The Baffler,  April 11, 2014

The Baffler’s Week That Was

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From The Baffler in print and online this week, some thoughts on Kurt Cobain, Simone de Beauvoir, John Boehner, Saskia Sassen, Michael Bloomberg, Betty Draper, Jeb Bush, Elon Musk, and God:

• On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, we published online for the first time Thomas Frank’s classic essay, from The Baffler issue 5, “Alternative to What?” about, among other things, the impact of Nirvana’s success on the pop culture commodification of Generation X.

• The return of AMC’s Mad Men also reminded us about a great piece from issue 20, Seth Colter Walls’s appreciation of the 1966 novel Les Belles Images by Simone de Beauvoir, a book far ahead of its time in its portrayal of women and industry alike.

• On the blog this week, we celebrated the release of Barbara Ehrenreich’s new memoir Living with a Wild God by looking back at the three Baffler essays that helped her develop her arguments for the book, all available online now.

• George Scialabba reviewed Saskia Sassen’s important new book, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. “In the market economy,” Scialabba writes, “if you’re not a cost or a revenue source, you don’t exist.”

• Jordan Fraade explored the ways in which New York’s bikeshare program must depart from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans in order to be fair and functional. He argues that Citi Bike, and all bikeshare programs, really, should expand into different neighborhoods, and be willing to accept public money.

• Kyle Chayka dissected a baffling buzzword from Silicon Valley, “disintermediation.” This onerous term seems to be a favorite among companies that have grown too big to claim “disruptive” start-up cred, companies that are actually themselves becoming the new gatekeepers of industry—but that still want to be seen as innovative. (#innovation.)

• Pro Baffler blogger Kathleen Geier delineated some of the hard, cold evidence for something we always knew to be true, that wealth steers policy on the national level (even before McCutcheon). Meanwhile Washington correspondent Jim Newell slammed the Bush family’s historical electoral hijinx (which they’ll likely pull out again for Jeb), the handwringing and hypocrisy of Democrats over campaign finance, and the far-right-wing’s not-so-secret but actually totally pointless plot to oust John Boehner as House speaker.

• Finally, from our current issue, number 24, we put up online Chris Lehmann’s stinging salvo about a defunct ideology, “Neoliberalism, the Revolution in Reverse.” This essay, like many Baffler pieces, is accompanied by artwork from the brilliant David McLimans, who also created the cover of our current issue, and whom we recently lost, far, far too soon.

As always, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter above at the top of this page, follow us here, check out our books, or subscribe to the magazine: a very reasonable $30 for three hefty, colorful issues. Have a wonderful weekend; go forth, baffle, and be baffled.

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