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Alex Carnevale

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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 durga chew-bose (46)


In Which Lena Dunham Recalls Specific Moments of Hesitation

'What I Do'


“Mark my words,” twenty-three year old filmmaker Lena Dunham points to the recorder and vows heartily. “Early 2010, I’m going to move out from my parents' place.” Immediately following her pledge, a group of New School students sitting beside us at Benny’s Burritos on Greenwich raise their frozen margaritas to the entire restaurant and cheer in a sing-song slur, “Haaappy Thaaanksssgiving!” Admittedly, the moment is rich with the sort of quips someone older might use to parody young twenty-somethings living in New York. But for Dunham, who speaks unashamedly about almost anything ("I clearly project oversharing, it's what I do!") and whose wit lends itself to immediate yet original repartee, moments of youthful admittance from the school of 'write what you know' are both satirized and expressed discerningly, and often hysterically, in her work.

With her web series Delusional Downtown Divas in its second season, and having recently hosted The Art Awards at the Guggenheim alongside co-stars Joana D'Avillez and Isabel Halley, and in production on her second feature Tiny Furniture Dunham shows no signs of slowing down. She's found her passion and is not pressed to stray from it. "They [Dunham’s parents] gave me this delusional idea that it’s okay to make a living doing something like this...You just pick a job that’s totally impractical and then you make a living!" she says facetiously, attributing some of her filmmaking flare to being the daughter of artist parents. For now, Dunham confesses, "There's nothing else. There’s not another job for me."

Performing the trinity of writer, director, and producer on most of her projects, as well as starring in both of her features, one might presume a lot of about the downtown New York native. But those sorts of conjectures are palpable inspiration for Dunham's work. She might not entirely deviate from certain clichés, but those of the affected young New Yorker artist with dreams of lo-fi grandeur are used as writing material, rather than assumed in her person: "The show is a parody of a lot of people where you're like 'I know you're doing a lot...I'm just not sure what it is...'" With Dunham, the ‘what it is,’ registers as completed and future collaborations: two co-written scripts, one with Mom, and one with Ry Russo-Young.

In her web series we follow three young women and their hilarious escapades in navigating the city's art scene, all the while misstepping and sometimes overstepping. In a mock Proust questionnaire on the show's website, Dunham's character, Oona, ‘the budding novelist,’ is asked how she would like to die. Oona’s answers in Diva-speak—both laconic and fantastically unflinching—“Young. Of old age.” In good parody form, Diva aphorisms like this pick up on a specific downtown scene, without necessarily picking on it. Dunham’s writing focuses on the DDD’s abstract theories and schemes for making it without doing it. Their exploits are further inflated with two or three, and sometimes six ridiculous and conceptual costumes changes per episode, and occasional appearances from New York’s real life art scene; Nate Lowman, Clarissa Dalrymple, and Cory Kennedy to name a few.

Running its course of This is What We Talk About When We Talk About Film, our conversation veered to Mumblecore. Despite knowing many of the genre/movement's key players, Dunham remained earnest and tentative in wondering about its future direction. Admitting there was a shift towards more adult concerns in Andrew Bujalski’s latest, Beeswax, she illustrated the roles of adults thus far in Mumblecore as “...the Muppet Babies and the adults going 'meh-meh-meh-meeeeehhhhh-meeehhh-meh...” By no means was this an attack on the genre. Rather, Dunham’s interest in its sustainability and its innovation speaks to her fidelity to film and enthusiasm for learning about as well as being a part of what comes next. In her newest feature, a young woman returns home to live with her mother and younger sister after graduating from college. Dunham admits there is nothing revolutionary about the story’s main themes, but notes the parent role in a script whose tone has otherwise Mumblecore tendencies: unsuccessful romantic exploits and awkward, hesitant conversations among old friends.

A third of Tiny Furniture is filmed in Dunham’s actual home. Joking about the inevitability of life imitating art and vice versa, she recounts the less than great state she left their home in after one week of shooting. “I’m always doing shit like this,” referring to another time where she poured sand all over her father’s studio. “My movie’s about being a bad daughter, and about living in your parents’ house and not respecting it properly. And then my mom comes home [who stars as the mother in the film] and was like I can’t believe you wrote a movie about this and look what you’re doing!” The floors were entirely scuffed and scratched. Dunham shakes her head and laughs, “It’s too meta...too meta.”

Grateful for the opportunities she’s had, Dunham acknowledges the improbabilities that arise with filmmaking. “It’s so terrifying…Things don’t work the way they used to,” she says, alluding to today’s obstacles of making a film and then selling it. Doubts come in waves but are never lasting. “Every time there’s a room full of people wondering what I should do right now, or when I’m in a situation when someone asks, ‘How do you think we should block this scene?’ and I don’t have an idea…I wonder why am I doing this?” Dunham mentions specific moments of hesitation, of wondering when the crew might crack, of questioning the self-involved nature of the job; the all encompassing energy and commitment it requires. However, she bears in mind the nearness she feels to her work. “But then I remember...oh, it’s what I love to do.”

Despite the familial attitude on set — “I’ve never had a crew that I’ve liked so much. It’s been so smooth" — Dunham expects some resistance from the team during a twelve-hour night shoot in a Greenpoint parking lot. “Everyone’s going to want to kill me,” she says. “It’s a sex scene that takes place in a sewage pipe.” She elaborates on the equation quickly as if expecting scrutiny. “We are having the pipe built and fork lifted into the parking lot. It’s an expense. It’s money being taken away from more important parts of the budget." Acknowledging perhaps, a small propensity for diva impulses, she jokes, “I had to have this pipe. I just had to!” But it’s Dunham’s occasional caprice, like the sewer pipe, that offsets the self-referential, “too meta” material. Seemingly, her filmmaking ethos, though always in flux, pairs the stories she is compelled to tell with impulses and ideas she cannot deny.

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

"Cataracts (live)" - Andrew Bird (mp3)

"Some of These Days (live)" - Andrew Bird (mp3)

"Opposite Day (live)" - Andrew Bird (mp3)


In Which We Think of Love As Something New

Of All These Friends and Lovers


Mine was not a Beatles family. This is not to say that I didn't know about the Mania and that growing up I hadn't seen the footage of frenzied girls, screaming and losing their minds, or that I too couldn't shake my ponytail, chanting, "Yellow Submarine" like other grade-schoolers at birthday parties. In high school, I was alluding to non-existent nostalgia while listening to the White Album on my Discman, and scribbling the words "Happiness is a Warm Gun" on the dirtied rubber of my friend's Chuck's. But formatively speaking, in terms of music, The Beatles were not the band that my parents had pulled from their LP collection and had sat me down, closed their eyes, bowed their heads, and said, 'Listen...learn.' And so, my relationship with the band gained most of its momentum and devotion later on; Rubber Soul being the most anecdotal album, and a personal favorite.

Heralded as their big jump, their transition from teen pop to more reflective, more deliberate songs, Rubber Soul is a critical album. Its cover, slightly warped and psychedelic, with a pumpkin-colored design spin, was nameless, a first for the group. Their four faces, their four moppy-haircuts were name enough. And though I can appreciate all that made it new—those subversive innovations in recording and production, and the band's movement towards more political lyrics, more drug-influenced persuasions—those aren't the reasons I turn to it, and return to it.

Rubber Soul is an album that I listen to in its entirety. Each song is marked by something to look out for, that enjoyable waaait for it quality. The cleanness of the remaster, the space between sounds and intent, reminded me of those little details.

Take for instance the pleading, listless sway of Lennon's "Girl.” The long, deep breath that repeats throughout is a special, very intimate sound. It's an emotion almost too desperate for words. Or maybe it's just the long, post-toke, exhale? Who knows. Either way, it isn't said verbally; the satisfaction is immediate! I have an image of them performing “Girl” in a neighbourhood jungle gym or children’s park. It’s got the lazy, punch-drunk persuasion of adults who’ve happened upon a swing set or a slide too small. Ridiculous?

