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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

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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Entries in durga chew-bose (46)


In Which There Is A Strain of Hyperbole Going Around

Hyperlinked Names


A steady train of onlookers — challenged to keep walking, confused into staying — gathered outside the window at Jack’s Stir Brew last week as comedian Chris Fleming realized the bond between Cucumber and Melon in a cucumber-melon soap dramatization. With Screech-hectic impulses, Fleming clutched the head of a vintage mic and carried out his improv blend of flurry and meltdown to uninterrupted laughs and a hesitant Meaghan O’Connell who waited at the door’s threshold, wondering when she might catch a calmer wave and walk in.

photo by ida griesemer

In this, the third installment of Paper Cone Stories hosted by Emma Barrie and Kayla Morse, the theme was “Too Soon?” and the writers were funny people (Pressure!). I tend to shy away from live comedy, fearing that stewing sense of estrangement that occurs when I miss the punchline. That said, this was less the sort of funny that takes up space and more keyed into a blogging vernacular I am only now getting familiar with - never had a Blogger or LiveJournal, that doesn't mean I didn't have a Diaryland. Wry slice of life, New York topical satire and goofy adventure stories abound; I was really entertained. Moviegoing aside, I rarely laugh along with strangers, and it's too bad, because there's something unmistakably relieving about it. Added, was the coffee shop’s tight squeeze and narrow shoebox frame which cultivated inevitable mutual appreciation, and foreseeable (always strange, and sometimes awkward) IRL encounters with those whose faces have until now been two-inch avatars on our screens.

Edith Zimmerman read some of her Letters to the Editor of Women’s Magazines; quips that take sardonic jabs at the readers, the content, and the editors of our favorite glossy magazines. If you've ever read the letters, in say Vogue, there's usually an intentional mix of criticism, worship, debate — Is zero a size? Is black a color? No offense 'Ethnic' prints? — and predictably, stock rumblings from long-time, newly unsatisfied readers. Zimmerman's interpretations are dark in their spacy-ness; high fashion macabre meets flaky cluelessness. She'll turn a mouthful of Marie Claire exercise craze into twelve-year-old boy, blood and guts jokes, meanwhile, her tone remains stony and wittingly naive: Daria and Jane Lane bored in biology class, flipping through Elle.

Leon Neyfakh’s piece about ska and the foibles of freelancing, and the absurd trails one might chase for a story, was the sort of casual, idiosyncratic storytelling that gathers steam and humor with particularly vivid images; notably, a pitbull named Pigeon sitting under the desk at a ska label’s office. My friend pinched me during this detail, knowing fully well that my glossary of names for pets I will never own, grows more and more ridiculous. Only yesterday while watching X-Men, my roommate and I decided to rename our cat, Mortimer...Magneto.

“I’m going to read to you from the New York Times, and then I will rant incoherently,” Akiva Gottlieb began. What followed was Gottlieb’s playful attack and unpackaging of a Times piece that fell far short of covering both sides of a museumgoer’s permanent relegation from MoMA due to an incident during the Marina Abramovic retrospective: "This is an act of cultural imperialism. If this man’s work is barred from the museum, then I hope he’s taking his ass-grabbing talents to the streets. He could be the Basquiat of butt-groping." Using deadpan to dry hyperbole, and dressed in pop culture (nods to Bieber and the Double Down) Gottlieb's criticisms of the Times piece was based on his obvious fascination (blame it on the A-A-A-A-Abramovic) with the unnamed MoMA groper. His who-what-when-where voyeurism charge was unsatisfied, and Gottlieb, "a former teenage boy, one who was singled out in my high school yearbook as “Most Likely to Wear a Trenchcoat and Lurk in Dark Alleys Making Lewd Gestures," wanted more.

"For certain liberal arts school graduates, the Abramovic retrospective is our Woodstock, the cultural happening that enables us to stare meaningfully into the eyes of strangers, brush against body parts, watch women run through a muddy field while stripping off layers of clothing, and generally revel in the various possibilities of naked flesh under the guise of an artistic experience. It’s a lot like ChatRoulette, actually, and it’s making New York very comfortable.”

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She tumbls here. Photographs by Emma Barrie and Ida Griesemer.

"Miss Otis Regrets" - Justin Vernon & the Eau Claire Memorial Jazz 1 (mp3)

"Lump Sum" - Justin Vernon & the Eau Claire Memorial Jazz 1 (mp3)

"Rocks in My Bed" - Justin Vernon & the Eau Claire Memorial Jazz 1 ft. Addie Strei (mp3)

photo by annah legg


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.

