Category Archives: Popular Culture

Jonathan Rhys Myers as Brian Slade in Velvet Goldmine

WannaBowies: The Top Twenty Bastards of Bowie

  When David Bowie tiptoes back into the public sphere, we celebrate; we talk about him, seek out his work, and reappraise his massive influence. His upcoming re-entry is super secret musical Lazarus, a new version of The Man Who … Continue reading




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Are You Beach Body Ready?

This summer, Protein World asked women if their bodies were ready for the beach. Chloe Pantazi responds with an essay about the world of advertising, body-shaming, and wearing bikinis. Continue reading




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Hasten Down the Wind: Adventures in Babysitting, 1977

What to do when you’re 12 and a mysterious, beautiful, troubled woman moves in next door with her four-year-old? You babysit, of course! RBW offers some more summertime musical memoir. Continue reading




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Why Trigger Warnings are Futile and Infantilizing

Designed to protect the traumatized from further trauma, trigger warnings fail in their mission because they place the burden of maintaining our equilibrium on others, as if they could ever truly protect us from additional psychic harm. Continue reading




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Love & Mercy and the Saving of Brian Wilson

Beach Boy Brian Wilson, musical genius and cultural icon, should have died, but did not. Someone saved him. Who, exactly, did the saving is up for debate. In any case, hot new biopic Love & Mercy, fleshes out the less-familiar trope of “saving the artist,” and our own Robert Burke Warren digs that. Continue reading




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THE MARTYR WITH A THOUSAND FACES

Sometimes, the actors are so distractingly famous that latex appliances are required to aid in the suspension of disbelief. Nicole Kidman glues on a prosthetic nose, fills her pockets with rocks, walks into a pond . . . and Oscar history. Continue reading




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Song Beneath the Song: Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue”

Bod Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue,” from his 1975 classic Blood On the Tracks, is unfinished. Always has been, always will be. Its incompleteness, however, is part of its power. It is no accident. Dylan engineered “Tangled Up In Blue” to be open-ended, unsealed, and shape-shifting, not unlike a jazz composition. He tinkers with it, sometimes radically reinventing it, both lyrically and melodically, to this day, making it one of the most resilient, resonant unfinished songs ever. Our own Robert Burke Warren gets deep into this distinctive, odd nugget from the Dylan canon. Continue reading




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Dead Finks and Warm Jets: Evolved Enough for Eno

Even if you don’t know Brian Eno’s music, you’ve still heard him, in groundbreaking clients Talking Heads, Bowie, U2, and Coldplay, not to mention the 3.5 second chime that heralds the opening of every Microsoft Windows 95 program. (Written by Eno on a Mac.) How did Eno grab the attention of the iconic before they were icons? Guest Weekling Mark Donato answers that question by taking you back to Eno’s fabulous, way-ahead-of-its-time solo work, songs that now sound like blueprints for so much quality late 20th/early 21st century pop. Because they are. Continue reading




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A Song Shall Lead (and Annoy) Them: “Let It Go” from Frozen

“Let It Go” crystallizes something intense and very real but otherwise formless, and little kids, who, bless them, do not know from “cool,” love it more than any other song, ever. Even boys. For the first time in history, boys do not categorically run from a Disney princess. They are drawn to Elsa. I am fortunate to bear witness to all of this, and so are you. At the risk of overstating it, it feels historic. Continue reading




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