Is it always an embarrassing business? I’m reading Adorno and Eisler’s Composing for the Films and also Richard Brody’s Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, not necessarily simultaneously, and I’ve eaten a bowl of Cap ‘n’ Crunch cereal, and I’m not feeling so hot but these gentleman are so cool. “Just please, please show up at the Academy Awards, please.” Continuum does not design beautiful books but this first chapter, “Prejudices and Bad Habits,” is redemption enough. I’ve seen two, three movies of Godard, tops, and have no idea who Eisler is, what his first name might be; oh, Hanns—having turned the book over. I guess I always knew Brody did editing work for The New Yorker in the way that I knew Malcolm Gladwell publishes in the magazine all the time and acquires tremendous speaking fees. But until I realized this I thought Cody reading Blink was a latent fiscal conservatism festering to my left on the pillow. Brody looks like a druid, he looks like a man you’d find hawking black market broomsticks in Diagon Alley, his glasses are round and his beard is fierce-flowing from the sideburns on out.
General Ambrose Burnside, the man commonly attributed to pioneering the borderland hair fashion betwixt ear and cheek, was born in Union County, Indiana—incidentally where I was sired and persist. Here is a picture of Burnside’s sideburns:
A teenager was driving home through the woods when he saw a very tall mechanical creature in the rearview mirror.
From Brenda Coultas’ The marvelous bones of time
I’m 25 today. Happy Birthday. I’m two payments behind until the next payments, but my credit rating remains stable because of grace periods. When I am bleeding, sweating, cringing, swatting—I am in an extended stay of grace. So I chill out. I eat my magic pie and say thanks. The angel Gabriel comes down from the heavens and makes me fight with my boyfriend on the phone. I put on my invisibility cloak and dance and no one can see that I’ve done the same vague hula motions for two hours. My fingers are long and beautiful. My wheelchair squeaks. That kinda sucks.
Last night I helped cater an event for the university’s English department kick-off. Professors and their graduate students milled about a home and I poured wine from behind a table. This was the flow:
“Would you like red or white?”
“What’s the red?”
“It’s an Italian red wine.”
“It says ‘red’ on the bottle, and then something in Italian. It’s spicy like a sirah, and has a ‘persistent’ finish, so have some water, too.”
“Are you supposed to call it a mix? Is there something chicer to call it?”
“Colom-blanc. I guess.”
“Where’s the Chardonnay from?”
“Buttery and fruity. Complements the shrimp tails.”
Pretty easy stuff, and I smiled and wore nice monochromes and projected an encouraging, chipper voice, an easy confidence with my wares, and re-filled the plastic cups of embarrassed fellows who were getting sloppy because the food on offer was too little to soak up the booze, and people were still so hungry they drank instead to fill up.
A foursome camped beside the “bar” and discussed a research project. A young scholar is integrating performance theory and gender issues in a thesis exploring the “mystique of Lady Gaga, her prominence, and her rule-breaking, boundary-bursting, etc.” She’s driving up to Detroit soon to see a show! She wondered if the investigation was at all timely. I for one think the investigation is completely timely. Running tonight, I listened to “Alejandro” four times. But then I listened to LCD Soundsystem. And then I listened to Songs: Ohia and that really slowed me down.
A Ph.D. from Berkeley wandered over, perhaps forlorn, not at all bemused. She’d been introduced earlier in the evening as a tenure-track colleague. Young, terrific posture, soberly attired, golden hair. I asked her if she felt tremendous relief, now that the search was over. She collapsed in relief! “And at a state school! It’s so hard. Especially now—to land a job in the Humanities.” Clenched her teeth. “This is it. I can breath.”
“They really do love you, you know—only its opposite. Only its tokens. Only by kindling love’s small, hopeless fires.”
