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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
Dec162009

In Which We Try To Get Filthy, Creepy and Weird

A Day at the Beach

by HANSON O'HAVER

We are living in a golden age of television. Television is no longer just a mindless tube for you to sit in front of while you ignore your kids and eat Hungry Man dinners. No, television has now become a way to explore and examine society in such a way that was once left to sociologists. The crowning achievement of this new intellectual pinnacle, of course, is MTV's Jersey Shore.

Jersey Shore is essentially the Real World without the token gay and black people, and with more Italians. This has angered Italian groups, who have compared the show to minstrel acts, and who say that it perpetuates negative stereotypes about Italian Americans. Maybe, but it is Italian Americans who star in the show. If it was Brits in pasta-face, that would be offensive. But as is, their argument is comparable to if people said that Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown show was racist. Sorry, but Jersey Shore is not offensive, because its stars are eight people who are stupid and just happen to be Italian. If its theme was that its stars are stupid because they're Italian, that would be different.

The premise of the show is that four women and four guys from places like New Jersey, Staten Island, Long Island, and uh, Staten Island travel to Seaside Heights, New Jersey, to have a summer with, "guidos everywhere, hot girls, and house music." They all refer to themselves as guidos and guidettes, which is weird because I assumed that it was a derogatory term. Maybe it's like n-word, where only self-identifying group members can legitimately use the word? In any case, the cast, from memory, is as follows:

nicole keeping it realGUIDETTES

Angelina, who refers to herself as "the Kim Kardashian of Staten Island."

A girl with black hair with blonde streaks in it that I think is named Jenny, but who goes by JWOWW.

Sammi.

A girl named Nicole who goes by Snookie, but whom everyone calls names like Snickers and Snuggie. Even though everyone on the show is supposed to be Italian, I have a suspicion she might be Turkish. Also, she's the kind of short where a person's not a midget, but still shorter than any normal person. Like Danny DeVito.

GUIDOS

Vinnie, who wants you to know that he graduated college and that not all guidos are dumb. Spoiler alert: he's really dumb.

Ronnie, the buffest guy on the show, and also the most likable.

Petey, a DJ. I think he's secretly some kind of Latin.

Mike, who is maybe the least likable person on television. Confusingly, he refers to both his abs and himself as "The Situation."

Some of the highlights of the first two episodes include:

The guys bring home "sluts" and "whooores" back to the house, which displeases the girls. Btw, if someone could make a ringtone of a girl from Staten Island saying the word 'Whores,' I think they'd make a fortune.

Sammi hooks up with The Situation, but then ditches him for Ronnie, because Ronnie is hot. This makes The Situation unhappy, because it disproves The Situation's assertion that (I'm paraphrasing) "it's not a matter of if I'm going to hook up with Sammi, but when I decide to hook up with her."

Vinnie gets pink eye, from (he thinks) dirty dancing with a "fat skank." While this is not a possible way to contact pink eye, the situation provides for comedic gold. Especially when Vinnie doesn't let pink eye stop him from going out: he just puts on his white-framed sunglasses, so that no one can see his eyes.

Snookie brings home a "decent looking guy" from the club, who proceeds to throw up. At the exact second he throws up, the soundtrack changes to heavy metal riffs.

Snookie threatens to leave, but no one really pays attention because she's boring and MTV probably wishes they casted someone else in her spot.

Jenni is informed that she hooked up with Pauly the night before.JWOWW says she would never cheat on her boyfriend, because what she has at home is better than anything on the Jersey Shore. In the next scene, she cheats on her boyfriend with Petey, who, she tells the camera, has a pierced penis.

Angelina says she would never cheat on her boyfriend, because what she has at home is way better than anything on the Jersey Shore. In the next scene, she cheats on her boyfriend with a beefcake she meets at the club.

Sometimes the show has a weird after-effect on it, where it's made to look like it was shot on film. There is no explicable reason for this.

Also, one of the ads that plays during Jersey Shore is as follows: A stressed-out woman yells at and dumps water on her young children. Her husband walks in the door, and she tells him just can't do this, and needs some alone time. In the next scene, she is sitting on a park bench, watching The Hills on her cell phone, and she is happy. Then the screen tells you to buy this new cell phone.

