Sthea Serrano spent the day dreaming up new ways to make you smile. THE New York Times– the bestselling author can’t help it – it transmits joy like an antenna emits radio waves.
Both on the page, and in rapid-fire tweets dispersed to hers 385,000 followers, the San Antonio native enjoys the little things. Except for Serrano, everything is a big deal.
Another man’s banal is Serrano’s transcendent as he holds court on music, movies, sports, or whatever perfection of his fellow Mexican-Americans. Even minor cultural phenomena are brimming with enough potential energy to define a moment or alter our common trajectory.
We deny something of the Imago Dei within us when we lose touch with minor, momentary, molecular delights.
Write for Grantland, a site that many pop culture hounds still mourn, Serrano’s easygoing charisma has earned him a national audience. The currents of that momentum underpinned the first of his three consecutive bestsellers, 2015 The rap yearbook.
TRap Yearbook points the Iif it crosses the Ts of Serrano’s unmistakable style. Specificity rules, as he selects the top rap song of each year from 1979 to 2014. Weaving together vibrant illustrations and footnotes that would make David Foster Wallace drool, Serrano treats each track like a Dutch Golden Age painting; he preserves context as he peers close enough to see every brushstroke.
The rap yearbook it also represents the writer’s first collaboration with illustrator Arturo Torres, whose soulful and subtly hilarious style matches Serrano’s step-by-step. Only this pair could chart the number of times NWA used a given profanity on “Straight Outta Compton” or adequately analyze Kanye West’s arrogance. (One of Torres’ illustrations shows Ye next to Jesus with the caption « Is Kanye Really God? » West says « yes, » but it’s a « no » from the Nazirite.)
Serrano genuinely likes these exercises, but never takes himself too seriously. In The rap yearbook, he gives the end of each chapter to colleagues who introduce their contenders. Serrano makes every cultural judgment with puffy plumage, but he’s self-aware enough to acknowledge that we all throw our weight behind matters of taste.
Serrano and Torres ride similar waves in 2017 Basketball (and other stuff) and from last year Movies (and other things). Both books are advertised as « a collection of questions asked, answers and illustrations ». Serrano asks questions that would never occur to even the most diehard fan, then presents what appears to be the only logical answer.
Ignite individual sticks of dynamite into high-budget special effects, Movies (and other stuff) features chapters like « Is the Movie Better, Equal, or Worse with The Rock in It? » « Were the Jurassic Park Raptors Misunderstood? » and « Which movie had the brightest opening: Face/Off or Finding Nemo? »
Again, Serrano’s footnotes are canon. Within the fine print, he considers Keanu Reeves’ best on-screen haircut (Speed), Julia Stiles’ career-best 60 seconds (the end of 10 things I hate about you), and because the presence of a blind guitarist exponentially increases the watchability of a film.
Serrano extends his love letter to big-screen villains, whom he finds as charming and lovable as our cinematic heroes; he expresses much interest in the Fast & Furious franchise as critically beloved fare; and, living the stuff of a million podcasts and late night conversations, she spends several chapters rectifying past Oscar slights.
bother (And other things) the books lean on revisionist history. But unlike, say, Quentin Tarantino’s big-screen revenge fantasies, Serrano’s remakes turn curiosity into compassion.
In Basketball (and other things), builds a « Frankenplayer » from memorable player traits, convenes a draft for fictional TV and movie players, and asks how a player’s legacy changes if you change their name. LeBron Jones fares worse in this fantastic scenario, while Wilt Chamberlord becomes « even more dominant ». The newly baptized Toby Bryant, Allen Iverdad and Juan Stockton draw laughter with every reading.
And, as a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan, Torres’ portrayal of a tearful Charles Barkley cradling the NBA championship trophy (in a chapter in which Serrano visualizes alternate futures for players who have never won it all) truly moves me. .
StErrano never writes in the cool corner or enjoys something from a safe distance. He weaves his way through his favorite pastimes as we all do: all in, living for every frame, every snare hit, every midrange hopper. Enjoying, then recognizing the same enthusiasm in us, he is pleased to share these experiences.
This generosity is breathlessly expressed on Twitter. There, Serrano has cultivated a community that cheers for him because he knows he’s rooting for him. Drop essay PDFs The office AND scrubs, creating an electricity that mimics reactions to a surprise exit from Beyonce. Then, use the same platform to promote GoFundMe pages to struggling fans, boosting the signal far beyond its natural reach.
Serrano is committed to cheering back and forth with followers who are preparing for high-stakes, high-reward situations: job interviews, certification exams, marriage proposals. His sermons become their inner dialogue, as he prods them with the maxim « Fire your shot. »
When these readers find the bottom of the net, they return to Twitter and inform Serrano of their success, as if his participation in the matter rivals that of their friends and family. Serrano mistakes enthusiasm for enthusiasm and is known to reply, « My chest, » as if his heart was about to burst with the personal triumph of a stranger.
Success and happiness are not zero-sum games. By treating joy as a renewable resource, Serrano disrupts our culture of competition, lightening a thick atmosphere of fear that someone else is stealing your share of contentment. « help someone else get a W, I promise it won’t take away from your Ws, » Serrano tweeted in June, putting language into his lifestyle.
mMany of us struggle to analyze the difference between happiness and joy; Christians particularly struggle with these degrees of distinction. We baptize one word in holiness, distrusting the other. One is fleeting, the other defined as a stabilizing force.
My white, evangelical heritage equates piety with sobriety. To be a serious citizen of this world and the next, we must set aside emotional ephemera to sharpen eternal focus.
Our feelings can deceive us, and living from top to bottom leaves us exhausted. But we deny something of the Imago Dei within us when we lose touch with lesser, momentary, molecular delights. Surely the God of creatures great and small, who has called even his smallest innovation good, wants us to do so rejoice in what others overlook. He feels no dissatisfaction or dissonance when we spontaneously burn out at the slightest joy.
So treat yourself to your morning cup of coffee, cheer up your neighbor’s new job, cheer on a home run, feel a particularly funky bass line shake your chest, pause long enough to immerse yourself in the stillness of a forest. All of this catalyzes joy; everything comes close to praise.
I don’t know how to define Serrano’s state of mind. It might be happiness, but I think it’s joy. The definitions produced by the church and culture align in the statement: dynamic but constant, spontaneous but repeatable.
Ultimately, the term doesn’t matter as much as the way of life it describes. If, like Serrano, you can find joy in every little thing, you’ll end up a little bit closer to OK, a little bit closer to God.