MUDD UP BOOK CLUBB: Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya

mudd up book clubb: horacio castellanos moya
On Sunday August 24, we’ll be meeting to discuss Senselessness (2004, 2008 English trans.), a dynamite novella from Central American author Horacio Castellanos Moya.

It takes the form of a monologue, so everything we get comes from the mouth of, as the book jacket text describes, “an alcoholic, atheist, sex-obsessed writer [who] finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to edit the testimonies of the survivors of slaughtered Indian villages.”

Senselessness is agonizing/ly funny, profane & political, entertainingly written yet dealing with huge issues surrounding language and authority, grieving and historical memory — it’s no surprise that Castellanos Moya’s early novels earned him death threats, leading him to take up residence in exile…in Pittsburgh.
Continue reading

LOVE SONGS & CINNAMON

Etel-Adnan-3

[Etel Adnan]

I recently spent time in the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. My hosts make sure that I left with fresh cinnamon and many love songs from Palestine.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Shatila Camp Mix – track 9

She’s talking about love for her land/country, the water. She addresses a traveler who is going to Ramallah, she says take my soul with you.

The second half she says:
Oh mother, there’s a knock on our door it’s our beloveds
There’s a strong knock on our door, it’s the fedayeen, the ones who long for/love freedom
They knock on our door

And then some love for a dark palestinian woman

It sounds like a folk song or a combo of a few folk songs

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Shatila Camp Mix – track 7

MUDD UP BOOK CLUBB: Etel Adnan’s Sitt Marie Rose

Etel Adnan

[Etel Adnan]

Summer reading time! On Sunday July 6th we’ll meet in Manhattan to discuss Etel Adnan’s Sitt Marie Rose. This remarkable novella was written in 1977 by Lebanese artist Etel Adnan. These days Adnan is more recognized for her painting — she was a quiet hero of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Elsewhere, Adnan’s words have been put to music by Henry Threadgill and Gavin Bryars. Point is, Adnan does many things very well.

Sitt Marie Rose is light and heavy, experimental and matter-of-fact, this story set during the Lebanese Civil War in which gendered violence might be the real civil war. It is also about the way cities feel and tense up. There is politics and religion and luminous sentences as precise and glowing as Adnan’s abstract paintings. The title character is a teacher of deaf-mute children and the language throughout pays great attention to sound, vibration, and silence.

It can be tough to find in bookstores so here’s a purchase page recommended by the publisher. E-book versions exist too. Head here to check out other Mudd Up Book Clubb selections.

SONY DSC

[Etel Adnan, title unknown, from Documenta 13]

I tell myself that it would be better to let loose a million birds in the sky over Lebanon, so that these hunters could practice on them, and this carnage could be avoided. – Sitt Marie Rose

ART ASSIGNMENT: The Quietest Place


The Art Assignment is a new PBS webseries created by curator Sarah Urist Green and hosted by her and author/YouTube superstar John Green, in which they ask artists around the country to devise an ‘art assignment’ related to their work that viewers can carry out, sharing the results online. Here’s the video for mine. It involves walking to find the quietest place near where you live. Fascinating responses to my #theartassignment have come in already — songs, videos, a delightful array of photos, even diary-style written logs of soundwalks, from all over the globe. It’s been wonderful to see the enthusiasm with which people are searching for their ‘Quietest Place’. (As a bonus, we get to experience the complications of recording quiet — wind in the smartphone mic… handling vibration rumble… it all ends up sounding rather noisy.)
t desert
t book

[some of the participants' photos]

You can check out a growing assortment of the responses over at the Art Assignment blog; some of the best will be folded back into a future episode of the program.

LIBROS ASADOS: Book Burning Society of the Americas

Libros Asados: Book Burning Society of the AmericasMusic is bringing me to Mexico City this weekend. I’ll have time to dig around some of the megacity’s great bookstores in addition to parrandeando.

So, dear reader, can you recommend me some good books to check out? My Spanish-language contemporary fiction bookshelf has a lot of dudes in it — much as I love Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Cesar Aira, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Yuri Herrera, etc — I’m particularly curious about recent writing by women. And yes, Rita Indiana’s new novel Nombres y Animales will be published next week! My Mudd Up Book Clubb reading list gives you an idea of what’s up my alley. OK gracias.

MEXICO CITY GETDOWN

VLcrop I am off to Mexico City, Distrito Federal, to perform at the Vive Latino festival this weekend. DF is without a doubt one of the world’s most incredible cities — friend visiting for the first time just wrote me: “Such an incredible place, oozing with humanity from every opening… the hustlers, the colors, the shrines everywhere, the highway underpasses playing midi classical music, those guys in the official outfits playing those weird piano boxes from another century…”

Adding to the already overloaded megalopolis, Vive Latino has created a massive musician vortex with many good friends in town: Helado Negro, Ceci Bastida, Sonido Martines, Javier Estrada, Boogat, DJ Rashad, Chancha Via Circuito, and more will perform. I’m particularly excited to be on a lineup with legendary sonidero soundsystem Sonido La Changa!

DJ Rupture – Enero 2013 Cumbia Mix

DJ Rupture - Enero 2013 cumbia mix

A 30-minute mix of “cumbia cumbia, not nueva cumbia” that was previously only available at a NYC taco shop. My man Talacha gets on the mic as sonidero.

I used all cumbias purchased in Brooklyn, so it skews heavily towards cumbias poblanas, mexican cumbias, tunes made in the States. Shoutouts include: Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, New Jersey, Virginia, Baltimore, Las Carolinas, Ellay… kinda functions as a map of where Mexicans are strong in the US! There’s no tracklist but that’s OK because everyone is always shouting out their name anyhow…

This mix was originally available as a physical-only CD at a taco shop in the East Village, along with another 30minute mix by Sonido Martines. Here’s the post on that.

Stream or download:

If you’re hungry for more of this stuff, you are in luck, as cumbias are almost always close at hand in the Americas… For starters, the 2009 Cumbia Mix I did for Rob Da Bank’s BBC1 radio show remains popular, and my 2008 Fader Magazine feature article on cumbia remains a good introduction the genre as well as what it’s like to speed around Buenos Aires with Damas Gratis’ frontman Pablo Lescano.