Parks & Recreation
I watched the entirety of Parks and Recreation a year or two ago when it was on Netflix. It took a bit to get into, but once I did, I really did.
I loved the US The Office even when it made me cringe with just how socially inept they all were. But what’s amazing about Parks and Rec is that, even in the moments when you cringe because their lives are so strange and they frequently do things that are hard to imagine anyone would choose to do, you love them for it. If you love Michael Scott, it’s in spite of all the qualities that make him a unique character: his callousness, his ignorance, and his weird, impotent anger. If you love Ron Swanson, it’s precisely because of his singular qualities: his surliness, his obsession with bringing down the government, and his penchant for teaching small children how to survive off the grid.
Yes, the people in the Pawnee Parks Department have annoying habits and personalities. Just like regular humans, they are not 100% lovable 100% of the time. They’re mean to each other sometimes, they’re selfish or pigheaded, they’re painfully ambitious and simultaneously oblivious. But, honestly, they are an office of people who love each other. They are comfortable enough with each other to be themselves, and each one of them knows the others have their back. As individuals, they’re self-confident, capable, and obviously hilarious. As a group, they’re a family; occasionally dysfunctional or needlessly confrontational, but always assured in their love for each other.
Parks and Rec toes the line between the mock-umentary parody humor and the feel-good buddy drama of the typical sitcom. It pulls you in with the laughs and the caricatures of people you’ve met or worked with, and it keeps you there because you find out you care about them. That’s comedic television done well.
My first exposure to the somber music of English singer songwriter Michael David Rosenberg was his solo album from 2012, All the Little Lights. The hit single off the album, “Let Her Go” permeated my summer the following year, since I’m usually a latecomer to these kinds of music trends. I searched out the rest of the album on my own, listened to many of the songs on repeat throughout that year, and came back for more with Whispers, Whispers II, and Young as the Morning Old as the Sea.
I wasn’t aware that Passenger is Rosenberg’s stage name, not a band name. Rosenberg was the lead singer in a folk rock band by that name in 2003-2009, but when they split up and he went solo, he took that name on for himself. “Let Her Go” was nominated for British Single of the Year in 2014, and Rosenberg received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work that year as well.
I love Passenger’s music for its lyricism, it’s poetry, and the catharsis that it stirs in me to feel supreme sadness, nostalgia, regret, or pain. My favorites of Passenger’s songs–“Let Her Go,” “Beautiful Birds,” “Scare Away the Dark,” and “All the Little Lights,” to name a few–are the kinds of songs that synchronize with your heart as you listen to them until everything is resonating at the same frequency and you’re not even aware of it, but you’re being brought along on a feeling that, while it may resemble your own, is not. It’s the kind of cozy melancholy that comes with rainy days that we fill with blankets and tea and Emily Dickinson.