This week’s “Culture Cue” features a podcast on what it means to be American, the story of climate change, a Berlin-based bookshop focusing on Non-Western perspectives, Keyboard Fantasies by musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland, and lightweight circular bags from Switzerland.
The Keyboard Fantasies: Beverly Glenn-Copeland
Keyboard Fantasies is the story and music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland, an artist and transgender activist who fell into oblivion for decades. His songs have gained a new momentum in recent years thanks to a reissue of his debut self-titled album and a self-released cassette in 1986, named Keyboard Fantasies. Part biopic, part tour documentary, the film by Posy Dixon tells the tale of Glenn-Copeland, who was born into a musical family with a father playing the piano four to five hours a day. Copeland, who is now 76, attended as one the first Black students the McGill University in Montreal. He faced racism and discrimination on campus due to his gender and sexual orientation and didn’t graduate with a music degree. In a Huck Magazine piece, Copeland recalls: “Life has got both joy and pain in it for most of us. For some people, it has way more pain than joy, and for others way more joy than pain, but the expectation of Life is that there will be difficult times, and there will be joyous times.” Her latest album, Transmissions, is available on Spotify.
A Life On Our Planet: “We can yet put it right.”
“A Life On Our Planet” is the testament of BBC broadcaster and explorer David Attenborough, who spent decades filming the natural wonders on earth. He looks back at 94 years of life experience and states: “This film is my witness statement and my vision for the future.” Attenborough speaks to us considered, with a sense of urgency and a hopeful message: “If we act now, we can yet put it right.” The documentary, available on Netflix, features stunning and often dramatic wildlife images, from the African savanna to the Bornean rainforest and beyond. It tells the story of almost 100 years of environmental decline, how we reached the status quo, and what we can do to challenge it. The documentary makes you marvel at the natural world and at the same time makes you realize its fragility.
Deval Patrick on “Being American”
“In these discordant and divisive times, a lot of us feel like we don’t recognize America anymore,” says politician Deval Patrick, who served as the 71st governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015. In a new podcast, he poses the question: What does it mean to be American? To find answers, Patrick engages in conversations with writers, activists, artists, and celebrities who share their thoughts on the United States and discuss community building, overcoming the current hostile political environment, social and economic justice, climate change, and more. The first episode features renowned American writer Anand Giridharadas, who investigates “politics and culture, money and power, and tells the “un-gussied truth” in his weekly newsletter The Ink. The podcast “Being American” will feature two episodes per week, Tuesdays and Fridays, and is available on all major platforms.
The Fragile Earth: A New Collection From The New Yorker
The Fragile Earth,” a new collection of The New Yorker, reports from the frontlines of climate change and features three decades of in-depth writings from journalists such as Bill McKibben, Elizabeth Kolbert, Ian Frazier, Kathryn Schulz, and more. It tells the story of the climate crisis, its past, present, and future, holding possible solutions to our age’s environmental and social challenges. The collection includes Bill McKibben’s seminal essay “The End of Nature” from 1989, which was considered the first piece “to popularize both the science and politics of climate change for a general audience.” Back then, the writing was called speculative; today, it’s prescient.
Qwstion: Circular Lightweight Champions
Swiss accessory label Qwstion has launched its new BioLight collection consisting of Bananatex®, a biodegradable material made from Abacá banana plants that grow naturally in the Philippine highlands, and BioLight, a technical lightweight organic cotton fabric with a high-density, made water-resistant through a natural wax coating process. The new collection is 100% plant-based, offering an alternative to the synthetic petroleum-based materials lightweight bags are usually made of. The ultralight bags come in three sizes, Mini, Small, and Medium, with detachable interior laptop compartments. The zippers, buckles, and key hooks are made from reused lightweight aluminum, and the entire BioLight bag is recyclable at the end of its Life.
Hopscotch: A Reading Room on Non-Western & Diasporic Perspectives
Berlin-based Hopscotch Reading Room features an extensive collection of books, papers, and other material from the various publishing houses that flourish outside the Western orbit. Founder Siddhartha Lokanandi, who worked for the publisher Verso in New York, hosts readings, workshops, and screenings that draw upon the “vibrancy, political agency, and the cosmopolitan texture of Berlin.” Hopscotch’s objective is to disrupt “linear” thinking and expand the reader’s horizon beyond the western world. Books include “Evidentiary Bodies — Nudewalk,” “What is Islamic Art? By Wendy M.K. Shaw, or “The End of Policing” by Alex Vitale.