Latest Blog Posts

by Sean Murphy

30 Mar 2009

From Sunday’s New York Times: On March 29, 1973, the last United States troops left South Vietnam, ending America’s direct military involvement in the Vietnam War.

I can’t recall the last time I watched The Deer Hunter in a single, uninterrupted sitting. I suspect, reflecting on the first Vietnam-inspired Hollywood epic (preceding the similarly overstuffed Apocalypse Now by a full year), the extensive overture is necessary not only to set the tone, but to signify, on literal and figurative (artistic) levels the last glimpse of a way of life that was about to irrevocably change. With minimal pretension (that would be saved for the movie’s third act) and effective subtlety, the elaborate, unhurried scenes depicting the plans and preparation for the big wedding illustrate a way of life that, even without the war, was almost obsolete: the steel mills and coal mines, of course, would not figure as prominently in the lives (and livelihoods) of the next generation. Less remarked upon, but equally significant is the vivid depiction of a reliance on religion and ritual that seemed much less archaic in an era when it was not uncommon for first or second generation immigrants (mostly from Europe) to comprise the (invariably blue collar) workforce. As such, the film’s first act is a document of a time that was slouching, not exactly innocently but less than fully prepared, toward the end of its own history. First there was the ‘80s and what the powers that were did to the unions, then the ‘90s and what computers meant for the majority of workers unfamiliar with the Internet.

The Deer Hunter’s second act deals with the horrors of combat and the third act with its aftermath; those are the parts that, while not as deliberate and languid as the less eventful opening act, become weighted down with their own urgency and all-encompassing compulsion to illustrate Big Truths. This is where the (inevitable?) lack of subtlety and (unfortunate) pretension sometimes suck the air out of the action on the screen. Still, the scene where De Niro skips his own homecoming party and paces nervously around his motel room says as much about the alienation and subsequent disillusionment (where he came from, where he went, where he is headed) than most films and books devoted to the uneasy homecoming Vietnam veterans endured. For an unfettered and forceful examination of this awkward chapter in our country’s history, I’ve yet to encounter a work that improves upon Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. But the single scene (from any film, and more immediately than any book) that successfully synthesizes the before and after of that war, and that era, is the brief, devastatingly beautiful scene that concludes the first part of the film: post-wedding and pre-war; no words are spoken but a great deal is conveyed. The world will soon be a different place for the friends headed to war as well as the ones who stayed behind. It is an elegy for folks who are beginning to understand that everything has already changed.

The Deer Hunter, The Last Night

by PopMatters Staff

30 Mar 2009

Rootsy singer-songwriter Matthew Ryan has teamed up with Greg Richling (The Wallflowers) and Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters) for a project going by the moniker of The Dead Satellites. The group has released a free single “Shook Down” full of timely anger at the causes of the recent economic crisis.

The Dead Satellites
“Shook Down” [MP3]

by Michael Edler

30 Mar 2009

Tornados. Essentially tornados abound in Neko Case’s sixth album Middle Cyclones, a brilliant pop/folk/rock/etc album. Maybe one of the purest displays in Neko’s career, the album is filled with density learned from composing and touring with her side super-band The New Pornographers. These songs are demonstrating growth in Neko’s song writing ability. Neko has constructed songs with limited space, she’s giving us a Neko Case pop sonic masterpiece that takes some time to find a spot to settle into and enjoy, but the album’s main purpose is to drive the idea that we live in a stormy world that we do not even work on our own behalf to enjoy fully. We all struggle, as Neko, to find love and to define it for ourselves, but we also push away those who mean us most joy. We are stormy creatures, afraid to communicate fully in a world filled with the ability to communicate anything to anyone at any time. Middle Cyclone is the love album for the early 21st Century. The songs are richly decorated; they spin the listener into the ground and then spend equal time allowing comfortable recoil.

by Christian John Wikane

30 Mar 2009

It’s not everyday that a classically trained baritone fuses opera, gospel, and funk. On Now Sings My Soul, Giuseppe Spoletini, indeed, vacillates between numerous musical worlds with stunning dexterity. He warmly wraps his rich and sumptuous voice around a harp-based arrangement of “Ave Maria” yet brings Mahalia Jackson’s “Trouble of the World” to a feverish pitch with equal aplomb. Produced by Nona Hendryx, Now Sings My Soul is a remarkable showcase for Spoletini, who currently instructs aspiring vocalists at Manhattan School of Music while winning over enthusiastic audiences in the clubs and cabarets of New York. 

“The purpose of the CD is to be very inclusive and it’s to uplift people”, Spoletini says about his debut. “The goal is to just make people feel better or give them some hope”. With rousing tracks like “Who’ll Be a Witness for My Lord” and a stunning original composition by Hendryx entitled “The Impossible”, Spoletini not only uplifts, he inspires, illustrating that when categories are suspended, truly magical music can be made.

For more information, visit


Giuseppe Spoletini EPK

by tjmHolden

30 Mar 2009

This past week, as I reported in my most recent PM column, ReDotPop, The ISU World Figure Skating Championships were held in Los Angeles, California. Now, what I know about skating probably rivals the amount of hair remaining on my head (which is to say, very little), but when I happened to score a couple of tickets for one of the 5 nights of the competition, I wasn’t about to turn down a chance to go. I figured (ha ha) I might even learn something in the process.

What I didn’t figure on was that the seats would be—like, right on the ice—but since they were, they rendered the immense, pre-war German binoculars I had brought superfluous. Fortunately, my proximity to the skaters empowered my miniature Japanese camera which, thanks to a fairly promiscuous trigger finger, snapped off a good 200 shots. The (less fuzzy) of this (unorganized) lot has now been posted on Picasa, which you can find here, if you are interested.

As for what I learned after my 3 hours of viewing and shooting, well, that can be found after the jump . . .


//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article