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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 Answer His Pointed Questions

painting by Joseph Peller

My Binaries


Kyle had this quiz he thought each individual should administer to themselves at important moments in her life. He always asked himself the following:

Who do I want to be with right now?
Where do I want to be with them?

It is not that he did whatever it took to make this happen. But if his current conditions did not match his desires, he became profoundly upset. After a year with him, it occurred to me that this was the only way he ever knew he was not happy.

The sociologist Alfred Schutz divided the reasons for behavior into two possible spheres — one is the in-order-to motive, the ostensible reason for an act, and the other is the because-motive. This reflects whatever incident in the past is inspiring that behavior. Kyle had both — he was, after all, a human being — but whether he was unable to relate the second, or purposefully kept it hidden, I don't know.

Sex with Kyle was like this: imagine the top of a wave. You think it's coming down. It is going to crash, obliterating you. Instead of a loud noise, a crushing impact, all is silence, and your head knocks against a rock.

This is therapy for me, both because I cannot afford to see an actual therapist like my friend Susan, and because I cannot imagine telling any of this to an actual person. It would just hang in the air, like a thought balloon in a comic.

Susan has been very concerned for me, so she runs my situation by her psychologist. This woman who advises her likes to frame most human situations in a binary, since that appears to be the only way that people with a graduate degree in the humanities are able to understand the world. She always asks the same questions: What are you giving? And what are you receiving?

I like to do this when I am checking out at Banana Republic, or riding the Metro. It reminds me that some people think every situation is like the one they are in, and other people think no one could ever be exactly like them.

In fact, I know there are other men like Kyle. I know there is a way to operate from impulse alone, and I even value that, and probably envy his modality to some degree, but above all, I do not really understand it. It may be that we need more of that — of acting without knowing why we are acting. Or maybe, Schutz writes, we just think we know why.

I still see Kyle quite frequently. He went back to working as a waiter — he was too used to the money and I have to admit he is good at it. I wave at him when I walk by Cafe Almonte and he gets this screwed up look on his face, like he is thinking really hard.

Last week he actually came over. "I just want to talk" is what he said, for what felt like the thousandth time. At sunrise he woke me up by playing my guitar. Well, not playing, just plucking at the strings.

I just read back what I have written so far to Susan. She told me that he does not sound half-bad. I will try harder.

You see, a because-motive is necessary for me in everything that I do. I think of the first time I was ever humiliated quite often. It was in second grade, when I refused to wear my eyeglasses. I can't help but think it is highly relevant that I was shamed because I could not see clearly.

There is this woman he knows — I want to call her a girl, but she is even older than I am. She buys him things. She bought him a nice watch when we were dating. I said, "Doesn't it feel weird to accept a gift like that?" He took the watch off his wrist and handed it to me.

What are you giving? What are you receiving?

Of course he was with other women, but at the most cynical times, like when he told me he wanted something else instead, or suggested a short break. I remember him asking me if I thought we were too close; I never felt farther away. Schutz actually believed it was easier for us to know other people better than we know ourselves, since we were able to observe their subjective reactions to events.

Lately I feel I know what he meant.

Angela Lipscomb is a contributor to This Recording. This is her first appearance in these pages. She is a writer living in Washington D.C.

Paintings by Joseph Peller.

"Back To You" - Meg Baird (mp3)

"Past Houses" - Meg Baird (mp3)


In Which We Find Nicholas Ray In A Lonely Place

This is the second in a series about the life of the director Nicholas Ray. You can find the first part here.

A Dangerous Fault


He has a dangerous fault in work. You feel that he is thinking a little bit more about himself, and the angles, than the material. This comes out of his uncertainty.

Hollywood in the late 1940s was a dangerous place for anyone who had ever has the slightest association with the Communist party. The director Nicholas Ray had recently married an actress named Gloria Grahame after impregnating her.  He could not afford to be blacklisted; he had to work. So he turned to his friend Howard Hughes.

At RKO, Hughes' mission was to make anti-Communist films — he did not particularly care the politics of the people who made them. Ray refused to direct a movie called I Married A Communist because it hit too close to home — his friend Gene Kelly had done just that. His first film, They Live By Night, had been shelved and  a proper follow-up, starring Joan Fontaine as a miscast bad girl, was something of a mess as well.

He was unhappy with his marriage, too. Grahame was beautiful, but as Patrick McGilligan explains in his masterful biography Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director, Ray admitted he was "infatuated with her: but I did not like her very much." At the start, their connection was mostly sexual, with Ray's friends in awe that he was able to even maintain an erection given the amount of alcohol he consumed.

Gloria loved sex more than her husband. One of her friends suggested that when they were out, Gloria stood behind Ray with her eyes cast to the ground. Ray's gambling and drinking were spiralling out of control — Grahame and her mother would spend hours replacing his cocaine with sugar.

