Sites to See

I Can Has Bestseller?

( William S. Burroughs followed his under a table. Margaret Atwood flaunted hers in a Life magazine cover shoot. And perhaps fittingly, William Carlos Williams had three. I speak of the one thing every successful author needs for their jacket photo: a cat that looks like it would rather be anywhere else. Writers and Kitties celebrates the longstanding association of cats and their pet writers through a collection of photographs—some of them professional, many of them candid, all of them cute as heck. We see Rod McKuen and his cat listening to records, waiting for the muse to favor; we see comic book writer Grant Morrison and his fearless kitty sidekick poised for immediate action; we see Elizabeth Bishop, Joyce Carol Oates and Haruki Murakami taking much-needed cat breaks. Speaking from personal experience, cats are perfect pets for writers; they provide distraction when it’s needed and mind their business when it’s not. Conversely, cats love writers because we can’t afford to go out very often, and because we can open cans. That’s about it.

Scheherazade With Earbuds

( This one stings a bit. Here are the facts: The author of Liz’s 1001 Albums is a 25-year-old former sorority girl from Southern California who loves pugs and spaghetti and Joni Mitchell. By her own confession, she “knows nothing about music”—lots of Adam Lambert on that iPod—but she is curious enough about popular music to want to get out of her “tiny music bubble.” One day, she pulled her copy of Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (Universe, 2006) off the bookshelf, and committed to listening to one album a day for 1001 days. She’s about halfway through the project now.

That’s it; that’s what Liz’s 1001 Albums is about. Her enthusiasm and self-discipline are admirable, but I confess that it became difficult for me to keep sight of those traits once I began reading her daily reports. This is cultural writing by someone who came of age in the mid-1990s, at which point the remakes, reboots and retreads began in earnest—and as a result, she tends to describe classic albums with cringe-inducing naiveté. The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Gilded Palace of Sin is “like a retro Rascal Flatts.” Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones is “an Austin Powers movie on fast-forward.” The debut album by The Specials is “one of those that you could stick on in the background at your Caribbean-themed dinner party.” And it probably goes without saying that she detests Frank Zappa, the Residents and punk rock in its entirety. This is the anti-Pitchfork; if ever she visited the offices of that music website, the resulting matter/antimatter collision would vaporize millions.

It Is Written

( Photographers love it when photos say something. This Flickr group is full of people holding signs, which kind of defeats the whole “picture is worth a thousand words” thing. Still, when those signs say things such as “smile if you masturbate” and “the admins have no power,” you have to wonder … what’s the story? It’s gotta be at least 1,500 words, right?

Suggested Next Read

Arcade Fire

Concert Review

Arcade Fire

By Cindi Reed

In a single concert, Arcade Fire gave the question and answer to all my buried adolescent longing. Yes, I grew up in the suburbs. And yes, on their April 14 sold-out performance at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel, the eight-piece band played many songs from The Suburbs, their most recent album. Every song—including the ones from Funeral and Neon Bible—was epic in a wistful, generous and celebratory way.