Monday, April 12, 2021

"Do You Know Anyone as Dumb Blond as Me?"

"My slogans are 'Good Luck California' and 'I have the Key to California.' I'm going to be sitting on the key. In 2003 I set the pace and the pathway for people to run who were not just the gray-suited people. I'm this gorgeous blonde with big boobs and people saw that if Angelyne can run with that image, we can all do it and 500 people followed my lead. I've made a pathway for anyone who wants to run."

Chris Nichols at Los Angeles magazine interviews gubernatorial candidate Angelyne.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

"But the Paying Audience Loves the Show and That's All That Matters"

"The current GOP is less interested in the messy business of governing than it is in performative indignation and the memes that play well in social media and on cable television. Memes, it shouldn't need to be said, are not ideas and don't require a consistent set of principles. The result is a kind of free-floating nihilism, as the GOP chases narratives that stir outrage, generate clicks, shake loose grassroots contributions, and play well on Newsmax and Fox."

At Politico, Charles Sykes shows how "Republicans' attacks on Big Business are as fake as their phony working-class act."

Saturday, April 10, 2021

"What You Can't Accomplish in Life, You Repeatedly Do in Symbolism, Until It Becomes a Neurosis"

"Why have we settled for this strange cultural compromise—lowbrow genres, done with middlebrow earnestness, in revolt against a thoroughly defunded highbrow regime? Perhaps it is because we have accepted the idea of the democratization of culture—we have accepted, rightly, that, say, opera is not inherently worthier than jazz, that superhero comics are not inherently dumber than Greek mythology, that ancient epic poetry is not automatically loftier than rap (with which, indeed, it shares some features)—without accomplishing democracy. I mean this in a dully straightforward way: We are not all equally in control of our lives, and we are afraid of what becoming so would entail, of the costs of democracy, of the mess of it. We are divided by class, race, and gender, and united only in being the objects of a ceaseless corporate effort to accomplish our complete commodification. Having lost the economic battle to economic and political elites, we celebrate, again and again, our victory over the mostly-imaginary cultural elite that would scorn us for watching 90 Day Fiancé."

Phil Christman at The Hedgehog Review discusses the "Strange Undeath of Middlebrow."

"Because of Racism, the Majority of White Americans Turned Their Backs on the Formula That Created the Middle Class"

"Racism in our politics is holding us back from the smart public investments that we need. People have joked that if we had to build the Hoover Dam or put a man on the moon today, we never would. 'Public goods' were popular among white Americans as long as 'the public' was seen as 'good.' And today we have this false worship of all things private, which has stymied what we've known in this country for over a century to be the formula for widely shared prosperity and innovation: sound public investments and investing in your people, who are your greatest asset."

At Politico, Zack Stanton interviews Heather McGhee, author of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

"The Gap Between Their Intentions and Their Ultimate Impact"

"If there's hope, it lies with Gen X. They are the last people with any memory, any foot in the pre-boomer world. The boomers were not Gen X's parents and they weren't Gen X's teachers, and that keeps them anchored and gives them some spark of life. The boomers, by clogging up the career pipeline, have refused to get off the stage and give Gen X its moment. So even though Gen X is aging now, we still have not yet seen all that they can do. We have not seen a world run by Gen X-ers."

Sean Illing at Vox interviews Helen Andrews, author of Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster

Thursday, April 01, 2021

"A World That No Longer Exists"

"Puzzling, that is, until you realize that—like so many other institutions whose worthy missions we naively assumed to be inviolable—the ACLU is no longer itself. The organization known as the ACLU is now led by people beholden to an ideology purporting that the essential function of the Constitution has been to serve as a blueprint for white supremacy, and that its broad free-speech protections are not a tool of emancipation for society's underdogs but rather the handmaiden of their oppression."

James Kirchick at Tablet explores "[t]he Disintegration of the ACLU."

"L.A.'s Struggles Point to Larger American Failures to Ensure That Prosperity and Health Are Broadly and Equitably Distributed"

"California as a whole can't prosper if its biggest and most diverse metropolitan area keeps floundering. Since the early 1990s recession, L.A. has been a drag on California's, and the nation’s, economic growth and employment. L.A. hasn't matched the gains in wages, education, health, or voter turnout found elsewhere in the state. And it is Los Angeles that has been the biggest driver of high poverty rates and rising inequality across the state."

Joe Matthews at Zocalo argues that "Los Angeles is failing California."

"He Was More Complicated Than a Two-Dimensional Postage Stamp"

"When I asked Pawel recently if problematic people like Chavez should have their names stricken from schools and other monuments, her answer was quick: 'Of course not. The fact that heroes have flaws don't make them any less heroic. We've gone from hagiography to tearing people down.'"

Gustavo Arellano at the Los Angeles Times comes to terms with Cesar Chavez.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

March 2021 Acquisitions

Books:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve Aldous, The World of Shaft: A Complete Guide to the Novels, Comic Strip, Films and Television Series, 2015.                                  Philip D. Beidler, Scriptures for a Generation: What We Were Reading in the '60s, 1995.                                                                      Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution, 2021.                                                         S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders, 1967.                                                                                                                                                                    Joëlle Jones et al, Catwoman Vol. 4: Come Home, Alley Cat, 2021.

Movies:                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amazing Grace, 2018.                                                                                                                                                                                            Grosse Point Blank/High Fidelity, 2007.                                                                                                                                                               Us, 2019.

Music:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Brendan Benson, Dear Life, 2020.                                                                                                                                                                        Steve Lacy, Apollo XXI, 2019.                                                                                                                                                                              Primitives, The Best of the Primitives, 1996.                                                                                                                                                        Righteous Brothers, The Very Best of the Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody, 1990.                                                                                        Rolling Stones, Rock and Roll Circus, 2019.                                                                                                                                                        Soft Cell, The Very Best of Soft Cell, 2002.

Monday, March 29, 2021

"Because If You Pull the Plug, It Stops"

"The effect on American rock was like a sudden switch back from Technicolor to black-and-white (or even brown-and-white). Given the plain palette of so much 1969-70 rock--jammed-out bluesy boogie in the Canned Heat and Allman Brothers mode, nasal pseudo-country harmony singing a la CSN&Y and their afterbirth--it is tempting to imagine an entirely alternative history for rock. A parallel world where Fifty Foot Hose's Cauldron, United States of America's self-titled album, and synthedelic oddities from Syrinx, Silver Apples, Beaver & Krause, and Tonto's Expanding Head Band, were just the run-up to a giant leap into the electronic future. But in this world, they remain tentative steps towards a path not taken."

Simon Reynolds presents a 2018 article from Red Bull Music Academy called, "Synthedelia: Psychotronic Music of the American Sixties."

Generational Experience

At Spiked, Lisa McKenzie argues that "[t]he real divide is class, not 'generations,'" and Brendan O'Neill criticizes "[t]he tyranny of 'lived experience.'"

Saturday, March 27, 2021

High Priest of Crime Fiction

"Willeford's novels portray the weird and evil as no more of a spike on the EKG of everyday life than eating breakfast or reading a magazine. With very few exceptions, the violence in his fiction has little psychological impact on those who commit it. It doesn’t break them, because there is nothing in them to break. Taken as a whole, his bibliography reads like his attempt to dramatize a quote from Blaise Pascal, which Willeford used as an epigraph twice, in New Hope for the Dead and Grimhaven: 'Man's unhappiness stems from his inability to sit quietly in his room.'"

At The Bulwark, Bill Ryan discusses the career of writer Charles Willeford.

"It Describes a World That Never Was and Never Will Be--A World Without Contradictions, Ironies or Unintended Consequences"

"School desegregation has been characterized by fits and starts, twists and turns, with righteous victories running in parallel to massive resistance and despair. It has come with all sorts of costs and benefits for black folks–and smart, well-informed people across the political spectrum continue to debate whether it has ultimately served the cause of racial progress. As a policy initiative, it occupies the muddy, middle ground between injustice and justice."

