A brief round-up with ideas on what to read, watch and listen to in September. Some are new out this month and others were released recently but worth a mention anyway. There’s books, lots of shows on streaming sites, music and more.
What to read
First, some suggestions on what to read this start of spring.
Three Women, Lisa Taddeo
It seems like this book has been mentioned everywhere, from podcasts to reading lists to bookshop newsletters. I’m going to add to the group and suggest it in my September.
It’s the non-fiction story of three women’s changing desire over eight years told in an intimate, personal way by the author who spent many, many hours with the women recording their lives.
Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia, Tracey Thorn
If, like me, you’re a Gen Xer or just interested in 90s electro music, you might know of Everything But The Girl.
I loved this band and the sound seemed to capture a certain period of time in my 20s when I was a uni student living in the inner-city studying sound design and philosophy.
So I’m now reading up on some of my fave bands and artists from that time and I’m starting with Tracey Thorn who was half of EBTG with her partner Ben Watt.
Another Planet is actually her second book after Bedsit Disco Queen. It’s all about being a teenager in 70s suburban northern London, discovering music, stepping out into the world of London concerts and becoming a musician herself.
I also spent last year living with my boys and partner in northern London not that far from where Tracey Thorn grew up so I know the locale and it gives a bit more depth for me reading her reflections of going to local venues to see bands and hitting the shops to start to express her newfound musical self.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff
In a slightly more serious tone, after all it can’t all be fun and entertainment, is this book. I am of the view that it’s corporations, marketing and brands that pose more of a threat to our freedom and anonymity in the digital age than governments.
After all, the big tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are worth more than many governments and know more about us and our movements in the digital sphere than the government. They’re actually data companies not tech companies. Governments are still tracking and surveilling us, just ask Snowdon.
But either way, I tend to agree with the premise of this book and feel like we all need to sit up and take notice about how far these data/tech/social online platforms have infiltrated into our lives and are making money and a lot of it from our data. And it’s harming the pillars of society like democracy, journalism and the right to be private.
So if like me you’re at all concerned or interested, I’d suggest having a look at this book. We need more thought on this issue and some stronger guardrails to push back on the digital invasion of our lives.
If you want more on this topic, here’s an intersection article from The Conversation explaining surveillance capitalism or this one on calculating how much your data is worth to the tech [data] platforms.
What to Watch
Let’s be honest there’s a sh1tload of things to watch, from free to air TV and streaming platforms to YouTube and even your DVD collection. I’m going to venture forth some suggestions just in case you can’t be bothered going through the new releases to find something.
I elfin goddam bloody love this crazyass show. I ‘ve been a fan of Julia Louis-Dreyfus since the Seinfeld days and she’s brilliant as POTUS and post-POTUS in Veep. No one swears better on TV in my book than JL-D and her team of craven, back-stabbing, calculating political operatives.
Veep is funny, biting, rude, so very rude, and a brilliant satire on modern political life. You can find it on a range of streaming platforms, depending on where you live. It’s also on YouTube if you don’t want to take out a sub to watch and all seven are available.
This wonderful satire made by the Working Dog team, an Australian production outfit that’s given us the hilarious Frontline TV series about a fictional foot-in-the-door current affairs show and The Dish movie about Australia’s role in the 1969 moon landing, among many others.
Ever feel driven mad by corporate speak or think that spin and PR have overtaken doing actual work? Perhaps you’ve had enough of the latest work initiatives for team bonding, deliverables, KPIs or corporate fitness fad? Then this show is for you. Actually, this show is for all of us who suffer in modern workplaces.
Briefly, it’s set in a fictional government agency intended to deliver infrastructure projects, but there’s a lot more time and energy spent on PR and ass-covering than actual work.
It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will probably make you rage at the TV, but it’ll keep you sane knowing you’re not the only one feeling cynical about all politics and workplaces. Find it on the ABC if you’re in Australia or YouTube if you’re elsewhere.
Women on the Verge
This dark comedy centres around three 30-something female friends in Dublin all navigating lives varying paths that 30-something women find themselves on.
Parenthood, marriage, infidelity, therapy, friendship, careers, relationships, family with a good dose of swearing and a heavy dose of scepticism. Sound like just the right approach to me.
A quick wrap of some music for this month.
When I heard the title I wondered if it was a nod to essayist Joan Didion who, in her book Slouching Towards Bethlehem, wrote that “the centre was not holding” when describing how America was changing quickly and radically in the 1960s.
If you’re interested in Didion, there’s a Netflix doco The Center Will Not Hold you could start with and of course she has many books of essays. I will do an entire post on Didion and her work another time.
Talking about Tracey Thorn has me going back to listen to my Everything But The Girl CDs from that era as well as some of Thorn’s newer music on Spotify.
Queen is still on high rotation at my place after watching the movie on Freddie Mercury and the band. My sons are also learning to play the keyboard and have put that catchy baseline from Another One Bites The Dust into the keyboard. For me, I love Radio Ga Ga. Listen to the sweet-sad lyrics.
And a quick one on American band The National. Another fave group of mine and the new album I Am Easy to Find has been getting plenty of pla on my station Double J.