Sunday, January 31

Breaking the Chain Letter: An Essay on Downtown Music - Kyle Gann

"1. What Is 'Downtown' Music? I have been much identified with what is called 'Downtown' music. In fact, I have been accused of unnecessarily exacerbating tensions between 'Uptown' and 'Downtown' composers. I have been accused of drawing a dichotomy between them that doesn't really exist; or else used to, but does no longer. In this article I would like to define what I consider Downtown music, and defend my allegation that deep and pervasive differences between Uptown and Downtown music still exist. In fact, I perceive a deep bias against Downtown music on the part of the Uptown classical/academic establishment, one which I will document below. I will argue, further, that Downtown composers are victims of widespread discrimination. ..."
Kyle Gann

2009 November: Kyle Gann, 2011 July: Music Downtown

101 Places to Find Great Coffee in New York (2014)

"The number of serious coffee shops in New York has exploded. Good drinks can be found all over the city — even in parts of town that were coffee deserts not long ago. Enter your address to find the shops closest to you."
NY Times
28 Outstanding Coffee Shops in New York City
The 10 Best Coffee Shops in NYC
10 Hottest Coffee Shops in NYC
The best coffee shops in New York
"Good" Coffee Shops in New York City

2010 September: Espresso, April: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World, 2013 May: Coffeehouse, 2015 June: Barista, 2015 August: Coffee Connections at Peddler in SoHo, 2015 November: The Case for Bad Coffee.

Ptah, The El Daoud - Alice Coltrane & Pharoah Sanders (1970)

"Sometimes written off as an also-ran to her more famous husband, Alice Coltrane's work of the late '60s and early '70s shows that she was a strong composer and performer in her own right, with a unique ability to impregnate her music with spirituality and gentleness without losing its edges or depth. Ptah, The El Daoud is a truly great album, and listeners who surrender themselves to it emerge on the other side of its 46 minutes transformed. ... Pharoah Sanders, who at times with John Coltrane seemed like a magnetic force of entropy, pulling him toward increasing levels of chaos, shows all of the innovation and spiritual energy here that he is known for, with none of the screeching. Overlooked and buried for years in obscurity, this album deserves to be embraced for the gem it is."
W - Ptah, The El Daoud
YouTube: Ptah, the el Daoud - Alice Coltrane & Pharoah Sanders - Full Album

Saturday, January 30

Van Gogh's Bedrooms

Bedroom in Arles, 1889
"Vincent van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles is arguably the most famous chambre in the history of art. It also held special significance for the artist, who created three distinct paintings of this intimate space from 1888 to 1889. This exhibition—presented only at the Art Institute of Chicago—brings together all three versions of The Bedroom for the first time in North America, offering a pioneering and in-depth study of their making and meaning to Van Gogh in his relentless quest for home. Van Gogh painted his first Bedroom just after moving into his beloved 'Yellow House' in Arles, France, in 1888. He was so enamored with the work, now in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, that after water damage threatened its stability, he became determined to preserve the composition by painting a second version while at an asylum in Saint-Rémy in 1889. ..."
The Art Institute of Chicago
Musee d'Orsay
W - Bedroom in Arles
Van Gogh Museum (Video)
YouTube: Research in progress: Discoloration of Van Gogh's 'Bedroom', Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom, 1889 

2010 March: Van Gogh Museum, 2010 May: Why preserve Van Gogh's palette?, 2012 April: Van Gogh Up Close, 2015 May: Van Gogh and Nature.

Knoel Scott Interview

"You may not know Knoel Scott but you'll want to. He was part of an epic jazz dynasty that was the Arkestra, Sun Ra's celestial musical machine, in the '70's and '80's, just after KS had finished an impressive academic career. In the '80's, Scott worked with Ola Daru and Jack McDuff among others. After a stint in the Harlem Club scene, Scott was recruited back by Ra, assisting the master himself and band leader/sax-man Marshall Allen. As of late, he's been active in the Philadelphia music scene as well as still touring where he met up with writer Alexander McLean recently at at his studio club in London on September 21st for these series of video interviews below (totally 40 minutes) where he speaks about his work with Ra, the Harlem All-Stars, his BeBop and Beyond project, the creative process and the late, one of a kind singer Leon Thomas. At the end, you even get to see some of the show and hear Scott work some of his aural magic."
Perfect Sound Forever: Knoel Scott (Video)
SUN RA & ME: saxophonist Knoel Scott tells SJF about his time with the legendary bandleader.

Hard Rain - Bob Dylan (1976)

"... Because the actions of American heroes are not allowed to be random, why becomes as important as what. This is particularly true when Dylan fails. To say then that Hard Rain is Dylan's least accessible, most chaotic and contemptuous album since Self Portrait is not enough. It doesn't explain why Dylan has made an album which demystifies the Rolling Thunder Revue instead of memorializing it. The album is an enigma. There is no discernible reason why it's not a double set. Consisting of nine songs (four of which come from Dylan's TV special), Hard Rain ignores many of the songs most strongly associated with the Revue ('Just like a Woman,' 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' and 'Sara,' among others). It's atrociously recorded. ..."
Rolling Stone
W - Hard Rain
Warehouse Eyes
dylan tube: Hard Rain 53:36

