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31 Oct 03:08

Soul on the Air #23 - Herb Kent, 1965

by The Stepfather of Soul
Part One:

Play Music - Share Audio -

Part Two:

Music File Hosting - Podcast Hosting -

I was saddened by news over the past weekend that Radio Hall of Fame DJ Herb Kent passed away at age 88. Kent started his career in radio in the '40s and was on the air until the very end, having completed his regular Saturday morning show on Chicago's WVAZ before he passed away later that day. Kent's legend rests mostly on his tenure as one of the WVON "Good Guys" from the station's founding 1963 until 1980 or so. Fortunately for Kent, he managed to stay on the air in the Windy City, doing everything from a "Punk Out" show on WXFM (where he became perhaps one of the first black DJs in the country to play punk and new wave) to shows on WGCI and finally doing weekend shows for WVAZ (which is where I first heard him when I moved to Chicago in the '90s).

I never had the chance to meet "The Cool Gent" in person, but I credit him for introducing me to tons of great music and, more close to my heart, for declaring on his Facebook page in 2014 that this blog was a great "back in the day resource." That quiet endorsement meant the world to me, especially because I started the "Soul on the Air" series with one of his airchecks!

Enough of my eulogizing. Because I cannot be in the Chicago area this weekend for the planned memorials for Herb, I thought the least thing I could do would be to share a great Herb Kent aircheck. Presented in its entirety is Herb's Saturday night "Dusty Record Time" edition of his WVON show from February 26, 1965. (Herb coined the term "dusties" for R&B oldies, referring to the dust that gathered in the grooves of old records, and he - along with Richard Pegue - made that term a household word among Chicago radio listeners.) Among other highlights are Herb's playing of Cecil Gant's 1944 hit "I Wonder" alongside more recent material and Herb soliciting support from listeners in the staton's PET Milk contest. I am posting the first part now, and will try to have the whole three hours online by the end of the weekend.

Rest in peace, Herb Kent, "The Mayor of Bronzeville." Your contributions to the world of music are legendary and you truly brightened the lives of thousands - if not millions - of people who managed to hear from you. Your reward is well-earned.

15 Apr 14:20

You'll Read GOLDEN GIRLS FOREVER Many, Many Times!

by Matthew Rettenmund

Y648(Image via Harper Design)

Picture it: Your living room, late at night, Grindr's buzzing but you're blissfully unaware. Why? Because you just got a book, a book so good they named it.

Tumblr_nul99krvsn1qlvwnco4_500(GIF via NBC)

If you love The Golden Girls—and let's face it, if you don't, maybe you're on the wrong site?—you will love Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai (Harper Design, $35) by Jim Colucci, and you will absolutely never regret devoting many quiet evenings to committing it to memory.

Tumblr_mi6dfbwaa01s56i94o1_400(GIF via NBC)

Colucci authored the already indispensable The Q Guide to the Golden Girls (Alyson, 2006)—which was specifically targeted at fancy men everywhere—but has taken a more encyclopedic approach this time around, offering 368 pages filled with internal memos; stills; on-set personal candids; interviews with “the show's creators, actors, guest stars, producers, writers, and crew members”; and even a section of tributes from famous fans like Zachary Quinto and Laverne Cox. 

As the expert on the series, Colucci was able to interview Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur in the years prior to their deaths, and also delivers a new Q&A with Betty White.

Tumblr_m3ik5icFi51r2o04io10_r1_250(GIF via NBC)

The book's greatest use is its inclusion of exhaustive summaries of every episode, which do a lot more than regurgitate IMDb factoids. Colucci offers original comments from the creatives on the making-of that serve as incredible oral histories, the likes of which few if any other TV series have ever received.

Golden Girls Forever also faithfully documents fan art and fan-appreciation events/plays, making it not just a memento of the series, but a breathlessly faithful chronicle of its impact on the greater culture.

Golden-girls-rose-betty-white(GIF via NBC)

On a more superficial level, the book is also beautifully designed, as pretty as Blanche's perky bosoms.

Take a lesson, Rose, Golden Girls Forever is how you tell a story.

11 Mar 21:38

Daphne Awards, 2016 There are stories we wan...

by Jessa Crispin

Daphne Awards, 2016

There are stories we want to hear, and stories we need to hear. Let's be clear, when we give a book or a film or a musician an award, we are almost always rewarding that artist for telling us what we want to hear.

Fifty (-one! because we are so late in doing this!) years ago, we decided the story we wanted to hear was that the women who leave men are bitches and whores, and so we gave literary awards to Saul Bellow's Herzog. This is one year after the release of The Feminine Mystique, remember? And then all of a sudden, right alongside second wave feminism's rise, all of the big male authors that took over the era (and are still incredibly celebrated and influential today) released books that denied women's humanity, that reduced them back down to sexual orifices or dismissed them as bitches. Surprise, surprise.

In order to find other stories to tell and hear, we created the Daphne Awards (although to be honest, I am not 100% sure we are doing this again this year). So here are the winners for the 2015 award.


The nominees were:

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy
The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras
Albert Angelo by BS Johnson
The Passion According to GH by Clarice Lispector
Short Friday by Isaac Bashevis Singer

And the winner is, The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy.

I think the assessment is that Duras and Lispector split the vote, allowing Elaine Dundy to triumph. But what we liked about it was its tough frankness, its sexuality, its awareness of the power dynamic between men and women. It's also funny as hell. It doesn't have the metaphysical quality of Lispector, nor the charming absurdity of the Johnson, but it's flinty as hell and is best accompanied with a large quantity of gin.


The nominees were:


An Area of Darkness by VS Naipaul
Giordano Bruno by Frances Yates
Shadow and Act by Ralph Ellison
A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir
The Bastard by Violette Leduc

Winner: A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir

There is a sterling quality to the de Beauvoir, every word aches on the page. It also illuminates a thorny and surprisingly fresh-seeming topic: the mother-daughter dynamic. And by which I mean, the not Hallmark Card version, the not Meryl Streep dying so prettily of cancer version. The discussion over this award had a sidebar, something along the lines of is Naipaul too much of a fucking disaster to give an award to, despite his obvious gifts, and the decision here was yes. Even if he was still in the running, de Beauvoir outdid him with dignity and elegance.


The nominees were:

Language by Jack Spicer
77 Dream Songs by John Berryman
The Sonnets by Ted Berrigan
Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara
O Taste & See by Denise Levertov
The Dead Lecturer Poems by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka

The winner: O Taste & See by Denise Levertov

I am using Nicholas Vajifdar's assessment of Levertov from the final decision, because I think it is the perfect summation: "the sonic density, the comedian-level sense of timing, the unembarrassed vision. Those traits too are what I like in poets, and are rare. One of the best of the last century." Baraka was passionately advocated for, but in the end, Levertov was the center space.

There you have it: an all woman victory circle. Death to the patriarchy.

Many, many thanks to our judges: Hoa Nguyen, Lorraine Adams, Manan Ahmed, Sonia Faleiro, Austin Grossman, Margaret Howie, Nicholas Vajifdar, Amy Fusselman, Stephen Burt. May the spirits of forgotten dead writers bless you and protect you.

I enjoy this award so much. Give me a week to recover and decide whether we can do this again.

