Editor’s Note: This is the second pre-Halloween list this year. The first was “The 10 Worst Horror Films on Netflix: Drinking Game Edition.” What would you like to see next in this series before Halloween next week?
As it is with art or humor, horror is subjective. What might frighten one person might do nothing for another. And especially today when there are so many things in our modern world that are scary, fright has been parsed virtually to its constituent components. In past decades, where once society’s values were homogeneous enough that a majority could share the horror of a particular monster and some faint dead away when Frankenstein lumbered into view for the first time, now few would be frightened by such a sight.
On the other hand, real life with its unidentified epidemics, legalized perversion, murderous Islamists, flash mobs, punching games, race riots, and a sense that all of western civilization is falling apart, what scares modern audiences is more likely to be found in threats that grow directly from real life. Thus, films of past decades whose themes may have just rolled off the backs of viewers like water off a duck, now resonate with renewed discomfort.
A new uncertainty has gripped modern society as it struggles to meet a rising restlessness borne of increased communications and the new monsters that haunt the age are not necessarily those of supernatural origins. They represent the looming chaos that threatens to overturn our heretofore predictable and comfortable lives. We can sit before our theater-sized TV screens in our cozy McMansions snug in our gated communities and pretend the rising chaos of the outside world won’t effect us but in the back of our minds we know that isn’t true. That when our leaders take their hands off the tiller, or drop the reins, control is lost and confusion ensues followed by a metaphoric zombie apocalypse. Thus, perhaps, watching our monsters where they remain safely imprisoned behind the television or movie screen, we can pretend all is fantasy and that really, there’s nothing to worry about…until the schools close due to an Ebola scare, or there’s a run at the supermarket when the power fails, or a riot breaks out at a pumpkin festival, or a bomb explodes at a marathon event…
A relative late comer to the monster sweepstakes, the creature from the film Alien (1979) definitely deserves a place of honor among the best of all time. In a single move, the alien creature (not to be confused with Universal’s Gill Man) brought the haunted house genre into the 21st century and created a horrific being perfectly suited to an age where technology and science was reaching its apogee, threatening to get out of control on any number of fronts!
Van Morrison – “Moondance” (1970)
Editor’s Note: Over the spring and summer we launched the PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight feature, highlighting reader suggestions for great songs worth featuring. One contributor’s infectious enthusiasm and good nature won us over. He’s since expanded his music recommendations to a series of list-article-mix tapes. Now in this daily feature we’re going to start drawing from his lists (and growing an archive of them) to discuss the songs and artists included. Who should be included next? What ideas do you have for music or other culture or lifestyle ideas you’d like to see discussed at PJ Lifestyle? Get in touch DaveSwindlePJM AT gmail.com or @DaveSwindle on Twitter. Here’s Allston’s archive so far that will launch this feature, but he’s got more list-mix-tapes in the works:
1. Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Drink through the opening montage. It contains all the awesome deaths from Tobe Hooper’s original film. The rest is nothing but garbage.
The story focuses around Leatherface’s only surviving relative, an orphan who looks like she hangs out at the food court and listens to Evanescence in her spare time. She inherits the old Sawyer house from her grandmother. What could go wrong? SPOILER ALERT: Leatherface is still living in the basement. After hacking, bludgeoning, and hanging all of her friends, Leatherface turns into a hero at the end. Avril Lavigne tosses him the fabled chainsaw and she says, “Do yer thing, cuz.” Leatherface hacks up the town’s mayor. Then they both go home and listen to Rob Zombie in the Sawyer nu-metal basement.
Back in May I assembled this collection featuring “10 of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s Greatest Hits.” Today I present a broader assortment of her writings organized by theme and subject. The first section gathers Susan’s analysis of Lena Dunham’s HBO show Girls. Through dissecting the show Susan presents her “Biblical Feminist” approach to cultural analysis and ideological activism. The root of Susan’s variation of Feminism comes through understanding the Torah in the context of A) the competing ancient Pagan value systems in the Middle East which the Israelites fought against, and B) their parallels today in postmodernism. The conclusion of her Girls series captures her ethos which I share:
The western world tends to see time in a linear sense as if we are always progressing towards perfection as we distance ourselves from our primordial past. The God of the Bible has a completely different perspective, beginning with his name: YHVH (the Tetragrammaton) has a literal meaning “I Am, I Was, I Will Be.” In other words, there is no beginning nor end point for God. Likewise, the Israelites were given a yearly schedule that flowed in cycles known as seasons. We may have moved away from our agrarian roots, but theEcclesiastical lyrics put to song by The Byrds still apply: “To every thing there is a season, a time and purpose under heaven.”
As the western world embraced and assimilated what is essentially Biblical Hebraism, adopting a biblical faith in a Messiah and melding pagan practices with adherence to the cultural norms of ancient Israel known as “commandments,” we grew as a society. We overcame disease, poverty, and ignorance in many areas of life. Not ironically, the same forces that demand we turn away from our biblical foundation have also managed to plunge us into a neo-Dark Age. Modern medicine now faces new plagues, radical governments threaten new poverty, and ignorance is more rampant than ever. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the popular branding of Girls as a show that empowers women.
