In Which Her Parents Constituted The Final Straw

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Paying My Dues for the Journey

by ELEANOR MORROW

They Came Together
dir. David Wain
83 minutes

Joel (Paul Rudd) is an executive at Candy Systems Incorporated, a multi-ventured candy conglomerate. He is in a long-term relationship with a brunette named Tiffany (Cobie Smulders) who struggles to return his affection because of certain depraved incidents in her past.

On the day that Joel plans to propose to Tiffany, he finds her apartment spackled with torn off clothes and accessories on the hardwood floor. He calls out her name and hears sounds in the bedroom. Assuming she is just washing herself noisily in the shower, he attempts an elongated speech to preface his marriage proposal. When he turns around he sees her in the arms of Trevor (Michael Ian Black). His relationship is over.

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With this inauspicious beginning commences David Wain’s supreme masterpiece, They Came Together. Previously known for tackling lighter topics like the innocent thrills of summer camps or couples retreats, They Came Together marks a departure for Wain. The film is riotously funny, but it is also deeply personal.

On the surface, They Came Together presents like a zany parody of You’ve Got Mail. Joel’s new love interest is Molly (Amy Poehler). Watching Molly swish through her delightful homespun candy shop named Upper Sweet Side makes you realize how much the showrunners on Parks and Recreation dressed and made her up so as not to overshadow Rashida Jones or Aubrey Plaza.

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In They Came Together, Poehler’s Molly is the utter embodiment of womanhood. Mother of a nine year old son, she meets Joel at a Halloween party where both attend dressed as Ben Franklin.

Joel and Molly don’t click at first, but eventually the two New Yorkers discover they share a rare hobby: they like fiction books. “It’s the feeling of being transported to another place and time,” Molly says at one point. Just as quickly as their romance takes off, Joel has second thoughts when he discovers that Molly’s parents are white supremacists. (Did you know that over 30 percent of whites in America believe in white supremacy, and of those 30 percent, over 95 percent of white supremacists are regular viewers of Person of Interest?)

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Molly and Joel try to make their relationships with other people work after that. Joel gets back together with Tiffany, who is honest enough to inform him that he should be very suspicious of her motives, and Molly finally accepts the advances of her accountant admirer Eggbert (Ed Helms). He does not particularly share her love of fiction (“I only like to read about things that actually happened,” he explains over a burrito) but he does seem pretty devoted to her, even complimenting her on how she plays Charades.

Where They Came Together really shines in its exploration of how Jewish men adapt to dating non-Jewish women. Joel’s parents were killed in a tragic accident, and he has had to provide for his younger brother  Jake (Max Greenfield) who now works as a cab driver. His knowledge of the financial reality of the candy industry is the complete opposite of Molly’s homespun ways — in her shop, candy is free for all children and dogs.

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When Joel’s company attempts to put Molly’s tiny candy shop out of business, we realize how insane it was in You’ve Got Mail that Meg Ryan blamed her low sales on bookstore chains that are now themselves filing for bankruptcy. No one has ever properly explained to me why wasting paper is somehow morally superior to reading something on your phone, and I doubt they ever will.

Unlike the out-of-date pieces of shit They Came Together pays tribute to, there is no happy ending here. Molly discovers she has an affinity for prescription painkillers, and the coffee shop that Joel tries to open on the Upper West Side flops within a week. Meaningfully, there is no overly familiar scene where Joel and Molly have sex — it wasn’t really about that. It was about the candy, and how you really should not give it away for free.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan. She last wrote in these pages about Masters of Sex. You can find an archive of her writing for This Recording here.

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In Which A Lack Should Speak Louder Than Words

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Image (Withheld)

by Jaye Bartell

The Alps
Brandon Shimoda
Flim Forum Press

(Get your copy over at the Flim Forum.)

