Thursday, May 31

The Death and Life of a Great American Building - Jeremiah Moss

The St. Denis, 2017
"I am one of the last tenants of the St. Denis, a 165-year-old building on the corner of Broadway and East 11th Street, just south of Union Square in New York City, that is in the process of being emptied and readied for gutting. It is quiet in my office, early morning before my psychotherapy patients arrive. My four large windows overlook a courtyard and the angled back sides of three buildings, their walls a geometric patchwork of brick. Pigeons purr on a sill. In the NYU dormitory across the way, a student has decorated her window with paper snowflakes. It is winter and I hope to see a real snowfall one more time before I go. The St. Denis is desolate. Only two dozen tenants are left. There used to be hundreds. For decades, the St. Denis has been a haven for psychotherapists of every sort: classical Freudian analysts and new-age Zen psychologists, existential counselors and gender specialists, therapists who use art, dance, and neurofeedback. We’ve shared the building’s six floors (plus one semi-secret half-floor on the un-seventh) with other small businesses, mostly providers of wellness—Rolfers, Reiki healers, craniosacral balancers, Feldenkrais practitioners, acupuncturists, Pilates instructors, and at least one psychic who does past-life regressions. ..."

A staircase inside the St. Denis, 2017

The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time: A Playlist Curated by Pitchfork

"What makes a good ambient record? I’m not sure I can even begin to answer that question, and I count myself a longtime fan of the genre, such as it is. Though conceived, ostensibly, by Brian Eno as modernist mood music—'as ignorable as it is interesting,' he wrote in the liner notes to 1978's Ambient 1: Music for Airports—the term has come to encompass 'tracks you can dance to all the way to harsh noise.' This description from composer and musician Keith Fullerton Whitman at Pitchfork may not get us any closer to a clear definition in prose, though “cloud of sound” is a lovely turn of phrase. Unlike other forms of music, there is no set of standards—both in the jazz sense of a canon and the formal sense of a set of rules. Reverberating keyboards, squelching, burping synthesizers, droning guitar feedback, field recordings, found sounds, laptops, strings… whatever it takes to get you there—'there' being a state of suspended emotion, 'drifting' rather than 'driving,' the sounds 'soothing, sad, haunting, or ominous.' (Cheerful, upbeat ambient music may be a contradiction in terms.) ..."
Open Culture (Audio)
Pitchfork: The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time (Video)

Wednesday, May 30

The Maltese Falcon (1941 film)

Wikipedia - "The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 film noir written and directed by John Huston in his directorial debut, and based on Dashiell Hammett's 1929 novel of the same name. The film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade and Mary Astor as his femme fatale client. Gladys George, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet co-star, with Greenstreet appearing in his film debut. The story follows a San Francisco private detective and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers, all of whom are competing to obtain a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette. The film premiered on October 3, 1941, in New York City, and was nominated for three Academy Awards. The Maltese Falcon was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 1989. ... In San Francisco in 1941, private investigators Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) meet prospective client Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor). She claims to be looking for her missing sister, who is involved with a man named Floyd Thursby. Archer agrees to follow her that night and help get her sister back. Spade is awakened by a phone call early in the morning and the police inform him that Archer has been killed. ..."
Vanity Fair: The Mystery of the Maltese Falcon, One of the Most Valuable Movie Props in History
Guardian - After The Maltese Falcon: how film noir took flight
YouTube: The Maltese Falcon (1941) Trailer, 'The Maltese Falcon' | Critics' Picks | The New York Times (A. O. Scott)

Third Coast Percussion

"Back at the beginning of time, the human voice was the very first instrument. Probably close in second place were folks banging on stuff – in other words, percussionists. The quartet of gentlemen who form the Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion takes primordial pounding into a completely distinctive new league. To be sure, in this Tiny Desk performance, they'll play their sophisticated, modern marimbas and vibraphones, but be on the lookout for the subtleties of tuned cowbells and 3/4" galvanized steel pipes, like those found at the local hardware store. Add to that a glockenspiel, a MIDI synth, a melodica, a drum kit, children's deskbells, crotales, a Thai gong and a singing bowl, and you've got significant noise-making potential behind Bob Boilen's desk. The mesmerizing opening number, 'Niagara,' written by the group, is from the band's latest album, the aqua-centric Paddle to the Sea. This water is fast-moving, with pulsing, repeating patterns in the vibraphone, punctuated by drum beats and a bed of low synth. The Third Coasters follow with another from the album, their own arrangement of a slowly rippling ode to the Amazon River by Philip Glass. Beginning with droplets on the glockenspiel and evocative bowing of both vibraphone and crotales (small bronze discs), the music flows softly, taking its time to fan out in all its quiet beauty. ..."
NPR (Video)
W - Third Coast Percussion
Third Coast Percussion
YouTube: Ritual Music, Fractalia by Owen Clayton Condon, "Torched and Wrecked" by David Skidmore

William Ferris: The Man Who Shared Our Voices

"They don’t teach mule trading at Yale University, but Bill Ferris had a sneaking suspicion the blue-blooded Ivy Leaguers he ran with in the 1970s might benefit from some practical knowledge, the kind you don’t find in books. That’s how Ray Lum, an 84-year-old Vicksburg, Mississippi, mule trader, wound up spending a late September day in 1975 outside Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library, holding forth to any student or professor who would listen. Ferris had grown up on a Mississippi Delta farm called Broadacres — '16 miles on a gravel road,' he says, from Vicksburg. He had known Lum 'from the time my father would take me to the auction barn' where Lum held his weekly livestock sales. At this stage of his career, Ferris was 33 years old and in his third year as an associate professor in Yale’s American and Afro-American Studies programs. He had long since understood the spell a drawling, self-made raconteur from Mississippi could cast upon the unSouthern. He’d learned it well after years of up-North and overseas education at a Massachusetts boarding school, Chicago’s Northwestern University, Trinity College in Ireland, and finally the University of Pennsylvania. ..."

