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Alex Carnevale

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Kara VanderBijl

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Mia Nguyen

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Durga Chew-Bose

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Brittany Julious

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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In Which This Is Inspired By Acute Depression And Envy

Baking the Egg


The way it goes for not that pretty girls with freckles and wavy hair is to adopt a survivor mode that enables anticipations associated with pretty girls. And that is exactly what I did. I chose rich and to some extent delusional interpretations of my reality and coupled that with curiosity and outspokenness.

Of course, if you are raised in a confused patriarchal family – where your mother is your father and your father is a mother with short outbreaks of bad temper – this will get you into lots of trouble. For instance, the first time I was punished for my curiosity was when I asked why Jews and Muslims wear small hats and should one give it up? Had I not had my own interpretation of the slap that surprised both me and my father, I could have gone through life blaming him for my subsequent lack of courage, sense of adventure and maybe even lack of academic ambition, but I took pride in the fact that I felt fear and anger in my father’s eyes more than the warmth that seared my cheek. I just knew I had to.

Luckily, amongst the decomposed layers of things, ignorance and fear that made my 1990s, fragments of narratives slipped in. I never got the whole story or the accurate chain of events. All I knew was fueled by the excitement that rushed in while realizing that I had nowhere to go with my questions. My mother was a sad beautiful woman trapped in a desert, my father was tired and worried and most he could do was to explain verses from the Quran in a puppeteer sort of a way. Our school textbooks were the well-implemented thoughts of a poorly educated submissive male.

My knowledge on sex came from few completely different formats and sources. My school friends and graffiti could give speculative information on the subject in form of nervously written "Fuck." However, in one of the houses my family lived in, the former attendant left a stash of Van Damme movies and what I later in life figured out was a porn collection. I never got to the porn, but the action films that my parents kept contained a few riddling scenes. Some disturbed me, others – such as the one in which a man literally bakes an egg on women’s chest – made me confused.

Later, while visiting a friend, I stumbled on One Thousand and One Nights. Strangely, my parents didn’t mind me sitting by myself on a green couch in their friend’s house; reading soft erotic tales dipped in a sea of adventures every time we visited. Up to this day I don’t really know how did I learn what sex technically meant. Actually, when I think of knowing about it, it is sort of a memory. A defused and blurred collection of cinematic fragments starring random people I knew, places and walls in dusty towns I lived in.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that intertextuality doesn’t only come to the well read amongst us. Of course, well read people can line up few legitimate footnotes beneath their claim. Others can't. I hope I don’t come off as a completely ignorant and smug, bragging about one's self-credited genius, because, in all honesty, I'm not trying to. If anything, this is inspired by acute depression and envy that I regularly feel when reading and listening to some of you, dear peers from other places.

The drama of it all is that I can divert myself from my own fault by rightfully blaming few dictators and warlords along with my teachers and parents. All those were members of a gang that crippled the education and wider academic upbringing of entire generations. And it was so easy: they took books off shelves and put nothing instead. Literally nothing.

During the lunch breaks at school, I would sneak out and cross the highway. I would run very fast to a newspaper stand. The vendor was used to being confronted by angry fathers demanding a refund, so I lied, telling him my parents gave me money to buy a kids' magazine. Once I was back at school, beneath my blue school uniform, the colorful pages of the magazine would be glued by sweat to my body. I knew I did my part. The rest was up to somebody else.

Coming back to not that pretty girls with freckles and wavy hair: when you grow up to be a not that pretty woman with very cute freckles and God knows what kind of hair, you realize that your survival mode fails you badly when you are talking to that attractive guy who seems very smart. But this is something completely different and I am not comfortable talking about it just yet.

Sumeja Tulic is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer and photographer living in Sarajevo. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about her childhood in Libya.

Photographs by the author. You can find more of her photography here.

