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Alex Carnevale
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Ethan Peterson
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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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Saturday
Apr282012

In Which We Are Knocked Out Completely

You can enjoy the Saturday fiction archive here at your own leisure.

Seventh

by ANDREW DAVIS

He woke with the faintest memory of a good time, the half-addled recollection of something pleasant in the ether. Beside the bed were two comely ovals, and when he scraped his fingernail against them not even the faintest trace lodged underneath. His sigh of relief that they were likely potent elongated his desire for the morning. Light was only beginning to drift through the curtains.

She said, "Do you think it's valid if I just ask her to tell me what happened?"

No glass of water was in evidence, so the first pill slipped dry down his throat, lodging briefly in the deep south of his esophagus before absorbing directly into his cerebrum.

She said, "I don't want it to remain a mystery. If I ask -" she had been wearing sandals (to bed?) and one of them dangled from the end of her foot - "later it will be obvious, so evident that's it's something I had been thinking about for awhile."

He turned to her and nodded and noticed a Sprite hovering on a guitar case. He did not know she played, but he should have known, really, so he did not want to say, but found himself saying, "You play the guitar?" He walked over to the Sprite and washed down the second pill with it. What kind of name was that, Sprite. If an object has the identical name as something else...there should ideally be a law, that no two things could have the same name.

She said, "My ex-boyfriend did. He gave me the case to keep my trombone in." She laughed, but he was not entirely sure if that was a joke or if she actually played the trombone. "She walked in when we were, you know. It was so awkward."

Her hair was bright blonde, sandy at the ends. It might have been intentional. The thought of the style as so calculatedly haphazard should have roused something in him, so he waited to feel it.

She said, "She doesn't care for other people's feelings. She regards pity as a weakness. Not pity, empathy."

She said, "She'll be here any minute. You have to help me figure out what to say." She took the can from him and sipped on it, at first hesitantly, but then greedily. He felt he better understood why things were called what they were.

She said, "If I speak to her. On occasion I find myself talking to her as if she's a child. Not just any child that you might correct for eating something she shouldn't, or taking something that did not belong to her, but the way you might reprimand your own child for doing so."

He said, "I would never just give a kid sugar." She nodded sympathetically. He followed this up by saying, "The only way to raise one of them is in isolation. That way they have nothing at all to compare their lives to."

There was a commotion outside in the street, and while his attention was thus directed, she sat up in bed and wrapped her legs around his arm. He mock-pounced on her and tasted the leftover Sprite, shuddering inwardly. It was like sampling himself. Her limbs were hairer than he could have imagined.

She said, "She's never had a roommate before. I think people learn, given time. They can improve. She would have a chance."

He ran his tongue along her neck. There was the faint residual sweetness from the exertion of sleep, but it possessed no odor, no scent. If all secretions were voluntary, he would have sought no other, and truth be told, preferred it as a method of communication. There was no mistaking it. Then again, perhaps all her secretions were by choice, or simply guided by an external force beyond his capacity to understand.

In his head arose that light burning sensation, and then another, more intellectual pleasure at its recognition, knowing for sure he had not merely swallowed someone's leftover rejected vitamins.

She said, "I just hate when there are all these unsaid ghosts. Its drive me insane to know I have to hold back. I don't know if that's something I'm capable of."

"You've done it before," he said. She laughed lightly at first, and then giggles took over like a seizure. It was all he could do to keep her in his arms.

She said, "She's been seeing a therapist. When she first told me, I thought, great...well I didn't just think that, I told her that was wonderful. And she said I showed too much emotion in my reaction." He nodded. "Because this wasn't an eventuality to be happy about, is what she told me."

"Imagine that," he said, pressing himself against her. "I could listen to you talk like this for hours." With his foot he slid the guitar case under the bed. The mere touch of it brought intense pleasure, like a discrete, painful scrape on the underside of his testicles. As suddenly he drifted out of his reverie. He said, "What you ought to do is, say what you need to say. Don't make it sound like an apology."

"Why?"

"People hate being apologized to. Inside every person," he said, pressing on his rear tooth with his tongue in misguided curiosity about what excitement it might bring, "is this mostly dormant but everpresent sense they are completely in the wrong. It's what separates us from the animals." He coughed. "Make it sound like a compliment." She asked who had told him this. Then she said she thought she heard voices, and a doorbell rang, the sound settling in the air.

When he opened the door standing before him was a salty, short man between the age of 17 and 21, featuring a beggar's haircut. Raindrops issued from his forehead. In the individual's left hand was a vase, probably not a nice one if the accompanying clothes were any evidence. The idea of matching everything to the particular tenor of a vase, of letting things revolve entirely around a craft to hold flowers, struck him as an eminently desirable approach.

