Friday, December 25, 2009

Nine: A Little Shake Shake After Christmas

Is there no limit to the imagination. See, all you have to do is sort of think your mother is a sexy version of Sophia Loren then you'll get over all this Freud stuff and your mother will be just one of the women who are women. (Go for the substantial object). Man looking for a film, sounds familiar. Love Fellini references, not too keen on musicals that aren't Meet Me in St. Louis. Older couple sitting next to me almost trampled me near the exit; I think they wanted to go home to have sex. Muse vs. Artist. Do you want to be the man or the woman. The old man wondered if this film is a bit sexist, but I didn't, fully, oddly. Why didn't I. (Can't a woman sing a song without wearing next to nothing or dancing with a chair kind of like a prostitute. Can't a woman not be an object. What does everything always have to be at a height). A strange role for Daniel Day-Lewis, who sings like The Count. I secretly like it when the stars of musicals can't sing all that well. It started to snow outside while I was in the movie theatre. All women are sex kittens! When women throw their hair about it's sexy! Women are wild! People only think about themselves. The experience is something experiencing. The experience is not the same as what you experience. Watch out for jazz hands. Cut to black and white. When they weren't singing, I secretly hoped the next song would begin soon. Are these the lead-in lines. Why couldn't I be in my thirties in Rome in the '60's. What are you thinking about all the time anyway. What is a role and is anyone really playing a role or just some version of themselves over and over again in different costumes. Finally, a movie that praises the beauty of older women. Are you who you are or who you think you are. Some people make you want to lie down. It was hard getting through Christmas without crying for my sister.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fantasy Feature No. 4

Nothing bothers you. See this heart? It's made of steel eating steel. Nothing "gets to you." A Friendly Frank, that's what you are. A regular. Everyone leaves you alone while you knit at the strip bar. Just kidding. You don't go to strip bars, but it wouldn't bother you if you did.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Machine, It Just Doesn't Stop

Clamoring in my brain was the voice of my very own president who said we have to go to war for democracy (i.e. in support of oil and the military industrial complex) and kill others to be free--the night the old man and I began the BBC's The Private Life of a Masterpiece series. In each episode, one piece of art is analyzed, discussed, and extensive historical background is provided for the piece, how it reached its current housing, along with some biographical background of the artist if any exists.


The first one we watched was centered around Francisco Goya's "May 3, 1808," which depicts the execution of those thought to be involved in an uprising against Napolean's army. (I say "those thought to be involved" because any man with a weapon was rounded up and executed). In the painting, the men are shot and also stabbed to be sure they died. During the episode, a really interesting discussion about the soldiers ensues. They are described as a machine and x-rays of the painting shows how they were sort of "stroked" together as one, particularly hard and fast brushstrokes given to their guns. The soldiers' faceless posture, their boxy yet triangular stance, pushing forward yet hiding behind their weapons, hiding behind some form of democracy they were supposed to represent made me kind of wonder where everyone's descendants are. Where are the children of those who died? What are they doing now? What happened to those soldiers?

One of the talking heads is Leon Golub, I'll admit, an artist I'm not very familiar with. He said so many powerful things and I know I'm going to butcher what he said that struck me the most. Our leaders do terrible things that hurt so many people, all in the name of freedom and democracy, and they don't understand why no one thanks them. It made me think about former president's Bush's visit to Iraq, how no one thanked him for what he'd done and in fact, a shoe was thrown at him. How could someone who is trying so hard to follow in Bush's footsteps receive the Peace Prize? To quote my friend Walter: "As president, it is Mr. Obama's prerogative to keep the war machine going, whether or not that is what he truly believes is best for the nation."

I Like It The Other Way


This is a hand-knitted "Tiny Thing Conversion Factory: From Pandas to Gnomes." I wish it were eating the gnomes and shitting out pandas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fantasy Feature No. 18

No more dreams about bullfighting. At some point this week you saw two images of the running of the bull, but you have only dreamt of bull fighting. The bull took forever to die. It gored the bullfighter (it's fighter? weird) against a wall for a long time. Then the bullfighter hit it against the wall until it died. Someone gave the bullfighter the ears and tail. (Which is weird. Why not just give him the balls?) Why did you dream about this. You once watched a Bruce Connor collage film (a form of assemblage art) of a bull being brought down, among other things, as president Kennedy was assassinated and declared dead--presented by Peter Gizzi during a traveling lecture on Jack Spicer. You watched an Italian and Spanish film about the dispersed body of a bull. It becomes dog biscuits that an actress tries to sell in a grocery store and something weird happens to its heart or eyes. You couldn't find a record of that movie anywhere, which is really weird.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holy shit. Claire Hero.

I first heard about Claire Hero through Ross and we both agree that she is a damn fine poet of the body. (We've been emailing back and forth about her this week--more on that later--so please know that many of my comments here have surfaced from these emails). Saying "of the body" always seems a little weird to me, but she's really onto to something physically, more than physically, the bodily nature of everything. She's attune to animal-ness, the meat of it all, the violence of being so bodily body--the sexuality therein, caregiving, killing, the fluids of all that. "I knit a sheep house, I knit // a sheep house for my body..." She's so brilliant at combining something natural, something animal, something made from animal, and animal making. (Ross says this makes him think of "the wonderful opening to Lyotard's Libidinal Economy"). Doors come up quite often in Claire Hero's poetry and it's this sheep house, this animal world, this acknowledgement of being an animal that will be entered again and again. "Animals he takes apart" : "He knows what the meat wants".

In her poem, "The Night Was Animal," Hero wordbuilds through word splices: "owlmaw," "preyclaw," "meatbeasts". She addresses "Crackbone," a cowboyishness on the range, out in the woods type, a force of death and dismemberment. What gets established, what killers we all are, even in our night doings, even though these doings don't stop just because of night: "& still the forest continues, the linespeed never slows". The carcasses keep coming and coming. In Ross's words, it's the carnivorous grotesquerie--so beautiful and so gross that we can't look away--repulsed and attracted to what we are, animals and death, both yarn and kitty. We need this poet.

