Why is this interesting? - The Monday Media Diet with Erin Allweiss

On New Orleans, local wine shops and the brilliance of Patrick Radden Keefe

Erin Allweiss (EA) grew up in the political scene of DC and now works between the worlds of brands, social business, and advocacy. She’s also an incredible ambassador for her home city of New Orleans (worth saving her recs here in your future travel file): I've benefited from her amazing, insider info and selections. - Colin (CJN) 

Tell us about yourself.  

I'm Erin Allweiss, the co-founder of No. 29—a media relations and storytelling agency that works with brands and people who are making the world better and, essentially, trying to undo the damage we’ve done to the planet. We work across a range of sectors, but the common thread is values—be it sustainable fashion, food and beverage focused on regenerative agriculture, media platforms like TED, environmental and social justice nonprofits, and companies that are shirking traditional VC funding and calling out broken systems. 

Describe your media diet.   

These days, I need some reprieve from glowing screens and am drawn to magazines, newspapers, and podcasts (while going for a walk or run). I grew up with NPR always playing. I joked that Carl Kasell was my other dad, and Steve Inskeep is often the first voice I hear in the morning. Amidst COVID and social uprisings, I'm finding myself drawn to historical podcasts. Every week without fail I listen to On The Media, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, On Being with Krista Tippett, New Yorker Radio Hour, and TED Radio Hour (a recent episode with Clint Smith is beautiful and heartbreaking). Every season of Slow Burn is great, and the new season on David Duke is disturbing and so relevant. I grew up in New Orleans, and it was terrifying that Duke won a house seat—and almost won the race for governor (my parents had me knocking on doors at age 6 for his opponent Edwin Edwards). 

For lighter listening fare is A Thing or Two and Wind of Change. I'll also read anything by Patrick Radden Keefe. My favorite magazine is Gossamer. It's gorgeous, the articles are brilliant, and they have an equally delightful newsletter called “High Praise.” My other go-tos are Passerbuys [curated by last week’s MMD guest], NY Mag, the New Yorker, the New YorkTimes (old school paper delivery), and Wallpaper. Lean Luxe is SO on point. He calls it like he sees it, including the BS around problematic brands that many others are scared to write about. The New Consumer is another newsletter must.

What’s the last great book you read?  

Speaking of Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing was phenomenal. I also loved Touch by Courtney Maum and Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers. It's a dark children's book and fable for adults. It's also a beautiful design object, made from lithographs at the historic Idem in Paris.

What are you reading now?  

I think this age of confinement has destroyed my attention span, so I have like four books going at once—which I've never done before. I'm normally a one-book-at-a-time woman. I'm reading The New Parisienne (which is great because it's a series of essays); The Gourmands' Way, which is a fascinating combo of WWII history and the birth of America’s obsession with French cuisine; Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography; and Manifesto for a Moral Revolution.

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?  

I aspire to be the person who reads front to back, but I flip through a magazine and look at editorial shoots that grab me. Gossamer's new issue and the styling is everything. After I do a first light browse of images, I'll read one article at a time. For the New York Times, I do the Metro section and Styles first (and T Mag if available). Then I ease into news and opinion. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?  

Is it cheating to say everyone should be listening to Pádraig Ó Tuama as he reads poetry? First, do read Pádraig's poetry, but his Poetry Unbound podcast is absolutely gorgeous. His lyrical, soothing voice is a balm for this time. And for anyone who finds poetry inaccessible (often the case for me), the way he breaks down a poem and reads it is pure gold. The episodes are short, perfect treats. Also, I am really proud of our No. 29 “Content Care Package,” so sign up. 

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?   

Drink PLG Wines and Spirits, for my local wine shop.

Plane or train?  

I would take either right now! I really miss traveling and the solitude that comes with reading while in transit. I would have to say train, but a functioning train. Poor underfunded Amtrak, which could be great if we invested in infrastructure. 

What is one place everyone should visit?   

New Orleans. I love my hometown so much, and it's built on everything COVID has broken apart: gatherings, music, festivities, food, hospitality. It's the most special city in the U.S. and feels like leaving the country without leaving the country. They also have remarkable museums and institutions that address race and America's history of slavery and abuse. The Whitney Plantation (the only museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people) is a must, as is the New Orleans Sculpture Garden.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

After reading Say Nothing, I became obsessed with the Mau Mau uprising. The torture wrought against Kenyans—including Obama's grandfather—and how they applied their tactics of sowing division to Northern Ireland is disturbing in every way. It’s also relevant to the U.S. in this moment.

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Erin (EA)

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