Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

YouTube daredevils, videos to make you sweat, and a favorite album on vinyl at last

Album cover detail of Clem Snide's You Were A Diamond

Russian YouTube daredevils

Perhaps it’s the vicarious thrill, perhaps I’m a masochist for stomach-churning sights, but I’m really into watching young Russians illegally scale buildings and other tall structures on YouTube. They’re modern-day daredevils, like the Flying Wallendas, only more foolish. These teens strap on a GoPro, then break into building rooftops and climb as high as there’s a surface to step on—sometimes to tops of antenna spires—all without safety harnesses. This 25-minute documentary explains their motivation, which is that they’re young, bored, and can’t find jobs—and that the lure of racking views on YouTube as an escape plan is all too enticing. [Kevin Pang]


Fitness Blender workout videos

Daniel and Kelli Segars, the nice folks behind Fitness Blender

When the weather is good, I run. But once the temperature dips below freezing and the roads ice over, I go indoors to work out, which includes the occasional video. Fitness Blender’s videos have two major things going for them: They’re free, and they’re great. Sure, the name is a little silly, but these videos—which come from a husband-wife pair of fitness instructors—are notable for their minimal design. The instructors lead exercises before a plain, white background. There is no generic, bass-heavy electronic music playing (there’s no music at all). And the instructors’ calm voices telling you to push yourself a little more, then “let it rest,” is the perfect antidote for anyone who doesn’t like trainers yelling at them like they’re extras in Full Metal Jacket or cheering them on like they’re children. It’s reassuringly straightforward. What’s more, there are dozens of Fitness Blender videos on YouTube, with a number of different kinds of workouts—yoga, pilates, high- and low-impact cardio, strength-building, etc.—and at various lengths. With some as short as five minutes, these videos are an excellent vehicle for the “something is better than nothing” approach to exercise. [Laura Adamczyk]

Clem Snide, You Were A Diamond LP

I’ll never pass up a chance to proselytize on behalf of Clem Snide’s debut full-length, 1998’s You Were A Diamond. My excuse this time, 18 and a half years after its release, is the record’s first-ever vinyl issue, on the small Georgia label Happy Happy Birthday To Me. You Were A Diamond is easy to fall in love with: It’s pretty, gentle, and smart—and it loves pop culture just like you do, from the intimate “Nick Drake Tape” (“Tonight it sounds so good”) to the exhilarating Daniel Johnston ode “Yip/Jump Music.” There are barely any drums on the record, the rhythm provided instead by cello, bass, and violin. Clem Snide would develop not too long after into a more standard rock lineup—and an excellent one at that—and end up with a silly major-label story and a fantastic catalog. But You Were A Diamond is where it all started, so it has an extra-special place in my heart—a favorite among favorites. And not only does the vinyl look and sound great, it also comes with a bunch of essential bonus tracks from the era. Some had been available on CD reissues—including the weird, pensive “Estranged Half Brother”—but others are officially available here for the first time, though not on wax, just as an accompanying digital download. Maybe there’ll be a triple-LP issue a decade from now, if there’s any justice in the music world. (There isn’t.) [Josh Modell]


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