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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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Wednesday
Dec152010

In Which We Return To The Scene of The Crime

The Other Side of Your Wall

by YVONNE GEORGINA PUIG

You never forget your childhood next door neighbors. I have a strange metaphor for mine: the buns of my family sandwich. There they were, always on either side, listening to us or ignoring us, bringing over tins of Christmas popcorn or never bringing over anything, waving at me and my sister Vanessa, or writing complaint letters to our parents. The Jennings and the Spellmans were our unessential constants.

Mr. and Mrs. Jennings were an older couple whose children had grown and gone. Mrs. Jennings was quiet and wore large thick-rimmed glasses and took evening walks. Mr. Jennings is an unforgettable, almost magnificent figure in my mind. He had a balding round-as-a-pumpkin head and stood probably six feet tall on the skinniest legs I’d seen on a man, legs which hung loose and marionette-like from his extraordinarily narrow pot belly. Mr. Jennings was from the front a slim man who wore plaid shirts and who cinched his polyester pants far below his belly button. From the side, Mr. Jennings was a man who cinched his pants far below his belly button because his middle protruded three feet from his body. He smoked Virginia Slims and often stood at the end of his driveway with his skinny cigarette and taking in the scene.

Mr. Jennings was a grump who delighted in being grumpy, and to his surprise I imagine, was most benevolent at his grumpiest. He caught me and Vanessa writing our initials in a square of wet sidewalk and made us smooth it out, but a few days later brought each of us a handmade wet stepping stone, which we imprinted with our hands and the paws of our cats. He enjoyed when our cat Muffy slept on his sprinkler heads, because then he could turn the water on and scare the hell out of her. This was upsetting to our mother.

The Jennings’ front door was mossy green. Their living room was beige and thickly carpeted. They only drove Buicks. It was on Mr. Jennings' sedan that I discovered the keyhole to the trunk of a Buick is hidden beneath the logo. Our relations with the Jennings were mostly cordial, even friendly, except when Mr. Jennings tired of our rooster. He threatened to report our backyard menagerie to the community police, and so we took Sam White to live on a farm.

The Spellmans were a more complex case. The problems began when Vanessa and I were little girls, and decided, with our friend Margaret who lived on the other side of the Spellmans, to have a tea party on the flat rock in their front yard. I don’t remember the day, but the story goes that Mrs. Spellman bitterly cast us away, despite our being harmless and most likely adorable. The Spellmans then forbade us from even crossing their yard to get to Margaret’s house, which meant we had to walk on the street and this worried our mother. No one liked the Spellmans.

I have little physical memory of them, because in my memory they never left their house. Even now, I’m not sure how many Spellmans there were. When we threw our frisbee into their backyard and called to retrieve it, Mrs. Spellman was cold and cryptic: What. Goes. In. Our. Yard. Stays. In. Our. Yard., she said, and hung up. There would be no sneaking around because the Spellmans had a pet hyena that snarled and snapped at even an eyeball pressed to the fence boards, thus we never saw the frisbee again.

As the years went on we convinced ourselves that the Spellmans had an underground dungeon beneath their house where they stored bodies and worshipped the devil. I found this more fascinating than scary, and spent many hours hiding in the pittosporum bushes across the street from the Spellman’s house, deciphering messages out of the mortar in their bricks. I was certain, for example, that the flaws in the mortar below their front window spelled Satan. I’m not sure if I actually saw this, I only know that I very badly wanted it to be true.

All our young mysteries were attributed to the Spellmans. When our Fisher-Price cassette player broke down we stomped fearlessly to their house. I was probably 7, Vanessa 9. Grandma Spellman opened the door — just a crack — and Vanessa ruffled her feathers and announced herself. “Excuse me,” she said, deftly presenting the evidence like the lawyer she became, “but do you know anything about this?” She pressed the play button, and the Fisher-Price cassette player proceeded to sputter the low, warped song of Michael Jackson, and my memory stops there. I can’t imagine how outrageous we must have looked to Grandma Spellman, righteous little princesses that we were, standing on her doorstep, accusing her of sabotaging our beloved plastic tape player.

Our parents prohibited all interaction with the Spellmans when we were in junior high, after we threw pinecones at their windows in an attempt to goad them into revealing their evilness once and for all. They called the police, we got in trouble, Mrs. Spellman sent my parents a scolding, lawyerly letter, and we didn’t bother them after that. We did, however, bury a quarter in their front yard. According to some legend I’d heard at a slumber party, doing this would make objectionable neighbors move away within a year. The Spellmans didn’t move away until many years later, and we never knew what became of them.

