Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
18

On Sorkin, On Strindberg

One of the pleasures to be found in Aaron Sorkin's writing is how utterly unburdened it is with the weight of meta or pomo or, really, post-anything. He's terribly, incurably Romantic. And if you don't want epically smug, pro-elitism rants, precious literary references or the big syrupy love notes between professional narcissists, it's not as though you can ever claim you weren't warned in the first five minutes of whatever you started watching.

Even if you managed to overlook how every hyper-articulate character he's ever created on his own–whether on "Sports Night" and "The West Wing," or in The American President–has not only taken a dim view of the [...]

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2

Get Yer Tickets: Magnus Lindberg's Heavy Metal at the New York Phil

Attention all European music-scribblers who are guests in this country: this is how you composer-in-residence. Finland's Magnus Lindberg, currently posting up for his second season with the New York Philharmonic, has just raised the bar by taking the band to a Staten Island salvage yard in order to look for the metal scraps that will be used in the local premiere of his early masterpiece "Kraft," which you should really consider going to see this Thursday, Friday or next Tuesday. (Student rush: just $12.50!)

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9

You Can Put Your Top Back On Now: Rediscovering the Women of Fluxus at MoMA

To talk about gender and its impact on art in 2010 is to lower yourself onto a playing field strewn with lots of dead and injured (or just plain exhausted) culture warriors. Franzenfreude! The pastiche of Gaga! And don't forget Paglia on Gaga! It's a total combat zone-which is fair enough, given how long, and how unthinkingly-slash-purposefully the whole culture scene has been dominated by the straight white male outlook.

And yet, at the close of many an IM chat or comment thread, you will frequently see some throwing up of hands. As if to say: yes, we've processed this new event, its gender consequences [...]

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19

"There Could be the Greatest Review of a Band on Pitchfork…": A Weekend with Superchunk

Mac McCaughan was in the middle of singing a song at a record store while his wife was struggling to keep their 3-year-old son from tumbling headfirst out of her grasp. This took place yesterday, a little after 1 p.m., during an acoustic set-the sort of thing reliably advertised as "intimate"-which McCaughan was playing with two of his Superchunk bandmates, over at New York's Other Music. (The band's bassist, Laura Ballance, appeared to only have electric gear on this trip, and so was watching this performance from the back wall.) McCaughan's wife and their two children (ages 3 and 7) had been either standing, hoisted or seated on the [...]

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12

Things to See and Do: Mary Halvorson Plays Christian Marclay at the Whitney

Grossly talented indie-rock shredder Marnie Stern has a song on her forthcoming record called "Female Guitar Players Are the New Black." This title has the double-edged benefit of being true as well as wry-since it preempts (one hopes) a lot of lazy "think pieces" on the subject.

Still, even for underground kids who grew up swooning over the plodding-on-purpose instrumental technique of mid-90's Kill Rock Stars bands, there is now an undeniable pleasure in seeing women give off true, hot-shit guitar grind. (For more of this, watch Marissa Paternoster of the Screaming Females rip through "Bell" here.) So while people are keeping score on this level, we [...]

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21

Difficult Listening Hour: An Introduction to Laurie Anderson

About this time last year, an editor of this site and I were emailing back and forth about fun things to maybe write. (The formula was basically: negligible numbers of comments + high degree of personal satisfaction = let's rock.) Along those lines, he proposed a column: "Also do you want to write about weird music in general??? Stuff that editors are like 'Ha um NO THANKS.' Difficult Listening Hour with SCW. Heh." This was the first time anyone had proposed, to me, a recurring feature based on a piece from smack dab in the middle of Laurie Anderson's 7-hour performance work "United States I-IV". (The clip of "Difficult Listening [...]

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1

Showed Up: Matt Marks' "Post-Christian Nihilist Pop Opera" at St. Mark's Church

How much time will you give an unfamiliar work of art? When I was six or seven, I complained straight away about the slow narrative trot of The Silence, prompting my father to retort: "It's Bergman. You give a master at least 15 minutes before you start fidgeting." But obviously we don't give young bucks (who aren't in the canon) quite the same attention-span leash. And then what if you're giving some new art "a try" on the internet? My sense is "15 seconds" may be the stick-it-out-or-fidget Rubicon. Which is to say, if you only give the above music video from a new "post-Christian nihilist pop opera" 15 [...]