Have a listen to [The Night Was Animal], which you can find in her book Sing, Mongrel and her chapbook, afterpastures. Claire Hero is going to be reading here in Brooklyn this weekend for Yardmeter. You should come.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I've Been Saltered

After hearing two of my friends debate whether or not anal sex was the sport or the pastime, I knew I had to read James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime. At least four times a year, a really good piece of fiction comes my way, comes your way, and they somehow manage to change our thinking forever. I kind of wonder why the guy isn't a poet, but I'll take what he has, you know, any way he wants it.

Salter's Faulknerian, Hemingwayishness of story-telling combines a sort of lush spareness with decisive imagery. Or maybe it's not even imagery. I don't really care what these characters look like or what the room looks like, but they all seem to be in a place that I know, in time that I can feel passing. I'm trying to say Salter's prose has movement, Alice Munro movement. "They have turned off the light. In the room there is a huge armoire, a wicker basket, chairs. A metal tree on which garments can be hung. The ceiling is very high. In its center--one's eyes must be accustomed to the dark--a grotesque fixture. The hours pass. She is pinioned on the bed, her arms trapped beneath her, her legs forced wide. Her eyes are closed. The radio is playing Sucu Sucu. The world has stopped. Oceans still as photographs. Galaxies floating down. Her cunt tastes sweet as fruit" (64). Who doesn't want to read more? It jumps and pivots and sometimes just kind of floats. I usually throw up on airplanes, but I made myself finish this book on my journey home. I just couldn't go through another day with it unread.

There's so much to say, but I'm kind of tired from my flight. Change is something I think about often, what really changes someone, if anyone changes. I used to think that place changed a person, that you could be anything if you were in the right place. After reading A Sport and a Pastime, I wonder if it isn't physical love, not even love really, but someone else's flesh that makes you feel alive or scared a bit, definitely more yourself. Change through physical discovery--that's what I scribbled on the top of page 123 anyway.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Airplane Movie Reviews

Quantum of Solace:
Better with the sound off.

500 Days of Summer:
When are these kids going to leave their office-like internship and go back to class? Aren't they going to be late for class? The principal is going to be pissed! He may call their parents!

The Proposal:
Better with the sound off. You know when they're talking about boobs because they point to them!! You know she's a mean business woman because she can't climb down stairs and wears a suit!! With high heels!!

Grease 2:
Sorry, but it's kind of cute as hell. And I like that Paulette is over thirty and has smoker's voice.

Madonna: Truth or Dare:
Oddly, this is edited really well. It's interesting listening to her talk to her parents. The painter and poet Francis Picabia was really interested in the anti-Madonna, the motherless woman, the one you didn't have to feel bad about. Madonna's "Daddy" wanted to know if he could attend her show both nights and if it was going to be "racy."

New in Town:
Another mean business woman in heels. She totally needs a man! She changes because of the town! She learns something about people!

Lesbian Vampire Killers:
Ha ha. Fooled you. I didn't see this on a plane. I haven't seen this one.

The International:
There's a woman in it because...

Love Happens:
Oy.

Ghost Town:
Nicely confusing with the sound off.

Penelope:
Christina Ricci always seems like someone I'd like to know, I mean really. I think it's her face. Who is Mark Palansky and how did he come to direct such a pretty-looking movie?

I am Legend:
Okay. I didn't see this on an airplane, but in a theater. My apartment building stars in this movie! It was even on a subway poster!

I started this post because I thought it would be funny, but now I feel sad.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"'Bout the rebel yell, 'bout the one that fell..."

With the ONE beautiful, amazing, lovely person who showed up to my reading in Richmond, Virginia, the old man and I snuck into the Hollywood Cemetery. More than 18,000 confederate soldiers are interred there, as well as Jefferson Davis, Presidents Monroe and Tyler, and some other Civil War generals. The confederate soldiers are memorialized by a mortarless pyramid that is around ninety feet tall. We were hankering to see the pyramid, especially after my friend described a sound show that she'd like to do, featuring a recording of the confederate rebel yell, which sounds like a pack of dogs, bees, mosquitoes, and a bubble maker in tall grass. Have a listen:




After we jumped the first fence, the three of us dodged the security guard by wrapping ourselves together around a large holly tree, Bugs Bunny style. I'm thinking the guard saw us and let us go to our destination. (By the way, I warned the old man not to talk to the guard, if it came to that. The old man is from Massachusetts, knows how to pronounce wine correctly, says "O Geez" fairly often, all of which does not go over well to local law enforcement. I can whip out some southern if I have to and our friend sure could've and I think the two of us gals would've come up with some form of romantic excuse for being in the graveyard with one speechless man; I have done this in a cow pasture after all).

The pyramid was quite a site, pointing high into the cool night air. We were too afraid to use the flash, for fear of being caught, so this is an over-exposed night photo of bricks carried up from the James River. Do you think the guard thinks I'm a ghost? After a very harrowing climb over a high back gate, one of us lost a sock in the cemetery.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's No Seven-Up, But It's Fascinating

The most comprehensive longitudinal studies in the United States began in the 1940's at Harvard. Arlie Bock started surveying men as early as 1937 to see what made them normal, healthy men. The study is comprised of 268 men from the Harvard classes of 1942, 1943, and 1944. One of these men was president, four have run for Senate, and one took a spill while drunk and died. The study was designed to determine what factors lead to a normal life, normal being sort of loosely, 1940ishly, Harvardly defined as being stable enough to be successful. Totally problematic, but interesting nonetheless in that it was one of the first studies of its kind to focus on what makes people live a long, healthy, and perhaps happy life.

From the time of the study's inception, the 268 men annually undergo a physical examination and answer survey questions. Quite a bit of work, right? The study has been running under the leadership of George Vaillant, who took it over in 1967 when it was barely surviving. His charismatic approach to the study, it seems, has contributed to the study's survival of seventy-two years, which is also Vaillant's age. He's written two books about the study, Adaptation to Life (1977) and Aging Well (2002). Although he is now in an ancillary position, he still seems deeply affected by the lives of these men, focusing on the story of their lives as a way of understanding what it means to be able to live a well-adjusted life. A small number of them are still living, in their 80's, but most of them are deceased. Many of the men, 80% of them, fought in World War II, most of them apparently seeing heavy combat, so the study has been a useful tool for understanding PTSD.

