Friday, December 18 2020


This 1978 Swedish TV documentary about Don Cherry is pure flow. Don and his wife Moki lark about with their kids (Neneh and Eagle Eye) in Tågarp, Sweden, where they live in a converted school house. That’s straight crunchy. Moki negotiates with a Manhattan fabric dealer who asks if the Swedish crew are filming a porno, and you get to see her textile work hanging on walls in Hästveda and Long Island City. There is fantastic footage of Don playing in the streets of SoHo, which made me want to smash all the phones and give everybody the day off and a log to whittle. We see Harlem and the Bronx and L.I.C. and a healthy clutch of street loons, including a Bruce Lee wannabe. Don kills it on the stringed gourd instrument I thought was a kora but is not? It’s a donso n’goni? Maybe? The Greenwich Village loft gig with James Blood Ulmer and Rashied Ali is fantastic, especially in terms of Blood, whose guitar streaks through the film like sunspots. In the final scene, on a New York stoop, Cherry jams with Ed Blackwell, Nana Vasconcelos, and two unidentified men.


Take five minutes to watch the 2015 digital trashterpiece that is Rat Movie: Mystery of the Mayan Treasure. Who’s the giant rat that makes all of the rules? Who are the cat police? Jeremy Elbertson, under the name Jerma985, made this boiled hoagie of video game misrendering and blown out condenser mic VO. Watch the sequel, too.


At the other end of the spectrum is Fuck Theory’s Guide for the Perplexed, which I suggest for anyone feeling both spiritually and politically exhausted. If that’s too much thinking, you can just make his diner pancakes (which we do every weekend). If that’s not enough thinking, I recommend paying for his Patreon and reading his brutally clear Spinoza commentaries.


I am operating under the belief that the cockatiel who whistles “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire is a part of my household.


It took sixteen months to bring this Michel Leiris piece to the table for The New Yorker’s website branch. I didn’t do anything better than this, and I’d encourage you to read it, especially if his name means nothing to you.


Try this Twin Cities PBS half-hour documentary on Hüsker Dü. It’s a very quick look at the very fast beginnings of the band, which captures how thrilling they were before they decided to write song songs (which they were even better at).


Year after year, NYRB Classics reissues out-of-print books that keep me going. (How many times have I read Sleepless Nights?) Try the latest story collection (in translation) by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, Robert Glück's Margery Kempe, or the new translations of Nikolai Leskov stories


Check into Spotify Unwrapped to see how exactly how little of your money is going to the artists you listen to. The site uses your Spotify data to make its point. The point will upset you! You can also guess what that point will be.


Gez Varley made Bayou Paradis in two weeks in 2001. He used a clutch of fairly common electronic gear, none of it vintage or obscure. What he made is maybe techno or maybe dance music and it feels like a strong yellow light shining on my neck. I love it so so much.


James Blake’s “Before” video captures a lot of hot people dancing in quar, an infinitely appealing reorganization of the realities using the realities themselves.


My bicycle companion this month was Into the Zone with Hari Kunzru, a podcast that is allegedly about opposites. I’m sure it is, but that’s not why I listened to it. It’s well-written and briskly paced and mostly jumbles up bits of Kunzru’s life with his interests: East German punks, Stonehenge, Adorno’s house in LA, tardigrades, Elon Musk, country music, how much information we need to have information. I found it utterly gripping, partly because Kunzru does such a good job of blending personal details (talking to a friend from London who was subject to casual racism back in the day) and conceptual holding containers (is getting plastic surgery in front of a live audience a good thing). Kunzru is also newly installed to write the Easy Chair column every other month for Harper’s. We have a ways to go before the vaccine, and we need all the friends we can get.


I listened to a lot of Treacherous Three while I was finishing my memoir. They were my favorite group when I was 14—their first ten singles are all bangers (ALL TEN), at least five of them classics. Do you not know them? This auto-generated YouTube playlist is blistering.



Three essential newsletters: Tone Glow (freaky music done to death in detail), Vittles (food outside of New York and outside of the awful apple-shining mersh food circuit), and Drawing Links (Edith Zimmerman’s luminously sweet and weird comics).



A YouTube channel called Funked Up East posts rare records from “USSR and Eastern Bloc countries.” This 1974 album by Uschi Brüning & Günther Fischer-Quintett is like uptempo Seventies Miles with Annette Peacock singing semi-normally over it. The channel seems to be related to the excellent Shukai label.


Do remember to get your copy of the Body Meπa album today, and a bumper sticker!