Analysis: The Battlefield in Syria’s Southernmost City, Daraa

Analysis: The Battlefield in Syria’s Southernmost City, Daraa

In recent weeks Daraa has witnessed the most intense clashes and aerial bombardments it has seen for years. Despite the plan for “de-escalation zones,” civilians in the city are likely to be caught in the newest battlefield for foreign power proxies and the warring Syrian sides. More»

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»

Latest entries
Aim Low, Score High

Aim Low, Score High

“In My Time”, one of the sunnier numbers on Kurt Vile’s new album Smoke Ring For My Halo, begins with a curious couplet: “In my day I was young and crazy/Sure I didn’t know shit, but now I’m lazy.” While such introspection made sense for musicians who had been through the madness of the late 1960s and were keen to follow Voltaire’s advice and tend their own garden to recuperate, it sounds strange coming from someone like Vile. More»
My Life as a Sugar Daddy

My Life as a Sugar Daddy

It was the middle of January. It had rained all day, but the sun had finally broken through. There was a noticeable dearth of tourists in Piazza Venezia, even for such an offseason time of year. On the lookout for customers, the guys in gladiator outfits were more aggressive than usual, stopping anyone they could find who happened to be carrying a camera. More»

Arizona Wen Zi Yu

Arizona Wen Zi Yu

University teachers are at the brink of becoming an endangered species in Arizona. Entire non-tenured groups of teachers have already received their termination notices. Thousands are disappearing. Gloom and outrage are palpable in the hallways and in online exchanges. More»

Hidmo Means Home

Hidmo Means Home

My Seattle starts here, on the corner of 20th and Jackson, more than twenty years after first arriving in this town.  I’m not sure what to call my connection to Seattle during all those years. I was here, but somehow I hadn’t actually arrived. Then, about two summers ago, at this corner, in this building, possibly in the company of some of these people captured in this Google Streetview image, I felt my relation to Seattle, and the world beyond it, shift into a new mode. More»

Mussolini and Me

Mussolini and Me

On the taxi ride from Malpensa this morning, I learned a little history of our neighborhood in Milan.  I asked the driver to take me to Piazzale Loreto. About 20 minutes into the ride, the driver filled me in on Loreto’s history, specifically regarding Mussolini’s execution, in April 1945. 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»

Haunted by the Present

Haunted by the Present

While it’s possible to listen to Violet Cries without thinking about history, the forcefulness with which Esben and the Witch invoke musical forebears makes the exercise a little perverse. Not to mention that, unlike many artists who are assigned to the mental bin labeled “Goth,” the band doesn’t shy away from the burden of association. Asked in an interview to discuss the term’s abuse, they declared “that Gothic should be revered in its greatest forms” suggesting that, while this sensibility “lends itself to a sense of the dramatic and the ostentatious,” it need not be an object of derision. More»

Clampdown

Clampdown

On Friday night, Jennifer and I went out for dinner. Our destination was an Arab-run Tex Mex place on the other side of Piazzale Loreto, a block from the Egyptian consulate. In the year that we’ve lived here, it has become one of our favorite restaurants, even though it’s not exactly orthodox in its take on the cuisine. Nevertheless, its offered us welcome relief from pasta. More»

The Road to Nuremburg

The Road to Nuremburg

The imagery is a bit harsh. However, it gets the message across. Driver safety sign, highway A9. November, 2010.