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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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Thursday
Mar262015

In Which We Do Not Wish We Were Djuna Barnes

This is the third in a series.

The Vicious Age

The diaries of Charles Henri Ford culminate in a tremendous amount of unhappiness. In his primary relationship with the painter Pavlik Tchelitchew and the other affairs he consummated in full view of his partner, Henri Ford brings the sex life of his period into full and magnificent display in all its decadence, glory and shame. The older Ford became, the more reluctant he became to settle on any determinative theory of art or life, so he spent most of time bouncing from muse to muse.

The entries that follow are highly excerpted from the original manuscript, which you can purchase here.

“Santa Claus,” I replied to the man in the movie house on whose lap I sat, as he fingered my penis he’d whispered in my ear, “What’s that” and simultaneously a slide with the image of St. Nick was flashed on the screen. My earliest memory of sex.

This time twenty years ago I was visiting Getrude Stein at Bilignin. The first thing she’d asked me was if there’d been sex between Carmita and me in Morocco. Raspberries were in season. A big fresh bowl of them, a generous serving of cream, arrived on the breakfast tray. Alice B. Toklas had picked them that morning. Gertrude let me read a MS-copy of her book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, to be brought out in September. “I’ve given you a boost,” she told me.

One night, by lamplight, I complimented Gertrude on her looks. “You look handsome in that light,” I said, her profile being towards me. “Yes,” she said, “we’re both very handsome.” She predicted “success” for me in Paris - warned me that I should work, work, not let personal success spoil me. She said I showed a”three-year” development in character in maturity since she’d seen me in the spring of 1932 - when I’d gone to her to repay a small loan. That repayment fetched me a line in the Autobiography: “He is also honest which is also a pleasure.”

+

It is as a natural for a poet to want to draw as it is for an eleven year old boy to want to masturbate a man.

How I shall enjoy leaving Pavlik one day - how free I shall feel. But everything must be set first, both for him and for me. It will be like leaving a parent - but the time must come.

Babies are no more impossible than human beings.

Pavlik’s arrogance, childishness, infantilism, narcissism — all combine into his personality, take a personal form — as does my arrogance, childishness, infantilism, narcissism.

+

I go out now to have the car insured against fire and theft. Pavlik has gone, without breakfast, to deposit his stool for examination.

Writing is writing, nothing else. Gertrude Stein was convinced of this, it was her chief conviction. That’s why she used so many words trying to convince others.

I went to Harlem one night with an extraordinary woman: beautiful, famous, elegant, witty, worldly. To her I was a naif, pretty, bright little boy with a Southern accent. But if I had been her, I too, would have kissed that little boy, in the taxi returning from Harlem to Greenwich Village.

The next day I was in another taxi, on the way to the French Line Pier, but I stopped by the lady’s Washington Square apartment, to pick up the gift of a book — her own — which she’d promised me. “To Little Charles — With love,” it was inscribed - and the offering was sealed with a kiss. She told me later - in Paris - that she’d wanted to kiss me sober, so as to show her drunken kisses were meant. Her name was Djuna Barnes.

+

Last night, high, I disclosed to Mayo the three types of females who attract my imagination: the little girl, the somnambule, and the cadaver.

Ape’s face on a bird’s body.

Where is the Equinox: the day of the conscious, the night of the unconscious? “Rhymes, too, come from the unconscious,” Auden told me. “They should stay there,” I said.

We laugh at the childish, the inappropriate, the unfortunate. At this point, 1954, the United States is much too full of its own enjoyment.

"You should show it something,” said Pavlik, of the new moon, as we walked on the starlit, moonlit roof terrace.

“I show my eyes of silver blue.”

+

My birthday. At the next post office, made of rocks and rills, there may be a package, postmarked Eternity (that inconceivable town), addressed to one of us, tied with strings that meet at a touch, wrapped in the skin of a transparent creature, holding an egg to explode the magic tooth which shines when the moon shines, only.

The landscape is covered with a blanket of snow. All this whiteness adds to the sense of being isolated, enclosed, one feels stimulated sexually.

Don G. was telling us how in the winter season the Italians make love less — even among the peasants — their sexual nature sleeps, like trees and such, wakes up again in the spring. And that’s why, he says, an Italian man of sixty may still appear young. I know one thing: I’m sex-starved. Any age is the vicious age.

I met Isak Dinesen. She was wearing a deep cloche of tobacco-colored straw. She talks rhythmically, and sounds as if she were reading one of her own stories. She said I am like what she expected me to be. I said, “You are beyond my expectations.”

+

As much of humanity in me as I can stand.

1954

Wednesday
Mar252015

In Which We Have Gabriel And Damascus

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.

Hi,

My boyfriend Marcus O'Neill and I have a great sex life, averaging about five times a week if we are able to see each other that frequently with our schedules. Marcus recently confessed that he still masturbates himself to orgasm on a dialy basis whether we have sex or not.

I was pretty shocked by this. Is that kind of frequency normal for someone in a relationship, and should I be worried that I am not satisfying Marcus O'Neill's needs? (I asked him what he thinks about when he does it, and he says me/pornography.)

Ashley T.

Dear Dinah,

Some people use masturbation as a panacea for a variety of common problems: sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, reaction trauma, boredom or if there is not a fresh juice box on hand.

Habits are developed early on, and are sometimes hard to reliably break. You might think that Marcus should be completed by what you do together, but it's possible you are just making him more enervated and aroused. This may not altogether be a bad thing.

If he does have this much testosterone floating around in the ether, then it is also good he has found a way to express it that doesn't hurt you or anyone else, except of course the victims of the Los Angeles-based pornography industry.

We get a lot of questions about pornography, most of them suggesting that it is terrible and should not exist. There is no easy reply to this sentiment, because it will always exist as long as the human body is titillating and easy to display.

If he hasn't already, suggesting Marcus do this in front of you may assuage some of your fears. He may believe you are not interested in his private time, so reassure him with soft comments like, "That's an impressive grip!" or "You're actually good at this?" The only person in the world who does not benefit from encouragement is Howard Schulz.

Hi,

 

I've been in a relationship with this guy for less than a month and he wants me to meet his parents and entire family over passover, but I'm feeling a bit reluctant about going. I haven't given him an answer yet, and it would mean the world to him if I went. What should I do?

 

Annie S.

Dear Annie,

Are you reluctant because you think it's too soon to meet his parents or because you're not that into him and the thought of spending a holiday with him AND his family has you wishing for a chance to wander 40 years in the desert? If it's the former, just go with it. It's probably not that big of a deal, unless the guy's intense in other ways, too. (If he is, just tell him to tone it down.) If it's the latter, then maybe this is a sign that you should get out of this relaysh.

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

 

"Yesterday's Tapes" - Telepath (mp3)

Tuesday
Mar242015

In Which We Receive Perfect Kindness And Courage

Where The Sidewalk Ends

by JULIA CLARKE

Cinderella
dir. Kenneth Branagh
105 minutes

There was an episode of ABC's The Bachelor where, in a cross-promotional opportunity with Cinderella that was rather shameless, even for Disney, former Playboy centerfold Jade Roper went on a princess date with Chris. Jade received a new dress and, as a mode of pre-gaming, was permitted to watch an “exclusive clip” from the movie on an iPad. It’s possibly the least exciting moment of the season, but I did note that Lady Rose (Lily James) from Downton Abbey was to be Cinderella. What I didn’t realize until I settled into my seat at the theater, right on time for the 2 p.m. showing, was that Downton Abbey's sous chef Daisy (Sophie McShera) was in it as well. She plays a stepsister. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The other night, happily strolling the streets of Manhattan, I saw a rat crawling cautiously in the middle of the sidewalk. In New York rats are ubiquitous, but only in the subways, so you can imagine my fear/curiosity. A nearby child also noted the animal and was eager to investigate, but his mother pulled him away saying, “It’s probably sick.” I mean, it had to be sick, right, to venture above ground, away from the roaring express trains, relentless mysterious puddles, and expired metro cards peppering gum-speckled platforms? I took at least two showers when I got back to my apartment and still felt like I had caught some sort of rat disease, or that it had followed me inside my building, or that it now resided in my hair.

In Cinderella, the notion of rodents doesn’t repel — in fact, the rodents are named and revered, not unlike Micky Mouse himself. Cinderella speaks to them more than she speaks to anyone else in the film, and the narrator (who is actually the fairy godmother, obviously played by Helena Bonham Carter) notes, unnecessarily, that they’re her bffs.

