Quantcast
Video of the Day

Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

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

Live and Active Affiliates
This area does not yet contain any content.

Entries in alex carnevale (202)

Tuesday
Mar292016

In Which We Pretend To Be Andy Warhol Or The New York Dolls

Factory Living

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Vinyl
creators Mick Jagger, Terence Winter, Rich Cohen & Martin Scorsese

The massive list of producers on Vinyl reads like a bad joke: a Brit, a Jew, an Italian and an Irishman walk into a bar... A lot of people were involved in making Vinyl, probably hundreds, many of them very talented. The two-hour pilot alone cost $18 million. There is a person of every possible race and ethnicity in HBO's Vinyl, except Asian. (Didn't you know there were no Asians in New York in the 1970s, at least none involved in the music industry in any significant way?)

Let's talk about the music, since Vinyl plays a lot of songs. Figure that the people behind this show don't sit around watching tons of television to know that half the stuff they play has been in every generic movie released in the last fifty years. The music alternates between wonderful and terrible, but the worst part of the aural situation is this: no one seems to care very much how is it made. We never see anyone writing songs or tuning instruments.

Instead of focusing on creative individuals, Vinyl concerns itself with Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale). When he is lucid, which is not often, Richie occasionally (this is rare) might say something semi-intelligent. In Vinyl, we live for these moments, since witnessing him destroy himself with cocaine and alcohol, and hurting the feelings of all New York's not-Asians is pretty hard to watch after awhile.

Richie is Italian, and he relied on his former secretary Andrea Zito (Annie Parisse) in so many ways. They slept together when he told his wife Devon (Olivia Wilde) that he would be working late. He kept a white woman at home and an Italian woman in the city in a reverse-Tony Soprano situation. This ethnic switcheroo is never explicitly explained, and I sometimes think it must be like watching aliens from space for people in other places to view Vinyl. Then again no one watches the show anyway so does it really matter?

Despite the fact that Richie is a complete asshole to everyone except his kids and his employee Jamie Vine (Juno Temple), he has to murder a guy in self-defense and he spends most of Vinyl's episodes whining and crying about this. The man he killed to protect himself was a dirtbag who owned some radio stations. The guy had no wife, no children, and no one who cared if he lived or died outside of the prostitutes who depended on him for their living. His company and family are falling apart, and all Richie Finestra can think about is this piece of shit.

It makes no sense whatsoever, but then maybe treating Vinyl as an actual series with characters who might have positive and negative qualities is giving it too much credit. It is more about an overwhelming sense of style which never coheres or agrees upon itself, and so becomes ugly. This period in American life was a great deal more disgusting than either the 1920s or the 1990s, the focus of Terence Winter's previous series. The colors all clash, the outfits are ghastly, and there was no antibacterial solution in all of New York.

Winter's writing has always been among the very best on television, and he has a few artistic crutches which make it into everything he works on. He loves showing people by themselves, following them even after the scene he is writing would traditionally end. He focuses so intently on every moment having something at stake that he makes anything he constructs into a thriller of sorts. This works a lot better in noir, because people can live or die based on events. On Vinyl it just means we have to care about who gets a record deal.

When Finestra first meets his wife, he has sex with her in the bathroom of the Factory. He puts his hand around Devon's neck to choke her a bit. She slaps him but seems to enjoy his sense of play. I hate to say it, but Olivia Wilde is about as plausible in this role as it was when Whoopi Goldberg put on a nun's habit.

But even if she did seem like the kind of person who would be a Connecticut housewife, the sheer number of fakes on Vinyl makes the entire show seem a comedy sketch. I guess using actual footage of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop would have completely changed what they were going for, but no one wants to watch actors play these people and lip synch their songs. There is a reason Milli Vanilli did not have a lasting career in the business.

This is essentially the conundrum: making Vinyl fun would make these people seem like heroes glorifying excess and theft from the musicians. Without those guitarists and vocalists, there would be no great sums of money to pay for the ample suppy of cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs. So instead Vinyl is utterly depressing to watch and be a part of; every single person on the show is permanently unhappy and completely ashamed of their lives, which is not only terrible to witness, but not really realistic when you think about it.