Tuesday, May 29

The Sistine Chapel of Comic-Strip Art

What remains of the cartoon wall at the Overlook, a Midtown sports bar.
"In a dark booth at the Overlook, which resides in a little brick building that has defied demolition below the skyscrapers of East Midtown, two men were having a beer. The bar was rowdy with people eating wings and watching basketball on televisions, but the men were busy studying the cracked, aging wall beside them. Twenty feet wide and spanning the room’s length, it was covered with dozens of fading drawings of classic American cartoon and comic strip characters. ... This crumbling, beer-splotched wall in the back of a sports bar on East 44th Street is one of New York’s more neglected cultural treasures. Created in the 1970s, it is a veritable Sistine Chapel of American comic-strip art: the 30-some drawings across its face were left by a who’s who of cartooning legends, including a Spider-Man by Gil Kane, a Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker, a Dondi by Irwin Hasen, a Steve Canyon by Milton Caniff, a Hagar the Horrible by Dik Browne, and a Dagwood Bumstead by Paul Fung Jr. There’s also a self-portrait by Al Jaffee, a doodle by Bil Keane, and a Mad magazine-style gag by Sergio Aragonés. Old regulars are familiar with the wall’s past, and comic book scholars make occasional pilgrimages to the bar, but the Overlook’s cartoon mural remains largely unknown and untended. ..."
NY Times

A group of artists works to restore the original James Thurber murals at Costello's, April 1972.

A Woman’s Place

"It starts more like a Nike commercial than a political ad. The camera pans over a wintry landscape, and a woman appears, wearing a hot-pink racing jacket, hair in a ponytail, music building as she runs. Her voice comes in, telling the story of a race she ran with her father as a young girl: Just as a boy and his dad moved ahead of her, her father asked if she was going to let the kid beat her. ... The woman is Erin Collier, candidate for Congress. After touting her family’s eight generations in upstate New York and her work as an agricultural economist for the Obama administration, she says, 'I’m a woman, I’m an economist, I’m a farmer, I’m a triathlete, I’m a feminist. I’m not going to let those boys beat me.' It’s an extraordinary ad, and not just because of its girl-power, pink-sneaker aesthetic. Collier doesn’t just embrace her gender. She speaks to a woman who has rarely existed before in the American political imagination: ambitious, successful, and, most notably (even jarringly), competitive. A record number of women are running for office this year. A few are Republican, but the vast majority are Democrats. ..."
New Republic

Moving Out - Sonny Rollins (1954)

"When the title Moving Out is applied to this album, it bears no reference to leaving one domicile for another but means stepping out into high gear while playing. Those of you who are familiar with Sonny Rollins' playing know that he does a lot of moving out, stepping out (right out of his shoes) and stretching out (extending himself to play interesting parts of the chords). These are vintage Rollins recordings made in a New York period prior to his year of study and self-evaluation in Chicago. They are from a steadily flowing Sonny who only hinted at future experiments with rhythmic figures and time breaking. That he has matured and become even more personal is evident in his more recent recordings but it is equally evident in listening to the selections in this LP, gathered from two 1954 sessions, that Sonny's talent did not go begging before 1955. Four of the selections were recorded on August 18, 1954 and feature trumpeter Kenny Dorham in unison with Sonny. At this writing, the two are re-united in the Max Roach quintet. ..."
W - Moving Out (album)
amazon, iTunes
YouTube: Moving Out 31:41

2012 September: The Singular Sound of Sonny Rollins, 2012 December: Village Vanguard, 2015 September: Rollins Plays for Bird (1957), 2016 February: Saxophone Colossus (1956), 2016 May: Plus 4 (1956), 2017 June: Inside Sonny Rollins’s Jazz Archive, Headed Home to Harlem, 2018 April: Tenor Madness (1956)

Monday, May 28

An Illustrated History of the Picnic Table

Picnic grove at Cedar Point, an amusement park on Lake Erie, Sandusky, Ohio; postcard dated 1911.
"From campground to crab shack to suburban backyard, the picnic table is so ubiquitous that it is nearly invisible as a designed object. Yet this ingenious form — a structurally bolted frame that unites bench seats and table into a sturdy package — has remained largely unchanged since the 1930s. Having transcended the picnic, it is now the ideal setting for any outdoor event that compels us to face one another squarely across a shared surface. Even a conversation between the former President and Secretary of State is transformed. There is something intensely familiar about this massive table on the White House grounds; though it is off-limits to the public, we can imagine sitting there ourselves. The table seems to humanize its powerful occupants, even as it curiously diminishes them with its over-sized components. These qualities of familiarity and abundance have made the picnic table an American icon. ..."
Places Journal

Arthur Wigram Allen and his brother Boyce picnic in Sutton Forest, Australia, 1900.

Spotlight on … Ted Berrigan: The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan

Alex Katz / Ted Berrigan
"'Mess and Message,' the final three words of a poem in Ted Berrigan’s 1969 book, Many Happy Returns, describe perfectly and succinctly what makes his poetry compelling. The message of his poetry is the mess that is life. Appropriation figures in large and fascinating ways in this message. The very words 'mess and message' are copied, as is the entire poem in which they appear, 'Frank O’Hara’s Question from Writers and Issues by John Ashbery'. Berrigan produced surprisingly numerous kinds of meaning by pilfering all sorts of pre-existing sentences, fragments, and whole passages of writing (literary and prosaic), not to mention visual imagery. Berrigan understood that from time immemorial poets had imitated, if not downright copied, earlier poets in order to establish their literary genealogy. A helpful genealogy of appropriative writing—with the earliest example dating to the late nine- teenth century, and including Ted Berrigan—was recently drawn up by the poet and art critic Raphael Rubenstein, who aptly puts himself into the genealogy, just as Berrigan would have done. ..."
Dennis Cooper Blog (Video)

Sunday, May 27

Leon Golub: Raw Nerve

Gigantomachy II, from 1966. ‘He was an artist, historian and an advocate for social justice – he wanted to suss out oppression and throw it all into his paintings.’
"New York artist Leon Golub wrote an essay about art in 1986. 'Artists manage extraordinary balancing acts,' he wrote, 'not merely of survival or brinkmanship but of analysis and raw nerve.' That last phrase explains his entire career in two words. Now, they are the title of a sprawling exhibition called Leon Golub: Raw Nerve, which opens this week at The Met Breuer. Over 45 artworks from 1940 to 2004 show the darker side of politics. There are paintings of dictators, terrorism, interrogations and beheaded victims from the Vietnam war. The exhibition starts with Golub’s masterpiece Gigantomachy II, a 25ft mural of nude men fighting, from 1966. 'This artwork inspired the show,' said the curator, Kelly Baum. 'It’s a mashup of 10 men in an endless struggle – it’s unclear who is hero, villain or why they’re fighting – but there is violence and destruction.' It sets the theme for the exhibition; violence, destruction and war. It comes from an artist and activist who was a member of the anti-war group, Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Vietnam, in New York. 'Golub’s paintings were a response to the brutality he saw in the media,' said Baum. 'As an activist, his paintings represent the violence he was opposed to.' ..."
Guardian: 'He wanted to get a rise out of people' - the violent paintings of Leon Golub
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Critiques of Power and Toxic Masculinity — Kelly Baum on Leon Golub: Raw Nerve
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New Yorker

Vietnamese Head, 1970

The Specials: 10 of the best

Jerry Dammers with Specials fans in Paris, 1980.
"1 Gangsters. The itchy, restless energy of ska – reggae’s uptight, joyful ancestor – was a perfect complement to the dynamism of punk, as the Automatics discovered in 1977, when they began plying the mixture at pubs and clubs in their hometown of Coventry. But while the group soon cut a demo tape with an eye to getting a record deal, or at least some airtime on the John Peel Show (neither of which happened), it took the intervention of Clash manager Bernie Rhodes to bring Coventry’s finest to the wider world. By the time they appeared as support on the Clash’s On Parole tour in the summer of 1978 – an arrangement aided by singer Neville Staple’s supply of weed to Clash guitarist Mick Jones – the Automatics had renamed themselves the Coventry Automatics and then, finally, the Special AKA, and while their skanks drew more phlegm than applause from the Clash’s pogoing fanbase, they impressed Rhodes enough that he signed them as clients. As part of his plan to whip his new charges into road-ready shape, he shipped them off to France, on a character-building trip beset by disasters. ..."
Guardian (Video)
Guardian - Chalkie Davies’s best photograph: the Specials in Paris

2017 August: Too Much Pressure (1979)

Aftermath: Art in the wake of World War On

Edward Burra. The Snack Bar. 1930
"Marking the 100 years since the end of World War One, Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One looks at how artists responded to the physical and psychological scars left on Europe. Art was used in many ways in the tumultuous period after the end of the war, from documenting its destructive impact, to the building of public memorials and as a social critique. This fascinating and moving exhibition shows how artists reacted to memories of war in many ways. George Grosz and Otto Dix exposed the unequal treatment of disabled veterans in post-war society, Hannah Höch and André Masson were instrumental in the birth of new art forms dada and surrealism, Pablo Picasso and Winifred Knights returned to tradition and classicism, whilst others including Fernand Léger and C.R.W Nevinson produced visions of the city of the future as society began to rebuild itself. ..."
Tate: Edward Burra, The Snack Bar, 1930

Saturday, May 26

Fragile but Fixable: The Collages of Deborah Roberts

"'Fragile but Fixable,' Deborah Roberts’s Los Angeles solo debut, is on view at Luis De Jesus through June 16. In her collages, Roberts takes found images of black women and girls and alters them with pigment and paint, manipulating the optics of advertisement to create new fictions of beauty. 'My art practice,' she writes, in her artist statement, 'takes on social commentary, critiquing perceptions of ideal beauty. Stereotypes and myths are challenged in my work; I create a dialogue between the ideas of inclusion, dignity, consumption, and subjectivity by addressing beauty in the form of the ideal woman.' ..."
The Paris Review
Deborah Roberts

Metro and Tram Network of Marseille, France

"... This is my version of the tramway and metro network of Marseille, France. It is one of my recent maps and I have tried to give it a 80s look but I am not sure I got it right. Overall, it’s not necessarily a map for daily use but more an interpretation of the system. Transit Maps says: For a relatively simple network like Marseille’s (with just two Metro lines and three tram lines), a diagram like this is perfectly workable for daily use, Chris. It’s simple, clear and still retains a good sense of how the lines fit together spatially… perhaps with the exception of the way that the M1 Metro dips inside the T2 tram line between Réformés/Canebière and Cinq Avenues. In the end, the way you’ve shown it allows your labelling to remain consistent and all the stations are still in the right place, so it’s really not that big an issue. ..."
Urban Rail
W - Marseille tramway
YouTube: Tramway de Marseille, France

Friday, May 25

World Cup 2018 team previews: what you need to know about all 32 teams

"The 2018 World Cup might be missing some big nations, but that's what makes this tournament the best in sports. Brazil are looking to bounce back from a travesty in 2014, while Spain, Argentina and France are hoping to dethrone defending champions Germany and their typically deep squad. Can Belgium or Portugal make a splash? Do England have what it takes to challenge too? ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14 in English, Spanish and Portuguese to give a truly global feel to our team profiles. Here's what you need to know about the 32 teams set to do battle in Russia beginning on June 14. ..."

Van Morrison live at The London’s Rainbow Theatre on 24th July 1973

"The Caledonia Soul Orchestra was the band created by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison in 1973. The band is often considered one of the tightest performing backup groups of the 1970s. The band was named after an eighteen minute instrumental outtake on the His Band and the Street Choir album. In 1973 Van Morrison and the Caledonia Soul Orchestra went on a three-month tour of the United States, and Europe with the result of which was the seminal live double album It’s Too Late to Stop Now. The title is taken from the last line in the lyrics in one of Morrison’s songs: 'Into the Mystic' from the 1970 Moondance album. In live performances with The Caledonia Soul Orchestra, he would close the concert with a dynamic, stretched out version of the Astral Weeks song, 'Cyprus Avenue' and then shout out 'IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW!' as he quickly exited stage. ..."
Born To Listen (Video)
Dailymotion: Cyprus Avenue + Wild night

Bookstalls - Joseph Cornell (1930s)

"Bookstalls shows a young boy at the Paris bookstalls, dreaming of travel: dramatic sea voyages, tourists milling about, buying post cards. But we also see the day-to-day life of the Isle of Marken in this found footage; people forking hay and hanging the wash. There's a sharp cut, then, to an Asian country, and for a few moments before the return to Paris, there's the reality, again, of the dream of travel: a rice paddy being harvested, fields being cleared, no labor-saving devices. The bookstalls re-appear, and the boy is done with the fantasy. Within a few a dissolves, the boy seems to have grown into a young man. Cornell's travels through secondhand bookstores were vital to his art, but the film doesn't feel like Cornell's dream life; it feels more like a tentative exercise. Bookstalls is interesting in that its footage looks old and is thus clothed with a feeling of nostalgia. It is also interesting as an exercise in putting pieces of film together. A boy leafs through volumes at a Paris bookstall and he imagines faraway places. The whole film has a homely quality which is endearing. ..."
UbuWeb (Video)

2007 November: Joseph Cornell, 2011 April: Rose Hobart (1936), 2012 December: Joseph Cornell's Manual of Marvels, 2015 May: Joseph Cornell: Navigating The Imagination, 2016 January: Joseph Cornell: Worlds in a Box (1991).      2009 April:Stan Brakhage, 2011 December: Burial Path/The Process/The Machine of Eden, 2012 August: The Dante Quartet (1987) - Stan Brakhage, 2016 July: Gnir Rednow (1960) - Joseph Cornell / Stan Brakhage

Thursday, May 24

Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists

A rally last September in Berlin for Martin Schulz, the Social Democrats’ candidate for German chancellor.
"The warning signs are flashing red: Democracy is under threat. Across Europe and North America, candidates are more authoritarian, party systems are more volatile, and citizens are more hostile to the norms and institutions of liberal democracy. These trends have prompted a major debate between those who view political discontent as economic, cultural or generational in origin. But all of these explanations share one basic assumption: The threat is coming from the political extremes. On the right, ethno-nationalists and libertarians are accused of supporting fascist politics; on the left, campus radicals and the so-called antifa movement are accused of betraying liberal principles. Across the board, the assumption is that radical views go hand in hand with support for authoritarianism, while moderation suggests a more committed approach to the democratic process. Is it true? Maybe not. My research suggests that across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its institutions and the most supportive of authoritarianism. ..."
NY Times