God! I’m not sure this question can actually be answered. The list of pros and well pros for both are essentially endless. Duck Beater ran over a stop sign at the end of the road in the Chariot then reversed back off it and drove away as if the stop sign had it coming, owed him money. Father D. Beater did the same to a deer. DB on New Years ran the Chariot straight through a stop sign at a T in the road and ended up 200 yards in the middle of a field and had to walk to some lady’s house to call Dad stone cold sober and say, “I’m in the middle of a field.” The Camry has held up very nice over the years. I seem to recall the Chariot more or less falling to pieces. In fact once sold for 400 dollars a month after the tire popped off and rolled down the road. It was all she had. It could go on and on.
[Editor’s notice: Said Chariot sold for $600, cash.]
Twin-brother weighs in:
This is an epic question and I feel like I’ve been called to weigh in. Although, I’m not a neutral-third party. The Golden Chariot was a turd through and through, but she was our turd. She came in to this world with so much more than when she left. It was missing every mirror save for the driver side, the exhaust system fell off in my future wife’s driveway (never replaced), Papa DB never replaced the smashed grill from him hitting a deer (although offered a grill by neighbors and co-workers on countless occasions). Someone threw a beer bottle at it one time which dented the back end. Rude. The overhead lights flashed when you took a left turn—any left turn, no matter how subtle. Oh, and lest we not forget, that bomb-on-wheels whistled when you drove it in the rain.
The camry does have 240K miles though. Toss-up.
DuckBeater weighs in:
I paid $12 for a new serpentine belt, which in these lean times is a lot for me. I’m gonna stand by my investment. I’m driving to the post-office as soon as my slacks get out of the dryer and then I’m mailing A.J. the 1980 Trivial Pursuit. On the seven-minute drive into town, I’ll listen to music on the CD player. I will adjust the seats electronically. Blue smoke won’t nestle about my ankles and I’ll have all my mirrors, more or less.
My thoughts on Scorsese’s Gangs of New York are up at a Bright Wall in a Dark Room. In case anyone needed clarification, I’m a proud owner of a Toyota Camry. It has lasted 10 years. I inherited it from my mother and father. I shared it with my twin brother but now he shares a car with his wife. One time he drove the Camry over a large rock; this resulted in a large dent in the back-right passenger door. One time, wending my way to a hair appointment, a young lady drove her SUV into my right front-bumper, neglecting to obey a stop sign, and destroyed the Camry’s right turn-signal (it has yet to be replaced). Another time I was driving through Ohio and got too close to a curb and lost a hubcap which was never recovered. The Camry has an excellent sound-system though the CD player has grown sensitive to certain types of copied discs. The seats have accumulated a fine potpourri of exotic granules, such as donut crumbs, Lake Michigan sand, and the coarse flour used to accentuate the flavor of gas station breadsticks. I have had two outright sexual experiences in the car, no climax. I have cried in the car more than twice. The longest I cried in the car was on a four-hour drive up to a wedding last year—it was a four-hour cry, some of it burning. The second longest cry was when I paid a handsome sum to take the GRE and then arrived at the testing-center one week late. The plush grey interior of the Camry was a real comfort during those hard times. I have been positively elated in the Camry many times, innumerable times, usually during the months of July and December. One time in my Toyota Camry I felt infinite, in The Perks of Being a Wallflower way, listening to shape-note sung hymns while driving through a thunderstorm. In the mornings when I get into my Camry I have to shoo my grey-striped cat away or I run the risk of slamming her tail in the door. I use the cup holders to hold loose change and movie ticket stubs. The movie ticket stubs in the cup holder reflect my most current viewing experiences: Salt; Charlie St. Cloud; Scott Pilgrim vs. The World; and, The Switch. I drive my Camry to the cineplex and watch just about anything that is out so long as I am in a cold, dark space with other people doing the talking.
Inception succeeds in convincing us for two and a half hours that somehow our dreams and lives are exactly like all the bad action movies we have ever seen. The film has none of the vivid unpredictable banality of dreams or life. Instead it has the kind of banality found in Speed 2—it puts dreamers on cruise control, lays them out on gurneys, runs them up and down elevators. I can’t recount the plot of Inception or tell you what it means, but I can tell you this: People whose dream movie is a bad movie about dreams that are like bad movies are fucked.
