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Tea With Chris: Oh Baby

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: I would happily watch all zombie-related culture from the past 30 years disappear, but Zora Neale Hurston talking about them? The best.

No, wait, maybe 2:14 of this music video is the best:

Never mind.

Margaux: A refreshingly big picture artist interview that covers class, “the Real” and the boring old art world: Rosemary Heather interviews Ken Lum

Ken Lum, Mirror Maze with 12 Signs of Depression, 2002

Carl: Mark O’Connell published a lovely essay in The Millions about his agnostic adoration of the story of the Fall from the Book of Genesis this week. There are good bits about spider limericks and blowjobs and childhood fears but my favourite passage is this: “I was touched by how the story captures the way in which our alienation from our own nature seems, paradoxically, to be a basic condition of that nature. It expresses, in its simple yet enigmatic way, our enduring sense that it wasn’t meant to be this way, that we must have gone wrong somewhere too far back for anyone to remember. That we lost our innocence somehow, or threw it away, or allowed ourselves to be cheated out of it. That all this — mortality, sickness, misery, evil, boredom, war, drudgery — must surely be some mistake.” Know that feeling?

Speaking of childhood and innocence lost and well-known tales, I also really enjoyed Joshua Ostroff’s piece about his obsession with The Wizard of Oz and his relish in passing it along to his own kid.

I was thrilled and moved by Seth Colter Walls’ sensitive account on The Awl today of what transpired outside Lincoln Center in New York last night – a thematically appropriate encounter between Occupy Wall Street, NYC cops, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass and Glass’s opera Satyagraha, which is about Tolstoy, Gandhi, MLK and the tradition of non-violent resistance in general.

I would respectfully disagree with Walls, however, in his Adorno-esque attempt to paint suspicion of cultural elitism at the opera (and like levels of “high” culture) as a propaganda conspiracy by the “titans of corporate pop culture” — certainly there have been movies and TV shows that perpetuate the stereotypes, but I’m afraid they only pander to an already existing popular sentiment. The argument has been mounted much more so by populists right and left (and some more sophisticated left thinkers too). While some of it is simple-minded and anti-intellectual, for sure, at the same time it’s also for good reason.

The fact that there are cheaper seats and that institutions like the Met have made great initiatives to open the work up to a broader public doesn’t mean that there isn’t an accessibility problem in opera, ballet, etc. – accessibility doesn’t amount only to ticket prices, and only someone very comfortable in those environs would imagine otherwise. I’m a middle-class cultural professional and I still feel like a self-conscious plebian, ignorant slob when I go to an opera house. It is intimidating on multiple social levels.

That doesn’t make it automatically politically retrograde, but it’s a factor to be taken into account. Still, that’s only a small part of Walls’ argument. And on his page you get to watch Lou Reed use the human microphone.

Meanwhile, over in Famous Monsters of Realityland territory, the Republicans are working overtime to come up with ways to spin Occupy Wall Street, which veteran strategist Frank Luntz says has him ” frightened to death.” Really? That’s great!

It makes me want to talk about love as a political force with Lauren Berlant and Michael Hardt, although I haven’t gotten around to reading their dialogue yet. Meanwhile, who wants to go to this food court with me?


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

Tea With Chris: The Ballad of Four Feet Joe

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: If listening to Werner Herzog and Errol Morris discuss their favourite reading (and arguing the virtues of the Warren Commission Report as a crime novel) would turn you on, I’d say your tubes are in working order.

If your tubes are not in order you may need to read this book.

Since early summer, Toronto’s unsettlingly hilarious Kathleen Phillips has been posting no-motion movies in which she endows eccentric personalities and absurd backstories to photographs and inanimate objects on her Chatty Kathy blog. (Maybe start with The Filthy Weather Dog and The Ballad of 4 Feet Joe.) If you are in the t.dot, tonight Kathleen is expanding this new-minted art form to live performance, with “live foley” sound effects by some outfit called The Racket, at the !059 (1059 Bathurst) at 9 pm.

Chris: My First Love Story is a new Tumblr simultaneously exploring Korean pop music, feminism and “my diminished and/or burgeoning identity as a Korean/Chinese-Canadian woman.” I began following K-pop for this year’s Pop World Cup (the blog’s title comes from a single I fell in love with during that competition) and never stopped, so I’m very happy about this. The author is a fellow Ann Powers fan! There’s a post about idols’ abs and female agency! She’s working on a poetry zine about Girls’ Generation! This right here is my swag.

Margaux: There’s a new season of this really good British TV show.  It’s about the inevitability, and also the impossibility, of non-stop political theatre. It’s like a bunch of kids in kindergarten playing a lot of games together, except that they are exhausted, lifeless and gray-clad grownup clowns. Thanks to Misha Glouberman.

My friend Ryan Kamstra is making his own personal library. It’s called Parkour! It’s great to see your friends’ brains like this. He has 19 entries on Ritual Sacrifice and 9 on Robot (Automata). The entry on Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” that consists of links to all the works cited in her imagined informal pocket canon of camp is especially great.

My friend Gracie gives the world a small Tarot card reading every morning – complete with an image of the card and photos she took in her house to illustrate her point. Pretty beautiful. It’s a pleasure to  read her thoughts on the “Hierophant” card (representing the bridge between human kind and the Universe) while looking at a photograph of (1) her television; (2) her front door window with the blinding sun coming in; and (3) a ball thrower for her dog.

Eye Weekly‘s front page feature this week is called “Toronto’s most huggable douchebags”! A bold and refreshing move. They are clear to differentiate between the category of despicable humans and the one of forgivable, huggable douchebags. The latter being a category that most of us occasionally fall into.

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