Best of all, this GOP freshman congressman teed it up for her. Could Rick Berg be reading from the Party Programme?
This is an Infiltration.
God damn. Twisted Brill Building hits all my sweet spots these days.
Thanks to the Pentagon spokesman who recommended this to me while sending the implicit message that if I was ever cool, I am definitely not cool anymore.
Now that Playboy's check has cleared, been cashed, and financed my family's Thanksgiving trip to see my wife's mother in Michigan, I can probably say a few words about my first piece for Playboy. It seems not to be online yet, but if you happen to be interested in Miss December, flip to the very very back pages for something like 1700 words from me about how law enforcement is increasingly using spy drones.
The reporting, writing and editing experience was outright pleasant. My Playboy editor, Josh, was super-interested in the piece, and hit an editorial sweet spot: straightforward with top-level guidance for what beats the piece needed to hit, and happy to hang back and let me do the rest. (I also want to thank him and Playboy for being flexible about accomodating my wedding and honeymoon.)
But OK: it's weird for me to be writing for Playboy. I am, ah, not a consumer of its product. Among the questions I didn't want to ask: who's buying Playboy in an era of ubiquitous free pornography? I imagine that in the Internet age, people really are buying Playboy for the articles. And there are some great pieces of writing in the December issue: I recommend the making-of-Scarface feature. (There's also an interview with Andrew Breitbart, which I haven't read but gain quite a great deal of satisfaction from.) Maybe the merchandising and value of the brand itself helps floats the magazine. I don't know, but certainly enjoyed the surreal experience.
King Renly, seen for the first time with his queen, Margaery Tyrell.
And then, rising from the froth and foam and salt, the Priest of the Drowned God, Aeron Damphair, with his weak-willed nephew Theon Greyjoy.
My image of the Damphair involved a thin, haggard, intense religious fanatic who might be a zombie. But whatever. It might make more sense to have him be fat with the sea's bloat. More importantly, let us resolve never to be one of those lames who derides Game of Thrones for insufficient fidelity to A Song of Ice And Fire. ("... WHERE'S STANNIS' BEARD??????") This team presented a masterful (and surprisingly literal) translation of the first book. I will trust it with all seven, by The Seven.
I've read a lot of comic books in my life. Scalped is among the best.
Never actually read this one, even though I gather the debate these days is whether 100 Bullets, Criminal or Scalped is the best noir comic since Sin City. Last week I figured I'd finally take the plunge. Now I'm addicted.
I love 100 Bullets and Criminal. Scalped is so, so, so much better, and I'm only on the fifth collected book. It's the difference between The Wire and Homicide. And that's where Scalped's real peer group is: on TV.
So, really quick and spoiler-free: Scalped takes place on a South Dakota Indian reservation. This particular reservation is run by Lincoln Red Crow, a former AIM activist turned tribal chief. Once Red Crow was a thuggish revolutionary. Now he's a gangster dictator -- except he believes, deeply, that he does what he must in order to protect his Lakota tribe. One of his cops/enforcers is Dashiell Bad Horse, the estranged son of Red Crow's longtime rival Gina. Bad Horse is back on the rez out of the blue for the first time in 15 years, and he's got a secret. There's a murder mystery running at the heart of the entire story, and the cast of characters, from the marginals to the centrals to the marginal-turned-centrals, is sublime. Scalped does for the rez what The Wire did for urban America. (Can't really say "Baltimore" because the rez in question is fictional.) Creator Jason Aaron says the comic will end soon, at issue 60, on his terms.
At that point, some production team simply must turn Scalped into a TV show. HBO. AMC. Showtime. It doesn't matter. It's exceptionally rich, unbelievably dark, socially relevant, bleakly humorous and extraordinary. The Walking Dead -- which I also love, as a comic and a TV show -- is Law & Order. At the risk of repetition, Scalped is The Wire. (Yes, yes, Scalped and Walking Dead are two different genres, arbitrarily linked because they're both comics. But that's all producers care about anyway when they're pitching, so let's be results-oriented, yeah?)
I can confirm: Princeton University's Samuel W. Goldman is indeed the academy's premiere surreptitious punkademic. There is much more in Goldman's career that the Boston Globe did not identify, including time served in the divisive post-hardcore band Yakub; the successful orchestration of the 1998 New Jersey Hardcore Festival before he had graduated from high school; innumerable show promotions and fanzine publications/contributions; and the curation of similarly innumerable mixtapes with offerings delineated under "Side Mosh" and "Side Pit."
This, however, reminds me why I lacked the fortitude to follow my friend into academia:
The field of punk studies is currently enjoying an especially fertile moment. In the past two years, punk studies has generated books like “Visual Vitriol: The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk and Hardcore Generation” and “White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race,” and papers with titles like “The Jersey Punk Basement Scene: Exploring the Information Underground” and “Let the Shillelagh Fly: Dropkick Murphys and Irish Hybridity in Punk Rock.” The Harvard Film Archive recently screened a series of 10 films about American punk, including a punk rock zombie movie. Next month will see the publication of the first issue of Punk & Post-Punk, a new peer-reviewed journal devoted entirely to the subject of punk culture. Two other academic journals are putting together special issues on the role of gender and race in punk. And soon, a group of punk enthusiasts at New York University, including the curator of the premier punk archive in the United States, will put out a call for papers in anticipation of a planned academic conference marking punk’s 40th birthday.
