PM Pick

The Poetry that Lingers in a Clipped Article

We're so attuned to the immediate quality of the media and the high adrenalin of the big stories -- the explosion about to happen, the man-made tragedies and natural disasters -- that it goes almost unnoticed that the Internet has been capturing the sweet scrapbook quality of an article clipped and slipped between the pages of a book, because it made someone smile.

New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnik wrote in "Paris to the Moon," the book he wrote after spending the last five years of the last century in Paris as the New Yorker's correspondent there: "If there is a fault in reporting, after all, it is not that it is too ephemeral but that it is not ephemeral enough, too quickly concerned with what seems big at the time to see what is small and more likely to linger."

My favourite form of journalism is the comic-sentimental essay in the form of community news, which has been practiced brilliantly at the New Yorker, from James Thurber from the magazine's beginnings in the 1920's, through to Adam Gopnik. In this week's edition Adam Gopnik writes on community food projects:

Twelve-thirty on a beautiful summer day, and the chicken committee of the City Chicken Project is meeting at the Garden of Happiness, in the Crotona neighborhood of the Bronx. The chicken committee is devoted to the proliferation of egg-laying chickens in the outer boroughs, giving hens to people and having them raise the birds in community gardens and eat and even sell the eggs (“passing on the gift,” as this is called in the project), and thereby gain experience of chicken, eggs, and community -- or fowl, food, and fellowship, as one of the more alliterative-minded organizers has said.

The invention of the New York Times permalink has allowed us to create scrapbooks, to clip articles from newspapers and magazines, and over a cup of coffee on a slow day, when looking idly for something to read, they can be casually flipped through. It may seem like a flippant, time wasting activity, but with APEC starting in Sydney this weekend, and the security measures written about in the Sydney Morning Herald starting to read like an episode of the 1960's television spy-spoof Get Smart, it's illuminating to re-read the original review of Dr. Strangelove, published in the New York Times in 1964, which now seems more like a documentary than satire.

Stanley Kubrick's new film, called Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, is beyond any question the most shattering sick joke I've ever come across. And I say that with full recollection of some of the grim ones I've heard from Mort Sahl, some of the cartoons I've seen by Charles Addams, and some of the stuff I've read in Mad magazine. For this brazenly jesting speculation of what might happen within the Pentagon and within the most responsible council of the President of the United States if some maniac Air Force general should suddenly order a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union is at the same time one of the cleverest and most incisive satiric thrusts at the awkwardness and folly of the military that has ever been on the screen. It opened yesterday at the Victoria and the Baronet.

Self Portrait with Lox and Bagel by Dayna Bateman

Dayna Bateman is someone who riffs on articles from newspapers, finding the poetry and charm and ephemeral sweetness in stories, condensing them on her blog -- suttonhoo -- and running them with her photographs, which she features on Flickr.

A recent example:

we were at

at high mass

on a summer Sunday

in Prague

sitting below

a large bishop

in a swingy skirt

bottomed off

with gold booties

thinking

his moves had

a sort of stripper

quality to them

Found in Justine Hardy's "Guilt in the Golden City"

in the 25 August issue of the Financial Times.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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9

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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8
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