Tea With Chris: A Secular Hymn to Atoms

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: This clip has already gone viral, but that doesn’t make it any less charming. Who knew that Waka Flocka’s bitterly reflective line about saying “Fuck school” could be repurposed for kindergarten adorableness? (Okay, different songs, but still.)

The Singles Jukebox righteously tears apart Katy Perry’s “E.T.” in the process of giving it a 2.45: “Then you start singing lyrics about wanting to be with an alien, a time-tested metaphor for race even if you hadn’t clarified that he was ‘foreign.’ And then you sing about wanting to be a victim and being abducted. In other words, you’re spouting some really fucking racist bullshit, Katy Perry.”

Margaux: Toronto’s best friend Becky Johnson has launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money for her 2011 summer tour. There are rewards. The campaign closes April 27, 2011. Here is the link if you would like to know how Becky usually makes money.

Carl: Lots of tea from me to try to compensate for my lack of posting:

This beautiful and popular YouTube video, a Japanese ad for a wooden cellphone, glorifies nature not just in its cinematography but in its reversal of the abstraction of music – taking the mathematical mysticism of Bach’s praise cantata, and turning it back into one piece of matter striking another and producing a tone, over and over again. The materiality of the forest encounters the materiality of the ball rolling down the ramp and both are mediated by the materiality of vision, making it all a secular hymn to atoms. And yet there’s the underside: Seeing this enormous wooden ramp built in the middle of the woods, for an elaborate lark whose pleasure is ultimately comercially motivated, can’t help conjuring up the reality that forests are vanishing, that we’re wasting a shitload of wood all the time and emperiling the very natural beauty the ad celebrates. And it’s all for a wooden cellphone, an object that’s itself a punchline to a bad joke about technology and luxury and human (un)nature. It’s perfect, and also perfectly ridiculous.

Montreal journalist Eric Rumble has a newish site called LPWTF, where he looks into the story behind Canadian record covers. I like this entry about the above-reproduced cover of Colin Stetson’s amazing sax-barrage set New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, in particular, because all the little joints and bends in it articulate so much about the artistic process: how it often proceeds very haphazardly to the retrospectively inevitable. Stetson had one idea and the artist took it completely another way, then found out her idea had already been done, and so came up with another version, which she then realized by finding a company in China that made something she didn’t know existed… And the result was much better than anything anyone would have conceived in the absence of all the accidents. It’s a nice way to write about art, although artists aren’t always willing or able to be so transparent and helpful.

I read quite a few poems this week by Noah Eli Gordon. A few years ago he published a book called Inbox made up of emails he’d gotten, stripped of context, over a period of time. His latest book is called The Source, and it’s composed of texts he found in thousands of books in the Denver Public Library, always on page 26. The results are tender and philosophical while also, appropriately enough, a little bit stubborn and elusive-feeling. I like this conceptual-writing thing, but I wonder about its emotional limitations that way, and also whether the people who stump for it are concerned about those emotional limitations, and if not why not.

And then I become very glad that Ken Babstock has a new book of poems called Methodist Hatchet – I am glad both that it exists and that it’s called that. (Along the LPWTF lines, Bill Douglas explains how Methodist Hatchet‘s cover was designed).

Here, as part of a project by How Pedestrian of people reading poems in public places, someone named City T at the DMV in North Miami reads a poem from the book (text here) called “To Inflame the Civic Temper.” Its first line is, “Hey, Assface in the Hydroplane!” All the nouns in the poem are capitalized, a nice Victorian touch to balance out all the cursing.

And here is Ken himself reading in front of St. George subway station in October. His book launches as part of the annual Anansi Poetry Bash, Thursday, April 28, 8 p.m., upstairs at LeVack Block, 88 Ossington St., Toronto.

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1 Comment

Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson

One response to “Tea With Chris: A Secular Hymn to Atoms

  1. hi, guys! and thanks for the shout out, mx. i should point out that one businessman understood the math in that article to mean that i have made a million dollars in my business thus far. although i understand his math, i would like to point out that this is not an accurate number. wholesale! i love you guys. love, becky.