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Western Electric 500

Have you had it up to here with the unfulfilled promises of technological advancement—a new, better iPhone in every pocket, a productive Zoom meeting for each quarantine-weary soul? It might be time to revert to a technology that wasn’t “disrupted” every year. I’ve been making calls on the Western Electric 500 telephone, which had a place in all American households until Bell was broken up by anti-trust regulators, in 1984. Among its virtues: a satisfying, spring-loaded rotary dial, a crystal-clear landline connection, and a selection of muted colors that are immeasurably more attractive than the person on the other end of the line. ($50, —Nathan King


Astier de Villatte

I can’t take credit for the discovery of Astier de Villatte’s incense, which is formulated to channel beautifully scented cities around the world. A thoughtful friend, who has been listening to me moan about how much I miss traveling for far too many months now, gave me a package of it (along with a swell little dish to burn it in) for a recent birthday. Each box contains 125 sticks, which smolder for 30 minutes each, and in that short period of time they offer a convincing olfactory approximation of Rome, Venice, Delhi, and more. There are whiffs of wild plants, aloe, clove, lavender, and myrrh, but the Stockholm variety is especially alluring. It’s not quite like a long weekend at Ett Hem, but it’s kind of close. Kind of. ($50, —Ashley Baker


Letter to You

In 1975, my father bought a pair of wood-cabbed JBL speakers for his Providence dorm room—it was through those black grills that simmering August he first heard the deluge of rock ’n’ roll that is Born to Run pour. Three years on, they played him Darkness on the Edge of Town, then The River, Nebraska, Born in the U.S.A.—all the greats of the Springsteen canon. Then I nabbed the JBLs for my first apartment and moved far enough away that he couldn’t get them back. Since then I, too, learned to love Springsteen through those speakers, but never did they broadcast a new album of his that hit me the way those early albums must have hit my dad—until Letter to You. Just go listen. You’ll see. ( —Alex Oliveira


“Mariah Carey Needs a Moment”

My seasonal Mariah Carey obsession usually kicks in around the holidays. But the craze hit early this year, with her face on the cover of New York magazine’s September issue, and the release of her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah, which has been praised by everyone from The New Yorker’s Culture Desk to Rolling Stone. In the Mariah spirit, I’ve been re-watching the YouTube compilation “Mariah Carey Needs a Moment,” a supercut made from her appearances on the Home Shopping Network and her many inventive uses of the word “moment”: a “genius moment,” a “full-on evening moment,” a “short moment,” a “fragrant moment,” and a “retro moment of gypsy whatever.” Practical wisdom can be found in her moments—“It doesn’t have to be a skintight moment to make you look thin”—and her own readiness to take a moment for herself, to say, “I need a moment!,” in reaction to almost anything, has become a kind of self-care mantra for me, a reminder to take a break, sometimes by watching this video. ( —Clementine Ford

Issue No. 68
October 31, 2020
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Issue No. 68
October 31, 2020