‘sweetness of many imperfections’

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Far from Kingdoms
Patrizia Cavalli
Far from kingdoms
how steady is the room!
Come, breathe close with me
so I may discover the sweetness
of many imperfections, some missing
tooth, some extra wrinkle, and your body
worn out slightly by carelessness.

Original

Lontano dai regni
come è ferma la stanza!
Vieni, respirami vicino,
che io scopra la dolcezza
di molte imperfezioni, qualche dente
in meno qualche ruga in più e il corpo
appena estenuato dalla noncuranza.

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

everything’s gone orange – Random gum of August 2018 soundtrack

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Everything’s gone orange – Random gum – August 2018
www.comraderadmila.com / Follow me on Spotify

01 Curtis Mayfield – “Pusherman”
Watching old episodes of Soul Train; cheers to Ade & to Ste
02 Wendy James – “Bad Intentions and a Bit of Cruelty”
For Naomi: I am sure I said I would never include any Wendy James thing anywhere. Wrong again
03 Julia Jacklin – “Leadlight” …I love you my darling I do!/But I can’t promise I’ll be here to see this whole love through…
Oh, how I love Julia. “I didn’t know that the ground, is not only harder/Oh but colder when you are not around”
04 Weyes Blood – “Everybody’s Talkin’”
Weyes Blood does Harry Nilsson
05 Cat’s Eyes – “I Knew It Was Over”
We always know it’s over before we’re told
06 Sunni Colón – “God is a Woman”
If God were a woman, would things seriously be the way they are?
07 Three J’s – “Chalito”
A song to escape the wee prick that is Three Js
08 John Denver – “Leaving, on a Jet Plane”
John Denver is like… reliving earliest childhood, and learning over time that nothing and no one you perceived in childhood is anything like what it really is
09 Al Green – “Love and Happiness”
10 Zack Mexico – “Suzuki” …I don’t wanna fall in love…
11 Sparks – “Girl from Germany” …My word, she’s from Germany/Well, it’s the same old country/But the people have changed…
12 Bill Baird – “You’re Someone Else”
13 Juliana Hatfield – “A Little More Love” …I’m trapped, trapped in the spell of your eyes/In the warmth of your arms/In the web of your lies…
Juliana’s take on Olivia
14 Fad Gadget – “Coitus Interruptus”
15 The Cambodian Space Project – “The Passenger”
16 Beastie Boys – “Egg Man”
17 Pongo – “Tambulaya”
From Angola to Lisbon – I dare you not to jump around
18 Marissa Nadler – “Hungry is the Ghost”
19 Nai Palm – “Atoll”
Australia
20 San Mei – “Wonder”
More Australia!
21 Barrie – “Canyons”
22 LCD Soundsystem – “Never as Tired as When I’m Waking Up”
23 Spirea X – “Chlorine Dream”
24 Machine Translations – “Made a Friend”
More Australia and Australian translator friends … and machines
25 Eva Pilarová – “Popocatepetl Twist”
For the Czech chicks – Anne, Martina
26 MorMor – “Heaven’s Only Wishful”
27 Jefferson Airplane – “White Rabbit”
For singing loudly in middle-of-night darkness. Hubbubs with Mr Firewall!
28 Emily Jane White – “Nightmares on Repeat”
29 Emma Ruth Rundle – “Fever Dreams”
30 TEKE::TEKE – “Chicchana Toki Kara”
Montreal
31 RÜFÜS DU SOL – ”No Place”
More Australia for an Australia-heavy mix
32 Laura Marling, LUMP, Mike Lindsay – “Shake Your Shelter”
Some things are hard to listen to
33 Whyte Horses – “Empty Words”
34 Caterina Valente – “Popocatepetl Twist”
Another (this time French-Italian) take on this song – and of course a nod to my old friend Mike and our time in Mexico, as Popo erupted
35 Sequoyah Tiger – “Cassius”
Italy… not often I get to include or get fooled by Italy
36 Kaada – “Care”
No-no-no-norway
37 The Walkmen – “Another One Goes By”
38 Natalie Prass – “Your Fool”
39 Erika Wennerstrom – “Extraordinary Love”
40 Boxed In – “All Your Love is Gone”
41 Unloved – “When a Woman is Around”
42 Illy – “Enquanto Você Não Chega”
Brasil
43 Olden Yolk – “Takes One to Know One”
44 Gamine – “Fille du soir”
45 Dirty Three – “Great Waves”
Australia
46 Julio Cesár Oliva, Morgan Szymanski – “Estampas de México: No 16 Los volcanes (Popocatepetl & Ixtaccihuatl)”
47 Rafiq Bhatia – “Before Our Eyes”
48 Mitski – “Geyser”
For the geysers that explode again and again before my eyes
49 Mimicking Birds – “Lumens”
Shining a certain kind of light…
50 Blondie – “Picture This”
“All I want is a photo in my wallet/A small remembrance of something more solid/All I want is a picture of you”

 

“to flee cursed and cursing”

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No, I have rarely been fooled by Italy (luckily) but have crossed paths with Italy and Italians in the years since I declared one of my main rules in life, i.e. “Don’t Let Italy Fool You“. Years and years ago, I did meet a rather sexist, reactionary, jealous Berlusconi supporter called Marco who told me he hated this poem because “clearly a lesbian wrote it”. Do I even need to say that I spoke with him no more?

Untitled
Patrizia Cavalli

To simulate the burning of the heart, the humiliation
of the viscera, to flee cursed
and cursing, to horde chastity
and to cry for it, to keep my mouth
from the dangerous taste of other mouths
and push it unfulfilled to fulfill itself with the poisons of food,
in the apotheosis of dinners when the already
swollen belly continues to swell;
to touch unreachable solitude and there
at the foot of a bed, a chair
or the stairs to recite a goodbye,
so that I can expel you from my fantasy
and cover you with ordinary clouds
so that your light will not fade my path,
will not muddle my circle from which
I send you, you unintentional star,
unexpected passage who reminds me of death.

For all this I asked you for a kiss
and you, kind and innocent accomplice, didn’t give it to me.

1999

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A trove of notes from the summer of 1999 – the past, while so well-illuminated feels like a part of a long and long ago night.

Summer begins, and I’m traveling around in Hawaii (Maui) and then all over Europe, accompanied by what appears to have been everything Nadine Gordimer had published at that time. The sounds of the Red Hot Chili Peppers followed/haunted me everywhere in the world I went. A Spanish guy who spoke no English tried to seduce me in Prague; an Australian tour guide named ‘Mat’ kept referring to every few-hours-stop in one city (without an overnight stay) as a “city lick”, which struck me as obscene; Budapest was enveloped in a massive thunder and lightning storm; Munich was unimpressive; I remember very little of Vienna other than the oppressive heat and a seemingly bipolar Australian girl; my hatred for Italy was born, as I lost my wallet and subsisted on the bits of various currency I had on hand for the various destinations (pre-euro days) I hit after Italy, although my time in Rome was made softer by meeting an American airline crew stuck there overnight; Luzern, my only stop in Switzerland, was civilized and orderly, as you would expect; I told a man in Nice that he had a piece of paper stuck in his hair; on a sweltering Friday night in Barcelona, John F Kennedy Jr’s private plane went missing; hellish times with hellish people in Madrid; a man came up to me in Tours and started saying something, which startled me, which caused him to ask if I understood French, to which I replied “un peu” – in English, he continued, “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” I said, “Thank you.” He replied, “No, thank you” as he placed his hand to heart dramatically and kept walking. Hahahaha. So French of him.

There are other bits that I noted nothing about, which I found less than impressive – London, Amsterdam, Monaco. But I fell in love with Berlin then but still have nothing to say about it.

After all of this I ended in Iceland, where I spent several weeks and knew I wanted to stay there. At the time, I thought forever. But it only ended up being about 8-9 years. Only. En route to and from Reykjavik I had to stop at Oslo Gardermoen, which was then new, and seemed so strange. Now it’s my “airport of choice”, like it or not, but back then I could never have imagined. By the time I got to Iceland, I had exhausted my Gordimer supply and bought new books (my new credit card had been sent to my friend’s house, so I once again had money) – Jose Saramago, Bohumil Hrabal, Haruki Murakami.

I never wanted to leave. Unfortunately, I did not listen to my instinct and did leave, and found that leaving had been a huge mistake. I should have stayed. At least I returned as soon as I could.

Photo (c) Paul Costanich.

Penmanship and Italian tastes

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Growing up – and still – I had a lot of pen pals. It seemed that penmanship was a national trait in many countries. Every French person formed their letters and numbers in the same way. Every German, every Russian, every Italian, too. Unique handwriting for each person, but you could always tell from the envelope and the way the letters looked what country the letter came from.

I wondered the other day, as I watched the surprisingly good (for the most part) Italian TV drama 1992, about the soundtrack. It fit its time perfectly – but I wondered how many Italians at that time were really listening to most of the stuff included? Screaming Trees (the one song on the Singles soundtrack) – yes. Smashing Pumpkins – probably. But Teenage Fanclub and Primal Scream… eh, I have my doubts. There were not THAT many people listening to those bands anywhere, let alone in Italy (a place I perhaps unfairly judge in matters of pop culture). Or did I see this through my own faraway prism, imagining that because Fanclub and Scream were indie/off-the-beaten-path where I came from, they also were for everyone else?

I don’t let Italy fool me and do have many good Italian friends who also have great taste (in music, too), but images of Berlusconi, the ridiculous bimbo-filled TV game/variety shows and crap like Eros Ramazzotti (or other things I cannot identify) always spring to mind. Maybe some of these trusted Italian friends can set my biases straight. Were people really getting that down to the sounds of early 90s Glasgow bands? (I grant you – the show only included the two best-known songs from these bands – but it still surprised me.)

 

Netflixization of Entertainment

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“Look in your heart” – “What heart?” –Miller’s Crossing

In keeping with the me-me-me nature of society, entertainment has grown to be more and more personalized and on-demand. Technology enables a lot of things – and watching what you want whenever you want is a big part of that. I’ve been loving Netflix for a long time – as far back as the beginning when a subscription entitled the subscriber to virtually unlimited DVD rentals through the post. I became a convert during a period of unemployment and great sadness, watching four or five movies per day. Netflix enabled that obsessive-compulsive behavior even before the ubiquity of high-speed streaming overtook my life.

Streaming has made things even more “at my fingertips”, more addictive, more dangerous and full of mind rot. I can feel my brain becoming less able at massaging language now – words and constructions that flowed more easily when I was a more dedicated and avid reader. Reading is really where it’s at, but like everything in the fast-food, self-serve, instant-gratification culture and environment I live in, I feel too much impatience when I read. It requires so much concentration – and I am an impatient multitasker.

Streaming Netflix, even more than its DVD subscription alter ego, or even the marathon viewing of box-set DVDs, has spawned a culture of binge viewing. It has also become the decider* for me, telling me what to watch next, mostly based on what is set to expire from Netflix (due to licensing issues). Plenty of things have been sitting in my queue for ages, and I would probably never get around to watching them except that Netflix posts a bright red, emergency-style date warning next to the item in the queue, warning of its impending disappearance. Most recently I ended up watching Miller’s Crossing, Children of a Lesser God (someone please tell me why anyone hires or likes William Hurt) and Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips – surprisingly, it made Venice look almost appealing, but Italy is still NOT fooling me).

*I laugh every time I hear or see the word “decider” because it reminds me of George W. Bush and the ridiculous way he phrased things: “I am the decider!”.

I noticed that classics like The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas are also set to expire from Netflix on January 1. Oh, forgive me, Dolly, but your films mostly leave so very much to be desired. In the 80s I watched a lot of shitty movies because, being a little eclectic music-junkie child, I loved Dolly Parton (to the point that I dressed as Dolly for Halloween in third grade) and Olivia Newton-John. Apart from Parton’s turn in the entertaining 9 to 5, neither woman could be said to have great acting talents or particularly rich decisionmaking in their choices. Rhinestone? Xanadu? Two of a Kind? Please.

Also expiring is Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins – one of those films my brother recommended to me during our childhood. Who doesn’t love Fred Ward!? “Just remember – I won it. He’s mine.”