Here’s what we’re putting in our brains this week.
I’ve been kind of obsessively reading the blog Gargozo Manuscript where my friend, Rev. Joe Borfo, has been posting the eccentric stories his dad has been sending to him about his life growing up in Los Angeles. Obsessive gambling, rampant BLT consumption, and scamming his way through art school…
I’m currently reading Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides – I was introduced to his work last year with The Marriage Plot, and had no idea how much more expansive this work would be. So far I’m loving it. I’m also reading Living as Form, a book by Nato Thompson about relational aesthetics and socially engaged art from 1991-2011.
I’m listening to a ton of Palberta, an experimental punk trio from upstate New York, and Arthur Russell
I’m watching reruns of Broad City (both the original web series, and their show on comedy central) in preparation for the new season (!!!).
Newly discovered, underrated twitter that gives unwanted and nonsensical life advice: @wackyfacks (“someone breathing down your neck? turn around and give a kiss”)
I’ve also been reading a ton of articles about Reborn Dolls being rescued from parked cars, which is kind of funny, kind of sad, and endlessly fascinating.
Nathan reports that he went to a reading at Powell’s again this week, for Rose City Heist, a true crime story about the biggest jewelry theft in Portland. Now that the statute of limitations on the crime has run out, the primary suspect can finally dish everything. If you’re into that kind of thing, he wants you to know about some similarly arcane and fascinating slices Portland history that you can find on the shelves of our store, including Ariel Gore’s Portland Queer, Joe Biel’s history of local bike activism, this comic written by Sarah Mirk about the infamous Vortex Fest, and these two box sets of more fascinating comics that help you get to know all the parts that make up our city: One about our little-known history, and one about our activism.
Besides the sounds of the MAX Green Line on my commute each day—last night, I heard a screeching baby, a man in a suit reciting the Declaration of Independence, and someone playing the flute—and a lot of rain, I’ve been listening to my favorite songza playlist : “At a ’90s Frat BBQ”. Please don’t judge me.
In terms of reading, I’m currently devouring HIV, Mon Amor, a book of poetry by Tory Dent that I picked up at Powell’s the other week. Dent has found a beautiful balance between poetry and prose, and the book is a stunning and resonant portrayal of the author’s life as an HIV-positive woman. I’ve also devoured, in a more literal sense, a couple of recipes that I found in my recent purchase of Barefoot and in the Kitchen.
I’ve, of course, been reading Teenage Rebels by Dawson Barrett [editor’s note: Meggyn is designing this book right now!] and revisiting my entire mix cd collection from the past. It’s been more than appropriate and has inspired me in so many ways.
The albums that have stood out have been Set It Straight‘s “Live Your Heart and Never Follow” and “My Favorite Words,” Down To Nothing‘s “Splitting Headache” and “The Most“, Have Heart‘s “The Things We Carry“, and Battery‘s “Final Fury“. Straight edge punk hardcore has always held a very special place in my heart, if that isn’t already apparent enough.
In the kitchen, I baked these brownies and the baked beans recipe in Hot Damn and Hell Yeah by Ryan Splint. The brownies tasted like those cosmic brownies I used to eat as a child, which I didn’t find very good in the first place. The beans were great and I HIGHLY recommend them, especially for those who don’t like to put too much work into their cooking.
Last night, as I wandered SE Division, I came across a cute shop called Little Otsu. While the Moomins books are what drew me in, it was the curated film selection that really sold me. There, I bought a Criterion Collection DVD of the 1955 French thriller Diabolique, by Henri-Georges Clouzot. It’s famous—or, depending upon whom you ask, infamous—for being the adaptation Hitchcock couldn’t make, as Clouzot reportedly snatched up the film rights to the novel mere hours before Hitch could get his hands on them. I can’t wait to watch it.
Meanwhile, I’ve decided to follow Crate Digger author Bob Suren’s footsteps by building on my own collection of punk vinyl. I’m going to start with the ? and the Mysterians single “96 Tears,” tracing punk’s evolutionary process: from its roots in Detroit, MI, to the hyper aggressive hardcore scenes of California and NYC. It’s gonna be one helluva collection!
Watched the Australian “comedy” Mental about five kids (four of which who dress identically) their dad who is an absent but successful politician and the woman that he picks up from the side of the road to be the ad-hoc “caretaker” of the kids. It mostly left me wondering if society’s cultural analysis of mental health is what is so fractured or if this is how Australians deal with difficult subjects. In any event, I didn’t watch the whole thing because I fell asleep and the litmus test was failed because I’m not going to watch the rest. C- unless you really need distraction from your life.
The current episode of This American Life, “Batman,” was totally bad ass. While I mostly got obsessed with how supportive his mom was throughout his entire life as a young blind person, the whole story is like all good narratives: it makes you think about all of the similar parables in your own life and how hardships are almost always that way because of how you perceive and interact with them. Thanks iGlass!
And clearly I’ve been too tired and/or busy to read after work this week because the only other media entering my headtube is Jughead’s Revenge and his take on the Vindictives Hypno-Punko which, admittedly, I thought of as a kid band (albeit one that I loved as a teenager). I really like the way that Joey engages mental health from an “I’m not ashamed, I’m crazy motherfucker!” mentality and brings that suburban Chicago melodic punk sound to new highs (both in terms of pitch and merit). All of the episodes are stellar but this one touched me particularly.
I’ve recently acquired, at long last my copy of Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey LP. It’s a classic roots reggae album. I had to travel all the way to St. Louis to find it! It’s one of those inimitable legends of the genre that gives me goosebumps. I also found The Impressions’ One by One (Curtis Mayfield’s first group). It has a track listing of mostly standards of the time, but the three tracks written by Curtis are unstoppable.
I’ve had the last two issues of the New Yorker on my table, got into those in an effort to catch up. The Jan 12 issue had some Malcolm Gladwell, if you’re into it.
I just activated my MUBI account, it was a christmas gift from a friend. If you’re not familiar, it’s like Netflix, but much smaller, with a changing collection of foreign films, movie shorts from artists, and other sub-genre projects. It features older films and new releases. I highly recommend it if you’re in search of more eclectic and abstract viewing.
I used my TriMet app twice!
I found (on This.cm, which I love) and stayed up too late reading this very long article about a team of Swedish “troll hunters” that unmask the people behind anonymous racist internet comments, including some famous politicians.
My old friend Carl came over to breakfast and regaled us with tales of his new club, The Portland Flag Association. Turns out that flags (and the people who love them) are an endlessly fascinating topic, but don’t take my word for it; check out this article and podcast about the organization.
Part of my work here involves dabbling in a dark art known as “title development,” or in lay terms, “what exactly is this book supposed to be anyway?,” on which topic this is probably the best thing ever written, by a famous humor writer of yore: