December 1st, 2019

Letter from the Editor

LA in the End Times
GBoyer

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I have often found fruit seeds weird in how they sit in the fruit. They are like as pieces of wood set in the middle of a sweet veil of fruity meat. Worst is when some sliver of wood comes free from the seed to sit in a jiggling yellow mango slice for example. It is like witnessing a breach in the universe.

 

Recently, I moved to LA—which is also like a breach in the universe—or more as like a rift between the larger storytelling worlds of Hollywood and the everyday mundane walking around world of Target and Marshall’s. There are places here I have lived through the eyes of Bladerunner, and scenes that have only been touched by the barest inkling of realism. There are homes in the hillocks that are like slices of marble arranged decoratively upon the horizon, and seems people here can glide on through to the other side powered only by the brilliance of their bling.

 

But—as we slide into the unacceptable end times, making the occasional detour through places of no clear definition—as our mouths veer out of themselves in our horror and our eyes become shrink-wrapped in tears—what apocalypse is being written? Here in this shifting miasma in the desert? Are the fires rising? Are the water lapping at our shoes? Do the bureaucrats hint at darker goings on in the pantries just outside the halls of justice? Are the piles of dead animals truly alarming?

 

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November 26th, 2019

From Untoward Magazine

Bend Sinister — Not 1984, Not Brave New World, Not Fahrenheit 451 — is the Defining Dystopian Novel of Our Present Day
Matt Rowan

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Vladimir Nabokov was a Russian, and in perhaps the simplest terms possible, a White Russian (as direct result of the fact that he wasn’t a Red). By his own admission, his personal issues with the Soviets were more romantic than anything else (certainly more than his dislike of their confiscating most every possession his family owned or property they could have laid claim to, which no matter how magnanimous he is in his writings of it, could not have been something he was a-okay with). But here, from Speak, Memory, he says:

 

My old (since 1917) quarrel with the Soviet dictatorship is wholly unrelated to any question of property. My contempt for emigre de Kickovski, who “hates the Reds” because they “stole” his money and land, is complete. The nostalgia I have been cherishing all these years is a hypertrophied sense of lost childhood, not sorrow for lost banknotes.

 

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October 24th, 2019

Through the Eye
Kate Perruzzi

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You are at a BBQ in your uncle’s backyard. Scores of tiny blonde cousins filter around table legs like frenzied fish in a shallow pond. One of them catches their chin on your knee and glares at you. You do not recognize her.
       Your uncle is seated in a low lawn chair beside the buffet of mayonaised foods: potato salad, with and without egg, macaroni salad, chicken salad. None of these are salads, you think, and swig hard on a warm Miller Lite. Your uncle is quiet, transfixed, watching the sky. His eyes are cloudy security glass and the man working the space behind his face is a bank teller on qualuudes.
       A woman—is it Aunt Donna?—comes into view. She is a vision in astroturf, the kind of green that makes your eyes feel tight in their sockets. She sets a course for your right shoulder. You feel the dig of acrylic talons as a slow hiss of margarita mix and menthol cigarettes singes your chin.
       “He seems pretty freakin loopy today, huh?”
       It’s a question without an answer and Donna knows it, tramping back over the lawn to smoke butts with the other aunties.
       Your uncle is what could be called a tinkerer, but you know he’d rather be compared to a surgeon, or maybe better, a coroner: he is fascinated with the undoing of things, removing components from the whole, spreading them around, reassembling. The dark energy of a lonely life willed his rheumatic hands into car engines, rusted gutters, electronics well within the graveyard of obsolescence. As a kid you spent summers in his garage, hands deep in the guts of a downhill derby car. Your uncle would push you down the hill and mimic the soft roar of a crowd as the car’s plywood sides shuddered.
       When a hurricane rolled over the area last year, taking with it a swatch of your uncle’s vinyl siding and some of the roof, he found the car in a drainage ditch, torn to pieces. He sent you a picture, adorned with the emojis of mourning, yellow faces and crystal blue tears.
       The BBQ is idyllically boring. Bruised clouds gather beyond the patchwork of trailer homes in the distance. You drink beer to mark the time. The air, slick with bug spray and gathering rain, is laying in fat jewels on your uncle’s forehead. He stands, knees knocked and nearly touching, and walks over to the buffet.
       Minutes pass. The clouds are tighter now, darkening in their conspiracy. Soft flashbulbs of lighting play on the jellied cole slaw, in front of which your uncle is standing. He’s performing some sort of offbrand Catholic ritual: moving slowly down the buffet, stopping periodically to dance his sleeves just above each plate, baptizing the food. You can’t see his hands. He’s hunched like he’s hiding answers to a pop quiz.
       Finally, he reaches the end of the buffet, stopping at the sad tribe of cupcakes, melted and finger-poked. He turns slightly, just enough to let you see the blue vial in his hands. It’s tiny, no larger than a matchbox, but its presence is giant and toxically out of place, like a handgun in Santa’s lap. He drops the vial into his shirt pocket after upturning the rest of its contents onto a glob of frosting.
       Your bowels cramp in a vain attempt to get you to stand. You don’t. Your uncle wrenches his hunched frame straight, growing by maybe five inches or more. He rotates slowly and meets your eyes. The feeling is something ancient: two strange apes perched on either side of a patch of jungle, the moment dominated by fear, fear of the unknown and fear of being alone. He shrinks back down and runs into the house.
       You scan the lawn, your eyes moving too fast. The siren song of freshly grilled dogs draws the entire party up for round two of food. They’ve been drained by hours of small talk and booze, their guts groaning for processed meats. Babies, fat in their mothers’ arms, are jamming hot dog ends past their gums.
       You enter the house, passing a downed gutter on the way. His house is a humid tunnelwork of dark spaces; as you move through it, you slam a knee or an elbow into things unseen but always hard and designed to hurt you.
       You hear movement and spot him down a hallway, bent over what looks to be a pile of spilled car parts. He stops moving. You are positioned on either end of a passage. Between you is a window, through which you can see the party, their faces made ugly by unclean glass. Thunder curdles the laughter and noise outside; people begin to gather up paper plates and babies, seeking shelter on the porch, peeking through windows, surely looking for your uncle to bring the party indoors.
       Your uncle is holding something, keeping it tight to his side and out of your view.
       “Look out the window,” he says, and you do. You catch the eyes of a young child, not a baby, maybe eight years old. The butt end of a hot dog bun drops from his hand.
       Your uncle moves closer. “Name one person here.” You struggle with the question. It’s like he’s speaking Turkish. Maybe it’s a stroke.
       “Give me a name,” he says, and from his side lifts a polished chrome tube, the end of which is black save for one blinking pinpoint of red light.
       Your uncle speaks: “You don’t know anyone here.” In this moment the truth is as plain and horrible as a tumor poking above the skin: you do not know anyone. He engages the weapon and you fall. You exist for a second in total darkness, but are able to hear. There is commotion outside: if you didn’t know better, the screaming would be from a heated game of wiffleball. Thunder, in earnest now, rocks the floor beneath your head.
       “The storm is here.”

