Featured: Top of Home Page
17 Jan 2006
Not the band, though there is someting spiritually deadening about their comeback tours and their money-grubbing album, Return the Gift. I'm talking about the Gang of Four who started China's Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. Yao Wenyuan, the last living member of the group, died a few weeks ago. During the Cultural Revolution Mao was deified into a living god -- Gang of Four cohort Lin Biao claimed "Chairman Mao is a genius, everything the Chairman says is truly great; one of the Chairman's words will override the meaning of ten thousands of ours" -- and students were encouraged to seize power from the state and persecute all bureaucrats and intellectuals for their recalcitrant bourgeois tendencies -- for falling back rather than pushing the permanent revolution forward. They were then typically forced to undergo painful public self-criticism, usually while groveling at the boot of some Red Guard thug. The idea seems to have been that complacency automatically bred "capitalist roader" mentalities and inhibited the development of a truly socialist superstructure to complement the command-economy base. Whenever I lament the fact that few take the politics embedded in all culture seriously enough, I think of the chaos of these events, their rabid and unhampered anti-intellectualism, and remember to consider more carefully what it is I wish for. The whole point of self-criticism and the social critique that might flow from it, is that you take it upon yourself; it's no good if it's beaten out of you. And it is no good to be forced to the country for proletarian re-education, as many students were during the "Down to the Country" movement, if no one can identify what anyone should be trying to learn. When one reads about this period, it seems like a grotesque version of the contemporaneous film Wild in the Streets, in which teenagers take over the government and force all the adults to take LSD and die insane in prison camps. The Cultural Revolution seems to demonstrate what happens when you fuse modern youth culture, sustained by the mass-media propaganda potential, with a self-aggrandizing political platform and behind the scenes powerbrokers who stand to benefit from chaos. It seems a model for terrorism in the name of Islamic fundamentalism (not to mention Christian fundamentalism -- is it so hard to imagine a paramilitary force from a megachurch somewhere being granted police power in some Southern state?)
Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.
Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.
Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.
Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.
Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.
Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.
CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.
Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.
Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.
British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.
Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.
Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.
Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.
George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.
This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.