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by tjmHolden

24 Oct 2008

The thing about travel is that you pass in and out of what Wittgenstein called “language games” – hermetic zones of meaning that make sense only to the people who inhabit that domain. The meaning of a red light, a set of chopsticks, a woman running for president carry the power to resonate in a brain or else mystify. For those who exist and enter from outside the language game, the image of a man in a sequined jacket hiding a sword behind a red cape as a bull charges with brio, might have little significance . . . other than, say, impending danger – one way or the other.

To varying degrees this is the point I am always reminded of on my peripatetic journeys. Passing in and out of spaces to which I am not a permanent party I encounter scores of symbols, acts, interactions, objects, dramas about which I often have to scratch my head and ask: “so, what does



Which is what I had to do, passing through California a couple of months ago. It was Olympic season and it seemed that I couldn’t turn on the tube without running into this advertisement:


by Rob Horning

24 Oct 2008

Matt Yglesias pinpoints why The Wire is superior to The Sopranos:

the Wire, though I think it does flag a bit in seasons four and five, absolutely never stops feeling like a single coherent work that deserves to be watched uninterrupted from end to end. The Sopranos is extremely well-made television, but especially after season two it begins to get very “televisiony” — full of occasional digressions and sub-plots that feel like filler or stalling or efforts to spread screen time around rather than being crucial to the development of the story. If The Wire had never existed, one might be inclined to say that this is just intrinsic to the medium, but we while it is endemic to the medium we also know now that it’s avoidable.

I had hoped that <>Mad Men would avoid getting “televisiony”—that is, it would continue to be about capturing the particular historical moment it sought to dramatize rather than becoming about itself. I’m always disappointed when a show becomes more about what crazy thing happens next to the characters, who we are supposed to sympathize with for their own sake and not for what they bring out about the larger theme. Unfortunately Mad Men, like The Sopranos seems to have dropped off from its original concept—which seemed to me to dramatize the advent of the 1960s wave of feminism, and illustrate the role advertising plays in sexism—and now we are supposed to watch to find out what happens to Don. I’m curious to see what will happen, but it doesn’t make me think the way the show did originally. The same thing happened to the Sopranos—the show started out by drawing interesting parallels between the crime family and the American family, between domestic and commercial forms of extortion. But then it became about the audience liking the characters as simplified faux-people we could root for. Yglesias is right; if not for The Wire it would be easy to assume this retreat from thematic exploration was just inevitable.


by John Bohannon

24 Oct 2008

After a full day of watching music, it’s often difficult to fully appreciate the last thing you see, which is why I’m going to be fair to the Noisettes. After a few songs, they couldn’t hold my interest anymore, and it’s not because they were bad, but because the liquor induced haze had worn off and my body was failing me. As I was walking out, I actually considered staying as they started to play a ballad (I believe it was “Break Free”), and Shingai Shoniwa’s voice sounded better than I think I’d ever heard it sound before. But Noisettes operate better when they infuse elements of soul music into their songs. The whole artsy punk thing doesn’t quite work in their favor, but when the hooks present themselves, they do so in the same fashion that soul music plays on a hook. And that, despite my tired demeanor, is a compliment in the highest regard.


by John Bohannon

24 Oct 2008

U-God is the Wu-Tang member that probably gets the least respect out of any of them. Last night at Santos Party House, I figured out why. Has this guy not been paying attention to anything in hip-hop for the past decade? His beats are beyond bland and his rhyming is sub-par compared to everyone else in Wu Tang these days. He kept talking about his new record coming out, and by the end of the show I was wishing he would never release it. Not moving from his position center stage the entire time, by the end of his set it felt like a Republican preaching to an audience of Democrats—nobody gave a damn what he was saying.

by John Bohannon

24 Oct 2008

Implementing more into their sound than just metal influences, these guys find glory in the use of guitar pedals to design their sound, building thrashing power chords into layers of hell-infused volume. Drummer Dale Nixon fills more space than I think I’ve ever seen anyone fill with a kit that minimal—the perfect metal drummer. Being Brooklyn residents, they had one of the larger crowds of the night and everyone was left in some kind of volume-induced trance. After the set, there was no way you could talk to the person next to you or even communicate with the bar tender unless you physically pointed to whatever you wanted.

//Mixed media

That Ribbon of Highway: Sharon Jones Re-shapes Woody Guthrie's Song

// Sound Affects

"Sharon Jones and Woodie Guthrie knew: great songs belong to everybody.

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