"Who are you?" the figure said.

"Terence," he replied. He felt it would unwise to give his real name.

"Okay Terence, is Marla there?"

"Is she about 5'5" with blonde hair and a tattoo of a eucharist?"

"No," the figure said. Terence stepped wide of the door and said, "Marla will be here soon. I invite you to wait indoors. I understand it's raining."

The girl in the apartment - Marla's roommate, he had concluded - took one look at this vase-bearing phenomenon and shrieked, "Where the fuck is Marla, Greg?", picked up a small blanket, and stomped into the bathroom. Greg at first moved as if to follow her but instead he sheepishly set the vase on a coffee table shaped like a machete.

"Greg," Terence said, "you may be having a rough morning. I don't know this for a fact."

Greg grunted.

"Do you have any cigarettes?" Terence asked. Greg just looked at him. Terence fished in the pocket of a woman's robe. "Here. You may require it more urgently than I do."

"I don't take x," Greg said.

"It's 8:30 on a Sunday and I'm appalled by your insinuation. Happiness, you will eventually decide, is the least of your desires. Does that hurt?" Greg's left ear, he had noticed, featured a small silver hoop that looked borderline infected.

"It's not what it looks like," Greg said, accepted the pill and reached into his jacket pocket for what Terence hoped very much was not a weapon. It was a joint. They both swallowed.

The door to the apartment opened and in walked Marla. Had he seen her in the flesh before he would surely have paid more attention to the talk. It made a great deal of sense in retrospect. Her very skin shone, her brunette hair lingered at her hips, a magnificent ballpoint pen extruded from her mouth. People were always talking fervently about what they desired most. As soon as she saw the intimate gathering in her living room, Marla grabbed the vase. Greg opened his mouth, saying, "I was waiting" - but this was all he said. Marla let the vase fly right toward his face. It struck Greg directly on his right temple. Terence was shocked it did not knock the man out completely, but he simply writhed around on the ground like a phantom was inhabiting his body, and sobbed. The girl with the tattoo of the eucharist came out of the bathroom, and seeing what had happened, the two women hugged and touched the tips of their fingers together, as if they had newly discovered a way of conducting electricity. He placed the joint on the table, dragged the guitar case from under the bed, and let himself out.

Andrew Davis is a writer living in New York.

"Let Her Go" - Eyas (mp3)

"Unfold In Dreams" - Eyas (mp3)

The new album from Eyas is entiteld It Will Become, and it was released on March 20th.

Friday
Apr272012

In Which Dorothea Lange Attempts Matrimony

Forms of Taking It All

by ELLEN COPPERFIELD

They called it the slipper club. All of the photographer Dorothea Lange's friends were Jews; exiled for a second time from the mostly gentile areas of Nob, Russian, and Telegraph Hills in San Francisco to Pacific Heights. Lange was not herself among the chosen people, but all her friends were. They were as far from the immigrant Jews in the Fillmore as they were from the gentiles in the wealthier neighborhoods. The slipper club, so named because Dorothea gave all her closest ones footwear as a gift, met outside the circles of power due to the vagaries of a parlor anti-Semitism. They talked of gardening, the arts, their relationships.... It was through these people that Dorothea met the artist who would become her first husband, Maynard Dixon.

Dorothea Lange, 26, featured a high pitched voice and walked with a limp. She made her living from portrait photography. She set a price and never haggled over it; no one quibbled with the results. For example:

from 1932

Maynard Dixon, 45, worked a pot-smoking illustrator whose sketches were featured in magazines with great frequency. His typical day involved waking up in the afternoon, getting high, and sampling the best of San Francisco's world cuisine. After the earthquake of 1906, he and his friends perserved in their lifestyle, almost amongst the rubble. Their neighborhood was called the Monkey Block, and it was razed in 1959 to build the TransAmerica Pyramid. Nobody was in a position to complain by then.

Maynard showed Dorothea the "real" California. He loved wide open spaces, and his representations of Arizona and New Mexico during the period remain quite captivating. She was immediately attracted to his cowboy good looks, his way around children. Her own concept of style always accentuated her natural beauty and minimized her defects. Despite her infirmity, brought on by a childhood bout of polio, she could hike and picnic, dragging her right leg on the ground when she was tired. The only thing she could not do was run.

the happy couple

They were married in her studio in March of 1920. He wore a cape, a black Stetson and wielded a carved swordcane with a stiletto. Their marriage invigorated his artistic career; he completed 140 paintings during the first five years of matrimony, and his reputation as a talented muralist at first grew and grew. The fact that he was nearing 50 as she approached 30, initially a source of Dorothea's apprehension, did not seem to matter a whit.

