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Wednesday, February 5 2003

Serial Killers as a Cultural Construct

Such killers are convinced that they are more honest and open about their desires and, thus, morally superior.

Wednesday, January 29 2003

You’re So Bleedin’ Bourgeois!

No other conversation garners as much chit chat and enjoyment amongst not only the French, but most Europeans, as the plight of the frowned-upon bourgeoisie.

Thursday, January 23 2003

Living Out Loud

(T)he legacy of 'An American Family' serves as an important reminder of television's untapped potential to move us, to open our eyes, and to see the world beyond our backyard.

Wednesday, January 15 2003

In no-man’s land I got lost

In Afrikaner alternative music and poetry, Johannes Kerkorrel was like the Bob Dylan of white South Africa . . .

Tuesday, January 14 2003

On Fire Like Old Dry Garbage

He was an over-saturated, pungent, weed-choked swamp of words.

Wednesday, January 8 2003

Death Row: A View from the Cheap Seats

. . .when you personally pass Jimi's age or John's, or Buddy's or Elvis', you realise just how fleetingly they basked in the limelight, and how briefly the candle of your own existence flairs then flickers.

Sex or Gender

Are gender identity and sexual preferences . . . immutable lifelong features or dynamically evolving frames of self-reference?

Thursday, December 26 2002

2002 Nostalgia

Pop is finally eating itself.

Narrative Journeys

I see it as the globalization of the Southern experience.

Pop Politicians

In my high school a constant 'battle' went on between the Kennedy emulators and the Elvis crowd. Our hair told the story: the bushy tousled look with a smart part vs. the wild, unruly pompadour.

Tuesday, December 17 2002

Toward a New Type of Culture

. . . in their quest for knowledge of and acquisition of the products of the Japanese animation industry, they have surpassed the daily concerns and cares of ordinary human beings.

The Art of Speed

A Norwegian film critic pointed out that film is the first form of art that is entirely capitalistic; invented in order to make money.

White Chocolate

In the past, it has been all too easy to identify many of these white artists under the rubric of 'blue-eyed soul'. But I'd like to argue for a separate category known as 'white chocolate' -- that which 'looks' different but contains all the flavor and the texture of the original.

You Can’t Take It With You: On Being Young and Middle Aged

I’m pretty sure it’s because I have mono. Spending all this time horizontal, having to pare my life down to what I can manage to accomplish before I collapse back into bed. If that doesn’t get one to thinking about all the unhappy accidents that come with a body, I don’t know what will. The most unhappy of the aforementioned accidents is, of course, mortality. But I’m not worried about death, necessarily. I’m worried about acting my age. My parents raised me in rural Maine, and they wouldn’t let me watch television for a reason: it was the mid ‘70s, and they thought that without the corruption of the city and mass culture their children would be more imaginative, more centered, more independent. There were a lot of people who thought like that in those days; from the first wave feminists (fashion magazines breed low self-esteem) to Marshall McLuhan (“the medium is the message”). All of this deprivation, of course, only made me more anxious to glue my eyeballs to the tube whenever possible. I remember illicit viewings of Nightrider and The Dukes of Hazard, sleepover cartoon freakouts, and even soap opera binges when my parents were away. I never learned, as some kids may have, that TV can get boring. To me that box of lights opened always and forever on to a forbidden country, its allure all the more powerful because to me it seemed to hold the secrets to the way that other people, normal people, lived. It didn’t help that we lived in the middle of nowhere. To some extent all of our Maine neighbors (that is, everyone in a 50-mile radius) suffered from the same postcolonial inferiority complex: things must be happening somewhere other than here. Unlike many kids of my generation, I missed out on the early days of MTV simply because our tiny town didn’t get a cable provider until the late ‘80s — we had to content ourselves with the broadcast alternative, a mere hour every week on “Friday Night Videos”. Yet at no time did I find myself ever seriously doubting that TV could show me who I was or how to be. If that channel I needed didn’t come on our TV, I was convinced that somebody somewhere was getting it, and so I would, too. So I ended up in college in Chicago, which is about as far as my imagination could take me from rural Maine. The industrial Midwest is a kind of hub for consumer culture; a place where kids know their way around a Target before they can even walk. Ever since the explorer Joliet discovered that a simple canal could connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi, Chicago has functioned as the way station for every product imaginable. Products which, increasingly, are entertainment rather than utility-based. It was the early ‘90s, just as what MTV dubbed the “Alternative Nation” was coming of age. It may be true in some sense, therefore, that I watched myself grow up on TV. Or that I came into some awareness of myself just as the rest of the culture was turning its eyes toward “Generation X” and naming a new wave of something-or-other, a kind of insurgency that miraculously corresponded with all the things I passionately believed in, like Steve Albini and Touch & Go Records and Pavement. I remember quite clearly that in the summer of 1994, Time magazine ran a cover depicting the pitchfork-wielding couple in the painting “American Gothic” as indie rockers, all pierced and dyed. Though at the time I mourned what I thought was the exposure of some kind of pure underground, nothing could have prepared me for what’s happening now — which is to say nothing. For the past 10 years it seems like everything interesting or new in popular culture had to do with people my age. Or people who were 12 (like Britney Spears), which was also sort of about people my age (see the 20-something affection for cartoons and the double irony of bubblegum stuff a la the Donnas). Now my generation is slowly shuffling off of television’s immortal coil. Though I graduated with the class of 90210, they’ve been off the air for years. That ‘70s Show is about high school kids in a decade I don’t remember, and That ‘80s Show sucked. Dawson’s Creek, a show obviously written by people my age in order to cope with overactive high-school nostalgia, has now degenerated into, well, something like the later years of 90210. Ditto for Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which at its best moments even introduced a level of post-graduation irony. I’m left now with only the last season of Friends, which I never cared about much anyway, and the half-baked consolation of Gilmore Girls, which offers me exactly zero characters of my age or station in life (since I’m neither a high school girl nor a former teenage mom) but at least is witty, well-written, and set in New England. I only watch Smallville when I want to think about the demise of the family farm in a sort of Tommy Hilfiger ad kind of haze, and I have absolutely no interest in the Alias‘s and

Wednesday, December 4 2002

The Merits of Stereotypes

(Discrimination) has little to do with stereotypes and a lot to do with societal and economic power matrices.

Wednesday, November 6 2002

Can You Dig It? Yes I Can!

This was a band that thrived despite being jeered and pissed on by critics, hipsters, jazzbos, even its own ex-members.

The Noble Sarariman

He was a dupe, a fool, a brainless, clueless buffoon who'd been sold a bag of goods, and willingly sacrificed everything to gain nothing in a world that had quickly gone to garbage.

California Dreaming: US Band Plans British Invasion

He was seeking advice on how an unknown Yankee combo could approach the mysteries of this tiny island and not leave with their tail between their legs.

Wednesday, October 30 2002

Takin’ Comics to the Streets: Glimpses of the Medium’s American Future

. . . Manga is a perfect example of what the comic medium can become: it is as omnipresent as television in its home country and has been likened to air itself, in that it permeates every facet of contemporary cultural life.

Joan Miró: An African Experience

. . . improvisation with materials that represent throwaway elements of our day-to-day existence is par for the course, both visually and economically.

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