Wednesday, December 1 2004
For the last five years, PopMatters has provided smart, literate film reviews, informative interviews, and insightful features that combine a knowledge of film history, cultural issues, and a sense of film as both an art form and an entertainment industry.
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Wednesday, November 24 2004
Maybe Sambo did die, but there's been a resurrection -- one worthy of a billion dollar industry -- and the opening segment of last week's Monday Night Football broadcast, the Vibe Awards ceremony that was broadcast the following night and the closing minutes ESPN's Friday night NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers were proof that Sambo and the minstrel stage that so powerfully nurtured his existence are still alive and well and whetting the appetites of those desiring the 'real nigger show'.
Monday, November 1 2004
'The House that Ruth Built' has been through some changes, over the years. Like a grand ballroom in a mansion where the wealthy once came to dance, Yankee Stadium is now less imposing, more friendly, and open to the general public for viewing, providing one has a ticket.
Sometimes, the best way to really see a city clearly is through a bus window, smudged by the sticky hands of the toddler in his mother's arms, or through the crowd of people waiting with you on a non-descript platform at the light rail station. If you really want to know what Denver is like, leave the car behind, walk to a bus or train stop, make sure you've got change for the fare, then hop on board.
No matter that the coast is a mosquito-infested swampland and the region a well-worn corridor for house-destroying hurricanes, newly-created communities along this strip of eastern North Carolina attract wealthy retirees from the northern states. They come with their large sailboats, Lincoln Towncars, and an insatiable desire for golf. But when they emerge from their gated communities they rub elbows, so to speak, with the people who have lived here for generations; many accustomed to working 12 hours a day for minimum wage and no benefits.
Tohoku was forged into a regional empire by an audacious, 17-year-old warrior king: the perfect stage for a foreigner arriving with little more than vigor and passion, and the unrealistic hopes and uncertain certainties of youth. Yet characteristic of Japan, the people of Tohoku tend toward modesty and shun pretension; they tend to keep their place in the constellation of power and cultural relations well rehearsed throughout the archipelago. Or do they? No longer guaranteed a career, a way of life long known to their elders, Tohoku's youth show a robust affinity for individuality; for free-lancing in sport, and, at times, for pursuing a private, bohemian dream.
In 'The Wizard of Oz', a tornado acquaints the characters. In South Norfolk, a hurricane provides the introduction for the new folks in the neighborhood. Much like the girl in Oz's Emerald City, the fellow in South Norfolk, with his emerald-green, mysteriously self-mowing lawn, learns that there really is no place like home.
Monday, October 25 2004
Washington, DC ain't for the faint-hearted. This is the school of hard knocks, baby. In DC, they eat politicians, lawyers, and other movers-and-shakers for breakfast. New York has nothing over DC.
Austinites live with a sound track to their lives: music for almost every occasion is heard in virtually every location. It is a city full of tastemakers who care little for style, but display it in spades.
The imposing high-rises of Gulf Canada Square, Energy Plaza, and Petro-Canada, among others, tower over the tiny commuters who come downtown to earn their wage at these brawny monuments to Canada's oil industry. But take another look: the casually dressed population is hardly bullied by all this might. No, the only thing that ruffles this hardy bunch is the wind blowing down from the mountains.
Toronto's young people, a gumbo of races and cultures, live crowded into small apartments with roommates, or at home with their parents, because once university bliss ends, they can't find a decent job. They have the privilege of living in one of the richest countries in the world, but they must figure out if they should splurge on a streetcar ride home or leave the $2.25 as the tip for the soup.
After the two-week festivities of the Kentucky Derby are over -- the potholes are allowed to grow deeper, the weeds along the roads are left to grow -- Louisville settles into a comfortable balance of country and urban, conventional and cutting-edge.
Monday, October 18 2004
The Goulburn Valley's trees are dying because of the drought: the worst since 1927. Kyabrum is not a fun place to be right now, but it never really was, even when the farmers were thriving. One rare, rainy night, a feeling of hope creeps in from the shadows; but the illusion quickly flees like the ghost that it is.
Bay area punks hold a mock funeral for the recently expired US President, Ronald Reagan. Recalling Reagan's legacy -- El Salvadoran death squads, homelessness, union-busting, and silence in the face of the devastating AIDS epidemic -- Nguyen revists the place of her Reagan-inspired punk youth to see what has changed, and what remains the same.
There is the environment that we find ourselves in, and that which we create. After two millennia or so of having to be nice to your neighbors because they were the only people you saw on a regular basis, we've reached a point where a neighborhood, a community, doesn't necessarily have to be simply where you are. Instead, it can be what you make it, and with whom you wish to include.
There are things about going out to the movies that home video will never capture: the hugeness of even the dinkiest movie screens; sharing space with strangers in even the near-emptiest of theaters (although New York theaters are rarely actually empty); and the immediacy of seeing a movie during its (ever-briefer) big screen life. It's all worth it, even if it takes 45 minutes to get to a movie theater from the quiet borough of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.