Monthly Archives: November 2012

Tea With Chris: A Girl and Her Room

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

Margaux: Once in awhile you gotta love the haters (regarding comment section on this Julian Schnabel gossip post) 

Site for sore eyes – somehow very refreshing to see this picture of rotting food on this NPR story about rotting food.

Good looking and smart too – subway maps at scale from around the world thanks to Darren O’Donnell.

A treat – The Daily Show on newscasters dealing with the issue of marijuana. If you’re procrastinating-in-a-hurry, it gets pretty good after 5 minutes. Don’t miss the malomares!


Procrastinating? Very helpful piece on the daily routines of writers.

Some poets making poets look good, thanks to Sheila Heti.

This is really nice – “A Girl and Her Room,” portraits by Rania Matar of teenage girls in their bedrooms, thanks to Beth Janson.

Chris: Aside from the whole jobs/cash/hope thing that metastasized on Twitter a couple of days ago, which really defies coherent explanation, this was the funniest thing I saw online in the past week.

A metrical analysis of Ke$ha via Stephen Sondheim.

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Margaux’s Friday Pictures – Lynette Yiadom Boakye





Lynette Yiadom-Boakye_The Signifying Donkey s feat

The Signifying Donkey’s Feat


Lynette Yiadom Boakye_diplomacy



Lynette Yiadom Boakye_politics



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Mark Eitzel at the Rivoli, Toronto, Nov. 28, 2012

by Carl Wilson


“This isn’t the kind of show I ever imagined myself going to,” I think I heard my friend say a song or so into former American Music Club frontman Mark Eitzel’s set at the Rivoli the other night. I saw what she meant. Eitzel was standing there in Playboy Mansion 1970s beard and moustache, suit and fedora, with a plastic cup of wine, as he crooned and a pianist half his height sat at a red electric keyboard following charts.

She was saying (if she said it) that she wasn’t usually the cabaret-act type. But time had caught up to us, the way it caught up to Mark Eitzel: When he was young he wanted to be Ian Curtis, and even in AMC, a band marked by its pushy quietness and its pedal-steel of despair, he would get stupid drunk live and fall on the other band members yelling. (This Hyde-Jekyllness helped to endear it to a few and to ensure it would never bite even a crouton of commercial success.) Now by both penury and predeliction he is a cabaret performer, and we are cabaret-goers, and we were naked and not ashamed.

We’d last seen him – the first time for both of us I think – in a beautiful theatre in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as the jester-hat-crowning performance of the Merge Records anniversary festival a couple of years ago, with a grand piano. I’d been thinking about that show ever since. Now it was like we were at a supper club managed by Frederico Fellini, watching a lounge act by God’s estranged black-sheep son – not Satan, just the one with a cheap apartment who never calls.

Although I entirely should have been an AMC fan during their prime, I missed out, thinking they were too West Coast for me (they were a San Francisco band, and Eitzel is still a San Francisco dweller), and that the AMC fans I knew had overly fastidious tastes. Now it feels like I was saving Eitzel for later, when I would need him.

The tiny club was only two-thirds full and I kept thinking of more people I wished I’d invited: sometimes so they could have laughed at the joke Eitzel had just made; sometimes so they could have heard the way he’d just hit that note, holding the microphone half a meter away from his face to tame the sound (that antique science), throwing that loudness out like a golden net that caught all the air in its mouth and then released and slumped into a goofy grin; but usually because his songs were so populated with breathing people and broken plaster in a way that made you miss everyone you’ve ever known, the ones you loved and particularly the ones you just liked okay, so you never noticed the moment when you would never see them again.

In between that last time in the theatre and this evening in Fellini’s Man Hole, Mark Eitzel  had a heart attack, so it was possible we would never have seen him again.


