Sunday, May 6 2012
With the film adaptation of On the Road just a month away, it's important to once again define what characterized the Beat movement: an infatuation with the foreign.
Monday, April 30 2012
The Louvin Brothers made heavenly sounds, but the road they took to get there was Hell on Earth.
Sunday, April 29 2012
Stranger Magic is an exhaustive compendium of the various tales in the Arabian Nights collection, as well as a robust and energetic investigation into how these stories of “Oriental” myth and folklore have seeped into the European imagination from the 18th century onward.
Wednesday, April 25 2012
Fear and brutality inherent in the human condition and the drive to survive are themes that have never gone out of fashion. The stakes get even higher when those involved are children, and that's obviously a big seller.
Thursday, April 19 2012
Is it worst to be killed by a crazed mob wielding machetes or to die via conveyor belt and filing system? The Better Angels of Our Nature keeps falling victim to the halo effect, creating an aura around reason itself.
Wednesday, April 18 2012
James Brown – an untrained musician, mind you, operating on not much more than feel, instinct and desire – revolutionized black pop music, setting off depth charges that would still be exploding a decade hence.
Tuesday, April 10 2012
"Spanish majas wearing traditional peinetas made-in-Spain enhance their legs with imported French stockings; dark Spanish beauties leave Andalusia to sit in front of American typewriters in an office in Barcelona or Madrid; sexy middle-class señoritas speed away on German bicycles."
Monday, April 9 2012
Grunge: Music and Memory casts grunge as the unsure middle weight stepping into the ring against one pop music brawler after another. Down goes Michael Jackson, down goes Guns 'n' Roses, and while Springsteen is putting the finishing touches onHuman Touch/Lucky Town, Nirvana and Pearl Jam release the most influential albums of the decade.
Thursday, April 5 2012
Would it matter at all if Katniss Everdeen, a white teenager in the book The Hunger Games, had been portrayed in the film by a suitably teenage and female, black actor? For the young racists who have gone berserk on Twitter about the supporting character Rue being portrayed by an African-American actor, apparently the answer is yes.
Thursday, March 29 2012
This is a three-dimensional map of intellectual terrain, marked hastily but with enormous detail and vividness in the course of a conversation between two well-regarded historians. They have spread the map out on the hood of your car—or perhaps, in honor of Tony Judt, the map has been handed to you in a train station.
Monday, March 26 2012
As The Hunger Games phenomenon fills movie theaters, we are reminded of the age-old idea that the book will forever be better than the movie. Or will it?
Thursday, March 1 2012
The late Christopher Hitchens helped define the character and popular perception of Atheism for this generation. But for the self-styled contrarian, where did principle end and personality begin?
Tuesday, February 28 2012
Dead Stars Tell No Tales: Whitney Houston’s Death Casts New Light Onto Memoirs by Two ‘70s Pop Stars
Just as the winners of the war tend to write the history books, only survivors write memoirs. Nile Rodgers' Le Freak and Gil Scott-Heron's The Last Holiday.
Monday, February 27 2012
Ernest Hemingway compared Paris to a moveable feast because no matter what time it is, Paris is always the magnificent city of lights. Woody Allen expands upon Hemingway's testimony in the magical Midnight in Paris.
Monday, February 20 2012
Pulitzer Prize winning author Jennifer Egan discusses her unique combination of influences, the role of genre and satire in her work, and the importance of distance in her creative process.
Sunday, February 19 2012
These two books show how knotty the connections between culture, race and music have become, even though the only thing the worlds they explore share in common is that in both cases, the audiences are almost all white.
Thursday, February 16 2012
Denise Sullivan represents the insider intellectual stamina of rock 'n' roll journalism without the pomp and pretense. She is the past and future of the form, rolled into one uncanny style.
Monday, February 13 2012
Tim Hall possesses the uncanny gift to compress startling insight into short phrases with such care and concision that he could likely turn a Twitter feed into a system of philosophy.
Sunday, February 12 2012
This travelogue takes us four locales: Havana, Chicago, Sydney and Caracas. Each locale translates into distinctive interactions with hip-hop and its pillars of deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti.
Sunday, February 5 2012
In 1982, with the charts ruled by “Physical”, “Don’t You Want Me” and “Eye of the Tiger”, along came a low-tech record about killers, small-time thieves and other forgotten souls -- and it's still one of the best albums in American music.