A. S. Hamrah has a new film essay up at n+1 and he’s editing their film review. A+ good job.
The phrase soon became his trademark. He found that it afforded him hitherto unimaginable wriggle room. He encouraged rival performers to “suck a dick” and then neutralized that statement with a casual “no homo”. When his right hand man Jim Jones unwillingly dropped a veritable gay bomb in a freestyle, Camron defused it thusly:
I mean, it isn’t about being gay it’s about saying something gay. Jim Jones said “Imma beat you with that ‘til all the white stuff come out of it”. That’s wild homo! He told someone else that. No homo. He ain’t tell me that. You see what I mean? That’s a perfect example.
Camron’s career slowed down in the years that followed. He directed and starred in several straight-to-youtube feature films (notably Killa Season, which opens with Cam urinating on another man over a contested dice game). Desperate for attention, he wrote a song mocking Jay-Z for his old age and poor dress sense (“How’s the king of New York rockin’ sandals with jeans? Open-toed sandals with chancletas with jeans on?”). Denied a response, he took aim at 50 Cent (more specifically, 50’s lack of physical beauty: “you look like a gorilla with rabbit teeth - Bugs Monkey”). Somehow, Cam’ron managed to emerge from all those catfights with his heterosexual reputation in tact.
Given the “success” of the “No Homo” campaign, it’s surprising that insta-fixes of this kind haven’t caught on in campaign politics. Members of the Republican party have difficulty repressing their inclinations (racist), and, like Cam’ron, the Freudian slips they let slide present an obstacle to their future success (electoral). If the republicans hope to remain a viable political party well into America’s colorful future, they need a catchy insta-clarification to follow every revealing gaffe. “No Xeno”, perhaps. Or “no xeno-phobo”, come 2030.
Anyway. Did anyone read the article in the September issue of Harper’s Magazine about American Christian fundamentalists’ campaign in Uganda against homos? It’s been a big week for fierce, strange reporting on fringe-right antics. The article, by Jeff Sharlet, is available only in print, and has a lightness of tone that makes it read like an animal fable. Fierce, strange.
However similar Franzen’s novels might look from a distance, there’s always one key distinction: They’re populated by different people. Few modern novelists rival Franzen in that primal skill of creating life, of tricking us into believing that a text-generated set of neural patterns, a purely abstract mind-event, is in fact a tangible human being that we can love, pity, hate, admire, and possibly even run into someday at the grocery store. His characters are so densely rendered—their mental lives sketched right down to the smallest cognitive micrograins—that they manage to bust through the art-reality threshold: They hit us in the same place that our friends and neighbors and classmates and lovers do. This is what makes Franzen’s books such special events, and so worth the alarmingly sustained attention it can require to process them. (This is also why it was so irritating, earlier this year, when David Shields, in his buzzy “manifesto” Reality Hunger, casually dismissed Franzen as someone not worth reading at all. Either Franzen is a prime example of the art-reality nexus Shields is talking about, or Shields is talking about nothing.)
The editor walked away, and The Observer thought, “Tao named the couple in Richard Yates after Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning. The book is really about Tao and a 16-year-old he met over the Internet when he was 22. It’s full of their emails and Gchats, their fights with her mother, her binge-eating and her bulimia. It’s like what Robert Lowell did with his wife’s letters in ‘The Dolphin,’ except with email. Maybe I could coin a new term for it-Gmail Realism.”
This morning I hit my head on a ladder while rescuing one of my kittens from the lower barn. The kitten wasn’t very grateful. She cried for hours there in the dark, perhaps all night, and then I turned up a savior. Her calico fur was cinched tight by yards and yards of cobwebs. While the kitten hissed and plotted, I untied the woolen carapace, plucked the dead moths clean away, and broke through the imbricated straw and bits of bailing twine and peeled her from the trap. I pointed to my bleeding forehead, I pointed to the Looney Tunes stars still hovering in the air, beside the over-turned ladder, with its deathly peg sticking out, also star-covered. “This wound is your wound, and you will not love me?” I asked the kitten. The kitten yawned and squirmed.