Friday, January 29

Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners

"The poet John Wieners lived, from the early nineteen-seventies until his death, in 2002, at the age of sixty-eight, at 44 Joy Street, in Boston, on the back slope of Beacon Hill, where disembowelled couches and gooseneck lamps are abandoned curbside on the first of every month. A few blocks over, and a world away, Robert Lowell spent his childhood at 91 Revere Street; up the hill was the site of the house where Henry Adams had grown up 'under the shadow of the Boston statehouse.' Wieners was part of a small enclave of dropouts and artists in that part of Boston, now replaced by medical students and first-year associates. New York poets ran a thriving mid-century avant-garde, led by Frank O’Hara; San Francisco had the Beats. ... The power of Wieners’s poems, as the new collection Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners (Wave Books), edited by Joshua Beckman, Robert Dewhurst, and CAConrad, demonstrates, is partly anthropological, which is not a failing; poetry has a special way—a brilliant way—of doing anthropology. It takes in the social world through the senses and processes it through the emotions. ..."
New Yorker
A Queer Excess: the Supplication of John Wieners
Jacket2: The hurts of wanting the impossible

2008 July: John Wieners, 2009 December: John Wieners - 1, 2011 May: John Wieners: June 21, 1959, 2012 May: Behind the State Capitol: Or Cincinnati Pike, 2012 August: John Wieners - 707 Scott Street, 2013 January: Mass: John Wieners, 2013 October: Measure (1957-1962), 2015 November: Stars Seen in Person: Selected Journals of John Wieners (2015).

Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far)

"In the seven months since declaring his candidacy for president, Donald Trump has used Twitter to lob insults at presidential candidates, journalists, news organizations, nations, a Neil Young song and even a lectern in the Oval Office. We know this because we’ve read, tagged and quoted them all. Below, a directory of sorts, with links to the original tweets. Insults within the last two weeks are highlighted."
NY Times
NY Times: Introducing the Upshot’s Encyclopedia of Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults

2016 January: Donald Trump and the Joys of Toy Fascism, 2016 January: Sanders Is Not Trump

Collettivo FX Tour Italy, “Behind Every Madman There’s a Village”

"Mad men. Not the sexy selectively nostalgic program about advertising on TV. We speak of the real guys who go mad. It could be illness. Madness may have been inflicted upon you by life or incredible circumstance. It could just be the sight of Sophia Loren again, reminding you that she hasn’t called you for last 50 years. For reasons known and mysterious these are the men who are so idiosyncratic and eccentric in their tastes and behaviors that we are not sophisticated enough to appreciate them fully. Sometimes we say that these men have gone mad, but possibly we are the mad ones. These are the fellas whom the Italian Street Art collective named Collettivo FX decided to paint in towns across their country late last fall. ..."
Brooklyn Street Art

Thursday, January 28

Listen & Watch Hip-Hop Develop From 1989-2015 on Billboard's Chart

Notorious B.I.G. in Brooklyn
"Put on your headphones and prepare for major nostalgia. Billboard partnered with to create an audio timeline of the most popular tracks in rap since 1989, as told by Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs chart data. Listen to and watch the sound of hip-hop develop as different artists, labels and entire regions rise and fall, from the heyday of Public Enemy to viral sensations ignited by Soulja Boy. Experience the full chart here: "
billboard (Video)
The Most Successful Labels in Hip-Hop: A Detailed Analysis (Video)

Laura Poitras: Astro Noise

"Laura Poitras: Astro Noise is the first solo museum exhibition by artist, filmmaker, and journalist Laura Poitras. This immersive installation of new work builds on topics important to Poitras, including mass surveillance, the war on terror, the U.S. drone program, Guantánamo Bay Prison, occupation, and torture. Some of these issues have been investigated in her films, including CITIZENFOUR, which won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary, and in her reporting, which was awarded a 2014 Pulitzer Prize. For the exhibition, Poitras is creating an interrelated series of installations in the Whitney’s eighth-floor Hurst Family Galleries. The exhibition expands on her project to document post–9/11 America, engaging visitors in formats outside her non-fiction filmmaking. ..."
NY Times: Laura Poitras Prepares ‘Astro Noise’ for the Whitney Museum
Vogue: Oscar-Winning Documentarian Laura Poitras Is Emerging—Carefully—Into the Spotlight
W - Laura Poitras

2015 October: CITIZENFOUR (2014)

Wednesday, January 27

The Society of Mind - Marvin Minsky (1986)

Wikiedia - "The Society of Mind is both the title of a 1986 book and the name of a theory of natural intelligence as written and developed by Marvin Minsky. In his book of the same name, Minsky constructs a model of human intelligence step by step, built up from the interactions of simple parts called agents, which are themselves mindless. He describes the postulated interactions as constituting a 'society of mind', hence the title. The work, which first appeared in 1986, was the first comprehensive description of Minsky's 'society of mind' theory, which he began developing in the early 1970s. ... He develops theories about how processes such as language, memory, and learning work, and also covers concepts such as consciousness, the sense of self, and free will; because of this, many view The Society of Mind as a work of philosophy. ..."
The Society of Mind: Written by Marvin Minsky. Formatted for the web by Dylan Holmes. (Video)
[PDF] Society of Mind
YouTube: Marvin Minsky: Mind As Society (excerpt) - Thinking Allowed DVD w/ Jeffrey Mishlove, Interview with Marvin Minsky, Kurzweil Interviews Minsky: Is Singularity Near?