NOTE: The blank squares accompanying each poem in The Handmaidens and Bridesman section of The Alps struck me immediately, fascinated and moved me to respond. The squares display vivid possibility, actualized by the writing beneath them, poems that are far more than captions. Possibility, in fact, is the prevailing sentiment I’m left with; there is much to discover in The Alps, and the squares serve as a kind of field guide. They at once refuse to be empty, or to contain anything. The slightest suggestion of an image, –gold / lightning struck / water–, and the square floods. Turn the page, a new square is presented, empty, simple, but vulnerable to the foment of cognition, memory, grasp, and total loss.

The presence of a blank square terrifies. It is end or, worse, beginning, and again, which signifies an end, and one come to nothing but the recurrent initial form.

1

The picture, implicit, brought forth, shown by the shape it would occupy if present, or leave as mark, if gone. Describe what could be seen within such a dimension. A poem, aspiring toward image, a presentation, cannot hide the strain caused by omission of the fundamental picture, of its basis. Nothing new can be said that would exceed the size of a postage stamp. The frame expanded, a life of days gain narration, new, because told anew. The frame expanded, just so, becomes a window, to see what may be all of it.

2

The image fractures when given to language alone, failed when words are sole mechanism, to restore experience to the blinded—it falters, gives only sound, the effect, what remained, after reception, and embodiment. An image seen, but so quickly passed from view, that even if photographed, the air is absent, missed. Toward what direction did it all tend, the now unapparent.

3

It will not. The dimensions, too variant; the sky that held the breaking, dispersed, as if a part. Fixity allows for the emergence of clarity—a beam, a fount, a shaft— from chaos. The hole, drilled in ice, a geyser breaks the punctured surface, and threatens reversal, of surface, that what once contained is no longer, and blurs. A line dropped, into the amorphous, filament, endless particulate, suffused to become element.

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shimoda (right) and frequent collaborator phil cordelli

In cold water, memory, languid, what passes among, objects once actual, become debris, of another, no longer possessed, but observed, elsewhere. What new image, to give form to voice, that recalls, and bringing back, sees again as, and not of, away, distant, what picture, correspondent.

4

Perimeter, both permits and forbids. There are only so many roofs visible from the window, so many arching bared trees, and the cars and lights, ephemeral. Value, defined: that it could have been anything, but was this, what took place, which had first to be made.

5

Memory, attempting. Looking, as light recedes and perception becomes its object, fade. The picture withheld, the risk, that all is false, that day and its weather. Were my hands not in gloves and those gloves not in my pockets, as now they are not. Am I at all, or have ceased. If not continuity, than at least recurrent, as in again and again, in myriad pieces of dissimilar snow.

6

The volition, frustrated, the violation, forcing ghost into body, a rehearsal of procreant need, against piety, that dares flicker when the darkening way struggles to preserve opportunity. We kneeled in soot, and in the morning, coughed, ash into the air, we must further live.

7

Out of phantasmagoria, a shorn plot, to let come what will and must. As if a clearing was all that was ever needed, to allow the story to determine its own course and contents. For once, a gap, uncluttered. Decimate the crowded halls, the stuffed frame, the heap of images, all existent color massed, black, in confusion. A small space but of enough dimension, backward, giving way, for the further image, what next comes to fill, and dispelling, leaves frame, for faces, hands, grasses, the time, all possibility, retroactive, to come again, but as unknown, emptiness given image, its truer name.

Jaye Bartell is a contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in North Carolina. He blogs here.

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“When A Man Loves A Woman” – Karen Dalton (mp3)

“One Night of Love” – Karen Dalton (mp3)

“Take Me” – Karen Dalton (mp3)

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Maybe I’m crazy.

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Probably.


In Which CapGun 3 Chose Life And You Purchased It Immediately Because of This

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CapGun 3

The third edition of CapGun, the literary magazine/event of the year, comes out tomorrow. When you see it arrive in your mailbox you will have the closest thing to an orgasm that such a creation can trigger in the unsuspecting or suspecting recipient. We heartily recommend this third edition of CapGun as a gift for others. It can get you laid, and it will provide for the child that frenzied sex creates should you be so lucky. The cover is hand letter-pressed for christsakes.

What awaits you inside:

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Colophon Teaser: CapGun 3 was designed by Will Hubbard, and printed and bound in an edition of 250 at CapGun Press in Brooklyn, NY. The title face, Gotham, was created by Tobias Frere -Jones in 2000 to approximate vernacular lettering found throughout New York City. The text is set in Bulmer, which was used by John Boydell in 1805 for his famous, gilded, and financially ruinous edition of Shakespeare.

We rarely ask you to support This Recording, but we need your help now. Every issue of CapGun you purchase not only keeps this website afloat but gets you an enduring keepsake you’ll want to pass down through the generations.

We thank you for reading This Recording, and we ask that you prepare for your coming orgasm.

Alex Carnevale

Will Hubbard

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“Sad Days, Lonely Nights” – Spiritualized (mp3)

“Amazing Grace (Peace on Earth)” – Spiritualized (mp3)

“I Want You” – Spiritualized (mp3)

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Where else you might like to submit your work.

Jackie Delamatre’s story from our second issue.

Bob Creeley’s poem from our first.

In Which We Walk In Our Mind And Not Through The World

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R. V. Neuman’s A Month Or More

by Will Hubbard

I am sitting in Gucci, a Midtown barbershop named not for the Florentine fashion icon but for Maritzio Gucci, the shop’s septuagenarian proprietor and sole stylist. Gucci is roughly 12’x12′ and boasts the striated green marble and mirroring of a men’s restroom in an opulent hotel. But Mr. Gucci, for all the glitz of our surroundings, is warm and gregarious, speaking to me of his notable clientele with the visibly conflicted pride of a child showing a perfect test score to his less fortunate classmates.

I am not here for a haircut. Instead, Mr. Gucci’s shop is simply the most recent attraction on my week-long whirlwind tour of the haunts and habits of novelist Robert Vernon Niman, or “R. V. Neuman” as it appears on the spines and dust jackets of his books. His latest, A Month Or More, is slated to appear in early 2009 and will, if we can believe the author’s cryptic musing from Mr. Gucci’s chair, “draw out something from the blood of this country that none knew existed before, either in violence or in love.”

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the author in Peru, circa 2003 (photo: Langdon Mackerley)

Niman is not an easy man to track down, and at 6 feet 7 inches tall, with deep emerald eyes and jacknifing black eyebrows crowned with grey, he is an even harder man with which to talk. Most days I have found him outfitted in a simple white polo, tartan wool slacks, and either a camel-hair or navy blazer depending on the ferocity of the early autumn chill. His cordovan loafers shine in even the lowest lights – “a man should wear cordovan, period” – and I cannot help but feel like his bumbling apprentice as I’m tugged into one Old Manhattan bistro after another.

But for all Niman’s warnings, A Month is not much of a departure in content or style from his previous efforts. The setting – as in 1994’s witty if oblique Honey, and 2003’s Stones In The Cellar – is blue-collar, south-east Bakersfield, California, the gritty neighborhood of the author’s birth and upbringing. The sentences are long but crystalline, beguiling as they are unaffected. One slips into the gnostic dream of Niman’s world as though the way has been lubricated: initial violence gives way to a resigned and fluid motion forward and down. “Your first fifty pages are like birthing a child, but after that, absolute bliss!,” Niman squawks in the high, mildly Southern and distinctly mocking tone of voice he often uses to parody his readers.

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Mr. Gucci trims Niman’s paltry tuft of bang with a surgical exactitude, the last step of what has revealed itself to be a rather laborious and intricate haircut. To me, the author looks more or less exactly as he looked before – vaguely aristocratic, detached but in control, intimidating as a lion. He has never married (“or divorced!”), and has lived the last two decades since returning from a twelve-year, meandering tour of the continent of Asia in a small but comfortable studio apartment two and a half blocks off Central Park West. He enjoys neither walking in the park nor going to the cinema, preferring to spend time between writing bouts aboard his tiny motorboat – named for his first novel, Nowhy To Run – on the Hudson. “The fishing was better when the river was a dump; now I mostly make large, irregular figure eights and wait for the sun to go down behind New Jersey.”