At Heterodox: The Blog, Jeffrey Aaron Snyder explains "[w]hy Ibram Kendi's [a]ntiracism is [s]o [f]lawed."

Thursday, March 25, 2021

"That Type of Destabilization Is What Creates the Conditions for Violence to Emerge"

"My argument is that in areas where communities go through periods of disinvestment and where institutions break down, people feel like they're on their own. This creates conditions where violence becomes more likely. As a place becomes more violent, people change their behavior. They become more likely to interpret uncertainty in an aggressive way, more likely to carry a weapon, more likely to act quickly or first if they feel threatened. This is how the presence of violence creates more violence. This cascading effect, where violence begets violence, has been reinforced in the past year."

At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson interviews sociologist Patrick Sharkey about the new crime wave. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

"A Kind of Patchouli-Scented Version of Florence During the Renaissance"

"But this book is more interested in how politics and Hollywood ricocheted off each other. One chapter considers Jane Fonda and her left-wing political awakening during her marriage to the activist Tom Hayden. The earthquake they wanted to set off in Washington never came, while in the cultural realm, as Brownstein chronicles, America convulsed with change. More permissive attitudes about sex and drugs, a perception that the American dream was not only unattainable but rotten at the core—this new sensibility charged up the films, music and television that Los Angeles exported to the rest of the country, and the world."

Madeleine Brand at The New York Times reviews Ronald Brownstein's Rock Me on the Water: 1974 The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television and Politics.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

"Not Only Had Architects Stopped Making Them, but the Public Had Stopped Demanding Them"

"Once clean and attractive public spaces were no longer seen as essential, they soon became less clean and attractive. After 1961, San Francisco no longer enforced vagrancy laws, and with predictable results; in 1972, in Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned vagrancy laws at the national level. At the same time, the process of deinstitutionalization—the discharge of unwell patients from mental asylums—had begun in earnest. In 1955, some 559,000 people were institutionalized; by 1994 it was 72,000. Meanwhile, in 1975, the Supreme Court declared in O'Connor v. Donaldson that a person could be confined against his will only if it could be proven that he was a danger to himself or others. In practice, as the law was interpreted, that danger had to be immediate; even a schizophrenic who was unable to feed or shelter himself was not regarded as a danger to himself. These two Supreme Court decisions, working in tandem, had a dire effect on the uses of our town squares and civic plazas. It is unimaginable that we would have so casually permitted them to become inhospitable had we still felt them to be essential."

Michael J. Lewis at National Review discusses "The Death of Public Beauty."

Monday, March 22, 2021

What's the Matter With Republicans?

"'It's a spirit of rebellion against what people see as liberals who are overly sensitive, or are capable of being triggered, or hypocritical,' says Marshall Kosloff, co-host of the podcast 'The Realignment,' which analyzes the shifting allegiances of and rise of populist politics. 'It basically offers the party a way of resolving the contradictions within a realigning party, that increasingly is appealing to down-market white voters and certain working-class Black and Hispanic voters, but that also has a pretty plutocratic agenda at the policy level.' In other words: Owning the libs offers bread and circuses for the pro-Trump right while Republicans quietly pursue a traditional program of deregulation and tax cuts at the policy level."

Derek Robertson at Politico describes the "weird journey of a tongue-in-cheek catchphrase from conservative-mocking putdown to the defining tenet of the Republican Party's way of life."

And Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times notes the health threat during the pandemic because "[h]alf of Republican men say they don't want the vaccine."

Thursday, March 18, 2021

"You Know What I Mean?"

"Is it ever difficult being reimmersed in his own life? 'Well, I don't really regret any of it, if I'm being honest. I know I should, but it was great. Coming from the background I came from, I was expected–at best–to become a taxi driver. And that didn't happen, and now they're making a movie about me. So you've got to just embrace it."

John Harris at The Guardian discusses Creation Stories, the new movie about Alan McGee.