I was lucky enough to know Elliott Smith a little. We both lived in LA for a while and spent many nights at the oldLargo nightclub in Hollywood. At the very end of the ’90s, Largo’s owner, Mark Flanagan, asked me to participate in a charity song swap to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research
The cult movie The Room is a stew of non sequiturs, B-roll footage of San Francisco locations that bear no relation to any story, phrases from some misbegotten ESL phrase book, soft-core interludes, and a heroine who travels between femme and fatale with dizzying speed. Now, actor Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell have provided us with an account of the The Room's making, and a portrait of its erratic, obsessive director, Tommy Wiseau.
In the '60s and '70s, the Stax Records was at the forefront of the "soul explosion"—the musical arms race that drove black American pop forward from the dawn of Motown to the rise of disco. Robert Gordon traces the Memphis label's evolution as an organization, touches on how its success affected the civil rights movement, and chronicles the corruption that caused Stax to fall apart.
To speak is to know that language is amoral—equally congenial to truth and falsehood, clarity and circumlocution. And therein lies the impetus not only for everyday mendacity but also for artful systems of linguistic subterfuge. As Daniel Heller-Roazen observes, human beings seem to have an innate
Going off the grid has always been an American aspiration. From the Quakers who fled English persecution, to David Koresh, who vainly hoped to build his own world in Waco, Texas, to that earlier generation of Texans who with the help of the US Army tore themselves away from the feeble Mexican grid,
The more nonfiction you read, and from further back in time, the harder it gets to pronounce the word "new" in New Journalism with a straight face. I'm thinking partly here of pieces like Ned Ward's "Trip to Jamaica," 1698—Edward Ward, seminal Grub Street hack, writing sarcastically and in a detail-studded first-person prose, a reportorial style that pointed forward to Defoe while listening to Bunyan, about an actual trip he'd made to Jamaica with other prospective settlers. Sixteen ninety-eight—that's early.
In Just Kids Patti Smith explains how, in the late 1960s, she and Robert Mapplethorpe met in New York, where they were both determined to become artists (were pretty convinced, actually, that they already were artists) even though they hadn’t a clue about what kind of art they might create. Mike
“The gates of hell aren’t somewhere far beneath us. They’re right here on earth.” This is the uncompromising perspective of Ma Jian’s hallucinatory new novel, The Dark Road the bleak tone will come as no surprise to those familiar with his earlier work. The word rebel is bandied around fairly
A colonel in Napoleon’s army is severely wounded during a daring act of valor at the Battle of Eylau, then trampled by cavalry seeking to rescue him. Given up for dead, the “old greatcoat” is tossed in a mass grave. Many years later, having clawed his way out of the earth and been nursed back
When the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act this past February, pundits and reporters used an all-but-obligatory set of phrases to describe the legislation. They characterized the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a “landmark” and