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 Year in Film

My Year in Film

It’s increasingly difficult to write year-end surveys. They seem to come earlier and earlier each year, and are hardly special in a landscape of reportage made almost entirely of lists. A top ten of lists would almost be worth it, if not for the risk that such navel gazing would precipitate Internet implosion (or self-loathing). Moreover, there was a lot of cinema in 2014 that merits note. More»

No Control

No Control

Since protests erupted in Ferguson, in response to the killing of Michael Brown, America’s attention has turned to the militarization of domestic police. The guns, tanks and armor have concerned even moderates, raising questions about ignited tensions, reducing trust of law enforcement and even violating the essence of the Posse Comitatus Act, meant to restrict the military’s ability to police the public. More»

Top Five Shariati Quotes for 2014

Top Five Shariati Quotes for 2014

Parisian-educated Iranian intellectual Ali Shariati has been severely discredited as an ideologue of the Islamic Revolution. Despite that, the turmoil of this year calls for a reexamination of his work. Shariati made critical insights that are necessary to move beyond 2014’s bloody malaise.  More»

Never Mind the Women

Never Mind the Women

Between 1976 and 1979, the British punk scene produced some very good albums (Never Mind the Bollocks; London Calling; Damned, Damned, Damned) and a couple of real brilliancies (The Pop Group’s Y, Gang of Four’s Entertainment.) But for sheer transgression, there is nothing to top Cut, the first album by The Slits. More»

The Road to Tbilisi

The Road to Tbilisi

In the 21st century, many countries border each other with roads, and tunnels. But Georgia’s neighbour is Russia, not Switzerland, or France. Russia is not a modern, thinking country, and has no plans to be so. More»

Polis Brutality

Polis Brutality

These are uncertain times in the US. Although the economy has been doing better, most people still seem to feel that it isn’t doing better for them. A state of half-war continues to prevail internationally. And reports of brutality by both local police forces and the CIA have many Americans wondering where their country went. More»

My Top Ten Musical Anxieties of 2014

My Top Ten Musical Anxieties of 2014

It’s that time of year again. I’m being bombarded by Top Ten/Twenty/Fifty/Hundred music lists. I suppose that, as someone with a background in music scholarship and as a fairly seasoned critic, I should view them with wry amusement – sometimes scoffing at other critics’ choices, sometimes sagely agreeing. But that’s never been how I react to them. More»

Americans, Thugs and Nazis

Americans, Thugs and Nazis

During the summer of 2001, then-Director of the CIA George Tenet warned the Senate Intelligence Committee of a possible major terrorist attack in the United States. He did not specify its time, location, or method. The rest is history. More»

The Right To Be Seen

The Right To Be Seen

“Here, Mariah, let’s pull over.” The whir of wheels behind me stopped, and I turned once more to see Maggie Campbell of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization striking an authoritative pose. A feat, mind you, when one is helmeted and perched on a Segway in the thick of the midday downtown rush. More»

Earthquake Weather

Earthquake Weather

When it comes to earthquakes, America takes the cake. At least as far as news coverage is concerned. Having weathered two of the most devastating quakes to strike a first world country – the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which ravaged the San Francisco Bay Area, followed by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which severely impacted Los Angeles –  you can understand why. More»

Back to Berkeley

Back to Berkeley

When word of the protests in Berkeley came in a few days ago, my heart started beating faster. I had been following the recent demonstrations against police brutality with a mixture of despair and rage. But I had been too far from the action, both physically and geographically, to feel like a participant. Now, even though I was 1000 miles from the Bay Area, I suddenly did. . More»

A Journalistic Failure

A Journalistic Failure

Rolling Stone may very well lose some of the honor it’s earned over the decades. From Annie Leibovitz’s photography to Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalism to Michael Hastings’s story that brought down a top US general in Afghanistan, the publication has commanded a presence not just in the world of magazines, but in Americana at large. More»