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5

Get Off The Internet For Under $50: Bruce Nauman at dia:beacon

Did the Internet eat a pallet-full of Grade F stank beef earlier this week? Because I smelled combat gas all the way over here, in the part of the Internet where people don't even use Tumblr. (For, as Paul would have it in First Corinthians, the body does not consist of only one part, but of many.) Even though I hadn't actually stepped to anyone all week long, I went ahead and took some good advice and took a day off from the city and the Internet. A pal wanted to go to Beacon, NY, to check the contemporary art museum dia:beacon. I realized I had never been. Also, trees [...]

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12

Prince's '20Ten': "Here Come the Purple Yoda!"

So Prince is releasing a new CD, 20Ten, inside the pages of the July 22 issue of Rolling Stone … in Germany only. According to your McChrystal-dooming domestic RS website, the album will also be a cover-mount bonus in England's Daily Mirror, Scotland's Daily Record and Belgium's Het Nieuwsblad. (Yes. Prince is playing some dates in Europe this summer.) Forget the fact that the last few Prince self-leaks have been pretty bad–a new disc from the dude is always cause for internet fun. But guess what–the best review of the forthcoming record has already been written.

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10

The Northside Festival: It Turns Out Punk Is Dead–To Hipsters

Breaking: Williamsburg threw an indie-style music festival over the weekend, and it seemed pretty well-attended! The organizers at L Magazine did a nice job mixing heavily-sweated acts with lesser-known artists (never an easy balance). Though I continue to believe the lo-fi grind of the Woodsist label is in large part an aesthetic counterfeit job–Neil Young's worst-reviewed 70's record, Journey Through the Past, reconciled wispy pot-headed-ness with nods to gravitas a lot better, which is maybe different from saying it did so "well"–it's certainly claiming a lot of mind-share at the moment. (The label's showcase at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night was solidly packed from the [...]

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5

Who Big Boi Really Samples in "General Patton"

For real, keeping up with Big Boi has been a challenge of late. When he's not giving us previews from his new, official product coming out next month, he's going straight samizdat with the Andre 3000 collabos that Jive records won't allow anyone to pay actual money for. Lost in the general haze of sturm und purp, though, was this weird little question that got my music-geek dander up. When "General Patton" hit, 72 internet news cycles ago, initial writeups gave credit for that fat chorus-and-orchestra sample to… an opera "by Georg Solti"? The conductor? Who never actually wrote any music? No. That didn't [...]

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14

Difficult Listening Hour: William Brittelle's "Sheena Easton" Is Alt-Classical That Really Works

Crossover is a hard row to hoe sometimes-so hard, in fact, you wonder why people even try. The ground that's tilled rarely, if ever, gives up a good crop in return. So if soprano Renee Fleming wants to drop her voice a couple octaves and cover Arcade Fire, Band of Horses-and, naturally, "Hallelujah"-no one can stop her, but it's not like folks on either side of the indie-classical chasm are gonna hold their hyper-critical, specialist fire. (I'd say Fleming's take on "Intervention" is strong. Ditto the Band of Horses number. The rest: stay away.) And, as the Times has noted, there's not much combining of disciplines on [...]

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7

Difficult Listening Hour: Johnny Rotten, György Ligeti And a New Timothy Andres Track

"If you spit at me one more time, I will macerate your fucking face," John Lydon said, glaring at the front row of audience members at Public Image Limited's packed Music Hall of Williamsburg show on Wednesday night. (Exact quote via the better-at-note-taking-than-me Steve Smith.) It was a moment worthy of a complicated, half-page sentence in a Henry James novel-containing as it did both an articulation of a point as well as its ironic subversion.

