HOW TO BE A MISCREANT #3 by mister matt gasda
Yesterday I received two letters from friends telling which how much they loved the new Woody Allen1 film, Midnight in Paris -- and not just loved but loved in a romantic, intangible sense that made them want to be painters or poets and stroll along La Seine with a moleskin and a beret and a bottle of cheap red…Later in the day I ran into a friend downtown2 with whom I quickly made plans to see the film with for the second time… for both of us, with the general understanding that we wanted to feel the same effects described above, similar to a little high3, again… All this is on top of an escastic text I had received from my friend, S., a few weeks before, when the film first came out in limited release in New York, telling me how after seeing Midnight4 she became committed to learning French and moving to Paris and how generally the film is the best goddamn5 thing in the whole entire world…all of which leads me to wonder what is it about W.A.’s 41st film6 that leads everyone7 who sees it to postively glow with admiration and joy, and ya know, want to move to Paris? I don’t want to let things get to complicated here and do to much free-jazz psuedo-philosophical aesthetic improvising, so I’ll lay out a few hypotheses on why Midnight8 is so I dunno, brilliantly pleasant9: 1. Paris: Well ok, no alarms and no surprises here. Paris is the heart of the film and it’s got a charm that no W.A. flick can create or destroy- but that could at least be rendered neutral by a bad film. What makes Paris Paris in this film, is that Woody lets it be itself, he lets the city, very much in the fashion of his classic Manhattan, be a character in the film- the first three minutes of the film are indeed just shots of the city, shot most romantically of course, in the rain, again, ala Manhattan.10 W.A. adds music by jazz great Sidney Bechet,11 which is just kinda like ice cream on top of the ice cream cake on top of the other ice cream cake in terms of making you want to just BE THERE in Paris instead of in the theater with a bagette or something, ya know, the traveling dinner or whatever Hemingway called it, while somehow, magically, the music plays everywhere in space and beautiful men and women, whatever your preference is, both, one, neither stroll by and unroll their eyebrows at you perhaps suggesting that they see into your artist’s soul… And it’s just that feeling, that exact feeling, that life is summery and easy and full of beautiful poetry and buildings and people and that somewhere a jazz great is composing the soundtrack to your life that the film 1. From here on out, W.A. 2. Bethlehem, PA aka “The Christmas City” 3. I don’t actually get high so I’m guessing… 4. Figure it out 5. Dramaticization. She doesn’t actually sound like a J.D. goddamn Salinger character though I generally wish she and everyone else did for Christ’s sake. 6. For those of you who are interested my top five W.A. movies (I’ve seen about 20 or so) going into Midnight (and they aren’t entirely original or surprising choices) are as follows: 1. Manhattan 2. Annie Hall 3. Hannah and Her Sisters 4. Vicky Christina Barcelona 5. Husbands and Wives *With a special shoutout for Love and Death as being probably the funniest. 7. Including the Empress in Chief of this ‘zine or whatever you call it 8. Not to be confused with Animal Collective’s 2009 record M.P.P. or Merriweather Post Pavalion. Though M.P.P. is also a life-infusing and sometimes romantic record, particularly the song Blueish. 9. Beware that the following might just turn out to be extremely trivial/redundant 10. Whose open shots of the Manhattan skyline to the score of Rhapsody in Blue must count among the best opening moments in American cinema history
captures so brilliantly and so easily and fits with so little effort into W.A.’s whole lifetime aesthetic of jazz and beautiful but damaged intellectuals looking for a little human warmth despite the inevitable onset of eternal nothingness, in major cities of the world, including New York, London, Barcelona, and now Paris, that seeps into the essence of the film, and the maybe not so great on it’s own script and maybe not so great on her own Rachel McAdams and the suprisingly great and perfect12 Owen Wilson, and just pervades it with it’s natural freedom and lightness13… So much so that as I write I realize that I don’t really need a number 2 or 3 or 4 to add to this list, just a series of qualifications on this number 1, Paris, which with it’s history, it’s architecture, it’s place in film and literature and art is all there is to talk about- and that like any good artist W.A. just lets his object be seen as it is and doesn’t let it get too fettered in too much seriousness. It’s what worked so well about Vicky Christina Barcelona and Manhattan and the other of the most successful W.A. films is that he lets cities in, and he lets the music of those places, and the history, and the feeling grease the slides of art so that his characters can just kinda float through and not have to do to much other than fall in love, dither, go to a few gallery openings, and wistfully at the end of the movie lament that perhaps they shouldn’t have complicated things so much and just have let themselves fall in love- and that’s why all my friends seem to love Midnight so much is that their viewing experience isn’t fettered by too much philosophical handwringing like W.A.’s 2010 DUD You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger14 or high cinema art references like Celebrity, but is just the experience of floating through Paris, through a few characters lives, and in this case, through a little bit of time and magic… Which while maybe not the pinnacle of art, this floating, is, for a May or June even with a close friend or lover, in Paris or New York or Bethlehem, PA, a reminder that life still has some Wordsworthian happiness and peace, even if that peace is a brief fantasy that we can be like the great artists of 20’s or the Belle Epoch in Paris, Hemingway or Joyce or Picasso or Dali or Fitzgerald and maybe see someone along La Seine who might just be that someone who is destined for us, to understand us, to love us, to be our muse…
