Monthly Archives: November 2012

Margaux’s Friday Pictures – Evan Gruzis








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Tea With Chris: Rolling Jubilee

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:

Carl: The brilliant Occupy-offshoot Rolling Jubilee/Strike Debt movement, which is raising money to buy up and eliminate citizens’ “bad” debt in America, has seemed to catch fire this week, with the “People’s Bailout” launch-party-cum-Telethon taking place tonight (guests incl. Janeane Garofalo, Jeff Mangum from Neutral Milk Hotel, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth ….) Here’s B2TW friend Astra Taylor explaining some of the thinking behind it, and here are some big brains debating the politics of the campaign.

A decade ago, Jamie Stewart of the wonderful band Xiu Xiu lost his father (who was himself a musician and record producer – he produced Billy Joel’s Piano Man – whatever else he was). This week Jamie posted a beautifully painful and painfully beautiful remembrance.

The only thing more moving is this very joyful Tumblr created by Dan Savage in tribute to the hetero people who helped LGBT people win several key marriage-equality fights in the U.S. last week: Straight Up Thanks.

Now after tears, laughter: It occurred to me that I hadn’t read one of my favourite comics in the world in a long time – like, a year. So I did, and now here are my six favourite Cat and Girl strips of 2012 so far.

Epic feat of music writing of the week: The Ballad of Scott & David, Walker & Bowie, Engel & Jones. Less epic but very enjoyable, Douglas Wolk on the lesser-known collaborations of Brian Eno.

Finally, I’ve written at length on B2TW about my favourite annual charity event, Toronto comedian Pat Thornton’s 24-hour standup marathon, which not only raises much-needed cash for the Stephen Lewis Foundation and AIDS in Africa, but also creates a slow-motion, hypnagogic frenzy of collective creativity, like 4-D chess played entirely with inside jokes. It’s happening again this weekend. It will be streaming online so you can follow it there if you’re not in the area or can’t get out to the Comedy Bar. And they’ve made a We Are the World-style charidee-single video promo for it:

Chris: The publisher Melville House posted this disbelieving rejoinder to a particularly entitled and delusional blogger Curator, who spent “spent some time on a horse of Dali-esque height and absurdity” after her demands for 15 high-resolution pages from a new book were spurned. It’s all very funny, but never more devastating than when presenting the target’s own words and gingerly backing away: “voluntary self-deportation from relevance,” “this hideous underbelly of the old-world publishing pantheon,” “value propositions” and “core users.” Well, it’s not like she identifies as a writer.

Speaking of rebuttals to fools, our friend Maura Johnston really killed it this week.

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Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Don Armando’s Rhumba Band, “I’m An Indian Too”

This 1979 mutant-disco reinterpretation of a song from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun arguably queers the offensiveness out of it, and arguably doesn’t. The original has its roots in the ethnic-masquerade/hate-comedy of vaudeville and minstrelsy that Berlin partook in, early in his career – which likewise may include maneuvers of self-assertion and not just exploitation. (Cf Bert Williams; cf Jewface.) Many a toxic parasite haunts these borderlines between mockery and camp. But it’s sure hard to inoculate against this infectiously incorrect arrangement.

(Thanks to Sholem Krishtalka and Anthony Easton for the Facebook tip.)


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Little Boxes #116: Whiskered


(from The Hive, by Charles Burns, 2012)

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Margaux’s Friday Pictures – Sarah Anne Johnson


Ripple / from the 2011 series Arctic Wonderland


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Tea With Chris: Ratchet Old Man Not Elected

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: Favourite post-election reaction so far: my friend Pilot’s mom’s.

Margaux: A great This American Life podcast this week Red State Blue State for anyone who also experienced the gift of a freakishly diverse Facebook feed during the U.S. Election.

Artist Eve Mosher’s 2007 flood lines project in New York. “During the course of her project, which lasted, on and off, for six months, she passed many low-income housing developments, along with luxury apartment buildings and power stations and nursing homes and hospitals.”

Speaking of the future – pee to power! Four African schoolgirls invent.

Speaking of school – Thiel fellowships offer grants for people with good ideas who are willing to drop out of school. From one father, John Deming, of grant recipient Laura Deming in New York Times article: “I can’t think of a worse environment than school if you want your kids to learn how to make decision, manage risk and take responsibility for their choices… Rather than sending them to school, turn your kids loose on the world. Introduce them to the rigors of reality, the most important of which is earning your own way.

Reality? Why the Nobel Prize went this way this year.

How other things change sometimes – Egyptian vigilantes crack down on abuse of women.

When things don’t change – Janelle Monáe’s great acceptance speech at BET’s Black Girls Rock.

Carl: This week was kind of distracting and exhausting for those not recently hit by a hurricane. Hard to imagine all of that plus a hurricane. One good bit of reporting I heard post-Sandy was this episode of the Planet Money podcast: I often find that show a little maddening with its not-so-critical embracing of mainstream economics dogma, but this one was a really good tribute to usually-invisible infrastructure (especially with its pre-election timing) – left unsaid but there beneath the surface is the idea that an austerity agenda that cuts “redundant” spending actually would dismantle the backup plans that keep us safe and secure in affluent countries – that are in many ways the very definition of affluence: The fact that our insurers have their own insurers means that there can be a hurricane or an earthquake and we don’t end up in tents waiting years for rebuilding – or another hurricane or earthquake – to happen, as people still are in Haiti. The question of what we can “afford” to do and what we can’t afford not to do is more complicated than it looks on the surface.

