How do I love Mike Powell? Let me count the ways… He’s been churning out some of the most honest and thoughtful commentary on music that I’ve read in years, all with a refreshing candor and without a trace of heavy-handedness. I mentioned his work before in my Poptimism article, but his writing is very much worth seeking out at Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, or Spin for any fan of music or music writing. Not only is he a great music writer in the traditional sense, but Powell also exhibits a uniquely confessional and personal style of writing (especially in his…
Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”
Real quick before we get going: Conference recordings should be up early next week! Videos will roll out gradually after that. Also, we’ve pulled Eden and Afterward to make some final changes. Look for a release announcement in the next ten days.
1) Even getting out of the game is part of the game, now. In fact, it is the game de rigueur. If you thought you weren’t in a fashion trend, if you didn’t know a group existed for people who were actually dressed just like most people, now there is, and you are, and it is the innest…
The first issue of The Mockingbird, our brand new quarterly magazine, is in the mail! If you signed up for our mailing list, you should have one coming to you, free of charge. If haven’t, sign up before March 1st and we’ll happily send you one. If you want to subscribe, look no further than magazine.mbird.com. (Remember, Mockingbird’s monthly donors receive a free subscription!)
In the meantime, here’s the line-up for our maiden voyage.
The Real Real Orange County: Looking Back on MTV’s Laguna Beach by Dan Varley
There Is Nothing the Matter with My Heart: Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and My Myth of Me by Zach Williams
For the Record: Mockingbird’s Netflix Queue, Must-Hear TED Talks, A Kurosawa Primer, Top 5 Church Debates, and an Elvis Gospel Playlist
Transformational: The Hidden Spirituality of America’s Great Movement by Ethan Richardson
“Friends Don’t Get Serious”: John Cassavetes, James Baldwin and Tall Tales of Angry Men by Charlotte Hornsby
When a Measure Becomes a Target: Inside the Economics of Repentance by Will McDavid
A New Way to Tell It: An Interview with Francis Spufford (click here for a preview)
A Vision for the Storms by Blake Ian Collier
Coming to Terms with the American Hero Fix by Sarah Condon
Dying to Live: What Are the Side Effects of the Modern Hospital? by R-J Heijmen
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4
A recent story on NPR’s “All Things Considered” discusses the findings of Dacher Keltner, a researcher who studies social class and generosity. Keltner says that, “in just about every way you can study it, our lower-class individuals volunteer more, they give more of…
Another Week Ends: This American Life’s 500th, Dustin Hoffman’s Female Perspective, Midlife Crises, Man-Children, Spitzer, and Chickens
1) Heather Havrilesky, at it again, this time over at Aeon. Writing from the perspective of a “successful” middle-ager, she describes how nothing can really be enough nowadays. The avenues for comparison are as numerous as the avenues for self-expression. She has this to say about her own experiences:
This is the shape my mid-life crisis is taking: I’m worried about what I have time to accomplish before I get too old to do anything. I’m fixated on what my life should look like by now. I’m angry at myself, because I should look better, I should be in better shape,…
n+1 has a new piece on the changing landscape of the “sellout,” and the assertions of authenticity that have been re-shaped in the relationship between art and commerce. Evan Kindley is writing a review on a few books in the topic, one of which is spotlighted, by Timothy Taylor, The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture. Going back to the origin of music being used for advertising ends, the book archives the radio-days of musicians crafting Lucky Strike jingles, all the way to the visual age of musicians having their own songs (and personas) implanted into…
Another Week Ends: Abercrombie’s Hot People, The Neverending “Me Me Me” Era, George Jones’ “Choices,” Katharine Welby, New TV, and New Vampire Weekend
1) The Atlantic provided an insightful zinger to the finger-waggers of today’s adultescent. Looking at today’s young people, of whom I am one—blogging away, shoes off—the piece is a response to the recent cover article of Time magazine, “The Me Me Me Generation.” The Time piece is a backhanded spotlight on the millennials, a heat-ray at their unique and insipid self-absorption, their phones, their extended stays at home. Contrary to this, Elspeth Reeve writes that the Me, Me, Me Generation is every generation—that we’ve been locating (and writing about) the narcissism of youth since we’ve written. She then delineates a…
Yes, the Oscars are just around the corner and yes, there are still a bunch of nominated films I haven’t seen either. Amour and Lincoln and Django are at the top of the list (at least I caught the hilarious and bloody “Djesus Uncrossed” this morning!), though I have no idea how they’d possibly surpass Silver Linings Playbook in terms of grace and intelligence and entertainment value. Suffice it to say, it was a good year for cinema. One film that’s stuck with me that hasn’t been mentioned with the rest of the pack is Judd Apatow’s This Is 40….
This American Life and Planet Money recently produced an episode titled “The Invention of Money.” You can listen to it here.
The story places the concept of money into the framework of faith, mainly due to the fact that money is no longer a physical object with tangible value like gold. Instead, it is fiction, myth, a number generated on a computer, passing through the internet. With just the push of a button, we’ve got the genesis of currency; something they call in the story “Opening the Fed Window.” The only way this money-myth has value is if people have faith…
Well, you thought you had met Mr. Right. Everything lined up, all the expectations you had compiled since middle school, all the inner-complexities you had longed for and, what’s more, there’s spark. It’s not just that he’s everything you thought you wanted, you actually like him, too. And then you ask him… “What’s your credit score?”
This was published in the Christmas New York Times, an assumable but no-less-shocking progression in sizing up a mate. It again just goes to show the endless bounds to which we circumvent love for love-of-law, and how quickly we can feel snuffed on the other…
Another Week Ends: Fans and Debtors, Reverse Psychology, Brooks on Merit Power, Batman and Walter White, Spousal Surveillance and Christian Technology
1. From The Atlantic comes “Why Being an Obsessed Soccer Fan Can Make You Really, Really Happy,” a look into the camaraderie of fandom–which seems simple enough–but not only does fandom give purpose and an unusual chance to breach the confines of self-interest, it also provokes inclusion by way of exclusivity. People have the opportunity, despite their level of fandom, to be fans, together—to identify with something that’s not themselves, together.
Trying to rationalize fandom can be a complicated, even futile process. But studies by psychologists have shown that identifying yourself with a…
Another Week Ends: Trickle-Down Distress, Klout Scores, Playful Parenting, Glorious Ruin, Churchy Beer, Moonrise, Darnielle on Amy Grant, Blur and Louis CK
1. “Trickle-Down Distress: How America’s Broken Meritocracy Drives Our National Anxiety Epidemic” – what a title! Maura Kelly’s piece in The Atlantic functions almost as a survey of a number of the studies and articles we’ve highlighted in recent months, such the WHO reports that show America leading the world in clinical anxiety by a significant margin, and the recent piece about Having It All. In what essentially amounts to a treatise on the cruelty (and practical and psychological dead-end) of works righteousness, Kelly looks at how thorough-going the conflation of personal identity with material/career success has become in our…