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Wednesday, December 1 2004

Radio Head? Ex-pirate Peel Abandons Ship

John Peel retained a fondness for music of all periods. The unearthing of undiscovered performers and undersung genres appeared to be his unceasing motivation.


Celebrities and the Barnum Effect

Ah, the shine of a pretty new thing, the clever ploy of its packaging. We enjoy the fantasy that such things arouse, and then, when shoddy reality sets in, we tip our caps to the ingenuity by which we were led to indulge the fantasy.


Wednesday, November 17 2004

X, Y, Z

Games move through time because everything else moves through time. Including us. Constantly, inexorably.


Controversial Subjects

The Frankfurt Book Fair's invititation to writers from the 'Arab world' triggered a bad case of stage fright for invitees, and brought to the fore issues such as the degree of official oversight exercised by most Arab governments in cultural matters.


Wednesday, November 10 2004

Send in the Clowns:  Subversive Rock Humorists

From Chuck Berry to Eminem, I hope these 10 disparate acts suggest that the need for subversive humor has never been greater, and that rock needs to react with its own insurgence: re-arming, re-loading, and then sending in the clowns.


Smear the Queer

We were too frightened by the possibility of Bush's reelection to recognize that Kerry frets his way around the language of values, handling it in his speeches the way macho men hold their wives' purses for them.


Fair-Weather Friends

The 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale has been overshadowed by neo-colonial interests; the focus no longer being on Africa but on the carving up of the Middle East -- and at times of its inhabitants -- and the wealth it can offer the West.


Wednesday, November 3 2004

Youssou N’Dour and African Islam

The broad tar-brushing of Islam has meant westerners have generally lost sight of the varieties and subtle differences of the many cultures to be found within Islam. In these times especially, Youssou N'Dour's music needs to be heard.


Will the Real Harlem Please Stand Up?

Harlem's current renaissance has less to do with the art and culture that flowed freely during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, and more to do with good old-fashioned commerce. The new gentry went looking for a new ground floor, and found it right in their own mythic backyard.


Thrift Store Gentry

The thrift store shopper needs to turn a misfortune into a virtue; that of the conscientious non-conformist.


Wednesday, October 27 2004

Dark Representations: The South as Horror Movie

Violence in the American tradition tends to bed down with the American Myth of Innocence; horror films full of southern hellbillys often erase the historical context for southern violence.


Cuban-American Freedom? On Pitbull and Guantanamo

Pitbull comes across as a clever guy, attuned to the interplay of social, political, and economic dynamics. He insists that he can weave some heavy stuff in among the booty music, but he's still prone to broad clichés.


The Return of the Lotus Eaters

The UK's disparaged 'Lotus Eaters' are leaving town in droves, for good. Everyone, it seems, would rather be somewhere else.


Now He’s 64: A Late Lennon Landmark

Sixty-four-year-olds aren't what they used to be, and if John Lennon were still alive, he would probably not be living the quaint parlour scene played out in McCartney's ditty.


Wednesday, October 20 2004

Always Take the Weather With You

For those types of games that allude in same way to the real world, weather's configuration, representation, and possibly meaning, ought to be a major consideration.


You Can’t Force the Vote

Newsweek's Anna Quindlen thinks fining non-voters in the US is a good idea. Thompson, his university students, and some friends who lived under communist dictatorships in Hungary and the Czech Republic, think otherwise.


The High and Low of Black Literature

What's happening now in black literature is similar to the smooth jazz/serious jazz dichotomy; urban fiction is getting more 'play' to the public, and fine literature is experienced only by the cognoscenti.


Wednesday, October 13 2004

Influential Alternative Record Labels: Bloodshot Records and the New Traditionalism

Like a latter-day Alan Ladd as Shane, Chicago-based independent label, Bloodshot Records, has taken upon itself the role of savior of the sagebrush, mixing it up in the robber-baron world of corporate Country.


Brussels Fair

The best literature on the world's great cities becomes massive solidifications of cities as enlarged physical characterisations; maps of the full gamut of human expression and suffering. Breebaart sees much-overlooked Brussels as next up for such great literary work.


Is It Time to Reclaim Crazy White Kids’ Suicide Music?

To this day, with all that history behind us, black folks are accused of jumping to the other side whenever their music veers off the beaten track. Keep on jumping.


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