Tag Archives: Brian Joseph Davis

Tea With Chris: 1/N’s Worth of Everything

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: Last week, I was unable to ignore a lot of short, conflicting, not-so-helpful articles that either argued that women’s position in the world is now supremely better than ever, or, that it is just as bad as it’s always been – no, it’s worse!  Then I came across a playful audio episode of Sook-Yin Lee’s Definitely Not the Opera under the theme of “Bragging”. It contains a really interesting and disappointing psych test where men and women both judged other women much more negatively than men when mentioning their own great accomplishments. Worth listening to – good to remember how we can all get it wrong.

This seems like a great time to tell you all something smart my boyfriend once did.  He, Misha Glouberman, sometimes runs conferences. I once went to one on art and copyright where the first thing they had us do was sit in groups of four. Misha quickly handed out little cards that had the equation 1/n. He said to please keep in mind for the conference, that if you’re talking more than 1/n (the number of your group) to try to think about that and ask yourself why you were talking so much and maybe to try to talk a little less. And that if you were talking less than 1/n, to think about that and ask yourself why and try to talk a little bit more. It proved to be a better day than normal.

This week, real-world evidence of triumphs – Julia Gillard calls out Australian opposition leader for hypocrisy and misogyny (a real pleasure to watch if you haven’t yet – the best entertainment is always the truth), and tragedies – the shooting of 14-year-old activist Malala Yousufzai and two other young girls. Made me remember a moving 30 minute documentary by the director Khadija Al-Salami that I watched on the DVD magazine Wholphin years ago. It was about “the bravest 13 year old girl in the world”, a girl named Nejmia. You can watch it here on Youtube.

Toronto artist Iris Fraser is making a movie called Brother Frank. Here’s the trailer – she’s currently gathering money to aid post-production. I think she used film to make it.

After watching the trailer for Brother Frank, I somehow wandered over to Youtube and watched all the trailers that Rebel Wilson is in. I was a little disappointed to realize with each trailer that she wasn’t the star. Though maybe there are no more stars, maybe we’re all 1/n in the movies now.

Bruce La Bruce on the train to Montreal on the New Yorker on Andy Warhol.  A really nice piece.

Speaking of Twitter, I caught a glimpse of a strange and wonderful Tipping Point moment: Roger Ebert declares “We all must become mostly vegetarian”.

Carl: I forgot to mention in my tea last week about the late Eric Hobsbawm that the Marxist historian was also (under a pseudonym) a jazz critic for a decade. Today, someone pointed me to a Simon Reynolds post in which he unearths a few more fellow-travelling intellectuals who once dabbled in the music-critic stream – including Perry Anderson, who in the New Left Review (and also under a pseudonym) in the late ’60s/early ’70s said this about Bob Dylan: “Within the metamorphoses of American rock, he plays something like the same role as Chateaubriand, fons et origo of European romantic literature in the last century: an omnipresent influence, monumentally reedy, vain and feeble in itself, yet paradoxically fecund and liberating for its successors, because of its impacts on genre, Dylan’s self-pitying verse and prophetic posturings again and again produce inferior art (sometimes nauseatingly so — items such as “Just Like a Woman” are a nadir by any criteria). Yet out of these vapourings have emerged groups like the Byrds and the Band.”

Things get predictably excessive when our friend Brian Joseph Davis interviews Mark Leyner for the Believer, describing the Trojan War as a reality-TV show. Quoth Leyner:Of course Helen gets stolen, but, from the Olympian perspective, it started at a wedding where there were three goddesses who asked Paris to pick the hottest goddess. For some reason Paris took part in this. Every other mortal said, ’Uh-uh. Not getting involved in this. This couldn’t be good, as I’m going to piss two goddesses off.’ But Paris did piss two goddesses off, and hence this whole series of events happened. and I thought: That’s it? That’s how all this happened? Is that not out of reality TV? When two girls come into the kitchen on the Jersey Shore and ask, ‘Who do you want to fuck most? Pick one.’ Then someone gets pissed off. … Again it’s one of these odd transpositions between most trivial and most important. Those distortions of scale, I think, are at the basis of both what’s poetic and what’s funny.”

Two videos of space changing: Toronto expands, a star explodes.

Chris: Hey, did you know there’s an International Pizza Expo? On a slightly more high-minded tip, here’s Michael DeForge’s comic “Leather Space Men,” which is sort of like those urban legends about Bill Murray if Bill Murray was an unspeaking bondage-gear-covered Other.

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

Tea With Chris: The Reprisalizer

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: In a previous TWC I made a nomination for the greatest tweet ever, the pinnacle of the medium. This one isn’t quite its equal, but it does have a certain beautiful simplicity.

