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Posts Tagged ‘Town Hall’

As Recklesley and the rest of humanity celebrates the transition of Daniel Radcliffe (and his alter ego Harry Potter) from boyhood to stud muffin, a select group of honest and brave academics are taking up the story that the mainstream media chooses not to cover, and JK Rowling’s naive readers do not wish to hear. Much like the brave Xenophilius Lovegood, Tison Pugh and David L. Wallace are breaking the story which may well save our lives in their article, “Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.” Although Pugh and Wallace find many admirable things to say about the Harry Potter series, such as the post-feminist landscape the book conjures for young children, they also worry about Harry’s tendency to fall back on heteronormative ideals of heroism. In case you didn’t attend a crazy liberal undergraduate institution, this basically means every time Harry wants to be strong and ditch Hermione and Ron to pursue Voldemort, he is breaking with the thematic structure of the book that celebrates difference and aberration to return to his caveman roots. This has severe implications:

“The danger of heteronormative heroism in the Harry Potter books is that it potentially reinscribes the problematic heterosexual/homosexual binary that critics such as Michel Foucault, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Jonathan Ned Katz identify as both policing desires and the identities constructed around those desires. This binary serves not only to stigmatize homosexuality and other expressions of sexual queerness; it also contributes to a concept of masculinity that marginalizes women and narrows the range of socially acceptable behaviors for men in ways that work to the detriment of all humanity.”

For those still in the dark about what this actually means, and what tangible impact it can have on your life, Eve Sedgwick makes the argument simpler, “Finally, this attempt to write a pure space where sexual deviancy does not exist will always result in a universal omnicide.”

Your scar going to get us out of this, Harry?

Jerk.

Speaking of jerks, the free market isn’t helping things either.

The elevation of the family to ideological preeminence guarantees that a capitalist society will reproduce not just children, but heterosexism and homophobia.”

– John D’Emilio

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Mr. Wizard

It is with deep sadness that we regret to announce the passing of Don Herbert – the one and only “Mr. Wizard”. I loved Mr. Wizard. He spawned a whole genre of lovable science shows like Bill Nye and (wannabe) Beekman’s Lab. He was like the Mr. Rogers of science. He will be missed.

Bill Nye beakman.jpg

true love. true lame.

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There comes a time in every universally acclaimed, pathologically sensitive man’s life when he must jump the shark on his own messiah complex. After going along in life, writing astoundingly beautiful music, collecting the accolades of critics and lay music-listeners, and remaining just shy enough of the radar that he might retain all his indie glory, Conor Oberst has finally let his awesomeness wash over him and pickle his brains.

On Friday night, I and another Skeptic traveled to the cursed depths of Midtown to watch Bright Eyes play the first of seven sold-out shows at Town Hall. The opener was a real warm glass of milk of a band – Gillian Welch. Perhaps if I were lactose tolerant and liked folk music, my feelings might be a little bit different. But the crowd seemed to dig it and, later when she came back on to sing “Look at Miss Ohio” with Bright Eyes during their encore, I was slightly more into it.

But back to the main event. The stage was set with flowers and fences like a front yard in heaven or the deep south, or like a funeral. The band came on with each member dressed entirely in white. In the New York Times, Conor noted, “I was going for this just-stepped-off-the-yacht sort of vibe.” It struck me as a tad gimicky in the style of the White Stripes. They played all or nearly all of their newest album, Cassadaga. They also threw in some other songs for good measure: Lua, The Calendar Hung Itself, First Day Of My Life, and possibly a few more. While the Cassadaga songs are undeniably strong, they are not my favorite in the catalogue. I’m assuming that the set list will switch up a bit with the rest of the New York stint. I just happened to be there the first night and those are probably the most fun songs to play right now.

The band for this tour consisted of twelve members – two drummers, a small orchestra, a couple of guitarists, a trumpet/keyboard player, and Conor. There was also a “thirteenth member” who was a video artist providing what I think was the most innovative, interesting stage dressing I’d ever seen. Where pretty much every other show I’ve been to has mostly worked with automated stage lights, flashing and changing colors constantly, this show featured a video projection of simple things happening, created live by this artist. There was food coloring dropped into a glass of water, swirling out and getting bumped around by the vibrations of the music coming from the speakers. There were old photographs flipping by. There were random lines drawn by an Etch-A-Sketch, flowing with the meter of the song. There were markers coloring in between the lines formed by the molding on wall behind the stage. During the performance of “Lime Tree,” Conor asked for the stage to be as dark as possible. As the lights went out, the video projected a single tea light, whose flame was moved directly behind Conor. It gave the impression of an organic spot light, its edges blurring slightly with the breath of the man holding it. It was all so simple, but fascinating because it was formed extemporaneously, so entwined with each song. I spent more time watching that art than the band.

About halfway through the show, Lou Reed joined the band on stage to play “Waiting for the Man” and “Dirty Blvd.” To watch Lou Reed and Conor, standing side by side, was like watching night and day join forces to make the best day imaginable. Sure, they’re both sad bastards, known for their eloquently expressed angst. But where Conor is so young and kind of twitchy, Lou Reed makes rocks look like spring chickens and has a deep stillness and confidence. Where Conor wrestles so obviously with his own forming legend and his own belief that he is cosmically important, Lou Reed quite possibly is the Messiah and clearly doesn’t think it’s that big a deal. Conor seemed like a yipping puppy at his feet, but that seems about right.

While it’s interesting to watch a band work out its existential issues on stage, I’m looking forward to their continuing to grow up and accepting that you can be an amazing band and not be related to god. When they shed the white clothes. And their performance-crucifixion fantasy:

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Britney, Britney, Britney. I don’t think I can express the depths of America’s sadness when we heard that on February 16th, your hair/sanity passed on. We are truly sorry for your loss, but more so for ours.

You were America’s sweetheart. You wore vinyl jumpsuits, school girl outfits, no underpants, and Justin Timberlake. In short, you were everything we wished we could be. You embodied the dreams of a nation. Your hair/sanity was taken – at your own hands, no less – far too soon.

In recent months, we should have known that something was wrong. Your hair color kept changing and you kept claiming to love K-Fed. It didn’t feel right at the time, but we couldn’t fathom the depths of this kind of depravity. Sure, there are lots of brunettes and all young women chose the wrong guy from time to time. But no, we never should have made excuses for you. It is our fault as much as yours.

I know we were all excited when you dropped Fed-Ex and started partying with Hollywood’s elite – Lohan and Paris. We thought this meant that you were ready to reclaim your throne, making mid-western mothers worry for their 8-year-old daughters’ chastity again. Sometimes you would turn blond again and we were filled with such hope. Oh, Britney. We were fools.

Here we stand now, with your hair/sanity but soothing memory, and we wonder how we will go on.

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