Archive for February, 2016

Quote of the day: TIME

February 15, 2016


[With “Pee Wee’s] Playhouse,’’ [Paul] Reubens revitalized Saturday-morning programming, a wasteland of cheap animated series that served mostly as glorified toy commercials, by discovering an aesthetic wormhole connecting late-night comedy and early-morning children’s programming. The sensibility of stoned 20-somethings at midnight, he realized — marked by an unreasonable love of repetition, absurdity, narrative disjuncture and jokes that either last way too long or flit by in a short-attention-span-accommodating blink — had significant overlap with that of little kids in pajamas, laughing themselves silly over breakfast cereal. ‘‘Those are the times of the day when there aren’t rules,’’ Reubens said of morning and night, standing as they do in idiosyncratic opposition to the more conventional prerogatives of the prime-time dial. ‘‘Rules are for the other times.’’

— Jonah Weiner, “Laughing Last,” New York Times Magazine


photo by Jeffrey Henson Scales

Quote of the day: PARANOIA

February 12, 2016


Anyone can become paranoid – that is, develop an irrational fantasy of being betrayed, mocked, exploited or harmed – but we are more likely to become paranoid if we are insecure, disconnected, alone. Above all, paranoid fantasies are a response to the feeling that we are being treated with indifference. In other words, paranoid fantasies are disturbing, but they are a defense. They protect us from a more disastrous emotional state – namely, the feeling that no one is concerned about us, that no one cares. The thought “so-and-so has betrayed me” protects us from the more painful thought “no one thinks about me.” It is less painful to feel betrayed than to feel forgotten.

–Stephen Grosz, The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

examined life cover

Culture Vulture: Jane Siberry and Pablo Picasso, together again

February 8, 2016

ulysses purse

Great double feature Saturday night. Andy and I saw Jane Siberry at Joe’s Pub — his first time seeing the deeply idiosyncratic Canadian singer-songwriter, my umpteenth since 1986 when I reviewed her show at the Bottom Line for the Village Voice. Not unusually, it was less a concert than a performance art piece with almost continuous spoken-word commentary that periodically blossomed into songs (part singing, part speaking), several of them from her latest album, Ulysses’ Purse. She surprised the gathered faithful by mentioning that this would be her last recording. Ever? Ever? Hard to believe. But now that she’s making her own records, paying all the costs for recording and marketing, I can imagine that the tediousness of all those details could wear a person out. The new album is lovely, her best in years, with gorgeous string arrangements (and a delicious cameo appearance by k.d. lang).

Afterwards, we headed to the Museum of Modern Art, which stayed open until midnight to accommodate last-minute visitors to the extra-good show of Picasso Sculptures, which closed on Sunday. I’d seen the show twice and really wanted Andy to see it. He was glad I nudged him about it. We enjoyed the festive energy of MOMA under these circumstances, in addition to the pleasures of the artwork. This time I paid special attention to Picasso’s endlessly inventive way of depicting not only eyes but also genitals.

2-6 picasso anatomy drawing2-6 picasso woman with child2-6 sheetmetal womanhead2-6 stone head

Quote of the day: CHARACTER

February 8, 2016


Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self-respect springs.

–Joan Didion


R.I.P. Dan Hicks

February 8, 2016

Another one bites the dust! Of all the pop music titans who’ve left us recently, Dan Hicks mattered most of all to me. His quick-witted, sophisticated folk-jazz brought great joy into my music-loving life, from the very first minute that Jay Junker, my high school cultural mentor, sat me down in 1971 and played me Where’s the Money?, the great second album from Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. I’ve always loved dreamy-creamy close-harmony singing (the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Manhattan Transfer, the Hi-Los, the Roches, etc.) but Dan Hicks brought out the potential for comedy, wit, and sheer exhilaration in his fast funny songs. As Peter Keepnews noted in his New York Times obituary of Hicks, “He drew from the American folk tradition but also from the Gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt, the Western swing of Bob Wills, the harmony vocals of the Andrews Sisters, the raucous humor of Fats Waller and numerous other sources.” He was great in concert, droll and dry in his humor. Not dry in his substance intake — the man liked his liquor and probably other substances. (When I met Maryann Price, one of the original Hot Licks, in 1980, she mentioned darkly that the band had gone off the deep end with their drug use and she “had go in there and clean up!”) Anyway, you can listen to Where’s the Money? yourself and see how thrilling they were live (click on the YouTube video below). And check out the Oxford American magazine’s dense appreciation of the album here.

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