New Burial EP is fucking great. The last couple haven’t really connected with me, but I LOVE this one so far. The mixture of the beneath-the-city feel of Untrue with what I’d characterize as (and I’m no expert) more overt drum n’ bass style beats is a total winner, and the overt melody on “Hiders,” which I haven’t heard from Burial in the past, is gorgeous. Yeah… I’m pretty fucking stoked on this.
This is why I still think music writing matters, even (maybe especially) in compact, casual forms like this. I’d seen a half-dozen people link to the new Burial, with either a gobsmacked or noncommittal word or two attached (if any), but only Andrew attempted to give anything like a description, put it in context, and give me any reason why I should bother to listen beyond sheer brand recognition. Because look, I’m old and extremely busy and my only access to the internet most hours a day is my phone; it is a bother. But at least now I know it might be worth the effort, if I still remember it the next time I lug my laptop through the snow to a wifi hotspot.
JONATHAN. AS A CUBAN LADY I AM SO PSYCHED ABOUT GLORIA ESTEFAN WEEK. WAY TO STEAL THE TITLE OF BEST OWOB WEEK OF THE YEAR FROM ME ALREADY, BUDDY. YOU BETTER COVER DR BEAT. SINCERELY, ANAIS ESCOBAR MATHERS
ANAÏS, I HAVE IT ON GOOD AUTHORITY THAT BOTH OUR THUNDER IS GOING TO BE STOLEN NEXT WEEK. AS TO DOCTOR BEAT GIRL DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME? YRS, JONATHAN DOUGLAS BOGART (HAPPY THAT HIS PHONE KNOWS TO PUT THE DIAERESIS IN ALL-CAPS ANAÏS)
5. Tap water (iced). I’m from an area of the country where no one drinks tap water; it’s cloudy and mineral-heavy and tastes of copper and rocks, and has to be run through a purifier before it’s drinkable. So moving to Chicago, where the tap water is perfectly clear and without any discernible taste, was a nice surprise, and a good way to save money. I went six months before I got ice cube trays, which was kind of horrifying (I’m from the Southwest; ice isn’t just a nice extra, it’s a way of life), and still feel rich every time I run the tap over the ice in my glass and hear it crack.
4. Ginger ale. When I was a child, I decided for some reason that my favorite soft drink was root beer. Accordingly I’ve spent most of my adult life guzzling that caramelly stuff, generally the fancy glass-bottled kind you get at middle-class supermarkets. I’m not entirely sure why, but when I moved I switched to ginger ale, which wasn’t as cloyingly sweet and had more of a bite to it. (I hated ginger ale as a kid. I hated a lot of things.) I don’t drink very much of it — I’ll get a two-liter bottle maybe once every other month — but the four or five meals where it’s that instead of water are extra delightful.
3. Hot cocoa with brandy. On my first shopping trip to stock my new apartment’s pantry, I bought a bottle of brandy, if I’m being honest because it’s Bertie Wooster’s buck-me-up of choice. (I’d never had it before.) I also bought what I thought was hot chocolate mix. After realizing that I’d bought baking chocolate, I went to the store again and bought another thing of unsweetened chocolate powder (I should really stop listening to podcasts when I shop, if they distract me from important information like that). At which point I gave up and started using honey as a sweetener and brandy for flavor, and it’s become a semi-regular nightcap. At year’s end, I’ve almost finished the bottle of brandy, which speaks to how often I drink.
2. Mochas from the local coffee shop. The barista with the muttonchop whiskers always looks surprised when I don’t order a mocha (sometimes I can only scrape together enough cash for a cafe au lait; sometimes it’s the middle of summer and I want an iced tea; sometimes it’s deep into the afternoon and if I have caffeine I’m not falling asleep till four in the morning), but he’s right to expect that I will. It’s their best drink, not too sweet, beautifully balanced, and usually too much for me to drink in one sitting (Starbucks trained me in so many bad coffeshop habits, but the worst was always buying the largest drink because I’m gonna be there for a while).
1. Tea. On that same shopping trip that I got brandy and baking chocolate, I also bought a canister of tea. Imagine my uncultured yokel surprise when I got it home and found out it was loose-leaf, not little baggies. I actually had to look up on the internet how to brew it. Soon afterwards, I bought teabags like a normal fast-food-eating American, but I mentioned the mistake to my uncle when he was in town for a convention and treating me to a Lebanese lunch, one of many little comedies of error I tried to present my life so far in Chicago as being. (Don’t pity me, for God’s sake. Laugh at my cluelessness and dumbassery, yes, but never pity.) Several months later, I got a postal note in my mailbox telling me that a package was at the local distro center, a brief bus ride away. You’ll have guessed, of course, that it was a teapot from my uncle. I feel much classier and man-of-the-world brewing my tea in it than I ever did sipping the brandy.
