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Archive for the ‘Sally Foster Wallace’ Category

dfwreadSOUNDTRACK: CHRISTIAN SCOTT aTUNDE ADJUAH-Tiny Desk Concert #477 (October 9, 2015).

aacsChristian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his septet play what he calls stretch music: “the particular type of jazz fusion he’s up to: something more seamless than a simple collision of genre signifiers.”

They note that even his appearance stretches traditional jazz: “You may note that he showed up in a Joy Division sleeveless T-shirt and gold chain.” It’s sleek and clearly modern, awash in guitar riffs, but also bold and emotionally naked.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (not sure how to abbreviate that) is a trumpeter and he can hit some loud powerful and long –held notes.   It’s funny that when he bends over the trumpet grows quieter—those ic really are direction-based.

For the first song “TWIN” he does some impressive soloing over a simple and cool beat—piano and delicate guitar riffs (there’s also an upright bass and drummer).   After his lengthy solo there’s a flute solo that also works perfectly (if less dramatically) with the background music.  (Christian plays tambourine during her solo).  He says that this song is about being a twin.  His brother, Kyle Scott is a film director and for whom Christians scores the music.  Christian also explains that he comes from an African-American and Native-American background and that this song has rhythms as a sort of history of his family that touches on Mali, Senegal Gambia and The Ivory Coast and makes its way to the Caribbean, Cuba and into New Orleans.

He’s pleased to play the Tiny Desk Concert for an audience that appreciates “Music that has nutritional value.”

For the second song, “West of the West” he brings on a young alto-saxophonist who plays with his drummer in a different band. The song opens with a rocking electric guitar solo and then the jazzy band kicks in behind it.  The instrumental features a couple of solos by the saxophonist, the pianist and the bassist.

“K.K.P.D.” is a dramatic song for which he gives a lengthy back story.  Many years ago in his home of New Orleans, he was stopped by New Orleans police late at night for no reason other than to harass and intimidate him.  he was coming back from a gig.  He resisted and was in a serious situation and was seriously threatened—the story is long and very affecting, especially given how articulate (I know, terrible word, but true) and calm he is about retelling this horrifying story.  His pride almost made him do something ill-advised, but instead he channeled that pent-up frustration into a piece of music whose long-form title is “Ku Klux Police Department.”

He adds that we see things on TV about inner cities or the ninth ward and we believe them to be true.  Like that the neighborhood is happy that the police are clearing out the youth there.  We begin to think that the narrative is true, although the people who live there can tell you otherwise.  Despite the title and the origin, the is song is designed to reach a consensus to move forward –not to build derision or hate.  He says that we have to start working on that now, because if it doesn’t start now then our children will continue to inherit this situation.

It opens with a noisy guitar wash and fast drums.  It’s quite noisy and chaotic although it resolves very nicely into an almost sweet piano-based song with slow horns.  The middle of the song ramps up with some intense soloing from Christian.  I love how that segues into a very different section with an electronic drum and delicate piano.  Chritsian’s next solo is much more optimistic.  The final section is just wonderfully catchy.

When he introduces the band, he points out just how young some of his newest members are: Drummer Corey Fonville (another new member) used a djembe as a bass drum, and also brought a MIDI pad so he could emulate the sound of a drum machine; Lawrence Fields, piano; Kris Funn, bass; Dominic Minix , guitar (21 years old); Braxton Cook, saxophone (24 years-old) and Elena Pinderhughes, flute: 20 years old!

I don’t listen to a ton of jazz, but I really liked this Tiny Desk Concert a lot.

[READ: July-October 2016] The David Foster Wallace Reader

I’ve had this book since Sarah bought it for me for Christmas in 2014.  I haven’t been in a huge hurry to read it because I have read almost everything in it already.  And some of that I have even read recently.  But this summer I decided to read some of my bigger books, so this was a good time as any.

One of the fascinating things about reading this book is the excerpting in the fiction section.  I have never really read excerpts from DFWs longer books before.  And once you decontextualize the parts, you can really appreciate them for themselves rather than as a means to the end of the story.  This is especially true of the excerpts from Broom of the System and Infinite Jest.  But also just reading some of these sections as a short story makes for an interesting experience.

It was also very interesting to read the non-fiction all together like that.  These pieces come from difference anthologies, but they have thematic similarities  So, placing them together like that allows for really comparing the stories.

And of course, the selling point for most DFW fans is the teaching materials in the center of the book–an opportunity to look into the man’s mind at work shaping younger minds.

