Pop Culture Mondays/12.21.20

The “Life’s a Beach” Edition

Welcome to my brain…

Happy Monday of a very short week my darling pop culture junkies! OK so it’s pretty shit (for most of us BUT not for those who are on a tropical beach somewhere and there seem to be an awful lot of you). BUT I have made it the “Life’s a Beach” edition for a few reasons. NOT just for those people in another world who are on tropical holidays( I ENVY YOU), not JUST for all the white tech dudes who can’t help tweeting about their moves to Miami from San Francisco and about all the familiar faces they are seeing there at beach side Barry’s. NOPE, not just for those eye cringing dudes.

It’s the Life’s a Beach edition because FFS, we are all here. We have all been in this together and we are all starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. We are seeing those in need from frontline workers to nursing home patients getting the vaccine and that is awesome. It’s going to be a hard winter and there are going to be people who make you crazy who actively ignore what’s happening and put others at risk and those who just don’t care at all so I say stay at home and ignore everyone, order everything online, watch ALL the content, read trashy books, and we will get thru it.

Welcome to new subscribers…this is a safe space! We are Trump-free (remember that guy??) and this is meant to be a little escape from the world…also meant to catch you up on news you might not know about but want to, or news you’re too embarrassed that you do know, or embarrassed that you don’t. ENJOY!!

Tom Tom loses his mind


OK, for those of you who MIGHT not be following this story let me give it to you in a nutshell. Tom Cruise was filmed losing his shit on two members of the crew on the set of Mission Impossible for apparently not following COVID protocols and were standing near one another with no masks or something like this. Here is the leaked audio:

HERE’S the thing. He is not wrong. At all. Nothing he says is actually wrong and in fact he is accurate in the fact that they are helping keep people employed and are looking to be the gold standard of how movies can be made in the land of COVID. So in that, he’s not wrong.


It HITS a little different coming from Tom Cruise. It just does, there I said it. I am telling you if it was another male superstar- I mean if it were Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington or Brad Pitt or Robert Downey Jr. or Morgan Freeman or THE ROCK…it would be a different situation. People would understand it and probably celebrate it. But with Tom Cruise it just hits different. Forget the fact that it’s 2020 and you cannot speak to employees that way…again, like I said I think if someone else did it, there would be more of an understanding.

But here, he is just a bully. A man so deeply disconnected from reality and speaking so inhumanely to employees is what we see. It’s this God Complex we seem to think Tom Cruise has. His strange behavior in the past, his religious choices, his seemingly dropping his daughter from his life after his wife “escaped”. It’s like Tom Cruise is not even a movie star anymore…he’s not a real dude with real emotions and real empathy and understanding…the MAN is a business and the business of Tom Cruise is what comes out here as opposed to a kind, thoughtful man pushed to the edge because he is worried about others lives. He is worried about THE BUSINESS and his standing in the role of ALL POWERFUL LEADER. It’s really off putting. AND some say it was an orchestrated publicity stunt…again the Scientology aspect is tricky…as someone who is NOT a fan of any organized “religion” tbh I can say this would be my feeling of anyone who is super duper reliant on any organization and seemingly has no connection to reality anymore.

So, that’s really all I have to say about Tom Cruise. I feel for that guy though weirdly like to not have any sense of humanity and normalcy and everything comes down to MOVIES and the INDUSTRY and it’s just sad.

Love and Chicken Wings


The problem is THAT boy is in prison and seemingly has no interest in her and she has blown up her entire life for him and allowed Elle Magazine in and tell HER story and we are watching mental illness unfold and then they put her in a dress by one of my favorite brand’s “The Vampire’s Wife” (do not let this dissuade you from this brand it’s absolutely brilliant and go check it and the designer is SUSIE CAVE WHO IS THE WIFE OF NICK CAVE) and it’s all too on the nose and frankly IT IS ALL NUTS.

OK, so let me backup here. This bomb of a story dropped Sunday evening and media twitter lost their collective shit and frankly it was a LOT for a Sunday night news drop. Though I will say this is one of THOSE stories that has just taken off and is being shared around the world and maybe it’s because it makes us all feel better about ourselves somehow? The writer, the tremendous Stephanie Clifford, had sat next to Christie Smythe. the subject of this story, in court while this dude was on trial — as they both covered the trial — and she clearly sensed more was going on. She was able to bring this story to life in a way I cannot imagine many others would.