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29

'Lulu' at The Met: A Young Woman's First Opera

A young woman's first time is special. It should be with an opera that cares, that wants to understand—well, no, really her first time should be with a sensually profligate, super-modern piece of crazy. And so, Mary HK Choi attended composer Alban Berg's 1937 opera, "Lulu" at the Met on Saturday. In it, she witnessed the tale of a woman whose unparalleled ability to manipulate members of the so-called "stronger" sex leads, ultimately, to a grim finale, with lots of lurid 12-tone music throughout.

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25

The Best New Thing You Haven't Heard Of This Week: Seth Colter Walls and Maura Johnston On The New Newness, Strange Jazz, And The Semi-Return Of Hole

Seth Colter Walls: Maura, has it been a good first third of 2010, music-wise? What were the highlights? And what depressed the shit out of you? Maura Johnston: 2010 has actually been a great year for music. So far! And there's more to come!! Seth: Really? Because I've felt slightly… underwhelmed. (Though I'm glad you are confirming that the rest of calendar year 2010 is still to come.) Maura: Well, I know the whole existence of the future has been a cause for worry recently. But I am optimistic!

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16

Difficult Listening Hour: Penderecki to Conduct Penderecki in NYC, with Yalies in Tow

Doesn't Yale just burn you up? Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns is told he'll have to buy Yale an international airport if he wants them to admit his Dangerfield-esque son? I laughed at that pretty hard, when I was in public school. But now, the Philharmonia of Yale is coming to New York to perform a concert of works by Krzysztof Penderecki at Carnegie Hall on April 30. And they're bringing along Krzysztof Penderecki to conduct–which I have to admit is a rather impressive way to roll. So I guess I can forgive, especially because you can still buy tickets to the Carnegie [...]

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11

Difficult Listening Hour: 'Die Gezeichneten,' Amoeba, 'Samstag aus Licht,' Broken Bells and 'De Staat'

Mid-last week I found myself in the St. Vincent's ER. After fighting and losing a series of digestive battles with an insistent bug that most of all wanted to keep me away from even drinking water for the better part of 24 hours, I'd stumbled in on the very night the institution's imminent closing had been announced. Though I had not been an especially avid consumer of local news that day, I was soon made aware of the valedictory circumstances when a nurse hooked me up to some IV fluid and advised me to follow up later at another, less-doomed joint. A doctor asked me if there was "any [...]

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25

Difficult Listening Hour: William Kentridge To Direct Shostakovich, Redeem Winter in NYC

Sweet fuck, am I ever tired of this wind and snow and cold and sniffling. I've been eating over half my meals at the diner that's 20 steps away from my front door, because walking anywhere-save for the subway line that takes me to work-has become untenable. The gym? The one that's two blocks away? Haven't seen it since January. And yet, this week, I plan to leave my apartment, post-sundown, for a non-work related engagement. It better be worth it. My whole reason for persisting through that entire awful month of February is riding on it. I suspect we're talking about the kind of awesome that makes a [...]

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45

The "TV Event" As Bipartisanship, or, How the Super Bowl Helps Kill Health Care Reform

It was totally great that New Orleans got to celebrate last night. Now, are you ready for your Monday come-down? The Super Bowl–or more specifically, the way we watch it–is connected to the possibility that Democrats won't pass health care reform this year. Or that the two Democratically-controlled chambers of Congress that have already passed some version of health care reform might not manage to send a unified bill to a Democratic president's desk for his signature. The lessons, as always in America, are to be found in a reading of what happened on the teevee.

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12

Here Are Some Things That You Could Put On the TV What With All the Extra Time That the TV Has Now, with Seth Colter Walls

So there's that thing with the TV people and TV timeslots you've no doubt heard about, and how pretty soon there's gonna be more time on TV for one TV network to fill, because that one guy who was on TV at one time, for awhile, didn't want to be on TV at another time? So now people are saying that the one guy probably won't be on TV anymore, or at least not on this same TV place, and the other guy who used to have his TV time, before, will just go back to it now, leaving his other TV time available for something. Oh, it's all quite [...]

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