First published in American Forests magazine spring/summer 2014. |
In the 1820s, America's cities had a problem: People kept dying, and church burial grounds were filling up. Fortunately, a group of horticulturists in Massachusetts had a solution and, in 1831, Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge became the first modern cemetery. Other cities began to follow suit, dedicating rolling, scenic tracts of land on the outskirts of town to honor the deceased. This “rural cemetery,” or “garden cemetery,” movement not only temporarily solved the problem of where to put the dead, but it also gave us the nation’s very first parks.
Over the decades, cemeteries fell out of vogue as cultural centers, but their fall from favor was not to be permanent. Today, the practice of using cemeteries for outdoor recreation is bubbling up once more, as urban dwellers seek out nature in the city. Read More
Originally on Blue Ant blog.
Gabriel Hounds is a brand of jeans in the same sense that Zero History is a book about fashion. Both statements are technically accurate, but only as a gateway to something…slippery. In Gibson’s 2010 novel, the Gabriel Hounds are a “secret brand.” The Kaizer Soze of pants. The smoke monster of denim. The brand is the MacGuffin in a hunt for truth beyond brand names, knockoffs, seasons, and flickering atemporality in a world that is evolving faster than we can focus our eyes.
Setting aside for a moment the product itself, and the very concept of a secret brand or a microbrand, a line of products marketed through non-marketing and secrecy (we can get to that later), the concept of a Gabriel Hound is a fitting one for the brand at the center of Zero HIstory. Read More
Originally published on Curbed National, April 18, 2014. |
The Boott Mills complex stretches along the Merrimack River like a fortress, a 179-year-old set of connected brick buildings that once housed roaring hydroelectric textile factories in the heart of Lowell, Mass. It's a remarkably intact representation of the mills that launched Lowell and other towns like it to prominence during the Industrial Revolution, and then left them in economic decline in the second half of the 20th century. But Lowell's factories—most recently, the iconic Boott Mills near downtown—are making a comeback. Read More
When I look back at my 2012 list, and how great that year in music was, it’s probably not surprising that 2013 seemed to be a year of disappointments. That’s not to say it was a year of bad music. But while making this list, I found myself remembering music I really liked and looking it up only to find out it was from 2012. Or even worse, scrolling down a list of music releases and coming across records I completely forgot about. That phenomenon is the main reason I say it was a year of disappointments, because those records I had completely forgotten about, in many cases, were from artists that I really like, if not love. Kanye, Fuck Buttons, Daft Punk, Nick Cave, Boards of Canada, Mount Kimbie, James Blake, My Bloody Valentine for god’s sake, and on and on. They weren’t bad records, exactly. I just sort of forgot about them. They never dug in. (Okay, some of them were bad records)
The upside is that, all those records were bumped out of my listening attention by a lot of totally out of the blue stuff, which may say something about my tastes shuffling about, or about the ongoing splintering of musical genre and variety. In any event, only 4 of my the 15 favorite records of 2013 were by musicians I had ever listened to before this year. That’s pretty cool. And before I completely write off my standby favorite artists, there were a few that delivered well beyond my wildest hopes. Read More
Profile of Boston Palestine Film Festival artist Omar Robert Hamilton, originally published on Open Media Boston, October 24, 2013.Image courtesy BPFF, from Hamilton's film "Though I Know the River is Dry."
by Tate Williams (Staff)
Omar Robert Hamilton’s entry in the Boston Palestine Film Festival is his third fiction short, but he’s made several other films, dozens, in fact.
They’re mostly brief documentaries he filmed and publicized as co-founder of the Egyptian film collective Mosireen, which played a major role in documenting the 2011 revolution and aftermath. Mosireen became the most-watched nonprofit YouTube channel in Egypt, and even worldwide during one month. Read More
I was an easily scared child. When I was really young, like the 4 to 6 range, my family used to go to drive-in movies on the weekends. To keep families happy, each screen usually had a double-feature, with a family friendly early movie and a less family friendly late movie for when the kids went to sleep. But even the family friendly movies scared me. I remember being frightened by The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin. E.T., Howard the Duck, Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters scared the shit out of me. Since normal movies scared me so much, I was definitely not allowed to watch horror movies for most of my childhood, nor did I want to watch them. My only exposure to scary movies was to walk through the horror aisles of video stores to catch glimpses of old, trashy VHS covers, but never picking the boxes up. Read More
Originally published in Souciant on August 15, 2013. | Lauren Beukes transcends genre mashup with a gut punch portrayal of violence against women. Serial killer fiction and time travel fiction are two troubling genres. At its worst, the serial killer story offers the cheap thrill of watching a charming genius killing at will. And time travel can be an irritating, messy plot device that hogs the spotlight and drains a story of its reality. But South African writer Lauren Beukes’ third novel The Shining Girls avoids these pitfalls. Sure, it could have been an obscenely high-concept slashfest. But don’t worry, it’s not.
Beukes, instead, has written a story of sepia tones and sad laughter, in which both the serial killer and time travel elements take a decidedly background role to the emotional reality of violence, in particular against women. And somehow, for a book that deals in such pitch-black subject matter, it remains lively, with alternating moments of gee-whiz historical facts and truly frightening suspense. Read More
Originally published in Souciant Magazine on February 4, 2013. Warren Ellis’s latest novel Gun Machine is like a cop thriller set in a fever dream, twisted genre fiction that employs the conventions of a primetime police drama to investigate a series of brutal crimes, but also the bloody history of New York City itself.
The novel starts with a compelling premise — an empty apartment hiding 200 guns, each implicated in a separate unsolved murder — and then plays out the mystery with the familiar elements of a hardboiled detective story or an episode of CSI.
But while Ellis, who is best known as a renowned graphic novelist, toys with the genre’s well worn tropes with glee, the real joy in this book is not in police work itsef, but in the archaeology it makes possible. Read More
This year I made a Top 15 List instead of a Top 10 list, a decision I stand by because of the sheer volume of great music this year. Not only that, the Top 5 was crowded by the same big guns across so many people's year end lists. As a result, the 6-15 for most people are a lot more interesting than the top five. For example, it's impossible to ignore Frank Ocean, but it would also be a shame for me to not mention Neneh Cherry and The Thing. So 15 it is. It was a really great year in music for me, best I can remember since 2007 and 2001 before that. And there are so many that I had to leave off that I’m considering making a second wild card list, because there were about a dozen amazing records that weren’t favorites but were just weird or interesting or thought-provoking in ways the music listed here is not. Dan Deacon, Dirty Projectors, Converge, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Death Grips, Miguel, on and on. But here are my favorites. Read More
Originally published in Souciant Magazine on December 12, 2012. The back cover and spine of Punk: An Aesthetic are almost entirely white, with a clean, black typeface. Seen from a distance on a bookshelf, it could be any modern art book. But the front cover — punk cartoonist Gary Panter’s illustration of the singer for The Screamers — is another matter, a large, low-quality print of a black-and-white face fixed in what looks like a scream of rage, befitting the book’s innards.
Look inside and you’ll see a riot of images: hand-scrawled political rants, shredded clothing, swastikas, pornography, violent photomontage and hundreds of others from the 1970s punk movement. That screaming face on the front cover gives you the feeling the content inside doesn’t want to be contained. Read More