From Phases, a collection of B-sides, demos and covers, out today:
The title story from Denis Johnson’s forthcoming collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, which was completed just before his death in May of this year. See Riot Material’s earlier tributes to Denis Johnson here.
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
By Denis Johnson
After dinner, nobody went home right away. I think we’d enjoyed the meal so much we hoped Elaine would serve us the whole thing all over again. These were people we’ve gotten to know a little from Elaine’s volunteer work—nobody from my work, nobody from the ad agency. We sat around in the living room describing the loudest sounds we’d ever heard. One said it was his wife’s voice when she told him she didn’t love him anymore and wanted a divorce. Another recalled the pounding of his heart when he suffered a coronary. Tia Jones had become a grandmother at the age of thirty-seven and hoped never again to hear anything so loud as her granddaughter crying in her sixteen-year-old daughter’s arms. Her husband, Ralph, said it hurt his ears whenever his brother opened his mouth in public, because his brother had Tourette’s syndrome and erupted with remarks like “I masturbate! Your penis smells good!” in front of perfect strangers on a bus or during a movie, or even in church. [Read more…]
Featuring Nomi Ruiz:
Harmonizing in the joy of Kamasi Washington’s recent release of the Harmony of Difference EP, a retake of the magical sounds of “Truth.” We all need a bit more.
I, Parrot: A Graphic Novel
Reviewed by John Biscello
“A black-sharded lady keeps me in a parrot cage.”
The power of the black-sharded lady, a cunning saboteur of a shadow-self, resides less as a jailor and more as an illusionist. She creates a phantom cage out of thin air, and conditions one to behave and function as a captive, barred from moving beyond limitations that calcify into tainted gospel. In the new graphic novel I, Parrot, written by Deb Olin Unferth and illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle, cages, both real and metaphysical, play into what is a modern-day fable on survival, fierce love, and the necessity of wing-spreading. Or, as Emily Dickinson so eloquently stated: “Hope” is the thing with feathers. [Read more…]
is coming up
and it isn’t going to be pretty,
as well it shouldn’t be.
Beauty, as a rugged force,
as thorny swaths of dream-thistles,
blooms through night-fasting,
and respiring enclosures of dark.
marks the hidden faith
of the smallest hours,
and nocturnes tolled. [Read more…]
The phrase “music before counting” comes from Debths, Howe’s new collection of poems. Arriving in her eightieth year, the book pushes forward with fresh experiments in poetic form, while looking back on the whole of her life and career. Concerned with first and last things, with childhood and old age, it is a summing up of what is essential and abiding; and it is also just the opposite, a book of dispersals and vanishings that gives the last word to the illegible and incomplete. [Read more…]
Soundtrack for our Kara Walker review:
Fuck Buttons “Sweet Love For Planet Earth”
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit…”
Listen to Coates’ full essay below:
Molly Larkey’s recent exhibition at Ochi Projects, a shape made through its unraveling, reflects her interest in the invisible conceptual structures that shape society and structure ways of thinking. Her sculpture alludes to the ideals of utopian concepts as novel possibilities on a distant horizon, but with this exhibit Larkey also focused on identifying and adopting practices that solve seemingly intractable societal problems. [Read more…]
A presentation by Director/Producer Hugh Welchman, describing the behind the scenes production process of the world’s first most eagerly awaited hand painted, animated feature film:
From the debut LP, Fish
After starring in several Coen Brothers comedies, actor/writer-director George Clooney strives to make one of his very own, helming Suburbicon. The crime-comedy began as a Coen Brother’s script nearly 20 years ago. Then Clooney and his writing partner, Grant Heslov, gave the draft a makeover, working in a true story of suburban racism they’d hoped to spin into a compelling biopic. But the result is a jarring combination that goes together as well as peanut butter and poison. [Read more…]
In 1969, Cary Raditz, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina, quit his job in advertising and headed to Europe to bum around with his girlfriend. They ended up in Matala, on the island of Crete, where they found a bunch of hippies living in a network of caves. Raditz soon decamped for Afghanistan in a VW bus; when he returned, his girlfriend had bailed, but there was word that a new girl was headed to Matala. Raditz didn’t know much about Joni Mitchell, but “there was buzz” among the hippies, and, soon enough, he found himself watching the sunset with one of the most extraordinary people alive. Raditz and Mitchell shared a cave for a couple of months, travelled around Greece together, and parted ways. That’s where you and I come in, because Mitchell wrote two songs, among her greatest works, about her “redneck on a Grecian isle”: “California” and “Carey.” I’ve been singing along to those songs, or trying to, since I was fifteen. I learned from them what you learn from all of Mitchell’s music, that love is a form of reciprocity, at times even a barter economy: “He gave me back my smile / but he kept my camera to sell.” Mitchell’s songs were the final, clinching trade.
Carey, from Blue
“Strangler Bob” is one of five stories from Denis Johnson’s forthcoming collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, which was completed just before his death in May of this year. See Riot Material’s earlier tributes to Denis Johnson here.
You hop into a car, race off in no particular direction, and, blam, hit a power pole. Then it’s off to jail. I remember a monstrous tangle of arms and legs and fists, with me at the bottom, gouging at eyes and doing my utmost to mangle throats, but I arrived at the facility without a scratch or a bruise. I must have been easy to subdue. The following Monday, I pled guilty to disturbing the peace and malicious mischief, reduced from felony vehicular theft and resisting arrest because—well, because all this occurs on another planet, the planet of Thanksgiving, 1967. I was eighteen and hadn’t been in too much trouble. I was sentenced to forty-one days. [Read more…]
There is a strange sense in modern cinema that to be avant-garde means to be vague, whereas pop entertainment wears its idealisms or opinions on its sleeve. A look at this year’s offerings offers a startling set of comparisons to make this point. Early in the year the surprise box office hit Get Out offered a vicious B-movie critique of race relations in contemporary America, while the arthouse darling It Comes at Night was a somewhat sluggish bore about people in the woods, trapped in some vague post-apocalyptic future without much of a point (or coherent plot). Even Ridley Scott’s latest rehash of the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant, had more to say about the rise of Fascism in the modern world than anything else released in the season. [Read more…]