I dislike Kanye West. He strikes me as a colossal ass. So I was shocked how much I really liked his last album. In addition to great melodies, I liked how audacious it was. And now he has a new album (with no cover apparently) and this new single.
The song samples Brenda Lee (of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” fame) Ponderosa Twins Plus 1 and has no actual beats. And the amazing thing is that Kanye does his own thing—his own particular form of rapping—over the repeated do wop sample “Bound to Fall in Love.” (That’s the Ponderosa Twins). It’s not quite right—his flow doesn’t quite follow the melody that‘s playing. And of course, this old school sweet song has “I wanna fuck you hard in the sink” rapped over it. There are times when it sounds like he is rapping despite the song that is playing along—as if someone was playing it and he had to fight to be heard over it.
I respect how contrary the song is. Especially when a new nicely sung part comes across—it may be a sample (Charlie Wilson), I’m not sure, but it comes out of nowhere and brings in a beautiful melody. And it is interrupted mid flow as well. The whole song feels like pieces thrown on top of each other. And after two or three listens it starts to make sense.
Kanye may be crazy, but he knows music. Ah ha, honey.
[READ: June 18, 2013] “An Inch and a Half of Glory”
When I saw that Hammett was the first author in this Fiction issue of the New Yorker, I automatically assumed that the stories would all be noir (especially since they all have a black and white cover picture). Perhaps that was presumptuous as I have never read Hammett before, (although he is known for his detective stories). But indeed, this story isn’t noir at all. Nor is there any detective work involved. It seems tied to the issue by virtue of his name, not the actual story (which had not been published before).
The story is simple enough, There’s a fire on the second floor of a building,. A crowd has gathered to watch and wait for the firemen. Then someone notices a small child in the third floor window. The child isn’t afraid and there aren’t any flames yet so the people kind of just watch the kid and say that the firemen will be along any second. But when a woman in the crowd chastises the men for not helping the baby, the men as a group (7 or 8 of them) charge into the building.
They hear sirens almost immediately and they all leave. Except for Earl Parish. Parish decides that he is going to do something about this. Even though he knows the other men will be mad at him for continuing on when they all left. Then he changes his mind, but he knows he can’t leave now…now that he has stayed. So he plunges onward, finding the boy and bringing him out to safety.
The next day in an inch and a half column, he is referred to by name as having saved the boy from the fire.
And once people start seeing it and recognizing him, things change. They start looking at him differently, which he doesn’t really like. But he does like the teasing (which he attributes to jealousy). And he actually looks forward to being recognized.
But soon his fame peters out and he realizes that the people no longer talk about it. He determines that they feel inferior to him. No, they are inferior to him: “All of their ancestral courage has been distilled out of their veins.” And with this awareness, he begins looking at people differently–inspecting them for this ancestral courage–and finding them all lacking.
And soon enough he changes–he is no longer the polite information clerk at the train station. He becomes aggressive and nasty, believing that others are unworthy of him. And he loses his job soon thereafter.
But (this being a magical time apparently) he continues to find work and continues to lose jobs after a few weeks. He then decides that all desk work is beneath him–beneath anyone with their ancestral courage still at hand. But he can find no such work. He even applies for a job with the fire department (bringing the article with him), but he fails the physical. The he gets in the paper a second time when he complains to the to the press to that this one time hero is not allowed into the fire dept because of a bureaucratic detail.
Things are going way down hill for him, until he happens upon another fire. He hastily runs into the house, not even knowing if there is someone in the building to save. There isn’t. He has a crisis of faith in himself. And he realizes that this fire is a real fire not just a lot of smoke.
What’s a guy to do? And what if, just what if, there is a body in the fire. And what would he do is he made it out with that body–would he celebrate himself further?
The answers are yours to find out.
This story was unpublished until now. It’s not an instant classic or anything but it is enjoyable–fast paced and exciting. It gets a little bogged down in morality when Parish’s life goes downhill, but it redeems itself nicely. Although I have to admit I didn’t really understand the ending–I’m not sure what building he was going into with all of those chalk markings of the blackboard.