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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Durga Chew-Bose
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Brittany Julious
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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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Friday
Feb252011

In Which Players Always Love You When They're Playing

Crystal Visions

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Music is a drug. Science has officially demonstrated that music produces the same effects in the brain as powerful euphoric (psychosexual) experiences. The way drugs have an emotional effect on you (why do you think people take drugs?) you are using music as a substance to produce certain emotional effects. That is why you listen to some songs a million times and others once. Individual experiences are subjective. 

In YouTube comments people end up telling you the memory of their most vivid experience of the song. That's why people love pop music in movies so much (done well), because we have all had moments that happened to be perfectly soundtracked. It is another fourth wall. Do you point out how well the music is soundtracking the experience, or does pointing it out automatically stop the existence of the moment?

In the ideal experience you can't point it out because they're inseparable. It's not something you can really set up on purpose. It has to be accidental. The urge to combine all pleasurable experiences is strong, that's why George Costanza wants to eat a sandwich and watch sports during sex. But too much purposeful attempting is an impediment to true enjoyment, the way it can be hard to have fun on your birthday.  

In college Tess and I would occasionally go on drives. Providence is so small it literally sometimes feels like you live in your own mind. The point was never where we went, it was hanging out in the car together, which is why that Dayton/Faris Volkswagen Pink Moon ad blew everyone's mind ("HEY THAT IS WHAT I AM LIKE TOO!") and cornerstone of the enduring appeal of On The Road (uh...in theaters soon?) and Westerns (you're out on horses together someplace. Westerns and War Movies are male romances).

One time we were driving back from the Legal Seafood by the airport, probably really high (jk @probably), heading towards downtown Providence on the highway as the sun was setting. I don't know which came on first, Mr. Blue Sky by ELO or the fireworks (Patriots?) In my memory they occurred simultaneously, but that is because that's how it felt. We both just turned to each other like O___O O___O and felt like plastic bags.

Tess and I have always been obsessed with found poetry. In high school we would talk forever about why the way certain headlines were phrased was so funny. We were especially obsessed with British teen magazines because of their regional slang and lack of shying away from stories about graphic sexual trauma ("I Have Two Wombs!")

I remember reading an interview with The Spice Girls in Seventeen where they asked Baby Spice if she was a virgin and she giggled demurely and said "I might be!" and then a British one where she graphically recounted losing her virginity to a much older man when she was thirteen. American magazines were trying to protect us from full grown child woman Baby Spice's sexuality, and I felt really baffled as to why.

Every time I hear "With Or Without You" I think about when Tess and I would sit on her bed together listening to it in the dark. Theoretically it was about the love we had for some imaginary boys we didn't know yet, but it was just as much about the love we had for each other. It was the desire to meet somebody of the opposite sex that we could feel the same kind of connection with that we automatically always felt with one another. If this sounds so incredibly gay, I mean it is. Straight female friendships don't have the same kind of enforced homosexuality panic as straight male friendships. 

Tess and I are both obsessed with Tony Soprano because we identify with him so deeply, although I identify slightly more with Christopher Moltisanti. Tess finds Tony Soprano attractive, but I do not. I think Don Draper is attractive, but Tess thinks his legs are too short (I have literally no idea what she is talking about). She likes Pete Campbell. I think she's nuts. There are no universal metrics of measurement for anything. Taste is subjective. That's why people define themselves through it.

The Sopranos also always got into how we listen to songs to remind us of how we felt when we heard them at specific times. Tony's obsession with seventies rock spoke to his nostalgia for youthful times when he was brutal and all powerful, not yet locked in by any commitments or responsibilities, with his whole awesome life ahead of him. 

We were obsessed with Fleetwood Mac's The Dance and spent a lot of time speculating about what exactly Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were thinking about during that performance of "Landslide" and whether Lindsey's wife got mad at him afterwards for basically having a taped emotional affair with his ex-girlfriend on a stage. 

Tess and I forward the best spam e-mails we get; realty scams, letters from Nigerian princes, lotto alerts, some pure gibberish. Sometimes inside the text, lurking between the ridiculous typos and half-translations, there is a phrase that catches something. It is always all the more astonishing for being lodged inside of so much junk.

The best are often the e-mails from mail order brides. They prey on the deep human need for connection with sentences like "I'm tall and nice looking girl i saw your profile today, then i decided to drop you some words just to say hello and how was today, i will like to known more about you, and also i will like to tell you about me, please i will be very happy." There's something so touching about it. Hello and how was today.

Sometimes YouTube comments get trolled, but a lot of them are a sort of virtual oasis. A global pangea, an internet commune, a place where people share genuine feelings and thoughts and memories without anyone being a snotty dismissive asshole. People all over the world sharing the experience of listening to a specific song (I told you I'm an optimist). It is the isolating experience that becomes a connective one. 

Selected YouTube Comments From The Above Video For "Dreams"

Race should never play a card in music. But because I'm black I get a lot of weird ass looks for this being something I blast my system to. This song calms me in ways many can not imagine. Stevie Nicks is the shit and I will contest to any person who thinks different. Rock out Stevie, rock out.

Give me an mp3 with 5,000 songs of the 60s, 70s and 80s on it, a pocket full of batteries, my 66 babyblue Pontiac Beaumont, and a back seat and trunk filled with Cold Cokes and Icy Brewskis, and point me to the nearest highway. With a repertoire of great tunes like this one, I will cruise until the tires fall off and then just pull over into a little grove of trees and watch the sunset one last time as my life of pain and sorrow drifts off into a sleep of forever...what a way to go.

Great song!!! Thank you for this great video. Lee .... Santa Barbara , I love life and hope maybe one day you will know that you are a true friend. "Stevie Nicks" 'Rocks" No matter how old I get my heart will forever remain young!  "Sand" Only a call away..... VA Angels

2 very hot women...and 3 guys who got laid like crazy during that decade. WoW.

I remember being small in my car falling asleep as my parents drove home from a long road trip to this song

Why is there even a dislike button on this song??

i used to watch my sister getting ready to go out partying whilst she played rumors over and over again and this song stuck out the most, one of my favourite songs ever

Songs are a snap shot of certain points in our lives. The emotions, moods, etc that are so strongly tied to our most memorable song (even those that are just favorites or well liked) will ALWAYS take us there. And nothing can ever take that away-never! I 54 yrs old, I use this as a tool (sometimes as a drug) to get me there. I am glad I am a human. 'nuff said

man this song makes me smile when I Hear it because it makes me think of life and that we all have to die at one point in time and this song makes those facts not scary....all I know is that i wont forget this song and that when im old il still be hearing this song and it will still make me feel how it makes me feel now.

My voice of singing will never be as great as i wish for it to be, but my father has something wrong with him the doctors cant give him meds for and he is slowly dieing but he told me he would like me to sing this song in the talent show and im learning this song just for him (:

Is there anything more beautiful than the sound of Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, and Lindsey Buckingham singing harmonies together?

i remember hearing this as a lil kid on sundays when my mom would be cleaning the house early morning. lol. AWESOME SONG!

the only reason i heard this song just now was cus a girl told me it was nice. i agree with her now. this is nice

I love this song so much she is the best of all i know that thunder happens when is raining love that when it happens

o i miss my dad his old music we enjoyed together

that's song are amazing! i never tired of listen!

This song is super dreamy. If this song was a girl I would be all over it.

I'm 12 and even I agree today's music isn't as good as anything made from the 60s to the nineties

awesome song, Guys are such dicks.

For as many women that get their hearts broken by men, there are still plenty of guys that get their hearts broken by women, I happen to know quite a few myself. 

I'm getting her face tattooed on my chest

I miss that: a great song that is simple, tells a story, but that can magically contain one's perception of an aspect of life translated it into melody and lyrics. I do think that people who compose and write music are touched in a divine way.

Ok so I can remember the summer of 1978, I had just turned five, I was at my friend Monica's house...I pressed a button on her parents stereo and this song came on

cocaine's a hell of a drug

Hard to believe this woman is anywhere near 60 years old: time goes by like THAT.

hey stevie i agree on how u feel about the tech of the world i wish threre some way to be more of a freindly hand shake to say hello i dont need this texs its not good for us to know whats important to poeple and just be real face to face and say hi i love u steevie 

It was 1977? Sometime back around then.....Living at South Shore...Lake Tahoe. Yep! Fleetwood Mac and a big ol' doobie......Work hard, play hard....Great music that transports me back to some friggin' far-out times..........Instantly...

its amazing how she wrote this song within an hour. This song chose her to share through out the world!

My dad got to dance with Stevie Nicks while he was security at one of her concerts......That lucky bastard! RIP dad..........xoxoxo

Such haunting song too. Dark, sexy, kind of sticks to you after sex on a rainy summer night. When it's over, it leaves you lonely, but interested and wanting more.

Stevie Nicks is pretty as hell in these photos. I would hop on it with out one seconds hesitation if I had the chance.

magic

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She twitters here and tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about how to be a woman in a boys' club.

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"As Long As You Follow" - Fleetwood Mac (mp3)

"Landslide (live)" - Stevie Nicks & the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (mp3)

"Dreams" - Fleetwood Mac (mp3)

"I'm So Afraid (live in 1997)" - Fleetwood Mac (mp3)

"Stop Dragging My Heart Around" - Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty (mp3)

"Rooms on Fire" - Stevie Nicks (mp3)

Thursday
Feb242011

In Which We Hang Out With Our Friends From College

Where White People Come Together With Other White People

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Big Chill

dir. Lawrence Kasdan

105 minutes

The cinema of the the world we were born into holds a strange fascination, unless you were born the year American Beauty came out. When The Big Chill arrived in theaters in autumn of 1983, director John Sayles was made very angry, since the film seemed to be basically a revamp of his Return of the Secaucus 7. Why anyone would claim the idea of a reunion of college friends as their own invention is beyond me; and thanks to various technological vagaries, we are now never parted from those we supposed we loved.

Alex (Kevin Costner) is the kind of adult that was never around when I was a kid. Suicidal, angsty, even angry, and totally irresponsible. He took a hard-earned education/drug binge from the University of Michigan and did not turn it into very much – his scientific career flamed out, he tried manual labor, and he was eventually forced to depend on the kindness of his friend Harold (Kevin Kline). Harold did the opposite of Alex: he focused on a sporting goods business in South Carolina and purchased a lovely house for himself and his college sweetheart Sarah (Glenn Close). Five years before I was born, Sarah slept with Alex, probably as some sort of karmic punishment for her husband's success. He forgave her.

Still wanting to help the man who had fucked his wife, Harold let him in a company secret: he was about to sell his sporting goods company to a larger chain (say, Dick's, or the Sports Authority, if either existed in the early 80s). With the expectation of this money in hand, Alex and his girlfriend (Meg Tilly) purchased a cabin nearby his college friends, where he could try to be happy, since it is what they required of him. Not so graciously, he slit his wrists rather than succumb to this act of charity.

That is where The Big Chill begins, and its opening montage is the first of 16,000 in recorded history set to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Alex's friends across the country hear of his passing and come to mourn him, and have a party with their fellow Michigan alums at Kline and Close's mansion. The funeral itself is never the act of mourning, what follows is.

My college advisor went everywhere with her Alaskan malamute, whom I called Sandy. (For some reason she never told me the creature's name. This was probably wise, since it might have come when I called.) She blithely informed me that I would never believe what all the people I knew at school would become, and she was right, because I can't believe it. Neither can the graduates of the University of Michigan.

Student protests over some teensy tuition increases made waves across Europe recently. It was a laugh for Americans, because we cannot imagine anything as content as an American college student. The University of Michigan in the 1960s, according to Lawrence Kasdan, was a very hopeful and idealistic liberal sort of place, and everyone in The Big Chill is extremely upset about how jaded, adult, and in some cases, parental, they have become.

Meg (Mary Kay Place) thought she would use a degree in law to help the accused; instead she finds them as disgusting as her last twenty of years of unsuccessful dating. In a Tina Fey-esque take on middle age, she requires a child more than a successful career now that she is in possession of the latter. Michael (Jeff Goldblum) abandoned his ideals to become a reporter for People. His time spent teaching the youth of Harlem was so revolting he jumped into a more commercial life without a second thought.

None of the people I knew at college were like this. They were the children of the adults in The Big Chill, and they had to lay in the bed their parents made. Now AARP-age, the men and women Kasdan imagined are dedicated to ensuring that their grandchildren will have no bed to lay in at all. The cavalier attitude towards insider trading, the amorality, narcissism, and lack of concern for others is evidenced by that generation's love of entitlements. It may be the thing they really do love, because money is the only thing they feel they truly deserve.

As the never married singles in the group, Goldblum's Michael and William Hurt's Nick are particularly perfect representations of this sort of callousness, and they have the two most entertaining parts in the movie. (The Big Chill had the best casting of any comedy until Flirting With Disaster.) Karen (JoBeth Williams) is especially radiant as the only other married member of this clique. She married her husband Richard because she knew he wasn't the sort of man who would cheat on her, and despite three beautiful children, she is unhappy. Richard, meanwhile, is astounded by the entire group: "They're nothing like you described all these years!"

In the film's best scene, Richard – the only stranger at the party – tells Nick why their friend Alex killed himself. Not surprisingly, Dick is an advertising executive. He informs them that "there's some asshole at work you have to kowtow to, and you find yourself doing things you thought you'd never do. But you try and minimize that stuff; be the best person you can be. But you set your priorities. And that's the way life is. I wonder if your friend Alex knew that. One thing's for sure, he couldn't live with it. I know I shouldn't talk, you guys knew him. But the thing is... no one ever said it would be fun. At least... no one ever said it to me." Waaaaah.

William Hurt tries very hard to steal The Big Chill as Nick, a drug-addled psychologist who for some reason became impotent in Vietnam. Like Frasier, he hosted a psychology talk show on Pacific northwest radio and advised people on their problems until he became so overcome with guilt he absconded from the gig. When he is pulled over in his Porsche by a local South Carolina cop and abuses the cop verbally, Kline turns on his friend, telling him that the cop had prevented robberies at his store and was a good man. The implication is clear: they're on our side now.

Pauline Kael called The Big Chill shallow, overcontrolled and contrived. She saw the characters as spoiled and perhaps more than a little unlikeable, but my generation holds the opposite view. The attitudes of the characters of The Big Chill are perilously relevant, because they haven't really dated at all. They just grew older and became more self-righteous – they lecture us from op-ed pages, they lost their money to Bernard Madoff, they took out an ad complaining that the Grammys didn't pay enough attention to Justin Bieber. They inherited the world.

There is actually something quite wonderful about these people, of having friends who know you even after so many years have passed. It is not that this generation was full of those who didn't know how to do the right thing, or idealists who couldn't live up to the sacred cows of their youth. Kael said that The Big Chill would be "hated by anyone who believes himself to have been a revolutionary or a deeply committed radical during his student demonstration days." The entitled attitude that the men and women of The Big Chill demonstrate is a natural consequence of those days, not a contradiction of them. When we expect to receive something, and do not it receive it, we think of something else to expect.

What the people you know will turn into is the eternal open question. The world that the University of Michigan ejaculated these hopeful young people into does not resemble ours today. Then the fullness of America's service economy in no way foretold economic collapse, whereas we have paid for the sins of our predecessors. If a company is bankrupt, it can no longer compensate its employees; if a person is morally bankrupt, he might want to think of killing himself before depending on the kindness of others. It's the right thing to do.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. He tumbls here and twitters here. He last wrote in these pages about the HBO series Big Love. You can find an archive of his writing here.

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"You Can't Always Get What You Want (Soulwax remix)" - The Rolling Stones (mp3)

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" - Locomotives (mp3)

"Waiting for the Day" - George Michael (mp3)

Wednesday
Feb232011

In Which Samuel Beckett Didn't Intend To Be A Writer

Someone To Walk With Him Before Dinner

by SAMUEL BECKETT

The following recollection of James Joyce is collected from James Knowlson's interviews with Samuel Beckett, which can be found in a volume you can purchase here.

I was introduced to Joyce by Tom MacGreevy. He was very friendly – immediately, to the best of my recollection. I remember coming back very exhausted to the École Normale and as usual, the door was closed and I climbed over the railings. I remember that: coming back from my first meeting with Joyce. I remember walking back. And from then on we saw each other quite often.

I can still remember his telephone number. He was living near the Ecole Militaire. I used to come down sometimes in the morning from the Ecole Normale to the concierge and he used to say Monsieur Joyce a telephone et il vous demande de vous mettre en rapport avec lui. And I remember the concierge, he was a southerner. he used to say Segur quatre-vingt-quinze vingt. And it was always to do with going for a walk or going for dinner. I remember a memorable walk on the Ile des Cygnes with Joyce. And then he'd start his 'tippling.' And we'd have an appointment with Nora at Fouquet's.

beckett at greystone's, 1960sI was very flattered when Joyce dropped the 'Mister.' Everybody was 'Mister'. There were no Christian names, no first names. The nearest you would get to friendly name was to drop the 'Mister'. I was never 'Sam'. I was always Beckett at the best. We'd drink in any old pub or cafe. I dno't remember which.

He was very friendly. He dictated some pages of Finnegan's Wake to me at one stage. That was later on when he was living in that flat. And during the dictation, someone knocked at the door and I said something. I had to interrupt the dictation. But it had nothing to do with the text. And when I read it back with the phrase 'Come in' in it, he said, 'Let it stand.'

with thomas mcgreevey, 1934He was at the National University, of course, and I was at Trinity – but we both took degrees in French and Italian. So that was common ground. It was at his suggestion that I wrote "Dante... Bruno . Vico . . Joyce" because of my Italian. And I spent a lot of time reading Bruno and Vico in the magnificent library, the Bibliotheque of the Ecole Normale. We must have had some talk about the 'Eternal Return', that sort of thing. He liked the essay. But his only comment was that there wasn't enough about Bruno; he found Bruno rather neglected. Bruno and Vico were new figures for me. I hadn't read them. I'd worked on Dante, of course. And we did talk about Dante. But I knew very little of them. I knew more or less what they were about. I remember I read a biography of one of them. I can't remember which.

beckett's letter to cape townI remember going to see Joyce in the hospital. He was lying on the bed, putting drops in his operated eye. I don't remember having read to him though. I used to go there in the evening sometimes, when he had dinner at home. It was at the later stage when he was living in the little impasse off the long street. There wasn't a lot of conversation between us. I was a young man, very devoted to him, and he liked me. And he used to call on me if he needed something. For instance, someone to walk with him before dinner.

on the set of 'Film' in New York, 1964He was a great exploiter. Not perhaps an exploiter of his friends. In the Adrienne Monnier book, it's told how he did the translation of 'Anna Livia Plurabelle', Peron and I. And Joyce liked it. But he organised a committe of five, which used to meet in Paul Leon's house to revise it, including Adrienne Monnier (who was quite unqualified) so that he could talk about his septante, those five and Peron and myself. Why he wanted to talk about his septante devoted to him I don't know. I remember at Adrienne Monnier's a reading of our fragment of 'Anna Livia Plurabelle', Peron's and mine, as corrected, so-called, by the Joyce clan. But there was a reading of this with Joyce in Adrienne's bookshop, a public reading. I remember being there and Joyce was there, Soupault read it, I think.

in ireland after the war And I brought him home drunk one night, but I won't go into that. He drank a lot but in the evenings only. I remember a party. He was a great man for anniversaries. Every year he would celebrate his father's anniversary, "Father forsaken, forgive thy son." On that occasion, he would give me a note, in francs. I don't know how many francs it would be. A note. To give to some poor down-and-out in memory of his father. Towards the end of the year, in December, the date of his father's birth was celebrated and commemorated every year and I was given on several occasions, when I was available, this note to give to some down-and-out in memory of his father. "New life is breathed upon the glass," etc.

directing longtime collaborator Billie WhitelawIt's a poem of Joyce's. It's part of a longer poem but I remember the verse, "A child is born. An old man gone." When his father died, he was very upset.

I played the piano once at the Joyces'. I forget what I played. But he, when he had enough taken, at these 'at home' parties, receptions at home, with various friends, he would sit down at the piano and, accompanying himself, sing, with his marvellous remains of a tenor voice:

Bid adieu, adieu, adieu
Bid adieu to girlish days.

I remember myself accompanying Giorgio. When he was living with Helen. I remember accompanying him – in what? Ah yes. [He sings part of Schubert's Lieder, An die Musik]. Oh, by the way, I found the name of the street where Joyce lived when I first met him in Paris. Yes, it's a little street off the rue de Grenelle; this goes from the Latin Quarter to the Avenue Bosquet near the Ecole Militaire. It goes through the.... And just before it comes to the end of the Rue de Grenelle near the Avenue Bosquet, before it 'debouches' on the Avenue Bosquet, there' a little street on the right hand side. It was an impasse in those days. It still exists but it's a square. The Square Robiac. I remember it as an impasse. You go in to the right off the Rue de Grenelle. It was very short. And the right-hand side was the house where Joyce had his flat.

beckett with eva-katharina schultzI admired Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man. There was something about it. The end – when he is so self-sufficient in the end. He got pompous about his vocation and his function in life. That was the improved version; he reworked it.

with henri hayden in the early 60sIt was Maurice Nadeau who said it was an influence ab contrario. I realized that Joyce had gone as far as one could in the direction of knowing more, in control of one's material. He was always adding to it; you only have to look at his proofs to see that. I realised that my own way was impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and in taking away, subtracting rather than adding. When I first met Joyce, I didn't intend to be a writer. That only came later when I found out that I was no good at all at teaching. When I found I simply couldn't teach. But I do remember speaking about Joyce's heroic achievement. I had a great admiration for him. That's what it was: epic, heroic, what he achieved. I realized that I couldn't go down that same road.

Samuel Beckett died in December of 1989. You can find Whittaker Chambers' obituary for James Joyce here.

with martin held, 1969"Rope" - Foo Fighters (mp3)

"Keep The Car Running (live)" - Foo Fighters (mp3)

"Tiny Dancer (live)" - Foo Fighters (mp3)

with his cousins in 1959Why can't you write the way people want?

- Frank Beckett, in a letter to his brother

on the set of 'Godot' in Berlin, 1975