Mutant Eternity

Vinyl Record GIF by Laurène Boglio

For the latest issue of ➰➰➰ (aka Many Loops), I reviewed Mutant Eternity, a highly addictive album that remixes itself with each new spin:

In all my years of listening to and writing about music, I never thought I’d declare something as hyperbolic as this, but if I could listen to only one album for the rest of my life, it would absolutely be Mutant Eternity. It’s basically a cheater’s choice. From what I can tell, Mutant Eternity is never the same album twice. I don’t mean this in a metaphorical way, like when Heracliltus said, “No person ever steps in the same stream twice, because it’s not the same stream or the same person” (although that’s somewhat true with all albums, because even if the music recorded on an album remains exactly the same, both we and the times are no longer the same when we listen to it later). I’m talking about an album that literally remixes itself every time you listen to it.

Read the entire review at Many Loops.

Musical Storytime on YouTube

In late 2017, I started doing a program called “Musical Storytime” at the Livingston Public Library. It’s a half-hour program where I sing songs and read music-themed books for young children.

Due to the pandemic, our library is closed indefinitely, but we’re still hard at work serving our patrons through the internet. I’ve been recording video installments of “Musical Storytime” and posting them to our library’s YouTube channel (which has scores of great videos for viewers of all ages). Here’s a playlist of the 11 videos I’ve done so far, with more still to come (perhaps even after the pandemic dies down).

“Lookin’ Out My Back Door” (cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song)

“Purple Coyote” (musical version of a book written by Jean-Luc Cornette & illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette)

“Stand” (cover of the R.E.M. song, with a lesson in directions, and a guest appearance by my wife Ashley)

Continue reading “Musical Storytime on YouTube”

Once Upon Forever Changing Times in Hollywood

black and white rendering of Brad Pitt & Leonardo DiCaprio from the poster for Quentin Tarantino's ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, surrounded by an intricate, brain-like maze
Illustration by Eric J Eckert

For the hot new issue of Many Loops (aka ), I wrote a thing called “Once Upon Forever Changing Times in Hollywood.” It’s sort of a mind-bending personal odyssey, wrapped in an examination of Quentin Tarantino’s cinematic war against the tyranny of history, wrapped in a half-finished movie review written 25 years in the future:

July 29, 2044

It must be nearly 50 years since I got my mind bent at the movies like that.

I just saw Once Upon a Time in Tennessee, the latest addition to the Quentin Tarantino Cinematic Universe. My expectations were modest, as they’ve been for all these films ever since Tarantino officially retired and sold his intellectual property to Sony. I’m always curious to see other filmmakers explore his world, employ his characters, and actualize his numerous unfinished ideas. But I’m also keen to remind myself that overabundant film franchises are bound to be inconsistent. (See also Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and Harry Potter, as the 2010s grinded along). As a result, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by stuff like The Vega Brothers and Killer Crow and Queen Medieval, and only mildly disappointed by stuff like Fox Force Five and The Adventures of Hangman Ruth and Jules Winnfield Walks the Earth.

Read the entire piece over at Many Loops.

 

A Mystery Wrapped in Faux Fur: A Review of Jessie Janeshek’s MADCAP

Queen Mob’s Tea House posted my rapturous review of MADCAP, the third full-length poetry collection by Jessie Janeshek which will be published this month by Stalking Horse Press.

Jessie Janeshek’s MADCAP (Stalking Horse Press, 2019) is a poetry collection with the soul of a surreal neo-noir film directed by David Lynch and starring Mae West as the hard-boiled detective. It’s a mystery wrapped in faux fur, wandering through a jagged and smoky past like it’s a hall of mercury-glass mirrors. It seeks clues to answer haunting existential questions about the eternal entanglement of beauty and violence. To track down leads, it conducts seances with the spirits of Old Hollywood starlets, their voices phasing in & out like staticky radio waves on West Virginia mountain roads, their sentences cut up & reassembled by the ghost of William S. Burroughs.

Read the full review at Queen Mob’s Tea House

Groundhog Days & Russian Dolls

The recursion-obsessed journal  (or “Many Loops”) just launched its 2nd issue and it’s even more mind-blowing than I could’ve expected. And I’m proud that it includes “Groundhog Days & Russian Dolls,” a thing I wrote about time-loops, simulation theory, mental health, Natasha Lyonne, and more…

It’s not exactly breaking news that we may well be living in a computer simulation. If the number of computer-simulated worlds that’ve been created is increasing exponentially toward infinity, so the logic goes, we’re probably already inside one.