John Sloan, “The Hell Hole,” 1917

Etching and aquatint.
"... Built in the 19th century, the Golden Swan stood until 1928, when the structure was demolished as part of the building of the Sixth Avenue Subway. The longtime proprietor, Thomas Wallace, is widely accepted to be O’Neill’s inspiration for the proprietor of the bar in 'The Iceman Cometh,' the most famous off-Broadway revival of which was itself produced in Greenwich Village. ... Since then the bar has become somewhat of a neighborhood legend, occupying space not on the corner of West 4th and 6th, but in the pages of New York Times local and human interest columns. Even in absentia, the institution evokes the rough and romanticized history of Village Bohemia, with its dark dives where geniuses tortured themselves into producing masterworks. ..."
Golden Swan Garden, the Hell Hole, and “The Iceman Cometh”
Seeing the City: Sloan's New York
Slumming and Black-and-tan Saloons: Racial Intermingling and the Challenging of Color Lines
Art Collection

Notorious Village dive bar the Golden Swan

The Rolling Stones (EP)

Wikipedia - "The Rolling Stones is the debut EP released by The Rolling Stones in January 1964. It was released both to capitalise on their first Top 20 hit 'I Wanna Be Your Man' and to test the commercial appeal of the band before their UK label Decca Records would commit to letting them record an album. The Rolling Stones includes four songs recorded at two separate sessions in August and November 1963. The Rolling Stones features R&B covers of some of the band's favorite artists, and some recent American hits. Impact Sound is officially listed as the EP's producer. Eric Easton is possibly involved, Andrew Loog Oldham produced the opening track 'Bye Bye Johnny'. Despite the rawness of the production, the EP reached no. 1 in the UK EP charts in February 1964, having entered the chart the week after its release. ..."
YouTube: 00:00-02:09 Bye bye Johnny 02:09-04:42 Money 04:42-07:24 You Better move on 07:24-09:30 Poison Ivy

2015 August: Exile on Main Street (1972), 2015 October: "Let's Spend the Night Together" / "Ruby Tuesday" (1967), 2015 December: Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka (1971), 2016 January: Some Girls (1978)

Tuesday, January 26

Counter Currents: Josh MacPhee on the Diggers

"Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Dread Scott to and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here designer, artist, and archivist Josh MacPhee links the ethos of the San Francisco Diggers with his own experiences in DIY publishing and punk activism decades later. ..."

Invisible Hits: The Miracle of The B52's, Live in the Early Days

"Close to four decades after forming, the B52's remain one of the strangest and most radical American rock bands to achieve widespread acceptance. There are myriad reasons why a band as weird and wonderful as this managed to sneak its way into the pop mainstream, but one of them is that from the very beginning, the B52's were an undeniably great live act. ..."
Pitchfork (Video)
The B-52's Stream Unearthed 1979 Live Album (Video)
YouTube: The B-52´s live in Atlanta - 1978, 11/07/80 - Capitol Theatre, Live In Dortmund 1983 | Full Concert, Rock in Rio 1985, Live At Max's Kansas City 1977/05/28 (Late), 1978 WSAI 94.1 FM Chicago

2008 October: The B-52's, 2012 October: The B-52's -1, 2013 May: "Private Idaho", "Give Me Back My Man", 2014 August: "Rock Lobster".

A Shelter’s Icy Reception (March 31, 2015)

An entrance to the BRC, on Clay Street.
"On a recent Saturday afternoon, 50 people gathered inside the Church of the Ascension’s parish hall in Greenpoint. Some came with friends. Some, lacking energy, moved at a leaden pace. Volunteers waited at the door to help the elderly up the three steps. Every Saturday, the church hosts a lunch for the neighborhood’s homeless. That Saturday, beef chili over rice, soup, and cake were served. The group, mostly men, are middle-aged or slightly older. They keep to themselves or speak quietly to one another in Polish, in huddles of two or three. The air feels warm and smells slightly stale. ..."

Monday, January 25

Outsider Art Fair: The director’s cut

James Edward Deeds Jr., Home Sweet Home / Anchor [261/262], 1908-1987.
"‘This year’s Outsider Art Fair will feature 64 exhibitors, the greatest number in our 24-year history,’ says the fair’s director, Rebecca Hoffman. Twenty-four first-time exhibitors will be showing at the fair’s new venue, the Metropolitan Pavilion, in 2016, and here, Hoffman identifies the artists she’s particularly excited to present. ... At Hirschl & Adler, James Edward Deeds Jr.’s Home Sweet Home displays the innocence that became typical of his works: delicately executed crayon and pencil drawings that return to motifs including vehicles, animals, people, buildings and formal gardens. The State Hospital paper on which he worked is the only indication of a less than tranquil life. ..."
Outsider Art Fair 2016
NY Times: At the Outsider Art Fair, the Creative Impulse Is in Its Raw Glory

Music for a New Society - John Cale (1982)

"The aural chaos and intense paranoia of John Cale's 'comeback' albums Sabotage/Live and Honi Soit seemingly left him with very few places left to go, short of setting back-issues of Soldier of Fortune to music. 1982's Music for a New Society was, from a musical standpoint, a remarkable about-face, sounding calm, spare, and spectral where his last few albums had been all rant and rage; the arrangements were dominated by Cale's open, languid keyboard patterns, and there was far more aural 'white space' in their framings than he had permitted himself since The Academy in Peril. ... Spare, understated, and perhaps a masterpiece."
The Quietus: John Cale, M:FANS/Music For A New Society
W - Music for a New Society
Q&A: John Cale On Memorializing Lou Reed & Re-Making Music For A New Society (Video)
John Cale Reworks Music for a New Society as M:FANS, Reissues Original Album
YouTube: Close Watch (Official Video), Close Watch, Back To The End (M:FANS), Thoughtless Kind (M:FANS), Prelude (M:FANS)

2012 November: Songs for Drella - Lou Reed and John Cale

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Water Towers, 1972-95
"In June 1966, the German artist Hilla Becher, who has died aged 81, set off, together with her husband Bernd and their two-year-old son Max, to south Wales in a VW camper, towing an old caravan fitted out as a darkroom. They were there on a six-month British Council bursary to photograph the coalmines’ winding towers and processing plants. Whatever initial reservations the Welsh miners may have had about this unusual German family were overcome when they saw how determined and thorough Hilla and Bernd were with their photography. They used large-format plate cameras, and where necessary, ladders or even scaffolding to construct suitable vantage points from which to photograph. ..."
Guardian - Lost world: Bernd and Hilla Becher's legendary industrial photographs
W - Bernd and Hilla Becher
Fraenkel Gallery
YouTube: Bernd and Hilla Becher, 4 Decades [excerpt]

Sunday, January 24

Amir ElSaffar and Two Rivers - Crisis (2015)

"Crisis chronicles the continuing development of trumpeter Amir ElSaffar’s critically acclaimed Two Rivers Ensemble, a band purpose-built to explore the juncture between jazz and music of the Middle East, in particular the Iraqi maqam. The new work is his reflection on a region in turmoil and strife: revolution, civil war, sectarian violence; a culture’s struggle for survival. It sets aside some of the more exploratory work that he has done in recent years to focus on music that is passionate and visceral, a cry from the heart. ..."
Amir Elsaffar
Jazz album: Crisis by Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble
Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble: Crisis
Soundcloud: Amir ElSaffar, New York, NY
vimeo: Amir ElSaffar and The Two Rivers Ensemble - CRISIS - EPK
YouTube: Love Poem, Trumpet Taqsim + El Sha'ab

On the Beach - Neil Young (1973)

"Following the 1973 Time Fades Away tour, Neil Young wrote and recorded an Irish wake of a record called Tonight's the Night and went on the road drunkenly playing its songs to uncomprehending listeners and hostile reviewers. Reprise rejected the record, and Young went right back and made On the Beach, which shares some of the ragged style of its two predecessors. But where Time was embattled and Tonight mournful, On the Beach was savage and, ultimately, triumphant. ..."
W - On the Beach
The Quietus - From The Darkest Chasms: Neil Young's On The Beach Revisited
Classic Album: Neil Young - On The Beach
YouTube: On the Beach

2008 February: Neil Young, 2010 April: Neil Young - 1, 2010 April: Neil Young - 2, 2010 May: Neil Young - 3, 2010 October: Neil Young's Sound, 2012 January: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, 2012 June: Like A Hurricane, 2012 July: Greendale, 2013 April: Thoughts On An Artist / Three Compilations, 2013 August: Heart of Gold, 2014 March: Dead Man (1995), 2014 August: Ragged Glory - Neil Young + Crazy Horse (1990), 2014 November: Broken Arrow (1996), 2015 January: Rust Never Sleeps (1979), 2015 January: Neil Young the Ultimate Guide, 2015 March: Old Black, 2015 September: Zuma (1975).

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower - Marcel Proust (1919)

The shadow of young girls in flower – at Cricquebœuf
Wikipedia - "... Volume Two: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower. The Narrator's parents are inviting M. de Norpois, a diplomat colleague of the Narrator's father, to dinner. With Norpois's intervention, the Narrator is finally allowed to go see Berma perform in a play, but is disappointed by her acting. Afterwards, at dinner, he watches Norpois, who is extremely diplomatic and correct at all times, expound on society and art. The Narrator gives him a draft of his writing, but Norpois gently indicates it is not good. ... Two years later, the Narrator, his grandmother, and Françoise set out for the seaside town of Balbec. ..."
W - Volume Two: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower.
In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower: The two-minute 'Shadow'
Yale Instructional Technology Group

2008 June: Marcel Proust, 2011 October: How Proust Can Change Your Life, 2012 April: Marcel Proust - À la recherche du temps perdu, 2013 February: Marcel Proust and Swann's Way: 100th Anniversary, 2013 May: A Century of Proust, 2013 August: Paintings in Proust - Eric Karpeles, 2013 October: On Reading Proust, 2015 September: "Paintings in Proust" - View of the Piazza del Popolo, Giovanni Battista Piranes, 2015 September: In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way: A Graphic Novel.

Saturday, January 23

Arthur Miller’s Brooklyn

"When Arthur Miller first visited his country cousins in Brooklyn in the early 1920s, Midwood was not just a neighborhood, it was a description. Patches of woods stood thick enough near their East Fifth Street home that the boys could hunt squirrels, rabbits and other small game. There were muddy paths and tomato fields, and big sacks of potatoes in the cellar. Miller’s two salesman uncles — on whom he would base the character Willy Loman — were urban pioneers, planting roots in the borough just after World War I. The woods have been replaced by houses and streets, but much of what Miller loved and used as inspiration for his plays can still be found. ..."
NY Times

2011 April: The Misfits (1961), 2012 June: Before Air-Conditioning (1998), 2014 December: The Crucible (1953), 2015 December: A View from the Bridge (1955)

Russian Ark - Alexander Sokurov (2002)

Wikipedia - "Russian Ark (Russian: Русский ковчег, Russkij Kovcheg) is a 2002 historical drama film directed by Alexander Sokurov. It was filmed entirely in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum using a single 96-minute Steadicam sequence shot. The film was entered into the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. An unnamed narrator wanders through the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. The narrator implies that he died in some horrible accident and is a ghost drifting through the palace. In each room, he encounters various real and fictional people from various periods in the city's 300-year history. He is accompanied by "the European", who represents the Marquis de Custine, a nineteenth-century French traveler. Russian Ark uses the fourth wall device extensively, but repeatedly broken and re-erected. At times the narrator and the companion interact with the other performers, while at other times they pass unnoticed. ..."
Roger Ebert
NY Times
YouTube: Trailer: Russian Ark
YouTube: Russian Ark - FULL MOVIE 1:35:11

