Monthly Archives: February 2017

Janis Joplin on the Urgency for Love

Towards the end of an innately passionate and deeply sexual live recording of Janis Joplin’s ‘Ball and Chain’, the uniquely beautiful and equally as talented artist reminds us all of the importance of urgency for love within our brief experience we call life. Enjoy…

“And when everybody in the world wants the same damn thing. When everybody in the world who needs the same old thing. When I want to work for your love daddy. When I want to try for your love daddy. I don’t understand… how come you’re gone, man.

I don’t understand why half the world is still crying man, when the other half of the world is still crying too; and I can’t get it together. I mean, if you’ve got a cat for one day, man… say maybe you want a cat for 365 days, right? You ain’t got it for 365 days; you’ve got it for one day… [bctt tweet=”Well I’ll tell you… that one day, better be your life.” username=”cityreadsnyc”] …Because, you know, you can say… you can cry about the other 364, but you’re gonna lose that one day man, and that’s all you got… you gotta call that love; that’s what it is man. If you’ve got it today, you don’t wear it tomorrow; because we don’t need it. Cause’… as a matter of fact… as we discovered on the terrain… tomorrow never happens man; it’s all the same fuckin’ day!

So you gotta… when you wanna hold somebody, you’ve gotta hold’em like its the last minute of your life, baby; you gotta hold it. Cause’ someday some weight is gonna come on your shoulders babe… its gonna feel too heavy, its gonna weigh on ya, its gonna feel just like… a ball and chain.”

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For the actual recording, listen here…

To enjoy the full experience of Janis singing “Ball and Chain” at live at Monterey Pop Festival 1967, watch the video below…

For a truly authentic musical experience of the Festivals entirety…click the image below!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

How did you come across the book?

I watched the movies and fell in love with them. I read The Hobbit in middle school and hated it honestly. But, I am the sort to read the book if I dig the movie… and I really dig the movies!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I’ve gained the perspective that darkness is apart of light; that we have challenges we don’t want to face, but… that we have to face as the person we decide to be. I’ve gained that becoming your enemy only perpetuates the cycle of darkness (Bilbo not killing Gollum when he had the chance) and that villans even have something to teach us and are a necessary part of life. I’ve learned that evil happens whether we are paying attention or not and that good happens whether we are looking for it or not, too. Life comes down to choice; who do you want to be.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend this book to anybody, but… letting go of the fact that not everybody loves fantasy and sci-fi, I would recommend it to fans of the latter genre. I would do this because these ethics represent life. While I admit the racist undertones, as should be acknowledged, the Lord of the Rings series as whole represents exsistence in general in our universe and more relevantly serves as a great metaphor for America during the Trump administration.

A Poem to Share: Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”

Today while listening to Tim Ferriss’ most recent podcast episode, #223: Calming Philosophies for Chaotic Times with Krista Tippett, I was introduced to the beautifully crafted poem below by Mary Oliver, which can be found within her New and Selected Poems, Volume One. Enjoy…

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

If you enjoy posts of this type, let me know! It goes without saying, a poem every now and then is good for the soul!


CityReads NYC

#JustFinished: Dalton Trumbo’s “johnny got his gun”

Sipping my Americano at the corner of Rivington and Clinton at the Lower East Side’s Marm Cafe, I finished one of my current reads; Dalton Trumbo’s “johnny got his gun”. It is my belief that by being exposed to the darkness every now and then we learn to appreciate the light that encapsulates us, the light we to often neglect and overlook. This book provides a healthy dose of the dark. Enjoy…

Is it possible for anything to resist change, even a mere commodity that can be bought, buried, banned, damned, praised or ignored. Johnny held a different meaning for three different wars. Its present meaning is what each reader conceives it to be, and each reader is gloriously different from each other reader, and each is also changing.

I’ve let it remain as it was to see what it is.

Dalton Trumbo

Los Angeles

March 25,1959

But exactly how many hundreds or thousands of the dead-while-living does that give us? We don’t ask. We turn away from them; we avert our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, face.”Why should I look, it wasn’t my fault, was it?” It was, of course, but no matter. Time presses. Death waits even for us. We have a dream to pursue, the whitest white hope of them all, and we must follow and find it before the light fails.

So long, losers. God bless. Take care. We’ll be seeing you.

Dalton Trumbo

Los Angeles

January 3, 1970

The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald

How did you come across the book?

“I was actually in Richmond… where I’m from… and I saw it in a used book store that I use to frequent in college… but, I heard about it through another book I was reading; Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

“I guess in terms of… travel… like what travel writing can be. The author does a great job of situating himself in a certain location, whether it’s Belgium or otherwise, with a deep understanding of the history of the place he is in; he weaves through those two things.”

