Who says serendipity is dead? While I was jogging around my neighborhood yesterday, my run was interrupted by one of my favorite things to stumble upon—a box of books being thrown out. This happenstance allows me to (1) acquire several more books of marginal relevance to me for the nearly always margin-defeating cost of free and (2) believe there is some sort of destiny in my reading and them and extracting what I can extract from them, all while (3) feeling like I’m performing a noble act of unconsumption, resuscitating something old and avoiding an unnecessary new purchase. If we need to be constantly rearranging our belongings to be continually reaffirming our ever-unstable self-concept, why not do it through acquisitive acts outside the economy?
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The French duo of Miss Kittin and the Hacker first got together in back in 2001 for the album First Album and turned out the lewd, but catchy “Frank Sinatra”. I won’t recount those lyrics here, but you can listen on Lala.com. Our very own Terry Sawyer said of the duo, “they created decadent club music for people too arch and smart for typical white label fare.”
They haven’t worked together since then and Miss Kittin went on to record I Com, while the Hacker went off on his own as a DJ and remixer working with the likes of Air and Laurent Garnier. The two began writing together again back in 2006 and hit the stage in 2007. Now they are releasing their first full-length since 2001 on May 19th with TWO. They’re a bit less outrageous this go-around and a tad more sophisticated to boot. Sample their new approach here with the online premiere of “Electronic City”.
Miss Kittin & The Hacker
“Electronic City” [MP3]
Miss Kittin & The Hacker—TWO—(Nobody’s Bizzness,19 May)
What is it about Leonard Cohen that is so timeless? He might be 75 years old, yet he still seems as spry and full of energy as a 30-year-old. He skips and jumps to and from the stage, he’s still quick on his feet, he’s still got the amazing sadness/self deprecating humor and when he smiles it fills a room (or stadium as it were).
The eye-catching cover of Joe Meno’s 2004 novel, Hairstyles of the Damned puts together one of my favorite color combinations: hot pink and jungle green. This read was a serendipitous find, calling my name from the ‘new arrivals’ shelf at the library. Put out by Punk Planet Books, an imprint of Akashic Books, Hairstyles is the kind of indie fiction that could never be published by the mainstream houses.
Between the colorful covers lies the coming-of-age story of Brian Oswald and the assorted punks, skinheads and DnD geeks who cross his path as he veers wildly from one teenage boy activity to the next: chasing tail, trying to get a job, getting high, and making mix-tapes. Brian has trouble getting any of these things quite right, but that’s what being a teenager is all about, right? Meno paints his characters in vivid detail and documents their emotional states through the telling art of mix-tape assembly, mostly heavy metal and punk rock tunes the target reader is likely to be very familiar with.
Brian’s best friend is Gretchen, she of the hot pink hair on the cover, and he has a huge crush on her, even though she has a less than desirable figure, swears like a sailor, and loves to beat people up. Their unlikely friendship is destined for disaster, and as Brian struggles to replace Gretchen’s unique presence in his life, he moves through different strata of the underage party scene in Chicago’s south side, never quite finding his niche. Meno’s authentic language (not intended for the prim and proper) and style changes between what Brian is thinking, remembering, writing, and listening to keeps things very interesting.
Whoever wrote the blurb on the back of the paperback said it best: “Joe Meno’s pitch-perfect prose illuminates the tumultuous realities of American adolescence, the disintegration of the modern family, and the way a mix-tape can change a person’s life.” Not for the faint of heart. Highly recommended.
Meno’s newest novel, The Great Perhaps, is due out in May 2009 and I’ll be looking for it.
This night found Messieurs James Ford and Jas Shaw bringing their British brand of minimalist electronica to the Highline. Though their ascent, and hype, in the electronica scene has paralleled that of French duo Justice (they also like to remix each other and release albums on the same day while sounding completely different), they are decidedly geeky and focused in concert, eschewing the rock-star pranks the Parisians flaunt so effortlessly.