"Trouble" — Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (mp3)

"Blanchard" — Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (mp3)

"Sets the Blaze" — Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (mp3)


In Which Joshua Ferris Diagnoses Us All In The Unnamed

The Many Compulsions of Joshua Ferris


She puffed out her cheeks like someone about to burst, eyes popping wide. Then she settled into a grin shaded with resignation. “It’s my one go-around,” she said. “What do you do—hate yourself till the bitter end?”
“I’ve always thought you were the most beautiful girl in the world.”
“You’ve always been biased.”
“I’m glad you don’t hate yourself.”
“Acceptance,” she said. She shrugged. “It’s a bitch.”

Standing behind a wooden podium at the West 82nd Street Barnes and Noble, Joshua Ferris reads from his second novel, The Unnamed. He pauses after this last bit as if acknowledging the audience’s all but united, nearly inaudible sigh. Rife with pressing and existential questions, and at times overwhelmed with corporeal images of a tortured body and landscape, Ferris reads this quieter, more yielding part — a bittersweet reunion between father and daughter — with a slower, more deliberate pace.

ferris' officeDuring the Q&A, hands shoot up. The popular focus: Tim Farnsworth, the protagonist of the novel, and his harrowing, unidentified disease best described as a sudden, irrepressible urge to walk. This compulsion damages his family, his friendships, his career — partner at a successful New York firm — and provokes philosophical and sometimes spiritual enquiries, while physically inflicting the most grotesque, frost bitten, skin peeling, swelling, burning, assault from the elements on his once healthy and handsome body. Gone were the days…

In response to some of the more metaphorical readings, Ferris is quick to express his expectations for a literal appraisal of Tim’s illness, rather than an allegory for the way we live our lives: “Treat this like a real disease…like a cancer,” he recommends. Apologizing for perhaps appearing too vehement in his expectation, and understanding the inevitability of multiple interpretations, Ferris remains bound to, as if championing above all, a precise grasp and accurate reading of this particular disease.

Conceivably, this might be why he chose to read an excerpt less fixed on the disease and its physical and mental effects but on a moment between family; largely what I found most compelling in the novel. In a society consumed by the legitimizing reassurance of diagnosis, the Farnsworths are never offered any guarantee or explanation about Tim’s strange walking bouts.

One of many doctors attempts to empathize: “I know how you’ve struggled to validate your condition...I know you’ve fallen into depression because no empirical evidence has emerged to exonerate you.” The hope offered in a name, in a baptism of this disease, would absolve the family’s pain. Their life, their norms, their vows, and their respective roles—father to daughter, wife to husband, husband to wife, mother to daughter—undergo an unorthodox but necessary shift. The immediacy of survival reinvents responsibilities within their home; but at what cost?

But the novel finds its character, finds those kernels that readjust the reader in his or her seat as if to fully consume a sentence or idea, when it sheds the persistent, more clinical voice. Once the family reorganizes itself around Tim’s disease, a candid telling takes off.

Jane, Tim’s wife, wonders about the “matrimonial haul.” Is she prepared, and in more hilarious bits, ‘equipped,’ for another round of retrieving her husband from bizarre and far away locations in the middle of the night? And yet, her commitment and love is unflinching: “Sickness and death, caretaking, the martyrdom of matrimony—that was fluff stuff. When the vows kick in, you don’t even blink. You just do. She had to be up for it.”

Later in the novel, Jane reckons with a darker period in her life, one that Ferris describes tenderly but stops short of letting breathe a little longer. There are the occasional moments of temptation when Jane’s pitter patter is excited by another man, a better life — “Her heart leapt. It was a girl’s heart.” — but those instances are rarely revisited. Jane’s superhuman, unrelenting devotion is hard to appreciate because the history of their love is never shared.

Ferris really pinches at something real when describing the daughter, Becka. She is an overweight, solitary teenager who sometimes evokes the most pressing kind of sadness — unspoken desperation — and other times coolly assumes a level of responsibility within her family that shines a light on her inborn mellowness and maturity.

In one of my favorite parts, diverging from the novel’s prevailing sense of commotion, Becka and Tim watch disc after disc of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Together, they are a pair of unapologetic, idle adolescents. And though their Buffy imparted inertia is a symptom of some greater crossroads within their family, this shared surrender is sweet and reminds us of the irreplaceable nature of family. In passages like this last one, Ferris’ confident style returns and the novel’s otherwise perverse preoccupation with despair pales.

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

"Sing" - Four Tet (mp3)

"Pablo's Heart" - Four Tet (mp3)

"Love Cry" - Four Tet (mp3)