On January 10th, 2013, conservative radio and former TV talk-show host Glenn Beck announced his intention to construct a place called “Independence, USA”, equal parts residential community, media center, and amusement park. Beck spent most of his show providing a tour of this space, complete with digital maps and his own unique brand of commentary. Independence, USA's goal, as Beck articulated, was to create a space which would instill his ideas about American values, and put those values into practice. Beck’s eclectic persona has always involved combining the highly moralized conservative discourses and symbols with broadcast entertainment. This segment was no exception, providing a whirlwind tour of this hypothetical place, which would simultaneously be a living community of houses and businesses, and a beacon to the rest of the world, to “show you the truth of the ideas and ideals that created this country.” What Beck articulated was a kind of American conservative utopia, and in that, he is not alone. Independence, USA is one of several recently proposed Utopian plans that are constructed based on conservative political principles.
When Elvis Died
Named after an essay by Lester Bangs, a rock journalist and one of the my favorite authors, this blog is my scratch pad for ideas, commentaries, and links.-RSS
Owen Jones' "Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class" has been making the rounds in my house. My wife bought it, and read it, and then passed it to me. It's a powerful book, breaking down stereotypes about poor and working people in England, and also contextualizing those stereotypes within the larger economic and political changes in Britain over the last 30 years. The term "Chav" is pretty derogatory in England. It's a term of dubious origin but which has come to mean the violent, disorderly, ignorant, and over-sexualized poor person continually on welfare. There isn't really a US equivalent--"Hick" or "Redneck" might be the closest thing, but neither of those terms have the same bite as "Chav". And yet, despite it's offensive connotations, it pops up a lot in public life over here. There are websites devoted to criticisms ...
Please note: The following is cross-posted with Then Dig, an archaeology group blog. It's part of a group of in which archaeologists write about their favorite tools. Thanks to Terry Brock for putting this "session" together.
Archaeologists love their trowels, but for my money, when I go into the field, the thing I want with me at all times is my clipboard.
Alanna and I recently got Kindle readers as a wedding present. Woo hoo! We both love them, and are enjoying them immensely.
However, I'm pretty rough and tumble with my gadgets, and I knew that I would need something to protect the kindle. There are some really nice cases available from Amazon, and elsewhere (I particularly like the oberon cases). But I'm pretty broke these days, and that, combined with some inspiration, led me to the idea of making my own kindle cover.
I've always loved comic books, ever since my folks bought me a multi-pack at Walmart in the late 1980s. Almost immediately, I found that comics became a means to relationships. Many of my longest friendships over the years were fortified by comic books. Chatting during my wedding reception, the Minister of Intrigue and I realized that comics were the thing that first got our now-19 year friendship going. Similarly, DHP and I have had many intense discussions over as many years about Sandman, Preacher, and more. Although comics have always had characteristics that attracted me--unique art, compelling storytelling, collectibility, etc...--what made them so important to me was the sense of community.
David Hajdu's new book "The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America " is about the community that first created comic books. It is also a story of how a combination of mob mentality, political opportunism, and junk science almost destroyed that community. As such, it ends up being kind of a tragedy, even as it glorifies human creativity and stands as a powerful polemic for free speech.
It's hard to overestimate the importance of Robert Johnson to the 20th century. Though he only made 42 recordings over the course of his short life, they have lived on, and inspired many, long after his violent death in 1938. His life has been mythologized to an extent that doesn't seem possible our modern, materialist age, where myth has supposedly disappeared in favor of reason. He supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talent. He was poisoned (possibly) by a jealous husband of a woman he was flirting with in a bar. He was only known to have been photographed twice as an adult, including the photo on the shirt. And his music, haunting and powerful, was long thought to have been played and recorded by two people, until contemporaries confirmed that he had done it all with his own two hands.
I've finally moved most of my crap back to Toronto, and am currently doing some spring/summer cleaning. I have a whole slew of posters that I've accumulated over many years, which have hung on walls of various bedrooms and apartments. I've just photographed them for sentiment, in a similar fashion to my t-shirts of the past, but I'm planning on getting rid of them, once and for all.
So here's your chance. Check out the Flickr Set that I've made of the posters. If you want any of them, send me an email (whenelvisdied at gmail dot com) or leave a comment on this post, and we'll work something out. I'm not looking to make any money, but I might ask you to shoot a few bucks into my paypal account to cover shipping and packing costs.
And tell your friends! These will be available on a first come-first serve basis, and I'll only be doing it for the next 10 days (until June 20th, 2010). After that, they're going to the recycle bin.
"Won't sleep, won't shut up"...words to live by.
I bought it on a Washington High School Orchestra Trip to Kansas City. We used to do these crazy trips with High School choirs, bands, and orchestras, where we would travel, and play some music, and then get set loose on wherever we ended up. On this particular occasion, we decided to visit scenic Kansas city. I'm pretty sure DHP was there, but I definitely remember Michael Busha, and Dylan McCort (Rest In Peace). We were wandering around some mall, and I found this shirt in a Spencer gifts-type shop. I was astonished, as I had just discovered Henry Rollins spoken word stuff, thanks to the Minister of Intrigue, I believe.
If anyone could be said to have been in the right place at the right time, it's Henry Rollins.
My dad grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. Sioux City is an interesting place, and it's a pleasure to listen to him talk about its folklore. He has a whole map in his head with all of the town's hidden mysteries, and I've been priveleged to take that tour more than once.
One of the points of reference in Sioux City is the Tastee Inn and Out.