8/18/16

Live it up 'til we crash and there's smoke in the air


If you want to know where technology is headed, imagine your worst fears and double it. So for me that would be the death of hi-fi and having to write fiction on a touchscreen app. (You're welcome.) But using Dropbox to scan documents as PDFs is my new favourite thing. All those scrawled manuscript pages with their arrows and diagonal slash marks (one slash for moved, two for deleted), their numbered sections (I write 1, 5, 3, 2, 4 in that order. Don't know why), their vertical squiggly lines (vertical in margin = too busy to deal with this now but srsly who wrote this and what were they thinking? Who?) and ticks (ink = updated in ms; pencil in lower right corner = updated in digital ms, discard this page), their diagrams (always the same four transparent boxes with only the beginning of a name in one) are now preserved forever in the cloud until the power cuts and our digital footprint is deleted forever. I used to think it was important to keep things. Now I think it's important to throw them away.

Pic: Thuy An Luu as Alba in Jean-Jacques Beineix's film of Delacorta's Diva (1981). How short life must be if something so fragile can last a lifetime.

7/23/16

Shut the door, baby

Simon Reynolds: You mentioned the street edge to Suicide, but there's two sides to the songs—on the one hand things like "Frankie Teardrop" or "Harlem" are apocalyptic, and then there are Suicide songs that are almost religious, with hymnal, trance-inducing melodies and this devotional aura of tenderness and grace. Do you have religious or mystical feelings?

Alan Vega: I guess I do. I don't subscribe to any particular religion but, to me, there is some power out there. One day I did have this religious experience—I was staying in this brilliant art critic's home for three months, and I found a 90-page pamphlet on infinity written by this college professor and started reading it. I wasn't stoned or anything, but I suddenly saw those two parallel lines that start out at infinity and meet. I got a picture of the universe and understood what infinity was for one-tenth of a second. And then it was gone. I tried to hold on to it, but it dissolved. I put the book away and then, a day or two later, I wanted to read it again. I looked all over, but it had gone. It was like the book never existed.

-- Simon Reynolds' interview with Alan Vega is one of the best you could read. It's at Pitchfork.com.

7/14/16

You're talking about memories

I wanted to find a passage I remembered from a novel I'd read in 1993. I had the book -- first edition, hardbound. I got it down from the shelf and flicked through it for a good 10 minutes but couldn't find the passage. But I could remember a phrase from it, and I had a copy of the book as an epub. So I opened the epub on my Nook, searched for the phrase and found the passage in seconds.

Digital beats paper.

Later that week I wanted to find a newspaper article about a person which I had saved as a PDF but I couldn't remember the person's name. After searching my laptop for every related phrase I could think of I looked in the Moleskine I've kept since 2010, in the last pages where I always put names, and found the person, and was able to locate the article on my hard drive immediately.

Paper beats digital.

From a late night train

INTERVIEWER
How much rewriting do you do?

HEMINGWAY
It depends. I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

INTERVIEWER
Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you? 

HEMINGWAY
Getting the words right.

-- Ernest Hemingway interviewed by George Plimpton for The Paris Review, Spring 1958

6/14/16

It is not dying

Shirley Halperin: Are you worried about artists making a living in the near future?

Trent Reznor: Absolutely I am.

Jimmy Iovine: We all should be.

Reznor: I've dedicated my whole life to this craft, which, for a variety of reasons, is one that people feel we don't need to pay for anymore. And I went through a period of pointing fingers and being the grumpy, old, get-off-my-lawn guy. But then you realize, let's adapt and figure out how to make this better instead of just complain about it.

-- Eddy Cue, Robert Kondrk, Trent Reznor and Jimmy Iovine interviewed by Shirley Halperin of Billboard magazine, June 14 2016

6/7/16

Family plot



I read pissy things about season two of Bloodline but they're wrong: it's terrific. The first season was a complete and compelling noir; the second is a nasty bookend that stands without the narrative insecurities that have become standard for modern sequels / prequels / series. The writing is twisted and the performances are great -- never showy, but never too cool. The direction and editing is just plain solid. Bloodline has the bones of Jim Thompson and the flavour of a Barry Gifford. Go watch it. Best thing you'll see this year.

5/31/16

Mabou

Kate Beaton on moving to Nova Scotia:
"I wasn't sleeping well in Toronto, and I was paying a lot in rent. I needed to get out of the city. Most people leave here because they have to. I can take my job with me."
And on writing a book about Fort McMurray:
"Part of the reason I wanted to tell stories from [Fort Mac] is that that place altered my world," she says. She was sick of reading "exposés by some fucking guy who worked for Rolling Stone, bummed around for two weeks, and wasn't connected to anyone or anything. It grossed me out. They're like 'the smoke peeled back and I saw this wasteland,' and I'm like, 'fuck you, you rich asshole. You stayed in a hotel for two weeks. Cool. Thanks for coming.'"
Full interview by Julia Wright for Vice is here.