Wednesday, September 20

An Ode to Acts of Kindness on the New York City Subway

"For many New Yorkers, their subway line is a second home. They see their neighbors on the same route; they know which car will be closest to their exit; and they have favorite spots for the ride. Andre Wagner, who has been taking photographs in the subway since 2013 and whose book,'Here for the Ride,' will be published this week, likes to stand in front of the doors. 'I can see everything in the car that way,' he said. With a background in social work, he was interested in capturing acts of kindness, among other things, in the confined spaces. I wanted to witness those acts of humanity happening in this very public space,' he said. 'People giving up their seats to a mother and child or helping hold the door for someone running to catch the train.' ...”
NY Times

2017 August: Capturing Love, the Brooklyn Way

Soul Exorcism Redux - James Chance & The Contortions (2007)

"Recorded in June of 1980, Soul Exorcism proves that jazz, funk, experimental, and new wave make quite an intoxicating mix when perfected. James Chance sums up the proceedings perfectly in the liner notes, where he states that the music perfectly reveals the essence and soul of New York City (even though it was recorded in Rotterdam). Backed up by a stellar backing band, which Chance himself calls one of the most volatile units he's worked with, the Contortions simply shine. Like most other Contortions recordings, cacophony rears its head from time to time, but that's what the band uses to paint different moods and textures: it's not used haphazardly. ... [In 2007 the Roir label reissued the album as Soul Exorcism Redux. Three tracks from a 1987 demo session were added to the end of the track list along with new art work.]"
amazon, iTubes
YouTube: Soul Exorcism Redux 14 videos

2009 December: James Chance, 2011 December: No New York, 2014 July: No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980, 2014 July: Bush Tetras, 2015 January: Buy - James Chance and the Contortions (1979), 2015 July: James White And The Blacks - Off White (1979), 2015 October: Pat Place, 2016 January: Lost Chance (1981), 2017 January: Twist Your Soul: The Definitive Collection (2010), 2017 April: Contort Yourself / (Tropical) Heatwave full 12” (1979), 2017 May: Filmed by Libin+Cameron: James White & The Blacks (1980 Live Performance Hurrah NightClub), 2017 August: Live Aux Bains Douches - Paris 1980.

Give Peace a Chance

College students in Boston march against the Vietnam war, October 16, 1965.
"Say what you will about the Vietnam War, it had a great soundtrack. Feature and documentary filmmakers have, of course, long appreciated this—cue 'The End' by the Doors for the unforgettable opening sequence of 1979’s Apocalypse Now, and, about a decade later, Bob Dylan’s 'A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall' for a long, wet, and ominous combat patrol sequence in HBO’s documentary, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987). Ken Burns’s twenty-ninth historical documentary, The Vietnam War (2017), co-directed with longtime associate Lynn Novick, falls within this tradition of depicting the war. ... If Burns tends to gravitate toward lighter topics, the Vietnam War is decidedly not one of them. So it was with some trepidation that I sat down to binge-watch the eighteen hours of The Vietnam War. Despite an occasional and, to my ears, strained suggestion that the war was in some ways the product of good intentions gone awry, this series is Burns at his bleakest. Unfortunately, this perspective is applied somewhat indiscriminately, to include antiwar protesters as well as policymakers. ..."

Tuesday, September 19

The Best Health Care System in the World: Which One Would You Pick?

"To better understand one of the most heated U.S. policy debates, we created a tournament to judge which of these nations has the best health system: Canada, Britain, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, France, Australia and the U.S.. 'Medicare for all,' or 'single-payer,' is becoming a rallying cry for Democrats. This is often accompanied by calls to match the health care coverage of 'the rest of the world.' But this overlooks a crucial fact: The 'rest of the world' is not all alike. The commonality is universal coverage, but wealthy nations have taken varying approaches to it, some relying heavily on the government (as with single-payer); some relying more on private insurers; others in between. Experts don’t agree on which is best; a lot depends on perspective. But we thought it would be fun to stage a small tournament. We selected eight countries, representing a range of health care systems, and established a bracket by randomly assigning seeds. ..."
NY Times

Parcel of Rogues - Steeleye Span (1973)

"Parcel of Rogues is the group's first real rock album, featuring a sound clearly rooted in modern sensibilities, with the guitars turned up very loud for the first time. The singing is still modeled on traditional patterns, and is quite beautiful (especially 'One Misty Moisty Morning' and 'Allison Gross'), but the resonances and undertones of electric guitars are everywhere -- the result is a record that, in some ways, recalls Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief (the record that led indirectly to the spawning of Steeleye Span in the first place), with some very flashy playing by Bob Johnson on some of the breaks. ... A lot of the time it works -- the ominous and dazzling 'Cam Ye O'er Frae France' would not have succeeded half as well without amplification, and every fan of the group should hear this track at least once. ..."
W - Parcel of Rogues
amazon, iTunes, Spotify
YouTube: Parcel of Rogues 39:12

Philosophy As a Way of Life - The New York Public Library

The School of Athens (Scuola di Atene) by Raphael
"Philosophy, as it is practiced today, is abstract, theoretical, and detached from life, just one academic subject among others. In the Greco-Roman world, it was something quite different, argues the French philosopher Pierre Hadot. Philosophy then was a way of life. Not merely a subject of study, philosophy was considered an art of living, a practice aimed at relieving suffering and shaping and remaking the self according to an ideal of wisdom; 'Such is the lesson of ancient philosophy: an invitation to each human being to transform himself. Philosophy is a conversion, a transformation of one's way of being and living, and a quest for wisdom.' It is the practice of what Hadot calls "spiritual exercises" that brings about self-transformation and makes philosophy a way of life. ..."
The New York Public Library

Monday, September 18

Pina Bausch Company: ‘This Is Theater, and These Are Humans’

Pina Bausch in “Café Müller” in Lisbon, 2008.
"What does a dance company do when its sole choreographer and leader, a figure as charismatic and intense as Pina Bausch, dies, leaving her dancers without a clear path forward? This was the situation faced by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in the summer of 2009, when Bausch succumbed to cancer, just days after her diagnosis. The dancers, on tour in Poland, made the decision to perform that night, and the next, and then another week, another year. Eight years and three artistic directors later, they’re still at it. For the next two weeks, they will be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, performing a double bill of archetypal Bausch’s works from the 1970s, 'Café Müller' (1978) and 'The Rite of Spring' (1975). These were included in the company’s first season at the Brooklyn Academy, their introduction to the New York audience, back in 1984. ..."
NY Times
NY Times: The Ghosts and Rites of Pina Bausch
Sadler's Wells

tumblr: Pina Bausch: 1972-1988, 1988-2009, Pina Bausch: Costumes, Video, Sourcebook - Etc.

PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016)

"On 2011's Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake, PJ Harvey connected World War I bloodbaths with the 21st century world in harrowing, moving ways. Its follow-up, The Hope Six Demolition Project, feels like a companion piece with a wider focus and more urgent mood. For this project -- which also includes the 2015 book of poetry The Hollow of the Hand and a film -- Harvey and her Shake collaborator, war photographer Seamus Murphy, emphasized documentation: The pair spent years researching in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C.; later, Harvey was literally transparent about the recording process, making Hope Six at a recording studio behind one-way glass for public audiences at London’s Somerset House. Befitting its origins, the album's sound is blunt and raw, mixing rock, blues, jazz, spirituals, and field recordings into the musical equivalent of photojournalism. Indeed, The Hope Six Demolition Project often resembles a collection of dispatches. ..."
W - The Hope Six Demolition Project
Guardian: The Hope Six Demolition Project review – potent, beautiful songs and minor lyrical missteps (Video)
The Atlantic: P.J. Harvey vs. Humankind
YouTube: The Community Of Hope, The Hope Six Demolition Project (Album Trailer), The Wheel, The Orange Monkey

2009 November: PJ Harvey, 2011 May: Let England Shake, 2013 May: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, 2013 July: White Chalk (2007), 2014 July: LSO St Luke's in London (2005), 2015 March: Who Will Love Me Now (1996), 2016 January: Rid of Me (Big Day Out festival...Sydney, 2001).

Vicki Anderson - Message From The Soul Sisters (George T Refix)

"One of James Brown's Soul Sisters. According to Mr. Brown's autobiography, Vicki Anderson was the best female singer he had in his revue. She Joined Brown in 1965 replacing Anna King and she held her position there until she was replaced by Marva Whitney 3 years after in 1968. But she re-joined after Marva departed in 1969 for further three years until Lyn Collins took over. She disapeared after she left Brown for a while and resurfaced in 1975 with a single, featuring a cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan Hit Once You Get Started and Bobby Womack's Stop On By on Browns I-Dentify label, but this single failed to do any damage, and after this, Vicki never showed any signs to do studio work but she was regulary appearing in James Brown Funky People revue in the late 80s, and again with Bobby Byrd in the early 90s."
Soundcloud: Message From The Soul Sisters (George T Refix)
YouTube: message from the soul sisters

2016 September: Vicki Anderson: Mother Popcorn - The Anthology

Sunday, September 17

Harry Dean Stanton (July 14, 1926 – September 15, 2017)

Wikipedia - "Harry Dean Stanton (July 14, 1926 – September 15, 2017) was an American actor, musician, and singer. Stanton's career spanned more than sixty years, during which he appeared in the films Cool Hand Luke (1967), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Dillinger (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), Alien (1979), Escape from New York (1981), Christine (1983), Repo Man (1984), Paris, Texas (1984), Pretty in Pink (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Wild at Heart (1990), The Straight Story (1999), The Green Mile (1999), Alpha Dog (2006), Inland Empire (2006), Lucky (2017), and others. ... His breakthrough part came with the lead role in director Wim Wenders' film Paris, Texas (1984). Playwright Sam Shepard, the movie's screenwriter, had spotted Stanton at a bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1983 while both were attending a film festival in that city, and the two fell into conversation. 'I was telling him I was sick of the roles I was playing,' Stanton recalled in a 1986 interview. 'I told him I wanted to play something of some beauty or sensitivity. I had no inkling he was considering me for the lead in his movie.' ..."
NY Times: Harry Dean Stanton, Character Actor Who Became a Star, Dies at 91
Guardian: Harry Dean Stanton, cult American actor, dies aged 91 (Video)
Variety: Whose Final Starring Role Might Be His Best
Rolling Stone - Harry Dean Stanton: 10 Essential Movies (Video)

2012 March: Paris, Texas (1984), 2014 August: Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

Fela Power Show: Batch 4 (2011)

"Fela Power Show: Batch 4 is the concluding, eight-disc chapter in Knitting Factory Records' 26-disc reissue program of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti albums and early singles. It starts on the 1979/80 cusp of the dissolution of Afrika 70 and the formation of Egypt 80, when Kuti made the landmark Vagabonds In Power (1979), Coffin For Head Of State (1980) and Original Sufferhead (1981). It finishes with three late masterpieces—Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense (1986), Beasts Of No Nation (1989) and Underground System (1992). Kuti did not record as prolifically during the years covered by Batch 4 as he did during his 1970s' purple period: political campaigning occupied much of his time during the first half of the 1980s, he served a 20 month prison sentence on trumped up currency smuggling charges mid-decade, and he continued to be arrested, beaten up and jailed with odious frequency right up until his death in 1997. But his music remained as rich as ever. ..."
Part 21 - Final Fela Kuti Masterpieces Reissued
YouTube: Power Show - Live in Berlin - 1978

Emma Allen

"The New Yorker is known for its probing investigative reporting, deep-dive profiles and Pulitzer-winning criticism. But increasingly people are reading it for a few laughs. As the magazine expands its internet presence, the amount of original humor it produces has grown, with comic essays and cartoons often making up about a third of its most popular articles online. In some ways, that’s a return to the roots of the magazine, which began as a Jazz Age humor publication that championed James Thurber, Robert Benchley and Charles Addams, and helped define comedy for decades. 'With The New Yorker,' Russell Baker wrote, 'American humor began to master the arts of understatement, to refine the crudities of old-fashioned burlesque into satire, to treasure subtlety and wit.' As the new cartoon editor of the magazine, Emma Allen, 29, has become a steward of this tradition. ..."
NY Times: At The New Yorker, the Cartoonists Draw, but the Vision Is Hers
New Yorker: Adrian Tomine’s New York
Drawn and Quarterly

Saturday, September 16

Bob Dylan – Black Diamond Bay – May 25, 1976 Salt Lake City

"Up on the white veranda
She wears a necktie and a Panama hat
Her passport shows a face
From another time and place
She looks nothin’ like that
And all the remnants of her recent past
Are scattered in the wild wind
She walks across the marble floor
Where a voice from the gambling room is callin’ her to come on in
She smiles, walks the other way
As the last ship sails and the moon fades away
From Black Diamond Bay ..."
DailyMotion: Black Diamond Bay – May 25, 1976 Salt Lake City

Boujeloud - Master Musicians of Joujouka (2008)

"Second of two records recorded in Joujouka, in the Rif mountains of Morocco by Frank Rynne, after the touching day-to-day life music, this second release is about the (almost pagan) ritual of Boujeloud. It was produced under the direction of Mohamed Hamri. The group on this CD includes veteran Joujouka musician Mujehid Mujdoubi (1893-1997). The production records the music of Boujeloud or Pan, the ancient deity still recognized in the small Moroccan village of Joujouka."
Sub Rosa
W - Boujeloud, Master Musicians of Joujouka
Slate: The Master Musicians of Joujouka Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival 2008 (Video)
YouTube: JOUJOUKA INTERZONE - Master Musicians of Joujouka trailer HD, Master Musicians of Joujouka interview, Boujeloud and Brian Jones Joujouka very Stoned
YouTube: Master Musicians of Joujouka

2015 December: Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka (1971)

Heldon – Heldon II: Allez-Teia (1992)

"Allez Teia, originally released in 1975, was Heldon's second album. It is rightly considered an early, trance-inducing, electronic masterpiece. It is the only album in the Heldon cannon to feature acoustic guitar. Overall, I'd say that this is the most trippy and spacey Heldon material, it basically begs for you to break out the bong! It features the trademark 70s Heldon/Pinhas instrumental sound: waves of fuzz-tone, post Frippian guitars, ARP and VCS3 synthesizers, tape loops and mellotron, all building towards a monstrously delirious denouement. A absolutely stone(d) classic of the progressive rock scene of the 70s – searing, instrumental spacemusic, bridging electronics and psychedelic guitar in a legendary fashion."
Cuneiform Records (Audio)
Swan Fungus
YouTube: In Wake Of King Fripp

Friday, September 15

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

The main branch (now formally called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) of the New York Public Library.
"The main branch of the New York Public Library — the Beaux-Arts landmark at Fifth Avenue and 42 Street with the stone lions — opened its doors to a ravenous population on May 24, 1911. More than 50,000 souls are said to have flowed through its marble grandeur, inaugurating what has been an intimate, mutually sustaining union between the public and its library. In his magnificent new documentary 'Ex Libris: The New York Public Library,' Frederick Wiseman takes his camera into those same halls as well as into more humble city branches. He sweeps into atriums and down corridors, pauses in reading and meeting rooms, and lays bare this complex, glorious organism that is the democratic ideal incarnate. ..."
NY Times: We the (Library-Card Carrying) People of ‘Ex Libris’
Vanity Fair: Frederick Wiseman on his Latest Film, Ex Libris, and His 50-Plus-Year Career
Roger Ebert
New Yorker: Frederick Wiseman’s Utopian Vision of Libraries in “Ex Libris” (Richard Brody)
W - Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

2015 August: The New York Public Library, 2015 August: Underground New York Public Library, 2016 January: Lifting the Veil on the New York Public Library’s Erotica Collection, 2016 March: 11 Essential Feminist Books: A New Reading List by The New York Public Library, 2017 September: Get NYPL Digital Collections Tab for Your Browser

Meet the New Interactive Sky Chart!

"At long last, I’m proud to announce the release of Sky & Telescope’s much-loved Interactive Sky Chart! We worked with Chris Peat ( to make a number of changes — the vast majority of them under the hood — so that you’ll have a reliable sky chart that you can take with you into the night. The biggest development is that we’ve moved the code base that runs the Interactive Sky Chart from a Java-based platform to an HTML5 platform. We made the move because Java was never supported on iPhones or iPads, and some browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox, have also stopped supporting the software plugin. The new version of the Interactive Sky Chart runs natively in the browser, no plugin required. What that means for you, the user, is that there won’t be any more hoops to jump through just to get the sky chart to work. And when you call up the Interactive Sky Chart on your mobile device, it’ll work there too. ..."
Sky & Telescope

Thursday, September 14

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide

"This completely reconceived and rewritten guide to the Metropolitan Museum's encyclopedic holdings—the first new edition of the guidebook in nearly thirty years—provides the ideal introduction to almost 600 essential masterpieces from one of the world's most popular and beloved museums. It features a compelling and accessible design, beautiful color reproductions, and up-to-date descriptions written by the Museum's own experts. More than a simple souvenir book, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide provides a comprehensive view of art history spanning five millennia and the entire globe, beginning with the Ancient World and ending in contemporary times. It includes media as varied as painting, photography, costume, sculpture, decorative arts, musical instruments, arms and armor, works on paper, and many more. Presenting works ranging from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Dendur to Canova's Perseus with the Head of Medusa to Sargent's Madame X, this is an indispensable volume for lovers of art and art history, and for anyone who has ever dreamed of lingering over the most iconic works in the Metropolitan's unparalleled collection."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide
NY Times: Make the Most of the Met

Period: Roman Period. Reign: reign of Augustus Caesar. Date: completed by 10 B.C.. Geography: From Egypt, Nubia, Dendur, West bank of the Nile River

Lee Konitz in Harvard Square (1954)

"You don’t have to be a hard core fan to recognize that Konitz at his best is a wonderfully inspired improviser, and these ’54-’55 recordings capture him in peak form. His phrasing, attack, and the beautiful flow of ideas will make believers out of any but those who just can’t hear what he’s after with that tone at all. The only problem I have with early Konitz is that his pianists-including demigod Lennie-often employed very predictable phrasing. Incongruously, these same pianists specialized as composers in pieces of spectacular rhythmic complexity. Much of Ronnie Ball’s playing here, and his excellent 'Ronnie’s Tune' and 'Froggy Day,' are offered in evidence. Lee’s 'No Splices' and 'Ablution' are also musical tongue twisters a la Tristano. Seven tracks feature Peter Ind and Jeff Morton, with Percy Heath and Al Levitt doing duty on three live tracks. Both bassists sound great, both drummers subsidiary. The live tracks show how hot this supposed iceberg could be, and may surprise listeners who do not know his spectacular Motion date with Elvin Jones."
Jazz Times
W - Lee Konitz in Harvard Square
YouTube: In Harvard Square 1954 (full album)

Amazingly, The Indians Are Even Better Than They Seem

"The Cleveland Indians are officially on baseball’s greatest hot streak in more than eight decades. With 21 consecutive victories, they’re now tied for the longest winning streak in MLB history with the 1935 Chicago Cubs, moving one game ahead of the 2002 'Moneyball' Oakland A’s for the American League’s all-time record. If the Indians tack on another win, they’ll break a record older than the franchise’s World Series drought — perhaps a portent of more history to be shattered next month. And yet, even after all that winning, the Indians’ record still (still!) masks a much better ballclub underneath it. That’s right, the team that has won 21 straight is better than you think. ..."
FiveThirtyEight (Video)
YouTube: Amazingly, the indians are even better than they seem

Wednesday, September 13

The Complex Geometry of Islamic Art & Design: A Short Introduction

Islamic Art Patterns | Islamic motifs, whether floral, calligraphic orgeometric
"When you think of the accomplishments of the Islamic world, what comes to mind? For most of this century so far, at least in the West, the very notion has had associations in many minds with not creation but destruction. In 2002, mathematician Keith Devlin lamented how 'the word Islam conjures up images of fanatical terrorists flying jet airplanes full of people into buildings full of even more people' and 'the word Baghdad brings to mind the unscrupulous and decidedly evil dictator Saddam Hussein.' ..."
Open Culture (Video)

"(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" - The Clash (1977)

Wikipedia - "'(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais' is a song by the English punk rock band The Clash. It was originally released as a 7-inch single, with the b-side 'The Prisoner', on 16 June 1978 through CBS Records. ... The song showed considerable musical and lyrical maturity for the band at the time and is stylistically more in line with their version of Junior Murvin's 'Police and Thieves' as the powerful guitar intro of "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" descends into a slower ska rhythm, and was disorienting to a lot of the fans who had grown used to their earlier work. ... '(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais' starts by recounting an all-night reggae 'showcase' night at the Hammersmith Palais in Shepherd's Bush Road, London, that was attended by Joe Strummer, Don Letts and roadie Rodent and was headlined by Dillinger, Leroy Smart and Delroy Wilson. ..."
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais (Live), (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais

The Peculiar Poetry of Paris’s Lost and Found

It was under Napoleon, in 1804, that lost objects began to be centralized at the headquarters of the Police Prefecture, and not long after that the Bureau of Found Objects was officially formed.
"On the southern edge of Paris, a five-thousand-square-foot basement houses the city’s lost possessions. The Bureau of Found Objects, as it is officially called, is more than two hundred years old, and one of the largest centralized lost and founds in Europe. Any item left behind on the Métro, in a museum, in an airport, or found on the street and dropped, unaddressed, into a mailbox makes its way here, around six or seven hundred items each day. Umbrellas, wallets, purses, and mittens line the shelves, along with less quotidian possessions: a wedding dress with matching shoes, a prosthetic leg, an urn filled with human remains. The bureau is an administrative department, run by the Police Prefecture and staffed by very French functionaries—and yet it’s also an improbable, poetic space where the entrenched French bureaucracy and the societal ideals of the country collide. ... It is with a similar hint of romance that many French people d’un certain âge embrace this mythical public service, though those in the younger generation, armed with smartphones and having never heard the song, often do not know of its existence. ..."
New Yorker

Tuesday, September 12

John Zorn - Naked City (1990)

"Like a car radio stuck on scan mode, John Zorn's 'Naked City' skips unstoppably from style to style. Country twang, noise, arena rock, New Orleans R & B, reggae, polka, hard-core rock, bossa nova and Mr. Zorn's sentimental favorite, greasy organ-combo themes of detective shows and films noirs with throbbing saxophone solos - they all turn up in segments that might last 30 seconds (if they're lucky) before the next jolting genre hop. Mr. Zorn doesn't bother with transitions. While he and his musicians create every sudden textural shift themselves, without technological assistance, his guides are the splice, the jump cut, the video edit - not to mention the jack-in-the-box and its more sinister relatives in funhouses and horror movies. In his music, coherence is barely more than propinquity; one sound or style simply doesn't predict the next. ..."
W - Naked City
amazon, Spotify
YouTube: Naked City (Live), You Will Be Shot (Live), A Shot In The Dark (Amsterdam 1989), James Bond Theme (Amsterdam 1989) John Zorn - sax, composer, Joey Baron - drums, Fred Frith - bass, Wayne Horvitz - kbds, Bill Frisell - gtr.
YouTube: Naked City [Full Album]

2009 March: John Zorn, 2010 August: Spillane 2011 October: Filmworks Anthology : 20 Years of Soundtrack Music, 2012 September: Marc Ribot, 2013 January: Bar Kokhba and Masada, 2013 September: Masada String Trio Sala, 2014 January: Full Concert Jazz in Marciac (2010), 2014 March: "Extraits de Book Of Angels" @ Jazz in Marciac 2008, 2015 June: The Big Gundown - John Zorn plays Ennio Morricone (1985), 2015 July: News for Lulu (1988), 2016 March: Film Works 1986-1990, 2017 March: John Zorn Is Rolling The Stone From Avenue C To The New School.

Italian neorealism

Rome, Open City (1945) - Roberto Rossellini
Wikipedia - "Italian neorealism (Italian: Neorealismo), also known as the Golden Age of Italian Cinema, is a national film movement characterized by stories set amongst the poor and the working class, filmed on location, frequently using non-professional actors. Italian neorealism films mostly contend with the difficult economic and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy, representing changes in the Italian psyche and conditions of everyday life, including poverty, oppression, injustice, and desperation. ... Neorealist films were generally filmed with nonprofessional actors although, in a number of cases, well-known actors were cast in leading roles, playing strongly against their normal character types in front of a background populated by local people rather than extras brought in for the film. They are shot almost exclusively on location, mostly in rundown cities as well as rural areas due to its forming during the post-war era. ..."
cineCollage :: Italian Neorealism
10 great Italian neorealist films
15 Essential Italian Neorealism Films You Need To Watch
NY Times: Neorealism in Postwar Italy
YouTube: How Italian Neorealism Brought the Grit of the Streets to the Big Screen, Italian Neorealism

Bicycle Thieves (1948) - Vittorio De Sica

Eileen Myles Remembers John Ashbery

"John Ashbery died nearly a week ago. He was born in 1927 and he died this year, our year, 2017. He was perfectly ninety. His birthday was July 28th. In honor of this big one people recorded his long poem 'Flow Chart' and sent it to him, they (we) wrote paragraphs about who he and his work was for them. He received all these encomiums, they made him happy and then he died. John was a Leo. He leaves a partner, David Kermani who he lived with for over 30 years. In his life-time John Ashbery published more than 20 books, the 8th of which, Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror in 1976 won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle making him the most celebrated poet of our time. Nobody else got all three. So he was a famous poet for the last forty years of his life and he was a generous one, blurbing books, writing recommendations, and pieces like this, so many, when important peers of his died. Of his generation he was the last man standing, and the great one. He was a sweet and a generous and a private man. ..."