Matthew Holness, best known for the brilliantly awful BBC3 series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, apparently has a film forthcoming: “YOUTH WAS GATHERING IN WESTGATE. CROAKY-VOICED LOAFERS, BLOCKING RIGHTS-OF-WAY AND ANNOYING WAR VETERANS.”

Lest any high-concept meta-jokes go uncracked, someone recorded a hardcore 7″ from the perspective of McGruff the Crime Dog. As Bill Kennedy observed on Facebook, this lyric could be an unwitting tribute to the project’s spiritual Ian MacKaye: “Just because something is safe to use one way / Doesn’t mean it’s safe to use another way.”

Carl: “#Moccupy“: Occupy Wall Street occupies Law and Order: SVU set version of OWS. Police raid it and can’t tell which are real barricades and which are fictional (now they know how we all feel). Protesters chant, “NYPD doesn’t respect Law and Order.” There is almost nothing I could say about this without ruining it, except: Slow. Clap.

I don’t usually do this, but, even though I was the editor on it, my highest recommendation of the week truly is the two long narratives and accompanying lovely photography and other material in this project about an effort to change the lives of “untouchable” girls (yes, caste still exists) in northeast India, by one of The Globe and Mail’s two or three most invaluable talents, my friend Stephanie Nolen.

In lighter feminist reading: You may well disagree with everything X’s Exene Cervenka says in this interview but you’re likely to be highly entertained by her right to say it.

In still-lighter, and hardly-at-all feminist, entertainment: This video the cast and crew of The X-Files apparently made as a birthday present is like a Rosetta Stone of ’90s culture, with an absurd number of ridiculously enjoyable celebrity cameos. It is only slightly undermined by the fact that, as later events were to make clear, its central premise is flawed: It seems highly likely that if you’d told him “love me,” you would have gotten nothing but an affirmative from David Duchovny.

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Tea With Chris: Holy Halo, Batman

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:

Carl: In a week that felt at once slow and frantic, I found this montage of Robin’s “Holy ____ ” exclamations from the campy 1960s Batman series a kind of giggly meditation vehicle – with a poetic rhythm that reminded me of Allen Ginsberg’s “America” (“America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?”) or more directly of this passage in Howl: “The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy! Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!” Or at least, in this case, Batman is.

The sinister silliness of America and of Toronto this week were best encapsulated, among many commentaries, in a Toronto Standard piece by Ivor Tossell that suggested a perfect name for the style of political sabotage both the Republicans in Congress and the Rob Ford administration here at home are indulging right now: Uncompetence.

Most of Erroll Morris’s films are distinguished, among the documentary field, by not striving for of-the-moment relevance, for what journalists call a “peg,” but taking up subjects that are slightly out of time and have an inherent gravity, an intrinsic fascination. Still, he has to have been tickled, as the Murdoch scandal-sheet empire was going up in flames, for this to be the week that he was releasing a movie called Tabloid.

But is silliness always sinister? Ann Powers on the NPR music blog kicked off a debate this week, not so much about whether the widespread resentment of the Black-Eyed Peas is warranted, but why it is so virulent and out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence. There were a lot of responses but the most thoughtful to me was this one by Chris Burlingame: “When you dismiss a type of music because it doesn’t appeal to people exactly like you, you can resent it more when you find out just how many people out there that aren’t like you (hint: it’s a lot).”

And sometimes of course silliness is sublime. Check out this early, failed pilot by Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Robbie Coltrane and friends (you can skip the prefatory verbiage if you prefer), which manages to send up sci-fi movies, popular science-history TV magazine shows and dystopian fears – with a serious undercurrent about the dangers of genetic engineering. If only I could go back in time through the Crystal Cube – and get more episodes.

Chris: I love this anecdote unreservedly: “The swords were taken down and the desk was in mid-move when Patton flung open the door and walked in. His rage was instant and fearful. He screamed at the top of his voice, ‘What do you think you’re doing, you unspeakable Hollywood bastards!’ This was only the beginning of a flow of invective of which Blackbeard the Pirate would have been proud. George [Cukor] sighed deeply with resignation. He was not at all frightened. Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo—he had dealt with tantrums all his life. He walked over to the general, who was now nearing the fortissimo apex of his wrath, and put his arm around the shoulder with the four stars on it. ‘Now, General,’ he said, soft-voiced and persuasive, ‘are we going to be silly about this?’”

Inspired literary remix no. 1: a scientist named Dan Warren carefully edited the audio version of Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father to create narration for a made-up creation myth.

Inspired literary remix no. 2: Brian Joseph Davis’ Consumed Guide, a long prose poem distilled from 13090 record reviews by Robert Christgau. Like their source and their surgeon, the seven thousand negative words are often scathingly funny, but there’s another pleasure here too: the vivid tactility of Xgau’s descriptions, an overdose of style and verse.

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