The Sweet Summer 2016 Report

In this week's letter from the editors, we share the things from summer 2016 that everyone should be talking about. If you missed anything, now is your chance to get up to speed!

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1. The First Track on "Freetown Sound"

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Mallory Rice, deputy editor, @mallory-rice

I can think of few things more prescient in our Summer of Discontent (of avoidable shootings, of Brexit, of a divisive U.S. presidential candidate) than the voice of Ashlee Haze coming in halfway through "By Ourselves," the first track on Freetown Sound, the new album by Blood Orange (née Dev Hynes) released at the end of June, a little more than a week before the death of Alton Sterling. Haze, reading part of her slam poem "For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliott Poem)," which went viral after it was posted on YouTube in 2015, waxes passionately over a lilting saxophone about how she found self-acceptance through seeing and hearing the work of Missy Elliott and how that experience went on to inform her ideas about her place in the world.

Ashlee Haze, who currently lives in Atlanta, on stage. Photograph courtesy of Ashlee Haze
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In the midst of one of the most distressing summers in recent memory, Ashlee Haze's story is a reminder of not just what feminism is, but what humanity is, and why it's important that all people are offered a place within it—a reminder that America, and, it seems, many other parts of the world, could use right now. So I'm calling it: the song of the summer is not some sugar-coated pop track, but instead something we need much more—a bone-chillingly powerful poem by a 27-year-old woman from Chicago, brought to us, thankfully, by Freetown Sound.

2. The Perfect Summer Instagram Account

A shot by Cody Bralts (@bralts).

Christian Storm, photo editor, @cstorm44

If you're like me and you use Instagram to sate your constant appetite for visual stimulation, I'm sure you've noticed a new trend in mobile photography: photographers who shoot their surroundings less with an eye to context and references, and more to shapes and colors. Their photos highlight details and juxtapositions and flatten space to turn the photo into a composition of gestures and tones. I know this all sounds a little artsy and somewhat confusing, but all you really need to know is that it looks pretty damn good.

A selection of images from @tropical_minimal, featuring (clockwise from top left): @_anni, @olka___, and two from @eligoesaround.
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My most recent discovery in this field is an account called @tropical_minimal. Perfect for summer, the account curates a selection of these types of images, all in a wonderful, candy-like color palette of pastels, muted neons, and hues straight from your grandmother's Boca Raton condo complex. The arrangements are interesting, the shades are calming, and it makes me crave a watermelon margarita.

3. The Foundation for Foundation Haters

Double-Wear Nude Cushion-Stick Radiant Makeup by Estée Lauder, $40,
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Chanel Parks, assistant editor, @chanelinezp

I'm not a frequent foundation wearer, but I am excited about Estée Lauder's new cushion stick, which makes applying face makeup much easier. You just twist the stick and then use the applicator to blend, so you don't have to touch your skin with your hands. The pump will also show you when you're almost out of product. It's all just incredibly convenient and easy.

4. The Netflix Series "Lady Dynamite"

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Let's play a game: Watch this trailer and try not to laugh.

Abbey Maxbauer, editorial intern, @abbeymaxbauer

I first got to know Maria Bamford's comedy when she appeared as the manic "Target Lady" in the retailer's 2010 Christmas campaign—blonde, intensely enthusiastic, and dead set on finding the best doorbuster deals. As with much of Maria Bamford's work, this campaign persona was linked to the real-life Maria. Bamford has been a stand-up comic for decades and has battled mental illness her entire life. In recent years, she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, an experience she fictionalizes in her exuberant, unapologetic Netflix comedy, Lady Dynamite. Bamford's road to recovery is embellished with surrealism and told in a way that never asks for pity. And guest appearances from comics including John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, and Sarah Silverman keep things light.

5. Two Big Fashion Arrivals and Departures

Bobble Boatneck, $104; Ribbed Bodysuit, $60; both

Caitlin Petreycik, senior fashion editor, @c_petreycik

There are two things I'm excited to shop for this summer, but I feel a little guilty about one of them, so let's get that out of the way first. Trademark, the newish brand from Pookie and Louisa Burch (daughters of C. Wonder's Chris Burch), is discontinuing sportswear next year (no!) to focus on accessories (OK). The discontinuation of Trademark's clothing line, coupled with the temporary shuttering of Band of Outsiders, leaves a hole in the preppy-with-a-twist market, but the silver lining is that everything from Trademark's summer 2016 line is 70 percent off now—including the pom-pom-topped sweater and ribbed bodysuit seen above—and prices on past season styles are even lower in the brand's New York City flagship.

