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Archive for the ‘Jean-Paul Sartre’ Category

mislaidSOUNDTRACK: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS-Euphoria (2014).

euphoriaI found out about Around the World in 80 Days when they started following me on Instagram.  I’m not sure which photo it was that interested them, or if they just follow lots of people, but I was intrigued that they are a post-rock band from Yekaterinburg, Russia.  They formed in 2009 and have a few releases out (EPs, mostly).  You can hear all of them on their soundcloud page (and other places).  This was their first full length album.

Their bio says

Around the World in 80 Days is a three-piece band formed in 2009. It’s impossible to compare their music with anything. The guys just play whatever they want and don’t care about genres, styles and cliches.

I appreciate the sentiment, but it’s not impossible to compare them.  They have elements of Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky in their swirling post-rock instrumentals.  But they definitely add elements that those bands don’t.  There’s some heavy metal riffs in “Racing the Light” and some more poppy elements in “Inside Me.”

 I typically try to listen to an album a few more times before I post about it, but I was so interested in this band that i wanted to get the word out right away.  I’ll certainly be listening more intently to their output over the next few days.

[READ: May 24, 2015] “Mislaid”

I read an excerpt from this book in Harper’s a few months ago.  And then I found the full book at work.  Huzzah!

I had said that I didn’t know how long this novel could be because the excerpt seemed so complete.  And in a sense I was right.  Except that the book went so much further than the excerpt led me to imagine.

The excerpt was about Peggy Vaillancourt.  She was born in 1948 in Virginia.  A transformative event leads her to believe she must be a lesbian (something unspoken of at the time).

She winds up going to Stillwater College, a female-only school in the middle of nowhere Virginia.  She loves poetry and wants to be a writer.  She meets the poet-in-residence Lee Fleming.  Fleming was a local boy with wealthy parents.  His father believed himself to be as “queer as a three dollar bill.”  It was his father who put him in a cottage on the family’s property across the lake from Stillwater College.  Everyone in town also assumed he was gay, and there was much talk and consternation about it, although everyone assumed he was fine while he was by himself in that cottage.

The college asked Fleming to be a teacher (he canoed to work every day).  Instead of a salary he asked them to create a literary magazine called Stillwater Review, which became a success.  Many other famous New York poets came to Stillwater to be charmed by the idyllic Stillwater (and all the young girls). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE KOPECKY FAMILY BAND-Tiny Desk Concert #131 (June 6, 2011).

I’d never heard of The Kopecky Family Band, but the write-up about them was pretty interesting, so I decided to give the Tiny Desk concert a listen.  The band (all 7 of them) play a great collective of music: two guitars (acoustic & electic) bass, cello, violin, drums and keyboard.  They play a sort of traditional folk with a very full sound.

Indeed, they remind me an awful lot of The Head and the Heart (the singer’s voice in particular), although they are from different edges of the continent and have been playing music about as long as each other (indeed, The Kopecky Family Band released an EP in 2008 whereas Head and the Heart formed in 2009).

And the Kopecky website offers lots of free music (which is very cool).

“Howlin’ at the Moon” is a full acoustic sounding track.  “Birds” has a simply gorgeous whistle/xylophone melody that is as beautiful as it is catchy.  “Disaster” is a tender ballad with wonderful harmonies.  And “Red Devil” is a somewhat more rocking song, which really helps to demonstrate the bands’ diversity.

And the band is charming.  Keyboardist/singer Kelsey admits to having left a trinket of some kind of the office bookshelves (which are littered with things).  It’s a wonderful set, and because of it, I downloaded the band’s first EP from their site.

[READ: June 5, 2011] Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love

Shaffer was signing books at BEA this year.  My coworker told me that he was very funny and that he signed her book in an amusing way.  He happened to be signing at the table next to the line I was on. Sadly, he finished before I was able to get to him.  But I was pretty close to the beginning of the line, so I asked if I could grab a copy of his book, which I did (although no autograph for me).

This is a silly book of nonfiction.  It looks at thirty-seven philosopher or thinkers and their utter failure at love.  Each man (and occasional woman) has had some distinguishing characteristic that made them pretty lousy in the emotional range.

The title of the book is funny and is meant to be kind of surprising: these smart folks were terrible at love.  Of course, spending a minute or two thinking about who these people were and what they did, it’s not surprising that they were lousy at love.  These were intellectuals, people who spend most of their time in their own mind.  Of course they couldn’t have a serious relationship.

Nevertheless, these stories are all more or less amusing (Louis Althusser accidentally strangled his wife to death(!) which isn’t amusing per se, but the story of it is, kind of).  Shaffer does a great job at keeping each entry brief but really retaining the salient points of the thinker’s philosophy and a cogent example of his or her lousiness at love.  He also throws in some amusingly snarky comments of his own as he goes along.

