Thank you, Me-fi
Here’s the link. Sample:
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were married eighty-two years ago yesterday, on August 21, 1929. She was twenty-two, he was forty-three. She used to call the two of them “pareja extraña del país del punto y la raya,” strange couple from the land of dot and line. In her diary, she draws them as Nefertiti and her consort, Akhenaten. Akhenaten has a swollen heart, and ribs like claws around his chest. He has testicles that look like a brain, a penis that looks like his lover’s dangling breast. Below is written “Born to them was a boy strange of face.” Nefertiti carries in her arms the baby Frida couldn’t have.
My friend Mike is the best Mike in the world and he had an extra ticket to last night’s acoustic JEFF MANGUM (!!!1) show at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in the Annex. It was will-call and the doors were supposed to open at 6:30 so we showed up at about ten to six to join the already hundred-and-change-metre line. I hadn’t eaten since brunch.
Blah blah, obligatory scene-setting comment about hipsterness and “bangs” and “white people” and “beards” and “plaid” and “big glasses,” but what was really striking was that a lot of the women genuinely looked like they’d fallen out of old photos from my parents’ old albums taken at barbecues (or whatever kind of summer event) in the late 70s. I guess it was that they weren’t posing at retro-ness; that they looked totally comfortable in their wavy dark hair and as-naturally-grown seeming eyebrows and you just kinda knew that they didn’t stress too much about shaving their armpits (among other places).
It was a slightly older crowd than your average indie show. More stiff and socially awkward-seeming than I remember the crowd for Pavement being last summer (to give a 90s legend to 90s legend comparison) — but maybe that was just the difference between a crowd in a church-venue versus an outdoor festival. Or maybe I’m just projecting Mangum’s versus Pavement’s personalities as artists onto their fans. I don’t think that’s an illegitimate thing to do, though, if it feels right.
At about 6:45 the line started to move, and ten minutes later we found seats in the second row of the wrap-around balcony, just past where it started to wrap on the left side. The chancel/stage was about sixty feet away, down and to the right. There was a flugelhorn and a small drum and a tambourine lying on the seats of the cathedra and its flanking chairs, a few guitars in guitar stands. Not many or very big speakers/monitors. Three mics. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Update by Tom: Ahem.
My dear friend Liz met me in front of her apartment two hours after I’d arrived in the city. We talked about our love lives–or lack thereof–over two beers at a swanky bar. We bought chicken and mushrooms and shallots and scallions, went back to her apartment, made risotto and green salad. It was the best meal I’d had since the Central Time Zone. She read me a poem by Frank O’Hara called something like “Having A Coke With You,” which made me feel wistful and regretful and envious and tired all at once. And then it was nine o’clock. I gave Liz a hug and drove to my brother’s apartment. We went to a bar called Moonshine to meet up with my dear friend Maura, and while there a man named Eric decided that he wanted to fight me. Apparently I had gotten in the way of his sister’s game of darts while en route to the bathroom. He seated himself at our table. He talked trash. I had my hand on my knife the whole time.
From my old spot. What can I say? It’s a good poem.
I learned about Gil Scott-Heron two weekends ago. We were sitting around a late afternoon campfire on a beach on a small lake close to Georgian Bay drinking when a friend put on the Jamie XX remix of Scott-Heron’s most recent album (GSH album: “I’m New Here“; Jamie XX version: “We’re New Here” — both worth a listen, but especially the former). Later we found out that he’d just died, like, the day before.
Fast forward to last week.
Suddenly there are tributes everywhere. This guy was a huge deal. I download his discography. I listen to The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (the album; the link is to the song) a bunch of times. I look up the 2010 New Yorker profile I’d been seeing mentions of in the obits.
It’s beautiful. It’s the most overwhelmingly humane profile I’ve read since maybe when I binge read Hannah Arendt’s profile of Walter Benjamin in the introduction to Illuminations back in Chicago.
Teaser from the one on Scott-Heron:
He was wearing jeans and a black-and-white shirt with the buttons askew. It was the morning after he had been expected at a video shoot downtown to make the second video for “I’m New Here,” and he hadn’t shown up. Meanwhile, the crew and the filmmaker had waited through most of the night. When the phone rang, he said, “That’s those people from the video shoot trying to get me,” and he didn’t answer. “They all think it’s some kind of mixup when I don’t show up where they are, but being too omni-visible is a bad idea. The kids at the record company are very enthusiastic, and they have a lot of friends they have made, and they all want to have an interview, and the only problem is they’re asking the same things people asked me a long, long time ago, because that’s what they do when they’re starting—you ask questions you already know the answer to. I don’t want to disappoint them, but you can’t disappoint unless you have an appointment. They don’t know I only like to talk to people who have something to talk about other than me. Like everybody in New York, they know everything. How can you tell them anything?”
He tossed the lottery ticket on the floor. “It’s the death of the vertical,” he went on. “They have taken all this time to stand up straight so that they can say ‘I.’ They’re very proud of that. The way you get to know yourself is by the expressions on other people’s faces, because that’s the only thing that you can see, unless you carry a mirror about. But if you keep saying ‘I’ and they’re saying ‘I,’ you don’t get much out of it. They’re not really into you, or we, or they; they’re into I. That makes conversation slow.
“I am the person I see least of over the course of my life, and even what I see is not accurate.” The phone rang. “This is Brouhaha Music,” he said. “Who the fuck is this?”