27 Feb 21:36

Countdown to the Oscars: To Leo on the eve of his inevitable academy award for best actor

by Nick Prigge
Janet Maslin, in reviewing James Cameron's 1997 box office thresher “Titanic” at the time of its release for The New York Times, wrote of Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as wayfaring artist Jack Dawson: “Mr. DiCaprio has made an inspired career move in so successfully meeting the biggest challenge for an actor of his generation: a traditional role.” The “traditional role” to which she refers is the Movie Star. The Movie Star was once created within the factories of Old Hollywood, the ones chronicled so fancifully in The Coen Brothers’ recent “Hail, Caesar!”, but when those factories closed down and the Method Actor took hold, Movie Stars became a rarer breed. Now Movie Stars are secondary to the product, to the brand, to Marvel and DC and old warhorses resurrected to make money. Still, they are out there, glimpsed in the space of a Jolie smile, a Clooney head bob, or ScarJo rendering Morgan Freeman speechless. In 1997 you could see it in Leo too.

Maslin called “Titanic” “gloriously retrograde”, and she was right, because Cameron’s cinematic conqueror harked back to the time of the Star Machine, and watching 23 year old Leo in the First Class Dinner scene, where he effortlessly charms a table of snobbish elitists, was vintage Hollywood Hokum. He enthralls that table the way he can enthrall an entire audience, a whole theater, a massive moment of repeat customer teenage girls. And what’s most incredible to consider about this is how he famously fought against Cameron’s admittedly simplistic portrait of this steerage dreamboat, and how Cameron, to his eternal credit, stood his ground. People can bash not-so-gentlemanly Jim for his bombast and clunky dialogue, but Cameron still coaxed DiCaprio’s purest performance to date, wherein an actor whose strain to be good is often spectacularly evident doesn’t even seem to be trying.

Jack Dawson easily could have become Leo’s “persona”, but a “persona” has never been of particular interest to DiCaprio. No, he has always viewed himself more as an heir to peak DeNiro, committed to the part, with whom Leo acted in “This Boy’s Life”, several years prior to the “Titanic” phenomenon. And that’s crucial, because Leo didn’t simply react to “Titanic” by becoming “serious”; no, he was always serious, whether playing a heroin addict in “The Basketball Diaries” or earning an Academy Award nomination for his quite serious turn in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” He earned an Academy Award nomination for the latter, and not for “Titanic”, which perhaps gave him an early inkling for what his peers preferred and correlates directly to his penchant for “Acting!” and his inevitable win this Sunday for Best Actor for “The Revenant.”

Still, even amidst so much Master Thespianism he could not help, here and there, when his star intrinsically lit up the silver screen, like in Steven Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can” (which suggests an alternate reality where Spielberg, not Scorsese, was Leo’s directorial muse and allowed for more whimsy) where he played real life con man Frank Abagnale, whose whole ruse necessitated charm, even if you could easily imagine DiCaprio more intrigued by the character's psychological dimensions than his simple charisma. Leo’s two halves, however, never met more majestically than “Blood Diamond” (2006), still, to my eye, his best overall performance, where he played a time-honored soldier of fortune with a mixture of intellectualism and allure. The movie itself, however, in trying to wrestle with genuinely vital issues worth exploring, bit off far more than it could chew, and I kept imagining a different movie. I imagined a movie more akin to the first scene Leo and Jennifer Connelly, as an American journalist, share at a Freetown bar, a movie shot not on location but on the backlot, an old world romance.

But real world issues, as documented in Stephen Rodrick’s recent Rolling Stone profile of the actor, have become Leo’s métier as much as the movies, notably his admirable dedication to environmental issues. He’s currently in the midst of making a documentary with Fisher Stevens about climate change and Rodrick writes of how “Stevens has occasionally had to remind DiCaprio not to wallow too much in hopelessness. ‘I’m more the light and he’s the dark,’ says Stevens with a grin. ‘I’m always saying, Don’t be so fucking pessimistic, man.’” I admire DiCaprio’s dedication to these very real concerns that many in America turn a blind eye to, and it's not a stretch to wonder that he wants to ensure he's seen taking acting seriously so that people will take his politicking seriously, but I desperately wish that more often on screen Leo would project the light rather than the dark

My friend Jaime likes to say that Tom Hardy is wasting his prime years of beauty and natural magnetism on incessant Method-ness. This is not to suggest that Mr. Hardy isn’t giving fine performances, mind you, but that too often he is choosing to bury all that beauty and magnetism beneath the tics of the trade. And I can’t help but think of DiCaprio in the same way, squandering so many chances to simply be a Movie Star in a vain attempt to win awards. In considering “The Revenant”, and a whole host of the other things in his typically glorious Thomsonian fashion, for The Guardian, film critic David Thomson wrote “At that primitive level, Tom Hardy gives the real performance. I believed he was a stinking, half-scalped beast driven mad and dangerous by the wilderness. I always felt DiCaprio was a movie star.” In other words, despite all of Leo’s crawling and growling and bleeding, Leo still can’t tamp down his innate Movie Star.

James Cameron once told the story of Leo’s “Titanic” audition. “He read it once, then started goofing around, and I could never get him to focus on it again. But for one split second, a shaft of light came down from the heavens and lit up the forest.” You wish someone could get him to focus on it again, so that the light could be let through, and so that his innate Movie Star could once again go full frontal.
31 Dec 20:53

In Which Daphne Du Maurier Marries Young

by Durga


Little Points


Daphne du Maurier's father was convinced his line would end with him, given that he fathered three daughters, and his only brother was killed in the world war. Gerald du Maurier hated being an actor, and occupied himself by plowing young actresses between scenes.

Daphne spent a lot of time with her father; things were cold and contentious with her mother for a long time. At first Gerald concealed his indiscretions, before openly introducing his conquests to his daughters. Perhaps Daphne had sensed them.


Daphne wished she had been born a boy, explains Margaret Forster in her sterling biography of the writer, Daphne Du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller. I It would have made her father happy, and ensured she could do whatever she liked. She called her male self "Eric Avon." Eric was a lot more like her father than she would probably care to admit.


She was a restless and unhappy teenager, quickly disgusted by the London environment she inhabited, all blue eyes and boyish shirts. When she first received her menstrual cycle, she named the flow 'Robert.' "The future is such a complete blank," she told her governess. "There is nothing ahead that lures me terribly. If only I was a man."

She judged her parents' marriage quite harshly, given that her mother knew of her father's cheating and accepted him despite it. Her father was a successful actor, and the du Mauriers were quite wealthy.

Gerald du Maurier was friends with J.M. Barrie, whose acquaintance gave Daphne the idea to start writing. She had virtually no friends her age, and was completely within herself. "I only think of myself and pity anyone who likes me," she wrote. Her parents sent her to finishing school in France, hoping she might figure things out there. The school was quite austere in comparison to what she was used to, but Paris caught her attention right away.


A teacher named Yvon took an erotic interest in Daphne, who became her pet. She could not think of herself as a homosexual, since her father hated gays. Identifying herself as male is the only way she could make sense of her feelings. She more than liked the attention from Yvon, who was rather handsy with her.

Daphne was 18 when she went on holiday with Yvon, who had just turned 30. Things never got overly physical, but time relaxing with a hardcover copy of Katherine Mansfield's latest and a woman who loved her reassured Daphne that things were not all bad. She only loathed the idea of going back to England and living with her family again.

Daphne, right, with her sisters

She knew that in addition to being attracted to women, she also found something compelling in men. Her father did not accept this proclivity, displaying extreme jealousy when she emerged for or returned from a date. Gerald told her that he wished he were her brother, not her father, and that if he died he would enjoy returning as her son. Her father's possessive attitude pushed her further into literature. She had completed three stories; all of them concerned bullying, disreputable men.