One of Ray's closest friends, Humphrey Bogart, was his star in the legal drama Knock On Any Door. In 1951, they planned to reunite for a picture in which Bogart would play a man with the double life of a screenwriter and serial killer. The working title was In A Lonely Place. Because the Production Code was loathe to approve the concept of Bogart as a multiple murderer, Ray and producer Robert Lord rewrote the script to make Bogart only a potential suspect in the case.

In A Lonely Place is a masterpiece of atmosphere and mood over actual content. Bogart plays his usual caustic individual, but Ray pushes the character into something like a literary supervillain. They had great trouble casting Bogart's love interest-victim until Ray suggested his wife. In order to get the film publicity they drew up a his-and-hers contract where Ray's second wife was forbidden to "nag, cajole, tease or in any other feminine fashion seek to distract or influence him" during the film's production.

On set, the real intimacy was between the heterosexual Bogart and the indeterminate Ray. The particulars of the relationship depended entirely on which of them was drinking at the time. "At certain times when I would not drink," Ray later wrote, "when filming, particularly or the preparation before filming, our relationship would alter. In some ways it became deeper, in others, only more formal."

Ray rewrote the novel's ending to reflect the dark nature of the relationship between himself and Grahame. The real-life parallels were all too obvious to everyone on set of In A Lonely Place, and Bogart convinced the studio that it all actually worked, so Ray's new ending stood. Although not very successful at the box office, In A Lonely Place established Ray as a director who was doing new things that other men in the industry could only dream of.

The closeness necessitated by their working together drove Ray and Gloria Grahame even further apart. He moved his things out of their Sunset Boulevard home and slept in his trailer. They kept up the fiction of their marriage in order to protect their young son, but the gossip columnists broke the story. Grahame's deep hurt was expressed on a series of men, while Ray started an on-again-off-again courtship of a younger woman named Marilyn Monroe.

One night Ray walked in on his 13-year-old son Anthony from a previous marriage inside of his soon-to-be-ex-wife. The story followed Ray everywhere. (It only worsened the situation in 1962 when his look-alike son and Gloria Grahame reconnected and decided to exchange vows of marriage.) The betrayal meant more drinking, more drug use, and when he could get it, more of Marilyn.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Crux" - Jean Grae (mp3)

"August 20th" - Jean Grae (mp3)


In Which We Find Someone Who Can Play The Bass

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.


Aaron has been dating my friend Katy for just short of two years. She loves him dearly and sees a future for them together. They are both in their late twenties. Recently, Aaron told me in confidence that his Italian-born parents want him to take a long trip to Italy and "find a wife there." I guess this is something of a tradition. He has had some great experiences with his family in Italy and he confessed that it is something he has considered. 

I recently observed someone ask Aaron whether he had a girlfriend, and he said yes, "She is really nice." This struck me as true but also a bit underwhelming. Do I tell Katy any of this, and how do I advise Aaron?

Priya C.

Dear Priya,

That's how someone would describe material possessions, like a soft pashmina or an adopted pug, not a significant other. There's definitely a lack of passion in his cadence and demeanor. According to his missteps, the red flags line up perfectly. One, he doesn't love Katy enough and is already resorting to flying out to Italy. Two, a part of him still wants to please his parents to fill a void (i.e. parents never got him the Yorkshire terrier he wanted on his 5th birthday). 

When we were younger, my parents knew my brothers and I weren't going to have traditional marriages. Not every parent is going to let their child run into the wild to figure their own romantic endeavors. They fully accepted the upcoming cultural and generational shifts. Marriage is just the cherry on top for them. I rolled merrily along with my life and didn't expect anything of it until I met a girl in college who had an arranged marriage. She fell in love with him as time went on, but it was an unusual and fortunate circumstance not everyone is so lucky to have. 

Aaron should fully accept the full responsibility of what is to come. If he is percolating the idea of flying to Italy quite heavily then he should tell how Katy how he really feels about her. More importantly, ask him if Katy is his soulmate, or if the timing is right, "his soulsies."


My stepsister Andrea has a young son named Ruben of 12. He is hyperactive and frequently embarasses her in front of company. I realize he has behavorial problems, but my fiancee isn't as used to dealing with him as I am. Our wedding is in a few months and she has said in no uncertain terms that she does not want Ruben to be anywhere around us that day.

I realize the possibility of ruining the ceremony would be terrible, but I have suggested as a compromise that he could attend the reception where more than one individual is likely to embarrass themselves. I feel it would be a long-remembered omission to disinvite a member of my family who is a part of our lives, even if he has issues with ADHD.

Mark S.

Dear Mark,

You're actually thinking of disobeying your-wife-to-be's wishing on your wedding day? You stupid, naive motherfucker. Compromises are for Chamberlain and when they are all out of whole wheat wraps. If your family holds it against you or your wife that you made this unilateral decision, it's their problem.

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


"Genesis" - Lau Nau (mp3)

"Kuoleman Laiva" - Lau Nau (mp3)