I’m a sucker for chalk art, so I always look forward to the Denver Chalk Art Festival. I’m apparently not the only one, either, as the crowd shot below suggests. The crowds seem to be getting larger each year, too, and I suppose it’s easy to understand why. June in Denver, Larimer Square, fantastic artists – what’s not to love, right?
Every once in awhile a new term/catchphrase/buzzword/meme catches fire here in the US. Sometimes it’s a function of the fact that our incredibly plastic language, with its myriad dynamic influences (everything from media to subcultural to ethnic to technological) sort of inherently generates new words. Other times the term is a result of political or PR craftiness, as was the case with “Japan-bashing” (and subsequently, any more generalized iteration of “______-bashing”). The lobbyist who made the phrase up later famously said “Those people who use (the term) have the distinction of being my intellectual dupes.” Read more
I’ve never much cared for the musical genre broadly known as Americana, and lately I’ve been thinking about why this is. I suppose it’s acceptable to say hey, I’ve listened to a lot of these artists and most of them just kinda bore me, but that seems unsatisfactory for a guy who thinks about music like I do.
After some reflection, I think it comes down to a couple of issues. The first one, I admit right up front, is objectively unfair of me, but there is a part of me that associates Americana with the Baby Boomers, and in particular sees it as a late, faint attempt by the post-Reagan iteration of the cohort to recapture lost authenticity. Read more
As noted elsewhere, I’m something of a music freak. Thousands of CDs. And I write about it, occasionally with a degree of seriousness. Being a cultural studies scholar (yes, I’ve presented papers on popular music at actual academic conferences), I have to admit that I’ve never fully understood people who don’t care about music as a dynamic artistic force the way I do. I mean, to each his or her own, but I think all of us probably have some bit of personal geekdom that renders us incapable of truly empathizing with those who don’t get it. This is mine. Read more
The National Basketball Association has a World Wrestling Entertainment problem.
Actually, it has several problems, none of which look like they’re going to be easily solved. (And I’m not even talking about the officiating, although I have in the past and no doubt will again in the future). The collective bargaining agreement is up after this season, at which point The League is going to have to address declining revenues, player salaries, salary cap structures, the fact that the inmates are running the asylum and what to do about the fact that star players have no interest whatsoever in playing in the Outback (you know, Cleveland, Memphis, New Orleans, Toronto, Sacto, Charlotte, etc.) when their superstar friends are living most large in NYC, Boston, South Beach, Chicago and the part of LA associated with the Lakers. Read more
In a recent discussion on one of my political lists Sara Robinson (easily one of the brightest folks in the blogosphere) made an important point about what often causes people to migrate from socially conservative perspectives to more progressive points of view. In describing her experiences with a particular activist group that helped people leaving fundamentalist religions (something that can be emotionally traumatic at the very least, and that frequently comes at a significant price in their lives – lost families, ostracization, etc.), she noted:
[T]he first sliver of doubt came about when the person’s authorities asked them to believe something that they simply could not reconcile with their own experience. In a plurality of cases, this dissonance was caused by knowing and caring for someone who was gay, and realizing that the conservative storyline on the inherent evil of homosexuality just didn’t line up with what they knew of this wonderful person. (If the religious right knew just how often this one issue triggered those first unignorable doubts, they’d walk away from gay-hating and never go back to it.) Read more
The other night I’m settling back to watch the game and out comes Kelly Rowland to sing the national anthem. And to nobody’s surprise, we’re treated to … the obligatory butchering of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Such is the mode of pop music these days – it isn’t acceptable, where a G appears in the sheet music, to sing a G. No, no. Instead, the diva (and everybody is a diva these days) runs a G scale or two, performs a series of vox acrobatica in the general vicinity of G, then moves onto the next note, which also apparently needs a good bit of “interpreting.” Not “arranging” – some actual arranging wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. But arranging and freelance improvisational histrionics are not the same thing.