I have written about virtually everything in this book already (title links refer back to previous posts), so mostly these are thoughts about the pieces themselves and not a part of a whole. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE COLIN McENROE SHOW-The Life & Legacy Of David Foster Wallace (December 5, 2011) (2011).

This NPR show features an interesting discussion about David Foster Wallace:  his fan base, his cronies and his archive.   The guests were Donald Brown (New Haven Review), Evan Hughes, Ryan Walsh (who created the David Foster Wallace Audio Project) and Maria Bustillos.  Evan Hughes recently wrote a piece in New York that I’ll look at tomorrow and Maria Bustillos wrote the main piece for today’s post.  The other two guys I admit I don’t know.

This show looks at some interesting aspects of DFW’s life in the wake of his suicide and the release of The Pale King.  Although really the impetus seems to be Hughes’ article (which was published in Oct).  McEnroe asks him about the state of literature today and how both Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides have created characters that “resemble” DFW in some way.

They talk about the cult of DFW and play some audio clips.  Brown is an older reader and so does not embrace DFW as much as others.  He is of the same age as DFW and so loves the people DFW loved more than DFW himself.  I get the feeling that he is a curmudgeon.

But they can all agree that fans of DFW feel that he was their buddy.  Super-intelligent but very human, almost speaking like they would (if they were that smart).  They conclude that the Kenyon commencement speech is something of the pinnacle of his project of earnest warmth in humanity.

At the half way point, Maria Bustillos comes in to talk about going to the archive (which you can read about below).  She explains her own interest in self-help books and how DFW was a person who needed help.

The end of the episode has them talking about DFW’s voice.  They wonder why DFW has an “audio project” but other writers do not.  They talk about DFW’s voice and his presence during interviews and how he is very warm, even when he’s being cold (it’s an odd clip they choose). I’ve mentioned the Audio Project before.  It’s wonderful.

For anyone interested in reading books that are in a similar vein to Infinite Jest, Bustillos recommends Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry) and wholeheartedly recommends The Last Western (Thomas Klise).

A fascinating thing about this show was finding out that McEnroe was the author of a pretty funny piece in McSweeney’s many many years ago called “I Am Michiko Kakutani.”  He offers an anecdote about originally mentioning DFW in the story but that the McSweeney’s guys asked him to change it to someone else.

But I have to say that the show seems a bit too much about Colin McEnroe (the McSweeney’s anecdote was just one of many involving McEnroe).  He talks a lot about himself and about how he’s “afraid” that the Awl will make fun of him or that Franzen (who was with McEnroe in a green room backstage at some show) will put him in his next book (because he was discussing Neti Pots).  But I’m just not sure that Colin McEnroe rates enough to warrant the concern. 

It’s an enjoyable show, although unlike other interviews by people like Charlie Rose or Michael Silverblatt, McEnroe’s questions and comments aren’t very well informed.  If you know a lot about Wallace, this show is a bit frustrating because it takes a tone that Wallace is basically a “postmodern ironist” or that he sees everything as “a big dark joke.” And even when the guests are showing that that is not the case, he seems to try to keep reverting back to this trope.

Oh well, it led to some interesting articles at least.  Like the one below.

[READ: December 7, 2011] “Inside David Foster Wallace’s Private Self-Help Library”

For no reason in particular, I’m devoting this weekend to articles that are specifically or tangentially about David Foster Wallace (it’s been awhile, and I have yet to finish my Consider the Lobster project, so, why not). 

I actually read this because of the above radio show.  I know Maria Bustillos because we’re both in a newsgroup.  “Newsgroup” is so 90s, I wonder what they’re called these days).  Anyhow, Maria has always proven to be smart, funny and very articulate.  And the only reason I didn’t read this article when it came out was because I wasn’t sure I wanted to dive into this topic. 

After listening to the above radio show, however, I felt that this would be a very interesting article. And so it was.  It’s available at The Awl.

As it opens, Bustillos lets us know that she visited the DFW Archives Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin and pored over all of the materials they have there (undergrad papers, drafts of fiction and non-fiction, syllabi, tests and quizzes, and juvenilia among other things). 

Wallace was a major note-taker.  And he loved to take notes in a book as he was reading.  Just look at some of these books

But what surprised Maria (and me) is that among Wallace’s collection of wonderful fiction was a collection fo self-help books which were equally annotated and marked up. 

Much of the set up of the article concerns why DFW had self-help books at all.  The answer is, of course, because he was a depressed person (obviously) and because he had been in rehab for a pretty long time.  None of this background information is new, but Maria offers insights into DFW and his life that I had never heard before (Maria and DFW had corresponded, although I don’t know if they were “friends” or not).  (more…)

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