Posts Tagged ‘fireworks’
July 1, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- The poet Geoffrey Hill has died at eighty-four, “suddenly, and without pain or dread,” according to his wife. “The word accessible is fine in its place,” he told the Guardian in 2002. “That is to say, public toilets should be accessible to people in wheelchairs; but a word that is perfectly in its place in civics or civic arts is entirely out of place, I think, in a wider discussion of the arts. There is no reason why a work of art should be instantly accessible, certainly not in the terms which lie behind most people’s use of the word. In my view, difficult poetry is the most democratic, because you are doing your audience the honor of supposing that they are intelligent human beings. So much of the populist poetry of today treats people as if they were fools.”
- Scotty Moore, who played guitar in Elvis’s original band, died this week, too. Alex Abramovich writes: “He started out a country guitarist, a finger-picker in the mode of Chet Atkins. But slathered in echo, that country style translated remarkably well to a rockabilly/rock and roll context, while the context brought something extra—something ecstatic—to the style … Scotty Moore brought something different to the table. Not quite diffidence, but a perfectly worked out sense of proportion. Moore didn’t wail, or break from the pack: understated on stage and in person, he played to frame the frontman.”
- A certain founding editor of ours would have me fired for writing this, but: fuck fireworks. They’re loud, they’re volatile, they do violence to the sky. If you’d prefer a more peaceful Fourth, you should ditch America, catch a flight to Phnom Penh, and send some clouds into the sky instead: “This isn’t Bubble Machine BGSP #5 by the early Filipino conceptual artist David Medalla, it’s Khmer Cloud Making Service, a Phnom Penh business offering customizable foam-printing services for events … The company offers ephemeral works for events and corporate programs. They are most frequently hired to deploy cloud art at the openings of new businesses … Khmer Cloud Making Service currently employs four people, working near Boeung Keng Kang Market. You can rent out their services for $500 an afternoon.”
- Hilton Als tells the long, harrowing, ecstatic story behind Nan Goldin’s The Ballad: “The Ballad was Goldin’s first book and remains her best known, a benchmark for photographers who believe, as she does, in the narrative of the self, the private and public exhibition we call ‘being.’ In the hundred and twenty-seven images that make up the volume proper, we watch as relationships between men and women, men and men, women and women, and women and themselves play out in bedrooms, bars, pensiones, bordellos, automobiles, and beaches in Provincetown, Boston, New York, Berlin, and Mexico—the places where Goldin, who left home at fourteen, lived as she recorded her life and the lives of her friends. The images are not explorations of the world in black-and-white, like Arbus’s, or artfully composed shots, like Mann’s. What interests Goldin is the random gestures and colors of the universe of sex and dreams, longing and breakups—the electric reds and pinks, deep blacks and blues that are integral to The Ballad’s operatic sweep.”
- From the makers of dirty realism, infrarealism, surrealism, and hyperrealism, it’s ultra-unrealism, China’s newest school of cultural thought: “The first thing I should do, of course, is explain what I mean by chaohuan, which we are rendering in English as ‘ultra-unreal.’ The literal meaning of chaohuan is ‘surpassing the unreal’ or ‘surpassing the imaginary.’ It is a word that a friend and I made up about a year ago during a conversation about contemporary Chinese reality … The word ‘ultra-unreal’ is young; it’s a newborn baby. I confidently submit, however, that it is going to live a long, healthy life. China’s been pregnant with the word for at least 30 years. Maybe 50 years. Maybe even 100 years.”
November 10, 2015 | by Shona Sanzgiri
Visiting the altars for Dia de los Muertos.
Thirty miles from the city of Oaxaca is San Pablo Villa de Mitla, where, according to Mesoamerican lore, the dead go to rest. It’s a small town surrounded by mountains and distinguished by an arid climate, which has preserved relics up to ten thousand years old and attracted archaeologists from all over the world. During the days around Dia de los Muertos, Mitla transforms into a gateway for the deceased lured by the town’s many altars, built by their loved ones, still living here in this world.
The ornate displays are abundant with ofrendas, offerings of food and drink. Pyramids of fruit, bursting marigolds, packs of Marlboros—or Camels or Chesterfields, depending on one’s preference—ripe plantains, candles of all sizes, meticulously decorated loaves of pan de muertos, and clay gourds of mescal and water (even the dead suffer from hangovers) comprise most offerings. Pictures of the deceased, typically unsmiling, feature in the center of the room, encircled by votives and depictions of different Catholic saints and apostates. The room often smells of woodsy black and white copal, an incense made from tree resin. Read More »
July 4, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
I always thought it was the best day of the year. It was in the middle of the summer, to begin with, and when you got up in the morning someone would almost surely say, as they did in those times, that it was going to be a “true Fourth of July scorcher.” School had been out long enough so that one was conditioned for the great day. One’s feet were already leather-hard, so that striding barefoot across a gravel driveway could be done without wincing, and yet not so insensitive as to be unable to feel against one’s soles the luxurious wet wash of a dew-soaked lawn in the early morning. Of course, the best thing about the day was the anticipation of the fireworks—both from the paper bag of one’s own assortment, carefully picked from the catalogs, and then, after a day’s worth of the excitement of setting them off, there was always the tradition of getting in the car with the family and going off to the municipal show, or perhaps a Beach Club’s display … the barge out in the harbor, a dark hulk as evening fell, and the heart-pounding excitement of seeing the first glow of a flare out there across the water and knowing that the first shell was about to soar up into the sky.
—George Plimpton, Fireworks
July 4, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Edmund Wilson on the Fourth of July circa 1925: “The last random pops and shots of the Fourth—the effortful spluttering and chugging up a hill—the last wild ride with hilarious yells on its way back to New York. Then the long even silence of summer that stretches darkness from sun to sun.”
- And here’s a handbook for firework design from 1785. (Note: The Paris Review does not endorse the unsupervised construction or detonation of homemade pyrotechnical devices from any era, past or present—unless you’re reasonably sure you know what you’re doing, in which case, have at it.)
- Forget King Lear with people—that’s old-fashioned. What you want is King Lear with Sheep. “The actors are actually incapable of acting or even recognizing that something is expected of them.” (Because they’re sheep.)
- “Here’s the problem for someone trying to give Pride and Prejudice a contemporary twist … Jane and Lizzy Bennet are twenty-two and twenty years old, respectively. This means that, in the novel’s world, the two are pretty much teetering on the edge of spinsterhood. The whole twenty-three-year-old-spinster idea will not resonate, of course, with contemporary readers.”
- Is Moby-Dick something of a roman à clef?
July 4, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
George Plimpton’s passion for fireworks is legendary: he devoted a book to the subject, and held the title of Fireworks Commissioner of New York for some thirty years. In 2011, his son, Taylor, wrote movingly about sending his father’s ashes into space with his favorite firework, the kamuro.
In 1994, Plimpton hosted the terrific documentary Fireworks, based on his book.