The Yes List – A Great Scot Charms America
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, Craig Ferguson recalls overcoming his addictions in his witty and emotional new memoir.
Craig Ferguson Gets Deep
As host of CBS’ The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson usually draws out stories about other people’s lives, but in his new memoir American On Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, he delves into previously uncharted territory—himself. The Scot is known to mock his homeland—accent and stereotypical drinking included—and the book, published this week, sheds new light on his stints as punk-rock drummer, construction worker, bouncer, modern dancer, musical theater star, and archaeology TV show host. At once hilarious and revealing, the memoir of the self-proclaimed longtime bed wetter (a trait he attributes to both his earlier years and alcoholic ones) shows it wasn’t an easy road to the American airwaves. Relationship troubles and thoughts of suicide, spurred on by drug and alcohol addictions, plagued his younger years. But now, with those days behind him and that familiar smile plastered across his face, Ferguson has become a beloved Scottish-American. Blending his signature wit and earnestness, he recalls broadcasting his citizenship test and swearing in as a naturalized American last year. And it’s not all for show—instead of a band intro, he opens his nightly talker with the sentiment, “It’s a great day for America.” Though the former sitcom star may crack jokes about the country he now calls home, in all seriousness (at least as serious at it gets for Ferguson) he writes, “America gave me everything I have today.”
Mika’s Perfect, Poppy Sophomore Album
Artists have a tendency to jumpstart creativity by turning to their troubled teenage years for a spectrum of raw emotions and dramatic experiences. Mop-haired, British beanpole Michael Penniman, better known to pop music lovers as Mika, pulls from exactly that for his second album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much. His 2007 debut, Life in Cartoon Motion, introduced the world to a fresh, cinematic, glam rock-operatic sound, often backed by gospel choir—and those who loved it will be glad Mika avoided the sophomore slump. The Boy Who Knew Too Much includes sunshine-filled, windows-down, dance-floor worthy tracks like his first single “We Are Golden” and the clap-along anthem “Blame It On the Girls.” There’s also a glimpse of the depressed adolescent side of the musician in the therapy-themed “Dr. John” and hushed sounds of the ballad “By the Time,” featuring Imogen Heap. The modern-day piano man’s expansive set of accompaniments and emotions allow a new stage of life to emerge from his cartoonish past.
The Steamy Love Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe
Many associate famed artist Georgia O’Keeffe with her oft-reproduced images of flowers in full bloom. But a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the first of its kind in a quarter-century, attempts to change that perception. The team of curators who chose the approximately 130 oils, watercolors, charcoals, and sculptures for Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction, on display until January 17, were determined to show O’Keeffe’s depth, finding works that feature a clamshell or hot pink kiss instead of her familiar floral paintings. The exhibition’s catalogue reveals steamy letters detailing O’Keeffe’s encounters with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and left sealed until their recent publication, they can be read in part on The Daily Beast. Stieglitz was often the lens through which O’Keeffe saw herself, taking photographs of the artist with her paintings as well as intimate nude portraits, some of which appear in the exhibition. Judith H. Dobrzynski writes that the shockingly frank images “led critics to see eroticism in her works where, [O’Keeffe] said, she had not intended it.”