Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Thursday, Dec 10, 2009
New York 400: A Visual History of America's Greatest City - John Thorn - Running Press [$40.00]

Four-hundred years ago Henry Hudson discovered what is now known as the East River. Then the Dutch founded the colony New Amsterdam and New York City was born. To celebrate the city’s landmark birthday, the Museum of the City of New York has compiled over 500 illustrations and photographs of the city’s rich past, along with detailed passages about the changes New York has gone through in its 400 years, from colonial port village, the bustling Revolutionary town. This coffee table book is a must-gift for any New Yorker who brags about their city, and for any tourist who won’t stop talking about the bus tour they took through the Upper East Side.


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Thursday, Dec 10, 2009
The Batman Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the Batcave - Robert Greenberger and Matthew K. Manning - Running Press [$49.95]

Batman fans rejoice! This collection is more than just reviews and stories, it’s memorabilia in its own right. Any fan of the Masked Crusader will thoroughly enjoy this book, with its tales of the creation of Batman, photographs and illustrations of Gotham, and even a style guide on dressing Catwoman. Museum in a book, indeed. The Batman Vault will benefit anyone who enjoyed Dark Knight too, providing the history of both Bruce Wayne and the Batman franchise. Bruce is 70 years old and has plenty of stories to tell.


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Thursday, Dec 3, 2009
Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo - Annice Jacoby [$35.00] / Graffiti New York - Eric 'Deal CIA' Felisbret [$35.00]

Coast to coast, your connoisseur of street art is covered in these two very smart books on the species’ timeless, irrepressible urge to ridicule, shock, provoke, entertain, mock, render beautiful or simply tag I WAS HERE (and if you saw this, you were, too). Graffiti New York claims this is the city where graffiti began. The Romans might say otherwise (heck, cave dwellers might contest the Romans), but in these times, the elevation of simple tagging to a complex art form as represented in New York is respected (by fellow graffiti artists, anyway) worldwide. Graffiti artists themselves, from the streets and from the galleries, lend word to the approximately 1,000 images here, giving context and critique to this most primal of art forms rendered gorgeous.


San Francisco’s Mission District boasts a greater concentration of street art than any other neighborhood in the world. You’ll get a glimpse of this here in over 500 archival and contemporary photographs. Neighborhood native and ‘mural aficionado’, Carlos Santana, provides the introduction to this colorful and at times, moving tour of cultural commentary You’ll see R. Crumb and Diego Rivera depicted here, along with a range of other talented street artists. Last time I was in the Mission District, I stayed in a crappy, pink stucco, roach infested hotel and slept, barely, to the sounds of fighting outside my window. This book makes me want to go back to that neighborhood and stay awhile and walk those streets again, but slowly, as if walking through a museum. Really.


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Thursday, Dec 3, 2009
Lickshot - Ben Watts - Princeton Architectural Press [$50.00]

Doesn’t the Old English typeface say it all?  Loaded with pictures of pistols, Lickshot just screams bad ass. Lickshot, New-York based photographer Ben Watts’ photo scrapbook and travel diary, is an ideal stocking stuffer for the provocative-at-heart, not least your kid who just graduated from art school. Watts’ dynamic, renegade photography captures the primal in his subjects; a street theater of gang bangers, skate punks, metal heads, and entertainers including Heath Ledger, Benicio Del Toro, Guy Pearce, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg. The book also features an interview with Watts by Vanity Fair editor Ingrid Sischy that delves into Watts’ biography. These gun photos are in-your-face intense.


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Tuesday, Dec 1, 2009
44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World – ed. Robert Pledge and Jacques Menasche – National Geographic [$50]

When you think about it, the legacy of the Iranian elections last year isn’t going to be anything that actually happened in Iran. The thing we’re all going to remember about that election is how profoundly it demonstrated the power of Twitter. One of the biggest selling points of Twitter at the time was that it was “the only way” to get information out of the country.  Reading 44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World you learn that during the Iranian revolution, photographer David Burnett had to smuggle his film out of the country by going to the airport and searching for “pigeons” who might be willing to carry it to Paris where they handed it off to a correspondent. The photographs still made it out, but their journey required physical, not digital ingenuity.


44 Days is an annotated compilation of the photographs he took during that time. The book chronicles the last days of the Shah’s rule, the protests and bloodshed that followed and the return of Ayatollah Khomenini. The photographs are accompanied by Burnett’s journal-like descriptions of each experience. Essentially, it’s a compilation of his Twitter stream, except, there was no Twitter. He writes objectively about the political situation, the emotions of the crowd and his own investigative journey. Burnett also writes about the relationship of the press to the government, and to the protesters.


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