The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Eight

Last week, I started a story on a stolen van turned into a homeless shelter by discussing brother Bark and his time as a touring musician. The very first response suggested that I was being a bit “greasy” for even discussing the fact that Bark met a lot of young women on the road. This is the mindset of THE_CURRENT_YEAR in a nutshell, isn’t it? If I announced tomorrow that I was gay you’d all be basically forced to congratulate me on it in about the same fashion as if I announced that I had a season-long ride in Lamborghini Super Trofeo. If I decided tomorrow that I identified as a woman, albeit a six-foot-two, 240-pound woman with dark circles under her eyes and a hairy ass, it would be mandatory for my friends and co-workers to praise my “bravery” and “courage” in doing so. Hell, if I explained to the TTAC staff that I was now a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin they would have to take that absolutely seriously or face an extremely expensive lawsuit from me for denying my completely normal dragonkin sexuality.

If, on the other hand, I write something about the idea that I might be interested in a 19-year-old woman… HOLD THE PRESSES, YOU FUCKIN’ PERVERT! THAT’S NOT NORMAL! Fifty-year-old men are supposed to be interested in fifty-year-old women! It’s disgusting that they aren’t! Oh well. You have to live in reality, which tells us that older men like younger women and sometimes — shudder — they return the favor. I dated a 19-year-old for a bit right before meeting Danger Girl, who is not 19 but is also not close to my age. I dated more than one 25-year-old when I was in my early forties. The world did not end for anyone involved.

In fact, throughout human history it’s been common for successful, powerful, or persuasive men to throw away their wives in favor of younger women. It was Judeo-Christianity that brought a halt to this unsavory practice along with many others: Rejoice in the wife of your youth, says the Proverb. That was a new idea, this concept that you wouldn’t just roll your woman out with the garbage once she hit thirty or so. Oops. It’s no surprise that the collapse of public Christianity has freed-up men to once again pursue, and catch, young women. Fifty years ago, if you dumped your old-ass wife and got some young hottie people at your church would turn away from you like you didn’t exist. It would hurt your social life. It would hurt your employment or your business prospects. Men were expected to stand by their wives to the bitter end. Oh well. We had to tear down that old morality so we could all be free to pursue sexual pleasure as the sole overarching principle of our lives. Any collateral damage from that is just a too-bad-so-sad, isn’t it?

Anyway, commenter gtem is a little bit concerned about the idea that I won’t respect him just because he is parroting the modern Dove Real Beauty theology-in-a-box, so he takes a moment to assure me that he is not a “nu-male”. What’s that, you ask? You’re gonna be sorry you did.

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Guest Post: Consumerism Gone Cold

This Christmas, my sister sent my kids $25 Amazon gift cards.  Given the absolute bounty my children received, I promptly set these cards aside and, I am ashamed to admit, forgot about them until late last week when I finally thought to mention them.  The results were entirely predictable.  My son, who has a surprising amount of money in his piggy bank, calculated the amount as a part of his overall tally and, after considering his options, decided that the satisfaction of having so much cash outweighed the pleasure of anything that he might actually purchase.  My middle child, meanwhile, demanded that I immediately log into Amazon so that she could spend every last cent as quickly as possible while my youngest, still unclear on the concept of money, was just happy to sit beside her sister and examine the various toys that popped up.  In the end, however, no money was spent as I decided to use the opportunity for what I like to call, “a teachable moment.”

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Guest Post: Chamber Choir of Europe, Nicol Matt: Lauridsen “Sure On This Shining Night” Making-Of

(This guest post by John Marks originally appeared on his music-related site, The Tannhauser Gate — JB)

James Agee (1909-1955) had a difficult and comparatively brief life. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, his life was upended at age six when his father was killed in an automobile accident. Thereafter, Agee and his younger sister Emma were sent off to various boarding schools. Agee was a member of the class of 1932 at Harvard. Upon graduation, he went to work for Time, Inc.’s magazine Fortune. In 1934, he published his only volume of poetry, Permit Me Voyage.

In 1938 Agee wrote a brief prose piece, “Knoxville, Summer of 1915” that Samuel Barber later (1948) set for soprano and orchestra. In 1938, Barber had set another Agee text, “Sure On This Shining Night,” a brief untitled poetic fragment from Permit Me Voyage. Barber’s “Shining Night” setting is solidly in the core or standard repertory, both in its solo-voice and choral versions. More recently (2005), composer Morten Lauridsen’s choral setting of “Sure On This Shining Night” has earned worldwide currency for its soulful treatment of Agee’s enigmatic, pensive, yet I think ultimately hopeful lines.

Agee later participated in the writing of two of the most famous films of the era, The African Queen and Night of the Hunter. He was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1958 for his autobiographical novel A Death In the Family. Agee’s reputation as a writer is usually thought to rest upon A Death In the Family and his Depression-era journal Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. But it cannot be doubted that Agee was one of the most important English-language art-music lyricists of the 20th century. That is, as long as one judges by quality, and not merely quantity.

