Tag Archives: sounds of silence

Tea With Chris: Charity

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: In the 1980s the Cameron House in Toronto was a place where artists from disparate disciplines came together – where the Hummer Sisters ran for mayor, Video Cabaret told the history of Canada, Handsome Ned made his last stand, Prince dropped by to play the piano and Molly Johnson lived upstairs. That’s part of why, in 2001, we started the Trampoline Hall Lecture Series there. As the doorman for the series, I got acquainted with one of the owners, Paul Sanella, a little bit. He seemed like a really nice guy, and I was very sorry to read in NOW this week that he has died. Sympathies to his family, friends and Cameron comrades.

Skip all the mucking about in this video and go straight to about 1m45 to see a crowd of minor British pop stars (and Billy Bragg, who phoned his part in) perform John Cage’s 4’33”. Kinda badly. But I still want to see what happens if the campaign to make it the UK charts’ Xmas #1 succeeds – will it be played on the radio? So far it’s at no. 19. You can buy it online; it’s a bonafide charidee single too, benefiting a suicide hotline called C.A.L.M., the British Tinnitus Association and several music-therapy groups. (I just remembered this column about charidee pop I wrote a half-life ago.)

Margaux: Give the gift of Wikipedia – or – give Wikipedia a gift. They just need your one dollar. http://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=WMFJA026/en/CA&utm_source=20101214_JA013A_EN&utm_medium=sitenotice&utm_campaign=20101214JA022&referrer=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Chris: Two bizarre comics-related stories this week, one tragic and the other comic. The latter involves Idris Elba, so good as Stringer Bell on The Wire, who’s playing one of the gods in that upcoming Thor movie. It seems that a few white supremacists are losing what’s left of their minds over the notion of a black Norse deity, starting yet another website for aggrieved nerds: Boycott-Thor.com. Comics Alliance has the story. My favourite part was the discovery that one jowly racist pundit wrote a column called “Shots Fired,” probably not named in tribute to the Jadakiss song / general hip-hop slang.

The other story is a dark one, and as Tom Spurgeon wrote, “there’s not really much to say about something like this that isn’t weird, off-putting or both.” Though it did put me in mind of the original V for Vendetta serial by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. A problematic book, dating back to the period when many British artists believed (with some justification) that Thatcherism would collapse into a fascist nightmare, but a book with moments of strange power at its margins. I went searching online for the text of “Valerie’s letter.” The simple, direct prose still knots my throat:

“I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Except one. An inch. It is small and it’s fragile and it’s the only thing in the world that’s worth having. We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us. I don’t know who you are, or whether you’re a man or woman. I may never see you. I will never hug you or cry with you or get drunk with you. But I love you. I hope you escape this place. I hope that the world turns and things get better, and that one day people have roses again. I wish I could kiss you.”

In the 1980s the <a href=”http://www.thecameron.com/” target=”_blank”>Cameron House</a> in Toronto was a place where artists from disparate disciplines came together – where the Hummer Sisters ran for mayor, Video Cabaret told the history of Canada, Handsome Ned made his last stand, Prince dropped by to play the piano and Molly Johnson lived upstairs. That’s part of why, in 2001, we started the <a href=”http://www.tramplinehall.net” target=”_blank”>Trampoline Hall Lecture Series</a> there. As the doorman for the series, I got acquainted with one of the owners, Paul Sanella, a little bit. He seemed like a really nice guy, and I was <a href=”http://www.nowtoronto.com/daily/music/story.cfm?content=178292” target=”_blank”>very sorry to read in NOW this week</a> that he has died. Sympathies to his family, friends and Cameron comrades.

Skip all the mucking about in this video and <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPZYyq8LoxA” target=”_blank”>go straight to about 1m45</a> to see a crowd of minor British pop stars (and Billy Bragg, who phoned his part in) perform John Cage’s 4’33”. Kinda badly. But I still want to see what happens if the campaign to make it the UK charts’ Xmas #1 succeeds – will it be played on the radio? So far it’s <a href=http://www.glasswerk.co.uk/news/national/11825/Cage+Against+The+Machine+Enters+The+Top+20 target=”_blank”>at no. 19.</a> You can buy it online; it’s a bonafide charidee single too, benefiting a suicide hotline called C.A.L.M., the British Tinnitus Association and several music-therapy groups. (I just remembered <a href=” http://www.zoilus.com/documents/in_depth/2005/000334.php#more” target=”_blank”>this column about charidee pop</a> I wrote a half-life ago.)

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

Tea With Chris: Cage Against the Machine

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 you’re ever briefly seduced by techno-utopianism and “post-human” fantasies, here’s a good dose of antidote against “Singularity” hoo-ha by Annalee Newitz, who imagines there’s no heaven and says “the future is a mutated bacteria that you never saw coming.”

Meanwhile, looking back at a kind of cultural singularity, for nearly 50 years we’ve lived in the sonic world remade by John Cage’s “4’33″” – a world in which every sound you hear is potentially a part of an ongoing piece of music, in which composition can be just context. Alex Ross recently wrote a fine piece on Cage and his impact in The New Yorker – here’s his related blog post, with a bunch of YouTube clips and a link to a November, 1964, Calvin Tomkins profile of Cage for the magazine, which is a great read entertainingly and incongruously surrounded with Mad Men-ish Christmas ads. And as a gift to ourselves for Christmas, 2010, a group has started organizing to make “4’33″” the BBC’s official yuletide hit this year – “make it a silent night” – an online effort similar to the one that made Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” the surprise official carol of 2009: The campaign’s name? Of course, Cage Against the Machine.

Later: It’s not officially Friday any more, and a little sacrilegious to revise a Tea With Chris without Chris, but I forgot that what originally got me Cagey was Christian Bök’s tweet about this wonderful list of all the “silent pieces,” some silly and some sublime, people have made over the years, by poetry scholar Craig Dworkin. Also via Christian, this downloadable “audio tour” of how various world museums sound in four minutes and 33 seconds, including Toronto’s own AGO.

Chris: There’s a lot of things to like about this interview with Owen Hatherley, whose new book savages the architectural vapidity and false “regeneration” of Blairite Britain, but this part might be my favourite: “I was originally going to name each chapter after a song from a band in the city I was writing about. Leeds would have been At Home He’s A Tourist, Glasgow Theme for Great Cities, Sheffield: Sex City, a Tindersticks reference for Nottingham, and so forth. The reason why I didn’t do that is because I couldn’t think of anything for Milton Keynes – all the good records about new towns are from snobby Londoners, like ‘New Town’ by the Slits…and also because the Southampton one would be limited to something by Craig David and/or the Artful Dodger, and much as I love ‘Rewind’ that would have had a certain bathos.” I’m hoping to write about A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain on B2TW myself, but lefty polemics are one of several genres I’m not sure where to look for now that Toronto’s best bookstore is closed.

Have you ever wondered how early fossil collectors managed to screw up the reconstruction of their finds so badly? Here’s a little timeline of that “mutant history.”

Margaux: If you haven’t already read this New York Times article about whales, it is really pretty amazing. It was even just useful to remember that whales live for a very long time. The same whale can keep returning to a specific coastal location over a century while the reception from the humans on land slowly, but radically, changes. The article wonders what they think about that.

Man who wrote passionate and persuasive arguments for an end to romantic capitalism and an embrace of 2-D romantic culture was booed at a conference when he admitted to watching 3-D porn (an old story).

The movie I made, Teenager Hamlet, is playing at the Royal Cinema on College St. in Toronto tonight at 7 pm. Home-made movie posters in the movie poster slots!

Today, I saw a tiny squirrel pick up, with its teeth, a giant red apple from under a giant red apple tree and then run down the street with it. This link goes back outside.

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