“Population: 1,” A Punk History of the Late, Great USA

"If you don't remember the 80s, just imagine listening to Duran Duran's 'Hungry Like the Wolf' playing on a boom box that at any moment could explode, killing you and everyone you know."Population: 1 opens with basically a music video, in which a snaggle-toothed chanteuse wonders why nobody loves her, and then dies on a riverbank. She's glorious--just enough menace, just enough shriek--but what actually is going on here? We cut to an underground bunker where a scrawny degenerate is watching … [Read more...]

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Job-Seeking in Community, Not Alone: A BenOp Mitzvah

This strikes me as a great idea:...Next up on my end: I’ve been using the two questions “What do I do alone that I could do with others?” and “What do I do privately that I could do in public?” as prompts for BenOp-ish ideas, and, thus, I’m opening my living room sometime soon for a little salon for people between jobs to work on applications, get feedback on resumes, practice interviews, etc. Job applications always make me miserable, especially because the slew of rejections (or rather “So … [Read more...]

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“Indie Music’s Christ-Haunted Women”: I’m at AmCon

with some answers to a question I asked here recently: I listen to a lot of what you could call “Christ-haunted” music. Your Mountain Goats, your Weakerthans. Not music made by believers necessarily (although sometimes, unexpectedly, yes), but music made by people who can’t quite escape the stories of Scripture and the language of Christian faith. Cain, resurrection, David, sorrow for sin; a desperate rosary or a hospital vespers. You could add to this list stuff I don’t personally quite grok, b … [Read more...]

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The Martyred Crowd: “Cathedral of the August Heat, A Novel of Haiti”

This is a short, feverish, seamy, painful book from 1987 about a revolutionary upsurge among the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere. It's written by a dissident journalist exiled by the Duvaliers. It's Communist in rhetoric, and there are moments toward the end when the rhetoric and also the optimism feel really flimsy. But most of the book is given over to tales of life at the bottom: sultry dreamscapes and violent nightmares, phantasmagoric beauty and brutal suffering, … [Read more...]

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Tomorrow’s Shuttered Prisons and Yesterday’s Shuttered Pools: A Cops and Prisons Link Roundup

"When Bail Is Out of Defendant's Reach, Other Costs Mount":By the time Mr. Torrence was released from jail, for instance, his imprisonment had taken a toll on the family he shares with his girlfriend, Markeisha Brown. Since Mr. Torrence normally takes care of Ms. Brown’s two sons, she was forced, she said, to stop working and drop out of cosmetology school, losing the $18,000 she had borrowed on a student loan. The couple are still trying to come up with June’s rent.more (his case was dro … [Read more...]

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Didn’t Know It Was a Devil Town: I Finally Watch “Friday Night Lights”

For years people told me I had to watch Friday Night Lights. And they all said the same four things: "Coach and Tami Taylor have the best marriage on television. I love how Dillon is its own character, and the show honors those who stay in their nowhere hometown instead of going Somewhere to be somebody. Ugh, skip season two, some dude kills a dude and it's just a soapy mess. Oh and you don't have to care about football, seriously, it's not a show about football."Some of this is true! Here … [Read more...]

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“Pro Wrestling (With Angels)”: I review the new Mountain Goats album

at AmCon: CDs of “Beat the Champ,” the new album from indie folk/rock band the Mountain Goats, come with a small white sticker proclaiming: THIS RIGHT HERE IS AN ALBUM ABOUT PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING. I guess they had to get the ironic disclaimer out of the way: Yes, this is a weird thing to do, roll with it please. If you do roll with it you will find an utterly unironic tribute to the wrestling heroes of singer/songwriter John Darnielle’s childhood—and one of his band’s best albums. … [Read more...]

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