 

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October 23rd, 2019

Song-A-Day

John Manson & Dan Madri

Angels

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John Manson of Neptune and Magic People fame, and Dan Madri, who played with John in The Gondoliers, became involved 4 years ago in a project at the Aviary gallery in Boston, where musicians and artists created a piece a day for the month of January, ending in a gallery show. The project was called Fun-A-Day. (Or FAD.) And now, 4 years later, John and Dan are continuing this tradition under the title Song-A-Day or S.A.D. Here at Mutable, we will be putting up the songs they wrote and recorded in January 2019 over the course of the coming weeks and months. Fun fact: the names of all the songs in this collection come from LFL team names. I hope you enjoy them. Personally, I find John’s lyrical compositions and delivery somewhere between late Leonard Cohen and Scott Walker, and Dan’s bare bones accompaniment only accentuates the song’s stark beauty, making the above track, Angels, truly angelic.


October 4th, 2019

Neptune: Studio Recordings / May, MCMXCVII

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Neptune: Studio Recordings / May, MCMXCVII">

 

Neptune was one of those bands that for the longest time the quintessential Boston art rock band. Jason was one of the first people to start hosting performance art in his loft in JP back in 1994, and his handmade scrap metal guitars have become symbols of another time in Boston—when the apocalypse was a quaint fantasy we longed for with baited breath rather than the disappointing s**tshow it’s turned out to be. Although, Jason has since moved on to the equally remarkable E with Thalia Zedek of Live Skull and Uzi fame, we will always remember with great fondness the mesmerizing grittiness of this particular long-running Sanford project. I will never forget standing in the dark of the Middle East and knocking my head back and forth to the rhythm of beer bottles being smashed in a generic metal trash can as the home-made guitars thrashed and Jason cut new grooves in his throat with his incomparable screams. All lovers of 90′s rock should have a copy of the recently re-released Studio Recordings.

 


September 20th, 2019

Is Still Cool S**t: In Chicago

All the Unseen Things
GBoyer

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Kelly Reaves, Untitled (2019)

 

Among the doodlers, portraitists, conceptual artists, and illustrators, there are some who lurk in a kind of indistinct atmosphere. Their works do not so cleanly fit inside the confines of an ideology. Their ideas follow a more intuitive path. They may be stuck between epochs, like William Blake, or they may be describing a taboo world. I am interested in two such artists that form a kind of subgenre of this larger type and kind of marginalized scribbler. Both of my subjects are holy wreckers who annihilate the very thing they are tasked with presenting—who wrestle with the paradox of the seen world and the unseen spirit—the contemporary Kelly Reaves and Hyman Bloom, an until recently lost artist from the height of Modernism.

 

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April 4th, 2019

Manifesto of the Month

The Unraveling Prism
GBoyer

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1. You Get up in the Morning

 

You get up in the morning, and you go to our job, and you do whatever it is you’ve been trained to do, through school and circumstance, and you come home to this place that you call yours, except for maybe it’s just a rented bit of flooring in some basement and beside a work desk or under someone else’s pillow, but you got a stove to heat your food, and maybe someone to talk to, maybe not, and the years pile on the years, and your body turns to a more brittle version of your body and maybe every once in a while something shatters or starts to wobble in its seat of cartilage. Eventually, one of these things will end you. Is this the dream?

 

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December 3rd, 2017

3 Things

Episode 18: Big Babies, Group Think, & Willpower

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This week on Three Things we talk about adults who never grow up and still live a meaningful life, how no matter how smart we may seem on an individual scale, we’re not too bright in groups, and our struggles with self control.