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Alex Carnevale

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Brittany Julious

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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In Which The Timeliness Of This Nightmare Continues

Something's Missing


creator Emily Fox

Becca Brady (Laura Ramsey) is a deeply unhappy person. She is going to be married to a beautiful and considerate man with a good job. She lives in a magnificent apartment overlooking Central Park West and her nether regions have yet to require homeopathic rejuvenation of any kind. What exactly could be so bad about her life that she wants to return to 1995, sent there by the magical interference of a magical black person, the first one she has presumably ever met?

VH1's new deeply offensive series displays a plantation mentality at almost every turn. Every single other person in it is white, including Becca's entire bridal party and - gasp! - her mother! Hindsight not only takes Becca back to the days in which the size of Bill Clinton's penis was still an open question, it melts the entire diverse smorgasbord of New York City diversity down to the Aryan Brotherhood and one non-threatening black man (Don Cheadle).

This was trash fashion in any decade there Becca

I am just kidding about the Don Cheadle part. He could not take this role because he was previously committed to portraying a drag queen who sends Ryan Gosling back to the 1890s period in London.

Nostalgia goggles have taken over - people now think the 1970s was a fun time to live in. Trust me, it was not: things were every bit as racist as they are today, and you never knew how many calories were in any of your food. When Becca goes back to 1995 through the fantastic involvement of Gabourey Sidibe (still joking) very little is actually different about society.

if this looked any more like a set there would be a boom mic

Cell phones were slightly smaller back then, and played better games. Otherwise things appear to be roughly the same, if a bit more prosperous overall. The biggest thing Becca notices is that she is able to smoke in bars again. It seems like we're stretching if the major advantage of a time period is the greater ease with which we are able to give people cancer.

The past is always glamorized beyond all reasonable recognition. Some few, lucky people were able to be happy because they didn't know any better. A lot of people have been asking me lately what I was doing in 1995, and I told them the same thing I will tell you: I was preparing to go to war with Iraq.

That hairstyle remains as relevant as Steve Harvey

We are always at war with Eastasia, and Becca is always let down majorly by some white brah with a haircut that look perilously anachronous given that it is supposed to be the 1990s and Matthew Perry's head looked like a mop for the duration. I honestly could not tell the difference between some recent episodes of Seinfeld I watched and the Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David went to heaven. (Neither had a person of color present in any serious role.)

We don't know why Becca runs away at the altar from her disappointing Australian husband Sean (Craig Horner), but she is off to make some slightly different decisions, like asking for a promotion at her job and never getting sucked into the admittedly original premise of Lost. Her friend Lolly (Sarah Goldberg) is available for hangsies or whatever in 1995, but the pair doesn't even speak in the present.

a college sweatshirt?!? this must be the past, although a penn state reference would be more timely

Everyone in Becca's life is pretty much intolerable. There is her overly controlling Mom, her weak sauce brother, her cousin whom she resents because the woman made the decision to have children in her twenties - instead of waiting for a supermodel boyfriend to come along so she can have someone new to go meh about.

1995: before they eliminated the menstrual cycle

There is a certain kind of woman there is no pleasing. January Jones, Golda Meir, the younger daughter on Modern Family. They will always find fault with something in you and mitigate the critique by pretending it is something awful in themselves as well. Maybe if Becca had more diverse friends and acquaintances, she wouldn't be so completely overwhelmed and shocked by meeting a black person to the point where her only way to abjure the difference was metaphysical travel through time-space dilation.

I always turned my head to the side and closed my eyes to stifle tears during this period.

Ryan Gosling goes back in time and discovers that he himself was actually Jack the Ripper, and the prosts he killed were all serial killers themselves. He spends the majority of the movie being like, "Maybe you kids shouldn't be so trusting of Father Michael, he's looking kind of pervy lol" and screaming, "There's no telephone here? WHAT? How do we order pizza? What."

Then he realizes he can pretty much make a fortune by predicting the outcome of the 1899 cricket championship. Gosling retires to 2008, so he can cuddle with Eva Mendes without being annoyed and relive the enthusiastic optimism of electing our first black president. After that, he can travel to 2015 to help us find him.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Cat Food (instrumental)" - Aesop Rock (mp3)


In Which Only A Few Of Them Were Lingering



Užásno! she said as she passed. Her crisp blue eyes pacified the fullness of her blonde hair and the wind that swept through the darkness of the street, like being tickled by someone you are going to punch in the nose.