2008 June: Eileen Myles, 2010 August: Inferno, 2015 February: “A Thrashing, Generous Intelligence”: Eileen Myles’s Inferno chosen for Slate/Whiting Second Novel List, 2015 August: The Women of the Avant-Garde, 2016 April: The Poet Idolized by a New Generation of Feminists

Monday, September 11

Painting prewar New York from the outside in

"Art that captures a single moment of beauty and activity on New York’s streets is always captivating. But there’s something to be said for images that reveal something about Manhattan from a far away vantage point, showing a city not in the center but on the sidelines. Leon Kroll, born in New York in 1884 and a contemporary of George Bellows, Robert Henri, and other social realists, gives us that sidelined city. Kroll, who studied at the Art Students League and exhibited at the famous 1913 Armory Show, was known for his nudes and country or seaside landscapes, and he also painted Central Park, Broadway, and other city locations. ..."

The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief - V.S. Naipaul (2010)

"In 2001, when the Swedish Academy awarded Sir Vidia Naipaul the Nobel prize in literature, it described him as the heir to Joseph Conrad: 'The annalist of the destinies of empires in the moral sense: what they do to human beings… the memory of what others have forgotten, the history of the vanquished.' There are plenty who would have begged to disagree, for Naipaul has regularly attracted criticism, from Edward Said among others, for his dismissive remarks on the cultures of his native Trinidad, on Islam, Pakistan and more. The Masque of Africa is his latest – quite likely last – full-length work of non-fiction. It is a quest through the continent for the spirit of African belief, the belief systems that preceded the arrival of Christianity and Islam – which is very much in keeping with the legacy of Joseph Conrad, who is referenced several times in the book. ..."
NYBooks: Naipaul’s Mysterious Africa
NY Times: The Nobelist and the Pygmies

2012 February: V. S. Naipaul, 2013 February: A Bend in the River (1979), 2015 July: Guerrillas (1975), 2016 March: In a Free State (1971).

What's In My Bag? - Marshall Crenshaw

"Accomplished musician, singer and songwriter Marshall Crenshaw started his career by playing in several high school bands in the Detroit area. In 1978 Crenshaw left Michigan for a role as John Lennon in the Broadway musical Beatlemania, performing and touring for over a year. He then started a New York-based trio with his brother Robert, recording the single "Something's Gonna Happen," which led to a deal with Warner Brothers. Crenshaw's eponymous debut album was released in 1982 and included the song 'Someday, Someway,' which reached #36 on the Billboard Top 100 chart. He has released albums consistently ever since, most recently two EPs in 2014, Red Wine and Move Now. ..."
Amoeba (Video)

Sunday, September 10

The Pizza Show

"The inaugural episode of The Pizza Show kicks off in Brooklyn. Our host Frank Pinello, a born and bred Brooklynite, remembers the importance of his neighborhood pizzeria growing up. We start at Roberta's in Bushwick, a pizzeria that has truly changed an entire neighborhood. Then we spend some time with Mark Iacono, owner of Lucali in Carroll Gardens, who built his restaurant by hand and is working tirelessly to preserve the tradition of his neighborhood through pizza. And what would any pizza show be without visiting the king: Dom DeMarco of Di Fara in Midwood? Dom is a legend, and even when great pizzaiolos visit him, like Frank and Mark, they can end up questioning their own pies. ..."
Munchies (Video)
The Pizza Show - Full Episodes (Video)
Welcome to The Pizza Show (Trailer) (Video)

2014 June: Pizza, 2014 October: Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box (NYC), 2016 July: Q&A: Antoinette Balzano and Cookie Cimineri of Totonno’s

Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices / The Sound of the Atom Splitting (1988)

"... This song is about a day in the life of a very ordinary person, its lyrics from the school of Alan Bennett, its music from the opera via the rave. Tennant woke up one morning with its title in mind, ready to write a song that contained elements of his own life. The 'party animal' mentioned at the start of the song, for example, his music writer friend Jon Savage, who used to call him every morning. (Tennant said in the liner notes to the 2001 reissue of Introspective that Savage wasn’t quite that rowdy, 'but in the 80s he did go out more'.) The 'brochures about the sun' were ones Tennant had picked up from a travel agent and were lying on the table in front of him as he wrote. He had also recently talked to his mother about his enjoyment of solitude as a boy, about 'a world of my own at the back of the garden', although in his secret life he was a Cavalier, not a 'roundhead general'. ..."
Guardian: Pet Shop Boys – 10 of the best
W - Left To My Own Devices
YouTube: Left To My Own Devices, Left to my own devices - live @ Wembley 1989, Left To My Own Devices (Live), The sound of the atom splitting

2008 September: Pet Shop Boys, 2010 November: Pet Shop Boys - 1985-1989, 2011 January: Behaviour, 2011 May: Very, 2011 December: Bilingual, 2012 March: "Always on My Mind", 2012 August: Nightlife, 2012 September: "Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes off You)", 2012 December: Release, 2013 March: Pandemonium Tour, 2013 November: Leaving, 2014 April: Introspective (1988), 2014 August: Go West, 2015 January: "So Hard"(1990), 2015 February: "I'm with Stupid" (2006), 2015 July: Thursday EP (2014), 2016 May: "Twenty-something" (2016).

