My Quarantine

“My Quarantine,” a continuing NYR Daily series in which our contributors share how they’re spending their time while social distancing

Bridgeman Images. Suzanne (Marie-Clémentine) Valadon: The Violin Case, 1923

On March 6, 2020, one of the last days of what we might call normalcy, I bought a violin at a thrift store outside Boston. I had spotted it the week before—a Stradivarius copy made in Germany in the late 1970s—and, by violin standards, it was very inexpensive, approximately .0016% of the record price for a real Stradivarius violin. Though it was missing two strings and had some superficial scratches, it appeared to be intact. I plucked it a few times and it made a somewhat pleasing sound. I put it down and left. But I kept thinking about the instrument, and after showing pictures of it to a couple of violinist friends who thought it looked playable, I went back to see if it was still there.…  Seguir leyendo »

Acorn TV. Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

I first drifted into the Father Brown and Miss Fisher television series in 2018, while under the effects of pain medication and postsurgical malaise. Even though my family and I are safely housed, and my own case of Covid-19 has been relatively mild, I see the shadow of prolonged illness all around us, and I’ve instinctively returned to my cozy mysteries.

The traditional cozy is a soft-boiled whodunit featuring an amateur sleuth operating within an intimate community, mostly outside the traditional police force. The sleuth has a contact on the force; their relationship is familiar but often testy. Each episode features one-off characters, affected by a murder, around whom buzz the core characters, who solve the murder.…  Seguir leyendo »

Joseph Okpako/WireImage. Headie One performing at O2 Academy Brixton, London, November 10, 2019

My dad is very sick with a cancer that is spreading and spreading and because he asked, because he never asks, I drove 500 miles away from Manhattan, across the northern border, to help care for him (after, of course, my Canadian government-surveilled quarantine). “Don’t judge me, take care of me,” sings FKA twigs on a two-minute interlude I must have listened to on repeat for an hour straight. The song is off of London drill artist Headie One’s 2020 mixtape with producer Fred again.., GANG, which really got me: confessional, silky, short. On a 2019 song called “Nearly Died,” he raps, “I don’t glamorize jail, them lonely nights, they were shit.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Anthology Film Archives. Darya Zhovner (front) as Ilana and Olga Dragunova as Adina in Closeness, 2017

Lockdown possibility for a new cinematic discovery: the Russian writer-director Kantemir Balagov, a protégé of the last Soviet master Alexander Sokurov, not yet thirty and possibly the most arresting young filmmaker to emerge in the last few years.

Beanpole, Balagov’s beautifully acted second feature—set in Leningrad in 1945, and featuring two shellshocked nurses tending to even more damaged soldiers—won a prize at Cannes last year and was a hit at the 2019 New York Film Festival. It opened in January and is available for streaming on both MUBI and Kinomarquee.

Closeness, Balagov’s first feature, aptly named given its tight framing and the claustrophobic family situation it depicts, can be streamed through Anthology Film Archives.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nobuku Miyamoda as Tampopo and Kinzo Sakura as Shohei testing competitors’ ramen noodles in Tampopo, 1985

Three years ago, a foodie friend recommended the 1985 Japanese film Tampopo, a self-styled “ramen western.” I wasn’t a foodie and I didn’t much care for ramen, so I ignored him. Now dinner has become the thrilling climax of every locked-down day, and my most sensual aesthetic encounters come from the watermelon radishes and candy cane beets that I buy at the farmer’s market. This weekend, I realized that the time had come for me to watch Tampopo—after dinner, of course.

At the beginning of the film, a laconic trucker named Gorō, a Robert Mitchum type in a plaid shirt and cowboy hat, stops for a bite at a dingy roadside ramen shop.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cintra Wilson. The Loch Ness Robot, 2020

There are many things one may learn by being in quarantine, not including that very special ennui that makes you daydream about finding a Halliburton case full of street drugs, or getting hit with a cricket bat by someone in a gimp suit.

For the most part, I have barely noticed the California shelter-in-place order, because, thanks to my childhood friend, the artist Kimberly Brooks, I have been in a gleefully self-imposed quarantine since late last year.

My first contact with Kimberly came in high school, when I was a lowly freshman and she was a sophomore. She was the Queen Bee: the prettiest, bossiest It-Girl in several Bay Area school districts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Luc Sante. Detail from collage, 2020

The Covid-19 quarantine, which has in many other ways decimated my concentration, has revived my collage industry. I started making collages around age thirteen, in part out of frustration at my poor drawing skills and in part because of the lure of unpredictable found objects. The practice reached its peak in my twenties, when I made fliers for bands and had a hand in a zine or two. Then the scene changed, the bands broke up, and I no longer had an audience or a purpose. So I quit making visual work for nearly forty years. But the flame never entirely went out, as proven by the fact that I lugged my materials—piles of magazines, accordion folders full of clippings—from apartment to apartment and house to house, at least nine times.…  Seguir leyendo »