorists" while promoting his own travel ban affecting Muslim-majority countries. He also spent his Sunday morning retweeting an animated GIF from an anti-Semitic feed of him hitting a golf ball and knocking down Hillary Clinton with it. Very mature!

Meanwhile, the Google memo guy found some nice things to say about the KKK while raising nearly $60,000 for himself, a hasty new Obamacare repeal that likely won't even be rated by the CBO before a vote looks ready, at press time, to succeed, and Taylor Swift is up to her old insidious tricks to secure world domination.

Here's what got us through the week!

A Yamaha 4-track cassette recorder that the author bought on eBay that alas, upon arrival, was discovered to be broken.
A Yamaha 4-track cassette recorder that the author bought on eBay that alas, upon arrival, was discovered to be broken. (Kevin Jones)

Buying 4-Track Recorders on eBay

There’s a knee-high stack of broken 4-track recorders in my garage. There they sit, useless on the concrete floor, because I can’t repair them myself and they’re not worth sending to a guy who charges $125 an hour. When 4-tracks wilt, they slowly lose component after component until the machine fails to perform basic functions. But I can’t just throw them away.

I expect the pile will keep on growing (to my wife’s chagrin), because buying cheap 4-track cassette recorders on eBay is like ordering flowers -- they brighten my week. When they're working, a 4-track is a decoder and a laboratory in one compact plastic box with spinning wheels and bright lights. Hear what that guitar riff that’s been stuck in your head for a week sounds like overdriven on tape. Find out what’s on that cassette you found in a box at your mom’s house. And, best of all, show your kids what it’s like to play with a gadget with knobs and sliders instead of a screen. —Kevin L. Jones


BART's Brightening Crew: Blasting Away the Grime

Between dirty politics and devastating natural disasters, the world seems like a particularly detritus-strewn place these days. So it lightened my heavy heart this week to watch Joey Harrison and Kerry Smith -- two members of BART's crack "Brightening Crew" -- talk about what it's like to deep-clean the city's train stations and make them sparkle for the thousands of passengers that pass through every day. Not only do these guys power wash blood, vomit, and poop from the system's stairwells on a daily basis, but they also do their job with satisfaction and pride. "It's instant gratification," Harrison says in the short, BART-produced piece above.

The BART crew's message reminded me to sign up for one of our local river cleanup days last weekend. As I plucked mud-caked tires, disintegrating clothes and discarded syringes from the banks of the Russian River, I thought of the Brightening Crew and smiled. —Chloe Veltman

This Random Kid Acting Silly to Snoop Dogg as an Emblem for an Entire Social Media Platform that was Great and it Never Should Have Been Taken Away From Us, Dammit

I am one of many millennials who mourn the loss of Vine. (I’ll never forgive the world for allowing musica.ly to live on while Vine rots in a social media grave alongside MySpace and Formspring.) Vine’s poignant, dry, clipped humor embodied a kind of comedy which was uniquely its own -- and one that I loved very, very much.

What got me through this week is admittedly a bit stupid: it’s a silly Vine of this random kid. He’s donning a goofy grin, demonstrating an inability to properly wear a sweatshirt, and literally just turning to the camera from different angles to Snoop Dogg’s "Drop It Like It’s Hot." There’s absolutely no deeper meaning. It’s hilarious, and it never fails to make me laugh. R.I.P. Vine. I miss you and your dumb humor stupendously. —Katherine Manley

An Unexpected Sonata in the Dark

My sixth-grade son and I were late to his baseball game. Walking briskly through Golden Gate Park, we decided to cut through what we used to call the Dark Cave Tunnel — 20 yards of exposed rock and inky spookiness. As we entered, something felt different, not the usual creepy vibe, and then we saw him. He stood just inside the far end of the tunnel, a tall, older man, leaning against the wall, blowing softly into his saxophone. By the time we reached him the tension in the darkness had evaporated. Was it the music? Or simply his presence? We paused and dropped a dollar in his case before we hustled off. We agreed later that, despite the good things that happened later in the game, it was still the coolest moment of the day. —David Markus

Björk's New Music Video: 'The Gate'

I’m not ashamed to admit that, while separated from my friends and slightly tipsy, I wept for the duration of Björk’s performance at FYF Fest in L.A. this past summer. Her voice is just so heart-wrenching -- especially on her last album, Vulnicura, which deals with the emotional aftermath of her breakup with longtime partner Mathew Barney. The newly single Icelandic singer described her forthcoming record as her “Tinder album,” but I have a hard time believing that Björk is even capable of shallow attraction since her work overflows with so much vulnerability and feeling. Her new single, “The Gate,” and its gorgeous, technicolor music video confirm my suspicions. The track is about healing from loss and being open to even greater possibilities of love -- an inspiring reminder of resilience we all need right now. —Nastia Voynovskaya

This Season of 'Project Runway'

It struck me last night as I closed my computer after watching two hours straight that Project Runway definitely helps me through the week. There's something about watching this group of people (gay, straight, black, white, immigrant, from the heartland) making beautiful works of wearable art that makes me feel more creative and happy. It also inspires me to take joy in dressing myself in the morning; a fun outfit can sometimes be an antidote for feeling depressed about the world's events. Not that a yellow crochet sweater can solve world peace, but it's a subtle mood lifter that helps me tackle the day.


Plus, Tim Gunn is an American hero. You really get the sense that he recognizes a struggling creative soul trying to finally get the affirmation that maybe they never got from their family, their friends, or their peers -- he inspires us to rise above our circumstances and be the best version of ourselves, every day. And of course, to make it work. —Bianca Taylor