I guess it’s imperative, if one expects to be respected in the disposable world of pop music, that one must make the song one’s own. And as much as I hate to say it, I think we have to blame Hendrix. Read more
This is the future – people, translated as data. – Bryce, Network 23
The future has always interested me, even when it scares me to death. I wrote a doctoral dissertation that spent a good deal of time examining our culture’s ideologies of technology and development, for instance (and built some discussion of William Gibson and cyberpunk into the mix). I once taught a two-semester sequence at the University of Colorado in Humanities and the Electronic Media, where I introduced the concept of the “Posthumanities” to my students. A few years back I talked about the future of retail and described the smartest shopping cart that ever lived. Read more
Every once in awhile I come across unrelated stories that somehow associate themselves in my mind. Take these, for instance:
First, I hope you saw Lex’s tribute to Starchild (given name, Gary Shider), he of P-Funk fame. As Lex notes, Shider experienced problems where the cost of fighting the cancer that killed him was concerned.
Second, another American music icon, Alex Chilton, passed away earlier this year. Read more
Let’s begin with a quick trivia question. What legislator’s Top 20 donor list includes the following?
We’ll have the answer for you at the bottom. Read more
The other day our friend MentalSwitch offered up a delightful little post entitled “Hello Nurse!” It featured a photo of an attractive model dressed as … well, hell, rather than me trying to describe the shot and failing miserably, why don’t you just click on over there and see for yourself. But before you do, please be forewarned that the photo is NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!!
Ahem. Well, actually, its worksafeness (or unworksafeness thereof) became the topic of some discussion here. Initially the pic was posted without a cut, meaning that the image itself would appear on the front page of S&R. Later, after some complaint and brief deliberations, we moved it behind a cut with the dreaded “NSFW” tag, indicating that the content would most certainly get you fired if it were accidentally viewed by any decent, God-Fearing American® co-worker. And since way too many of our readers work in places where others might be looking over their shoulders, this was a practical concern. As one colleague put it – and we’ll let that colleague name himself if he wants to – “if the wrong person had walked behind me with that image up on my screen, I could have been walked out the door that day, no appeal.” Read more
Child rapist Roman Polanski has been apprehended in Switzerland. Read all about it.
Outrage is palpable – on both sides. Yes, there are two sides. In addition to the “hang the pedophile” side, there’s the – if I might repurpose Wilde here – unspeakable in defense of the unconscionable crowd. Hey, lighten up folks. It’s not like the guy was a priest or anything.
Anyway, those in the hang-the-pedophile camp are offering up as aggravating evidence some wild shit Polanski said back in 1979.
“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!”
Appalling. Just disgusting, isn’t it? Read more
Not that this should come as any surprise, but we now have confirmation that the Bush administration refused to award Harry Potter author JK Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because the books “encouraged witchcraft.”
For a second, let’s set aside any arguments over whether or not Rowling’s work merits such a lofty honor and do something that we simply don’t do enough these days. Let’s dig beneath the surface silliness and examine the deeper implications of what this revelation really means.
Put simply, would you be worried about “encouraging” something you didn’t think was possible? It’s one thing to want to discourage, say, meth use or binge drinking or texting while driving or unprotected sex. Those things are real and they have real, observable consequences. Read more
You’re honey child to a swarm of bees
Gonna blow right through you like a breeze
Give me one last dance
Well slide down the surface of things
You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing
Fantasy stories, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, horror, all these have been with us for a very long time. Science fiction, as well, has been with us since Mary Shelley found herself in a bet with Lord Byron about the possibility of writing a new kind of horror, one not grounded in the gothic.* So the presence in our popular culture of stories based in unreality of one form or another is certainly nothing new.
It seems to me that there’s been a lot more of it lately, though. Read more
It has been alleged that Scholars & Rogues is not, strictly speaking, a political blog. Sure, we write about overtly political issues and devote our share of time to things like media policy, energy and the environment, business and the economy, and international dynamics. Yes, we were credentialed to cover the DNC, but we don’t really do hard, insider, by god politics. Daily Kos is a political blog. Firedoglake is a political blog. Little Green Footballs, The Agonist, Politico, The Seminal – these are real poliblogs.
S&R, on the other hand, writes about music. About literature and poetry. About art. Education. Sports. Culture and popular culture. The Ramsey case and what it tells us about the state of media. And now that the election is over, S&R is writing about politics less than ever.
So really, what is S&R? Read more