I was delighted that the book order was done alphabetically rather than chronologically.  A chronological list would have been a little too samey in terms of each person’s context.  The alphabetical list allows for jumping around from say Plato to Ayn Rand which keeps the stories interesting and fresh.

At the end of each person’s piece, there’s an “In His Own Words” which offers a quote that details his or her written philosophy regarding love.

Dare I say that this is an ideal bathroom book?   It certainly is. And it makes you feel a little better about yourself (if you haven’t for instance, adopted your mistress as your daughter (Sartre)).

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SOUNDTRACK: MEAT PUPPETS-KEXP in studio November 10, 2009 (2009).

According to my stats, this is my 1000th post.  Wow!

I had liked the Meat Puppets somewhat when I was into SST back in the 80s, then I really got into them in the late 90s (when Nirvana introduced us to them).  I thought Too High to Die was a great album.  But they kind of fell from those heights (and Cris Kirkwood fell into serious trouble–drugs and jail) by the end of the decade.  So Curt Kirkwood continued without Cris and I kind of didn’t care anymore.

This session from 2009 sees the return of Cris (who came back for their 2007 album) with songs taken from their 2009 album, Sewn Together.  I don’t know what the album sounds like but this session is heavy on the country feel.  The new songs seem quite mellow, and a bit less bizarre than some of their earlier songs.

They sound good though.  Even with the drummer playing garbage cans and recycling bins.  As a sort of encore, they play “Plateau” (a Nirvana cover, ha ha).  About midway through, Curt messes up the lyrics and gives up singing.  But they play the extended coda regardless.

Curt doesn’t come across as the nicest guy in the world, but he’s been through enough to not give a toss what anyone thinks.  I’m glad the Puppets are back together and recording, but I don’t think I’ll be delving too deeply into their new stuff.

[READ: April 19, 2011] Five Dials Number 3

Five Dials Number 3 ups the page quantity a bit (26 in total) and also includes several art print reproductions  from Margaux Williamson, an artist who is mentioned in one of the articles.   This issue really solidifies the quality of this magazine.  It also introduces the possibility of correspondence with the readers.

CRAIG TAYLOR-On Alibis and Public Views
As mentioned, this letter introduces the idea that people are writing to the magazine.  Sadly there is no letters column (even if Paul F. Tompkins hates letters to the editor, for this magazine, I thought they’d be interesting).

CHERYL WAGNER-Current-ish Event: “The Ballad of Black Van.”
This is a true account of Wagner’s life in post-Katrina New Orleans, where a man in a black van is squatting in abandoned properties and selling everything imaginable.  And there’s no cops to help.  It’s a sad look at the state of New Orleans.

DAVID RAKOFF-A Single Film: Annie Hall
I haven’t read much David Rakoff, but he persist in amusing me whenever I do (hint to self: read more by David Rakoff).  This is an outstanding piece about the beloved film Annie Hall.  It’ s outstanding and goes in an unexpected direction too. (more…)

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harpersaugSOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-Sonic Death: Early Sonic 1981-1983 (1984).

sonicdThis document shows just how scary a Sonic Youth show could have been back in their early days.  Well, not scary so much as noisy!   They mention that they’ve been touring with the Swans, so you can imagine how intense these shows must have been.

This record is kind of a mess.  There’s no track listing (only 1 track on my copy of the disc). In fact, it’s mostly just snippets of songs and lots of distortion.  The Wikipedia Page shows the approximate breakdown of where the snippets are (and it gives you something of a track listing).  If you’re a fan of Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation, and you haven’t heard their earlier stuff, don’t even bother with this.  If you like Confusion is Sex and you want to hear what they sounded like live back then, pick this up.

Under all of the noise, it shows the band being silly, with snippets of conversations and tape manipulation…exactly the kind of homemade tape that you might expect from Thurston Moore’s own record label (and one of the first releases on the label).  It seems like the kind of thing that nowadays would be included as bonus footage on a DVD, but heck, they didn’t do that back then.  So this feel more a home recording.

So, before you go hunting down this out of print title, be aware of just what you’re going to get!

[READ: July 18, 2009] “A Fine Display of Capuchins”

When I was a philosophy major I read only a small amount of Sartre.  I always wanted to read more, but never had call for it.  I especially wanted to read his fiction, which seemed like it would be interesting, or at the very least, some of his not too demanding essay work.

And lo, here is a piece that had been untranslated until now.

This is a fascinating piece.  Sartre goes into a crypt underneath a church in Rome.  In the crypt he finds that it contains the bones of thousand of friars which were exhumed and transferred there in 1631.  (more…)

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