For the most part, Niman refuses to talk about his childhood in Bakersfield. His mother Cindy ran a business that supplied temporary catering staff to events in wealthy people’s backyards; the author’s one (and by his own reckoning poorly-researched) biography casts his mother as strong-willed but lacking imagination, pushing her son toward a career in the forest service rather than encouraging his obvious literary talents.

Nothing is known about Niman’s father, and when in 1995 an interviewer pestered him about the subject, Niman famously smashed his tumble of white-wine and Fresca (still his preferred drink) and began whispering a string of skittering negations – “Never… Not… Nil… Nohow… Non…” – that would obsess and frustrate critics for years to come.

Bakersfield Model-A Club, 1951

Bakersfield Model-A Club

Not wanting to add to the myth, I have skated the subject all week hoping for a voluntary offering. I am particularly interested in the possible relation of Niman’s father and A Month‘s fiery, winsome, and somehow blandly Protean protagonist, Marcellus, a paterfamilias a la Faulkner’s Sutpen faced with the task of retrieving his family’s good name after a spate of suicides, a child conceived by first cousins, and a massive wildfire that has completely destroyed the natural habitat of the winger-wasling, a virtually extinct and fantastically beautiful species of bird that drew, owing greatly to the oral lore of the wizened inhabitants of a nearby Native American reservation, the meager but steady tourism that kept his beloved city afloat.

Ironically, it is Mr. Gucci that provides my entrée into the subject of Niman’s father. He asks him while lathering his lightly-stubbled face for a shave, “This is one of the thickest beards I’ve ever seen. Signor, your father had a great beard too, yes?”

Niman, eyes closed and head tilted back, does not stir; has he heard the barber at all? For a long moment I am tense, wondering whether to build on Mr. Gucci’s ignorance in hopes unravelling the enigma of the novelist’s early days in Bakersfield. Just maybe, more than ten years after the tumbler and whispering incident, Niman is ready to talk.

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And he does: “Turn to the middle section…Must be around page two-thirty or two-thirty-five….The paragraph begins ‘All of us waited in the kitchen’ or something like that.” I understand that he wants me to open my advance copy of A Month or More and read the passage aloud. I am wary of what is in store for Gucci and I, but excited to be reading to a great writer from what may well be his masterwork. I begin:

All of us waited in the kitchen, some under the table and some over near the pantry, while Marcellus bundled the remaining sacks and dragged them to the curb. The light fell out of the one grimy window above the sink, and by the time his first tired footstep fell on the stairs leading up to the porch, the house was a dark, deep blue. Though I cannot speak for the others, the sound of Marcellus’ boots on the dry wood and the creak of the screen door as he pulled it slowly open were not regular sounds, like a cat or a pot of tea might make. It was as if Marcellus were walking in my mind and not through the world, as though the sound of him were nothing but the sound of my own thoughts runnin’ into one another. And when he joined the others under the table I knew it had always been, and would always be that way.

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“Serpentine Drive”, the old way from Los Angeles to Bakersfield

I look to Mr. Gucci, who has stopped shaving the author somewhere during my monologue. The old man is looking down at the half-lathered face, rapt in a limp but enveloping admiration he doesn’t quite seem to understand. Niman himself says nothing.

Recalling our first moments in the shop, I ask whether the passage, or the book as a whole, deals primarily with violence or primarily with love. Mr. Gucci is just finishing with the blade, and begins to towel off the writer’s face, which to me looks exactly as it did before. Looking up at Gucci, then at me, his mouth forms a smile at first sarcastic but melting as a moment passes into one of genuine pleasure. He chuckles as he rises to his feet, and looking into the mirror to inspect the job, says, “Violence or love? That I can’t answer. Because thankfully, finally, I cannot tell them apart.”

Will Hubbard is a writer living in New York City. He can be reached at whubbard at gmail dot com.

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portrait of the author as a young man

“96 Tears” – ? & The Mysterians (mp3)

“New Partner” (Will Oldham Cover) – Mark Kozelek (mp3)

“Light’s Out” (Diplo Panda Bear Mix) – Santogold (mp3)

“Son of a Preacher Man” – Dusty Springfield (mp3)

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Will finds Pavese in Pete and Kate.

Alex glorifies suicide in a good way.

Molly pretends to pretend to lament Baudrillard’s passing.

In Which Conflation Is The New Aural Intimacy

What We Know

by Will Hubbard

It’s happening all around me. Creedence songs sucked of all life. Reading at 15 pages per hour rather than the normal, glacial 25. Elapsing time, stuffed with fecund deadness, between the needed and gotten. I think of the word “photograph” occupying a segment of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Saving was not an option – what came in, went out. Now, suddenly and without even the absurdist explanation of a parent or employer, “just” is now “not nearly” enough. Compensation, if still, retains its hopeful portent; prices for the meager necessities are down. Can a digital stream evaporate? And if so, I must keep getting everything for free.

The one known as Chan Marshall was in our thoughts as we crossed a bridge. Changing your name does not make you unbeautiful, luckily. Like great novelists who disappear but still leave traces of having existed and probably, therefore, still exist. They breathe the same air as those who believe them incapable of another novel, thinking them old, or at least agéd, perhaps in Italy or the Sonora Desert.

And yet Ms. Marshall proves herself perfectly able; she writes of what she knows, which is song. In times of little the people need the languorous songs of redemption. The author needs something to deify, to say “I am not a Senator’s son though you may believe me to be fortunate.” The appropriate singer will be a tenor, a woman singing a man’s song. The appropriate occasion will be a battle that nobody cares much about or even notices.

Atrocities can be valued in either real or cultural currency. The critic awakens to the sound of fireworks on the horizon, but assumes personal melancholy rather than answering its call to action. Maybe a song plays while she’s in the shower thinking “Don’t drink the water. Don’t drink the water. ” The music is imperceptible because it has no appropriate occasion.

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Like currency, the music of Aretha Franklin was not our music. We sought to own it, to bring it back to the homeland and give it the Pulitzer for excellence in contemporary American Iterature. Until now, none of this involved recording, with minimal instrumentation and inferior vocals, songs Aretha made manna. There are books that demand plagiarizing and those that preclude it. No one should re-record a song after Aretha has. Such things are not for humans to hold.

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Conversely, a truly big book puts everyone to the test. Do you have responsibility to the things of your world, living or dead? We can “steal time” for the little books, the books of anguish, hope, dread, and phenomenal poverty. But to read a truly big book we must “give time”, like blood, an activity of the leisured, listless, or European.

Everything recedes except the pace of life; dollars are speed bumps, asterisks. One knows the writing at hand will be part, infinitely small, of the future of every wealthy child. Rare beauty of lips, a nose like both its father and father, a cultivated singing voice, slow on the pitch. Listening to her old Cat Power records, he asks his au-pair from Tucson: “What is a roberto bolano?”

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She believes it to be a flavor of ice-cream, and she is correct. It is made of tuberculosis, plantains, and gaffer’s tape. The lesson of the day is that if one reads quietly from the time the sun rises until the time the sun is forgotten there will be sweets. She cracks her neck and continues writing her rich song of the red desert.

It is the year 2008. There are still seasons, OK. This is what we do, really? We slow down Creedence songs?

Will Hubbard is the contributing editor to This Recording. He lives in Brooklyn.

“I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)” – Cat Power (mp3)

“It Ain’t Fair” – Cat Power (mp3)

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Pink and waiting.

The sycophants masquerade.

In Which We See Through A Host Of Filmic Platitudes

Relive the mysterious decade of the 1980s in film with us this week. You can find the archives of the seriehere.

Origination Cinema

by Will Hubbard

First off, it might be admitted that few if any of the writers for this publication, because of their relative youth, can honestly claim to have had much opinion about any film of the 1980’s when it came out. A pixilated nostalgia, maybe; the warmth of first perception, fine. But for the most part, these essays will be about the pleasure in going back to cinema birthed in proximity to one’s own birth, an act of curiosity about one’s origins rather than of direct memory.