Modern feminism has returned us to the chains of ancient pagan culture. These goddess feminists think they can get away with it because they’re sure we see the world as they do: in lines. We are marching, they think, farther and farther away from the evidence of our ancient past when, all the while, we are being led back into the same ideologies that bound us as temple prostitutes and mothers of the state thousands of years ago.
Susan takes this moral clarity and creative style to a number of subjects beyond trendy TV shows. She covers cultural controversies, debates within feminism, political hot issues, and ideological squabbles. She also has deep things to say on history and philosophy and the news from Israel and the Middle East. This past summer she also developed a sequel to her Girls series in her writings defining “pop culture polytheism,” the way in which some worship celebrities as the ancient Pagans once worshipped nature gods.
A Biblical Feminist Confronts the Girls Goddesses:
- June 6, 2013: A Biblical Feminist Confronts The Girls Goddesses, Part 1
- June 16: Sex Mitzvah’d: Virginity Isn’t Easy for Girls
- June 23: Money: Is That What Girls Goddesses Really Want?
- June 30: Millennial Girls Are Easy: Sex, Power & Porn
- July 7: Sex for Girls’ Sake: Porn, Art, or Both?
- July 14: Single Issue Goddess: The War on Women’s Intellect
- July 21: Her Body, Herself: The Right Size & Shape of Girls
- July 28: Girls: Best Friends Forever-ish
- August 4: Girl on Girl Action: Girls and the Female Gaze
- August 11: Girls on Boys: The Body Politic of Goddess Feminism
- August 18: Girls: As Famous as their Daddies
- August 25: 5 Uncomfortable Truths About Girls
More Biblical Feminist Culture Critique and Analysis
- Full Frontal Equality
- The Tale of Miley Cyrus in the Words of Allan Bloom…
- How Women Can Transcend the Equality Barrier
- Presidential Sex & Powerless Feminists
- ‘Choose Life So That You May Live’
- Let’s Talk About Sex
- We Are the XX: Feminism’s Branded Sheep
- Porn, Sex & ‘The Talk’
- Biblical Feminism and the Dirty Male Myth
- Chicks Dig Porn
- A Biblical Feminist’s Take on Porn
- Can’t Touch This: American Feminism’s Racial Ignorance
- A Job Many Women Would Kill For
- White Chicks be Pimpin’ their Black Hos
- Feminism Doesn’t Need Re-Branding, It Needs a Revolution
- Abused Language, Aborted History
- Feminists: What Color Is Your Character?
- Brains Not Boobs: Re-Formulating for Feminist Success
- Nazi Is the New Sexy
- Feminists Must Go on the Offense
- Men: Act Like a Lady if You Want to Get a Job
- Girls vs Downton Abbey: Feminism’s Body Politic
- Girls: Take This Tour and Shove It
- 10 Reasons Why Camille Paglia Is the Champion of the Feminist Right
- Feminism: A Rich White Girl’s Game
- HBO’s Girls Get a Much-Needed Dose of Reality
- What the MSM Isn’t Telling You About Medea Benjamin’s Tweet-Fest in Egypt
- Our Bodies, Our Only Sense of Self
- Purim: The Cure for Vashti Feminists
- The Girls Season Finale: Second-Guessing Steinem Feminists
- Turncoat Feminists
- Why Women (and Men) Need Biblical Feminism
- Matt Walsh Demonstrates Why Christians Need Biblical Feminism
- 11 Star-Spangled Super Women
- Reality TV’s 10 Biggest Lies About America
- 10 Romantic Comedy Myths About Women
- 10 Ways ’90s Pop Culture Destroyed the American Male
- Beyonce’s 10 Worst, Anti-Woman Songs
- 10 Reasons Why I Will Forever Love Joan Rivers
- Ross Douthat Loves Lena Dunham for All the Wrong Reasons
- Millennial Actress Refuses to Hyphenate her American Identity
- Republican Gardner Buries the War on Women in Colorado Senate Race
- Feminists: You Will Abort Or Die Trying
- What Makes The West the Antidote to Radical Islam?
- Why Politicians, Cops & Feminists Turn a Blind Eye to 1,400 Rape Victims
- The East Proves the West Needs Feminism
- ‘Yes Means Yes’ to a New Generation of Powerless Women
- Spare Me the Vergara Defense
- The Feminist Response to Ferguson
- Islamic State Sex Slavery: American Feminists Ain’t Got No Time for That
- Republicans Whine, “Chicks, Man.”
- Valerie Jarrett Takes Adviser Role to Prime Time
- Obama’s Creepy 3-Way Date Night
- Oh My Goddess: Picture Proof of the Valerie Jarrett Cult
Pop Culture Polytheism
- HBO’s Picasso Baby: Jay Z Raps the Cult of Celebrity
- Paul, George, Ringo & the Prophet John
- 12 Signs You’ve Sought Redemption Through the Religion of Pop
- The Top 10 Gods of the Pop Culture Pantheon
- How to Become an Official Dude in 10 Easy Steps
- 10 Lessons on Abiding in Everyday Life I’ve Learned from The Dude
- 11 Lessons About Religion I’ve Learned from Pop Culture Polytheism
- Going Oprah: Sarah Palin Gives Up
- July 4, 2014: Salon Crowns Obama Our Messiah
The Intersection of Judaism, Religion, and Pop Culture
- The Unproductive Obsession with Hipster Anne Frank
- The 5 Most Tasteless Hanukkah Gifts for 2013
- Pajama Boy Jewish According to… Marx?