A Long Hardwood Journey

"You know that we’re not running the correct out-of-bounds play, right? That our defensive press is a mess? That we’re close to another loss? Coach Marc Skelton leaned in close, his eyes inches from those of his teenage players, his questions pregnant with expletives. He had paced, implored, tossed his arms in the air, yelled and, for punctuation, whacked his clipboard like a zydeco musician with a washboard. Combustion seemed a real and present danger. It was December, and Skelton’s basketball team, the Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School Panthers, had traveled across the South Bronx to a rival team’s gym. 'Fellas, you are in the lion’s den,' Skelton yelled into the din, with another flourish of profanity. 'Now you have to kill the lion!' Skelton directed his players to double-team the top three opposing scorers, who were talented shooters but not great passers. They rely on chaos; respond by playing methodically. ..."
NY Times

Friday, January 22

Edgardo Antonio Vigo

"This exhibition celebrates the mail art, visual poetry, performative works, and publications of the Argentine artist Edgardo Antonio Vigo (1928–1997). From his quiet hometown of La Plata, Vigo developed an extensive network of contacts in the Americas and Europe, making the city a hub of the international mail art movement—a loose network of artists who exchanged ideas, art, and poetry through the postal system. From his defiantly local position, Vigo developed an internationalism tempered by a sharp critique of the foreign policy of the United States, from its role in the Vietnam War to its support of authoritarian Latin American governments. ..."
MoMA - The Unmaker of Objects: Edgardo Antonio Vigo's Marginal Media (Video)
[PDF] Edgardo Antonio Vigo's Proyectos a Realizar
Edgardo Antonio Vigo (by Clemente Padin - Uruguay)
Edgardo Antonio Vigo's essay, "Process/Poetry To And/Or Realize"

"Papa Don't Preach" - Madonna (1986)

Wikipedia - "... It portrayed a storyline where Madonna is trying to tell her father about her pregnancy. The images are juxtaposed with shots of Madonna dancing and singing in a small, darkened studio, and spending a romantic evening with her boyfriend. ... 'Papa Don't Preach' is a dance-pop song with instrumentation from acoustic, electric, and rhythm guitars, keyboards, and string arrangements. It is set in common time, and moves at a moderate tempo of 116 beats per minute. The song is written in the key of F minor. The combination of key and tempo produces a disjuncture between pop and classical rhythms, underlined by the instrumentation during the introduction. The song begins with a distinctly Vivaldian style, as the fast tempo and classical-style chord progression anticipates the lyrics to follow. This is followed by the sound of dance music, produced by a powerful beat from the instruments. ..."
Rolling Stone
YouTube: "Papa Don't Preach", "Papa Don't Preach" (Live)

Highlife Time: Nigerian and Ghanaian Sound from the 60’s and early 70’s

"Highlife is club music. Not any old nightclub, but big, grand, gay (the 'gay' of yore, like when George Burns could sing it and Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t have snickered), evoking images of white dinner jackets and hired drivers. Whether that image is appropriate to a discussion of West African music is another conversation entirely, but highlife just oozes 'society' the same way mambo or swing would. Neither temporally nor melodically challenging, it’s a deceptively easy form that invites first- and second-timers to take a swing at it, but like distant American cousins old timey and bluegrass, highlife can reveal myriad styles, its own structural limitations being challenges to enterprising musicians or bandleaders who want to show they are the leaders of their genre. ..."
Dusted Magazine
YouTube: HighLife Time 1:09:09

Thursday, January 21

What It's Like to Live Inside the Legendary Paris Bookstore Shakespeare & Co.

"George Whitman opened the legendary bookshop now known as Shakespeare and Company in the shadow of Notre Dame in Paris in 1951, and having spent all his money on the shop he slept on a pullout couch among the books. He insisted on giving it up, though, if a writer came by and needed a place to stay. (He often asked writers to sleep there even if they didn't need a place to stay.) Soon, he started housing several writers at a time, either published or aspiring, and these literary vagabonds came to be known as the Tumbleweeds. ..."
Lisa Paclet: Lost portraits from the Shakespeare and Company archives.
The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart (Video)
Bringing the Tumbleweeds into the 21st Century...
To Home, With Love by Yoyo Chan
Shakespeare & Co.

2011 December: Shakespeare & Company

Queens Hit “Top To Bottom” by New Mural Project in L.I.C.

Icy & Sot
"The spirit of New Yorks’ 5 Pointz graffiti/Street Art holy place has popped up in the same Queens neighborhood where it was demolished in 2014, and since last summer more than 50 local and international aerosol artists have been hitting a new project 'Top to Bottom'. The choice of 'Top to Bottom', a graffiti term that recalls 1970s trains painted their entire height, is no mistake as creative director James P. Quinn reveres the classic style and histories of those original writers like internationally and institutionally celebrated artists Crash and Daze, who have collaborated on a mural here. ..."
Brooklyn Street Art

A Corner of Europe Frozen in Time

When he was eighteen, Viktor left his home town of Jakubiskes to join the Soviet Army. Later, he moved to Vilnius but returns to Jakubiskes each summer to tend to his parents’ house. Jakubiskes, Lithuania, 2015.
"About an hour’s drive south of Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius, the country’s narrow panhandle, locally known as the 'appendix,' starts to push into the countryside of neighboring Belarus. The joke in Lithuania is that, while drawing the borders of the region, Stalin set his pipe down on the map—no one was brave enough to move it, so improbable borders were drawn around its perimeter. ... With its scattering of tumbledown villages, many of whose residents speak a mix of Polish and Belarusian, the region lives according to its own rhythms. The German-American photographer Jasper Bastian captures this peculiar state of isolation in his series 'A Road Not Taken,' which he shot during several visits to Dieveniškės last year. ..."
New Yorker

Wednesday, January 20

Village Voice NYC Albums - James Brown - Live At The Apollo (1962), Joe Cuba Sextet - Wanted Dead or Alive (1966), Cabretta - Mink DeVille (1977)

Wikipedia - "Live at the Apollo is a live album by James Brown and the Famous Flames, recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and released in 1963. ... Live at the Apollo was recorded on the night of October 24, 1962 at Brown's own expense. Although not credited on the album cover or label, Brown's vocal group, The Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett, and Lloyd Stallworth), played an important co-starring role in Live at the Apollo, and are included with Brown by M.C. Fats Gonder in the album's intro. ..."
W - Live at the Apollo (1962)
YouTube: Night Train lIve, James Brown Live At The Apollo 1962 FULL

Wikipedia - "Gilberto Miguel Calderón, better known as Joe Cuba (April 22, 1931 – February 15, 2009), was an American conga drummer of Puerto Rican descent widely regarded as the 'Father of Latin boogaloo'. Cuba was born in New York City, Cuba's parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York City in the late 1920s and settled in Spanish Harlem, a Latino community located in Manhattan. Cuba was raised in an apartment building where his father had become the owner of a candy store located on the ground floor (street level floor). This event motivated Cuba to organize his own band. In 1954, his agent recommended that he change the band's name from the José Calderón Sextet to the Joe Cuba Sextet and the newly named Joe Cuba Sextet made their debut at the Stardust Ballroom. ..."
W - Joe Cuba
YouTube: Bang! Bang!, Joe Cuba Sextet - Wanted Dead or Alive (1966)

Wikipedia - "Cabretta, known as Mink DeVille in the United States, was the 1977 debut album by Mink DeVille. ...
Trouser Press described the Mink DeVille of this era as follows: 'On a good night in the New York underground around 1976 or 1977, the band led by Willy DeVille...could be the coolest cats on the scene. Willy dressed like a pimp and played a guitar covered in leopard skin; swagger and soulful strut was a brisk rejoinder to the sloppy punk and wimpy power pop bands they preceded and followed on stages. After the band was discovered, producer Jack Nitzsche got them on the lean, tough R&B beam for a first LP that sweats and smokes through and through as a classic of such fully and lovingly assimilated music should.' ..."
W - Cabretta - Mink DeVille (1977)
YouTube: Spanish Stroll, Mink DeVille - Cabretta (FULL ALBUM)

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch - Henry Miller (1957)

Wikipedia - "Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch> is a memoir written by Henry Miller, first published in 1957, about his life in Big Sur, California, where he resided for 18 years. ... The title of the book is taken from 15th-century Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch's triptych 'The Millennium', where oranges and other fruits symbolize the delights of paradise. The book is dedicated to Miller's friend Emil White, who established the Henry Miller Memorial Library in his old cabin in Big Sur. ..."
Reality Studio: Finding the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch and Henry Miller
Rhona Cleary: The Last Book I Loved, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

2010 March: Dinner With Henry (1979), 2011 December: Asleep & Awake (1975), 2013 April: Henry Miller, 2014 April: Henry Miller, Brooklyn Hater, 2015 July: Henry Miller Interviews, 2015 August: The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1970).

How Wile E. Coyote Explains The World

"A joke has structure. It has a central rule. Setup, punchline. The setup produces a tensed, expectant state; the punchline resolves the tension with a surprise. If the elements of the joke are not arranged into a setup and a punchline, it is not a joke. It is just a statement. This is a matter of mechanical necessity; it’s true of every kind of joke, from long story jokes to one-liners. Consider this short, immaculate, spectacularly stupid joke by the immortal Jack Handey, which has never failed to make me giggle uncontrollably, and which I now will ruin with explanation: The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw. ..."
The Concourse (Video)

2011 May: Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner

Tuesday, January 19

A Scratch-Off Map of Old New York City

"In cities, the past is always peeking through the surface: cobblestones beneath some torn-up asphalt; a vanished street that still shapes the properties around it. Urban Scratch-Off, a new tool by digital mapmaker Chris Whong, aims to recreate that palimpsestic experience online, with an approach inspired by lottery tickets. Whong layered an aerial photograph of New York City from today beneath another one from 1924 (a remarkable find from the New York Public Library), and coded in a 'scratch-off' effect. Click and rub your cursor over a section of the old map, and you’ll see modern-day New York revealed underneath. You can search for specific addresses, flip the maps so that new sits on top of old, and opt to simply 'pan and zoom' when you’ve done enough scratching. ..."
City Lab
Reveal How New York Has Changed With This 'Scratch-Off' Map,
Urban Scratch Off

How it's Made: Millais

"In the second of our series on artists’ techniques and processes, Susan Breen explains how the paintings conservation team breathed new life in to The North-West Passage by John Everett Millais. The work can currently be seen on display in Artist and Empire — a major new exhibition exploring the legacies and consequences of Empire. Completed in 1874, The North-West Passage was one of the most popular works of its time; a number of high profile Arctic explorations took place during the 19th century, and through the depiction of the aged mariner, sitting defiantly at his table surrounded by maps, charts and flags, and of his daughter, reading through past log books, Millais wanted to convey and inspire patriotic sentiment. Henry Tate bought the painting in 1888, and if formed part of the original Henry Tate bequest, entering the national collection in 1894. ..."
W - John Everett Millais

