wax banks

second-best since Cantor

Category: 100words500things

Pratchett.

Wodehouse was funnier (than everyone) but featherlight. Adams was better at jokes, especially long ones, but hopeless at plots. And neither created a living world as Pratchett did. The Discworld (particularly Ankh-Morpork) is a perfect fictional canvas: geographically, culturally, temporally, and generically flexible, functioning neatly as fantasy-paperback parody and — forgive me — canvas for ‘Dickensian’ social satire. Every single Discworld novel I’ve read has brought me to tears, which is down to Pratchett’s greatest strength, his furious humanity. His characters are alive. They are people. He loved them. Even Death! We’re lucky to have had him.

Deadwood.

By some standard the greatest of the Golden Era TV shows, a work of rare genius. Features the best dialogue, grandest lead performance (Ian McShane as Swearengen), deepest ensemble cast, and some of the most subtly brilliant directing in American TV history. Along with The Wire (a polemic), the richest rendering of a living community in that medium. John from Cincinnati is its direct sequel, foregrounding Deadwood‘s magical/spiritual subtext at dramatic cost. Had Deadwood finished its status as TV’s Lear would be unchallenged. I should know better than to get my hopes up about the planned movie.

Alcohol.

Bourbon over ice, dark beer, ruby port, or we’ll need to talk first. A bottle of coconut rum got me into a situation with a redhead once. I had a period of drinking alone in my room, stupidly, bringing no relief from a situation with two brunettes. Threw a half-full bottle of Knob Creek into the sea at an all-night beach party. Summer 2000 I filled most of a thick notebook on two bourbons three (four?) nights a week at a terrible bar on Boylston Street. Now a single whiskey ruins my sleep. But I miss its sweet sting.

Herbie Hancock.

Adapted effortlessly to the Rhodes/synth phase-transition in jazz. Enormous harmonic vocabulary, populist melodism, and an experimental streak best expressed within his Mwandishi collective, one of the essential 70s bands. Only Miles caught deeper groove without sacrificing rich jazz language (and even then…). Their Sextant and Crossings establish terms of ecstatic prototechno beat science. Headhunters would retreat from their deadliest implications and so achieve enormous commercial success. Modern groups like MMW cross those streams without quite equalling Mwandishi’s purity of spiritual intent or Headhunters’ erotic-machinic pinpoint funk. His cameo in Another Kind of Blue is heartbreaking and beautifully true.