Fiona Apple hasn’t been in the public eye much lately. Her new album comes out any day. And she gave a preview of her tour at SXSW this Spring. NPR has access to four songs from that show (streaming). I wish there was video—she’s an intriguing performer—but if audio is all what we get, so be it.
“Fast As You Can” starts this sampler, and she sounds great. It’s not a challenging song vocally, but she sounds strong and like she hasn’t been away for very long. Musically, the song isn’t as dense as on the record—I’m sure that’s the nature of her touring band. “A Mistake” has a strangely long “jam” session, which strikes me as odd for her. I wonder what she did during that time (or is she playing piano?). “Extraordinary Machine” sounds good, but again, it seems so spare (the album was so full of music). She hits the high notes quite well, though. The final song of is “Every Single Night,” the new song from her new album. It sounds great live. And it was a good introduction to the song.
It’s hard to critique the music live because who knows what could have happened that did not transfer well. But he voice sounds excellent.
I’m looking forward to her new album, with the preposterously long title.
[READ: May 17, 2012] “Atlas”
This story opened up in a very confusing way. It begins with a day listed in all caps (The Day the Fat Man Almost Fell) and then proceeds to talk about Danny (who is not the fat man). It is set in the fairly insular world of a hospital and those first few paragraphs have lots of jargon. So much so that when I finally figured out that Danny was an employee not a patient, I had to reread it to get my bearings.
The first section ends with the Day mentioned above as the story then switches to flashback and context.
Danny has been at the hospital for three years. He had a lot of medical problems, so his doctor inquired about his getting in on the ALP—Assisted Living Program. The doctor explains it’s not disability or Goodwill, it a holistic treatment model. There was a long list of applicants but since the doctor knew Danny, he could offer him this opportunity. Danny would work for the hospital, live in subsidized housing provided by the hospital and get all kinds of in-house benefits (discounts on meds and the cafeteria. He could even join study teams). Eventually they even hoped to have tunnels that connected the housing to the hospital. (I wonder what the hospital would get in return? Underpaid workers? It never says if he makes very much).
We jump back to the earlier scene and how Danny helps with the Fat Man (he helped to support him before he fell off the operating table). The scene is darkly comic (“are we going to operate on his ass?”). And it results in Danny earning some respect (one of the nurses winks at him and calls him “Atlas”).
The strange thing about the story is that it suddenly jumps forward twenty years. And we see that Danny is indeed a lifer, he’s still part of the program, with a better (but still not a great) job. But he seems content. The story begins to focus on all of the changes and upgrades made to the hospital in the past 20 years (particularly the 20 operating room pods that look like eggs and a very lengthy section about the Movator—although it’s never explained what it is, there is a lot about how many times it has been replaced).
So, by the end of the story I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to get out of it. It is a story about the impressive changes in technology to a hospital over twenty years? Is it about how Danny has thrived in this setting? Is this an excerpt from a longer piece? The human interactions were really enjoyable and gave a lot of life to this story, but it ultimately felt like it was less about Danny and more about the building he was in.
Oh and my cover of the three was the one with the paddleboats (The Walrus in light blue).