When I heard about The End Of The Tour—long before a trailer, when it was just a production whisper and a still of bandana-wearing Jason Segal as David Foster Wallace—I knew I’d see it, realistic or not.
Based on writer David Lipsky’s book, Though Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the film follows Lipsky (played with aplomb by Jesse Eisenberg), on assignment from Rolling Stone, following Wallace on the last bit of his book tour for Infinite Jest, in the midwest winter of 1996. I haven’t read the book, which was written nearly verbatim from Lipsky’s tapes, but heard the film echoes it near perfectly. Meaning the film is word-for-word scripted from Wallace’s and Lipsky’s conversations, making it much more compelling than something supposed; and making me, an avid Wallace fan, intent on hearing that voice I love and look to finally speak to me, even if through an actor’s mouth.
One night I had friends over for a few snacks and a lot of wine, and my girl Maddy brought me a jar of this adorable Corn Salsa from Shady Acres in upstate NY. (Nabbed from a specialty food store in New York run by my ex-boyfriend, but that’s another story…)
Given that I’m kind of a salsa queen, I was skeptical—it looked too watery and not tomato-y enough to truly be called a salsa. But it completely blew me away! It’s not a salsa in the chips-and-dip sense—more like a relish. So when I polished off the jar soon after, I decided to keep it and make my own based via the ingredients list on the back.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one for neat cooking or following recipes well—I eyeball, and rarely write things down. But this wasn’t hard to figure out—just chop, mix, add a dose of heat, and jar. Viola! Rough estimates FTW. This recipe makes one delightful jar’s worth to save for winter…or devour now. Whatever.
Last September, the anonymous literary group I’m a member of, Literate Sunday, was profiled by the New York Times. As an addendum, they could choose one original work to feature alongside the story—and they chose mine, Like Mother Used To Make. At the time, it was exactly what I needed to kickstart my fiction after a stagnant summer and get going on the stories that would eventually become my grad school portfolio, which I’ll be continuing to hone and expand at the New School this fall.
A lot has changed since then, and while it’s only a few pages I’ll always be proud of this little piece for getting me in the place of confidence to take on a writing career for real.
Read the rest here.
This blog has been in various stages of activity and (even longer stages of) inactivity since I began it in 2012—changing as my priorities did, as my employment did, becoming prominent when I felt I had something to say and falling off when I felt like I didn’t, or that other projects deserved more time.
But in recent months I’ve been asked repeatedly if I have a place where I post my writings, and given that I do have more writing than I ever did, I thought I might as well dust this old girl off again.
So, here we go—the bean is back, baby
The Intersection of Patriotism and Bad Power-Pop
In the most recent New York magazine, music critic Jody Rosen penned a lengthy, insightful essay on “schlock” music—the hyper-earnest, overwhelmingly emotional, often clichéd songs (and the artists who pen/sing them) cringed at by critics and “serious” musicians and often ridiculed while simultaneously ascending charts and working their way into the cultural zeitgeist. He explains:
Schlock, at its finest, is where bad taste becomes great art. Schlock is music that subjugates all other values to brute emotional impact; it aims to overwhelm, to body-slam the senses, to deliver catharsis like a linebacker delivers a clothesline tackle. The qualities traditionally prized by music critics and other listeners of discerning taste — sophistication, subtlety, wit, irony, originality, “experimentation” — have no place in schlock. Schlock is extravagant, grandiose, sentimental, with an unshakable faith in the crudest melodrama, the biggest statements, the most timeworn tropes and most overwrought gestures.
He opens with the example of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which was almost universally panned upon its 1981 debut but has since become one of America’s most enduring anthems. Others include Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” Guns and Roses “November Rain,” Katy Perry’s “Roar,” and even “Thunder Road” (decry, but it’s true).
I discovered Valerie June by a happy accident and am now completely enthralled by her and her self-titled “organic moonshine roots music.” The Tennessee native has a plaintive, piercing voice unlike anything I’ve ever heard—the heart of Aretha Franklin wrapped up in a boondock twang and supplemented by truly skillful guitar work. It’s that farmhouse, front porch pickin’, but with surprise slides thrown in here and there—sizzling with her high, LOUD notes to send shivers down your spine. I’ve had her album on repeat for over a week with no getting sick of it in sight. From the lonely “Somebody To Love” to southern homage “Tennessee Time” to the perfection ladies anthem “Workin’ Woman Blues,” it’s all gold.
I’m not the only one who’s in love with her unique sound, either. She recorded her most recent album, Pushin’ Against A Stone, at Dan Auberbach’s studio, who co-write some of the tracks. She’s also recorded with Old Crow Medicine Show, and toured with Jake Bugg, and made an AMA appearance. With her Medusa-like dreads and hawk-like eyes, she’s as much a visual force as a vocal one; I’ve found myself caught in YouTube wormholes watching her play and sing over and over.
Listen for yourself and tell me it’s not the damn most wonderful female voice you’ve heard all year.
I’m doing occaisional concert coverage for Consequence of Sound now—read my review of Deer Tick’s NY performance of their new album, Negativity, with the exceptional Houston, TX country/folk artist Robert Ellis.