I have begun to push myself to read one chapter, or 40 pages, per day of books that have been sitting on my shelf for much longer than I care to admit. I recently finished Antonio Gramsci’s Letters from Prison. His style of letter writing revealed his more human side, and it was refreshing to read about his life in prison and interactions with other prisoners – not excluding members of the Italian mafia. His letters to his wife, mother, sister, children, extended family and friends make up the bulk of the book. However, it is far from apolitical and detached from the political sequences of Italian life in the 1930s. A few of the letters reveal the organic growth of his approach to writing his now infamous essays in the Prison Notebooks. It took only a few days to read and I highly recommend it.
I have been listening to The Mountain Goats’ most recent album, “The Jordan Lake Sessions,” in which they play many of their songs from previous eras in a continuous studio session. In general, I love the energy of recordings like this, as so much of the organization, formality, and order of a typical polished album is stripped away. In this album in particular, there is dialogue interspersed with the songs, as the band talks and laughs between each performance. I love seeing some of my favorite songs (incl. “Up the Wolves” and “Lakeside View Apartments Suite”) performed in a new way, but I have also discovered some new songs that I hadn’t yet appreciated (I love this version of “Getting into Knives” from their most recent album). The Mountain Goats are one of my favorite bands, and they rarely do re-recordings of old music (despite having so much of it), so it is really fun to see these new and authentic interpretations.
A few weekends ago I had the absolute pleasure watching Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentis gallivant about Italy in the Food Network’s Bobby and Giada in Italy. The show delivers what it promises: two thin and symmetrical bodies serving as vehicles through which audiences can envision themselves sipping wine and ordering pasta. As the two hosts interact more and more with each other, it is impossible to ignore how artificial their laughs sound, how Giada never stops smiling, and how Bobby never fails to provide creep-o vibes.
I’ve had one of the roughest months this February. Family members came down with Covid at the beginning and a week later I caught it as well. Everything’s all good now and I’m glad that nightmare is over. While in quarantine I’ve been jamming to a lot of DJ Screw, mainly just both parts of 3 ‘N The Mornin’. Also watched Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan, a spin-off of Hirohiko Araki’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. It’s a short watch and really sums up perfectly everything I love about Araki’s work. Nothing beats his unconventional use of colors and the narrative structure of the plot. Araki’s book Manga in Theory and Practice: The Craft of Creating Manga is an interesting read to get a glimpse into his method and what makes the Jojo series so beloved.