Reads
Amongst the Thugs

Amongst the Thugs

Arizona’s extreme right deludes itself that it occupies a central place in American politics. However, there is a difference between being influential, and throwing legislative temper tantrums that gain global notice.  Its leading political figures have become internationally scorned, which doesn’t trouble them, and does not harm their electability either.  The disjunction between local and external opinion is a matter of local pride, an insularity characteristic of oppressive governments in many areas beyond the American Southwest. More»

Across the Great Divide

Across the Great Divide

Ryu Murakami’s Popular Hits of the Showa Era, just released in English translation, has a plot that is both straightforward and surreal. Six single men in their twenties, all social outcasts touched by madness, band together to form a karaoke club. Six single women in their thirties, similarly cut off from society but much less demented, do the same. When one of the men randomly assaults and murders one of the women, a grisly chain reaction ensues, turning these outwardly unassuming ensembles into de facto gangs worthy of the American inner city.
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Aroused by Print

Aroused by Print

When we first saw the cover of the Sunday Telegraph we did a double take. The photo of the burning MiG 29 above the fold immediately caught our attention.  Combined with the left-side headline “British Forces Attack Gaddafi,” the layout suggested that the Russian-made fighter had been shot down by the RAF. More»

Touring the Punk Diaspora

Touring the Punk Diaspora

For an astonishing three decades, since he was only thirteen years old, Berkeley native Aaron Cometbus has been publishing the eponymous zine that, more than any other, testifies to the power of low-fi print. With personal touches like his distinctive block-capital hand lettering and bracingly honest assessment of his travels and travails, Cometbus remains a crucial bulwark in the battle against inauthentic living. Reading even a few pages is enough to put the feed-me-now mentality of our technologically oversaturated age in perspective.
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Mixed Media

Mixed Media

Although it’s been subsumed in the news by the more explosive revolts in the region, Iran’s Green movement provided its own blueprint for how to take it to the man—or imam—a couple of years ago. Its currently nebulous and undulant nature may provide the model for how to make a movement last until victory. More»

Literature Goes to Jail

Literature Goes to Jail

Arizona has become the site of a little-noticed literary flowering:  it is home to some of the best prison writing in North America. During the last two decades, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ken Lamberton, and Richard Shelton have converted their experiences with Arizona’s penitentiaries into prize-winning books.  No US state can claim a similar cluster of prominent prison writers. More»