From the sedulous to the surreal in cultural context


“Rejoice”: Books, Adaptations, and MoS, 2015

December 15, 2015

Note: This is the second installment of our MoS Best of 2015    To read or not to read, that is not the question.  2015 was good to readers.  Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is investing in delivery drones and launching rockets into space, but his empire has not made brick-and-mortar bookstores extinct (he has even opened his own).    … Read More ›

Museum Piece: Mad Men on MoS, 2015

Note: This is the first installment of our MoS Best of 2015    “I took another man’s name and made nothing with it.”  After hanging up on Peggy, Don Draper seemed destined for suicide.  Fans of television’s greatest series, ever curious about its end and Don’s fate, sensed his imminent doom. They were mistaken.  In the final two… Read More ›

A Trip to ZZ Top’s Tejas

Stepping into an album cover can be a surreal experience. One of my personal favorite ZZ Top albums is Tejas. Released November 1976, Tejas followed hit records Fandango! (1975) and Tres Hombres (1973), as well as earlier blues-rock offering Rio Grande Mud (1972) and the nearly eponymous ZZ Top’s First Album (1971). ZZ Top’s fifth long… Read More ›

Gunning the Throttle for the Llano Estacado: The Epistemic Amarillo

    The academic life is an itinerant one, and sometimes you find yourself moving to a place you never anticipated. This July I found myself packing up my stuff, for the fourth time since finishing my doctorate in mythical pre-crash 2008, getting ready for a 968-mile move to Amarillo, Texas. Unofficial capital of the… Read More ›


Sensory Issues in the News Fifty Shades of Touch On the blog of Oxford University Press, a cognitive neuroscientist interprets 50 Shades of Grey (both the film and the novel) in terms of the sense of touch: After all, isn’t the novel about the sensual power of touch? How arousing can a light touch on the… Read More ›

The BeltLine: A Life Saver?

  Hyperbole about the Atlanta BeltLine is a balloon that keeps rising. The public-private partnership funding the construction of miles of trails and parks while fueling a real-estate boom (at least along the Eastside Trail) has become a cultural juggernaut. Atlanta’s national cachet, self-confidence, and the mystique of the BeltLine are now tightly braided. Despite incisive… Read More ›

Don Draper Lands in the ATL

      Admit it, you always knew it would end with Don Draper meditating in California, his back to the ocean in a yoga pose surrounded by sedulous hippies. Our last glimpse of Don at the conclusion of Mad Men certainly made a lasting impression.  The hard-living ad man pulled out of an epic late-season tailspin… Read More ›

Steely Dan Postmodern: A Meditation on Sonic and Visual Artifice

“You go back Jack do it again Wheel turnin’ ‘round and ‘round You go back Jack do it again…”   Thus incants the first song on Steely Dan’s inaugural album, 1972’s Can’t Buy a Thrill. “Do It Again” is a song about gambling and revenge and weary despair, but taken on its own this refrain… Read More ›

Independent Bookstore Day 2015

  Every collector knows the probably apocryphal story of the nineteenth-century composer and bibliophile Charles-Valentin Alkan, found dead in an avalanche of his own books, crushed when his shelves upended onto him. Like the sex addict who suffers an aortic catastrophe during coitus, Alkan, at least, died smiling. William Giraldi, “Object Lesson: Why We Need… Read More ›

Is Ponce City Market Renewing Atlanta?

  Atlanta landed a big fish.  Nick Cave, a superstar of the art world, was just here. Cave is Chair of the Fashion Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a rich body of work in performance art, dance and sculpture. As a close friend of  mine who is also chair… Read More ›


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