Thursday, December 31

Rumor and Sigh - Richard Thompson (1991)

"While Richard Thompson's devotees will tell you the man is a triple-threat genius -- passionate vocalist, compelling songwriter, and sterling guitarist -- even his most loyal supporters will concede that the dour nature of his songs and the no-frills production of many of his albums make the bulk of his catalog tough sledding for the uninitiated. Given this, 1991's Rumor and Sigh is arguably the best album for those wanting to sample Thompson's work for the first time. It captures Thompson at the top of his form on all fronts, but also gives his songs just enough polish to make them approachable for the unconverted, and though it's several shades darker than the average adult-contemporary album, it honors Thompson's obsession with romantic despair and the less pleasant quirks of fate without sounding depressing in the process. ..."
W - Rumor and Sigh
Sway into emotion by Anil Prasad
Revisit: Richard Thompson: Rumor and Sigh
YouTube: I Misunderstood (Live on Sound Opinions), I Feel So Good, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
YouTube: Rumor and Sigh Album

2011 July: Shoot Out the Lights - Richard and Linda Thompson, 2012 February: I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, 2014 March: Videowest 81, 2015 October: Richard & Linda Thompson - Rafferty's Folly (1980)

John Sloan, "Red Kimono on the Roof," 1912

"Red Kimono on the Roof is an oil painting by American artist John Sloan, located in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. ... Red Kimono on the Roof is a matter-of-fact depiction of a woman in a vibrant red wrap hanging laundry on a New York roof, clothespin in her mouth. Sloan's spontaneous brushwork give the painting a sense of immediacy, while his careful attention to light and shade suggests the passage of time. This particular slice of the Lower East Side probably caught Sloan's eye due to the kimono worn by the woman, a charmingly bohemian sartorial choice that meshed well with the novel Maratta color system Sloan had just begun using on his typically sober paintings. This painting also marks a shift from horizontal to vertical in Sloan's canvases, an artistic and perceptual shift that occurred between 1909 and 1915. ..."
YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS - On the Edge of Your Seat: Popular Theater and Film in Early Twentieth-Century American Art. Patricia McDonnell

Kid Thomas (20 June 1934 - 5 April 1970)

"Louis Thomas Watts, commonly known as Kid Thomas (20 June 1934 - 5 April 1970) was an American musician, who created music in the rock, rock & roll and blues genres. Kid Thomas was born in Sturgis, Mississippi. As a child he moved to Chicago, Illinois and learned the harmonica. While he later switched to rock and roll, he initially played blues. By the early 1950s, he played regularly with Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Bo Diddley, and as a solo performer. In 1955 he recorded his first single, 'Wolf Pack', for Federal Records. However, it was not successful, and other recordings he made for Federal went unissued for many years. ... The record has been described as 'one of the wildest rock'n'roll discs of all time with Kid Thomas blowing his harmonica and shouting out the lyrics in a frantic frenzy.' ..."
YouTube: Rockin' this Joint Tonight, The Wolf Pack, You Heard What I Said, Wail Baby Wail

Wednesday, December 30

The Wes Anderson Collection, Chapter 8: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

"... All of Wes Anderson’s films are comedies, and none are. There is always a melancholic undertone, buried just deep enough beneath artifice and artistry that you don’t see it right away. Such is the case with The Grand Budapest Hotel, his eighth and most structurally ambitious movie. After a first viewing, you come away remembering the wit and motion, and wit in motion, of this tale within a tale within a tale. A dowager countess is murdered, a foppish concierge named Gustave is framed and imprisoned, a nation is plunged into war as fascism’s specter looms, but these dire events are cushioned by colors, textures, and madcap chases. ..."
Roger Ebert: The Wes Anderson Collection, Chapter 8: "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Video)
Open Culture: What’s the Big Deal About Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel? Matt Zoller Seitz’s Video Essay Explains (Video)

2013 November: Wes Anderson Honors Fellini in a Delightful New Short Film, 2013 November: Rushmore (1998), 2013 Decemher: Hotel Chevalier (2007), 2014 March: Wes Anderson Collection, 2014 April: The Perfect Symmetry of Wes Anderson’s Movies, 2014 July: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), 2014 August: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), 2014 December: Welcome to Union Glacier (2013), 2015 January: Inhabiting Wes Anderson’s Universe, 2015 July: Books in the Films of Wes Anderson: A Supercut for Bibliophiles, 2015 November: Moonrise Kingdom (2012).

The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn

"The following essay describes work featured in the exhibition 'The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn,' on view at the Beinecke Library from January 13 to March 27, 2010 and in an online exhibition. Both exhibitions high-light the Beinecke Library’s outstanding collection of Erica Van Horn’s work, representing aspects of the artist’s development over more than thirty years, calling special attention to several themes: the artist’s frequent exploration of the details of her life, the objects around her, the routines of her days, and her most familiar relationships; her long fascination with the ways language both describes and creates community, even as it determines individual identity and shapes personal memory; Van Horn’s interest in the essential elements of narrative forms and structures, in both word and image; and the artist’s frequent use and re-use of saved or salvaged materials as the raw materials of her work, documenting her creative process and making both beauty and meaning from fragments and remainders. ..."
[PDF] visualsyntax
Erica Van Horn
Medieval Miniature books by Ericka VanHorn
amazon: The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn

The one-cent coffee stands for poor New Yorkers

"The first booth opened on Ann Street off Broadway in 1887, close to City Hall and the high-octane newspaper offices of Park Row. Called St. Andrew’s One Cent Coffee Stand, it served a half-pint of coffee (plus milk, sugar, and a slice of bread) for a penny. Within months, four more one-cent coffee stands appeared on busy downtown intersections. The menu included hearty fare like beef soup, pork and beans, fish cakes, and fish chowder—with no item costing more than a cent. The concept sounds like a 19th century version of today’s sidewalk coffee and donut cart. But St. Andrew’s wasn’t catering to busy commuters. The clientele was the city’s down and out—the 'newsboys, emigrants, poor families, and street waifs,' as one writer put it in Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine. ..."
Ephemeral New York
1¢ coffee
Half a pint of coffee, with milk and sugar and a slice of bread, 1 cent

Tuesday, December 29

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

"It's hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. At the time, folk had been quite popular on college campuses and bohemian circles, making headway onto the pop charts in diluted form, and while there certainly were a number of gifted songwriters, nobody had transcended the scene as Dylan did with this record. ... This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America as much as that of Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, or Elvis Presley. Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it."
W - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
The Atlantic: Bob Dylan and John Lennon's Weird, One-Sided Relationship
Telegraph: Touring Bob Dylan's New York
Guardian: Suze Rotolo obituary
YouTube: Girl From The North Country (Freewheelin' Alternate Take 1963), A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Freewheelin' Alternate Take 1963), Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (The Gaslight Cafe 1962), Let Me Die In My Footsteps (Finjan Club 1962), Talkin' John Birch Society Blues (Mono Master Rare Recalled Early Pressing 1962), Bob Dylan's Dream (Freewheelin' Alternate Take 1963), I Shall Be Free (Freewheelin' Alternate Take 1962 - Take 5), Ballad Of Hollis Brown (Freewheelin' Outtake 1962 - Take 2), Blowin' In The Wind (Freewheelin' Alternate Take 1962 - Take 1), Rocks And Gravel (Freewheelin' Outtake 1962 - Acoustic Take 3), Corrina Corrina (Freewheelin' Alternate Take 1962 - Acoustic Take 1)

Cassette culture

Wikipedia - "Cassette culture, or the cassette underground, refers to the practices surrounding amateur production and distribution of recorded music that emerged in the late 1970s via home-made audio cassettes. It is characterized by the adoption of home recording by independent artists, and involvement in ad-hoc self-distribution and promotion networks - primarily conducted through mail (though there were a few retail outlets, such as Rough Trade and Falling A in the UK) and fanzines. The culture was in part an offshoot of the mail art movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and participants engaged in tape trading in addition to traditional sales. The culture is related to the DIY ethic of punk, and encouraged musical eclecticism and diversity. Several factors led to the rise of cassette culture. ..."
Pitchfork: This Is Not a Mixtape
Cassette Culture with Stretch Armstrong
Reconsidering the Revival of Cassette Tape Culture
Tales of the Tape: Cassette Culture in the Digital Age
Cassette Culture by Richie Unterberger
Still Rolling: A Revival of Cassette Culture

2010 March: The idea of the cassette: A gallery with musings, 2015 August: Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture - Thurston Moore (2005), 2015 September: OP Magazine / Tape Op

Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershoi From SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark

“Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor” (1901)
"One of Denmark’s most celebrated artists, Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916), was known in his day as 'the painter of tranquil rooms.' He worked during an era of great changes in Western art: Around the turn of the 20th century, traditional realism no longer seemed an adequate way to express the myriad revolutionary ideas percolating all over Europe. As viewers may observe in 'Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershoi From SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark,' a beautiful small exhibition at Scandinavia House, his paintings convey a distinctively modern psychological complexity. But unlike another famous Scandinavian, the Expressionist Edvard Munch, Hammershoi practiced a kind of representational painting dating back to Rembrandt and Vermeer. With their severely muted colors, Hammershoi’s portraits and pictures of women in nearly empty rooms may call to mind the suavely subdued paintings of James McNeill Whistler. ..."
NY Times: Vilhelm Hammershoi’s Paintings at Scandinavia House
Scandinavia House
Vidinfo: Painting Tranquility

Monday, December 28

The Epic - Kamasi Washington (2015)

"The Epic is saxophonist Kamasi Washington's aptly titled, triple-length, 172-minute debut album for Brainfeeder. He is a veteran of L.A.'s music scene and has played with Gerald Wilson, Harvey Mason, Flying Lotus, and Kendrick Lamar (his horn is prominently featured on To Pimp a Butterfly), to name but a few. Most of his bandmates have played together since high school, and it shows. There are two drummers (including Ronald Bruner), two bassists (including Stephen 'Thundercat' Bruner on electric), two keyboardists, trumpet, trombone, and vocals (Patrice Quinn). ... The Epic isn't fusion, retro, or remotely academic. It's 21st century jazz as accessible as it is virtuosic -- feel matters to Washington. Holistic in breadth and deep in vision, it provides a way into this music for many, and challenges the cultural conversation about jazz without compromising or pandering."
Pitchfork (Video)
W - The Epic
amazon: The Epic
Guardian - Best albums of 2015: No 8 – The Epic by Kamasi Washington (Video)
YouTube: The Epic in Concert

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

"Featuring more than 200 color illustrations, the catalogue Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist accompanies the first full-scale survey of the work of Archibald Motley, on view at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from January 30, 2014, through May 11, 2014. Archibald John Motley, Jr., was an American painter, master colorist, and radical interpreter of urban culture. Among twentieth-century American artists, Motley is surely one of the most important and, paradoxically, also one of the most enigmatic. ... Motley's brilliant yet idiosyncratic paintings—simultaneously expressionist and social realist—have captured worldwide attention with their rainbow-hued, syncopated compositions. The exhibition includes the artist's depictions of African American life in early-twentieth-century Chicago, as well as his portraits and archetypes, portrayals of African American life in Jazz Age Paris, and renderings of 1950s Mexico."

