Articles in the Reviews Category

Headline, Reviews »

April 14th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Headline, Reviews
Spatial Effects: Cars, Cities, and Social Movements

In his essay, “Garcetti’s Bridge to Bicycle Nowhere,” LA writer Joseph Mailander (2014) describes the harrowing bike ride across the half-mile Hyperion-Glendale Bridge between “the lands the freeways forgot,” Los Feliz and Silver Lake. The traffic signals there currently afford a brief, semi-safe interval between the roaring cars and trucks on the road. “And how are they making this bridge safer?” asks Mailander. “By making the traffic even faster and daring the cyclists to mix with the motorists even more.”
Just about everything I’ve read about urban development has faulted the car for …

Reviews »

April 12th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
Grow Up? The Answer is Never

Growing old gracefully sounds and seems so dignified and appealing. I have no idea what that would look like for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve certainly gotten better at handling responsibility, being a student, meeting deadlines, dealing with adversity and change, and knowing what all of that means in a larger context. At the same time, I became a better skateboarder in my thirties than I ever was in my teens, I’m more into music than ever, I’m still riding little-boy bicycles, and I still don’t own a suit or a …

Reviews, Videos »

March 26th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews, Videos
<em>Veronica Mars</em>: Take the Long Way Home

No surprise: Veronica Mars: The Movie plays to the strengths of the franchise: Veronica’s chronically conflicted convictions, Keith’s ever-watchful eye, Logan’s inability to avoid controversy, the stability of Wallace, Mac, and Piz, and the loyal support of its fans. Full disclosure: I am one of the 91,585 Kickstarter backers of this movie, I watched it three times in as many days, I am a card-carrying Marshmallow, so spoilers and gushing abound below.
So, when the day comes to settle down,
Who’s to blame if you’re not around?
– Supertramp, “Take the Long Way Home”
Though the …

Essays, Reviews »

March 26th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Mixed Metonymies: Mechanization and Culture

Meanings are malleable. Words bend and break under the stress of unintended use, abuse, or overuse. Like machine parts pushed past their limits, cogs stripped bare of their teeth, the language we use wears out, weakening the culture that carries it and our knowledge thereof.

Aldous Huxley (1970) writes, “In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble way, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery” (p. 11). We use metaphors …

Reviews »

March 22nd, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
What Means These ‘Zines?

I started all of this writing stuff making zines in junior high school. It would be difficult to overstate how much that experienced shaped who I have become. While the means of production and the channels of distribution have changed since my days at the copy shop, there are still some zines circulating. Here are a few of the standouts I’ve gotten recently.

The first issue Andy Jenkins’ Bend zine I got was #7, which came in the mail over 25 years ago. That issue changed my own preset limits of what a zine …

Reviews »

March 07th, 2014 | 2 Comments | Category: Reviews
That Which Rolls: Bicycles and the Future

“If I am asked to explain why I learned the bicycle,” writes Frances E. Willard in her 1895 book How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle, “I should say I did it as an act of grace, if not of actual religion” (p. 73). I grew up riding bicycles, so I often take the fun and freedom they afford for granted. Having seen several adults squeal with childlike glee after riding a bike for the first time in years or the first time ever, I am reminded of my own …

Reviews »

March 05th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
A Looming Resonance: Black Metal Books

The threshold at the edge of a subculture is often difficult to discern. The unaware and the well-versed can be sitting right next to each other, unbeknownst to the other’s knowledge, or lack thereof, until that threshold is breached. Every few years a percentage of the population learns about the violence in the Norwegian black metal scene of the 1990s, endlessly annoying those who’d already crossed that threshold. It’s a story that’s been told over and over but only incrementally ripples through the culture at large, like a rock blown …

Reviews »

March 04th, 2014 | One Comment | Category: Reviews
These Books Were Made for Walking

For what might seem a most mundane human activity, walking has quite a body of literature. Even being such a normal, everyday act, it’s a theme that never wears out. As Karen O’Rourke (2013) puts it, “…contemporary artists have returned time and again to the walking motif, discovering that, no matter how many times it has been done, it is never done” (p. xvii). Are they making too much of putting one foot in front of the other, or is walking always already much more than that?
You’re walking
and you don’t …

Reviews »

February 02nd, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
The Science of the Scratch

Long before hip-hop went digital, mixtapes, those floppy discs of the boombox and car stereo, facilitated the spread of choice beats and rhymes. But the rhythms encoded in those messages started as grooves in records. Manually manipulating moment-events, DJs hacked the whole of recorded music, datamining dusty crates of vinyl for just the right beats, breaks, and blasts. Bruce Sterling (1986) writes, “Scratch music, whose ghetto innovators turn the phonograph itself into an instrument, producing an archetypal Eighties music where funk meets Burroughs’ cut-up method” (p. xii). Kodwo Eshun (1998) goes further: “…the …

Essays, Reviews »

January 27th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Dispatches from Digital Dystopia

David Hoffman once summarized George Orwell’s 1984, writing that “during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Aaron Swartz, Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning, Adrian Lamo, Aaron Barr, and Edward Snowden have all been pawns and prisoners of information warfare. As the surveillance has expanded from mounted cameras to wireless taps, hackers have evolved from phone phreaking to secret leaking. It’s a ratcheting up of tactics and attacks on both sides. Andy Greenberg quotes Hunter S. Thompson, saying that the weird are turning pro. It’s a thought that evokes the …