Archive for August, 2008

BMC on the DNC

From his writing in the Village Voice in the 80’s to his film industry debut as the screenwriter for the monumnetal New Jack City, Barry Michael Cooper has been a cultural commentator of the highest order for over two decades, a eloquent and outspoken voice of the hip-hop generation and beyond. His most recent writings on the DNC continue on the same path, linking political commentary with pop culture references; particularly insightful is his most recent entry which pairs Michelle Obama’s moving speech with Jay-Z and Beyonce’s hit song ‘03 Bonnie & Clyde. Big shout to Barry Michael Cooper, he of the un-knockable hustle.

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Tech Tempers Flare…

Slate leads the charge with a call to arms for “how to fight against the lying, infuriating, evil ink-and-toner cabal” that prematurely drains your printer cartridge, followed by a gripe about iPod batteries and the MobileMe service that “failed spectacularly” in today’s post, “Is Something Rotten at Apple?“; elsewhere, the San Francisco Chronicle investigates how Silicon Valley’s working class are “walking an economic tightrope” and the local media in Palm Bay, Florida have pounced on the story of a 15-year-old who was “taken into custody after police said he chased his mother with a knife and beat his brother with a sugar cane over a change in computer privileges.”

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Getting Rocky in the Rockies

The Democratic National Convention is officially on in Denver, and the media has seized on the many mood swings swirling around the convention floor: the New York Times‘ front page piece “Anxious Party Hopes to Show Strong Obama” claims that the Illinois senator will “use the next four days to address weaknesses in his candidacy and lingering party divisions from the primary fight”; Politico pounces on claims that “mistrust and resentments [continue] to boil among top associates of presumptive nominee Barack Obama and his defeated rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton“; the Chicago Tribune writes that Michelle Obama must “define herself rather than let the caricature sketched by her critics settle in the mind of voters”; on Sunday, “a choir belted out a gospel song and was followed by a rabbi reciting a Torah reading about forgiveness and the future” in a direct appeal to value voters, but AP Religion Writer Eric Gorski wonders if everyone was satisfied; Joan Walsh of Salon lists her “reasons to worry“; and Jacob Weisberg of Slate writes that racism is the “only reason” for Obama’s diminishing lead in the polls. And it’s only day two.

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Printers Ball Afterparty Tonight in Chicago

If you’re in Chicago tonight, we’re throwing an afterparty for the Printer’s Ball, an annual celebration of printed literature from Chicago.

The party will be thrown in conjunction with Superfunk, a monthly soul & funk party with world-renowned DJs / record collectors. Your DJs will be Supreme Court (Sheer Magic, aka Soul Night @ Danny’s), Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Joe Bryl (Sonotheque), playing the best soul and funk records that you’re going to hear anywhere in Chicago. Bring your dancing shoes.

It’s at Sonotheque, 1444 Chicago Ave, starting at 10pm.

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Strange Claims, and Some Are True

It’s hard to be more publicly exposed than the Sasquatch hunters who held a press conference last week and said “that the carcass encased in a block of ice — handed over to them for an undisclosed sum by two men who claimed to have found it — was slowly thawed out, and discovered to be a rubber gorilla outfit”; the Guardian reports: “Porn claims outrage German Kafka scholars”; John McCain claims he doesn’t know how many houses he owns; Salon asks, “Does air conditioning make people vote Republican?”; presidents of some of the nations most prestigious colleges have banded together to lower the drinking age, claiming it will curb binging; and it’s no exaggeration that the fastest person on the planet has been found. Wait, Kafka and Sasquatch?

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Heavy Metal Alive and Well in England

Indie-rock magazines need help. Metal doesn’t. Explanation here.

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From Tanks to Tsk-Tsk

While the major world development is occurring not on the balance beams in Beijing but in the war zone of Georgia, even valid grievances here in the States seem like child’s play: The city of Los Angeles is staging a fast-food coup; Ben Stiller is getting picketed by disability advocates; and take cover — here come the Swift Boaters. Time to head for the hills…

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RIP Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes

It was a tough weekend for the soulful side of Middle America, as Chicagoan Bernie Mac (b. 1957) and Tennessean Isaac Hayes (b. 1942) both passed away in their native cities: Read about Mac in the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune, and Hayes in the Memphis Commercial Appeal (as well as in STOP SMILING) — but more importantly, view some vital video, like Mac in his debut appearance on Def Comedy Jam or Hayes’ spectacular entrance at the 1972 Wattstax festival in Los Angeles. Both will be sorely missed.

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The Origins of Humor

While American comedy at the moment may be fixated on the ever-ripening “manchild” scenario of terminally adolescent males scarfing down the breadcrumbs leading back to childhood (while somehow landing grownup goddesses in the process, as in “bro-mantic comedies“), a few examinations of what makes us laugh have retraced man’s steps all the way back to the cave: The oldest recorded joke — from 1900 BC — has been attributed to the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern Iraq (and yes, potty humor predates potties) while the findings in this review, published in the NY Review of Books, examines what made the Romans laugh, as well as Freud, Kant and even the chimps. And it turns out that “[c]himp laughter occurs also as they inhale. The difference may (or, of course, may not) be crucially significant.”

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Baseball Brawls and Pratfalls

Since the All Star break, MLB has gone unhinged: Last night the Milwaukee Brewers went a little Lord of the Flies in the dugout; Manny Ramirez did the California split, bashing Red Sox Nation in the process (and as Slate suggests, perhaps fairly); last week Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was suspended for one game for an outburst that led fans to throw hats and baseballs on the field, prompting White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to pull his team from the field; Ozzie made news of his own when he decided to drop the vanilla replies commonly delivered by most MLB managers and flat-out admitted that he had ordered his pitchers to intentionally hit opposing batters; and the reigning baseball crime of the year remains this incident in Dayton, Ohio, in which a baseball thrown into the stands by a player during a bench-clearing brawl led to a fan being rushed to the hospital. More than peanuts flying around the stands these days…

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