Field Recording Politics

Field Recording Politics

As we move further away from the 1960s, the idea that music has a role to play in radical politics becomes increasingly irrelevant. Long gone are the days when people believed that rock music, or hip-hop, had any effect on the powers that be. More»

White Jihad

White Jihad

Events in Britain are moving at a dizzying pace. It feels like every week there is a new outrage, a fresh atrocity and an even stranger twist in the body politic. In the space of a week we’ve had the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire and the Finsbury Park attack. More»

"Pickpockets, Murderers and Thieves"

“Pickpockets, Murderers and Thieves”

In December 1938 the Defendant Ribbentrop, in a conversation with M. Bonnet, who was then Foreign Minister of France, expressed his opinion of the Jews. That was reported by the United States Ambassador, Mr. Kennedy, to the State Department. More»

Latest entries
Designer Security Apparatus

Designer Security Apparatus

Arriving in Tbilisi, Georgia, is a refreshing jolt for the senses. The boorish border guards typical of former Soviet republics suspiciously leafing through your passport (to find a visa it took you weeks to obtain) are replaced by courteous people providing a visa and hassle-free service at the city’s small airport. Driving into town provides another. Along the highway, a wavy ribbon of light-blue glass floats off a flat expanse of manicured grass, brilliantly lit against the dark, moonless night. That, I discovered, is the new Interior Ministry headquarters. More»

The Pessimism Process

The Pessimism Process

Aaron David Miller worked for the State Department for twenty-four years. His career began during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, and ended in the early days of George W. Bush’s presidency.
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Don Juan of Milan

Don Juan of Milan

Silvio Berlusconi can be faulted for many things. For using television to refashion Italian sensibilities. For buying votes. For making a mockery of an advanced, industrialized European country’s legal system. And, as many would insist, for reversing however far Italy may have traveled into the sexual revolution. More»

Mining the Copper Belt

Mining the Copper Belt

This piece, part of the Copper Belt Project, is the first in a series — listed here — exploring the forgotten people and places of an iconic American landscape scarred by a history of economic and environmental violence.
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Painting the Target

Painting the Target

Gun shows are easy to satirize. Arms manufacturers frequently use typically beautiful women to show off weaponry. Display booth and catalogue language is inevitably Orwellian. Every advertisement is rife with complex signifiers. Given the opportunity, a psychoanalyst would have a heart attack decoding industry messaging. More»

Fountain of Truth

Fountain of Truth

“Lippy Kids”, the strongest track on Elbow’s latest album Build a Rocket Boys!, takes a while to build up momentum and even longer to ease to a close. Over the sparest possible piano figure, a single note played over and over, simultaneously insistent and muted, a series of tasteful accents is gradually added and then subtracted. Only the carefully spaced intrusion of Guy Garvey’s evocative voice imparts the weight of a full-fledged song. Even then, the music sounds like it’s about to evaporate, making the six-minute running time something of a miracle. More»

The Other Bloodlands

The Other Bloodlands

Steve Reich on my iPod, a glass of Aerosvit Airlines Merlot, and a window seat are all I need. As the Kiev-to-Dubai flight leaves the rolling plains of the Ukraine behind, crossing the Sea of Azov, hugging the northern shores of the Black Sea, headed towards the Caucasus, I’m overwhelmed. The view is breathtaking. More»

The Trysts of Taste

The Trysts of Taste

Considering that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the world’s densest concentrations of Ph.D.s, it shouldn’t be surprising that retailers appeal to the superior knowledge of the customer base they wish to cultivate. In the end, this approach is no different than marketing medicine for male erectile dysfunction to the men who watch sports on television. More»

Actually Existing Israel

Actually Existing Israel

“Israel is neither Europe, nor the Middle East,” the commenter wrote. “All of the moral categories you’ve been trained to apply to countries from those regions won’t work. They’re foreign, like you.” A self-identified American soldier, but currently enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces, he was making this point in criticizing a journalist for penning a favorable article about an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv.
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Thomas Dimuzio's Greatest Hits

Thomas Dimuzio’s Greatest Hits

San Francisco-based Thomas Dimuzio is one of those unsung artistic figures whose influence and abilities have substantially outstripped his visibility. Composer, multi-instrumentalist, sound designer, experimental electronic musician, collaborator and mastering engineer – Dimuzio has been busy doing his thing(s) since the late 1980s, but is still only known to a small circle of electronic music enthusiasts. 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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Mussolini or Berlusconi?

Mussolini or Berlusconi?

It was an obvious gaffe. A Mussolini figurine sits next to an iMac displaying a photo of a younger Silvio Berlusconi. The occasion: Casting agent and Berlusconi associate Lele Mora, defending the Italian Prime Minister against charges of abuse of power on Euronews. Read a transcript of the Wednesday broadcast, or watch the program.