Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The Cuckold Surgeon's Heinous Revenge

The winning submission to The New Yorker’s cartoon caption contest #388, by Jerry Sobol, of New York, N.Y., appears to the lay reader, or the person in need of glasses, to be a simple joke about how careless middle-aged men can be about their spouses. A closer read reveals a dark, Cheeveresque narrative penned by Sobol, who likely harbors retrograde opinions about women’s place in the world that would horrify the average New Yorker reader.

A chinless man carrying a bag of golf clubs and wearing golf clothing, has burst into a surgery, perhaps while attempting to locate a stray shot (whether he is playing golf within the hospital or [...]


The Politician Full Of "Hot Air"

This cartoon caption, submitted by Lynn Tudor, of New York, N.Y. and then selected from a pile of hundreds and voted to the top by New Yorker readers, is deft political satire masquerading as daft political satire. The most dangerous sort of critique is that which the Powers That Be do not recognize as subversive, for it appears so facile. And Tudor, with this caption, makes herself nothing less than a modern-day Švejk, as she fights to expose the absurdities of a broken political system by pretending to believe firmly in its toxic conceits.

Tudor’s caption is, prima facie, incredibly (almost painfully) dumb. The expression “full of hot [...]


The Alien Mysteries of Easter Island

The caption above, selected from a pool of hundreds in the New Yorker's caption contest #378, and then voted to the top of the pile by New Yorker readers, is reasonably witty on the surface, insofar as Cadbury Creme Egg commercials are witty. But like the best satire, this caption works on two very different levels. Masquerading as complete and utter pablum—literally fodder for children—it hints at a violent end to Western Civilization as we know it.

It might be hard to understand why this caption won the contest if you only look at its surface features. The losing captions of this contest's three top choices—"I’m rebranding" and "He’s [...]


Tupac Lane Welcomes You: The Street Names Of Las Vegas

When Tupac was riddled with bullets just off the Las Vegas Strip in 1996, yet another city was added to the long list of those that have claims on him: Baltimore, Oakland, New York, Los Angeles, Marin City.1 As the list's last entry, Las Vegas became the one people would least like to remember. Strangely, the city already had a street named after him—or so it would appear to us now. Developed in 1990 (according to the real-estate site Zillow), Tupac Lane was likely not named for the man who was then just another member of Digital Underground. (Though it seems almost as odd to suppose it was named [...]


A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage

One of McDonald’s most divisive products, the McRib, made its return last week. For three decades, the sandwich has come in and out of existence, popping up in certain regional markets for short promotions, then retreating underground to its porky lair—only to be revived once again for reasons never made entirely clear. Each time it rolls out nationwide, people must again consider this strange and elusive product, whose unique form sets it deep in the Uncanny Valley—and exactly why its existence is so fleeting.

The McRib was introduced in 1982—1981 according to some sources—and was created by McDonald’s former executive chef Rene Arend, the same man who invented the Chicken [...]


What's Really Pornographic? The Point of Documenting Detroit

Early this year, John Patrick Leary, a professor of American literature at Wayne State University, published a story in Guernica called "Detroitism" about, primarily, the two competing journalistic and artistic narratives about the Motor City.

There’s the Detroit Lament, which he describes as an examination of the city’s decline that is mostly told through the examination of physical spaces. You may have heard it referred to as "ruin porn." And there’s the Detroit Utopia, stories which purport to show a new way forward for the city, be it through urban farming, $100 homes or bicycling. (Utopian depictions of Detroit, Leary noted, tend to involve young creative white people.)

Leary [...]


Why We Shouldn't Treat Rap As Poetry

Jesse Kramer is a 24-year-old freelance writer, of sorts, but one whose talents are actually in demand. Right out of USC, with a major in Business, Kramer started a business called Rap Rebirth. It's a one-stop shop for all your rap needs. Jesse will help you punch up your rhymes, hooks, metaphors and similes; he’ll write you anything from a 16-bar verse to a whole album. He can even make you sound like Drake, if you want (odds are you will, apparently), and his business just might pose a problem to academics who want to make a name off of treating rap as something it is not.

In [...]


Four Loko Delivered Just What Its Marketing Department Promised

Back in July, in assessing the sudden prominence of awful beverage Four Loko in rap, we decided that "rap songs about consumer goods will never be the same again." But there were bigger things on the horizon for Four Loko. In New York, the Latin Kings forced their rape victim to chug 10 cans of Four Loko before torturing him. Out west, a bunch of Central Washington University students "over-dosed" on the drink. New Jersey's Ramapo College has banned it from their campus. To put it mildly, and to stress the least important part of these stories, Four Loko has had a rough month for [...]


How the Looming Specter of Viral Marketing Ruins Rap Songs About Consumer Goods

There has been much commiseration lately over the perceived decline of hip-hop. It's bad because it's fully transitioned to pop, say some. It's bad because of The Internet, say others. To me, this seems to be a whole lot of misplaced nostalgia. Do these people really want to return to the early 90's-so they can hear Cypress Hill on the radio? Or maybe the late 90s, to catch a guest verse from Fiend or C-Murder on some No Limit clusterfuck of a record? The 90s were not some paradise for commercial rap where mainstream radio played UGK, Heltah Skeltah and Mac Dre all the time; most commercial rap sucked in [...]