Briefings: The Great GoogaMooga, Optimism, Kevin Costner, Alabama Shakes, and Damsels in Distress

Sometimes it feels like there’s this prevailing attitude of cool indifference, not taking things too seriously, blase raised to the nth power. We’re glad to see signs of change. For one thing, Kevin Costner had a good conversation with Esquire about shoving people against fences and not being able to afford chocolate milk. For another, there’s lots of evidence that being optimistic is good for your health. Earnestness is back. Even in Brooklyn.

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1. What to Attend | Brooklyn x Bonnaroo: The Great GoogaMooga

Brooklyn: The home of Spike Lee, bearded dudes who make artisan chocolate, and 2.5 million other folks doing their thing with swagger. It was only a matter of time before Kings County got its own bigtime music festival, which is what’s going down on May 19-20, henceforth the Great GoogaMooga Festival. In Brooklyn fashion, the gods of the weekend are rock stars (The Roots, Hall & Oates, Holy Ghost!, 17 others) and food studs (Blue Ribbon, The Spotted Pig, Momofuku Milk Bar, 72 more), gathering in Prospect Park for good times, good tunes, and, uh, a wine tasting pavilion.

2. What to Think | Positive Thoughts

We know from anecdotal evidence that having negative people around can bum out an otherwise great afternoon. It turns out recent science concludes likewise; or, to say it more constructively, that optimism can actually be a boon for mental and physical wellness. The Atlantic has an interview with Michael F. Scheier, one of the early researchers to suggest the benefits of optimism back in the ‘80s, when people were saying all kinds of crazy sh*t. “Optimists are not simply being Pollyannas; they’re problem solvers who try to improve the situation,” he says. “And if it can’t be altered, they’re also more likely than pessimists to accept that reality and move on.”

3. What to Study | Costner’s Wisdom

Costner’s words read like wisdom from the perimeter of sanity, so earnest he’s borderline menacing: “I wanted the chocolate milk. But it cost more than the plain milk. So if I chose the chocolate milk, I didn’t have enough money to get the Ding Dongs.” And so it should. He’s a native son of the post-apocalyptic milieu. Waterworld. The Postman. Tin Cup. Esquire gives him his due respect in the May issue. Stand by Costner, we say.

4. What to Hear | Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls

You’ve probably heard rumblings about Alabama Shakes, the southern blues-rock band whose singer and guitarist, Brittany Howard, belts out lyrics that tear at your guts like a hound on a porterhouse bone. This is a band to see live. Their debut album, Boys and Girls, is out now and it’s a bit more restrained. It’s a whiskey drinking album rather than whiskey bottle smashing album. Either way, it’s exactly what our culture needs right now: soul, if only for an hour.

5. What to Watch | Damsels in Distress

It’s been 14 years since The Last Days of Disco, and not a year goes by that we don’t marvel at the hotness of Kate Beckinsale circa 1998. We’re glad to have Whit Stillman back. The movie is Damsels in Distress, a comedy about a group of beautiful gals at the imaginary east coast college, Seven Oaks, on a mission to save the campus from its barbaric male customs. The mission involves a suicide prevention center and lots of dance classes. It’s absurd, but not Old School absurd; touching, but not With Honors touching; ironic, but tastefully so.