Should probably have mentioned when I reblogged this request for lists that I have been in book jail all year and my engagement with new media (or new-old media, as the case may be) has been pretty fitful. That said:
1. Le Grand Kalle, His Life, His Music—Joseph Kabasele and the Creation of Modern Congolese Music (Stern’s Africa, rec. 1951-70)
BRITNEY SPEARS’S FAVORITE DISNEY MOVIE IS THE LITTLE MERMAID, EVERYBODY GO HOME (x)
I mean, yes, of course it is. Not just because it fits with the themes of her life — massive talent, smothering sociofamilial pressure, rebellion and subsequent descent into hell (someone with a sourer outlook on celeb newz than me would draw parallels between Ursula and Paris Hilton; I’d be likelier to nom the other P. Hilton), reborn “voiceless” (according to critics more in love with their ghost-in-the-machine metaphors for Blackout than in reality) and eventually triumphant (at least as recorded by chart placement) — but because it was released a month before her eighth birthday, and as a fellow child of the eighties let me tell you that shit was IMPORTANT. It would also have been the first Disney movie released in her memory that was any good at all — The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver & Co. have their charms, but they’re piddling cheapjack stories compared to the operatic, mythological level on which TLM operates. (I was only a few years older than her, and had not yet been socialized into avoiding girl stuff; all this is me finally having the ability to put into words the understanding I had in my marrow at the time.) It’s my favorite Disney movie too, because math.
I think I’ve talked before about Mark Frost’s The List of Seven (Conan Doyle! Dracula! Madame Blavatsky!) being the moment when my critical apparatus first switched on and I went “wait a second, I’m reading crap" for the first time in my life. The fact that I had cheerfully downed Robert Ludlum and Dick Francis for years without noticing their garbageness probably had a lot to do with the fact that I had read a lot of actual Victorian pulp fiction and so was able to spot Frost’s clumsy, screenplay-friendly pastiche, while I knew essentially nothing about the present world, and took modern pulp at face value.
2. What are you reading right now? 20. What makes you love a book? 23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)? 37. How often have you returned books to the library unread? [Ed. I think the only time I've ever done this is when I worked for a library] 48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
2. Counting only books I’ve set down within the past week or so intending to pick them up again (but we’ll see): Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks, They Had to See Paris by Homer Croy, and Tekkon Kinkreet by Taiyo Matsumoto. (If you go back further but still limit it to books I have in the apartment, The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa, The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, Babylon Girls by Jayna Brown, Big Questions by Anders Nilsen, Baron Bean: 1916 by George Herriman, Aesthetics: A Memoir by Ivan Brunetti, and countless books and comics I only have in digital format.)
20. I doubt there are any universally applicable qualities shared by every book I love, aside from too-broad-to-be useful generalizations like “I am able to understand the language in which I am reading it” and “does not actively piss me off.” Some combination of prose quality, philosophical congruity with my own predilections, and, I suppose, age would be your best bet if you were a book seeking to worm your way into my heart.
23. I feel like every genre is a genre I rarely read, and I’m mostly okay with that. But when it comes to wishing, I guess I wish I read more fantasy about people of color if only for the instrumental purpose of displacing or at least complicating my youthful baseline of Tolkien Tolkien Tolkien.
37. I estimate 80% of the library books I’ve checked out over the past five years of working in libraries have gone back without being opened. The number would be higher but I’m actually making an effort this year.
I suppose that depends on when you define “childhood.” The Little Engine That Could was, I think, my first favorite book. When I was older, the Chronicles of Narnia. Older still, The Lord of the Rings. But even as a child I was never very into the idea of having favorites. Intertextuality and scope was more important to me than ranking, so it mattered to me to think of C. S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, J. R. R. Tolkien, L. Frank Baum, Lloyd Alexander, Meindert DeJong, Norton Juster, E. B. White, Mark Twain, Roald Dahl, Carolyn Keene, and Ann M. Martin as points in a continuum, none better or worse than each other, just different, each with their own complementary merits. I wanted a library to define me, not a book. I still do.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I don’t know that I can blame the blog. My reading habits have been erratic throughout my adult life. I was one of those kids who fought his parents to be allowed to read at the dinner table, who dragged books along to family visits and vacations and weddings and parties. But as a kid I didn’t have access to the world’s music, comics, or TV; and I certainly obsessed over the bits of each I did have access to.
Striking a balance in my media-consumption life has been one of the great unfinished projects of my adulthood. I tend to follow my passions, and they change unpredictably and when I’m in one zone, all the others that I enjoy being in at other times are unappealing — when I’m craving three-camera sitcoms, a high-fantasy novel isn’t going to scratch that itch; and when I want to read a dense patchwork of literary symbolism, superhero comics won’t cut it. Blogging is just another use of my time, increasingly one I’m fitting around everything else. I wouldn’t necessarily be reading if I weren’t online; and when I am online, I’m not necessarily not reading.