I drove to work telling my forehead, “Stop bleeding, stop knotting.” I used a Pepsi as an icepack; there was no Diet Pepsi in the fridge, so I did not drink my icepack. There was no room in the inn, so I did not drink my baby Jesus. The flow of blood stopped when I prayed but the knot remained to remind me of my pride.
The knot was immediately visible to anyone who only glancingly scanned my face. I thought incorrectly that serving and all, looking pitiful, would get me extra tip money. Perhaps patrons did not find me pitiful. Perhaps they found me unsanitary. Or unappetizing.
Then I called New York City about my financial aid packet. The packet blows, so I won’t be going to graduate school for another year. I got into my packet and it sank. I got into my baby Jesus and prayed. I got my kitten safe and my forehead, tomorrow, should look sound, should sound salt and thyme, and taste great and fit anyones appetite and ape whosoever’s budget whatsoever.
Today I used the tip money I made to pay for the gasoline to drive me home.
Today I got a raise.
Today I have to write 250 words on sexual orientation for an old friend’s grad school project.
Also: Older Brother Trying to Get Job in Sales in Florida Keys Art Gallery
Not in panic, but in a joyful fuck-me-this-is-the-bottom, Todd—whom recently flew from Indiana to pursue romance—has an interview today with an “affordable” Keys art collective, looking to hire for a “sales” position.
Concentrate on four things:
1) You are representing art as status commodity and kitchen hardwood floor enhancer, so whatever it is, will it hold up in the Keys’ humidity?
2) Is your position limited to office-work, behind-the-desk drudgery, or are you also expected to envision sales strategies vis-a-vis community events, PR, marketing campaigns, stapling-flyers onto telephone poles? Will you need to make decisions about wine purchases and canapes?
3) Medium considerations: a “C-Print” is just a fancy ink-jet creation, framed. If you wear this knowledge knowingly, your employers will find this adorable. Your little brother works in Indiana on large abstract figurations of people in pain, mostly oil, colorful, and he also makes lightboard furniture using Christmas LEDs. You’ve helped him build frames for some of these things, and you’ve helped him wall mount a number of them, and you’ve attended the boring Indiana art shows with him, too. Summary analysis: “I’ve worked with a variety of mediums, in expanding scale, and know how to transport and handle work, and frame it, for exhibition and sale.”
4) Book-keeping. The artist will not want to know/does not know how to handle money. So just lie about your bookkeeping skills. Double-entry accounting? Totally. You’re a regular fucking CPA.
Photo: Todd holds a snake on Indiana farm while Bagheera (small black cat) looks on.
Sunday Times Book Review: Arthouse Wedding Edition
What can be said about the service? The high-ritual German Lutheran rites presaged the disparity of translating every-other thought into a slightly more accessible French undertow, although the frogs—the ladies wore extravagantly floppy hats—were Catholic and possibly remained confused or offended by the number of English hymns and the many verses sung in full. For his part, this United Methodist was fairly anxious throughout, at first because a number of suspect college friends were of the wedding party (meant in a good way), yet moreso because his boyfriend, with a secretive confidence, was capable of reciting the ordained responses to the little prayers and even knew a hymn or two past the first verse.
"You’re really a Lutheran, aren’t you?” I asked. What I meant was, You’re a more spiritual being than me, aren’t you? —quite a blow to this artist-type. ”That’s what I was raised,” he answered. My boyfriend’s grandparents were missionaries in French Guiana, a South American country with a very low population density. His grandfather was murdered in French Guiana early on and still his grandmother and mother remained to feed chickens and mend fences, and make peace with the rumbling countryside, its poverty and loneliness. This legacy affected Cody, so he told me, only so much as his wanting to learn French from a very early age, and having gone off to college, he did just that. In college he “dropped” his Lutheran heritage and took up Lord only knows—myself, for one thing, and the attendant sexual barbarism.
