A Few Underrated Things
On Shameless and transitions; unexpected influencers, cicadas and oral care.
Keeping it to the reco’s this week because I’ve got too much other writing to do.
In the past year, who did you see more: your doctor or your dentist? Even before the pandemic, I saw the latter more frequently. It’s why, Dr. Gerry Curatola—dentist and founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry, a network of wellness-focused dental practices based in New York—believes dentists should be on the frontline for screening major health problems. The mouth, it turns out, is central to our overall health.
I chatted with the dentist for over an hour about the intersection of our health and oral care. I’ve long known about the importance of the microbiome—the balance of bacteria in our bodies—but I was surprised to learn that it’s less about getting rid of bad bacteria in favour of good bacteria (with probiotics for example), and more about maintaining the balance of bacteria—“it’s not about the seed, it’s really about the soil.”
Take gum disease as an example. The condition, which Dr. Curatola says affects upwards of 80% of the U.S. population and is a risk factor for COVID-related complications, is not caused by bad bacteria, but rather by a microbiome imbalance.
“The same bacteria that cause gum disease in the mouth are benign and even beneficial in a balanced terrain,” explains Dr. Curatola. “Bad bacteria in the mouth are actually resident bacteria in an imbalanced terrain, they flip a switch and become bad bacteria, expressing themselves as pathogens.”
COVID & Performance Anxiety:
🧼 Is sanitizing doing more harm than good?
“The microbes we encounter in daily life are the data that the immune system relies on to program and regulate its operations. Deprived of these exposures, the immune system is prone to malfunction.” - Markham Heid.
🦋 I’m not ready to exit my quarantine cocoon.
“I considered it a pass-fail year, anything you had to do to get through it—strictly temporary addictions, really bad TV—was an acceptable cost of psychological survival. Everyone recognized that the situation was simply too much to be borne without occasionally going to pieces. This has in fact always been the case; we were just finally allowed to admit it.” - Tim Kreider.
😬 I’m not the only one with cave syndrome—reopening anxiety is real.
🙍🏻♀️ If you feel pressure to get ahead, please remind yourself—you are not behind.
“The idea that external achievements are markers of internal identity and value means that, a lot of the time, we have zero sense of who we are when we’re not actively in pursuit of something.” -Rainesford Stauffer.
The Influencer Economy:
👵🏻 Korean grandmas are becoming TikTok influencers thanks to South Korea’s “greynaissance.”
“Beauty, to me, is not about being wrinkle-free, what’s made me youthful over the years is my ability to overcome my fears about aging and pushing myself to do new things.” - Influencer Ms. Park.
🛒 A less impressive influencer? The Costco influencer.
“Where other Instagram personalities appeal to specific sub-genres and hyper-specific tastes, the people who unofficially affiliate with Costco are simply endorsing the desire to consume.” - Molly Osberg
🤳🏻 On a more serious note, authoritarian regimes are using influencers to promote their countries on Instagram.
🔥 And Instagram influencers are being paid to gush over gas stoves, even though they create “levels of pollution so high they’d be considered illegal outdoors,” writes Rebecca Leber.
🇨🇦 I’m so sad Kim’s Convenience was cancelled, but this celebratory piece by one of my fave food writers, Priya Krishna, is giving me light.
“‘American shows need to take note,’ Mr. Park added. The way Kim’s Convenience centers nonwhite experiences, he said, should serve as a blueprint for any on-screen representation of immigrant characters. ‘It feels refreshing,’ he said. It ‘doesn’t make you feel like just another stereotype’.”
☕️ On how Friends predicted we’d define ourselves by our jobs.
“Twenty-five years in advance, Friends embraced workism’s fondest assumptions. It believed in the spiritual possibilities of labor. It treated career trajectories as love stories.” -Megan Garber.
🎤 The early-aughts are both cooler and sadder in retrospect.
👸🏼Kate Winslet in all her unfiltered glory. I wish I could’ve included her commentary on social media in my Forbes story on beauty filters.
“Faces that change, that move, are beautiful faces, but we’ve stopped learning how to love those faces because we keep covering them up with filters now. I would say I feel for this generation because I don’t feel it changing, and that just makes me sad because I hope that they aren’t missing out on being present in real life and not reaching for unattainable ideals.” - Kate Winslet.
Food & Drink:
🥃 Contemplating why we drink. Also, who knew there are flasks designed to look like tampons?
🥣 And why we underestimate the microwave.
“Like so many people, I have been a reflexive fire supremacist, clinging to some culturally ingrained notion that electric cookery is less real than anything done with wood, charcoal, or natural gas lit aflame.” - Helen Rosner.
🥐 The croissants in space are garbage, but the kale and ice cream turns out pretty good. I’m not surprised since it’s Ducasse designing the menu.
(Sharing this photo from that time I was hired by Alain Ducasse three years ago and photographed Eric Ripert just days before he discovered Anthony Bourdain 😔 ).
📦 On why they love jumping in boxes.
🐱 And their asshole behaviours.
“They will ruin your brand: You were going for ‘modern cool,’ but now your pants are covered in fur. You were trying out ‘youthful and energetic,’ but you have bags under your eyes and scratch marks on your face, from a sneak attack in the middle of the night. The truth is that cats don’t want you to have a new brand. Your brand was cemented the minute you brought them home. You are Cat Lady. Deal with it.” - Tom Papa.
🐈 At least Chicago cats are made useful.
I can’t believe Shameless (Netflix) has been running for over a decade and still not received the hype it deserves. The 11-season Showtime series explores Chicago’s South Side from the perspective of the Gallaghers: a poor (mostly) white family headed by Frank (William H. Macy), who’s alcoholism leaves the six kids fending for themselves.
It’s hard not to fall for all the characters and their unique experiences: from being bipolar and gay in prison to inheriting your parent’s alcohol addiction to being a single mom. The writing and acting has always been solid (Emmy Rossum shines as the parentified oldest sibling), and there’s no shortage of steamy plot lines and twists to keep you coming back. It’s always had a sunny, comedic energy despite the misery it often portrays.
But in the last two seasons, Shameless has gone beyond just being about “how the system doesn’t work for families living near the poverty line,” as creator John Wells describes it (also behind E.R. and The West Wing). Dementia, gentrification, the rise of CBD, police corruption, Amazon—I’m floored by the breadth of topics they explore in this last, final season. Namely, the pandemic, and how it affects poor communities.
If you’re looking for a comedy-drama that will make you laugh and cry, while still vested in socioeconomic issues, Shameless is for you.
This short bonus episode of Ted Radio Hour makes the case for embracing life’s transitionary periods.
The Bridges Transition Model was created by William Bridges to help businesses in transition, but it can be applied to individuals too. “Neutral zones”—the model’s term for periods of transition—are not to be underestimated, especially following difficult life events like death or job loss.
“Allow ourselves the time not to know,” says MIT Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein. According to Epstein, the people who are the most resilient at overcoming life’s challenges allowed themselves months, even years, in the neutral zone, not knowing where they’re heading.
“Distinguish change from transition. It’s true that you need to keep change moving, but hurrying through the transition gets you into trouble. It is in the neutral zone that the real transformations take place and that energy, purpose and commitment are renewed. This place where you’ve wasted time is actually precious.”- William Bridges.