Let’s call this the month when the proverbial shit hit the fan, and we’re still facing the weird realisations of what this ever changing new normal means. There is a flood of COVID-19 related information everywhere, and after a period of frenzied online activity, I have decided to restrict my doses of disbelief and terror to twice a day, like a bitter medicine with uncertain effects. I may at one point write that ‘diary of the plague year (hope they are just months, though)’ that every failed author is mentally penning right now, until then, the below collection is mainly virus- free content, minus a picture of some tulips and a disinfectant, my joint best friends this spring.
Soundtracks. We were recently wondering what is Yonderboi up to, came to no conclusion, but the man made an album called Splendid Isolation back in 2005, and we should really pay more attention to our prophets. Many artists decided to cancel not just upcoming gigs (which makes sense) but upcoming albums as well (a bit less so), but Thomas Dybdahl went ahead, bless his soul, and released Fever. Other exciting new releases include albums by Torres (Good Grief is pretty aptly titled too), US Girls and a fresh and daring effort from Jessie Reyez– I may stir some completely irrelevant controversy here, but there is nevertheless one thing that sounds clunky and dated on her album and that is Eminem. Riz Ahmed channels the zeitgest and is (justifiably) very angry, while Paul Banks of Interpol channels himself and is (justifiably) very morose on a tune upliftingly called Bad Feeling. The Killers also channel themselves and are thus the upbeat opposite of the two previous gentlemen, though a track about throwing caution to the wind might have been better timed. Finally, this absolutely wonderful achievement of mock Alex Turner covering Bad Guy– a vast improvement of a fairly overrated song, whenever I felt a bit down these days I would conjure the tantalizingly smooth ‘duh’ as heard below.
Visual backdrops&mental travel. In my splendid isolation, I’ve (re)discovered the existence of my Pinterest, and created a new board, which includes footage of Andrei Tarkovski reading in bed, and Diego Maradona wearing extremely fetching pajamas. (Speaking of football, yes I am worried about Liverpool’s title and yes I sometimes re-watch Luis Suárez goals for comfort.) Without a very clear connection, I was struck by three photography collections: one documenting the photographer’s marriage, a series about women in Crimea and the works of Claire Rothstein. The travels I imagined have mostly led me to the Balkans (perhaps because, worst case scenario and the airline industry implodes, I can always try to walk there, or run, Forrest Gump style): there was modernism in Bucharest, avant garde music in Skopje and never ending love for spomeniks. Also, look at these lovely trees.
Reading corner. Most people seem to approach this period as that time when they will finally catch up on all they series they could not watch before, but for the time being I am stuck with having rewatched a couple of episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (that’s the best intro of anything ever, by the way) and a plan to rewatch 2001: A Space Odyssey on account of having bumped into Arthur C.Clarke in one of the books I was reading. Reading helps me disconnect more from the surrounding existential angst, and I’ve event spent some idle hours penning a couple of books lists compiled on sentimental grounds here and here. Since football podcasts are a bit low on fresh content these days (but lots of people are posting favourite game pieces, of which my favourite so far is this one) ,I’ve even returned to an old love, namely the Guardian books podcast, with a recent episode on a book about the works of Pieter Bruegel, some of which had come my way during the now so romantically remembered early February outing to Vienna. Since I always live in a constant fear of running out of books to read (the mountain of books in the corner of my bedroom is an odd sidenote here), I’ve set my eyes on this lovely book by and about Nick Cave, an intriguing read on bullshit jobs, and a book set on the island of Hydra (because Leonard Cohen, of course). It’s not much of a read, but you can browse French Vogue online, perhaps while also scouring some online shop for that one item that will change your life.
Finally, unrelated to the above, and orphaned of an actual bits and bobs section, here is the kind of news item I wish to see on front pages in the near future, cause all else is well in the world and we’re having slow days because we feel like it and not because we have to.