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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
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 We Say All That Could Reasonably Be Said

A Taste For Gin and Tonic


She admired Joan of Arc most of all. The French heroine was, in her imagination, the tall, slightly awkward, slightly shy version of herself. "She became the character I liked to play most. She, too, was a timid child, but with great dignity and courage." All the boys teased and mocked Ingrid Bergman, to her face and behind her back. To entertain her friends, she re-enacted Joan's death.

In the wake of Ingrid's mother's death, her father found comfort with the family's eighteen year old housekeeper/governess, Greta. She treated Ingrid like a younger sister, and the girl returned the favor. Between her aunt (she called the woman 'Aunt Mommy'), her deceased mother, and her father's young mistress, it had been a confusing set of mentors. None of these women could cook, so neither could Ingrid. She was a lot better at German; her father had always spoken the language very well.

"I believed that my life with my father was perfect," Ingrid wrote of her art dealer papa. "He was everything to me, and I was everything to him. People would say, 'She must miss her mother terribly.' But I didn't, because for me she was very abstract. She was a photograph...always frozen in a picture frame."

Her father had made a short film of Ingrid's mother for her to remember the woman by. It is a terrifying sequence that ends with the three year old girl putting flowers on her mother's grave. When Ingrid made it to America for the first time, David O. Selznick had it restored for her. Even without her mother, the tiny family got along well, singing at the piano each night after dinner.

When she was 13, her father died. She moved in with her aunt and uncle, who were overjoyed to take her for the simple reason that the girl's trust fund raised their standard of living immediately. Her first audition was for the Royal Dramatic Theater.

One of the admissions committee said of Ingrid that, "while she has too much the appearance of a country girl, she is very natural and is the type that does not need makeup on her face or on her mind." Her star began there, and soon "Sweden seemed too small and I felt I had to get to a bigger country... but I was scared to death Hollywood would not like me."

Chosen to be a star from early on in her country, Ingrid came to America for the first time on the Queen Mary. She wanted desperately to become an American as quickly as possible, since she knew she would have to survive and thrive in this country in any case. She ate the most American meals she could find, taking refuge in familiar ice cream when it proved unsatisfying.

At first she never drank to excess, and even her passion for food as a refuge had its limits. Gin, whiskey and good wine were afforded her now. Temptation could be indulged until just before it became damaging. After her relationship with Rossellini, her drinking became more and more frequent. "I always look at myself in a detached way," she said at the time, "as though I was watching a stranger for whom I am responsible."

In order to speak English well enough to perform on stage or camera, she went to the theater as often as she could. There she saw pablum like The Little Foxes and The Philadelphia Story, trying in vain to comprehend the idioms. Selznick hired a dialogue coach for her and she took the train from New York to California.

with Gregory Peck

Selznick's wife Irene showed Ingrid to her room in their vast Beverly Hills mansion. The makeover began immediately, and Ingrid chafed on how they wanted to change her. She convinced Selznick not to alter her eyebrows and limited the application of makeup, selling him on the idea of her as a "natural girl", with her own teeth and hair.

Her first house was in a slightly less glamorous part of Beverly Hills, no pool. Her contract limited her to two films a year, and she despised the idleness it created, complaining to Selznick, who made thousands hiring his new star out to other studios. Anxious as hell, she gained fifteen pounds on ice cream sundaes. "You're going to love America," her friend opined.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about the childhood of Walter Benjamin.

Dear Mrs Bergman,

I send you as promised a short synopsis of my story: I can’t call it a real full length story, because it is not a story. I am used to following a few basic ideas and building them up little by little during the process of the work as the scenes very often spring out of direct inspiration from reality. I don’t know whether my words will have the same power of the images: anyhow, I assure you that, during this work of mine, my own emotions have been strong and intense as never before. I wish I could speak to you about Her and He, the Island, the men and women of the Island, the humility so primitive though so antique, made wise by experience of centuries. One could think that they live so simply and poorly just because of that knowledge of the vanity of everything we consider civilized and necessary.

Ingrid in 'Stromboli'

I am sure that you will find many parts of the story quite rugged, and that your personality will be hurt and offended by some reactions of the personage. You mustn’t think that I approve of the behaviour of Him. I deplore the wild and brutal jealousy of the Islander, I consider it a remainder of an elementary and old fashioned mentality. I describe it because it is part of the ambience, like the prickly pears, the pines and the goats. But I can’t deny in the deepness of my soul there us a secret envy for those that can love so passionately, so wildly, as to forget any tenderness, any pity for their beloved ones. They are guided only by a deep desire of possession of the body and sold of the woman they love. Civilization has smoothed the strength of feelings; undoubtedly it’s more comfortable to reach the top of a mountain by funicular, but perhaps the joy was greater when men climbed dangerously to the top.

I beg your pardon for the many diversions, I am filled with so many thoughts and I fear that you cannot understand me completely only by a letter. I am anxious to know your impression after you have read this story. I beg you to consider that the translation was made in a great hurry by people who have not the complete mastery of the language.

I want you to know how deeply I wish to translate those ideas into images, just to quiet down the turmoil of my brain.

Waiting to know your judgement, I am,
Yours very truly and devoted

R. Rossellini

"More Human Now" - Jeff Beal (mp3)

"Losing Rachel" - Jeff Beal (mp3)


In Which We Walked Into An Erratic Storm

19 to Present


1. During my college years, I cultivated a brand of sadness that was lithe, trivial and mixed with boredom, which I found shameful. Most of my internal life centered upon the relentless process of apologizing to myself for myself. In some instances, I recognized this tendency in strangers, and to them I either opened up excessively or not at all. 

2. I was once told by a man I loved desperately that he loved me, too, just not in the way that he needed to see me all of the time.

3. I once kissed a boy with green eyes and a sort of whimpering, pouting quality of mouth to which I tended to be impossibly drawn. He was drawn to me, too, but he couldn’t take me seriously. We spoke about Europe and Jung in the darkness of his sweat-ridden apartment, and though the blackest of blacknesses, he sought to puncture our intimacy. Our tense touching harbored the impression of anonymity; our unseen forms made contact and then released. For days after, I reflected upon the way his mouth formed the soft phrase, “I’m not going anywhere.” I wondered if he’d meant it, or if he’d already grown tired of me.

4. As a young person with literary ambitions and an irrevocable, cerebral bent, I immersed myself in the solipsistic examination of infinite dynamics of self to self. To this end, I drank profusely, read Infinite Jest, and generally felt kind of sorry for myself. 

5. I attended lectures taught by professors of a certain renown who, in the early morning, to a sea of soft faces, whispered. I attended a class where I was the only one who wanted to discuss the queer slant to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I was taught by a professor who drank seltzer with ice in a tumbler at nine in the morning and wore a fedora around the literary department of New York University. No matter what I wrote, he marked my papers with B+’s. I once scheduled a meeting with him to tell him that this wasn’t normal for me.

6. At the crux of my freshman year, I walked in an unfamiliar daze suffering what felt like tiny heart palpitations and the onset of insanity. I listened to “Karen” by The National on repeat, which seemed to capture the strange disconnect between heart, head and hands that my body had suddenly inflicted upon itself. I texted my mother to ask her if it was possible for me to be dying from an amphetamine overdose. Twenty minutes later she responded, “Not really.”

7. The complexities of my relationship with Casey confounded the two of us but bored or distressed all my friends. Harbingers of doom presented themselves with brazenness and profound frequency. We were on the floor of his shower discussing things when he told me, “I don’t know how to interact with you outside of this realm.” The evening withered and beckoned us into its dissolution. When we finally fully broke from one another, I told him, “Ending is hard, but it’s easier than loving you.” “Okay, that sucks,” he said.

8. We met for lunch in the sterile light of a basement cafeteria at a campus dormitory. He told me that my shoes made me look like a Dutch prostitute and that he’d started dating someone who was “sexually illiterate.” His interest in her was cultivated, it seemed, by her interest in him and a set of preternatural good looks. I hoped. I fingered haphazardly and anxiously the insane display of off-colored, lukewarm food that I had, in my nervousness, assembled. We suffered through requisite, bloated lapses in conversation and held deliberate eye contact. As we parted ways, he gave me a long hug and whispered, “let’s not do this again.”

