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Alex Carnevale

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose

Senior Editor
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.

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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 We Really Hope It Doesn't Come To This

First Fact


Herman Melville was born in New York August 1, 1819, and on the 12th of that month the Essex, a well-found whaler of 238 tons, sailed from Nantucket with George Pollard, Jr. as captain, Owen Chase and Matthew Joy mates, 6 of her complement of 20 men Negroes, bound for the Pacific Ocean, victualled and provided for two years and a half.

A year and three months later, on November 20, 1820, just south of the equator in longitude 119 West, this ship, on a calm day, with the sun at ease, was struck head on twice by a bull whale, a spermeceti about 80 feet long, and with her bows stove in, filled and sank.

Her twenty men set out in three open whaleboats for the coast of South America 2000 miles away. They had bread (200 lb a boat), water (65 gallons), and some Galapagos turtles. Although they were at the time no great distance from Tahiti, they were ignorant of the temper of the natives and feared cannibalism.

Their first extreme sufferings commenced a week later when they made the mistake of eating, in order to make their supply last, some bread which had got soaked by the sea's wash. To alleviate the thirst which followed, they killed a turtle for its blood. The sight revolted the stomachs of the men.

In the first weeks of December their lips began to crack and swell, and a glutinous saliva collected in the mouth, intolerable to the taste.

Their bodies commenced to waste away, and possessed so little strength they had to assist each other in peforming some of the body's weakest functions. Barnacles collected on the boats' bottoms, and they tore them off for food. A few flying fish struck their sails, fell into the boats, and were swallowed raw.

After a month of the open sea they were gladdened at the sight of a small island which they took to be Ducie but was Elizabeth Isle. Currents and storm had taken them a thousand miles off their course.

They found water on the island after a futile search for it from rocks which they picked at, where moisture was, with their hatchets. It was discovered in a small spring in the sand at the extreme verge of ebbtide. They could gather it only at low water. The rest of the time the sea flowed over the spring to the depth of six feet.

Twenty men could not survive on the island and, to give themselves the chance to reach the mainlan before the supplies they had from the ship should be gone, sixteen of them put back to sea December 27th.

The three who stayed, Thomas Chapple of Plymouth, England and Williams Wright and Seth Weeks of Barnstable, Mass., took shelter in caves among the rocks. In one they found eight human skeletons, side by side as though they had lain down and died together.

The only food the three had was a sort of blackbird which they caught when at roost in trees and whose blood they sucked. With the meat of the bird, and a few eggs, they chewed a plant tasting like peppergrass which they found in the crevices of the rocks. They survived.


The three boats, with the seventeen men divided among them, moved under the sun across ocean together until the 12th of January when, during the night, the one under the command of Owen Chase, First Mate, became separated from the other two.

Already one of the seventeen had died, Matthew Joy, Second Mate. He had been buried January 10th. When Charles Shorter, Negro, out of the same boat as Joy, died on January 23rd, his body was shared among the men of that boat and the Captain's, and eaten.

Two days more and Lawson Thomas, Negro, died and was eaten. Again two days and Isaac Shepherd, Negro, died and was eaten. The bodies were roasted to dryness by means of fires kindled on the ballast sand at the bottom of the boats.

Two days later, the 29th, during the night, the boat which had been Matthew Joy's got separated from the captain and was never heard of again. When she disappeared three men still lived, William Bond, Negro, Obed Hendricks, and Joseph West.

In the Captain's boat now alone on the sea, four men kept on. The fifth, Samuel Reed, Negro, had been eaten for strength at his death the day before. Within three days these four men, calculating the miles they had to go, decided to draw two lots, one to choose who should die that the others might live, and one to choose who should kill him. The youngest, Owen Coffin, serving on his first voyage as a cabin boy to learn his family's trade, lost. It became the duty of Charles Ramsdale, also of Nantucket, to shoot him. He did, and he, the Captain and Brazilla Ray, Nantucket, ate him.

That was February 1, 1821. On February 11th, Ray died himself, and was eaten. On February 23rd, the Captain and Ramsdale were picked up by the Nantucket whaleship Dauphin, Captain Zimri Coffin.

The men in the third boat, under the command of Owen Chase, the first mate, held out the longest. They had become separated from the other two boats before hunger and thirst had riven any of the Essex's men to extremity. Owen Chase's crew had buried their first death, Richard Peterson, Negro, on January 20th.