Distancing herself from her father, Daphne learned to sail. She put aside writing and supervised the construction of her boat, which was to be called the Marie-Louise. It was then that she met her first boyfriend, Carol Reed. Together they smoked in cafes and observed other people. Reed reflected her moodiness, and was just as capable of doing something rash out of nowhere. She was 22 when she and Carol fucked for the first time.

with her first child, Tessa

Carol immediately began to take the relationship with the utmost seriousness, a development that frightened Daphne. Carol ensured he would stay around by praising Daphne's writing; her former teacher Yvon told her that her stories proved Daphne would never achieve anything. To get her away from Carol Reed, Daphne's parents secured her a quiet cabin for the summer, where she was to focus on her writing.

In was in this setting, consistently decimating the marital hopes of Carol Reed, that she wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit. This melodrama is clearly an early effort, and it is mostly in du Maurier's prose style itself - effortless and clear — that we recognize her distinctive way of saying something was so.

Reading The Loving Spirit today is quite a struggle, but for the time it was an advanced work from a writer with no advanced training. Her second novel, I'll Never Be Young Again, was a clear measure ahead of her first effort, using a strong first person voice to create her first ghostly effect. Rebecca West called it "a whopper of a romantic novel in the vein of Emily Brontë," which was almost, but not quite, a backhanded compliment. But hey, Daphne du Maurier was just 23.

Daphne's ideas about everything changed when she met Frederick Browning, known to his friends as Tommy. Browning's service in the war had traumatized him plenty — it took him a good six months to work up the courage to even enter battle. Once he became a career man, he never left. Even stricken as he was with PTSD, Browning was a quite attractive 34 year old man.

At first Daphne was reluctant to commit. "It will take at least five brandy-and-sodas, sloe gin and a handkerchief of ether to push me to the altar rail," she claimed, before proposing to Browning herself. The wedding took place in the middle of July, and her parents gave them a cottage as a present.

Six months later, Daphne was pregnant with her first child, a girl named Tessa. She stopped breastfeeding as soon as she could: "The child hiccups most of the time and kicks me in the stomach. But then I never was sentimental." Daphne suffered from postpartum depression, and struggled to bond with her daughter. The strains of her marriage wore on her, too. Browning was in Surrey when she was at home, and she felt adrift.

Then her father died. Daphne did not go to the funeral, and fantasized she saw her father as a ghost. She channeled her grief into a monograph about her father entitled, Gerald: A Portrait, which managed her best reviews yet. Her new publisher was Victor Gollancz, and under his encouraging influence she began the novel which would become her first solid hit: Jamaica Inn.


Just as she was achieving her largest public response to date, her husband's service took them both to Egypt. She loathed the city of Alexandria, feeling confined to a scrubby house since there was simply no place where she could realistically walk. After giving birth to a second daughter, Flavia, she decided not to return to the country. Yet it was in this inharmonious setting where she would conceive the idea for her next novel, "a rather sinister tale about a woman who marries a widower."

Rebecca was slow in emerging from Daphne's brain. Initially, Daphne trashed the first 15,000 words of the manuscript and began again. In a new house in Hampshire, she finally found the routine she needed. Servants handled her children while she focused on her new book. "It's a bit on the gloomy side and the psychological side may not be understood," she worried to Gollancz. Rebecca became instantly popular in England, but it was a smash in the United States.

in her writing room

Daphne felt a bit confused. She had a full family to fear for whenever her husband started repeating his predictions of a Europe hurtling towards war. She expected her kids to lead quiet lives where they expressed their inner imagination. Instead, Tessa and Flavia could be loud and disobedient like any children, and Daphne disapproved of this behavior. "Instead of thinking my children are marvelous, I am super-critical," she told her mother.

Disgusted by the film version of Jamaica Inn, Daphne attempted to construct a version of Rebecca that might play well on the stage. As war came to London, she refused to send her children to America, fearing she would never see them again. Instead, she had a third child, a son they named Christian.

her friend Ellen Doubleday

Depression was a feature of her everyday life, though she loved her son in a way she had never felt close to her daughters. She felt distant from Browning and resented their many weeks apart. She was, however, finding herself as a a mother. "I am very grateful for being given the power to deal with all these little domestic worries," she wrote, "and I am sure it has been a discipline. I've always shirked responsibility before. Now I find I can bear it. I seem to know the children more through looking after them. God is testing me out on those little points."

With her husband away, Daphne flirted with a family friend so much their relationship became a bit of a scandal. There was no sex, only a connection that evaporated both of their marriages. She wrote a book about the man's family called Hungry Hill. It was her husband's glider accident that wrecked his shoulder and returned him to her. Nursing him back to health effectively ended Daphne's infidelity.


After the war, when Browning came back to the family for good, he did not want Daphne anymore. The pain of the rejection stung, and abandoned them to separate beds, where each barely slept. "If Tommy just looks upon me as a dull old thing he is fond of, the outlook is dreary," she confessed to a friend. Browning's drinking made it impossible for him to get an erection in any case.

In America for the first time: Daphne was there unwillingly, forced to defend herself against charges of plagiarism that were focused on Rebecca, a story so old it could properly be called a fable. She won the case and left as quickly as she could, but not before developing a crush on the wife of publisher Nelson Doubleday. It could never be consummated, but she wrote the woman as many letters as she could.


Too much had gone on since she had married Tommy. She saw an older man who barely knew his children, grew frustrated at the first moment his oldest daughter was not what he expected. His strangeness with his own blood only made it less likely he could ever be close to Daphne, and she resented that he did not even make the effort, that there had been no homecoming whatsoever. He had brought a young girl with him, in fact, his war secretary, in her twenties. Daphne found her beautiful.

She was not happy, and every person in her life could tell.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of her writing in these pages here.


"I've Known For Long" - Alberta Cross (mp3)


22 Dec 18:17

Mariah Carey's Christmas: Bizarre

by Rich Juzwiak

So cheesy and sentimental was last night’s Mariah Carey-directed movie for the Hallmark Channel, A Christmas Melody, that it featured a scene in which Lacey Chabert’s character cried over broken tree ornaments. If Santa had spilled the milk she left out for him, she probably would have become inconsolable.


04 Dec 19:05

It’s Glogg Time! Recipes May Vary But This Swedish Drink Always Brings Cheer

by Victoria Marty

When most people are rushing around the night before Thanksgiving, trying to figure out if they have all the ingredients for the next day’s meal, the bartending staff at Simon’s Tavern is already ready for the one annual tradition it celebrates — and bar patrons shout for — every year: “It’s Glogg time!” That’s according […]

The post It’s Glogg Time! Recipes May Vary But This Swedish Drink Always Brings Cheer appeared first on Edgeville Buzz.

01 Dec 23:06

In Which We Find Out Why He Dumped Jennifer Lawrence

by Durga

The Happy Couple


Imagine some guy (Chris Martin) is placing his rigid penis inside of you, and then the next day he says, "I've got to spend the day with Gwyneth." You respond how any sane person would; you say, "But she will definitely not be having sex with you, Chris." "Sex isn't everything," he responds, and goes off to consciously uncouple.

It is hard to be Jennifer Lawrence. How do you think that she felt when she was dumped by Chris Martin for a darker-haired version of his ex-wife? I can answer that for you: She felt absolutely terrible. I mean, look at this woman:

Chris' new girlfriend, British actress Annabelle Wallis, is a lot more accomodating than Jennifer Lawrence. Ms. Lawrence has been let down by men before. It's not exactly a phenomenon to which she is unaccustomed. She put out a casting call for boyfriends quite recently, and not a single member of One Direction responded. She intimidates men, probably, but she did something worse than intimidate Chris Martin: she bored him.

Coldplay release their seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams, this week. The title comes from the fact that Chris Martin woke up one day and was like, "You know how when we sleep at night, our head is literally full of our dreams?!?!" And the band members were like, "Yes, Chris, we will say absolutely anything to stop you from being depressed about women."

A Head Full of Dreams contains not one single song about Jennifer Lawrence. It pretends that she does not even exist, that she never existed, that she was just a rebound-esque distraction for Chris as he found a more interesting woman with a lot more life experience than Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, when Lawrence reaches back into her life history, what does she really have to tell Chris that is worth repeating in song lyrics? "Let me reminisce about that time I got my period on the set of a multimillionaire movie I wasn't paid enough for." No, he's not interested in that. He misses Gwyneth, and when she used to tell him about the evils of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.

"Been around the world looking for someone like you," Chris openly admits on A Head Full of Dreams, essentially, someone like Gwyneth. This is a frightening thought, but to Annabelle Wallis' credit, she seems to have embraced being the faux-coupler. She even sings on the album's best track, "Up & Up". "Army of One" has Chris explaining that he is "going to fight for you," a statement especially galling to Jennifer Lawrence, because he took her about as seriously as a child takes his own mortality.

Chris Martin is a child, but so is his new girlfriend, who grew up in Portugal. "If you get the chance to live abroad, lessons in life it gives you are like no other," she explained in one interview. Then she allowed a photographer to take pictures of her dressed like this:

Fortunately in ensuing months Annabelle has gone brunette, because it is important to Chris that she does not too closely resemble a younger version of his children's mother. On A Head Full of Dreams, Annabelle's singing is basically identical to Gwyneth's in that their voices are both dissembled into the background, superceded by Chris' vocals. The only woman you really hear during the entirety of A Head Full of Dreams is, weirdly, Beyonce. She guests on "Hymn for A Weekend," which sounds like basically every song on the album.

Coldplay worked with various hitmakers instead of writing their own album or letting Brian Eno arrange it. The result is something more in the vein of popular music today than their usual sound that resembles a U2 cover band, so I guess they were successful in what they were going for. The comments from Martin to USA Today recently were downright scary: "If I may speak for the band, sometimes you need a break from the singer," he told them. Yikes.

The only problem with this slight alteration in sound is that Coldplay was actually better at sounding like U2 than the original band, and their music occupied an important niche that appealed to sensitive white men who felt overwhelmed by strong women but unable to articulate exactly why. Instead, the producers of A Head Full of Dreams did a fine job of making the album sound like everything else that is on the radio, just with more ridiculous lyrics. "I want to hold you and sway," Martin explains like some fucking idiot. A Head Full of Dreams is so gleefully enthusiastic the album sounds like inspirational music for atheists. "I'm feeling drunk and high," Chris whines, even though he is neither. He is just thankful to be dating a woman who doesn't demand anything from him.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Up & Up" - Coldplay (mp3)

20 Nov 22:06

19th Century Maple Ice Cream – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen

by Kate Collins
photo 1

IMG_3257A manuscript (i.e. handwritten) cookbook can tell us a great deal about its creator. What foods were available to her? How would her family have celebrated holidays and birthdays? Was she an elite woman with a cook who could prepare elaborate dishes, or a farm wife who had to prepare simple, hearty fare and preserve her harvest to feed her family? Do the recipes reflect a particular ethnic or religious background or geographical location? As is the case today, routine meals do not require a recipe. It is the special occasion recipes, especially those that require careful measurements to work properly, that are recorded for future reference.

We know, based on the ingredients, that Rubenstein Library’s New England Manuscript Recipe Book, [ca. 1860]-[1900] comes from the northeastern United States. It is no surprise that the little book includes a page of maple recipes, since maple is such a distinctive regional product.


I was intrigued by the Maple Ice Cream Recipe, in part because I am the proud owner of a fancy electric ice cream maker, so much easier than the hand-crank models that would have been available when the recipe was recorded. There is also the nostalgia of tasting maple:  Santa always left a maple sugar woman in my Christmas stocking.

This is an extremely simple recipe, with just three ingredients: eggs, maple syrup, and cream:

photo 1

I made a couple of changes. Given concerns about salmonella, I was not comfortable leaving the egg whites uncooked. I was also worried that mixing the eggs and syrup and boiling the mixture would result in curdled eggs. Instead, I boiled the syrup for about ten minutes to reduce it slightly, thereby intensifying the flavor. In a separate bowl, I beat the whole eggs. Then I slowly dribbled in about a cup of hot syrup, whisking the egg mixture constantly before whisking the egg mixture into the pot of hot syrup. Then I brought the mixture to 170 degrees, turned off the heat, and stirred in the cream.

photo 2

Finally, I strained the mixture through a sieve to remove any solids and chilled it overnight before freezing, emptying into a plastic container, and leaving it in the freezer for a few hours to firm it up. The result: an absolutely luscious and elegant frozen dessert.

photo 4

How did it taste? I brought in the whole container to share with my Rubenstein colleagues and it got rave reviews. It is very rich (note the quart of heavy cream!), but delicious.

Intrigued by the annotations (1896, Mrs. Kimber Thomas, Ladies Uplift Club), I did some searching and found a Morrisville, Vermont Uplift Club in The Register of Women’s Clubs (1922). I wondered whether Mrs. Kimber Thomas was given the recipe for Maple Ice Cream in 1896 and contributed it to an Uplift Club fund-raising cookbook and was thrilled to find a reference to this 53-page cookbook: Tried and Proven Recipes from Many Households. Morristown, Vt. : Ladies of the Uplift Club. The one known copy is in the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Staff have dated it to 1921, based on advertisements printed in the cookbook. As I write this, I am waiting for scans that I hope will confirm my hunches about the Maple Ice Cream recipe’s provenance. The tradition of noting the source and date of a recipe is a lovely way to link culinary creations to a vast network of friends, family, community, and history. The additional information would also allow us to more precisely identify the origins of this precious little cookbook.

Post contributed by Elizabeth Dunn, Research Services Librarian

The post 19th Century Maple Ice Cream – Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

19 Nov 20:05

In Which We Would Really Love To Have Been A Woman

by Durga

View Of A Wet Nurse


Jules Verne was pleased he resembled his sister. "How I'd have loved to be a woman!" he famously crowed. The writer's bisexual proclivities consumed him. Sex with women had its many pleasures; sex with men was more of an incidental directive. Consumed with one fling or another, he left off the writing of the second and third volume of his history of human exploration to a ghostwriter.

By the age of 60 Verne was no less productive than ever, but the toll his behavior took on his wife Honorine was extensive. She wept at his controlling and domineering treatment of her. In fall of 1876, Verne complained to a friend that "life in Paris with my wife, such as you know it, is impossible." The worst thing he ever did was get married, from his point of view.

with his wife Honorine Morel

Verne still wrote every morning from five to eleven, like clockwork. He had lost whatever ingenuity he possessed by then, and replaced it with a commonplace commercialism. The ideas were there, some of them, but the connections stayed unbound.

Brothels had occupied his attention since he was a young man. Yet it only hinted at a very disturbed sexual pathology; once in a letter he expressed his jealousy of a wet nurse. Such topics were not even off-limits in correspondence with his mother. Frustration was either the symptom or the cause. Before Verne met his wife, he struggled to attract one, whining that, "The lover of a married woman saves on two servants and a maid."

Sexual symbolism constantly plagued his novels as well. Few other bad writers had been read so widely, and the public was about fed up with the spewing geysers and tumescent erections in a decidedly female Earth by this time. No one took him seriously as an artist, but his paint-by-numbers adventures continued to sell decently even after his editor and publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel died.

After visiting the Pope in Rome for over an hour, Verne was approached by his nephew Gaston in front of his Paris home. The boy shot at him, aiming for Verne's penis and hitting him in the ankle. Rumors circulated to the effect that the would-be assassin had been the author's biological son. Verne was buried with the bullet still lodged there in 1905.

After the attempted murder, morphine became the better part of Jules Verne's life. He decided to run for political office and won a position as a city councillor in his hometown of Amiens. His local views revolved largely around the importance of preservation; on a macro level he despised both socialism and capitalism for their absolutionist qualities.

His one trip to America revolved around a six-week stay in the New York metropolitan area. He and his companions had no English, or suitable translators. There was something about the wildness of the place that amazed him, but after that elation had dissipated he was left only with the loss that follows. "Members of English speaking races make good heroes," he recalled, "because of their coolness and go-ahead qualities." Provisionally he added, "Americans are undoubtedly the most practical, but they surely lack taste."

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about the director Luis Buñuel. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

The Best of Ellen Copperfield on This Recording

Dorothea Lange's Failed Marriage

Sex Life Of Marlon Brando

Lifetime of Threats and Insults

The Onset Of The Western Canon

Entitled To Madonna's Opinion

Barbra Streisand Grows Up In Flatbush

A Sneaking Suspicion of Literature

Anjelica Huston Falls Off The Horse

Prefer To Be Simone de Beauvoir

The Marriage of Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra

Elongated Childhood of Jorge Luis Borges

Jokes At The Expense Of Tom Hanks

Which One Is The Gay?

"Photograph" - Love of Diagrams (mp3)

"In My Dream" - Love of Diagrams (mp3)


18 Nov 16:41

Those Were The Gays, My Friend: A Review Of REEL IN THE CLOSET

by Matthew Rettenmund


On Saturday, I was excited to be able to catch an NYC screening of Stu Maddux's documentary Reel in the Closet, which presents dozens of rare clips from home movies (including footage shot from TV, some of which is the only copy of such newscasts known to exist) that show queer people living queer lives.

Framed by a narrative of preservation—we meet several prominent archivists who have devoted themselves to the painstaking task of transferring one-of-a-kind home movies to the digital medium—the film is itself a one-of-a-kind document, a hub that shows images never meant to be shared outside a small circle of intimates, but that must now be shared in order to create a historical record of queer living. 

Among the most amazing finds would be a short piece of film from inside a lesbian nightclub 65 years ago, including incredible footage (with sound) of women singing to butch/femme couples. We have to wait until the end to get some erotica (well-off white gay dudes sunbathing), but it's worth the wait.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.35.12 PM

There is also a wealth of raw footage provided by a sneaky film editor who took it from the stations for which he worked in San Francisco, which means that truly unique footage from the White Night Riots is forever preserved.

Framegrabrotatormaster2xcnx1-375x275_cBut as interesting as these unusual bits are, just as compelling is the footage that shows gay people in their day-to-day existences, being goofy, showing off and playing to the camera. Many are people who are unknown to us now, while some—including a wealthy dentist who documented decades of his life—seem to have succeeded in achieving a slice of immortality.

DSC06479Me (L) with the blogger from Kenneth in the (212) (R), sandwiching filmmaker Stu Maddux.

Due to the resources required, most of the footage comes from privileged white men (cameras were expensive!), but Maddux makes sure to reflect people of color and women and drag queens/genderqueer individuals. One part of the movie that sort of leapt out to me was when a trans woman (perhaps she would have been called a transvestite back then) spoke about how drag queens started Stonewall—and this footage was from the '70s, so the recent controversy about whether that impression is true has to take into account the fact that it was widely believed from shortly after the event.

Don't miss Maddux's scrupulously assembled, deeply respectful documentary, and visit his site if you have what you think might be unique footage showing gay life in home movies.

Keep reading for Maddux's remarks before and after the NYC screening ...

31 Oct 16:43

A Brief History of Evil Children in Horror Movies

by Rich Juzwiak

In celebration of Halloween, we took a shallow dive into the horror subgenre of evil-child horror movies. Weird-kid cinema stretches back at least to 1956’s The Bad Seed, and has experienced a resurgence recently via movies like The Babadook , Goodnight Mommy , and Cooties. You could look at this trend as a natural extension of the focus on domesticity seen in horror via the wave of haunted-house movies that 2009’s Paranormal Activity helped usher in. Or maybe we’re just wizening up as a culture and realizing that children are evil and that film is a great way to warn people of this truth.


31 Oct 16:41

Grace Jones – Love Bites (UK 12″ Promo)

by DjPaulT


A. Front

New 2015 Re-Rip!
Meticulously Remastered!
First time in 24bit Flac!

Originally posted October 26, 2010

“Love Bites” is a UK promo-only single recorded by Jamaican singer Grace Jones to promote the Sci-Fi Channel’s Vampire Week from 4-9th November 1996, which consisted of a series of vampire-themed films aired on the channel. Jones sings the song from the perspective of a vampire, perhaps alluding to the theme of her 1986 feature film Vamp. The song was released for a promotional use only, and was not commercially available. “Love Bites” has not appeared on any Grace Jones compilation.

Additionaly there are no producer or renix credits listed on the sleeve or labels.

Love Bites (12″ Fright Night Mix) 8:21
Love Bites (7″ Fright Night Mix) 3:40

Love Bites (12″ Dark Night Mix) 7:35
Love Bites (12″ Deep Into The Night Mix) 6:40

Vinyl: Near Mint
Sleeve: Near Mint

Label: Not On Label ‎– GRACE 007
Format: Vinyl, 12″, 33 ⅓ RPM, Promo
Country: UK
Released: 1996
Genre: Electronic
Style: House, Synth-pop

An original song by the diva of Vamp
Sci Fi Channel exclusive.

Find the 12″ on DISCOGS

B. Back

Turntable: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC)
Cartridge: Ortofon 2M
Stylus: Ortofon OM Stylus 30
Platter: Pro-Ject Acryl-It platter
Stabilizer: Pro-Ject Record Puck 
Phono Pre-amp:
Bellari VP130 Tube Phono Preamp
Tung-Sol 12AX7ECC803-S Gold Electron Tube
ESI Juli@
Record Cleaning:
VPI HW 16.5 Record Cleaning Machine
Artwork Scans:
Brother MFC-6490CW Professional Series Scanner

Recording/Editing: Adobe Audition 3.0 (Recording)
Down Sampling: iZotope RX Advanced 2
Artwork Editor: Adobe Photoshop CS5
Click Removal: Manual
FLAC/MP3 Conversion: dBpoweramp
M3U Playlist: Playlist Creator

All vinyl rips are recorded @ 32bit/float
FLAC (Level Eight)
MP3 (320kbps)
Artwork scanned at 600dpi

Username: btg
Password: burningtheground

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28 Oct 01:01

Still (Really, Really) Turning Me O-o-o-on

by Matthew Rettenmund

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.37.13 PM

Tommy Page is still fine as hell! Check out a new interview with the '90s heartthrob.

After the jump, my all-time favorite Tommy Page tune, from his delicious self-titled debut album ...

19 Oct 01:29

Patrick Nagel faux fur blanket makes a great gift for members of Duran Duran

If you want to get your Eighties on with your home décor, why not this Patrick Nagel faux fur throw blanket? It’s a Huf x Nagel collaboration. Apparently the blanket can fit a queen size bed and sells for ...

19 Oct 01:08

Christmas Comes Early

by Nick Prigge
I saw some scuttlebutt from the Twitter autocrats recently in the wake of a few amounts of copious praise for the latest PT Anderson opus that some critics, if you want to use that word, are too un-judicious in their hyperbolic praising of auteurs for which they possess immense fondness. And while the autocrats weren’t aiming their social media bellyaching at me and my devout adoration for Sofia Coppola, well, they may as well have been because I don’t hide my Sofia zealotry. I go tell it on the mountain. She’s the awesomest, bro, and you can take your polite reservations and journalistic objectivity and drown it in my leftover Sofia Blanc de Blanc. Real talk: we all have biases and I do not hide mine.

I was having a day. Just, you know, a day; a regular ol’ day. I mean, I live in Chicago and the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the playoffs last night and their four games from [redacted for fear of jinxing it] and the city’s alive with sounds “Cubs Win! Cubs Win!” And I’m cheering for the Cubs, sure, and I’m happy for Cubs fans, obviously, but I’m not a Cubs fan and I can’t (and shouldn’t) own their enthusiasm like they do and I really, really wanted access to that same unbridled exultation. Who wouldn’t?! Then, as if by fate above, yesterday afternoon, it was announced that Sofia Coppola/Bill Murray joint Christmas venture percolating for a year is going to be a reality come December and I cued up the 30 second blip and a tuxedo-ed Bill Murray declared “Tonight will go down as the greatest night in history” and I felt myself swept away to a fantasyland I only permit myself to believe in on unbearably overcrowded el train rides. It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as A Sofia Coppola Film Starring Bill Murray.

Netflix, where it will be released this December, advises that Mr. Murray plays himself, concerned that no one will arrive for his big holiday special at The Carlyle Hotel, that ancient upper east side stronghold, on account of a New York snowstorm, only to have the magic of the season prove his fears unfounded as famous guests arrive to help put on a show. It’s an homage to the classic variety hours gone by, and God bless it. In this era where our talk show hosts are more determined than ever to turn their programs into hour long Youtube videos and even The Muppets, variety show purveying pioneers, are determined to stop being polite and start getting “real”, Monsieur Murray, he who can wink at the camera with such awe-inspiring earnestness and lavish entertainment with the deftest of touches, is here, it seems, to restore the faded title Master of Ceremonies its old world joie de vivre. I’m projecting, perhaps, wishing, hoping, pining, and yet…watch the clip. Tell me I’m wrong.

I haven’t had such a burst of {champagne cork popping emoji) from a teensy weensy trailer since, well, that itty bitty “Bling Ring” spot. A Very Murray Christmas looks like Nick the Lounge Singer crossed with Billy Mack but with a touch of class, an air of dignity, perhaps afforded by that apparent walk and talk with George Clooney, who I kinda want to pretend is something like a Sofia-imagined Dickens ghost. And maybe you think that Miley Cyrus should be the apparition, appearing to appear but not really, except that I’m so in the tank for Sofia that even the world’s foremost twerker merely made me contemplatively scratch my chin and think “I could totally see that working.” Granted, I’m a little heartbroken there was no sign of Kiki. But maybe Kiki had to film “Fargo.” Or maybe Kiki’s appearance will be a surprise. What’s Christmas without a surprise? Wait. What did you say? Jenny Lewis is going to be in this? *Nick faints.*

Over there. To the left. That's the coolest person alive. With Bill Murray. Totes Mcgoats.
08 Oct 15:16

Who Is the MVP of Kicking and Screaming?

by Nick Prigge
Twenty years ago this week “Kicking and Screaming” was released to great fanfare. Well, “great” might be a Trump-ian exaggeration. It was released, per Box Office Mojo, into a single theater. It pulled down $28,000. “Batman Forever”, which had been out 17 weeks already, pulled down $142,000 more. “Assassins”, which I remember going to see in the theater, made $12 million. The Times They Aren’t A Changin’. Still, “Kicking and Screaming” has lived on via a moderate cult of which I am totally part. My dear friends Jacob and Ashley both pushed me in the direction of this film way back when. I watched it. I loved it. I cherish it. To this day Ashley and I will often sign off on emails to one another not with our name but with a “Kicking and Screaming” quote. Like… “Who the hell bought black eyed peas”? Or: “There’s also that dark side to the nose ring.”

But I have addressed my affection for “Kicking and Screaming’s” dialogue and for the film itself years ago. And the truth is that Noah Baumbach’s film is defined just as much by its great characters and the exemplary performances that bring them life. It’s an ensemble filled to the brim, so much so that it begs indifferently asks the question... Who is “Kicking and Screaming’s” MVP? You (didn’t) ask, we deliver.

Who Is the MVP of Kicking and Screaming?

10. Jason Wiles. Even if Parker Posey (and we’ll get to her shortly) is supposed to be dating someone not quite right for her, her natural state of Posey-ness is nonetheless too much for Wiles to keep up with. And in comparison to the rest of his fellow “Cougars!”, sorry, but Wiles is breathing underwater.

9. Cara Buono. As a teenager tutee of Josh Hamilton’s Grover, it’s not so much that she infiltrates the group by displaying a wisdom beyond her years as she earns their respect by demonstrating a self-confidence by way of a confrontational attitude that these neurotic knuckleheads can’t help but admire.

8. Josh Hamilton. Remember when Winston Wolf said “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character”? Hamilton’s Grover might be the most fully developed character in “Kicking and Screaming”, but compared to his fellow actors Hamilton doesn’t create as much of a character.

7. Christopher Reed. His European student, the immortal Friedrich, is hardly in the film yet utterly indelible, egregiously pretentious and somehow still totally self-effacing. It’s a trick they should teach at the Actors Studio. “Two grapes!”

6. Olivia d’Abo. She affects a similar dialect to all the boys around her while simultaneously emitting an aura that suggests she is just slightly more emotional advanced if still struggling in her own way. Still, she never quite stands out, as it were. She’s good, yes, undoubtedly, but in terms of MVP, well, you’re left thinking that someone such as Jennifer Connelly could gotten this same job done.

5. Eric Stoltz. Implicitly captures a twenty-something elder statesman.

4. Parker Posey. Posey’s famed Face of Mock Bemusement is at supersonic; her patented “what the hell is wrong with you?” disinterest is at DEFCON 1. I have seven thousand favorite Parker Posey moments but “I use that fan all the time…all the time” is in the Top 2. She is younger than these doofuses but wise enough to know they’re full of shit.

3. Elliot Gould. As the main character’s Dad, one in the midst of a divorce, Gould has essentially only one scene and makes it count. He’s sad-eyed and reserved, the embodiment of what so many years can render, tired out and all too accepting of Cheez Whiz instead of cheese, the surest sign a man is worn to the nub.