9. Thinking got me intro trouble. Doing got me into trouble. Feeling got me into trouble more than anything else.

10. I have lived, thus far, for five years in New York City, which, as necessitated by the nature of its mythology, rarely exemplifies the nature of its mythology. In order for any of its potential ecstasies to find themselves felt, one must suffer, in equal or greater portion, shades of despair and desolation. And as extremes rarely manifest, the day-to-day sense of triviality and frustration was pronounced, diffuse. I tried to mediate this quality of ordinary life by getting drunk and texting ex-boyfriends. I wanted desperately to be affected by people. As I get older, to most of my urges and inclinations, I mutter, “No. Take a walk around the block. Put yourself to bed.” 

11. Incapable of discerning good influences from bad, I regarded people indiscriminately for what new sentiments they could stimulate in me. All the dudes I dated shared a slightly cruel bent and the ability to debilitate, in some manner, my already shaking sense of self. None of these men struck me as particularly happy, but I am fairly certain that at least two will become famous.

12. My sense of guilt established itself paramount and manifested in diverse ways. I kept track of the damage I had done to myself. I wrote relentlessly, and, perhaps exclusively, poorly. Kafka’s The Metamorphosis exposed to me the possibility of perfect writing and simultaneous redemption, and as I was capable of neither, my profound swell of inadequacy arose. Guilt lingered about my flesh and inched the fat from my bones. My body seemed to me to harbor the imprints of some slight, unnatural disaster, which made it all the more surprising to me when I realized that people found me pretty. 

13. Petty boundaries presented themselves ripe for the breaking. Kerrie and I once flirted shamelessly with the opening act at a Yoni Wolf concert and then retold the story fondly, as though we hadn’t basically humiliated ourselves. We did things, I think, simply because we didn’t know what else to do. For awhile, I was waking up regularly in a famous filmmaker’s house in Brooklyn and suffering tiny spasms of confusion and nausea. A sense of inconsequentiality permeated as experiments in intimacy and camaraderie mounted, diffused, and pittered into absence. The world was loud and transient, and we did confused things within it.

14. I developed insufferable habits. I alternated ordering cappucinos and bellinis at cafes while trying and failing to write things. I got drunk and wrote lines from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" on the bathroom walls of the exclusively gross bars I frequented. I became familiar with insomnia and hangovers. I settled into a mode of existing that straddled awkwardly some barrier between neuroticism and nihilism, which proved unsustainable.

15. My interest in moralizing subsided when it seemed to become impossible to justify any of my impulses to myself at any time by any logic whatsoever. My institution of self knowledge sort of came to rest on the Myers Briggs test and episodes of Mad Men, which have both been vastly valuable resources for me.

16. Exhausted by Manhattan, I made the misguided move to North Williamsburg, which proved emphatically to be not far enough.

17. In Williamsburg, everyone looked at everyone. The act of looking and of being seen created a reciprocal composite that plastered itself over the experience of existing in an infinitely public realm. The neighborhood and its cameras craved spectacle, and even at its outskirts, one felt compelled to consider deeply the appearance of self. On a date, I blithely mentioned that my bangs were so integral to my appearance that people often told me that they didn’t think they’d recognize me without them. “What other problems you got?” he asked.

18. On Bedford Avenue, I ran into a man I’d dated years prior and felt satisfied that his new movie had come out to sort of shit reviews. He looked pale and strung-out and dirty, but he was doing exceptionally well in his new job at Vice. At a piano bar in Greenpoint, we connected in a forced, dull way. Remembering more of him than he had of me, I reveled in the opportunity to suppress all my habits he’d found irritating and adopt the affects of someone slightly more to his liking. It was an experiment in utilizing my neuroses so as to suffocate my neuroses, which I found intriguing. Later that night, in a brief moment of comfortable intimacy, I accidentally mislabeled James Blake James Blunt and sort of understood why he’d broken up with me.

19. I attended parties in Bushwick where people spoke casually but compulsively about Kubrick and Heidegger. On rooftops and fire escapes, drunk kids made slurred, personal revelations and went home with one another. Typed amateur screenplays on old wooden desks fluttered in stray wind. My preferred party game was guessing peoples’ Myers Briggs types. Though I was almost always correct, I managed to endear myself to precisely no one.

20. After a night of drinking at Night of Joy, I texted Luke, “I’m making bad decisions for everyone.” “Tell me about your bad decisions,” he responded. 

