river

 

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Knotted into consternation,

weight of words and burdens

and injunctions to do better.

On a dime a song

floods into me and washes,

softens knots and nodes

and liquifies rigidity of

what I think I am,

splays me forlorn and

floating down this river:

Wider than the sea,

the sound of Hepburn

and her huckleberry friend

and me.

Judd Apatow’s Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling

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LAST NIGHT I finally came to the end of Judd Apatow’s extraordinary four-hour film about the late Garry Shandling – the so-called Zen Diaries of said comedian.
As the director of There’s Something About Mary read aloud a letter that Shandling had written to the older brother who’d died, as a child, of cystic fibrosis, I completely lost it – I broke down and sobbed. I’d come to the close of a remarkable, hilarious, neurotic life haunted by the loss of Barry Shandling (a death never explained to the little brother) and felt overwhelmed by compassion for the witheringly brilliant creator of the meta-show about host Larry Sanders.
It made me realise how much Shandling and his Comedy Store peers – a particular strain of American-Jewish humour that slices through to the heart of the human condition – have meant to me. And it prompted this short distillation of gratitude for the sheer fearlessness of Shandling, Seinfeld, Silverman, Larry David – and of Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason and the many who came before them. Out of such pain has come the purest comedic joy I’ve ever known.

 

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Always I’m in awe of them:

unsparing men and salty women

lancing my illusions

and my gentile self-delusions.

No hugging and no learning,

nothing left to lose:

ancestral agony of pogroms

and the terrors of the Zyklon B.

The balls it takes to work that space,

illusion of a mastery that masks

the backstage whimper of a fevered need:

  “You think they liked me?”

“Man, you killed out there.”

for mary p

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What does it mean for us that life, for you,

became too bleak to bear?

By your not ending it, your life as such

would not have changed.

The room would be the same,

the world would still have gone about its restless business.

You might have seen it differently.

But three days later it might still have been

as dark and fruitless as before,

regardless of the love we heaped on you,

the testaments to all you did for us.

 

How could a woman who had given all give up?

Where did those sinking lows take you?

We could not reach you there. We were irrelevant,

were talking loud and only speaking air.

Did you believe that it would change you

in transforming consciousness to naught,

in jolting you from day to night? Well, you were right.

It leaves me questioning my own diminished appetite,

however schooled I’ve been to stop the plunging lows,

to put one foot before the other

and to give this life another go.

 

My top 30 tracks of 2017

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Very much for my own delectation, I’ve compiled a Best Of The Year playlist… but I figured, why not share it with the World At Large?

Here’s the full track listing for your perusal…

1 Future Islands: ‘Seasons’
2 Slowdive: ‘Sugar for the Pill’
3 Kendrick Lamar: ‘PRIDE.’
4 Jesca Hoop: ‘The Lost Sky’
5 Queens of the Stone Age: ‘The Evil Has Landed’
6 Randy Newman: ‘Wandering Boy’
7 Jessie Ware: ‘Your Domino’
8 Grizzly Bear: ‘Glass Hillside’
9 Everything Everything: ‘Desire’
10 Aimee Mann: ‘You Never Loved Me’
11 Ryan Adams: ‘Anything I Say To You Now’
12 Todd Rundgren w/Robyn: ‘That Could Have Been Me’
13 Feist: ‘A Man Is Not His Song’
14 Elbow: ‘Trust The Sun’
15 Hurray for the Riff Raff: ‘Hungry Ghost’
16 Lindstrom: ‘Under Trees’
17 Loyle Carner w/Kwes: ‘Florence’
18 Nadia Reid: ‘Right on Time’
19 Grandaddy: ‘Evermore’
20 Thundercat: ‘Bus in these Streets’
21 Kelela: ‘Truth or Dare’
22 Perfume Genius: ‘Slip Away’
23 Jay Som: ‘Baybee’
24 Fleet Foxes: ‘Third of May/Odaigahara’
25 Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White: ‘Look at What the Light Did Now’
26 Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2: ‘JBS’
27 Shabazz Palaces: ‘Shine a Light’
28 Sampha: ‘Incomplete Kisses’
29 Andrew Bird: ‘Truth Lies Low’
30 Sun Kil Moon: ‘God Bless Ohio’