Politics

The Power of Mournful Music in Tragic Times, From Jason Molina on 9/11 to Nina Simone on MLK

On 9/11, the late, great Jason Molina was supposed to be recording with Will Oldham and Alasdair Roberts at Oldham’s brother Paul’s Kentucky farmhouse. Instead, they spent all day watching the news, distraught, terrified, and lost. By night they put to tape some reckoning with what they had just seen. This song, posted online last week by Molina’s label Secretly Canadian with a brief introduction from Roberts, is titled simply: “September 11, 2001.” It is in many ways absolutely remarkable. Though oblique, Molina’s images cannot belong to any other moment. He describes the “pre-world dark,” conjures ash on “a weeping wind,” asks, repeatedly, about the “blue gospel flames.” At various points he exhorts the other players to “cast your offering,” Roberts scraping a bow against dulcimer strings, Oldham stumbling over piano chords. Even now it is frequently a painful listen. … Read More

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Essential Cuban Films You Should Know

This week, President Obama’s lift of the 54-year-long American trade embargo against Cuba — which would ease restrictions on travel and financial activities, normalizing relations with the country — was announced. But different generations of Cubans are processing different feelings about the historic move. The economic crisis in Cuba that resulted from the embargo, and the country’s war-torn history, has been the subject of many films. Throughout the history of Cuban cinema, filmmakers have explored sociopolitical issues and the country’s shifting identity. Here are a few films to put on your radar before exploring Cuban cinema for the first time. … Read More

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25 Great Books You Might Have Missed in 2014

The end of the year is approaching and you’re looking for a little extra present: a stocking stuffer? A Secret Santa gift? Or perhaps you just want to read off the beaten track? Regardless of your reason for book-consumption, here is a roundup some of our personal favorites, some titles that you might not find on the big end-of-year lists but which we think you should absolutely check out anyway — whether they’re from indie presses, or they cover taboo topics, or they’re a cookbook in a novel-saturated… Read More

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35 Susan Sontag Quotes on Art, Writing, and Life

Susan Sontag’s prose style captivated readers, and her assertive critical stance never failed to invite controversy. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the author’s passing, and the documentary Regarding Susan Sontag airs on HBO tonight. In honor of both occasions, we revisited her journals and books to find some of Sontag’s most thought-provoking quotes on everything from relationships and art to war and pop… Read More

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Progressive, Tea Party, or Anarchist: Whose Side Is Katniss Really On?

Since I began turning its pages, I assumed The Hunger Games was a rallying cry for like-minded progressives and radicals. This was thanks to its pretty upfront indictment of state-inflicted violence and, in particular, of hunger caused by gross economic inequality. Occupy Panem! I thought. Redistribute the wealth! … Read More

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The Dispute About the Ethics of Tipping Continues: Links You Need to See

The custom of tipping has been raging among food critics and the restaurant industry for at least a year now (with pieces at Esquire, The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal all weighing in on the debate). Adam Platt at Grubstreet is the latest writer to partake in the dispute in a long-ish piece titled “Is It Time to Topple Tipping? Adam Platt Tries (and Fails) to Go Gratuity-Free.… Read More

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19 Novels About Politics for Election Day (and the Revolution, Too)

Did Election Day bring out your inner pundit, organizer, or revolutionary — or depressed person who wants to escape reality via reading? If so, here’s a starter list of novels about politics that will feed the flames. We’re lucky so many of our greatest writers of the 20th century were disaffected… Read More

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Why We Should Applaud Ferguson Protesters for Interrupting Last Night’s NFL Game

Last night, St. Louis Rams fans were engrossed in the second half of their team’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, when a giant banner dropped over a scoreboard, reading: “Rams fans know on and off the field black lives matter.” This marked a new tactic amid the weeks and months of protests that have continued virtually uninterrupted since the death of unarmed teenager Mike Brown at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson, who still hasn’t been charged (a grand jury is hearing the case). … Read More

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10 Mind-Altering Philosophy Books from 2014

Philosophy books often don’t get their due. They’re usually long, often badly written, frequently pompous and annoying, and sometimes even poorly edited. But 2014 has been a hallmark year for works of philosophy that can genuinely impact your life (even in the immediate future) without becoming self-help nonsense. These books deal try to change what is possible in politics, sex, feminism, art, and more. … Read More

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