Fondness for a song whose theme is the past, whose tone is entirely nostalgic, is an obvious reaction, but "In My Life" is a sentimental homecoming that I’ve always smiled along to. Call it simple, There are places I'll remember, All my life though some have changed, but like those afternoons where I choose to abandon everything and revisit old e-mails, or phone an old friend—the number, despite time, easily dialled as if imparted some unforgettable rhythm—this song too, its cadence, is wistful. The sound is the warmth of a classic television show; the kind they don’t make anymore.

The jingle-jangling "I’m Looking Through You" has a dreamy freewheeling quality to it, like running-away music, like throwing everything into a bag and disappearing with a friend, sitting shot gun and figuring it out later. Despite its excited sound, the tambourine and strumming guitar, the lyrics recall images of salvation and of recognition. The ‘You,’ allows and empowers: a song to sing at the mirror. But sometimes we aren’t listening to the lyrics, and sometimes the song is simply what it was that one year; on a summer mix to play loud with friends while carrying barbecue supplies up the stairs and to the roof. The mix was on repeat and the song played again, maybe twice more, as the sun was setting and the grill was re-lit.


"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" is another song on the album relating an embittered story with a woman: I once had a girl, or should I say, she had me...But as an acoustic song, accented with Harrison’s sitar, one might miss the punch line at the end, where he, the narrator, though based on Lennon’s infidelities, sets fire to the woman’s apartment, because when he awoke, he’d been left alone, this bird had flown. But again, story aside, the curling twang of the sitar was and still is the heart of "Norwegian Wood", marking the group’s shift towards the psychedelic.

Finally: for me, "Nowhere Man" will always be inextricably linked to Holden Caulfield. We had an assignment in school to pair a song with Catcher. This one boy in my class presented "Nowhere Man." As if there were a right answer to the assignment, a golden ticket, he seemed to find it. It was as if in that moment he raised the bar, not just of the assignment, or for that particular English class, but for that time in our lives. Hindsight can sour things, especially our memories of growing up. It can make it all sound overwrought and exaggerated, but if I remember carefully, that was the boy that caused a shift, in all the clichéd but necessary ways.

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

"I'm Looking Through You" - The Beatles (mp3)

"If I Needed Someone" - The Beatles (mp3)

"Girl" - The Beatles (mp3)

"Wait" - The Beatles (mp3)

"Think for Yourself" - The Beatles (mp3)

"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" - The Beatles (mp3)



In Which We Are The Parent of the Child

Take Me to the MoMA, Mama


I imagine the crammed rooms at the MoMA on a Saturday afternoon to function similarly to our breathing cycle. Admittedly, I do not know much about it, about this system of contracting and relaxing, of the tray-kee-uh, the bronchioles and the capillaries. I have heard that the process of inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, occurs fifteen to twenty-five clicks per minute, which I confess, seems a little fast. And I know about the exchange of gases — CO₂, O₂ swap — but really, my modest knowledge and propensity to understand complicated systems abstractly, enlists my imagination far more than any facts, and as a result each MoMA room behaves like a lung, emptying and filling, emptying and filling. So much so that the canvases appear to curve and the rooms appear to round, simply to accommodate the weekend throngs.

But when the crowd passes and the walls exhale and recede to their usual shape, the interim moments are entirely private. I am joined by a little girl, maybe seven or eight, a stray in yellow Osh Kosh corduroy overalls, one strap tighter than the other, who seems to have been plucked from boredom or Wonderland—it really could be either—and who is following the lines of the room, walking its square shape, making sharp turns at each corner.

Arbitrarily, she stops in front of paintings, yielding to their size and colors: riotous blues, bruised purples and greys. In this room, more so than in others, the themes seem far darker and potent. A Munch hangs ominously; its figures holding their faces in anguish, the sky olive and stormy. Next to it a painting of a train station is stricken with bold, lawless, black lines. And beside these paintings, the little girl in her corduroys, with her ponytail curling like a comma, seems oddly placid. She occupies the whole of the room.

