Klein is the current master of political journalism (some would call muckraking) exposing the misery behind the logos on our foreign made clothes or tKlein is the current master of political journalism (some would call muckraking) exposing the misery behind the logos on our foreign made clothes or tracing the electroshock and bullet holes that we used to build this monolith of capitalism. Here she takes on the climate change and it is a book alternately filled with hope, exasperation and despair. She skewers all the false idols and hopes we could rely on to fight this oncoming threat like natural gas, population control, geoengineering , green billionaires and other false and foolish hopes. The idea that we can prevent the worst effects of this without fundamentally altering our entire way of life is an illusion and she makes this case thoroughly. I find her way to optimistic but hope she is right. We will look back at this book in the coming years with either praise or an infuriating frustration at what we could of done, how we could have ended up. I do wish a less divisive character had written this book as more people need to read it, but I can’t think of anyone better suited to the task.
Metal was one of my first musical loves. Or more specifically my brother’s Metallica tapes. Then I grew up in age of exciting popular metal watching g Metal was one of my first musical loves. Or more specifically my brother’s Metallica tapes. Then I grew up in age of exciting popular metal watching grunge wipe away hair metal(which I mostly hated…because well I had heard Metallica, except Van Halen…I loved Van Halen until David Lee Roth quit…oh and I guess Guns and Roses) and the bizarre era of Jane’s Addiction, Primus, Faith no More, Melvins,Helmet, NIN,Rage against the Machine, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains being popular bands. Then moving on to hear the classic rock and proto metal of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and of course the Stooges. This book traces the four decades of this misunderstood but always evolving genre of music. From its roots in English prog bands up until the today of Mastodon and their ilk moving through NWOBHM, hair, thrash, death, black, nu and metalcore. It’s a bit gossipy and definitely takes the behind the music approach and anyone trying to dissuade people that metal is filled with drugs, misogyny, and violence will not be able to use this book as evidence. It was entertaining and trashy throughout even when it was covering bands I couldn’t stand (most of nu metal and metalcore). There is some important bands I think they missed covering like grunge (arguably covered thoroughly elsewhere, they only touched on Alice in Chains the most metal of the big four, but grunge adjacent bands Melvins and Earth are very important metal bands, as is Soundgarden arguably), most doom was ignored (except its roots in St Vitus and Black Sabbath, but nothing on Cathedral!), in metalcore they ignored the Boston big three of Isis, Cave in and Converge(one quote from them), the more alt of the alt metal was ignored (Jane’s addiction, Helmet and Primus), the Swedish bands Opeth, Meshuggah and Cult of Luna, and nothing on Neurosis a very influential band. Other modern bands they missed are Sleep, Karp/Big Business, Sunn0)))/Goatsnake/Burning Witch/Khanate,Boris, Dillinger Escape Plan, the Locust, Botch,Wolves in the Throneroom,and of course I would include indie rock bands that I see influencing metal like Dazzling Killmen and Don Caballero. Volume two would be a way to solve these problems, I would definitely read it. ...more
Vlautin’s work I picked up kind of at random and have never stopped reading. It belongs to a tradition I respect but usually avoid, an American realisVlautin’s work I picked up kind of at random and have never stopped reading. It belongs to a tradition I respect but usually avoid, an American realism with clear headed sadness giving portraits of small, undramatic lives overcome by debt, family, their own vices, and the general messiness of life. It is not like I try to avoid glaring light of reality, I just usually prefer a more baroque setting for such concerns, but Vlautin’s writing is a beautiful and peaceful as the wind through the leaves on a tree. These lives in Leguin’s “City of ruin”(from the back blurb) had me at every moment of their stories. Vlautin knows the forgotten like no one else. He is our Carver and Steinbeck. ...more