But just because a scenario is highly probable doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept as reality. I get it. I have a hard time accepting this idea myself. The logic seems retroactive. Besides, reality usually feels too real to be fake, even when it feels too fake to be real.

Of course, logic can be illogical in a simulation. In a simulation, time can flow in all kinds of directions. And if fake reality were the only kind of reality we’ve ever known, how would we tell the difference between real reality and fake reality—if there even was a difference?

Click here to read the whole thing on Many Loops’ website…

The Aura of the Flapper in Question

BADMOTORFLAPPER cover + Jessie Janeshek's faceI am enormously flattered that Jessie Janeshek, my favorite living poet, really grokked my debut poetry collection BADMOTORFLAPPER, & wrote a very kind review of it, which you can read in full on the instagram feed of Really Serious Literature.

I’ve talked about conceptual aspects of the collection; O’Brien’s craft is also strong. I love their flexibility with and careful use of form to suit both the aura of the flapper in question and the song that she’s paired with…

BADMOTORFLAPPER – Now on Sale

Transparent Anatomical Flapper; thanks to In Utero, The Saturday Evening Post, & William BlakeMy debut poetry EP, BADMOTORFLAPPERis now on sale! It’s a 10-track collection of poems I wrote as tributes to some of my favorite women of the 1920s + music of the 1990s. Some of these poems have been previously published in places like Yes, Poetry and Rag Queen Periodical, but some are exclusive to this little booklet.

Print Copies are $4US via PayPal (shipping in US only)

Digital (PDF) copies are $2US via PayPal

Track Listing

  1. DOROTHY PARKER will have her revenge on Manhattan
  2. GRETA GARBO behind the counter in a small town
  3. Sometimes ZELDA FITZGERALD gives the creeps herself
  4. JOSEPHINE BAKER ain’t nuthing ta fuck wit
  5. CLARA BOW is in your face but you can’t grab her
  6. THEDA BARA with butterfly wings
  7. LUPE VELEZ is a hot spitfire fit to burn
  8. Got them Down-in-a-hole BESSIE SMITH Blues
  9. ANNA MAY WONG’s gonna break this rusty cage
  10. Last Dance with LULU BROOKS

“Buddy Holly” in Many Loops

Today marks the launch of Many Loops, a fascinating new online publication obsessed with recursion. It includes “Buddy Holly,” which is a thing I wrote in 2018 about my nostalgia for Weezer’s 1994 video “Buddy Holly,” which was nostalgic for the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” which was nostalgic for the 1950s. It’s pretty much the most Joe O’Brien thing I’ve written to date.

This is something I’ve been writing called “Buddy Holly,” but it’s not really about the late preppy-nerdy rockabilly musician with the thick-framed glasses. It’s about a music video for a fuzzy-yet-sleek new wavy power-pop song called “Buddy Holly,” which isn’t really about the musician Buddy Holly either, it’s about how the song’s singer, Rivers Cuomo, resembles Buddy Holly.

This is something I’m writing in the year 2018, looking back affectionately and obsessively upon a music video I fell in love with when it first aired in 1994. Directed by eventual Oscar-winner Spike Jonze, the video features Weezer, a pop-rock band formed in the 1990s, playing their song “Buddy Holly” as if they were characters on Happy Days, a fondly-remembered sitcom from the 1970s that looked back warmly on American life in the 1950s.

This is about 2010s nostalgia for 1990s nostalgia for 1970s nostalgia for the 1950s. Nostalgia kinda like those Russian Nesting Dolls, or matryoshka.

[read the whole thing here]

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #25

So often I feel like I’m tightrope-walking above a gator-filled swamp while the world keeps chucking rotten watermelons at me, but these Flapperhouse readings make me feel all swaddled and warm. Like a birdhouse in my soul, you might say.

We’re having our 25th (!!!) one of these tomorrow night to launch our Fall issue, and there’ll be poetry & music & voodoo & telepathic football-playing dogs & on top of all that we’ll be raising funds to help immigrant families in need of legal assistance.

If you’ll be in the NYC area, feel free to swing by. I’ll be your little glowing friend, your blue canary in the outlet by the light switch, watching over you, filibustering vigilantly…