Thursday, November 18 2021
A few months ago, I filmed 75 Dollar Bill playing in Columbus Park, which is in Chinatown right next to The Tombs. The clip is below: their big band opulence is casual and everybody connects like infrared. Che Chen walks around with an amp on his hip! Why can’t more shows be like this? There is so much on offer when you remove the obstacles of darkness and fatigue and other people being drunk.
75 Dollar Bill have so many good records—buy a few.
Sylvère Lotringer, the immensely important publisher and thinker, died on November 8. Franco “Bifo” Berrdi and Christian Marazzi described their friend as “a dowser, a diviner of ideas who roamed the territories of art, philosophy, and the margins of social behavior, all to find signs of the future.” Lotriger’s magazine, Semiotext(e), eventually became a press and was, they write, “a bridge between European critical thought and North American radical culture.”
The Semiotext(e) books pressed on my soft, young brain. In the Eighties, the small black volumes in the Foreign Agents series formed my idea of what theory could address and how ideas could sound as words. (I’m still sad that Lotringer changed the default book cover design in 2000; and though this is absolutely superficial, it is also the kind of cultural adjustment a Semiotext(e) book would address.) In Sidecar, McKenzie Wark writes that “Jean Baudrillard, Paul Virilio and Félix Guattari came to exist as figures in American letters in large part through his efforts.”
Whatever we call “theory” moves the way it does largely because of Lotringer and the space his tastes took up. He loved both chaos and discipline, academic and vernacular language, structural rigor and idiosyncratic spritz. Semiotext(e) published Michel Leiris and David Rattray and Gary Indiana and Kate Zambreno and perhaps most famously, Chris Kraus, Lotringer’s former partner.
This three-part interview conducted by Jonathan Thomas in August of 2015—somewhere in MacArthur Park, no less—fills in many blanks. Did Lotringer work with both Aragon and Barthes? Yes. Did he live a block from where I sit now on East 7th Street? Yes. His lack of cant permeates the talk.
Best of all is this piece Lotringer wrote for Artforum in 2003, his account of playing Colonel Tom Parker to Baudrillard’s Elvis in the Eighties. Baudrillard ends up on the masthead of Artforum without knowing it and Lotringer writes that “like Freud,” Baudrillard “was bringing the plague” and the snaps all over the art world.
Hua Hsu’s top 10 songs of the year? Here they are. Hua clarifies: “it’s a(?) top ten since i no longer have any (1) grasp of what the top ten might be (2) desire to rank things. In the absence of 2 bridges music and arts, the past year’s search engine was engineered from strangers’ ig stories, 3phaz playlists, old students/friends, youtube wormholes.”
This six-hour mix by Livwutang and Wonja was done for a festival called Campout 2021, which I know nothing about. But this dance-ish music bumps without knocking things over, so live with it for a day and forget about making more than one music choice! Just click twice (it’s in two parts)!
Two pieces by Marianela D’Aprile: one about being an Argentinian kid who loves Maradona and realizing that the struggle and the goal are as one, and one on a singer-songwriter named Taylor Swift.
This piece, by a British TV producer named David Jeffcock, is a concrete explanation of how (some of) the BBC archives do and do not work. If you can’t sleep sometimes because you are all “archives are u OK babe?” you will want to read this.
Via Friend of the Blog Rachel Seville Tashjian, here’s a piece Joni Mitchell wrote for Musician magazine in 1987 about Jaco Pastorius.
I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to this Felix Hall mix of Bobby Digital/Digital B productions, but when I do, I think dancehall is the only music that has enough bass for both God and the Devil.
Here is what I have been up to for the magazines:
Ronnie Wilson & The Gap Band, Observer, November 12 2021
The Pop Group, Y In Dub, 4Columns, November 5, 2021
Todd Haynes’s The Velvet Underground, Frieze, October 18, 2021
King Crimson, Artforum, October 1, 2021
Jonathan Franzen, Crossroads, 4Columns, October 1, 2021
I think this two-hour Verzuz Battle between The Lox and Dipset should be in the Smithsonian and I would elect Jadakiss to office even though I don’t believe in governments.