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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...

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...

Hope Rekindled

This past week has given us more hope for our diseased republic than any other time in 50+ years of paying attention. Observing and participating in a long-overdue peaceful uprising, occupying the streets, feeling the righteous energy of people of all ages, colors, faiths, and wealth (or lack thereof), has renewed our belief in the...

Accelerate Every Voice

Aficionados of the weird and wonderful, rejoice! Pianist-arranger Cory Smythe’s “Accelerate Every Voice,” gives new meaning to term “original music.” The recording offers strange and alluring sounds emanating from electronic keyboards and loopers, but the main sonic source is a quintet of human voices orchestrated into a collage of aural splendor that’s hard to describe...

Hand in Hand

The photographer Meg Boscov makes macro pictures; the writer Randall Brown makes micro stories. Teaming their extravagant talents, they’ve produced one of the loveliest — and most useful — coffee table books we’ve encountered. “Hand in Hand” contains a ravishing photo (many of them from nature) and an accompanying page of text in each chapter,...

An Antidote for Corrosive Polarization

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension…is itself a frightful despotism [serving] always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot...

Choosing Between the Most Awful Ever and Somewhat Less Awful

What would happen to American democracy if our elections offered two or more excellent choices for the office, a situation in which voters aren’t forced to choose between one awful politician from one kind of political mafia and another awful politician from the other mafia? Wouldn’t that be demonstrably better than the depressingly cynical situation...

A Message from the Richest Man in the World

Hello, fellow humans. How are you doing? Feeling OK? This whole Corona Virus deal has been rough, especially for the elderly and financially disadvantaged. I get it. And I want to help. As an expression of my gratitude to all the people whose labor and consumption have made me the wealthiest person in the history...

What We Can and Cannot Afford

Those of us with “investment portfolios” — i.e., money that’s supposed to magically replicate itself without us doing anything except surviving — were elated this week when the wise elders in charge of America decided to reverse an impending stock market crash brought on by the bungled management of the Corona Virus pandemic. In less than...