I first read about this study in the June 2009 issue of the Atlantic, in an article entitled, "What Makes Us Happy?" written by Joshua Wolf Shenk. (He's the author of Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness). The article is written so well that I would hope Mr. Shenk would write the definitive book about this Harvard study. Mr. Shenk sifted through the thick records and directly addresses some of these anonymous men while reporting on the history of the study and study's potential findings. I leave you with one of the addresses, but first want to take a moment, let it settle in a bit, to think about what it means to study someone's lifetime, their life span. Vaillant's approach is very clinical, regardless of how touched or influenced he is by these men's lives, and he says, "...when someone dies, I finally know what happened to them." It's a weird truth, hard to stomach, and he's had to do it so many times.

Joshua Wolf Shenk, to Case No. 47:
"You ducked the war, as a conscientious objector. 'I've answered a great many questions,' you wrote in your 1946 survey. 'Now I'd like to ask you people a couple of questions. By what standards of reason are you calling people 'adjusted' these days?' ...You married young and did odd jobs... You said you wanted to be a writer, but that looked like a distant dream. You started drinking. ...By 1964 you wrote, 'Really tie one on about twice a week...' ...'I've never been more productive, and I'm a little wary of rocking the boat right now by going on a clean living kick...' ...In the early 1970's Dr. Vaillant came to see you in your small apartment... ...You told Dr. Vaillant he should read Joseph Heller on the unrelieved tragedy of conventionally successful businessmen. ...You went on to a very productive career, and became an important figure in the gay-rights movement. ...You died at age 64, when you fell down the stairs of your apartment building."


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Syllabus: Samurai Films



Films:

Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa)
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (Kenji Misumi)
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (Kenji Misumi)
Samurai Assassin (Kihachi Okamoto)
Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa)
Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita)
Samurai Trilogy: Miyamoto Musashi (Yoji Yamada)
Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano)
Samurai Reincarnation (Kenji Fukasaku)
Sword of Doom (Kihachi Okamoto)
Twilight Samurai (Yoji Yamada)
Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa)

Field Trips:
Art of the Samurai, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Course Objectives:
The way of the warrior is to live to die. Weird titillating breast-feeding scenes: discuss. Comments on culture. How a samurai sword is made. Committing seppuku. The battle is never won. In-class homemade blood packets blood splatterings: wear clothes you don't care about. Actor as swordsman as actor. Bandits, ronin, samurai: chart qualities of all. Who's running this country. If you cut off their topknots, they will be so dishonored that they'll kill themselves. Oy rape scenes galore: why. How did death become honorable. Wait--where's his sword--oh shit how did he do that. Compare Kurosawa's version to all. Is a duel challenge a form of bragging or a wish to die. How to remain calm. What is the samurai code.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

There's More in the Fridge If You Want Some

Today I cooked sweet potato soup from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Soups. I kind of jumped the gun because sweet potatoes are technically a winter vegetable and it's not quite cold enough. (Do you feel you can bring winter on by wearing hats and scarves when it's not quite cold enough? I do). (This is when I get embarrassed and smile funny). I had a country bumpkin moment while food shopping--ah! but that what's New Yorkers say. New Yorkers say they go FOOD shopping, not GROCERY shopping. Is a yam the same thing as a sweet potato? I couldn't find sweet potatoes, so I naturally assumed that Yams were the Northern version. The sign next to the yams said that a yam is technically a sweet potato. I tried to call the old man's mother, but she didn't pick up. When I'm in Louisiana, we buy sweet potatoes from roadside stands.

Deborah Madison wanted quince in the soup, but I couldn't find it, so I used three tart apples that I picked while I was upstate. I like this soup because the stock contained apple cores which is cute as hell. It's nice to cook with all that stuff instead of throwing it all away. I like how Madison and her people construct the recipes and word the directions. Listen to this: After a few minutes, when the wine has reduced by half or so, pour the stock through a strainer right over the vegetables. Pretty nice, right?

I love cooking. Sometimes I want to invite the neighbors I know from the elevator over for dinner. I wish I had a long bench and when the person in the middle wanted something, we would all have to touch it. I love it when I think I'm done cooking and can finally eat, but wait there's something I forgot about that I have to go get, and shouldn't I squeeze out a pie while I'm up? At long last, that first bite is always so good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Please Don't Change That Grit


Streamers hang from a string of lanterns and confetti is peppered about the floor, along with balloons that have lost their umph. Be careful that you don't step on the sword that also rests on the floor. Did someone leave it there or was it thrown there? Circled about are chairs, as though people had been talking and on one chair rests a large head-mask, mustached and staring only where it can stare. The mask will return in another photograph by Paolo Ventura, as well as the sword, but in this photo, titled "2:00 a.m." the mask and sword and the room itself are at rest. The party is over, the space has been cleared, and the piano waits for people to play it once again.


The photographs of Paolo Ventura are of miniature sets that he constructs. The old man and I first came across his work in the latest issue of Harper's and you can see the portfolio here. Ventura's work is not miniature but of miniature. His sets boldly have people, circus performers or just people in their hats and coats walking down the street, not that that's that bold, but the figures themselves look like old dolls or toys that look like people. There's a new grit being explored in these sets... the clown with the dirty gloves, the sword swallower performing on a dirty stage to no one, the soiled-apron waiter looking out the window of an empty restaurant. There's always a feeling of departure, someone heading home, someone dressed up in a bird mask with no one around to see, a figure who holds a brief case and looks through a gate. (The soundtrack here coming from the gritty musicianship including the likes of Sunset Rubdown, Department of Eagles, Phoenix, and Grizzly Bear. Maybe Beirut. Maybe Devotchka.)


Ventura's work reminds me of lonely afternoons of Sicilian siesta, when everyone would drop everything, eat a huge lunch followed by a nap. The only people out were the leather bracelet makers from Africa, the drunk flip-flop salesman, or the occasional mother rocking a restless child. It was so quiet you could drag a stick on a wall and no one would tell you to stop. You could peak in someone's window and see something similar to "Table for Four," stacked dirty dishes, crumbs everywhere, empty bottles of wine, a pan with grease waiting to be scrubbed, the smell of pasta lingering.