This show is probably the best thing to air on MTV since whenever the first Real World aired. Actually, I just made that up and I was like 2 then, but still, the show's really good. Fuck those people who are like, "Waah, MTV sucks now, they never plays videos anymore, it's all just scripted reality shows." This is a good thing. Music videos are boring. Plus, do you really want to listen to any of the bands whose videosMTV would play? Of course not.

Scripted reality shows, on the other hand, are super entertaining. Also, it does not matter if Jersey Shore is scripted, because the people in the show clearly talk like they are on reality shows even when they're not on camera. It's not like these people would become genuine if you took away all the MTV staff. As anyone whose been to college or high school in the past five years can tell you, there are people whose entire lives are like MTV shows. These are the people who, when they have problems with their friends, sit down (usually in a circle) and stage a friendship intervention. Through shows like Jersey Shore, the viewer is able to see how this part of society lives. They live ridiculously.

If you're still not sold on the show's brilliance, read the following quotes, all of which come from the first episode:

"After I have sex with a guy, I will rip their head off."

"I am the Kim Kardashian of Staten Island, baby."

"My abs are so ripped I call them the situation."

"Let's get filthy, creepy, and weird."

"Seriously, when I bring girls back here they're gonna melt in their pants."

When Snookie went into the jacuzzi in her thong: "At least wear a thong bikini, that's a little more classier."

"They're sluts, and sluts should get beat."

"That's how we know we're classy girls. We've been living in the house with these guys for two days and we haven't even done anything."

Hanson O'Haver is a contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Brooklyn. He last wrote in these pages about this art installation. He blogs here.

"Nowadays" - Eels (mp3)

"Unhinged" - Eels (mp3)

"Paradise Blues" - Eels (mp3)

Tuesday
Dec152009

In Which Time Was Fractured There Was No Cause And Effect

from Sylvia

by LEONARD MICHAELS

"Go, I don't love you. I hate you. I don't hate, I despise you. If you love me, you'll go. I think we can be great friends and I'm sorry we never became friends."

"Can I get you something?"

"A menstrual pill. They're in my purse."

I found the little bottle and brought her a pill.

"Go now."

I lay down beside her. We slept in our clothes.

       JOURNAL DECEMBER 1960

At the end of the summer we returned to New York. Naomi moved out of the MacDougal Street apartment, Sylvia and I moved in. By then, fighting every day, we'd become ferociously intimate.

Like a kid having a tantrum, she would get caught up in the sound of her own screaming. Screaming because she was screaming, screaming, screaming, as if building a little chamber of rage, herself at the center. It was all hers. She was boss. I wasn't allowed inside. Her eyes and teeth were bright blacks and whites, everything exaggerated and contorted like the maelstrom within. There was nothing erotic in this picture, and yet we sometimes went from fighting to sex. No passport was required. There wasn't even a border. Time was fractured, there was no cause and effect, and one thing didn't even lead toward another. As in a metaphor, one thing was another. Raging, hating, I wanted to fuck, and she did, too.

Fights often began without warning. I'd be saying something ordinary and neutral, but Sylvia was suddenly rigid, staring at me. She knocked the telephone off the shelf. I stopped talking, startled, jerked to attention. She knocked the cup and saucer that had been sitting beside the telephone to the floor. They smashed to pieces. Now she was screaming, denouncing me, and I was screaming back at her. She went for the radio, to fling it against the wall, and I lunged at her, trying to stop her. She twisted loose and came at me. Then it was erotic; anyhow, sexual. Afterwards, usually, she slept. Neither of us mentioned what had happened. From yelling to fucking. From unreal to real was how it felt.

Ordinary or violent, the sex was frequent, exhausting more than satisfying. Sylvia said she'd never had an orgasm. As if I were the one who stood between her and that ultimate pleasure, she announced, "I will not live my whole life without an orgasm." She said she'd had several lovers better than I was. She wanted to talk about them, I think, make me suffer details.

