Reads
Putin in the Times

Putin in the Times

Followers of events in Syria were treated with a taste of the absurd this week. Vladimir Putin wrote a bizarre op-ed for the New York Times in which he argued against U.S. intervention. Predictably, it inspired an untold number of commentaries, ranging from sarcasm and ridicule, to blunt outrage from American leaders.  I’d only recommend Max Fisher’s piece in the Washington Post, since it takes Putin’s opinions more seriously than others. More»

Harmony Corruption

Harmony Corruption

There’s no more overused an adjective than legendary. ‘Legend’ used to be reserved those men and achievements that surpassed the norms of everyday experience. Now it is called into service to validate everything from the engine of a Dodge pickup truck to the onion rings at the local diner. If ever the term was properly applied,  it would be to Jon “Metalion” Kristianson and his Slayer fanzine. More»

Syria For Tabloids

Syria For Tabloids

We’re just about at war. ABC’s Alexander Marquart tweeted that the Obama Administration is pressuring U.N. inspectors, who are investigating reports of a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime, to leave Syria as soon as possible. We should take that as evidence that the U.N.’s fact-finding mission is over. More»

Brutal Truths

Brutal Truths

Edited by Titus Hjelm, Keith Kahn-Harris, Mark LeVine, Heavy Metal Controversies and Countercultures presents a wide range of perspectives and approaches to the topic, probing the ways that race, gender, violence, and politics find expression in the wide range of instantiations of metal. The editors of this collection all have serious bona fides in the scholarly study of metal. More»

Son of a Gun

Son of a Gun

“I am just glad there isn’t a cactus on the cover.” Justin St. Germain is in the Tap Room of Tucson’s historic Hotel Congress, discussing his stunning new memoir Son of a Gun. At the time, I think he is simply expressing the saguaro fatigue that afflicts longtime residents of the Sonoran Desert. Images of the tree-sized cactus are stamped on everything imaginable. But when I drive through Tombstone a month later, I realize my mistake: More»

Murdoch's Egypt

Murdoch’s Egypt

In a piece published closely after the military ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argued: “Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took over power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.” More»

Brick on a String

Brick on a String

Serial killer fiction and time travel fiction are two troubling genres. At its worst, the serial killer story offers the cheap thrill of watching a charming genius killing at will. And time travel can be an irritating, messy plot device that hogs the spotlight and drains a story of its reality. But South African writer Lauren Beukes’ third novel The Shining Girls avoids these pitfalls. More»

The Problem With Nationalism

The Problem With Nationalism

Apologists are always the same. Whether they’re rationalizing war crimes, or promoting reactionary ideologies, they always feign distance from what’s being defended. Why do they insist on appearing impartial? It never works for me. Rats always smell like rats. There’s no disguising them. I’m not the only journalist who feels this way. More»

Defending Anarchism

Defending Anarchism

David Graeber is unlikely to get a fair shake.  Despite publishing respectable works in anthropology, as well as a lauded tome on debt, his newest book, The Democracy Project, offers an insightful analysis of democracy and the Occupy Wall Street protests through the eyes of a self-identified anarchist. For many, this will be a hard pill to swallow. More»

Racism and the News

Racism and the News

A month after Boston’s Patriot Day bombings, the world’s eyes were drawn to Woolwich, a previously unheard of district in south London. Two Muslim converts of Nigerian descent had run over British Army Private Lee Rigby, following which they used knives and a cleaver to hack him to death. More»

Sports and Politics

Sports and Politics

For someone who grew up in an athletic family, I have a hard time paying attention to sports. It’s not so much the games as it is the process of navigating the spectacular cultural industry that surrounds them. More»

On Being an Anarchist

On Being an Anarchist

Robert P. Helms is a Philadelphia-based radical historian who has extensively researched the anarchist movement of the early 20th century. He is especially interested in the legendary Philadelphia anarchist Voltairine de Cleyre and her friends and associates, and has written biographies of many of them. More»