2015 June: Archibald Motley

Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933

Ludwig Meidner's I and the City (1913) is part of Neue Galerie.
"New York has just added another outstanding museum exhibition to its autumn roster, this one at the Neue Galerie. 'Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933' is an ambitious effort in a limited setting that successfully combines historical sweep, clockwork organization and an egalitarian approach to mediums. Its nearly 350 pieces — expertly shoehorned into six themed spaces — cover the cultural ferment of the fragile Weimar Republic, as it came to be known, which was sandwiched between the end of World War I and the onset of the Third Reich and was Germany’s first attempt at full democracy. ..."
NY Times: Hope and Dread Are Infused in ‘Berlin Metropolis’
Neue Galerie
Neue Galerie: Thumbnails | Slideshow
Brooklyn Rail

Sunday, December 27

Tales From the Cold War

Defaced cars outside the Stasi headquarters in Berlin.
"'We gain our experiences of life in the form of catastrophe,' said Bertold Brecht in his discussion of the detective novel. Catastrophes give us insight into our society: its depressions, revolutions, and wars. Yet as we follow the unfolding narrative, Brecht goes on, 'we sense that somebody must have done something to precipitate the catastrophe. So, who did what? The murder has taken place. What transpired beforehand? What situation resulted? Now, we might be able to work it out.' Brecht’s observation applies equally well to Cold War spy stories such as Deutschland ’83 and The Americans. Reading detective — or spy — fiction can be likened to interpreting the catastrophes of our age. ..."
YouTube: DEUTSCHLAND 83 Season 1 TRAILER (2015)
hulu: The Americans (Video)
IMDb: Bridge of Spies (Video)

The Band With The Hawks - The Silver Dome 1989

The Band With The Hawks: Levon, Rick, Garth and Terry with The Band and The Hawks 1989
YouTube: Rain Down Tears, Ophelia, W S Walcott Medicine Show, Twilight
YouTube: The Band With The Hawks

2009 July: The Band, 2011 June: Music from Big Pink, 2011 September: The Last Waltz, 2012 December: King Harvest 2012 January: Rare Concert Footage of The Band, 1970, 2015 January: Stage Fright (1970), 2015 October: The Band (1969)

Photographs of everyday life in 1950s New York City discovered in an attic 45 years later

"The vintage photographs you're about to see have an interesting history. They all came from a cardboard box filled with negatives that was unopened and virtually forgotten for over 45 years. When undiscovered photographer Frank Larson passed away in 1964, his wife Eleanora boxed up all of their possessions and moved out of their retirement home in Lakeville, Connecticut. The box of negatives was one of these items, and it has remained with the family ever since, tucked away in storage. ...Inside the box were over 100 envelopes filled with mostly medium-format, 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" negatives. The packets were marked by date and location, carefully sealed and left exactly as he packed them 50 years ago."
Creative Boom

Saturday, December 26

An Introduction to Novelist Gilbert Sorrentino’s Bay Ridge

"... Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in the southwestern corner of Brooklyn. ... By the time Gil was born, in 1929, Bay Ridge wasn’t the countryside. Anyone who’s read Steelwork or Crystal Vision or Red the Fiend or Little Casino or A Strange Commonplace or The Abyss of Human Illusion knows Gil’s Bay Ridge was no artists’ colony. The streets in his Brooklyn books are home to an insular neighborhood-culture of poolrooms, taverns and candystores, populated by the unhappily married and the miserably unattached, vets and laborers and middle managers, all addicted to alcohol, all sexually frustrated—or, rather, sexually frenzied—people whom Sorrentino succinctly describes in A Strange Commonplace as 'tough, flexible and distrustful of crude irony.' ..."
Hey Ridge
The First Gentrifiers
Gilbert Sorrentino: The Lost Laureate of Brooklyn
The Beat Poets of the Forever Generation: Gilbert Sorrentino

2012 January: Gilbert Sorrentino, 2015 April: The Orangery (1978)

Can the Unbeatable Warriors Be Beaten?

"The Golden State Warriors will take an intimidating 27-1 record into their Christmas Day showdown with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the group they conquered in six games in last season’s N.B.A. finals. As good as the Warriors were then, they are better now, led by the increasingly amazing Stephen Curry, who has bumped James aside as the most dynamic player in the league. So how do you beat Curry and his supporting cast? How do you cope with a team that ranks No. 1 in the league in offense, and a respectable No. 7 in defense, and uses the 3-pointer to simply overwhelm the opposition? The New York Times posed those questions to some smart basketball minds at all levels of the game — high school, college and the pros. ..."
NY Times

Wayne Shorter - JuJu (1964)

"Fulfilling the potential promised on his Blue Note debut, Night Dreamer, Wayne Shorter's JuJu was the first great showcase for both his performance and compositional gifts. Early in his career as a leader, Shorter was criticized as a mere acolyte of John Coltrane, and his use of Coltrane's rhythm section on his first two Blue Note albums only bolstered that criticism. The truth is, though, that Elvin Jones, Reggie Workman, and McCoy Tyner were the perfect musicians to back Shorter. Jones' playing at the time was almost otherworldly. He seemed to channel the music through him when improvising and emit the perfect structure to hold it together. Workman too seemed to almost instinctively understand how to embellish Shorter's compositions. ... From the African-influenced title track (with its short, hypnotic, repetitive phrases) to the mesmerizing interplay between Tyner and Shorter on 'Mahjong,' the album (which is all originals) blooms with ideas, pulling in a world of influences and releasing them again as a series of stunning, complete visions."
W - JuJu
Wayne Shorter’s masterpiece album Speak No Evil turns 50 (VIdeo)
YouTube: JuJu

