Tag Archives: Michael DeForge

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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Little Boxes #109: Tiny Little Bows

(by Michael Deforge, 2012)

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Tea With Chris: Wikipedia Group Sex

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: I haven’t been online much this week, because I just moved and the wireless network at my new crib has been down for an agonizing span of time, but I couldn’t fail to mark the birthday of that all-time-great human once and again called Prince. Though his relationship with the Internet is a complicated one, I feel like he’d appreciate the spirit of this orgy-related scheme. If not, well, Michael DeForge drew a comic (also about the Internet (sorry, Prince)).

Margaux: The Toronto monthly lecture series Trampoline Hall (where people lecture on subjects where they are not professionally expert) has been going on for over 10 years. I was involved in it for many of those years, as was/is this blog’s Carl Wilson. I think I saw my other colleague, Chris Randle, take money at the door recently.

I went to the most recent show this past Monday night because Steve Kado was curating. I am a fan of Steve Kado’s performance work and mind and figured it would be a show I’d be interested in. Every month is curated by a different person. The show, hosted by my boyfriend Misha Glouberman, is always a good mix of stable and unstable. The structure of the show, designed by Misha and Sheila Heti, is always the same and the lecturers and curators and audience are always different. Misha does a brilliant job every time at creating a conversation with the lecturers and the whole room – and also at bringing the funny to the too-serious and finding the meaning in the too-funny (or the not-too-funny).

The show on Monday kind of floored me, which is pretty great for a show you’ve been watching for this long. I’ve been a bit slow to appreciate theatre, but the well-oiled machine of Trampoline Hall combined with the spontaneity of (always exactly) 130 people in the room reminded me of what a good old fashioned machine, that makes brand new things, looks like.

Steve’s show circled around epic adventures and time. The lectures by Guy Halpern, Amelia Erhardt and Chris Boni were a pleasure. Chris Boni stole the show (or made the show) with a confusingly dead-on abstract meditation on slow motion. At one point, in patiently describing a battle scene in the Iliad, Chris talked about the moment in the scene when you remember that you’re not the one looking up at the shining sword. Chris looked out to the audience and reminded us that that would be the moment when you remember it’s the hero’s hand that’s holding the shining sword, not your own. He said that that’s when your imagined body moves back to the other side and remembers it is only watching and not holding anything. That’s the kind of information you get from slowing down time.

This wonderful Mr. Rogers autotune collaboration between John D. Boswell and PBS basically sums up what I love about a good show and also sums up the art I’ve been working on this year. I guess that’s not surprising since I paid quite a lot of attention to Mr. Rogers once.

Carl: The Canadian government is starting an anti-terrorism unit in Alberta that smacks of the stinging taste of Cointelpro.

Speaking of civil liberties, one of the best pieces of music journalism recently revealed how people around the world are still losing those rights – or worse – simply because they are into heavy metal music. It sounds silly, at our distance from the Tipper Gore era, but if you’re in Poland, or Iraq, or many other places, it’s no joke. And keeping in mind the West Memphis Three, North Americans shouldn’t get too complacent about how easily our cultural tastes might suddenly be held in evidence against us.

I’m very excited about the release next week of the first album in 11 years by Rebecca Gates, former leader of one of my favourite bands ever, the Spinanes – you might remember my extended exegesis about their song “Hawaiian Baby” in the early days of Back to the World.

On a more personal note, this weekend is Twangfest, a country/alt-country/Americana/whateva festival in St. Louis, MO, that began as a gleam in the eye of an email listserv that was one of my formative Internet – and music-criticism – experiences. I first attended Twangfest 3, in 1999. I recall, to use the term loosely, some large part of it taking part in a ditch behind a hotel where there were dance lessons and many bottles of bourbon. The last time I was there, it was the tenth anniversary. Tonight it’s Twangfest 16, which makes me feel very, very old. And I wish I were there.

Among the many reasons is that headlining tonight is Wussy, the Ohio rock group Robert Christgau recently called the best band in America, making a strong case with which I am inclined to agree. Wussy is led by singer-songwriters Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver, the latter of whom fronted another one of my favourite bands ever, the Ass Ponys, in the ’90s (and played one of the most memorable Twangfest sets back then). So while I make a private toast to absent friends, please enjoy this joyful tune, “Yellow Cotton Dress,” dedicated to them all.

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Tea With Chris: Purpled

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: I tried to find an mp3 of this new Adiah track (see also: last year’s “Drumz,” summer in a low-fidelity Youtube clip) and all I got was Sarah McLachlan.

The Comics Journal published a number of tributes to Maurice Sendak, both textual and visual. I love Michael DeForge’s illustration:

As I discovered last weekend at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, DeForge is also working on an all-Prince comics zine, to be printed in purple ink on lavender paper. He’s made a companion Tumblr called Purplish, one song a day by Mr. Rogers Nelson or his Minneapolis courtiers.

Carl:It’s kind of amazing that “culture shock” was ever not a commonplace idea, but it turns out that it was developed from a casual term to an actual theory only in the 1950s – by a man who might have gotten the idea from his upbringing in a breakaway Finnish-Canadian communal cult (give or take a little free love) in British Columbia.

“Mumblecore” has to be the stupidest genre label that’s stuck in the past decade (except maybe “mommy porn”). Nevertheless I am exciting about going to see Joe Swanberg present some of his movies in person in Toronto this weekend.