The train mended the space between two buildings as if to say that nothing can be broken or perhaps nothing can be mended forever. Brighton Beach after dusk is the closest I am to home in New York. I am there because of the sea and for the long train ride back. I’m there for the restaurants that stretch along the shore and their female Slavic names - Tatiana, Alina, Vera. Probably named after owner’s and everybody’s first love, mother, daughter. Probably, but all I could think of while pressing my nose against their windows is how there must have been a Tatiana, Alina and Vera, teenage soldiers who many decades ago were freezing in the woods. I’m there for the old people in proper coats, sitting on benches, in streetlight-interrupted darkness.

These old people may have been vampires. They were still, but impossible to photograph. They didn’t attack anyone or at least it was not reported by the Post the day after.

Back on the Brooklyn Bridge I am merely one of a hundred total strangers standing there and thinking of love and suicide. In their extreme intensities, love and suicide may be the same, the egg and chicken paradox of self-destruction; a circular reference to a minimalistic obituary reprinted every time I wish for the one that pains me most.

This is not quite true when one is on Brooklyn Bridge or, for that matter, on any given bridge. The water is simply darker and colder than betrayal or cruelty can ever amount to. You can jump into its coldness. Darkness after you have jumped quickly blends into fear and regret. Later, once you are soaking wet: that feeling turns into life after death. That is eternal and in most optimistic accounts, a boring blank space. No love and pain are ever boring, blank. So don’t jump.

It starts to rain and everybody with and without an umbrella is disappointed. The arches of the bridge become too crowded and the romance of taking photographs against the glowing lights of uninterrupted greatness of the Financial District doesn’t do it anymore. To see a city while it rains is to see it in its pajamas. The sincerest moments of one's life happen before a shower and coffee, in your underwear. Only a handful of people appreciate it.

One morning when I was ten or eleven I woke up and ran out of the house to a tree completely covered by butterflies. It wasn’t a tree in our garden, but the one across from it, some yards away. The butterflies kept flying to it and flying from it. I stood in front of my house, not sure what to do. I wasn’t afraid but also I couldn’t go closer to the tree. Nobody really took notice of what was going on, as if butterflies attack tall trees planted on the brink of the desert every day. I didn’t know back then that this is something to be photographed. Also, my family didn’t own a camera.

Instead, twenty years later I remember it still. I remember it and measure my wonder and affection according to it. I don’t believe in love at first sight but sure do believe in not being able to move and divert you eyes from someone or something because they are the kind of loveliness that doesn’t elapse, like a kind tree on the brink of a desert. They are so wonderful that you want to tell them every little thing that happened to you up till the moment you met them. Instead of that, you release all your many, silent butterflies at them, at once.

I want to release all myself on him, like a rain that came as blessing and ended up as a natural disaster. But we never even shook hands, not even when we said goodbye. Once, we took an elevator together so that I could practice not looking at him in confined spaces. If I had looked his way he could tell I made my peace with some crazy, uncalled for waiting.

I’ll wait until I’m 44 and he is 45, when we are away from New York, comfortably seated on the porch of our house, broke and tired. I’ll drift away, probably into the nothingness of a flowerless garden, and he’ll start calling my name. At first, he’ll say it the right way, and then, suspicious or annoyed, he’ll start saying it the wrong way, which sounds like something God would shout at his people from the top of a mountain. If I could only forget to think and think and think. I’ve taken up smoking so that I have something else to do while alone. But that is only worsening the problem. Every day, there are fewer places to smoke in. As I type this, one bus station has just been designated as a non-smoking area. So I take my not thinking to my room.

Some folks may lose the blues in their heart, but that is not me. I never will lose the account of all the sadness that is bestowed after one reaches a self-assigned point of maturity.

Life becomes clear for what it is – blocks of houses, cafés and pastries, shops and cinemas and Luna Parks. All that is equally predictable and mind numbing after a while, unless if you can remind yourself what this life would have looked like without it – an honest-to-God wife, which you wouldn’t want to fuck. From Midtown and up there are a few boutiques which sell suits, purses and scarfs for somebody really old but alive. These boutiques are never open when I’m around. They are filled with yellow and purple or pudding-like pink light that drips onto the street if the doors of the shop are open. Bastard shops adopted by the avenues. Growing among them, learning to eat with cutlery, debutantes that will never be married.

