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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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Mia Nguyen
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Brittany Julious
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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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Entries in alex carnevale (162)

Thursday
Feb262015

In Which We Name Our Detective After The Painter

David Simon's Afterbirth

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Bosch
creators Eric Overmyer & Michael Connelly


Were you potentially interested in a show that is a lot like The Wire, but you know, not? Amazon Studios' ten episode series Bosch, based on the character from Michael Connelly's mediocre novels, gruffly enters the scene. A white man made us and shall save us.

The highest art made from the lowest original source material is a ticklish subject. I guess the right answer would be Wes Anderson's The Fantastic Mr. Fox? This rarely comes up; truly bad books are rarely made into magnificent anything. Bosch is nowhere near magnificent, but simply through Eric Overmyer's involvement, it becomes a major improvement on the novels about the too often fictionalized Los Angeles area.


Hieronymous Bosch (Lost's Titus Welliver) is one hell of a homicide detective. I mean, he allows a serial killer to nearly escape from his clutches, spends two months trying to solve a decades old cold case for no reason, causes a suicide and two other deaths, shoots an unarmed man who he says is a killer, and consumates a relationship with a junior officer in his department (Annie Wershing). Besides that, the man is a damn genius.

Bosch is also a terrible father. His ex-wife is a retired FBI profiler who lives in Las Vegas and competes against whales in high stakes poker. Her new husband is every bit the father Bosch does not want to be, because our detective has "cases." He actually only has one case for most of Bosch, and it takes him forever to solve it. Vegas is only a few hours away, but he never goes there.


Bosch's superior is Deputy Chief Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick), who is basically reprising his exact role from Overmyer's The Wire for no reason I can discern. Reddick's low voice is his signature. Emoting and bringing vibracy to an underwritten scene is not really his signature. There is one moment where Reddick talks to a prosecutor while both sit in cars that happens on all of Overmyer's shows, because it is the kind of thing that occurs in real life, and Overmyer loves stuff like that. But here the tête-à-auto accomplishes the opposite effect it makes everything seem fake.

The thing that was actually good about The Wire was not the writing or the performances both varied greatly in quality. What made the show different was that every scene had consequences, unfolding the butterfly effect through bleak streets and inside quiet homes.


Bosch's house, which he supposedly bought from the proceeds of a movie adapted from one of his cases, is completely open to the world. Massive windows look out on the metropolis below. (Bosch's daughter has never even been there.) His girlfriend is not invited to this inner sanctum at any time, but she shows up unexpectedly and Bosch begrudgingly invites her in. What would she want to do with this monster?

In order to make someone so devastatingly banal sympathetic, Connelly has created a detailed backstory that involves Bosch's mother being a prostitute who was murdered, and him being raised in an abusive Catholic orphanage. It turns out the serial murderer (Jason Gedrick) came through that same orphanage, where a dark room with a soiled mattress isolated the most disrespectful boys.


Because we see no actual evidence of how this impacts who Bosch is, the context feels fake. Everything around Bosch is actually more fascinating and vibrant than he is: a lesbian police captain (Amy Aquino) with a child, a repressed homosexual serial killer, Bosch's divorced African-American partner (The Wire's brilliant Jamie Hector), his rookie love interest who has her growing pains, his sympathetic but hard-nosed ex-wife (24's Sarah Clarke). All these characters get plenty of screen time, as Overmyer smartly emphasizes the ensemble.

But the focus is too often on Bosch himself. Welliver tries his best to imbue the thankless role with a brusque charm, but he fails partly because he is never given anything to do. He has one costume change in the entire run of the show. (He takes his shirt off once to have sex.) He never moves quickly or decides something at once from all appearances the only thing he is any good at is drinking and smoking.

Nobody watched Treme, even though it was the best musical by far that has ever been created. It was also hard to follow without detailed notes. Overmyer takes Bosch in a much simpler direction: instead of a thousand storylines, we get one procedural stretched over an entire season of episodes. The plotline of Bosch would have been wrapped up in mere minutes by any other detective. I understand the idea of following a single character over the expense of a large group makes television easier to follow and understand, but airing as it is on Amazon Prime, Bosch did not need to appeal to that audience.

As long as Bosch waited to become a show, and as much as it cost Connelly personally to buy the rights back from Paramount, did we really need another white cop who doesn't follow the rules, unless he is portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal?

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Lovit" - Marian Hill (mp3)

"Wasted" - Marian Hill (mp3)

The new album from Marian Hill is entitled Sway and it was released on February 17th.

