Publications
Review: Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! by Douglas Coupland Print E-mail
Criticism

coupland(The Rumpus December 21, 2010)

How Badly We Need McLuhan: Now, More Than Ever

Recently, I chanced upon David Propson’s shoddy Wall Street Journal review of Douglas Coupland's new freewheeling critical/personal biography, Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! Coupland and McLuhan, though of successive generations, are blood brothers—both Canadians and both writers and artists of New Media. But that's about all Propson gets right. With that oily snark so prevalent in today's hit-and-run reviewer, he declares that McLuhan has exerted much influence over “certain adolescent minds.” But McLuhan (who is inarguably the father of Media Studies) did not influence adolescents—he redirected the media builders, those who took him quite seriously, to package electronic technology for the young because they adapt the quickest to changes in our communication systems.

Read more...
 
Review: Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes Print E-mail
Criticism

Barthes_-_A_Very_Short_Indroduction_pic0006(Contrary Magazine December 2010)

Alchemical Grief

There is something physiologically aglow about this tapestry of fragments—a fabric of feeling that Roland Barthes began weaving for his mother the day after she died, October 25, 1977. Mourning Diary, keenly translated by Richard Howard, is a set of two-hundred-plus intensities, each a sentence or two at most, written by Barthes over a two-year period following his mother’s demise. The compilation is Barthes’ last writing, and it is unclear whether this was an intentional book.

Barthes lived with his mother, in Paris and in Urt, his childhood home in Southern France, all his life. She adored him, supported his difference, his genius. He adored her, bringing her a rose—and himself one—whenever he could. Since her death has ripped away such affecttion, he quickly diagnoses his condition: “I’m not mourning,” he writes, “I’m suffering.”

Read more...
 
Music and War's Grief Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Platoon_village_scene(San Diego Union-Tribune, Veterans Day, November 11, 2010)

The degree to which we mourn our war dead as a nation is matched by the music for mourning our composers have given us. In America’s case, it’s virtually none. The reason our composers have been so stingy with writing elegies—contrast this with the Irish ballad or the fiddle dirge, keening traditions that go back 1,000 years—is that our culture has not demanded they write sad music.

We attend to public loss with private grief. We have a funeral, a memorial, a wake; we pay tribute, shed tears, tell stories and play a brief, favorite tune to remember the departed and to evoke a modicum of sorrow. We grieve not for the dead. We lament the individual who lost his or her life. If the remembrance has a religious bent, someone sings “Amazing Grace.” If it’s military, the tune is “Taps.” We watch the casket lower or the ashes scatter, and return to our separate lives, changed only in personal ways.

Read more...
 
Review: Green Fields: Crime, Punishment, and a Boyhood Between by Bob Cowser Jr. Print E-mail
Criticism

greenfieldscover(Contray Magazine Fall 2010)

In Murder-Crazy America

Be warned, the writer Bob Cowser Jr is a grappler. He clinches, bear hugs, throws down, and pins his subject to the mat before we know what’s happening. In previous books, Dream Season: A Professor Joins America’s Oldest Semi-Pro Football Team and Scorekeeping: Essays from Home, Cowser often corrals a foe, himself among them, belligerents with whom he grips tight and won’t let go.

Green Fields layers three such struggles: the murder of a child, the author’s link to the long-ago crime, and a polemic against the killer’s state-sponsored execution. Cowser tells the first of these with CSI-like precision: Eight-year-old Cary Ann Medlin is raped by twenty-three-year-old Robert Glen Coe, murdered, and left in a ditch beside Bean Switch Road outside of Greenfield, Tennessee, September 2, 1979. The author pushes us unsparingly into the senseless killing, the harried manhunt, the grisly find, the politically-tinged trial, the purgatory of appeals, a family begging for justice, and the unclean state execution with the pithy naturalism of a Dreiserian narrator.

Read more...
 
Hog Wild Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20100804(San Diego Reader August 4, 2010)

The only sign of life in Julian at 5:00 a.m. this April morning are men in white paper toques rolling out pie dough at the bright-lighted Julian Bakery. It’s a deep black morning when I meet Marc, a hunter who’s agreed to lead me by starlight to a semisecret spot, down several ravines in the Cleveland National Forest. There we’ll track and surprise and he’ll shoot, if he’s lucky, San Diego’s newest and most elusive game animal, the Russian boar.

Five miles southwest of town, driving into the headlighted darkness, we stop at an access point, a chain barring our entrance. Marc leaves his Dodge Durango running, and we talk in the red glow of his taillights. Of the few admonitions he offers up — the 40-year-old French-Canadian and 9-year Julian resident prefers I not use his last name — is this: “If you don’t mind, don’t say where we are. If we get a pig today, tomorrow there’ll be 50 people from PETA and 200 hunters converging on this spot.” Though I can’t see the playful tease in his eyes, I get the seriousness in his voice — some things are worth keeping secret. Especially to hard-core hunters.

Read more...
 
The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Graham_Jackson_Warm_Springs_FDR_DeathAdagio for Strings: Leonard Slatkin, BBC orchestra, September 15, 2001, perhaps its longest and most emotional performance ever.

The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," Pegasus Books. Hardcover, September 2010, paperback, March 2012.

A YouTube video of my one-hour "Saddest Music" multimedia presentation at Warwick's Bookstore, La Jolla, CA, Tuesday, November 30, 2010.

Read more...
 
Caitlin Rother: Crime Writer Print E-mail
Articles

caitlin(San Diego Magazine July 2010)

If you don’t know San Diego true-crime writer Caitlin Rother by name, you may recall the notorious subject of her 2005 book, Poisoned Love—the pretty, young toxicologist, Kristin Rossum, whose meth addiction drove her to sleep with her boss and poison her husband. To give his death the aura of suicide, Rossum sprinkled rose petals around his body. That book, a bestseller, launched Rother’s career. In five quick years, the former Union-Tribune reporter and Pulitzer-Prize nominee, has written “back-to-back-to-back books,” a string which, she says, in a break from editing her next grim tale, has been “exhausting.”

The fortyish author, attractively dapple in a black turtleneck and black leather jacket, seems anything but worn. At a Kensington coffeehouse, she opens up about a life she never expected would be this full. For Rother, the slog of producing a book a year—four nonfiction murder stories and a novel about “beautiful beauty [school] students” being killed in Pacific Beach—include researching, interviewing, and writing. And that’s just the half of it.

Read more...
 
<< Start < Prev 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Next > End >>

Page 16 of 40