Art + Artifacts

Two links; both dealing with artistic legacies and work coming from New York City.

1. Whitney Pastorek announces the shutdown of Pindeldyboz, with some nicely bleak humor thrown in.

And then hopefully, someday, I’ll stop paying the web hosting fees, and the site will be gone. In my dreams I see it hosting an exciting array of porn and/or travel deals.

2. John Freeman Gill discusses the fate of century-old stonework, for The Atlantic.

Griffins and sea monsters, gods and kings, most of the inmates of this forlorn encampment spend their days and nights with their weathered faces turned to the heavens. When it rains, water pools in the vulnerable sandstone eye sockets of some and nourishes the green biological growth that clings to others. In winter, water freezes in the bowl-like terra-cotta medallions, imprisoning in yokes of ice the heads of women and animals that protrude from them.


Doug Mosurock’s review of Tre Orsi’s new album? Quite good, incorporating thoughts on a whole long-dormant subgenre and a fine analysis of the record in question.

With crisp, balanced production by Bedhead’s Bubba Kadane, and the sort of Sonic Youth/Unwound-informed octave dynamics, surges in volume and measured aggression, and literate, even masculine lyrical reads, this could have easily surfaced in 1995 and no one would have been shocked. There was a day when bands like Silkworm, Paul Newman, June of 44, Hurl, Dis- and Bedhead would have released a variant on this record, to the stifled joy of bespectacled guys with short hair, bespectacled girls who wrote zines, and the plaintive, well-considered mixtapes both genders would make for each other.

Along similar lines, it’s worth directing your attention to a blog run by the members of Bells, a relatively new band out of Brooklyn whose lineup includes folks from Jawbox and Oxford Collapse.

Short Novel. (Current)

Longtime readers of this blog — or, hell, of my Twitter presence — may also note that I’ve been talking about a novella or short novel in progress. (Which is as good a time as any to volley out a link to the Emerging Writers Network’s Novella Month.) Later than expected last night, I finished work on a first draft. I have a working title with which I’m reasonably happy — Reel, which is a tip of the hat to the song embedded below — and had the experience of trying out some some structural and procedural changes of pace.

I have no idea whether any of it will ever end up fit for public consumption. It’s a love letter of sorts to a city I’ve never lived in, a weird punk rock anti-romance, and — even this early in the process — I’m enjoying what I’ve done so far.

Novel. (Past)

So: longtime readers of this space might remember some mentions of a novel-in-progress. (Titled, for what it’s worth, The Freestanding.) I finished work on it a while ago; had a go at finding a home for it, and was unsuccessful at that. Eventually, I ended up shifting my interest elsewhere — I’m still proud of the work I did, but there are other longer-form projects at which I wanted to try my hand, as well as some concerns that were fresher in my head.

That said, I’m planning to include the novel in Word Riot’s Published For a Day project next week. It’s good company to be in (Jackie Corley, Shya Scanlon, and others), and — who knows — maybe someone who checks it out will like what they read.

Two on Books

One: Via Richard Nash, the launch of Pre/Post Books, which looks to be taking an intelligent approach to both the print and digital editions of their catalog:

…we hope our deep respect for the printed book as a storytelling canvas is reflected in the finished product.Simultaneously this project embraces digital. The online editions of this book (currently in production) are concerned not only with craftsmanship but also the advantages that networked connectivity, portability and increasingly high-resolution screens bring to the experience of reading…

Two: At the Huffington Post, Cal Morgan of Harper Perennial is interviewed, with some smart things to say about (among other things) paperback originals:

A lot of writers come to us today because they see that publishing in trade paperback can be an actual virtue, not just a stepping stone to getting published in hardcover. If you ask a lot of younger readers what format they choose to buy their books in, it’s trade paperback. A lot of readers don’t particularly want to buy a $25 hardcover; they wait for the twelve- or fourteen-dollar paperback. Most of the small presses and the independent presses publish in trade paperback.

Deserts & Islands

Heading out of town for a couple of days for a foray  — my first — to scenic Las Vegas, Nevada. Posting will resume once I’m back.

When I was in Seattle last month, I caught a set from Javelin at the Vera Project. It wasn’t quite my thing — in the world of ramshackle DIY dance-friendly groups, I drift a bit more towards Tanlines* — but one song, a remix they’d done of a Future Islands song, caught my attention. Since then, I’ve been listening to Future Islands’ In the Fall somewhat obsessively — its songs prompt thoughts of breaking into a disturbingly visceral version of the running man while sitting at my desk. Their music is catchy, ornate, and a little ominous, and I’m quite fond of it.

