Tag Archives: Double Double Land

Carl’s Tuesday Musics: “Zmirneikos Balos” and others by Marika Papagika (1928)

by Carl Wilson

I was fortunate enough this weekend to be present at the revival of Double Double Land in Toronto’s “Talking Songs” series, in which people play recordings for other people and talk about them, featuring a special guest – the independent intellectual, anthologist, vintage 78s collector and “Fonotopia” DJ/podcaster, Ian Nagoski, who regaled us with the sounds and stories of Indian classical singers with disreputable pasts, Lemko-American bands, Carpathian “hillbillies” and the parallels between bluegrass and polka (both urban adaptations of mountain stringband music), the Okeh laughing record (though he didn’t mention the great Tex Avery cartoon that uses it as soundtrack to its second half), canary breeding as a form of musical composition, and much more.

Much beyond collecting for collecting’s sake, Nagoski’s fascination with non-English-language (aka “ethnic” at the time) records made in the U.S. before the Second World War serves him as a lens on ignored or suppressed histories of America, non-canonical views of musical development (in which it doesn’t all culminate in rock) and the confidence games of the American dream.

On that last theme, one person he didn’t play but alluded to is Marika Papagika, a great singer of many styles, including what we today would refer to as rebetika (or often “rembetika” in English). She was a Greek immigrant to New York who, with her husband Costas, made many successful recordings and opened up a nightclub nearby where the Port Authority is today – until they lost it all in the stock-market crash of 1929, just a year after the song above was shellacked. The emotional detail of her singing is spellbinding.

Nagoski has played an important role in reintroducing her to modern (and non-Greek) audiences, by including her music on his compilations Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Musics (1918-1954) and To What Strange Place:The Music Of The Ottoman-American Diaspora (1916-1929) and finally a collection entirely of Papagika songs, The Further the Flame the Worse It Burns MeThe one he’s rhapsodized over the most is below, the even-more-plaintive Smyrneïko Minore, which the Kronos Quartet heard on Black Mirror and arranged and performed it in concert.

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Tea With Chris: A Flash of Muddy Light

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: The best thing I saw in 2008 may well have been Double Double Land Land, a play that really played, a romp, an absurdity, an entertainment, a flash of muddy light, by Jon McCurley. (It also gave Toronto art-performance space Double Double Land its name). Theatre notoriously films badly, and this is no exception, but now that it’s on YouTube you can at least get a glimpse. I’m so excited that Jon’s finally putting together a new play this year.

And one thing to brighten up the dark days of January is that Darren Hayman, the adenoidal voice of one of my favourite late-’90s bands, Hefner, has decided to spend the month writing & recording a song a day. He’s not the first to do that, but he’s the best songwriter to do it – and did any of the others also make a video for every song? For the January 9 video, he solicited the help of his audience to film themselves dancing to the song, then edited all their fan videos together, which reminds me of the best video of ever, Margaux’s much-loved Dancing to The End of Poverty film for Tomboyfriend.

Chris: A few months of shows at the Hacienda in 1983:

“Annie Lennox, ex-Tourists.” (Via Douglas Wolk.)

Like Geoff Manaugh, I love the premise of the Drift Deck, a kind of I Ching for indeterminate metropolitan wandering. I also love these phrases he employed in critiquing it: “a human behavior manual for urban residents suffering from Aspergers Syndrome,” “twee Instabuddhism.”

Margaux: I had heard about the Bansky movie, Exit Through the Gift Shop, for awhile but pictured it being a bit like the documentary Beautiful Losers (the surprisingly straight-up documentary about 12 or so artists who were pioneers in the American street art movement) but more cool and more aloof – I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. But then saw the trailer for Exit Through the Gift Shop and was won over. The trailer opens with typical movie trailer pomp (like film festival laurel leaves and delayed pronouncements of grandeur) but here the delayed pronouncements are only jokes at the expense of both the laurel-leaf granting institutions and the movie itself. A refreshing move that promised both a decent lack of hypocrisy (specifically here in relation to the anti-authority subject matter) and a good amount of pleasure.

I don’t think about Toronto-as-a-city too much, but reading Eye Weekly’s year end review 2010: WTF? The year in pictures made me feel like I lived in a really…specific place – full of good and bad things.

Amer Diab from Toronto’s Communist’s Daughter opened his own bar on Bloor Street west (south side by Dufferin). It’s been open for a year and feels pretty great inside – warm, quiet and dark with white string lights hung up. I believe that Trish from the Communist’s Daughter helped with the décor (it could fairly be described as the communist’s daughter’s really good friend) and that Ted from Ted’s Wrecking Yard helped with the creation of a giant fireplace in the snowy backyard. It’s officially called The Three Speed and unofficially called Amer’s Place.

After watching a season of Project Runway backwards ( I thought seeing the end of the reality show would deter me from watching the whole thing but, no), I looked up the the fashion duo Rodarte on the internet and got a site for sore eyes.

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