The Shallowness of “Mad Men”


HERE at CultureCrash, we are split on the advertising chronicle Mad Men. Mostly, I think the early seasons were among the best television ever, even if recent seasons have become mere Age of Aquarius soap operas. Our guest columnist Lawrence Christon has no love for the show, early or late. Here is his response to the program's farewell, and to its read of a complex era of American … [Read more...]

The Dangers of Classical Literature


Let me catch my breath a second and direct CultureCrash readers to my Salon piece on trigger warnings on university "trigger warnings," the poetry of Ovid, and my fears about Fox News. Of my recent Salon work, this seems like the one most relevant to ArtsJournal readers. Bottom line is, How do we regard the violence, rape, heartlessness and overall nastiness in Green, Roman and Old Testament … [Read more...]

When Humor Misfires: Warren Buffett Edition


Gang, I've been AWOL from the blog lately because of my new job at Salon and a trip last week to Toronto for Canadian Music Week, where I spoke on artists' rights. I expect to have some fresh, uh, content for CultureCrash one of these days. For now, here is new piece by our steady guest columnist, who like me writes about the places where culture, politics and money tangle together. … [Read more...]

What I Have in Common With Andrew Sullivan


OVER the last few years, as the traditional print media has fallen into a tailspin, a number of observers -- including very smart, canny ones -- have predicted that blogs would replace print as well as the more established websites. Andrew Sullivan, whose site The Dish was updated often and drew an enormous readership, was often mentioned as the model. In January, the indefatigable Sullivan … [Read more...]

“Sleeping Through a Revolution”: Technology and Culture


ONE of the clearest and most powerful descriptions I've seen about the place where technology, culture and economic forces meet is in a lecture USC's Jonathan Taplin gave not long ago. He's transposed the speech into a piece for Medium called "Sleeping Through a Revolution." Taplin is especially good on the big picture, and on the way Silicon Valley -- built largely through public funding -- … [Read more...]

Louis C.K. and the War Against Smugness


HOW do you respond when someone handsome and callow cuts you off? Our guest columnist Lawrence Christon goes on a tear here about how we've gone wrong. With no further ado. A FEW THINGS I WISH HE’D SAID By Lawrence Christon Though spoken in a TV show, it’s one of those crystalline moments, like “Rosebud,” or “I’ll have what she’s having,” that could go down in screen history as the … [Read more...]

The Craftsman: Musician Matt Keating


HERE at CultureCrash, we've been admirers of Matt Keating's music since we saw him play at a barbecue at South by Southwest in the '90s. I'm especially fond of his music from that period -- the Candy Valentine EP is an essential document that I don't think could be improved -- but he's been remarkably consistent in his pursuit of the perfect pop song. His twangy record from 2006, Summer Tonight, … [Read more...]

Poetry and Plutocracy


A NEW book of poems, Monetized, looks at our new Gilded Age, with its staggering extremes of wealth and poverty. The book is written by the New York journalist Alissa Quart, who has written three books, the most recent of which is Republic of Outsiders. The New Yorker's Joshua Rothman has a smart profile of Quart on the magazine's site today. What she's describing, she says, is not brand new, … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Billie Holiday


TODAY would be the 100th birthday of one of the greatest musicians in history. I've been watching this 1957 video of "Fine and Mellow" for more than 20 years now and continue to love it. There are so many great musicians on this track, but let me point out that Holiday's greatest-even musical partner Lester Young, plays tenor saxophone here. The melancholy and understated saxophonist may be … [Read more...]