Cultural Affairs

Twain -- Concerning Tobacco

12.12.2004 | Trad Anon | Cultural Affairs, Partisan Reader | 2 Comments
Children of twenty-five, who have seven years experience, try to tell me what is a good cigar and what isn't. Me, who never learned to smoke, but always smoked; me, who came into the world asking for a light.

Our Man on Achewood

12.8.2004 | Sam Munson | Cultural Affairs | 50 Comments
But perhaps the anarchic, gentle absurdity that is Achewood's stock-in-trade only works if there is a repeated, familiar element that anchors it, that prevents it from becoming a (boring, saccharine, creepy) daydream.

Who's Afraid of the Big Black Man?

11.10.2004 | Harry Siegel | Cultural Affairs | 4 Comments
All these Crouches—the iconoclast and the blowhard, the visionary and the hack—are on display in The Artificial White Man, a series of essays on books and films loosely grouped around the idea of cultural miscegenation as the catalyst of the American experiment.

Porn, Grand Theft Auto & The Reptilian Brain

11.4.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Cultural Affairs | 5 Comments
Will ours be a century of prosperity and longevity -- yet one where all but a few Americans aspire to lives of empty and amoral sensation?

Is Topless the New Black?

10.7.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Cultural Affairs | 4 Comments
We've moved past hemlines this year. Now it's about bare breasts, most of which appear to be manufactured in the United States. Perhaps we should find this heartening at a time when less and less is being manufactured here.

The Grey Book

09.13.2004 | Harry Siegel | Cultural Affairs | 12 Comments
Read no further ‘till you take the pledge: “I pledge allegiance to no authority beyond my individualism. I have taken the burden of the masses upon my shoulders and will suffer and die if necessary in bringing the greatest amount of good to the greatest number… . I declare myself a member of The Organization and a sister/brother to the Resistance.”

Dr. Dichter -- With a Cigarette I Am Not Alone

09.5.2004 | Trad Anon | Cultural Affairs, Partisan Reader, Science | 5 Comments
A not too modest glamor girl revealed to us some of her "smoking secrets": "I think it looks so much better to smoke with a holder. Don't you think I'm somewhat of a Latin type? I always have holders that are long and dark. I think a long holder is like a big hat: it's alluring and 'don't dare come close' at the same time."

Movement v. System

09.3.2004 | Harry Siegel | Cultural Affairs | 4 Comments

At the march, I asked a fellow in a hammer and sickle shirt if he was a Communist. He told me he just thought “it was a cool shirt.” I suggested a swastika belt buckle might complete the look, but he didn’t seem to get it. Maybe he thought they’d clash. There were, though, numerous swastikas on signs and shirts comparing Bush to Hitler.

The Rental Marriage

08.30.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Cultural Affairs | 3 Comments
More and more people are getting married and even having children with no real intention of staying with the person with whom they've wed and started a family.

Merits of the Middlebrow

08.4.2004 | Robert Latona | Cultural Affairs, NP | 2 Comments
Most amazing of all was the underlying assumption that there really were readers out there who knew the basics about, say, the Opium War or Baroque chamber music, and wanted to be taken some distance beyond them, without being snowed under with technicalities and academic game playing.

Our Man Remembers Ambrose Bierce

07.31.2004 | David Walley | Cultural Affairs | 2 Comments
Legend has it that Pancho Villa, fed up with Bierce's wisecracks and dour company, put him against a wall and shot him.

Why Is an Entourage Better Than a Pet?

07.26.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Cultural Affairs | 2 Comments
Think of Rae Carruth, formerly of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, and Jerrod Mustaf, formerly of the NBA's Phoenix Suns. Both men called on posse members to murder the respective stars' pregnant girlfriends.

Edward Driscoll on the Duality of American Aesthetics

07.4.2004 | Edward Driscoll | Cultural Affairs | 5 Comments
A visitor from space would likely be confused by America's aesthetics: its things frequently look wonderful. Its people, despite having a combined net worth that's never been higher, frequently look like hell.

Slamburger From Four Sacred Cows 

07.1.2004 | David L. Steinhardt | Cultural Affairs | 5 Comments
Tom Robbins, who makes a good living celebrating imaginary free-spirited women, attacks Joyce Maynard, though not by name, in a new anthology of writings on Salinger for "gaining [his] trust and betraying" him.

Smoking Laws, Digital Brownshirts, & More

06.30.2004 | Russ Smith | Cultural Affairs | 1 Comment
Gore, never keen on irony, didn't consider that if his suggestion that 21st century Nazis controlled the White House (including John Ashcroft Goebbels, per the Times' Frank Rich) was true, he'd now be growling at John Edwards in an Alaskan concentration camp.

Decay, Decadence and Industrial Sex

06.26.2004 | David Walley | Cultural Affairs | 1 Comment
Think of all those writers, layout people, printers, photo retouchers, news agents, distributors, perverts, and voyeurs who would have to be laid off if people got back into straight sex without the commentary. Federal disaster monies would have to be allocated.

Arms for the Men

06.19.2004 | David Walley | Cultural Affairs | 2 Comments
Unfortunately though, Americans are so product-oriented that they think that love can be standardized like a Big Mac, that each consumer ought to be protected by the OPA (Orgasmic Protection Agency). Cumming has joined the industrial age and has become a consumption measurement like miles per gallon.

Evanston Follies

06.5.2004 | Tim Marchman | Cultural Affairs | 4 Comments
The highlight of the June 1 event was a shrieking performance by W.J.T. Mitchell, a professor at the University of Chicago and editor of Critical Inquiry, a quarterly journal of pretentiousness. Looking as if he'd staggered all the way up to Evanston from a Hyde Park soup kitchen, Mitchell offered a slideshow of photographs which, he claimed with a knowing leer, "were taken by contractors. These show what's really been going on in Iraqi prisons."

Tim Marchman on David Brooks

06.2.2004 | Tim Marchman | Cultural Affairs | 5 Comments
Alone among Americans who don't work as real-estate developers, David Brooks appears to regard the transformation of America into a replica of the end reaches of Erie, Pa., as the spiritual destiny of man. His reasons are obscure.

Picasso: Master of The Nouveaux Riche

05.24.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Cultural Affairs | 4 Comments
Ask yourself: is a Picasso in someone's home anything but a sign that the owner wants to impress? Does it suggest any actual interest in art? It is a brand name, much akin to wearing a Rolex, albeit far pricier.