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August 31 2023
We open today with rotating sandwiches.
If you end up in one of those impossible discussions around some legacy of harm, there’s a good chance you’ll hear this hypothetical: “You don’t know! You weren’t there!” Good news, arguing people: Michal Weits has made Blue Box, the dunk you dream of. Sometimes, just sometimes, there is an answer to your reply guy, delivered in the words of the person who was there, did the harm, and regrets it.
In the film, Weits traces the story of her great-grandfather, Joseph Weits, a man who planted thousands of trees in Israel and also helped design the “transfer” of thousands of Arabs very inconveniently living on the land. She does it with archival photographs and footage and, most importantly, Weits’ own diary, which the rest of her family refuses to read. You will see why. The emotional arc feels like it can be spoiled, it’s so good, though I’ve already told you Weits ends up ruing his choices, at a molecular, existential level. Plan in advance for for your holiday arguments and drag your uncle to this. The film goes by in a blink and stays with you like a cold.
In the process of following a YouTube trail, I found Paul Lansky’s explanation of how Radiohead ended up using his music on Kid A. I love web 1.0 design and Lansky himself allows you to download “Mild und Leise,” the 1973 piece Jonny Greenwood sampled for “Idioteque.” He is just a sweetheart: “I worked out a multi-dimensional cyclic array based on this chord as the harmonic basis of the piece, but that’s the boring part. I still (sort of) like the piece. What's especially cute, and also occurred to Jonny Greenwood, is that I was about his current age, when I wrote the piece—sort of a musical time warp.”
Muscut has just released a Svitlana Nianio track called “Episode III,” originally recorded in 1994 for a dance score. I can’t stop playing it. This Ukrainian musician reminds me of Księżyc, an act that started around the same time and channels the same Polish and Ukrainian saudade. “Episode III” is like the theme for the absolutely saddest movie ever made about a dachshund who runs a newsstand in a dying town. I’m also letting her Spotify profile shuffle and I love it. (Also follow me please because I have lots of chaotic, badly edited playlists—you can’t lose.)
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Richard Chartier is the absolute homie. He tapped me to DJ for his Procedure night at a Chinatown bar when I still lived in LA back in 2015. His own work as an artist and DJ is an intense and sustained engagement in silence and what hovers right above it. There are few people more underrated in the electronic community than Richard, and his new Between Two Points mix for Dublab is truly a shaped thing, a mix that follows an unpredictable path and stays so close to the absolute horizon. That page also links to tons of the old mixes. A bounty. He’s really unmatched at finding the most exquisite varieties of quiet noise, like he’s running a spice shop for the stuff. No lies—I am listening to this mix for the third time.
Jeremy Gordon’s profile of Steve Albini is a tonally accurate portrait of someone whose music I know down to its fraying cuffs and a person I’ve become friendly with through work. (He was very helpful with a piece on speakers I did for Harper’s Magazine.) If you want a quick taste of the button-pushing Albini used to do, this Vice piece from 2012 will get you up to speed. I threw a stack of Forced Exposure magazines down the stairs in 1986 (song title, hey) because I got big mad at all the pushing from Albini and Thurston and Byron Coley and their friends. (I ended up going down to the bottom of the stairs and bagging them up so I could thrown them out properly. Inelegant protest.)
It was clear, in pretty much every instance, that Albini was an elite troll and me throwing shit down the stairs just put a W in his column. Albini and Gordon collaborate, in essence, to mount something more interesting than an apology—an establishment of consensus reality. His antics were dumb and offensive and unnecessary and distracted from the music. He is comfortable making that clear.
Katie Way is one of my favorite local reporters and her new Hell Gate column on New York cops goes like this: “Every two weeks, we're going to be combing the headlines for a new column called ‘New York’s Finest’: a roundup of arrests, firings, settlements, disciplinary board rulings, and anything else we can dig up that involves cops in New York City and the rest of the state breaking the law, harming the people they ostensibly serve and protect, or just being fucked up and weird.”
I spend a lot of time on the Survivor wiki at Fandom. That, however, is no rabbit hole compared to the aesthetics wiki on Fandom. Holy cats. Did I know that Clairo’s “Pretty Girl” was part of the Key West Kitten aesthetic? Did I know that “people existing within public spaces, typically of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds” is part of the Peoplehood Tumblr aesthetic? No! And! “EXcore” is “the aesthetic of old 2010s creepypasta imagery, such as the .EXE genre of games, the lost episode genre, and Zalgo-fied images” that depict characters with “red pupils, black sclera, and bleeding eyes, as well as the occasional sharp teeth.”
I found two rich and wildly soothing mixes this week. DJML’s “A Rainy Summer Day” mix for Dream Chimney uses lots of jazz and weird live band music to weave you a hammock. The July 2023 edition of the Voice Notes Show with Toby Tobias and Gatto Fritto is bleeps as cushions, drum machines as folding chairs: a bit of shade for you.
Becca Schuh’s “Bad Waitress” still feels like the essay of the year, almost three months later. Every single paragraph is this good: “The next two restaurants were not as bad, but were in other ways the same. I still had to say what sous vide meant on command. I still had to taste wine and say that it smelled like mustard seed. I still had to sit in the restaurants when they were closed and take tests about what accompanied the duck like I was a student in high school. At one point, my boss was a literal Hapsburg prince. He hated me. We once got in a screaming fight about ketchup storage.”