Monday
Feb162015

In Which We Consider The Cold Oppressive And Troubling

No Winter Sun

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Fortitude
creator Simon Donald

Fortitude begins when Henry (non-Dumbledore mode Michael Gambon), a photographer of polar bears, witnesses a man being mauled by one of the creatures. He takes out a distance rifle and instead of putting the polar bear down, shoots the man in the head. The town's chief of police Dan Anderssen (Richard Dormer) is present for this moment, and he waves Gambon away from the grisly scene.


This gets Gambon, who is the smartest drunk in this freezing Arctic town, thinking. If the sheriff is content to cover up one crime in Fortitude, might he be plotting another Moreover, why was the sheriff even there? Days later, a man (Christopher Eccleston) working as a top government research scientist is killed with a potato peeler.

Fortitude does not make anything look like fun, least of all murder. There are no montages of good, solid police work, no glamorous depictions of the administration of violence. Everything on the show occurs at the periphery, builds up to the possibility of the thing and nothing more. Low Winter Sun creator Simon Donald is more focused on what comes after violence and trauma shake the world.

Fortitude airs in the U.S. on a channel you may not be familiar with, Pivot. The show is likely to be variously intelligible to American viewers given that not only are half the lines on the show grumbled, there are a wide range of accents on display: Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, American and British. These disparate vocals make it appear that everyone on the show is talking in a kind of mixed-up code, and Fortitude indeed contains many subtle references that reward repeat viewing.

Keeping track of these details requires notetaking. Because of the cold clime, many adults in the community of Fortitude have loose arrangements with their spouses. Keeping track of the various quasi-infidelities becomes a kind of spectator sport. Most disturbed by the lies of her police officer husband is Fortitude's mayor Hildur (The Killing's marvelous Sofie Gråbøl), who plans to open a magnificent hotel in Fortitude - if she received the right permissions from the now deceased scientist.

Gråbøl's weirdly sinister machinations make her an unusual villain, and yet Fortitude makes it easy to sympathize with her as well. Why should she halt the development of a magnificent resort that will bring money into her impoverished town just because the carcass of some ancient animal was found by people living in nicer houses than hers? The class struggle hidden behind supposedly scientific institutions and ideals has never been explored so uniquely before in any medium.

Eugene Morton (Stanley Tucci) is the man sent from the mainland to work out this mess. He brags his way all through Fortitude, boasting of his detective skills. The show is deeply hampered by it being impossible to identify with Tucci's detective in any way. Tucci is the anti-Idris Elba here, more closely resembling a human skeleton than a personable individual. His only vice is coffee, and it is the most boring vice there is. This colorless, thankless role is the only thing that mars a captivating drama.

The show's real star is Irish actor Dormer, who looks decades older than his actual age in Fortitude. He is the only individual person on the show that seems to realize who and what he is. Out on the glacier, he makes scenes of walking and moving through the desolate place a kind of quiet rampage; he alone appears as frustrated by his surroundings as anyone would be. He is able to exist because he does not adapt.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Blackbirds" - Gretchen Peters (mp3)

"Pretty Things" - Gretchen Peters (mp3)


Friday
Jan232015

In Which Joseph Cornell Cannot Be Taken At Face Value

Constellations

by ALEX CARNEVALE

After a long detour of dreams, I've learned to love reality a little better.

- Pierre Reverdy

1911. Joseph Cornell's father develops leukemia. Six years later he dies deeply in debt.

1918. The Cornell family moves to Queens.

1945. Cornell asks Marianne Moore to recommend him for a Guggenheim fellowship. She does so reluctantly. He doesn't get it.

1962. Cornell wants to incorporate nudes into his work. He asks his friend Larry Jordan take nudes of young women, including those of his daughter. He returns the photographs in 1970, not wanting them to be found after his death.

1949. The Hugo Gallery presents La Lanterne Magique du Ballet Romantique of Joseph Cornell.

1965. Joseph's brother Robert Cornell dies. A friend says of Robert's battle with cerebral palsy, "He had the minimum amount of body that would contain a soul."



1941. Cornell writes, "A suggestion of that wonderful feeling of detachment which comes over me so often  a leisurely kind of feeling that seems to impart to the routine events of the day a certain sense of 'festivity.' This feeling which I started off the day with was increased by an unexpected letter from Tamara Toumanova written with deep feeling and sincerity. She sends a ticket for her performance of Swan Lake this Thursday and invites me to her dressing room afterwards. Have never seen her dance but she has told me before that it is one of her favorites."

