Guess who's back! That's right. The Friday Endorsemith has blessed us with the return of your and our favorite Friday tradition: that of endorsing something that has touched you, taken you, moved or motivated you throughout the course of the week. What a gift it is to give and to receive. Let's get to it!
Underworld by Don DeLillo
I finished Underworld three or four months ago and I'm only barley beginning to get over it. I feel as though I've gone through a serious break-up. I don't think I've ever been so sustainably affected by a piece of art/work/literature in my life. I wasn't even aware this was possible. This book got to me on the cellular level. Went way down and scraped open some giant emotional scab. I had this strange sense about midway through the book that this was the saddest story I'd ever read, but there was hardly any plot, and nothing sad had happened at all. The last third of the book took me a while to get through because I kept having to stop and take long breaths and wipe my eyes. The end of every page was like I'd never see my mother again. DeLillo has some deep understanding of something I can't get at. Something paramount. Some kind of loss, the worse for lack of closure ever. Life, soaking in it. Prolonged loss sans denouement. I even get a feeling when I re-read passages from Underworld like I'm looking at pictures of someone I once loved, unknown to me now, and unknowable. You can't go home again, kiddo. And go ahead and tell your mother you love her and your father and friends and everybody but that won't keep the long black curtain from coming down. "We're all gonna die!" laughs Lenny Bruce.
DeLillo's writing is incredible and beautiful, definitely far on the poetic end of the spectrum. I can imagine many people not liking his writing at all. Too bad for them. But good news for you, if you wanna try the book out: It's 800-some pages but its "prologue" was released separately as a stand-alone story called "Pafko at the Wall", quick and fantastic. Read that and report back.
And in the meantime here's Elton John and System of a Down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4cGqu2_GQQ
The Russian Sleep Experiment
Upon stumbling across this narration, I was held captive for the entirety of the story. Supposedly, back in the 1940's, Russia tested a secret gas on prisoners that was designed to prevent human beings from falling asleep. Scientists wanted to study the physical and psychological effects of sleep depravation in a controlled environment. They found some very disturbing things... If you have a free 15 minutes right before bed, watch this without interruption, preferable in the dark, and let your imagination go to town. It's FUN!!! Whether it is true or not, the story is a tickling-mini-freak-ride, and good for mental exercising. Ok, good luck.
I wouldn't say it was a particularly strong year when it came to music but there were some real gems. Here's what I liked:
10 His Name Is Alive, Tecuciztecatl - A woman is pregnant with one good and one evil twin and must reach out to the only person who can help her--a demon hunting librarian. This psychedelic prog-rock-opera touches literally all of my weaknesses.
9 Alt-J, This Is All Yours - "That band" surprises me with an honest and dorky record.
8 Mark Ronson, Uptown Special - Genre-hopping hasn't sounded this fun since Ween.
7 How To Dress Well, What Is This Heart? - Neuvo-R&B wunderkind hones his thing to within an inch of its life and still its stunning.
6 Future Islands, Singles - Serious and genuine pleasure pop with a dark side.
5 Sleepy Sun, Maui Tears - Gutsy, stellar melodic psych rock.
4 St Vincent, St. Vincent - Glam pop queen takes us fully into the future. It's good here.
3 Aphex Twin, Syro - The master returns.
2 Ty Segall, Manipulator - Prolific noisemaker makes a glam rock record that hits every pleasure point. Tony Visconti hugs himself in his grave.
1 Adult Jazz, Gist Is - The only essential record of 2014 IMHO. Created, defined and perfected long-form pop. Who knew this was something I couldn't live without?
I'm sure there's a lot I missed. Let me know.
Sia, Maddie Ziegler, and Shia LaBouf
I know you've probably heard of or seen these videos - millions of likes and hundreds of thousands of dislikes on YouTube - but I have to endorse these two currents of social phenoms crossing and coming together. That's right, I'm talking bout the 'Shia LaBouf is a crazy person' trend (which, as a friend pointed out recently, should be called the 'Shia LaBouf deliberately reinventing himself as a crazy person' trend...and doing a damned fine job of it) and the 'Sia hides her face for performances and hires a little girl from Dance Moms to represent her music in dance form...over and over' trend.
These two worlds collided with this video for Sia's song Elastic Heart:
Suddenly thousands of people are all 'pedophilia!' and 'Shia LaBouf is a bad man and this girl needs to be rescued!'
I dunno, guys. I think the song is lovely and heartbreaking, and I think both Shia and Maddie are stunningly brilliant in this. I laughed, I cried. This girl is one of those amazing and rare examples of a human being that discovered her wellspring of emotional and artistic expression at, like, 10. It happens, folks, while some of us never figure out how to express ourselves, much less our complex and abstract feelings, there are children who just know what to do. I think Maddie Ziegler is one of these kids. Yes, screw the insanity of these dance competitions and narcissist moms, but trust, Maddie both wants to and is supposed to be dancing.
As for Shia, I don't understand why people don't think he is a good actor. He's the one who made me cry in this, watching him slowly give up. So moving!
Now, Sia may deserve the biggest award in this equation. She's obviously a very clever one and is making very deliberate decisions that are for maximum impact. Have you heard her sing any of these songs live on TV? Her voice is absolutely amazing! I'm fascinated to see what she does next with her career. Pick any number of live performances to watch...my favorite at the moment is the SNL performance she just did with a man performing a pretty classic mime. He even uses a David Byrne move....did you catch it?
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was:
And then here is Maddie recreating her dance with Shia live on SNL, but now with an also fabulous older female dancer.
So, I'm into it. I love this kind of dancing. I love Sia for making these moments possible. And I love Shia LaBouf's current campaign because it is making moments like this possible:
I mean, this is gold right?