OK..Some of you MIGHT need a brief Cliffs Notes version of who the main character in this story is, Martin Shkreli (and let’s be clear he is the main character here not her..)


This guy is MAYBE one of the more loathsome characters we have come across in recent times. He would have been a perfect “Game of Thrones” character to be honest…like he would have fit right in there…a mix of whiny, batshit crazy, narcissistic and for good measure, lets throw in the fact that he’s a sociopath. HELLO KINGS LANDING.

Every ONE of these characters would have welcomes Martin with open arms:

Except he is ours. LUCKY US. He is known as “Pharma Boy” and I don’t want to give this guy any more attention so you can read about him here for all the gory details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Shkreli

BUT in a nutshell, he was the guy that jacked up the prices to meds he had control over by thousands of dollars leaving people unable to get their needed prescriptions. And bragged about it. He’s the guy that bought the ONE COPY of the Wu Tang album for $2 million on the Paddle 8 Auction site (incidentally Paddle 8 was founded by the lovely and charming Alexander Gilkes who is now engaged to be married to Maria Sharapova…congrats kids!) ANYWAY, I digress…Martin ended up getting busted for securities fraud (SHOCKER) and dragged off to prison for 7 years. YAY! END OF STORY….Well, not quite.

AND THEN ENTER CHRISTIE SMYTHE, the now FORMER Bloomberg reporter who was covering him and the arrest and everything that followed. Just doing her job…then going home to her husband in Brooklyn Heights and that would have been just fine.

BUT NOW…thanks to Clifford’s piece in Elle, we learn this was not at all what was happened and girlfriend fell for the crazy Martin guy and blew up her life and her career and racked up a whole host of ethics violations along the way. She got too close to her source (no sexy time only kissing though) and she became like a little girl in love…with a narcissistic sociopath using her for his own needs. Christie’s unnamed now ex-husband is a part of the story with the voice of reason trying to get her to understand that Pharma Boy was using her. She remained undeterred, The marriage ended and in maybe my favorite tweet of all time or at least this week was this one:

So while ex-husband will LITERALLY be flooded with hot single ladies looking to date, his ex is standing by her new “man”. They are LIFE PARTNERS she says from her “well lit basement apartment in Harlem,” Only the thing is, Pharma Boy is not speaking to her. So there’s that.

But before he stopped talking to her, he made her his girlfriend and of all the crazy parts of this story (there are too many tbh) this is what got me:

“At first he’s like, ‘Can I call you my girlfriend?’ ” she says, and “this led very naturally into thinking about a future together.” Soon they were discussing their kids’ names and prenups. After Smythe worried about being too old to have children when Shkreli got out of prison, he suggested she freeze her eggs. She did so last spring.

I have a history of making bad choices in the love department…I will admit that. Give me a scoundrel, throw in a some musical talent or an accent or some sort of damaged as a child became genius creative storyline and I WILL FALL MADLY IN LOVE. It’s like my super power. But HANDS DOWN I bow to Christie for she really is the winner of this whole BAD CHOICES club for reals. Like she wins ALL the blue ribbons and all the gold trophies. I cannot compete here.

But the thing here is, it’s slightly more complicated than that…it all feels a little exploitive now..not the story itself, but all that has happened since and we are talking less than 24 hours ago…Christie was on the app CLUBHOUSE last night where people can connect and listen into a conversation/interview but some of the people on there listening to her felt it was exploitive and I couldn't bring myself to go listen.

And the photos. A fashion spread She is all dressed up in these photos pleading for him to notice her, to love her, to talk to her, to give her the FIX she is so clearly in need of.

The thing is…she gets her book and her movie and frankly I imagine more is to come with Stephanie Clifford’s story which deserves its own story arch (NETFLIX SERIES PERHAPS??)…and yay for that…though I hope above everything else, Christie gets a really good shrink.


THE BEE GEES (And other content we NEED to discuss):

OK. So the Bee Gees doc on HBO “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” is one of the best docs I have seen. I watched it 3 times. And I cry each time but it’s so beautiful and even if you have no idea who they are or you hated them I don’t care, watch this immediately. Here is a glimpse:

There are SO many parts of this story that make it fascinating…from their own story as brothers who navigated fame and the rise and fall and rise of it again. There is the story thread throughout of current rockstars who famously were/are in bands with their own brothers and the complexities that exist.

