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

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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013
The 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup winners reunite and reminisce in this commemorative documentary.

“They are the best known group of unknown women ever to captivate America,” announces Tom Brokaw at the start of The ‘99ers. Premiering 20 August on ESPN, Erin Leydon’s documentary looks back on the moment when the US women’s soccer team made themselves known—everywhere. While the precise moment might be named—July 10, 1999, when the team beat China to win the World Cup at the Rose Bowl, the metaphorical moment is broader, more resonant, even timeless. The film is structured around a gathering of eight of the players, including this film’s producer Julie Foudy, captain Carla Oberbeck, and Brandy Chastain, the one who took her shirt off. They walk back into the stadium and plop down on the turf, laughing and growing tearful over memories of their campaign, over years, to build support for the sport in the US, to achieve their own excellence as a group, and to weather their own storms, from Michelle Akers’ chronic fatigue to Mia Hamm’s reluctance to play the role of the media darling.


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Thursday, Aug 8, 2013
Here are your pop culture options for end-of-summer fun.

The last full month of summer is a mixed bag of entertainment options, with two big movies geared toward the under-20 crowd, highly-anticipated albums, major video game releases, plenty of sports coverage, and TV’s wackiest awards show. Whatever you do, try to do it outdoors before sweater season creeps in.


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Wednesday, Jul 10, 2013
In Dawn Porter's documentary, public defenders are moved by a sense of mission, a belief that their work for justice, in representing their clients, helps to make the US justice system less unfair.

“That’s the beauty of this system,” public defender Travis Williams tells a jury in Clayton County, Georgia. “It’s set up to give people the presumption of innocence, to give them the opportunity to not only be heard, but to hold the state accountable.” As Williams completes his impassioned summation for his young, lean, awkwardly suited client during the first moments of Gideon’s Army, he underlines that though the state “has the gall to say this is not a big case,” in fact, it has “huge consequences,” namely, that “This boy will become a convicted felon.”


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Tuesday, Jul 2, 2013
Blockbusters, summer TV, and a lot of music prove that there's more fun to be had in July than just the 4th.

July is a big month in the music world, as so many major releases are hitting the shelves that discussing them warrants a separate PopMatters article. See: Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for July 2013


But the next 31 days also feature some TV debuts, big box office hits, and America’s most patriotic holiday. So get comfortable. Open a cold one, and enjoy July’s offerings.


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Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013
This week's Real Sports offers segments on Negro League players finding each other and war veterans finding peace as MMA fighters.

Six years ago, when he was 12 years old, Cam Perrin found his calling. An enthusiastic baseball card collector then, he tells Bryant Gumbel now, he stumbled on a few Negro League players. Intrigued by how little information as readily available on them, Cam began to research—not only online, but in more old-fashioned ways, writing and calling the men whose names he discovered. “To his amazement,” Gumbel says, “Many of them wrote back.” And a few did not: as Cam recalls on this week’s HBO"s Real Sports, a few didn’t take his calls, and a couple even pretended to be dead, saying they weren’t who they were. But Cam is nothing if not persistent, and despite the lack of record-keeping by the Leagues, he tracked down and reconnected teammates who had lost touch with each other, pulled together documentation on careers so that players could begin to receive their pensions (they need to show they played for four seasons to be eligible), and got himself invited to the annual reunion at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, a reunion whose attendees have increased thanks to Cam. Today, Gumbel visits with Cam, acknowledged as “one of the foremost authorities on the Negro League,” and appreciated by the players. “He is a white kid that shines among the blacks,” smiles former Indianapolis Clown Russell Patterson, one of many former players who consider the Tulane student a close friend.


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