Targets of scorn accorded their place

Carl Wilson: In recent years, most people, and critics in particular, have become more live-and-let-live about one another’s varying musical tastes. Teen-pop, dance music, metal, and even Phil Collins, to name a few frequent targets of scorn, are all accorded their place. Dump on Kanye or Ke$ha or Justin Bieber and watch how quickly weContinue reading “Targets of scorn accorded their place”

Coitus terminus

In Frank Rich’s elegyto his deceased theater mentor – “the most intimate relationship I’d had with any nonparental adult,” he writes – a sense of triumph over How Far We’ve Come is indivisible from the sexual and social amnesia that has befogged young gay minds: This history is not ancient. My own concern about its preservationContinue reading “Coitus terminus”

The state with the prettiest name, pt #2351

Better late than never, better toothless than gumless: Florida drivers: Soon you’ll no longer be able to text and drive, but you and the guy in the next lane will be allowed to text if you’re stopped in traffic or at a red light. A law signed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott bans manual textingContinue reading “The state with the prettiest name, pt #2351”

I’m a lengthy monologue: Iggy Pop’s New Values

Phil Freeman, one of my favorite rock critics, reexamines Iggy Pop’s New Values, released in 1979 after Ig’s Bowie collaborations and on which he writes almost every song himself as if to prove he can do things himself. I bought it recently. The surprise was seeing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sideman Scott Thurston playingContinue reading “I’m a lengthy monologue: Iggy Pop’s New Values”

Books #7: Ike’s Bluff

Another in the recent series of reexaminations of Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency, Ike’s Bluff uses Ike’s prodigious card skills as the prism through which to view a foreign policy that relied on feints and the threat of overwhelming force. Although loath to fight a nuclear war with China over Quemoy and Matsu, and resistant to French,Continue reading “Books #7: Ike’s Bluff”

“We took a big risk to save our heritage”

An amazing story: how scholars in Timbuktu saved rare Islamic manuscripts. Radical Islamists had entered Timbuktu four months earlier, and they had set about destroying everything they deemed a sin. They had demolished the tombs of Sufi saints. They had beaten up women for not covering their faces and flogged men for smoking or drinking.Continue reading ““We took a big risk to save our heritage””

‘Frances Ha’

In Frances Ha, writer-director Noah Baumbach scores a perverse triumph: he creates a film whose title character is meant to be as garrulous, stunted, and insufferable as it’s possible to be. Greta Gerwig doesn’t act in any conventional sense; she performs a kind of feature-length skit or stand-up routine. Her large hands and feet andContinue reading “‘Frances Ha’”

“West, Texas, wouldn’t have happened if they had a fire code in place.”

A bridge collapsed a couple days ago. In West, Texas, a fertilizer plant combusts yet the state prohibits most of its counties from keeping fire codes. The Dallas Morning News has the story: Yet for 173 of Texas’ 254 counties, adopting rules based on that experience is illegal. They are either below 250,000 in populationContinue reading ““West, Texas, wouldn’t have happened if they had a fire code in place.””

The useless necessity of pay phones

I love stories about obsolete technology. The pay phone in Miami: The question: What to do with the archaic, bland pay phones that once served an extraordinary public service but, at a time when just about everyone has a cell phone, seem little more than space-eating advertising sites cluttering Miami sidewalks? “I suppose you canContinue reading “The useless necessity of pay phones”