- Slamming Torah: There’s an App for That
- Noah Flooded with Potential for Interfaith Battle
- The New Morality Makes Animals of Us All
- Thank God! Who Is He, Again?
- Why the Non-Stop Punchline Shouldn’t Come as a Surprise
- The Latest Outbreak of Golden Calf Syndrome
- Glenn Beck, The Church & the Real Secret to Disney’s Success
- A Jew’s Take on Jesus Movies
- Noah: A Good Jewish Boy’s Cinematic Drash
- Altruism in Religion’s Free Market
- Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet
- The #1 Strategy for Happiness
- 10 More Movies Projecting the Jewish Experience on Film
- 13 Jewish Women Who Changed the World
- Debunking the Jewish Mother Stereotype
- Gay Marriage: Get Over the Theology and Look at the Law
- Judaism’s ‘Chained Wives’ Facebook-Shame Delinquent Husbands
- The Church is Afraid of Islam
- Gary Oldman & the Right’s Latent Antisemitism
Israel and the Middle East
- Forget Freedom! We Have #IranJeans!
- Obama’s Great Jewish Conspiracy That Isn’t
- Boycott, Divestment & ScarJo: Pop Culture Questions #BDS
- 18 Reasons Why You Wish You Were in Israel Right Now
- The Battle Against Israel’s Orthodox Patriarchy
- AP Reporter Reveals the Story Behind Anti-Israel Media Bias
- Obama Moves to Defend Hamas
- ‘Miracle’ Wind Saves Tel Aviv from Hamas Rocket
- One Soldier’s Faith Saves Hamas Female Suicide Bomber
- NDTV Exclusive Footage: Hamas Preps Rocket in Hotel Backyard
- Pro-Hamas Activists Blockade Israeli Arms Factory in Britain
- IDF: Hamas Planned to Wipe Gaza Town Off the Map
- Will the Power of the People Fund the Iron Dome?
- “Angry Black Woman” Schools Students for Justice in Palestine
- How Israel is Winning the PR Battle Against Hamas
- Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives
- Student Survival Tactic: Think Big
- 15 Tricks and Tips for Getting the Most Out of College
- 10 Ways Not to Land Your Dream Job
- Liberty Island: Liberal’s Newest, Greatest Threat
Part 1: Boob Alert: Top 5 Side Effects of Watching Family Guy
Part 2: Totally Petarded: The Top 5 Masculinity Myths on Family Guy
Part 3: Who’s to Blame for Fueling Pop Culture’s 5 Worst Female Stereotypes?
Part 4: Quiz! What’s Your TV Sitcom Family Lifestyle? Family Guy Vs The Middle
Part 5: 4 Easy Steps to Pitching Your Own TV Sitcom
More TV Criticism, Appreciation, and Analysis
- Game of Downloads: HBO’s Bad Spin on Media Piracy
- Proud Member of the Cumberbatch Brigade
- It’s Not Porn, It’s HBO!
- The Goldbergs & Michael J. Fox Sending Millennials Back to the Future
- Nostalgic for MOM Power
- 3 Reasons to Get Addicted to Call the Midwife
- Pop Culture’s Sexy Double Standard: It’s Elementary
- HBO Girls Just Wanna Have Boys
- HBO Green Lights Men & Capitalism
- The #1 Worst New Sitcom for Fall
- The Ultimate TV Geek
- Seeking Relevance, Networks Broadcast Live
- The #1 Reason We Watch Call the Midwife
- NBC Declares Jerusalem Television’s City of Gold
- The 10 Most Cringe-Worthy TV Flops
- The 10 Most Underrated TV Comedies of All Time
War, History, and Ideology:
- A Punch in the Gut: The Aftermath of 9/11
- Technology & the Vertical Caveat in Generational Theory
- Queen Ann Advises Republicans: Always Listen to Mother
- The 2 Mitzvot That Can Restore Unity on the Right
- My 5 Favorite Ann Coulter Columns
- 5 Ways the GOP Screws Up
- 75 Years Later, You Can’t Forget What You Don’t Know
- 70 Years & Counting: Hitler Is Still Hot
- Conservative is the New Liberal
- Untold War Stories: My Family’s Secret Agent
- James Foley, Radical Islamic Terror, and How Quickly We Forget
- Survey Says Millennials Think Socialism is a Joke
- The Real Reason Why Liberals Are Scared of Women with Guns
- Putin Actively Trolls Your Favorite Websites
Analyzing Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlak’s Disinformation: Useful Intellectuals: Framing Marx for the Next Generation
- Red or Dead: How Stalin Re-Defined American Liberalism
- The Assassination of Patriotism: Intellectuals, Disinformation and JFK
- The Framing of Hitler’s Pope
- Sontag’s Kulture Kamp
- Jesus Was a Socialist: Soviet Liberation Mythology Invades the West
- Back in the U.S.S.R.
- Vietnam, Hippies & False Peace
- Political Gods: Framing a New Reality
- Nomenklatura on Free Speech: Duck That!
- The Winning Move in the War Against the Nomenklatura
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 1: The Mask of Marxism
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 2: Getting to the Heart of Social Justice
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 3: Who Needs a Brain?
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 4: Are Conservatives Cowards?
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 5: The Drug of Disinformation
- Transcending the Illusion of Left Vs Right
- The Dude Dissects Disinformation
Music Appreciation and Analysis
- Christmas Carol Classic: Romanian Style
- 6 Degrees of Separation: Phil Everly to Llewyn Davis
- Rolling Stone, Privately Traded Company, Advocates Millennials Share the Wealth
- The Story You Shouldn’t Miss Inside Llewyn Davis
- The Religion of Beatlemania Still Going Strong
- A Day in the Life of the Fest for Beatles Fans 2014
- Fifth Beatle Brian Epstein’s Unsung Revolution
- Those Silly, Savage Homophobes
- Paul McCartney’s New Video Aims at #GenerationHashtag
- 9 Essential Paul McCartney Music Videos
- 13 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lana Del Rey
- 15 Songs Millennials Must Listen to in Order to Understand the 1980s
- New Jersey Wines: Challenge Your Assumptions
- 5 Tips for Novice Winos
- Valenzano Winery and the Surprising Appeal of the Garden State
- Cold Soil White: The Finesse of German Wines, American Style
- Sip Spanish Style Wines While You Walk Leisurely Among the Vines
- Savoring Almondberry with My Cousin Vinny
- What Exit for Great New Jersey Wine? Old York, Of Course!
- A Revolution in High Class Winemaking
- 5 Indispensible Wine-O Tools
- Beneduce Vineyards: The Next Big Thing in Jersey Wine
- Give Thanks with these Jersey Wines
- Mulled Wine: Spice Up Your Holiday Table
Also check out my two previous collections of PJ Lifestyle writers:
Editor’s Note: PJ Lifestyle’s Commenter-In-Chief and classic rock guru Allston has been developing an extraordinary series chronicling the best songs by era. Get caught up on his previous installments: “Alternative 1980s: 15 More Songs Millennials Must Hear,” “15 Classic 1970s Songs Millennials Should Know,” “15 More Classic 1970s Songs for the Millennials,” “15 More 1970s Songs Showcasing the Decade’s Wide Range.”
In prior articles, I’d noted that I did not include 1978 and 1979, as these are, in my estimation, very transitional years. In fact, this really all begins in about ’76 or ’77, but I didn’t want to truncate the 1970s list quite so early.
As usual, there is so much music to cover, it is impossible to do so in a single list, so a few more in this series will follow. If I didn’t post something you think is essential, it is very likely it will be featured in a future article. But, as always, suggestions are welcome.
Now there’s an anthem for you. We certainly thought so.
1. Ian Dury – “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (1977)
Editor’s Note: This is an expansion of Kyle Smith’s list of the 10 best films of the 1950s published here in June. I’ve asked Kyle to expand his series as PJ Lifestyle begins offering more lists, articles, essays, and blog posts exploring culture, art, technology, and history by decade. Last month he expanded his ’80s list to a top 20 here and his ’60s list here. Do you disagree with Kyle’s choices? Do you have your own ideas for lists of movies or other cultural subjects? Which years and what subjects would you most like to see covered at PJ Lifestyle? Email: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com Also check out Kyle’s top 10 movie picks for the ‘30s, ’40s, ‘70s, ’90s, and the ’00s before he expands them to top 20s.
In the 1950s, the Golden Age of Hollywood faded and glorious old-school films like The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur began to give way to grittier, wised-up films like those of Billy Wilder, creating an interesting tension between impish youth and pompous elders. Here’s one critic’s list of the twenty best films of the decade.
20. Sabrina (1954)
Billy Wilder’s romcom starred the unmatched trio of Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden as a poor chauffeur’s daughter and the two rich brothers angling for her after ignoring her while she was growing up under their noses. Though effervescent and elegant, the film had typically Wilder-ish dark touches, such as the scene where the title character nearly succeeds in committing suicide.
Comic books that circulated from the 1950s to the 1970s were jam-packed with ads that promised everything from fame and fortune to live miniature puppies. You could buy a shrunken head, print your own money, or grow 3″ taller, all for 99 cents, C.O.D. (which meant you paid the mail carrier cash on delivery). Most of the items were junk and for many of us, it was the first buzzkill of our idyllic young lives. Millions of boys were disappointed that they didn’t end up with bodies like Charles Atlas and millions more were devastated when the x-ray specs didn’t allow them to see under the dresses of the girls at school. It was probably a good thing that the FTC eventually stepped in and put some regulations in place so kids could find more productive uses for their allowances, like Wacky Packages and Bubble Yum. Nevertheless, it was fun to dream about what might arrive in the mail after you filled out the coupon from the back of the comic book and waited 4-6 weeks for delivery. Because you never knew…
Here are 10 comic book ads that destroyed your faith in mankind before you hit puberty…
Screenwriters are not known for being sticklers for facts. And when it comes to disasters, writes University of Texas Professor David A. McEntire, “many of Hollywood’s portrayals are based on myths and exaggerations….” That’s certainly the case when it comes to disease disaster films. Here are 10 “fun” movies that are of no use whatsoever in terms of helping viewers respond wisely to a pandemic.
10. Panic in the Streets (1950)
“Patient Zero” is carrying the pulmonary version of bubonic plague. A public official (played by Richard Widmark) has 48 hours to find him before the disease spreads throughout the city. Director Elia Kazan delivers a moody, atmospheric, underappreciated film. But if this is how the police, public health officials and reporters will really act during a crisis, well, we’re all doomed.
