It’s no secret we’re living in trying times. Here’s what’s helping the Merry-Go-Round staff stay sane this week.
Steven Soderbergh’s criminally ignored period drama about the cutting-edge Knickerbocker surgical hospital has been a surprising comfort in the search for engrossing quarantine content. THE KNICK is one of the best depictions of American life ever captured in fiction, demonstrating both how this country has had endless opportunities for innovation, but just as clearly demonstrating how the intersections of racism, sexism, and classism have aligned to hold people back and prevent progress at every turn. The historical accuracy and detail in the show is jarring; set in 1900, it’s impossible not to marvel how far we’ve come in our understanding of medicine over the past 120 years. Realizing just how primitive our understanding of the human body was just a century ago, there is a weird sense of peace in knowing that we are attempting something unprecedented in human history as we collectively try to flatten the curve of COVID-19. THE KNICK reminds us that not so long ago, we had no cure for syphilis, we didn’t know how to perform C-sections, we knew nothing about blood transfusions or addiction. We have made unbelievable strides in medicinal science, and we have the ability to continue to do so. THE KNICK is often horrifying and bleak, the depictions of primitive surgeries are easily some of the scariest things I’ve ever seen on screen, but the way in which it celebrates the ingenuity of scientific discovery, of our ability as a species to solve seemingly insurmountable problems, is a complete salve in our dark times. [Carter Moon]
Pepito the Cat
Pepito the Cat started an Instagram to celebrate quarantine. If you know him you’d understand how bizarre but exciting a proposition that is. The cat that never posts (but always posts) posting new content on another social media feed to mindlessly check while we try to not lose our minds while stuck inside. For the uninformed: Pepito is a cat on Twitter. He’s not an indoor cat because a large part of his appeal is that he comes and goes as he pleases, captured by the motion sensing camera at his kitty door. His Twitter consists of his comings and goings, a photo, “Pepito is out,” “Pepito is back home,” and a time stamp. You can measure your day by Pepitos. You might not know it, but Pepito is a minor astrological system (find the earliest of your birthdays that Pepito posted on, how long was he away from home? How long will you be… spiritually). Pepito can predict stock markets, the finer points of the weather, personally I wouldn’t get married any time that Pepito is out of the house. Pepito is a metaphysical constant and we are but the insane particles that twirl around him, affected, but never in a direct way you could ever truly describe. To say that Pepito is a balm would be an overstatement, but his consistency is comforting in days that are increasingly lacking in any kind of structure beyond the biological. To know that someone else is going to be leaving the house, unaffected by the virus, is a nice thought. He still gets to have his life, he doesn’t need a job, at least he’ll be happy. A large part of staying with it while sheltering-in-place is learning to appreciate and care for the things that aren’t near you. It might be a nice stream or a funny story or photo you see online. This kind of distance empathy and sympathy has always been a requirement of existing online, but those muscles have to be strained and flexed even more as every aspect of life starts to shift online or at least out of any kind physical space. Becoming attached to the life cycle of Pepito is just one version of that, perhaps the simplest kind. When pushed to our extremes, it’s often the simplest pleasures that are the most satisfying and meaningful. I’d humbly suggest that for me and maybe even you, Pepito the Cat is just that. In short, get up for Pepito, keep it together for Pepito. Survive for Pepito. [Ian Campbell]
I was expecting self-isolating as an amphi-vert to feel like coming home, especially with the spring shower we’ve had in SoCal, but turns out this time of year is actually full of complicated emotions for me. Now that I’ve got my WFH sea legs on I’m eager for anything to keep the vibe positive. The Secret Sisters, Laura Rogers and Lydia Slagle, are high on my heavy rotation with their newest album: SATURN RETURN. Interestingly enough they finished recording about a year ago right before they were both due to become first-time moms. Even without it-which-shall not-be-named going on, so much has changed in the last year and that makes it a lot easier to appreciate this album, like a snapshot of simpler times. Their fourth studio album was born with 10 healthy tracks and a strong heartbeat, breathing in some strong female empowerment. Recording took place at Brandi Carlile’s home studio in Washington around the same time that Carlile was getting involved with The Highwomen (the female reboot of country supergroup The Highway Men). They kick things off with “Silver” an ode to mothers and how “It’s a miracle she carried any shred of sanity” with a whole lot of Southern oomph despite the minimal instruments. Those lyrics were true a year ago, but I’d imagine moms everywhere are feeling that more than most. In our now very post-#MeToo movement world with Harvey Weinstein convicted, “Cabin” hits a little differently with its Brett Kavanaugh investigation-inspired anger—don’t get me wrong it’s very much still relevant but would have clapped a whole lot more a year ago—why didn’t they release it as a single? What makes this track perfect for quarantine? The anger is soft, feminine, urgent, and then a breather before melting into “Hand Over My Heart”—a ballad about finding love after heartbreak. It’s important to feel emotions and then move on from them. These are definitely emotionally charged times, so find what allows you to feel and move on. The overall vibe of SATURN RETURN is light even though they delve into some deep shit—like grieving the eventual loss of their parents in “Hold You Dear.” The pace is steady and easy to work to, or feel to, with its lightness. [Lilly Neubecker]