Tag Archives: Sonic the Hedgehog

Tea With Chris: The Queen of Eternal Disco

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: Here is an experimental-music performance that turns into a Donna Summer tribute, by Alan Licht. The combination feels exactly emotionally right for mourning the queen of eternal disco.

Another form of mourning: A grad student posts to YouTube the interview she did with the late Carlos Fuentes on a tape recorder during a car ride in 2006.

And a third: D.C. mourns “its president,” Go-Go Godfather Chuck Brown.

Funnier, but grim in its own way: Toronto writer Sean Dixon encounters the 2012 version of “dog ate my homework”: “Author wdn’t dO my homewrk 4 me.”

Chris: Via Tom Ewing, Patrick Cowley’s 16-minute-long megamix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.” For all that disco’s popular image became associated solely with hedonism (and for all that hedonism has to recommend it), the heights here sound downright empyrean.

Not sure that this will bring Carl around on song-of-the-spontaneous-summer “Call Me Maybe,” but it did mesmerize me for at least 10 minutes at 2 am last night.

First-grade poetry.

“I’ve got a 14-year-old daughter who’s like me reincarnated— it’s the most frustrating thing in my goddamn life right now. She’s brilliant. I remember telling her on Halloween, ‘Why would you want to be Marilyn Monroe? Why would you want to be that white woman? Why don’t you want to be Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman?’ And she says, ‘My brother’s going as Freddy Krueger, and you’re not telling him to be Martin Luther King or Malcom X. We’re kids, daddy.’ So she essentially exposed my sexism.” Read this interview with Killer Mike, buy his new album, draft him for Congress.

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Tea With Chris: Postoccuptations

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: My teapot this week is still mostly full of people reading the leaves of Occupy Wall Street and related postoccupations. Begin with this footage from the Occupy Montreal gatherings last weekend, shot by Douglas Hollingworth. Its centrepiece is a fight over the language of signs, dictated by law in Quebec for commercial signage but not usually applied to the handheld kind:

(via Sean Michaels, thanks)

This is something you’re unlikely to see in the Wall Street version of the protest, but it also feels like a bit of a surprising throwback in a Montreal that is (like the conflict in the video itself, except without all the tension) these days generally solid in its French-first bilingual mix. It struck me as a side-effect of the bandwagon nature of these events in Canada: Although explicitly anti-capitalist demos are commonly francophone-led in Montreal, the echo effect in Occupy raises the chances its leadership and participants are disproportionately anglophone, and anglo students in particular. And this raises a general problem: When I see the Occupy events in other cities imitating the human mic and the finger-wiggle voting method created onsite by OWS, there’s a sense of organic collective gestures (invented out of necessity, as I discussed here two weeks ago) becoming memes, shibboleths of movement membership with much less intrinsic value.

I’ve had a similar feeling about the Occupy Toronto encampment, wondering whether a fairly small hard-core group taking over a park here (where there’s less clear symbolic resonance to the site, and weather conditions that will become unsustainable faster) is necessarily the best way to seize the moment. I don’t mean this as an aggressive critique but it’s an issue worth considering in the growth of any movement – whether solidarity is best expressed by applying the same model to diverse situations or by adapting the concepts more creatively to local conditions.

Similar (but different) questions about tactics and cultural style for different constituencies are raised brilliantly in the mighty Greg Tate’s Village Voice piece this week on the question of “Why So Few Blackfolk Appear Down to Occupy Wall Street”.

On the other hand, here’s the ever-eloquent, lovable fast-talking African-American vlogger Jay Smooth explaining how he got over his own initial skepticism and learned to love Occupy’s approach to calling foul on the financial-political complex’s game of three-card monte:

And finally, for a veteran-activist/writer’s deep take – through the dark spiritual-X-ray glasses of John Carpenter’s They Live – check out Mike Davis’s new piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

The best thing I read this week, though, had nothing to do with OWS (unless one were to belabour a metaphor, which is exactly what this piece warns against): It was Will Self’s typically naked (but atypically humble) illness memoir today in The Guardian. Self zeroes in on the irony – and yet, the irony-lessness – of coming down with a rare blood disease that requires treatment with heavy-duty syringes, later on in a life that has included a long romance with needles and the drugs they could deliver. If you’re squeamish, it can be a tough read in places, but the humour, vulnerability and wisdom it offers is worth sticking it out through the pricks (rather than just kicking against them).

Chris: Carl beat me to sharing those OWS pieces by Greg Tate and Mike Davis, so I’ll just post this song, which, in its anxious improvisations and explosive tension, feels like an appropriate soundtrack:

Speaking of which, Tumblr alerted me to two very apposite celebrity readers this week: Kelis kicking back with Octavia Butler, Nicholas Ray squinting his good eye at some storied alternative comics.

Surveillance devices increasingly resemble enemies from Sonic the Hedgehog. But then, the antagonist in that series was an authoritarian, worker-enslaving industrialist…

“Sexy Inexplicable Melancholy.”

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Tea With Chris: 19th Century Nerds

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: Good times before we were born, part 1: Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen posted a remarkably charming reminiscence on his website of what 1950s science-fiction meant to him as an unsuccessfully assimilated Jewish suburban child, “The Cortico-Thalamic Pause” – which along the way revives the memory of a semi-Situationist Polish Count in exile whose premature transhumanist ideas inspired idiots, con men and geniuses (the one whose writings gave Steely Dan its name, for instance).

Good times before we were born, part 2: Meanwhile over on Slate, my music-critic friends Jody Rosen and Ann Powers conducted a conversation about the new Frank Sinatra biography that starts out interesting and then gets fascinating. I think many people of my generation have a two-dimensional image of Sinatra. People of the generation younger may have no sense of Sinatra at all. With Jody’s deep feel for pre-rock popular American music (follow his links!) and Ann’s unerring ability to tease out larger social meanings, especially about sex and gender, wherever she looks and listens, no one could come away from their dialogue without an enlarged understanding (the kind that makes you need special underwear.) And they do it so breezily.

Margaux: David Hoffos’ exhibition “Scenes from the House Dream” (curated by Shirley Madill) is really worth seeing, especially if you don’t know his work. The show is traveling between different museums and will be in Toronto at the MOCCA till December 31. When I saw it with a friend, we had to wait in a line-up in the daylight of the museum’s foyer. When our turn came, we were ushered under a black cloth into the show. It was nearly as exciting as attending my first garage-venue haunted house – complete with the obvious joy involved in making things and, then, in showing them.

On display on the other side of the curtain were dioramas and projections and all of their backstage mechanisms presented in the dark. Looking at everyday (and no so everyday) scenes with such an altered perspective inevitably offers sheer physical pleasure – here as though there is suddenly a mountain in Toronto, but that mountain is being played by the audience. Most of the scenes are as dark and contemplative as the museum space.

The inventive, functional and painterly backstage mechanisms are the other side of a mirror to the high craft and stability of the dioramas’ illusions. This is where the real pleasure is. It is a pretty good day when you leave an art museum trying to remember how again it is that your eyes work.

Waterfront activity for this coming Sunday – Field Trip: Walking with Shawn Micallef! (exclamation point mine). From the Facebook event page: Following The Power Plant gallery’s Sunday Scene tour by Professor Robert Wright, join Shawn Micallef, author of the recently published “Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto” for a walking wander of the Harbourfront area. $4 Members, $6 Non-Members (at the door), Free entry with book purchase at the door.

Chris: Nerds, c. 1890:

Speaking of which: I guess Sega decided to promote awareness of hedgehog depopulation (but mostly its new video game) with a staged race? There’s a photo of one critter wearing little red booties at the link, just like everyone’s favourite spiny blue sprinter. That image is uncanny when you began playing Sonic the Hedgehog around kindergarten.

The Paris Review posted a long new interview with Michel Houellebecq. Celine Dion comes up. Even the introduction is bleakly funny: “At the age of thirty-six, he published his first novel, Whatever (1994), about the crushingly boring lives of two computer programmers. The novel attracted a cult following and inspired a group of fans to start Perpendiculaire, a magazine based on a movement they called ‘depressionism.’ (Houellebecq, who accepted an honorary place on the masthead, says he ‘didn’t really understand their theory and, frankly, didn’t care.’)”

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