"Joan of Arc" - Madonna (mp3)

"Borrowed Time" - Madonna (mp3)


In Which We Are The Only Russian Poet You Need Concern Yourself With

This is the first in a series.


A Youthful Dream

The first modern Russian poet was Valery Bryusov. He also happened to be the first modern Russian diarist. Despite writing of his experiences in the early part of the twentieth century, Bryusov's perspectives on the world that surrounded him could easily count for recollections of today, minus a few technological advancements.

By 1907, Bryusov was no longer focused on describing his experiences — all his free time was devoted to research on the subject of black magic. He also met a woman, a poet named Nina, who would ruin the next seven years of his life. "What did Valery Bryusov see in me?" Nina Petrovskaya openly wondered. "Desperation, a fatal yearning for a fantastically splendid past, readiness to hurl one's worthless existence into any bonfire..."

The excerpts that follow detail Bryusov's early days as a young poet.

January 2

Welcome to thee, New Year! The last year of the second decade of my life, the last year in the gymnasium. It's time. Get on with it my friend.

Here is the program for this year: (1) Enter the literary arena. (2) One way or another break it off with the K----ovs. (3) Graduate from the gymnasium brilliantly, (4) Take up an independent stance in the university. (5) Put all my convictions in order.

March 4

Talent, even genius, by honest means earns only gradual success, if that. That's not enough! For me, that's not enough. I must choose another way.

March 10

At first things were dragging, but after supper Elena and I managed to be alone: at first we hid behind the map of Moscow and kissed, then we coolly went into another room.

I recall that I babbled some kind of incoherent, decadent declaration  talked about the moon floating out of darkness, about a pagoda smiling in a stream, about a fantasy which burned out in the shape of a youthful dream. Nevertheless, she made a rendezvous with me for Friday and for Sunday.

May 20

Elena's dead! Dead! She died of smallpox.

May 27

Today was my exam in Roman history. I  did well, spoke about Herodian, talked about my tragedy, about poetry.

August 30

An interview came with me in News of the Day. Naturally this is far from distasteful. We move forward.

September 16

If there is one thing I am proud of, it's that I have never permitted myself to keep in my verses things I knew would please others, but which didn't please me.

December 27

I am spending the end of 1894 quietly, mostly staying home, but working little. Went to see Balmont nd wandered the streets with him all night. He spoke of purity of soul, of how sinful it is to drink wine and touch women. He spoke also of his via nuova.

February 1

Have seen Balmont several times. Most of our meetings have been semi-Decadent, but  alas  they've ended with a tavern and a "dive." I've come to see Balmont as he really is,, and he has lost much of his previous attractiveness. This is why I almost made fun of him Sunday at Kursinsky's.

June 7

The last few days in Moscow I had a plan for publishing Chefs d'oeuvre that involved pawning my gold watch, but the pawnshop wrecked that.

July 1

I finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo with tears in my eyes, not becase this novel reminded me of years gone by when I read it for the frist time, but simply out of sympathy for the character's fates. Stupid sentimentality about novels when one has none to spare for the events of life.

August 30

Am writing little and mostly prose. My Chefs d'oeuvre has produced  I have to admit  the very worst possible impression on my friends. They don't condemn it directly but keep quiet, which is even worse.

December 18

Balmont just dropped by, exultant, mad, Poe-like. Of course a great deal in his mood was affected, but nonetheless he cheered me up and distracted me. As if a moonbeam slipped through the clouds nd scorchd the waves with a brief kiss.

The pitiful irony of fate. Now, when I am disillusioned with Chefs d'oeuvre, people begin to praise it  even Balmont! Balmont!

February 6

My future book It Is I will be a gigantic mockery of the whole human race. There won't be one sensible word in it  and of course it will find admirers. Chefs d'oeuvre is weak precisely because it is middle-of-the-road: too poetic for critics and the public, and too simple for the Symbolists. Fool! I thought I was writing seriously.