2. Chris Eigeman. It’s quintessential Eigeman, an exemplary, exhausting accounting of a young adult fancying himself a sophisticated old man who knows full well his own faults yet tries to cover for it with erudite hauteur. When he gazes into the non-existent distance and remarks “I wish I was retiring after a lifetime of hard labor,” you know it’s the one thing he really, truly means.

1. Carlos Jacott. In the interviews Noah Baumbach conducted with the principal cast members on the “Kicking and Screaming” Criterion edition, both Eigeman and Hamilton concede that throughout filming they were convinced Jacott was walking away with the movie. His character is described as having two moods, “testy and antsy”, though Jacott plays him much more antsy than testy. And that antsiness is crucial tonic to the considerable churlishness of his friends. Jacott is funny, sure, in a brilliantly neurotic way, but through his neurosis he also communicates something distinctly humane. When he fails to read “All the Pretty Horses” (twice!) for his two-man book club, he’s not devious in trying to cover it up, he’s apologetic; he’s a slacker with the noblest of intentions.
08 Oct 02:42

The Ultimate Madonna Stan Wrote a Book About Her That's the Size of a Phone Book

by Rich Juzwiak


As someone who has enjoyed Madonna’s work for the past 30+ years, Matthew Rettenmund’s Encyclopedia Madonnica 20 interests me. But as someone who engages with extreme human behavior for my job , Matthew Rettenmund’s Encyclopedia Madonnica 20 fascinates me. And the behavior I’m most fascinated by is not Madonna’s, but Rettenmund’s.


29 Sep 21:19

Here Are Highlights From Patti LaBelle's Hilarious Cooking Show

by Rich Juzwiak

you will not regret clicking through and watching this video

When Patti LaBelle called branzino a “bourgie fish” last night during her Cooking Channel special, Patti LaBelle’s Place, I damn near fell off my couch. LaBelle seasoned her show’s straightforward setup with offhand humor, hip-hop references (she channeled DMX and LL Cool J), and straight-up wisdom (“You can make [crab cakes] big, or you can make them tiny. And if you have a lot of guests, you better make them tiny, ‘cause everybody don’t deserve all that crab meat.”). Throughout the show Patti made it clear that she will cook for you, but she will also exercise her right to talk about you when you’re not in the room (see: her comments on Whoopi Goldberg’s inability to cook, and her impersonation of Jill Scott while discussing her fellow singer’s aversion to spinach).


26 Sep 12:47

Special guest post: Denim under $100, by Andrea Linett

by KimFrance



Because Andrea Linett (check out her fantastic blog here) is the only person I’ve ever met who looks good in a Canadian tuxedo, and because she’s got excellently high-low taste in denim (whereas, as many of you have pointed out, I am stuck in high) I asked her to provide a rundown of the best of the cheapest. Lucky us, she said yes.

kate high-waist

“I am into this somewhat dorky-yet-sexy shape lately, and the flare is just flared enough without being costumey.”

straight skinny

These have a cool A.P.C. feel (dark, straight, not super-skinny) but with 1% stretch to keep them comfy.”


“My new go-tos now come in black for fall!”

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 9.33.28 PM

“I love all my shrunken little jackets but am wanting one like this—perfectly oversize so it looks fresh and can fit over sweaters.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 9.54.09 PM

These are called The Bianca, but they remind me more of Jane Birkin, and I would wear them with a more fitted tee or sweater.”

gap work shirt

“I love a good denim work shirt and the details on this one (dark buttons, great wash) make all the difference.”

denim skirt

“And here’s a great button-front 70s skirt to wear now and with boots and a peacoat or big cardigan later.”

25 Sep 19:09

"Grace Does Her Own Shucking": Here's Grace Jones's Tour Rider

by Rich Juzwiak

I CANNOT WAIT for this book

Diva memoirs have a reputation for being light on revelations, but Grace Jones is no ordinary diva, and her upcoming book I’ll Never Write My Memoirs is no ordinary book. It’s frank regarding the sex and drugs the legendary singer/actor has indulged in, and unapologetically opinionated, but sometimes less than forthcoming about seemingly simple details (Jones spends several pages discussing why she will not discuss her age).


25 Sep 18:42

Ike and Tina Turner cover Sly Stone, the Beatles and the Stones with steel-beam-melting intensity

Some eminently wise and decent person uploaded two complete episodes of Playboy After Dark to YouTube, and the back-to-back shows are full of delights for lovers of yesterday’s showbiz talents. Sammy Davis, Jr., Anthony Newley, Jerry Lewis, Louis Nye, Patty Duke and a very young Rex Reed all stop...

23 Sep 19:24

"Get Off of My Goddarn Stage, Bitch": Patti LaBelle Has Fan Ejected From Concert

by Rich Juzwiak

Patti LaBelle is up to her old tricks: screaming at people. Last night at a concert in Vancouver, an audience member the diva had presumably invited to come dance onstage began unbuttoning his shirt. That wasn’t part of the deal Miss Patti had in her head, so she interrupted him and the music (“Lady Marmalade,” of course). “Don’t you dare, not on my stage!” she hollered. She explained with what initially seemed like good humor, “I am not Nicki Minaj or that little, uh, Miley.” The dancer took this as an opportunity to arch his back and present his ass to her. Here’s a tip: Do not arch your back and present your ass to Patti LaBelle.


09 Sep 19:23

Why Does Every Store Want Me to Wear Hideous Clothes This Fall? 

by Kara Brown

Summer is officially over and apparently so is any chance we have at looking halfway decent. If you’ve taken a stroll—virtual or real—through a women’s retailer in the past month or so, you may have noticed that almost every store wants us to dress like blind Annie Hall extras.


03 Sep 20:05

‘I pity the fool who messes with my Boy, George’—An unlikely A-Team cameo

When I was a kid I liked The A-Team

02 Sep 20:09

Wired Style: A Linguist Explains Vintage Internet Slang

by Gretchen McCulloch

Gretchen McCulloch's previous works of linguistic genius for The Toast can be found here.

The Wired style guide changed my life. One particular sentence, in fact.

We know from experience that new terms often start as two words, then become hyphenated, and eventually end up as one word. Go there now.

Oh. I thought. Oh.


Wired Style was a book by Constance Hale and Jessie Scanlon, but I encountered it on the internet. It would have been sometime in the early 2000s. I was the type of teenager who read help documentation and tech blogs and anything that seemed vaguely linguistics-related, and I was already reading the articles on Wired's website, so of course when I stumbled upon its style guide, I read that too.

The thing that stuck in my mind about the Wired style guide was the attitude. I'd read other usage guides — well-meaning gifts from people who thought that having an interest in linguistics was the same as having an interest in the mechanics of writing — but they tended towards the curmudgeonly. But while Strunk & White and their inheritors considered themselves the last thing standing between The English Language and Mortal Peril, Wired Style said, essentially, No. We're not the guardians of tradition, we're a forward-facing tech publication, and it's essential for us to be on the vanguard of linguistic change. Hyphens will drop eventually, so let's drop them now; capitals will eventually de-capitalize, so let's lowercase as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

To my teenage self, it was like being handed a crystal ball and a lever with which to move the world at the same time.

Read more Wired Style: A Linguist Explains Vintage Internet Slang at The Toast.

02 Sep 19:32


by Matthew Rettenmund
14 Aug 16:59

Walter Mosley on the Watts Riots

by Mark Anthony Neal
Walter Mosley in from of LA home with his father; courtesy Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley, whose "Easy Rawlins" mystery novels are largely set in Watts, looks back 50 years ago to the night when the neighborhood first went up in flames.

