Get Schwifty: The ‘Rick And Morty’ Soundtrack Will Be Released In The Fall

first_imgRick and Morty has become a cultural phenomenon. Back in October, the Adult Swim cartoon created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon became the number 1 TV comedy for millennials with an average 2.5 million viewers. The nihilistic show—which subverts traditional televisions shows given its bleak point of view and absurdist, psychedelia-tinged plots—has accrued a huge, dedicated following.Inevitably, Rick and Morty‘s massive cultural popularity has crossed over into the music world. Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords voiced a sentient, singing fart on the show. Run The Jewels released a Rick and Morty-themed music video in March. The show’s now-synonymous eerie opening theme has been covered frequently, including by Broccoli Samurai and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. Even high-profile producer Deadmau5 made waves when he spent $15,000 on a jug of McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce—a move inspired by an episode where Rick goes back in time to re-taste the limited-edition condiment.Today, the show’s many fans can rejoice because, in the fall, Rick & Morty will be releasing its first official soundtrack. Slated for an initial September 28th release via Sub Pop, the soundtrack is curated by the show’s composer Ryan Elder. Along with more well-known songs from the show, the soundtrack will also feature two brand-new tracks from singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen and clipping, both of which were inspired by the dark cartoon comedy.The show’s soundtrack will be released in multiple formats including standard CD, colored-vinyl double LP, and through major streaming services. An additional deluxe vinyl edition, which will come in a box with an etched plexiglass window and LED lights and include a custom poster, patch, sticker, and bonus 7″ single featuring a mix of the “screaming sun” from the show’s season 2 finale,will be available on November 23rd. Hilariously, the soundtrack will also be released on cassette (they’re not dead yet!) on November 23rd along with the deluxe vinyl set.You can pre-order the forthcoming Rick & Morty soundtrack here. Check out a full tracklisting of the soundtrack below.Jemaine Clement – “Goodbye Moonmen” [Video: daniel alarcón]Rick and Morty Soundtrack Track Listing:Rick and Morty ThemeJerry’s RickThe Small Intestine SongThe Flu Hatin’ RapAfrican Dream PopLook On Down From The Bridge – Mazzy StarThe Rick DanceGoodbye MoonmenSummer and TinklesDo You Feel It – Chaos ChaosUnity Says GoodbyeGet Schwifty (C-131)Raised Up (C-131)Stab Him in the Throat – clipping.Help Me I’m Gonna DieLet Me OutMemories – Chaos ChaosStuttering Light – Chad VanGaalenAlien Jazz RapFor the Damaged Coda – Blonde RedheadFathers and DaughtersSeal My Fate – BellyTerryfold – Chaos ChaosTales from the CitadelRick and Morty Score MedleyHuman MusicView All Tracks[H/T Consequence of Sound]last_img read more

Willie Nelson Shares New Politically Charged Single, “Vote ‘Em Out”

first_imgWillie Nelson has shared a new single, “Vote ‘Em Out”, which he debuted last month at a concert he hosted in support of Democratic senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. Nelson has publically praised O’Rourke in recent times, as the liberal Red Headed Stranger has been a Texas resident for over a half of a century.Nelson’s charitable work dates decades back, highlighted by organizing the first-ever Farm Aid in 1985, along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews joining the organization in 2001. The long-running nonprofit concert series seeks to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to support farming families, and since its inception has raised more than $50 million dollars.Willie’s new politically inspired tune has a country twang to it, with Nelson ambitiously proclaiming, “If you don’t like who’s in there vote ’em out, that’s what election day is all about, the biggest gun we got is called a ballot box, so if you don’t like who’s in there vote ’em out.”Listen to a recently recorded studio rendition of Willie Nelson’s politically-charged ballad below:Willie Nelson – “Vote ‘Em Out”[Video: WillieNelson]Recently on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Nelson discussed his admiration for Democratic Texas Senate candidate, Beto O’Rourke, a polar opposite of Ted Cruz in every single way, and the Texans badmouthing his free benefit concert for O’Rouke. Nelson and Stephen Colbert also discussed Willie’s looks over the years, pondered which famous folks Nelson would most like to smoke a joint with, and amusingly responded to photos of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Watch video of Stephen Colbert’s comedic conversation with Nelson below:Willie Nelson – The Late Show With Stephen Colbert – 9/19/2018[Video: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert]Make sure you get out and VOTE in the upcoming elections on Tuesday, November 6th. For help finding your local polling place, or to find more information about how you can get involved, visit the HeadCount website.[H/T Jambase]last_img read more

Steve Gunn Shares Folky Covers Of The Misfits & Michael Chapman

first_imgSteve Gunn is proving himself to be a musician of many colors. The folk-rock guitarist and singer is currently in the process of gearing up for the January 18th release of his latest studio album, The Unseen In Between. On Monday, Gunn and indie music blog Aquarium Drunkard shared a pair of tasteful covers as part of the outlet’s “Lagniappe Sessions” performance series. The two covers performed by Gunn include Michael Chapman‘s “Among The Trees” and The Misfits‘ “Astro Zombies”. Both recordings were recently tracked at Gold Diggers Recording Studio in East Hollywood, California.Michael Chapman’s “Among The Trees” initially appeared on the English singer’s 1970 Window LP. The easygoing song’s folk instrumentation and relaxed but sincere makeup fits Gunn’s own style perfectly. He sticks pretty close to the original, starting with the descending acoustic guitar riff and minimum production work. Gunn’s version is slightly less energizing than Chapman’s, but that’s okay considering the old folk tune is really about solemn reflections of the past.Gunn’s cover of The Misfits’ 1988 punk anthem is the recording that really sticks out with its polar opposite sound from the original. Surprisingly, the updated version runs at 2:55 minutes (only 0:40 seconds slower than the adrenaline-pumping original) although you’d never think that with Gunn taking more of an eerie folk approach to the rock track. Gunn trades power chords in exchange for fingerpicking as he opens the song with the sounds of his acoustic guitar and soothing vocals. It is slightly odd hearing such an innocent singing performance belt out the unapologetic lyrics of “With just a touch of my burning hand/I’m gonna live my life to destroy your world/Prime directive, exterminate/The whole fuckin’ race.” Yet, if anyone can pull it off with true musical sincerity, it’s Mr. Gunn.“Misfits were my first favorite band when I was a teenager,” Gunn said about the rock band in a statement to go with the two songs’ premiere on Monday. “There’s a certain pop sensibility to their songs, and Glenn Dazing’s Elvis-like yodeling is actually quite melodic. For a punk band, I think he was one of the better singers. Their songs are also very catchy, which helped ingrain almost every lyric into my young mind.” Fans can click here to listen to both recordings in full.This is not the first time in which Gunn has recorded a pair of covers for the “Lagniappe Sessions”. He shared a pair of Smiths covers last winter with his own renditions of “The Night Has Opened My Eyes” and “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”.Gunn will head out on his 2019 winter and spring tour beginning later this month with an opening night at Great Scott in Allston, Massachusetts on January 31st. Fans can head over to Gunn’s website for tickets and more info on the upcoming tour.last_img read more

David Byrne Announces 15th Anniversary Vinyl Reissue Of 1994 ‘Grown Backwards’ Solo LP

first_imgDavid Byrne has announced the forthcoming reissue of his 2004 solo LP, Grown Backwards. The studio album, which was initially released on March 16th, 2004, will celebrate its 15th anniversary this spring when it arrives on vinyl for the first time via Nonesuch Records on March 15th. The album was Byrne’s last full-length solo project until American Utopia arrived in March of last year.The forthcoming reissue will include all 15 tracks originally featured on the album in addition to six new bonus recordings including a duet alongside Brazilian composer Caetano Veloso on a song titled, “Dreamworld”. The reissue will come in the form of a double LP pressed on 140g vinyl and will arrive in metallic sleeve packaging.According to a statement shared by Nonesuch, Bryne worked from the “top down” when initially developing the foundations of the songs which would end up on Grown Backwards. He began the process by humming melodies into a micro-cassette recorder and later unscrambling those raw musical ideas to develop what would ultimately end up as songs. That strategy marked a significant change from Byrne’s usual songwriting process. The album was recorded at Kampo Studios in New York City, where Byrne co-produced the project alongside Patrick Dillett.Related: David Byrne Reflects On Recent Trip To India’s Chennai Music Festival In New Blog Post Like many of Byrne’s projects, the recordings on Grown Backwards featured an enormous mix of instruments used in the tracking process. Clarinets, nylon-string guitars, euphoniums, prepared pianos, theremins, and even a vacuum cleaner were all used as instrumentation throughout the recording of the album.Byrne has kept a pretty low profile so far in 2019 after spending much of last year performing across the country in promotion of his Grammy-nominated American Utopia LP. The recorded performances captured throughout Byrne’s lengthy 2018 tour even resulted in a new live EP, titled, The Best Live Show Of All Time. Fans can click here to pre-order the forthcoming reissue, which costs a manageable $23 with a free digital download thrown in as well.last_img read more

HGSE awards first medal for education impact

first_imgMarshall “Mike” Smith, Ed.M. ’63, Ed.D. ’73, was awarded yesterday the first Harvard Graduate School of Education Medal for Education Impact for making a lasting difference in the field of education and on the lives of learners across the nation and beyond. Smith received the honor at the celebration of the new Ed.L.D. Program.“In recognizing Mike, we honor an exemplary researcher, policymaker, and philanthropist whose leadership has truly transformed the education sector through his four decades of service to the field,” Dean Kathleen McCartney said, calling Smith the ideal inaugural recipient of the award. “We hope the work of tonight’s medal recipient will inspire our first cohort of Ed.L.D. students, as well as Ed School students for years to come.”Upon receiving the award, Smith acknowledged that he could not have accomplished everything without the help of others, particularly his wife, Nicki, also an educator, whom he met at the Ed School as a student. “The message is you cannot grow alone. You have to be working with other people all the time whether spouses or other people important to you,” he said, noting the Ed.L.D. cohort are starting with powerful connections and encouraging them to “rise up and help each other.”The Medal for Education Impact will honor practitioners, policymakers, and researchers who work across their individual spheres of influence and whose careers are dedicated to education opportunity, achievement, and success for all children. It recognizes those who have a transformative effect on the sector through their entrepreneurial spirit, innovative strategies, collaborative work, and superior leadership. Read Full Storylast_img read more

A quake data clearinghouse

first_imgWithin hours of Japan’s disastrous earthquake and tsunami, Harvard’s Center for Geographic Analysis was working to help, creating a web-based portal for information that acts as a clearinghouse for disaster responders and academics alike.The Japan Sendai Earthquake Data Portal was created by research manager Merrick Lex Berman at the center, based on templates developed in prior earthquakes, the 2008 one in China and last year’s in Haiti and Chile. While it took weeks to create the first site, each subsequent one went live more quickly. For the Japan quake, it took just about an hour to create the site and another hour to begin populating it with data.The site features a bright orange and blue “energy propagation map” of the Pacific Ocean basin, a map created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The site includes news feeds from various sources, a link to the main Japanese government disaster web page, and GIS information data sets that connect to geographic information points.Berman and Wendy Guan, the center’s director of GIS Research Services, said the site is not intended to host all the available information on the quake and tsunami. Instead, it provides some GIS data and links to other useful sites across the web. The site is continuing to add data. Guan sent out an e-mail Friday afternoon seeking geospatial material such as satellite images, aerial photos, GIS data sets, and other files that contain location references. The effort is being sponsored by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Guan said.Guan said she hopes the site will prove useful both for relief workers and for academics seeking to understand the disaster’s impact on their areas of expertise through geographic information. Furthermore, she hopes that those who use the data to conduct analyses will return to the site and post their findings, or links to sites containing them.“The purpose is to give people a staging platform to share,” Guan said. “They come here to find something useful, and, hopefully, come back when they produce something useful.”Guan and Berman said each disaster has its own context. In Haiti, volunteer efforts to create, provide, and coordinate data proved critical because little of it existed to begin with, and what did was inaccessible because government offices in Port-au-Prince were devastated by the quake. In Chile and China, the governments remained in control and helped to coordinate relief and the information that guided assistance.Berman said it is interesting how volunteer efforts over the Internet have altered data flows and responses to such events. Even now, individuals in an array of academic, government, and nonprofit settings around the world are looking at data and producing information and analyses that may prove useful in the emergency response.For example, Berman said, satellite imagery companies typically produce detailed portraits of disaster zones within a day and provide those images for free to responders. When that data becomes available, Berman said, he will make sure to provide links to it on the portal.last_img read more

A celebration of excellence

first_imgHarvard’s first official Commencement act of 2011 unfolded outside Harvard Hall today (May 24) when a select group of seniors in black caps and gowns gathered for a fife-and-drum procession to Sanders Theatre for the annual Phi Beta Kappa ceremony.“I feel very honored,” said senior Fernando Racimo. The organismic and evolutionary biology concentrator, who is headed to Germany after graduation to study Neanderthal DNA, said he won entrance to the academic honor society through hard work. “I was definitely busier than I have ever been.”Induction into Alpha Iota of Massachusetts, the Harvard College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, requires a “record of outstanding scholarly achievement, showing both depth of study and breadth of intellectual interest.”At Harvard, 24 juniors are elected to Phi Beta Kappa in the spring, and 48 seniors in the fall, with another group of seniors elected in the weeks prior to Commencement. Membership cannot exceed 10 percent of the graduating class.Held annually on the Tuesday of Commencement week, the society’s Literary Exercises have been a regular Harvard ritual since the 18th century. The first exercises took place at Holden Chapel in 1782, but have been held at Sanders since 1876. The program centers on two presentations, by a poet and an orator invited by the chapter.This year, orator Joyce Carol Oates, Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor of the Humanities and professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, delivered an oration titled “Inspiration.” Poet Henri Cole, professor of English at Ohio State University, read his work “Swimming Hole, Buck Creek, Springfield, Ohio.”The Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum provided music for the event including the Commencement hymn “Fair Harvard” by Samuel Gilman.The author of seven poetry collections, Cole employs a range of emotion in his work. He said his poem for the ceremony, what he described as one long sentence, “flashes back to remembered terrain from adolescence.”“In the poem there are some young swimmers referred to as ‘blossoming buds,’ and it occurred to me that is what all of you graduates are,” said Cole, adding that everyone is “striving toward being, like you. It’s a process that must never cease.”A prolific and multitalented writer, Oates has mastered many genres. She is known for her psychological realism, gothic, and suspense novels, as well as family sagas. With more than 50 novels to her credit, she is also a playwright and essayist and has written many volumes of short stories, works of young adult fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.Kicking off the events of Commencement Week, the Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercises in Sanders Theatre included College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds (from left), William Clark, poet Henri Cole, Dudley Herschbach, Lawrence Buell, and Dorothy Austin.In 1969 her novel “them” received the National Book Award.Inspiration can take many forms, an “image, phrase, emotion,” said Oates. Calling to mind past literary greats, she spoke of Herman Melville’s attraction to the “power of blackness” in his contemporary Nathaniel Hawthorne, which had an “immediate and profound” influence on Melville’s masterpiece, “Moby Dick.”For Melville, she said, Hawthorne was like “a great comet sailing into your orbit that changes your life completely.”The idea for author Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” came to her as a sort of dream, one that “possessed” her, said Oates, while the city of Dublin was the driving force behind the works of Irish author James Joyce.Oates also invoked the visual arts as inspiration. To the early surrealists, she said, the world was “a vast forest of signs to be interpreted by the individual artists.”“There is to me something thrilling about the surrealist adventure. Moving out into the world to discover what awaits us … from this perspective, inspiration is anywhere and at any time … we have only to go out and to see.”The ceremony also included the Alpha Iota Prize for Excellence in Teaching awards. This year’s recipients were David Ager, lecturer on sociology; William Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development; and Dudley Herschbach, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science Emeritus.last_img read more

Two are Abramson winners

first_imgKevin Eggan, associate professor of stem cell and regenerative biology, brings undergraduates to the frontiers of life science. David Elmer, assistant professor of the classics, takes students back through some of Western culture’s most ancient and honored texts. This year, the two members of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) have something in common: They’re both winners of a 2011 Roslyn Abramson Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.“David Elmer and Kevin Eggan may have different areas of research, but they share a love of teaching,” said FAS Dean Michael D. Smith, the John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Each is an outstanding scholar who also has the ability to communicate knowledge in a way that ignites in students the passion that these faculty feel for their respective fields. They embody a Harvard education at its best. I offer my congratulations to David and Kevin for an honor well-deserved.”The $9,500 award, established with a gift from Edward Abramson ’57 in honor of his mother, is given annually in recognition of “excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates.” Recipients, drawn exclusively from FAS, are chosen on the basis of their ability to communicate with and inspire undergraduates, their accessibility, and their dedication to teaching.Kevin EgganEggan’s popular undergraduate course, “Human Genetics: Mining Our Genomes for an Understanding of Human Variation and Disease,” teaches students some of the fundamentals of cellular biology through the lens of the developing and aging human body. Eggan says he tries to put the principles of life science into a context that people care most about: their health.“We can learn a lot about biology from the things that go wrong with us,” Eggan says. “When there’s a congenital malformation — say, someone’s eyes are too close or too far apart — we have a chance to see what went wrong and to uncover the biology behind it. I try to show students how we use genetic thinking to solve biological problems and to identify what’s causing disease.”“Undergraduates always look at things with very fresh eyes,” Eggan said. “When they look at something for the first time, they see it in a completely different way, unencumbered by the failures of others. It makes me look at things differently too.” Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerEggan says that the most rewarding aspect of teaching is the feeling of satisfaction that comes from helping students work through a difficult concept. Because undergraduates often approach a problem or idea for the first time in his class, their untrained eyes also provide new insights.“Undergraduates always look at things with very fresh eyes,” he says. “When they look at something for the first time, they see it in a completely different way, unencumbered by the failures of others. It makes me look at things differently too.”Some of those undergraduates may share the benefit of Eggan’s award this summer, as he plans to use the prize money to support researchers in his lab.“More and more Harvard undergrads are excited about working in a lab over the summer and during the school year too,” he says. “It seems like there are always more students than money, so this will be a great way to supplement our funds.”David ElmerElmer’s challenge in teaching the classics of ancient Greece and Rome is that undergraduates are both too far from and too close to the subject matter.“It is always challenging to get students to feel a sense of connection with a distant civilization,” he explains. “At the same time, I think many students feel a deceptive familiarity with the Greeks and Romans, since our own culture is pervaded by images and symbols of the ancient world. The real task is to get students to understand both what they have in common with ancient readers and writers, and the deep strangeness of the Greeks and Romans.”Students’ encounters with the “strangeness” of Greek and Roman culture, Elmer says, also leads to teaching’s greatest reward: a “shared sense of wonder and excitement.”“I think teaching provides the best opportunity to see the power of ideas in action,” he says. “There is really nothing more rewarding for me than seeing how undergraduates take up the ideas we discuss in the classroom and make them meaningful for their own lives and experience.”Elmer realizes that few of his students will go on to be classics professors, but rankles at what he calls the “pernicious tendency” in education to define the value of knowledge exclusively by its workplace potential.“I happen to be very committed to the ideals of the traditional liberal arts education, which values the cultivation of thinking for its own sake,” he says. “I believe that the quality of our daily lives is directly related to the richness of our mental lives. Classics is particularly well suited to developing such richness, and can be a model for how to come to a deep understanding by applying a potentially unlimited set of methods and perspectives. This is a valuable skill that can readily be transferred to all areas of life.”As for the award money, Elmer says that he hopes to hire an undergraduate assistant to help with research and course development, not just to help shoulder some of the workload, but also to provide him with another opportunity to teach.“Research assistantships are, I think, another form of teaching,” he says. “Research not only guides teaching by providing the raw material for what happens in the classroom; it also helps to draw students into the pursuit of knowledge. Students really respond to the challenge and excitement of an open research question. In fact, in teaching as well as in research, I think it could be said that the presentation of a problem is often more important than the presentation of the solution. Assistantships are a great way to integrate the University’s teaching and research missions.”last_img read more

A closer look at atherosclerosis

first_imgResearchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have developed a one-micrometer-resolution version of the intravascular imaging technology optical coherence tomography (OCT) that can reveal cellular and subcellular features of coronary artery disease. In a Nature Medicine paper receiving advance online publication, the investigators describe how microOCT — which provides 10 times greater resolution than standard OCT — was able to show individual arterial and inflammatory cells, including features that may identify vulnerable plaques, within coronary artery samples.“MicroOCT has the contrast and resolution required to investigate the cellular and subcellular components underlying coronary atherosclerosis, the disease that precipitates heart attack,” says Harvard Medical School Professor Gary Tearney of the Wellman Center and the MGH Pathology Department, who led the study. “This high level of performance opens up the future possibility of observing these microscopic features in human patients, which has implications for improving the understanding, diagnosis, and therapeutic monitoring of coronary artery disease.”A catheter-based technology, OCT uses reflected near-infrared light to create detailed images of the internal surfaces of blood vessels. Although the technology is already being used to identify arterial plaques that are likely to rupture, standard OCT can clearly image only structures larger than 10 micrometers (millionths of a meter). Using new types of lenses and advanced imaging components, microOCT is able to image structures as small as one micrometer, revealing in intact tissue the detailed information provided by the prepared tissue slides of traditional pathology much faster and in 3-D.The researchers describe how using microOCT to study human and animal coronary artery tissue revealed detailed images of:endothelial cells that line coronary arteriesinflammatory cells that contribute to the formation of coronary plaquessmooth muscle cells that produce collagen in response to inflammationfibrin proteins and platelets that are involved in the formation of clotsMicroOCT also produced detailed images of stents placed within coronary arteries, clearly distinguishing bare-metal stents from those covered with a drug-releasing polymer and revealing defects in the polymer coating.“When we are able to implement microOCT in humans — probably in three to five years — the 10 times greater resolution will allow us to observe cells in the coronary arteries of living patients,” says Tearney. “The ability to track and follow cells in three dimensions could help us prove or disprove many theories about coronary artery disease and better understand how clots form on a microscopic level. Improved definitions of high-risk plaques will lead to greater accuracy in identifying those that may go on to rupture and block the coronary artery, and the ability to monitor healing around implanted devices like stents could reduce the number of patients who must be on anticlotting medications, which are expensive and have side effects.”Linbo Liu of the Wellman Center developed the microOCT system and is lead author of the Nature Medicine paper. Additional co-authors are Joseph Gardecki, Seemantini Nadkarni, Jimmy Toussaint, Yukako Yagi, and Brett Bouma, all of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Massachusetts General Hospital has filed patent applications on the microOCT technology.last_img read more

Treasure island

first_img Revisionist history Revisions, notes, and strikeouts are just many interests in this Updike volume. Precious and fragile Then there are the commonsensical restrictions on archival materials, “in many cases because of fragility,” said assistant curator Heather Cole. That concern includes items at Houghton that predate Christ. John Updike Leslie Morris, the curator of modern books and manuscripts, helps oversee the John Updike Archive. Once cataloged, his papers will be ready for researchers in the summer of 2012. Collected works Treasure trove The lives and thoughts of literary greats live on through their papers, like in Houghton’s Library’s John Updike Archive. Updike began depositing in Houghton in 1966, just seven years after his first book was published. Journal entries A handwritten journal entry by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Meticulous “He was a meticulous person in his research,” said Jennifer Lyons, Houghton’s manuscript and visual resources cataloger, of John Updike. Lyons has reams of material devoted to Toyota dealerships (the source of Updike’s character Rabbit’s prosperity), state license plates, and heart disease. Literary criticism An up-close view of one of Updike’s many papers. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer Almost three years ago, two archivists from Harvard’s Houghton Library appeared at author John Updike’s front door in Beverly. Barely three weeks later, America’s master stylist would die from lung cancer. “He knew it was time,” said Leslie Morris, Houghton’s curator of modern books and manuscripts. “He asked us to come.Leaning on a walker, Updike chatted with Morris and her assistant while they packed cartons in his upstairs study. Into one box went the unfinished novel from his writing desk.Updike had wanted to know that the outward signs of his literary ardor — decades of handwritten drafts, typescripts, galleys, and research files — would survive him. And he knew death was near. “Old age,” he had written in a short story, “arrived in increments of uncertainty.”But there was no uncertainty about what should happen next at Houghton, the first building at an American university that was designed to house rare books and manuscripts. For decades, Houghton had been collecting the material now known as the John Updike Archive, which will be fully cataloged and ready for researchers by next summer.In the end, the lives and thoughts of literary greats live on through their work and papers. Houghton and other Harvard libraries carefully tend the records left by dozens of prominent authors, providing pivotal research material for scholars.The largest University repository is the Harvard University Archive, home to thousands of cubic feet of material, from doctoral dissertations and annual reports to books, maps, photographs, paintings, and artifacts. In addition, Baker Library at the Harvard Business School has about 1,400 collections of business manuscripts dating back to the 15th century. Radcliffe’s Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America has more than 2,500 manuscript collections. Harvard Law School’s historical holdings include 2,000 linear feet of legal manuscripts, some more than 800 years old.But it is fair to say that Houghton is the mother ship for Harvard’s literary collections. Its 20th century holdings alone include the papers of T.S. Eliot, Thomas Wolfe, E.E. Cummings, Robert Lowell, John Ashbery, and Leon Trotsky. From the century before come world-class collections from Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and all of the creative James progeny: Alice, Henry, and William.The point of such avid collection is scholarship. Houghton alone registers approximately 5,000 scholarly visits a year. In a hushed reading room, researchers — half of them Harvard faculty and students — pore over manuscripts, rare books, and letters that yield clues to literary creation.But before that can happen, a busy and expert hive of specialists goes to work on the raw material that needs cataloging. Houghton typifies the intricate, difficult, time-consuming effort of processing and conserving rare documents, books, and other artifacts. That process begins the moment material arrives (sometimes haphazardly) in cartons, and continues until it is archived and housed in acid-free boxes.“The refuse of my profession”Updike ’54 began depositing papers at Houghton in 1966, just seven years after his first book was published. He later wrote of “the library’s meticulous, humidified care” for what he called “the refuse of my profession.”That early “refuse” included James Thurber-like drawings, plays, proofs, and manuscripts, along with a paper written for a Harvard English class. It was about a former high school basketball player, and foreshadowed “Rabbit, Run,” the 1960 novel that catapulted Updike to fame. (He got an “A.”)The author delivered a carton or more of material every year, said Morris. Other writers have a harder time parting with anything, and even stop by Houghton to visit their own papers. “Their archives,” she said, “are an extension of themselves.”In their final visit to Updike’s house, Morris and an assistant retrieved the author’s Harvard Lampoon collection, some sketches he did in a postgraduate year at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, U.K., a box of recent correspondence, and all the multilanguage first editions of his books, which the meticulous Updike had neatly shelved in the order in which they appeared.Very large literary collections destined for Houghton — Gore Vidal’s, for example — go straight to the Harvard Depository, a 25-year-old facility in Southborough with the capacity to shelve 3 million linear feet of material. One room there is often used to stack and store literary papers while experts begin the intake process they call “accessioning.”But for the last of the Updike material, Morris and her assistant simply rented a Zipcar, drove to the author’s home, and spent the morning packing — but not before they had photographed the books as shelved.Each collection starts with a doorwayLarge or small, a literary collection first enters Houghton through a doorway across from Widener Library. In a copy room just inside, Morris and others make a rough estimate of what the collection includes. Boxes may then get moved a few feet to Morris’ offices. Lining a hallway there earlier this year, packed into archive-quality Paige boxes, was a trove of material from Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident and physicist.Through a door on the other side of the copy room is the office of Melanie Wisner, Houghton’s accessioning archivist, an expert on the first overview of a new archive.“It’s order-making,” she said of the intake process, which includes writing a “box list,” entering it on a spreadsheet, and filing the collection in preliminary folders. Categories of order-making include correspondence, manuscripts, and materials related to research, biography, and photos. Wisner called the process an archive’s first “rough sort.” But Updike was so neat, she said, that “there was little to do.”Accessioning means making initial judgments about what material is fragile and requires technical conservation. It also means being an author’s advocate, by identifying material that might be very private.Privacy at Houghton is plentiful two floors below, in the sub-basement with its thousands of feet of shelving. Far back in the dark stacks — beyond the Theodore Roosevelt collection and the wide boxes of John James Audubon originals — shelves of Updike material await formal cataloging. Morris opens a box containing a complete set of the Harvard Lampoons from the year when Updike was editor (1953-54). Another box contains neat manuscript folders of his art reviews.Nearby, up one ramp, is a large, well-lit space. Tables there are lined with open cartons and manila folders from the Updike archive. Jennifer Lyons, Houghton’s manuscript and visual resources cataloger, is looking at manuscript pages from “Rabbit at Rest,” the final novel of Updike’s famed Rabbit Angstrom tetrology. Lying nearby is what seems like an unlikely addition to literary scholarship: an empty, 99-cent bag of Keystone Snacks corn chips.“He was a meticulous person in his research,” said Lyons, who started on the collection in July 2010. She pointed out other examples of the kind of studying Updike did to make his work shine with reality: reams of material about Toyota dealerships (the source of Rabbit’s prosperity), an outline of state license plates, and medical literature on heart disease (the cause of Rabbit’s death).Updike was deeply involved in every detail of his final literary products, said Lyons. As a young writer in 1959, he even offered to design the cover for “The Poorhouse Fair,” his first novel. (The publisher graciously declined.)The two-year task of cataloging the Updike material has been comparatively “fast and furious,” said Lyons. In the end, scholars will get a database of all the material related to his novels, poetry, essays, correspondence, and photographs. Archivists call this a “finding aid,” which lists folder-by-folder details. Such aids are not meant to be the granular details of everything, said Morris, but “a minimum level of description for a literary collection.” Discovery is up to researchers, she said, but synthesis is the responsibility of the archivists. They must be interested enough to do the work, but not fascinated enough to be stalled by every detail. Lyons said she might read more Updike one day, but for now “I go home and read something else.”Twelve shelves of Updike’s booksDown another Houghton corridor is an example of the end point of an archivist’s exhaustive processing: 12 shelves holding a selection of the 1,357 books that Morris retrieved from Updike’s personal library. (Others, largely foreign-language and later editions, are stored at the depository.)Some materials are housed in acid-free boxes, as part of what archivists call “end-processing,” the final step to assure that a literary artifact is protected, housed, bar-coded, and ready to hand over to a researcher. Other books have polypropylene jackets to protect fragile, first-edition covers. Still others are just coded and shelved, like the books Morris took off Updike’s writing desk. Those included his dictionary, two volumes on St. Paul (the subject of an unfinished book), and a book he had just reviewed, complete with annotations.Elsewhere on the shelf are two of Updike’s books from his undergraduate years, one Melville and one Shakespeare. Houghton has both the teaching copy of “King Lear” used by celebrated Harvard English Professor Harry Levin (1912-1994) and Updike’s student copy from the same class. Both books have extensive marginalia. For a scholar, that could prove a perfect storm. Through such parallel artifacts, said Morris, “You can see the intersection of lives.”On one shelf is Updike’s first-edition copy of “Rabbit, Run” (1960), an expurgated edition that he reworked for the British edition that allowed him to restore original passages about the euphoria and celebration of sex. Most of these additions and changes appear in Updike’s handwriting in the margins. Others are passages he typed and pasted onto relevant pages. Both provide a window onto the author’s creative process. “You can see what he’s adding back in,” said Morris.Back upstairs, near the door where the material arrives, is the room where the process is completed. It’s the spacious realm of curatorial assistant Vicki Denby, Houghton’s resident expert on end-processing. Hers is a world of acid-free folders and stacked flip-top Hollinger boxes, in which most literary papers are finally “housed,” the term that archivists use when precious papers are finally snug and safe. Like houses, the boxes have addresses — bar codes these days — that allow staffers to find requests, and record who made them.Looking up from one box, Denby said, “It’s a lot of work.” A ‘neat’ man Melanie Wisner, Houghton’s accessioning archivist, is an expert on the first overview of a new archive. Updike was so neat, said Wisner, “there was little to do.” RWE “He used his journals,” said Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts Leslie Morris, “as his quarry.” That’s Ralph Waldo Emerson, of course. ‘A lot of work’ Curatorial assistant Vicki Denby works near stacks of acid-free folders and flip-top Hollinger boxes, where most literary papers are finally “housed” — a term archivists use to express the snug safety of precious papers. “It’s a lot of work,” she said.last_img read more