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


Wednesday, August 8 2001

Ashcroft at the Lion’s Den

Freelance writer Vanessa Leggett, 33, was jailed July 20, 2001 for contempt of court charges, at the Justice Department’s request, by an unnamed judge in secret proceedings

Thursday, August 2 2001

Eudora Welty—A Life in Words

'My wish, indeed my continuing passion, would be not to point the finger in judgment but to part a curtain, that invisible shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight.'

A king, a queen and two knaves?: An Interview with David Hadju

'Positively 4th Street', New York-based writer David Hajdu's account of the folk era, focuses on two couples whose lives became entangled in the complex history of early 1960s America -- Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Richard and Mimi Farina. Here he tells 'PopMatters' about its genesis.

Tuesday, July 10 2001

Is There a Gangsta Double Standard?

-- I personally have no problem saying that 'The Sopranos' and 'The Marshall Mathers LP' are masterpieces. I am simply waiting (maybe in vain) for media critics to acknowledge the creative genius of Black rap 'gangstas.'

Sunday, July 8 2001

Beauty by Brian D’Amato

In the second of our summer reading lists, Mark Dionne recommends three books -- 'One is a postmodern thriller, one is a dystopian science fiction masterpiece and one is the story of a closeted Irish lesbian mourning the death of her partner' -- that he simply cannot believe more people haven't read.

Thursday, June 28 2001

The Naked Apes: An Interview with the Gorillaz

Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn's (Blur) idea for a thoroughly manufactured, animated and performing (in the classic sense) antidotal pop group has now bubbled up through the mucky soup of today's mediocre pop landscape and staked out its own pristine territory.

Thursday, June 21 2001

Robert Johnson and the Art of Jimi Hendrix

In his attempt to reconcile his blues heritage with his pioneering psychedelic rock, Hendrix created an unbelievable recording that defies any categorization. Like Johnson, his accomplishment was singular.

Thursday, June 14 2001

Questioning the Answer

Now that Iverson is a superstar in professional basketball, critics are no longer able to point to his controversial gangsta image as a sign of the juvenile unruliness that had prevented him from winning early in his career. Instead, Iverson is widely praised for recognizing the error of his ways in order at last to 'grow up,' to 'accept responsibility,' and to 'become a man.'

Wednesday, June 13 2001

Southern Exposures

Death to diversion! Rather than push the usual summer herd of 'beach novels,' 'PopMatters'' writers invite you to spend this summer exploring books from their lists of important works. In this first installment of the series, Valerie MacEwan revisits some classics and suggests some Southern writing that goes beyond 'Frankly, my dear...'

Thursday, May 31 2001

The Monroe Doctrine

Perhaps the saddest thing about Monroe's death is the culture of pervasive necrophilia that has risen since. Elton John brings the house down and rakes in millions singing, without a trace of irony, about how heinously those 'other' people so exploited her.

Friday, May 25 2001

A Song for Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, while others will attend cookouts, go to the movies, or find the nearest swimming hole, I will be going on a search to find Clyde's grave.

Wednesday, May 23 2001

Forever Older, Forever Wiser? Dylan Hits 60

Bob Dylan has resisted the fatal demons that came to haunt so many of his contemporaries. On May 24th, 2001, that giant of the Sixties reaches 60 himself.

Wednesday, May 16 2001

So Long, and Thanks for All the Laughs

[Douglas Adams possessed] a mind that had an amazing ability to place a unique perspective on weighty matters while maintaining a tone of absolute lightheartedness. Adams was one person who could see the big picture and realize how terribly bland a sight it was.

Friday, May 11 2001

Recovering the Memory of Pop: Radiohead’s ‘Amnesiac’

Since 1997's 'OK Computer', Radiohead have been crafting a horrific vision of modern life in an age of technological global capitalism. Theirs has been the voice of the embattled idealist, desperately hanging on to the shards of authentic identity left to an individual in a world of money and commerce, corporations and conglomerates. The hell of 'Amnesiac' is the fear of becoming just another cog in the corporate machine.

Friday, May 4 2001

Havana Film Festival New York 2002

How much the US is missing by denying contact with the vibrant fruits of another country's artistic labors became strikingly evident at this April's Havana Film Festival New York 2001.

Thursday, April 26 2001

Joey Ramone 1951-2001

To paraphrase Griel Marcus, punk takes on many forms, and exists in a multitude of moments. In the days After Joey, let us let this be.

(Your Name Here) Is a Punk Rocker: A Tribute to Joey Ramone

I love the Ramones -- I have for half my life. But what moved me most on hearing the news was my long-overdue realization that Joey Ramone was a hero to me. I generally avoid using autobiography as a way to comment upon culture, but I can't resist the impulse in this case. Joey's death made me realize how he, the Ramones, and punk rock, saved my life, not once but twice. I can't help but believe that he did the same for many others.

The Zen of Mike Tyson

'What in the world is fascinating about me, besides I fight and beat people spectacularly. Other than that, what's so fascinating about me?' You have to hand it to Mike Tyson -- this is exactly the right question to ask.

Wednesday, April 11 2001

No More Puff Daddy

But even if we can see that hiphop has survived even Puff Daddy, an obvious, if not exactly pressing, question remains: how did he ever sell so many records?

Thursday, March 29 2001

Interview with John Scofield

It's not exactly a Clark Kent-into-Superman kind of thing, but the way guitarist John Scofield can shift between straight ahead jazz and jam-band inspired funk is impressive.

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