It's the first of the month, which means it's time for a mini retrospective of the best media of the past 31 days. My personal favorites, in no particular order:
Howard Stern as an "America's Got Talent" judge. I knew he'd be funny and harsh (though a toned-down, prime-time-ready version of harsh), but I didn't expect him to be so damn sweet and genuinely supportive of contestants, both worthy and weird. Howard Stern, of all people, has brought warmth and charm to "AGT," effortlessly revitalizing a haggard franchise.
Flight Facilities' "With You" -- the insanely infectious single and its awesome music video. (I saw Flight Facilities perform at SXSW in Austin in March and they brought the house down. They're one of those bands that can get absolutely everybody in a room dancing, even the wallflowers.) Start the countdown clock: This retro-futuristic Jamiroquai-ish jam seems destined to get licensed by an automotive or mobile brand that needs to seem way cooler than it actually is .
"A Life Worth Ending." That's the title of my old friend Michael Wolff's beautifully written and deeply affecting New York Magazine cover story from a couple weeks back about his elderly mother and how, as the subtitle puts it, the "era of medical miracles has created a new phase of aging, as far from living as it is from dying." An important piece -- it should be required reading at medical schools everywhere -- and a reminder why magazines still matter.
Angry Bieber. Especially as seen in the first and second photos in this must-see Daily Mail report. (Added bonus: His WTF pants!)
"London Pictures" -- the new show by legendary British artists Gilbert & George at the Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York; it's up until June 23. As the exhibition catalog explains, "These 292 new London Pictures enable the city to speak for itself, in the language of 3,712 newspaper posters, stolen/retrieved, one by one by the artists themselves for more than 6 years, and then sorted and classified by them according to subject." The result is a vivid deconstruction of the gleefully redundant obsessions of tabloid media culture -- "MAN DIES AFTER STREET FIGHT," "MAN DIES BENEATH WHEELS OF BUS," "MAN DIES IN HOXTON STREET STABBING" -- and an indictment of a certain Murdoch-ian world view.
The "Disneyland" episode of "Modern Family" (originally aired May 9; now available on Hulu Plus ). One of the best-ever episodes of what has already established itself, in just three seasons, as one of the all-time great sitcoms. You know that cliche about entertainment that can make you laugh and cry? There was a moment in the "Disneyland" episode that I realized my eyes were welling up with tears at the exact time I was literally laughing out loud.
The emergence of Carly Rae Jepsen's irresistible "Call Me Maybe" -- the early contender for 2012 Song of the Summer -- as a meme, especially the Harvard Baseball team's "cover" of it (originally released on YouTube on May 6, it's up to 11.3 million views).
P.S. High hopes for the days ahead:
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (!), in theaters June 22 . With lines like "I shall kill them all," "This war ends tonight" and "Only the living can kill the dead" (as heard in the latest official trailer), well, what's not to love?
More and more "leaks" and speculation about a Britney Spears "meltdown" as she continues her tour as an "X Factor" judge.