On to happier news! You'll need a vaguely retro sneaker to go with your vaguely retro Trademark sale scores, and, luckily, Adidas re-released their iconic Gazelles earlier this summer. The style hasn't been in production since the late '90s, and it's getting an update with 56 color releases staggered throughout 2016. You've had a good run, Stan Smiths, Superstars, and Cortezes, but you're due to be dethroned.

6. Radiolab's "More Perfect" Podcast

Rebecca Bates, senior editor, @re.beccabates

If you're looking to learn more about the enigmatic infrastructure of American government—while avoiding the vitriol in your Facebook feeds this election season—try More Perfect, a new podcast that breaks down the often inscrutable Supreme Court into entertaining, bite-size stories. The show humanizes the Justices, even those from decades ago, and turns their most complicated cases into fascinating dramas. What's especially great about More Perfect is that it manages to expertly investigate the more outlandish contexts behind certain cases without asking listeners to ascribe to a particular set of political values.

What might you learn about the Notorious RBG (at right)?

The first episode, for example, begins with the Supreme Court's hours-long stay of execution for a prisoner in Arizona in 2010 and then traces the mysterious source of a lethal injection drug used in many American prisons to Dream Pharma, a one-man pharmaceutical company operating out of the back room of a driving school in London. The circumstances sound too bizarre to be real, but that's the draw of More Perfect. The podcast makes no judgments about deeply held political convictions, instead presenting the strange twists surrounding the Court's hotly contested issues.

7. Adult Sippy Cups

They're almost too easy!

Catherine Fuentes, managing editor, @cat_fuentes

Rosé might be your go-to summer wine, but I want to make the bold statement that the right cup can improve your wine consumption tenfold. Enter the sippy wine glass. Just like the beloved cups of our childhood, this cup prevents your wine from spilling and keeps it cool for hours so that you can take it along for any of your summer drinking adventures. Whether you're at the beach, enjoying a picnic, or having a late-night dance party with your friends, this cup is a true must-have.

8. The Debut Album Many Years in the Making

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Chantal Strasburger, assistant editor, @chantagold

Before you read this I highly recommend you open Spotify and listen to Palmistry's "Lifted," so that we're both on the same page here. Palmistry is the project of South London musician Benjy Keating, who dropped his debut album, PAGAN, last month via Mixpak after six years of production. All 13 tracks are produced and written by Keating, and I'm willing to bet that the dancehall-inspired minimalist synths and breathy, staccato whispers are unlike anything else you're listening to right now. Done with "Lifted?" Now queue up "Club Aso." "I imagine people listening to it in the rain," Keating has said—so keep it on hand next time a thunderstorm comes rolling through (or when you're just feeling moody).

9. HBO's Latest Gem

"Game of Thrones" is over, so we know you don't already have plans on Sunday.

Stefan Marolachakis, senior editor, @stefanmymind

Ever since catching the first two episodes of The Night Of at the Tribeca Film Festival this past April, I've been anxiously speculating about the fate of its lead character, Nasir Khan. Lucky for me—and, apparently, a rapidly growing legion of fans—the show made its debut on HBO this past Sunday night. The new eight-part miniseries centers on a Pakistani-American student (the aforementioned Khan, played beautifully by Riz Ahmed) who suddenly finds himself the focus of a murder investigation. The drama comes from a duo of co-creators with a serious storytelling pedigree—director Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List, Searching for Bobby Fischer), and writer Richard Price (Clockers, The Color of Money, The Wire)—so expect to spend the next seven Sunday evenings on the very edge of the couch. Just don't blame me when you start having trouble sleeping at night.

10. The Best (and Only?) Feminist Sci-Fi Mockumentary Ever

Watch the trailer for "No Men Beyond This Point"—then make a beeline for your streaming service of choice.

Rebecca Deczynski, editorial assistant, @rebeccadecz

This Canadian sci-fi mockumentary about a world in which scientific developments lead to the imminent extinction of men is the deadpan feminist comedy you've been waiting for. No Men Beyond This Point pokes fun at men's rights activists and their misplaced anxiety over feminism, delivering a satirical gem. This film made its rounds on the festival circuit in 2015, but now that it's been added to Amazon and iTunes this week, everyone can enjoy it.

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