Is This True? There’s A “Renaissance” In Cultural Journalism?

“It is a notably upbeat claim, especially when compared with the hand-wringing that typically accompanies talk of public intellectuals in America, who seem always to be in the act of vanishing. The few who remain pale in comparison to the near-mythic minds that roamed the streets of New York in the 1930s and 1940s, when rents were cheap, polemics were harsh, and politics were radical. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. What happened? Intellectuals who couldn’t survive as freelance writers — and as New York gentrified, who could? — became professors. By the 1960s, few nonacademic intellectuals remained. Careerism and specialization gradually opened up a gulf between intellectuals and the public. The sturdy prose of Edmund Wilson and Irving Howe gave way, by the mid-90s, to the knotted gender theorizing of Judith Butler and the cult-studies musings of Andrew Ross.”

Makeover Mania: What’s Up With The Urge To Redesign Everything?

“A designer sees a problem, proposes a solution, makes a difference. Such tidy narratives fuel a reigning ideology in which every object, symbol or pool of information is just another design problem awaiting some solution. The thermostat, the fire extinguisher, the toothbrush, the car dashboard – all have been redesigned, whether anybody was clamoring for their alteration or not.” A deep dive into the thought, and the process, behind this makeover mania.

Can Designers Redesign These Six Everyday Items And Make Them Better?

The items are the bike lock, the cell phone tower, the hospital gown, the toilet, the airport baggage carousel, and the prescription-medicine label. We think one of them is elegant but frivolous, one might work well but is unlikely to be adopted anytime soon, one’s confusing, one is genuinely ingenious (if it really works), one is “why didn’t anyone think of this before?”, and one should be put into production immediately. See if you agree.

‘The Master Of Space And Time,’ Rocker Leon Russell, Dead At 74

After starting his career as a much-in-demand session pianist (he put together Joe Cocker’s US band), he spent the ’70s as a rockabilly star in his own right. (Elton John was once his opening act.) “He wore a cocked top hat, and with salt-and-pepper hair past his shoulders and a beard that reached his chest, created an inscrutable image that was equal parts shaman, tent revival preacher and cosmic ringmaster.”

Did The Arts Fail To Help Make The Kind Of Country We Should Be?

“Theater, and art in general, have the power to change the world. And way too many of us relinquished that power in service of preserving our donor base and protecting white fragility. We used our power to produce Miss Saigon. We used our power to produce The Mikado. We used our power to enable blackface, brownfaceredface, cripface and yellowface. We used our power to victimize women. We used our power to produce multiple stories about white people lamenting to other white people about how the world is changing in front of audiences of white people. We used our resources to keep our lights on and our heads down while ignoring the small-handed, bloviating barbarian at the gate. And now he is here and we are “shocked.” Why? We built this.”