Los Angeles Review of Books

15 articles
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Piety and Perversity

On the palm trees of Los Angeles.

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On A Norwegian Tragedy and 2083: A European Declaration of Independence

The writings of Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik are a copy-and-paste hodgepodge of “jeremiads against the scourge of cultural theory, lists of atrocities perpetuated by Muslims, and pages of derision of ‘female sluts,’ but also Wikipedia articles about sugar beet farming and investment tips.”

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Town of the Living Dead

The authors spend time in Concord, Mass., with people who impersonate Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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The Tedium Is the Message

A history of spam on the internet.

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Hollywood Bigfoot: Terrence Malick and the Twenty-Year Hiatus That Wasn't

“The mythical image of Malick that has been built up over the last 30-odd years is, in essence, a creation of the same media corps with whom the filmmaker himself has continually chosen not to engage.”

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Myths And Depths

A free-ranging conversation between music writers Simon Reynolds and Greil Marcus.

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All Hail the Chairmen

On office chairs.

In the 1950s and '60s, the distinctions between rank found blunt expression in chair design, naming and price point; Knoll, for example, produced "Executive," "Advanced Management," and "Basic Operational" chairs in the late 1970s. Recall the archetypal scenes where the boss, back to the door, protected by an exaggerated, double-spine headrest, slowly swivels around to meet the eyes of his waiting subordinate, impotent in a stationary four-legger.

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Muddy Waters and Mozart

A memory of interviewing the late great songwriter Townes Van Zandt shortly before his death.

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Grief and Solemnity

On the American way of death, burial, and mourning, from war heroes to Elvis:
At the scene of his mother’s funeral, Elvis Presley — invincible sex symbol, cocksure performer, the man who changed the world and music forever — was reduced to a pathetic, blubbering mama’s boy. “Mama, I’d give up every dime I own and go back to digging ditches, just to have you back,” he told her body while it lay in repose the night before the funeral. At the service, according to biographer Peter Guralnick, "Elvis himself maintained his composure a little better until, towards the end, he burst into uncontrollable tears and, with the service completed, leaned over the casket, crying out, 'Good-bye darling, good-bye. I love you so much. You know how much I lived my whole life just for you.' Four friends half-dragged him into the limousine. 'Oh God,' he declared, 'everything I have is gone.'"
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The Educational Lottery

How American higher education became a summer camp doubling as a debt factory.