A Retraction, Re: Marriage. Too Bad, This Bit Had a Good Line in It.

So in an earlier post I wrote this: It's important that marriage--its norms and expectations, more than its explicit legal benefits--is one powerful cultural response to the fruitful/destructive volcanic force of eros, and especially heterosexual eros. It's important that out of the many cultural institutions that try to channel the lava, marriage is typically one of the gentlest. (That's often true even when a marriage culture is oppressive and misogynist--in those cases the alternatives are … [Read more...]

“The Truth Without Reconciliation Committee”: I review “The Look of Silence”

for AmCon: For the extraordinary 2012 documentary “The Act of Killing“, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer encouraged participants in the Indonesian death-squad killings of 1965 to reenact their murders of suspected or fabricated Communists. The killers, who have reaped material and political success from their violence, were for the most part happy to oblige. Their reenactments became increasingly baroque and Hollywoodized; they expressed the self-image which made them feel powerful and free, and all … [Read more...]

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...]

“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...]

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...]

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...]

Penitence in Easter: Great Post by an Anglican Bishop

...The New Testament suggests that there is nothing more paschal in character, nothing more closely aligned with the great transitus of Jesus’ death and resurrection, than the transitional moment represented by our repentance and God’s forgiveness, which brings new life out of the death we’ve constructed for ourselves.Rowan Williams noted in his book Resurrection that the disciples’ experience of resurrection was inextricably linked to their own desertion of him and their failure as his frien … [Read more...]


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