Speaking of early Constellation Records releases, Frankie Sparo was everywhere in the early stages of the label. And then he just disappeared. That proves to be quite literal as he was the pseudonym of Chad Jones (who i don’t know from anywhere else). Frankie released two albums and an EP and then Chad retired him.
This debut is perhaps the most deconstructed and un-musical album of songs that I can think of. It’s as if Sparo wrote songs and then decided to take four of every five notes out of the song. And then he sings in a style that accompanies that spareness. It’s actually too much of such littleness. If Sparo’s voice filled the song the minimal accompaniment would be interesting. If there was more music, his slow singing wouldn’t sound quite so… flat? There’s talk of his lyrics being good, but I honestly find his singing to be so slow that I can’t really follows any of the songs.
And it’s a shame because his voice is plaintive and longing and the construction is very interesting, it just doesn’t really pan out for me.
The final two songs start to add more to them and I like them better. I especially like the final tack “The Night That We Stayed In” which has without a doubt the slowest rendition of the oft cited phrase “throw your hands up in the air and wave them like you just don’t care” (imagine falling asleep while saying that). But the music is fuller, bringing in a new and interesting style to the end of the album .
I suppose that in the right frame of mind this would be exquisite, I just hope I’m never in that frame of mind.
[READ: April 18, 2014] “Near-Death in the Afternoon”
I’m not huge fan of Ernest Hemingway–I just don’t like his macho schtick. But this piece–which is a comic story (I don’t know who the person he’s talking about is) is not only quite funny, it seems to be turning his macho image on its head. Although perhaps I am oversimplifying Hemingway.
Anyhow, this comes from a collection of his letters, although it is considered a story and what submitted to (and rejected by) Vanity Fair in 1924. The full title is “My Life in the Bull Ring with Donald Ogden Stewart” which implies to me that it is a longer piece, although it feels full to me.
It begins with Hemingway saying that he often encounters Donald Stewart in the bull ring (which make me laugh). But he’d often ignored him. Yet on this occasion the crowd is going crazy for him: “Don Stewart!” they chant. Ernest wants to get into the ring but the crowd is insistent and, indeed, someone even throws a tomato at him (and hits him right in the face).
He turns on the crowd (and wipes of the tomato with a handkerchief the Queen Mother had given him, ha). He speaks in the Catalan dialect, and says that it took more than quarter of an hour to say that he is through that Don Stewart can fight. This makes the crowd roar wildly.
Hemingway suspects that they want Don Stewart because they believe that his name, Don, is an honorific, but it seems that they believe he kills and eats the bulls that he defeats. Ernest doesn’t believe it but when Stewart actually engages the bull, it is a sight to behold. With his dying breath, Stewart asks for a favor (which I didn’t quite “get” although it did make me laugh). And the end if quite a funny punchline.
This is nothing like what I think of from Hemingway, as if he was mocking his own image. Very funny.