Recent Features
The Pop Culture Death Trap Part 2: The Death of Beauty

Despite having seen it all before – the rock star and the blonde actress – we look on each such instance of celebrity death with the same mixture of surprise, curiosity, horror, and glee. Pop culture reflects our capacity to simultaneously ignore death and make of it an obsession.

READ more
Abandoned ‘Star Wars’ Plot Points Episode II: The Force Behind the Scenes

With Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm already changing Star Wars, let's look at the prior behind the scene changes in the saga.

READ more
‘Why Jazz Happened’ Makes Its Points Like a Snazzy Lawyer in the Courtroom: Zip, Zam, Zot

New Orleans to swing, swing to bop, bop to cool, cool to hard bop, hard bop to free jazz—"jazz style periods" are so often presented like this. But jazz's transformation often shifted independently of cultural happenings, and those shifts were far from linear.

READ more
‘Going Clear’: Lawyers, Guns, Money & Scientology

Lawrence Wright’s devastating, impeccably researched history of Scientology’s “Prison of Belief” vividly illustrates the ability of this “Church” to successfully prey upon nearly every dark strain in the modern American psyche, from celebrity-worship to ego-mania and the lust for power and money.

READ more
Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy: Gennett Records and the Rise of America’s Musical Grassroots

Gennett Records produced thousands of records and debuted such stars as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Biederbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, Hoagy Carmichael, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Gene Autry.

READ more
‘Pray the Gay Away’: On Being Beaten with the Bible Belt

A mother attempting to stab her own daughter, an exorcism, a school suspending a student -- author Bernadette Barton describes growing up in the religious South.

READ more
The Beatification of Philip K. Dick

Fueled by his science fiction work, by his mystical aura and his growing legend, the cult of Philip K. Dick continues to expand.

READ more
The Best Non-Fiction of 2012

Memoirs in graphic novel form blur the line that snakes between non-fiction and fiction; humorists and pulitzer prize winners delight, inform and terrify us; the real world, artfully penned, opens itself into a book, vulnerable, yet daring us to look. Here is the best of what we saw.

READ more
Chicago—The Other Black Renaissance

The biggest difference between the Black Chicago Renaissance and the Harlem Renaissance is brand awareness. The fact is, from roughly the early ‘30s to the ‘50s, Chicago was black America’s most fruitful cultural capitol.

READ more

17 Jan 2013 // 11:15 PM

The Best Fiction of 2012

Historical fiction, science fiction, graphic novels, anthologies, mysteries, satire, young adult, even poetry(!) -- on subjects from the lighthearted to the apocalypse -- our favorites from 2012 are as wide-ranging and diverse as our writers and our readers. Dive in and revel in the pleasure of getting lost in a good book.

READ more
Anonymous and the New Religion: Data

As the world is increasingly filtered through computers there is emerging a reliance on data as a belief system. Groups like Anonymous are pushing us further towards data, as they highlight the divide they see between belief and information.

READ more
In America, Imagination is a Third Party: The Presidency in Fiction

Fiction lets us to explore our weirdest speculations and darkest fears about the person who sits in the White House. Is reality, under America's current president, worse than fiction?

READ more
After Mary Wells Dared to Leave Motown, Did She Fall Off the Face of the Earth?

Back when Martha (Reeves) and the Vandellas and the Marvelettes would have one big hit and then nothing much for months, and the Supremes didn’t have a hit among their first nine releases, Mary Wells was Motown’s reigning pop star, queen and cash cow.

READ more
The Best Music Books of 2012

This year's best books about music include thought-provoking reads on how music works, in-depth histories of the underground, and soul-searching autobiographies from legendary (and not-so-legendary) performers.

READ more

13 Dec 2012 // 11:15 PM

The Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music

An incredible and opinionated collection of celebrated cultural critic Dylan Jones’s thoughts on more than 350 of the most important artists around the world—alive and dead, big and small, at length and in brief.

READ more
Swing Guitarist John Pizzarelli Really Does Have the World on a String

John Pizzarelli is a blazing swing guitarist whose music is among the most consistent pleasures and most reliably smart expressions of the “The Great American Songbook” of the last 25 years.

READ more

6 Dec 2012 // 11:20 PM

Oliver Sacks’ ‘Hallucinations’

Hearing voices? Don’t worry, the revered Dr. Oliver Sacks assures, in that regard at least, you’re perfectly sane.

READ more
James Wood’s Criticism Is Like Tectonic Plates Under Pressure, Forming Mountain Ridges

James Wood's new collection of essays and reviews, The Fun Stuff, at once subverts the critic's elitist persona and fortifies it.

READ more
‘The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination’

Music Historian Matthew Guerrieri traces the origins and influence of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, weaving a fascinating piece of musical detective work.

READ more
The Magnificent Seven: Bazillion Points, All Metal and Punk Pens Blazing

Since it launched in 2007, Bazillion Points has released seven of the best books about metal and punk, including the very best book about metal, yet.

READ more
More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

U2's 'The Joshua Tree' Tour Reminds the Audience of their Politics

// Notes from the Road

"The Joshua Tree tour highlights U2's classic album with an epic and unforgettable new experience.

READ the article