I began trying to write again. Sylvia began taking classes at NYU, a few blocks away across Washington Square Park, to complete her undergraduate work. She asked me what she ought to declare as her major. I said if I were doing it over, I'd major in classics. I should have said nothing. She registered for Latin and Greek, ancient history, and a class in 18th century English literature. She had to learn the complex grammars of two languages, read long poems and fat novels, and write papers, all while living in squalor and fighting with me every day. It seemed to me a maniacal program. I expected confusion and disaster, but she was abnormally bright and did well enough.

There was no desk in the apartment, but Sylvia didn't need such conveniences, didn't even seemt to notice their absence. I don't think she ever complained about anything in the miserable apartment, not even about the roaches, only about me. She studied sitting on the edge of the bed in a mess of papers. Her expression would go flat, her body limp. She would be utterly still except for her eyes. She didn't scratch, she didn't stretch. She was doing the job, getting it over with. I'd sit with her sometimes for hours, reading a novel or a magazine. We ate together in bed, usually noodles, frozen vegetables, and orange juice, or else we went out for pizza or Chinese food. Neither of us cooked. My mother often gave us food. I'd carry it back to MacDougal Street after our visits downtown, two or three times a month.

One night, after dinner at my parents' apartment, my mother slipped away to the bedroom with Sylvia's coat and sewed up a tear in the sleeve. AS we were about to leave, she surprised Sylvia with the mended coat. Sylvia seemed grateful and affectionate. In the street, however, she became hysterical with indignation, saying she'd been humiliated. I tried to make her understand that my mother was being sweet, doing something good for Sylvia. My mother intended kindness, not a comment on Sylvia's coat. I didn't say that Sylvia made a pitiable, waiflike impression in the torn coat. I said my mother wanted Sylvia to like her. Saying such things, I embarrassed myself.

Then I became angry. What difference did the motives make? Sylvia wanted to be pitied; my mother wanted to be liked. Who could care? What mattered was that my mother's gesture had been affectionate. To defend her against Sylvia brought up questions of loyalty. Maybe that was the point. But, to my mind, my mother needed no defense. I was wrong to defend her. I shut up. Sylvia could interpret things however she liked. I couldn't instruct her in feeling, and I refused to sink into a poisonous and boring morass of motives.

Thereafter, I visited my parents alone.

Leonard Michaels died in 2003 at the age of seventy. The above excerpt is taken from his novel Sylvia, which you can purchase here.

"Flocks I" - collections of colonies of bees (mp3)

"Flocks III" - collections of colonies of bees (mp3)

"The Fader" - toe (mp3)


Monday
Dec142009

In Which We'll Be Home For Christmas

The Week in Review

We have entered the giving holiday season here at This Recording. I thought it was a dirty little secret that Santa gave Jewish children coal in their stockings, but it turned out my mother was just screwing with me all those years. Things rarely seem as hilarious at the time, and Jackie Kennedy's last happy holiday moments with her husband weren't all shits and giggles. At least there was little in the way of porn stars back then.

kennedy christmas card for 1962In the haze of Christmas morning, I also believed Jesus was a satanic elf for a brief period in the late 1980s. Times were hard, our idea of Christmas was relatively inflexible and included a menorah largely for giggles. For a country like ours to survive this difficult period, we must avoid playing jokes on our Jewish sons, and harken back to the Christmas of olde.

Enjoy our week of holiday-based content:

The wonders of depression-era dating according to Meredith Chamberlain...

We unveiled the top 20 albums of the year...

Ray Zhong on Jason Reitman's Up in the Air...

Almie Rose on the promiscuous, sex positive Grace Kelly...

William Gass' letter for the ages...

All the vampires left New York...

Eleanor Morrow on the films of Yasujiro Ozu...

The aging oeuvre of Nancy Meyers...

The story of Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud...

The young auteurs of You Won't Miss Me...

Tao Lin discussed Thomas Bernhard...

Rufus Wainwright's iTunes playlist...

Elaine de Kooning remembered Mark Rothko...

Bob Dylan met John Lennon...

You can catch up on past Week in Reviews here.

"The Children" - Yeasayer (mp3)

"Madder Red" - Yeasayer (mp3)

"I Remember" - Yeasayer (mp3)

harry truman taking a christmas break in independence