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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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Mia Nguyen
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Durga Chew-Bose
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Senior Editor
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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Monday
Feb212011

In Which I Can't Deny It I'm A Fine Hyna Got Your Boyfriend Jockin Me

FIRME ROJAS

by MOLLY LAMBERT

This is a passion project that I started working on while making the Kenny Powers mixes. I was digging for Mexican rock stuff for Volume 5 of my Eastbound & Down mixtape series, and a lot of Mexican American rap kept coming up. I really wanted KP v. 5 to be primarily rock to match 3/4 of the other KP mixes, but I downloaded a ton of rap songs just in case I changed my mind. KP 5 did end up being mostly rock and some techno (Tribal Monterrey!) but I kept adding more things to the rap playlist.

I love rap, and I love microgenres, so naturally I love the microgenre that is Latina Rap. There's a really great radio show in LA called Pocos Pero Locos, and that's where I was first exposed to Latin Hip Hop. Now obviously every microgenre is gigantic, and this is by no means meant to be a definitive survey of Latina female rappers. At a certain point I stopped adding new songs (although I never stopped finding them) because I had been working on it for so long already and otherwise it might have been endless.

The songs I picked mostly fall under the heading of Girl Gangsta Rap, an even smaller genre within the genre. It reminds me at times of 60s girl groups, with which it shares themes like car culture, gang violence, sex, love and heartbreak. I also love it because it is essentially feminist. These artists are cool, tough, fully sexually realized, funny, sweet, sometimes achingly sad (Amanda Perez!), and occasionally dangerous killers.

And I like that a lot of sounds like it was recorded on home computers, because I like jankiness as a musical quality and I enjoy things that sound good on shitty car stereos. I love musicians who just have to make music, who have things inside that they just need to get out. They can't help but express themselves to us, and even when the delivery is not technically perfect the pure intensity of feeling still comes across.

 

It might come across even more because of the technical imperfections. Imperfectness is really a matter of subjective opinion. I don't want to overintellectualize it too much (too late) but as it gets warmer I hope you will listen to Firme Rojas in your whip/on your porch/in the park with a michelada and think fondly of your friend DJ FUCK YALL. 

Regarding cultural appropriation: It is equally as far-fetched for me to personally identify with SoCal girl gangsters as it is for me to identify with Southern cock-rockers, and yet I identify equally strongly with both. I grew up in Los Angeles, where a lot of these artists are from, and I love West Coast Rap and West Coast funk style beats. The idea that you ever would/should only listen to music made by people whose cultural identity is exactly the same as yours is what keeps idiots assuming that a caucasian woman like myself would only listen to Joni Mitchell and Joanna Newsom and Robyn. 

No real rapper only listens to rap. Big Boi and 2Pac love Kate Bush! Music is music. People who love music, like me, want to hear everything there is out there. There are no more "I listen to everything but rap and country" people left, because the mp3 economy and widely free access to all kinds of music has rendered that stance and all similar genre-excluding stances irrelevant. I was once limited by the amount of money I could spend on records, and now I am only limited by my patience, which is infinite. 

DJ FUCK YALL PRESENTS: FIRME ROJAS

dedicated to K-Swift and Magnolia Shorty 

Naybahood Queen - JV

Love Confession - Miss Lady Pinks ft. Amanda Love

Take You To School - Miss Beautiful 

I Just Wanna Fuck - Celocita

Ms. Sancha Live Dot Com - Ms. Sancha 

Can't You See - Esa Wicked Chula

Classy Soldier - Classy Ladys Entertainment

Up In The Hood - Underground Maniatikas

Love Me Not - Lady Teardrop ft. Nene Baby

cursory web research suggests Ms. Sancha may be Diamonique's alter ego 

Get It If You A Rida - Ms. Sancha

We Ride Like Soldiers - Doll E Girl & Lady Synful

We Stroll - Sleepy Loka

You Want Whores - Baby Wicked

Mexicana - Diamonique

Top Knotch Biatch - Miss Beautiful

Gettin Luchi - JV

Mas Vale Sola - Ms. Krazie & Sleepy Loka

Sorry For My Wrongs - Doll E Girl

Ride On My Enemies - Ms. Sancha

Snitch - Coketa

Te Quiero - Mz Gatiz

Dem Ladies - Mz Kasper

Most Hated - Davina

Why - Amanda Perez 

You Never Mattered - Mz Krazie

Somebody Please - OG Traviesa

Oh How It Hurts - Baby Wicked

Nobody Can Love Me Like You - Coneja Loka

G String - JV

California Gangsters - Sleepy Loka 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She last wrote in these pages about Dennis Hopper and The Hot Spot. She twitters here and tumbls here.

