Danny Duncan Collum, a Sojourners contributing writer, teaches writing at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. He is the author of the novel White Boy.
Posts By This Author
For the past 25 years, executions have taken place somewhere in America almost every week. They happened in the dead of night.
Yahoo for Hackers
Like so many big events of the digital age, the February shutdown of all those major e-commerce Web sites (Yahoo, E*TRADE, eBay, etc.) didn’t make much of a dent in my real life.
Yes, we have a computer and Internet access. But the computer is not in our house; it’s in an outbuilding we turned into an office. It’s only 20 feet from our back door, but those 20 feet, and a childproof lock on the door, are enough to separate our family’s real life from the virtual one. We unlock the door for specific work- or study-related purposes and lock it again when the job is done. The only exception is e-mail for far-flung family and friends.
As it happened, the day of the great Web meltdown was very cold, and I was out late with a night class. So I didn’t even walk those 20 feet to check the e-mail, much less fire up Yahoo in search of the latest TV and movie news. (Hey, for me that’s work-related!) When I finally did hear the news, the significance (dare I say justice?) of the event was plain.
Left historian Michael Kazin told The Village Voice that the e-commerce guerrillas are the direct descendants of Abbie Hoffman, and he was right. There has not been a more perfect symbolic, made-for-media political act since Hoffman and company dumped baskets of dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Arise, Ye Prisoners of Globalization
Something new entered history on November 30, 1999.
It's a Playboy World After All
Get out the garlic! Hef is back. That was the gist of a series of articles last summer and fall chronicling the return to the limelight of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.
The Bulworth Factor
The 2000 presidential election promises to be the biggest fiasco since 1920, when monied interests foisted Warren G. Harding off upon a distracted public.
Raised by TV
By now the Littleton, Colorado high school massacre has become the cultural Rorschach test for the new millennium.
Too Real to be Missed
Why Lucinda Williams Now? Maybe because it's time.
Life is (Sad and) Beautiful
We walked into a plush four-screen cinema in the affluent suburbs of east Memphis and took our place in the ticket line.
Home At Last
Notes from a small southern town.
Paging Stuart Smalley
Twenty-five years ago, I was a 19-year-old college kid joyously wallowing in Watergate.
Woody Guthrie Saves Rock and Roll
By now you've probably heard the news. The greatest rock-and-roll record of 1998 featured 50-year-old songs by a guy who's 10 years deader than Elvis.
Diagnosis Determines Cure
A spectre is haunting Europe...." So begins The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Those words were true when The Manifesto first appeared in 1848.
What Would Elvis Do?
When I began writing this column, way back in the second Reagan term, I held a certain spirit of optimism about the possibilities of American popular culture
The Spock Revolution
When he died, Dr. Benjamin Spock had been a household name for more than 50 years. His book Baby and Child Care, first published in 1946, coincided with the first swell of the baby boom. It kept selling long after the boom was gone. As of last year, the book had sold more than 40 million copies and was available in 39 languages.
That makes Benjamin Spock a major pop culture figure. Even in his dotage, he could always command a page in Parade magazine and get his pet causes onto the evening news. In his afterlife he will probably become a figure of urban folklore. In the next century, people will associate the name "Spock" with child-rearing without quite knowing why.
And the book will stay in print. It will stay around because it works.
At our house we’re already on our second copy. The pocket-sized paperback edition fell apart by the time our first child was 3. The pages on fever and nausea were the first to go. Now we have a sturdier trade paper version. It is underlined, dog-eared, and stuffed between the pages with notes and handouts from our own doctor, old recipes for baby food, and articles torn from magazines about parenting.
Dr. Spock was the one who told us that sudden, inexplicable fever in our 8-month-old baby, followed by an equally inexplicable rash, was just a fairly common infant ailment called roseola and nothing to worry about. Our pediatrician was quite impressed when my wife presented the baby to her and said, "It’s roseola, isn’t it?" Dr. Spock also told us, yes, you really do need to take that baby to the doctor with that 104 degree temperature, even if it is the weekend, because sometimes it doesn’t just go away.
The Impact of Absence
Thirty-five years ago, on June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated in front of his home on the west side of Jackson, Mississippi.
An Epic Called Amistad
Oscar time is a'coming, and with it another chance to consider the relationship between Steven Spielberg's world and our own.
Pledging Allegiance to "Heritage"
Conversations about rock-and-roll music inevitably come up in my life. If the guitars and amp stored in my office don’t start it, the row of recent CDs on our living room bookshelf does.
The Revenge of the Local
The defining cultural struggle of the early 21st century will be between the local and the global. This is already familiar ground in this column.
The Death of Cool
The settlement between the tobacco companies and the 40 state attorneys general has been widely noted as a landmark in public health and consumer safety. And it is.
A Tourist Trap with a Difference
During Easter weekend this year, I finally visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.