‘This abdication of leadership is criminal’

After a giddy hour on a flight home clicking through the UN’s climate change report, I reached a conclusion: Floridians don’t give a good goddamn about the damage wrought to our state by arrogance, a belief in our immortality, a conviction that nature is meant for man’s exploitation, and a boundless greed.

Singles 2/27

I give up. Squandering his real melodic gifts on passive aggressive twaddle, Ed Sheeran writes another contribution to his list of chart achievements, here joined by a Taylor Swift as self-involved as a medieval potentate. Give me the studied anonymity of “Make Me Feel Good” and Hatchie’s “Quicksand.” Click on links for full reviews.

The best songs produced by Butch Vig

Blame contrarianism, readers, if you like, for my placing the lead single from Garbage’s second and best album at the top of this list; but it took almost seven years of mixing to get the correct aural varnish that made guitars glisten like Trans-Ams in Miami sunshine. I do realize I cheated: Butch Vig drummedContinue reading “The best songs produced by Butch Vig”

Ranking #16 singles. U.S. edition: 1991-1998

Ugh. U2 release one of their sexy mealy-mouth singles, contemporaries Pretenders spell out every emotion such that “I’ll Stand By You” became natural awards show fodder a decade later, and Da Brat scores a rare crossover. A relief to watch Paula Abdul end her her top ten nonsense in which she squeaks, “I’m in aContinue reading “Ranking #16 singles. U.S. edition: 1991-1998”

The expanding attack on queer Americans

The situation in Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) continues to wither if citizens don’t belong to a governing majority that despises public education but would support shipping their teething child to Siberia at six months if men could get pregnant. HB 1557, which wants to ensure elementary schools ignore the pleas of gay,Continue reading “The expanding attack on queer Americans”

Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1973-1974

In another year, “Walk on the Wild Side” and “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” would’ve sashayed off this stage, but Bryan Ferry’s cover of Bob Dylan’s cool-eyed account of an imminent apocalypse stands as one of the most radical reinventions in pop history, beside which even Roxy Music’s own “Pyjamarama” and Mott the Hoople’s excellent “All theContinue reading “Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1973-1974”

A star’s charisma barely saves ‘King Richard’

A couple weeks ago I watched Equinox Flower for the second time. One of Yasujir┼Ź Ozu’s last films, it stars Setsuko Hara as yet another of the director’s widowed daughters-in-law. I marveled anew at the gradations of feeling this actress could coax out of her smiles. Abashed, jovial, bittersweet — at its primmest the mouthContinue reading “A star’s charisma barely saves ‘King Richard’”

Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1975-1976

This list belongs to “Israelites,” Desmond Dekker and the Aces’ little reggae wonder that went top ten U.S. and #1 in England several years earlier but re-charted to shame the competition. I hear more gospel than reggae in its call-and-response vocals, but the unsuppressed terror (“I don’t wanna end up like Bonnie and Clyde”) belongsContinue reading “Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1975-1976”

“Where’s James Polk this year?”

We expend more subtlety assessing the performance of our favorite sports teams than the sagacity of our presidents. We’ve got their backs until they’re gone. At the peak of 2020 election madness, I warned readers I’d seig heil Joseph Robinette Biden in public to avoid stepping into the traps set by conservative relatives and friends:Continue reading ““Where’s James Polk this year?””

Songs peaking at #8, UK edition: 1992-1995

Schlock — sweet and viscous; pungent and indigestible — dominates this cohort of #8s. While Utah Saints continue their high-spirited pilfering through another era’s detritus, a husband-wife act named The Beloved paid for a video in which they indulge their nude fantasies like Boy Meets Girl never did with “Waiting For a Star to Fall”;Continue reading “Songs peaking at #8, UK edition: 1992-1995”