Harry Potter and the End of Literacy

Yesterday The Washington Post printed the last edition of its eminent Book World, the weekly insert that stood as one of the country’s best book reviews. The story is what we’ve come to expect from print media today: plummeting subscription, faltering ad revenue, disappearing profits. Considered alongside the recent deaths of the Los Angeles Times’ and Chicago Tribune’s print book reviews, this seems to be the death knell for the form.

Test Spin: Brightblack Morning Light

In a musical world full of dandies and poseurs, it’s a rare thing indeed to come across a band with its feet on the ground. Enter Brightblack Morning Light, a duo so earth-oriented that they spend significant amounts of their time alone in the woods writing, singing and — one can only assume — ingesting. Hirsute and oozing effortless cool, they’re a much-needed reminder that the spirit of the ’60s has not yet perished from the earth.

Burning Down the Haas

There’s been a lot of hubbub around campus recently surrounding the construction of Milstein Hall, which will house new studio space for our world-class architecture program. Maybe it was an omen, then, that the not yet completed Mandarin Oriental hotel in Beijing, designed by none other than erstwhile Cornell Architecture student Rem Koolhaas, burned down on Monday night as result of misfired fireworks.

Give Me That Sweet, That Funky Stuff

All I wanted Saturday night was to get funked, and The Rozatones made sure that I did. With an energetic set that ranged from brass-balled bravado to Latin-laced electricity, their show at Castaways demonstrated once more why The Rozatones sit at the top of Ithaca’s funk-rock feeding chain, and just what it takes to get a mass of college-age bodies moving.
The night began with a set from Nat Osborn and The Free Radicals, a large and conspicuously all-male band that plays with reggae riffs and the odd hard rock motif. There were occasional highlights hidden among the Dispatch-derived vocal harmonies and off-beat guitar chords, but for the most part their sound featured nothing new for the roots-heavy Ithaca music scene.

Today's Party Jams Are T-Painful

You’ve got to love college parties. Young bodies rubbing up against each other, free-flowing libations, the license to speak and behave in an offensive manner — they’re a hedonist’s dream. Movies from Animal House to Old School have celebrated the rite-of-passage bacchanal, and it seems nobody can get enough of the festivities: even Michael Phelps, the squeaky-clean mama’s boy who dreams in red, white and blue, was caught blazing at a University of South Carolina ripper in November (bystander statement of the century: “He was the gold medal winner of bong hits”).

Defiance Review

A few questions were bothering me as I prepared to watch Edward Zwick’s latest flick, Defiance, last week: (1) Can Daniel Craig’s sexy stubble and bulging pecs do for the Holocaust what they did for James Bond? (2) Is festering sexual tension — the meat and potatoes of any Hollywood blockbuster — really appropriate in a genocide film? And (3) do I get to see as many dead Germans as I did in Saving Private Ryan?

Un-Curbed Enthusiasm: Larry David is My Idol

As graduation edges ever nearer and the menace of the Real World approaches, it’s natural for us college types to imagine what we might be like as fully-formed adults with colon polyps and 401(k)s. Some might see a dapper executive in thousand-dollar suits and shiny loafers; others might envisage a laid-back hippie-type with granola and Birkenstocks. My own aspirations lie in a somewhat less conventional direction: when I think of what I’d like to be in 40 years, I think of Larry David.

Under the Eyes Of the Gods

They’ve had their breasts painted green by architecture students. They’ve been stolen by miscreant frat boys. They’ve been rolled down Libe Slope on Slope Day and they’ve weathered the storms of misuse and assault.

Waxing Poetic

January 20, 2008 may go down in history as the day we swore in our first black president, but there’s a good chance that today will mark another important historic milestone: namely, the largest crowd to ever hear a poem.
That’s right: with official predictions of inauguration-gawkers numbering in the millions, there will be a record-breaking quantity of ears around to take in the words of Elizabeth Alexander, an African-American professor of literature at Yale and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet who has been tapped by Obama to read a special poem. Sharing the stage with other artistic luminaries like Yo-Yo Ma and Aretha Franklin, Alexander will have a chance to capture the ceremony’s theme, “A New Birth of Freedom,” in a few pithy lines.

I Lost My Morning Jacket

The folks over at Gannett might not like my saying it, but addiction’s not always a bad thing. Sure, heroin eats your soul and meth eats your face, but there are subtler pleasures whose tight grip on your sense of self-discipline does neither harm nor detriment. Some people garden; others copulate; but there is only one non-narcotic pastime that can truly take hold of your body and spirit. I am speaking, of course, of music.
You all know the feeling — the irresistible urge to play that song just one more time, the uncontrollable humming in class, the sense of powerlessness before your iPod’s repeat function.