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

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Friday, Jul 22, 2011
Generation X's obsession with their own entertainment hits the printed page, and it's totally radical!... if only the authors' ambitions weren't still lost in cyberspace.

Ah, the ‘70s and ‘80s. Or, strictly speaking, the mid-‘70s through approximately 1992.


But then, this was no time to be pedantic. This was the time when the survivors of the hard-nosed ‘50s and taboo-shattering ‘60s settled down to consolidate their gains – and proceeded to blow it all on the biggest, loudest, most over-the-top party Western civilization had ever seen. Yes, even greater than the Roaring Twenties. Did they have Atari back then? Did they? Huh?


They settled down, had some offspring, and bought minivans – that being the only vehicle that would hold all the offspring’s stuff. This (the offspring that is, not the minivan) is the origin story of Generation X. And thus this is their unique dilemma today, some 40 years later, as they begin to settle back and think about consolidation in their turn… and find themselves contemplating the shortcomings of “Greed is good!” as a noble contribution to societal advancement, never mind source of cool stories to tell the grandkids.


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Sunday, Oct 4, 2009
"As Uncle Max took Nachum's lifeless body out of my mother's trembling arms, I closed my eyes and pretended that what was happening was not real. Nachum's death left 13 of us in the attic, at least for the time being." -- Rita Lurie, Holocaust survivor

In his recent talk with Holocaust survivor Rita Lurie, NPR’s Michel Martin conducted what has to be one of the most sensitively handled interviews on talk radio these days. Moreover, the powerful words in this interview and the books discussed here find new meaning as more Americans scramble to find ways to deal with trauma—terrorism, modern cultural pluralism, the recession, the sandwich-generation taking care of kids and parents, loss of work, resources, benefits and status. The authors graciously and courageously bequeathed us powerful inspiration.


This interview was incredibly powerful, and reminded me of reading Linda Brent’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, first published in 1861. The writer seems better able to recapture her voice on paper after being holed up in a space too small to move her limbs for seven years during her journey to escape the slave-holding American South, amidst the uncertainly of freedom in the North due to the active Fugitive Slave Law. Nowhere felt safe, and like the Holocaust survivor Rita Lurie—holed up in a Polish farmer’s attic—each day was riddled with the fear of “not knowing if we were going to live another day.”


It also occurs to me that Blacks and Jews should come together in remembrance in spaces of reverence for the purpose of breathing new life into the present, charged with the energy of our ancestors and loved ones gone by. We must pray together and help each other—and the wider/whiter America—to remember our past, not to be consumed by forgetfulness, and not to fear being overwhelmed with grief (guilt or shame) from accepting our past.


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