Tag Archives: mike mcgonigal

Tea With Chris: So Annihilating That It Annihilated Itself

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:

Carl: Nothing about guns, mental health or who was or is Adam Lanza’s mother. Instead, small moments: a story about children in a faraway place making music out of garbage, which is soon to be a documentary. And a semi-documentary that I’d thought lost (until Mike McGonigal showed the light) about more-privileged children, in a faraway year, apparently making garbage out of music, which turned out instead to be inventing half the music I’d listen to by the time I was their age. It sounds pretty great to listen to the two together.

Awhile ago I wrote a piece about the new biography of Leonard Cohen. James Parker waited a few weeks longer, till Rod Stewart’s new autobiography came out, and had the much funnier idea of writing about both of them. His thesis – essentially that the bouffanted d’ya-think-I’m-sexy prancer and Canada’s own grocer of despair each represent one pole of William Blake’s paradigm that “some are born to sweet delight” and “some to misery are born”- gave me a more bountiful appreciation of Rod Stewart than I’ve ever had in my life. For some it might work the other way around. What does that tell us about ourselves?

Finally, a cup of borrowed tea: I’ve never seen the TV series Happy Endings but if it lives up to this piece by John Swansburg in Slate, part of a series about the best TV moments of the year, I may have to start. The article is accompanied by a video of a minor tour-de-force on the show that manages the very difficult job of making high comedy out of ordinary marital happiness. I think it’s best to read Swansburg’s discussion before you watch it, but either way, it’s a succoring vision I’ll carry with me into the holiday.

MargauxI can’t tell if this book review is hilarious because the writer of the book review is hilarious or because the book being reviewed is hilarious. Since the book is called Why Does the World Exist? by Jim Holt,  I’m going to go ahead and guess that the book reviewer Sarah Bakewell is hilarious. Or maybe that there’s something a little bit wrong with my head today. But the book sounds good too, containing gems like  “Primal nothingness might have been so annihilating that it annihilated itself, thus producing being”. Totally.

This is very relaxing for some reason: Lesbians who look like Justin Bieber.

Whoa, I must really need some relaxation since this also seems valuable right now: Your LL Bean Boyfriend

If you like to rank living people, especially writers (and you’re not a writer) you might like this: New York’s 100 most important living writers.

If you haven’t read this yet, Bill Murray on Gilda Radner, it’s the prettiest story in the whole world.

And this is the most exciting thing in the world –  the First Nations resurgence brought to you directly by #IdleNoMore.

Chris: Everything is slowing down, including my nervous system (I’m typing this through a nasty cough). But in the past week my e-friend Isabel has fallen with unreal speed into boy-band lust, inspiring some of her best and funniest writing about pop music. You can just go to her Tumblr and scroll down, half the posts concern One Direction at this point, but here’s one I especially liked:

“and it’s like, you think, well of course, but zayn is zayn, everyone knows that, that’s like, you know, grass is green, nickelback sucks, literally that level of uninteresting and obvious, as uninteresting and obvious as cheap shots at nickelback, and you think it can stop there, and then you realize this clear-eyed sharp-cheekboned wind-swept motherfucker has fucking stubble and you’re like, just push me off a cliff already, and hope is lost”

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Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Rev. Stewart and Family, “I Made a Vow to the Lord”

by Carl Wilson

From my friend Mike McGonigal‘s good-and-scary gospel anthology Fire in My Bones. Posted today in honour of the idea of keeping promises, or at least honouring them in the breach.

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‘I Hate Music’

by Carl Wilson

That was the status update today from my friend Mike out in Portland. Yet all Mike does on Facebook is post clips of great songs. Mike’s life has been devoted to music, at least chief among the many arts to which he’s passionately committed. I read his Chemical Imbalance zine when I was in university and was astonished to learn later we weren’t much different in age; today I read Yeti with the same gratitude for his curatorial, editorial and mixtapetorial skills, his preternatural nose for artistic quality and surprise, also manifest in the pre-war gospel and other reissues he compiles. (More recently we’ve hung out, and he is at least as great a guy as he is a cultural weathervane.)

Whatever prompted Mike today to say he hated music, it resonated with me. I was on the verge of that feeling for most of the past year or two. I was burnt out on sound. I was tired of talking about music, “following” it, “keeping up,” downloading, and most of all ranking and rating. (That last part may not change.) Late last year I hinted at it, but didn’t go all the way, when I said I was losing the patience to listen to albums. My friend Ann Powers responded that she was finding it takes a lot of patience to listen to a whole song! But was that the culture, or just us, longtime pro/semi-pro listeners, hitting our internal walls?

Or maybe this is just a cycle we go through in our love affairs with art forms, especially the forms closest to us. (Rather as we go through cycles of infatuation and disenchantment with the people most intimate to us.) Because now, for no particular reason, it seems to be lifting.

I was at a wedding reception at a rock club last weekend, and the bride happened to be someone who puts on (excellent) shows, so of course she had great bands playing her nuptials: Montreal’s Think About Life, and Toronto’s Bonjay. Both of them sounded better than ever before.

Partly it was the happy occasion. Partly, I think they both had grown since I’d seen them last. But also, those last times, I simply couldn’t bring myself to care. Now I was feeling every moment heightened by rhythm and harmony, transported to places music and I hadn’t visited together for a long while.

There was a soothing cascade of relief: So the temporary separation between me and music wasn’t middle-aged bitterness finally setting in? Thank heaven.

So now I’m curious, perhaps to stave off any relapses: Have you found your affections for your most beloved artforms waning and waxing over time? What do you peg it to, the tides, events in your life, more or less vibrant periods in the form itself? All manner of speculation welcome in the Comments bullpen.

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Filed under carl wilson, music