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Alex Carnevale
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Ethan Peterson

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
Aug222013

In Which It Leaves Her By The Light Of The Moon

by joan salo

25 & Up

by SARAH WAMBOLD

I am going to be 29 next month. I’m don’t have any big feelings about this birthday. I think more about the days leading up to it, these next 20 or so days. The days between August 22 and September 13 are like a drop off the edge of a cliff; a distorted period of panicked, can’t-turn-back-now feelings. It's completely different at the bottom.

This time gap marks the 25th anniversary of my diagnosis. I was four when it arrived. I came back from a summer vacation on Lake Michigan with an uncontrollable nosebleed and no energy. A second opinion determined it was Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and I started taking Rosy Periwinkle the next day. I turned five four weeks later. When I turned seven, I finished treatment.

I’m reluctant to call myself a cancer survivor. I don’t remember much about my life before I had cancer; I felt like I came alive right when I got sick and during treatment came to understand that this is what life was all about. You live life in between periods of feeling sick and going to see the doctor. Once that sick period was over for me, I started to become aware that people expected me to wear this experience on my sleeve, contribute my picture or my story to causes, or because I didn’t do any of those things, they assume I don’t remember any of what happened.

The thing I’ve come to realize is that I’m actually pretty shy and when you get cancer as a kid you don’t get the chance to be shy. You walk around bald, fat and if you were me, with a large ribbon tied around your head.  As a kid with cancer you get all the attention and fun every kid deserves. The pediatric oncology ward is full of cool art and toys. I watched E.T. everyday. There was so much light in there I had to wear my 101 Dalmatian sunglasses during chemo.  Many of the other kids I met became nightly news stories and went to Disney World. My mom told me I wasn’t sick enough for all that, but I don’t know what she was talking about. I could hardly eat the cake at my 6th birthday party without throwing up.

My mom is the real survivor. So is my dad. Do you know what they do to parents in the pediatric oncology ward? They make them crouch down in front of their kid so we can pull fistfuls of their hair and scream until we can’t breathe while a doctor taps our spine with a needle for bone marrow. I once kicked my mom in the face after all my veins collapsed and they had to resort to putting an IV in my foot. My parents send me gifts every year during this time gap, letting me know how happy they are. If you really want the emotional, triumphant survivor story, ask them.

Their story is tough and completely heartfelt and I can hardly write about it without breaking down.

by joan salo

I used to stay up all night when I was a kid, lying on my floor thinking about how some people die from cancer (my uncle, my neighbor, my friend’s mom) and some people don’t (my grandpa, me). My heart would beat almost out of my chest until I closed my eyes and imagined I was vibrating out into the universe like a dying star whose fast fading light we still see on earth. Those feelings don’t go away.

My friend came to visit me last weekend and we were reminiscing about the clubs in our old neighborhood that had signs that said Must Be 25 & Up. We were too young at the time to go inside. Why 25? What did you know at 25 and not at 24?

Sentimentally, my time is up. I would like to thank the doctors and nurses who kept me in the game. I wish I knew the people who took part in the trial drugs that allowed for my life to go on. It must be that if you make it to 25 & up you sometimes want to keep going, even though you don’t know why. The cliffs get higher. The bottom gets closer, faster. You find yourself down there again, living it up.

Sarah Wambold is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Austin. You can find her twitter here. She last wrote in these pages about the decay. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

Paintings by Joan Salo.

photo by brewcitysafari

"An Acute Sensitivity Is Not Simply A Madness" - Keiji Haino & Jim O'Rourke & Oren Ambarchi (mp3)

"Invited In Practically Drawn In By Something" - Keiji Haino & Jim O'Rourke & Oren Ambarchi (mp3)

by joan salo

Wednesday
Aug212013

In Which We Provide A Masculine Contemporary

Major Fall, Minor Lift

by SHELBY SHAW

Prince Avalanche
dir. David Gordon Green
94 minutes

Forget all the roles you think of when you think of Paul Rudd, including his memorable role as Josh in 1995’s Clueless. Now Rudd is moving on from his current oeuvre of Apatow-ridden comedies and familiar funny-guy castings in David Gordon Green’s new film, Prince Avalanche.

Alvin (Paul Rudd) works in constructing the streets of a quiet area of Texas, evident from the state’s embroidery on his work clothes. With him for the labor is Lance (Emile Hirsch). Lance is out of high school, but he has the vernacular and tendencies of a thirteen year old. He is also the younger brother of Alvin’s significant other, Madison. Madison is not around in Prince Avalanche; she is home with daughter Olive, but letters are written back and forth over this summer of 1988.

Just as Frances Ha is a film about the transgression of female friendships, Prince Avalanche can be said to be a masculine contemporary, one that is slow and steady. If watched on mute about 80 percent of the film would be mistaken for a documentary episode on the Discovery Channel.

Alvin tries to learn German in anticipation for a trip with Madison, reads mail-in magazines, builds campsites, and takes charge. There’s often a feeling of Alvin shaking his head in wonder at how Lance’s seemingly-eternal youth is channeled into dance moves and trying to score with ladies instead of how to catch a fish, set up camp, and make a general effort to become A Man. There are a lot of long takes and overall less happens than one might have hoped for, but more comes through than one may have expected.

