Author: Carol Cooper

  • 1980-1989: How ’80s Music Bent the Color Line

    Pop Plural In the ’80s, the racial divisions which made necessary a “pop chart” and a “black chart” in Billboard were chal­lenged in increasingly aggressive ways; to the point that the decade’s most provocative innovations — rap, two-tone ska, World Beat, house, and Latin “free­style” — defied placement in either cate­gory. Independent of industry marketing […]

  • Pazz & Jop: Welcome to the Cardi Party

    Over Super Bowl weekend, Cardi B cheerfully eclipsed this year’s televised halftime show by appearing in Atlanta at a series of related events that only underscored her steadfast refusal to take the stage inside the stadium in protest of the NFL’s continued blackballing of Colin Kaepernick. Only Cardi B seems able to dominate a news cycle as much […]

  • Aretha: The Voice of America

    It may be difficult for anyone born after 1980 to fully grasp how important Aretha Franklin has been to America. There is simply no longer any national context or political narrative that adequately explains it. She began as just a small girl whose remarkable voice was big enough to convey all the frustrated yearnings of […]

  • Harlan Ellison, 1934–2018

    Most of the early obits about award-winning writer, teacher, activist, and legendary cultural gadfly Harlan Ellison center on a long biographical checklist. His beloved father died when he was young; he was bullied daily at grammar school in Painesville, Ohio; he became a serial adolescent runaway; he took on diverse working-class jobs to survive; he served […]

  • Catching Up With the Next Generation of Sci-Fi Writers

    Ever wonder where new science fiction writers come from? Typically, the best ones emerge from its readership. This would include video gamers and other genre media fans whose love for a broad spectrum of imaginative literature is both critical and obsessive. SF fandom (the initials here meaning “speculative fiction” to capture all flavors of fantasy […]

  • Cardi B Is the Red Hot Boss Bitch of the Pop Moment

    Around 10 p.m. at her release party Thursday night in New York’s meatpacking district, Cardi B inhabited her role as Boss Bitch of the Pop Moment with endearing sass and insouciant verve. Swinging a luxuriant blonde ponytail above a tailored white-lace dress jacket, the 25-year-old rapper, who only two years ago parlayed a notorious Instagram feed […]

  • In Celebration of Ursula Le Guin’s Fantastic Legacy

    Scholar, poet, translator, essayist, teacher, and fantasist Ursula K. Le Guin was working right up until her death in Portland, Oregon, last week at the age of 88. 2017 saw the release of her latest book of nonfiction essays, and she had recently finished collaborating on a crowdfunded film and an authorized biography, when mortality […]

  • How Nona Hendryx Captured the World of Captain Beefheart

    In 1965, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band released their first single on A&M records. The song was a relatively faithful cover of Bo Diddley’s “Diddy Wah Diddy” — with just a bit more speed and harmonica. As usual with traditional blues, the lyrics were oblique: The Diddley–Willie Dixon composition hints at vague dangers, doomed love, […]

  • In Victor LaValle’s “The Changeling,” A Fairy Tale Gets Hard-Boiled

    Historically speaking, this has always been a mad, mad world, but the 21st century reveals the hallucinatory essence of each day’s “new normal” more vividly than even visionaries like Guy Debord or William Gibson could have predicted. Today’s global societies are not only multilingual and multicultural, but multi-perceptual as well. To accurately reflect this truth […]

  • Martine Syms’s Interactive MoMA Installation Explores The Tyranny Of Screens

    After entering “Projects 106: Martine Syms” at MoMA, you might not know where to begin. Surrounded by walls adorned with collaged photographs, vintage movie posters, and cryptic graffiti sit a trio of outward-facing video screens; three wire benches encircle the triangle of screens at the center of the room. Smartphone-wielding visitors can take advantage of […]

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