“Black Privilege” And The Twilight Of The Negro Whisperer


At first I thought “black privilege” was some kind of joke, a Chapelle-esque riff on the absurdities of how we talk about race in America. Indeed, reading about it in articles by people who take the idea seriously is like stepping into a parallel universe where black is literally white and white is black.

But as soon as I dismissed the idea my Google Trends graph for “black privilege” blew up:

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The Jester And The Sage (Myths About The Smiths)

There are two types of Smiths fan. One type believes that Morrisey drives the band. The other believes Johnny Marr does. (I will only talk about The Smiths in the present tense. Deal.) Granted, those of us in the the Johnny Marr camp need a few drinks to argue the case successfully. But we eventually win because of the happy haze of a drunken Rickenbacker guitar.

And we have this video as the closer.

In it Morrisey is the jester. Marr is the sage. Quite Jungian. And one of the reasons why they are legends together but average on their own.

These are age old archetypes. But times change, and in our time, science always wins over myth. Magic is for madmen and sissies. And the boy will always have a thorn in his side.

That, ultimately is what The Smiths were about, the last gasp of the industrial age before it went all post-this and meta-that and Reagan fired air traffic controllers and Thatcher fired miners and then told the world that society doesn’t exist.

But that’s OK. My generation trades Mick and Keith for Morrisey and Marr all day and makes a killing. ‘Cause if it’s not love …


Not So Noble And Barely Literary Thoughts On The Nobel Prize For Literature


It’s been dry times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, even though there was actually an era when it was The Oscars for book nerds.

(So yeah, I’m a book nerd. Down for life.)

Ah, the 1990s, that feverish run of Octavio Paz, Nadine Gordimer, Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, Kenzaburo Oe, and Seamus Heaney. Compared to this, I haven’t really pricked my ears up at Nobel Literature announcements since madman Harold Pinter in 2005.

But as the announcement looms, Murakami is in the air, that great techno-fabulist who augurs as much cool and as much weird as our post-postmodern age thinks it thinks it can stomach. Should he win, it would be fitting. He’s the End-Time Prophet for a “time” that’s ending all the time. And thus, his acceptance speech should be a hologramed continuous loop of him chanting “We will rock you,” with Queen playing in the background.

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The Poverty Of How We Talk About Poverty


Poverty is a non-issue in the 2016 Presidential election because we’ve rendered it a non-issue in American life.

At some point during the Reagan / Thatcher era, we stopped talking about class as an economic category and replaced it with an understanding of class as cultural or ideological. Hence, we now have a much richer vocabulary for talking about middle-class values than we do for talking about the social and material conditions necessary for middle-class life.

However, the shift from material conditions to (non-material) values as the lens through which we understand class has had the effect of making it easier for political strategists to shape class interests by shaping cultural values and beliefs.

The long-term effect of poverty becoming a cultural, then a moral issue is that while many people are just a handful of paychecks away from destitution, “the poor” have essentially disappeared from the American imagination.

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The Day My Favorite Band Got All Shook Down


RE: “Replacements: The Breakup That Shook Grant Park” | Chicago Tribune

4th of July 2016 is special. It’s is the 25th anniversary of the breakup of The Replacements.

These were regular guys who figured out that American punk—which, like America disco, was among the first music of the post-industrial era—could not burn so brightly for very long.

So they focused their otherwise broken lives and prodigious talent on what would come next.

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Set Adrift …


(RE: “Attrell ‘Prince Be’ Cordes, P.M. Dawn Rapper, Dead at 46” | Rolling Stone)

Visible light is only a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum. A huge part of that invisible real estate is occupied by cosmic rays, but only a small part of the history of hip hop is home to the truly cosmic.

Let’s be honest, what’s really the difference between 50 Cent and Ja Rule and The Game and any number of skipscaps and scallywags trying to rhyme these days? (Looking at you, Drake, if that is your real name.) It’s all just visible light.

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