When Cinderella is a child (back then she’s just known as Ella), her mother assures her that animals speak, listen, and understand humans, but it’s implied you have to be blonde, clad in blue, and somewhat earthy for that to work. In Disney’s 1950 animated version of Cinderella, Gus Gus the mouse is adorable, partially because he is pristinely animated, wears a cute t-shirt, talks, is fully capable of preparing his own meals, helps Cinderella with chores, and is just an adorable, nonthreatening human in mouse form. In this live action version, Gus is played by that rat I saw on the sidewalk.

A big take-away from the film is animal rights, or, as they say in academia, animal studies. As a vegetarian, an addict of breeching whale videos on youtube, and someone who enjoys having my feet warmed by soft golden retrievers, I like to smugly profess my love and respect for animals. Unfortunately, it was hard to get past the filthy mice that were permitted and in fact invited inside Cinderella’s home, which can only be described as the interior of your corner Anthropologie (you could practically smell the $24 Santiago huckleberry candles, and they let rats in that haven of shabby chic?).

When Cinderella first meets the prince, they are in the woods. She is galloping away from the cruelty of Daisy, Cate Blanchett, and the other stepsister (Holliday Grainger) and finds herself in the midst of a royal hunt. The gentlemen on horseback are after a CGI stag. “Run away,” Cinderella whispers to the deer in much the same way she communicates with the mice. Shortly thereafter, the prince gallops up and mansplains that hunting is “what’s done,” to which Cinderella replies, “just because it’s done doesn’t mean it’s right,” or something, and he is visibly moved.

During this meet-cute, their horses are circling each other dizzyingly, but they stop suddenly after she tells him of her acquaintance with the stag. The camera focuses deeply on his soulless blue eyes, and we see that their entire romance hinges on her defense of the animal, which she tells the prince “has a lot more life to live.” We never see Cinderella eat meat.

The other thing is that the stepsisters and stepmother (Cate Blanchett) are incredibly coiffed, their nails painted, lips vibrantly red, and yet they are the most ‘animal.’ They laugh like hyenas at Cinderella’s soot-covered face and try their hardest to eradicate her sense of self. They rename her and tell her she’s worthless because of their thinly veiled jealousy. The irony is perhaps a bit too heavy-handed, but the joy of clear irony is that nobody misses it, and in politics, you can never be too clear.

“I forgive you,” Cinderella finally says to her stepmother after her foot fits inside the glass slipper, and we recognize the power of good over evil and the freedom of forgiveness, those hopeful ideas that fairy tales so beautifully deliver to even the most cynical audiences. The message is solid, and it goes against criticism that Cinderella, or at least the 2015 imagining, is sexist. In this version, the protagonist is not a pushover who needs a prince to validate her.

The fact of the matter is that yes, Cinderella is treated like a servant and takes forever to finally speak up, but she’s unbreakable in a dazzling Kimmy Schmidt sense. It’s pretty clear she likes the prince for political reasons — by marrying him, we can expect a ban on ruthless hunts for blameless deer and, hopefully, vegetarianism for all of the kingdom. She listens to her mother, who on her deathbed makes her promise to “have courage and be kind." She’s a regular liberal, and she achieves her goals subtly, by leaning the fuck in.

In one scene, Cinderella's twice-widowed stepmother explains the tragedy of her first two marriages. Can we blame her for being pissed that her new husband really only cares about his spawn from his first wife, who died in a gloriously Victorian way — suddenly and gracefully, after a single faint followed by foreboding, indistinct murmurings from a country doctor? If it weren’t for her cruelty and monetary greediness, we would nearly pity Cinderella's stepmother, and plus it’s Cate Blanchett, who is lovely. We get perfect kindness and courage from Lady Rose, obvi, and perhaps most intriguingly a real outside-of-the-box Daisy, who prances around in a hoop skirt like she’s never worked dinner at Downton in her life.

Like Downton Abbey’s obsession with the changing times (I swear, if I hear Carson lament bygone days one more time, I’m giving up on everything, including knowing whether or not Thomas finds love), this is a Cinderella about a changing society — about a commoner shockingly marrying royalty, about a kingdom transformed by a woman’s insistence on being kind to animals, even rats, and about a man being open with his foot fetish.

Julia Clarke is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan.

"How Can I" - Laura Marling (mp3)

"Divine" - Laura Marling (mp3)