13 Aug 14:44

Share the Wealth with Tony Albrecht: A Year After Ferguson…How’s STL Doing?

by Mark Chmiel

Hi. My name is Tony, and I’m an attorney with the ArchCity Defenders. I just got off the phone with a client.

Like many of my clients, this woman is poor, black, and a single mother. She spent last night in a municipal jail cell after being arrested during a routine traffic stop. Her car was towed (she doesn’t have the money to get the car out), so she doesn’t know how she’ll get to work today at the relatively well-paying, stable job she started in June. Her daycare help quit last week, so even if she could drive to work today, she has no one to watch her 3 young kids. She’s already missed a couple days recently due to transportation issues and doesn’t know how many more missed days her employer will tolerate. To top it off, she has cuts and bruises from an officer slamming her to the ground when she was already in handcuffs.

We at the ArchCity Defenders see this every day. Our organization is a nonprofit that provides holistic legal services to the poor and homeless of the St. Louis region. Since 2009, we have helped level the playing field between municipal courts and the (mostly) impoverished residents whose fines pay the salaries of court employees and police officers. In the year since Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, our organization has also been on the front lines calling for fundamental reforms to how we police and administer justice in low-income communities.

This Sunday night,  I’ll talk about the ArchCity Defenders’ work on the ground around our city as well as some of the broader issues that have commanded our collective attention since Ferguson. We’ll talk about why and how this region got so broken, how difficult it is for impoverished people to function in our society, and why I am optimistic we could be witnessing some fundamental fixes that could alter the future of our city and region.

Who am I?  I, Tony Albrecht, am a part-time lawyer, part-time globetrotter, passionate baked-goods enthusiast, and reluctant stream-of-thought poet. I spend some of my time working as a contract attorney with the ArchCity Defenders, a legal nonprofit in St. Louis. I spend all of my time left-handed.

Join us
Sunday 16 August 2015
Potluck dinner begins at 6 pm
Tony begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Jim and Diana Oleskevich
4026 Magnolia Place (not Magnolia Avenue)

13 Aug 14:38

#BlackLivesMatter Hacks the Social System

by jennydavis

FBI director James B. Comey’s recent comment that police scrutiny has led to an uptick in violence is a villainization of #BlackLivesMatter activists. I rerun this piece as a response to Comey’s position.15407587706_6f3ccf86c2_z


I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me…It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen, although it is most often rather wearing on the nerves. Then too, you’re constantly being bumped against by those of poor vision…It’s when you feel like this that, out of resentment, you begin to bump people back. And, let me confess, you feel that way most of the time. You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you’re a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you. And, alas, it’s seldom successful… ~Ralph Ellison (1932), Invisible Man

In what follows, I argue that the Black Lives Matter movement is a hacker group, glitching the social program in ways that disrupt white supremacy with glimpses of race consciousness. It is a group that combats black Americans’ invisibility; that “bumps back” until finally, they are recognized.  As Ellison continues:  

Invisibility, let me explain, gives one a slightly different sense of time, you’re never quite on the beat. Sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes behind. Instead of the swift and imperceptible flowing of time, you are aware of its nodes, those points where time stands still or from which it leaps ahead. And you slip into the breaks and look around.

The Black Lives Matter movement brings us, forcefully, into the “breaks,” and invites us to look around, too.

To hack is to find and exploit the weaknesses in a system. Once found, hackers can gain access to what’s inside, and, if desired, change the programming. The Black Lives Matter movement is working to accomplish the latter. They expose racism among America’s most established institutions, and then disrupt the fabric of everyday life to bring these weaknesses to the attention of the masses. This disruption or “glitch” that activists—especially activists of color— present is in many cases, simply themselves. They are black bodies taking up space; black bodies making demands; black bodies resisting invisibility.

Earlier this year, Black Lives Matter activists took over Baltimore. Sitting peacefully, marching the streets, and alternatively, breaking windows and setting things on fire in protest of the deadly police brutality inflicted upon Freddie Gray. Police deployed tanks. Officials closed schools. Businesses were unable to operate. Glitch: Look at us.

In Ferguson earlier this week, Black Lives Matter activists blocked the entrance to the St. Louis Federal Courthouse and traffic on a major highway in protest and remembrance of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen killed by a white police officer one year ago. The city declared a stated of emergency and arrested close to 60 protesters, including high profile activists like philosopher Cornel West. Glitch: We are still here.

The Invisible Man Himself, Ralph Ellison
The Invisible Man Himself, Ralph Ellison

In Seattle last week, two black women activists stormed the stage at the Social Security Works rally in Westlake Park, prohibiting white presidential candidate Bernie Sanders from speaking. Lamenting Sanders’ failure to address contemporary racial issues, the women were booed by the crowd but refused to give the microphone back. They invited Sanders to respond to their criticisms. He declined. Following the event, Black Lives Matter Seattle released a press statement in which they proclaim: “…we honor Black lives lost by doing the unthinkable, the unapologetic, and the unrespectable.”

The choice of Sanders as a target is of particular relevance. Sanders is a self-described ally with a strong record of civil rights activism. In fact, just hours after his failed attempt to speak at Westlake, Sanders addressed a crowd of 15,000 at the University of Washington calling for an end to institutional racism and reform of the criminal justice system. In contrast, Donald Trump claims there will be no “black presidents for awhile” following what he considers a botched job by Barack Obama, and Ben Carson believes we needn’t think of race because he knows deep down that brains, not skin, make us who we are.

Bernie isn’t perfect, but he’s far better than the rest. And that’s just it. His work, his almost anti-racist position, his good intentions and barely missed marks make him the lowest common denominator within the existing political system. This is a system that puts black lives alongside a suit of issues—environment, economy, tax policy, military funding. This is a system that hides race issues amongst the crowded tabs of candidates’ official web pages. The Black Lives Matter movement rejects this model. Instead, it insists that in this moment, Black Lives take center stage. Anywhere but the center is unacceptable. No more hiding in plain site. Glitch: We are taking over the platform.

Because of this insistence upon centrality, Black Lives Matter refuses to be Anonymous. They do not disrupt the system quietly. The hack is their presence. The hack is their voices. The hack is their faces. It’s not about discourse or even policy, but an insistence upon visibility; a refusal to remain unseen.

Like any good systems maintenance crew, however, the U.S. social system has workers diligently laboring to quiet the glitches, to restore the program, to punish the hackers and reinstate their invisibility. In Ferguson last year, these workers made up the grand jury that chose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, the man who killed Michael Brown. This week, the workers are the “Oath Keepers,” made up of five white men with weapons, patrolling the streets of Ferguson to maintain “order” and “peace.” In the media, these are the news stations that label protestors “rioters” and highlight the destruction of property while marginalizing the historical and systemic destruction of black lives. It is Bernie Sanders, who pouts at his lost stage time rather than step aside to graciously acknowledge that this moment is not for him.

But the Back Lives Matter hack is powerful in its persistence. The system has been weakened by cameras on cops, fires in the streets, citizens demanding answers, and feet stomping on the ground, day after day, month after month. And because of this persistence, it is a hack that the system can only fight for so long. Each protest-induced glimpse makes invisibility more difficult to restore. At some point, we will have all seen too much, even those who try to close their eyes. This war of glitches creates a tumultuous moment, but provides the code with which to write an alternative future.

Jenny Davis is on Twitter @Jenny_L_Davis

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