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“That life is difficult, I have often bitterly realized. I now had further cause for serious reflection. Right up to the present I have never lost the feeling of contradiction that lies behind all knowledge. My life has been miserable and difficult, and yet to others, and sometimes to myself, it has seemed rich and wonderful. Man’s life seems to me like a long, weary night that would be intolerable if there were not occasionally flashes of light, the sudden brightness of which is so comforting and wonderful, that the moments of their appearance cancel out and justify the years of darkness.”

— Hermann Hesse, Gertrude (trans. Hilda Rosner)

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Joan Didion
Joan Didion

Didion’s writing […] can be deceptive: It pulses with the heady warmth of confession, but in fact has extremely little patience for the indignities of aimless admission. Didion’s confessions are controlled, always, and extremely strategic about what they share and what they keep hidden from view. More than admitting, they imply—Montaigne, definitely, but also Monet: Didion is an essayist who is also an impressionist. The words smear and splash and streak and, through precision and—you have to assume—a bit of magic, conspire to make the whole. (‘When I talk about pictures in my mind,’ Didion said, ‘I am talking, quite specifically, about images that shimmer around the edges. … Look hard enough, and you can’t miss the shimmer. It’s there.’)”

— Megan Garber, The Atlantic

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“I often wonder if Lynch is the era’s most original artist, or at least the creator of its most haunting images—the severed ear in Blue Velvet, the Red Room in Twin Peaks, the Mystery Man in Lost Highway—but his works feel too schlocky, seedy, tearful, too male, too white for me to want to say this often in conversation. His cinema is disreputably baroque, brimming with meaning that it seems to disavow. He’s of the same generation as Terrence Malick, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese, but where they now seem historical, Lynch still has the fragility of the contemporary. The greatness of his art seems directly linked to the kitsch of his materials, all the B-movie unheimlich maneuvers: doppelgängers, prosthetics, recurring numbers, dream sequences, animated corpses. And this, I think, is an enigma worth pursuing.”

— Adam Thirlwell, The New York Review of Books

“Throughout his career as musician, producer and collaborative lightning rod, John Zorn has never forgotten the importance of putting pen to paper. This all-chamber program of pieces spanning 2012-2016 speaks deeply to his indefatigable spirit and the obvious care with which he chooses his musicians. […] There is so much philosophy packed into this album, it feels like a living (auto)biography of which we are given a tantalizing synopsis.”

The New York City Jazz Record, via ECM Records and Beyond

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Moanin' (Blue Note, 1958)
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Moanin’ (Blue Note, 1958). Photograph by Francis Wolff, sleeve artwork by Reid Miles.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers recorded Moanin’ for Blue Note Records on October 30, 1958, fifty-nine years ago today. The bandleader, depicted on the record’s front sleeve, was born in Pittsburgh in October 1919; Blakey left school early to work in a coal mine, and then a steel mill, before putting together his first band. In interviews he described himself as an orphan who taught himself everything he needed to know, from how to play piano (without reading music) to the drums.

In 1943, Blakey made his way to New York where he found a place as a drummer with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, and made his debut recording with Billy Eckstine‘s band. After establishing a career throughout the 1940s and ’50s as an accomplished player, including dates with Miles DavisThelonious Monk, and Coleman Hawkins, Blakey joined Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers. (more…)