Why is punk rock a worthy subject for academic study? Obviously punk and hardcore made me who I am today, so I would never deny its importance. But how does it enrich your life to enter graduate study to explore the stuff you already like and obsess about? Shouldn't you be engaged in pursuits of greater scholastic rigor or broader social relevance? How does studying punk rock broaden your horizons or enrich the rest of us? The academy is not your fanzine.
"You call me up/ and you talk about money," complains Ian MacKaye on Embrace's classic "Money." (It happens that Spotify has the Land of Greed World of Need cover album, so I'm rolling with Lifetime's version.)
Well, dude, OK. But what if your friend just lost his job or can't make his mortgage or can't get the loan he needs to put his kid through school? And he just needs an open ear to vent? I get that we shouldn't be so materialistic, but -- sorry for this -- if I ever THOUGHT a-BOUT it maybe sometimes it's not such an imposition to ask a friend to help talk you through your money troubles.
Very minor spoilers follow about Uncanny X-Men.
Remarking on the previous X-Men post, commenter Sean Anderson made the insightful point that under Cyclops' lead, Utopia is a pretty clear stand-in for Israel. Cyclops hasn't made up his mind about whether Utopia is the fulfillment of Mutant aspirations (an equal, independent state for Mutantkind, where Mutants are an unpersecuted majority) or a platform to fulfill those aspirations (an independent state that protects Mutant non-citizens worldwide). Gershom Gorenberg would understand.
The parallel has its limits. No Israeli leader has ever been as dictatorial as Cyclops. Utopia has no democratic structures. Its leadership organization is an outgrowth of the X-Men's chain of command. It's a military dictatorship. And also one that exists in the San Francisco Bay. It's fertile soil for cultivating narratives. Let's explore some.
1. Uncanny X-Men: The Anti-Extinction Agenda. In this arc, the announcement of the Extinction Team is watched warily by Mack Bratton, the liberal California State Treasurer who's mounting a flailing campaign for governor. Bratton is no opponent of Mutantkind. In fact, his Marin County community has welcomed Utopia. Now, however, Utopia has declared itself to have a superhuman deterrent, which seems uneasily like a veiled threat (and Marin homeowners don't exactly appreciate what that does to their property values, especially in this economy).
Bratton tells his staff he wants to do the right thing: "Have a frank discussion about what it means to have a potentially hostile independent nation of super-beings less than five miles away from San Francisco." It electrifies the media and the voters, as do all issues that lurk in plain sight, waiting for a political leader to address it.
Bratton skirts -- and exploits -- a delicate balance. His liberal base hears "frank discussion" as code for long-term coexistance with Utopia. Everyone else interprets it as code for confrontation with Utopia. (And even the liberals, without admitting it to themselves, feel reassured because of the implication.) His rivals try to "out-Mutie" Bratton by signaling their support for Mutant registration or calling in the military to raid Utopia. Bratton cleverly repudiates them -- while leaving his specific Mutant agenda frustratingly vague.
In 2005, my friends Matthew Yglesias and Sam Rosenfeld wrote one of the finest essays of the Bush era. "The Incompetence Dodge" was an indictment of so-called "liberal hawks" who laundered the sin of supporting the misguided Iraq war in the blood of the Bush administration's incompetent occupation. Those journalists and public intellectuals, Yglesias and Rosenfeld argued, needed to come to terms with the fact that they supported a terrible idea, not merely the terrible administration that executed it.
Something like the reverse is on display in Mutantkind.
Schism, the X-event that divided Wolverine from Cyclops and cleaved Mutantkind in half, was a really dumb idea. A Mutant retread of Marvel's 2006 Civil War, it seemed like a concession that the X-universe is out of ideas. Worse, Marvel cynically stopped and rebooted Uncanny X-Men, so the first issue of the rest of the X-Men's lives is... Uncanny #1. Gross. Meanwhile, Wolverine's new team of X-Men debuts in Wolverine & The X-Men #1, which is the comic-industry equivalent of search engine optimization. It's like Marvel decided it wouldn't be out-stupided by DC's "New 52"universe-wide reboot.
The first issues of Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & The X-Men are now out. And they're good. Very good. Nearly great. After the jump, only the most trivial of spoilers.
True fact: when Ben Miller drunkenly pitches you a pumpkin, you can wield Longclaw to cleave it in two. I have a video of this that I will post once Amanda Mattos gives it to me.
Jon motherfucking Snow, the greatest of all my Halloween costumes. Photo by Stacy Cline.
Now, a policy note I feel compelled to append. Longclaw isn't a samurai sword or anything. But it's 50 inches long and hefty. I split an airborne pumpkin in half with ease. The point is that my new sword can hurt someone.
All I needed to purchase it was a credit card. No background check, no nothing. I take a more sanguine view of personal arms control than many of my fellow liberals do. But it fells like something should have made sure I wasn't a psycho before I got delivery of my new sword.