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Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Reviews Editor
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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Monday
Apr202009

In Which We Decided Because This Is My Last Night As A Free Woman That We Would Just Wig Out!

In The Pink

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Trends are a strange animal. Lady Gaga starts wearing ridiculous Minnie Mouse hairbows and suddenly the Forever 21 accessories department is flooded with them. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't look totally ridiculous wearing a gigantic hair-bow. Maybe that is the point. Why not the steampunk sun-goggles or the bubble dress?

When somebody pioneers a semi-original individual style, like Amy Winehouse's rockabilly girl-group sour mash, it is instantly co-opted by millions of fans and copycat artists. Again, it's only certain details that are focused on. The winged eyeliner but not the bouffant. The tattoo flash but not the bloody ballet slippers

Dudes are not immune. The reemergence of flannel is not a fluke. Men's trends tend to come in waves of accessories, and ill-decided upon hats. I don't trust anyone whose sense of style revolves around a hat. Or a scarf. Or a haircut. It's best to have a consistent personal style. One that evolves, but does not consistently mutate each season to fit the trends being pushed on you by the fashion industry.

 

That said. Do what you wanna do. Go where you wanna go. Be yourself and hope that poseurs don't start copying you. Drew Barrymore cosplayed Bat For Lashes at Coachella. Joanna Newsom said she stopped wearing peasant dresses because it weirded her out too much that her fans all showed up in them. You hear that, new age neo-hippie girl cosplayers? You freaked out the freak folk lady

Why then, a pink wig? Why not a blue one or green? Why not red or purple or black? Why pink? What is the significance of pink? Hmmm. Perhaps it is best not to think about these things too deeply. Whether it originated in Closer or Lost In Translation (circa 2003 to 2004) I can't be entirely sure, but it has since taken on a life of its own as a costume and signifier.

Whatever the reason, the pink wig has finally made its way into pornography courtesy of (Miss This Recording) Sasha Grey in the just released "Throat," a new remake/reimagining of "Deep Throat." Sasha is poised for her mainstream closeup wtih Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience." Hate to say we told you so.

But aside from Scarlett and Natalie, the pink wig found its most famous wearer in one Britney Spears, who donned it often at her most bi-polar. Aside from the iconic night she shaved her head, we never really got to see Britney bald. Shades of Little Edie.

Instead of a strong powerful skinheaded Britney we were met with a performative and pathetic goofball. Pinkly bewigged and generally oscillating back and forth between hyperactive happiness and tearful fits like a collicky baby on a sugar high.

Wigs allow you to become someone else, the way clothes allow you to become someone else. Who did Britney want to be? The sexy never-nude stripper from Closer before Devendra robbed the jeweled cave of her whispering eye? Or the voluptuary Scarlett artistically showing off her donk in Lost In Translation?

Maybe Britney had some other invented persona in mind. Her own private Sibyls and Sasha Fierce to contend with. Maybe there are more than one. An "Innocent Britney" deep inside battling it out with "Dark Phoenix Britney" and "took too many cold medicine pills with her Patron shots Britney" and "Y Did I Have Kids Yall Britney" Perhaps she should star in a premium cable TV show where these different personalities battle it out. 

When a celebrity is told for the length of their existence as jailbait to take off their clothes, who is to blame when they then won't stop taking their clothes off? Pink Wig Britney was a Sheela na Gig, spreading her no longer teenage thighs anyplace she could be photographed doing so. It was the saturation point of the brief no panties craze amongst celebrities, demonstrating Britney's mental illness at its most baroque.

Speaking of mental illness let's not forget that Lindsay Lohan chose to dye her hair back to red to tell us all that the carnival isn't over yet. Before the parade passes by, she'll send in the clowns. 

It's 2009, Amy Winehouse is alive and she may live to record a third album. 

Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson wore fake bouffants (like this pink flowered number) for their early gigs in the B-52s but soon stopped because they inhibited dancing during performances. 

Lily Allen dyed her hair pink in tribute to Britney's wig phase, now a permanent touchstone for confused young pop stars in the public eye, hungry for love and sex and cheeseburgers.

FLICKR BABES DOING PINK WIG COSPLAY:

sometimes u just want 2 wear a wig with sunglasses

or tiger bunny ears. this kute azn could grift all of brooklyn if she wanted 2.

sometimes u want 2 pout and look distant, like maybe u r in a belle & sebastian song

or take a long hard stare in the mirror, and try 2 make a change

sometimes u want the whole internet 2 c what u r up 2

other times u just sit for important ppl like painters and famous video artists

u just want 2 show the world u r still a 'hot mama,' or MILF

and h8rs can 'f off' if they don't like u or ur stylee

u are not a stock character from a online stock photo image directory

u r a special flower, unique in every way

u r an individual with ur own preferences and tastes

u do not follow the crowd, the crowd follows u. they do not unfollow u. 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbles here.

