“Marilynne Robinson Returns to Gilead”: I review “Lila”

at AmCon--I think this piece turned out well: Ten years ago Marilynne Robinson began telling us the story of Gilead, Iowa, a tiny town surrounded by fields and farms. A droplet of water in which the whole world is reflected.She began with Gilead, a novel in the form of a long letter written from the dying John Ames to his young son. Ames situates the town in its historical context, showing how this apparently all-white enclave nonetheless falls under the shadow of racism, from the Civil War … [Read more...]

Kickstarter to Restore Pioneering African-American Cinema

Looks stellar. From Kino Lorber: Among the most fascinating chapters of film history is that of the so-called “race films” that flourished in the 1920s - ‘40s. Unlike the “black cast” films produced within the Hollywood studio (such as Stormy Weather or Green Pastures), these films not only starred African Americans but were funded, written, produced, directed, distributed, and often exhibited by people of color. Entrepreneurial filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux,  Spencer Williams, and Richard D … [Read more...]

Kitchen Adventures Close to Home: Spicy Maid-Rites

My mom's from Iowa, which means I grew up eating Maid-Rites, the greatest sloppy joe. You can find a bunch of recipes online but this is close to the even-simpler version we had. You can eat it on a bun or just fork it up out of a bowl. I added a bunch of extra stuff, but the moment I tasted that first bite of ground beef, tomato, onion, and oatmeal, I felt like the world's happiest little kid.Ingredients (you can switch these around to your taste of course): Ground beef, a bit of butter, … [Read more...]

Working at the Disco: I Watch “The Last Days of Disco”

For the first half of this movie I was not totally sold on it--despite its setting in "The Very Early '80s" and its discussions of group socializing vs. "ferocious pairing off" and the Robert Sean Leonard of it all. "It's fun enough, but it's no Damsels in Distress," I thought.By the end I was so fascinated and pleased that I wanted to rewatch it immediately. I listened to the commentary track, which I rarely do with Netflix dvds because I am greedy and want my next one as fast as possible. … [Read more...]

“Their Decadence and Ours”: Helen Andrews

right in her wheelhouse--provocative & insightful: Fundamentally, the difference between the two movements was that the English thought decadence was just a game. Only after intense personal suffering did they come to realize what the French had known from the beginning, that it was serious business in which a person could—almost certainly would—get hurt. more … [Read more...]

“Bury My Art at Wounded Knee”: I’m in The American Interest

just a touch late for Columbus Day: Few art forms are as self-consciously nostalgic as the platinum photograph. The Instagram filter of its day, platinum printing was used at the end of the 19th century to convey a stylized, distant past. The velvety blacks and glowing whites could make an image’s textures feel soft and enclosed, liquid, no longer entirely real.Some of the most famous images of American Indians were made using this process. If you picture a stern or mournful Native American … [Read more...]

“The Hidden History of Black Women Criminal Legal Reformers”: PrisonCulture

posts: ...All of these accomplishments are impressive and don’t even begin to cover her contributions to women’s and civil rights. However, what has always captured my attention and garnered my deepest respect is the legacy of Ms. Terrell’s advocacy against the convict lease system. In 1907, she published an important article titled “Peonage in the United States: The Convict Lease System and the Chain Gangs” in a journal called “The Nineteeth Century.” In the essay, she suggests that leasing is … [Read more...]


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