Cassini Flies Toward a Fiery Death on Saturn

An illustration showing Cassini above Saturn’s northern hemisphere before making a final dive into the planet’s atmosphere.
"The Cassini spacecraft that has orbited Saturn for the last 13 years would weigh 4,685 pounds on Earth and, at 22 feet high, is somewhat longer and wider than a small moving van tipped on its rear. Bristling with cameras, antennas and other sensors, it is one of the most complex and sophisticated spy robots ever set loose in interplanetary space. On Friday morning, the whole world will hear it die. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the scientists of the Cassini mission will figuratively ride their creation down into oblivion in the clouds of Saturn. They will be collecting data on the makeup of the planet’s butterscotch clouds until the last bitter moment, when the spacecraft succumbs to the heat and pressure of atmospheric entry and becomes a meteor. So will end a decades-long journey of discovery and wonder. ..."
NY Times (Video)
W - Cassini–Huygens
Cassini: The Grand Finale
Discover Magazine
Saturn's icy rings up close

Saturday, September 9

Independence Ska and The Far East Sound - Original Ska Sounds From The Skatalites 1963 - 65

"Unique new Soul Jazz Records’ Collectors Limited-Edition 7-inch box set special edition release from the greatest ska band of all time! Ten stone-cold classic, killer tracks from Studio One, brought together here on this one-off pressing limited-edition box set containing five mighty seven-inch singles which bring together seminal, rare and classic tunes collected together here for the first time ever. The Skatalites were the definitive Jamaican group, who first came together in Kingston in the late 1950s and featured the acknowledged finest musicians in the country - Tommy McCook Rolando Alphonso Lester Sterling, Lloyd Brevett Lloyd Knibb, Don Drummond, Jah Jerry Haynes, Jackie Mittoo, Johnny Moore and Jackie Opel. In 1963 they became the house band at Clement 'Sir Cosxone' Dodd's newly opened Studio One at 13 Brentford Road. ..."
Soul Jazz Records (Audio)
amazon, Spotify
YouTube: Don Drummond & The Skatalites - Russian Ska Fever, Independent Anniversary Ska

Don Drummond and Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd in the studio

Morocco's Cinema City

"'Walk past ancient Egypt and then turn left at Tibet,' says Amine Tazi, general manager of Africa’s largest film and studio complex. 'That’s where we filmed the Saudi tv series Omar,' about the second caliph of Islam, Omar ibn al-Khattab. If the desert film sets look even vaguely familiar to a visitor, he explains, that’s because they probably are: Recently they were also backdrops for, among other things, episodes of the us television hits Homeland and Game of Thrones. But Omar took a full six months of shooting to produce 30 episodes, in Arabic. That was solid business for the two studios Tazi manages, Atlas and CLA, which were, until this year, solely responsible for making the town of Ouarzazate, poised between the Sahara desert and the Atlas Mountains in eastern Morocco, into a continental capital of cinema. ..."

The Customer is Always Wrong - Mimi Pond (2017)

"The Customer is Always Wrong is the saga of a young naïve artist named Madge working in a restaurant of charming drunks, junkies, thieves, and creeps. Oakland in the late seventies is a cheap and quirky haven for eccentrics and Mimi Pond folds the tales of the fascinating sleaze-ball characters that surround young Madge into her workaday waitressing life. Outrageous and loving tributes and takedowns of her co-workers and satellites of the Imperial Cafe create a snapshot of a time in Madge’s life where she encounters who she is, and who she is not. Told in the same brash yet earnest style as her previous memoir Over Easy, Pond’s storytelling gifts have never been stronger than in this epic, comedic, standalone graphic novel. Madge is right back at the Imperial with its great coffee and depraved cast, where things only get worse for her adopted restaurant family while her career as a cartoonist starts to take off. ..."
Drawn and Quarterly
The Comics Journal
Mimi Pond

Friday, September 8

Three Decks, Six Minutes, Twelve Layers

"If you were to just hear — rather than also watch — this track by the artist known as Amulets, you might wonder about the little clickety clacks that occur six times, first at five seconds in, then at half a minute in, and then at just past the minute-and-a-half marker, and then again in quicker succession, within 30 seconds of each other, toward the track’s end. These clicks, sharp and fragile, appear amid and yet apart from the otherwise wooly-lush six minutes of music. ... This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at More from Amulets, aka Randall Taylor, at and"
AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette (Video)
Amulets (Video)

Midnight Cowboy - John Schlesinger (1969)

"Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. The film was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Jon Voight alongside Dustin Hoffman. Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Salt and Barnard Hughes. The film won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was the first gay-related Best Picture winner. In addition, it was the only X-rated film ever to win Best Picture, though its rating has since been changed to R. It has since been placed 36th on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest American films of all time, and 43rd on its 2007 updated version. In 1994, the film was deemed 'culturally, historically or aesthetically significant' by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. ..."
AMC: Filmsite
Guardian - The film that makes me cry: Midnight Cowboy
15 Uncensored Facts About Midnight Cowboy (Video)
Midnight Cowboy: The “X-rated” film that won 3 Academy Awards
NY Times (By Vincent Canby May 26, 1969)
YouTube: Trailer - HQ, Opening Scene

Lords of the Flea

Spring rolls, from a vendor at Smorgasburg.
"It’s an unseasonably warm day in early November, the ground wet and puddle-speckled from showers that blew over earlier. Everyone’s removing hats, folding up scarves, tucking jackets under armpits. Though the day is just an anomaly in Brooklyn’s steady descent into winter (the next day would be gray and chilly), it has the exuberant feel of early spring. It’s ideal weather for Smorgasburg, the outdoor food market. Today being Saturday, Smorgasburg is at East River State Park in Williamsburg, a bare-bones space facing the water. (On Sundays, the fair moves to the Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO.) Food vendors have set up their stalls in the shade of a waterfront high-rise, their chalk signs advertising freshly made offerings: pupusas with pickled cabbage, organic beef hot dogs topped with sesame slaw, blood-orange donuts, beet burgers. Near one stall, a boy chows down on some sort of fusion taco; pulled pork and pickled radish dangle ominously, but he expertly cradles the tortilla, managing not to add any new stains to his soccer jersey. ..." (Dec. 19, 2013)

Thursday, September 7

What to Make of the Red Sox’s Apple Watch Scandal

Sign-stealing has long been a strategy for baseball teams to predict how a pitcher will throw, but the controversy about the Red Sox’s behavior underscores the litigiousness of modern sports.
"In 1948, while locked in a tight pennant race, the Cleveland Indians resorted to some shady maneuvers, what the team’s owner, Bill Veeck, later cheekily described in his memoir as 'gamesmanship—the art of winning without really cheating.' The team had its groundskeeper mess with the height of the grass and the pitcher’s mound to better suit its players, moved the outfield fence in or back depending on each day’s opponent, and, most deviously, instituted a system of sign-stealing. A team employee, sitting in the center-field scoreboard, would use a portable telescope to spy on the opposing catcher’s fingers, decipher the code he was using with his pitcher to call pitches, and signal the next pitch to the batter by putting up a white or dark card in an opening in the scoreboard, where the hitters knew to look. ... Veeck, who died in 1986, would have approved of the stratagem copped to by the Boston Red Sox this week. On Tuesday, the team admitted to using an Apple Watch as part of a ploy to steal signs from opposing teams during recent home games, including those against their archrival, the New York Yankees. ..."
New Yorker
NY Times: How Red Sox Used Tech, Step by Step, to Steal Signs From Yankees
The Ringer: The Red Sox Have Given Us Spygate 2.0 and I Am Abso-Freaking-Lutely Thrilled (Video)
Vanity Fair: Sports Media Slam Red Sox for High-Tech Cheating
SI (Video)
ESPN: Dustin Pedroia downplays scandal: 'Don't think this should be news' (Video)

Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia sits in the dugout prior a game against the Cleveland Indians.

2017 April: Baseball color line, 2017 June: Racist taunts stir up ancient pains in Boston

Horace Silver Trio and Art Blakey - Sabu (1953)

"Several early-'50s sessions were culled to produce this must-have collection of pianist Horace Silver in a rare trio setting. Together with longtime partner Art Blakey on drums and the likes of Gene Ramey, Curly Russell, and Percy Heath on bass, Silver masterfully swings through several of his most famous compositions and a few standards. Classic tunes like 'Horoscope,' 'Quicksilver,' 'Ecaroh,' and 'Opus de Funk' are given superb readings here as Silver and Blakey display their legendary kinship. Silver's powers of interpretation are in full stride as well, with great standards like 'Thou Swell,' 'I Remember You,' and 'How About You' getting sparkling, fresh-sounding treatments. Also included in this set are two startling all-percussion jams from Blakey and conga master Sabu Martinez that foreshadow Blakey's groundbreaking Orgy in Rhythm sessions a few years later."
W - Horace Silver Trio and Art Blakey - Sabu
YouTube: Horace Silver Trio & Art Blakey + Sabu [1953] | Full Album

2017 March: A Night at Birdland Vol. 1 - Art Blakey (1954)

Namwali Serpell

"Namwali Serpell was born in Zambia in 1980. She lives in San Francisco. Her first novel, The Old Drift, is forthcoming with Hogarth Press (Penguin Random House) in 2018. Serpell won the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing for her story, 'The Sack.' In 2014, she was chosen as one of the Africa 39, a Hay Festival project to identify the most promising African writers under 40. In 2011, she received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Serpell's first published story, 'Muzungu,' was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009, shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize, and anthologized in The Uncanny Reader. ..."
Namwali Serpell
NYBooks: Namwali Serpell
W - Namwali Serpell
The 2015 Shortlist (Audio)
Namwali Serpell on "The Sack"
YouTube: Namwali Serpell on Short Stories, Lunch Poems: Namwali Serpell

NYBooks: Glossing Africa - Côte d’Ivoire, 1972