Reading and Listening

I used to bookmark all the interesting articles, videos, and songs that I came across on the Internet, but, after a while, it ended up as an exercise in digital futility. But, that won't stop me from trying again! This time, I'll list everything here: both for myself and for you, phantom reader. Procrastinate at your own risk!
Listening Notes — this is where I help myself remember what I've been checking out. Considering the suffocating quantity of music out there, it's likely that you won't be in need of any recommendations, but in case you are for any reason, maybe look around.

And music-related resources on YouTube? This is probably overkill, but if you've got nothing better to do, feel free to take a look ("Infinite Recommendations").

And, lastly (really), if you have utterly run out of recommendations for books and movies to read, I keep a little reading/watching log, which is really more for me than it is for you, but in case anyone's interested.

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Selected Shorts

"College, from which some 1.5 million people will graduate this year, is, basically, a sleepover with grades." — "The Graduates" ('taco talk'), Louis Menand

"For a reporter, or even an experienced reader, something not being on the Internet sets off alarms. Further reading raised more: The referee story first appeared in one of the often sleazy London tabloids and spread from there, like fact-checking syphilis. One person told one reporter, and all the other stories repeated the anecdote. It bore all the telltale symptoms of origin myth." — "Portrait of a Serial Winner," Wright Thompson


"The early critical success did nothing to dissuade Vollmann’s view that his personal vision for his books trumped all other considerations. As he has often said, the money you’re paid for your writing is never enough. Therefore, why compromise?" — "You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollman," Tom Bissell

"In a culture that has the phrase “Good job!” on endless rotation, he dares to say, over and over, “You must be fucking kidding me" — "I know why Bret Easton Ellis hates David Foster Wallace," Gerald Howard

"Even in the most chaotic fights and collisions, everything makes sense. This is not a matter of realism — come on, now — but of imaginative discipline. And Mr. Miller demonstrates that great action filmmaking is not only a matter of physics but of ethics as well. There is cause and effect; there are choices and consequences." – "'Mad Max: Fury Road,' Still Angry After All These Years," A.O. Scott

"'It’s like with Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Jamie Foxx. A lot of our favorite actors were put in a box before they destroyed that box'" — James Ponsold, "Jason Segel Makes a Career U-Turn as David Foster Wallace in 'The End of the Tour,'" Cara Buckley

"The first-person boom, Tolentino says, has helped create 'a situation in which writers feel like the best thing they have to offer is the worst thing that ever happened to them" — "The First-Person Industrial Complex," Laura Bennett

"It's a silly, silly list...But you need someone to collapse the universe for you" — Frank Bruni on the "World's 50 Best Restaurants" in "Who's To Judge," Lauren Collins (New Yorker, 2 November, 2015)

"Because I'm overeducated and insecure, I package my banal observations in semantic finery, so I feel a kinship with lines like 'Earthling inserts to chalice the green cutchie/Groundation soul finds trust upon smoking hose," which is a fancy way of saying "a guy smokes some weed" — "Letter of Recommendation: Sleep, 'Dopesmoker,'" David Rees

"The law of evidence that reigns in the domain of childhood is essentially medieval" — "After the Fact," Jill Lepore

There is time, too, for fantasy about what life would be like outside the White House. Mr. Emanuel, who is now the mayor of Chicago but remains close to the president, said he and Mr. Obama once imagined moving to Hawaii to open a T-shirt shack that sold only one size (medium) and one color (white). Their dream was that they would no longer have to make decisions." – "Obama After Dark," Michael Shear

The Chinese ability to sleep wherever, whenever, is something of a national pastime." — "Shh. It's Naptime at Ikea in China" (New York Times)

"But the case is also unique, experts say, because it exposes what is essentially a legal black hole: Chinese statutes do not clearly indicate who owns property with intergalactic characteristics."  "Meteorite Finder Fights China’s (Mostly Terrestrial) Property Law" (New York Times)

