PM Pick

Antibacterial nonsense

Even the word sounds bad, triclosan. It sounds like something one would be poisoned with in an Agatha Christie novel. But it turns out the popular "antibacterial" agent is only poisoning our water supply and leading to a new generation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could make our children plenty sick in decades to come. No one is less surprised than me that "antibacterial" products achieve the opposite effect of that for which they are marketed -- the paranoia-inducing ad campaigns for these utterly unnecessary products and the OCD wannabes who have bought into them almost seem beneath comment. Germs are evverywhere, and they always have been and no amount of squeegying oneself well eliminate them from one's life. Not only that but bacteria is a necessary component for the proper functioning of our bodies and our ecosystems. People have somehow managed to survive for thousands of years without antibacterial handwashes, and they will continue to survive if the FDA does the right thing and bans these products. If they don't, our immune systems may lose the ability to fight germs and bacteria off altogether -- wouldn't P&G just love that.

The "antibacterial" fad is a perfect illustration of how the hygiene industry invents a marketing term and uses it to sell the same uselss crap they are already selling under a new banner, with the term serving as the hook on which they can hang a bunch of misleading and anxiety-inducing claims. What consumerism thrives on, when its not marketing status, is this very terroristic marketing of paranoia and fear, often cloaked in pseudo-scientific jargon, as that is the discourse that carries the strongest ethos in our culture. This abuse systematically undermines our ability to trust in any reported health development, as the language is polluted with marketing abuses, and the agenda in these things being reported is typically obscure. The result is that you are paranoid if you believe them, paranoid if you don't. I probably should start lining my apartment windows with tinfoil.

Update: The FDA reports that antbacterial washes are no more effective than soap and could contribute to the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Please, America, stop buying this worthless crap.

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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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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