What is another’s wedding but a social foil for the sheepishly unwed to evaluate their unblessed union, the many miles proscribed about their uneasy separation, and their paralytic fear of financial inconstancy? But to sit in a lovely church with a bright and easy center aisle, where the beautiful flower-girls sprinkled only two or three of their basket-filling petals (at my wedding, the flower-girls will be instructed to empty the god damned basket, none of this deer-in-the-headlights zombie-stomping down my aisle without a thorough job of showering petals before my groom comes down), and ruminate on two-year’s worth of hard-fought commitment. Etc. When we opened our hymnal Cody placed his finger under the verse and sometimes the words so I would sing the correct words and follow-through on the correct notes, and sometimes I would purposefully not sing the correct words so he would tap the verse in exasperation and underline excitedly with his finger the words, and trace his index pad along the notes, and sing a little louder, to coerce me into following along, correctly. An entirely endearing system.
The dancing, much later, was in fact a spirited affair. The Frenchmen knew how to break-dance and weren’t afraid to shake-that-ass. It was over here and the chain was over there, and so one can deduce that it was no longer on the chain, but off the chain. Because the bride and groom spent some formative accumulation of their relationship in Tübingen, celebrators on the dance-floor suffered through a bevy of nostalgically misapplied German-techno hits, a lot of cheese that was undeniably fun whilst remaining inexplicable. I remember something about “schwim schwim schwim,” if that helps at all, and so I swam swam swam with my shirt-sleeves rolled up.
Our good friends Daniel and Emily are engaged; he proposed to her last week. They’ll be together in Berkeley in the fall where she is finishing up a M.Div. The world sealed-up around midnight though everyone planned on going to Bar Louis for more dancing and shots, and Cody and I planned to go too, but when we got in the car and looked at the time, we thought not. Daniel called to ask where we were and I gave him our decision—”We have to be up very early in the morning, so that Cody can make his flight”—and Daniel understood and Emily, at the end of the world, moaned “No no no” in a sonorously petulant way.
Back at the Quality Inn, Cody and I watched the latest episode of Project Runway, which he finds soothing and which I find sickening and depressing. What if all the contestants just stayed on the show the whole time, and made really strange beautiful things for a whole season, and at the end auctioned their items off, and helped me pay for graduate school? And also research into cystic fibrosis. Wouldn’t that be better than a show full of back-biting artist-types, typed-gays trembling with pinking shears, tearful goodbyes and Heidi and her gang of nettling fashion “editors”—wouldn’t it be fabulous if Tim Gunn said, “No, take more time, all the time you need to get this thing right.”
After driving to the airport very early in the morning and saying goodbye to Cody (I don’t know when I’ll see him again—probably in October), I drove down I-70 listening to The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire, a CD I had no intention of listening to until last Thursday, when my boss gave me a copy. For what it’s worth, The Suburbs is a much better album than, say, High Violet; whereas The National has veered into a uselessly self-conscious, we-do-the-Times-crossword while drinking red wine berth of lyric exercises, and their guitars have attacked that rare somnambulant combination of Woody Guthrie meets Joy Division, where the doo-diddle perkings-up of Nico Muhly no longer make the cut, and generic Wisconsin choirs do, and the drums are still perfect, in their sad, choked-down by bad older brother Matt Beringer way, The Arcade Fire has all the pretension of the Austin kids still worried about making a god damn label, even though they’ve got their contract in their mouths. Probably because they’re Canadian. For similar and opposite reasons I still like Interpol. So The Suburbs is pleasant and High Violet is testing, that is all. If Alligator had gotten the press it so deeply deserved, maybe The National wouldn’t be opening for Bruce Springsteen and bitching about their bachelor of arts degrees, or over-delivering on pat-phrases about geese. The Suburbs does much more with arrhythmic cliche and without the apologies.
Am I reading any books right now? I lost my John Ciardi translation of The Inferno, which I was going to use to write an essay about Gangs of New York, which is not happening in any way I had hoped. I found my translation of Purgatorio, done by Jean and Robert Hollander, but it is not what I want. “Or ti fe lieta, ché tu hai ben onde: / tu ricca, tu con pace e tu con senno! / S’io dico ‘l ver, ‘l effetto nol nasconde.” Not that I can read the verso-Italian and the recto-English, theologically, bores me to tears. So I’m not reading anything right now.
Jeff Parker helps n+1 pull off a Friday the 13th. It’s short and sad and spooky.
