Recently by Colin Fleming:

   

As a kid, I had what I thought of as two epic walks that I could take. The less frequent one was by far the longer of the two, although it never felt as such to me when I kitted myself out with a mini-frame backpack and set off into the woods behind our house for a two mile romp, pretending I was Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone come upon the latest jungle, with a baseball bat-like piece of wood wrapped in hockey tape at the base for a grip serving as my extemporized machete. I was not the coolest kid. But it was my other epic walk, which couldn’t have been more than a fifth of a mile, that always felt like the more Lewis and Clark-worthy trip, with so much of my future happiness… More…

When I was a kid, one of my greatest pleasures was staying up super late, when I thought everyone else was long in bed, reading Three Investigators books and getting spooked out of my mind in this easy-going, chummy kind of way. It was like I was in the company of good friends, and we were all in for some scares that we knew, collectively, we’d see our way through. I’d bargain with myself, saying, “okay, one more chapter, and then we really need to get to bed,” and on I’d read until two, three in the morning, always adding yet another chapter to my ongoing haggling until at last I gave in when I thought the sun was all set to find me out.

What appealed most to me, I now realize, was this idea of a compact between book and reader, like you were in on something together,… More…

   

When I first got into the Beatles — at the age of 14, blaring a cheap greatest hits tape on my Walkman as I cut the grass — there was this attendant, shady kind of metrics that went along with my thoughts about the band.

Not just my thoughts, I discovered, but the thoughts of anyone with whom you endeavored to have any kind of Beatles-based talk. Parents, a music teacher, the glazed over, vaguely stoned high school freshman down the street who had suburban street cred on account of the fact that he said he liked the Doors. For instance, you thought the Beatles, naturally, must have had scads of albums, more than you could ever find the time to listen to properly.

“Dude, they have like 200 records,” the Doors kid would… More…

   

Anyone who has ever really gotten into an artist, regardless of medium, spends a decent amount of time thinking about what everyone else is missing out on. You assume that if your writer of choice is, say, F. Scott Fitzgerald, that people have read The Great Gatsby or a classic short story or two, but they’ve probably missed out on The Crack Up or The Love of the Last Tycoon, a likelihood that both saddens and frustrates you and makes you feel like wanting to be a shill in that, come on, you must check this out way. (Alternative variant: If you liked such and such, wait until you see this and that!) Or so it feels anyway. With some artists, it’s hard to resist the temptation to take up the cause of what I call their… More…

Jazz fans have never exactly wanted for live albums. If you’re a fan of the genre and have any kind of collection, it likely contains stacks of field recordings. There seems to be a maxim for rock ’n’ roll fans that every top act produces one legit live classic, but you could pick up a second job and still not make much headway into rounding up the full live catalogs of jazz heavy hitters such as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington. These guys recorded everywhere and seemingly in every which way — at small clubs by running lines to equipment set up in the kitchen; on radio broadcasts at surf ’n; turf joints, festivals, and, in the case of Albert Ayler’s sending off tenor hero Coltrane, funerals. But what you don’t get a lot of is honest-to-goodness big band one-nighters in the middle of nowhere.

The… More…

If you’re not overly familiar with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary output, you might deduce that it’s perfectly natural for a Fitzgerald story to give rise to a positively Gump-ian movie like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Thanks to its box office haul, critical idolatry, and stash of Oscar nominations, the film has become one of those Fitzgerald touchstones that double as a kind of authorial typecasting when we think of his legacy.

 

People commonly view Fitzgerald through the myths that grew up around his life and work. Like The Great Gatsby, a book everyone reads in high school as The Great American Novel, in 10th-grade teacher speak; and maybe This Side of Paradise, which tends to get written up as the purest novelistic distillation of the college experience. Then there’s the biographical tales of drink and excess,… More…