Who were your childhood next door neighbors?

Yvonne Georgina Puig is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here. You can find more of her work in these pages here.

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 "Sixteen Shades of Black and Blue" - Fujiya & Miyagi (mp3)

"Cat Got Your Tongue" - Fujiya & Miyagi (mp3)

"Taiwanese Roots" - Fujiya & Miyagi (mp3)

Tuesday
Dec142010

In Which We Get Wired Into The After Dark Side Of The Internet

Girl, I Just Work For You

by MOLLY LAMBERT

I was telling a friend of mine the other day that I hate how aggressively disgusting the ads on the sides of porntubes are. He pointed out that I was asking too much of something that was free, and that it was free for a reason, and he was right. It is like complaining that the free coffee at the optometrist sucks. Of course it sucks. It's free. And you're not there to drink the coffee, you're there to get your vision checked.

Porn sidebar and pop up ads make you feel horrible and ashamed that you are watching porn youtube clones, but not because you are ashamed to watch porn. It's because you get so familiar with all the different iterations of the ads. Familiar enough that you are fonder of certain ones that others, My Teen Ex-Girlfriend occupying a slightly higher position than 18 & Abused. Shades of Maxim's I'd Rape Her 100

Who doesn't like feeling a little ashamed? I am a sick half Irish-Catholic fuck. Those ads are always like hey 4th wave feminist lady, so jaded and openminded, here is a huge thicket of misogynist internet porn advertising to remind you you're supposed to feel like watching consenting adults fuck is a repulsive thing only old guys in raincoats do and you're intruding on a sacred no girls allowed circlejerk cumfilled cenote

I should probably thank those creepy ads for making me feel like the internet is Times Square in the 70s and 80s, or the curtained off adult section of 20/20 video (RIP). How much less dirty(/successful) would it be without all the tacky accessories and cheap internet trappings? Considering how easy it now is to find anything you could ever possibly think of, at least the clandestine nature replicates the horror of feeling like you might get caught. Who wants to jerk off in an Apple store? It's redundant. 

This is actually also how straight guys feel when they watch Gossip Girl or Sex And The City or Nancy Meyers movies or listen to Ke$ha. That is why they do it literally holed up in bed with the lights out and the blinds shut with the window cracked a half inch open like the Unabomber. (the shivering wind comes in to say "it's truuuuuu")

That's how I watched the super edited Sex And The City reruns that were on KTLA for a while. Sometimes on a broken stairmaster in the porn basement style tan carpeted downstairs living room of the condo I lived in a few years ago. One time MTV2 showed the Beyonce B'Day video anthology for 24 hours and I just left it on the whole time. Sometimes I still think "wow, that was a really great day." These are my confessions

Doesn't it feel like people use chat programs like confessionals? As the generation that grew up with instant messaging, when are we going to acknowledge that it is a totally weird thing that we all use completely inappropriately. E-mail is for outlaws.

The extent to which instant messaging has made life more fun and helped me kill boredom/put off work is complicated by all the times I've had serious conversations on IM that really deserved better. Nothing that happens on the internet tends to feel very real, although things that happen in real life never feel very real either. 

Nothing in mainstream pornography is all that weird. Whatever sick stuff you like, it's seriously honestly still probably pretty normative. Just look at the viewcount. That doesn't mean you should go around telling everybody what your specific fetishes are (no1curr), it just means that you're definitely not as fucked up as you might think.

Fantasy is meant to be a deeply isolating personal experience. Knowing how many other people are exactly like you would just ruin the fantasy. You're better off pretending like you're the only perv in the world. People who don't watch porn, those are the real sickos. Also pederasts. Everything else is basically a Kardashian sex tape. 

Lines between the public and the private are so blurred these days. Who can tell the difference anymore between internet self and self? As a kid I used to feel fucked up by the idea that the person you are around your friends at school might be different than the person you are at home with your family, and that the person you are privately could be completely different from both of those things. I was a weird kid, but I wasn't wrong about infinite coexisting selves. Private browsing. Private from who, God?

