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Saturday night in Brooklyn.

Saturday night in Brooklyn.

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"Knowing nothing about writing, I had no trouble seeing myself famous."

— Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes

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"[Writing] begins with an appetite to discover my self-respect. To redeem the day. So the day does not go down in debt."

— Leonard Cohen, speaking to Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting, via Brain Pickings

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"On the spectrum of misappropriation, using self-advancement as a lure seems forgivable enough if it leads people to try a technique as subtly transformative as mindfulness. (Indeed, if personal betterment is America’s religion, such an approach might be seen as syncretic.) What can be lost by broadening access to a philosophy of liberation, even if a majority of people conflate it with the more vulgar priorities of our culture?"

Jacob Rubin, "Meditation for Strivers," Newyorker.com

Sure. More people meditating—even if it’s for suspect reasons—is, on balance, a good thing, I reckon.

Still, it kind of chafes seeing the Buddha reimagined as an executive life coach. Maybe what’s called for is a little more attention to the eightfold path, of which right mindfulness is only one part—preceded by right intention. And right livelihood.

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"There’s no wrong way to enjoy music, and I understood that certain contextual or biographical details could help crystallize a bigger, richer picture of a song. But I continued to believe that the pathway that allowed human beings to appreciate and require music probably began in a more instinctual place (the heart, the stomach, the nether regions). Context was important, but it was never as essential—or as compelling—to me as the way my entire central nervous system involuntarily convulsed whenever Skip James opened his mouth."

Amanda Petrusich, Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records, as quoted by Sara O’Holla, "Last Kind Words," Slate

First of all, I knew Amanda a little bit when we were both getting our MFAs, and it’s been cool to see her carve out a place of honor for herself in the boys club of music criticism/journalism. 

And it’s cool to see O’Holla quote her by way of defending her own music blog against the scolds.

A while back, I wrote about O’Holla and the dilemma of context-free music appreciation (the context of no context, as someone once said). Ultimately, I came to a somewhat different conclusion, but I haven’t managed to express myself as eloquently on the subject as Amanda.

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The Dream of Lamarcus is Alive in Portland

In this era of frantic tweets citing “sources close to Lebron/Melo/Kidd,” let’s take a moment to appreciate the direct, no-drama way Lamarcus Aldridge is handling his business. You’ve got a good one, Portland.

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UPDATE: Okay, I have to admit, this isn’t bad either.

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Extra Helpings

Once you go looking for synergy between the worlds of music and food, you start to see it everywhere.

To wit, Food Network Magazine's summer music special, featuring such unlikely pairings as Iron Chef Zakarian and Ja Rule (who's working on a microwave cookbook inspired by his stint in jail, naturally) and The Sandwich King and Billy Corgan (who owns a tea shop in the suburbs!),* as well as the far more likely—some might say inevitable—summit of Taylor & Ina.

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If that’s too mainstream for you hipsters, how about alt-country smartass Robbie Fulks talking Ottolenghi?

*I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my lovely wife was present for both the ICZ/Ja and King/Corgan meet-ups.

UPDATE: Stop! Dinnertime.

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Myth Apprehension

"Myth, insofar as it is fitting, provides a ready-made means of externalizing human plight by embodying and representing them in storied plot and characters.

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"By the subjectifying of our worlds through externalization, we are able, paradoxically enough, to share communally in the nature of internal experience.

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If one is to contain the panicking spread of anxiety, one must be able to identify and put a comprehensible label upon one’s feelings better to treat them again, better to learn from experience… Myth, perhaps, serves in place of or as a filter for experiences.

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What is the art form of myth? Principally it is drama; yet for all its concern with preternatural forces and characters, it is realistic drama that … tells of ‘origins and destinies’… Knowing through art has the function of connecting through metaphor what before had no apparent kinship [and] the art form of the myth connects the daemonic world of impulse with the world of reason by a verisimilitude that conforms to each.

—Jerome Bruner, “Myth and Identity,” via Brain Pickings

I’d never heard of Bruner when I wrote my essay questioning whether Buffy the Vampire Slayer should be considered a modern-day myth. I wish I had.

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"Life is too hard and complicated for a person to live above it…"

George Saunders

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From a Whisker to a Scream

Writing for the Beard Awards is cool and all, but my heart is with the humble Beardys. And while farmers markets and CSAs are spilling over with nature’s abundance this time of year, the competition for summer’s most outstanding Edible Brooklyn subject was a two-man race:

Your runner-up is Matt Speigler, a web developer who refers to his 2nd Street apartment as his “nano-creamery.” No, you perv, he’s a cheesemaker—with a certificate from the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese, no less. Lots of details factored into Mr. Speigler’s high score:

1) I used to live on 2nd Street! We were totally neighbors!

2) His mold-ripened goat’s milk offering is called Gowanish (makes sense; isn’t everything in Gowanus mold-ripened?).

3) He stores his creations in a wine refrigerator purchased from Ted Allen, Brooklyn’s most charming gastrolebrity.

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4) He says he aspires to “more ‘gypsy’ cheesmaking in borrowed pro spaces.” I think this just means he wants to make arrangements to work in professional kitchens, but it sounds kind of romantic and illicit, no?

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