11. The music of Bechet and also Louis Armstrong, which if I knew more about music history could put in a neat genre-box, is by itself some of the most lovely and moving and capital R romantic music you and I will ever hear. 12. I stress surprising, sure- but then when you think about it, except for the whole west coast vibe not playing with Woody’s usual Manhattan thing, Owen Wilson is the perfect fit for the “Woody Allen” male lead. The jitteriness, subtle world weariness, defensive but playful humor… It’s all there. 13. To those Parisians who would tell me that Paris is a city full of social tensions and to poverty in the suburbs I say- I understand, but understand that I and W.A. are talking about a purely idealized city here that doesn’t really extend much past the leftbank. 14. Which contains some truly G-awful performances by Josh Brolin and Freida Pinto, but some really nice cinemamatography. Which is a footnote all it’s own- how W.A. always manages to work with great cinematographers and how no matter bad the script is, his films always look nice.
THE DAWN OF HOLY SHIT TV by sgt. lance st. laurent I hate the term “Must-See TV”. I really, really hate it, and I’ve only come to this conclusion recently. When, you might ask, did I come to hate this stock term of lazy television critics everywhere? I was watching the finale of Game Of Thrones, a show that has become my most recent obsession. I was pondering how to describe a show of this quality, of this scope, and this sheer ballsiness to those soon-to-be converts that I would undoubtedly try to win over. The words must-see TV crossed my mind, but failed spectacularly. It’s not only hackneyed and overused, but failed to express my enthusiasm. So, I reached into the recesses of my mind to find the right words to make my feelings known. The first ones that came to mind were roughly, “Holy Fucking Christ on Roller Skates, I love this!” Nothing but a string of obscenities. The thing I realized, though, is that seemingly every week I find my jaw on the floor from something on TV, some “Holy Shit!” moment. When people discuss modern television, there seems to be agreement that there was a golden glow of perfection in the air five to ten years ago, the salad days of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood, and there was. Nothing on TV right now has reached the level of perfection that THE WIRE achieved in its incredible run, but the trend I’m seeing now excites me even more. What the newest crop of prestigious TV lacks in perfection, it makes up for in bug-nuts insanity and chutzpah. TV used to just have to be entertaining and surprising, now we’ve got to have shit to talk about on twitter, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not running to my keyboard unless someone gets their tongue ripped out through their throat. That’s too simplistic, though. These shows aren’t just pushing the boundaries of violence or vulgarity, but of narrative structure and genre. Game Of Thrones may be a 50 million dollar fantasy epic with sterling talent behind it, but it still has the time to indulge in more over-the-top violence and unnecessary titties than any show (or movie) I’ve ever seen. Ditto for Boardwalk Empire, a show that has a way grimier, smuttier undercurrent than anyone could have expected. Every week Community and Parks & Recreation are defiantly reclaiming the word sitcom from the jaws of mediocrity, while Louie and Eastbound And Down quietly invent auteur comedy TV. Even Mad Men, the heir apparent of The Sopranos, isn’t afraid to go ridiculous (need I remind viewers of the lawnmower in season 3). And this is without even mentioning Breaking Bad, a show with a premise so insane that the ballsiest thing it did was be amazing. The best thing about it, though, is that shows are much less afraid to swing for the fences and strike out. Take The Walking Dead; after an amazing pilot, 4
the show floundered somewhat for the rest of its season. Some would see this as a creative failing. I don’t. AMC spent millions and millions of dollars on a grisly show about zombies, real zombies too, not TV zombies. They (and Frank Darabont) dreamed big, and it paid off financially even if it was something of a creative dud. Most networks would be happy with the big payday and leave well enough alone. Instead, The Walking Dead fired their entire writing staff and are trying to right the not-quite-rights of its first season. This is all to say that you should be watching TV right now. Stop reading that book or bettering yourself or giving something to the world and watch some goddamn TV, because there is something special going on. There has always been shows that take risks on TV with gigantic dividends (just look at Arrested Development or The Simpsons), but there is an absolute glut of them right now. It’s a magical experience to be more than satisfied with art, but to be surprised and challenged by it. That’s better than perfection to me; that makes a real golden age for TV.
“Miscreant, you’re a firework.”
Single of the
Week Look to the latest Miscreant Mixtape for the track “Rad Racer” by the band Work Drugs. It’s great soundtracking for late evening drives! 6
by miss kaycie miltenberger In this day and age it is hard to think of our nation’s politics as more than a shallow joke. For years, infidelity has lead to resignation and impeachment, but when Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Boehner, excuse me, boner, appeared in a lewd twitpic, the joke became even more foolish. On June 17, The Christian Science Monitor wondered, “Why Democrats turned on Anthony Weiner, but not Bill Clinton?” As a citizen of this so-called democracy, I cannot help but wonder the same. The CSM suggests that there were three reasons for the disparity. Reason 1: Clinton was more powerful--true, he held a much more complicated position. Reason 2: Politics is brutal--OK, sure. Reason 3: Clinton had more friends--Ha, friends? More like manipulated favor-owers in positions to offer political support. The bottom line is Clinton had done the work to procure support just in case he got caught.Well, we all know how that turned out. But maybe the fact that we all know how Clinton’s scandal turned out is exactly what is keeping us from some sort of political prosperity. In talking to a fellow employee at my summer job as a clerk in the mini-mart of a local gas station, I was informed that while the uneducated and naive know that the Governator fathered an illegitimate child with one of his household employees, they do not have any notion of what the electoral college is. (I feel compelled to inform you that my fellow employee had graduated high school and completed one year of higher education, yet has no clue as to how a presidential election, which she apparently votes in, works) I suppose this illustrates the vast and failing attempts of the American public education, but I digress. So why, many wonder, is it so easy to learn of scandal, but so complicated to understand the basics of our own government? Here is where many citizens would blame the news-media for what they “decide” to cover. According to the Pew Research Center, the Weiner story dominated 17 percent of the newshole from June 6-12, while our failing economy only got 11% of the newshole and the impending presidential election--a mere eight percent. When you look at the numbers it is devastatingly obvious what is considered news, but we have only ourselves to blame. Although the news-media is supposed to act as an additional check in our system of checks and balances, journalists work for network ratings, or subscriptions. They have to work for ratings. They would not have a job otherwise. And we certainly cannot afford an uptick in the all ready ghastly unemployment rate. Thus, we dictate what we read each day in the newspaper. We dictate what we see on the evening news. As consumers, we drive the ratings on news coverage of scandals through the roof, while we allow the crumbling state of the economy to go unnoticed. Perhaps if we stopped awarding so much attention to a politician’s personal life and started paying attention to their political pursuit we would see a shift from our current state of buffoonery to one of moderate functionality.
A FINE EVENT by quinn donnell, a young miscreant This July I will be attending Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois. After the lineup was announced in early March, I quickly made it a priority to obtain tickets to see favorites such as Animal Collective, tUnE-YaRdS, and Neko Case. Before purchasing the tickets, however, I had to speak with a group of friends. I believe that my past music festival experiences have been enjoyable largely because of the people that I spent my time with. Through the experiences I have had, I have developed a theory regarding the attendance of music festivals: each person in a group establishes his or her own role depending on his or her personality, and the diversity of personalities in a group allows important assets to be represented; thus, the concert experience becomes as pleasurable as possible. On the weekend of July 15, I will be with a group of friends who I believe will bring out the best of an already fine event. Chad- Someone like Chad is important to have because of the knowledge and experience they bring to the table. This person has most likely been to this particular festival before and their familiarity becomes apparent throughout the weekend. He or she has probably done extensive research on each artist, and carries a schedule that has been marked with incomprehensible notes, smudged by the inside of a pocket, dictating the groups’ decision making process. A Chad can usually be found wearing a respectable pair of sunglasses, perhaps a pair of prescription sunglasses for the clearest view of the stage possible. Every group needs a Chad and without one, the chances of poor decision making increases. Ethan- Ethan is the person that you may find yourself inches away from, unable to move because it is 9 p.m. and you are waiting for the headliner to come out, and he has still not put his shirt on. There is a group of people at music festivals that insist on cooling themselves not by wearing a hat to keep the sun out off of their face, not by carrying a water bottle, but by remaining shirtless throughout the entire day. This is Ethan. An Ethan may act in such a way because he is entirely willing to piss people off. And this, although it may seem to be an unpleasant characteristic to onlookers, is vital to the groups success. If someone were to invade the groups’ territory in between shows, in an attempt to better his or her view of the stage, resulting in an impairment of the groups’ view the stage, the characteristics of an Ethan would flourish. While some people may attribute this situation to a simple misfortune experienced at a music festival, an Ethan would make the decision to punch a fellow concert-goer in the face. As a reader of The Miscreant, you may be thinking to yourself at this point, “gee, this is the kind of person that I strive not to be.” Be that as it may, it is important to realize that an Ethan is good na8
tured and has the unique ability to create joy where others cannot. Jay- Jay is someone who compliments the style of an Ethan rather well. This is simply because his characteristics are completely the opposite from those of an Ethan. While the behavior of an Ethan can do wonders for a group, it can also lead to greater obstacles. This is where a Jay comes in. Through his skills that will someday prove to make large amounts of money in the courtroom, a Jay is able to talk his way out of almost any predicament. What can make this member of the group even more effective is their ability to combat the most mind-altering of substances while verbally saving the group from almost inevitable peril. Someone like Jay is quite possibly the rarest piece of a group, and for this reason, a Jay can be the most influential in the collective success of everyone. Danny-The final component of a quality music festival group is a Danny. This person may not be entirely familiar with the acts of the day, but he or she is more than willing to learn more about each of them and expand their musical knowledge. A Danny is by no means someone who shows up at Lollapalooza on Sunday at 7 p.m. to see Lady GaGa, and only Lady GaGa. Someone like Danny has a basic understanding of what they are involving themselves in, and are able to fully appreciate their experiences. The ability to introduce others to the enjoyment that one experiences from music is a tool that deserves admiration; providing this enjoyment to a Danny can be a wonderful gift. As mid-July approaches, I find myself becoming more and more eager about the artists I will see at Pitchfork and the people whom I will share my experiences with. When attending music festivals this summer yourself, keep in mind the influence that you can have on othersâ€™ experiences. Recognize that your characteristics and actions have the ability to provide enjoyment for others, no matter what they might be.
*** A SPECIAL NOTE: THE MISCREANT AND HER FRIENDS WILL HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE PITCHFORK ISSUE FILLED WITH EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS AND PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND EVENT. STAY TUNED!
THE THIRTY SOMETHINGS poetry by brittany leitner 1. My love, When did we grow old enough to marry? You did it without me. She’s real, is she? She has a head, you say? She has everything. Gathered in the presence of God I turn to Him and say, There, there matchmaker. Is it you who doesn’t know what He’s doing after all? Hold your peace! He shouts back, You’re reminding me why You weren’t good for him in the first place. All my love Sits with me in silence. 2. My love, Do you remember sitting next to me on these pews? Meeting on Sundays, praying hard, thinking about each other Harder. I was sixteen when you eased me behind the wheel of your car, giving me permission to go. There was nothing like that freedom – speeding without the fear of crashing, I didn’t know what to do with that kind of love, so I took too much, and then I crashed it. You shouldn’t hand out love at sixteen I go on and forget I had it. At thirty, now, you’re thirty-two, I’m hearing you say it; “I do.” “I do.” You shouldn’t have given me love at sixteen. Before I began, I was already through.
In Which Self-Aware and Newly Minted New Yorkers Survey The Towering Wall of Cliches Stacked Against Them written and illustrated by big swan - White, middle class, honest hardworking American suburbanites - Internet connections since age 8 - at one point fanatical now disillusioned Absolute Punk then Pitchfork then Gorilla Vs. Bear then Cokmachineglow readers - now twiddling away on Tumblr and reposting classic soul and funk by Don Covey and Jefferson Ink - upstate educated/relegated/frustrated/liberated Brooklyn bound (Bed-Stuy) - experimental lo-fi pop band - keys and guitar (more the pedals than the guitar itself) - more blog mentions than recorded songs (only by 2) - songs about Faulkner about reverb-soaked nostalgia - influences: Animal Collective Grizzly Bear Beach House to John Cage Philip Glass Erik Satie Steve Reich to Sonic Youth Beat Happening Sun Ra Can Kraftwerk etc. etc. etc, - 7 minutes songs (more than one) - fashion blogged (back at college) - staunchly/almost raw vegan/vegetarian respectively - “dramatic foreign art house dark family dramas” as a recommended genre on Netflix - Sylvia Plath James Joyce Hart Crane Italo Calvino - DFW(/RIP) - backyard Kombucha scoby - fixed gear enthusiast/beach cruiser devotee - boat shoes/cutoffs turtlenecks/cardigans - glasses glasses glasses glasses - film major girlfriend haircut - been to Iceland seen the pyramids found himself in Paris - “huge into hummus”
“cats” by becky frass
WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY? musings by kyle kuchta I didn’t learn anything, per se. I did not record facts. There is no proof that what I did today has any truth to it. I did not carry my notebook around to take notes on the series of events that put me in the situations I was in today. I did, however, experience things that will be applied to my future endeavors. I experienced situations that I will remember the outcomes of and use those memories when I am faced with similar situations. As I see it, there’s a difference between “learning” and “experiencing.” And if I had known that when I was in middle school, I would’ve avoided many awkward dinner conversations when I had no answered for what I learned. This summer I took an unpaid internship. Not my original plan for *~*sUmMaH ’11*~* but you know, it happens. This internship that I took, however, was everything I could ask for. I was a Production Assistant for a low-budget zombie film that was filming twenty minutes from my house. If you don’t know me, horror films are my forte. Not necessarily making them (though I hope that’s where my experiences will lead me), but horror films made me want to make movies. And as low budget as it was, it still had budget enough to be a made for TV movie featuring genre actors. So I geeked out a bit when my parents called me up at school and told me that this whole thing was happening. I applied for an intern position and I got the gig, so to speak. I took two weeks out of June to work on this film. Twelve to fourteen-hour days was what was proposed, and they stayed pretty true to that. It seemed easy enough at first, until the night shoots started. 3pm-5am. And then everyone starts getting cranky. You have to spend six days a week with these people. Anyone who has spent long periods of time with strangers knows that these relationships and friendships develop quickly, good or bad. People reach their breaking points, or make really good friends for the time being. But this isn’t learned from this situation, that lesson is taught early in life because it is life. It’s common sense and common life, amongst almost all people. What is experienced, though, are the personal situations that only you and the parties involved know about that remind us of the life lessons learned so long ago. What is learned is nothing new, the experience just reinstates what we already know, at the most basic level. Perhaps, it’s not that I didn’t learn anything. I learned slang terms for lights and stands. I learned how to make zombie vomit. But when asked what I learned from this internship, these aren’t the answers that the inquirer is usually looking for. They are looking to learn from what you’ve learned so that they can apply and use your knowledge. However, I went in ready for the experience, not to report back to anyone. My internship was an experience. It was an ordeal. I didn’t learn too much that I didn’t already know, but to me that wasn’t why I did this. I did it for the experience. Not the experience you put on your resume (though that’s a plus), but to live and be a part of this job. It puts you in scenarios that you have no control of, and makes you solve it yourself. Whether that’s a 15 person coffee order, lugging a 200 pound podium upstairs, or making a casino out of a banquet hall. You just do it so you know what it’s like, not to go on to write a textbook.
AN INTERVIEW WITH BILLY JOEL fiction by dearest sam sodomsky
Billy talks about his comeback LP, ‘A Piano and a Broken Heart’ out on Columbia Records September 12, 2011. Anon: It’s been 16 years since you’ve put out a pop record. Did you spend that whole time working on this album? And why release the record now? Billy Joel: 16 years? My G-d, it feels a hell of a lot longer. [laughs] No, some of the songs on the record are things I had written even before River of Dreams, others are things that came to me as recently as last winter. I had been playing the songs for my friends at parties and get-togethers and what have yous and at a certain point they all looked at me and said to me, “Billy, you’ve got a record here, man!” I said, “What’re ya talking about a record, do people even do that shit anymore?” [laughs] You know, but, whether they do or not – in a traditional sense or what have you – I thought I had something really special and I wanted to release it. Anon: A lot of your albums tend to have themes to them – musically or lyrically. Does this one have anything in particular that’s tying the songs together? BJ: To me, a record has never meant just a collection of songs – not just three singles and then eight tracks to pad it out. That has never been, to me, quite the point. Having said that, I don’t write operas neither. [laughs] These songs, though, they take me back to a simpler mindset – a mindset I haven’t had maybe even since [1981’s Songs in the] Attic. The mindset of “Okay… how about you sit a guy down at his piano and let him spill his fuckin’ guts on the floor.” [laughs] And I think that’s what you hear on the record. I called the thing A Piano and a Broken Heart for one because that’s what you hear on every track. You know what I mean? These are songs about loss, these are songs about desperation, these are songs about hopelessness – all things I’ve learned quite a bit about over the last decade or so. [laughs] But these are also songs about music itself – the piano is both a narrator and a character in the story. You know what I mean? It’s a piano and a broken heart, communicating and reacting to one another. Anon: I think that communication is most obvious in the title track, which is a duet with Norah Jones. Can you talk about that track and also what sparked that collaboration?
BJ: That record is actually one of the last songs I wrote for the album. I had about fifteen songs or so I wanted to record and I played them for my manager at his house late last year. And after I was done, he looked at me and said “You know Bill, when I hear you play today, I still hear the same things I heard a hundred years ago – it’s just a piano and a broken heart.” [laughs] And I said “Jesus, shut the hell up, that sounds like a song!” And he says “Jesus, well you shut the hell up and start writing!” So I did. I started writing it almost immediately just around that line: “I’ve still got the same things you loved a hundred years ago / A piano and a broken heart / The same things you loved right from the start.” The rest practically wrote itself, it was just one of those moments, you know? Same feeling I had when I wrote “Uptown Girl.” Same feeling I had when I wrote “In The Longest Time” or whatever. Just magic. Anyhow, the idea of making it a duet didn’t occur to me until we were recording the track in the studio and something just didn’t stick. We did a bunch of takes, took it in a lot of directions – dragged it out, slowed it down, sped it up, yada yada. Finally, I realized – the song’s about duality? How about we get a female perspective singing on it? Right then, I knew it had to be Norah, I wrote her part in 5 fuckin’ minutes and she came right in. Professional as hell, just a pleasure to record. Just a pleasure to work with. Not too bad to look at neither, right? [laughs] Anon: Any plans for the promotional push of the album? A tour, perhaps? BJ: I plan on killing myself.
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Thank you for reading the 4th issue of ‘The Miscreant.’ I hope you feel compelled to read more, and even contribute, if you feel so inclined. Perhaps you have seen an interesting movie or play that you’d like to tell the world about? Or maybe you just want to talk? Well, don’t be shy, my troublemakers! Tell us what you have to say; spread the wealth. Email the Miscreant at: firstname.lastname@example.org Love, the miscreant
postage by ray mcandrew