…but all the really fun tumbling I do is now happening over at Tulpendiebe. I wish I could make it my default tumblr, but apparently that’s not possible. Either way, chances are you’ll have a better time in the company of Weimar Berlin artists, floozies, and madmen than in this tumbleweed ghost town. For Kino!
OK, I’ll play — here’s my home screen. The background changes frequently. Right now it’s a Percolator-treated photo I took of my daughter, Nina.
I got the iPad last spring as the one thing I could hang on to when we dissolved our home of ten years in New York and moved to Germany, a kind…
One of the things that attracted us to this house in East Nashville, was the stone façade and the way it was tucked away in trees and greenery, despite being in the city. My writing room was beyond this window, in what was supposed to be the master bedroom. I didn’t notice until after we moved…
Trailer: LE HAVRE (dir. Aki Kaurismaki) 2011
our first significant glimpse of Kaurismaki’s latest film — a deadpan charmer which emerged as the best-reviewed entry to this year’s Cannes Film Festival — you can expect to see LE HAVRE pop up in the Criterion Collection towards the end of 2012. the folks over at The Playlist are right to warn that Kaurismaki’s films don’t make for ideal trailer fodder, so it’s best to appreciate how this clip sets the mood more than anything else.
here’s the film’s official description: “An elderly working-class couple living in the famous Norman port city find themselves harbouring a young African illegal immigrant from the authorities as he tries to make his way to England. The local police inspector suspects that they are protecting illegals and a cat-and-mouse game ensues.”
Marlene Dietrich screen test 1929
Eleven Thoughts on Grateful Dead’s “The Eleven”
- I have a playlist in iTunes called “The Eleven” and in it I have 16 versions of this song by the Grateful Dead. Fifteen of them are live and one is an unreleased studio jam that was the genesis of the song and which was added as a bonus track on a reissue of Aoxomoxoa.
- This is not my favorite version of “The Eleven” but it’s up there; I include it here because many of the others are 10+ minutes long (too long for Tumblr) and this one is a tight 5:05. “The Eleven” was always sandwiched between two other songs, so you can hear the segues at the start and the end.
- This version was recorded on Valentine’s Day, 1968, at the Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco.
- Many days I think this is my favorite song by the Dead. It is, at the very least, the one most likely to lift my spirits. It’s manic and sloppy and they sound like they are having a fucking blast playing it.
- This song is unusual in that the time signature is 11/4. I always feel compelled to count this song in my head when I listen to it. There are three bars of 3/4 and then a 2/4, so you count it “1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2”. Listen and try it. It’s fun.
- I’m not sure how this works exactly but 3/4 can sound dreamy when slow (it’s waltz time, so maybe it subconsciously evokes images of ballrooms), which probably explains why Bradford Cox is so fond of it for Atlas Sound ballads. But when it’s fast, 3/4 sounds jaunty and makes you want to drink beer and sway and slam into things (possibly because threes are also used for polka). So since this is three threes and a two, it feels like a song you might sing at Oktoberfest of something.
- I can’t find this quote right now, but during the late 60s Rolling Stone interviewed Phil Spector and they asked him about Bob Dylan. And he said something to the effect that the song “Like a Rolling Stone” was genius because any time you can wring something new out of the chords to “La Bamba” you’ve got it made. And this song has the same I/IV/V progression as “La Bamba” and “Like a Rolling Stone”, so it sounds like a Mexican party song to me as well.
- You can’t get the full effect here since this version is so short, but Jerry Garcia’s lead guitar on “The Eleven” is a wonder. His playing on the song always makes me think of the jazz term “blowing” (a term used even if you don’t play horn). He’s following the changes and coming up with melody after melody based on them, each new measure bringing a new idea, all of which are driven by this joyful feeling. It’s less emphasized here than it would be a year later when they were stretching this song out, but Dead bassist Phil Lesh, who wrote the music for this track, interacts with Garcia, essentially soloing in parallel and commenting on Garcia’s ideas.
- This is a “counting song,” sort of like “12 Days of Christmas” (think “Four calling birds/ Three French Hens” etc.) Despite being called “The Eleven”, the counting doesn’t start there—the title is a ref. to the time signature. It’s not cumulative, in that it only runs down the numbers once.
- When I was a boy at summer camp we used to sing songs before and after every meal in the dining hall. This was an ancient building that was made out of logs and was built in 1925 or so. The floors were wood, the benches and tables were wood, and we were packed in there tightly. So when we sang, it could get loud. One number we sang regularly was a counting song called “Green Grow the Rushes Ho” (here’s a modified version for a “Sesame Street” production of some kind). Kids, me included, got really into it. There was a part where the song goes “two, two” and it was a tradition to slam our fists on the table in sync with those words and everyone would be yelling and going crazy. I feel like I can trace my interest in music by bands like the Boredoms directly to this experience. The idea of music as something collective and tribal that involved chanting and noise and banging on things and being playful. So after the long instrumental bit here, when the Dead finally get to singing, I think of “Green Grow” at summer camp. And, interestingly, the “six” line here is a version of the “six” line in “Rushes”.
- The Dead played this regularly from 1968 until 1970 but then removed it from their live repertoire forever, reprising it only once, in 1975. I’m not sure why they pulled it. Maybe Jerry got tired of playing it or maybe they started doing the wrong drugs and counting to 11 became a drag. But I’m going to gather every version of “The Eleven” I can find.