While others viewed Dorothea as a strong-willed entrepreneur, she did not mind how Maynard saw her — as a gorgeous young flower, a precious thing that could not be corrupted, but one had to try. This did not stop him from cheating on her with other women, often on long trips to the California wilderness he loved. Yet part of the reason the relationship sustained despite Maynard's imperfections was the fact the two kept their own lives.

Maynard Dixon

Near the end of her life she said of him, "Maynard was a restaurant man, a raconteur, a striking personality, graceful, had style, wit and originality. Much of the wit was defensive. Women loved him." Despite his considerable flaws, she viewed her new husband as an incandescent flame, and was most taken aback when his 12 year old daughter Consie Dixon came to live with them.

As a young child, Consie had been mistreated by her mother. At her stepdaughter's age, Dorothea stood out as helpful, kind and resourceful. In contrast Consie resisted her every directive, and found Dorothea's obsessiveness over her home frightening. (In later years, Dorothea would drop her sons in foster care while she travelled with Maynard and her second husband, Paul Taylor.) Maynard simply expected his new wife to care for the girl, who else would do it? To fill the hours with Consie, Dorothea began taking her picture. It looked like this:

consie dixon circa 1920

In light of the fact a child already lived in their home, Maynard and Dorothea used birth control with alacrity. By the age of 29, she decided it was time to have a child of her own, and she gave Maynard two sons. Tensions with Consie temporarily abated when the girl got a job as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner days after she turned 19. It was the onset of the Depression that would ultimately lose Consie that job and destroy her father's marriage.

Maynard's latent anti-Semitism had driven away most of his patrons, and when the art market in San Francisco collapsed, he could no longer sell his murals to anyone. After losing her job, Consie moved to Taos, New Mexico, and encouraged her parents to follow. Trouble quickly emerged in their new landing spot — neither Maynard or Dorothea had any idea how to drive a car. Maynard broke his jaw flipping over the family's first vehicle.

Taos, New Mexico

Even after that, Maynard tolerated the wide-open spaces of Taos far better than his wife. Dorothea had lost her clientele, her footwear association and the city she loved. The husband noticed none of his wife's unhappiness, and even after agreeing to a move back to San Francisco, the marriage would only last three more years. Dorothea observed in a profile of the family published in the San Francisco News that "an artist's wife accepts the fact that she has to contend with many things that other wives do not." She had her friends again.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about Marlon Brando. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Fame" - Santigold (mp3)

"God From The Machine" - Santigold (mp3)

The new album from Santigold is entitled The Master of My Make-Believe and it will be released on May 1st.

Thursday
Apr262012

In Which We Think Of A Reason For Our Trip

photo by xaviera simmons

Ripped Bodice

by BRITTANY JULIOUS

I used to work on the block where a man tried to force me into his car. This was not the first time.

The Rhona Hoffman Gallery, the reason for my trip, is located on a block of Peoria Avenue, off the expansive Randolph Street, and filled with other galleries and artist spaces. On certain Friday evenings, the block is bustling and busy with young people leaning against old meatpacking and industrial buildings smoking cigarettes and tying their shoelaces just so. I never fit in around here, even when I worked on this very block, day after day, during the fall after my college graduation. I never fit in around here, even when I visited two friends, former store owners, now embarking on the next chapter of their lives together outside of the city.

I think about this block because it represents different facets of my changing life and the way I see the world. That fall after college, it was a space of learning and responsibility. I hoped my job would lead someplace else. I hoped I had found a sense of place and purpose.

It was also a space of trouble, of quiet evenings and brisk temperatures. For a while, my greatest memory of that block was not the galleries and stores, but the way my neck hurt again and again while walking against the fierceness of the wind. It is a beautiful block, but like many corners of Chicago, it makes more sense during the day. At night, one realizes how long the blocks are, how wide the sidewalks are, how the only thing one passes by are more buildings and more pieces of trash, but not more people.

+

I began reading first romance, then erotic novels during my senior year of college. My interest stemmed from a love of fan fiction and a desire to both write and read beyond the characters I saw on the screen. I've noticed with my friends who appreciate either romance or fan fiction, a love of films and movies. There is the underlying devotion to storytelling and later, the ability to build on what was there. We can always keep going.

I like that the men represent a validation of my fantasies and my fantasies are not merely of the physical, but also of the potential for triumph, for personal redemption, for overcoming the things about ourselves — whether articulated and open or deeply stored within — that often delay the lives we want and the people we want to be. I think of myself as a woman coming back to her optimism. It was lost for a number of reasons in a number of different ways, but a part of me seeks out an interaction with the world that makes risks possible and chances worth taking. What I fear rests in me is a deeply-ingrained thought practice that ultimately makes living and loving seem like things other people do.