Worse than being immersed in the darkness of these pagans, however, is the fact that Vinyl is completely out of date. Period pieces needs to comment on contemporary times, but Vinyl has nothing to say about who we are now, since whatever authenticity was present in this period evaporates by reconstructing it. The only possible conclusion is that the 1970s was as fake as the modern concept of celebrity, which is not really something we need told to us by an expensive television program.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"You're Gonna Get Love" - Keren Ann (mp3)

Thursday
Mar242016

In Which We Have Been Known To Throw On A Onesie From Time To Time

Church Garb

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Americans
creator Joe Weisberg

Suddenly, the son of Philip and Elizabeth called Henry, is forty years old. He is wearing a plaid blouse, Ralph Lauren cologne and American blue jeans, dining with an FBI agent merely three years older than himself. Stan Beeman has not retained much in the way of custody of his own son, so he chats up Philip's, who plans to hammer the insides of his bosomy science teacher. Who knew misogyny required so much training?

Paige is wearing her signature cross along with a stylish sweater reminiscent of the finest work of the designers from Free People. Her scent is woodsy, the name of Pastor Tim is constantly on her lips. "It's killing me, Mom!" she screams as she prances around her kitchen like she's nervously contemplating her home economics final. She has not been to school, or anywhere, in a month.

In bed Keri Russell wears a fringed onesie. The lack of support for her chest is most evident when she turns on her side, and sometimes she wakes with an aching pain in that region. It is not clear whether or not she is pregnant, but when she is gifted with Matthew Rhys' child, the ensuing baby clothes will reflect the child's Welsh origins with everything echoing red, to enhance the baby's natural blush.

In the morning before she really dresses for the day she will throw on her husband's shirt to give that slightly rumpled look. There are these Viagra commercials where a beautiful woman, not too old but not too young either, moves around a sunlight bedroom in a football jersey, tossing the pigskin back and forth between her slightly wrinkled hands. Since it appears Elizabeth has not excited her husband sexually in some time, this could be a possible option. As I remember, the Redskins do not have the rights to their own name.

On a bus where Philip commits his 61st murder in the name of his country, a twenty year old office worker in an aqua jacket listens to the 79th straight terrible song the show includes from this rapidly waning decade. Bill Clinton goes around explaining how we are all paying for the 1980s. Well, we are all paying for something. Her pearl necklaces are just another inflection of the patriarchal world in which she lives.

Nina Sergeevna Krilova has cast off the influences from her native Afghanistan for an austere pink blouse, likely manufactured in the same village she is supposedly born in. We know her ethnicity is purposefully ambiguous, the product of careful planning from a crack committee of individuals from many nations to produce a woman who could pass as anything except black. What she does in this episode of The Americans makes no sense, but at least soon, in what will probably be a brown cardigan, she will be able to end the weepy, creepy, teary conversations with her Jewish mark.

It is not important to think about what you are going to wear. It is important to think about what you did wear. Every so often I get a letter from an old friend. She is in some hotel or other, writing out of boredom. Somehow the last person you would tell something to becomes the most important telling, and Elizabeth does this with the death of her mother, who she is not sure she really loved. When she tells Philip in the car she is wearing an auburn coat, or maybe it was black. Who can tell without the fullness of the light?

The new space on Philip's forehead, where his hair is escaping him daily, lends a new reflection to his outfit. He needs sharper tailoring; without a full brusque head of brown hair, he must accentuate his figure. In the vastness of space, our form must take a new shape, one which highlights who and what we are more profoundly than words or acts. In someone's church, Pastor Tim is alive and speaking. In another's dream, he is cold and dead in his cramped cabin. In both of these possible worlds, he wears the exact same pajamas to bed.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Unbroken" - Birdy (mp3)


Friday
Feb262016

In Which They Don't Want To See Me Love You

Curtains

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Marcel Duchamp introduced Peggy Guggenheim to all the artists he knew in Paris. By various looks and expressions it was obvious to Duchamp that the heiress knew little of modern art, so he endeavored to teach her. He did not ask for money in exchange for his services, since the instruction of women was not considered a financially profitable task. Moreover Peggy was planning to open a gallery in London, and he saw it as something of a duty to ensure the place was filled to his liking.