This is their song “Tin Man”:

*-which is to say that I drift towards Professor Murder and affiliated bands & projects.

The Lodger: Reviewed

I reviewed the latest album from The Lodger, Flashbacks, for Dusted:

Siddall’s voice is in the same melancholy vein as Field Mice/Trembling Blue Stars mainstay Robert Wratten, and the Lodger’s music suggests that that influence goes beyond the vocal approach. The Lodger takes a restrained, austere approach to uptempo, jangling rock – though here, the presence of trumpet and saxophone tilts the dynamic away from what might be expected from that particular strain of indiepop.

You can read the whole review here.

Books I Will Be Reading (in the future)

Some months ago, I wrote about Chris Eaton’s prose and music for The Rumpus. I’ve now read that Eaton’s collection Letters to Thomas Pynchon is due out in a digital edition via Joyland/ECW Press later this fall.

Additionally, Ben Tanzer’s Hold Steady-inspired You Can Make Him Like You is due next spring on Artistically Declined. Both of these are books I’m looking forward to reading — though as a iPad/Kindle/Nook non-owner, I wish there was a more interesting digital format available than the PDF, but hey.


Yesterday, I went to the Guggenheim. While there, I took in “Grey Area, an exhibit of Julie Mehretu artwork. Taking in her large-scale, informationally-dense works, I thought about the recent New Yorker piece on the artist. In turn, that prompted thoughts of another piece from the same publication – Sasha Frere-Jones’s essay on noise-rock. Specifically, this bit about Yellow Swans:

Yellow Swans broke up in 2008, leaving a last album, “Going Places,” released only this year, whose tracks have titles but certainly don’t resemble songs. One called “Sovereign” is several slowly undulating waves of grainy, high-mid-range noise whose source is unclear. The result is simultaneously organic and mechanical. Freed from songs, the sounds draw attention to how odd machines can feel, and how powerful. Abstract noise sends the mind searching for concrete comparisons: clunking hard drives, breaking wires, muffled phones, turnstiles.

Many of these phrases would serve as equally apt descriptors for Mehretu’s art, I’d argue. And while the immersive qualities of the overwhelming scale on which she works aren’t unique, her process, and its incorporation of technological processes and layered construction, seems to oddly mirror some of the artists referenced in Frere-Jones’s piece. I don’t know that the analogy holds up under greater scrutiny, but thought it was worth mentioning.

At Vol.1, Two Book Reviews

Christian TeBordo’s The Awful Possibilities:

The postcards make tangible that which is the key quality of The Awful Possibilities: the way in which TeBordo is able to command alienation, both with the subject matter of his stories and the details of his prose.

(The full review is here.)

Kristina Born’s One Hour of Television:

Some of One Hour of Television‘s pages abound with text; others contain a handful of lines. Some have only one. Yet the book lingers: Born provides connective tissue: a trauma-filled trip to Las Vegas; a depressive recounting the plot of Erin Brockovich.

(The full review is here.)

Ah, The Subconscious.

Yesterday morning began with one of the more surreal dreams I’ve had in a while. Specifically, that someone was hosting their wedding reception in my living room. (Which is, I can assure you, large enough to comfortably hold maybe six people.) This was taking place at roughly 6:30 in the morning. And whoever was holding the reception had  decided to do this without asking me. All I wanted to do in this was take a shower — but to do that would have involved passing through a well-dressed, very fancy crowd of people wearing, you know, the clothing I’d slept in the night before. So instead, I lay in bed, unwilling to commit some sort of socially awkward faux pas.

There’s a metaphor here — or perhaps a subconscious cry for help — but I haven’t the slightest idea what it might be.

At Dusted: My Education, Reviewed

Up today at Dusted: a review of My Education’s Sunrise.

If you’ve read any recent think-piece about how the lines between rock bands and classical ensembles are blurring, you could pretty easily swap their name into the list of case studies provided without sacrificing accuracy. Besides recording their own compositions, they’ve also released their take on Arvo Pärt’s taut “Spiegel im Spiegel” and collaborated with the hip-hop group dälek.

You can read the whole thing here.

Sudden Realizations

The dangers of having one’s digital camera around while one is writing: one may take self-portraits.

Writing | May 2010

And learn that, sans glasses one resembles a dude in a metal band.

Writing | May 2010

“Dude, we’re totally gonna end up on Hydra Head with these songs!”