Once again, I have been forced – forced, do you hear? – to listen to hundreds of songs from my music collection, so as to pick out the best of the best for you. Woe is me. My music collection is vast (seriously, 13.5k songs and climbing). This is a huge chore. (If I have to tell you that I’m pulling your leg here…)
Back when, stations had a lot more room to fool around with their playlists and they generally did. In our time, it was not unusual to hear Eric Clapton followed by Henry Mancini, Gladys Knight and then Glen Campbell. So we didn’t actually have a genre, we had genres.
I saw them during the late ’70s in a huge, circus-like tent (along with The Grateful Dead). Just awesome, what a show.
1. Santana – “Evil Ways” (1970)
In a continuing series of musical highlights to help educate those younger and less well-musically informed, here is a small list of 1970s songs that, in my humble opinion, they absolutely must know. As always, this is far too brief a list and, of course, you may disagree with my picks. Suggestions are always welcome and I will fold them into future articles.
Marvelous, simply marvelous. We Moondanced the night away.
1. Van Morrison – “Moondance” (1970)
10. Daniel Deronda
A multi-part BBC series based on the powerful English classic penned by Zionist George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Daniel Deronda tells the story of a young gentleman who discovers, through a series of almost mystical events, that his mother is Jewish. A fantastic examination of Jewish identity in Victorian high society, the novel was cited by the likes of Henrietta Szold and Emma Lazarus as influential on their decision to become Zionists. Wonderfully cast, the BBC version is grossly engaging and well worth a marathon viewing.
Editor’s Note: This is an expansion of Kyle Smith’s list of the 10 best films of the 1960s published here in June. I’ve asked Kyle to expand his series as PJ Lifestyle begins offering more lists, articles, essays, and blog posts exploring culture, art, technology, and history by decade. Earlier this month he expanded his ’80s list to a top 20 here. Do you disagree with Kyle’s choices? Do you have your own ideas for lists of movies or other cultural subjects? Which years and what subjects would you most like to see covered at PJ Lifestyle? Email: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com Also check out Kyle’s top 10 movie picks for the ‘30s, ’40s, ’50s, ‘70s, ’90s, and the ’00s before he expands them to top 20s.
20. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Though the film’s historical accuracy is a matter of debate, an exacting and precise Paul Scofield made one of the great principled heroes in screen history as England’s Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More, who for a time was canny enough to evade the death penalty from Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) as the king purged his kingdom of clergymen who opposed his break with the Church of Rome. More, who is both canny and devout, refuses to sign an oath declaring Henry the head of the church, but he refuses to say why he is not in violation of law. Rich with palace intrigue and legal maneuvering, the film is thrilling on both the level of personality and plot, and its historical reverberations are immense.
Recently, Susan L.M. Goldberg posted this aforementioned list. It is a good list, don’t get me wrong, but I politely disagree that these songs typify the sound and feeling of the 1980s generation, as it is only one narrow “slice” of them (and a very “top 40 Pop” one at that). So here is an alternate list of our music for the millennial. Disclaimer – I am a member of this ’80s musical age group, so I am biased in this. Sue me, I got’s nothing.
To correct a misnomer, many people of my age-group generally do not hear Bruce Springsteen and connect with him. He is, and always was, far too generic, raspy “Pop” Rock for our tastes, background noise in a sea of great tunes. Remember, a big part of the thrust of this genre was to stake out a musical claim that was different than our recent forebears, not just copy them.
If we wanted to listen to 80s “Rock” done our way, we’d probably listen to something like this. These guys are basic and generic, yes, but they were ours -
1. The Smithereens – “Only a Memory” (1986)
Sure, you know how to write an assertive cover letter and you have a wardrobe of freshly pressed black and navy blue suits. But, just because you’re doing everything the manual tells you doesn’t mean you aren’t going to make a mistake in your job search. From my other life working in human resources, I give you the ten best mistakes applicants have made in pursuit of a job.
10. Want to include the fact that you taught an adult education course on photography on your resume? Don’t dub yourself “Adult Photography Instructor.”
Language matters. In the age of social media and Google, applicants should understand that lying on their resume isn’t an option. Just be sure you aren’t getting so creative with your wording that you make yourself sound more qualified for porn than a professional environment.
Click here to start reading Part I of this list-letter to the CEO of Liberty Island with ideas for his team of creative counter-culture writers drawn from my years practicing “pop culture polytheism,” the worship of the images in mass media today.
Dear Adam Bellow,
As this series of films continues I’ll expand the opening index to include links to each of the films that have come before it. Here are links to the first titles I discussed, establishing the paradigm of celebrating both mainstream, big budget films and also more obscure titles that more traditionally conjure up the idea of counter-culture:
48. Yellow Submarine
47. Dark City
45. Dog Star Man
41. The Two Towers
38. The Avengers
I was nervous when publishing the first installment of this series, knowing that I was leaping off into the unknown again and certainly not going as detailed as I’ll need to when explaining these ideas in my book someday. A few commenters pushed back, with criticisms I anticipated — too long, all over the place, titles insufficiently “counter-culture” — and that are partially justified:
How do I defend such a broad understanding of “counter-culture” that the term can include both experimental shorts with moth wings taped to the film and hundred-million-dollar blockbusters? The fourth title from my list of ”23 Books for Counter-Culture Conservatives, Tea Party Occultists, and Capitalist Wizards” remains my favorite definition and general history:
4. Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House by Ken Goffman and Dan Joy
Publication Date: September 13, 2005
As long as there has been culture, there has been counterculture. At times it moves deep below the surface of things, a stealth mode of being all but invisible to the dominant paradigm; at other times it’s in plain sight, challenging the status quo; and at still other times it erupts in a fiery burst of creative–or destructive–energy to change the world forever.