When she was not with Duchamp, Peggy socialized in Paris with frenetic abandon. At a party thrown by James Joyce she observed across the table a slender, quiet, bespectacled amalgam of Irish masculinity. She stared at Samuel Beckett the entire night.

Peggy Guggenheim at “peep show, manipulated by turning a huge ship’s wheel, shows a rotating exhibit of reproductions of all the works, including a miniature toilet for MEN, by screwball Surrealist Marcel Duchamp.”

They walked the entire way back to her apartment on the Rue de Lille. Beckett's novel Murphy had begun to slowly appear across Europe. Although she had not read it, she knew it was accomplished, and she had already pleasantly digested his views on Proust. As a friend of Sam's later wrote, "She wanted to be a part of whatever good things were going to happen to him."

In her own book, Peggy wrote that Beckett was a "a tall lanky Irishman of about thirty with enormous green eyes that never looked at you. He wore spectacles and always seemed to be far away solving some intellectual problem; he spoke very seldom and never said anything stupid." They spent the next 24 hours in bed together. The only interruption came when Beckett leapt out of the sheets to purchase a few bottles of champagne and return. After Peggy finally left the embrace, Beckett murmured, "Thank you. It was nice while it lasted."

She found his long expositions on Irish painting a bit tiring, but pretended as well as she could to listen the entire time. Besides Joyce he told her he felt Journey to the End of Night was the greatest novel written in French or English. He gave her all of his books; intellectually she felt they were really clicking.

Joyce called for Beckett the next day. Both he and Guggenheim made a point of telling everyone they knew about Beckett's Parisian night and morning.

Peggy Guggenheim and Samuel Beckett did not see each other for more than a month, before Peggy made a show of running into him. Peggy was housesitting for her friend Mary Reynolds nearby; did he want to come back for a drink?

They spent the next fortnight there, Beckett drunk throughout. The sex was far from exciting - Beckett struggled to maintain his erection when he consumed alcohol. When that happened, the two would just keep drinking as they strolled through Paris until they came out the other side. The affair ended for the first time when Beckett fucked an Irish girl visiting from Dublin. To explain this behavior to Peggy, he told her "making love without being in love is like taking coffee without brandy." She did not buy this bullshit whatsoever.

SB in the 60s

They reconciled shortly after Beckett was knifed by a pimp. Peggy visited his hospital bed then, insisting as seductively as possible that she loved him. Joyce paid the cost of a private room for his protege, and passed the time waiting for Beckett's recovery by roaming, blind, through the hospital's wards. Seeing him reduced to a patient, she eagerly forgave him.

Peggy's London gallery opening was a tremendous success. One attendee called her the female W.C. Fields. She did not stay in London long enough to enjoy this adulation, because her Beckett was in Paris.

Beckett was no longer interested in being with Peggy. He had moved on to a pianist named Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, six years his elder. Suzanne nursed the wounded writer back to health, and eventually she would become his wife in 1961. Peggy reacted to the rejection by sleeping with one of Sam's friends, briefly reigniting Beckett's interest.

Meanwhile, she prepared an exhibition of Kandinsky's work for her new gallery. She became somewhat obsessed with getting her Irishman back, writing to her friend Emily Coleman that "I love being with him. It is more and more my real life. I have decided now to give up everything else, even sex if necessary, and concentrate on him." She was aware of Suzanne's presence in Beckett's life, but struggled to view the older musician as proper competition, remarking that "she made curtains while I made scenes." Beckett refused to sleep with Peggy despite her entreaties.

She did not sell a single Kandinsky.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in Manhattan. He tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"Before the Fire" - Santigold (mp3)