It’s the pitch, not the message: No

Part Wag The Dog, part The Candidate, No shows how advertising how smiles and positivist drivel can force a military junta out of power. After nearly fifteen years of rule, the government of General Augusto Pinochet announced in 1988 that a plebiscite would determine whether he remain in power as president (a “yes” vote) orContinue reading “It’s the pitch, not the message: No”

The state with the prettiest name

Florida was swampland. Our elected officials have never stopped treating it as property, to be sold to the highest bidder. Rick Scott, at it again: The nation’s largest outsourcing of prison medical care is finally underway in Florida with the state turning to a private company with a history of problems in other states CorizonContinue reading “The state with the prettiest name”

The last days of Orson Welles

Chief among the charms of This is Orson Welles are the star’s lapidary insights into contemporaries: Bunuel (“the most supremely religious director” in cinema), Sternberg (“a perfect, really an immense visual command over what is finally kitsch”), the pacing of a Capra film. Peter Biskind’s My Lunches with Orson promises similar delights. Richard Brody quotesContinue reading “The last days of Orson Welles”

“In this modern civilization women have agency”

I’ve read it before but rarely in such plainspoken prose. Digby: Biology makes pregnancy very easy for most women. Nature very strongly wants us to procreate and it has no care for the circumstances under which we do it. Women get pregnant in times of war and famine and regardless of their ability to raiseContinue reading ““In this modern civilization women have agency””

Singles 6/28

Several years and millions of dollars later, Ryan Tedder assembles the oddest track of his career; imagine Rob Thomas studying the Killers. Kelly Clarkson goes Shania, Action Bronson goes stupid, Ciara goes blank (with help), and Todd Terje goes sublime (as usual). Click on links for full reviews. Todd Terje – Strandbar (Disko) (7) AngelContinue reading “Singles 6/28”

Glad you’re alive: Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell isn’t in the Drive-By Truckers anymore because he drinks. A recent New York Times Magazine profile reveals secrets and torments enough for a lifetime of songs. Southeastern, Isbell’s best solo album, boasts one exquisitely wrought tune after another, muffled by the staid arrangements of singer-songwriterdom. Tropes like doppelgangers (“Live Oak”) and the wagesContinue reading “Glad you’re alive: Jason Isbell”

Liz Phair and important rock artistry

Was Liz Phair this awkward on stage? Another missing element: despite her preternatural in-person poise, it was hard for Phair to play live. She wasn’t comfortable in front of an audience. Beyond that, the atmospherics that marked her début album were hard to create onstage. She never had a band that jelled enough to playContinue reading “Liz Phair and important rock artistry”

“We lose DOMA and the Voting Rights Act in the same week.”

So the Supreme Court did it. Antonin Scalia, defender of the will of the people, averred that the “democratically adopted legislation” once known as the Defense of Marriage Act and forever as a destructive historical footnote, deserved less scrutiny than the Voting Rights Act when it passed with overwhelming majorities in both houses of CongressContinue reading ““We lose DOMA and the Voting Rights Act in the same week.””

A proposition

I wrote the following almost exactly a year ago. Still applies, with minor revisions. I’m no lawyer but have always been interested in the Court as an institution: its history, personalities, decisions. I often get impatient with liberals when they decry “judicial activism,” or conservatives when they regard the Constitution as inviolate. If it’s soContinue reading “A proposition”

Bookchat #11: “Bolivar” by Marie Arana

The most famous larger than life figure unknown in the United States, Simon Bolivar gets the large biography he deserves. In novelist Marie Arana’s telling, el liberador lead his polyglot army into a series of wars that drove Spain out of every corner of South American not already owned by France, England, or Portugal. TheContinue reading “Bookchat #11: “Bolivar” by Marie Arana”

SCOTUS decision: a “poisoned chalice” for Republicans

As the news comes in that the Supreme Court has declared Section IV of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, Joshua Green sees good news, I suppose, in the next five to ten years: On its face, this looks like a big victory for Republicans. Is it really? I suspect it will turn out to beContinue reading “SCOTUS decision: a “poisoned chalice” for Republicans”