Hit List

May 15, 2020

Week Seven: FLICK | Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs Judas Priest, 1992, directed by David Van Taylor

This is not an uplifting movie. It is a morbidly fascinating, true story that, if you were a teenager during the Eighties, will echo in your memory, either as a disturbing news broadcast that came and went, or if you were into Heavy Metal, as a legendary tale about the demonization of popular music. In 1985, Ray Belknap and James Vance carried out a suicide pact in a churchyard after listening to Judas Priest’s version of “Better By You, Better Than Me,” by Spooky Tooth. Ray succeeded in killing himself, but James did not, and he was grotesquely disfigured. The boys’ parents mounted a law suit against Judas Priest, claiming that the band had buried subliminal messages in their recording of the song that urged the impressionable young heshers to “Do it.” The film is about that lawsuit, which was […]
May 8, 2020

Week Six: SOUND | Connie Converse – I Have Considered the Lilies Connie Converse – Talkin’ Like You

This week’s theme: “Consider the lilies” or, “Unsolved Mysteries.” I’m no Robert Stack, but I can appreciate a good unsolved mystery as much as the next bored-at-home binger. Take for example Connie Converse, the pre-Dylan progenitor of wry, idiosyncratic and deeply personal folk in the early 60’s Greenwich Village scene. Reclusive and utterly bemused by the trappings of “normal” life, Converse penned a small but nevertheless poignant rucksack of songs about withdrawing from the world – songs that went largely unheard until the early aughts. Decisively, after a short-lived stint as a songstress and in the midst of a crumbling personal and professional life, Converse wrote to her family, laying out a plan to ensure that her bills and other responsibilities were taken care of and urging them to grant her the freedom to disappear: “Human society fascinates me & […]
May 8, 2020

Week Six: PAPERBACK | The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Curated this week by Lindsay Metivier Many of us read books to escape the reality of our day-to-day lives. I sometimes read for solace or boredom, and other times just want to be taken out of my own head and life and placed into someone updates else’s while I wait for my mug of Sleepytime tea, and/or glass of whiskey, and/or shot of NyQuil to kick in at the end of the day. Recently, feeling a little fractured and uncertain, I picked up The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis again, a book recommended to me by my good friend Ernie several years ago. A master of brevity, Lydia Davis’s short stories range between a few words to several pages. All gems full of dark humor, the mundane, and acute observations. She gets to the core of the meaningless meaning of […]
May 8, 2020

Week Six: FLICK | Fresh, 1994, directed by Boaz Yakin

Fresh is a tight little movie that few people know. Its obscurity is a bit quizzical, considering the film’s first rate cast – heavy hitters like, Giancarlo Esposito and Samuel L. Jackson, both of whom are upstaged by a thirteen-year-old, newbie actor, Sean Nelson, whose gravitas in the lead role is anything but pint sized. That it has been relegated to the back of the distribution catalog might have something to do with the fact that it rode the, “life in the hood” wave of movies that peaked in the mid 90’s, then receded quietly, as slightly bigger budget, much more sensational flicks of that era, like, Boyz n’ the Hood and New Jack City, started to feel deflated and silly; or in the case of Boyz, condescendingly preachy. But Fresh is infinitely more intelligent than those movies, by a […]
April 24, 2020

Week Five: SOUND | The Howard Hanger Trio – Through a Glass Darkly Paul Church Jr. – Just Passing Through

In an effort to rip the veil off of snooty, gatekeeping record collector culture, and offer a listening experience that few people have had, I’ve digitized two scarce private releases from my collection that are near and dear to my heart and also (as far as I can tell) unavailable online. Based in Asheville, NC, pianist and band leader Howard Hanger comes from a long line of Methodist ministers who left the denomination in order to continue to officiate same-sex ceremonial unions (Howard), oppose the Vietnam War (father) and promote civil rights (grandfather). Through a Glass Darkly (1970) is an anti-establishment take on sacred music, and though it could simply be lumped in with other spiritual jazz albums, its strengths really lie beyond the typical pop covers (Dylan and the Beatles, ugh) of the first quarter, into the drum-heavy, hard-bop-leaning […]
April 24, 2020

Week Five: PAPERBACK | Stony The Road, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (hardcover)

Curated this week by Michael S. Williams, founder of Black On Black Project The book that has been on my mind a lot lately and one that I see parallels in its content to what we’re seeing today is Stony The Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the rise of Jim Crow by journalist and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Yes, kind of a heavy topic. But these are heavy times. Folks may be familiar with Professor Gates because of his Emmy Award-winning films and PBS specials on ancestry, Reconstruction and more. But he was also a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981. This book is so vital because it’s a very plain look at Reconstruction (1865 to 1877) and Redemption (1877-), in which white supremacy broke apart the gains made during […]
April 24, 2020

Week Five: FLICK | Vanishing Point, 1971, Dir Richard Sarafian

I was saving Vanishing Point for Mystery Meat, at Attic 506, in Chapel Hill, but then there was a virus. So, I’m going to share what I wrote, as I wrote it for a rooftop viewing, where the movie remains unknown until the first frame rolls. This one is tough to find in streamable form, but there are hard copies available, and I’d argue that it’s worth the purchase. Do not fall for the ol’ bate and switch and accidentally watch the 1997 remake. Here we go… Tonight’s Mystery Meat is surprisingly understated, considering the cult status of its high octane fuel guzzling hero. It’s important to note the distinction here between hero and protagonist. The protagonist in this flick is a quiet man, who, at his introduction, is at best lukewarm in every respect. He looks bored. He moves […]
April 17, 2020

Week Four: SOUND | Arthur Verocai – Arthur Verocai Arthur Russell – First Thought Best Thought

I initially intended to highlight some essential soundtrack albums this week, but while thumbing through records I felt suddenly compelled to celebrate some Arthurs in stead. “Personal paradise” is kinda the phrase that comes to mind for both of these albums. While I’m more of a cold weather head, the liminality of the first real summery day of the season still gives me a shock of almost anxious joy, the kind you feel as a kid on the last day of school, staring down three months of nothing in particular to do (and how rad that felt then). Arthur Verocai will have some serendipitous moments for listeners versed in deep-cut hip hop samples. This album is so damn cool and imbued with the meticulous vibery that Brazilians a la Gilberto, Gil, Costa, Veloso, Jobim, Valle, Mutantes, etc. etc. do so […]
April 17, 2020

Week Four: PAPERBACK | Against Nature (À rebours) by Joris-Karl Huysmans

Selected by artist and Lump founder, Bill Thelen The book I recommend for our current quarantine plague is Against Nature/Against the Grain or À rebours (1884) by the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans. This is the third time I’ve read it. The book focuses on its one and only character, Jean des Esseintes, who retreats into self-isolation in the country-side outside of Paris in the late 1880s. This is not Walden. Esseintes rambles on and on ala Proust, rather fussily about literature, aesthetics, color theory, religion and his loathing of the bourgeois all while trying to create the ultimate art installation. In the process he accidentally kills a turtle in the most decadent of ways and this book is said to have inspired Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Gray. Not for the faint-hearted. – BT n.
April 17, 2020

Week Four: FLICK | Paper Moon, 1973, directed by Peter Bogdonavich

This is my all time, absolute, number one favorite movie. I can’t say enough about this flick, so I won’t say much… except that it is likely to have contributed to the ruination of its 8 year old, Oscar winning star, Tatum O’Neal, and that it was photographed by László Kovács, who, in the 1960’s, defected from the Hungarian People’s Republic only to become the best damned cinematographer of 1970’s Hollywood. The film is heartfelt and dark and hilarious, and the sound mix is so wonderfully sparse that it feels like it was made in a vacuum. That’s a good thing. You’ll love it. I promise. – GJ
April 10, 2020

Week Three: PAPERBACK | The Triumph of Life by Jean Day

I’ve been reading more poetry lately (coincidentally it’s National Poetry Month) because I am distracted & juggling many things. I like the food for thought poetry brings and it doesn’t have to be such a commitment. The three sets of poems in this book by Jean Day look at life with a furious and comic twist. I think now more than ever we need to look at life in a different way and reading how others view it, can be therapy in itself. Jean Day is a published poet living in Berkeley. – OC It’s available here: https://www.theconcernnewsstand.com/shop/the-triumph-of-life-by-jean-day
April 10, 2020

Week Three: FLICK | Don’t Look Now, 1973, directed by Nicholas Roeg

I knew this film intimately, long before I saw it, because my father described it to me, scene by scene, when I was ten. Whether that is tantamount to psychological abuse depends on how you take your movies, and how you like your steak. Regardless, my father’s telling, paired with my initial watching of this film, set the tone for my entire creative career. The movie is based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier. It takes place in eerie, off season Venice, Italy, where Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie have retreated, after the death of their youngest child. But, instead of aiding his healing, Sutherland’s grief awakens a dormant clairvoyance in him, and Christie’s sense of loss attracts a grim force, in the form of two disturbingly kooky, old ladies, one of whom claims to be in contact […]