The black heroines in many of the novels I read are not traditionally beautiful, but they are interesting. They struggle and weep alone; keep their heads up and minds focused in private. They do a lot and feel a lot and often find peace through extraordinary circumstances that are more difficult than their lives pushing toward financial success and the desire to overcome a challenging society, a prejudiced society, an unforgiving society.

The ways in which I can overcome the world at large are through myself. I can not depend on outcomes of others, but must instead push myself to work harder, to think more, to pursue more. And in my favorite novels, the heroines must overcome the limitations of affection by challenging their willingness to love and trust.

+

The older I get, the more aware I am of how I lack a true understanding of normal. To me, normal is pure and right and exact. There is a real idea of normal love, of normal relationships, of normal intimacy. And even though a rational part of me knows that there is no way that a unique, individualistic, surprising world could produce a tried-and-true normal, I still hold on to the idea that there is a “right” way, and I am not doing it.

A friend once asked me what it was like to date as a black woman. She was asking not as a point of othering, but because I told her that “things are different.” We were discussing our parents’ relationships and how rare and strange it was that they are still together. This idea of marriage, of happiness, seems more like an exception to the rule of confusion, pain and regret.

Two years ago, a group of black teenage girls sat across from me on the 66 bus. An older black man, much older, at least in his 50s, began hitting on them, blatantly and disgustingly and physically. They were obviously turned off, because he was crass and because they were young, and this man thought that he could say and do anything he wanted to because these young women tickled his fancy. One girl, agitated, yelled, “I don’t care. Leave me alone! Leave us alone!”

It could have only been the culmination of years of frustration and annoyance because I too felt that anger and grief. This was not a random occurrence for them. This was the everyday, the day-to-day, the moment they stepped outside until the moment they locked their door.

There are slight come-ons, cheesy pick-up lines, catcalls which in hindsight are child’s play, and then there is harassment — physical and verbal — much like these teenage girls on the bus suffered, and what I’ve faced numerous times in the past. Harassment is different, and terrifying, and traumatizing. But once you’ve faced it, in all forms, whether it is a man calling you “A stupid stuck-up bitch” or another grabbing you off the street, a block away from your own home, attempting to rape you before you’ve even gotten your first period, you learn to toughen up, to always be aware, to call out the aggressors from the get go in the hopes that this time won’t turn dire. It’s not about hate but about safety and street smarts. As a black woman, unfortunately, I believe it’s something we become accustomed to at a young age.

It shapes the way you look at life and the way you encounter the people around you. If you are like me, it stifles your freedom, creating an existence of confusion. What does it mean to be loved? What does it mean to be happy?

I still think of the moment when everything changes, when that loss of youth shapes one’s days from here on out. It is that critical age of post-innocence, yet pre-adolescence. In my head, the other girls were able to still feel somewhat young and somewhat free, but I remember knowing more than I should, and feeling angry about it at 12 years old. Even now, I yearn for my age, meaning, the ability to be young and feel young and have that be enough. A co-worker said, “What do you have to stress over?” And I thought, most everything. It’s the same as it ever was.

+

Last Thanksgiving, we sat around my aunt's great big television — the place of common gathering for my family — and my grandmother tried to run her weak hands through my thick hair. She couldn't get far. She made a comment about it being unkempt and unright.

A friend shared a conversation she had with a mutual editor and they discussed not my fear of the body, but my fear of the expectations of the body. I am fearful that I lack ownership, fearful that my personality is not good enough or pleasant enough or funny enough to warrant love. If I only have the physical than these interactions must be representative of something inherent in me, something others see but I am unable to recognize or know. There is the me I know and the 'real' me, the me everyone else sees. That distance makes me uneasy.

At the holiday dinner, I tried to talk to my family. We’ve spoken before, held conversations and shared jokes, but the older I get, the more I recognized the full formation of my internal self. The older I get, the more I recognize my dual selves, the one that thinks and sees and feels so much that emotions manifest in stomach pains or stiff joints, and the one the world sees.

“I just don’t like it when people make comments about my appearance. I don’t like being touched without knowing,” I said. But what I actually meant was, I don’t like knowing that there’s something wrong with me, that it is visible, that what I sometimes feel and think deep down can be confirmed through appearances.

Brittany Julious is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. She tumbls here and twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about the month in music. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

Photos by Xaviera Simmons.

photo by xaviera simmons

"Ruby Blue" - Róisín Murphy (mp3)

"Sow Into You" - Róisín Murphy (mp3)

photo by xaviera simmons