But until now the countercultural phenomenon has been one of history’s great blind spots. Individual countercultures have been explored, but never before has a book set out to demonstrate the recurring nature of counterculturalism across all times and societies, and to illustrate its dynamic role in the continuous evolution of human values and cultures.
Countercultural pundit and cyberguru R. U. Sirius brilliantly sets the record straight in this colorful, anecdotal, and wide-ranging study based on ideas developed by the late Timothy Leary with Dan Joy. With a distinctive mix of scholarly erudition and gonzo passion, Sirius and Joy identify the distinguishing characteristics of countercultures, delving into history and myth to establish beyond doubt that, for all their surface differences, countercultures share important underlying principles: individualism, anti-authoritarianism, and a belief in the possibility of personal and social transformation.
Ranging from the Socratic counterculture of ancient Athens and the outsider movements of Judaism, which left indelible marks on Western culture, to the Taoist, Sufi, and Zen Buddhist countercultures, which were equally influential in the East, to the famous countercultural moments of the last century–Paris in the twenties, Haight-Ashbury in the sixties, Tropicalismo, women’s liberation, punk rock–to the cutting-edge countercultures of the twenty-first century, which combine science, art, music, technology, politics, and religion in astonishing (and sometimes disturbing) new ways, Counterculture Through the Ages is an indispensable guidebook to where we’ve been . . . and where we’re going.
Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:
The key insight in reconciling counterculture and conservatism comes when we define the term historically, beyond just the caricature of the 60s hippie counterculture.
A counterculture is just any group of people who choose to reject some aspect of a dominant culture and then live peacefully in opposition to it. The Jews were a counterculture. So were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. So were the Christians in ancient Rome. So were the Pilgrims. And the Transcendentalists. And the Mormons.
Counterculture Through the Ages presents an alternative way of understanding the West: what if “Western Civilization” was actually just the compilation of all the best countercultural ideas that worked? What if Western Civilization wasn’t really about places or people or things but about a process to understand ourselves, one another, and our purpose in the world? And how do we figure out what that purpose is?
So yes, I admit it — my list was a mess, and so it shall be going forward. (I can only un-messify Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson and their basis in Kabbalah and Tarot so much! Learning how to jump from mess to mess is kind of the point. God hides in the spaces between the letters and in the connections between the cards, in the invisible gap between my mind and yours.) Counter-culture is messy — it’s a big muck mixing and gurgling together. But that’s no excuse. I’ll employ the new media tool highlighted in the last segment in an effort to cut down on the word count in this and future installments. Here’s a basic start, as I’ve progressed through writing the list I’ve begun exploring new ways to utilize Instagram, Hyperlapse and other tools:
(I will try to improve the handwriting in future hyperlapses. Over the course of this list I experiment with a number of different configurations improving on that early one. I think for the next round I’ll pick up a white board and dry erase markers…)
In trying to define Western Civilization in broad we have to confront that WE are a mess. Americanism, the idea of the West — we are a mess of conflicting ethnic, religious, and philosophical traditions all crammed together.
But we must overcome our primitive tribal nature. Unfortunately some of film’s most glorified filmmakers rose to prominence through glamorizing and glorifying their tribal identity, building whole careers on mythologizing their tribe, obscuring the ugly truth of their primitive ideologies. The next three titles on the list are by filmmakers I once idolized, though now look at with skepticism. However, each still has a film in their canon that runs counter to their usual output and offer useful lessons for counter-culture crusaders.
You’ve seen Thriller and heard all about Madonna, but what do you really know about the decade that ushered in the millennial generation? Think the era of scrunchies, boom boxes, pump sneakers and DeLoreans was just a fad? Think again. Some of the 1990s’ greatest pop culture trends were birthed in the millieu of Reaganomics, cable television, and a music video-loaded MTV.
15. Culture Club – “Karma Chameleon”
The ’80s was the decade of John Waters, the B-52s and all things camp coming to fruition. Decked out in eyeliner, lipstick and braids, Boy George popularized the aesthetic of this gay subculture with a poppy little tune about conflicted relationships. As for the music video, where better to set a gay guy’s love song in the ’80s than an 1870s riverboat called the “Chameleon” where a cheating gambler’s karma comes back to haunt him? Dude, it’s the ’80s: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” started here.
Editor’s Note: This is an expansion of Kyle Smith’s list of the 10 best films of the 1980s published here in June. I’ve asked Kyle to expand his series as PJ Lifestyle begins offering more lists, articles, essays, and blog posts exploring culture, art, technology, and history by decade. Do you disagree with Kyle’s choices? Do you have your own ideas for lists of movies or other cultural subjects? Which years and what subjects would you most like to see covered at PJ Lifestyle? Email: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com Also check out Kyle’s top 10 movie picks for the ‘30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ‘70s, ’90s, and the ’00s before he expands them to top 20s.
