Month: December 2017

Fake News, Lies, Worldviews and Liberal Smugness

A good friend of mine, Audie, is back home in Trump Country for the holidays. In this case, Trump Country is in southern Kentucky, about an hour from Nashville. He reports that all his buddies back home think that the Flynn Affair is all just Fake News. Audie used to be a tea partyer. In fact, that’s how I met him. We began with an argument on Twitter, but, instead of the usual name-calling and talking past each other, we had a real discussion within the limits of the old 140 character maximum. From that, when I moved to the US the following year, 2012, I got the idea to do a research project examining the far right of the US political spectrum and its view of US history, most notably the Revolution and Civil War. I was living just outside of Boston at the time and I was struck by how different the tea party’s view of the Revolution was from mine, as a professor of American history. In the process of the research, which I did via social media (primarily Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit), I got to meet some truly fascinating people. This includes birthers, un-Reconstructed Southerners, conspiracy theorists, libertarians who felt all tax was theft. I met a doctor-cum-businessman in Texas who claimed to understand both the Scriptures in Aramaic and Hebrew, as well as the...

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Kendrick Lamar Plays Us All

Years ago, I bought Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ album, Dig Lazarus Dig!!!  Because of the way iTunes downloaded the album to my MacBook and iPod, the tracks were reversed and I didn’t really notice.  Thus, for me, the album began with the epic ‘More News from Nowhere‘ and ended with the raucous title track.  It probably took me close to a year to realize that the song order was backwards and, really, I didn’t care.  I have since re-ordered the album in my iTunes and the tracks run the way they were supposed to.  But, for me, it doesn’t really sound right, though it is  more sensible to start with the raucous and end with the epic. Last week, Kendrick Lamar, the second coming of conscious hip hop (or Jesus, take your pick), re-released his most recent album, DAMN.  But, here’s the thing, this is the COLLECTORS EDITION.  So what did Lamar do to make this a collector’s edition? New tracks? Remixes?  Remixes AND new tracks?  Oh, hell no.  Lamar just re-ordered the album, from last to first.  And, the world has confirmed his brilliance. Now, DAMN was a mighty fine album.  And while I prefer the re-ordering of the tracks to play it back to first, all I can think is, really?!?  This is brilliance?  Lamar is playing us for fools. Source: Matthew...

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Scott Frank’s “Godless”

This article contains spoilers. Proceed at your own risk. The title of this series from Netflix might as well have been “Manless.” But I guess it’s all in the translation. Emily Wilson’s new Odyssey sounds as if Walt Whitman learned ancient Greek and had finally decided on a rhyme scheme. Scott Frank’s new Godless, a grimy, even filthy epic set in the metal mining towns of the 1880s, makes Deadwood—a disgusting place by any measure—look like the preferred destination of western civilization. All bets are off, and no rules apply, because the men have disappeared. The western genre, the filmic laboratory...

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DRIVING by Bird Williams

In this second installment of “Car Poems,” Bird Williams recalls a car that was her partner in quest and part of her journey to freedom. *** DRIVING By Bird Williams We rode those streets in search of something more than another night of six packs in my car. We rode those streets like we’d been there before. In a rusted-out Camaro bought cheap to restore we crossed the Georgia line in search of bars and rode those streets in search of something more than the endless TV gray inside the door of one more mill-town evening, too familiar to...

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The Legend of George Orwell

Some writers are known as much for their legends as for their writing. Think of Hemingway or Kerouac. George Orwell likewise has a place in popular myth, though as a more austere and moral hero, a prophet against communism in a clear English prose. You can see his gaunt, lined face on a t-shirt or coffee mug, and you will come upon his wax likeness at Madame Tussaud’s in London, sitting at a typewriter as a jack-booted policeman looms behind his right shoulder. Moreover, his name has morphed into an adjective, so we might call the cameras watching you...

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