In other words, most of us gained familiarity with these films in the 1990’s or later, well after most people had finished talking about them. Just the right environment in which to really get to know something, to really fall in love.

It’s hard to think of a better movie to issue in the 80’s—with it’s major shifts in the role of women in the workplace and family—than Richard Benton’s Hoffman/Streep masterpiece, Kramer vs. Kramer. (Release date, December 19th, 1979.)

How did I not know this movie existed until last week? Five Academy Awards?

I have to speculate that my parents avoided renting this one during my childhood because of its very (at the time) racy plot—the abandonment of a father and his young son by a neglected, mentally unstable wife. Perhaps they knew that I would grow up surrounded by children with divorced parents, and see, first hand, far worse endings than the one alluded to at the end of Kramer vs. Kramer.

I must say, I was not expecting the deft and subtle film-making that elevates Kramer vs. Kramer above, perhaps, its relatively bland subject matter. (Yes, I’m sure, it was controversial at the time…) But what opened my eyes were the vital performances of Hoffman and Streep, and the courage of director Richard Benton to film, for example, the story’s father and son for long minutes going about their morning rituals in complete deadpan silence.

These scenes are powerful and heartbreaking, and do not rely on the platitudes of sadness and regret that this type of film would seem to demand.

Hoffman, the grown-up Benjamin Braddock, standing dejected in a half-lit doorway of his apartment, lamenting the rather forgivable mistakes that have induced chaos in his house and career, acute suffering in his own heart, and the irreversible mark of early loss in his only child. One can’t help but wish he had stuck with the cute and simple Elaine Robinson.

Streep’s character, on the other hand, represents the malformed prototype for her later roles of tight-lipped feminine strength and goodwill. Here she is entirely closed-off to our interpretation, a woman whose confusion about her social and familial standing leads to the unexpected act of leaving husband and son, without explanation, in the film’s austere opening scene.

Streep haunts the remainder of the film with that starkly beautiful, just-before-tearing-up facial expression of hers—now watching her estranged family from a café window, now standing motionless in a park watching them approach, and now loitering like a morbid statue in the lobby of her ex-husband’s building, bearing a message that will bring him to ambiguous tears.

Though the trial scenes in Kramer vs. Kramer are probably the weakest stretch of the movie, they have a certain achronistic poignancy. The trial environment formalizes the question of the child’s custody, and in doing so tries to formalize the emotional debacle that has separated husband from wife. While the former question is (and will always be) answered idiotically by a justice of the peace, the latter hangs heavy about the room, unanswerable and scathing.

The defense attorney, having proved ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt’ that it is true, insists that Mrs. Kramer admit her guilt. “Mrs. Kramer, have you failed in your duties as mother and wife? Mrs. Kramer, answer the question!” The camera cuts to Hoffman’s face, unreadable, charged with conflicting motivations. Both parties are to blame; both parties are innocent. O Divorce Trial, talisman of the 1980’s, symbol of a failed system of justice!

Mr. Kramer watches as his wife whispers her pained admission. His mouth says, silently, “No, No, No!”

Will Hubbard is the contributing editor to This Recording. Click here for nude pix.

“Wasted Time” – Kings of Leon (mp3)

“Happy Alone” – Kings of Leon (mp3)

“Red Morning Light” – Kings of Leon (mp3)

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Marshall didn’t need hot tips.

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Love to drown.

In Which The Nighttime Is The Right Time For Brushwork

Cool Impressions

by Will Hubbard

Van Gogh and The Colors of the Night
The Museum of Modern Art
September 21, 2008–January 5, 2009

An early farmhouse landscape, 1883. Dark hues, color blocks against the waning light; a motivation to veil the scenes of a youth in Brabant. To suggest that he’s embarrassed, wishes the drama of these places filtered, would be beside the point. To be given the name of a dead brother lends a pallor, but not a gloom. There is no feeling of morbidity.

