How to Be in Two Places at Once: The Firesign Theatre in the US and Vietnam
Four comedians trained in poetry and psy-ops, Firesign Theatre created dense, album-length art-objects that could take multiple spins to understand. Comedy in the form of abrasive soundscapes that reviewers were as likely to call “frightening” as “funny.” This week, we explore how these albums were heard: in groups, at teenage house parties, in poet John Ashbery’s pot smoke-filled living room, and on military bases in Vietnam.
Antigone is one of the most widely performed plays in the world. Poet Anne Carson’s experimental translation of Sophocles’ tragedy incorporates 2,500 years of its performance and interpretation. The play’s emotional core persists even as we view Antigone through all of the ways she has been viewed and used throughout her history.
The Gospel of Ndegeocello
Meshell Ndegeocello’s debut album kicked off the era of neo-soul, inspiring Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and D’Angelo. Twenty-three years later, Ndegeocello is still making art, but she’s expanded her medium with a new project that’s part theater, part church revival, with an unexpected saint at its center.
A 700-Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream
From in utero to the studio, Clive Desmond gives us a history of the golden age of radio ads, featuring Frank Zappa, Ken Nordine, Linda Ronstadt, and Randy Newman. While the 1960s shift in print and TV advertising has been heavily documented and mythologized by Mad Men , Madison Avenue’s radiophonic collision with the counterculture is less well known. Here, in Clive’s private tour, each jingle becomes a Proustian madeleine.
The Ideological Organ
In Stockholm, an organist plays hymns in a cathedral; at night, he sleeps in a makeshift recording studio in the cathedral’s basement where he composes otherworldly electronic music based on a Hungarian translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead .