Tag Archives: Eric Alterman

I may just have to sue Eric Alterman

I’m giving serious thought to the possibility of litigation over Eric Alterman’s list of The Top 20 World’s Worst Songs, because of the nightmares it’s going to give me.

I mean — dude, it’s been decades now since I even thought about “The Night Chicago Died”  or “Wildfire,” and you had to go and remind me about them? What possible good could have been served by springing “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” from the lead-lined, triple-locked, concrete-jacketed, impenetrable bunker I shoved it into in the sub-basement of my subconscious ages ago? Geeeeeezzz,  it takes me back to the days when the sound of that fife-and-drum intro dribbling from a nearby transistor radio meant there were only two options for preserving sanity: (a) wrap one’s head in a couple of blankets and wait for the song to pass, or (b) smash the radio before the song could get going.

Nothing makes me cherish my iPod and Internet radio more than the memory of the era when AM radio was ruled by music stations with playlists so tight you could set your watch to them. (” ‘Afternoon Delight’ is on? Damn, I’m five minutes late for work!”) Future generations of music scholars, reading the works of Seventies music critics like Lester Bangs, will wonder at the intemperate tone of a piece like “James Taylor Marked for Death,” and have to imagine for themselves the way pique could be goaded into anger by the knowledge that in a world brimming over with new and interesting music, you were going to be flogged with “Sometimes When We Touch” for the umpteenth time by whatever radio station was playing.

I’m my own radio station now, and so are you and everyone else, and boy is it an improvement. Now the only time I have to think about “Baby I’m A Want You” is when somebody like Eric Alterman reminds me. Time to look in the Rolodex for my lawyer’s number. This mental trespass will not stand.

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Friday finds


Photographer Thomas Allen creates dioramas using cover art from pulp novels of the Forties and Fifties. If they get your blood pumping, take note that the Oregon Literary Review is canvassing for pulp-style stories of up to 10,000 words in length.

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Philip Roth’s first book.

Read all about England’s new poet laureate.

Trying to decide if you want to buy that new J.R.R. Tolkien book? Let Tom Shippey, author of The Road to Middle-earth, walk you through it. The big question, as Shippey explains, is how Tolkien addressed the Konigsproblem of Germanic philology. And while we’re on the subject of texts that inspired Tolkien’s work, Open Letters Monthly has a really interesting piece on the Kalevala, the great Finnish national epic.

New Orleans found itself on its ass some years ago, and the rest of the country stared at it as it it was a unique case. In some sense, Katrina is an outwire of what the rest of the country was going to experience.”

Eight things you didn’t know about the Internet.

Another wingnut attempt to smear I.F. Stone as a Soviet spy, another corrective smackdown from Eric Alterman.

The new issue of The Biographer’s Craft is up.

A few years ago it was decided that we would redesign the Nabokov backlist and use the 50th anniversary of Lolita for the kick off . . . I came up with one of my favorite covers of all time. A very simple variation on a standard Lolita theme yet with a very subversive twist. I was surprised how well it went over, but after a day or so everyone started to get a little queasy looking at it (myself included). So the twist was taken out and we have what the New York Post said was the ‘raciest cover yet’ for Lolita. If they only knew.”

This is just too freaky. I mean, whistling spiders? I ask you.

The plots of the first 10 Star Trek movies compressed into haiku form. And why not? And as long as we’re geeking it up, here’s a linguistic history of the Klingon language.

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