I sure can. Whether I ever do these days is another question. I’m usually listening to podcasts while commuting, which takes up enough of my attention that the only other thing I can do is play casual phone games like Bejeweled or Solitaire. But the couple times that I’ve let my battery run too far down, or I’m stuck without headphones, I’ll grab a book from work and read it.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Not as much as I used to back when I wrote papers on the books I was reading, but still on occasion. (I read in the tub a lot, and will dog-ear a page I want to quote on Tumblr once I get out, for instance.) A big change from teenage me is that I’m more likely to use scraps of paper as bookmarks to keep my place now, since I’m untidy enough that there are always scraps of paper lying around.
35. Favorite Poet?
I’ve been trying to figure out a way not to be the pretentious reactionary dude (and it’s always a dude) who says T. S. Eliot, but no other answer would be entirely honest. The Four Quartets were extremely important to me in high school (and if they seem a bit more vacuous now, maybe George Orwell’s analogizing them to the Vichy regime has stuck in my craw), and “Prufrock” was extremely important to me in college (and if it’s less so now it’s only because I’ve learned to be suspicious of white guys in their twenties being really into their own existential ennui), and “Ash-Wednesday” was extremely important to me as I attempted to build some kind of independent spiritual life (and I still get a lot out of it). I was essentially a young Tory in most of my cultural tastes for the first decade of my youth, and it’s only been within the last five to ten years that I’ve opened up a bit more to allow my cultural consumption to match my politics, and to allow each to be in conversation with the other.
I don’t know that I’ve ever really felt intimidated by a book. In literary matters I tend to have the boundless and unjustified confidence that comes from being a white dude whose sense of self has been catered to by all the most acclaimed books his entire life. I guess when I was in high school I was a little intimidated by Les Miserables’ length (same thing ten years later with Bleak House, which I only got round to reading because I was laid up after stepping on a nail), but in terms of thematic density or formal language play my attitude has always been “bring it on,” even when I then fail to follow through because I get distracted or lose interest. Probably a truer answer would be that I don’t read books I’m intimidated by; Finnegans Wake, e.g., remains virgin territory.
(Unless the question is about books generally considered intimidating though not necessarily by me, in which case the Bible.)
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Taking my eyes off the page, however momentarily. It’s rarer for me to finish a book than otherwise, and considerations of quality, quantity, and even my own interest and pleasure will not necessarily have anything to do with it. I am easily distractable, and eternally sure that I’ll get right back to it. Sometimes I even do, even years later, and have had the experience of rereading-and-remembering-most-of-it-but-not-so-much-that-I-can-ever-pinpoint-the-spot-I-left-off so often that I feel there should be a word for it.
When I first visited my local library in January I itched to clean up and organize the graphic novels, but I stopped myself. “I’m not straightening shelves again until I get paid for it,” I told myself.
For all the nasty corporate influence, excessive sponsorship deals, gross product placement garbage, and general ‘selling of ones cool’ that is happening right now in the music press, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why one would focus the brunt of those complaints on a handful of young female writers who primarily cover diy punk and indie bands that tend to be feminist or at least female-fronted, while simultaneously playing bro-dad to their male counterparts.
Someday I should really break down and learn CSS and PHP instead of just stumbling around my Wordpress and Tumblr themes, sticking my finger in somewhere and refreshing the page in another tab to see what changed.
The avant-garde is no corpus. It merely lies in shock after an unfortunate bout with its own petard. It feigns sleep but one eye glitters and an involuntary twitch in the corner of the mouth belies a suppressed snicker. The giggle of coming awake at one’s own funeral dressed in atomic TV beatnik furniture. A mutant with a mission.
There are twenty years left in the twentieth century. Twenty years to reap the rewards and calamities that have been put in motion in this period. At this time a current of aesthetic function is emerging: the inevitable culmination of concepts and experiments pioneered and conducted in this century. We declare society an amusement park and one to be dead reckoned with.
A deadly texture and tone have taken the cereal Nirvana: a misanthrope born of capitol realities, tendencies, and inter-office memos. Sightless businessmen-posed-entertainers shovel up tons of soulless Saturday morning animation. Would that you could make cost effective the rubbery genius that was the Saturday morning of our youth.
We say enough to the instigators of game show design for we are sick and dizzy. Show us the backs of these monstrous facades, for even bare plywood is a healthier texture. Oh you seekers of the new who run terrified from history into the clutches of an eternal life where no electric shaver can be built to last.
