Latest Blog Posts

by Katrina-Kasey Wheeler

2 Feb 2009

Yo-Yo Ma is a world-renowned, Grammy-winning cellist extraordinaire, and his talent matches his level of humility. He is extremely joyous and eager to share his music with the world in such a way that will engage them unlike ever before. He is on a continual quest, searching for new ways to communicate with audiences. When Ma plays a piece of music—you feel it, nowhere is this more audible than on his new album, Songs of Joy and Peace. Ma has collaborated with luminaries from various genres on this project, including James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Renée Fleming, Chris Botti, and Diana Krall, allowing him to move in creative new directions.

America and the rest of the world finds itself in precarious times, and as President Barack Obama takes office, it is no wonder that a candidate who embraced the mantra of change and standing together as one voice chose Ma as an artist to perform at the inaugural ball. Ma’s acute and ever-evolving understanding of his instrument and the role that music plays in a global setting that continues to motivate musicians of all cultural backgrounds to channel that same level of intensity for their craft. In 1998 Ma acted on his ambition by establishing the Silk Road Project to promote the study of the cultural, artistic, and intellectual traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The Silk Road Project has three major goals: to illuminate the historical contributions of the Silk Road; support innovative collaborations between composers and musicians from Asia, Europe, and North America; and explore classical music within a wider global context.

by Joe Tacopino

2 Feb 2009

Brooklyn’s adorable art-punks are back with their most ambitious and fun album to date. Grand was recorded in sessions both at their tiny Williamsburg apartment and in the cow pastures of Vermont. The video for their first single, “Daylight”, shows the duo rocking out in closets, bathrooms, cabs, dumpsters—even a refrigerator. check them out, they’re so damn cute.

by Rob Horning

2 Feb 2009

All of John Quiggin’s essays on economic doctrines now refuted by the current crisis are worth reading. It illustrates well how rationalizing ideology is generated to paper over contradictions, unsustainable imbalances, and inevitable reckonings.

In his most recent post, about trickle-down theories, Quiggin predicts a reemergence of class struggle in the wake of economic failure. He concludes:

Politically, the failure of the trickle-down theory seems likely to produce a resurgence of the class-based politics pronounced dead in the era of economic liberalism. The contrast between the enforced austerity of any recovery period, and the massive, and massively unjustified, excesses of the financial elite during the boom period, will produce a political environment where phrases like “malefactors of great wealth” no longer seem quaint and old fashioned.

It’s tempting to cheer this development as long overdue. But when we turn to politics merely out of dissatisfaction and disgruntlement (our chance at unfettered consumerism is receding!) rather than a habit of civic duty, the danger of reactionary policies and demagoguery increase dramatically. Class-based critique is not automatically demagoguery, as conservatives assert, but in a country that has had a hard time acknowledging the existence of a “power elite” and that can be complacent about the ideals of social mobility and equality of opportunity, class-based politics can quickly devolve into the more familiar forms of American ressentiment: racism, nationalism, anti-intellectualism, and so on.
Literary critic Walter Benn Michaels makes a similar point about the disappearance of class from public debate, arguing that novelists tend to focus on those same forces of ressentiment and congratulate ourselves on our moral clarity in rejecting them, instead of looking at, say, poverty and our complicity in perpetuating it.

So maybe it’s time to forget about the Holocaust for a while and focus on the free market instead, to stop congratulating ourselves on being against genocide and to start questioning what it means to be for free trade. Although it doesn’t appear anywhere on the Times’s list [of the best novels of the past 25 years], Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho is a far better novel than most of the ones that do, and the Psycho’s self-consoling reminder, “I am rich—millions are not,” has the merit of problematizing the upper middle class’s sense of its virtue rather than, like Roth and Morrison, pandering to it.

Basically, prejudices are easier to accept and use than the hard facts about the tenacity of social class and how privilege is preserved at a more fundamental economic level. When a country that rejects class as a category has to acknowledge its real existence as a malign social force, outlandish ideologies can start to emerge. During boom times, consumer capitalism insulates us from politics, keeps the bulk of us in a stupor of self-centered individualism. When the boom ends, we generally lack the competence to engage in democratic politics in a way that’s consistent with the ideals we had been taking for granted. Suddenly feeling vulnerable, we lunge at anything that might promise to punish the forces that disrupted our fever dream of hedonism. The lunatic-fringe ideas that have been gathering in world’s unkempt corners like so much lint can be swept up together and take substantial form; reasonable people, bewildered by heretofore unthinkable institutional failures, may find them suddenly plausible.

No doubt financiers have been over compensated and reckless; their myopic selfishness has damned us to several years of difficult readjustment that many in no way deserve. The difficulty will fall hardest on those who prospered least during the bubble. But the financiers weren’t acting out of spite or evil; they were merely enacting the logic of the system. Their behavior reflects, as Robert Reich argues here, a structural problem. If our critiques don’t ascertain that, they will be futile and dangerous. Bankers will be hanged, for the wrong reasons, and those same wrong reasons will authorize a host of subsequent injustices as yet untold.

by PopMatters Staff

2 Feb 2009

Micheal Keefe said of Sarah Borges in relation to her 2007 release, Diamonds in the Dark, “Sarah can sing the heck out of anything, really. She has wonderful pop instincts, but never veers too close to slick, radio-baiting country pop. Her twang is sweet and supple, and her dedication to her material is infectious.” Borges returns with a new record, The Stars Are Out, on Sugar Hill March 24th. The new one is rockier, having been produced by Paul Q. Kolderie who has worked with Radiohead and the Pixies. Here’s the lead-off video, “Do It for Free”.

by Elena Mertus

2 Feb 2009

Serendipity introduced me to Ray LaMontagne. I decided to just randomly download one of his songs, and after hearing his one song “Trouble”, I decided to download every song that he has written. His voice, is rough, yet soothing.. .a sultry juxtaposition. His influences are Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, just to name a few.  LaMontagne’s words aren’t as complex and lyrical as Bob Dylan’s, but his acoustic, folk-inspired style brings you back to a different era in music. I wouldn’t recommend driving to his music, but put this music on when you are having a late night and you will be instantly relaxed, and find yourself surrendering into a dreamworld.

//Mixed media

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

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