Weekly Churn 003: Haunted

Ahoy! This is the Weekly Churn, where every Sunday I post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. What are the things that haunt you? I was thinking about that on Monday when I saw this story about Rosie, the corpse of a white pointer shark abandoned in a vat of formaldehyde. The images of Rosie are quite bracing; she floats suspended in murk, silent, motionless, appearing no less lethal than she would have in life—her stillness may even amplify that effect. Dom Krapski writes that seeing Rosie surrounded by “crap” spoils the haunting experience, but Gary Moore’s photographs leave me with a different impression. The stuff in the tank intensifies that haunted feeling for me. I can imagine the tank being cleaned out by human hands, but it is not possible for me to do so without me also imagining the shark slowly,… Continue Reading

Soon This Will All Be Gone, by catl

Full disclosure: I was the copyeditor for the cover art of Soon This Will All Be Gone, but I had no involvement with the music; indeed, I haven’t even met the band in person. I went to see catl with a friend of mine a little over a year ago. I had just heard With the Lord For Cowards You Will Find No Place, and events had arranged themselves so that they were doing a show at the Horseshoe at a time when I actually had the money to go. We sat through a couple of warm-up acts, one band so forgettable I can’t even remember what kind of music they played, and another a slightly better than average dad-rock band, the sort of unit you expect Jim Belushi to front on his off days. Our conversation was not interrupted. And then it was catl’s turn. I’ve been to some… Continue Reading

Music to Read By

So last night’s post about the blues was sort of accidental. I had intended to write about what I listen to when I read. For years I was the sort of person who could read anywhere, regardless of what was going on around me. In university, when reading suddenly became important to my future (in terms of my career, I mean; I’m a book critic—as in, reviewer—now, but I once wanted to teach university-level English Literature and work as an academic critic/theorist), I lost the ability to read in the same room as someone watching television. And then I couldn’t read while listening to music with lyrics. And then I couldn’t read while listening to any sort of music. Most of that has passed, and I can once again listen to music while I read, although anything too heavy or uptempo, or with complicated lyrics I like to get lost… Continue Reading

Drinking, Fighting, and Fucking: Lessons in the Real Folk Blues

It’s no secret that I’m a huge blues fan. An argument could be made that the blues, as a genre, is at the core of all modern Western popular music, from jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and country, right up to dubstep and digital hardcore. But that’s not why I love it. There are so many things about it that appeal to me it’s hard to know where to start. It’s a music that has remained vital, emotionally and spiritually, for more than a century, maintaining both a strong connection to its roots and originating forms, and at the same time embracing new styles and techniques. Charlie Patton, who died in 1934 somewhere in his forties (nobody knows for sure how old he was), could rise from the dead and would be able to hear catl or The Black Keys and not only understand their music, but recognize it as his… Continue Reading