Too Much to Choose From: Searching for Inspiration in Asheville

local is the new black poster

Asheville is an Appalachian Shangri-La. This year-round resort town, tucked between the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, draws a funky mix of New Agers, fleece-clad mountain bikers, antiques lovers and old-time farmers. And what's there not to like? Charming yet surprisingly cosmopolitan for a town of about 73,000, Asheville has a Southern appeal all its own. There are lazy cafes and buzzing bistros, Art Deco skyscrapers and arcades reminiscent of Paris, kayaking and biodiesel cooperatives and one of the world's largest private homes — the Biltmore Estate, a French Renaissance-style mansion with 250 rooms. No wonder so many locals first started out as tourists. -- New York Times “Freak … [Read more...]

Filtering Music through a ToM Lens


"Starting with the affirmation of man/ I work myself backwards using cynicism," Mike Watt sings on the Minutemen's classic track "The Glory of Man." "I live sweat, I dream light years/ I am the tide - the rise and fall." For many of our writers individuals like Mike Watt and bands like the Shins or rap groups like Das Racist have served as a means to connect and filter our understanding of late 20th  and early 21st century culture and history. Needless to say it was a veritable red letter day when Watt tweeted at ToM regarding an article we had written about the band.  Undoubtedly, Watt remains a testament to the ethos of the hardcore punk movement—"Punk rock is an idea, not a musical … [Read more...]

An MLS Moment: What the Chivas USA Controversy Tells Us About the State of US Soccer

CD Chivas de Guadalajara v Los Angeles Galaxy

In a recent podcast for Grantland, Roger Bennett and Roger Davies reflected on Major League Soccer’s (MLS) current fortunes. After nearly two decades, they argued, the league had made it through the leanest years intact, financially healthy, and ready to expand its market share. Indeed, soccer remains one of the nation’s most popular youth sports and perhaps more importantly, among 17 – 24 year olds, as was widely reported last year, soccer ranks second just behind American football in popularity. Undoubtedly, as evidenced by their recent success in the English Premiership (EPL), American players, most of them former or current MLS standouts, have become increasingly common. From grunge era … [Read more...]

Between Adolescence and Adulthood: How Girls and Toro y Moi Capture Our Awkward 20s


“We were kids acting way too old Hidden somewhere in the back room Now we got it and it's just us Now I, wanna, keep it, forever” - “Day One” from Toro y Moi’s Anything in Return Aaaahhhhhhh the twenties. Looking back, the corresponding victories of your first taste of adulthood can be the sweetest but the failures can also be the most disappointing. Dropping the ball while fumbling through the process of “finding oneself” stings that much more because, well, you haven’t figured it out; to paraphrase Fugazi, you spend your time hoping that every slip’s not a slide. This tension makes Lena Dunham’s Girls exciting. “There’s something thrilling and familiar about watching people so trapped … [Read more...]

Inauthentic Authenticity: Ian Svenonius and the Challenge of Indie Rock Satire in an MP3 World


Saturday night, Washington D.C., a stone’s throw from one of D.C. hardcore’s central nodes and the playground of Nation of Ulysses (NOU) front man Ian Svenonius: the Embassy in Mt. Pleasant.  In the late 1980s and 1990s, Svenonius, NOU, and other D.C. punks used to gather at the Embassy to discuss music, politics, and agit prop, even serving as an ally to the Riot Grrrl movement when Kathleen Hanna and others left Washington for a sojourn to the capital in what for many, became a transformative experience.   Tonight, though, sitting in independent book store Politics and Prose and waiting for Svenonius to appear from on high to assault us with his latest philosophical tract, the shop hums … [Read more...]

Tropics of Meta’s Best of 2012


It has been a big year for us at ToM, as we rebooted and redesigned the site back in March and welcomed many new contributors.  (Hi, Jude, Lauren, Maryann, Nick, Adam, John, Jonathyne, & co.)  We were also lucky to see several of our pieces circulated more broadly in the online world, such as Alex’s look at the politics of Atlanta’s Beltline, Ryan’s analysis of sexuality in the films of Wes Anderson, and our roundtable discussion of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.  Meanwhile, the manic, occasionally psychotic antics of the US election cycle prompted both mild laceration from our friend Clement, who covered the presidential conventions and debates, as well as the periodic spike in interest in … [Read more...]

Requiem for a Heems: An Obit for Das Racist


On Monday, Salon informed the public that one of rap’s most innovative groups had agreed to call it quits. That’s right, Himanshu Suri (Heems) told audience members in Munich on Sunday night that the fat lady had sung. “You guys wanna know the secret?” Heems teased. “Alright, so I’m going to do some Das Racist songs, but Das Racist is breaking up and we’re not a band anymore.” It all started with a massive joke.  Das Racist amassed Internet buzz and notoriety with the 2008 hit “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” in which Heems and Victor Vazquez (Kool AD) shout “I’m at the Pizza Hut!  I’m at the Taco Bell!” over an infectious beat and 80s video game zips and zaps.  The song relates the … [Read more...]

The Relentless Pace of Hipsterdom: A Day at Pitchfork Music Festival Paris


[Editor's note: Please welcome Greg Spivak to ToM.  All photos appearing here were taken by Mr. Spivak, we encourage you to click on them to see them at full size and resolution.] In French there is no equivalent for “hipster.” Recently the term has been adopted by the French press, with articles describing this American idea of “le hipster”; slowly, the word is starting to lose its italicized status as a new loan word along with les has-been, les best-of and les lifting (fine, the last is a strange Gallic deformation of "face-lift"). The closest the French come is the bobo, which, although coined by David Brooks, moved to, settled, and thrived in France -- talk shows speak endlessly of … [Read more...]

The Sexuality of “Whimsy”: Gender and Sex in the Films of Wes Anderson


Writing about Wes Andersen’s latest production, Moonrise Kingdom, New York Times critic A.O. Scott summarized the symbolic consummation between the film’s adolescent protagonists Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward): "There, with a tent, a French pop song and unembarrassed honesty (Sam warns Suzy that he may wet the bed), they consummate, metaphorically, an enchanted, chaste affair capped with a hilariously symbolic deflowering."  While academics, critics, and others have long discussed dominant Anderson motifs such as loving but dysfunctional families, unreliable patriarchs, and the aesthetic particulars associated with the now-veteran director, far fewer have examined the underlying … [Read more...]

Extreme Makeover Football Edition: What Michael Vick, John Terry, and Joey Barton Tell Us about Media Rehabilitation in 2012

barton mustache

Editor's Note: This article is cross posted at our friends Cult Football. For our football readers, definitely a worthwhile click. Recently, Michael Vick appeared on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption (PTI).  Vick appeared on PTI to plug his new book, Finally Free: The Power of a Second Chance. In his nearly eight minute interview, the Philadelphia Eagles star openly acknowledged his problematic past and, while contrite and thoughtful, he also admitted the book was an attempt to end the conversation about his history: “We can talk football, we can talk other personal things but let’s not talk about my past, let’s leave it where it is.” Vick’s career and life provide insights into several … [Read more...]


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