“With Antron and Nylon and Lycra and Orlon and Dacron, the world’s a better place. You know we all have a smile on that started with Nylon and stretches across each happy face.” King of the jingle (and prince of the cabaret), Michael Brown wrote and directed DuPont’s “industrial musical” The Wonderful World of Chemistry, which would air an unprecedented 14,600 times, or 40 times per day, during the two-year run of the 1964–65 World’s Fair in New York City. (It should be pointed out that a bit of research on Timothy D. Taylor’s forthcoming The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture led us here. The book hones in on the indiscriminate blurring between advertising copy and popular music, unearthing an as-yet unclaimed piece of our cultural history—the musical aesthetics of consumerism, and its buzz-buzz-buzzing.) Brown was a children’s book author, lyricist, and producer, who penned tales about Santa Mouse and put the words, literally, in Carol Channing’s mouth during a run of Sugar Babies. The Wonderful World of Chemistry was his masterpiece, among songs scribed for notable Broadway musicals (like “Lizzie Borden” in Leonard Sillman’s New Faces of 1952) and other “industrial” pieces. Even his . . .
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Forty-eight years ago today, then-president Lyndon Johnson formally introduced his platform for the “Great Society” at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s commencement on May 22, 1964. Coined by speechwriter Richard N. Goodwin (who also wrote for Robert F. Kennedy—he’s still living, and is the spouse of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin), the Great Society sponsored a series of social initiatives that helped Johnson win election later that fall in a landslide victory, and many of them—decades later—remain with us today, including Medicaid, Medicare, and the Older Americans Act.
Several agencies and institutions were first endowed by Great Society–funded legislation, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Among the landmark legislation passed in Johnson’s term was the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Civil Right Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968; the Social Security Act (1965), the Food Stamp Act (1964), and the Immigration and National Services Act (1965); and, the Elementary and Higher Education Act (1965), the Higher Education Act (1965), and the Bilingual Education Act (1968). The Cigarette Labeling Act. The . . .
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In Cop Knowledge: Police Power and Twentieth-Century America, Christopher P. Wilson writes about narratives of police power in mass culture—from crime fiction and film to the denizens of contemporary political discourse who make use of the squad room, the beat, and the badge. His conclusion? That the stories we tell about police power are intimately linked to the course and outcome of modern liberalism, including a current resurgence of neoconservatism.
In January 2003, Slavoj Žižek penned the article “Gerhard Schroeder’s Minority Report and Its Consequences,” which explored themes from Steven Spielberg’s adaptation (2002) of the Philip K. Dick short story—in which criminals are arrested before they can commit their crimes, thanks to the efforts of a specialized police department, working under the government’s protective wing. For Žižek (and also for Spielberg, who went on the record), the police state evoked by the film was clearly transposed to U.S. international relations post-9/11, where the Bush doctrine suggested with a heavy hand that American military might should remain “beyond challenge” in the foreseeable future. Žižek goes on in the piece to point out the election of Gerhard Schroeder—the German Social . . .
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We choose our aphorisms wisely. George Santayana cautioned us against our doom in repeating the past and we pushed it to the point of cliché. Let’s incant with Karl Kraus, instead.
“The ugliness of our time has retroactive force.”
This coming weekend brings the 2012 North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) twenty-fifth anniversary summit to Chicago, exactly almost a half-century after we hosted the 1968 Democratic National Convention. We’ve traded Daleys for Rahm; our police force is run by a former football player instead of a former army provost-marshall; and the odds of inadvertently thwacking Dan Rather in the stomach have been significantly reduced by his retirement from network television—
According to NATO’s website, the organization has a threefold focus for their meeting:
the Alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan through transition and beyond; ensuring the Alliance has the capabilities it needs to defend its population and territory and to deal with the challenges of the 21st century; and strengthening NATO’s network of partners across the globe.
According to the Nation, Occupy Chicago’s social network and media feeds, and Timeout Chicago, those protestors native to Chicago and in town for anti-NATO demonstrations have prepared . . .
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So much Hemingway, so little time. So little Hemingway, so much time? Something about little—not literal size; something about Hemingway—Hemingway and. . . . Hemingway and. . . . Hemingway and . . . Gellhorn?
James Gandolfini—indomitable analysand and crime boss Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, Patricia Arquette-beating goon Virgil in True Romance, and producer of more than one documentary on war veterans for HBO—signed on in June 2010 to serve as executive producer of a then-untitled biopic centered around Ernest Hemingway’s sojourn during the Spanish Civil War with Collier’s Weekly correspondent Martha Gellhorn. Fast forward to 2012: the film Hemingway & Gellhorn, starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, and directed by Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff, Henry & June), will premiere on HBO on May 28th. Another tough-guy with a (tortured) pen of gold tale? Not quite.
Martha Gellhorn married Hemingway in December 1940, after the pair lived together off-and-on for four years, which the movie charts from an initial holiday encounter in 1936 Key West. Beginning with those early contributions to Collier’s, Gellhorn followed reportage during Franco’s protracted war with the Spanish government with a trip to Germany that chronicled Hitler’s rise, before she . . .
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