Sunday
Feb202011

In Which When I Went To Iowa I Had Never Heard of Faulkner

flannery's desk and typewriter

The Thing She Did Best

Somebody was telling me that Malcolm Cowley had delivered himself of an essay in the last Harper's magazine on the state of the novel. He didn't find them now as good as in the 30s when folks were protesting. I didn't rush out to buy one.

I hope if I am eating salt in august I can get to see you before you start off in the airplane. I don't make no plans.

- Flannery O'Connor in a letter to Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, 5/7/53

Before Milledgeville, Georgia was just another place for Ben Roethlisberger to degrade women, it was the country home of Flannery O'Connor, one of the finest writers we have known. Flannery wasn't exactly the most politically correct person, and her political and religious views held her apart from the hoity-toity cultural decacons of that age. Nevertheless, respect for her incomparable prose style and mastery of the short story form was generally acknowledged by her critics and her naysayers alike. She was a devout Catholic, and her faith in God sustained her through countless medical difficulties before she passed away from lupus at the age of 39. In her letters, she proves to be the among the sauciest pen pals of the era, and in the following excerpts, she reflects on her influences.

To Sally Fitzgerald

mid-September 1951

I certainly enjoyed Catcher in the Rye. Read it up the same day it came. Regina said I was going to RUIN MY EYES reading all that in one afternoon. I reckon that man owes a lot to Ring Lardner. Anyway he is very good. Regina said would she like to read it and I said, well it was very fine. She said yes but would she like to the read it, so I said she would have to try it and see. She hasn't tried it yet. She likes books with Frank Buck and a lot of wild animals.

To Robert Lowell

2 May 1952

I was powerful glad to hear from you and I am pleased that you liked the gorilla. I hope you'll like the whole thing. I asked Bob Giroux to send you one.

I've been in Georgia with the buzzards for the last year and a half on acct. of arthritis but I am going to Conn. in June to see the Fitzgeralds. They have about a million children all with terrific names and all beautiful. I'm living with my mother in the country. She raises cows and I raise ducks and pheasants. The pheasant cock has horns and looks like some of those devilish people and dogs in Rousseau's paintings. I have been taking painting myself, painting mostly chickens and guineaus and pheasants. My mother thinks they're great stuff. She prefers me painting to me writing. She hasn't learned to love Mrs. Watts. Harcourt sent my book to Evelyn Waugh and his comment was: "If this is really the work of a young lady, it is a remarkable product." My mother was vastly insulted. She put the emphasis on if and lady. Does he suppose you're not a lady? she says. WHO is he?

To Ben Griffith

13 February 1954

Thank you so very much for your kind letter. I am much more like Enoch than like the gorilla and I always answer every letter I get, at once, at length. This may be because I don't get many.

I don't know how to cure the source-itis except to tell you that I can discover a good many possible sources myself for Wise Blood but I am often embarrassed to find I read the sources after I had written the book. I have been exposed to Wordsworth's "Intimation" ode but that is all I can say about it. I have one of those food-chopper brains that nothing comes out of the way it comes in. The Oedipus business comes nearer home. Of course Haze Mote is not an Oedipus figure but there are the obvious resemblances. At the time I was writing the last of the book, I was living in Connecticut with the Robert Fitzgeralds. Robert Fitzgerald translated the Theban cycle with Dudley Fitts, and their translation of Oedipus Rex had just come out and I was much taken with it. Do you know the translation? I am not an authority on such things but I think it must be the best, and it certainly is very beautiful. Anyway, all I can say is, I did a lot of thinking about Oedipus.

My background and my inclinations are both Catholic and I think this is very apparent in the book. Something is usually said about Kafka in connection with Wise Blood but I have never succeeded in making my way through The Castle or The Trial and I wouldn't pretend to know anything about Kafka. I think reading a little of him perhaps makes you a bolder writer. My reading is botchy. I have what passes for an education in this day and time, but I am not deceived by it. I read Henry James, thinking this may affect my writing for the better without my knowing how. A touching faith, and I have others.

The following is excerpt from a letter to one of Flannery's longtime readers and letter correspondents in August of 1955:

I didn't really start to read until I went to Graduate School and then I began to read and write at the same time. When I went to Iowa I had never heard of Faulkner, Kafka, Joyce, much less read them. Then I began to read everything ay once, so much so that I didn't have time I suppose to be influenced by any one writer. I read all the Catholic novelists, Mauriac, Bernanos, Bloy, Greene, Waugh; I read all the nuts like Djuna Barnes and Dorothy Richardson and Va. Woolf (unfair to the dear lady, of course); I read the best Southern writers like Faulkner and the Tates, K.A. Porter, Eudora Welty and Peter Taylor; read the Russians, not Tolstoy so much as Doestoyevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov and Gogol. I became a great admirer of Conrad and have read almost all his fiction. 

I have totally skipped such people as Dreiser, Anderson (except for a few stories) and Thomas Wolfe. I have learned something from Hawthorne, Flaubert, Balzac and something from Kafka, though I have never been able to finish one of his novels. I've read almost all of Henry James - from a sense of High Duty and because when I read James I feel something is happening to me, in slow motion but happening nevertheless. I admire Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets. But always the largest thing that looms up is The Humerous Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. I am sure he wrote them all while drunk too.

young flanneryTo Elizabeth Bishop

2 August 1959

I have at last got my novel out of the house and on the train and haven't yet self-employed myself back on anything serious. After you have worked on a thing seven years, it is too close for you to see it with precision. I see my stories much more clearly because they haven't exhausted me by the time I finish them. My book is about a boy who has been raised up in the backwoods by his great uncle to be a prophet. The book is about his struggle not to be a prophet - which he loses. I am resigned to the fact that I am going to be the book's greatest admirer.

Yesterday I sold a pair of peacocks, the first time I have sold any. These people showed up in a long white car, the woman in short shorts. They obviously had plenty of money that they weren't used to. She flew a Piper Cub, kept two coons, and what she called a "Weimeraw" dog. He was going to start in on pheasants, peafowl an dbullfrogs. They came in and admired the house and she said, "We was in Macon looking for some French provincial furniture. I want me a love seat." The man was a structural engineer. He said he had a friend who was a writer in Mississippi and I said who was that. He said, "His name is Bill Faulkner. I don't know if he's any good or not but he's a mighty nice fellow." I told him he was right good.

Flannery O'Connor died in 1964. You can purchase Flannery's selected letters, The Habit of Being, edited by Sally Fitzgerald, here.

This Recording Presents How and Why to Write

Part One (Joyce Carol Oates, Gene Wolfe, Philip Levine, Thomas Pynchon, Gertrude Stein, Eudora Welty, Don DeLillo, Anton Chekhov, Mavis Gallant, Stanley Elkin)

Part Two (James Baldwin, Henry Miller, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Margaret Atwood, Gertrude Stein, Vladimir Nabokov)

Part Three (W. Somerset Maugham, Langston Hughes, Marguerite Duras, George Orwell, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Robert Creeley, John Steinbeck)

Part Four (Flannery O'Connor, Charles Baxter, Joan Didion, William Butler Yeats, Lyn Hejinian, Jean Cocteau, Francine du Plessix Gray, Roberto Bolano)

"So Sleepy" - Fiona Apple (mp3)

"Why Try To Change Me Now" - Fiona Apple (mp3)

"I Walk A Little Faster" - Fiona Apple (mp3)

Friday
Feb182011

In Which I Was Feeling Some Feelings You Wouldn't Believe

The Deepest Shade of Mushroom Blue

by JESSE KLEIN

Listen to Nine Inch Nails for a week and see what happens. Only Nine Inch Nails. At first, everything becomes serious. The smallest slight feels like a slap in the face, another reminder that they just don’t understand you. Roommates, cashiers, people on bikes become enemies and you’re all, ‘I’d rather die than give you control’. Then the music just becomes silly, the lyrics too literal. You drift out of NIN World and back into the arch, cynical posture you’re used to adopting. If "God is dead" as is claimed in "Heresy", I’m not so sure I wouldn’t care, and I would definitely be upset if I were in hell, whether you were there or not. Then things become really serious. Once you "take the skin and peel it back", it does not make you feel better. Everything is so sad and mad and bad in NIN World. And what if Trent is right?

In 1989, Nine Inch Nails’ first album, Pretty Hate Machine, went three times platinum nationally and sixteen years later in 2005, his album With Teeth went gold. And of course there's The Downward Spiral and The Fragile in between going platinum a combined six times. He has just won a Golden Globe and very well might win the Oscar for Original Score for his work with Atticus Ross in The Social Network. So he must be right at least some of the time.

For someone who has based a career on being the outcast, Reznor is very good at being very popular. And therein lies the trick; everybody wants to be a member of the club that says that clubs are for losers, for everyone else. Reznor has done something if not impossible, then really really hard to do: he’s stayed culturally relevant for over twenty years. In an industry and a medium that change by the week, by the city, by the new mashed-up genre somebody just made up. As far as I can tell, he’s been able to do this for two reasons.

Trent Reznor (now) puts all of his crazy into his music, not his daily life. In the years following The Downward Spiral he suffered from depression and abused drugs but beat his depression and cleaned up. Since that period, he has the same adolescent rage in his music, but doesn’t need to live it to prove its validity.

By the late 90s, he shed his tattered, stringy hair for a more distinguished Goth look ("Perfect Drug"), then moved on to an even shorter haircut and no facial hair (With Teeth), and finally shaved his head altogether. If not for his fame, he could now easily be mistaken for a car mechanic or high school chemistry teacher. In other words, a far cry from the guy in the tights and the leather and the Industrial Tefillin who’s hanging out with Bob Flanagan. Or the dude with the Milli Vanilli haircut in 1989.

You can also take his music seriously and not seriously at the same time, listen to it literally and ironically in the same sitting. The lyrics are silly, but they’re kind of true. There’s a little bit of Nine Inch Nails in all of us. And like almost every white male in North America, I had a Nine Inch Nails phase. I started listening to NIN when I was eleven. My older brothers listened to them but talked about it in hushed tones; his satanic verses were not meant for kids. So, of course, I couldn’t not. I was drawn to all of it. The cover of The Downward Spiral looked like it was made by an agoraphobe in a barn in Iowa (it was made by Russell Mills at the Glasgow School of Art.) It was confusing but in a way that said that it didn’t matter that I didn’t understand; it could be someone’s back, it could be a wall, or neither. The fact that I was looking at it was enough.

Unlike most other bands, I could understand every word he said. He enunciated so well! I spent hours trying to decipher what Kurt Cobain was saying; for years I thought he was chanting a man’s name, "Robbie Naya", at the end of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." And best, I understood the lyrics. Gone were the vague allusions, the coded phrases, the metaphoric imagery. Nine Inch Nails spoke a language an eleven year old could understand. "Everyday is exactly the same." And "why do you get all the love in the world"? So, "I became less concerned about fitting into the world. Your world, that is." By fourteen, I was too cynical to listen to them anymore. What I once worshipped as naked emotion I coolly dismissed as sappy heart-on-your-sleavery. Too many years had passed, everyone sitting around waiting for The Fragile got bored and moved onto his perverted protégé, Marilyn Manson, or changed direction and got into Smashing Pumpkins or Phish.

Around ten years later, my brother and I started texting each other Nine Inch Nails lyrics. We didn’t have much to say to one another, and when we did it often was not simple. Instead of treading in these awkward waters we opted to make light of the situation, to send it up. He was in L.A., I was in Montreal and so we would spend around a buck a text to say things like "I am a big man yes I am/And I have a big gun" and "I was feeling some feelings you wouldn’t believe." But it allowed us to change the subject; to not like, to make fun of ourselves for ever liking, and really still like, his music.

And all this without mentioning the fact that he made one of the most important albums of the 80s and definitely of the 90s. Pretty Hate Machine was a revelation, a confessional voice but one packaged in a harsh exterior, a smiley face with crossbones. The album sounds dark from afar, but somewhere amidst the pain is pure pop. The convincing whine, the needy screaming, the pouting silence—every teenager you’ve ever met. It wasn’t all darkness like other industrial music; there was a lot of light that peeked through.

I went to one Nine Inch Nails show, it was during the With Teeth tour in 2006. I hadn’t purchased tickets, didn’t even know there was a show until that night. A friend of mine called and asked if I wanted to go. With nineteen dollars and nothing else to do, I went to the show at the Bell Centre, the biggest venue in town. Filling nearly half the arena, Reznor and his road band thrashed through songs, new and old, the old better received than the new. At the encore’s close, Reznor sat down at the keyboard and played the first few notes of "Hurt." Ten seconds and ten thousand lighters later, the room was silent. "I ran away to this song," a girl behind me told her date. "I know exactly what you mean," he answered back. My friend and I pinched our noses to not laugh out loud. But, I guess, we laughed because we knew it was true. We were uncomfortable with her sincerity. She did run away to that song. So did Johnny Cash. I run away to "Hurt". Everybody does.

Jesse Klein is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer and filmmaker living in Austin. He twitters here and tumbls here.

"Cars" - Nine Inch Nails ft. Gary Numan (mp3)

"Closer (live)" - MGMT (mp3)

"Wish (live)" - Linkin Park (mp3)