Old-school mumblecore? John Ashbery reading in NYC in 1952, when he was not yet 25. But actually, scratch that: Turns out the younger Ashbery hadn’t yet developed the gently murmuring tone he reads in today. There’s definitely a “listen up!” in his tone. A “whaddya think of that?”

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Little Boxes #55

(from Spotting Deer, by Michael DeForge, 2010)

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Tea With Chris: You Don’t Need a Penis

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: I’ve often made half-baked speculations about how younger people are listening to and relating to music, based on limited observations and guesswork, and often in front of people, sometimes for money. It apparently took a former scientist to go out and do some actual research. Her observations, while anecdotal, are intriguing and match things I’d suspected: that for teenagers period doesn’t quite exist any more. Music isn’t generational, and they listen to a lot of older music that they discover via video-game, TV and movie soundtracks, their parents’ collection, YouTube clips shared with friends, and whatever else they stumble across. Their interests are broader, I take it, than most kids’ were when I was that age. They just want to get a broad general knowledge, and what they prioritize is more personal than tribal. I was that sort of listener, in a lot of ways, at that age, but it was a minority approach that required a lot of reading and record-scouting prompted by having read about the blues or jazz or art rock and then searching for it. Now, the Internet has made it a natural approach.

The kids she talked to were becoming much more interested in staying abreast of new music around college age (and she’s in a college town so she can’t generalize about what non-college-bound late teens and early 20s kids are doing). And at no point does anybody listen closely to whole albums. Their listening is a much more impressionistic thing, usually while they are doing other things – texting and using the Internet in various other ways, primarily, plus socializing, doing homework etc. You could argue that in the music beginning to emerge from that generation, you hear both things – an awareness of styles from all kinds of eras, coexisting, layered on top of each other, and a vague fuzziness of attention, free-associating in a bath of sounds. You hear it across a range of genres. It’s so pervasive that I imagine there will be interesting reactions against it.

Prognosticating about musical directions is a futile game, but it’s been a while since there has been a zeitgeist to extrapolate from, so I’m indulging. As Simon Reynolds has been saying in interviews about his new (somewhat cranky-seeming) book, Retromania: “I think a bit of groupthink would be good. It happens in journalism. People are very reluctant to get behind each other’s ideas. I totally got behind David Keenan’s hypnagogic pop idea. I don’t care that he thought of it first; it’s a fantastic idea and I like some of that music a lot. But there’s much more ego value in taking the piss or criticising other people’s stuff. Actually joining together, unifying around things, no one seems to want to do that so much any more.”

Au contraire mon frere. I’m pretty happy with how this whole Polaris Long List thing came out, for example.

Also I have begun using this, which presumes that you want to listen to what other people are listening to, and it’s my favourite new way to hear music. Sometimes I even listen to whole albums.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that you don’t need a penis to disbelieve in God.

Chris: Count me as another person who’s happy with the 2011 Polaris Prize long list. I’m also happy that Spotting Deer, Michael DeForge’s most conceptual comic to date and maybe his best, is now freely available online. A reference text devoted to the titular made-up animal, it simultaneously documents the fictional author’s life-ruining obsession. Plus there’s good jokes about Canada. “Deer stand proud as stalwart champions of our most cherished national values: multigrain, diversity and volunteerism.”

Two circles filled with truth, via Maura.

Margaux: 5 million cheers for the Manal al-Sharif , the Saudi activist who posted to Youtube a videotape of herself driving her own car – an illegal activity for which she was jailed.  Today is the the official start date of the related campaign “Women2Drive”. I think it is going well.

 

 

 

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Tea With Chris: Salvador Dali’s Flower Shop

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: Usamaru Furuya doesn’t just draw gory black comedy. Sometimes he makes heartwarming comics about following your bizarre dreams:

Via Douglas Wolk: “Archie Comics illustrator Dan DeCarlo, who had befriended Eno while lecturing at the Winchester School Of Art, was invited to witness one of Roxy Music’s earliest rehearsals. His impressions of the experience—in particular, Eno’s use of the VCS3 synthesizer to filter the group’s sound—formed the basis for his cover to That Wilkin Boy #10.”

Michael DeForge has been writing a cartoonist’s diary at The Comics Journal all week. One entry mentions Therafields, a cultish psychoanalytic commune from Toronto’s Aquarian period. I’d never heard of it until now, but their leader’s lover seemingly had a gift for…book design?

Carl: Geeta Dayal pays tribute to the late Martin Rushent: His career stretched from Jesus Christ Superstar (he was the engineer) to the Pipettes, but his name is forever linked to the still-underappreciated Human League. In particular Geeta recalls the League Unlimited Orchestra – a remix album before that was a thing, and “one of the most relentlessly avant-garde records in [her] collection.”

This is a question I’ve always wanted to ask but was embarrassed to admit I didn’t already know: Who set the roof on fire? A friend pointed me to this post from February that has the answer, although I think there remains a little uncertainty about whether the chain definitely goes Rock Master Scott –> P-Funk or, possibly, the other way around.

New Yorker/Berliner David Levine is in Toronto right now. He’s a very nice man and he’s directed Habit, a show in the Luminato festival that is free and freaky: an all-day performance of a 90-minute play “on a loop,” with the same lines but improvised staging every time, that you watch through the windows of a house built inside another building. It’s live theatre, it’s reality TV, it’s a parody of kitchen-sink American drama, it’s an acting study, whatevs, I’m excited to see it.

And now … it seems like a day for some Carmen Amaya.

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