This Week You Will Examine:
- an historian
- an activist
- a celebrity couple
- local music
- heart attacks!
Gaze upon CM Crockford, clytie and Miller, our wonderful contributors this week. Send articles to ploughmanplods [at] gmail throughout the next week, post articles from the past week below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
Max Read eulogizes Solute Book Club author Mike Davis and offers a collection of links to essay and reviews by and about him:
This newsletter is, ostensibly, “about the future,” and an irascible Marxist historian might seem like a sort of odd fit. But in some sense Davis’s interest in history worked in two directions, both toward the past and toward the future. He wasn’t a writer of science fiction, and I’m not going to try something cute here and claim he “actually” was, but one of his great gifts was his ability to see the future in the present — in Los Angeles, in Manila, in Dubai. You could write a whole cyberpunk universe just off of a chapter or two in a Mike Davis book. Or you could wait 10 years and experience it yourself.
After a Native writer wrote about claims that Sacheen Littlefeather had made up her Native ancestry and was met with backlash, Laura Clark writes for Variety about the complications of the issue:
Native identity should be simple. Either you are or you aren’t, right? And for some people, it is. But even as someone who has so-called “proof” (tribal identity cards, a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood), it hasn’t been simple for me. Yes, I grew up in Oklahoma, where my tribes are based, but I lived in cities — not in small rez towns a la “Reservation Dogs.” I only know a few words of my tribal languages, and I’m not what you would call “tradish.” “Am I Native enough?” is a question that has haunted me for most of my life — or at least my life after I told my mom as a child, much to both of my parents’ horror, that I didn’t want to be Indian. I just wanted to fit in.
At Vulture Angelica Jade Bastién contextualizes the Brangelina phenomenon, what we thought we knew then and what we think we know now:
What’s most compelling is how they elevated each other in the public eye. In many ways, they each offered the other a different kind of legitimacy and power. For him, it was the legitimacy of high-minded activism, the idea that he was deeper than his screen image, who chomped on food with gusto and had a light, almost breezy touch. For her, it’s less straightforward: The relationship reaffirmed that Jolie’s stardom was born of a private life made public. Pitt was a magnet for the ravenous press, and she gained a level of visibility she hadn’t quite inhabited before. But it also bolstered her as an artist, a reciprocal dynamic that would persist throughout their relationship. He became a producer-kingmaker who worked with modern auteurs; she started her career as a director. Together, they vaulted into an artistic, charitable second chapter.
At Decider, Bill Ryan surveys heart attacks in movies after suffering one himself:
For me, though, the peak of Heart Attack Cinema is near the end of the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski. […] when The Dude (Jeff Bridges) and Walter (John Goodman) realize that Donny has collapsed in the bowling alley parking lot, Donny’s physical state now reminds me, quite uncomfortably, of my own. Buscemi’s arms are curled above his chest, his face a mask of pain, as if somebody was, well, slowly stabbing him in the heart. His breath is ragged, he can’t move. He’s frightened. His friends tell him to hang on, they’re calling an ambulance, but Donny simply can’t. His heart can’t. The strength of whatever is causing Donny’s body to rebel like this has quietly been building and growing, and now looms above and within him, unbeatable. Unstoppable. So that’s it for Donny.
A spooky YA book recommendation from Rich Juzwiak of Jezebel – The Witches of Worm:
Perhaps the book is psychological to a fault—it never saw a film or television adaptation and seems to have been largely forgotten despite getting very good reviews in the New York Times and Kirkus, as well as Newbery Honor recognition (that means essentially it made the shortlist for the yearly Newbery Medal award for children’s literature). It reportedly has been banned “often” for its subject matter’s adjacency to witchcraft (and probably because the word “witches” is in the title). But The Witches of Worm’s rather careful examination of Jessica’s interior world is uncommonly sensitive and precise for a character who does shitty things to other people on the regular, while conjuring the possibilities of supernatural activity afoot. The book’s ethos seems aligned with another of Mrs. Fortune’s pearls of wisdom: “Belief in mysteries—all manner of mysteries—is the only lasting luxury in life.”
Performer and booker D-Tension goes after a music scene destroying its roots by refusing to build local talent in Dig Boston:
I don’t hear ‘no local support’ strictly because of me. I hear it because of them, aka the big-time music business overlords. It’s not because of record labels, talent buyers, promoters, bands, or booking agents. The problem is record labels, talent buyers, promoters, bands and booking agents. They’re all guilty, and they’re all faking the ‘we support local music’ funk. Local support benefits everyone. The opening act gets a real opportunity, the headliner gets a warmed-up crowd, the crowd sees a new band, the band gets new fans, the venue gets a longer show with happy beer-buying patrons, everyone sells more merch, and everyone can claim that they support local music. Those were the days. Decades of days. It’s over.
And at The Creative Independent, Bud Smith talks about the importance of doing your own work and reaching out to others doing the same:
Another thing I tell people is to just to read lit journals and websites of whoever is doing underground writing these days. Read bestsellers, and classics, but it’s vital to read books from small presses. When I read something I legitimately like, from an author, especially an underground writer, I reach out to them and let them know. It isn’t just like, “Here’s a chance to network so I can gain their favor.” It’s a way to find the most interesting living artists working today and be in communication with them the way I wish I could talk to Tolstoy, because, listen, some underground artists are operating at that level of genius, but the dead are dead and we need to seek out our living geniuses, and at the very least say hello.