February 27

Yesterday Balmont came by before his departure for Petersburg. O Lord, how untimely "fame" comes! Six months ago I'd have been ecstatic from half the compliments he paid to me, but yesterday I felt cold disdain.

March 5

I have been feeling that to live as I live is impossible. Monotonous sameness, silence and longing. On Sunday I was in such despair I couldn't even read Edgar Poe.

March 6

Balmont was here today. We've become very close.

July 4

Man is a strange and stupid creature. Yesterday I was reading Dostoevsky's The Insulted and the Injured, and suddenly I was overwhelmed by the maddest desire to take in a little orphan or a ward. Funny, crazy, but I began to walk back and forth in the room and imagine my whole conversations with her, where I would lodge her, what would transpire later, etc, etc.

July 31

Have been reading Tolstoy. Here is the relationship about the three followers of Gogolian prose; Turgenev depicts the exterior, Dostoevsky analyzes the sick soul, Tolstoy the healthy one. If only these three were combined into one!

November 25

By chance I was at the university during the student disorders. I got interested and asked question, but in such detail that apparently they took me for a spy  espion.

December 11

For half a year I've done almost nothing for myself, not for poetry, nor even for the university. Now I am being resurrected.

January 8

I roam the streets. There is a secret beauty in the way the churches disrupt the cold regularity of the boulevards. Petersburg women are more distinctive than Moscow women. Here there is a special style, a special chic, which we don't have.

March 11

Life is rather bitter just now. Little faith in myself, no goals, the past dark. Unpleasant clashes at the university. Guerrier said: "I've seen your new book. Perhaps that is enough to call yourself a poet, but it is not enough to make you a historian..."


"Boy Who Cried Thunder" - Daniel Wilson (mp3)


In Which We Build Up A Bit Of Steam

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


My girlfriend of a few months Vanessa is a very sweet-smelling person. She takes a lot of time and pride in her appearance and I for one think she looks fantastic.

Recently we have begun experimenting with a few new sexual positions, and I have noticed than I can detect a strong smell coming from that region.

It is difficult to know exactly what I am smelling, but it is troubling to continue to completion with the everpresent odor. Is there any way to tell her about this, or is sex like the puppies do pretty much not in my future?

Andy G.

Dear Andy,

Congratulations. A woman has permitted you to enter into the sphere of her intimacy. You must be very proud. Handling any noxious smell coming from your partner is a tricky business. If you rectify the situation, you are probably just making it easier for him or her to sex other people.

If you really want to fix this specific problem, you are going to have to get her to notice the smell. So encourage her to bring a strap-on into your love making, and prepare for life as a bottom. No, you don't want to do that? Just maybe, neither does she.



I met my boyfriend Lincoln two years ago through mutual friends. He is kind, caring and very attentive. We have a lot of fun when we are together.

A friend of Lincoln has encouraged him to get involved with his church. I saw nothing wrong with this but recently he encouraged Linc to attend a singles event so he could meet a fellow Christian. This surprised me, because even though I do not attend church on a weekly basis, I do consider myself a Christian.

I kind of blew up at Lincoln when I found out about this, which was maybe not the best move. Certain words were thrown around; I may have claimed to be a god. I don't want to stop him from being involved in the church, but what if this kind of stuff keeps happening?

Adeline P.

Dear Adeline,

Complaining about Lincoln's friend or dissing his new church is only going to start trouble. You need find out what the opiate of the masses is in this case, and give him a similar but different experience. Has he tried molly or cocaine?

A man needs something else in his life. For George Stephanopolous, it was his local salon. For Tony Hawk, it was his beautiful children. For Steve Jobs, it was being a total asshole to everyone he knew. Simply replace his faith in our Lord with a greater faith. I hear The Wire was just remastered in high definition. Also, that Tea Leoni show would convince anyone that there is no God.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.


"But It's Hard To" - Tigers on Trains (mp3)

"Stalking My Pulse" - Tigers on Trains (mp3)