Aaron told me that it’s a lie what they say in the movies. New York sleeps. It’s only people with jetlag that roam the city. Yes, everything goes to sleep. Even the fish in cheesy aquariums in the bars between Little Italy and Chinatown sleep. Only angels, trains and delis are lingering. It’s not a good idea to have coffee that late while your shoes are soaking wet and no filter can make your selfie look better. Not to mention the cigarette in your hand and the cheap bouquet you bought because (1) you are never so broke you don't have money for flowers, and (2) no flower should be left behind. Simply, Užásno!

Sumeja Tulic is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find her website here.

Photographs by the author.

"Human Contact" - Catey Shaw (mp3)

"Brooklyn Girls" - Catey Shaw (mp3)


In Which We Still Dream Of Orgonon

Running Up That Hill


Clouds of Sils Maria
dir. Olivier Assayas
124 minutes

She is tired, actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is, of watching movies set on other planets. She takes a role in the revival of a play that is set on earth. Her personal assistant (a more generic looking than usual Kristen Stewart) tells her that even if the settings of these fantasy films are unfamiliar, the emotions and themes are basically the same.

Stewart smokes throughout Clouds of Sils Maria. Between cigarettes she opines, at length, on the difficulties of being Kristen Stewart. The hardest parts are as follows:

1) Being on the news for cheating on your boyfriend

2) See No. 1.

By the thirtieth cigarette, an intense disdain for everything outside of the stunning Swiss mountains of Clouds of Sils Maria washes over us. The only thing moral in the movie are the environments themselves; the actors and actresses that populate the landscape are purposefully positioned as transient fog.

Binoche plans to take the senior role in the play that began her career as a precocious 20 year old. She runs the scenes with Stewart, rehearsing the text of this fictitious play about a lesbian who dominates and is dominated by her secretary. The text of the stage play and conversations between the two women from different generations run into each other in an amusing way that almost makes us forget how the play-within-a-play is as decidedly impotent as the actual drama occurring. Played off each other, the maelstrom creates a far more riveting narrative than either offers in isolation.

Binoche harbors a muted sexual affection for Stewart's douchey assistant that is never consummated. Because her ego is too large, she can't see the world from any other perspective but her own. She is forced, against her better instincts, to take a thankless role opposite Jo-Ann Ellis (a rather one note Chloe Moretz), a young starlet in the the vein of half Jennifer-Lawrence and half Stewart herself. (The shots at Lawrence in Clouds of Sils Maria's savage X-Men parody are a bit unnecessary, but what the hell.)

Moretz's Ellis breaks up the marriage of a novelist and his artist wife, bringing even more attention to Binoche's production. The suffering wife attempts suicide. We experience the only real tragedy of Clouds of Sils Maria as she google image searches a view of the man's nearly dead partner, to find out what kind of person would make a decision of real consequence in a world without any.

Binoche holds the entire movie together as much as she can through sheer force of will. She is better than almost every actress of her generation at the difficult trick of dying and coming alive again in a single scene. We are always able to see the whole story in her chastely wrinkled face, but like any true professional, she keeps us blind to the twists and turns, never broadcasting or telegraphing her inner turmoil.

It is hard to make a sincere satire, but it is fun to watch Assayas, probably the most exciting director working today, give it his all. Assayas doesn't get much out of the young actresses at his disposal, which is perhaps the point. If either of them were any good, it would prove we have no need for Binoche's Maria Enders at all.

Stewart struggles here for the most part. Her understated style suits the quieter scenes well, but she has difficulty projecting anger or discontent as anything but a lame sulk. Her body is exposed a few times as a temptation for Binoche's character; but nothing ever materializes from it, probably because Stewart's sexuality is diminished by our knowledge of the type of person she actually is. When she disappears from Clouds of Sils Maria; it is supposed to be heartrending, but it is something more like a relief.

Still, Clouds of Sils Maria is so technically brilliant that it overcomes the unlikeability of these people through sheer enthusiasm for superior composition and design. The Hollywood parody is as tired and broken as a superhero movie, but themes of passing and aging manage to triumph. In some ways Clouds of Sils Maria is more like watching a nature documentary about human beings than a mannered industry satire about the essential lack of empathy that comes, instinctively, with any kind of wealth or power.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"The Everlasting Muse" - Belle and Sebastien (mp3)

"Enter Sylvia Plath" - Belle and Sebastien (mp3)