Author Archives: b2tw

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We're a group of friends who talk about culture.

Tea With Chris: Highest Ghost Rate Per Capita

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: This interview with the big-on-Tumblr cartoonist Simon Hanselmann is, um, wow. For once the word “revelatory” seems not only justified but understated. From his very first answer: “I turned 31 last December, four days before Christmas. I spent it in a hot tub, drinking champagne, gazing out across the ocean. I was born in Tasmania. Tasmania is a small island/sovereign state at the bottom of Australia. It is densely haunted by convicts’ ghosts — highest rate of ghosts per square kilometer in the world. I was born in Launceston, the second largest population center in Tasmania. A real shit hole. Highest crime rate per capita in Australia. I detest it.”

Carl: Fresh from kicking the ass of the Venice Biennale, Toronto’s leading clit-rawk ensemble Vag Halen is profiled alongside a host of other “all-female tribute bands” in the Guardian. (Though they missed Toronto’s other exemplar, Sheezer.) Light on analysis but perhaps the analysis is obvious enough? Vanessa Dunn expands in The Globe and Mail: “As soon as you step on stage, you’re a feminist.”

Somebody please buy the novelization rights to this: Man Builds Secret Apartment in Mall, Gets Away with It for Four Years. It could be written by Sam Lipsyte, in one mode, or Lydia Davis, in another.

This is an extraordinary story about landays, Afghanistan’s Pashtun folk poetry form, and how women are creating them in undercover protest against their own repression, whether by men in their own culture or by the American invaders. “Making love to an old man/ is like fucking a shriveled cornstalk blackened by mold.” “O darling, you’re American in my eyes./ You are guilty; I apologize.”

LRB blog has been running some good first-person reports from Turkey.

(Here’s another.)

And in a more end-of-week mood: All of us with physiques kinda like Patton Oswalt wish we could be edited to dance as well as he does here in this video for his favourite Coup song, The Magic Clap.

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

Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Carly Simon, “Why” (Paradise Garage Remix)

by Carl Wilson

Back story: This recent piece on The National (which marked my debut as the new Slate music critic) sparked some conversation with friends about the liberating feeling of saying “yes, I suppose it’s good, but I have no use for it.” Which then led to the flipside sentiment: “Yes, I suppose it’s shitty, but I DON’T CARE I LOVE IT.” One conversationalist in tones of great shame brought up Carly Simon (who?). When I hear Carly Simon, I can think only of You’re So Vain” (great!), “Anticipation” (meh) and “Nobody Does It Better” (horrifying crap), so I asked for further evidence to bring to trial. Someone immediately brought up this Chic-era Nile Rodgers (he’s on the new Daft Punk album, guys) production. Then I found the Paradise Garage remix by disco deity Larry Levan, and … if for no other reason, Carly Simon, we think you can stay.

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Filed under carl wilson, music, Tuesday Musics

Little Boxes #143: Fogged Blocks


(from “Lost in the Andes!” by Carl Barks, 1949)

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Filed under chris randle, comics

Tea With Chris: Canadian Heroes

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: Having been a puling newborn when the momentous 1988 Supreme Court decision striking down Canada’s abortion law was achieved, I have less to say about its namesake Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who died yesterday, than Carl might. I would only urge you to read about his extraordinary 90 years: a man who withstood both the Holocaust and zealots’ cruder fires yet philandered out of needy insecurity, a man who lived, in every sense, for women.

This is my cow, Johnny Football.

“Let the mountains collapse into dust and the oceans all boil, but give me brands.”

Margaux: The beautiful and dangerous mind of Marie Calloway is coming soon. tonight! if you’re in New York.

Carl: Canada lost a bona-fide hero this week, Dr. Henry Morgentaler. I liked this appreciation for its more intimate view.

Another Canadian hero, our friend Shary Boyle, is in Venice dazzling people’s motherfuckin’ eyes out. Before she went, she had this nice conversation.

Ask for advice from Maria Bamford’s mom! (As played by Maria Bamford.)

An interview with Marker Starling, aka Toronto musician Chris Cummings (formerly Mantler): “The thing I guess that bugs me about the easy listening label, and this has to do with the dismissive attitude toward a band like the High Llamas, is that people seem to perceive it as music you don’t have to take seriously. To be taken seriously music has to have an element of ‘danger,’ and easy listening, from its name on down, embodies the opposite of danger. It’s safe. But it’s possible to be ‘safe’ and thrilling, melodic, and rhythmically compelling at the same time, and have beautiful melodies and harmonies. If you listen closely to it – take an album like Look Around by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 – it’s some of the most thrilling music ever. And I always try to incorporate something that thrills me in my own music, to put some kind of profound beauty into it. I’m not always successful but I try.”

Josh Kun’s project Songs in the Key of L.A., which previously showed us some pretty fantastic sheet-music covers of songs about the city and/or California from bygone years, is going one further and getting current L.A. artists to perform the songs, including Julia Holter and Aloe Blacc.

A gallery of fairy-tale, Seussian places you could actually go, like bamboo forests, floral tunnels, ice caves and pink lakes. What a world.

I really like Fence Books, but I never expected to see them covered by Vice. Although it makes sense now that I think of it.

Mike McGonigal pointed out this beautiful animated story of an encounter with the music collector, artist, antiquarian and much more, Harry Smith:

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

Carl’s (Late) Tuesday Musics: #entertainment feat. Peaches, “Bored of Rob Ford”

For non-Toronto readers: Context.

I’m not always a huge Peaches fan, but in a week like this, we all pull together.


Filed under Tuesday Musics

Little Boxes #142: Formal Titles


(from “Country Doctor” in The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, by Gengoroh Tagame, 2013)

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Filed under chris randle, comics

Margaux’s Friday Pictures – William Morris







william morris 16654_8221751

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Filed under visual art

Tea With Chris: Informative Rob Ford

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: Not to make TWC all-Moroder all the time or anything, but this little story is the most charming moment of gear nerdiness I’ve seen in a while.

Sheila E, 1985, playing lead percussion upright and singing “The Glamorous Life” simultaneously. Then somebody drapes a fur coat on her.

Margaux: Good news for atheists brought to you by Pope Francis

Bad news for fictional female characters in television – TV executives not so comfortable with mothers who “work too hard” at their “away” jobs (NPR)

Good news from Banksy

This is a beautiful thing that happened: Balpreet Kaur & a douchebag demonstrate strength of character on the internet (Jezebel)

Informative Rob Ford video from the young Torontonians (teenagers / Globe & Mail)

Other things happening in Toronto this weekend:

Wednesday Lupypciw & FAG & Christie Pits Park bring you QUEER NOISE SOLIDARITY followed by No Pants No Problem afterparty

Prince Nifty album release party at Holy Oak

and HOMOPHILIA w/ DJs Chris Randle and Alex Ostroff at the Yukon

Carl: This interview with Lawrence Wright packs an advanced degree’s worth of non-fiction writing tips into a very short space.

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

Little Boxes #141: Speaking in Tongues


(from Strawberries, by Mia Schwartz, 2013)

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Filed under chris randle, comics

Tea With Chris: ‘Help! I Ate My Own Vagina!’

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: After the wan enervation of their last album, Elysium, the new Pet Shop Boys single “Axis” comes on like somebody jolting up from sleep: relentlessly propulsive, a coruscating pulse, with only the merest vocal presence from Neil Tennant himself. More singing would just complicate the sensation. “Why don’t I use the synthesizer, which is the sound of the future?”

“Because you are a woman, and you feel feelings, you must draw some giant, oversimplified conclusion. You must have blandly down-to-earth protagonists, you must have lovable mommies hugging lost kittens, you must have rainbows and sunbeams spewing out of your ass. They’re going to coach you into writing something you’re not entirely sure about, something you would never in a million fucking years read yourself (if you had free will, which it sometimes seems like you don’t), and they’re going to tell you it’s pure genius. And even though you still might see your piece or essay or snippet of prose as “literary,” they’re going to stick an incendiary headline on it (‘Help! I Ate My Own Vagina!’) and it’s going to be an internet sensation, and you’re going to feel Bad with a capital B about it.”

Carl: I was recently in the Andalusian province of Sevilla, but didn’t visit (or then know about) the town there that is apparently its own small-scale experiment in utopianism that recalls the anarchist hopes of the Spanish Civil War. Compared to the unemployment-ridden Spanish economy in general, it seems like it’s thriving, although the comments on this story throw not-unexpected doubt on the mayor’s domineering style and perhaps cronyism. Still, any such real-life testing of social potentials and economic alternatives is exciting in a world so ahistorically convinced that one model fits all.

For a hilarious illustration of said model’s deep contradictions, you could do no better than Kathleen Phillips’s character monologue as a high-school guidance counselor who sees her job as an excuse to do “sweet fuck-all.” 

The luminous writer Paul LaFarge brings a similar mixture of laughter and queasy undertones, but a lot more fucking, to these “scenes left out of Henry James’s The Ambassadors.” I thought it was really funny at first, and then it started to wear thin, and then it became unexpectedly meaningful. I haven’t read The Ambassadors, so that’s not a prerequisite, but you likely have to have swallowed your share of James one way or another. Oh dear, that last part sounded like a line from the story.

And finally something for which I’ve been lobbying for years: The Experience Music Project in Seattle has got a bunch of videos online of lectures from this year’s mini-Pop Conference. Douglas Wolk’s talk on very, very short songs is one not to miss:

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