21. I befriended beautiful and intelligent girls who, without exception, felt that they had something to prove. One balanced her time maintaining a 4.0 GPA and blowing pungent pot smoke out the window of our dorm room in a weird effort to lift herself from the oppression of cliché. Another occupied herself by finding increasingly elaborate methods of masking a long-term eating disorder. Still another shouted at me, during a discussion of a disappointing break-up, “but I’m so smart, Laura. You have no idea how smart I am.”

22. Between 2008 and 2013, my historic fear of aloneness evolved into such a profound reliance on my solitude that I could sustain myself for days on end on my thoughts alone.  The compulsive need I felt for silence made my choice to live here seem bizarre, rooted only in impossible abstraction. I tried to leave New York once, but it didn’t take.

23. As time passed, we all kind of started to grow up and practice settling down. I watched one of my best friends fall for and engage in serious relations with a dude that I had once unceremoniously but fervently referred to as a shithead. For whatever reason, I took this as an omen of audulthood.

24. Where I had once craved laceration and sublimation in equal amounts, I began to hanker for consistency and control. I satisfied myself, in this respect, by habitually making my bed. If I was feeling reckless or indulgent, I practiced prolonged eye contact with strangers in the street. I started reading a lot of George Saunders and cultivated a healthy terror of things to come.

25. There is a sense of profound discomfort that arises from existing in spaces made familiar by occurrences that have long since ceased to feel familiar. A tangential rationale explains why I have lost contact with most of the people I knew in college. What exists between me and the people I used to know is not bad blood, per se, but blood still comes to mind. I cannot fathom how much of myself I unwittingly lost to others when I hadn’t the slightest sense of what I was made of.

26. I want relationships, lately, without the hassle of cultivating or participating in them.

27. I moved into a windowless bedroom in Greenpoint, which expanded upon my personal, thematic divide of internal versus external. I once walked unknowing into an erratic storm in March that sent snowflakes jittering stupidly toward the sun. The air went soft for a moment. There was a rush of wind, a soft moan in the cavern of my ear, and then came the hurricane.

Laura Hooberman is a contributor to This Recording.

Photographs by Sabine Wild.

"(I've Got The) Sanctioned Blues" - Ultimate Painting (mp3)



In Which We Plan Our Lies Accordingly

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.


I'm planning on breaking up with my boyfriend of eighteen months, Harris. He is a little high-strung (not violent or anything like that) and I am worried about how he will take it. I'm going to be honest and tell him why I don't want to be with him anymore, which is because I don't see a future for us long term due to some of his behaviors. What's the best way to manage this awkward moment?

Joanne M.

Dear Joanne,

The most common letter we receive here at the Hard to Say offices is how to let someone down easy. This does not apply to our LW, but if you really care about someone you do not let them down easy. This goes for if the reason is not something like, "The proportions of your body disgust me." That kind of information you can keep inside you : it is subjective and unlikely to affect your boyfriend's next relationship.

The most common reason couples break up is that the attraction is gone. For some reason, people are reticent to say this, due to various environmental factors that associate a lack of attractiveness with an inherent ugliness. People get bored of each other's bodies, even very beautiful people who starred in the 2011 smash Limitless. When this happens, the underlying reason is usually not physical at all. An exciting woman is attractive even if she has a different shape or size. If this is the reason you are dumping Harris, you should tell him that. It is a verifiably innocent excuse for the breakup and he will probably get over it in three to four months and hop back on Tindr, get syphilis, and regret your departure for another three months.

If the reason you are breaking up the relationship is something more fixable, it is both dangerous but kind to tell him. For example, if his sister lives in his apartment and feels comfortable being a part of every aspect of your life including clucking comments about your wintercourse, he probably already knows what the issue is, and might offer to remedy the situation. Given your plan, you have already moved past the possibility of relationship working, so why bring it up? If you loved him, his sister would not have mattered.

As for how to accomplish this, a lot of people are into doing these things in public places. In my experience, men and women today don't have much compunction about making a scene. Justin Long manages it on a biannual basis. This can backfire: your ex-SO will realize that the moment you walk away, this is seriously going to be over and he will never see your gorgeous face again. This incentivizes him to keep you there, which is nothing like the outcome you were hoping for.

Instead, you want to pick a moment where you know with absolute certainty that he is going to separate from you. At this time you can do the lion's share of the breakup and finish it over later via text or phone. Always cry yourself — it is very important that he know or believe you are as affected by what is occurring as he is.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Too Much Is Not Enough" - Graveyard (mp3)