Friday, December 25

Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949

Fork, Andre Kertesz
"The creative possibilities explored through photography were never richer or more varied than in the years between the First and Second World Wars, when photographers approached figuration, abstraction, and architecture with unmatched imaginative fervor. This vital moment is dramatically captured in the more than 300 photographs that constitute the Thomas Walther Collection at The Museum of Modern Art. This remarkable group of objects is presented together for the first time to coincide with the culmination of the Thomas Walther Collection Project—a four-year collaboration between the Museum’s curatorial and conservation staff, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has transformed our understanding of the medium’s material history from this era. Made on the street and in the studio, intended for avant-garde exhibitions or the printed page, these objects provide unique insight into the radical intentions of their creators. ..."
MoMA: Object:Photo
MoMA: Thomas Walther Collection
New Yorker: Image Conscious
NY Times: Black and White and Accessible All Over

The Peel Sessions Album - Wire (1989)

"In 1978 and 1979, Wire taped three sessions for the John Peel show. Most artists might have taken the opportunity afforded by a coveted Peel session to promote a recent or forthcoming release. Wire did otherwise. Wire often moved swiftly on to new projects once material had been committed to vinyl. Consequently, only one of the numbers chosen by the group for its first BBC session in January 1978 was from the recent debut album, Pink Flag. ... Although The Peel Sessions hints at early Wire's weaknesses without regular producer Mike Thorne -- who seemed uniquely capable of bringing the group's sound into focus -- the material collected here does nothing to diminish Wire's status as the most innovative and influential band of the punk era."
W - The Peel Sessions Album
Pink Flag: The Peel Sessions
I Love Total Destruction
YouTube: On Returning (The Peel Sessions), German Shepherds, Boiling Boy, Mutual Friend, Drill

2009 January: Wire, 2012 January: On the Box 1979., 2013 September: Chairs Missing (1978), 2014 June: 154 (1979), 2014 July: Document And Eyewitness (1979-1980), 2015 April: The Ideal Copies: Graham Lewis Of Wire's Favourite Albums, 2015 July: Pink Flag (1977).

Thursday, December 24

A View from the Bridge - Arthur Miller (1955)

Wikipedia - "A View from the Bridge is a play by American playwright Arthur Miller, first staged on September 29, 1955 as a one-act verse drama with A Memory of Two Mondays at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. The play was unsuccessful and Miller subsequently revised the play to contain two acts; this version is the one with which audiences are most familiar today. The two-act version premièred in the New Watergate theatre club in London's West End under the direction of Peter Brook on October 11, 1956. The play is set in 1950s America, in an Italian American neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It employs a chorus and narrator in the character of Alfieri. Eddie, the tragic protagonist, has an improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine. Miller's interest in writing about the world of the New York docks originated with an unproduced screenplay that he developed with Elia Kazan in the early 1950s (entitled The Hook) that addressed corruption on the Brooklyn docks. Kazan later directed On the Waterfront, which dealt with the same subject. Miller said that he heard the basic account that developed into the plot of A View from the Bridge from a lawyer who worked with longshoremen, who related it to him as a true story. ..."
Guardian: A View from the Bridge five-star review – Ivo van Hove reinvents Arthur Miller
NY Times - Review: ‘A View From the Bridge’ Bears Witness to the Pain of Fate
NPR: Brits Doing Brooklyn: 'A View From The Bridge' Crosses The Sea To Broadway (Video)
[PDF] A View from the Bridge - Arthur Miller

2011 April: The Misfits (1961), 2012 June: Before Air-Conditioning (1998), 2014 December: The Crucible (1953)

Atlanta: Darker Than Blue

"Here's a deep dive to keep you occupied through the holidays. Atlanta: Darker Than Blue is a fascinating history of the city presented by Blvck Vrchives. A sobering decades-long look at black life in the black mecca, it covers the trials, tragedy, and triumphs. It's easily the most compelling photographic retrospective of Atlanta that I have ever seen. Set to the music of Curtis Mayfield's 'We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue,' the video component (embedded below) starts with civil rights-era Atlanta and the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then travels through the rise of Mayor Maynard Jackson, the decimation of the Atlanta Child Murders, the destitute condition of public housing in the ’70s/’80s; to the hip-hop era, Freaknik, and Dre's proclamation giving rise to the South. ..."
Creative Loafing
Atlanta: Darker Than Blue
vimeo: Atlanta: Darker Than Blue (Introduction)

Red Rackham's Treasure - The Adventures of Tintin (1943)

Wikipedia - "Red Rackham's Treasure (French: Le Trésor de Rackham le Rouge) is the twelfth volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. The story was serialised daily in Le Soir, Belgium's leading francophone newspaper, from February to September 1943 amidst the German occupation of Belgium during World War II. Completing an arc begun in The Secret of the Unicorn, the story tells of young reporter Tintin and his friend Captain Haddock as they launch an expedition to the Caribbean to locate the treasure of the pirate Red Rackham. ..."
Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure
YouTube: Red Rackham's Treasure 20:13