Listen to the Stars

"This seven-minute performance video by State Azure focuses tight on a few modules in a larger synthesizer rig. There is no mess of spaghetti wires. There is a limited set of blinking lights. There is a single hand adjusting knobs on a single device. The accompanying liner note references some on-screen technical details, some off-screen support equipment, and some minor post-production activity. Otherwise, 'Starfall,' as the track is called, is just this: a blissfully thin expanse of near-static time, a live ambient performance in which a seeming hush is nudged into the foreground and left to sway slowly this way and that, to pause for a moment, to let little details linger. It’s the music of a planetarium after hours. The lights are simply from the music equipment, not the stars, and those are more than enough. This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted to State Azure’s YouTube channel. More at and State Azure is based in the U.K."
disquieet (Video)

Boss Tenor - Gene Ammons (1960)

'Tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons' tone can be best described using the qualities of an ideally brewed cup of joe: rounded, bold, smooth, and exhilarating after first taste. Widely regarded as an original founder of the "Chicago school of tenor sax,' Ammons' nonchalant, yet indelible sound—echoing the soft, breathy tone of Lester Young—drove him to a great deal of fame within the post- World War II jazz crowds of the '50s. Ammons, famously nicknamed 'Jug,' had an inherent ability to cultivate new emotion within any obsolete standard, stemming from his signature timbre that was steeped in the blues, gospel, and R&B. Renowned for his versatility, Ammons was well-versed in the bebop tradition, yet greatly influenced the marketable 'soul jazz' movement of the '60s. ..."
All About Jazz
W - Boss Tenor
NPR - Gene Ammons: Boss Tenor Sax
YouTube: Boss Tenor 8 videos

Wednesday, May 23

Counter Intelligence: NYC

"From the East River to the Pacific Coast, the map of America is dotted by record stores – some famous, some wildly obscure. On Counter Intelligence, RBMA Radio gets the stories of these storefronts straight from the personalities who run them, soundtracked by their signature records. This week, our episodes focus on shops based in New York City. In advance of their premiere on RBMA Radio, we sent Maxwell Schiano to document each one. ... Other Music – a fiercely independent record shop smack in the middle of one of downtown Manhattan’s most gentrified neighborhoods – has occasionally felt like the sole survivor of a bygone era of the New York music world. When a tiny brick-and-mortar sits right across the street from Tower Records and manages to outlast it by at least ten years, it can feel practically eternal. And few shops are as reliably bustling as this East 4th Street storefront. The specter of rising rents and the music industry’s shift away from physical releasing are finally catching up with Other Music, and at the end of June, the shop will end its two-decade run. Beloved for its deep commitment to a wide range of underground styles, Other Music has helped break bands like Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend, and putting obscurities from Japan, Brazil, France and beyond into wider circulation. Listen in on Friday, as we hear their story."
Red Bull Music Academy Daily

Robert Rauschenberg’s 34 Illustrations of Dante’s Inferno (1958-60)

"Perhaps more than any other postwar avant-garde American artist, Robert Rauschenberg matched, and maybe exceeded, Marcel Duchamp’s puckish irreverence. He once bought a Willem de Kooning drawing just to erase it and once sent a telegram declaring that it was a portrait of gallerist Iris Clert, 'if I say so.' Rauschenberg also excelled at turning trash into treasure, repurposing the detritus of modern life in works of art both playful and serious, continuing to 'address major themes of worldwide concern,' wrote art historian John Richardson in a 1997 Vanity Fair profile, 'by utilizing technology in ever more imaginative and inventive ways…. Rauschenberg is a painter of history—the history of now rather than then.' What, then, possessed this artist of the 'history of now' to take on a series of drawings between 1958 and 1960 illustrating each Canto of Dante’s Inferno? 'Perhaps he sensed a kindred spirit in Dante,' writes Gregory Gilbert at The Art Newspaper, 'that encouraged his vernacular interpretations of the classical text and his radical mixing of high and low cultures.' ..."
Open Culture

2018 Giro d'Italia

Wikipedia - "The 2018 Giro d'Italia is the 101st edition of the Giro d'Italia, one of cycling's Grand Tour races. The Giro started in Jerusalem on 4 May with a 9.7 km (6 mi) individual time trial, followed by two additional stages in Israel. After a rest day, there will be 18 further stages in Italy to reach the finish in Rome on 27 May. The 2018 Giro d'Italia Israel start also paid tribute to Italian cyclist, Gino Bartali, a three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia. Bartali helped rescue hundreds of Italian Jews during the Holocaust and was recognized by Yad Vashem in 2013 as Righteous Among the Nations. ... The 21-day race began with a 10-kilometer time trial in Jerusalem, a 167-kilometer race from Haifa to Tel Aviv and a 229-kilometer race from Beersheba to Eilat. They were the first stages of any Grand Tour event ever that have been held outside Europe. ..."
W - Giro d'Italia
Discover the route of the Giro d'Italia 2018! Select a stage and see the details
Guardian: Giro d'Italia
Cycling News (Video)

2008 July: Tour de France 2008, 2009 July: Tour de France 2009, 2010 July: Tour de France 2010,  2011 July: Tour de France 2011, 2012 July: 2012 Tour de France, 2015 July: 2015 Tour de France, 2015 July: Tour de France 2015: Team Time Trial Win Bolsters American’s Shot at Podium, 2015 July: Tour de France: Chris Froome completes historic British win, 2016 July: 2016 Tour de France, 2017 July: 2017 Tour de France

