From the sedulous to the surreal in cultural context

BEST OF 2014

best-year-sticker

 

 

 

In its first year, MoS explored everything from the art of espionage to the golden anniversary of Freedom Summer to the memorial for John Denver (yes, that John Denver).

 

 

Banksy mural on British eavesdropping April 2014

 

 

Here is a six-pack of some of the most interesting highlights:

 

 

LG, Life and Death at the DBF

 Borders_store_closing_Pittsfield_Township_Michigan

In a year dominated by news of Jeff Bezos and the imperial pretensions of Amazon, more and more bibliophiles tightened their embrace of local bookstores and literary organizations. In the ATL, much of this energy was on display on Labor Day weekend at the immensely popular Decatur Book Festival. This report from the festival features a close reading of one the best books at the DBF, local public radio producer Kate Sweeney’s American Afterlife.

 

Brian M. Ingrassia, Goldtops and Humbuckers

 

The historian Brian Ingrassia draws on a deep knowledge of music, culture and American history to vividly portray the influence of the Gibson Les Paul. He shows how the now-vintage guitar’s “signature sound and design became an aural and aesthetic signifier for a happier, richer time in American life.” The instruments of one era came to define the music of another and to set the mood for a heartland slipping into post-industrial decline.

 

 duane_allmans_1957goldtop

 

 

LG, Understanding the Craft Beer Renaissance in the ATL

 

Brewery_of_19th_Century

As Americans turn in increasing numbers to craft beer, Atlanta has surprisingly emerged as one of the fastest growing hubs of high-quality breweries, brewpubs and beer bars. LG’s report became the basis for WABE (90.1 FM) in its “Progress by the Pint: Atlanta’s Craft Beer Renaissance.” Listen to Myke Johns, LG, and the city’s beer expert, Austin L. Ray in a conversation about the cultural and economic implications of this change in taste.

 

 

Valerie Robin, Experimenting with Segmented Sleep

 

Grad school causes sleepless nights. Georgia State University’s Valerie Robin, however, put her own sleep on the line in an experiment intended to give greater insight into an intriguing area of research: the history and social implications of segmented sleep. Drawing on the work of A. Roger Ekirch ( At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past) and her own experiences, she finds that the sleep patterns we learned with the onset of industrialization can still be altered. At a time when our economic lives are in flux, making a change in our ways of sleep could be full of possibilities.

 

Brian M. Ingrassia, #vinylproject2014

 

Records enjoyed a modest comeback in 2014. Attuned to the zeitgeist as ever, vinyl aficionado Brian Ingrassia spent part of his year listening again to his entire vinyl LP collection “in alphabetical order by artist—with each artist, in turn, organized chronologically.” If that sounds methodical, the resulting musings are playful and meditative. In this reflection, Ingrassia celebrates some of his favorites and the old record stores where he found them.

 

LG, Vietnam Reloaded – Author Interview

defend

With the publication of his new book,  Defend and Befriend: The U.S. Marine Corps and Combined Action Platoons in Vietnam, the historian John Southard has revised some of our common notions of what American forces were doing during the nation’s longest (pre-Afghanistan) war. In this interview, Southard explains how he came to write such a unique take on an overlooked aspect of the military experience. He also comments on the lessons of Vietnam in our own time of war.

 

Thanks to my friends and co-conspirators at MoS for a great year!

 

 

 

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