Queer — like everyone else

It was supposed to be a cool night. August is grueling but not brutal—a tropical climate’s nod to an impeding change of season that is itself more nominal than real. In the AOL chatroom, he wondered if I was sure about the weather. This was charming—a nineteen-year-old Ohio transplant worrying about rain. I’ve got this,Continue reading “Queer — like everyone else”

The fascinating badness of ‘Mary of Scotland’

In 2016 we can chuckle at monikers as casual in their misogyny as “box office poison” (why not call these actresses in flop movies the Wicked Witches of the West?). Katherine Hepburn joined Joan Crawford in this category when she stumbled after winning an Oscar for 1933’s Morning Glory. But that movie and 1932’s AContinue reading “The fascinating badness of ‘Mary of Scotland’”

Scales fall from Disney’s eyes

My oldest niece and I play a game we call Farmer John, involving a Fisher Price barn and action figures, plus two dozen animals. The villain is an alligator, who with his allies Rhino and Brown Bear scheme to break into the barn and steal ducklings, lambs, and calves. Often a deux ex machina namedContinue reading “Scales fall from Disney’s eyes”

She makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up: the best singles of 2006

1. Ne-Yo – Sexy Love 2. T.I. – What You Know 3. Mary J. Blige – Be Without You 4. Justin Timberlake ft. T.I. – My Love 5. Lupe Fiasco – Kick, Push 6. The Killers – When You Were Young 7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion 8. Prince – Black Sweat 9. CiaraContinue reading “She makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up: the best singles of 2006”

‘We steal pieces of our emotional selves from the music we love’

When Bowie died in January, I mourned the death of a teacher who’d shaped my college years as much as a musician .He taught me to pose. He taught me to accept and flaunt my influences, most of whom were literary. It was okay to be affected. Rob Sheffield, in an interview promoting his newContinue reading “‘We steal pieces of our emotional selves from the music we love’”

Maxwell’s androgynous and aqueous forms

Slow to warm to a voice that was comfortable with mediocre songwriting, I didn’t like Maxwell until the “Lifetime” single in late fall 2001 (I wasn’t even much impressed with the Kate Bush cover: a vacant show of virtuosity). But I yielded with 2009’s BLACKsummers’night, one of the new century’s most fleet-footed of R&B albumsContinue reading “Maxwell’s androgynous and aqueous forms”

American justice: ‘perpetually bent towards prosecution’

After last week’s dissent in the Strieff case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor looked like she was dusting the Wise Latina modifier-noun construction that Senate Republicans and their allies turned into an opprobrium during her 2009 confirmation hearings. Columnists have focused on the peroration, in which she explains the humiliations faced by people of color for somethingContinue reading “American justice: ‘perpetually bent towards prosecution’”

An ole familiar invitation: The best singles of 2005

1. Killers – Mr. Brightside (Jacques Lu Cont’s Thin White Duke Remix) 2. Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone 3. Mario – Let Me Love You 4. Kanye West – Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix) 5. LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk is Playing in Your House 6. Miranda Lambert – Kerosene 7. Madonna –Continue reading “An ole familiar invitation: The best singles of 2005”

You have never been in love: the best singles of 2004

2004 feels as distant as Trollope’s London. A farewell to many ideas: after Usher and before Adele, the album as cultural commodity/sales force; a pallid iteration of the Democratic Party; heterosexuality as monolith of chic; the alternative crowd sampling the likes of Big & Rich and Loretta Lynn. As for the third item in myContinue reading “You have never been in love: the best singles of 2004”

I want it to be perfect like before: The Cure in Miami

“Hello, good to see you again,” Robert Smith chirped early into the set, and while he wasn’t fulsome it was five more words than Bob Dylan croaked the last time I saw him live. Catalogs like his need no further introduction. Observing the patterns noted by critics across the land, The Cure’s show at BayfrontContinue reading “I want it to be perfect like before: The Cure in Miami”

The best singles of 2003

I’ve found the list of ten songs I submitted to the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll, my first trip to that rodeo. I hadn’t included “Dance With My Father,” which I then thought treacle but now regard as a brave and rather lovely veiled admission of same sex desires Luther Vandross may or mayContinue reading “The best singles of 2003”