Tag Archives: popular culture

Denver Chalk Art Festival 2012: color, perspective, history, and coolness as far as the eye can see

I’m a sucker for chalk art, so I always look forward to the Denver Chalk Art Festival. I’m apparently not the only one, either, as the crowd shot below suggests. The crowds seem to be getting larger each year, too, and I suppose it’s easy to understand why. June in Denver, Larimer Square, fantastic artists – what’s not to love, right?

Continue reading Denver Chalk Art Festival 2012: color, perspective, history, and coolness as far as the eye can see

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Banished from the English language: “flip-flopper”

Every once in awhile a new term/catchphrase/buzzword/meme catches fire here in the US. Sometimes it’s a function of the fact that our incredibly plastic language, with its myriad dynamic influences (everything from media to subcultural to ethnic to technological) sort of inherently generates new words. Other times the term is a result of political or PR craftiness, as was the case with “Japan-bashing” (and subsequently, any more generalized iteration of “______-bashing”). The lobbyist who made the phrase up later famously said “Those people who use (the term) have the distinction of being my intellectual dupes.” Continue reading Banished from the English language: “flip-flopper”

More than marketing: The Blueflowers and the New Wave of Americana

I’ve never much cared for the musical genre broadly known as Americana, and lately I’ve been thinking about why this is. I suppose it’s acceptable to say hey, I’ve listened to a lot of these artists and most of them just kinda bore me, but that seems unsatisfactory for a guy who thinks about music like I do.

After some reflection, I think it comes down to a couple of issues. The first one, I admit right up front, is objectively unfair of me, but there is a part of me that associates Americana with the Baby Boomers, and in particular sees it as a late, faint attempt by the post-Reagan iteration of the cohort to recapture lost authenticity. Continue reading More than marketing: The Blueflowers and the New Wave of Americana

30-Day Song Challenge, day 14: a song that no one would expect me to love

As noted elsewhere, I’m something of a music freak. Thousands of CDs. And I write about it, occasionally with a degree of seriousness. Being a cultural studies scholar (yes, I’ve presented papers on popular music at actual academic conferences), I have to admit that I’ve never fully understood people who don’t care about music as a dynamic artistic force the way I do. I mean, to each his or her own, but I think all of us probably have some bit of personal geekdom that renders us incapable of truly empathizing with those who don’t get it. This is mine. Continue reading 30-Day Song Challenge, day 14: a song that no one would expect me to love

Decisions, MeloDramas and the C-word: the NBA and its WWE problem

The National Basketball Association has a World Wrestling Entertainment problem.

Actually, it has several problems, none of which look like they’re going to be easily solved. (And I’m not even talking about the officiating, although I have in the past and no doubt will again in the future). The collective bargaining agreement is up after this season, at which point The League is going to have to address declining revenues, player salaries, salary cap structures, the fact that the inmates are running the asylum and what to do about the fact that star players have no interest whatsoever in playing in the Outback (you know, Cleveland, Memphis, New Orleans, Toronto, Sacto, Charlotte, etc.) when their superstar friends are living most large in NYC, Boston, South Beach, Chicago and the part of LA associated with the Lakers. Continue reading Decisions, MeloDramas and the C-word: the NBA and its WWE problem

Time for America’s Freddie Mercury moment: there are more than 100 gay pro athletes in the US, and the sooner they get out of the equipment closet the better

In a recent discussion on one of my political lists Sara Robinson (easily one of the brightest folks in the blogosphere) made an important point about what often causes people to migrate from socially conservative perspectives to more progressive points of view. In describing her experiences with a particular activist group that helped people leaving fundamentalist religions (something that can be emotionally traumatic at the very least, and that frequently comes at a significant price in their lives – lost families, ostracization, etc.), she noted:

[T]he first sliver of doubt came about when the person’s authorities asked them to believe something that they simply could not reconcile with their own experience. In a plurality of cases, this dissonance was caused by knowing and caring for someone who was gay, and realizing that the conservative storyline on the inherent evil of homosexuality just didn’t line up with what they knew of this wonderful person. (If the religious right knew just how often this one issue triggered those first unignorable doubts, they’d walk away from gay-hating and never go back to it.) Continue reading Time for America’s Freddie Mercury moment: there are more than 100 gay pro athletes in the US, and the sooner they get out of the equipment closet the better

Just sing. The damned. Song. (Also, stop fucking with Shakespeare.)

The other night I’m settling back to watch the game and out comes Kelly Rowland to sing the national anthem. And to nobody’s surprise, we’re treated to … the obligatory butchering of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Such is the mode of pop music these days – it isn’t acceptable, where a G appears in the sheet music, to sing a G. No, no. Instead, the diva (and everybody is a diva these days) runs a G scale or two, performs a series of vox acrobatica in the general vicinity of G, then moves onto the next note, which also apparently needs a good bit of “interpreting.” Not “arranging” – some actual arranging wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. But arranging and freelance improvisational histrionics are not the same thing.

I guess it’s imperative, if one expects to be respected in the disposable world of pop music, that one must make the song one’s own. And as much as I hate to say it, I think we have to blame Hendrix. Continue reading Just sing. The damned. Song. (Also, stop fucking with Shakespeare.)

Amusing ourselves to death, circa 2010

This is the future – people, translated as data. – Bryce, Network 23

The future has always interested me, even when it scares me to death. I wrote a doctoral dissertation that spent a good deal of time examining our culture’s ideologies of technology and development, for instance (and built some discussion of William Gibson and cyberpunk into the mix). I once taught a two-semester sequence at the University of Colorado in Humanities and the Electronic Media, where I introduced the concept of the “Posthumanities” to my students. A few years back I talked about the future of retail and described the smartest shopping cart that ever lived. Continue reading Amusing ourselves to death, circa 2010

ArtSunday: Let the musicians die

Every once in awhile I come across unrelated stories that somehow associate themselves in my mind. Take these, for instance:

First, I hope you saw Lex’s tribute to Starchild (given name, Gary Shider), he of P-Funk fame. As Lex notes, Shider experienced problems where the cost of fighting the cancer that killed him was concerned.

Second, another American music icon, Alex Chilton, passed away earlier this year. Continue reading ArtSunday: Let the musicians die

Democracy & Elitism 3: burning down the straw man, and who are these out-of-touch “liberal elites,” anyway?

Let’s begin with a quick trivia question. What legislator’s Top 20 donor list includes the following?

We’ll have the answer for you at the bottom. Continue reading Democracy & Elitism 3: burning down the straw man, and who are these out-of-touch “liberal elites,” anyway?