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Guest Post: Confessions of a Modern Luddite

Now that my son is in middle school, it’s getting close to the point where he will need his own cellular phone.  Unlike his younger sisters, he has yet to ask for one but there have been some times when having his own phone would have been handy.  Thus far, when he has had to stay after school for extracurricular activities, he has been able to call us from the office or by borrowing a friend’s phone, but I don’t believe that is a good long-term solution.  Clearly, it’s time he had one but I just can’t force myself to go out and get it.

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Electrek Will Not Be Taking Questions Today

If you’re not familiar with Electrek, go here and read all about Frederic Lambert, the “Editor-in-Chief and Main Writer” at Electrek (according to his unintentionally hilarious LinkedIn page) and his ethically-challenged mindset and probably-illegal behavior.

Since Freddy’s behavior has helped him make more than Donald Trump, he’s starting to act like the POTUS on Twitter by blocking anybody who says anything negative about him or the site. Actually, cancel that—you don’t even have to be negative. He’s just blocking errybody out here.

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Ask You: What Do You Want To See Here in 2018?

As our first month of semi-commercialization wraps up here, I’m pleased to say that December 2018 is the highest traffic month we’ve ever had here at Riverside Green. In addition to increased content from the two of us Baruths, we also had outstanding content from Thomas Kreutzer, Freddy Hernandez, Michael Briskie, Rebecca Turrell, and Tom Klockau—in other words, we’ve become the most diverse kinda automotive site in the business without actually trying. Funny how that works!

For the first five years of this site’s existence, and even more so since I joined the masthead, we’ve never been particularly focused on driving traffic to our mutual vanity project. However, since we’re serving ads now, it is important that you’re seeing more of what you want to justify putting up with the occasional intrusion from ForeverSpin. So now that 2017 is winding down and 2018 is upon us, the question is simple: what would cause you to come see us more often in 2018?

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Sexual Harassment, or The New McCarthyism

 

Sexual harassment has been weaponized. There can be no doubt about it, no discussion required. Anyone, at anytime, can be accused, and the accusers’ testimony must be believed, even if it is questionable. Just ask Al Franken. Statutes of limitation are irrelevant. Evidence isn’t required. All that’s required is a man (or woman) in a position of power who can be taken down with nothing more than the words of a sympathetic accuser.

Although she may have been wrong in the specific instance she was referencing, Nancy Pelosi was right (God, that hurt to type that) when she said that we are strengthened by due process. But alleged harassers aren’t given that due process. They are tried and convicted in the media, and anybody who dares to question the legitimacy of the claims (remember Duke?) is labeled as tone-deaf, at best, and a co-conspirator in systemic sexual oppression, at worst.

And while the sheer number of claims against powerful figures in the entertainment and private sectors are staggering, it’s in the political arena where sexual harassment claims can absolutely shake the foundation of our nation.

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Will Gogo Internet Kill The Magazine Business For Good?

I’ve often said (and occasionally tweeted) that Gogo internet, the only inflight wifi option on most major American carriers, is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, depending on how I’m feeling about the mercurial service is behaving at that very moment. I signed up for Gogo a long time ago, almost at the very beginning of the company’s existence, so I pay a little less per month than some latecomers, but it’s a fee I very begrudgingly pay every single month. It’s a necessary evil—during the five hours of time time that I’m taking a flight from Atlanta to Seattle, my entire industry might change (and often does). I literally cannot afford to be disconnected from email or text that long.

More often than not, however, over the years that I’ve forked over my loot, the service has left me feeling more frustrated than satisfied. Slow connection speeds, spotty service, entire flights with no service whatsoever, flight attendants who have no idea how to reset a router…it’s enough to drive a man to drink. (Luckily, I’m normally in First so the drinks are free.) But since Gogo is the only option for inflight wifi, they can charge whatever the hell they want, and I’ll still pay it. There are times, however, when the service is so poor, that I’m very glad that I’ve packed my last issue of Road & Track to help me pass the time. Plus, I can’t connect until the plane goes over 10,000 feet, and I lose service when the plane goes under 10K, so there’s at least 20-30 minutes of flying time where I have no service, so it’s nice to catch up on my reading during those times, as well.

And I’m not the only one. In fact, the number one sales revenue channel for magazines in 2017 is not subscriptions, but airports. Magazines give away subscriptions. But at the airport, a glossy mag still runs anywhere from six to ten bucks, and people line up to buy them at the newsstands.

However, that may change soon.

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My God, If I Have To Go To One More Nutcracker

The year is 2017. I have attended my daughter’s dance studio’s version of “The Nutcracker” every year since 2013, some years more than once. It’s pretty miserable for 80 of the 90 minutes that I’m there. Not only that, it’s an effing ripoff.

I pay hundreds of dollars a month for dance classes, only to then have to pay another hundred bucks or so for a Nutcracker costume (which costs nothing like $100 for the owner of the studio). I then have to pay $12-15 for a ticket for each member of the family to come watch the performance. I then also have to pay for the DVD of the performance, which we will absolutely NEVER watch, and also pay for “professional” photos of the performance because video and still cameras are not permitted at any time.

In fact, the whole concept of the local dance studio is complete crap. If my daughter were attending the New York City Ballet’s school or even the Louisville Ballet School, maybe I could justify the expense. But since we live too far away from any professional ballet training schools, what I’m actually paying for is extremely subpar teaching from a bunch of never-weres.

But, wait, there’s more!

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