"When a cabdriver lied about a route, or a shopkeeper shortchanged me, I felt that it was my fault, for speaking Turkish with an accent, or for being part of an élite. And, if I pretended not to notice these slights, wasn’t I proving that I really was a disengaged, privileged oppressor? Epictetus shook me from these thoughts with this simple exercise: “Starting with things of little value—a bit of spilled oil, a little stolen wine—repeat to yourself: ‘For such a small price, I buy tranquillity.’ ” "How To Be a Stoic" (New Yorker)

"Every age invents respectable formulas to convert local limits of imagination and experience into universal limits on reality"  "The Spiritual Case for Socialism" (New Republic)

"I returned to Tombstone and Shakespeare in an effort to change the angle from which I approach immigration issues, to step outside my usual dynamics. In effect, I wanted to reënact my own past, in a different persona. I returned to the borderlands to look hatred in the face. But what I saw was not quite hatred. It was something more hollow, circular, repetitive. Something more like a reënactment of hate." The Wild West Meets the Southern Border (New Yorker)

"Art that strives to be super topical makes something that should be uncontainable and puts it in a container. In a cynical way, it’s easier to sell when it’s in a container. It looks great for grants, it looks great to promoters. The danger is that it dilutes the emotional content of what could be a strange, uncontained morsel of humanity. It should be shocking or accessible or euphoric or sad just because it is. I don’t want anyone to tell me what the song is about." — Interview with Chris Morrissey (Jazz Speaks)

"Some will love the prime rib, which could not be any more moist without breaking several laws of chemistry. Others will wish that it had more concentrated beef flavor and that the flaps and handles had not been trimmed off, perhaps in pursuit of some Kellerian quest for bovine symmetry." — Thomas Keller Brings Country Club Cuisine to the City (New York Times)

"For a long time, linguists have been arguing that the most interesting type of language is the informal speech that you produce when you're not thinking about it, because when we do stuff fast and without seemingly thinking about it too hard, we access these levels of unconscious linguistic awareness that we all have. If you do something that's filtered through an editor or filtered through more self-consciousness, you're going to do something that's more homogenized, more standardized and less interesting, because it doesn't represent the ... whole beauty of the world and everything that's possibly out there." "Our Language is Evolving, 'Because Internet'" (NPR)

"It's because as you get older, your desire to be right diminishes. When I was in my 20s I always wanted to be right about what I thought about certain films, or film directors, or actors. Now I don't care. It doesn't matter to me if I'm right. I mean, I think I'm right, of course, and I can defend my judgments. Which I think is important for critics to do. Instead of writing letters of apology to the reader for not liking a Pirates of the Caribbean movie." — A. S. Hamrah interviewed

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The Bizarre

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Jazz Lore

Ted Panken: That was “Bemsha Swing,” interpreted by John Coltrane, Donald Cherry, Percy Heath and Edward Blackwell from The Avant Garde.  A couple of things came to light during the break.  First of all, Blackwell did play once with Thelonious Monk in 1972.

Ed Blackwell:    I’ll tell you what happened with Monk.  During the course of the gig, after about a week… He used to give me a lot of solos.  Then one night we were playing, and he gave me a solo, and I played, you know, and after he came off the stand he come over to me and he said, “You know, you ain’t no Max Roach.” [LAUGHS] And I don’t know why he told me that!  He just danced away. Wilbur Ware was in that group also.


Electric Miles: A Conversation

MTUME: A lesson I learned from Miles about tension—and it involves you, Gary, and Keith Jarrett—we were playing in Italy with Gato Barbieri. I’m in the dressing room with Miles, and Gary, you came in cussing like twelve sailors! “I can’t stand Keith! I’m sick of that stuff! Matter of fact, I don’t even want him to play when I’m soloing!” And I’m sitting there like, “Oh, shit!” And Miles just did this “Okay, okay.” So then Gary, you left the room and Miles tells Jim Rose, the road manager, “Go get Keith.” Keith comes in and I swear on my mother’s grave, Miles looked at Keith and said, “Gary said he loves everything you play. As a matter of fact, he said, ‘Play more of that shit!’” But here’s the moral of the story: That next set, man, that music went there [raises hand to the sky]! Gary’s looking at Keith, hating it, and Keith’s smiling, “Yeah!” That’s Miles Davis!

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Writers' archives on the internet: