Politics

Big B: The Bollywood rapper & the American star

"This is what change looks like" -- President Obama on the passage of the health care bill 2010.

"How y'ah like me now" -- Kool Moe Dee on passage of fly lines and breaking beats.

"Phew! Now let's continuing governing" -- The American people as we persevere in lining up with one another, and marching to a steady beat.

Now that "We, the People" can get late breaking news without the big media fixture... we can watch the admin online. "This is what change looks like." I didn't know, and I wasn't sure, so thanks for clearing that one up, Big B. I'm a gen-XYer, which means that I was exposed to plenty of MTV and more than my share of bad governance. Governance was so bad under that mesmerizing era when the late Mr. Jackson was singing "Beat It!" that our leaders actually boasted of out-sourcing the care taking of most public goods. Social inequality expanded exponentially, but on MTV all we saw were those who came out on top; now we call it bling! Big bucks bred big benefits for what was presented as a benign few. Money just grew for anyone who worked hard was what the TV was selling. Now, at least, more folks know that to be untrue, not when public goods like a nation's health security are compromised. But these are all the facts one misses when these stories are consumed and regurgitated to us by big media. Thanks to the Internet, we can surf the White House's channel directly. "How y'ah like me now!"

Bollywood's got their Big B, Mr Amitabh Bachchan himself, a 68-year-old film star that continues to appropriate pop cultures' latest trends to reproduce his stardom. Bollywood's Big B and his son each have commercial hip-hop videos -- outtakes of sing 'n' dance film in full Bollywood array. Then Big B's son married Bollywood's fairest maiden. (And fair skin is big bucks in India, hence dames like Big B's daughter-in-law are necessarily Fair and Lovely like the popular skin-bleaching cream. See the picture here of Big B, Aishwarya and Lil B before the major-event-wedding in 2007, and back when Indian chicks on screen could still boast some flesh -- now thin is absolutely IN!) This courtly affair commands the attention of millions, and is its own marketing machine that could sustain that family's wealth for generations to come even if none of them ever worked again. Until just over a year ago, it felt like America only had those sorts of stars -- that kind of Bollywood Big B -- the wealth alliances and fantasies sold to the masses of poor, one rupee at a time. But, apparently I was blind, because now I see watershed decisions made by those elected to govern. Like crack to a fiend, or like dark chocolate to me, Sunday, March 21st, 2010 feels like Tony Toni Toné: It feels good, yeah. It feeeeeels good!"

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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