2008 May: Georges Remi, 1907-1983, 2010 July: The Adventures of Tintin: Breaking Free, 2011 December: Prisoners of the Sun, 2012 January: Tintin: the Complete Companion, 2012 December: Snowy, 2015 August: The Black Island (1937), 2015 September: King Ottokar's Sceptre (1938)

Wednesday, December 23

Egg Cream

Eddie's Sweet Shop's egg cream is made with a homemade chocolate syrup.
Wikipedia - "An egg cream is a beverage consisting of milk, carbonated water, and chocolate syrup. The drink contains neither eggs nor cream. The egg cream is almost exclusively a fountain drink. Although there have been several attempts to bottle it, none has been wholly successful, as its fresh taste and characteristic head require mixing of the ingredients just before drinking. Most writing on the egg cream assumes that it originated in New York City and most often that it originated among Eastern European Jewish immigrants. This has led to a variety of claims meant to explain the widely-noted paradox that the New York City egg cream is made with neither eggs nor cream. ..."
Requiem for an Egg Cream: In Search of a New York Classic
Brooklyn's Finest: The Eight Best Egg Creams in New York City
New York Egg Cream Recipe
The History of the Egg Cream and How to Make One in the Authentic Brooklyn Style

Moonlighting: Live at the Ash Grove - Van Dyke Parks (1998)

"Since Van Dyke Parks has never released a greatest hits album (okay, he's never had any hits) in the U.S., this long-overdue concert album, which draws on material from his studio recordings dating back to 1968's Song Cycle, is a welcome sampler of his stunning, if small, body of work from 'The All Golden' (Song Cycle) to 'Orange Crate Art' (the title track from his duet album with Brian Wilson). The melodic invention and masterful mixing of styles confirm Parks's hidden status as one of the great American composers, a status that has gone unremarked only because of his reclusiveness and tendency to operate only on the margins of the Los Angeles pop scene. He is a miniaturist, to be sure, and nothing if not quirky. His heavily -- and not always coherently -- edited stage remarks call to mind Truman Capote, and his reedy, earnest singing is only adequate. But the music is both steeped in tradition and wholly original, and it's a delight to listen to."
W - Moonlighting: Live at the Ash Grove
Spotify, amazon
YouTube: Van Dyke Parks - Beach Boys collaborator (RBMA New York 2013 Lecture) 1:32:39, Van Dyke Parks Rare Live Concert 1992 56:19
YouTube: Jump!, Orange Crate Art, Sail Away, FDR In Trinidad, Delta Queen Waltz, Cowboy, Wings Of A Dove, Danza

2012 July: Van Dyke Parks

Artist and Empire

The Singh Twins, EnTWINed, 2009
"In 21st century Britain, ‘empire’ is highly provocative. Its histories of war, conquest and slavery are difficult and painful to address but its legacy is everywhere and affects us all. Artist and Empire will bring together extraordinary and unexpected works to explore how artists from Britain and around the world have responded to the dramas, tragedies and experiences of the Empire. Featuring a vast array of objects from collections across Britain, including maps, flags, paintings, photographs, sculptures and artefacts, the exhibition examines how the histories of the British Empire have shaped art past and present. Contemporary works within the exhibition suggest that the ramifications of the Empire are far from over. The show raises questions about ownership, authorship and how the value and meanings of these diverse objects have changed through history, it also asks what they still mean to us today."
Tate (Video)
Guardian: Artist and Empire review – a captivating look at the colonial times we still live in
Telegraph: Artist and Empire, Tate Britain, review: 'just not good enough'
Artist and Empire, Tate Britain, exhibition review: Face the past

Tuesday, December 22

Black Messiah - D'Angelo & The Vanguard (2014)

"With this week’s shock release of Black Messiah, soul singer and multi-instrumentalist D'Angelo, the man music critic Robert Christgau once earnestly dubbed 'R&B Jesus,' returns with his first album of new material in 14 years. It was not, as many have suggested, 14 years of silence. The last D'Angelo album, 2000’s Voodoo, was a near perfect communion of buttery soul, Crisco-fried funk, and hip-hop thump, but the video for its calling card, 'Untitled (How Does It Feel?)', a lingering, sensual glance over the singer’s face and chest, turned him into an unwitting sex symbol. Live shows soon descended into catcalling, and D, convinced his music had become an accessory to his looks, slipped slowly out of sight. Dispatches grew scarce and worrisome. There were arrests. There was a car accident. For a while, D'Angelo appeared to follow talented but troubled forbears Marvin Gaye and Sly Stone into the dark. ..."
W - Black Messiah
Black Messiah
NY Times
NPR: Hear The First New D'Angelo Album In 15 Years (Video)
YouTube: The Charade (Live on SNL), Really Love (Live on SNL), Betray My Heart | Spanish Joint (Live at North Sea Jazz Festival), Brown Sugar (Live at North Sea Jazz Festival 2015)
YouTube: Black Messiah

Up in the Old Hotel - Joseph Mitchell (1992)

"The publication of his book Up in the Old Hotel in 1992 ended Joseph Mitchell’s 28-year silence. Strictly speaking, though, Mitchell didn’t break his silence as much as he reopened a long-closed door and then shut it again. Up in the Old Hotel contains no new writing; it is a collection of four of Mitchell’s five previously published books—McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (1943); Old Mr. Flood (1948); The Bottom of the Harbor (1960); and Joe Gould’s Secret (1965). All of the pieces originally appeared in The New Yorker, where Mitchell has worked for more than 50 years. ..."
The Grammar of Hard Facts: Joseph Mitchell’s Up In the Old Hotel
Guardian - Joseph Mitchell: mysterious chronicler of the margins of New York
Up in the old hotel (1952)
The Mohawks in High Steel (1949)
[PDF] Up in the old hotel