20. Arthur (1981)
A throwback to ’30s screwball comedies, this light confection about a drunken playboy (Dudley Moore, in his prime) and the caustic butler (Oscar-winner John Gielgud) who serves as his counselor, nanny and father figure showcased Moore’s comic gifts but was also an oddly endearing buddy movie.
This article was originally published in two parts last year on September 13 and 14, recounting a discussion I’d engaged in on that year’s anniversary of 9/11. I hope you might find it useful as some of these ideas and arguments no doubt reemerge again tomorrow. Warning: just a few bits of profanity and sexually profane insults flung at me…
Dear Adam Bellow,
I’d like to congratulate you on building and launching Liberty Island. You’ve assembled an extraordinary team of writers — 25 so far profiled at PJ Lifestyle – with several of them beginning to contribute blog posts and freelance articles here. I’ll call them out, these are some really great writers and fascinating people: many thanks to Pierre Comtois, Jamie Wilson, Roy M. “Griff” Griffis, Michael Sheldon, Clay Waters, David Churchill Barrow, and David S. Bernstein. And Karina Fabian too is about to make her debut shortly with a wonderful piece that I’m scheduling for tomorrow. Updated: don’t miss “10 Excuses For Why We Don’t Get More Done (And Why They Are Excuses).”
I can’t wait to get to know more of the Liberty Island writers and continue collaborations.
I appreciated your recent manifesto, “Let Your Right Brain Run Free,” at National Review and really only took mild issue with what seemed to me your overemphasis on the novel and pooh-poohing of film’s greater power to hypnotize viewers:
What about Hollywood? Many conservatives talk about the need to get into movie production. I agree this is very important, but it requires a massive investment of capital, and more to the point, I think people on the right are over-impressed with the power of film. To hear some conservatives talk you’d think movies were the Holy Grail, the golden passkey to the collective unconscious. This gets things precisely backwards. Sure, a successful Hollywood movie can have a major impact. But as a vehicle for political ideas and moral lessons, movies are simplistic and crude compared with the novels on which many are based.
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis both produced big-budget movies that reached millions of people with what most of us would probably agree is a subtly conservative message. Yet both of these successful movie franchises ultimately pale in comparison with the impact of the books. Even at their best, movies are essentially cartoons and their effects are superficial and fleeting. Books engage the reader much more deeply, at a level of identification with the characters and plot that can instruct the soul and edify the mind. A hundred years from now, moreover, these classic books will still be read all over the world in dozens of languages when the films on which they are based are long forgotten or superseded by new forms of entertainment.
In short, conservatives should remember that mainstream popular culture is still largely driven by books. Fiction therefore is and will remain the beating heart of the new counterculture. This is not just my bias as a publisher. It is a practical reality — and a fortunate one for us, since there are hundreds if not thousands of conservative and libertarian writers out there today producing politically themed fiction. The conservative right brain has woken up from its enchanted sleep and it is thriving. Instead of banging on Hollywood’s front door, a better approach is to go in the back by publishing popular conservative fiction and then turning those books into films.
I will write novels someday. And I still enjoy reading good ones. Recently my wife pushed on me her newest obsession, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
The vivid narrative is a fictionalization of the author’s life and tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who immigrates to America and develops a career blogging about her discoveries among races and cultures. A wise excerpt from Page 273:
The movie rights have, of course, been acquired, with Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt starring. I can’t wait to see it.
So real life inspires blogging, blogging inspires a novel — the highlights of which are the blog posts in it — which in turn inspires a movie. I wonder how they’ll depict blogging in the film. Maybe they’ll update it and make her a vlogger on YouTube instead? Part of my wife’s enthusiasm for the novel was because the character was also part of the online “natural hair community,” black and mixed race women who share YouTube tutorials about methods for giving up straightening their hair with destructive chemicals and switching to natural styles and products instead. From page 13:
My wife in her art has called them a counterculture:
My interdisciplinary work concentrates on the Ebony woman, Gen-X leaning Millennials, and our hair. Social media and video-based tutorials have influenced many Millennial women to embrace natural representations of their ethnic hair. These young women have become pioneers of the Millennial Natural Hair Movement, an expanding and informed counterculture responding to painful trends that date back to the early twentieth century.
Here’s an example of a video she made depicting the kinds of tips that circulate on YouTube amongst Natural Hair vloggers (she gave it an artsier spin):
I think this is an expression of the paradigm for today — that the various mediums of novels, film, and online media are blending back and forth together and the line between fiction and non-fiction blurs more too.
Recently when April and I made our move to South LA this summer in our packing and unpacking I had the opportunity to go through the DVD collection I’d accumulated over the last 15 years and assess the titles that still had the most value to me. As we’ve discussed and you know I’ve written about, so many of the movies and filmmakers that I once loved as a nihilistic postmodern college leftist I now regard with varying levels of disdain, disgust, and embarrassment.
But these are ones that I continue to regard with affection, that I still return to, and that I think can offer inspiration for your growing team of counterculture crusaders looking to change the world with their art. Some of them I’m a little bit more critical of than I once was, but they all still have some usefulness in some capacity or another…
(Note: this is a version 1.0 of this list, future editions will incorporate newly discovered films and suggestions from readers…)
There are bad games, alright games, good games, and great games. Great games are the ones where everything is firing on all cylinders — gameplay, story, music and graphics are all top notch. The following 10 are the best games the NES has to offer.
