Stephen Hawking

S&R Honors: Stephen Hawking

We recently lost one of the greatest minds on the planet when physicist Stephen Hawking died at age 76.

Stephen and Jane Hawking
Stephen and Jane Hawking

Much has been written about the man’s accomplishments, and I suspect this will continue to be the case for a long time – perhaps centuries. I have nothing to add to those analyses, but, being the publisher of a site called Scholars & ROGUES, perhaps I should take a couple moments to consider Dr. Hawking’s alleged darker side. Continue reading “S&R Honors: Stephen Hawking”

Colin Kaepernick

S&R Honors: Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

Justice. Fairness. Sacrifice. Service. Humility. Aren’t these qualities on which we Americans pride ourselves?

Few people were more in the news in 2017 than former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the man who touched off a massive cultural battle over his decision to kneel for the playing of the national anthem during the 2016 season. Oddly, he continued to dominate the headlines despite a conscious decision to stay out of the limelight, where he could better focus on his community and charitable activities.

Demonized, misrepresented and targeted with death threats … for what? Continue reading “S&R Honors: Colin Kaepernick”

Nobel Committee gives Bob Dylan the wrong prize

Dylan is one of the greatest artists of his time. But his genius wasn’t about Literature.

Part 1 of a series.

The Nobel Committee today awarded American folk icon Bob Dylan its annual prize for Literature. Not surprisingly, reactions have been mixed.

I’m a bit torn myself. There is no questioning at all the immensity of Dylan’s artistic accomplishments, and there’s perhaps even less argument to be had over the influence he has wielded not only over popular music, but over the larger culture. It is simply impossible to imagine what the US would look like today had he never been born, but we can start by considering his role in the anti-war movement of the ’60s. In truth, you could look at his centrality to the revolts that eventually led to the end of that war and make a case that he deserved the Peace Prize.

And what about the who’s who of musical artists who followed in his steps? A very small catalog of those who owe their souls to Dylan would include these names, and if there’s nobody on here that you love and admire you just don’t like music. Continue reading “Nobel Committee gives Bob Dylan the wrong prize”

Muhammad Ali: The Champ for racial equality and social justice

Not everybody loved The Greatest: what Muhammad Ali meant to one racist Southern kid

That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn’t entirely conquer – he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation. – Hunter S. Thompson

I grew up in the ’60s and ’70 in a rural Southern culture that was stereotypically:

  • racist
  • segregationist
  • sexist
  • homophobic
  • nationalistic
  • jingoistic

And, of course,

  • conservative Christian

As a kid, all you know is what you’re taught. Continue reading “Muhammad Ali: The Champ for racial equality and social justice”

Audre Lorde: S&R Honors an icon of artistic vision, diversity and self-awareness

Audre Lorde taught us that power begins with knowing and accepting ourselves.

In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.

We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

Audre Lorde

The reading list for the contemporary poetry seminar during my first semester in the MA program at Iowa State was an interesting one. Elizabeth Bird, Louise Erdrich, Richard Wright, Charles Wright, Gary Snider, Carolyn Forché, plus a couple others I can’t recall right now. Also, the point of today’s story, Audre Lorde, a writer I had never heard of.

It was Fall of 1987 and it was a fascinating, albeit frustrating class. Continue reading “Audre Lorde: S&R Honors an icon of artistic vision, diversity and self-awareness”

S&R Honors: Edmund Blackadder

S&R Honors Edmund BlackadderScholars & Rogues has been around for seven and a half years or so, and during that time we have evolved. Early on we were a political blog with a culturalist bent. These days we’re a “journal of progressive culture” – in a nutshell, we’re a culture blog informed by a strong political foundation. Our writing wanders far and wide, as you may have noticed, but the pieces all seem to fit together.

We have had, through the years, a number of discussions about who we are and who we want to be. In corporate terminology, what is the Scholars & Rogues brand? And while these conversations have occasionally been nuanced and overrun with self-doubt – if you don’t have the occasional crisis of identity in seven years you’re not trying hard enough – I have always had an answer that served as a sort of starting point.

The S&R brand is Edmund Blackadder. Continue reading “S&R Honors: Edmund Blackadder”

Generation X, whatever, nevermind: reflecting on Kurt Cobain

No one could possibly be THE voice of Gen X, but Cobain was certainly A voice of my generation.

SRHonors_Kurt CobainIn their seminal 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?, published in 1993, Neil Howe and William Strauss argued that the only thing Generation Xers really agreed on was that there was no such thing as Generation X. Given the inherent irony and collective self-denial bound up in any examination of the cohort born from 1961 to 1980, then, maybe Kurt Cobain was the Voice of His Generation.

Whatever. Nevermind.