The endlessly shapeshifting facebook monster has changed to reflect the very, very, recent movement towards people openly admitting how much time they spend on their computers every day. The looking at porn isn't even the shameful part at all, it's the looking at facebook. And even people who avoid facebook have their own internet sandtraps; any browsing that is purposeless or lacking an end point. The obsessively hitting refresh for no actual reason, as nailed by David Fincher in The Social Network

It's easy for anyone to Don Draper themselves into believing that they are the idea they present to the world. Some people go too far towards being a coherent exaggerated persona. Others go the opposite direction and lose all filtering ability, telling the internet every single time they are sad (don't do that! why u do? :D)

Ke$ha took a picture of herself getting head, which is mildly rock 'n roll, but how good could it be if you're able to take a camera phone picture (not very good!) Did the internet make people more bipolar, or just expose how bipolar most people generally secretly are? Does mediation always dilute experience? It's completely case by case.

I don't like when celebrities say they never use the internet, because that's ridiculous and they're lying. It's just the new "I don't even own a TV." You don't have to own a TV anymore, because you can just watch TV shows on your computer! I guess there are people out there who have no desire whatsoever to watch narrative television shows. Some of them are my good friends, I imagine they have a hard time talking to me. 

The other weird thing that happens specifically on the internet is the feeling like you're being pulled towards a collective self. This happens on twitter, facebook, and mushrooms. The differences between your taste and anyone else's taste, your self and their selves, more elaborately codified than ever, seem completely meaningless. 

Writing is masturbating with words. Blogging is masturbating on a webcam. You have to get tested for print. After a certain age everyone is fairly committed to the two or three keywords that other people would use to describe or introduce them, but on a daily level no one is really very sure how one day's self connects to the next day's. 

I keep watching music videos late at night on youtube. I like versions that are a few generations of betamax transfer old, because it reminds me of watching music videos on The Box and 120 Minutes. I also like the fuzzier low quality versions better because you can't put VEVOs in a playlist without a fucking commercial always coming up. 

I like to make playlists and let them play in the background while I write, like a Grand Theft Auto radio station of the mind. Then I watch them again the next day in the afternoon for the feeling of displacement from time it gives me. It's a tunnel from one place to the other. It's an endless loop of this Wham! video for "Everything She Wants." 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She runs GIF Party, This Recording's twitter, and the newly formed JPG CLUB.

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"Visit" - Forest Swords (mp3)

"Glory Gongs" - Forest Swords (mp3)

"If Your Girl" - Forest Swords (mp3)

Monday
Dec132010

In Which It's Fun No Matter What We Do Or How Often We Do It

The Diaries of Christopher Isherwood

He was as gay as the day is long. Christopher Isherwood and sometime sexual partner Wystan Auden left England for America in 1939 as the Second World War was about to begin in earnest. A supremely accomplished novelist, Isherwood was generous to many young writers, and his novelistic talents are equalled by the kindness of spirit he shows in semi-private writings during his early American years. Isherwood wrote about his life with the idea that eventually it would be put into print, and he even edited the first publication of these journals. What follows are selected entries from the different periods of his life. - A.C.

1940

January 12. The weather is clearing. Blue sky at last, with immense clouds. Spent the day discussing the story with Thoeren; I couldn't put him off any longer. He is a big tomcat of an ex-leading man, who talks endlessly about his love affairs, with a kind of sadistic vulgarity. His attitude of cynical self-abasement amounts to saying, "I'm dirt myself. Therefore anyone who sleeps with me is less than dirt." He is a liar, but intelligent. We shall probably get along quite well together.

January 13. Thoeren and I had another interview with Hyman. We were taking about our hero's inferiority complex. Suddenly, Hyman started to tell us a story.

When he was a schoolboy, his best friend had a girl, and this girl had a sister. The first time Hyman saw her, he fell for her. "She was a perfect assembly of womanhood." Soon he was so much in love that he gave up making dates with her; he felt it was quite hopeless — there were so many rich, goodlooking boys around. Then, to his amazement, she sent for him and asked why he was staying away from the house. He told her the truth. She said, "I'm glad — because I've been in love with you for a long time."

In the same town there lived a very rich man, twenty years older than Hyman, who, for twelve years, had been unhappily married to an invalid wife. The wife died. The rich man met Hyman's girl at a party and fell passionately in love with her. He came to Hyman and appealed to him, humiliating himself before the schoolboy. "If you really care for her happiness, give her to me. Think of all the things I can offer her." The widower's relatives and friends joined in the campaign; they carried the girl off to spend a weekend with them. The girl telephoned Hyman: "If you still care for me at all, come and take me away." But Hyman did nothing. The rich man's arguments had convinced him. He never saw her again.

