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May 29, 2007

Note Books - Jerry Dannemiller

The Note Books series features musicians discuss their literary side. Past contributors have included John Darnielle, John Vanderslice, and others.

As a member of Moviola, Jerry Dannemiller has crafted some of the finest lo-fi pop I have ever heard. The band lives the DIY ethic, recording their albums themselves. As an example, the band's latest album, Dead Knowledge (released officially on June 5th), was recorded after hours in Columbus, Ohio's Used Kids Records.

Moviola's latest album, Dead Knowledge, is available at Catbird Records.

Jerry Dannemiller has contributed stories to NPR, The Columbus Dispatch, Magnet, and many more publications.

In his own words, here is Jerry Dannemiller's Note Books entry:

I moved around a lot in my youth, born in Kentucky, moved to Ohio, to Pittsburgh, back to Ohio, Tupelo, Mississippi, Washington D.C., back to Ohio (sense a pattern there?)--nothing too exotic. All was a fairly tame existence (I was always the new kid), so the things that I did manage to hold dear (much like many, no doubt) were music, books, and basketball, which got me through some unfamiliar times and new locations. That said, I’ve never been what you might call a voracious reader, more utilitarian, than anything else. Over the past 15 years or so, my reading habits have been more sporadic, and have always found that reading (any style) was a great palate cleanser after having written about music for years and years. I write about music infrequently now, as my job, my band, and my 3-year-old, Leroy, keep me quite fulfilled. Rather than recount the reading list which was part of my adolescence (Vonnegut, O’Toole, Salinger, Maugham, Harper Lee), I thought I’d throw in some recent reads (and some picture books) which keeps me curious and may or may not be of interest to folks. Cheers.

Power Politics – Arundhati Roy
If you ever want to run the gamut of feelings from disgust to outrage to resignation to empowerment to inspiration, Roy is the perfect path. Even though this book is nearly seven years old at this point, a lot of her arguments and descriptions are scarily prophetic concerning globalization, the rise of terrorism, Western greed and lack of diplomacy. After a while on this earth, you begin to realize when you’re in the company of someone of extreme intelligence, and you just stand back and let them talk. Power Politics is such a moment.

Pathways to Unknown Worlds: Sun Ra, El Saturn, and Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground 1954-68
I was in Chicago last year on a freezing day right after Thanksgiving and had a whole day with nothing planned and somehow stumbled on the Hyde Park Art Center’s Sun Ra exhibition. This catalog documents that exhibition of lost treasures from Ra’s early time in Chicago, full of original album art, manifestos, woodcuts, show tickets, and more. A fantastic primer on the early machinations of the man and collective which serves to slightly demystify, but ultimately makes him no less fascinating.

Compact Houses – Christina del Valle
I live in the heart of the midwest, surrounded by large Ohio State football fans, suburban sprawl, and Hummers, so this book has become a great antidote to all that, showcasing creative use of land and materials in homes all under 1300 s.f. Whenever I get bummed out reading about new housing developments, which lead to inevitable foreclosures, I go to this gorgeous book which shows off the fact that there are many people (some here in Ohio) who understand that bigger isn’t better.

The Courtship of Jim Jones – Julie Otten
A biased listing here, to be sure, as Julie Otten is a good friend and the wife of my bandmate Ted Hattemer, but don’t let that diminish what is an otherwise riveting alternate-universe take on Jonestown (and more). Julie’s writing exists in that nether-world between fiction, poetry, and brutally frank, stream-of-consciousness diary installments--she takes the loose framework of the events surrounding the mass suicide and weaves together an intense narrative that’s equally wry and draining. You’ll also never listen to Marvin Gaye the same way again.

How To See – George Nelson
I recommend this book to everyone I possibly can. To me, reading it was one of those life-changing moments, afterward I never truly did (literally) see things the same way. Written in 1977 by designer George Nelson, it’s a great primer for anyone looking to gain a deep visual vocabulary. It likely won’t replace five years of design school, but three years...probably.

Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See – Jonathan Rosenbaum
By virtue of where I work during the day, which contains a film cinematheque, I’m luckily exposed to the best films currently being made, many outside of what people call the film “industry.” Jonathan Rosenbaum (who still writes for the Chicago Reader) laid out the current-day horrors many folks don’t even know about in Movie Wars. After you read this, you’ll wonder how any movies outside of the studio machine get made (or let alone distributed and seen) at all, but thankfully, some still do.

This Wheel’s on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band
I love Levon Helm and we all hope he can play on the next Moviola record.

see also:

Moviola's website
Moviola @ Catbird Records
stream Moviola's new album, Dead Knowledge
Moviola @ Anyway Records
Moviola @ Hype Machine

Previous Note Books submissions (musicians discuss literature)
Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)


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