Tag: Smithsonian Institution

  • Dave Van Ronk: The Mayor of MacDougal Street

    He was a bit like a bridge. And not just because he was big, or because he spanned an epoch stretching from Bob Dylan to Joni Mitchell to Jeff Tweedy. It’s just that if you wanted to go from mousy folkie to performer with purpose and attitude, you couldn’t go around Dave Van Ronk. You […]

  • American Made Movie Argues For Home-Grown Manufacturing Might

    In their documentary American Made Movie, Nathaniel Thomas McGill and Vincent Vittorio make a compelling argument that America can and must bring back its manufacturing strength; they illustrate all too well the devastating reach of a factory closing. While this is no Michael Moore screamer—it’s neither that annoying nor that entertaining—the filmmakers choose their stories […]


    In 1954, Rafael Ferrer was living in New York, working as an Afro-Cuban drummer by night and, by day, focusing on his real passion: art. It was then at 21 that Ferrer, a self-taught artist, developed his craftsmanship in sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, and performance art. Fifty-six years later, Retro/Active: The Works of Rafael Ferrer […]

  • ‘Old-Schoolest of Collectors’

    DJs, like curators, are collectors, so when Grandmaster Flash and other hip-hop luminaries met up with some officials from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History the other day, there was some serious collecting to discuss. To begin with, museum director Brent Glass described his institution’s grand undertaking: “It’s the only museum in the world […]

  • Old-Fashioned Amenities

    Pick Hits BELL ORCHESTRE Recording a Tape the Colour of the Light (Rough Trade) More Sufjan Stevens or Bang on a Can than Tortoise or Juan McLean, this chamber-pop quintet with Arcade Fire connections varies its cunningly sequenced, gratifyingly brief instrumental tracks with such old-fashioned amenities as textured melodies, pleasing dynamic shifts, and passages that, […]

  • Ignorants and Know-Alls Keep Out

    Pick Hits BLUEPRINT 1988 (Rhymesayers Entertainment) This Ohio double threat produced for his Weightless crew and rapped for RJD2 before putting one and one together. Though he’s the kind of rhymer who scans “another good record with bad distribution” all too swimmingly, the hip-hop don’t stop even when it’s about some hip-hop-writing “Boom-Box” for Radio […]

  • Greatest Whatevers

    Pick Hit FESTIVAL IN THE DESERT (World Village) Ali Farka Toure aside, the Mali we know is southwestern Mali. Bamako and Wassoulou, Keita and Sangare and Tounkara, all look west to Dakar and the Francophone world outside. This three-day festival takes place well north of Timbuktu, deep in a Sahara where the sand is as […]

  • Exhibit A

    For those who dream of a National African American Museum, something always comes along to jolt them awake. In the early 1990s, everyone from then Democratic representative Gus Savage of Illinois to Republican senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina played the role of No-Doz and squelched the idea. After the 1994 GOP junta in Congress, […]

  • Traveling Exhibit

    Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has endeavored to be a portrait of mankind, and particularly a portrait of America. Its Web site calls the complex of museums “the mosaic that is our national identity.” In the late 1970s and ’80s, it became clear to many scholars that the mosaic was mostly white. […]

  • Hail Fellow Well Set

    Preemptive readers of article tags know that I have a temporary gig, which limits my writing if not my listening. I’m unreasonably pleased to note that said gig lasts past Thanksgiving. What might we call an Easter Turkey Shoot? A Ham Roast? A Bunny Stomp? AMERICAN POLKA (Trikont import) The first decent polka comp I’ve […]