Paolo Ventura was born in Milan but now lives in New York. His collection of photographs entitled Winter Stories accompanies me sick in bed today. I will flip and flip and flip through them, piecing the stories together, noting the footsteps or tire tracks in the sooty snow. He has a show here in the city pretty soon. Come with me when I'm all better?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It All Started This Day Thirty Something Years Ago


Today's the day. The old man spelled "happy" across the floor with books. Health care barely passed, but it passed. In the photo my father and I are devouring a watermelon, my favorite thing to do. The only bad thing about living in the city, really, is that we don't get good watermelon here. It's always a little pink, not too hearty. If you don't agree with me, I'm driving you to Louisiana in July and you'll see. You'll say I told you so. Behind me is a white salt shaker. It's a Southern delicacy to sprinkle salt on watermelon. Those days are over for me, you know, because of my age, but I sure do miss that simple weird taste.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Human Zoo, Closed on Mondays

I've been to see quite a few shows recently, well more than normal since all the musicians I like are apparently autumnal travelers. At a rather disappointing Noah and the Whale show, I couldn't help but note the human zoo-ness of it all, the light on everyone's faces, the guy next to me hornily looking at the woman next to him and the curly headed kid not to far ahead of me who could've very well have been my kid because he looked like a cool kid. (I'm so sorry for not liking Noah and the Whale. I wanted to so badly because I really liked most of their first album. I haven't yet watched the film that accompanies their new album, so maybe that will change how I reacted. For further aside, the lead singer of Noah and the Whale is the fourth or fifth English performer who commented on how polite his American audience was. Really? Do you really think your fans are the stupid ones? Come on.)

It's funny how we all show up at events to watch whatever, to see what we think may be greatness, some of us totally unaware of who we're even sitting next to. When I travel, I always try start up conversations with people, you know if someone asks me to take her photograph or something like that. It's no secret that I generally don't like to go the movie theater as much as everyone else does because I find it to be total sensory overload. (More on that later...) It's so weird to me that we all pay a rather high fee to go stare at a large amount of light, sitting next to strangers in total darkness, wanting it to be darker, and then we all leave--with sad faces if the movie was sad, etc. I just want to know why everyone is there and who they are really. It's a type of connected disconnect I guess.

When I used to visit my grandmother in Grenada, Mississippi, she would take me to Wal-Mart and we'd sit in the car, watching people go by. She would call me Sugar and point someone out that she thought I should see. One of the best human zoo experiences I've had was when the old man and I saw the, correct me if I'm wrong the old man is sleeping right now, Olafur Eliasson exhibit at MOMA. There was one room filled with orange light and when you walked into it, your sense of color as you knew it transformed everything into black and white. It was as though I was suddenly in Casablanca and it was time to kiss Bogart. I immediately turned to the old man, who was already flipping out, and said something about how film noir the light was. We sat down on a nearby bench, took off our coats, rolled up our sleeves, just to see what our skin looked like under the weird light. I could've sat on that bench for a year, watching people react to the orange light. Some people didn't get it at all and made funny you-call-this-art faces while others, I could tell, were thinking they'd just stepped into a black and white movie too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Visitations

Louisiana fog is a weird kind of fog. You can sort of see the sun behind it, like in San Francisco, but Spanish moss makes the whole thing unsettling. On the way out to the cemetery I visit every time I come home, we pass a huge bayou filled with ducks and a few egrets. The ducks walk over to a nearby gas station that has a donut shop. Anyway, while at the fog-filled cemetery, my mom saw a chicken not too far off from where we were standing, the place our family always stands when we go out there. Did the chicken escape from a farm? I also wondered if maybe someone was recently practicing voodoo, but chickens involved with voodoo are generally sacrificed. They say most houses in New Orleans have chicken heads buried in the backyards. The fog has burned off and I remember now that I wanted to write about a certain hate-filled, conservative town, but all I can think about is that chicken. I hope it doesn't get hit by a lawnmower.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I've Already Been Called a Yankee Three Times This Trip

My niece/sister complained that she was surrounded by Yankees on the way to my folks' house in the middle of Louisiana. She was sitting between the old man and I. He, clearly, is a Yankee, who pauses before answering most southerners because he doesn't want to say the wrong thing or he didn't understand what was said to him. Am I a Yankee? I remember the first time my niece/sister asked me what a Yankee was. We'd been at a family reunion and apparently she heard someone call me that. When I was in college, I had a friend who thought anyone who lived north of Shreveport, Louisiana was a Yankee.

So maybe I'm part Yankee, no? Is that even allowed? At a wedding this weekend someone asked me if I was originally from Brooklyn and I found myself saying yes. She looked so impressed. The old man corrected me, of course, explaining that I had southern people and the whole moving around thing. Tonight, while at an all-you-can-eat soul food buffet restaurant, our waitress kept calling me baby and asked me if I was okay and did I want more sticky buns. I wanted so badly to say yes ma'am and thank you very much, but all I could muffle out was oh yes and thanks. My mouth was full of sweet potatoes and I felt like I didn't have any manners, but really I hate manners and I hate even more that I felt embarrassed for not having much of a southern accent. I just wanted her to stay talking.

It is the end of squirrel hunting season and the beginning of deer hunting season. In the middle of Louisiana, many folk are walking around in weird camo or orange pants. It's unsettling, knowing what they're doing out there in the woods, the camo being so obvious, the shooting, the killing, the skinning, and the potential eating. Someone's freezer is gointabe full, you know what I'm sayin? I know what your pants mean, you know what I'm sayin?


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Laura Marling on a Warm October Night


The old man and I went to see Laura Marling play last night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, which used to be known as North Six. The old man and I went on our first date there, standing awkwardly next to each other as Dirty Rainbow blasted out our ear drums.

I was incredibly looking forward to seeing Laura Marling and didn't at all expect her voice to be so drippingly soulful. Her album really doesn't do it justice. Her voice (in person) is edgier and textured, like looking at a painting after having seen the print. She sang songs from her second album, which sounds pretty damn good.

Laura Marling sparks in me the (VERY) occasional comfort I have with growing older. It's nice to grow older if it means you get to see young people like her come along. I don't mean in any following-in-my-footsteps, bullshitty kind of way. What I mean to say is that all is not lost because someone comes after you, someone really great, someone within your lifetime. I guess this goes without saying, but I was filled with so much admiration while watching Laura Marling on stage. Her new songs are so wise in this brilliant but structured sort of way and you can't help but want to sit her down and say where did you get it? She truly is awe-inspiring.



