Americana

Open Mike

Ben SchwartzMarch 23, 2017
Gage Skidmore
Gage Skidmore

It is with a heavy heart that I must report that Huckabee is at it again. That is, the ex-governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, has tweeted a new joke. Over the last year, Huckabee has gained a reputation as one Twitter’s high-profile joke writers.

Rubber and Heroin in a Dying City

The Goodyear sign over Akron, Ohio. / Tim Evanson
The Goodyear sign over Akron, Ohio. / Tim Evanson

When driving into Ohio from the Northeast, as I now do several times a year, one of the first things one sees when crossing over is the towering Goodyear plant. The headquarters, and then the old factory. It is a haunting image, the “GOODYEAR” atop the factory with its lights blinking or fading, smoke seeming to rising out of nowhere, the windows broken or blackened.

Useful Idiots of the Art World

Megan NolanMarch 08, 2017
A Tumultuous Assembly by Marinetti. /
A Tumultuous Assembly by Marinetti. /

In a gallery in East London, in the summer of 2016, something strange was taking place. LD50 was about a year old by then, run by Lucia Diego, and had hosted shows by prominent artists at varying stages of their careers—Dinos and Jake Chapman, John Russell and Joey Holder, Deanna Havas, and Jesse Darling to name a few.

De-Muslimization

Rafia ZakariaFebruary 27, 2017
Ervins Strauhmanis
Ervins Strauhmanis

In Trump’s America, that “terrorist” label is cast in indelible ink. The previous precautions would not suffice, I realized. It was not just what was visible, but everything that was searchable that was now at play. A reversal had taken place.

Red and Blue Highways

Joshua LeibnerFebruary 24, 2017
Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf in American Honey. /
Trailer
Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf in American Honey. /
Trailer

While La La Land is celebrated by the Academy Awards, there’s a different America portrayed in American Honey. It was nominated for zero Oscars, but nonetheless remains 2016’s most interesting film. British filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s unusual story follows a young and profane crew of roving magazine-subscription sellers driving through the middle of America into the rural plains—a million miles from cultured and urbane Los Angeles.

New Praetorianism

Patrick BlanchfieldFebruary 17, 2017
Cyril Fluck
Cyril Fluck

There is a fundamental synergy between Democratic chauvinist exceptionalism, GOP clash-of-civilizations dogma, and Trump’s grotesque strongman antics. The Democrats may prefer a reboot of Cold War apocalypticism; Trump, for his part, looks eager to tear up global treaties, toss international law aside, and throw American weight around in building a new twenty-first century order of Great Powers.

Old School

Scott BeauchampFebruary 14, 2017
dake_crop_square
dake_crop_square

Anatomist Louis Bolk once called humans sexually mature primate fetuses. (And yes, it sounds suitably disturbing in the original German: einen zur Geschlechtsreife gelangten Primatenfetus.) As Bolk patiently explained, our evolutionary history is something of an arms race between the pelvic size of mothers and the skull size of offspring, which means, in turn, that we’re born half-made and unfinished.

Extreme Hating

Matt CameronJanuary 30, 2017
Lorie Shaull
Lorie Shaull

“I had always hoped,” our nation’s first President wrote to one of its first refugees, “that this land might— become a safe and agreeable Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.” It was 1787 and François Van der Kemp, an anti-monarchist radical, had fled the Netherlands to seek asylum in the newly formed United States, to escape persecution and imprisonment by the Prince of Orange.

Chelsea Manning’s Existential Threat to American Innocence

Chase MadarJanuary 23, 2017
Advocates can now be grateful that Manning is being treated almost as well as a war criminal. / Stephen Melkisethian
Advocates can now be grateful that Manning is being treated almost as well as a war criminal. / Stephen Melkisethian

You know the story: a court-martialed soldier of an unpopular war granted clemency as the very last act of a U.S. president amid great public controversy.

I refer, of course, to Lt. William Calley, the soldier of the Vietnam War who on March 16, 1968 led the systematic slaughter of nearly five hundred unarmed Vietnamese civilians—women, children, the elderly—in the hamlet that Americans called My Lai 4.

Be Afraid

Martha BayneDecember 23, 2016
Forsaken Fotos
Forsaken Fotos

In the final minutes of Doomocracy—a piece of immersive theater styled after a haunted house that ran in Brooklyn during the month leading up to Election Day—audience members were confronted with three doors. One was labeled “Clinton,” one “Trump,” and the third “Other.” Pass through the Clinton door and you were greeted by a pantsuited actor in a grinning Hillary mask and urged to don identical headgear.

The Baffler’s Trump-Era Gift Guide

Hannah GaisDecember 21, 2016
“We're gonna be saying Merry Christmas.” —Donald Trump / pexels
“We're gonna be saying Merry Christmas.” —Donald Trump / pexels

Forcing the phrase “Merry Christmas” back to the forefront of American culture will make our liberal-infected country “great again,” insists president-elect Donald Trump—but somehow, we’re not feeling the cheer. Instead of masking our suffering with enough mulled wine and spiked eggnog to kill a small horse, we’ve opted for a less traditional, more “smarmy” route: the gift guide.

New American Feud

Nikkitha BakshaniDecember 16, 2016
Left: Watergate salad (pistachio pudding, pineapple juice, marshmallows). Right: New American (duck, something, something). /
Left: Watergate salad (pistachio pudding, pineapple juice, marshmallows). Right: New American (duck, something, something). /

The 1980s in America meant saying tata to Watergate salads and letting a bit more of the world into our national cuisine. Then, in a 1998 restaurant review in New York magazine, Hal Rubenstein recorded a plot twist in New York’s—and, by domino effect, America’s—culinary history: Tavern on the Green, “mother of all tourist restaurants,” was trying to win the hearts of sophisticated locals.