10. Rad Racer
What is it?
Rad Racer is an on-rails racing game where you dodge cars to reach the goal.
What’s so great about it?
This game has pretty much everything going for it, considering it was among the earlier waves of NES games released for the system. The graphics took advantage of a parallax scrolling technique which simulated a horizon as players drove through the various stages and their terrains. The in-game music, which was composed by Final Fantasy veteran Nobuo Uematsu, was catchy on its own, but there was the option for silence if someone wanted to use their own tunes while they played.
The gameplay is especially intense because the NPC cars seemed to appear out of nowhere, meaning that if you were going too fast you’d crash and waste precious time trying to roll back over. Too many mistakes like this and you won’t make it to the checkpoints in time, leading to a game over. Most of the fun comes from seeing just how far you can get.
How can I play it?
Unfortunately, Rad Racer can only be played legally with a physical copy of the game and an NES console.
Check out the previous installments in James Jay Carafano’s ongoing series exploring war films: The 10 Best Movies to Watch to Understand the Cold War, 10 War Movies Guaranteed to Make You Cry, America’s First Wars in 10 Movies, 10 Movies For Understanding the Civil War.
“Is America a weakling, to shrink from the work of the great world powers?”
Having asked the question, Teddy Roosevelt proceeded to answer it: “No! The young giant of the West stands on a continent and clasps the crest of an ocean in either hand. Our nation, glorious in youth and strength, looks into the future with eager eyes and rejoices as a strong man to run a race.”
Teddy was chomping at the bit for America to go out into the world. But not everyone was “bully” about it. Between the Civil War and World War II, the U.S. had been involved in more than a few scraps. Often called “small wars,” few Americans were itching for bigger ones.
Hollywood hasn’t paid much attention to the Small Wars Era, a largely forgotten part of American military history. Finding 10 films was tough. Still, there is a cinematic and martial legacy worth noting.
10. The Wild West
Not all of America’s small wars occurred overseas. The U.S. military spent a good deal of its days after the Civil War conducting constabulary duties in the western territories. As military historian Andrew Birtle notes, “The Army has spent the majority of its time not on the conventional battlefield.”
Perhaps the most iconic movie of the “Indian Wars” period is Fort Apache (1947). This John Ford film stars John Wayne and Henry Fonda in a fictional story that borrows from historical events, including the Fetterman Massacre (1866) and Custer’s Last Stand (1876). An American classic, this film should not be missed.
Horace Silver was born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva on September 2, 1928, in Norwalk Connecticut. Shortly afterwards, his father changed the family last name to Silver. As a child, his father taught him the folk music of his native Cape Verde and his mother sang in a local church choir. In his recordings these can be heard, along with Gospel, African and Latin-American rhythms. Originally, he played Tenor Saxophone (influenced by Lester Young), but then switched to piano (influenced by Bud Powell). Silver’s big break came in 1950, while performing at the Sunset Club in Hartford Connecticut, backing up saxophonist Stan Getz, who liked the sound of Silver’s band so much that he took them on the road with him. It was with Getz that Silver made his recording debut, on the album The Stan Getz Quartet.
1. “Penny” (1951)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlGqBooKj5Y Later in 1951, Silver moved to New York City. On Monday nights, he would perform at the famous Birdland jazz club, where various musicians would arrive and informally jam together. During that year, while working as a sideman there, he met several executives from the Blue Note label and eventually signed with them, an association that lasted for nearly thirty years. Shortly afterwards, Silver co-founded Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, where he remained for four years.
11. A conscious awareness of God is intrinsic to human nature.
Tara Brach recently told the story of a four year old who was excited to have alone time with his new baby sister. When he finally got to the side of her crib, he asked her, “Tell me what heaven is like. I’m starting to forget.” If we didn’t have a conscious awareness of God, we wouldn’t be striving so hard to find Him in everything from houses of worship to fictional characters on the big screen. Don’t let atheists fool you; they might not believe in a God in the sky, but they’re worshiping something, nevertheless, whether its money, power, or simply themselves.
In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville concluded that fractious republics were little good when a “nation must defend itself against other nations.” Still, he thought America would get along fine since in the new world, man “has no enemies other than himself. To be happy and free he has only to wish it.”
Boy, did Tocqueville miss the boat on that point! Even on a continent protected by two oceans, Americans have always found it necessary to fight for our freedom.
Most Americans give scant thought to the sacrifices made by the fighters who forged our nation. Filmmakers aren’t much different. But when it saw the chance to make a buck, even Hollywood couldn’t resist cranking out a few film gems that remind us of the heroism of the early republic.
10. The Shot Heard Round the World
Few Americans can name even one serious revolutionary war movie other than The Patriot (2000) with Mel Gibson. But four decades earlier, Hollywood produced a doozy: The Devil’s Disciple (1959). During the Saratoga Campaign, “Gentleman” Johnny Burgoyne (Laurence Olivier), the British general, takes time out from battling the Continental Army to root out revolutionaries in Websterbridge, New Hampshire. A brooding, black-sheep colonial (Kirk Douglas) finds his courage, risks his life, defies the British and puts the American cause above his own.