I pick Cody up from the airport in an hour. We’re going to a wedding tomorrow. An old college friend is marrying a lovely Frenchman. The dancing should be outrageous but the logistics of airports and hotels and driving up the ass-crack that is the Indiana/Ohio border makes me feel hairy and fat.
But that’s why I drink Diet Pepsi.
The many French family-members at the wedding should make the dancing outrageous, that’s how my brother sold me on it.
The subterranean refuge and leather-wear of the film’s opening puts me in mind of the late-Seventies club dungeons, with leather daddies spitting on each others boots, and also that Chris Marker film, La Jetée. Or the Terry Gilliam remake 12 Monkeys. John C. Reilly is a very ugly, goofy actor. The amount of music in this film makes me think of the cinema of that other great unquenchable offbeat audiophile, Sophia Coppola. Her father hangs out with Scorsese, I read that somewhere. Apparently Sophia doesn’t do much on set for the actors or the picture. An old French acquaintance visited Versailles on a day when Marie Antoinette was being filmed, and reported that Sophia just sat in her chair under an umbrella, limp-wristing at the extras. Her director of photography, however, really busted his balls to get the shots composed and the characters to move convincingly through the frame. I know Scorsese, the veteran and maverick, knows how to set up and light, and I know he’s rehearsed with Daniel Day Lewis, and offered tips on how to really elongate the stride through the dense scratchy twills, but the director of photography should probably be congratulated here anyway. All that getting up and down, off of the crane, to trudge to the craft table in the snow and blood, to pour his own coffee, and then to get back on the crane. And then to have got the shot and have it mauled to pieces in post-production by the slick kid effects editor. Making movies is hard, etc.
Also, a fourteen-year-old girl complemented me on my shoes this morning.
For your birthday you pay your bills on time. Your reward is silence. Golden silence. Worth nothing. Your delight is heavy breathing. A birthday breath above the candles, you tell the lady from the collection agency I am coming. • What are you wearing? she asks. Do you have picture messaging? Aw shucks, not ever. I am wearing my sunburn in the car and I am wearing my debit card plastered to my heaving bosoms. Tacobel Canon sings across my thighs while I go over the numbers again. • You blow out your candle on the table. You blow your load on the dash. I am a bad driver. Not at all, honey, says Georgette. Trust her. • Trust the woman who just delivered 600 of your dollars to America! You syncopate your sighs—probably this is tactical. The lady from the collection agency charges you for a zone of spit and chew and stems. I don’t have legs—my feet don’t touch the gas. • You are a vampire now! Happy American vampire to you, dear Evan! Birthdays forever in the trunk of the car!
"Machines are dumb, but sometimes they do brilliant things because they can’t help themselves. They don’t talk themselves out of anything, and so they just go for it. No judgement whatsoever. Taking advantage of machines in these moments is a great way to overcome the self-consciousness problem that Drew brought up in London (see post of July 21).
"I think part of what we’re trying to do with the Books is to break the back of language, to bend it until it snaps and then examine the pieces to see what of its essence remains. Poets and songwriters have been in business so long, trying to say things in just the perfect way that they’ve crowded out the front door to meaning which is all tightly locked up by cliches. Essentially we’re looking for the back way around. So it’s really heartening to find a site like freetranslation.com that so egolessly shreds language like it’s making a vat of sauerkraut out of your precious word cabbages."
Teach for America: A Survey of Recent Outstanding Electronic Music
Many of my UK and Asian/Pacific Islander readers will remember that my boyfriend is a second-year member of Teach for America in Mississippi, an ugly, hot state, a state folk-singer Phil Ochs once saluted by proclaiming:
Here’s to the schools of Mississippi Where they’re teaching all the children that they don’t have to care All of rudiments of hatred are present everywhere And every single classroom is a factory of despair There’s nobody learning such a foreign word as fair Oh, here’s to the land you’ve torn out the heart of Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of
I’d say that Phil Ochs is the premier electronica artist of our perpetual Mississippi moment, and has given Cody, anyway, a lot to work against. Cody, in fact, played me the whole half-hour song “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” in a Barnes and Noble parking lot in Merrillville, Indiana. Our bourgeois privilege in that “goddam Yankee”-like moment was pretty much lost on us. I made out with the Pulitzer-winning Tinkers. This was back in early June!
