Three books I've read recently, rather than months ago:The Men Who Stare At Goats, Jon Ronson
Here's another book about the strange connections between the, uh, bullshit science and pop philosophy of the '60s and '70s and the, uh, military-industrial complex, especially the dark parts of said complex that are responsible for interrogation/psy-ops/torture (that reminds me of a word game I used to love--I'm firm, you're stubborn, he's obstinate. The US interrogates, Israel engages in psychological operations and Iraq tortures. But I digress). But where most of these books are angry screeds about MK-ULTRA, pieced together from FOIA requests and Paul Krassner lectures, this one is dryly funny, and it depends heavily on personal interviews. I am a very big fan.Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, from the Banana Splits to Britney Spears, ed. by Kim Cooper and David Smay
Positive things I can say about this book: clearly a labor of love, occasionally thought-provoking, a good recommended-listening list, a very good index, strident opinions about the definition, taxonomy and value of bubblegum music.
Negative things: clearly the work of true believers, occasionally incoherent, hit-or-miss individual essays, not much overarching structure, strident opinions about the definition, taxonomy and value of bubblegum music.
Things it makes me reconsider: Radio Disney; Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution; The Ramones; the name of Kurt Cobain's childhood imaginary friend, Buddah.Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture, Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter
This book has been getting some attention online lately--it's possible you've read publicized excerpts which do things like explicate the similarities between Pleasantville
, American Beauty
and The Matrix
, or make fun of Naomi Wolf's exclusive Toronto loft. The book as a whole is more thoughtful, more nuanced and a great deal more intelligent than these excerpts would suggest. The authors, Canadian philosophy professors, argue convincingly that a 'counterculture' based on image and coolness is itself working against social justice, and instead, fuels consumer capitalism. Very highly recommended.