A year later, the widower and the girl got married. They have been happy. The girl now has grown-up sons. Her elderly husband has lost most of his money. Hyman is earning two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year.

Once, quite recently, he spoke to her, on the phone. She was very gay and "said all the wrong things." She also had a long conversation with Hyman's wife. Bernie told all this so modestly and simply that, for the moment, he seemed quite charming. The question is: how often does he tell this story, and to whom?

All day I have been happy. Chiefly because this morning, driving through the cold sunshine in our open car to the studio, I saw, far behind Hollywood, for the first time, the snow-covered mountains. "Look at them!" I kept repeating excitedly, to a hitchhiker I'd picked up. He agreed politely that they were pretty.

Mrs. MacCabe treated us to a turkey dinner. Happy chattered all through the meal — about aviation, sailing, automobiles, and the good times he'd had with his friend. "Boy, I had more fun — !" He has to have several shots a day for his diabetes, but he is exactly like any ordinary, healthy boy. It never occurs to him to feel sorry for himself. (It never occurs to me not to.)

January 15. Lunch with Huxley. Now that he is getting over his shyness, he is charming. We talked about the Bardo Thodol, which he has been reading lately. An old lady sold us bunches of artificial violets. I gave mine to Frau Bach, who said, "You're fortunate that I don't reward you with a kiss!"

January 25. In the afternoon, I went to Chaplin's studio. Chaplin was in a talkative mood. He repeats himself, amplifies, contradicts. (Meltzer later imitated him saying: "The only thing I can say for myself is — I've never been melancholy. Never. Of course, everybody is melancholy around the age of twenty. When I was twenty-one, I was terribly melancholy. I was melancholy until I was thirty. Well, no — not exactly what you could call melancholy. I'm never melancholy, really...etc, etc.")

July 21. Vernon and I dined at the Huxleys'. Maria served cold supper to a crowd of boys and girls — Matthew's friends. Aldous and I talked in a corner about Lengyel's dramatization of Lady Chatterly's Lover. He wants us to help him with it. The boys gaily bullied Vernon for liking Picasso. For some mysterious reason, the party was a success: the psychic currents were flowing harmoniously.

July 24. Down to RKO to see Stevenson, that smiling young renaissance cardinal, and Lipscomb, the actor-cricketer. We discussed the final details of the horror story for the British relief picture.

In the afternoon, I lay on the beach among the crowd. The old lady telling her sister what the rabbi said about her talented grandson; the youths bribing their kid brother with a candy bar to ask an attractive girl the time; the boys turning somersaults with an inner tub as a springboard, watched admiringly by an elderly man and his wife; the handball players, jostling and cursing; the lifeguard's Newfoundland dog; the Japanese brothers wrestling, with vague, oriental smiles; Nellie who keeps the hot-dog stand and was born in Sheffield; the kids with their tough talk: "Aw — what the heck. Park the junk here." No one is excluded. We are all welcome to the sunshine, and the dirty ocean with its dazzling surf, full of seaweed and last night's discarded rubbers.

November 12. Headache this evening, and rheumatism in my hip. So I did my meditation sitting upright in a chair in my room. Perhaps because of the headache, concentration was much easier than usual. I suddenly "saw" a strip of carpet, illuminated by an orange light. The carpet was covered with a black pattern, quite unlike anything we have in the house. But I could also "see" my bed, standing exactly as it really stands. My field of vision wasn't in any distorted.

As I watched, I "saw," in the middle of the carpet, a small dirty-white bird, something like a parrot. After a moment, it began to move, with its quick stiff walk, and went under the bed. This wasn't a dream. I was normally conscious, aware of what I "saw" and anxious to miss no detail of it. As I sat there, I felt all around me a curiously intense silence, like the silence of deep snow. The only sinister thing about the bird was its air of utter aloofness and intention. I had caught it going about its business — very definite business — as one glimpses a mouse disappearing into its hole.

1941

July 19. Beginning of sex dream with B. But this turned into a parting, and I saw B. go off with someone else, without regret. Woke at 4:30. First watch, one hundred twenty minutes, medium poor.

Read headlines at drugstore. Usual pointless despair. Must concentrate every moment on interior life. Avoid daydreaming. This idiotic desire to run upstairs, see what's doing, and run down again, like a chicken without a head.