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend it… (a train whistles by causing momentary hestiation)… Yeah, I mean, I would recommend it to maybe someone who is traveling soon… maybe to someone who is into history. And why? I guess for escape, but also for understanding.

Subway Poetry…

If you live in New York or have traveled here in the past, then you have seen this before. If neither, enjoy…

“As you fly swiftly underground with a song in your ears or lost in the maze of a book, remember the ones who descended here into the mire of bedrock to bore a hole through this granite, to clear a passage for you where there was only darkness and stone. Remember as you come up into the light.”

Brought to you by MTA Poetry in Motion, the Poetry Society of America, and artist Sarah Sze.

– CityReads NYC

Notes From Underground & Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoevsky

How did you come across the book?

“Well, I just decided that I wanted to start with something, you know… when I was about to start reading something in the English language… I wanted to start with a classic, so I decided to start from the East; from the Russian literature. He is, as they say, one of the greatest writers from over there, Dostoevsky… so why not?

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

“Let’s say, so far, I’ve gained good insight into how a different culture…Eastern culture compared to the Western culture thinks. I can then compare my character with the characters in the book…you know, to see where I am compared to all of these guys in life.”

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

“Well, I would definitely recommend it to actors, because it has a huge spectrum of characters with a lot of different roles. And, I would recommend it also to, let’s say the… the writer or someone who is just starting to write professionally… although this type of writer probably already has it in his collection. Also, definitely I would recommend it to high school students or kids… it’s definitely better than staring at your phone and just social networking, liking, sharing.”

The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat

How did you come across the book?

“There is this book store cafe in Ridgewood called Topos…I was wandering the aisles and I stumbled upon it there and I bought it; that’s it.”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

“The whole thing behind the book is that the author…the narrator…is kind of losing his mind in a sense, so he has this very repetitive nature to his narration. As a reader you catch on to the repetitiveness and you realize that he is also forgetting things, which explains the repeating. You end up going through the process with him, as if you’re observing a loved one losing their mind. The book has a very Edgar Allan Poe feel to it, with a hint of Toni Morrison, which I think is amazing; it’s been really cool so far!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

“Oh wow!…I would definitely recommend it, and…actually…I have a person in mind already. I would recommend it to my poetry teacher who I am getting for my new semester; I think he would be really into it. I just had another course with him and it was an amazing course. Just given the style that this is written in, I think it would really intrigue him…and also the fact that it’s by a POC author…along with it being set it the Middle East. These things interest him so I think it would be great!

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

How did you come across the book?

“I came across American Psycho… well I had seen the movie when I was a bit younger, and I don’t think grasped everything that the movie was about. And now, I was in the Strand bookstore, right off of 14th street, Union Square, and I saw it and said to myself I need to read this book. Obviously everybody always says the book is better than the movie and I needed to find out… I thought it was the right time.”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

“I think I’ve been able to, sort of, gain a really vivid picture of some of the things that can go through an individuals mind… one that is obsessed with appearance and material wealth; basically an elitist. It’s putting things into a perspectivethat, I don’t know, maybe all of this, having the top of the line clothes, make-up, workout routine, everything; maybe it’s not as important as we are all made to think.”

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

“I would definitely recommend this book; to anybody. I mean, obviously someone who could handle the language and the graphic imagery that’s being painted. Yeah… I guess it would be… those who would gain the most from reading American Psycho would be those who, you know… maybe find themselves going down the wrong path in life. Maybe someone that is second guessing everything we are being told; everything that the TV tells you, that advertisements tell you. And if they do read this book I think that they will gain a perspective of who they are in this world, rather than subscribing to some ad.”

Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele

How did you come across the book?

“I’m a teacher and my school gave it to me to read.”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

“Well, this guy is not… Oh, what to say! He’s not a great storyteller. It’s not necessarily what you would call a “good read”. But, it’s super interesting if you are at all interested behind the sociology behind stereotypes, and how being… well I guess it’s written for teachers but it’s also just showing how any adult within any situation dealing with youth could help shape their performance based on how they set the situation up. But, if you think about it, age really doesn’t have anything to do with it. Anybody in a position of power, who sets up a situation for anybody else… so bosses, anybody in management, anybody… responsible, should be responsible for other people’s whole selves.”

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

“Yes, I’d recommend it. I would definitely recommend it for all teachers, but I feel like everyone should read this book, especially given the… yeah, given our political climate right now.”