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

 
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Friday, May 11, 2012
The 20th century did its best to dismantle innocence and inflict ideologically based suffering on children so as to darken human psychology for generations to come. Sendak dealt in honesty to make sense of bleak legacies.

Maurice Sendak (1928-2012).


A master dies, and everyone musters to analyse his contribution to children’s literature. Probably, it can be summed up by the way in which he tapped into childhood memories, dreams, dramas – awake and asleep; this ability makes Sendak’s work so influential. I don’t recall his most famous book, Where The Wild Things Are (1963) nearly so much as I remember the imprint of the much criticized In The Night Kitchen (1970) on my childhood recollections of reading.


Max, the hero of Wild Things, was just a naughty boy. I did not relate to him in the way that I found the intimidating and surreal landscape of Mickey’s adventures in the Night Kitchen more impactful. So, what that says about me I’m not sure! (Paging Dr. Freud!)


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Thursday, May 10, 2012
This kid in my class was only 11, but there was a sort of world-weariness about him. Life was tough. Where the Wild Things Are reminded him of his former innocence, even as it spoke to his inner fierceness.

Though I remember happily leafing through Chicken Soup with Rice as a kid, and I certainly owned my fair share of Where the Wild Things Are editions, my favorite Maurice Sendak memory is ultimately of someone else’s reading experience.


From an author’s perspective, I must have been a pretty easy conquest of a child—a natural bookworm who’d throw herself at anything with pages, an eager student. I was easy to engage. But the amazing thing about Sendak is that he got to the reluctant students, too—the ones who were angry about rules and their moms and the sorry state of the real world. At least, he spoke to one of my students like that.


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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012
by David L. Ulin - Los Angeles Times (MCT)
The idea is simple: to create a space for young writers to share work and get feedback, all as part of a community. “Figment,” explains Lewis, “is a user-generated platform. It’s essential that our users feel a sense of ownership.”

NEW YORK — It started with a story for a magazine. In 2008, during a trip to Japan, New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear decided to write about cellphone novels, a phenomenon — involving young women writing largely for young women, posting fiction from their phones to media-sharing websites — that was then shaking up Japanese publishing.


“It seemed like a great way to explore the literary culture,” she remembers, although by the time she got home, the parameters had shifted, with the effects of the global economic crisis rippling through the American book industry. “I began to wonder whether this might offer a sliver of hope for American publishers, although more interesting was the notion that these young women were creating an independent literary community. What would the features of an American version be? What would that have been like for me?”


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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012
Who cares about kids spraying gibberish on New York City trains in the '80s? That’s the question some would ask. Counter-culture historians and art critics, that's who.

“No other art movement in human history has so thoroughly confounded the deeply held concepts of public and private property; no other art movement has so thoroughly made itself a public-policy issue.” (Gastman & Neelon) p.23


Often times, young Americans who are on the fringe of the mainstream, and use art as a vehicle of cultural and political commentary are directly linked to a particular moment or event.  They are seen as direct descendants of one of the more critically romanticized groups in the American history of counter-culture.  Chronologically, we primarily associate and compare present day American youth culture to post-WWII artistic movements.  But our collective cultural memory tends to have gaps.  This period we often credit for birthing the creativity, activism and expression of the present is often bracketed between the end of World War II and the end of the Vietnam War.


 


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Monday, Apr 23, 2012
by Nick Owchar - Los Angeles Times (MCT)
His success as a solo author has also led to some impressive partnerships in recent years. Mlodinow’s the guy who made scientific visionary Stephen Hawking more accessible — after Hawking read “Euclid’s Window,” he wanted to work with Mlodinow.

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood’s full of interesting figures with dreams — struggling actors and writers who wait tables, walk dogs or sell insurance on the side.


In the 1980s and early ‘90s, Leonard Mlodinow was likely one of the most unexpected: a theoretical physicist-turned-scriptwriter.


When TV action hero MacGyver or the Starship Enterprise crew needed new dilemmas to solve, the UC Berkeley-trained scientist was there to supply them.


“I just really loved films and thought I should be writing screenplays,” said the best-selling science writer on a recent sunny afternoon at Caltech, where he’s a lecturer. He was describing his early career at Caltech, in 1981, and why he left for Hollywood. “I was 25 and had really great opportunities in academia, but I kept thinking, ‘I’m in L.A. Hollywood’s not far away!’ I had encouraging experience with a screenplay so I decided to take a chance.”


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