That said, even in the wealthy north, not everything goes smoothly – people in Red Hook and the Rockaways are still in a world of wet cold. The fact that some of the best work fixing things up is being done by Occupy Sandy is a pretty pleasant surprise – not that it should be a surprise. Funny, I haven’t heard anything about the fine work of Tea Party Sandy the past couple of weeks …

This week brought lots of good news in the White House and the Senate, and for marriage equality and against the war on drugs, etc. It didn’t bring much more hope for people subject to constant drone attacks, though – Barack Obama’s favourite mode of illegal death dealing (every President’s got one!). The wonderful writer and devoted pacifist Nicholson Baker has apparently been writing protest songs about that, which ironically could be described musically as “drone attacks” as well – I don’t mean that as an insult, just that they’ve got this Arthur Russell-esque string-pulse-drone thing going on. I remain a little more excited about his new book, though (reviewed there by the great John Jeremiah Sullivan).

Meanwhile, some people noticed the classic Mountain Goats album Tallahassee came out ten years ago so they decided to pay tribute. (Personally my 2002 go-to Goats album is All Hail West Texas, but I know I’m in the minority.) John Darnielle remarked on Twitter that the tribute album was “really pointing out to me that next time I need to go full storyline/concept/character record.” To which I can only say yes, yes, yes.

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Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Franklin Bruno/Kelly Hogan, “Never Tell Your Lover How You Voted”

by Carl Wilson

Some good advice for this day from Franklin Bruno, sung by the inimitable Kelly Hogan: “He’d rather imagine you sleeping with his Dad/ Than picture you punching some other party’s chad.”

Other excellent recent Bruno productions on political themes: Flag Pin and Free to Organize.

After the election’s over, Franklin and drummer Matt Houser, aka The Human Hearts, are on tour. If you’re in any of these places, don’t miss them:

Mon. 11/12 – Pittsburgh PA – Sound Cat Records (6 pm)
Tue. 11/13 – Columbus OH – Used Kids Records (6 pm; with Aloysha Het, Randall Douglas Matson)
Wed. 11/14 – Cincinnati OH – The Comet (with Matthew Shelton, Dana Ward)
Thu. 11/15 – Louisville KY – Solidarity (1609 Bardstown Rd.)
Fri. 11/16 – Durham, NC – Motorco, with Pretty and Nice, Gary B and the Notions
Sat. 11/17 – Washington D.C. – Big Bear Cafe (7:30 pm, with the Tinklers)
Sun. 11/18 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie, with Gashcat

Hogan’s also on tour and she’s coming to Toronto on Dec. 1 (!), and a lot of other nice places, some of them in swing states. If you’re in those places, go vote or she won’t sing for you. Really, she told me. Go vote.

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Little Boxes #115: Classifieds

(from Strange Tales #99, script by Stan Lee and art by Steve Ditko, 1962)

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Margaux’s Friday Pictures – Esther Pearl Watson



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Tea With Chris: The Story of a Hurricane

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: This song has been in my head all day. Maybe ’cause this movie is coming out. Good song for the Great Gatsby.

Carl: Linda Besner makes a stab on Hazlitt at imagining how to get people to like poetry as much as they like paintings – give it a gallery, she says. Personally I think this “singing and/or shouting it over guitars and/or turntables” plan is still a good one. People don’t like paintings that much, either.

Toronto’s Tamara Faith Berger and North Carolina’s Kate Zambreno met in NYC to talk about libertines, Sasha Grey, Bataille and lovable assholes. The Believer has a transcription.

Disasters are stories of climate and class. I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and your power is back on. That said, I don’t think it is entirely a terrible thing that well-off northerners are beginning to experience the kinds of crises that have been year-in-year-out routine for poor southern coastal communities. Not if we then start to get the idea that we should do something about it.

If you need help convincing any American friends that they should not vote for Romney, or (maybe more likely) that they should vote at all, this video made by animators from the Simpsons might be a big help:

I don’t think that I think Romney’s Mormonism should have any bearing on how people vote. But I do find the Latter Day Saints pretty fascinating. The best thing I read all week was Mike Davis’s piece about Mormonism’s repressed communist roots. and I’m looking forward to Slate’s story about the complicated experience people having being intellectuals in the LDS.

Okay, everyone, hold hands, shut your eyes tight and see you on the other side of Tuesday.

Chris: Michelle Dean laments the disappearance of witchy wickedness, the kind that frightens all the right men: “Our emblematic witch is Hermione Granger, who performs all the magic and takes none of the credit from Harry Potter. She is self-effacing and noble and never in any real danger of contamination by the dark…Which is only a shame if you think of this: just as the truly threatening witch has gone out of style, the people who most want to control women are out in force.”

Further to the Atlantic piece on disasters and class in Carl’s tea, a response that focuses on how persistent and pervasive these gulfs are: “the city that never sleeps can stay up 24/7 thanks to nocturnal bodega owners and overnight transit workers.”

I’m warily optimistic that Romney will lose on Tuesday, and elating allaying that would be, but if he doesn’t, here’s where pop music might go afterwards.


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