B.A. Parker was a movie professor in her 20s when she needed to rush her students out of the hall in order that she could speak with Ira Glass. She was interviewing for a fellowship along with his show, “This American Life.”
“They hired me to make stories for them, and I desired to be a Black lady David Sedaris,” she said. “It still hasn’t fully happened, but there’s hope.”
That led her to provide and co-host Recent York Magazine’s “The Cut” podcast for a couple of years, exploring trendy subjects like “Himbo culture” and life at historically Black colleges and universities. This month, the Baltimore native, who first moved to Recent York to attend Columbia University’s film school, will join NPR’s podcast about race in American society, “Code Switch,” as a bunch.
“Having my voice and being on a podcast has at all times been about sharing my position with everyone and making them suffer through it,” she joked. “It’s about discussing something really serious, that makes people scared and offended, and using my goofy smile to say we’re getting through it together.”
On a video call from her apartment in Bed-Stuy, she ran down a varied list of essentials that reflect a Brooklyn podcaster’s creature comforts. These are edited excerpts from our conversation.
1. Naps I feel like we totally undervalue naps as adults. I feel if all of us just took a superb 20-minute nap on daily basis, we’d be so much nicer. This working from home situation has sort of been cushy — I do know this can be a privilege that I actually have — however it’s been so draining since 2020, and I’m still working on this whole self-care thing, and I’m down for a 2 p.m. nap. You’re purported to only do either 20 minutes or 50, and I’m a 50-minute napper; 20 minutes doesn’t feel like enough, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to get up drained anyway.
2. K-Dramas I feel like they’re the closest thing to a modern-day Jane Austen. There’s one I watched recently, called “Start-Up,” where a woman holds a man’s hand for the primary time on the bus, and he turns away because he’s wiping tears from his eyes. And the person is, like, 32. It’s very chaste and wonderful and cathartic and, by the eighth episode, you’re just sobbing. All of those shows, their hearts are wide open. I find that very soothing. There’s artifice to the drama of it, obviously, but you only wish to hug everybody.
3. A set of spices from a friend For my birthday this yr, my friend sent me this collection of spices from a spot in Greenwich Village that has berbere, za‘atar, and all these Moroccan spices. I’m attempting to expand my cooking. Working from home, you get bored with attempting to cook for yourself. And also you get into these bad habits of working until 8 p.m., after which attempting to fix a meal? I don’t think so. Now I’m attempting to be mindful of that and determining how you can make lamb meatballs. I’ve been taking pictures of the things I make to send to her and her husband and be like, “I’m trying.”
4. Donny Hathaway I feel like his voice is the reality. There’s this soulful longing that stirs something in me and makes me wish to feel. He has an excellent live version of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” where all of the old Black people within the venue are really digging it and shouting along. I often play his live album while I’m attempting to cook, it makes me feel like a grown up slightly bit. You’ll be able to feel when he’s in his pocket, in a moment where everyone seems to be just feeling, and also you’ll hear a bunch of Black ladies screaming, “Yes! Oh my god, yes!”
5. Jeff Bridges in “Fearless” I’ve been in love with Jeff Bridges since I used to be 9 years old and my dad made me see “White Squall.” “Fearless” is that this movie from 1993 a few fairly privileged guy who survives a terrible plane crash, appears like he’s invincible and starts testing those limits. So it’s Bridges and Rosie Perez grieving and trying to grasp what it means to be a survivor. I rewatched it in July 2020, once we were all an open wound and coping with a lot loss, and attempting to process that. It was a movie that I actually have gone back to to query what it means to survive.
6. Reading such as you’re 15 again You realize whenever you were 15 and felt you had on a regular basis on the earth to only sit in your folks’ couch and browse a bunch of stuff? I’ve decided to try this this summer, regardless that I do have a job. I like having the freedom to read on a regular basis. Especially with this job, if I actually have to read, it’s for an interview or something, and it sort of takes the fun out of it. So I purchased a bunch of plays and essay collections by bell hooks and Audre Lorde for myself. I’m still highlighting lines, because there are really interesting, edifying things in there, but I would like to return to reading without having questions in mind.
7. Baltimore foods like Otterbein’s Cookies and cream of crab soup Otterbein’s are a neighborhood Baltimore cookie that I order once I get homesick. They’re thin and in another way flavored. Everyone at all times talks about Berger’s Cookies, that are also from Baltimore, but don’t wander away in that.
Trying to clarify cream of crab soup is telling folks that it’s not lobster bisque. It’s much richer. Eat it perhaps twice a yr or something; don’t try to have more since it is wealthy as hell. It’s the one thing living here that I actually get homesick for. You could find a pierogi on any corner, but this soup is an elusive thing.
8. The third row in a movie show I’m nearsighted. But I still have this childhood notion that if I’m near the screen, I’ll get the movie faster than the people within the back. And nobody wants to sit down there. I just saw “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” and didn’t know, going into an 11 p.m. showing at Alamo Drafthouse, that the movie was going to be like that. I laughed, cried. People within the theater also didn’t comprehend it was going to be sad and I heard this one woman go, “Oh, no …” from behind me.
9. Her grandmother’s prayer book Years and years ago, my grandmother gave me this tiny, stapled little blue book, which she got at a funeral home within the Eighties. There’s a prayer for fulfillment, a prayer for fear, a prayer for mourning, things like that. I principally grew up sort of sheltered, and with a village behind me, so once I first moved to Recent York, I’d read through it to encourage me to go and lift my hand first in school or something. It’s grow to be this totem that I treasure that offers me some comfort. I’m fairly religious, but not in an anti-science way. I think in climate change and gay rights and am pro-choice; you realize, regular human things.
10. Attempting to be more tender I feel, as I grow old, it becomes more of an effort to be tender with myself and others. With the sort of job that I actually have, it may possibly be easy to view people as stories, and never as people. So I’m attempting to be conscientious of how I help or hurt the world. This got here about because I saw the movie “Cane River” at BAM a couple of years ago, which was made within the early ’80s, but wasn’t released [in the United States] until like 4 years ago, since the director Horace B. Jenkins had a heart attack right after it was made. The movie is just vibes; it’s Black people holding hands in a field, being tender with one another. If I’d seen my aunts and uncles being that sort of loving and soft with one another back then, it will have modified the direction of what Black cinema looks like.