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Hat Box Has Come Down

I've been hunkering down with Bernd Heinrich's Winter World, which details how animals survive during winter. When bears hibernate, their heartbeats slow down to almost eight or less per minute. Some turtles bury themselves in mud and can hold their breath for thirty of winter's coldest days. The winter world of the book is focused on New England, as Heinrich resides in Maine and Vermont. (New England winters are easy to romanticize, especially if you're not from there. Have you ever been night skiing on lantern lit lanes? Sigh now). My only complaint about the book is that Heinrich often takes babies (a flying squirrel baby to be exact) from their sleeping mothers and takes nests home with him to study. Can't he observe without stealing?

Anyway, snowshoe hares change from brown to white during winter. The color change takes about a month, which can make hares a target for predators during early snowfall (and they are still brown) or late snowfall; the hares turn completely white by late November. Heinrich wonders if the hares know about their color change, that they are practically invisible once they are white. Heinrich writes, "I doubt that a hare knows whether or not it is invisible because the totally white hares I've seen on brown background made no apparent effort to hide" (26). I couldn't help but think about Rilke's "The Eighth Elegy," which addresses how, according to Rilke, animals aren't encumbered by death because they, more or less, aren't hampered by the world. He establishes the idea of the Open, an eternal/God-type realm, a forward sort of place that isn't the future. We are so apart of the world, we think, that when we die we leave this world. Only when we are close to death are we over it. Rilke writes, "For close to death one sees death no longer/ and stares out instead, perhaps with the wide gaze of animals" (lines 22-23). Rilke couldn't be talking about any real animals, just the animals of example, eating their berries and nibbling their hind quarters until they get hit by a car or something. Who can say what animals are and aren't aware of, but the idea that on the animals v. human scale, one of us contributes to a cycle of life while the other takes the Harold and Maud approach, to live life to the fullest because you aren't going to be around forever. Sounds as though it were freeing, right? But we know it's just a confident sort of fear, a fear with tree planting and hearse stealing...

Heinrich often reminds me that the chipmunks and the snowshoe hares will be eaten, will be the winter meal of another animal desperate to overload on calories before cozying up with its young somewhere safe. Have a listen to "The Eighth Elegy" by Rainer Maria Rilke, from his Duino Elegies translated by Edward Snow.


Monday, October 19, 2009

More Eyes that Slant, More Woolens


We left the city yesterday in windy rainy weather for the last day of the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. For the first time I saw cashmere sheep and Leicesters (they have fur not wool), and petted some Alpaca and merino sheep. The whole thing about livestock is so weird. Livestock. When eating becomes feeding, a year before dying. We just sort of take everything from these scared little creatures: their bones become plates, their milk for cheese, their wool becomes yarn, this yarn becomes superwash merino that I'm going to knit into socks. I worked on a sheep farm and we always knew that before winter, most of the lambs would be loaded up and sent to Blood Slaughterhouse. Even my friend #4 who would ram my butt while I was changing out the water.

After livestock we went to Woodstock where friends of ours just had twins. The babies were sleeping in two baskets on their living room table. I read books to their toddler and one of the babies woke up and puked on one of my friends. It seemed so nice, being new, sleeping wherever someone puts you, being little. One of the trees outside their house had turned bright red. Funny how October is almost over.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Children Are you Still Feral

Last night I asked the old man if there could possibly be feral children running around, you know the kind that run with the wolves and tigers, the kind that don't know language, the kind who scratch. In the old man's cynic ease he said something about terrible parents who abandon their children, you know, of course there are feral children running around. Who is the cynic here: the one who thinks the world is too picked over, that there is no more such thing as being feral OR the one who thinks a feral child is a product of the ultimate human abandonment. I have a friend who went backpacking around the world and she said that everywhere she went, she stepped on a soda can or plastic bottle, even in freezing temperatures, even in the jungle.

I started Bhanu Kapil's Humanimal last night. The text itself is kind of strange, switching between a large print narrative, the writings of Reverend Joseph Singh (the man who found two girls living among wolves), and Kapil's journey through her research of the two girls' story as Singh tries to make them upright. I couldn't take my eyes off the photograph of the two girls, given to Kapil by Singh's great-great-granddaughter. The girls are lying naked on top of animal pelts (?) or blankets in the middle of perhaps a grassy field/road next to a white building. They are both little and their hair is shorn to their scalps. One of the girls sleeps fetal and the other sleeps over her. I want to be both of them at the same time, their comfort and discomfort, long toes, longish arms, someone you don't want to put a blanket over.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

List: Temporal Art

  • light on hair
  • heirloom tomato salad
  • food in teeth
  • wet receipts
  • nestlike pile of cat hair behind the door
  • where sneezes land
  • breathing newspaper in the subway
  • tired eyes
  • you know what
  • two bikes locked together (they love each other!)
  • pile of roasted vegetables, mostly orange
  • falling asleep with a book
  • falling asleep with a pen
  • steamed milk in coffee

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tunnels Mean Something But I'm Not Sure What

Apparently things open up in New York City in Autumn. For example, the cemetery on East 3rd Street opens up briefly around this time. I took the old man there on our first date, but another couple were graphically pursuing their own strange romantic inclinations on the hood of a nearby car, all of us locked out with no mausoleums or grave markers to hide in/behind, so we continued on to my favorite yarn store.

Open now is the Atlantic Avenue subway tunnel, the first in New York City. It was once part of the Long Island Railroad, which made stops to Brooklyn when Brooklyn was a wee village. The old man and I had to climb down a man hole into the tunnel and I have to say that I was disappointed by its mere four steps on a precarious ladder. I wanted many steps, I sort of wanted to fall, to go down into the depths, I wanted it to be harder to get to. There are tunnels like this all over the city, well, all under the city, and it seems strange that these old structures aren't that out of reach. Also, I was very afraid that a rat was going to run across my foot, but there weren't any rats in the uninhabited tunnel.


The man who found the tunnel talked to us about all kinds of interesting New York City facts, but the old man had to retell them because I wasn't really listening. I was wondering why all the other people had come, what happened to the woman who was pooped on by a bird while we waiting in line, how come I stupidly bought an environmentally friendly flashlight that charges when shaken in a weird masturbatory way and gives off minimal light, how a tall happy man climbed down the manhole while carrying a baby, if I could carry a baby and climb down a manhole.


