Jamie Stewart, a square-jawed man with a razor-sharp side-part, has a low voice, a few tattoos, and the airs of someone with a strict hygiene regimen. Stewart is the anchor behind Xiu Xiu, a dark experimental act out of San Jose, whose combination of relentless nihilism and dry humor often splits the critics. Stewart is Xiu Xiu’s only constant player –– the band has added and shed eleven members since forming in 2002 –– and the band’s sound, like its membership, is always changing. Their repertoire ranges from the grim and percussive Angel Guts: Red Classroom, to Plays the Music of Twin Peaks (a bleak but lovingly rendered take on the cult TV show’s soundtrack), to Nina (an out-there tribute album to Nina Simone, that sounds more like an out-of-breath Anohni [à la Hopelessness] than anything from the Simone catalogue) to the upbeat, nearly noise-pop Forget, the band’s tenth release, which came out this past February.
What do you make of a forefinger (both hands) much larger in circumference than the other fingers –– really about the same proportion to circumference of fingers that my thumb is –– I had never noticed until yesterday.The rest of the letter can be found in the Special Collections of Houghton Library.
Division of the body in western funereal practices has historically been reserved for the highest and lowest dead. Dismemberment has been at once permitted –– celebrated even –– by the Church and considered the greatest of abominations. When the Murder Act of 1751 was passed in Great Britain, for example, the punishment for all criminals executed on murder offenses was a public dissection and subsequent display of the stripped corpse. That same year, William Hogarth published a threatening series of engravings following the life of a criminal from childhood to his public execution. The fourth and final engraving, The Reward of Cruelty, shows Nero’s body, hanged, cut from the gallows, and spread on a surgeon’s table in a crowded anatomical theatre as three men set about taking him apart.At the same time, however, the Church had made a habit of saving and displaying the various “relics” (read: body parts) of monarchs and saints.
Three nights ago, I was sitting at the corner table of my high school friend’s yellow-lit kitchen –– he was the high school friend whose house always served as the default place to hang, a default we default to even four years out of high school –– playing Hearts. In the background of our card game, as each of us tried and failed to “shoot the moon,” a tinny cellphone speaker squeaked out the most persistent & divisive Christmas song of all time. The song in question is, of course, “Last Christmas,” by the 80’s music duo Wham!, one half of whom is George Michael, namesake to Michael Cera’s character in Arrested Development and the most recent in a line of beloved figures to have passed away during 2016.“Last Christmas” is one of those seasonal songs on which everyone seems to have an opinion, no one of which is exactly the same.