Everyone's President

Everyone’s President

There is something to be said for relatability in a politician. Even Franklin Roosevelt, whose background was as firmly patrician as that of any US president, managed through the medium of fireside chats delivered over the radio to convince Americans the he understood their situation and cared about their fate. More»

Same As It Ever Is

Same As It Ever Is

The crowd at Club Congress is sparse. A few true believers and some people who are only here because they happened to be here already. My friend and I don’t fall into either category. I told him we had to see this show because it’s important, because I respect tradition, because it’s Dead Moon. They’re setting up right in front of us, out on the floor. More»

Weak and Stable

Weak and Stable

It’s hard to keep up with all the screw-ups and psychodramas of the Conservative government these days. You’re afraid you’ll miss one if you as much as blink. More»

Latest entries
My United Kingdom

My United Kingdom

It was a sight I never imagined I’d see. I was watching a reenactment of the 1946 bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on British TV. One of the last episodes of  The Promise, aired in February on the UK’s Channel Four, the miniseries succeeded in touching a lot of nerves. This one touched mine. More»

The Hippo Shake

The Hippo Shake

Children’s programming is complex in every culture. Field recording public television, Turin. April, 2011.

Damaged Beauty

Damaged Beauty

This piece, part of the Copper Belt Project, is the second 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. More»

Obey the Grande

Obey the Grande

I’ve always been surprised by the fact that the original Starbucks is an inconspicuous cafe in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Its anonymity stands in stark contrast to the legendary coffee company’s aggressive marketing style. After all, this is where it all started. Shouldn’t this be obviously branded a landmark? Not if your bottom line is numbers. No CEO really cares about his legacy. Just his stocks. The more signs you see on the street, the less likely you are to go inside and drink coffee. More»

Turkish Folk Music

Turkish Folk Music

Turkey broke the mold. Whether Germans were questioning the right of Turkish migrants to become citizens, Americans were attacking its leadership’s positions on Israel, or Syrians were complaining that Ankara manages to preserve favored status despite its policies towards the Kurds, Turkey is shorthand for , “Yes, but. . .”, a way for practitioners of Realpolitik both to define a “state of exception”, and assert its value. More»

Yiddish-Speaking Vikings

Yiddish-Speaking Vikings

Heavy Metal is often seen as a quintessentially white, Western, music. That is indeed the case much of the time. Metal emerged out of white, blue collar mutilations of the blues in working class heartlands such as the West Midlands. Metal imagery is often festooned with such ur-symbols of whiteness such as Viking warriors and corpse-painted pagans amid the snowy forests of Scandinavia. More»

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.
More»

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»