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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 Have Run Away In Fear Of So Much Less

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 friend Ami has a new boyfriend names Jacques. Jacques goes out a lot to the clubs and although Ami never took drugs before this, her life consists of taking them and going dancing. I really miss my friend and worry for her. She is so messed up the other night that I had to carry her home and put her to bed.

P.S. Jacques is not a bad guy, he is just fun-loving.

Frederique N.

Dear Frederique,

The role of the caretaker is a time-honored one in the drug culture. I hope I'm not being too broad here when I say you should never take of anyone for any reason except hefty financial remuneration.

If Ami ends up in the hospital or dead, do you really want to be the person who enabled her all this time, allowing her to think she could act however she wanted and someone else would pick up the pieces? You think you are helping her but the reality couldn't be more different: you are the one putting her in danger.

This Jacques fellow sounds like a real prince. He is not really interested in your friend's well-being, and he is not nice. He's just wearing a nice sweater.


I am in a committed relationship with my girlfriend of two years, Amy. We live together, and share many laughs and bon mots.

In early May I received a package in the mail from an ex. It was a box that my girlfriend unknowingly opened. While almost everything in the box only held a sentimental meaning obvious to the parties involved, there was one letter in the group, written by me, which could be described as romantic in nature.

The majority of the letter itself was chaste, but there was a reference to anal sex in it (a practice my ex enjoyed but is not a part of my life now). At first Amy seemed fine with what was undoubtedly a bit of a shock, but now she seems to have trouble overcoming the idea that the sex life I had with my ex was some kind of winsomely exotic menagerie, which it most certainly was not.

How can I get her to realize it wasn't all that important?

Henry L.

Dear Henry,

Telling Amy in minute detail what occurred is only going to open a Pandora's Box of insecurity. You need to give her an airtight reassurance to rely on in her mind: a recurring, comfortable phrase whose mere repetition is a solace. (Jonah Hill uses slurs.)

Sit her down with her favorite beverage. Perhaps she likes a piping hot tea? Who doesn't, as long as it's not a cherished part of anal play. She'll associate the taste of those ground beans with your definitive statement that she is in every way better than your ex. Having imprinted that idea, if Amy mentions it again, clearly state that you feel you have already addressed the issue, and that if she continues bringing it up she is liable to be shown the door.

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


"Thick As Blood" - Stubborn Son (mp3)

"Head Above Water" - Stubborn Son (mp3)


In Which We Agree At The Very Last Moment

Not Completely In Love


I am reluctant to write about Harper Lee’s new release, Go Set a Watchman. I’m not calling this a “new novel” because, though it may be new to us, it’s been hidden away for over fifty years in a safety deposit box. Watchman was Lee’s first attempt at writing a novel, and her publisher at the time advised her to rewrite the story with Jean Louise Finch as a child. To Kill a Mockingbird was born.

There has been considerable controversy surrounding the release of Watchman. Lee kept it from the public eye for so long, and for good reason: it reads like a first draft, perhaps a second. It is less a cohesive novel with good dialogue than it is, well, an attempt at one. There are those who claim that Harper Lee could not have decided to have Watchman published on her own. According to the Washington Post:

Harper Lee, 88, had a stroke in 2007. She is, by all accounts, almost completely deaf and blind. She resides in an assisted-living facility out on the Highway 21 bypass in this slow-moving town of 6,500, still not all that much different from how she immortalized it more than half-century ago.

Her current lawyer found the manuscript in the safety deposit box and read it. According to many news sources, Lee expressed her enthusiasm at the possibility of having Watchman published.

It’s a mystery. But these are details you have probably read about already.

It is important to read Go Set a Watchman independent of the beloved plot and characters of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is imperative to remember, also, that Watchman was an early draft of a later work; much was changed in Watchman to produce the masterpiece that was Mockingbird. It is more concerned with Jean Louise Finch’s disillusionment — and, dishearteningly, of her ultimate acceptance — of her racist community than it is about justice being served. She realizes, also, that she had been idolizing her father her entire life, as children often do: she sees that his views are not so different from others’ in Maycomb.

Jean Louise Finch (at twenty-six, it makes sense that she’s dropped her nickname, Scout) is traveling home by train to Maycomb County when the novel opens. Meeting her at her stop instead of her father is Henry Clinton, Atticus’s protege of sorts.

Since Jem died a few years previously of a sudden heart attack, Henry, a neighbor of the Finches from the time he was a child, has been a replacement son, learning the ins and outs of Atticus’s law practice. Jean Louise strings him along throughout the novel, telling him at times that she planned on marrying him, and at other times, denying him either because she’s “not completely in love with him” or because he’s a racist bigot.

The novel explores Jean Louise’s conscience as she observes the changes in her hometown’s community after the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education. Her father, along with her aunt Alexandra, uncle Jack, and even Henry Clinton, are all against integration. She rails against them at first, calling her father a “son of a bitch,” but he eventually compels her to see both sides of the argument. The ending of the novel is eerie:

Dear goodness, the things I learned. I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush [Atticus,] who’s trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess it’s like an airplane: they’re the drag and we’re the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we’re nose-heavy, too much of them and we’re tail-heavy — it’s a matter of balance. I can’t beat him, and I can’t join him.

What we can glean from Watchman is a more realistic account of racist tension than Mockingbird. I had mixed feelings about the “lesson” she learns by the end of the novel, to say the least; it’s difficult to stomach, whether or not Mockingbird has been read first. Jean Louise’s journey is upsetting, it is discouraging. Her characterization is shaky: she possesses much of the same independent spirit that we know and love, but she wavers severely back and forth between conviction and acceptance.

The novel is dotted with flashbacks to some of her spectacularly awkward experiences: at one point, she wears fake boobs to a school dance and they fall out of place; she thinks she’s been impregnated as a result of a boy French kissing her and carries the secret around with her for nine months. Jean Louise learns some painful lessons: the father she once idolized is an imperfect man; the world she knew and loved as a child will never be the same. The house she grew up in was torn down and an ice cream parlor was erected in its place. It’s time to grow up.

Taylor Hine is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Asheville. She tumbls here. You can find an archive of her writing for This Recording here.

"Always Back In Town" - Parquet Courts (mp3)

"Dear Ramona" - Parquet Courts (mp3)


In Which No Pleasure Is In Itself Evil



True Detective
creator Nic Pizzolatto

The New York Post had a headline this weekend that read 'Don Voyage.' Apparently questioning someone's service in the Vietnam War is enough to exclude you from consideration for anything. Bulworth is still a fairly prescient movie. I never served in the Vietnam War, or in any other places, but I have a lot of ideas about it. My main one is that it is just about as bad as it looks, but regular people never see it, not really.

There are a lot of things from which we are protected. Ever seen a dead body, for real, on television? Someone always has an excuse for why the most horrible thing is beyond all reason, but what does that make the second, third, and fourth most horrible things? Just fucking fine?

Colin Farrell got a new look, but she still looks like skunk. No justice. 

Just one time I would like to turn on my television or read a book and find out what things were really like. I have to say I don't think it's terribly important, things that happened forty or five years ago. They might as well not have occurred. I passed by a protest of nuclear weapons the other day. About 2,000 people had turned up for this important cause. Their cell phones and tablets were being powered by something, made by someone.

If the world makes us hypocrites, then we might as well sit in our own shit comfortably. "The minute you smelled shit," Vince Vaughn explains to his prissy, infertile wife, "you would be on the next plane." He is conveying to the love of his life why they can't just be farmers.

Ask her to marry you, Ray.

There is a sign outside the Chipotle I went to until it was closed down because of rats like so many others in the chain. It says No GMOs. This campaign against science — and it is a campaign against science — tells us that food becomes somehow awful if we grow it for a purpose. Do you know how fucked up a thing that is to say to someone who is starving? Do you have any idea how babies are made? Where's Alan Sokal when we need him?

What happened to the guy who used to run the evidence room? Is he Rust Cohle's new partner? Give me something!

It is amazing how every ideology, no matter how innocent, makes enemies. I believe I can summarize each major character on True Detective by showing how their worldview is not completely their own:

Taylor Kitsch/Kierkegaard "Love builds up by presupposing that love is present."

Colin Farrell/Hegel "The inclination to act as the laws command, a virtue, is a synthesis in which the law loses its universality and the subject its particularity; both lose their opposition."

A romantic walk on the beach. If only they could switch haircuts.

Rachel McAdams/Karl Jaspers "A choice made now, today, projects itself backwards and changes our past actions."

Kelly Reilly/Epicurus "No pleasure is in itself evil, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail annoyances many times greater than the pleasures themselves"

Adoption is a hell of drug.

Vince Vaughn/Erasmus "This type of man who is devoted to the study of wisdom is always most unlucky in everything, and particularly when it comes to procreating children; I imagine this is because Nature wants to ensure that the evils of wisdom shall not spread further throughout mankind."

Ben Casper/Nietzche "Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?"

What are the chances of these two ending up in bed together?

It is not religion that is disappearing — it was always some definite, resilient portion of the population determined to make God real. It is philosophy that has vanished from our society. I remember taking a class on Kierkegaard in college. The European professor explained how we had to know that Kierkegaard was a sexist, but that these ideas were divorced from his intellectual ones. I said, this isn't like Shakespeare cheating on his wife! How a philosopher treats human beings seems pretty important.

But that too has been lost. I don't care how a person treats people they barely know — strangers are dogshit anyway. I want to know how they treat the people they love. That's why Ray Velcoro's "just alcohol" redemption tour rings so hollow. I hope his wife gets full custody. And Rachel McAdams probably needed that harassment support group — after all, she was sleeping with a subordinate. Granted it was a nice gesture to allow him access to her pooper, but that doesn't make her Florence Nightengale. The law isn't a convenience. It may be pointless or unjust, but it is not a means. It is an end.

See, it really isn't that hard to write like Nic Pizzolatto. You just need to spend a lot of time on wikiquote.

He's looking at Velcoro with a bit too much intensity, but I have to say I loved his mother-in-law.

Vince Vaughn's Frank Seymon had to default on his mortgage and move into a small apartment. Velcoro couldn't even come by to help him unpack. I don't know exactly how you can be set up to hurt a man when you're a police officer and you can fully be expected to do the research yourself on whether he assaulted your wife. Abigail Spencer's new boyfriend better check himself. That guy is just meansies.

I wish there were more Donald Trumps so we can find out if all the things people assume are true are actually factual. Tiptoeing around reality only benefits those for whom that reality represents sustaining power and wealth. I believe Foucault said that, or maybe it was my wife in the throes of ecstasy. It's not surprising I could confuse those two sources.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Let the Laughter In" - Hannah Peel (mp3)

"Pale Green Ghosts" - Hannah Peel (mp3)