Close the bars! We require well lit media centers that serve soft drinks and milk. We require that top-40 radio stop it. And this for extant executive entertainers: We know when to laugh. Machines don’t, and it is irritation to hear them laugh at the wrong time. They laugh at nothing and nothing isn’t funny.
Find the evil doers, the merchant peddlers of Pavlovia who use our unmentionable parts against us. Will you hide behind a scrim of two-dimensional phosphorescence when Biology exacts its reward?
Profound faith in glamour is a surefire way to not see that you kill what you eat. We believe and worship a two-dimensional world. No god printers save us when we stand naked and brainless before an uncompromising and impartial physicality. We are sick now/get wise to the media. Join the art police. We call for posting of cow pictures in every fast food franchise. And for vegetarians, recordings of screaming vegetables at every salad bar.
Beautiful and effective communicative marketing and aesthetic media are not innately evil; merely seductive. However, seductive aesthetics and media are prone to undermine common sense and vision in a capitalistic culture. Our own creations have shamed us. Teaching us that the hand and opinion of the individual are not as legitimate as that of opinion transmuted and inflated by broadcast … especially when that opinion is on 80-pound coated stock, in full color … or when that opinion steals invisibly and incomprehensibly into a box in our homes. Would that society reveled in certain varieties of vandalism and disarray. May we mow our lawns and remain civilized.
It is unfortunate and unacceptable what vile and lazy do-nothings are given unwarranted credence for mouthing such foul and mean clichis as “rip-off” and “sell-out.” They have no understanding of our economy and the time it takes society to go. Confess and shut up! Capitalism good or ill is the river in which we sink or swim. Inspiration has always been born of recombination.
In a capitalistic society such as the in which we live, aesthetics as an endeavor flows thorough a body which is built of free enterprise and various illnesses. In boom times art may be supported by wildcat speculation or my excess funds in form of grants from the state or patronship as a tax write-off. Currently we are suffering from a lean economy. By necessity we must infiltrate popular mediums. We are building a business-based art movement. This is not new. Admitting it is.
Business 1. To create a pseudo-avant-garde that is cost effective. 2. To create merchandising platforms on popular communications and entertainment media. 3. To extensively mine our recent and ancient past for icons worth remembering and permutating: recombo archaeology.
Waiting for art talent scouts? There are no art talent scouts. Face it, no one will seek you out. No one gives a shit.
Market saturation was reached in sixties - everyone knows that. Fine Elitist Art is of diminishing utility. There is not more reward for maintaining or joining an elite and sterile crew.
Elitist art cannot help the emergent complex through its painful and potentially stupidly dangerous adolescence. Start or support primitive industry, propaganda to no dogma, and environmental jarrs.
Law: If you want better media, go make it.
We are born capitalists and manufacturers of alternative goods and services. We are made propagandists and propose an antimedia to no dogma. We call for popular environmental manipulators, primitive industry, an avant-garde placed squarely in the entertainment field, for archaeologists and synthesizers.
A call for mutant intuition and wrestling is real. A current that synthesizes ideas and entertainment .. an antimedia that creates, participates, and services and broader-based lunatic fringe and one that is capable of finishing the century outright. An avant-garde that has no mean diversion and stocks the supermarket.
Our lack of popularity in high school was led us to think and thinking has lead us to this. No war is waged here; only a strain, a virus, a toxoid, a Rozz-Toxoid. The emergent complex asks for just twenty years of your time. Now, stand and sing …
Capitalism for good or ill is the river in which we sink or swim, and stocks the supermarket.
do u read a poetry. have I asked u that. if you HAD to spend a day with Harry styles, death is not an option, what would you do. what is your favorite candy, don't make a joke about that dumb iPhone game. do u have any recurring dreams. what is the worst movie u have ever seen by any definition of "worst" u prefer. what is your favorite fruit. if u could invite five dead Americans to dinner who would they be. am I making you wish the ask character limit was shorter yet. how do u feel abt sloths.
Yes, but not any of your favorite poets, as far as I know. I believe so. Hit him up for money. Black licorice, dark chocolate, or butterscotch (I don’t know enough about that game to make a joke). Not for years. Gone with the Wind, for racism reasons. Apples. Dorothy Parker, Florence Mills, George Herriman, Art Young, Charles Mingus. Not yet. Envious.
I am ready to declare 2013 my annus horribilis and just cower under the covers until 2014 starts.
With the caveats that every year since 1996 has been an annus horribilis for one reason or another, and that instead of cowering under the covers I have begun drawing up extensive overambitious plans so that I can disappoint myself even harder in 2014 … this.
They’re too stupid and illegible to be worth posting here, where actual people follow me in addition to the bots, but in case anyone didn’t know I had that drawing tumblr (I think I last mentioned it three years ago?), there it is.