One common way of viewing Björk’s career is as a long descent into the bizarre. After the eclectic earworms of her first three solo albums ( Debut in 1993, Post in 1995, and Homogenic in 1997), she moved through surprising phases, ranging from soft murmuring (2001’s Vespertine ) to splattering noise (2017’s Utopia ) . These days, her work can seem less like pop than, as The Guardian ’s Chal Ravens recently put it , “surreal opera.” Björk doesn’t think in these terms. When I met with the 56-year-old musician in Iceland for The Atlantic ’s recent profile of her , she expressed mystification at people who say her ’90s stuff was more fun. “Maybe they remember themselves in some club doing ecstasy and there were three remixes in a row,” she said. “Overall, the BPM , or the amount of chill, or the amount of experimental, or the amount of pop sugar, or the amount of self-reflective, serious moments—I think it’s actually sort of been the same throughout my albums.” … [Read more...] about How to Listen to Björk, According to Björk
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The man who was about to interview Salman Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution last Friday when a would-be murderer ran onstage with a knife is a 73-year-old former telemarketing entrepreneur from Pittsburgh named Henry Reese. He wears bow ties and speaks with a low-key, husky voice and shuns attention. But Reese and his wife, Diane Samuels, are two of the more remarkable ordinary people in America. They’ve transformed a blighted Pittsburgh street into a haven for persecuted writers and artists from around the world. It’s called City of Asylum, and it’s a physical manifestation of the universal value of free expression. This achievement has something to do with what happened on Friday, two and a half hours north of Reese’s home turf. The Chautauqua Institution is an idyllic lakeside community, with an entry gate and streets lined by picturesque Victorians, where paying visitors—a lot of them retirees from the Midwest, more middle class than coastal culture seekers—stay for a summer … [Read more...] about Free Speech Can’t Survive as an Abstraction
A guide to the books and movies that can help you understand one of the Supreme Court's most important, and most neglected, rulings: the one that secured the right to counsel for indigent defendants. The accompanying piece about the legacy of Gideon v. Wainwright is long -- probably longer than my dear editors would have liked -- but in many important ways it is not long enough. There is a great deal of relevant, interesting material worthy of a closer look that I did not include in my take on the 50th anniversary of the right to counsel. Here are some resources you should check out if you want to know more about this vital topic: 1. You simply have to start with Gideon's Trumpet , published in 1964 by Anthony Lewis, then and for many years afterward the New York Times ' Supreme Court reporter. The simple book is Lewis' masterwork, in my opinion, and one of the finest works about American law ever written. You can read it in less than a day; and you should; and if you do, … [Read more...] about So You Want to Learn More About the Gideon Case?