Found: A Magpie Treasure

While creating a Magpie List is designed to be a quick, painless, no-pressure procedure, sometimes someone gleefully throws away any Magpie suggestions to abandon “thinking too much,” and sends along their in-depth explanations. And honestly… we love this. Los Angeles artist Greta Svalberg has eloquently described each item on her list with such consideration that I decided her own words deserved some special Magpie attention.

Greta’s treasures provided me with an entire evening of exploring artists and music about whom I would probably otherwise never have learned. I am excited to explore further, and hope TML readers feel inspired to do the same!

And so. In her own words…

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, TOP 10, By Greta Svalberg

1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace A sci-fi thriller/ self help addiction recovery book/ grammar lesson/ tennis lesson/ boston epic/ Incandenza family document/ comedic romp. It took me six months to read and I wish it lasted longer.

2. “Echidna’s Arf” & “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?” by Frank ZappaW on Roxy & Elsewhere I love so much of Zappa. My favorite era is Hot-Rats- Grand Wazoo- Waka/Jawaka. These compositions are so complex, the performances beyond beautiful to the sublime abyss cliff edge explosion distortion echo silence mushroom cloud. He composed these songs while confined to a wheelchair with devastating injuries, after being pushed by a deranged fan into an orchestra pit headfirst.

3. Dan Graham Rock My Religion Most of Dan Grahams work creeps me out. His video Rock My Religion is one of my favorites ever.

4. Jan Svankmajer  Darkness/Light/Darkness This film is Surrealist Czechoslovakian stop motion animation. He has many great short films, and also executed the best Alice in Wonderland rendition ever.

5. Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, 10:00 every night on 640 KFI A radio show about paranormal everything, current events, and alternative perspectives in general. They always have great environmental reporting- they were the first I heard to report the BP gulf oil spill. They also talk about physics, history, astronomy, and medicine. Some of their expert guests are silly and entertaining characters, some will blow your mind.

6. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon This book will make you want to consume raw milk, red meat, soaked grains, and fermented vegetables. Throughout the book are anthropological nutrition anecdotes by Weston Price and others. A cookbook with philosophical substance.

7. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein This book is bleak and filled with horrors, but discusses neoliberalism/ neoconservativism/ free market zealotry in a clear way. The history of economic horribleness in Chile, Argentina, USSR/Russia, Iraq, and New Orleans is laid out in plain language.

8. The World is A Beautiful Place by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t mind happiness

not always being
so very much fun

if you don’t mind a touch of hell

now and then

just when everything is fine

because even in heaven

they don’t sing

all the time

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t mind some people dying

all the time

or maybe only starving

some of the time

which isn’t half bad

if it isn’t you

Oh the world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t much mind

a few dead minds

in the higher places

or a bomb or two

now and then

in your upturned faces

or such other improprieties

as our Name Brand society

is prey to

with its men of distinction

and its men of extinction

and its priests

and other patrolmen

and its various segregations

and congressional investigations

and other constipations

that our fool flesh

is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all

for a lot of such things as

making the fun scene

and making the love scene

and making the sad scene

and singing low songs

and having inspirations

and walking around

looking at everything

and smelling flowers

and goosing statues

and even thinking

and kissing people

making babies and wearing pants

and waving hats and


and going swimming in rivers

on picnics

in the middle of the summer

and just generally
’living it up’


but then right in the middle of it

comes the smiling


9. Paul Thek The Wonderful World That Almost Was For awhile this was the only book on the artist Paul Thek and it was very out of print. It still is out of print, but there are others now… this one is still the best one.


10. Mr. Show I have seen every episode many times. Hilarious to the point of poignant happiness and joy.



See, I told you it was worth acknowledging! Find Gretchen’s Magpie List amongst the many other interesting treasures here at TML, and submit a list of your own. (Explanations appreciated but not expected!)


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