It was not until February 8th, when Isaac Cole died in convulsions, that Owen Chase was forced, some two weeks later than in the other boats, to propose to his two men, Benjamin Lawrence and Thomas Nickerson, that they should eat of their own flesh. It happened to them this once, in this way: they separated the limbs from the body and cut all the flesh from the bones, after which they opened up the body, took out the heart, closed the body again, sewed it up as well as they could, and committed it to the sea.

They drank of the heart and ate it. They ate a few pieces of the flesh and hung the rest, cut in thin strips, to dry in the sun. They made a fire, as the Captain had, and roasted some to serve them the next day.

The next morning they found that the flesh in the sun had spoiled, had turned green. They made another fire to cook it to prevent its being wholly lost. For five days, they lived on it, not using of their remnant of bread.

They recruited their strength on the flesh, eating it in small peices with salt water. By the 14th they were able to make a few attempts at guiding the boat with an oar.

On the 15th the flesh was all comsumed and they had left the last of their bread, two sea biscuits. Their limbs had swelled during the last two days and now began to pain them excessively. They judged they still had 300 miles to go.

On the the 17th the settling of a cloud led Chase to think land was near. Notwithstanding, the next morning, Nickerson, 17 years of age, after having bailed the boat, lay down, drew a piece of canvas up over him, and said that he wished to die immediately. On the 19th, at 7 in the mornning, Lawrence saw a sail at seven miles, and the three of them were taken up by the brig Indian of London, Captain William Crozier.

It is not known what happened in later years to the three men who survived the island. But the four Nantucket men, who, with the Captain, survived the sea, all became captains themselves. They died old, Nickerson at 77, Ramsdale, who was 19 on the Essex, at 75, Chase who was 24, at 73, Lawrence who was 30, at 80, and Pollard, the captain, who had been 31 at the time, lived until 1870, age 81.

The Captain, on his return to Nantucket, took charge of the ship Two Brothers, another whaler, and five months from home struck a reef to the westward of the Sandwich Islands. The ship was a total loss, and Pollard never went to sea again. At the time of the second wreck he said: "Now I am utterly ruined. No owner will ever trust me with a whaler again, for all will say I am an unlucky man." He ended his life as the night watch of Nantucket town, protecting the houses and people in the dark.

Owen Chase was always fortunate. In 1832 the Charles Carrol was built for him on Brant Point, Nantucket, and he filled her twice, each time with 2600 barrels of sperm oil. In his last years he took to hiding food in the attic of his house.

Charles Olson died in 1970. The preceding text is excerpted from Call Me Ishmael, Olson's great study on Melville.

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"Dream" - Ellen Allien (mp3)

"You" - Ellen Allien (mp3)

The aorta of a whale is larger in the bore than the main pipe of the water-works at London Bridge, and the water roaring in its passage through that pipe is inferior in impetus and velocity to the blood gushing from the whale's heart.

—Paley's Theology (one of Melville's 80 epigraphs for Moby Dick)


In Which I Was Born Ginger And Born Free

I've Got Something To Say


The really fucked up thing about the sort of fucked up and generally just brilliant new MIA video that came out yesterday is that it's still nowhere near as fucked up as the Wikileaks video from Iraq that leaked earlier this month.

I've been making ginger genocide jokes longer than anyone so obviously this touched a special nerve with me. I even wrote a fake chapter from a future history book (The Red Ribbon) about the oncoming redhead race war a few months back.

I really liked this video because it's the kind of thing I can imagine seeing on The Box as a child (even though The Box has been displaced by the internet?) and just being totally fucked up by it forever. Like how the Tom Petty video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" gave me really cool psychosexual nightmares for months as a kid.

"Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle." "That's right."

MIA is bringing back the long form mindfuck electronica video mini-movie with pasty hunted gingers in the place of Richard D. James's bikini clad horrormask girls. Shades of his "Windowlicker" and all the other night terror inducing ultra late block videos that were on AMP in the nineties. She blows up "Telephone" with a landmine.

The string section during the train to Gingeschwitz sequence recalls the long version of U2's "All I Want Is You" from Rattle and Hum. Also the movie Punishment Park and the last part of Roy Andersson's grotesque dystopia Songs From The Second Floor.

screenshot from Call Of Duty 2: Modern Warfare, teaching lil' kids how to frag

It should also be said that I hate shock value for the sake of shock value, and I hate poshlost (high-minded attempts at importance) and I thought this transcended either category, as sort of basically hamfisted as it is. I LOL'd, mission accomplished.

Humanity's inhumanity is not exactly the sort of topic that gets easily played out, just like growing up Tamil in Sri Lanka and witnessing all kinds of fucked up government supported shit doesn't seem like something you'd get over by your third album.

That motherhood mellows you out or permanently enlightens you somehow is just another lie of the patriarchy/Dick Cheney's LOST. Fight the power. Ginger Pride 4 Life. 


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Indestructible Man

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The Omega Man

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They Live

The War Of The Worlds (1953)

Escape From LA

The Net


Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man

Lost Highway

Night Of The Comet

The China Syndrome



Blue Thunder 

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes 

The Hidden

Miracle Mile


Strange Days

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls and twitters

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"Doe Deer" - Crystal Castles (mp3)

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In Which A Woman Is A Woman Is Anna Karina

Nana's Twelve Steps


Vivre Sa Vie

dir. Jean-Luc Godard

85 min.

Quick! Follow the guy with the Moscot glasses and beige trench! He’s jumping over puddles securing his fedora with one hand and umbrella with the other. Scott Schuman is close, I can feel it. On this rainy New York Sunday, we’re both going to the same place: a showing of Godard’s 1962 Vivre Sa Vie, at the Museum of Art and Design. (The film was released by the Criterion Collection this week.)

Seeing French New Wave at a museum is not the same as ‘going to the movies.’ After buying my ticket, I hurried to Whole Foods to grab some snacks only to be told by the usher, this eerie wiry man—think Twilight Zone elevator operator—of the strict no food or beverage policy. I also had to check my umbrella, and promise him my first born. Inside the theatre everyone was quietly seated as though following an oath of stoic Sunday cinema seriousness. Of course I thought this was funny, but played along.

There were lots of nods of recognition between acquaintances: most people had come alone and were busying themselves with their iPhones, or whispering to themselves the Sontag quote on the program that was given to us: "One of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art that I know of." In my head, that collective, feverish feeling of anticipation seemed to swallow the room. Something special was about to happen.

And it did. Vivre Sa Vie starts with a dedication to B movies; a shout out that immediately endears the audience. And then, Nana (Anna Karina, Godard’s then wife) appears—her helmet hair profile changing angles as the opening credits roll. Nana’s silhouette paired with the movie’s haunting music — a Michel Legrand piece that repeats without ever reaching a climax — establish the film’s twelve-part intrigue, endlessly and heartbreakingly evading satisfaction. Nothing completes itself and nobody finds peace.

And yet, Karina’s performance finds a way to couple the urge to take flight with the impulse to preserve, recognize, stop, sit, and share a conversation, or write a letter, slowly, carefully, and eloquently.

In one scene Nana fights off a kiss on the lips from one of her clients, in another, she ditches one man who bought her a movie ticket for another man sitting at a café. She skips out on her rent, and her husband and child to pursue acting, and yet, she’ll still choose to dance the entire length of a song on the jukebox, playfully and wholeheartedly. She orders a glass of wine, but leaves before having one sip. She embraces a man, only to take a puff of her cigarette over his shoulder, staring off longingly, mildly melodramatically, at some far away horizon. You’ll covet her whole face, but when you see it all, that regretful pang of knowing too much will start to pulse. She’ll get you like that.

Because we follow Nana’s path towards prostitution in twelve parts, Vivre Sa Vie is set up like a countdown to the end. Fin! The audience is ushered through a veritable ‘How to’ of prostitution made intimate by varied forms: a voice-over interview of the ‘lay of the land,’ a conversation shot from behind, scenes of silence followed by philosophical conversations.

At times, the film’s endless collection of quotations or allusions to literature, philosophy and film, teeter dangerously near affectation. For non-believers and those critical or hesitant of film’s snobbish stigmas, the tendency in this, Godard’s fourth major film, to reference and draw comparisons can be disorientating and alienating: audience self doubt abound.

But Karina’s presence and her manner, her step, both weightless and grave, her ennui, “the life,” does not impose, and instead seduces the way familiarity in strangers might seduce. Yes, I will follow you down the street as you nervously accept your first client. Of course I don’t mind looking over your shoulder as you write a letter. All of it? Sure why not? Watch you watching The Passion of Joan of Arc? Yes, please. Can I wipe your tears?

In talking about female leads, we often rate their undeniability, their charm and contrary whimsy, their command. But with Karina, it’s not an easy attraction, and not one that accepts your refusal. Nana’s allure haunts and evokes that part of us that is compelled by our own discomfort.

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here.

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