The Reagan Revolution Part I: Popular Music, Ronald Reagan, and Protest: Punk, Hardcore, and Post Punk, a Primer, 1980-2010

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Editor's note: This week we kick off a series of posts on punk in the 1980s and 1990s with special focus on the SoCal communities of El Monte and South El Monte (EM/SEM). First, however, we begin with the briefest of primers focusing on the "rockist" response - punk, hardcore, postpunk,  southern/heartland rock - over the last 30 years to the Reagan Revolution. Be sure to check back on Tuesday and Thursday for SEMAP's continuing series East of East and its reflections on punk and hardcore during the same period in EM/SEM. Few presidents in recent memory receive as much deference as one Ronald Reagan. Political figures from Newt Gingrich to Barack Obama have lauded the nation's former … [Read more...]

Reasons for the Left to Be Optimistic

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Being a liberal/lefty/whatever in America has never been easy, and it has seldom involved optimism.  Ever since Werner Sombart wondered “Why is there no socialism in the United States?” the Left has often seen itself as a chronic loser in US history, and especially since the historic routing of the New Left in the 1960s and the right-wing counterrevolution of Reaganomics in the 1980s, progressives could be regularly counted on to outmatch Eeyore in a dolefulness contest. In recent years the triumphs of corporate power and the Christian Right have meant that most on the Left have focused on defending what they’d already achieved rather than imagining anything better—hence the slogan “Another … [Read more...]

Newsmax vs. Truthout: The Mind of the Right and Left in Your Inbox

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“Democrats,” the Cato Institute recently observed, “are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents…”  But it then described Republicans as “hateful, assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe… that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn’t administered quickly enough to secular-humanist professors of Chicano studies.”  What gives? The libertarian organization was simply filing a very funny amicus curiae brief (words not often seen together) in a Supreme Court case that deals with Americans’ right to say terrible things about each other.  The … [Read more...]

Los Angeles F.C.: Soccer, Globalization, and Ethnicity

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One year ago this month, Major League Soccer (MLS) opened its 18th season with a cacophonous and exciting opening match between the New Jersey Redbulls and the Portland Timbers. Though the game took place in Portland and the match ended in an exciting 3-3 draw, Southern California drew the attention of broadcasters during the game’s halftime intermission. Former MLS stars and U.S. national players Taylor Twellman and Alexi Lalas engaged in a bit of banter regarding the L.A. based Chivas U.S.A. and its increasingly notorious team policy. Both players took offense to Chivas’  pro-Mexican/Latino recruiting model.  While admitting the policy came just short of racism, Lalas asserted that Chivas’ … [Read more...]

East of East: Using Vacant Space to Create Place in South El Monte

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[Editor's note: This article originally appeared under the Intersections column for the KCET Departures website, January 31, 2013] When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the fallout scattered widely. California and the metropolitan region of Los Angeles took it in the teeth. In Cleveland and Detroit, where unoccupied housing had long proven to be a drag on local economies and communities, vacant homes and lots accumulated rapidly. Rustbelt inner cities struggled mightily and their sprawling Sunbelt cousins endured crippling retrenchment. Phoenix, Fresno and Orlando witnessed declining economies and rising crime rates as vacant homes and lots proliferated. In "Sunburnt Cities," Tufts … [Read more...]

Meet Dr. Rad, the Georgia Democrat Who’s Challenging Michelle Nunn from the Left

Dr. Rad speaking to Medicaid activists

2014 looks to be a dolorous year for Democrats, unless some sudden shift in public opinion intervenes between now and November.  The Democratic Party's hold on a Senate majority appears to hinge on President Obama's slipping popularity and a range of vulnerable incumbents in states like Louisiana and North Carolina, where Democrats who won election in the anti-Bush wave of 2008 hope to hold on to their seats. Liberals see few bright spots on the map, except for Kentucky, where Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes poses at least a plausible challenge to unpopular Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Georgia, where Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Senator Sam … [Read more...]

Plan Ahead: A Historical Look at Rape Insurance in Michigan

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It’s a day that ends in “y” so there’s been another strike by the increasingly insane Republican Party against “ObamaCare” and women’s reproductive freedom – this time in Michigan. As reported initially in the Detroit Free Press, a Michigan state law just went into effect that will require women to purchase additional insurance if they want abortion coverage. In other words, girlfriends, be prepared for all possible consequences of rape, incest, birth defects, dangerous pregnancies and anything else you can think of! I mean, as a woman, you should expect these problems anyway. Don’t worry, though! We have in no way entered a bizarre dystopian universe already envisioned by Margaret Atwood … [Read more...]

The Motor City at War: Mobilization, Wartime Housing, and Reshaping Metropolitan Detroit

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“New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling. But there are other cities. Detroit. Poughkeepsie,” commented former Punk rock queen Patti Smith in recent weeks. “New York City has been taken away from you. So my advice is: Find a new city."  Today, Detroit usually receives attention for all the wrong reasons: industrial decline, corrupt mayoral administrations, and racial tension to name only a few issues assailing the city.  Add the seemingly ubiquitous spread of ruin porn – photography that tends to capture Detroit as if it were nothing but municipal ruin and squatters – and Detroit’s main attraction seems to be, at the moment, its desperation. Desperate New York of the … [Read more...]

Making Sense of JFK 50 Years Later

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In a previous post earlier this week, I lamented the mediocrity yielded by the manic rush of TV specials, movies, books and blogs about John F. Kennedy and the golden anniversary of his assassination.  Needless to say, the flood waters have continued rising.  Living presidents are in on the act.  At this point, having barely kept my head above water, I find meaning in small things.  Something important about JFK, his assassination, and how we might think about all of that in the aftermath of this anniversary comes to mind in looking at a couple of this week’s nuggets from The New Yorker and The Daily Beast. Though self-referential, “John F. Kennedy in The New Yorker” is worth a read.  It … [Read more...]

Mania and Melancholy in JFK’s Golden Anniversary

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“You’re using this conspiracy theory as an excuse to avoid having sex with me.” Allison to Alvy Singer in Annie Hall If a comic line from Woody Allen’s classic 1977 film is any indication, the waning days of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy will witness mounting sexual frustration.  How can Americans addled with conspiracy theories about the president’s death in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 get any sleep, let alone sex, while their televisions vibrate amidst a broadcast blitzkrieg of anniversary specials – documentaries, made-for-TV movies, “investigations” and nostalgic commemorations?  Of course, not everyone shares Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s … [Read more...]

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