Category: New Discoveries

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Off Boulder Highway

The poet Jennifer Battisti was a Las Vegas latchkey kid, with casino employee parents. Off Boulder Highway, her extraordinary memoir, some of it fictionalized, much of it beautifully poetic, all of it alarmingly real, makes the performative Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas seem like a sanitized Disney fantasy. Sloppy sex, meth addiction, blackout drunkenness...

Source Notes: Seventh Decade

The latest poetry collection from prolific author Heather Tosteson, Source Notes: Seventh Decade, is one of those treasured books one finishes and begins to read again. At turns searching and assured, troubled and contented, the poems here range from the deeply personal — including terrible trauma and recovery — to the universally felt. Ostensibly a meditation...

Dan Blake’s “Da Fe”

Does righteousness have a sound? Can good intentions be heard in the language of music? Saxophonist/composer Dan Blake’s new recording, Da Fe, attempts an aural answer to those questions, and the results are convincing. A Buddhist, social justice warrior, and former member of the Esperanza Spalding band, Blake’s values are deeply humanist and compassionate; on the...

Cowboys & Frenchmen: “Our Highway”

“Our Highway,” the new multi-media project from the jazz quintet (trio + two reedmen) Cowboys & Frenchmen is a monument to the boundless power of creativity. Rather than merely record an album of their brilliant modern music, the group has made a film — a purposefully trippy film, befitting the notion of travel and motion...

“Goodness”

The righteous social justice publisher, Wising Up Press, from Decatur, Georgia, has released their latest anthology, this one simply called Goodness. Several  dozen writers grapple with the concept, sharing poems, short stories, essays, and many affecting memoirs, all manifesting a sense, a feeling, of something we all recognize and yearn for but often cannot define....

MichaelKohlhaas.org

If you have the stomach for in-depth reporting on corruption in Los Angeles — at City Hall, on the City Council, the police force, everywhere there’s money and power — the citizen journalist Michael Kohlhaas is a necessary read. Just like old-fashioned investigative reporters used to do before being co-opted by papers uninterested in offending...

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The timing of Aaron Sorkin’s new historical drama, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” couldn’t be better — or more poignant. After a summer in which millions of American’s discovered the reality of police brutality, the profound corruption of the authorities who control the uniformed thugs, and the shocking disrespect powerful men have toward the...

Sharing the Burden of Repair

The culmination of a six-year listening project, Sharing the Burden of Repair: Reentry After Mass Incarceration, is alternately heartbreaking and inspiring, infuriating and hopeful — and a necessary read for anyone who suspects our current model of “criminal justice” is misconceived. Authors Heather Tosteson and Charles D. Brockett interviewed more than 200 participants — offenders, administrators, stakeholders...

Two Approaches to Jazz Drumming

For two consecutive weeks, we’ve been treated to compulsively listenable new albums by two excellent jazz drummers, Raphael Pannier (“Faune”) and Matt Wilson (“Hug!”). In many ways, the recordings couldn’t be more different. Pannier is a next generation virtuoso surrounded by other jazz killers — Miguel Zenon, Francois Moutin, Aaron Goldberg — whose spectacular modernist...

Last Moment of Clarity

The cinematic thriller “Last Moment of Clarity,” written and directed by James and Colin Krisel in their major film debut, is a melange of Hitchcockian plot devices — “Vertigo,” particularly — assembled with assured artfulness and narrative control. We’re given what seems like a set of facts — a hapless fellow (Zach Avery, nicely understated)...