After falling asleep in a hammock he sets up by himself - alone for the weekend while Lance tries to “squeeze the little man” in the city - Alvin's elaborate dreams go on so long that it isn’t clear whether or not he’s dreaming at all.

There is something of a music video in the attention paid to all the slow zooms and pans of Texan wildlife that more strongly resemble New England than Texas: bright flaming oranges and deep lush greens amid the tall, dark, wet stripes of endless barren trees. But it’s all left behind when Alvin’s dreamscapes delve into a deeply surprising surrealism.

The mystery of the reappearing aviator, the relationship budding between Alvin and Lance, the solitude of the nature – it all slips away as a phone conversation between Alvin and Madison plays out in clear voices over light uplifting music set to a rapid discourse through the woods. It feels like hearing a cold reading and watching something else, like being handed too much of the truth of their failed relationship, spelled out when all this time things were anything but spelled-out clearly. Prince Avalanche yields a strange and affecting climax in the most anti-climactic sense.

At the end of this sequence Alvin comes walking through the trees, blue paint dashing through the forest until, the camera tracking downwards, there is a straight blue line on which the phrase “i love you so much” is written in blue. It’s as if someone made a Tumblr gif of a film and it somehow got put into the real thing.

Prince Avalanche is not so much about becoming an adult as it is about two different men learning how to take the reins of their lives with the help of one another. There are a number of things never explained, like Alvin’s medications, or the mysterious woman who appears only to the two of them, or the truck driver who is always lugging pop and booze to them on the road.

Even Madison’s true relation to Alvin is not fully disclosed until long after Prince Avalanche has picked up. But it is this kind of floating of the story that has Green entrusting it to his audience – backing out at the first sign of discomfort or surprise makes Prince Avalanche the “weird Paul Rudd movie.” Don’t back out. Alvin may realize he’s impossible, but it doesn’t make him any less capable. Even Lance proves that.

Shelby Shaw is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. She tumbls here and twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about The To Do List.

"All Things At Once" - Tired Pony (mp3)

"The Ghost of the Mountain" - Tired Pony (mp3)

Tuesday
Aug202013

In Which We Describe The Events From Their Very Beginning

How the Heat Broke

by RACHEL SYKES

Grandma Kate lived for 102 years beneath the Shropshire hills. She was raised by her grandma, who lived to a mere 70 in a cottage eked out from the shadow of the Brown Clee, ten miles, or thereabouts, from the border with Wales. Her whole life, she spoke about the bakery next door. Kate remembered how the smell of bread would wake her, how children would dart under the baker’s feet as he tried to keep the loaves from the flames. She remembered the tennis courts over the fence and the rich people she would watch as rapid streaks of yellow bounced between them.

When Grandma Kate was seven, her favourite uncle went to the Somme, though she hoped for some years that he would come back. When I turned fourteen, some eighty years on, she asked me to help her find him. It was only once I was in France, looking for one name in fields of Dover stone, that I felt as strange and as stupid as I was supposed to be feeling.

And, she would add, so brief as to seem casual, it was in the 1920s that Granddad Pointer had died on the kitchen table, when a doctor tried to save him from a strangulated hernia.

But the men in her life did tend to disappear. It was shortly after that Grandma Kate went into service as a parlour maid, at the big hall down the road. She would leave to marry Jim, a local man who preached on Sundays and sold fish during the week. It was Jim who would stop the goods’ train on its way across the border, at a point where the road intersected with the lowest slung rail bridge. Jumping up onto the tracks, the passengers passed down the fish, one piece at a time, and Jim would cart it round the villages to sell where he preached.

Their children, Bronwyn and Griffith, arrived before war came back, but the man who would be my step-dad was born in a snowstorm in 1947. He was a post-war baby, borne in a flurry of winks and nudges. The midwife had to dig her way into their house through the snow. At her 100th birthday we read the clippings of the snowdrift and looked at photos from the ‘60s that betrayed something that we had long suspected: Grandma had always been old.

Kate plucked herself neatly from out of her wheelchair and batted away the help of her daughter. She had prepared her own speech.

+

Everyone in England calls their home county “The Shire.” Until we could manufacture something more enigmatic, that’s what Shropshire was too. Yet, in terms of mystery, we had two things that worked in our favour. First, Shropshire is a county that is almost completely empty; so empty that the rest of England forgets its existence. And, second, its western edge runs the border with Wales, a division roughly marked by an earthwork called Offa’s Dyke.

Writings from the 8th century refer to King Offa as a “vigorous” king who terrified the rulers of neighbouring provinces. Offa had the earthwork constructed to intimidate his enemies, forcing his subjects to heave piles of earth that spread, in places, 60 feet across and 8 feet high. Modern guesswork suggests that the dyke never ran the whole of the border. It might only have ranged around the area in which I was born, somewhere south of the direct centre of the Borders, and slap bang in the middle of nowhere.

