February 22, 2009

dreaming 'bout Eleanor Bron, in my room with the curtains drawn

Jenny Holzer, from Inflammatory Essays

* Review of Paul Beatty's new novel, Slumberland. excerpt:

"The protagonist of the novel, DJ Darky, is a Los Angeles DJ who comes to Berlin to be a jukebox sommelier. He is in search of a virtuoso saxophonist, Charles Stone -- nicknamed the Shuwa -- who is in many ways his doppelgänger. DJ Darky has created a sonic masterpiece, layering nearly every sound he can find into a flawless testament, a musical ars poetica. Now, despite offers from the gangsta rap community, he wants the Shuwa to play some avant-garde mystical voodoo music over the beat. DJ Darky arrives in Germany, having already declared the end of blackness, to find himself once more the subject of racism amid constant reminders of his obsolete ethnicity. His real quest, we soon learn, is for meaning and a place in the increasingly chaotic post-Cold War world.

"'Slumberland' is laugh-out-loud funny in many places, and its wit and satire can be burning, regardless of where they are pointed: blackness or whiteness. The book places Beatty somewhere among Ishmael Reed, Dany Laferrière and William S. Burroughs, and it is rife with sex (particularly interracial sex as weapon, as guilt and celebration, but never as love), music (it is, in fact, a love poem to music as identity, as savior, as self, as the perfect language) and religion, whatever mask it wears.

"Darky leaves Los Angeles not only to find the perfect beat but also the perfect seduction. He wants to be seen not through white America's eyes but through his own eyes, outside the weight of all the racial narratives that he has to filter in the U.S. Berlin, however, turns out to be just as fraught.
"For all that, there are incredible moments of tenderness. When Beatty describes Darky's incredible ear and his "phonographic memory" -- an ability to recall every sound he has ever heard and when -- he evokes a psychic and spiritual insight that speaks to the character's heart. Music, and Darky's relationship to it, becomes the place where Beatty argues for the soul of this one torn black man, making of him a kind of symphonic W.E.B. Du Bois."

* Ian Svenonius has a new project, Chain and the Gang, you can stream the new album here. [via].

* Eric Amling is reading at Space Space (Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY) February 28, 2009 @ 8pm. With Matthew Rohrer and Jon Woodward. For more information: click

* "I base my fashion taste on what doesn't itch." -- Gilda Radner

--- back Wednesday


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