I’ve been in Mississippi for the last five days. Now I’m in a coffeeshop in Ohio. All the kittens in my barn in Indiana are just fine, some twenty miles west. Cody is fine, too, 780 miles to the south-west.
Below is a brief survey of the albums that I perused on the nine-hour-drive down and the nine-hour-drive up.
CRYSTAL CASTLES Crystal Castles & II
Both albums have that depressing “We tried to have a dance party, people said they wanted a dance party, nobody came to our dance party” feel. A lot could be said about the fetishizing of bubble noises and computer blips, and how they relate to placeless ’80s nostalgia as much as surfaceless ’80s post-structuralism but not by this critic, who is not, contrary to sponsored opinion, a musicologist. This listener, whom relishes the punishments of Ben Frost, Pig Destroyer, The Icarus Line et. al., was surprised to feel real discomfort (perhaps fear?) whenever aptly-named Alice Glass shrieked through Ethan Kath’s back-masking and moog. “Truly a must listen.”
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM This Is Happening
Something happened over and over again, sometimes for the better, occasionally for the worse, generally towards a bland joyfulness, that if in a club, tipsy, would have layered and built itself into a more consistent dancing-ecstatics-state. James Murphy has a very sexy voice so it was pleasant to drive an hour with him crooning up my hard-on. At album’s close I really had to pee.
THE BOOKSThe Way Out
If Lost and Safe was a vigil for the cancerous waste of Americana, than The Way Out is a celebration of metastasizing or however the metaphor continues! I can’t write about The Books because I have a deep-seeded anxiety about all four of their albums, and how the first three (Thought for Food, The Lemon of Pink, Lost and Safe), got me through the 2006-2007 undergraduate school year, and especially through coursework in Japanese Visual Culture. I hammered-out literally tens-of-pages on Frank Lloyd Wright and Orientalism, onnagata, Anthony Vidler’s uncanny architectural studies, kawaii commercial cute, KaiKai Kiki, LLC, a lot of weird shit. No, all that stuff was amazing—I was the weird shit. If you don’t buy what The Way Out is selling—if you don’t believe there is a “way out” of whatever it is that we are in, than Lost and Safe is for you.
ADAM GOPNIK Through the Children’s Gate
Actually I listened to this the entire drive down riveted. Like Lorin Stein, I’m atoning for my sins by reading Seymour Krim’s Shake It For the World, Smartass, a collection that contains a fairly repugnant take on The New Yorker of the 1960s. Maybe Krim was right—I’ll block-quote some of his zingers later, maybe—but listening to Mr. Gopnik’s essays about child-rearing in Manhattan filled me with the sort of love for The New Yorker that I had when I was a sophomore in high school and didn’t get any of its jokes. Weirdly enough, I don’t think I’ve ever read any of Mr. Gopnik’s art criticism. It must have been published “before my time.” What I really want to read now are Kirk Varnedoe’s Mellon Lectures on American abstract art, collected by Princeton in the book Pictures of Nothing.
LADY GAGA The Fame & The Fame Monster
Listening to “Just Dance” in the car, on hour eight, made me want to “just dance.” But by then I could see the lights of the bridge adjoining Indiana commerce to Kentucky’s, and beyond that, the riverside power station belching coal-smoke across Ohio. If an hour later I still had the urge to “just dance,” I could do so next to the above-ground swimming pool at home. It is a wonder Lady Gaga hasn’t received more press than she has, this album and its embellishment have some very catchy songs. Still, a lot of it is, all told, a little under-produced. Probably won’t receive as much play stateside as it should but I have it on good authority Ms. Gaga will be “big in Japan.”
A long time ago, when I had some integrity, I could have finished the blueberry muffin that I over-paid for. But now I’m just gonna can it. The surface is oily, the blueberries candied, and the batter too cake-like. I’m a man on the go. Time to go.