Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Miley Cyrus, Laura Jane Grace, and Joan Jett

A pastry chef’s Instagram

Julie Thorsen is a pastry chef in Milwaukee, where we worked together at my grandparents’ spice shop from the time I was about 8 to last year when I moved away. So I started following her Instagram because we’re friends, but I’m recommending it here because it provides a really cool insight into bands and musicians not available anywhere else. When acts come to Milwaukee, they usually play at one of the three Pabst theaters, and are provided dinner at the venue. Thorsen makes the desserts and posts them on her Instagram account. Mini lemon mousse for Neutral Milk Hotel, beet panna cotta with lemon mousse for Alabama Shakes, red velvet cupcakes for Tame Impala—the desserts the musicians eat with their dinner when on the road provide a great little peek into the actual humans who make up bands. Mostly Thorsen bakes what she wants to bake, but some musicians have their favorites—she’ll whip up a blueberry cheesecake when Justin Vernon comes to town, because she’s baked for him so many times she knows what he likes, and if it’s someone’s birthday she’ll make whatever they request. If kids are on the road, they get cake pops, like the Olaf ones she made for Jim Gaffigan’s kids. She’ll also ask what the band’s favorites are, so she can make it next time. John Legend always gets sweet potato pie. Chris Robinson gets brownies. David Crosby gets apple pie. There’s an element of food porn alongside the look-see of what touring acts have for dessert. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]


Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation Backyard Sessions

Say what you will about Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz-adjacent twerking, but all of the media attention it brought has put her in the perfect position to actually do some good. And so she has: Launched this May, the Happy Hippie Foundation is a non-profit organization whose raison d’être is supporting “homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, and other vulnerable populations.” It’s about giving a voice to the voiceless and loving yourself, despite what others may say about you (something Cyrus can certainly relate to). And because “she’s just being Miley,” the young star is using her talents and famous friends to bring attention to the charity with Backyard Sessions, an excellent video series of stripped-down cover songs (currently my second favorite set of covers, behind this one). Those who just see Cyrus as a manufactured “star” should give the videos a watch: Her natural, raspy voice is soulful and perhaps even better suited to the country and folk songs often sampled in the series (her version of “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” is a prime example). Legends like Joan Jett and Melanie Safka have stopped by, though my absolute favorite has to be “True Trans Soul Rebel,” in which Cyrus takes backseat to the inspiring Laura Jane Grace’s acoustic take on the Against Me! track. If the videos get you in the mood to help out, the foundation is currently accepting tax-deductible donations to create digital support groups that will provide numerous resources for LGBTQ youth and their families and you can donate right here. [Cameron Scheetz]


The Hokusai exhibit at the Museum Of Fine Arts Boston

I’ve long been a casual fan of Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock prints like “Under The Wave Off Kanagawa (Great Wave),” which almost everyone has seen. But, prompted by a bunch of banners and posters on a recent trip to Boston, I checked out the Museum Of Fine Art’s Hokusai exhibit, and was I’m still pleased that I did. A fairly comprehensive look at all of Hokusai’s work, from prints of Mount Fuji to drawings of dildos, the exhibit explores about 60 years of the artist’s insanely intricate work. All the prints were amazing, and given the limited amount of time I had, I even purchased the exhibit’s catalog so that I could really dive into Hokusai’s minute detail work at home. It’s a lovely book that will hopefully make a great addition to my bookshelf for years to come, and the actual exhibit was a great way for me to get to know more about an artist I only had a passing knowledge of. It is worth noting, however, that the whole thing closes up shop August 8, so if you’re interested in Japanese art and close to Boston, get there and get there soon. [Marah Eakin]


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