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. more … [Read more...]

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Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico: A Fever Dream

One reason I loved the Mountain Goats' new album Beat the Champ so much is that it speaks about a kid projecting his own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of pro wrestling, in a way which deeply resonated with my experience projecting my own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of figure skating. If I made my own sports concept album it would be Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico, and it would be about, mostly, the Lillehammer Olympics, which allowed skaters who had left … [Read more...]

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From Pierre Clitandre, “Cathedral of the August Heat: A Novel of Haiti”

Then the ragged crowd pressed forward, in spite of the threat of the guns. They were ordered back. The tide of men came forward, silently, heavily, big hands by their knees. The gun shots rang out again. The men kept on coming. Heavily. Stepping over bodies soaked in blood. A third time the guns fired. At that moment out of the crowd, amid the dead bodies of men, pregnant women, the dust, blood, sun and gunfire, came the beautiful long-haired brown girl, dazzling in her white dress. With arms … [Read more...]

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My Summer Reading: Locas in Love (Plus Old-School Sci Fi and Just a Ton of Wellington)

at the University Bookman:Eve Tushnet I hope to spend this summer soaking up the sun with Los Bros. Hernandez’s epic comic book series “Love and Rockets.” The comics follow a group of knockabout, hard-living characters from punk LA (Jaime Hernandez’s “Hoppers 13” stories) and a slightly surreal South American village (Gilbert Hernandez’s “Palomar”). These are genre-crossing tales of love, loss, slowly encroaching adulthood, and sci-fi adventure; there are ghosts and witches, betrayal and cam … [Read more...]

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A Critique of “The Wire” as an Outsider’s Tragedy Narrative

written by a Baltimorean and a fan of the show: The closest the show gets to presenting an autonomous Black solution to Black problems is Cutty’s boxing gym, and the fate of the young people who cycle through there frame the effort largely as a failure. more (via Loftus)--among other things, looks at how Simon's choice of genre (tragedy of institutions) locked him into a narrative where the important forces work on black communities from the outside.I agree w/Loftus that there's an u … [Read more...]

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Leaving Addis, Losing DC: Dinaw Mengestu’s “Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears”

I can't remember the last time I read a novel where I was the villain.The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears is a novel about the thwarted romance between a failing shopkeeper from Ethiopia and a white divorcee whose mixed-race daughter comes into the convenience store after elementary school to read The Brothers Karamazov. Two people who have fled their past lives come into D.C. right at the moment that the money started to pour in; before they can get their bearings, the tidal wave of … [Read more...]

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