Weekend disturbance. Many of the others plan to get away and "relax." But the real relaxation would be to stay here and try to calm myself inside.

April 22. Rene has separated from his wife, Esther: they maintain a queer, teasing relationship. She comes down to visit him every now and then, and they make love violently, after which his back hurts more than ever and they quarrel. Esther is very attractive and intelligent and funny. I met her the other day.

Rene lives in an apartment at the top of a house built in what Pete calls "Early Frankenstein." It has queer Gothic dormer windows and black eaves like the wings of bats. In the daytime it merely looks shabby; at night it is terrifying, especially by moonlight.

May 3. Carved in the wall of the Meeting House, near my usual seat, is a heart, with the initials R.D.B., J.L.R. After Meeting, one of the neighbors, Dr. Wilson, introduced me to an elderly gentleman who has the job of inspecting any cargo of birds or animals which arrives at the port of Philadelphia. His last assignment was a thousand monkeys from South Africa. He is very proud of his new harbor permit, issued since the war began, with his photograph and fingerprints. An Ibsen character.

Elizabeth and Ruth, after dark, destroying the nests of caterpillars in the big apple tree with a kerosene flare at the end of a long bamboo pole.

May 24. Now that the warm weather has come, the ladies at the Meeting House use leaf-shaped fans of cardboard or basketwork. The lady who sits in front of me has a fan with a picture of Frances E. Willard, the nineteenth century temperance crusader. I asked the Yarnalls about her, and Mrs. Yarnall, sensing my opposition, said very sweetly and apologetically, "You see, Chris, in those days the whisky in this country was very bad quality."

June 11. Mrs. Rich had a long talk with me about her children. She feels she hasn't been a good mother to them. What should she do? Told her to be a good mother.

June 28. Wystan is staying at Caroline Newton's house at Daylesford. Today he gave a poetry reading to a large party of rich women. Nobody understood a single word; but they were very impressed. Wystan's untidiness and brusqueness impress them. He is never untidier than when he is wearing his best suit. He read in a loud bored indistinct voice, repeatedly looking ahead to see how much further he had to go.

1943

August 18. Last night, because I was bored, I found myself doing what I would least have expected — hunting up Tennessee Williams. I located him, after some search, at a very squalid rooming house called The Palisades, at the other end of town — sitting typing a film story in a yachting cap, amidst a litter of dirty coffee cups, crumpled bed linen, and old newspapers. He seemed not in the least surprised to see me. In fact, his manner was that of the meditative sage to whose humble cabin the world-weary wanderer finally returns. He took it, with discreetly concealed amusement, as the most natural thing in the world that I should be having myself a holiday from the monastery. We had supper together on the pier, and I drank quite a lot of beer and talked sex the entire evening. Tennessee is the most relaxed creature imaginable: he works till he's tired, eats when he feels like it, sleeps when he feels inclined. The autoglide has long since broken down, so Tennessee has stopped paying for it, and the dealer is suing him, and he doesn't give a damn. He also has a fight on with Metro. He probably won't stay here long.

1959

April 8. Grey all day yesterday. Grey again this morning. Dangerous idling weather. Last night we had supper with Jo and Ben, and they showed their slides of our Mexican trip. I wanted to see them, to recapture some of the Mexican atmosphere, for my novel. What chiefly struck me: the dark blueness of the sky, the extraordinarily strong light of the setting or rising sun striking upward at the undersides of palm trees and making their fronds flash with a metallic sheen, like swords. The bandstands — some of them imported from France, perhaps: fancy lace ironwork, supported by naked girls. The disproportionate size of the great twin-towered baroque churches. The utter absence of any sort of landscape gardening: buildings arise and stand up unapologetically in the midst of dumps and barren lots. I absolutely, absolutely must get on with the novel. Just add page to page, without too much considering, until I have a first draft — no matter how short, how crude.

May 11. Heinz has written, suggesting that I sponsor the immigration of Gerda, Christian, and himself to the States, and that we shall all then live together in a house that I'm to buy. He offers, of course, to pay all this money back by degrees. And now I must answer his letter — explaining tactfully that this scheme is impossible; that is, I'd rather die than agree to it.

You can purchase the diaries of Christopher Isherwood here.

"When Did You Leave Heaven (demo)" - Bob Dylan (mp3)

"Just When I Needed You Most (demo)" - Bob Dylan (mp3)

"Freedom for the Stallion (demo)" - Bob Dylan (mp3)