“Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos.” On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.
If at some point in your life you lose a beloved pet, and if, while mourning, you decide to write an obituary, know this — whatever you write will not be as good as E.B. White’s tribute to his dog. (You can read more pieces like it in the perfectly-titled E.B. White on Dogs.)
In the Tank, the blog of the New America Foundation, has a new interview up with Konstantin Kakaes, author of the latest e-book from The Millions. Among other things, he talks about what he would do if he ran NASA — “bring back a piece of Mars” — and mentions that the Voyager spacecrafts will keep sending signals back to Earth until at least the year 2025.
“An ambidextrous cardsharp, who took losing as a personal insult; a proletarian agitator, who dressed like a dandy; a germ-fearing hypochondriac, smoking 100 cigarettes a day; a lady-killer with rotten teeth, causing a string of abortions wherever he went.” On the Soviet poet Mayakovksy.
The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, Michele Filgate talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self.” They also discuss if we’re in a golden age of women essayists. “Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing,” Jamison says.
At a loss for what to read? Goldman Sachs has released their reading list. “We’re talking about people who incurred $550 million in fines for schemes to turn a profit on the civilization-threatening financial crisis they themselves had helped create, and the line between genius and chutzpah is notoriously hard to draw, so, yeah, I’d like to know what’s on these folks’ bedside tables.” Our own Hannah Gersen wrote about Occupy Wall Street and Bartleby, the Scrivener.