Nothing New in the West

by J. Mamana

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joandarc full of love, humor, and impossible warmth. excavates that horrible truth at the center of everything, which can't be verbalized, but which somehow finds expression in those moments when strings careen and voices combine in transcendent dalliance. this is yr paradise. Favorite track: Up from Land.
samlanier thumbnail
samlanier This album helped me get through a divorce. Favorite track: Buried in the Yard.
Houston Davidson
Houston Davidson thumbnail
Houston Davidson thinking about the future layabouts in elegant repose singing songs of how their ancestors forged a tradition of left dandies and talked civilization out of its fetish for climactic self-destruction. nothing new in the west. Favorite track: Çatalhöyük.
Kent Smith
Kent Smith thumbnail
Kent Smith You can either dive deep or let it wash you away. It's like water in the Bruce Lee sense. Buy it now before the government makes it illegal for being too smart and pleasant to listen to. Favorite track: Rhoticity.
Nicholas Marino
Nicholas Marino thumbnail
Nicholas Marino dense yet satisfying, like a chocolate cake; witty yet affecting, like a secret message. Favorite track: Tell the Truth.
plasticastronauts thumbnail
plasticastronauts Mind bending arrangements; a simultaneous nod to the towering greats of classical music and subversion of the classism which they left behind Favorite track: Tell the Truth.
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I'd known in my younger days a bishop who wore open-toed sandals and an hibiscus patterned Hawaiian shirt—Father Bugleweed—compelling man, devoted to muscular Christianity, he'd found international fame as a young man in the forties giving speeches around the world on scripture and appropriate worship. I'd heard, for example, that while on a train tour of the Holy Land he spoke of the Book of Revelation—what he called ‘Coming Attractions’—and standing like a cowboy, with hands on both Old and New Testaments, he would say in sonorous prayer: ‘Beware the allure of listless worship; use a planner!’ (The crowd, punctuating, ‘Hosanna in the Highest!’) And echoing Isaiah: ‘As the heavens are higher than the Earth, your ways are low as hell!’ (‘Hosanna in the Highest!’) And firing his rifle into the empty valley: ‘Here lies Christ the Redeemer! I’d rather be living in Philadelphia!’ (‘Hosanna. in. the. Highest!’) Having worked the crowd with his blustering sermons, he would dance the two-step and play pass the hat, generally winning favor from all except the Arabs, who would pay him in sumac. ▲


released December 21, 2018

Produced by J. Mamana
Recorded by J. Mamana and Seth Manchester at Machines
with Magnets in Pawtucket, RI; J.’s home studio at Rochambeau Ave.
Mixed by Seth Manchester at Machines with Magnets
Additional mixing by J. Mamana
Mastered by Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering in Brooklyn, NY
Strings recorded by Lorenzo Wolff at Restoration Sound
in Brooklyn, NY
Drums recorded by Seth Manchester at Machines with Magnets
Additional engineering by Peter Bowden
All songs written by J. Mamana

J. Mamana—music
M. Marsico—drum kit

Clara Kennedy—cello
Ljova Zhurbin—viola
Emily Holden—violin

Devanney Haruta—oboe
Nico Sedivy—clarinet
Ted Phillips—bassoon

Erin Reifler—trombone
Max Friedman—trumpet
Evan Browning—french horn

“Tell the Truth” contains portions of “A Young Girl’s Complaint” by Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou. Thanks to the Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Music Foundation for allowing its use. Please donate at


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J. Mamana Providence, Rhode Island

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Track Name: Up from Land
Along the Mason-Dixon line,
a lover’s quarrel ends
so a vulgar sibling rivalry
can finally take its place.

And I—a non-sectarian—
whose fun is to make amends—
I’m lost, alone and lonely,
and dreaming
of your face.

Up from land, up from dirty land.
The land where all the love
you’ve lost
will soon be laid to rest.

And there goes fine Paulinus,
wandering empire’s finest.
Bohos never change!
But we know water creeps on
Nola’s beaches
past the lurid breakers,
where the rapids meet the Gulf,
where the Mississippi River splits
and greens the Outer Shelf.

There’s a blond and preening
Repo Man,
all cool unchristian cant,
on the last Southeastern island
humming bebop to himself.

Up from land, up from dirty land.
The land where all the love
you’ve lost
will soon be laid to rest.

And those post hoc diviners
talk of Lot’s but not Aquinas.
Pray cum grain of salt
and vibe like Philistines,
so let’s not waste time
whaling on the Ouachita
and swearing at the bream.
You’ll lie with something sinister
or die in club passim.

Up from land, up from dirty land.
The land where all the love
you’ve lost
will soon be laid to rest.
Track Name: Drop City Noise
My old man was a doctor,
his allegiance to the blood.
Sowed the nettle to his own tomb
and his money made it like Mesud.

Westering, a kind of scoutlaw—
middle west by middle road—
held a Whole Earth in his right hand
and there, to his left, a Barbary Coast.

Hear that sound?
Drop City noise.
All around, Drop City noise.
Can’t you hear?
Drop City noise.
All around, called out at last.

Westward course of coronation,
riding west of Capernaum,
to Canaan or Colorado,
reading Cybernetics like the

Fingers cursed to type in line
fingering the Rosary.
In a church they coded Verbum,
never leafing thru St. Augustine.

Hear that sound?
Drop City noise.
All around, Drop City noise.
Can’t you hear?
Drop City noise.
All around, called out at last.

Bourgeois bladders
can’t stand the ciders—
pissing past the past.
I was wary, you went across that
No one is sacred.
Six-Day scary, commentary,
burning like Sinai—oh!
And Horus, playing us out.

Here the new-old cop Penutian,
steal the sacred in Cheyenne,
all for live-in mausoleums
for the saintly Stanford man.

Hear that sound?
Drop City noise.
All around, Drop City noise
Can’t you hear?
Drop City noise
Hear that sound called out at
Track Name: Çatalhöyük
Cruel world,
breakfast by the Old Stone House,
family affair,
the refrigerator’s hundred gauss.

In Volta Bureau,
eyes to phone, Graphophonic cue
to decode.
On Volta Park land,
there headstones paved
a passage in place of the road.

And a map hangs crooked in the corner near the bar
and a man stands staring at the Costanoan land
where the great-grandchildren of bootleggers
position pegs of donut shops by hand.

Along the Beltway
monuments indicate a memory
Like this Vinland map, say:
15th cent. but it’s covered in fresh

Like Çatalhöyük
mocked the spots of the leopard décor.
Like Waldseemüller
named a square by the 95-

And a map hangs crooked in the corner near the bar
and a man stands staring at the Costanoan land
where the great grandchildren of bootleggers
position pegs of donut shops by hand.
There a man falls thumbing at the coronated cabs
while a teenager’s sitting dour at the stand.
All the while he’s thumbing at a screen,
calls a six door uninsured wheezing Kombi van
with a map framed crooked in his flushed and hardened hands—
his weird Old Dominion over East Algonquian land,
where the great-grandchildren of bootleggers
position pegs in yule Afghanistan.

A palimpsest:
In the grid
you discover yourself,
like a stencil,
retracing the work of
someone else.
Track Name: Rhoticity
Rhoticity sounds
so much sweeter in the South;
but Rhodes will confound
and you grow grim about the mouth.

The time is never right,
and a broken watch just twice,
but Oxford’s working for a Third Boer War,
so fight back, baby, or you’ll halve
that old Dutch door.

Rhodesia dined
on rhodium to anglicize
loanwords to modify
in Jodhpur boots to colonize
in Mashonaland and try
where the Falklands met Brunei—
where the textbooks sounded as
one wretched word,
and the Beit Trust covered every case on
loss incurred.

You wait for me, I’ll show the way out.
Wait for me, I’ll know the way out.
Wait for me to let your hungry heart
combine with mine.

Interred, as sure forgot—
old ideas cannot rot.
Their covenant’s cleared,
so grab the pisco,
fuck De Beers.

The city is too dear.
Let go your good Bronx cheer.
When the West Coast’s rotted like a
junkyard car
and the East Coast’s flooded, baby,
can’t go too far.

Wait for me to loan the day out.
Wait for me to blow my brains out.
Wait for me to let your hungry heart
combine with mine.
Track Name: Last American
There’s no one in Hollywood
who could possibly play my father
so I no longer go to the movies.
I don’t see anymore movies at all.

Now I walk down streets of amber
as the old economy collapses.
In the swamp-like streets of Manhattan,
in the soggy sheets of the Atlantic
the critics are quiet.

To the last American
to call out the names
of every crumbling monument:
did you ask for it?

The last time I went to the movies
I kept on shouting questions
to the characters in the movie
but these people had no answers at all.

When they told me to be quiet
enraged I said they had nothing
but the celluloid they depend on.
They told me it’s in digital
and that TV is better anyway.

To the last American
to call out the names
of every crumbling monument:
did you ask for it?
Track Name: I'm Not Yr Guy
I slammed the door in your eyes.
How nice.
Dido, your friend,
had just died from a joke I read.

You all knew I was on strike from the word,
and luring me out with a light
like a moth I stirred.

In Carthage harbor,
where crown clerks, courtiers
talk like marchers
and drop like martyrs.
Well I’m their Arthur,
their colporteur, yeah,
but I’m not their guy—

No sentiment for a month, just Donne.
Lying at length in a bath
with the clergyman.

Ressentiment for a world without
your testament.
What a joke.
What a cruel cry-out.

Our love had value—
still, St. Matthew walks the earth
but I’m without you.
I’m aphonic, anhedonic now
that I’m not your guy—

I came home that night,
stormed back inside,
and fell inept apart.
Even failed that.
No luck,
no time,
no suffering signs—
I’ll just attempt to be
someone who can’t die.
Track Name: Cyndi Lauper
One night while cursing Japheth,
I noticed that I loved
my lover more than she did me,
then I fell out of bed.

We slept on Egyptian sheets
that burned and chafed the skin.
I couldn’t wrench them from our bed
’til we were sleeping again.

And when I knew that she would bail
I sang along with the nightingale.

I woke instead with a book
containing every word
excluded from the dictionary.
Hilarity ensued.

It read in six languages
and quoted me at length—
it talked in polysemous bleats,
e.g. angst was a shriek.

And when I wrote bad to its author
he mailed me a buck with a note that read:

“Well, Cyndi Lauper was wrong—
or at least misguided.
You’d rather write in my arms for the night.”

And today I ask as any other:
Who do you dignify?

No more than I said yesterday.
Track Name: Buried in the Yard
During catechesis we’d seen the church
St. Philip Neri had preferred.

In labyrinths of sepulture and myrrh
we lay where San Sebastian was interred.

And dozing off I dreamt of you and I entwined,
and we were buried in the yard.

In cold uncaring dirt soothed by neither stars
nor aperture nor God.

Then he said don’t be salacious in deed.
The Levantine contorts himself to be believed.

In Jericho, he knows,
they’d bury three or more
beneath their beds in such a rite.

The Baader-Meinhof Gang were buried stacked in threes,
a triple grave commemorates the night they died,
and every offering is tripartite.

In Dolní Věstonice they say
the Trinity is still the rule.

The Levantine, he just spat out his gum
when told I’d studied this in school.

Well supposing it’s true,
that the right love is three not two—
But I love you.
And I’m supposed to lay some person who—?

It buried me alive when you said you don’t love—
It buried me alive when you said you don’t Love Me Do.
I’m crying.

Morbidly, I know the dead don’t grieve.
Eternity is bunk,
but for only the lonely.

They buried
one alive, faced down and arm in arm with
two faced up, the hand of
three across their crotch—
if only the Levantine had seen.
I’m dying.
Track Name: Tell the Truth
Uni Popular—
Can I be popular?
What does it really mean to be popular?
What if I told you I don’t wanna be popular?

I met this same person twice before.
They told of art school prophets far too cool to just ignore.
Where the old lines fall flat, you see,
their suburban parables were too arcane for a friend like me.

And now I see their double stumble in the streets by day.
And when I’m out on Brook I have to break it for the alley way.
Let be be final—
I know it’s best this way.
But every time I bring you up it’s all in metaphor and sobriquet.
Tell the truth.

And but we never even had the time to feign.
Too busy cussing Kissingers and thumbing Charlemagnes.
And when I came to find my love for one plussed two
affaire de cœur just seemed to me like such a bogus move.

Tell the truth.
I know you.
What’s your problem?
Just tell the truth.
Track Name: Yr Paradise
I want to trust
that you and I are good as us.
Of everyone
it’s got to be that I could not be billions.

But from your heart I cannot claim to will a part
from it free port
and neither you nor I will chart nor guide consort.

To see to that we’re right,
while the kids keep running aground,
take what they like.

Amongst the skids,
below the draft is where I live.
From stern to dip
I bream with fire, graft, and forceful fingertip.

See, you and I, we’re right—
a problem in all the same ways
but we know that’s trite.

This is your paradise.
Lost in the paradise.

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