How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world to hear their answers. This is drawn from a phone conversation with Julie Klausner, comedian, cabaret performer, writer, and host of How Was Your Week.
The first thing I do in the morning is is I try to remember my dreams and then I immediately forget them because I pick up my phone.
After I look at who emailed me or who texted me then I look on Twitter and I look in the mentions column to see who is talking to me. Then I look on Facebook for the same thing. And then around this time I usually go to the bathroom. That’s really embarrassing. This whole conversation is going to be embarrassing. I am incredibly dependent on social media. It’s like oxygen to me if oxygen were bad for you.
Generally I end up on sites via social media. I follow the Twitter accounts of a lot of different websites or magazines. I generally cruise Twitter for link-bait and then I’ll follow that path, and the same thing goes for Facebook. I think that I get most of my cat videos from Facebook because they have screenshots. They are just right there. I do follow, oh god, Lovemeow.com. And they will put a big-ass screenshot—an image with the headline like "Kiko the Kitten Loves Playing Under Bedsheets"—and I’ll be like: what? And I’ll watch that, and sometimes I’ll be like: how do I share this best with my cat-loving friends. Should I email it to them? No, that will deprive others of seeing this. If I put it on Twitter, then maybe I have to put a period in front of their names. Aw, I’ll just share it on Facebook. By now it’s noon. I should qualify this by saying that I’m not currently working in an office right now. I don’t have a gig where I have to wake up and take a shower and be in an office by 10 or 11 or whatever it is. When I’m quote unquote working from home, it’s not a routine, these are just kind of the habits I will follow.
I follow Lovemeow.com on Facebook and here’s why: there’s no reason to go to that website. I do not like stories of kittens that started out in terrible condition, and then end up happy. People love those stories. I don’t want to see an animal in distress even if there is a happy ending. I want to see a cat acting stupid. There’s a video they posted of this cat and they set it to the Mission Impossible theme. Someone put a toy really high up and the cat went to get it and he like walked backward to get back where it started it. This is fantastic. This is funny. This is action-packed. I don’t remember where this story was going. I think it ended where it began.
[I’m getting most of my news from] Vulture, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline. That’s also dependent on who has the exclusive or who is the first person not just to post it for for me to see it. If I’m checking my phone and there is a link to a story that’s on the AV Club about a show that got picked up that looks interesting starring a particular group of people then I will click there even though it may have been an exclusive to Deadline. And the reason why I click on all that stuff is not just because I’m interested in pop culture, but also because I keep tabs on my peers or people that I aspire to be as successful as. I want to keep tabs on what they are doing so that I can one day crush them. I love Gothamist. If I’m going to read, oh gosh, a thinkpiece or a longread, I really enjoy reading The Awl.
I follow New York magazine’s regular Twitter. Not just Vulture. I follow LA Weekly, Huffington Post. There are TV critics I follow who are great. Joe Adalian—I'm looking at my feed right now so I'm naturally going to omit people that aren't posting at this particular moment. Entertainment Weekly, Salon. I follow slash hate follow Salon. Some of their headlines are just so shockingly provocative and asinine that I can’t help but have them in my eye to just get angry about. NY1, NY1 Weather. I subscribe to Jezebel on Facebook so I get to see the headlines illustrated. I don't follow them on Twitter, though I follow a lot of editors on Twitter. And then I just follow writers who tend to post things. Like my friend Jon Ronson just posted something to GQ or Xeni [Jardin] will post something from Boing Boing that’s interesting.
Cher [is a must follow.] Cher has been awesome since the beginning of time. She’s never apologized for who she is. She was the first person to be like, yeah, I’ve had plastic surgery, how the fuck is that your problem? And, yeah, I’ve slept with a million people. She’s just really ahead of her time. So the fact that she’s as awesome on Twitter as she has been in her life is just not a surprise. So yeah Cher is a must follow. A lot of other people too, but mostly Cher. Other news things? WNYC, Pitchfork, for some reason, even though all I do is listen to Alice Cooper and Jethro Tull. I don’t listen to any new music. And then like Splitsider for comedy stuff. Patti Stanger will sometimes post things that are insane and that I can just sort of shake my head and enjoy. Larry King does the same thing. Larry King and Barbara Walters are like America’s demented grandparents that for some reason have access to social media. I’m just scrolling down. Film Forum. I’m such a New York Jew. I’d say Cher is the only mandatory follow. Everything else you can just make up as you go along.
I do [watch news on TV] if it’s longform stuff. Oh, God, I cried last night watching that Vice TV show. Jesus Christ. Vice is like hipster 60 Minutes, I guess. I will watch CBS Sunday Morning. I like magazine shows. I like 60 Minutes to see what wig Lesley Stahl is wearing that week. But, no, that’s not how I get my news. I get my news by reading it in 140 characters or less, and then I follow the link to read more about it if I choose to. Occasionally, I will watch a video that illustrates a news story. At that point if I’m watching a video in regards to a news story it’s generally like a local news story and it’s going to be something appealing in an entertainment sort of way.