Do you remember a band called Frente? I don't know what happened to them, but they had one album which has the best cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle." While in the tunnel I hummed a song of theirs, about you and me and a tunnel of love, but I was surrounded by strangers, and the words actually are you and me and the labor (labour) of love. I kept tripping on old railroad ruts, sort of hearing a story about horses freaking out next to the trains down there. How long do you think I could've been alone down there?




We had to leave before the end of the tunnel tour, but at least we heard the story about how the laborers shot and tore apart their overseer, burying him in the tunnel. A half hour late, we jumped on our bikes and rushed away into a day that had warmed on the city.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dumplings and Trumpets: Chris Martin

To call a book of poetry beautiful is somewhat problematic, but I like problematic so I'll go ahead: Chris Martin's American Music is an incredibly beautiful beautiful book of poetry. The difficulty in calling something beautiful is that it's such an over-achiever of a word. What words are you supposed to say after? Calling something beautiful means you've been rendered speechless, that (fuck!) there just may not be a word to describe your reactions to American Music. Nevertheless, I am comfortable with being arrested (uh, in the poetry sense) and will carry on.

American Music is a book that drives in and out of art and film, in and out of daily routine, in and out of literature, of city and subway, the people around. If you're new to the city, you should read this book. If you're turning older, if your age isn't giving you leverage or grants you a kind of leverage that make young people call you SIR or MAIM, or if your age is a reminder that someday you will die because you will grow so old that you will die, you should read this book.

Perversion is a prevailing worry throughout the book. Is someone becoming a dirty old man? Dirty being there all the while yet brought further out by age or city life. Worse yet, being a dirty old man means there is no boys-will-be-boys boyhood anymore, that somehow everything must be accounted for. "...not often am I/ Prepared for violence," Martin writes in "Fertility for Dummies", "though I find it/ Natural, in me as in/ The World, and it remains/ Revolting, the brief/ Desire to trample something/ Living, loving certain/ Registers of collapse..." What you see in that there quote is the beauty prior mentioned and also the italics, the way Martin infuses all his poems with a long list of writers and artists.

Something else I'd like to point out is that the poems sort of wind their way down to their closings. Martin doesn't stop much for punctuation outside of a comma and a question mark, and the poems make their way, connecting phrase after phrase, either making long Faulkneresque sentences or doing away with sentences altogether, to make room for thought. It's easy to get used to and it's fun teaching myself how to listen to the phrase, how to make it work as I read, while somehow becoming a better writer and thinker because of it.

Have a listen to "Subcutaneous Concerns." There are two New Yorky references in this poem, the first being Neckface, the tag of a graffiti artist here in town, and the second being the Gowanus Canal, a canal in Brooklyn that five east-west bridges cross over. Chris Martin is going to be reading near there this weekend for Yardmeter.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fantasy Feature No. 23

Those poor pieces of painted linen. This was the plan: you'll paint them then you'll trace something on them with pastels. Boy howdy you thought pastels were oily and not chalky and your pastels turned into dust when you started to draw on the painted fabric. Only you can't draw for shit. So you hooked up your computer to the old man's projector and practiced tracing photographs on brown paper. You were up on a ladder, holding onto the wall, you'd been thinking on this for months, and the shapes were so beautiful. The old man said hmm and don't you want to cover the books. The paper was lovely and the pastel glided over it and you thought fuck this might be working, but your childhood rocking chair you traced looked like something out of Tron. You had one and your sister had one and now no one can sit in them. Everyone is too big and you suck at everything.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Are You Still Blushing From Last Night? I Am

I've written about hands before, how I think you can tell what instrument someone plays by the way he or she holds his or her hands. (Really, is it so wrong to use their here?) My former cello teacher has the most celloie looking hands you've ever seen. Anyway, I noticed in grad school that most of the poets I know use a kind of staid circular motion while talking with their hands. Their palms tend to point to themselves and their hands sort of balloon around them. Almost all of the painters I know hand-talk in squares, as though everything were some sort of canvas. Up and wide, space, light these hands say.

Well, at last night's reading, I met two women who are modern dancers. Their hands spoke in swirls and swoops. I don't think the women knew each other, but they reached far and wide with their hands, somehow encompassing their whole bodies--hands as hips when the hips are sitting. I wanted both of them to invite me to their performances, but they didn't. I guess I'm happy enough just watching them talk.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fantasy Feature No. 1

Will you forget everything when you die. Will you be smoking a cigar in a lawn chair. What is all blackness like. Who will remember you and does it matter. Will it be painful. Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof says you have to feel pain to know you're alive. Barf. What will it be, in the end--too much drinking, too much salt, not enough fiber. What did you do well in your lifetime. Are you going to be this bitchy in heaven. What if what you believe is where you go in the end. You want to stay here and do stuff. You want to be a ghost so you can watch people having sex. You mean, you want to be a ghost and protect your family, friends. You want to be a ghost traveler. You will hold your breath for a long time when you're a ghost and you won't scare anyone. Is what you do totally empty because you will die. Bring your old dog Daisy. Bring chocolate cookies. You met a man who rolled cigars for a living. You lost a lace shirt your grandmother gave. What are you supposed to do with all this yarn. You want so badly to be Hob from The Sandman.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Love My City, Part One

Last week the old man, along with Steven and his lady, went to see a play on a boat. The boat is the decommissioned Lilac (a former Lighthouse Tender) and resides tied to a pier in Manhattan. The play was a rather sloppy, uh, thing inspired by Herman Melville's The Confidence Man. What was incredibly fun was that the play took place all over the boat--little scenes here, little scenes there--and attendees were allowed to walk about the boat, as many scenes were happening simultaneously. The audience was split into different groups who had to follow different docents and if you stayed with your docent, then you could follow one story line throughout the ship.

Besides being free of charge, something I liked about the play was that it couldn't really decide if it wanted to be old-timey or current-timey. Some characters were dressed in fashionable shorts and t-shirts while others wore vests and dresses from a different era. This amalgamation seemed to affect the language of the play, inspired by different times, but captivated by the pressures of now.