2014 August: Joseph Mitchell, 2015 May: Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker by Thomas Kunkel

New York, New York: Julius Erving, the Nets-Knicks Feud, and America’s Bicentennial

"1976 was an awkward time for the United States of America. The previous few years had seen the military massacre college students at home and abandon an unpopular, costly war abroad. A president had resigned, narrowly escaping impeachment. And as James Brown eloquently stated in his song, 'Funky President (People It’s Bad),' times were bad, people:
Stock market going up, Jobs going down
And ain’t no funky jobs to be found
Taxes keep going up, I changed from a glass
Now I drink from a paper cup, It’s getting bad
Amidst all the social tumult, the United States also prepared for the bicentennial of its revolutionary birth. It was a much needed shot of enthusiasm to reinvigorate the triumphant American spirit which was on a prolonged vacation after such harrowing gut checks. ... The dichotomy even extended to basketball. The New York Knickerbockers were falling off the turnip truck, while the New York Nets were riding high. ..."
Pro Hoops History
W - Knicks–Nets rivalry

2011 June: American Basketball Association, 2012 July: Doin’ It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC, 2012 November: Your Guide to the Brooklyn Nets, 2013 October: Rucker Park, 2015 October: Loose Balls - Terry Pluto (2007)

Monday, December 21

In Chile, Where Pablo Neruda Lived and Loved

"The idea of paying a visit to Pablo Neruda’s home in Santiago had come as an afterthought. My husband, Jim, and I had been traveling through Chile, with a single day to spend in the capital. Riding the funicular to the top of Parque Metropolitano, the classic tourist activity, seemed like a requirement. When we got to the bottom again, it deposited us a block away from La Chascona, the house the poet bought in 1951 (while still married to his second wife, Delia del Carril) for his then-secret lover, Matilde Urrutia. A promising stop, perhaps, but I kept my expectations low. I’ve taken a fair number of house tours on my travels — often discovering that all the things I’d most like to see (the artist’s paintings, her desk or painting studio) were either sold off or sent to museums. ..."
NY Times

February 2009: Pablo Neruda, 2011 November: 100 Love Sonnets, 2015 November: The Body Politic: The battle over Pablo Neruda’s corpse.

The Wire

"The Wire is an independent, monthly music magazine covering a wide range of alternative, underground and non-mainstream musics. The Wire celebrates and interrogates the most visionary and inspiring, subversive and radical, marginalised and undervalued musicians on the planet, past and present, in the realms of avant rock, electronica, hiphop, new jazz, modern composition, traditional musics and beyond. Passionate, intelligent and provocative, The Wire wages war on the mundane and the mediocre. Its office is based in London, but it serves an international readership. ..."
The Wire
W - The Wire
vimeo: The Wire Magazine

Joe Hill Louis

"Joe Hill Louis (September 23, 1921 – August 5, 1957), born Lester Hill, was an American singer, guitarist, harmonica player and one-man band. He is significant, along with fellow Memphis bluesman Doctor Ross, as one of only a small number of one-man blues bands to have recorded commercially in the 1950s, and as a session musician for Sun Records. ... His most notable electric blues single 'Boogie in the Park' (recorded July 1950 and released August 1950) featured Louis performing 'one of the loudest, most overdriven, and distorted guitar stomps ever recorded' while playing on a rudimentary drum kit at the same time. It was the only record ever released on Sam Phillips' early Phillips label before founding Sun Records. Louis' electric guitar work is also considered a distant ancestor of heavy metal music. ..."
YouTube: I Feel Like A Million, When I Am Gone, Hydramatic Woman, Tiger Man, Boogie In The Park, We all gotta go sometime + She may be yours, Goin' Away Baby, Keep Away From My Baby, Back Slide Boogie, Got Me A New Woman, A Jumpin' And A Shufflin', Don't Trust Your Best Friend, She's Taking All My Money, Keep Your Arms Around Me, We all gotta go sometime, Dorothy Mae, Gotta Go Baby, BIG LEGGED WOMAN - GOTTA GO BABY, SHE MAY BE YOURS, Jealous Man

Sunday, December 20

Broken Flowers - Jim Jarmusch (2005)

Wikipedia - "Broken Flowers is a 2005 French-American comedy-drama film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and produced by Jon Kilik and Stacey Smith. The film focuses on an aging 'Don Juan' who embarks on a cross-country journey to track down four of his former lovers after receiving an anonymous letter stating that he has a son. The film stars Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy, Chloë Sevigny, and Mark Webb. Don Johnston (Bill Murray), a former Don Juan who made a small fortune in the computer industry, wants to live in quiet retirement. He is content to lounge around watching old movies and listening to classical or easy listening music. ..."
Roger Ebert
NY Times
YouTube: Broken Flowers

2013 November: Rushmore - Wes Anderson (1998), Bill Murray: five best moments. 2014 March: Dead Man - Neil Young (1995) Jim Jarmusch, 2014 July: No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980, 2014 September: Passing Stranger :: The East Vilage Poetry Walk, 2014 October: Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower East Side

