And he is.
For this Tiny Desk it’s just him and his guitar. He keeps his eyes closed tightly as he sings these sad songs. His guitar playing is simple–just strummed chords and his voice is simple as well–there’s no tricks. It’s all about his songwriting.
I liked all four of these songs: “Cloudy Shoes,” “Newspaper Gown” (that was my favorite), “Arkansas,” and “Beacon Hill.”
The strangest thing about him was how uncommunicative he seemed to be–almost nervous. He barely spoke and when he did it was hard to hear. And as soon as the set was done he immediately stood up to leave.
Although he does say it’s “nice.”
His songs were lovely although I don’t think I’ll be seeking him out anytime soon.
[READ: January 12, 2016] “The Story of a A Painter”
This story was translated by Anna Summers and, as the title suggests, it is about a painter.
But this story delves into surreal territory pretty quickly. It may even be a fairy tale as the opening line is “There once lived a painter….”
This painter has had some bad fortune as of late. His landlord promised to get him a lot of money if he would sell his large apartment. But the landlord sold the place and kept the money (a lawsuit is pending). Then the landlord offered him a place under the stairs–no running water–which the painter accepted. But he can’t pay the landlord, so the landlord gives him grief every day.
On another day a man asked if he would rent him his “apartment.” The painter said yes for money up front. The man gave him the money then moved his entire family into the tiny, below-the-stairs place and planned to never leave. Now the painter was destitute and homeless.
Since the painter has no materials, he paints with his eyes and imagines the beautiful scenes unfolding in front of him. So I thought that maybe he wasn’t a good painter at all–that he could see beautiful paintings but not actually make them. But that is not the case. Indeed, when he finds anything to create with, he does make lovely pictures–sometimes on the sidewalk, where kids “help” by adding dirt and shoe marks to them.
After more bad days and an occasional nice gesture from someone, he is accosted by a man who says he knows him. His name is Izvosia and in school he bullied the painter every day and took his lunch money. Now he is sorry and wants to make it up to him. The painter doesn’t trust the man at all and runs off.
The next day the painter finds a canvas that is sitting in front of a building which is about to be destroyed. he feels bad taking the material but if it’s just going to get blown up with the building, then he doesn’t feel so bad.
Perhaps the funniest moment is when the painter runs into a crone who says that painters don’t use brushes these days. “They use sprays of some kind. And some, I’ve heard, give themselves enemas with paint and then poop directly on the canvas. Can you believe it?”
That amusing description has an excellent follow up: “The strangely well-informed crone was dancing a kind of jig.”
There is something special, almost magical about this canvas, which is how the story goes from sad to surreal. It allows the painter to get revenge on all of his oppressors but keeps him from being too highfalutin.
This was a weird story, no doubt, and while I didn’t love it at first, I really enjoyed the way it resolved and wrapped up.