Oddly enough the docents were almost a little better than the play. (The docents were actors. They use their hands when they speak! They say funny things! They speak loudly without losing their voices!) Our docent was a chirpy ribbon-clad pony-tailed comedian who began fighting (like I'm never sleeping with you again and you're a bad actor fighting) with one of the actors, who in turn ridiculed her after each scene. She had this quirky way of telling jokes as though she were just sort of talking to us (listen, she said, for the secret word and you will win a prize), so no one really knew if we should laugh or not. But then we laughed and she invited us to pick up flyers for her comedy group's performance.

A play on a boat. It's such a great idea. I loved the swaying and rocking and the smell and the tiny staircases that I had to climb backwards. I'm really glad I went, but I was wondering how come I haven't been to any poetry readings on a boat.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I've Got Your Back, Flarf

My friends who don't write poetry and claim to "not get it" like to pull me aside, sit me down and have conversations about how silly it all is and why do I bother with it. The past two conversations like this, most recently, have begun, "you know, the thing about poetry is..." and "poets should be more assessable..." and I squish my nose defensively and if the old man is around, our eyes say O JOY. One thing I'd like to say is that I really never hear people attacking other art-generators as much as I hear poets being attacked (not that other writers/artists aren't questioned about their difficult material). For instance, I didn't understand one of my friend's paintings and asked him what it was all about. He said the image was from a film. I felt bad that I hadn't seen the film and put it into my Netflix que right away. Please note that I didn't say, "You know, Artist Friend, why can't you paint flowers to look like vaginas? Why did you have to make this so hard for me? Why did you have to make me feel as though there was something in the world I hadn't yet experienced?"

Anyway, what I eventually talk about with non-poets, after the definition for what is assessable has been established and pissed on, is that there are many different kinds of poetry out there and there is, I think, a poet that every person can feel comfortable reading. We're kind of like sweaters, really. The last two conversations I had, I mentioned Flarf because I knew those friends were pretty internet savvy and I thought they'd find it interesting, which they did. Luckily, Katie Degentesh's The Anger Scale was nearby and the old man read "I Loved My Father." I like the way Flarf shuts people up while they are thinking. It's funny, watching the change come over someone's face when they find that something they thought was going to be meaningless is actually the opposite, is quite thoughtfully constructed and provocative. If (IF) most new poetry is disconnected, disjointed, and full of stuff because the world is, because we're going to die and we don't want it to be meaningless and we can't help it and we're hopeless, Flarf, at least for me, is a kind of poetry that has its own nook, its own unique gesture of meaning taken from information floating out there.

Sorry about the loud train! I didn't have time to unplug all my external hard drives to record in the bathroom, which is what I usually do. Listen to "I Loved My Father" here:


Monday, September 21, 2009

Swallow This And Love It

  • Poemland by Chelsey Minnis
  • concord grapes
  • pancake squash
  • The Cow by Ariana Reines
  • wheat stamp
  • new orange journal
  • The Malady of Death by Marguerite Duras
  • Hush Sessions by Kristi Maxwell
  • Mad Men, Season 2
  • My Kafka Century by Arielle Greenberg
  • Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine
  • last of the last sweet corn

Friday, September 18, 2009

Autumn With Very Little Assurance

Well, the sky has been repeatedly cloudy and the air has cooled, making me talk of pants. I even wore a shirt with sleeves on it. Autumn is my favorite time of year, when things begin to die and acorn squash becomes available. The old man and I are traveling upstate this weekend for a reading tomorrow (do you live in Ithaca--please say yes), and I plan to bring home some fallen leaves for leaf etchings. Also, I plan to go apple picking--my favorite ever thing to do. The old man and I even have a routine where I climb on his shoulders to pick the apples that little kids can't pick. Their sticky faces look up at us and they usually run away to tell their parents and I also usually get caught by the staff, climbing the trees.

I didn't knit the sweater I'd plan to and it seems that our government is going to fart away health care. I don't watch television (other than what Netflix sends me and what I find on the Internet) but I guess I was drinking some weird water and began to doubt why Obama went after health care in the first place. Then I watched Michael Moore's Sicko the night before last and I was reminded what it all was about. I need to figure out a way to move to France or Norway. How is it that medicine that costs $120 dollars costs less than 2 pesos in Cuba? What we've allowed to happen is criminal. Big companies have bought the U.S. government and there's nothing I can do about it.

It was so rainy all summer that it seems autumn has crept in sort of uninvited. There may be one or two hot-flash days, but the last warm day was Tuesday. Just like that I have to start thinking about pumpkin pie and move my sun dresses to the back of the closet. Out comes the corduroy. Maybe I'll throw a Christmas party this year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Voting by way of Fascism Through Democracy

Oy. I just voted in the NYC primaries for a city council member, a mayoral candidate, comptroller, and public advocate. Here were some of my choices:

Chode # 1



You can't tell here, but her hair is red--rrrow. She is the only woman running for city council in my district.

Chode # 2


This candidate claims he will clean up local politics. He even mailed me a picture of himself taking a broom to the street. Would he mind using said broom in the Atlantic subway stop? While there, I saw a rat so big we made eye contact.

Chode # 3


This candidate mailed me a photo of himself talking to latino children! He had his sleeves rolled up! He wasn't wearing a tie! He's supported by the New York Times!

Sadly, folk around here say your mayoral vote is a wash. Our current billionaire mayor has bullied the current city council into allowing him to run for a third term as an independent. He has outspent everyone else and I wish I could say that doesn't mean anything, that my vote meant something.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Current Vices

Ra Ra Riot. (Inde-pop with string instruments! Causes giggling and dancing around the living room! This caused a late arrival to Dan's house). Late arrivals. Chocolate plus pistachios. Sticky notes. The Fitness Guru. (Exercise isn't a vice per say, but the trainers are former dancers and totally hot, smart. Great place for more than one girl crush. Think about it: when was the last time you jumped on a trampoline to Jane's Addiction?) Mighty Leaf tea. (It's awfully pretty.) CoinSide Accordion Book. (It opens and closes! And you can add to it!) True Blood. I once knew a girl named Vicie in high school. Raspberry vodka gimlets. Fuck You, Penguin. Thinking about owning a house. Heirloom tomatoes. Morbid Anatomy. Downtown Yarns. Afternoon cappuccino. Finally, this spoof:



Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to Ride an Airplane in Four Easy Steps

Step 1. Arrive at the airport fifteen minutes earlier than you'd normally want. You may use this time to have a glass of champagne or Scotch before boarding.