Before the show I was telling my friend that having not really been in a relationship for a while, I’m lately hyperconscious of living alone, a position of almost exactly equal parts privilege and very bad luck. I hardly know anyone else who lives alone anymore. I’m fond of it but for the fact that there is never anyone home waiting for me or whom I’m waiting for. I’ve been playing Eitzel’s new album Don’t Be a Stranger around the house a lot; the title seems like good advice to the unaccompanied. I usually listen to no music at all, but podcasts, because that’s more like a conversation, but cabaret music is chatty, a good medium for a little talk about being guilty of being ungrateful for the things we chose for ourselves.

After the concert I went to the toilet at the back of the club and when I came out I was awkwardly looking into the open dressing-room door. I glimpsed the unnamed keyboardist and assumed Eitzel was standing a couple of feet away. I had the impulse to saunter in.

But as I told my friend afterwards, I was too embarrassed at my over-eager desire to hit it off with Eitzel immediately and become the best of friends. His easy, charming stage manner  made that a breeze to imagine, but performers are not the same off stage, so it’s a trap. He had said that he’d like to move to Canada. But then he demurred that as an “over-the-hill singer-songwriter fag with a heart condition,” he figured he wasn’t high on anyone’s admission list (though come on, Mark, it’s Canada). So I guess he’s not about to be my neighbour.

I was also too eager to go meet other real-life friends at another bar, because I had been missing them, wishing they were there, and it won’t do to try to strike up an intimacy for life when you are in a hurry. For instance Eitzel couldn’t have been in a hurry when he wrote that first song he sang tonight, for the 1994 AMC album San Francisco, with the chorus that goes, “The world is held together by the wind/ That blows through Gena Rowlands’ hair.”

The drinks at the other bar were cheaper and better than the ones at Fellini’s Last Hope Dwarf Rodeo Saloon, and I prefer the Eitzel chorus they use for last call there, “We all have to find our own way out,” to the one that marks time, gentlemen, please, at Fellini’s: “No one here is going to save you.”

But I hoped he wasn’t lonely after the audience was gone, and that he had some music back at his hotel to tell his troubles to him. (Don’t you always hope artists you like have another artist who does for them what they do for you? And then wonder if the reason for what they do is that they don’t?) I hoped he’d gotten that wine stain out of his blazer, from that spill late in the show. And I hoped we’d meet again, some sunny day.


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Carl’s Tuesday Musics: “Monad,” by Chris Cohen

Thanks to Jessie Stein (The Luyas) for the nudge, though she was talking about another song.

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Little Boxes #118: Holidays as Harrowing Nightmare


(from Nancy, by Ernie Bushmiller, c. 1946-48)

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Tea With Chris: The Past Isn’t Past

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

Chris: These photos of abandoned suitcases from an insane asylum in New York state exist somewhere between social history and a thoroughly depressing short story.

Carl: Somebody this week (apologies, I’ve lost track of who) reminded me of this 2004 column by Josh Kun about diasporic Uruguayan-Jewish musician Jorge Drexler, who wrote a song imagining himself Polish in the Holocaust, and then when that song was misappropriated by Israeli nationalists, wrote another imagining himself as an Arab in Israel. It’s a little bit as if, after Ronald Reagan tried to ride the tails of Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen had responded by writing a new one called Born in the Republic of Cuba. Josh wrote:

Milonga del moro jud’o would have been provocative at any point in the Israeli/Palestinian past, but with lines like ‘I didn’t give anyone permission to kill in my name,’ it has an added urgency in the wake of the Sharon administration’s assassination of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin in the name of ‘self-defense’ and ‘the war against terrorism.’ Both justifications are misnomers. Self-defense is hard to argue in a fight between aggressors set on each other’s decimation. And Sharon’s war is less a war against terrorism and more a war of terrorism, of terror begetting terror, blood begetting blood, of living and dying by a sword that you won’t let go of. …  When he sings, ‘There’s no death that doesn’t also hurt me,’ it’s not the vitriolic condemnation of a politician but a poet’s sad statement of what ought to be a self-evident truth.”

Sadly, change the names in that paragraph and the sentiment is equally applicable to this week. Here is the song.

This manifesto from a group of infuriated, frustrated young people in Gaza is much less gentle in tone but equally alive to self-evident truths. (The Guardian has some background.)

Healing balms are to be heard in this vocal bath from Isla Craig, or in these Basement Tapes (with ukelele, found sound and vocals) from Karinne Keithly. (Help her make more here.)

Meanwhile, on the much-more-minor-skirmishes front, a lot of people in my Internet bubble were frustrated with the tired, well-meaning but wrong-headed piece by Princeton professor Christy Wampole in the New York Times last week about “hipsters” and “irony.” Hardly worth talking about except for this generous, broad-minded response from (who else?) Ann Powers. A highlight:

“Beyond economics, the thrift-store lifestyle and its more recent booming variant, artisanal culture, forges a link with history for young people with shaky cultural family ties. Snicker as you bite into the lovingly prepared poutine you bought from a truck, but also recognize that learning hands-on stuff, like food preparation or knitting or even mastering a fixed-gear bike, offers people a path out of the maze of chain stores and cold cubicles that dominates our daily lives. That path can lead to a mirage: Romanticizing the past is a convenient way to avoid its long-embedded problems, from racism and sexism to the drudgery of many working people’s days. But insofar as these activities involve the body — moving in time-honored ways as you try a classic dance step or chop some wood — they can fix an alienated relationship with tradition, forging a link that’s personal and real.”

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Margaux’s Friday Pictures – Thomas Zipp


Black Mai



Angesichts der Existenz von begrenzten rauschhaften zuständen… (In the Face of the Existence of Restricted Ecstatic Conditions…)



(WHITE REFORMATION CO-OP) MENS sana in corpore sano / Installation view Fridericianum



Installation view (Irmgard wackelnd)



a.b.w.d. 21





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Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – directed by Wes Anderson, written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

by Margaux Williamson

Moonrise Kingdom is a sweet, good-natured, good-looking movie about young love. The love is between two child runaways on a charmingly idiosyncratic island set in 1965.

I have really liked quite a few Wes Anderson movies, but I found this one difficult to watch.

Though everything about the movie seemed interesting and pleasurable, my eyes had a hard time instinctively knowing what to look at. Everything was interesting and pleasurable. The movie frame was continuously filled from corner to corner with things lovingly crafted and interestingly arranged: the unusual curtains, the overly solemn children, the coiled rug, the crooked picture. It was as though my eyes couldn’t find the thing that was different. Everything was perfectly off, but to the same degree. So where to look? If all the objects and characters and animals and sky in the movie are as crafted and cared-for as the young lovers, it can make you wonder what the movie wants you to concentrate on. If this sameness makes it hard to understand where to rest your eyes, it makes it even harder to understand where to rest your heart.

Stern, unhappy adults and an approaching storm offer the main opportunities for disorder. Unfortunately, the stern, unhappy adults on the island are the most perfectly-off unhappy adults to be found in the world (or at least in Hollywood): Bruce Willis is an endearingly hesitating Police Captain; Frances McDormand is a stern and matter-of-fact secret lover; Bill Murray is a deliciously depressed father; Tilda Swinton is a militaristic child-protection employee; Bob Balaban is the wonderfully detached-and-I-know-it narrator. Every single one of these characters, like everything else in the movie, is a treat. But they in no way offer a break from this relentless uniformity of the “perfectly off”. Nor does the storm. The storm is just another charming rival to the charms of everything else.

If absolutely everything is perfectly off, it perhaps becomes more accurate to describe it as simply perfect, or having evolved towards a state of inert uniformity.

I started to crave a glimpse of a really sad child, a genuinely thoughtless action, a window that would open up and let you crawl out of this claustrophobic heaven – even if it just led you to a mall in 2002.


Filed under margaux williamson, movies, visual art

Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Drive-By Truckers, “Thanksgiving Filter”

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Little Boxes #117: Wild Dogs

(by Lisa Hanawalt, 2012)

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