Glitter Pillsby Ben Fama
To live a serious life
that’s a fucked up thing
I would have to rent out a cabin
beneath terrible angels
if I get old wipe the dust off my tits
I should have a serious log cabin
the cabin’s name is Ben Fama.
find directions on the internet
when you want to leave you can
I’ll stay there just me and my heart
bigger than the sun
What Ben Fama won’t tell you is that he lives a serious life, and it’s fucked up. Most of us do. To live a carefree life takes a lot of business savvy. Ben’s got a lot of business savvy, but his life isn’t carefree. It’s meticulously crafted by outside forces, by fate. And for Ben, fate is a serious thing. Position oneself as best one can. Consult the Tarot like some people consult Oprah. Know the characteristics of the Zodiac as if they were family members. It’s no wonder that Ben’s wrote a collection of poems named Aquarius Rising.
“How much do you rely on planets?” Ben asks, almost capturing the theme of Aquarius Rising (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010) in a single blow. The collection is an astrological love letter, read like a divination, the collection of poems being a sort of arcana: the celebrity, the paparazzi, the juvenile, the suitor, the broken-hearted, the cynic. Aquarius Rising is also a play on Kenneth Anger’s own Scorpio Rising, and its themes of idol worship factor heavily in this book. There is humor in this book too, though of a self-deprecating kind: “Woman of Tractus / I come bearing .gifs”. The pun turns the bearer into a voyeur. Other times when Ben is making light of something, it’s as though he’s cracking a joke during a break-up, alleviating it’s emotional upheaval: “o mountain, how did you become so serious?”. And what at first seems facetious can appear, upon closer examination, to be Ben casting a sort of spell to turn the circumstances of life in his favor, as in these lines from “Cub”:
If today is your birthday please
remove exactly 300 hairs from my beard
I’m dancing for fat rain
to press on the evening
so you may climb up and tear
the sky in half so it will look
the way I have secretly wanted.
Once you finish Aquarius Rising, check out Ben’s latest book of poetry, New Waves (minutes Books, 2011) It trades the horoscope of Aquarius Rising for dance shoes. Ben’s fantastic tumblr blog is also called New Waves. If you’re looking for a party on the internet, that’s a good place to go.
Though Ben is fascinated by celebrities, he is one in his own right within the poetry world. You see, Ben also runs his own poetry reading series and journal, SUPERMACHINE, based in Brooklyn. Readings occur monthly with new poets featured at each reading. No poets read twice at SUPERMACHINE unless it is for an issue release. Issues are published bi-annually and three have been published so far. To be included in an issue of SUPERMACHINE is like being on an Altered Zones mixtape; it’s carefully curated with an overarching vision in mind. Ben’s commitment to this vision will even cause him to turn down work he likes if it doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the issue (though you will still find many of the most buzzed-about young poets of a season, guaranteed). Not to mention great cover art. And issue launch parties pull all the stops: every poet included in the issue being launched reads, but only one poem apiece, keeping things lively while visuals are projected onto walls, shrines are built to give the space a mystical vibe, and afterward live musical acts perform (past groups have included Beach Fossils, Reading Rainbow, and Forma). Venues have included the School House and The Silent Barn. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a better-dressed crowd.
Perhaps Ben is aware of this double standard of slowly becoming, in a sense, micro-famous, while maintaining the purity of solitude. That’s the irony of becoming someone known. It’s easy then to imagine him lying in a cabin, dust-covered and glowing, waiting for the approach of those ghosts that chase down those who have left an impact and whose names remain on people’s lips. That’s a macabre thought to end on so I’ll finish on this verse from his poem, “Boy” –– “I bury my face deep in the front lawn / a family of magicians moves onto the block / a sequence of colors erupts from their chimney / now anyone can walk among strangers towards daylight”.
Art: Nathaniel Whitcomb
There are strange creatures among us.
Watching James Miller‘s lens study, aided by a Jean Michel Jarre soundtrack, I feel as though I’ve slipped into a science fiction film noir. My character sits alone in a large cinema, the kind found in the inner-workings of a government laboratory, beneath the earth. It smells of musk and decaying fabric. Curiously and with intent, I observe the foreign object in front of me, magnified almost beyond recognition, committing to memory all nuances of the creatures movements. I prepare myself for our encounter ahead. The mission leaves day after next.
via The Fox is Black
This month has been one of transition for me, I’ve moved back to Michigan, started a new job, and still have no internet at my place. As you can imagine it’s disrupted my routine and severely hampered my daily music exploration. But thanks to coffee shop wifi and amazing friends who relentlessly devote themselves to discovering new music, we haven’t missed a beat. Just in time to fill your bbqs and holiday travels with sonic intrigue, Dave, Tim, Nada and myself bring you…
Free Music Collection: July 2011
- APOCALYPTIC SUMMER MIXTAPE by Noah Wall: MacGyver has about an hour to diffuse this loaded mixtape, or the world ends. Will he do it?