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Sunday
Apr192009

In Which We Live In Different Worlds

Cooked

by GAVAN DAWS

The existence of the Hawaiian Islands became known to Europeans late in the eighteenth century at the end of the great age of exploration in the Pacific. It had been a lengthy era: merely to locate the major island groups took two and a half centuries. The reason was simple. The ocean was immense—the biggest single feature of the earth's surface—and the islands were tiny. So it was not surprising that explorers ran into difficulties.

the great southern continentThe first Westerner to enter the Pacific, Ferdinand Magellan, set the tone. Early in the sixteenth century he sailed fomr Cape Horn to the Philippines without encountering a single island on the way. Among the navigators who followed him—Spaniards, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, and Englishmen—were many who made useful discoveries, but more who spent years at a time sailing blindly after nothing.

The Pacific, then, was unreasonably large, an ocean so big that whole groups of islands, once found, might easily be lost again for decades at a time. It was easy to imagine, as well, that in such a place marvelous discoveries remained to be made.

Here the closest attention was given to ocean south of the equator. Theoretical geographers were especially intrigued with the idea of a Great Southern Continent somewhere in the Pacific. As more and more islands were located and mapped, the imagined land mass changed its dimensions and shifted its boundaries, and in the end it disappeared altogether, leaving the enthusiasts with Australia, New Zealand, Antartica and a quote of islands for consolation. But the myth was a sturdy one, still flourishing as late as the middle of the eighteenth century, and it took the work of a practical genius to lay it to rest.

James Cook

Two brilliant voyages to the South Pacific established the Englishman James Cook as the greatest seagoing explorer produced by a nation of explorers. In less than a decade he made systematic traverses of seas covering about a quarter of the earth's surface, and found answers to all sorts of problems that had vexed explorers ever since Magellan's time.

If the Great Southern Continent was gone for good, at least the modern map of the South Pacific had taken its place. This was more than a fair exchange, and it made Cook's name.

So much for the ocean south of the equator. To the north, the Spanish controlled the seas around the Philippines, and they were growing familiar with a few of the thousands of the small islands in the western Pacific that became known collectively as micronesia. In the extreme north, an artic sea was known to exist; and on the eastern side of the ocean, the Spanish and others had explored the coast of the American as far north as California. But points of information about the western part of North America were few and far between, and there another great geographic problem awaited a solution. Was there a sea passage joining the Pacific and the Atlantic? Like the Southern Continent, it was a perennial puzzle.

Obviously Cook was the man to discover the passage, if it existed to be discovered. His government commissioned him to take a third exhibition to the Pacific for this purpose, and it was during the voyage that he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.

The word "discovery," of course, is a conventional one. Wherever Cook went on his first and second voyages to the South Pacific he found populated islands, clearly settled long ago, and he found the same situation in the Hawaiian Archipelago. So he was really a rediscoverer. The Pacific islanders had made his voyages in advance, and they had done so without the benefit of big ships or navigating instruments.

Given the distances involved, this was a formidable accomplishment, and naturally Cook was intrigued. He never settled the question of the islanders' navigating skills to his own satisfaction. Nor, indeed, has anyone else done so since then.

The greatest mystery, then and now, lay in the realization that in places as far apart as New Zealand, Easter Island, and Hawaii people of a common physical stock could be found, speaking much the same kind of language, and living much the same kind of life. Obviously they had a common origin. Where was it? How long ago had they dispersed? And by what means?

The islanders, who were given the general name Polynesians, could not answer these questions themselves. By the time Westerners came to the Pacific, the natives' long-distance canoe voyages had stopped. Legendary tales of migratory expeditions were still told, and the Polynesians could reel off genealogical chants that went back to the creation of the earth.

The three voyages of Captain James Cook, with the first version in red, second in green, and third in blue. The route of Cook's crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line.But it was difficult to get the traditions of one group of islands to agree exactly with the traditions of another, and harder still to get the Polynesian idea of time to fit the Western historical calendar.

As far the Hawaiian islands were concerned, archeology (a science only of the mid-twentieth century in the Pacific) was finally able to suggest some tentative answers. Evidently, Hawaii was settled from the Marquesas and the Society Islands, probably as early as the eighth century A.D., possibly earlier still: and there was another wave of migration in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, this time from Tahiti. After that, apparently, there were no more voyages back and forth to the South Pacific, and the Hawaiians lived in isolation until the arrival of Cook.

The discovery of new islands was no part of Cook's official task on his third voyage. The sea passage from the Pacific to Atlantic was the sole object of search. Cook, with his two ships, HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, was to go directly from the South Pacific to the coast of North America. But Cook was a man to whom things happened, and it was gift to turn the most matter-of-fact instruction to interesting account.