Horace Pippin

Domino Players
Wikipedia - "Horace Pippin (February 22, 1888 – July 6, 1946) was a self-taught African-American painter. The injustice of slavery and American segregation figure prominently in many of his works. ... As a boy, Horace responded to an art supply company's advertising contest and won his first set of crayons and a box of watercolors. As a youngster, Pippin made drawings of racehorses and jockeys from Goshen's celebrated racetrack. Prior to 1917, Pippin variously toiled in a coal yard, in an iron foundry, as a hotel porter and as a used-clothing peddler. He was a member of St. John's African Union Methodist Protestant Church. ..."
The Life and Art of Horace Pippin
Museum Syndicate
Washington Post - ‘Horace Pippin: The Way I See It’: A self-taught artist’s learned teacher
YouTube: Horace Pippin: There Will Be Peace DVD

Nouvelle Vague - Nouvelle Vague (2004)

"The impetus behind Nouvelle Vague was two French musician/producers, Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, bringing in various female vocalists who had no knowledge of the songs they'd be covering. Then, hoping to 'forget the initial punk or new wave background of each song,' they tackled 1980s faves from the likes of the Cure, the Clash, and Joy Division. The supposed ignorance of the singers plays well for this record's lack of irony, a big part of what makes it succeed as a well-meaning, well-executed novelty. Nouvelle Vague put their most sacrilegious foot forward, opening the album with a cover of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. ..."
W - Nouvelle Vague
YouTube: Dance With Me, Love will tear us apart (LIVE), In A Manner Of Speaking (Live in Lisbon, Portugal), Ever Fallen In Love, Dancing with Myself
YouTube: Nouvelle Vague 51:13

Saturday, December 19

Gasoline Alley

Wikipedia - "Gasoline Alley is a comic strip created by Frank King and currently distributed by Tribune Media Services. First published November 24, 1918, it is the second-longest-running comic strip in the US (after The Katzenjammer Kids) and has received critical accolades for its influential innovations. In addition to inventive color and page design concepts, King introduced real-time continuity to comic strips by showing his characters as they grew to maturity and aged over generations. ... Skeezix called his adopted father Uncle Walt. Unlike most comic strip children (like the Katzenjammer Kids or Little Orphan Annie) he did not remain a baby or even a little boy for long. He grew up to manhood, the first occasion where real time continually elapsed in a major comic strip over generations. ..."
Growing Old in Gasoline Alley: Ninety-four Years And Counting
New Yorker: An Old Comic Strip About Modern Fatherhood
Heroes Online
Survey 1 Comic Strip Essays: Wade Simpson on “Gasoline Alley” aka “Walt and Skeezix”
vimeo: Chris Ware’s “Gasoline Alley” Memorabilia

The Kinks - "Waterloo Sunset" (1967)

Wikipedia - "'Waterloo Sunset' is a song by British rock band The Kinks. It was released as a single in 1967, and featured on their album Something Else by The Kinks. Composed and produced by Kinks frontman Ray Davies, 'Waterloo Sunset' is one of the band's best known and most acclaimed songs in most territories. It is also their first single that is available in true stereo. ... Despite its complex arrangement, the sessions for 'Waterloo Sunset' lasted a mere ten hours; Dave Davies later commented on the recording: 'We spent a lot of time trying to get a different guitar sound, to get a more unique feel for the record. In the end we used a tape-delay echo, but it sounded new because nobody had done it since the 1950s. I remember Steve Marriott of the Small Faces came up and asked me how we'd got that sound. We were almost trendy for a while.' ..."
Wikipedia (Video)
God Save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety (Video)
The Story Behind The Song: Waterloo Sunset By The Kinks
Waterloo Sunset Lyrics
YouTube: Waterloo Sunset (Live 1973)

2012 February: The Kinks, 2013 July: "Sunny Afternoon", 2015 August: Village Green Preservation Society (1968)

Maleem Mahmoud Ghania With Pharaoh Sanders - The Trance Of Seven Colors (1994)

"Mahmoud Ghania was born in the city of Essaouira in Morocco, on the Atlantic coast. He is the second son of the master of Gnawa music, Maâllem Boubker Guinia (who lived between 1927 and 2000) and the famous clairvoyant and 'moqaddema' A'isha Qabral. This is a totally special album. It is called ’Trance of Seven Colors’’ and is one of the most important albums of Gnawa trance music released in the ‘90s. Not only that it was recorded and produced by Bill Laswell, but what makes this release even more remarkable is the collaboration with legendary jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, described by Ornette Coleman as 'probably the best tenor player in the world.' Sanders is present on almost each recording on the LP (made in Morocco, June 1994), but there are also certain songs where the music is the Gnawans' vision. ..."
The Attic
W - Mahmoud Ghania
YouTube: The Trance Of Seven Colors [Full Album] 1:11:03
La Allah Dayim Moulenah (11:09) Bala Moussaka (3:55) Hamdouchi (9:05) Peace In Essaouira (For Sonny Sharrock) (7:22) Boulandi Samawi (13:54) Moussa Berkiyo / Koubaliy Beriah La’ Foh (4:34) Salat Anbi (8:18) Casa Casa Atougra (5:04) Mahraba (7:47)

Friday, December 18

Chantal Akerman: NOW

"The Belgian-born film-maker Chantal Akerman died in Paris last month at the age of 65. According to Le Monde, she took her own life. Shocked obituaries have appeared all over the world, with the result that many more people now know about Akerman’s death than her life’s work, which is extraordinarily diverse, original and inventive. Her filmography includes adaptations of Proust and Conrad, conventional comedies starring William Hurt, documentaries, biopics, travelogues and political essays, as well as wildly radical departures such as the film that made her name in 1975, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, a mesmerising portrait of a young widow turned prostitute frequently described as a masterpiece of European cinema. ..."
Guardian (Video)
fandon: Daily | “Chantal Akerman NOW”
mubi - The Missing Part: Chantal Akerman's "NOW" Exhibition
3 Quarks Daily
YouTube: 5 - 56VB Chantal Akerman "Now", Chantal Akerman : NOW, Ambika P3: 'Now'