Tuesday, May 22

A Most Violent Year

"It was neither the best nor the worst of times. But in contrast to the relative placidity of the 1950s, the events of 1968 opened up previously unimaginable vistas to people all across the globe. 'We knew about the Paris commune,' the surrealist artist Jean-Jacques Lebel tells Mitchell Abidor in May Made Me, a new collection of oral histories of that year. 'This was going to happen again' in May 1968, he had felt. 'So you could have the near orgasmic joy of taking part in something much greater than yourself.' The protests began with calls for an end to same-sex dormitories at French universities and quickly developed into a general strike involving some 10 million workers from every segment of French society. By the end of that year, students and, to a lesser degree, workers in nearly every part of the world would rise up. The spirit of 1968 was not merely political. Simultaneously individualist and collectivist, as well as both sober and psychedelic, it was cultural, economic, sexual, hedonistic, spiritual, and transcendental. In a few of its more crucial aspects, it was a wild success. Two 68ers—Jack Straw in Britain and Joschka Fischer in Germany—became foreign secretaries of their countries. The women’s movement, galvanized in large part by the unrelenting male chauvinism of 1968’s leaders, intervened in history, as did movements for racial and ethnic equality. Protests against the war in Vietnam played a role, however indirectly, in ending it. Soviet-style communism did, eventually, topple. Universities were transformed, as was, for a brief moment in time, the Catholic Church. Conscription ended. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix changed music. ..."
New Republic

In August 1968, Warsaw Pact tanks invaded Czechoslovakia, putting an end to Alexander Dubček's reforms.

The Greatest Refreshment By Janet Flanner

Janet Flanner and Ernest Hemingway at Deux Magots Café in Paris, 1945.
"It is now more than a half century since Paris for the first time began to be included in the memories of a small contingent of youngish American expatriates, richer than most in creative ambition and rather modest in purse. For the most part, we had recently shipped, third class, to France across the Atlantic. We had settled in the small hotels on the Left Bank near the Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, itself perfectly equipped with a large corner café called Les Deux Magots and an impressive twelfth-century Romanesque church with a small garden of old trees, from whose branches the metropolitan blackbirds sang at dawn, audible to me in my bed close by in the Rue Bonaparte. Though unacquainted with one another, as compatriots we soon discovered our chance similarity. We were a literary lot. Each of us aspired to become a famous writer as soon as possible. After the New York publication of Ernest Hemingway’s 'The Sun Also Rises,' he was the first one to touch fame. As I look back on the stir created by his individual style of writing, what stands out in my memory is the fact that his heroes, like Ernest himself, were of outsize masculinity even in small matters. In a letter he wrote to me, he said that he liked to hunt because he liked to kill. ..."
New Yorker

The Hot New Millennial Housing Trend Is a Repeat of the Middle Ages

A contemporary illustration of a 14th-century dormitory
"For most of human history, people were hunter-gatherers. They lived in large camps, depending on one another for food, childcare, and everything else—all without walls, doors, or picket fences. In comparison, the number of people living in most households in today’s developed countries is quite small. According to the Census Bureau, fewer than three people lived in the average American household in 2010. The members of most American households can be counted on one hand, or even, increasingly, one finger: Single-person households only made up about 13 percent of all American households in 1960. Now, that figure is about 28 percent. ..."
The Atlantic
W - Hunter-gatherer

Sunday, May 20

Why Do Some Parts of New York Have So Many Subways While Others Have None?

"The New York City Subway is the lifeblood of the city, yet it seems perpetually embroiled in crisis; though it’s currently caught in a terrible backlog of deferred maintenance, the city can’t function without it, as the mounting panic over next year’s L train shutdown makes clear. Yet as a circulatory system, it leaves certain limbs significantly undernourished. Why was there only one line for the whole East Side of Manhattan until the Second Avenue line finally opened last year? Why does the G train wind so lonely and awkwardly from Brooklyn to Queens? Why are the Downtown Brooklyn lines such a chaotic thicket of difficult transfers, while other densely populated parts of the borough, like East Flatbush, are devoid of service? The answers are embedded in the subway’s historic origins. While you may know that the subway opened in 1904, that’s not the whole picture. .... Some of those elevated lines — including parts of the M and J/Z in Brooklyn and Queens — are still in use today. And those vanished lines are crucial for understanding why today’s subway system goes where it goes — and why its gaps are where they are. ..."

Nancy Baker, described in the original Daily News caption as a ‘pretty Manhattanite’ who ‘appears perplexed while studying subway map of new routes,’ peruses the latest iteration of the MTA map after the opening of the Christie Street Connection in 1967.