Rembrandt’s effets de soir, but in the open air. The orange sun is an innovation, as if something valuable and striking were breaking through from behind the canvas. As though something had been overlooked. Pregnancy. The scene is set to break.

Beside me, an older couple fights about whether a painting in the first room is ‘early’ or ‘late.’ Turns out she’s right, it’s late, a point of contrast for the darker scenes. Still, I blink looking at the dates; a mere decade between these two wildly different styles?

He writes to his brother of a walk at dusk: “I had forgotten myself in that symphony.” The handwriting fluctuates between small and large— small toward the end if the page when he wants to make a few extra sentences fit. The anxiety of an incomplete thought. And drawings set into the text, another vow of accuracy. These must have been delightful letters to receive—or maybe they were terrifying.

A traveling pastor passes an evening sketching Au Charbonnage Café, but drawing is still his hobby. His lambs “socialize, share a drink, and buy coal.” An interest in people staying up, getting what they can from the artificial light. Flames compose a scene of otherwise disparate, veiled activity.

A curatorial note reads: “the artist believed that rural laborers stood closer to nature than other people, and were more strongly linked to the cycles of life.” Cycles of life? The artist believed…?

These are phrases meant for imbeciles, and yet they have purpose. The warmth of such early, puerile motivations allows distraction from the psychosis of his later years. Van Gogh’s “night paintings” without Van Gogh’s night—it feels like sitting over a glass of absinthe in the gaslight, tapping a foot on cobblestones. A deceptive comfort.

The Potato Eaters—are they human beings? The frame looks to have been scoured by the two thousand hands of a thousand people, acquiring the mysterious stickiness of long human use. Head of a Woman. It hardly emerges from the dark. She strains to be noticed, pulling away from something. A cell phone call beside me—she repeats ” where are you, where are you, how are you faring?”

The Watch (After Millet) is literally a reworking of a Millet reproduction—an overlay of color and linear light that will make his style. And again with The Cottage, 1885, the sense that the sky is bursting at a spontaneous seam. Is it magma, hell, or a gilded salvation on the other side? Children are playing everywhere, they love the quality of the hardwood for sliding. How will they dream of these pictures (they will) if they never stop to look?

Then the sun comes out, a proper point of reference, rising above French wheat fields, casting the world and it’s labor in discernible lines. Every aspect of a scene has a direction, a flow, as on a contour map. A contour map of visual perception, the directions themselves meaningless except in relation to those adjoining.

In the half-moon space the reverent have made in front of Starry Night, two girls are dancing. But they are not dancing; dancing is simply the only way I can describe it. They are doing something else, something more innovative. One says, pushing buttons on the strange device someone has hung around her neck, “I want to hear what that silly man says about this one.”

The Stevedores in Arles hung over my bed in a room I’d forgotten about. Three men, somehow oblivious to the violence of color crying from the harborscape behind them, engage in the labor of trade. One departs with a wheelbarrow, another pulls a wheelbarrow up a plank onto the boat, a third plays the guitar to make the task bearable.

Less emanates from the later work, despite its luminosity. It is familiar; it has been looked at by teenagers high on mushrooms for fifty years. So masterful that it dashes associations of its possible creation. It is as masterful as an advertisement: perfectly suited to the task at hand, undistracted as a set of arms plunging a shovel into soil.

The only late canvas that gives me pause is the Garden of St. Paul’s Hospital. It is a scene I know from a French film—Bresson maybe, or Lacombe Lucien. Or perhaps it’s just the way of old French hospitals: there is a courtyard where the sick can be seen—they are alive still, and can breathe real air. They are not hidden away to die in an over-lit hallway.

Will Hubbard is the contributing editor to This Recording. He last wrote in these pages about the poet Ted Berrigan. He hardly ever posts anything of verifiable interest here.

“What I’m Saying” – Koufax (mp3)

“In the Name of Love” – Koufax (mp3)

“Drivers” – Koufax (mp3)

Koufax myspace

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