I really really miss listening to Tom Scharpling’s radio show on Tuesday nights. The Best Show on WFMU is on hiatus. He’s going to be resurrecting it in a different place, and until that happens I really do feel a big hole, not only in my media diet, but life. For better or for worse my sanity has always been highly regulated by pop culture I consume, and he is a friend and I do talk to him on the phone, but it’s just not the same. I really really miss his show. So his show has always been for me appointment listening. That it has been gone for a while is really really—it’s been really tough. As far as other podcasts I listen to: I listen to The Fogelnest Files. I listen to Ronna and Beverly. I listen to some Terry Gross interviews depending on who she has on. And then I have some yoga podcasts that I listen to when I’m doing yoga. When Tom’s show was on I would listen to it like it was the 1940s. Was it the '30s or the '40s when FDR would do his fireside chats? Whenever that was. I would just sit at my computer and listen to it, maybe I would dig around on Twitter, but my attention was there. As a writer, listening to podcasts can be very distracting. So if I’m doing something like cleaning or taking a bath or playing Candy Crush or cooking or puttering then I can listen to podcasts. But it’s a lot easier in L.A. when you’re driving. It’s harder here.
I watch a lot of stuff on my DVR. To be honest with you, my attentions in the last five to ten years have switched from my television with my DVR and my DVD player. I still have a VCR. I will never get rid of my VHS tapes although maybe one day I will and I’m just saying that. That’s no longer the entertainment center of my apartment. My laptop is or my phone is. if I’m going to watch something on Hulu I will watch it on my laptop. If I’m going to watch something on Netflix I occasionally will watch it on my Apple TV or watch it on my laptop depending if I want to watch it in bed or in the bath and I want to set it up on my sink. Like, that’s how I watched Barton Fink, embarrassingly enough. As far as what I watch on TV, I don’t do a lot of hunting and gathering as far as flipping, I have a pretty well curated DVR. I’m pretty on top of what’s on right now.
New York magazine I still get the print edition of. I used to get more, but I don’t anymore mostly because I’ve been trying to turn my attention toward physical clutter in my apartment. I will always been very mentally cluttered but I’m trying to pare down the space.
Sometimes my mind is just too peripatetic and it’s buzzing like white noise or like a radio station flickering in and out and my attention is so diffuse. My form of ADD as I interpret it is that I’m very easily bored which means I have a hard time focusing on things that may or may not be boring to me and when I’m like that I need multiple screens and multiple refreshes, and I’m a big multitasker so that means when I'm watching TV I try not to text necessarily or read, but I’ll play Candy Crush and my eyes will go back and forth. That said, I do try to read as much as possible. The two books that I read in the last year that really blew me away were The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P novel and I just can’t get enough of that Manson biography by Jeff Guinn. I talk about it more than I should to other humans who think I’m a creep for loving it as much as I did and do. I swear to God that was one of the best cultural histories that I ever, ever read. That it happened to have gone through the subject matter of this infamous psychopath it really shed light on an era of time—the male, white privilege of the 1960s, and what was going on in California and the transition from the sexual revolution to feminism and conservatism. It was one of the best.
I can’t listen to music when I’m writing, but whenever I leave house I am constantly listening to music. I’m never walking around the street without headphones in. I try to discover as much music as I can while I am at home. I know that it’s not good for artists, so I apologize in advance for saying this but I love Spotify. I find things from Spotify or I discover albums instead of playlists which has been a really important return to form for me. I’m going to back to the source and not just that iTunes culture of playlist making where you’re only buying songs. Spotify has enabled and encouraged me to seek out albums and appreciate them as self contained things that an artists made a decision to put together in order with a beginning middle and end that are relevant to a particular period. And I do listen to a lot of stuff from the '60s and '70s so that’s something I really love having as a tool.
And the same thing goes for YouTube. I listen to a lot of music via YouTube and watch a lot of performances. When you were like I’m going to do a media diet for this week, I was like, I hope that’s not like the last 7 days because all it would be is Alice Cooper YouTube videos and the occasional Cher video on YouTube, but just to show somebody after looking at the Met Gala photos what the shape of a haircut can be. I've just been watching Alice from the early '70s and how powerfully charismatic he was and how he holds himself and his posture. All of that stuff is just cocaine to me. That’s something where I just put down my phone. Candy Crush, schmandy crush. I’m just completely absorbed with a performer’s head, face, body, talent, even it's still on a four by five inch low resolution screen in the middle of my laptop. I just stop everything and I'm completely hypnotized by Alice Cooper or Bette Midler or, I don’t know, people that are just completely hypnotic performers. Not to drop names [in a voice] but Amy Poehler sent me a link to that Sia video with that little girl for "Chandelier" and I was just dazzled by that. I just thought that was so compelling and so absorbing and so cool and great.
I would just like SeamlessWeb to be less expensive for me because I use it way more than most people do. So I wish they would let me have a discount. Sometimes I guess when you open your Safari and it’s like frequent windows. I was like, oh media diet, I consume so much media, but it’s like, I consume so many tacos.