Early in December 1777, his expedition headed north from the Society Islands towards the equatorial Pacific. The two ships crosses the line before the month was over, and in the last week of the year they made their first new landfall, a tiny, uninhabited crescent-shaped coral atoll. Cook named it Christmas Island.

He set sail for the north again on January 2, 1778, and every day took him farther into unfamiliar waters. He had never before been north of the equator in the Pacific, and neither he nor any other Englishman knew much about the central part of the ocean.

For more than two hundred years the Spanish had been sailing between Mexico and the Philippines, but they were notoriously close-lipped about their activities. If they had sighted the Hawaiian Islands they made no use of the discovery, and certainly they told no one else. Any information about the track followed by the Spanish galleons had to be collected at swordpoint, and even so the best charts available to the English were crude.

They showed little more than the imperfectly matched coastlines of Asia and America, separated from each other in the far north by a narrow strait, and then parting, in the lower latitudes, like ragged curtains on a vast and empty sea.

Gavan Daws is the author of Shoal of Time, from which this excerpt is taken. You can purchase it here.

"Now These Ashes Are At The Bottom" — The Calm Blue Sea (mp3)

"After the Legions" — The Calm Blue Sea (mp3) highly recommended

"We Happy Few" — The Calm Blue Sea (mp3)

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Sunday
Apr192009

In Which We Observe and Report What Happened Here

The Mall of My Life

by ELEANOR MORROW

Observe and Report

dir. Jody Hill

It is tacky to make fun of malls and people who enjoy them. A mall security guard is a perfectly fine profession. Unlike the people who put together cars that destroy the Earth's atmosphere, unlike people who waste natural resources by teaching children in higher education, unlike the disappointed union of so-called professional journalists, a mall security guard actually does something important.

I got about a third of the way through a cam version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop that Alex forced me to download before I cried uncle. Observe and Report is slightly more noxious, but at least it pretends it is a film rather than a selection of Kevin James physical comedy gags.

Unfortunately, there is a good reason for that, as Seth Rogen believes he is too good for physical comedy. In fact, Rogen believes he is too good for acting in general, as evidenced by the fact that he throws a profanity into the most innocuous of statements to get a laugh. For some reason this is so much funnier when Danny McBride is uttering the profanity in question.

I touted the genius of Eastbound & Down in these pages recently, and it feels somehow wrong to hate this movie and love the series. There's something very redemptive about Eastbound, a kind of unexpected joie de vivre that Observe and Report hints at in its better moments.

In case you hadn't noticed, we have permanently re-entered the age of the low budget comedy. I mean, good lord, Paul Blart cost $26 million and made $186 million. Seth Rogen may not be a math whiz, but he can surely guesstimate how much weed that kind of money can buy.

There is some real joy in watching people of modest intellectual and physical means overcome obstacles, or having a TV show pay for them to overcome obstacles, as on Extreme Home Makeover. Watching victory after such a trial is the simplest kind of drama, easier than plot or action. The tears of a clown are cheaper, by far, than special effects.

Since the people who write Hollywood films have by and large never experienced the kind of glory coming from passing such a trial, they write this phenomenon terribly. They write it like Rudy, perhaps the most destructive film ever released, instead of writing it like Taxi Driver, maybe the finest film ever made.

The low-budget comedy is back, and it has no more prolific torch carriers than the ones known as Jody Hill, Ben Best, and Danny McBride. After conquering pay cable, they now routinely bringing their vision of the world to the big screen. And as much as Danny McBride playing a Latino gang boss almost saves this movie, it doesn't in fact save this movie.

Malls need a lobby like the military or disabled people so they can stop looking like the most horrible places on earth. Every mall I have ever been to has scores of women more appealing than Brandy (Anna Faris, proving Just Friends was her peak) and with less plastic surgery on their lips. Malls are places where furtive joy can be found in capitalism, and those sorts of places grow exceedingly rare.

I like malls, and dislike the humor of the people who look down on them. Malls are suffering in these crazy times, and most people don't notice or care. But a mall is commerce, exactly the thing we lack at this moment.

Have you ever been to the Mall of America? I know of no more impressive achievement. Constructed by the fair people of the middle of our country, it is a smorgasboard of the best shopping, the most brightly lit stores. It is a shining beacon, it was once (and could be again, in more decadent times) a gathering place like the Roman baths, or the Coliseum.

There is something really sad about making a movie about a place that these people, in real life, would never actually go to. It's like they shot Observe and Report in the Phillippines.

We used to go the movies to have fun, now we go for one of two reasons: either we go to feel better about our own lives, or we go to be humbled.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here.

"Shout Me Out (Willie Isz remix)" — TV on the Radio (mp3)

"Stork & Owl (Gang Gang Dance remix)" — TV on the Radio (mp3)

"Red Dress (Glitch Mob remix)" — TV on the Radio (mp3)

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