David Mitchell seems to be moving back to the mosaic narrative of his earliest book after a more straight forward historical novel (including referencDavid Mitchell seems to be moving back to the mosaic narrative of his earliest book after a more straight forward historical novel (including references that make it seem like all his books are part of the same reality), or maybe he is trying to write his version of the TV show Lost (everything connected, battling immortals, all the characters making cameos in the narrative of others), or maybe writing a literary fantasy in the vein of Tim Powers and Neil Gaiman (before he was kidnapped by the internet). Or to quote the man himself (via an author character describing his book), “…think Solaris meets Noam Chomsky via the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. Add a dash of Twin Peaks.” There are bits of all of this going on here, and he mostly pulls it off. His prose has been overly fussy and distracting and turned me off on occasion, but here it is very clear headed and readable. The book suffers somewhat when the messiness of the characters’ lives interact with the supernatural subplot, I sometimes found myself impatient to return to the more realistic parts. The least essential part is the long part most focused on this psychic war subplot. The best parts are the extended riff on Martin Amis in the author character’s narrative and the apocalyptic ending filled with sadness but also lingering bits of hope and humanity. All the more disturbing for being so believable....more
The follow up to Nixonland bring us from the excitement, the motion, the carnival, and the conflict of the Sixties to the quagmire and culture wars ofThe follow up to Nixonland bring us from the excitement, the motion, the carnival, and the conflict of the Sixties to the quagmire and culture wars of the seventies. A morass that we have yet to crawl out of. This book feels very now, the silly divide and conquer conflict of culture wars, solipsism, spiritual longing crumbling infrastructure, apocalyptic rumblings, news as a source of panic more than information, and the political parties fighting a civil war for their identity. Covering Watergate, the rise of Reagan and Carter, the floundering of Ford, the end of Vietnam, and the Patty Hearst kidnapping, Perlstein continues to make history as addictive and arguably as exploitative as a novel. Essential and compulsive reading. ...more
I dedicate this review to 70,000 missing migrants, to the 100,000 dead from the Mexican drug war and the 8 out 10 migrant women who are raped as they I dedicate this review to 70,000 missing migrants, to the 100,000 dead from the Mexican drug war and the 8 out 10 migrant women who are raped as they travel el norte. It is a small witnessing, but I do it for you. As the lights flicker a little bit in the American empire, we see the cracks in facade, but we must remember that we still cast a very large shadow, and we must remember those in the shadows. There isn’t a more forgotten or scorned people on this continent than the central American migrant, and Oscar Martinez gives us a tour of their world. This tour is the tour of hell. The horrible fates along this trail rival Dante and the violence seems pulled from the pages of Cormac McCarthy novel, but this is reporting, and Martinez reports it with compassion and humanity. This hell is ruled by the indifferent and at times hostile gods of the U.S. and Mexican governments and populated by more active demons like MS13 and Los Zetas, and “The beast”( a vicious almost legendary train that migrants need to hop). We start south in the violence wracked and collapsing countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. We learn the stories of those who travel north, many not just seeking a better wage, but actually fleeing for their lives. Then we travel through the desolate regions of Chiapas where the migrants are prey to bandits. Then to the ‘the beast”, descriptions of travels on the train are unreal. Bandits jumping on or being attacked with convoys of trucks, people trying to jump on and not get mutilated or killed, and once there on having to cling to the train for dear life while fighting off sleep. Then to the ghost towns and desolate regions of the border or “wall”, the deadly Rio Grande and deserts, and the hell of Ciudad Juarez. There the migrants are caught between the border patrol, the narcos, and their own coyotes. Martinez is in the Ciudad Juarez during the height of the drug war and his reporting is frightening, a city of pure fear and violence, a near civil war. He rides with the border patrol, the migrants, and those who few who try to help them without financial motivation, and those who prey on the migrants. He lets all of these voices speak. He is reporter and provides no real solutions to the disasters he witnesses, but we owe these who are among the most forgotten people in the Americas at least to hear their stories. Martinez tells it so well if you can stomach the subject matter it is a joy to read, and you will not forget it.
Spanking the donkey this earlier work covering the 2004 election is his busiest writing, filled with skits, jokes and lots of gonzo antics like drug tSpanking the donkey this earlier work covering the 2004 election is his busiest writing, filled with skits, jokes and lots of gonzo antics like drug taking and wearing silly outfits. Its thesis that Taibbi delivers in more nuanced fashion in later books is of the presidential election as an elaborate version of the third world military parade. He heaps endless scorn on all the candidates and both parties, and the reporters who give it such an air of importance. The only politicos he retains any love for are Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders, which seems about right. This book is cynical and disgusted, but in the end who is more cynical, the pageantry or the one who exposes it. ...more
Episodes or dispatches from the disasters of Bush’s second term. Taibbi retains interest whether reporting on the corrupt do nothing congress, or wherEpisodes or dispatches from the disasters of Bush’s second term. Taibbi retains interest whether reporting on the corrupt do nothing congress, or where the thin veneer of civilization is wiped away to reveal the uncaring face of reality. For these later parts his trip into post-Katrina New Orleans with Sean Penn is piece of reporting worthy of Heller or Thompson, a piece of apocalyptic comedy equal parts satire and deadly serious, and three surreal days in Abu Ghraib. ...more
The Derangement is about the loss of a collective public narrative during the Bush era. People on the right and left started to use his wonderful termThe Derangement is about the loss of a collective public narrative during the Bush era. People on the right and left started to use his wonderful term “reality shopping” to find their own narrative. He explores and infiltrates Pastor Hagee’s megachurch and the 9/11 truth movement. He finds an America disenchanted with its political options, seeking easy superhero narratives (the Matrix and V for vendetta being common touchstones), and mostly very lonely. I found this book deeply sad, the optimism of the conspiracy theorist (even though they think they are facing a truly evil and murderous foe) versus the cynicism, disinterest and shabbiness of reality is deeply depressing. Taibbi finds humanity in both of these camps and avoids easy humor, even though he exposes some troubling beliefs and subtexts in the current era of popular movements....more
The Divide is the most current and the most important as it shows, to crudely paraphrase Taibbi’s thesis, the move of America towards a dystopia. An oThe Divide is the most current and the most important as it shows, to crudely paraphrase Taibbi’s thesis, the move of America towards a dystopia. An oligarchy that is criminalizing being poor by intertwining the social safety net with law enforcement and refusal to prosecute financial crimes criminally (only seeking fines). Taibbi gives us a tour of the bureaucracy of welfare, stop and frisk, immigration laws of Georgia, and other stops. He uses situations that seem worthy of the fiction of Heller and Kafka, bureaucracy gone amuck, serving only its illogical needs. Then he counters this with the inadequate prosecuting of financial crimes. HSBC bank can launder $100 million for the mass murders in the Sinaloa cartel without a single person going to jail but a homeless man caught with a single joint gets to serve 40 days in jail. Case by case Taibbi goes through this surreal tilting of justice....more
Griftopia is Taibbi’s sour take on the financial crisis and its aftermath. He reviews what he calls the “grifter era” where everyone in government andGriftopia is Taibbi’s sour take on the financial crisis and its aftermath. He reviews what he calls the “grifter era” where everyone in government and business has moved towards seeking a fast buck instead of long term planning. Pennsylvania attempts to sell its turnpike, and Chicago does sell its parking meters to fill a one year budget gap(for a 75 year lease) This resembles the sacking of a crumbling empire rather than a plan for continued business. He treats the bailouts, the Tea Party, Affordable Care Act(which has done nothing to break up the insurance cartels and is many ways a gift to them) with scorn, disgust and also compassion. The consensus between the two parties to back up business at every turn while keeping people squabbling over social issues is creating a culture of cynicism and corruption truly alienated from democratic impulse. ...more
The Henry Brothers have done the world a favor with this beautiful book. It is a work of history, sociology, a critic of pop culture, and a prose poemThe Henry Brothers have done the world a favor with this beautiful book. It is a work of history, sociology, a critic of pop culture, and a prose poem, and it is very readable with poetic moments. It is unsentimental about its subject, the brothers are unapologetic though in their defense of Pryor’s genius though. They are equally unapologetic about Pryor’s dark side, his damaged psyche, abuses of woman and drugs. This book enters some almost terrifying moments, but it never feels exploitative, just the bitter truth. Paul Mooney as usual almost steals the show. The book in the end is a celebration of an American genius and his brief fulfilling of his promise and his long decline and neglect of his vibrant and important voice. He spoke a truth and then silenced himself with money and terrible movies. This celebrates that short moment when Pryor showed us something about our country, the people he worked with and knew (and abused), and the world that created him. This book is must for fans of Pryor, standup comedy, pop and social culture of the 60’s and 70’s, and historians of those turbulent decades. It also stands as terrific literary artifact worthy of its subject.
Hell’s memoir is kind of the antithesis of Patti Smith’s Two Kids. It is nastier, bitterer, and full of unresolved anger, theories on art and music, aHell’s memoir is kind of the antithesis of Patti Smith’s Two Kids. It is nastier, bitterer, and full of unresolved anger, theories on art and music, and failures. Maybe it was because Hell was a junkie during his music years, or maybe it is because Smith is more of a romantic. I also feel that Hell’s book is more honest if a bit less enjoyable because of that. He was nasty dude and this is a fairly nasty book. Read both memoirs and compare (Get Please Kill me to while you’re at it)....more