To Lose And To Pretend
“Words may sting, but silence is what breaks the heart.”― Phyllis McGinley
My daughter’s sleep-away camp last summer would post daily pictures of the kids at play, and I would assume that I did what all parents tend to do: search for pictures of my child. And after a few days of looking, there was something I noticed….these kids…these eight-to-eighteen year olds…were often seen wearing NIRVANA tee-shirts. I am talking about the band Nirvana, a band that ceased-to-be decades before these kids came-to-be. The tee-shirt was always the same, with the bold NIRVANA font atop of a childish drawing of a smiley face with x’s for eyes. And while there was one kid in the crowd who could sometimes be seen wearing a Motorhead t-shirt (killer, right?)…there were no other band tee-shirts around. No kid-pop tees, no Pink Floyd tees, no Bob Marley tees.
But it did not end there…everywhere I am going these days I see kids with NIRVANA tee shirts….no other bands in sight. And I am pondering: how did this come to be? My wife tells me that you can get them at Target…along with the famous Rolling Stones’ Tongue tee….but I am not seeing any tongues walking around…maybe one? Nirvana’s legacy is being managed by a friend of mine…who also manages The Doors and The Ramones (more Ramones tee shirts please!)…and he has been doing a bang up job (as always): just watch the new Batman film: it is all Nirvana! And yes…the tee shirt contract with Target will keep Courtney Love from having to work forever and the Nirvana brand very much alive.
But there must be something more. Yesterday a new version of the shirt walked by me…with the NIRVANA letters in rainbow colors. Is it possible that just the word NIRVANA triggers a whole new-age feeling that completely overshadows the grunge-fueled band (whose music, when played, would destroy any attempt at a silent meditation clinic)? Is the scribble face also playing a part here, playing into the vibe of the youth and hand made art? Or do all of these kids just love the music of Kurt Cobain, are future Sup Pop singles club members…and might even have a moment of getting turned on to even better bands like Mudhoney and the Damned? Will they be wearing Misfits tee-shirts in High School? Tommy, can you hear me?
Or is this just what happens when you get your band a merch deal with a mega-monster like Target?
Whatever it is, better NIRVANA tee-shirts than Barney tee-shirts, or a host of other bands that are just horrid. But diversity would be nice! WWKT (What Would Kurt Think) of all of this?
I was given an LP of these recordings right before this past weekend and fully immersed myself in these newly released recordings….giving the record 11…12…listens? The recordings were so well done back in 1964, Wabash College that House’s guitar sounds like an angel coming back from the dead. I don’t know who it was who recorded him that day (the producer is not credited, instead Dan Auebach takes producing credit for pretty much just letting the tape run) but whoever did, gave us a true gift. These unearthed presents are so clear and the playing is so perfect and laid back. It is something to experienced, on vinyl if you can do it…but also on streaming services everywhere (thank you Cary Baker!). An essential part of the Son House canon.
Here is a story I read over the weekend that I did not see when it first was published over a half year ago. There is a hedge fund called Engine No. 1 who not only finances businesses that are both profitable and globally minded, but also use their influences to pull off coups like this one, where in an Exxon board meeting, board seats were taken over by environmental activists. Incredible. Just incredible.
Who wouldn’t want to be in the above picture, in a grassy field in England with some folkie playing a guitar while another is rolling a joint…with a blues van (?) in the background. I cannot go to Glastonbury this year. Total bummer. And I certainly cannot go back in time to catch the first Glastonbury. But these pictures are killer.
“The Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Art announced this week that it has acquired the papers of famed art critic Robert Hughes, who died in 2012. Not only did Hughes serve as head art critic at Time magazine…he also produced work for TV. His documentary series The Shock of the New delved into the progression of modern art since the Impressionists.”
I have been meaning to take a deep dive into Chinua Achebe’s African Trilogy series of novels. On the 9th anniversary of his passing (which is today), it is excellent to see how his son Chidi has carved his own path, with the same sense of civic focus as his father had, as the chief executive of African Integrated Development Enterprise. As stated by the Bard Award committee: he is a “worthy ambassador of Anambra whose passion for Africa's rapid development ‘is reminiscent of his father's lifelong commitment to Africa's emancipation.’”
As a long time member of the Association of Recorded Sound Collections, I always look forward to the journals they put together, thick with deep research on ultra-specific subjects around the history of recorded sound. This journal, and the accompanying CD, is the best thing they have ever put together…looking at a host of newly public domain recordings, mastered impeccably with a book-full of notes. This product is Grammy worthy…almost Pulitzer worthy. I encourage any audio enthusiast to become a member of ARSC. If you do right now…you get the journal. It can be bought without membership too…and I cannot recommend it more highly.
By: Billy Collins
While you are preparing for sleep, brushing your teeth,
or riffling through a magazine in bed,
the dead of the day are setting out on their journey.
They’re moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
The place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.
Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.
Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.
Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.
There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals–eagles and leopards–and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,
while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.
There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.
The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.
(And some just smile, forever on)
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