Yeah, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but not as much as you might think. Gen X is a subject I have studied deeply through the years, and if trying to characterize any demographic that’s 50 million people wide is a tricky enterprise, it’s doubly so with m-m-my generation because we’re so goddamned contrary. Continue reading “Generation X, whatever, nevermind: reflecting on Kurt Cobain”

A league of their own: S&R honors Lavonne “Pepper” Paire-Davis (and baseball-playing women everywhere)

Walt Whitman once said, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.” You could look it up. – Annie Savoy My grandfather used to tell stories about his sister, my aunt Janie. She played baseball. Not softball, but baseball. And was better than most of the boys. Her girls team even beat the boys a time or two (I’m guessing that boys in the 1930s were enough like the boys of today that they didn’t want to lose to the girls, so there might have … Continue reading A league of their own: S&R honors Lavonne “Pepper” Paire-Davis (and baseball-playing women everywhere)

S&R Honors Richard Joshua Reynolds: Self-interest, rightly understood, and our legacy of progressive capitalism

This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We’re stealing it back. – Bono When we hear talk about “markets” and “capitalism” and “business,” especially as such things are fetishized in the corporate media (think about how The Apprentice franchise has apparently made Donald Trump, a barking conspiracy theorist whose companies have declared bankruptcy four times and who has flirted with personal bankruptcy, as well, into something of a corporate statesman), the mainstream of our culture tends to think we’re discussing the exclusive domain of Republicans. The GOP is assumed to be “pro-business” and all too often those who … Continue reading S&R Honors Richard Joshua Reynolds: Self-interest, rightly understood, and our legacy of progressive capitalism

Honoring Andreas Feininger

When I’m not trying to learn about photography or earn money to pay the bills, I’m the publisher at Scholars & Rogues. One of our traditions there has always been the honoring of a “scrogue” on our masthead – someone whose life and career we admire. It’s a pretty cool list of folks we have tribbed through the years, and we always have someone do an essay on that figure’s life.

Tomorrow we honor our next luminary – Andreas Feininger. I wrote the piece and it makes sense that I xpost it here. Continue reading “Honoring Andreas Feininger”

Mary Shelley LIVES! (Romantics, Luddites, runaway technology, science fiction and the persistence of the Frankenstein Complex)

Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming. – Dr. Ian Malcolm

Mary Shelley spent the summer of 1816 at the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva, Switzerland with her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their close friend Lord Byron “watching the rain come down, while they all told each other ghost stories.” Thomas Pynchon says that by that December Mary Shelley was working on Chapter Four of her famous novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.

It was the challenge of writing ghost stories to amuse each other that set Mary upon the idea of a different kind of horror story – one not based in the supernatural, but in science.

I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. Continue reading “Mary Shelley LIVES! (Romantics, Luddites, runaway technology, science fiction and the persistence of the Frankenstein Complex)”

Still not ready to make nice: what does the Dixie Chicks saga tell us about freedom in America?

We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas. – Natalie Maines

I don’t even know the Dixie Chicks, but I find it an insult for all the men and women who fought and died in past wars when almost the majority of America jumped down their throats for voicing an opinion. It was like a verbal witch-hunt and lynching. – Merle Haggard

Last night over dinner the subject of The Dixie Chicks came up, and I got mad all over again. Which is unfortunate, because when you think about artists that talented the last thing on your mind ought to be anger. But still, it’s been six long years now since “the top of the world came crashing down,” and I can’t quite free myself of my rage at the staggering ignorance that led so many Americans to piss on the 1st Amendment by attempting to destroy the careers of Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson. Continue reading “Still not ready to make nice: what does the Dixie Chicks saga tell us about freedom in America?”

William Butler Yeats: the soul of the warrior

I recall once hearing in a lecture that the Easter Rising rebels were influenced by the poetry of William Butler Yeats, and that they perhaps even read his work amongst themselves during the seven days they occupied Dublin’s General Post Office in April 1916. I can’t find a source to verify that they were reading Yeats while awaiting slaughter, but he was certainly a major player in the renaissance of Irish culture in the years leading up to the rebellion. He was also a prominent national figure after the Rising, being appointed to the new republic’s Senate just six years later.

It’s not clear, though, that Yeats ever dreamed of being a “sixty-year-old smiling public man” of an overtly political cast. Continue reading “William Butler Yeats: the soul of the warrior”

The inaugural Scholars and Rogues Interview (and our newest Scrogue): Graham Parker

The mid-1970s were a wonderful time for music lovers. For starters, exciting and innovative new music was popping up all over the place. And when it did, it actually got played on the radio.

The UK was especially fertile ground during this period, as scores of punk and New Wave acts emerged (many from the “pub rock” scene) in the most dynamic explosion of music since the British Invasion. One of the most outstanding of these was Graham Parker, who in 1976 released not one, but two instant five-star classics – Howlin’ Wind and Heat Treatment.

While some of his contemporaries (most notably Elvis Costello) became wildly famous, arguably nobody in rock history has posted a more enduring legacy of critical success. Continue reading “The inaugural Scholars and Rogues Interview (and our newest Scrogue): Graham Parker”

Our first Scholar/Rogue

Mrs. Miggins, there’s nothing intellectual wandering around Italy in a big shirt, trying to get laid. – Edmund Blackadder

That dashing, slightly dangerous character gracing the masthead above is none other than George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824). We have selected him as the coverboy for our first masthead, and if from this you deduce that other personages will feature on that mast in the future, good on ye.

While Byron is best known as one of the premier poets of the late Romantic era, along with Keats and Shelley, as well as for a string of decidedly roguish behavior involving ale and married women, we honor him here for a far more obscure accomplishment. Continue reading “Our first Scholar/Rogue”