2014 May: Chantal Akerman

1934: A New Deal for Artists

"In 1934, Americans grappled with an economic situation that feels all too familiar today. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration created the Public Works of Art Project—the first federal government program to support the arts nationally. Federal officials in the 1930s understood how essential art was to sustaining America's spirit. Artists from across the United States who participated in the program, which lasted only six months from mid-December 1933 to June 1934, were encouraged to depict 'the American Scene.' The Public Works of Art Project not only paid artists to embellish public buildings, but also provided them with a sense of pride in serving their country. They painted regional, recognizable subjects—ranging from portraits to cityscapes and images of city life to landscapes and depictions of rural life—that reminded the public of quintessential American values such as hard work, community and optimism. ..."
Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution: 1934 Exhibition Slide Show
Washington Post: Philip Kennicott on '1934: A New Deal for Artists' and Depression nostalgia
YouTube: 1934: A New Deal for Artists

Ghetto Priest / Franco Agresta - "I Came" / "Love Fire Burning" (2011)

"Ghetto Priest has been part of the On-U Sound 'family' for some considerable time (initially as a 1990's member of African Head Charge) as a musician and vocalist particularly at Sherwood's live touring shows in recent years. He has only relatively recently started recording as an artist in his own right and has also worked closely with Asian Dub Foundation both live and in the studio. In 2011 he collaborated on a project called Screaming Soul, resulting in the album 'Ghost Inna Shell' and later its AMS-remixed companion 'Ghost Inna Dub'."
SkySaw: Ghetto Priest
YouTube: I Came + Blazing Brass (Jah Works)

Thursday, December 17

Patti Smith - Set Free EP (1978)

"On this date in 1978, Patti Smith released her second EP, Set Free. It was a U.K. only release that contained 'Privilege (Set Me Free)', 'Ask The Angels', a live version of '25th Floor' and a poetry reading called 'Babelfield'. 'Privilege (Set Me Free)' and the studio version of '25th Floor' both appeared on her third album, Easter. 'Ask The Angels' appeared on her second album, Radio Ethiopia. The EP reached the #72 spot on the U.K. singles chart. The New Jersey singer/poet was one of the founders of the New York punk scene and was a regular at CBGB's. She was the last performer on stage on October 15, 2006, the last night that CBGB's was open."
The Post Punk Progressive Pop Party
W - Set Free EP
YouTube: Privilege (Set Me Free) - 5/11/1979 - Capitol Theatre, Ask The Angels, 25th Floor, Babelfield

Who's Afraid of Women Photographers? 1839-1919

"There is a persistent idea that photography, a mechanical/chemical tool for reproducing images, is simply a question of technical skill, and therefore 'something for men'. However, women have played a more important role in the history of this medium than their fellow women artists have in the field of the traditional fine arts. For the first time in France, the exhibition Who’s Afraid of Women Photographers? presented at the Musée de l’Orangerie, tackles the first 80 years of this phenomenon, through its manifestations in France, Britain, Germany and the United States. ..."
Musée d'Orsay (Video)
Who’s Afraid of Women Photographers? Not this Parisian exhibition.
[PDF] Musée d'Orsay: Second Part: 1918-1945
Musée d'Orsay: Who's Afraid of Women Photographers? 1839 until 1945
Musée d'Orsay: Second Part: 1918-1945 (Video)

50 Years From Selma, Jetsonorama and Equality in Brooklyn

"From Selma to Ferguson, Birmingham to Charleston, Jimmie Lee Jackson to Michael Brown, Street Artist Jetsonorama is crossing the country from Arizona to New York and a half-century of America’s struggle with our legacy of racism and injustice. As marches have continued across the country in cities like Ferguson, Oakland, Baltimore, New York, Dallas and Cleveland in the past year addressing issues such as police brutality and racism, the south is taking down confederate flags on state houses and the US is mourning another mass shooting. Now as Americans everywhere are pulling out and waving the stars and stripes to celebrate freedom, this new powerful installation on a Brooklyn wall reminds us of what New York poet Emma Lazarus said, 'Until we are all free, we are none of us free.' ..."
Brooklyn Street Art

Wednesday, December 16

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81)

Wikipedia - "Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880–1881, French: Le déjeuner des canotiers) is a painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Included in the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition in 1882, it was identified as the best painting in the show by three critics. ... The painting, combining figures, still-life, and landscape in one work, depicts a group of Renoir's friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise along the Seine river in Chatou, France. The painter and art patron, Gustave Caillebotte, is seated in the lower right. Renoir's future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with a small dog. On the table is fruit and wine. The diagonal of the railing serves to demarcate the two halves of the composition, one densely packed with figures, the other all but empty, save for the two figures of the proprietor's daughter Louise-Alphonsine Fournaise and her brother, Alphonse Fournaise, Jr, which are made prominent by this contrast. ..."
Phillips Collection
Luncheon of the Boating Party Analysis
Smithsonian: Where’s the Lunch? Looking at Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party
amazon: Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland
YouTube: Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-81

2010 February: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 2010 July: Late Renoir, 2012 February: Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting, 2012 September: Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie, 2014 December: Dance at Le moulin de la Galette (1876), 2015 June: Dance at Bougival (1883).