Step 2. Do not fight with TSA people. Flirt with them. Tell them you think they LIKE watching you put on your shoes. Tell them you would have knitted something for them if you'd known what colors they like. Ask them if they like your orange luggage. Say, let's take off our coats together. Also, do not fight with the old man. Tell him his cell phone is in his pocket, you can see it sticking out a little bit above his butt crack.

Step 3. After you're in the air, order one gin and tonic, one Mr. and Mrs. T bloody Mary mix, water in ice, and hot water for tea. You may now nibble on the food you brought: almonds, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple or orange, Australian licorice.

Step 4. Always do something. Write in your journal, read a comic book, knit. Never never never watch television. If you do watch television, only watch it with the sound off. You'd be surprised. Always bring ginger gum in case you feel sick. Also, always pack lightly. You don't need underwear every day, right?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Syllabus: Native American Literature

Texts:

House Made of Dawn by M. Scott Momaday
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Here First: Autobiographical Esssays by Native American Writers edited by Arnold Krupat and Brian Swann
Riding the Earthboy 40 by James Welch
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
American Indian Literatures edited by LaVonne Brown Ruoff

Film:
Black Robe directed by Bruce Beresford
Smoke Signals directed by Chris Eyre
Incident at Oglala directed by Michael Apted
The Exiles directed by Kent Mackenzie

Music:

Mariee Sioux, Faces in the Rocks

Field Trips:

Wounded Knee Mass Burial Gravesite, South Dakota
Battle of Little Bighorn Historic Site, Wyoming
Native American Film Festival, Los Angeles

Course Objectives:

Have you heard M. Scott Momaday speak. What do we do with our knowledge. Do you know about L. Frank Baum's comment regarding Native Americans. What is a Reservation, what is life like there. Think about names. Feeling heavy. Story telling, why and how does that become a talent for a people. What about casinos. Sorry this is Lakota specific, suggest otherwise. Do you know about the 1973 military and FBI takeover of the Pine Ridge Reservation. How do we overcome.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Live a Little

Do you know about Living Liberally? It's the umbrella organization that houses Drinking Liberally, Laughing Liberally, Eating Liberally, Screening Liberally, Reading Liberally, Crafting Liberally, and Shooting (??!!) Liberally. All of these are social organizations designed to get progressive minded people together. They have chapters all throughout the U.S., but if you're here in NYC, Drinking Liberally meets on Thursday nights. I've been to a few events, my favorite being an Eating Liberally event with the author of Twinkie, Deconstructed, Steve Ettlinger. The discussion of his book was followed by an interesting q & a session, accompanied by homemade twinkies, some of them vegan. Yum. The Eating Liberally blog is pretty good, if you're interested in reading about food politics.

The reason why I'm telling you about this is because every Thursday I receive an email from this organization, reminding me to go to Drinking Liberally, among other events. The emails begin with these kind of poems about what's going on in the crappy world. I wanted to share this week's with you because I thought it was especially poignant and something that I spend a lot of time thinking about. I don't know who writes these emails; I assume it's Justin Krebs, but I'm surely grateful this organization is around and I hope you'll attend an event in your area if you are a liberal minded person.

Americans Stopped Listening to Republicans... Why Haven't Democrats?

When the President listens to Republicans
he finds support to escalate in Afghanistan
despite the violence, no clear goal
& election fraud in the "democracy" we built.

When Senate Dems listen to the Party of No,
they consider jettisoning the public option,
making healthcare reform meaningless
& mandating a give-away to insurance companies.

When the media listens to the GOP,
we hear how much GOPpers respected Kennedy,
yet in life they slandered him as a "liberal,"
blocked his work & their activists boo him now.

So...why are we still listening to Republicans?

When their homeland security chief listened,
he manipulated threat levels for political gain.

Now, when AG Holder ignores Republicans,
he appoints an investigator into illegal torture
& puts Justice back into civil rights enforcement.

Moral of the story: ignore Republicans...
as the American people told us in '06 & '08.

Tune out the right & turn on the Left
as you join left-leaners for liberal libations
at your local progressive social club.

DRINKING LIBERALLY
Tonight - and every Thursday
7:30pm onward
Rudy's - 9th btw 44th & 45th
[back booths beneath the DL banner]
Questions:
nyc@drinkingliberally.org


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Cup Full of Breathiness, A Droopy T-Shirt

Do you have the same Emilys that I have? I recently realized that I've been listening to a definite three, definite in their femininity, definite in their quirkiness, definite in their studious musicianship: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Emily Jane White, and Emily Wells.

Emily Haines's voice is very crisp and childlike, emotionally playful and beguiling. As Metric's short-skirted front person, (you can see evidence of this in the Olivier Assayas film Clean), Knives Don't Have Your Back makes for an interesting solo debut. Emily Haines by herself offers a brazen, folk-punky pretty kind of personal flavor, which explores emotion (where Metric is limited to new wavey rock) and grief for the loss of her father Paul Haines, Montreal poet and jazz musician. Emily Haines' music is playful. "Bros before hos," for example, is kind of irono-funny lyric accompanied by beautiful piano playing. What I wish the album had was more bricks. I'm attracted to the lonely woman lost in the thick of it all quality, but the album tends to lack depth where it has reach. Her heartfelt music becomes a bit boxy and I find the most memorable song to be the first.

You'll encounter a new kind of folk singin' in Emily Jane White. Her tough, soldier-popping and soft hip swaying music has a minimalist folky western yet match-stick struck on the sole of your boot flare. Where Eilen Jewell is perky, Emily Jane White is alluringly sleepy and existential. This music is born of a strong aesthetic, which I'd like for you to see in one of her videos.



What attracts me to Emily Wells, kind of solely, is her fabulous use of strings. Her song, "Mt. Washington," snakes her violin around her moanful lyrics. "We go together like bleeding lips" is a fetching lyric and her violin tiptoes around her words, animating them. Her voice gives over to demure, feminine breathiness and this dragging, droning until her voice turns into air seems to be her overall style, which is a tad redundant. Breathiness is a weird issue in music because women singers use their breathiness as sex appeal or to stylistically cover up a lack of range, as though all women have to have a high voice in order to be able to perform.