2015 December: Artist and Empire

Katzine #1 – Katriona Chapman Fosters an Intimate Connection Between Creator and Reader in this Appealing Autobio Zine

"From my review of her nature-based slice-of-lifer Brockley Foxtrot in the early months of this column through to her time as one of the guiding lights of graphite artzine Tiny Pencil, Katriona Chapman is an artist whose work has, perhaps, been fleeting in output but always beautifully presented on those occasions on which I have covered it. This year, however, has seen her launch a project which guarantees a more prolific yield of Chapman material with her own quarterly autobio offering Katzine. The obvious comparison to make here would be Katie Green’s similarly themed and arranged The Green Bean. Katzine, however, relies on a heavier comics content, with over half of its 24 interior pages being classifiable as sequential art. It’s an engaging mix of strips, illustrated features, mini-essays and photos that encompass a variety of Chapman’s day-to-day thoughts, exploits and interests. ..."
Broken Frontier
Katriona Chapman
Small Press Spotlight on… Katriona Chapman (Video)

Monday, January 18

Barbara - Christian Petzold (2012)

"'Barbara' is a film about the old Germany from one of the best directors working in the new: Christian Petzold. For more than a decade Mr. Petzold has been making his mark on the international cinema scene with smart, tense films that resemble psychological thrillers, but are distinguished by their strange story turns, moral thorns, visual beauty and filmmaking intelligence. His latest to open in the United States, 'Barbara,' begins in 1980 with an East German doctor from Berlin (Nina Hoss) who, after an unspecified offense, has been recently banished to the boonies. There, in between hospital rounds and harassment from the secret police, she waits and she burns. ..."
NY Times
Roger Ebert
W - "Barbara"
NPR - 'Barbara': An Unbroken Spirit In The Eastern Bloc
W - Christian Petzold
YouTube: Barbara

‘Downton Abbey’ Season 6, Episode 3 Recap: So Nice to See Him Again?

"Season 6, Episode 3. Dear Tom Branson, My, what a … what a nice surprise. No, really. We thought you were gone for good but … apparently not. Oh, I know we should have guessed. That whole dream business in your letter about 'walking with Sybbie under the great trees' and 'listening to the pigeons cooing in their branches' and your eyes filling with tears. It was like getting an Instagram post from Wordsworth. And suddenly there you were, looking as hearty and plow-horsey as ever, and there was Sybbie, giving a sweet li’l hug to Georgie (and checking Marigold for signs of a pulse). It’s not that we weren’t happy to see you. Or at least we weren’t definitively, comprehensively unhappy to see you. ... Signed, The Abbots ..."
NY Times

2012 March: Downton Abbey, 2013 February: Downton Abbey 3, 2015 January: ‘Downton Abbey’ and History: A Look Back, Recap: Rumble With Lord G!, 2015 February: Recap: Prayers for Lord G’s Truest, Furriest Love, 2015 February: Recap: The Crawleys Should Have Sent Their Regrets, 2015 February: Recap: Yes, It’s Called the Hornby Hotel, 2015 March: Recap: In the Finale, Mary Meets Mr. Handsome, 2016 January: Downton Abbey Returns for a Feel-Good Final Season.

James Chance & The Contortions - Lost Chance (1981)

"Picking up where their previous ROIR live release left off (the excellent Soul Exorcism), James Chance & the Contortions offer another collection of their cutting-edge musical blend. Recorded live in Chicago back in September of 1981, Lost Chance may be a tad more visceral than their previous in-concert recording, but the over-the-top performances never get in the way of the music. And although the album contains traces of jazz and new wave, Lost Chance is highly recommended to funk connoisseurs -- the Contortions may have been the most underrated funketeers to ever hit the stage. Out of the album's nine tracks, three are James Brown covers ('Super Bad,' 'I Got You,' and 'King Heroin'), which would surely bring a smile to the Godfather of Soul's face. And although the whole band wails throughout, bassist Colin Wade proves to be outstanding, playing some of the most fluid and funky basslines ever committed to tape. Highlights are many, but tops would have to be 'Sax Maniac,' 'White Cannibal,' and 'Hell on Earth.'"
amazon, Spotify
YouTube: Super Bad, Sax Maniac, White Cannibal, King Heroin

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.

Sunday, January 17

Port and Docks

This photo of the North Wall shows some of the docks and ports along the eastern end of the Liffey. Photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914.
"Not technically a place, the Port and Docks, now simply known as Dublin Port, was originally established in 1707 as the Ballast Board and has been headquartered at various places along the Liffey according to the shoreline of the river’s mouth as it opens into the Irish Sea. The earliest ports in Dublin were associated with the Viking establishment centered at Dublin Castle, and the ports have moved continually downstream as a result of the management of the river’s banks with the building of the South Wall in 1715 and the Bull Wall on the north shore in 1842. By the time James Joyce referenced the Port and Docks as the employer of Gabriel’s father T.J. Conroy, they were an organization whose main industry and activity happened along the North Wall of the Liffey at the eastern edges of Dublin: 'They both kissed Gabriel frankly. He was their favourite nephew, the son of their dead elder sister, Ellen, who had married T.J. Conroy of the Port and Docks' (179). ...'
Mapping Dubliners Project
W - Dublin Port
Dublin Port History
The shipping news: Dublin is reacquainted with its docks

2011 March: Passages from James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" (1965-67), 2010 March: Ulysses Seen, 2013 February: ULYSSES “SEEN” is moving to Dublin!, 2013: Dubliners, 2014 May: The Dead (1987 film), 2014 May: “Have I Ever Left It?” by Mark O'Connell, 2014 July: Digital Dubliners, 2014 September: Read "Ulysses Seen", A Graphic Novel Adaptation of James Joyce’s Classic, 2015 January: The Mapping Dubliners Project, 2015 February: Davy Byrne’s.

