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

 
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Thursday, Jul 9, 2009

Before the international frenzy that Barack Obama commanded following his historic presidential campaign and win, Michael Jackson was the global face of black exceptionalism and achievement. His death at the age of 50 on June 25, 2009, almost succeeded in crashing the Internet and suspended social media mechanisms such as Twitter. In excess of 1.6 million people logged into a random lottery system in hopes to garner one of the 20,000 tickets needed to gain access into Jackson’s memorial service this past Tuesday. His face has graced the cover of virtually every major (and minor) international periodical, newspaper, and news program since his untimely death. Much has been written and reported about Michael Jackson from his impact on an impressively diverse and large demographic to his transformation from a beautiful, cherubic child to a grotesqueness unknown or unseen before him to his massive debts and legal troubles stemming from allegations of pedophilia. As a child of the ‘80s, Michael Jackson was the model for many of my own personal interpretations of Thriller, but for me it’s his role as the seminal figure in the integration of African American musicality into the global pop culture stratosphere that bears the seismic weight of his significance.


Tagged as: michael jackson
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Wednesday, Jul 8, 2009
Inclusiveness, all the Jackson’s music seems to say, is the underlying means of respecting one another, and the planet. That’s a genuinely mature message for any artist to relay.

Listen to the Jacksons sing “Can You Feel It”: “All the colors of the world should love each other wholeheartedly.” Or, dare you sit and play “Earth Song”. “Heal the World” probably never left the easy listening stations. Consider the type of orchestration behind creating “We Are the World” and daring to show Third World kids as subjects, not objects; they created music with Michael and he with them. It would make a crippled person want to jump up and take action and that’s exactly what lay at the heart of the matter.


Inclusiveness, the Jacksons’ music continually says, will lead us to not only take care of one another, but also to respect the earth. Take a close listen to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, the whole album including, and especially the interludes. The Jacksons inspire hope. They dared stand with humanity—in front of humanity—asking: “What about us?” Indeed, their music says, what about all of us For the Jackson family, their music was neither about their bling, nor were their messages ever about ‘them and us’—but all of us! Do we dare care enough about us?


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Wednesday, Jul 8, 2009

Sorry but I couldn’t find a video of Little Milton doing his signature tune (don’t worry he takes his well-deserved bow later anyway). So you go to a blues festival for the music and ‘cuz you’re some kind of purist, right? Don’t think you’re totally fessin’ up now, are you? Good I knew you’d agree! Of course, summer blues festivals (they’re seldom anytime else except in the deepest darkest South) provide culinary delights, but also a babble of possibilities from which one needs to choose wisely. I, a native Southerner, doyenne of the Starkville “slow jam” food scene, long time host of “One Bourbon, One Sotch, One Beer” on WMSV’s The Juke Sunday blues programming, and general know-it-all wiseacre, am happy to guide your Northern, Midwestern, Western and/or Foreign asses through the best and wurst (sorry Wisconsin so much to answer for) of Blues Festival Food.


We start with the simplest of non-Einsteinian equations: Blues=Bar-B-CUE or something like Q=ps2 where Q is the end product; p is the pork input and s is the appropriate sauce squared. Really it’s all about the sauce Almost anybody can grill meat, but only a master can slow grill it over hickory in a pine bark pit for a day until the meat sloughs from the bone of its own lazy accord. Re: Bar-B-Que, just don’t ask too many questions about the main product, where it comes from, and how it is prepped pre-pit.


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Friday, Jul 3, 2009
The second biggest selling artist of all time in the United States only had one single become a Top 40 hit.

Garth Brooks is one of the most successful singers of all time. In the United States alone, he has sold more than 68 million copies of his albums since 1991 (when Nielsen Soundscan began monitoring sales), and only the Beatles have sold more albums in American history. He was largely responsible for the massive growth in popularity of country music during the ‘90s, and he has consistently broken box office records when he toured.


Yet, for all of his huge success, he only had one song reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Even more incredibly, his only major mainstream hit wasn’t one of his 19 #1 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart. It wasn’t even officially released to country radio and peaked #62 on the country chart as an album cut.


This is the story of the “Lost” one-hit wonder.


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Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009
One sure way to care is a sure investment in health. Health, like love, cannot be bought, but cultivated, and oils the wings of love. So here’s a tip on summer cultivation, a sure way of taking care of your partner from someone who is in the midst of the seven-year itch.

Turn off the lights…


…and light a candle. That’s how severe soul balladeer Teddy Pendergrass wooed them back then. He started out with a group of players, and with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes from ‘72, defined for many the sound of Philadelphia. Remember him crooning on “I Miss You”?


Eventually, Teddy’s mission of sexual healing, of loving women (and himself) the way they loved to be loved, was fulfilled through his solo career. He had to take it one on one.


Sexual healing gets lost amidst all the talk of the redeeming power of sex in relationships. All this talk about sex and screwing—NOT the love-making potential of sex—lets us deceive ourselves into believing the pop culture myth that romantic love will conquer all. And when this little bit of pop-live waivers even a bit, we’re ready to throw it all away. But do we deserve what we haven’t earned? Won’t love continue to pass us by when we neglect to care, even of ourselves?


Let’s take a shower, shower together, yeah
I’ll wash your body and you’ll wash mine, yeah
Rub me down in some hot oils, baby, yeah
And I’ll do the same thing to you


Soul is not just about love, it’s about care. As Teddy expresses here, care is mutual. Care is comprised of action based on affection, considering the other and the self. Care is genuinely not selfless, nor selfish, but decisive giving. Yet, care is only a road to love. Moreover, soul becomes the blues in an abyss of care, so take good care. Teddy offers us tips to approximate that care and cultivate that love. “Turn Off the Lights” is one of a million croons about the matter of care, not just the superficial utterance of love.


These days, love gets easily complicated with care. Care approximates love. Yet, care is not duty, and neither is love. Still, expressing care both expresses and cultivates love. As passionately as resentment can grow from obligation, love can grow from care. With the popular fixation on sensitive organs, let’s take a look at some tips on how to express care for the small, intimate family.


One sure way to care is a sure investment in health. Health, like love, cannot be bought, but cultivated. Care oils the wings of love. So here’s a tip on summer cultivation, a sure way of taking care of your partner from someone who is in the midst of the seven-year itch.


Getting through summer:
Keep yourself and your lover well fed, avoiding processed and packaged food, with plenty of raw and fresh vegetables. Please the senses: feed each other chocolate and summer fruits. Above all, every now and again, place a thick body-butter in the freezer at least until it becomes a thick slush. Use a butter rich in a balance of natural oils—it should be fruity and nutty.


When the butter is good-n-frosty, turn off the lights and light a candle. Play some soft ‘70s soul music—try Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Roberta Flack, LTD, Lenny Williams, Isaac Hayes, or even DeBarge’s older bros in the group Switch. Then, have you lover (or you!) undress and lay comfortably on the bed with a cool beverage. Massage your lover’s skin with the body butter, taking each limb in pieces and the rest in parts. The skin, is also an organ, so go for the skin orgasm.


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