From the highs and lows of creativity to the spin cycle

MONDAY MORNING PLAYBACK

Jeanette Winterson, “August 08” (essay from jeanettewinterson.com). From the author of “Written on the Body” and “The Stone Gods” comes this instructive riff on the highs and lows of creativity. Like a deeper one-shot translation of The Artist’s Way, Winterson writes from a personal place that, she admits, gets tapped out. Still, she celebrates the process of making things, along with the necessity of quiet, gardening, meditation, avoiding the trappings of modern life and technology, and the art of marrying the contemplative with the creative. She may not know it, but to many thinkers and artists out there, Winterson is nothing short of, as she notes of another comrade in this post, an angel.

“Welcome, Rich White Oligarchs” (billboard, Highways 494 and 77; as seen on www.east-lake.net). Let the games begin.

Twin Sister, Myspace page. Never mind John McCain’s cluelessness and Barack Obama’s historic media-bypassing text-messaging and beyond. Garrison Keillor may have had a point when he labeled Myspace “the encyclopedia of the pathetic.” But then something like this comes stumbling along, something truly artful and strange and lingering on the edges of the deafening conversation; bits of found sound and musical interludes that fall like autumn leaves, patter like summer rain, and honor the human condition with the tenderness and beauty of an artist who obviously operates from a very kind core. More, please.

Curtiss A for President.
Let the write-ins begin.

The Black Kids, “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance” (Monday, “Late Night with David Letterman”), in which a bunch of kids from Jacksonville, Fla., single-handedly return melody and hooks to the formerly frumpy emo- and math-inclined genre known as indie rock.

Heather B. Armstrong’s Dooce blog. My brothers and our wives are in love with this woman. She’s like Diablo Cody’s musichead auntie, or Cintra Wilson‘s down-to-earth sister. That is, she’s a pretty well-adjusted mom and wife who adores Wilco and writes about how her kid being seduced by Crocs crushed her deeply. What’s not to love?

The Hold Steady, “Constructive Summer” (cut from the CD “Stay Positive”) and Bob Marley, “War” (Saturday, Lynval Jackson’s show, KFAI-FM). The former is a shot-of-hope-in-the-arm for the little brothers of Strummer and Bragg and Reilly and crew (“let’s build something,” indeed); the latter a dead-serious and unabashed plea for peace that sprayed out of the afternoon dashboard like post-war confetti.

Dylan Hicks, “Governor of Fun.”(See above.)
Timmy, we hardly knew ye.

Meryl Streep, “The Winner Takes It All.” (scene from the film “Mamma Mia!”). Shoehorned in the middle of this lightweight estrogenapalooza is this truly remarkable scene, in which Streep uncorks her rage on her long-lost lover and sings/shouts her pain at him and the heavens. I’m no expert, but it feels like one of the greatest kiss-off scenes in the history of broken-hearted cinema, what with the sea and the cliff and all the world watching as she crucifies her ex for leaving her, for not talking to her for 20 years, and all the while coming unhinged but keeping it together the way all the great blues singers do. Guess that’s why they call it catharsis. This isn’t a great representation of it, but you get the idea.

John Berger, “Where Are We?” (essay from the book “Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches On Survival and Resistance”): Speaking of elitism, heads-in-sand, and who, exactly, is responsible for all those dead kids in Iraq (you and me), this excerpt comes courtesy of Camille Gage, a great peace-keeping soul and co-curator of this, which opens Thursday: 

“I want to say at least something about the pain existing in the world today … I write in the night, although it is daytime … I write in a night of shame.

“By shame I don’t mean individual guilt. Shame, as I’m coming to understand it, is a species feeling which, in the long run, corrodes the capacity for hope and prevents us looking far ahead. We look down at our feet, thinking only of the next small step.

“People everywhere — under very different conditions — are asking themselves — where are we? The question is historical not geographical. What are we living through? Where are we being taken? What have we lost? How to continue without a plausible view of the future? Why have we lost any view of what is beyond a lifetime?”

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