The Nuclear Observatory of Mr Nanof - Piero Milesi (1986)

"... Most of his work was for the cinema and the theater, as documented by the soundtracks collected on The Nuclear Observatory of Mr Nanof (Cuneiform, 1986). The 13-minute Mr Nanof's Tango is actually a flute-driven elegy caressed by sympathetic strings and lulled by minimalist repetitive patterns in the strings and keyboards. Excerpts from the one-hour piece The Kings of the Night include The Procession, which creates suspense by releasing a flock of drones, and Three Figurations, a sort of frantic gamelan that generates a sort of tidal wave of sound amid symphonic staccatos. One of the most intriguing selections, The Presence Of The City, is actually a piece (mostly rollicking piano figures) that evokes a lifeless soundscape, possibly a nocturnal one. ..."
W - Piero Milesi
YouTube: Mr. Nanof's Tango
WNYC: The Undead #99 - New Music from Italy

2008 July: Piero Milesi

"Saturday Night Fish Fry" - Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five (1949)

Wikipedia - "'Saturday Night Fish Fry' is a popular song, written by Louis Jordan and Ellis Lawrence Walsh, best known through the version recorded by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five. The single was a big hit, topping the R&B chart for twelve non-consecutive weeks in late 1949. It also reached number 21 on the national chart, a rare accomplishment for a 'race record' at that time (although the very popular Jordan had already had earlier crossover hits). Jordan's jump blues combo was one of the most successful acts of its time, and its loose and streamlined style of play was highly influential. ... The Jordan band also dropped the shuffling rhythm of the Eddie Williams original, accelerating the pace into a raucous, rowdy jump boogie-woogie arrangement. ..."
PERFECT SOUND FOREVER: Louis Jordan - The King of the Jukeboxes
YouTube: Saturday Night Fish Fry

Saturday, January 16

Adam Pendleton

Untitled Woman, 2013
"The oldest manufactured mirrors to have come down to us are made of obsidian, their black surfaces polished until they became reflective. ‘I’ll Be Your’, Adam Pendleton’s first solo show in the UK, as well as his first with Pace, was all surface. The title is emphatically cropped – like many of the black silkscreen images on display, applied to canvas, mirror, Perspex or transparencies – leaving it to the viewer to supply the missing word (‘Mirror’) from the 1967 song by the Velvet Underground & Nico. Crying out to be completed, it gestures towards the ‘Incomplete Open Cube series’, begun in 1974 by Sol LeWitt, an early supporter of the young American artist’s work. Photocopied reproductions of LeWitt’s white Minimalist sculptures, blown up out of all recognition and silkscreened onto canvas, furnish Pendleton with the matter of his own ‘Black Dada’ works (2008–ongoing). ..."
Adam Pendleton
W - Adam Pendleton
vimeo: Adam Pendleton Brings “Black Lives Matter” to Venice
YouTube: Salon | Artist Talk | Black Dada: How does it feel to be a problem?

Joseph Cornell: Worlds in a Box (1991)

Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery, 1943
"Susan Sontag, Tony Curtis and Stan Brakhage all shared an appreciation for the work of American artist Joseph Cornell (1903–1972), and all appear in a 51-minute documentary Joseph Cornell: Worlds in a Box directed by Mark Stokes for the BBC in 1991. Susan Sontag was also the subject of one of Cornell’s collages, something she discusses here. Tony Curtis collected many of Cornell’s boxes and used to visit the artist when he was in New York; in Stokes’s film he discusses their relationship and reads from Cornell’s writings. I’ve had a tape of this for years courtesy of Kerri Sharp who worked on the film (hi Kerri!) but it’s taken a while to turn up on YouTube. The value of films such as this isn’t so much the view they give of the works themselves—all of which are better judged in books or museums—but the way they function as mini-biographies which give a sense of the environment from which the art emerged. ..."
YouTube: Joseph Cornell: Worlds in a Box 51-min.
NY Times
MFA - Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell a biography by Deborah Solomon

2007 November: Joseph Cornell, 2010 September: Stan Brakhage, Joseph Cornell - The Wonder Ring, 1955, 2011 April: Rose Hobart (1936), 2012 June: "Bookstalls" - Joseph Cornell, 2012 December: Joseph Cornell's Manual of Marvels, 2015 May: Joseph Cornell: Navigating The Imagination.

Alias Kurban Saïd (2004)

"The real identity of the author of the exotic love story Ali & Nino has been the subject of much speculation ever since the book was first published in Vienna in 1937. With its recent translation into English and its subsequent 'rediscovery,' the controversy has grown. (Indeed no pen name has aroused so much curiosity since The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and other books signed 'B. Traven' launched a decades-long inquiry into the man behind that pseudonym.) Sometimes dubbed 'the Romeo and Juliet of the Caucasus,' Ali & Nino tells the story of a pair of lovers from neighboring Caucasian lands -- a Christian girl from Georgia and a Muslim boy from Azerbaijan -- set against the turmoil of early 20th Century Baku. It ends tragically with the young man's death and with Russia's occupation of the Caucasus and displays a remarkably acute knowledge of the interaction between two ancient cultures. ..."
Tribeca Film Festival
W - Ali and Nino
W - Kurban Said
Fandor: Alias Kurban Saïd