AND selfishly, because it is my newsletter, it made me SO nostalgic for those days I was in a relationship with a rockstar and what that meant and being on the road and having your bags just show up magically everywhere you went and being in exotic locations and how the band and everyone involved with the band is one big dysfunctional family and I miss being backstage as my man was out on stage tearing it up and I miss the endless hours of sitting in a studio and watching how an album was made. Sitting on the couch (always black leather always) behind the producers who would make one member of the band go in and lay down their tracks…bass now for a couple of hours…then drums and we would listen to each iteration of the song until it was finally finished. It was fascinating to watch the process. And it took forever.

And what you learn in this documentary is that this sort of way of recording music was invented by the Bee Gees producer. You used to record a band live basically…but they learned that they could splice sounds together and this is before computers this is when they are cutting tape and putting in over each other. IT IS INCREDIBLE.

ALSO incredible it to realize how many freaking songs the Bee Gees..wrote for OTHERS when their time as a band stopped selling arenas. I mean can you even:


All I can tell you is you have not seen this documentary stop what you are doing immediately (unless you are getting the vaccine or tested but then after that) run and watch it. If you have watched it, watch it again.

And again.

And again.

OK, switching gears to some other content I watched this weekend that confused me. I mean I am glad I watched but also, confused.

SO TENET. It came out in our homes this weekend and I shelled out the $20 for it and as much as Christopher Nolan is moaning about Warner releasing their films on HBO as well as in theaters I will say this…

I AM SO GLAD I WATCHED THIS MOVIE AT MY HOUSE. I had to stop a lot and go back to try to follow whatever the fuck was going on. It was like Inception mixed with Mission Impossible with a little “Night Manager” for good measure because Elizabeth Debecki was basically playing the same role in both. I had to stop and read notes online explaining to me what was happening and I could not have done that in the movie theatre and it was one of those movies that I would have then zoned out for because it made no sense.

But I would watch it again and again just because of the star John David Washington who was spectacular. I could not keep my eyes off of him I lved him so much. AND WOULD YOU BELIEVE I HAD NO IDEA he was DENZEL’S son like have I been living under a rock?? I felt Like Woody Harrelson when he learned this the Hemsworth’s are brothers and I loved THIS:

I AM curious though to see how much Tenet made this weekend as everyone I know seemed to shell out the $$ to watch it and discuss it on the Twitter.


And if you DO watch it, here’s your cheatsheet:

ANYWAY, I digress. Another movie I watched this weekend was the Ryan Murphy take on the Broadway hit “The Prom”….

There is nothing that I do not LOVE about the makings of this movie. The premise, the cast (MERYL, NICOLE???) and so many amazing talents. SONGS! SO many songs!!! BUT I DID NOT LOVE IT. I didn’t hate it….I didn’t love it. It just missed something…I cannot put my finger on it but the $30K Gucci dress at the end was maybe my favorite part and the thing that made the least sense in the whole movie but whatever.

Nicole looked amazing.


I am running late again today but this time it’s because I spent the night up with a sick dog and the early morning at the vet because my dog is super cute but not bright and he ate sand…a lot of it so now I am writing this LATE LATE LATE and I am so tired and it is like 80 degrees in LA and I am very confused this Christmas week and ALL of this is to explain why this week’s newsletter just HITS different. OK so a few other things this week:

  • GUYS. I love all Nancy Meyers movies. I dream of making my house just like a house in a Nancy Meyers movie. I MEAN HER KITCHENS ARE TO DIE FOR. HELLO “The Holiday”, “Something’s Got to Give”, “It’s Complicated”. TO die for. Vulture came out with a whole love song of things to Meyers including this which I loved:

BUT her daughter was having none of it and decided to take to…INSTAGRAM to post her outrage. SIGH.

  • My FAVE tweet thread this week was this NO question and you have to watch the whole thing unfold:

OK so that is IT for me you darling creatures. I have to pick the damn dog up from the vet and wrap more presents I will probably never get around to sending or giving and I will start writing a million thank you notes I will probably never send…I write like 30 percent and then I think I did a good job and the other 70 percent will know I did the effort somehow and will be ok with not getting a thank you note from me. THIS IS MY BRAIN. It is a scary place do not come visit.

But have a beautiful Christmas/Holiday week and I know most of us are not with who we want to be with or where we want to be but we are all here and we are going to get thru this and next Christmas WILL BE INSANE!!!

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Brooke Hammerling

Brooke Hammerling

Talk to me about tech, pop culture, cheese or dogs.