January 10th, 2018 | Category: Essays, Headline
Coming to Terms with Dave Chappelle

There is an aspect of speculative design sometimes called “design fiction,” sometimes called “critical design.” Its practitioners basically set out to challenge the hegemony of the present way of thinking about things—buildings, gadgets, objects, whatever. Instead of reifying the currently held ideas, critical design imagines a different way of doing or seeing things.
I distinctly remember the only issue of Blender Magazine that I ever read (August, 2004) had Dave Chappelle on the cover. The mid-00s were the print-magazine format’s last peak, and there were so many of them, newsstands stretching …

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December 31st, 2017 | Category: Essays
Decaf or Rehab? Quitting Clarity

I started drinking coffee in kindergarten. I wanted to be more grown-up, and with enough cream and sugar, I could.
I didn’t realize I was addicted to the stuff in elementary school until I tried to quit many years later. The headaches that follow depriving your brain of caffeine are a special kind of pain. When I made my first effort to quit in my late 20s, I recognized that pain. My head had been through that before.
I thought back and realized that my first sleepovers with friends were fraught with …

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December 02nd, 2017 | Category: Reviews
Top Records, 2017

This has been another year of change for me. I’m finding more and more difficult to see how others stagnate as they age. Maybe others see me some kind of way, but one place that tendency is evident is in the music we listen to: I am constantly finding new and exciting sounds. Whether it’s seeing Street Sects open for my dudes dälek at Beat Kitchen in Chicago, or EMA, Sleaford Mods, Moor Mother, and Sturgill Simpson making me rethink the very concept of genre, there’s always someone pushing things …

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October 16th, 2017 | Category: Interviews
Rita Raley: Tactical Humanities

A professor in English with appointments in Film and Media Studies, Comparative Literature, and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Rita Raley studies all sorts of things that culminate in interesting intersections. She centers her study of tactical media, a designation Geert Lovink called a “deliberately slippery term,” on disturbance. Her book on the subject, Tactical Media (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), illustrates not only the ways in which media participate in events but also her own nuanced thinking about and through that participation. She and her colleagues have also …

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August 11th, 2017 | Category: Essays
In Praise of Pulling Back

In the creative process, constraints are often seen as burdens. Budgets are too small, locations inaccessible, resources unavailable. Sometimes, though, the opposite is true. Sometimes, a multiplicity of options can be the burden. “In my experience,” writes Brian Eno, “the instruments and tools that endure… have limited options.” Working with less forces us to find better, more creative ways to accomplish our goals. As sprawling and sometimes unwieldy as movies can be, low-budget and purposefully limited projects provide excellent examples of doing more with less.
Like many of us, James Wan …

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July 26th, 2017 | Category: Interviews
Labtekwon: Margin Walker

Baltimore emcee Labtekwon has been described as “the Thelonius Monk of hip-hop” (Chuck D) and a cross between Jean Michel Basquiat and Nikola Tesla (Afropunk). He’s outspoken like any good rapper could be, skilled like any good emcee would be, and motivated like any good activist should be. He stays consistently ahead of and outside of the time the rest of us dwell in.

Labtekwon is an anthropologist, a professor, a writer, an emcee, and a skateboarder. As he says, “Books and songs are just different rivers and lakes with the same …

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