Previews & Reviews
Van Jones said in Rebuild the Dream, "For millions of people the thrill of seeing Barack Obama beat the odds to become president of the United States was one of [the] most exciting and uplifting experiences of our lives. The feelings of joy, hope, and anticipation were heady and unforgettable."
If he's going to win the 2012 presidential election, Obama will have to win back the support of many of his 2008 followers who became disgusted by his policies and actions, many of which have flouted promises he made as a candidate. In the 55 brief chapters in Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion editors Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank list some of them. They include his:
It was the early ‘90s; a friend had encouraged me to come by Bear’s Back Room to hear Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings from Nashville, Tenn. They were on the road, playing their first gig in Bloomington and had yet to make a record. I came late, halfway into the evening. Before I had time to find a seat, I was stopped in my tracks and spent the rest of the night standing in the doorway at the precipice of another time and place in what felt like the early days of country music.
They had it all, the writing and musicianship, and on stage they looked like a Dorothea Lange photograph sprung to life. Gillian, with hair tied back, was wafer thin, in vintage attire. Dave’s shock of dark hair was anchored by sideburns, and he was wearing a dress coat and wrestling a calliope of sounds out of his guitar.
Imprisonment in this country means “systematic torture, endemic corruption, pervasive racial and class bias, the failure of the war on drugs, and the massive economic and social devastation it wreaks upon entire communities,” in the words of Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, writing on July 20.
Imprisonment can be a collection of abstractions to someone who hasn’t spent time incarcerated, but a new memoir describes the day-to-day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, existence of the incarcerated: Marshall “Eddie” Conway and Dominique Stevenson, Marshall Law: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther (Oakland: AK Press, 2011).
Let's just say that you live near Indianapolis, "the capitol of Big Pharma/the Hartford of the Midwest," and like it, and the people you work and hang with are a big reason why. If so, Ian Woollen's novel Hoosier Life and Casualty is a great read. If you aren't from around here, this is still a disarmingly charming dive through the duck weed of midwesternism. A corporate power struggle thriller, a family saga with love story and a double coming-of-age tale -- all in a tidy volume.
Woollen's lifelong study of the dark side of human behavior has taught him a good deal about the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the deceitful machinations of ruling-class families and the silly stupidity of young punks. His research into the warmth of the human heart has taught him about the depth of friendship, the glory of love, the hazards of yoga and the satisfaction of singing in church choir.
The U.S. military, especially the CIA, is relying increasingly on unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones,” to conduct both surveillance and bombing in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Indiana is home to multiple sites of manufacturing, testing and support of drones and drone technology. Purdue University is involved, as are several Indiana companies.
In Bloomington at 7 p.m. on March 2, Quigley will outline those Indiana connections and the legal and moral concerns over aerial robotic attacks. He will also discuss the growing resistance to drone warfare. The talk will take place in room 1B of the public library, and its title is, “Indiana Drones: Robotic Warfare in the Heartland.”
Having read a few of Peter Dale Scott’s earlier books, I was looking forward to his new work, American War Machine. I was not disappointed. Published by Roman & Littlefield in late 2010, this book examines a wide-ranging number of covert U.S. operations since World War II and, among other things, demonstrates that many of these operations were intimately connected with, and dependent on, illicit drug trafficking.
Scott previously defined concepts such as deep events, deep politics and the deep state to refer to covert mechanisms that facilitate the strategies of the politically minded rich, a group otherwise referred to as the overworld. Deep events, which Scott defines as those that are “systematically ignored or falsified in the mainstream media and public consciousness,” can be seen as sharing certain features, such as cover-up of evidence and irresoluble controversy over what happened.
Wendell Potter, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010, 277 pages, $26.00
“About 45,000 people die in America every year because they have no health insurance. I am partly responsible for some of the deaths making up that shameful statistic.”
Those two sentences open a book by Wendell Potter called Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. Part expose and part memoir of the author’s experience in the health care industry, the book’s as dramatic and suspenseful as a good novel.
INDIANAPOLIS -- On Monday, June 21, just a few days shy of his 66th birthday, guitar legend Jeff Beck played a sold-out show at the Egyptian Room of the Murat Theater.
If the rare Indianapolis performance is any indication of how his world tour is going, it's safe to say that Jeff Beck is having the time of his life. And why not? He's on a roll.
In January, Beck won a Grammy Award for his instrumental version of the Beatle's classic "A Day in the Life." Since that time, he's toured with fellow Yardbirds alumnus Eric Clapton; released his first studio recording in seven years, Emotion & Commotion (Atco); and performed a tribute to Les Paul at New York City's intimate Iridium Room, on what would have been the guitar innovator's 95th birthday.
Beck opened Monday night's 90-minute set with a cover of the Billy Cobham's "Stratus." Propelled by Narada Michael Walden's explosive percussion, this number put the enthusiastic crowd on notice: "Fasten your seat belts; you're in for a wild ride."
Music and culture critic Jessica Hopper -- consultant for the revered public radio show, This American Life and whose work is regularly featured in publications such as SPIN and LA Weekly -- indulged a diverse Boxcar Books audience on Aug. 28 with readings from her new book The Girls' Guide to Rocking.
A meaty manual on creating, recording and performing music, The Girls' Guide to Rocking is garnering across-the-board praise for its painstaking nuts-and-bolts approach to music and for its expediency to anyone -- not just the adolescent girls it targets -- interested in making it.
Though written in direct, accessible language, the book is impressive in its breadth and scope, and Hopper, a musician herself since age 15, explained that in writing it she drew from her own experiences. "I wrote this book on how to start a band and play and pursue your own interest in music, and a lot of it is culled from my own experiences from being a teenager in a band and growing up as a girl in a band."
Craig Brenner & the Crawdads
Live to Love
Bloomington’s own Craig Brenner & the Crawdads have just issued a new CD that romps with boogie, blues, jazz, R&B and even country in a delightful potpourri of 10 original songs. Craig Brenner, leader of the group and composer, lyricist and arranger of all 10 original numbers on the new CD, Live to Love, is an exemplar of what can happen when formal musical training meets deep-inside soulfulness and creativity.
Brenner graduated from Florida Southern College in 1970, then studied jazz piano with Wally Cirillo in Miami. He attended the justly renowned Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington from 1976 to 1980, where he studied piano, composition and improvisation, then undertook additional study through a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, studying boogie-woogie and stride piano under Bob Seeley and blues piano under Big Joe Duskin.