“Love Is a Losing Game”: I review an Amy Winehouse documentary

for AmCon: It’s impossible to describe Amy Winehouse’s voice. Crackly, crimson, fractured and sultry: That’s just the scratchy surface. “Amy,” the new documentary from director Asif Kapadia, delves into the jazz chanteuse’s troubled life and early death, but never forgets to show us Winehouse’s talent and craft—and her gentleness.“Amy” plays like a defense brief. There are villains: Winehouse’s father Mitchell, her husband Blake, and the paparazzi. The movie takes Winehouse’s own narrative a … [Read more...]

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“One Nation, Under the Influence”: I review a National Archives show on US Boozin’

for The American Interest: “Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History,” on exhibit at the National Archives through January 10, is a lot like a 2 a.m. barroom yarn: rambling, studded with odd and fascinating moments, but lacking the one thing that might make it all make sense. ...“Spirited Republic” is organized mostly-chronologically. The opening sections make creative use of the archival material to tell the story of alcohol’s role in early American civic history: A reproduction of Ge … [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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Are You Drinking With Me, Jesus?: Benedict Options and Recovery Communities

This is part of a series on the "Benedict Option." Part one, part two, part three.I mentioned that I was struck by the number of people at Libresco's "Benedict Option" discussion who were in recovery themselves, or who had some close contact with recovery communities. I don't want to make too much of this, really--I know more people are in recovery than I realize, and Leah's thing was pretty much the opposite of a representative sample. But if we're wildly speculating on what people with … [Read more...]

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Prurient Solidarity

(I am all about the sexy post titles today.)There's this thing I do, where if I know or suspect that you have a let's say intense and troubled relationship to drugs or alcohol, I will immediately think your art is better, your writing is more insightful, your skating is more sublime, you are cooler and funnier and more physically attractive. If I start to catch that scent from you I will start sniffing, and if my suspicions are confirmed my estimation of your personal awesomeness will … [Read more...]

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“Public Policy’s Absent Aesthetics”: I’m at AmCon

rantin': ...What leapt out to me was the absence of the aesthetic side of smoking vs. wearing the patch. I don’t just mean that smoking looks good, although it does: Smoke dissolves like perfect conversation. Smoke turns women into chapels.What I mean is that all these aesthetic associations reinforce nicotine addiction. The sights and smells and sounds of smoking (tapping the cigarette against the pack; I knew one woman who made a little kiss sound every time she took a drag) intertwine in … [Read more...]

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“Governance Feminism” and Sexual Assault on Campuses

this bit leapt out at me but whole thing is worth reading--if I had to give it an extremely reductive summary it might be, "Sex isn't rational, and power is a temptation, not a tool"--see also btw the section on race: Increasingly, schools are being required to institutionalize prevention, to control the risk of harm, and to take regulatory action to protect the environment. Academic administrators are welcoming these incentives, which harmonize with their risk-averse, compliance-driven, and … [Read more...]

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