- DUDES – NARCISSISTS ANONYMOUS: A wildly unclassifiable funhouse locker room gathering arranged by the 1986 LA Lakers. DUDES are all over the textural court, impossible to cover with just one genre. Marv Albert is speechless. He tried “freak-funk-hop…” but then quickly took it back: “…nah that’s not it.”
- The Bilinda Butchers – Regret, Love, Guilt, Dreams: A pop dream you’ve had a thousand times and counting. Worthy of a force-nap, just to get back there again. This is way too easy; this is a big hit. $
- Daniel Klag – Weird Fiction: If mountains could talk…perhaps they’d drone amongst themselves, trading static thoughtscapes from peak to peak, all heads literally in the clouds. And if that phenomenon were then recorded, it might come out sounding like the ambient transmissions of Daniel Klag.
- The Wandering Lake – In Passage: Deep, minimalistic celebrations of a life In Passage, or in transit, inspired by Native American myths. At times, its strum-hum-centric inflections recall Panda Bear’s classic, Young Prayer.
- FWY! – NOWHERE/SOMEWHERE: “Music for freeways”… hard not to picture someone driving somewhere (or nowhere) to this. Open tight, zoom out slowly, pan across desert, now pixelate; cue drum machine, climbing synth, whispers of guitar rock from car radio, fly hits dash. Toll booth $1 per song, but that bandcamp has much to stream.
- Stand Up Against Heart Crime – Stand Up Against Heart Crime: Love fueled drum machine pop.
- Gracie – For Summer EP: Exactly what it sounds like, summer electronic tunes to get it warm. $
- AAURAL: Ann Arbor compilation filled with the goods.
- Flash Forest – Early Morn Sessions: A set of some early morning inspired beats.
- Dakota Fish – Many Moons: some eclectic yet extremely cohesive jams for all your summer feelings. $
- Pina Chulada – Pina Chulada/King Mob Split
- GvsB june 2011 mix
- Other People’s Poetry: CSLSX — Yours Truly
- Scattered Tree – The Artist Mixtapes
- Sound Advice 103: Jeremy Fish
- Gardens & Villa Album Stream (YT Exclusive)
- The Pines – Daytrotter Session
- Designer’s Mix – Minor Details
Think or Smile
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Modcast #82: it’s Bobby Brown in a spacesuit, it’s rhythm-n-blue-skies, it’s the darkside of psychedelia mixed with crystal clear pop acapellas.
- Holy Other – Altered Zones Mix Series v9: tantalisingly dark and beautiful soundscapes.
- Youth Lagoon – Mix for Salad Fork: slow and immersive, like sunshine breaking through storm clouds.
- Pandit – I miss you Boise mix: as happy as sad pop can get.
- PEAKING LIGHTS – 59:36 (mixtape for The Minimal Beat): obscure summer-appropriate sounds from around the world.
- Memory Tapes – Ghosting Notes mixtape: ambient, soul, gospel, psych folk, synth funk…
- Samaritan – Part Of The Jurys Vol. 1: chopped, screwed, dark electrics.
- PURPLE – PURPLE: dark and strange and warm and dark.
- WALSH Longing Part I (ep): late night driving when you need to feel sad.
- Seabright – Feel Good: electric summergazewave.
- Bon Accord – True Delusion EP: last summer’s chillwave continues to come ashore.
- FACT mix 260 – Laurel Halo: ghostly overpasses of Detroit techno and electro paint the sky. (Limited time download – hurry)
- Death Grips – Ex Military: raw lo-fi experimental hip hop. think early MIA mets Low End Theory.
- B+ (Mochilla) – Mix for Brainfeeder of George Duke: taken from Duke’s catalog circa 1969-1981 that has influenced the likes of Dilla, Madlib, Pete Rock and A Tribe Called Quest, among many notable others.
- A Compilation of Experimental Jazz and Soul Music, from Hard Mix: title says it all.
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Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2011