The Borders are rich in disintegrating earthworks and violent rumours about the Welsh. In 1862, George Burrow, “a gentleman writer,” wrote a book about the Welsh landscape after touring the country. At the Borders, he observed that “it was customary for the English to cut off the ears of every Welshman who was found to the east of the dyke, and for the Welsh to hang every Englishman whom they found to the west of it.”

From kindergarten on, we were told that any Welshman caught within the castle walls after midnight could be legally shot with a cross bow.

A few miles north, they were kinder and would only use a long bow.

The land looked like Wales, in fact, because it was Wales. When Jenny came to stay in the summer of ’09 she began referring to Shropshire as “Welsh land taken by the English.” She would call it nothing else. Jen was born and raised in Baltimore and knew a little Welsh folklore. When she arrived she would barely say Shropshire, would never say England.

Jen liked to take pictures of the road signs, split as they were between English and Welsh. She learnt that “croeso” meant “welcome” and would repeat it to shopkeepers, though no-one in our town could speak any Welsh.

She drew out the border and its long divisions of green and brownish fields onto pieces of fine greaseproof paper.

The land between England and Wales is like everything beautiful and bleak: under peopled, over gorsed, devoid of cities and landmarks. In England, it is typically impossible to reach your arms out without grazing the sides of another town. But from where we grew up, it took hours in either direction, into either country, to reach a city.

We felt far from the rest of England, a feeling made worse by British trains which are incapable of travelling sideways across the country. On the Borders, we have no accent, although at times our voices pass for farmer. But in the belief of our seclusion, we felt rare.

+

Poets pour nostalgia into any space that will hold it; A. E. Housman wrote about a half imagined Shropshire in a thirty-three poem cycle, self-published in 1896. A Shropshire Lad fixated on the luxuriness of country boredom, mixed with the idea of Housman’s own fading youth.

In Poem 30, he deals most openly with his sexuality, describing how his “Fear contended with desire” to “have willed more mischief than they durst”. Against the mellowness of the hills, what he named “the land of lost content”, Housman imagined that his troubles might diminish, that his life would begin to seem simpler: “Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer: / Then the world seemed none so bad.”

But though Ludlow was thirty miles from where he grew up, Housman would not visit the area he so idealised until he had written the majority of the collection. He wrote from London, in love or fascination with a place so far from urbanity where he might imagine a seclusion that could make his problems insignificant.

+

 

On the day of Kate’s funeral, the royal baby was born. By the time we woke up, the BBC were already tired from reporting. “There’s plenty more to come from here of course. None of it news, because that will come from Buckingham Palace. But… that won’t stop us.” The day forecast thunder storms that would break a fortnight long heat wave, a kind of summer we hadn’t known in years.

A tiny Methodist chapel overlooked the bakery where Kate had lived one hundred years before.

“Dad must have owned that field. He’d have planted those walnuts.” Bronwyn was trying to look beyond the trees, to a large house at the right of the village hall. “I remember, there was a tennis court.”

Her hands traced lines in front of her as she drew an imagined court in the air. “It was the most beautiful thing,” she said. “I used to throw the tennis balls back when the rich people missed them. Then I’d run next door to the bakers, get right under his feet.”

The village hall was so old no-one knew which war it predated. The doors had been refurbished a fortnight before the funeral and a tiny siren now hissed whenever you crossed over the threshold.

“WARNING! You are being recorded by a security camera.”

Tweenage cousins in high visibility jackets set off the alarm every few minutes, proud of their duties as parking attendants for the grieving, but addicted to the metallic whispers of the terrible and needless security. Another cousin, slightly elder, dragged them out by their ear. They pulled sullenly at the shoulder pads sewn into her first suit and the new floor bounced lightly underfoot. Each footstep echoed like the knock of a tap shoe.

“I used to dance here,” Bronwyn said, and gently nudged her husband, whose hearing aid was turned low.

“I ran a disco here in ’74,” my step-dad muttered.

As we walked back to the chapel, a cockerel began to crow, fooled by the storm clouds that had so far held off. And now Uncle Griffith remembered the walnut trees, which had grown so tall they entirely obscured the old house. In a voice thick with country, he pointed to the cows standing at the sides of the road. They were eating thorn bushes, he said, not because they felt no pain from the thorns, but because the taste was sweet.

He asked when I could come back and as I said it would be a long time, he smirked and shook his head.

“A boomerang always comes back.”

When we arrived home that evening, the air was thick with burning wood. A thin trail of smoke rose from a garage at the end of our street. Someone was living there, dad said, because he’d been evicted from a caravan that had been towed from the street. When his mum had developed dementia, his sister had sold the house but let him keep the garage for himself.

That night, when the heat broke, the rain came in at 2 a.m. through the crack in my bedroom ceiling. Slow and subtle at first, it leaked through the paint that had tried for years to hide it, and dripped softly on my face so that I woke to hear the storm outside.

Rachel Sykes is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Nottingham. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She tumbls here and twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about Katy Perry and John Mayer.

"Simone" - Goldfrapp (mp3)

"Drew" - Goldfrapp (mp3)