1. "[I] put on my beautiful blue velvet shirt and kofi hat. I was dressed beautifully, very respectably, and proudly, as an African. As I was going on stage the owner of the club, Harold Kanter, stopped me and said, ‘No, no. You gotta change. You gotta put on what they wear there.” Shirt with no sleeves, trousers rolled up, torn and tattered, straw hat—plantation stuff!…So here I was broke, ready to be thrown out of my hotel. He tells me, “Either wear that or you don’t get the gig.” I tell him, “I’m not going to go on and do that.” Because that is what belittles Africa. In my country we don’t do that, dress like that, unless you are a farmer…So Harold says, OK. And I played like I was full of fire. I was full of fire. I played like I had never played before and the whole place was aflame with the spirit of Africa."
    — Ghanaian jazz drummer Guy Warren, aka “The Divine Drummer,” quoted in Robin D.G. Kelley’s fantastic Africa Speaks, America Answers
     

  2. I talked to Lee Bannon for Impose about his new album, his next few projects, and his thoughts on Pro Era. 

    (Not in the interview: Bannon said that Ben Foster would’ve done a better job in There Will Be Blood than Paul Dano—controversial! I tried to direct the conversation towards one of Foster’s first roles, the classic Disney channel series Flash Forward, but to no avail…so I just want you all to know, I’m still open to discussing the film, the show, Foster, Paul Dano, and any hypothetical combination of the four.)

     

  3. "Lemme tell you something. I gotta be fair. That Ignatius was okay until that big dog of his died. He had this big dog useta bark right under my window. That’s when my nerves first started to go. Then the dog dies. Well, I think, now maybe I’ll get me some peace and quiet. But no. Ignatius is got the dog laid out in his momma’s front parlor with some flowers stuck in his paw. That’s when him and his momma first started all that fighting. To tell you the truth, I think that’s when she started drinking. So Ignatius goes over to the priest and ax him to come say something over the dog. Ignatius was planning on some kind of funeral. You know? The priest says no, of course, and I think that’s when Ignatius left the Church. So big Ignatius puts on his own funeral. A big fat high school boy oughta know better. You see that cross? That where it all happened. He had about two dozen little kids standing around in the yard watching him. And Ignatius had on a big cape like Superman and they was candles burning all over. The whole time his momma was screaming out the front door for him to throw the dog in the garbage can and get in the house."
    — 

    A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole.

    Amazing monologue—sad, funny, and offers a dense chunk of information about the main characters, Ignatius and his mother, when the novel is nearly over.

     

  4. Here’s Tiny Mix Tapes’ Favorite 30 Films of the year, for which I wrote a short blurb about Gravity.

    And here’s my own list of favorites, in alphabetical order:

    12 Years A Slave

    A Touch of Sin

    Behind the Candelabra

    Blue is the Warmest Color

    Captain Phillips

    Frances Ha

    Inside Llewyn Davis

    Nebraska

    Reality

    Spring Breakers

    With a Very Special Thanks To: Pacific Rim, which, in the end, I actually liked more than Gravity!

     

  5. My review of A Touch of Sin for Tiny Mix Tapes (the jury is still out on whether “undefinable” is anything more than a U.S. version of “indefinable” popularized by rampant misuse, but if there’s one thing I am, it’s a rampant mis-user.)

     

  6. I interviewed Brian DeGraw of bEEdEEgEE and Gang Gang Dance about his new album, his feelings about internet culture, and the not-so-subtle racism of drunken club-goers.

     
  7. This is from DJ Sprinkles’ excellent Where Dancefloors Stand Still mix. As titles go, “Good Feeling” could not be more self-explanatory.

     
     
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  9. My review of Costa-Gavras’ Capital, for Paste.

     
  10. Floorplan, “Never Grow Old”

    There’s so much to say about how this song creates a complicated view of nostalgia, communal experience, recorded music, the illusion of immortality…but it’s better if you just hear it.

     
     

  11. I saw this movie by myself this past week—I mean literally by myself, there was nobody else in the theater—and it was a really strange and surreal experience, only partially owing to the film itself, which admittedly is both strange and surreal. I couldn’t go wild with my phone, as I normally would have, because I was in the basement where there was no service. At one point two dopes with backpacks and yoga mats wandered in and watched for about half an hour before leaving, because evidently people do that. The most amazing thing happened before the film even started, when about halfway through the trailer for Gravity (which is coincidentally made fun of, BY NAME, in Instructions Not Included), the projector shut off completely, casting me into total darkness. It was almost like Alfonso Cuaron was protesting.

    I had to struggle out of my row in the dark to go find someone that worked there, lugging my soda and bag because I guess I thought it was too risky to leave them in a totally empty theater. Then I listened as the guy radioed to his manager, who reasonably asked him how many people were waiting, to which he replied along with obvious side-eye towards me: “just one.” Also, while the two people were there, they laughed when I didn’t, and vice versa. So it really was a lot like being stranded in space, experiencing a cosmic disconnect with a vast, unknowable nothingness in front of me (I think that’s what Gravity is about, but I only saw half the trailer.)

     

  12. The thing that’s really worked its way into my blood is that “whoo!”

    (Source: Spotify)

     
  13. Marcia Griffiths, Feel Like Jumping

     
     
  14. 3:54 pm always feels terrible, so here’s a nice way to get yourself past 4:00. And don’t duck out before the end unless you want to miss a very decadent final addition of wispy 2-part harmony. 

     
     
  15. The Ronettes, “Here I Sit”

    One of several collaborative efforts between Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector, this song written for The Ronettes contains an indirect poop joke that I assume went right over Spector’s egomaniacal head:

    "He had taken the inspiration for the lyric from one of the most universal pieces of graffiti, scribbled on the walls of men’s rooms in many parts of the country. The stanza runs: 

    Here I sit, broken hearted

    Paid a dime

    And only farted.”

    Nilsson’s lyrics revised this to become “Here I sit, broken hearted/ Fell in love, but now we’ve parted” and then slyly referenced both the singer’s regret and the original rhyme: “couldn’t see the writing on the wall.”

    (Quoted from Alyn Shipton’s great new biography, Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter)