Archive for March 2011
Maria Schneider, a French actress best known for her controversial performance in Last Tango in Paris, passed away from cancer in February at the young age of 58. Following her performance in Bertolucci’s controversial film, her personal life was torn asunder by drug addiction, sexual confusion, and an attempted suicide. Several obituaries have posited that Bertolucci and Last Tango were responsible for her downward spiral. Below, Franklin Laviola reflects on the great actress’ life, her place in film history, and the ethical questions surrounding the performance of explicit acts on camera.
I first encountered Maria Schneider on a lazy June afternoon. It was the summer before going to college, and that morning I had participated in my first (and only) game of paintball, out on the East End of Long Island. The event, organized by my very spirited AP Physics teacher Ed Baumann, was designed (I imagine) to reward us recent graduates with a chance to finally let off some steam, while also providing us with a hyper-real lesson in projectiles and vectors. All fun and learning aside, the game left me drained and, worse, emblazoned with multiple welts of varying sizes, scattered across my chest, all of them quite painful. A good friend gave me a ride home and on the way I noticed a copy of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, resting on his backseat in a sterile Blockbuster Video case. Read the rest of this entry »
John Darnielle is clearly a fan of albums. He sees them not just as vehicles for his collective songwriting efforts but as an art form in itself. Whether it’s geographic location, bible verses or prolonged heartbreak, there is always an underlying, connected and unique theme to be found on every Mountain Goats project. All Eternals Deck, probably evidenced by its jet-black cover, is about the effects of fear and the bleak hope it sometimes provides. As he posted on The Mountain Goats’ website last December when describing the album: “points of reference include: Burnt Offerings, Go Ask Alice, and that one scene in The Warriors where they’re on the train and the sun’s coming up and they’re safe but you know the scars are permanent now.” Heavy.
There was a time when a young, aspiring group of musicians would follow a grueling roadmap to success fraught with uncertainty, discomfort, and rejection. Bands recorded songs on cheap home-recording technology, sent hissing demo tapes to labels, toured relentlessly, and hoped that a talent scout would appear at that One Great Show and lavish them with dollar signs and diamonds. In the 21st century, however, this shop-worn plan has spiraled into irrelevance. Now, an artist builds buzz through internet-based word of mouth, buzz that is based on perhaps one song or perhaps no songs at all. The groundswell surrounding the mystery builds to a fever pitch until, finally, the public is exposed to the artists’ work. Intrigue and anticipation drive fame; familiarity breeds contempt. In the modern music world, it is better to be unknown than to be known.
Virginia Beach’s The Clipse has always had a dark history with religion and theology. Just take a look at their breakout album titles: Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury. In 2011 the religious references still are still prevalent, but the circumstances are different. After 2009s lackluster Til the Casket Drops, the Thornton brothers have found themselves at a crossroads. Gene (known as Malice), typically the headier of the two, turned his eyes towards the Lord and published Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked, a searing and soul bearing memoir. Terrence (Pusha T), the flashier of the two, has been a bit more reluctant to change his ways. He signed to Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label and released his solo-debut mixtape, Fear of God last Tuesday. A dark, vengeful and sometimes barking mad piece, Fear of God may be a return to form for big T, but it’s surely not progress.
Posted March 25, 2011on:
As a general matter, whiskey is liquor distilled from cereal grains that has been aged in wooden barrels. The word comes from usquebaugh, the Medieval Irish term for “water of life,” which was the catch-all term for all distillates at the time, e.g. aqua vitae. The Scots leave out the “e”, but modern day Irish and Americans leave it in — hence the whole “whisk(e)y” signage phenomenon you may have noticed at liquor stores. But, Scotch and Irish whiskey are for another day. American exceptionalism compels examination first of our native whiskeys – bourbon and rye.
From 2006 through 2010, I traveled throughout the southeastern United States befriending, photographing, and interviewing a network of people who left cities and suburbs to live off the grid. Motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs, or predictions of economic collapse, my subjects build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather, or grow their own food.
Even for an adventurous home chef, certain dishes carry the stigma of being too complicated or too authentic to reproduce at home. Lately I’ve been on a kick to prove that I can achieve solid results with “restaurant only” dishes that I find intimidating. I recently took on paella and was pleasantly surprised by the results. With that success in my pocket, I set my sights on risotto.