Catastrophe within catastrophe

j hoberman night living dead romero metrograph

At The New York Review of Books, critic J. Hoberman writes about Night of the Living Dead and its “apocalyptic vision of societal collapse.” The film, based on an in-process script and shot in black and white due to budgetary constraints, earned millions upon its release in 1968. From J. Hoberman:

As the marauding ghouls provide a grimly hilarious cross-section of ordinary Americans, so Night of the Living Dead offered the most literal possible image of the nation devouring itself, as it brought the Vietnam War home, importing the destructive violence of Watts, Newark, and Detroit to bucolic Middle America. Not for nothing is one dazed character, traumatized by the attack of a cannibal ghoul in an American flag-bedecked cemetery, forever mumbling, “What’s happening?” It was the question of the hour.

Read J. Hoberman’s piece, and see Night of the Living Dead on the big screen at Metrograph in NYC.

Image © 2017 Sean Phillips. Buy his poster at Criterion.

Everybody digs Bill

At The Believer, Steve Silberman explores the life and work of influential jazz pianist Bill Evans and “Nardis,” a piece written in 1958 by Miles Davis but never actually recorded by him:

For three takes, the band diligently tried to make it work, but (trumpeter Richard “Blue”) Mitchell couldn’t wrap his head around it, particularly under Miles’s intimidating gaze. The producer of the session, legendary Riverside Records founder Orrin Keepnews, ended up scrapping the night’s performances entirely.

The next night was more productive. After capturing tight renditions of “Blue Funk” and “Minority,” the quintet took two more passes through “Nardis,” yielding a master take for release, plus a credible alternate. But the arrangement still sounded stiff, and the horns had a pinched, sour tone.

Only one man on the session, Miles would say later, played the tune “the way it was meant to be played.” It was the shy, unassuming piano player, who was just shy of twenty-eight years old. His name was Bill Evans.

As a sideman, Bill Evans performed on seminal albums from Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderley, and more. Recorded over the course of several sets one night in June of 1961, Sunday at the Village Vanguard is the work of the widely celebrated trio that Evans put together after a troubled stint at Manhattan’s Basin Street East. It’s one of the most popular live jazz recordings of all time. “If you are vulnerable to this music, you are completely vulnerable to it,” wrote The New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik of Evans’s work in 2001.

In the August 2018 issue of The Believer, Silberman writes about the beginnings of the Bill Evans Trio, the “full-on musical obsession” that is ‘Nardis,’ and Evans’s crippling struggles with heroin and cocaine. Read that piece now.


Two of us sending postcards, writing letters

Just after her baby Riel was born in March of 2015, comics artist, painter, and illustrator Alison McCreesh began to fantasize about carting him and her husband Pat on a sprawling journey that would take them to regions of the world that are classified  under the “Circumpolar” category — Finland, Russia, Greenland (Denmark), and elsewhere.

norths postcard comics alison mccreesh