Today I happened to pass one of my favorite spots, Myzel’s Chocolates—a small, idiosyncratic shop in midtown Manhattan, with a world of confections. For the licorice lover—that strange, fierce, embattled tribe—the store is a must. Myzel’s has the best licorice selection in the city: salty, sweet, terrier-shaped, boat-shaped, cute, creepy, hard, soft. “Licorice of the world,” they advertise. “Over a hundred different kinds.” And today a sign in front of the door read: NATIONAL LICORICE WEEK. Read More
In a nod to the recent Grammy Awards, allow me to pay tribute to a record that was nominated in 1963, in the category of Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording (Other than Comedy). That record is Enoch Arden, Op. 38, TrV. 181, performed by Glenn Gould and Claude Rains.
Most people probably know Claude Rains best as the blithely unscrupulous Captain Renault in Casablanca, or maybe as the gleefully unscrupulous Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood, or even as a wholly unscrupulous senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. No question, Rains brought particular élan to a certain kind of villain—yet nowhere did he commit as fully to a performance as to Enoch Arden. Read More
Thomas Sayers Ellis’s poem “Polo Goes to the Moon”—an elegy for the bounce-beat go-go music pioneer Reggie Burwell—appeared in The Paris Review No. 209 earlier this year. Now he’s recorded a spoken-word version in “Amiri’s Green Chim Chim-knees Growth Tribe,” part of a tribute to Amiri Baraka to be released next year by Heroes Are Gang Leaders. Give it a listen above.
After Baraka died in January, Ellis and his frequent collaborator James Brandon Lewis formed Heroes Are Gang Leaders, a group of poets and musicians. They recorded the album over three six-hour sessions. Ellis calls it “a signifying groove head-nod to Mr. Baraka,” influenced by Thelonious Monk and A Tribe Called Quest.
The text of “Polo Goes to the Moon” is below. Read More