Misusin’ your influence: the best of Kendrick Lamar

At this moment no other hip-hop figure touches Kendrick Lamar’s cultural preeminence with my college-aged students. Roddy Ricch, DaBaby, and Polo G may get streamed, but Lamar is their Beatles: never taken for granted. From DAMN’s impressive 2017 performance — three consecutive months in the top three, culminating in a return to #1 in lateContinue reading “Misusin’ your influence: the best of Kendrick Lamar”

Or are we dancer: the best of the Killers + Brandon Flowers

Cheers to the most ridiculous and, as I learned today, “the most successful rock band to ever emerge from the state of Nevada.” One of the few heterosexual bands to get the longing and melodrama of homos like me, and one of the few heterosexual bands to write melody lines for karaoke whores like me,Continue reading “Or are we dancer: the best of the Killers + Brandon Flowers”

The ingénue to sex temptress arc of David Brooks’ career

Sometime this week  David Brooks assembled sounds into phonemes that after hours of cogitation settled into sentence structures. Let’s look at them together: Sometimes pop culture seems completely prepackaged and professionalized, so when somebody steps out and puts on a display of vulnerability, trust and humility, it takes your breath away. What “sometimes” and “completely” areContinue reading “The ingénue to sex temptress arc of David Brooks’ career”

‘Rebel in the Rye’ clueless about writing

The picture isn’t five minutes old when a voice-over intones, “I’ve always found fiction more compelling than reality.” More goodies like this follow. In Rebel in the Rye, the author of The Catcher in the Rye and Frannie and Zooey, played by Nicholas Hoult, emerges as an intense, rather dim fellow trying to keep hisContinue reading “‘Rebel in the Rye’ clueless about writing”

Bite my lip and close my eyes: the best of Green Day 1991-2004

I wish they were queerer, faster, and dumber, but I can’t deny the dozen indelible tunes produced by Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool. The Indian summer of 1994 boasted Beastie Boys and Warren G fighting for our attention while Weezer and Green Day soaked up the teenage angst. Too old to careContinue reading “Bite my lip and close my eyes: the best of Green Day 1991-2004”

‘Cause you got a good thing going, baby: the best of Matthew Sweet 1991-1996

Lloyd Cole deserved the MTV play, but he was a brunette, thick of face, and often mean. Yet he played rhythm guitar on Girlfriend, a tit-for-tat move after Matthew Sweet played bass on Cole’s 1991 eponymous American breakthrough and  excellent Don’t Get Weird on Me, Babe.

Roy Moore vs Luther Strange: the corruption of language

Only in a system as decadent as ours can the media accept staff and lobbyist nomenclature about the fictional “establishment versus outsider” binary. Luther Strange of Alabama not only opposed same sex marriage but sued the federal government over the treatment of transgender students. He defended ExxonMobil against claims that the oil giant withheld informationContinue reading “Roy Moore vs Luther Strange: the corruption of language”

If the war is over I’m gonna have some fun: the best of Luna

Abandoning the statelier, graver textures of Galaxie 500 at the dawn of the nineties, singer-guitarist Dean Wareham formed Luna and discovered a need for speed. As crucially, he realized he was an heir to Lou Reed, Tom Verlaine, D. Boon — a laconic wannabe Casanova testing a couple dozen bone-dry witticisms on women who probablyContinue reading “If the war is over I’m gonna have some fun: the best of Luna”

Free speech as right ‘to protect businesses that wish to discriminate’

While Puerto Ricans roast, North Korean threaten war, and GOP senators duck for cover as the scraps of yet another bill designed to consign the poor and old to the rubbish heap falls in flames around them, it’s good to see National Review, consigned to irrelevance after Donald Trump’s election, and its former ideological matesContinue reading “Free speech as right ‘to protect businesses that wish to discriminate’”

I wear my diamonds on skid row: the best of Lana del Rey

Say this for Elizabeth Woolridge Grant — she has a hell of a talent for the memorable title. “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems”? “Fucked My Way Up to the Top”? “Diet Mountain Dew”? My favorite: “Music to Watch Boys To.” But I didn’t pay attention because for years my initial response to “Video Games” killed myContinue reading “I wear my diamonds on skid row: the best of Lana del Rey”