I notice something compulsive about her step but quickly appreciate that she must be playing a game in her head, something with numbers perhaps, repeated numbers, a series, a rhyme, or maybe her game is more elaborate and imagined and is one she never stops playing. I envy her absolute abandonment of the world, but only fleetingly, similarly to how I envy my childhood in moments of laziness or dramatic despair. She walks the length of the room once and starts again without the slightest hesitation or nudge back into reality. She is in no hurry to return.

It would be so easy to kidnap her. The thought surprises me. Its conception is entirely bizarre and unprovoked and I am embarrassed and shocked, but also amused by my own self. Admittedly, at twenty-three, I am quite captivated by kids, but never to the point of kidnapping them. I begin to wonder where her parents might be. Museums are not that dissimilar to parks or malls, and yet they are often scattered with unaccompanied children, wandering and wondering, both. They stumble through mazes of legs and more legs, chasing their brothers and sisters and cousins, pointing at things and people.

The parentless child at the museum is cause for little alarm: the father or mother is never too far. That’s probably him over there holding the small jacket and hat, swinging a camera in his free hand. Or maybe it’s that woman over there standing beside the string and rock sculpture, fixing her hair. Childless parents and parentless children are everywhere at the MoMA on Saturday afternoons.

With each thumb behind an overall strap, she wanders to a woman sitting on a bench in front of Monet’s water lilies spread across a single wall. There is nothing else hanging in this room. The woman, her mother I assume, looks young, yet weary and worn-out. Somehow she holds a jacket and a purse, a shopping bag and a book, an apple with a bite in it and a poster rolled up in plastic. Her shoulders droop and her hair is pulled back into a loose, unassuming braid. Her daughter will always remember that braid, its exact texture and smell.

I have learned, although only recently, that most patterns in my life are often a symptom of larger things happening to me or around me. They are projections or buried thoughts that surface in my day to day. They appear and gather, and soon connect like fated, figured constellations. Recently it’s been a veritable ‘I Spy’ of somnolent mothers and fathers.

My parents, both living in Montreal, both remarried, both visibly weary, have given everything to me and my brother. I used to hear it when we’d fight, hear that loaded everything, and I used to catch glimpses of it when revisiting those burdensome photo albums. Only in the last year have I have really noticed the wear of that everything. It lies affectionately in the deep set bags under their eyes, in the grey of his beard, in her mistakes when cooking and correcting papers at the same time. But it exceeds the visible traits of growing older, too. There is a depleted sense of something and it surrounds them with a cheerless glow. Even when we are close, sitting side by side on the couch, there is a contemplative distance I cannot yet pin down.

The girl in corduroys is bored. Her mother notices and pulls her close, squishing her into the shopping bag and jacket. Playfully, she takes her daughter’s little chin and turns it towards the Monet, ushering her to a specific part. She whispers something. The mother tries to explain the painting. She asks her daughter, What do you see, darling? Her daughter is uninterested. With her finger in her mouth, she looks around the crowded room— full and round with people. I think we make eye contact. Her mother, still sitting, pulls her daughter close once more and tries to tell her something about the lilies, the brushstrokes, the colors, Monet. She wraps an arm around her daughter and points at the canvas.

They’ve been seen like this before, perhaps on a bridge somewhere, staring off at a horizon, or a city skyline. But the daughter grows irritated and begins to sigh. She slouches and crosses her arms. She takes long, tedious breaths. Her tiny chest rises and falls, rises and falls; inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. She wants to go, right now. Mom, please. I don’t want to be here anymore. The mother playfully twirls her daughter’s ponytail. The little girl gives her a look and backs away. The mother returns to staring at the painting. She takes a long, sleepy breath. She closes her eyes, opens them and says, Darling, just two more minutes. I’m waiting for a fish to jump from the water.

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here.

"Bunker or Basement" — Fionn Regan (mp3)

"The End of History" — Fionn Regan (mp3)

"Noah, Ghost in a Sheet" — Fionn Regan (mp3)

photo by autumn de wilde, drawing by fionn regan