Author: Matthew Barlow

The Power of the Media

Last week I posted this to Facebook, thinking it made a good point about corporate behaviour as opposed to individual behaviour.  I immediately got lambasted by several friends who argued that it is we as individuals who make change and that corporations and the media respond to us.  As far as I’m concerned this is hogwash and the height of American liberalism.  No.  We don’t control corporations.  We don’t control the  media.  We are conditioned not to. We are conditioned to purchase new things, to listen to our media.  And, sure, we can boycott. One friend lives in rural Tennessee and is doing her best to live a life of simplicity with minimal consumption.  I salute that.  I personally do not shop at Walmart due to its odious corporate behaviour vis-à-vis downtown cores around this country.  But Lydia’s actions and mine are small, a drop in the ocean.  And, yes, certainly, if we are joined in our attempts to make the world better in this sense, it would make a difference.  But, until we are numerous enough to make Walmart stop gutting the downtowns of small-town America, for example, I think we need to both carry on keeping on keeping on, but also holding the nose of corporations to the stink they create. Today, I looked briefly on Twitter and got depressed.  Trump, Trump, and more Trump.  Some of...

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The Best Music of 2017, Part I

Over New Year’s, we gathered with friends, decompressed, and tried to be optimistic.  We started referring to 2017 as a dumpster fire.  That dumpster fire followed 2016’s tire fire.  It’s been a rough couple of years, starting with the elephant in the room.  And ending with that same elephant.  We lost a lot of musicians in 2017, too.  From Chris Cornell to Chester Bennington, we also lost Chuck Berry, the rapper Prodigy, Glen Campbell, Gregg Allman, Malcolm Young, Fats Domino, and Tom Petty. And, Canada lost its de facto poet laureate, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie.  For a good Canadian lad like myself, losing Downie hurts.  And I hadn’t got over losing my hometown boy Leonard Cohen in 2016. But, in all of this, 2017 left behind some great music.  This is Part I of my completely subjective list of great 2017 music, though it also includes some 2016 music because I didn’t come across it until 2017.  This list is also in no particular order. Indian Handcrafts, Creeps (Sargent House)  A stoner rock duo from Brampton, Ontario, Indian Handcraft’s 2012 album, Civil Disobedience for Losers, has remained on constant play around here for the past 5 years.  Creeps continues on their formula of heavy, sludgy, melodic heavy stoner rock.  Highly recommended. Slow Season, Mountains (Riding Easy Records)  A devastating collection of hard rocking, hard hitting rawk music.  Best suited to pissing off the...

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Fake News, Lies, Worldviews and Liberal Smugness

A good friend of mine, Audie, is back home in Trump Country for the holidays. In this case, Trump Country is in southern Kentucky, about an hour from Nashville. He reports that all his buddies back home think that the Flynn Affair is all just Fake News. Audie used to be a tea partyer. In fact, that’s how I met him. We began with an argument on Twitter, but, instead of the usual name-calling and talking past each other, we had a real discussion within the limits of the old 140 character maximum. From that, when I moved to the US the following year, 2012, I got the idea to do a research project examining the far right of the US political spectrum and its view of US history, most notably the Revolution and Civil War. I was living just outside of Boston at the time and I was struck by how different the tea party’s view of the Revolution was from mine, as a professor of American history. In the process of the research, which I did via social media (primarily Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit), I got to meet some truly fascinating people. This includes birthers, un-Reconstructed Southerners, conspiracy theorists, libertarians who felt all tax was theft. I met a doctor-cum-businessman in Texas who claimed to understand both the Scriptures in Aramaic and Hebrew, as well as the...

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Kendrick Lamar Plays Us All

Years ago, I bought Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ album, Dig Lazarus Dig!!!  Because of the way iTunes downloaded the album to my MacBook and iPod, the tracks were reversed and I didn’t really notice.  Thus, for me, the album began with the epic ‘More News from Nowhere‘ and ended with the raucous title track.  It probably took me close to a year to realize that the song order was backwards and, really, I didn’t care.  I have since re-ordered the album in my iTunes and the tracks run the way they were supposed to.  But, for me, it doesn’t really sound right, though it is  more sensible to start with the raucous and end with the epic. Last week, Kendrick Lamar, the second coming of conscious hip hop (or Jesus, take your pick), re-released his most recent album, DAMN.  But, here’s the thing, this is the COLLECTORS EDITION.  So what did Lamar do to make this a collector’s edition? New tracks? Remixes?  Remixes AND new tracks?  Oh, hell no.  Lamar just re-ordered the album, from last to first.  And, the world has confirmed his brilliance. Now, DAMN was a mighty fine album.  And while I prefer the re-ordering of the tracks to play it back to first, all I can think is, really?!?  This is brilliance?  Lamar is playing us for fools. Source: Matthew...

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Nothing Says Cluelessness Quite Like Joking About Gentrification

Gentrification is a topic I have written a lot about here (for example, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and, finally, here).  And, of course, I wrote a book about Griffintown, Montreal. In other words, I think about gentrification a lot, occasionally curious about it, occasionally appalled by it. Last week, a Denver coffee chain found itself in the midst of a firestorm over a really stupid sandwich board sign outside of its outlet in Five Points neighbourhood.  Of course, the name Five Points carries with it various derogatory ideas, largely connected...

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