The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

October 6, 2016
by Dan
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Gimme Danger

A Jim Jarmusch documentary about Iggy Pop and The Stooges? YES. Gimme Danger is scheduled for a limited release on October 28th.

January 25, 2016
by Dan
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David Bowie’s Forgotten Non-Fiction Books

Tom Gauld for The Guardian. (And, on a related note, if you are looking for Bowie links, Daniel Benneworth-Gray is compiling a list)

January 8, 2015
by Dan
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Glenn Gould and the Gas Mask

In an interview with CBC Radio in 1958, pianist Glenn Gould recounted how he came to play Beethoven in a gas mask. Now CBC Music have turned that anecdote into a charming short film illustrated by designer Heather Collett, and … Continue reading

October 21, 2014
by Dan
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Iggy Pop’s BBC Music John Peel Lecture

Last week, Iggy Pop delivered this year’s BBC Music John Peel Lecture on the topic of ‘Free Music in a Capitalist Society’ at Radio Festival 2014 in Salford: I worked half of my life for free. I didn’t really think about that … Continue reading

February 7, 2014
by Dan
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Sounds from a Concrete Island

I’m sure there are some of you who’ve already heard of UK sound artist Janek Schaefer. He has, after all, been recording and creating sound installations for past 20 years, and he even won the British Composer of the Year … Continue reading

February 4, 2014
by Dan
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Pete Seeger & Llewyn Davis

Leo Braudy, author of Trying to Be Cool: Growing Up in the 1950s, on the late Pete Seeger and the Coen brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, at the LA Review of Books: Llewyn is the solitary fame seeker, doomed to … Continue reading

December 24, 2013
by Dan
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David Byrne on Creativity and Constraints

David Byrne talks about music, technology and his recent book How Music Works (now out in paperback), at Salon: I’m not saying that the artist doesn’t put their feelings into it, or any part of their biography, but that there’s a lot of … Continue reading

October 30, 2013
by Dan
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Luc Sante on Lou Reed (1942 – 2013)

I wasn’t going to say anything about the death of Lou Reed — what is there to say? Like so many people, I discovered his music in my teens and was just as thrilled and confused by The Velvet Underground … Continue reading

October 1, 2013
by Dan
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Steve Albini: Aspire to Great Things

(This has been doing the rounds, but it is kind of great…) Letters of Note has published the letter Steve Albini sent to the band Nirvana, prior to recording their final album In Utero, laying out his methodology: I like … Continue reading

August 12, 2013
by Dan
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The Birdman

The Birdman is a wonderful — and an award-winning — documentary short by Jessie Auritt about Rainbow Music in New York’s East Village and it’s eccentric owner.  The store just has to be seen to be believed: With CDs, VHSs … Continue reading

July 10, 2013
by Dan
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Uncovered QOTSA

I’m surely oh-so-late to the party on this, but Nouvelle Vague’s Olivier Libaux has recorded a new album of Queens Of The Stone Age covers performed by female singers. The Wall Street Journal spoke to Libaux about the album: “I remember I … Continue reading

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