It’s just about fall (if you’re in the south, this is a GODSEND, at least in terms of weather). If you’re in school or teach, the shit is just starting to hit the fan. The empire is crumbling. What will soundtrack this special moment in your/our life(s)? Here’s an annotated playlist to address all your dystopian needs! Click here to listen to the mix.
- “Sapokanikan” by Joanna Newsom: A song about temporality, love, the end of the empire, staying despite the constant-crumble, looking for the blurry remains of the past on top the ever-shifting present, and living in spite of and because of all this. Thanks, Joanna. Did I mention that it sounds like a belle epoque ragtime waltz?
- “Terrence Loves You” by Lana Del Rey: Possibly the saddest LDR song yet, and if you listen to the woman you know this is a big time statement. Stuck between wanting to listen to it endlessly because it’s so beautiful– those melodies and sad saxes!– and wanting to shut it off because it makes you want to get majorly fetal with tears.
- “I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues” by Sam Cooke: Cooke covering Billie Holiday means that this entire record is a dream. I picked this song so I wouldn’t be bumming you out too hard at the top of the mix. It’s a song about feeling blue but also demands your right to sing/feel the blues, with big horns and Cooke’s simultaneously joyful/melancholy phrasings.
- “Ha Howa Ha Howa” by Sexwitch: Natasha Khan’s new side project is covering Middle Eastern traditional songs in a psychedelic howling haze. This bass line grooves really hard and Khan lets loose with her voice in a way she’s never done with Bat for Lashes. A song to do mushrooms to; hypnotic chanting musculature.
- “Cheyenne” by Jason Derulo: Did I ever think I would be madly in love with any Derulo songs? Um, no. Not that past songs were bad, just a little “eh.” But the two singles he’s released from his new record are KILLER; all ’80s new wave plus R&B vocal lines and big, driving energy. This song is a little goth, like how Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” is goth.
- “The Hills” by The Weeknd: Another goth pop song. Dark, weird, and drunk on its own scuzz. Maybe the weirdest radio hit I’ve heard in awhile. Slow, sinister, cruel, sad, and enigmatic.
- “Coke White Starlight” by Mykki Blanco: This sounds like early/mid- ’90s NIN gone excellently wild: queer hip hop/electronica gone ballistic. The beats will get in your bloodstream quick so come prepared to receive it.
- “Gingerbread Coffin” by Rasputina: A sweet doll burial narrative full of soft-tinkering, Melora Creager’s signature wavering melodies, and those wistful, strong cellos lines. This song has always felt like autumn to me; I see the colors of changing leaves in it.
- “Strange Fruit” by Siouxsie & the Banshees: This cover of the iconic lynching-protest song burns like a dead star under the waves of Siouxsie Sioux’s gorgeous, huge, weeping/sweeping vocals. The instrumentation– mostly strings, until a foray into sad, slow New Orleans-style brass band appears mid-way through– foregrounds the fact that this song is a dirge; an eternal funeral-song for America’s eternal-racisms.
- “Dolly” by Blatz: Blatz’s punk chaos feels apt right after “Strange Fruit,” if only because America is the dolly you constantly “don’t wanna play with anymore,” at least not in its current/past form. What do we do when there’s no shelf to put it away on? (That shelf burned down long ago).
- “Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)” by Run the Jewels feat. Zach de la Rocha: I first heard Run the Jewels in a car ride from Athens, GA to Tuscaloosa, AL with Sade Murphy. We were going to do a reading and had a four hour drive there one day, four hours back the next. While our drive was soundtracked by many artists important to me– Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj– my memory of RTJ on that car ride remains fiery. These songs sounded like the soundtrack to an ecstasy of rage, the energy you need to keep burning through days simultaneously filled with sorrow and joy.
- “Munchies for Your Love” by Bootsy Collins: Cuz we all gotta eat and there’s no better jam for it than a Bootsy jam.
- “La La Means I Love You” by The Delfonics: William Hart’s vocals are both classic and too weird to be so. The Delfonics’ hits are perfect top 40s gems: catchy as hell, beautifully arranged, creating their own insular kind of nostalgia that makes me pine for some time that has never existed.
- “Occident” by Joanna Newsom: Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sick Newsom fangirl, hence the bookending of this playlist with her tunes. Her new record, Divers, comes out 10/23, and you can expect me to be adequately insufferable in its wake for six months at the LEAST. (The first song on this mix is from the forthcoming album). This song, from her 2010 record Have One On Me, was a grower– not one that initially grabbed me and held me close. But these lyrics, once you fasten to them, are undeniable: “To leave your home and your family/for some distortion of property/well, darling I can’t go, but you may stay/here with me.” And so, as we are here on earth for the time being, thank you for staying a moment in these songs, with me.
Welcome to #FutureLitDarlings, a series dedicated to authors I (in my personal opinion) are really writing amazing, unique stuff. How it works: I call out a handful of authors, ones that might not get as much attention in and around various lit circles as they should, be it because they are new or simply underrepresented; the authors named are given a week to send me some writing to feature in subsequent posts here, on ENCLAVE. Simple and encouraging–as is my hope. The end result, ideally, is for this to be a continual showcase championing the depth and vibrancy of our community.
The first callout consisted of Matthew Bookin, Lauren Hilger, Frankie Zelnick, Elle Nash, Len Kuntz, Jordaan Mason, and Nadia de Vries.
First to reply was Len Kuntz, and therefore, this post is dedicated to Kuntz and his unique brand of fiction. Have a look, you’ll see that he’s onto something exciting. We’re coping. –Michael J Seidlinger
The Other Kids
People stare at us. They always do.
When I lurch at a gawking granny near Ivar’s, she shrieks, then calls Ruby and me animals.
It’s raining big, fat-assed drops the size of coins. Just started pouring. I didn’t bring a hat for Ruby, so I take my jacket and stuff it around her crooked neck and head. She flaps an arm at me, maybe protesting, but I say, “I’m fine. I’m part-fish, part-salmon.”
Business is worse when it rains, but if you only go out on nice days, you’d starve.
Ruby’s wheelchair has a wobble to it. Last week something got busted when we had to take a curb.
I pull the sign out, the Folgers Coffee can and set them at Ruby’s feet. It rains harder. Might be a short day.
Our spot is off the pier by The Ferris Wheel. A better place would be uptown, around Nordstrom, but it’s a bitch—nearly impossible—wheeling Ruby up and down those hills.
The accident that killed our parents and damaged Ruby happened a long time ago. Afterward, I was sent to a Foster Home and Ruby to a place that cares for the brain-dead. When I got old enough, I fled, found Ruby and got her the hell away. Even though things are hard, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Here comes Isaac a few blocks away. I can tell from the way he walks–with a side-to-side sash shay—that he’s packing.
Ruby and I beg, but we soon learned we needed something to sell, so now it’s drugs, mostly pills and pot that Isaac brings us. I never ask where he gets the stuff and he never says.
Isaac’s coiled hair is rust-colored but brighter, the shade of Doritos. “Where’s your jacket?”
I point to Ruby. She’s crumpled in her chair, neck invisible, her head a contorted skull wearing skin.
I remember when my twin was young, how she liked to put Mom’s makeup on dolls, set up parties where the dolls traded secrets.
“Man, you’re a piece of work,” Isaac says. He always tells me this, like I’m a fuck-up or a genius, I can never tell which.
He takes off the enormous puffy jacket he’s wearing–there’s a smaller one underneath–and gives it to me.
“Yeah. Pockets are full.”
When I put it on, I feel the baggies in each pocket—one stuffed with pills, the other a wad of dope.
“You really gonna hang out here,” Isaac asks, “getting pissed on all day?”
“A man’s gotta make a living.”
He looks at Ruby, just for a split second, then back at me. There’s something in his face that I can’t get a hold on. He won’t stop staring, so I look away. “A piece of work,” he says, “that’s what you are.”
I watch Isaac disappear down the street, swallowed up by a swath of fog coming off Elliot Bay and burying Cutters.
“Hey, Rube,” I say, squatting down beside my sis, “know what today is?”
Her eyes slide and roll, but that could be anything.
“It’s our birthday. We’re seventeen.” I finally get a cigarette lit and the burn is the best feeling. If Ruby were right, she’d never let me smoke. She’d be the boss. We’d both be in school, but she’d be the one getting the good grades.
“I thought we’d celebrate tonight. You know, get dinner at someplace nice.”
In my mind I hear her say, “But not too expensive. We have to start saving for college.” In my mind, Ruby’s five foot eight, an athlete, a gymnast maybe.
I hear Ruby say, “Maybe we should stop selling drugs, get a real job.”
“How’s that going to work?”
Today marks the commencement of the 4th edition of MAINLINE. It’s been a shitty winter for the northeast and everyone is freezing their balls off but that only means there’s no greater time to ensconce yourself in literature than during the height of winter. This is Mainline, where past winners like Andrea Kneeland, M Kitchell, Carolyn Zaikowski, Katie Jean Shinkle, and Darby Larson won book deals with CCM. This is for real. This is supposed to be fun, and insane.
As of February 8th, send me a novel, novella(s), collection, or something totally different, a hybrid of some sort to firstname.lastname@example.org. Around 9pm EST every day, I will announce the top 5 manuscripts on Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, right here, on ENCLAVE. On Sunday, February 15th, I’ll announce the winner alongside 3 runner-ups. Manuel Abreu will be rocking Mainline with me, working through all those submissions. Give Manuel a shout-out, much needed for when the eyes start to bleed. First edition of Mainline in 2015. Let’s do this.
NOTE: Send submissions to email@example.com along with a brief synopsis for the work in the body of the email. Direct ALL questions to the same email address. Do not message or tweet at me or Manuel (or Michael Copeland). All inquiries via social media will be disregarded. This is the only way to maintain both sanity and a level playing field. No lobbying, people. We’re coping.