Farsi Funk, Bosphorus Beats

"A few months ago on a lazy Sunday afternoon, as I was strolling down the quirky fashion drag that is Toronto’s Queen Street, I spotted something in the corner of my eye that seemed just ever so slightly out of context. Stopping for a moment, I looked into the display window of a trendy vinyl store, and eyed there amongst the colourful sleeves of obscure folk and rock albums the word Zendooni (Persian for ‘Prisoner’) in garish yellow lettering above a conspicuously Iranian-looking woman in a field of sunflowers; Funk, psychedelia and pop from the Iranian pre-revolution generation read the description. Lacking a record player, I immediately looked up the album on the Internet upon arriving at home (after enjoying a dose of coffee and pre-Revolution Iranian pop art at nearby R², of course), and discovered that it was yet another pressing by the American record label Light in the Attic, which had previously released albums in a similar vein such as Khana Khana!, as well as a formidable compilation of hits by the Iranian rocker Kourosh Yaghmaei and a previously unreleased selection of songs by the hitherto unknown Tehran-based garage band The Jokers. ..."
Reorient (Video)
Soundcloud: Turkish 70s Groovy Funk, Psychedelic Rock on Vinyl, Turkish 70's Groovy Funk, Psychedelic Rock on Vinyl (Part II)
YouTube: Turkish 70s Groovy Funk, Psychedelic Rock on Vinyl, Turkish 70's Groovy Funk, Psychedelic Rock on Vinyl (Part II)

2017 August: March selection - Ceints de Bakélite, 2018 February: Before And After Bandits: Marc Hollander Of Aksak Maboul & Crammed Discs

Aude White

NY Times: A Love Letter to Italo Calvino, and to New York City
"Aude White is a full-time publicist and some-time artist and writer living in Brooklyn. More of her work is available here. ..."
Aude White - About
Aude White
the cut
The Clothes You Inherit From Your Exes

Saturday, May 19

Time Regained - Marcel Proust (1927)

Wikipedia - "Volume Seven: Time Regained - The Narrator is staying with Gilberte at her home near Combray. They go for walks, on one of which he is stunned to learn the Méséglise way and the Guermantes way are actually linked. Gilberte also tells him she was attracted to him when young, and had made a suggestive gesture to him as he watched her. Also, it was Lea she was walking with the evening he had planned to reconcile with her. He considers Saint-Loup's nature and reads an account of the Verdurins' salon, deciding he has no talent for writing. The scene shifts to a night in 1916, during World War I, when the Narrator has returned to Paris from a stay in a sanatorium and is walking the streets during a blackout. He reflects on the changed norms of art and society, with the Verdurins now highly esteemed. He recounts a 1914 visit from Saint-Loup, who was trying to enlist secretly. He recalls descriptions of the fighting he subsequently received from Saint-Loup and Gilberte, whose home was threatened. ... À la recherche made a decisive break with the 19th century realist and plot-driven novel, populated by people of action and people representing social and cultural groups or morals. Although parts of the novel could be read as an exploration of snobbism, deceit, jealousy and suffering and although it contains a multitude of realistic details, the focus is not on the development of a tight plot or of a coherent evolution but on a multiplicity of perspectives and on the formation of experience. ... The significance of what is happening is often placed within the memory or in the inner contemplation of what is described. This focus on the relationship between experience, memory and writing and the radical de-emphasizing of the outward plot, have become staples of the modern novel but were almost unheard of in 1913. ..."
In Search of Lost Time - characters, resources, video, translations (Video)

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, 2016 January: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (1919), 2016 February: Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrieff: Soldier, Spy and Translator, 2016 May: The Guermantes Way (1920-21), 2016 August: Marcel Proust’s Search for Lost Time — Patrick Alexander, 2016 October: My Strange Friend Marcel Proust, 2017 March: Sodom and Gomorrah (1921-1922), 2017 August: Letters To His Neighbor by Marcel Proust; translated by Lydia Davis, October: Proust's À la recherche – a novel big enough for the world, 2017 October: Proust Fans Eagerly Await Trove of Letters Going Online, 2017 December: The Prisoner / The Fugitive (1923-1925)

Tarheel Slim - No Time At All (1974)

"Success for a black musician is very often a fleeting thing, though a single hit can often carry an artist for some period of time. In 1959 there was a record on the R&B charts for nearly ten weeks . . . made it into the black top twenty . . . entitled 'It’s Too Late'; artists – Tarheel Slim and Little Ann. It was a minor key blues, with each singing alternate verses. In spite of subsequent recordings, they never matched the sales levels attained by their first effort for a small NYC record label. Work was available on the strength of that one record, and jobs continued into the mid-sixties, but without further hits, it was a downhill spiral. Tarheel Slim was born Alden Bunn in Bailey, N.C. (near Wilson and Rocky Mount) when he got his first guitar – attracted to it by the musicians he’d see playing In the streets whenever his mother would take him to town (they included Gary Davis, who sold Slim his first Natlonal in 1943!) It was these musicians, coupled with his major recorded influence, Blind Boy Fuller (others were Big Bill, and Buddy Moss) that got him going. His mother would buy every Fuller record as it was issued, and this helped him form his guitar style. (Fuller came once to the Rocky Mount area, but Slim missed him – a later area appearance was cancelled due to Fuller’s illness and subsequent death.) ..."
TRIX 3310 – Tarheel Slim: “No Time At All”
YouTube: Some cold, rainy day, So Sweet So Sweet
YouTube: No time at all 56:36
2017 July: Tarheel Slim & Little Ann

Friday, May 18

The Jam - Peel Session

"THE PEEL SESSIONS is an excellent aural snapshot of the seminal first-generation English punk trio. Recorded for the BBC in April of 1977, just after the release of their debut record, this live-in-the-studio recording for legendary UK DJ John Peel's show captures the Jam storming their way through a short set (including three tunes that would show up on their second album) in their best baby-Who style. Very exciting, and incredibly atmospheric--the energy of the era almost seems to function as a fourth band member."
YouTube: Peel Session 1977: In The City, Art School, I've Changed My Address, Modern World, Peel Session 1977: All Around The World, London Girl, Bricks And Mortar, Carnaby Street, Peel Session 1979: Thick As Thieves, The Eton Rifles, When You're Young, Saturday's Kids

2009 March: The Jam, 2012 November: "Going Underground", 2013 January: In the City, 2013 February: This Is the Modern World, 2013 July: All Mod Cons, 2013 November: Setting Sons, 2014 January: Sound Affects (1980), 2014 December: Live At Bingley Hall, Birmingham, England 1982, 2015 March: "Town Called Malice" / "Precious", 2015 September: "Strange Town" / "The Butterfly Collector" (1979), 2016 April: "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight" (1979), 2017 January: Absolute Beginners EP (1981), 2017 March: David Watts / "A" Bomb In Wardour Street (1978), 2017 December: The Gift (1982)

Gimme Shelters, Manhattan

The plan to turn the Park Savoy Hotel in Midtown Manhattan into a men's homeless shelter has drawn a range of reactions.
"In the August heat two years ago, residents of Maspeth, Queens, learned of a homeless shelter planned for their neighborhood and erupted in fury, unleashing a campaign of vulgar, racially tinged protests. Maspeth residents picketed a hotel being used as a shelter, spewing hate as homeless children sat inside. They voted the local councilwoman, Elizabeth Crowley, out of office, replacing her with the man who had led their crusade. They shouted down Steven Banks, commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration, as he appealed to their sense of compassion during a community meeting, then took their protest to the doorstep of his Brooklyn home. 'Leave Maspeth Alone!' some of their signs read. 'Maspeth Lives Matter!' The city ultimately surrendered. Now, a similar battle is unfolding in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, as residents fight a men’s shelter the city plans to open in the now-shuttered Park Savoy Hotel. The site, on West 58th Street, is one of 90 that Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will open as part of a yearslong plan. In Maspeth, a mostly white, blue-collar area of Queens, the news of a homeless shelter was met with something barely short of a riot. ..."
NY Times
NY Post: A homeless shelter is coming to Billionaires’ Row

Cecil Taylor (1929-2018), Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka

"When the groundbreaking avant-garde jazz pianist and composer Cecil Taylor died last month, there was an outpouring of obituaries and tributes to his genius and influence.  But there was less attention paid to Taylor’s connections to the literary world, and to avant-garde poetry — including his links to New York poets during the 1950s and 1960s — than one might have expected. It’s true that Taylor’s friend and rival, Ornette Coleman — who is often seen, alongside Taylor, as one of the co-founders of free jazz – may have had more extensive contact and social ties than Taylor himself with the poets of the New York School, as I discussed after Coleman died in 2015. But Taylor, who was also a poet, first emerged in the same New York scene, rubbing elbows with poets like Frank O’Hara and Amiri Baraka, and playing some of his earliest gigs at the Five Spot (the legendary jazz club that serves as the site of Frank O’Hara’s famous elegy for Billie Holiday and was a hangout for the downtown, bohemian, literary set).  And he really read (and wrote) the stuff: thanks in part to Baraka, Taylor began to read deeply in the work of poets associated with the 'New American Poetry,' like Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Michael McClure, and Bob Kaufman. ..."
Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets
YouTube: Les grandes répétitions by Cecil Taylor (France) 44:48

2018 April: RIP, Cecil Taylor (1929-2018), May 1018: Jazz Advance (1956)

Thursday, May 17

Zone to Defend (ZAD)

La Boite Noir (the Black Box), one of the cabins destroyed.
Wikipedia - "The expression Zone to Defend or ZAD (French: zone à défendre) is a French neologism used to refer to a militant occupation that is intended to physically blockade a development project. The ZADs are organized particularly in areas with an ecological or agricultural dimension, notably in the permanent blockade village against an airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes. However the name has also been used by occupations in urban areas, e.g.: in Rouen, in Décines-Charpieu. One of the movement's first slogans was 'ZADs everywhere' and though there are no official figures, in early 2016 there were estimated to have been between 10 and 15 ZADs across France. The acronym 'ZAD' is a détournement of 'deferred development area' (from French: 'zone d'aménagement différé'). In 2015, the French term 'zadiste' (English: Zadist) entered the 2016 edition of Le Petit Robert dictionary as 'a militant occupying a ZAD to oppose a proposed development that would damage the environment.' Appearing in France in the early 2010s, the term was first popularized during the opposition to the airport construction project in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, north of Nantes. The ZAD movement has its origins in challenging large infrastructure projects in defense of the environment, local people's right to decide the future of their territories (at the price, if necessary, of conflict with state power) and the rejection of the capitalist economy. ... In April 2018, there was another attempt to evict the ZADists of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes commune by police with at least 2500 riot police on the scene. The evacuation began April 9th and officialy finished the 13th April with the destruction of 29 squats on 97, but the police is still deployed to secure the roads on the April 23rd. ..."
ROAR: The revenge against the commons of the ZAD
Verso Archive of Zad
“Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart: The ZAD” - Nov 7, 2017 (Video) 36:34

Evictions begin, robocops invade the bocage.

A map of the common projects of the ZAD. (March 2018)