When laid out this way, it would appear that the art of the sample, in the mind of Q-Tip, was science. He began by laying out pause tapes in his home until 1989, when he had the opportunity to be present for the recording of De La Soul’s iconic album Three Feet High and Rising. It was in those moments when he was shown around the studio by the in-house recording engineers and afterward was allowed to tinker with all the sampling devices. Seeing his potential and interest, the rapper and producer Large Professor taught him how to use other studio equipment to most effectively hone his sound. Not all young producers have a group of welcoming mentors like Q-Tip had, but not all young producers were as uniquely skilled from their teenage years as Q-tip was, and not all were as willing as Q-Tip to “dig deep in the crates” to search for sounds. Q-Tip was, in many ways, an extension of rap’s early DJs, chipping away at a massive block of music and peeling off only what he needed.
To release some of his jumpy energy and his mind’s ceaseless inventorying and inquisitiveness, Thurber drew. It was as habitual as his smoking. Writing-rewriting, as he often called it- required discipline, focus, research, an amped-up armature of full brain power that included memory, grammar, word and sentence sounds, a dialing in of the humorous of and the heartfelt, the meandering and the meaningful. But drawings? He considered his to be fluid, spontaneous, unhindered, and with rarely a need for erasure, revision, or polish. His daughter Rosemary remembers her father saying that he could even whistle while he drew.
January’s winds are merciless, splitting open dry knuckles with blood slivers. 9-to-5ers power-walk the final two blocks to their warm cubicles and electric standing desks.
A few trees down from the office, in-front of Heavy Burger, a strange collection of city trash lies. A toppled lime electric scooter, neck twisted, lays between the road and the side walk. An aluminum silver Baby Ruth candy bar wrapper flaps next to the handlebars. And a nylon purple poncho, a size 8 step away from the wrapper, collects rain in its creases.
You’re standing in one place, one patch of grass on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Seville, playing a game, which is to say doing your job, which is playing a game. A ball floats in the air toward you. You’re in one place and you’re in all possible places. Your name is stamped between your shoulder blades. You turn your back away from the ball. We all know who you are. You balance yourself and focus. What you’re about to do has no name.
From: They Think They Know You, Lionel Messi. By: Rowan Ricardo Phillips. The Paris Review, February 26 2019
I love finding pieces on footballers from outside of traditional football journalism. Especially when a masterful writer can share a new vision.
Paglia: Like a medieval monk, I laboriously copied out passages that I admired from books and articles — I filled notebooks like that in college. And I made word lists to study later. Old-style bound dictionaries contained intricate etymologies that proved crucial to my mastery of English, one of the world’s richest languages.
I feel that the basis of my work is not only the care I take with writing, with my quality controls, my prose, but also my observation. It’s 24/7. I’m always observing. I don’t sit in a university. I never go to conferences. That is a terrible mistake. A conference is like overlaying the same insular ideology on top of it. I am always listening to conversations at the shopping mall.
COWEN: My last question before they get to ask you, but I know there are many people in this audience, or at least some, who are considering some kind of life or career in the world of ideas. If you were to offer them a piece of advice based on your years struggling with the infrastructure, and the number of chairs, and whatever else, what would that be?
PAGLIA: Get a job. Have a job. Again, that’s the real job. Every time you have frustrations with the real job, you say, “This is good.” This is good, because this is reality. This is reality as everybody lives it. This thing of withdrawing from the world to be a writer, I think, is a terrible mistake.
Number one thing is constantly observing. My whole life, I’m constantly jotting things down. Constantly. Just jot, jot, jot, jot. I’ll have an idea. I’m cooking, and I have an idea, “Whoa, whoa.” I have a lot of pieces of paper with tomato sauce on them or whatever. I transfer these to cards or I transfer them to notes.
I’m just constantly open. Everything’s on all the time. I never say, “This is important. This is not important.” That’s why I got into popular culture at a time when popular culture was — .
In fact, there’s absolutely no doubt that at Yale Graduate School, I lost huge credibility with the professors because of my endorsement of not only film but Hollywood. When Hollywood was considered crass entertainment and so on. Now, the media studies came in very strongly after that, although highly theoretical. Not the way I teach media studies.
I also believe in following your own instincts and intuition, like there’s something meaningful here. You don’t know what it is, but you just keep it on the back burner. That’s basically how I work is this, the constant observation. Also, I try to tell my students, they never get the message really, but what I try to say to them is nothing is boring. Nothing is boring. If you’re bored, you’re boring.
The boisterous knot of away fans, the intense running patterns, the knot of men in coats on the touchline: there is something collegiate and tightly bonded about Leeds, like watching a brilliantly well-planned travelling stag do unfold before your eyes.
Barney Roney describing Bielsa-ball at the Emirates.
This wasn’t a planned joint reading adventure, but there was a natural connection between the two – the deep adoration both authors shared for their temporary homes.
Lahiri on the sounds of Florence that captured her:
– But from the start my relationship with Italy is as auditory as it is visual. Although there aren’t many cars, the city is humming. I’m aware of a sound that I like, of conversations, phrases, words that I hear wherever I go. As if the whole city were a theater in which a slightly restless audience is chatting before the show begins. I hear the excitement of children wishing each other buon Natale – merry Christmas – on the street. I hear the tenderness with which, one morning at the hotel, the woman who cleans the room asks me: Avete dormito bene? Did you sleep well? When a man behind me on the sidewalk wants to pass, I hear the slight impatience with which he asks: Permesson? May I?
In Other Words, pg 13,15. Lahiri, Jhumpa
Hemingway on the coming Paris Spring:
With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.
I spoke with certainty in my voice, but no hope in my heart. He was a gorgeous animal, and his coloring made him worth at least twenty talents. Still I’d go through the motions and hope to squeeze the man down to nineteen.
Another Christmas window story. Almost every morning, I eat breakfast in the same diner, and this morning a man was painting the windows with Christmas designs. Snowmen. Snowflakes. Bells. Santa Claus. He stood outside on the sidewalk, painting in the freezing cold, his breath steaming, alternating brushes and rollers with different colors of paint. Inside the diner, the customers and servers watched as he layered red and white and blue paint on the outside of the big windows. Behind him the rain changed to snow, falling sideways in the wind.
The painter’s hair was all different colors of gray, and his face was slack and wrinkled as the empty ass of his jeans. Between colors, he’d stop to drink something out of a paper cup.
Watching him from inside, eating eggs and toast, somebody said it was sad. This customer said the man was probably a failed artist. It was probably whiskey in the cup. He probably had a studio full of failed paintings and now made his living decorating cheesy restaurant and grocery store windows. Just sad, sad, sad.
This painter guy kept putting up the colors. All the white “snow,” first. Then some fields of red and green. Then some black outlines that made the color shapes into Xmas stockings and trees.
A server walked around, pouring coffee for people, and said, “That’s so neat. I wish I could do that…”
And whether we envied or pitied this guy in the cold, he kept painting. Adding details and layers of color. And I’m not sure when it happened, but at some moment he wasn’t there. The pictures themselves were so rich, they filled the windows so well, the colors so bright, that the painter had left. Whether he was a failure or a hero. He’d disappeared, gone off to wherever, and all we were seeing was his work.
For homework, ask your family and friends what you were like as a child. Better yet, ask them what they were like as children. Then, just listen.
Merry Christmas, and thank you for reading my work.