Tag Archives: Jonathan Lethem

Tea With Chris: A Kitten Head Struggles Out of Your Face

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: The young poet Patricia Lockwood, who often commits her funniest textual sprees in the logographic asylum of Twitter, is one of my very favourite people on the Internet. Her neverending “sexts” series uses the most lizard-brained form of erotic communication as a platform for rampant surrealism and sinuous hookups between cultural detritus. (I’ve written a bunch of my own – she was one of the people who made me want to do weird comedy myself recently.) This clip below is the first time I’ve seen her reading her work, and I love how much her voice sounds like the one that’s cut off after two or three sentences, right down to explaining a mutual fixation, Animorphs. “Tweens, turning into animals, having powers.”

Carl: I’ve had a busy month and haven’t been keeping abreast of former Canadian Idol finalist Carly Rae Jepsen’s slow conquest of the world. I’d heard her stutter-step teasing hit “Call Me Maybe” a bunch of times, enjoyed the cute video, and thought little more of it. Luckily, my friend, the ever-keen-eared and expansive musical humanitarian Ann Powers, has been paying attention to the way that a pretty casual same-sex-crush joke in the video has turned the song into an improbable vehicle for guys on YouTube to kid around about their masculinity, in a way that seems like a signal that big parts of our culture are finally getting over the idea that homophobia is somehow the root and foundation of being a man. Ann’s post is also packed chockablock with links, so be prepared to lose 45 minutes or so in giddy (mostly) pleasure.

Likewise, even if you’re not a media person, this Tumblr about what being an editor is like a lot of the time is, as a friend said, “just a fantastic collection of gifs, under any circumstances.”

The Toronto Standard‘s out-of-nowhere ode to the singing saw was particularly endearing for recalling the brief halcyon period of James Anderson’s Singing Saw Shadow Show, one of the sweetest “why not?” atmospheric projects I’ve ever been lucky enough to witness   from start to finish.

Evan Kindley has a piece in the LA Review of Books that very thoughtfully, actively and critically (if occasionally fannishly) engages with Jonathan Lethem’s new book about the Talking Heads’ Fear of Music in the 33 1/3 series. Along the way he asks some interesting questions about the album as a (dead?) form, about fandom and narcissism, and about Asperger’s Syndrome as an aesthetic but potentially also an ethics. (Conflict warning: I am briefly mentioned in this piece, but I don’t know Evan.)

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Tea With Chris: Mentorship in Villainy

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 intended to write about Tintin this week, sort of, but it turns out that the virginal Belgian reporter has more layers than one might expect. So that’ll probably go up on Monday. In the meantime, and via Eric Harvey, here’s some black comedy at the expense of another comics hero. It feels like a good week for it:

As friendly and engaging a writer as he is, Mike Barthel’s essay about contracting Tourette’s syndrome in his twenties took me by surprise: despite following his work more and more over the past couple of years, I didn’t even know he had Tourette’s. It’s strange how an illusory familiarity can build up just from reading somebody’s criticism on the internet. The piece itself is great, its description of his body’s rebellion against his mind seeming less like a “betrayal” – that word could be too melodramatic in this context – than a bloody-minded petulance. He self-diagnosed after reading Motherless Brooklyn, but Barthel’s story has a happier ending; isn’t “I love your tics” a come-on we all want to hear?

Maybe not literally all of us. I can’t speak for 50 Cent, though I’m glad he appears to be following my advice.

Margaux: The ImagineNATIVE film festival is happneing right now in Toronto. Today and over the weekend, there will be features and shorts screening at the Jewish Community Center on Spadina and Bloor. Tonight, there’s a screening of shorts at 7 pm (including a short from Shane Belcourt who made the feature Tkaronto). Later there are some scarier ones: at 9 pm a program including a short and a feature called “A Flesh Offering” focusing on Windigos and at 11 pm a program of shorts called “The Witching Hour.” Someone told me that the screenings during the day are free, but I can’t find evidence of that on their website.

Carl: I’ve spent too much of my time the past month reading things people have to say about the TV series Mad Men on the Internet, but perhaps it was all meant to lead me to this forceful rant-essay on new-gen feminist site Tiger Beatdown, about the storyline of the seemingly ever-bitchier Betty Draper Francis, which read more closely is a study in misogyny and the repercussions of abuse. In fact that’s arguably the whole show (lead character Don having been an appallingly abused child), and more as it goes along – almost amounting to a thesis about abusive American 20th-century culture, in which the rebellion of the 1960s was against a certain kind of parenting as much as against war, or rather a wounded backlash from a cohort that had just understood how the two are connected. The post won’t be comprehensible if you haven’t followed the show, but its resonances go much beyond that. Sady’s a bold, moving writer. One of many lines that made me nod so hard my neck hurt: “It’s not easy to come to terms with what was done to you. But it’s much, much harder to come to terms with what you do.”

Speaking of parenting, did you know that Ari Up of the Slits was John (“Johnny Rotten”) Lydon’s stepdaughter, because he married her mom way back in the (punk) day (which goes a long way to explaining how she came to start a punk band at 14)? I can’t believe I didn’t, until this week, when Ari Up died of cancer at only 48 damn damn damn dammit. It’s a hell of a thing, in a season when several books, most notably this one, are looking back at 1990s riot grrrl, to be losing someone who blazed that path for us. One of its stalwart travellers, Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney of course, has a suitably furious, frustrated and Promethean tribute to Ari on her NPR blog.

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