1943. World War II arrives, and Cornell works in a defense plant.

1929. Cornell moves into a house with his mother and brother in Flushing, where he resides for the majority of his adult life.

1962. Cornell meets a waitress on Sixth Avenue named Joyce Hunter. All his thoughts are soon consumed by her. She is a single mother who takes a job as the cashier at Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not Museum in Times Square.

1964. After he nervously begs her, Joyce Hunter moves in with Cornell.

1950. Cornell writes, "Lunch of pancakes a complete sense of peace (rare) before leaving for New York."

1921. Cornell takes a job as a woolen goods salesman for the William Whitman Company. He works there for the next ten years.

1952. He meets the artist Robert Motherwell, who complains that you can never have a conversation with Cornell: "It's always a monologue."

1951. Cornell writes to Mina Loy:

I had a beautiful early morning in the back yard under the Chinese quince tree  very early, in fact not much after five; and I could not help but think of you, looking up at the moon, when the first rays of the sun turn into silver. A long time ago, you may remember, you told me that your destiny was ravelled up somehow with the lunar globe, but even aside from this I have always experienced something wonderful evoked in this mood.

1966. His mother dies in the Hamptons. "What a beautiful child she once was."



1958. "Subway ride home 'people' etc too obsessive. People on subway  preoccupation with faces." Cornell sits for hours in cafes and train stations, picking at a danish, nursing his tea until it gets cold, staring.

1964. Joyce Hunter moves out of Cornell's house. She and her friends take nine of his boxes. Instead of prosecuting her, he makes a box depicting her as a winsome rat with tiny pink babies.

1925. Cornell becomes a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Great Neck.

1958. Cornell hires assistants to begin cataloguing the vast store of boxes housed in his basement. He is absolutely compulsive about the order of them, calling his collections of clippings and illustrations of birds "extensions," and the folders that contain them "dossiers."

1956. Cornell's fascination with young women becomes more important to him. He writes, "Jackie as much personal diary when too harassed to enter properly the events seeming flavored so beautifully by preoccupation as vs. personal obsession but these multiple overtones could not get captured in words." Robert Motherwell later has to prevent an usher at a movie theater from calling the police when Cornell gives her a bouquet of flowers.

1938. Julien Levy holds Cornell's first solo show, and some of his boxes are included in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

1962. "Loneliness is stronger than sex."

1944. Cornell has a nightmare about his frail, incapacitated brother Robert. "Dreamed that a crow flew right through the windowpane without breaking it and lighted upon Robert's chest. Took him into the bathroom and opened the window for him to fly out."


1969.
He asks Allegra Kent, a ballerina, to gift him a book on erotic art because he is ashamed to buy it for himself. She does so, but thinks it weird.

1940. He works for Vogue and House and Garden, contributing some freelance design.

1951. Robert and Joseph Cornell visit their sister Elizabeth at her farm. They continue to go there often in the summer.

1956. "Satie music. This seemingly almost miraculous accomplishment amidst vile days of sluggishness — expressing lethargy."

1963. The poet Charles Henri Ford  Cornell's friend by way of correspondence  brings Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist for a visit to his house. They are absolutely flabbergasted.


1964. Joyce Hunter is found murdered in a West Side hotel room.

1966. "My recent reading: Gadda's Pasticiaccio, Foucault's Madness and Civilization. Sontag's Against Interpretation. I had not been au courant with the pieces as published. They are the most meaningful things I've come across lately." Cornell pursues strange, intimate correspondences with the young daughters of his friends.

1972. Cornell dies a virgin.

1959. "Recurrent obsession to make objects move."

1956. The dancer Carole Schneemann occasionally goes out to Flushing in order to visit Cornell. "He would have everything set up like a little tea party, and it would be enchanting, like something out of a poem. But he'd get very upset if I said anything real."

1948. Objects by Joseph Cornell is shown in Beverly Hills.

1966. Letter to John Ashbery: "I have certain dossiers capable of a high potential for someone like yourself but it needs a very close rapport and empathy  they are past my own labors and have been so for a few years now."

1957. In a letter to Ford: "The sunset mingling the past and present with a special grace."

1967. "What seemed special at the start of writing all this may seem commonplace, taken for granted by many."

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. Visit our mobile site at http://thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"Game That I Play" - Jessica Pratt (mp3)

"Strange Melody" - Jessica Pratt (mp3)