Danny Duncan Collum, author of the novel White Boy, teaches writing at Kentucky State University in Frankfort. 

Posts By This Author

Too Real to be Missed

by Danny Duncan Collum 07-01-1999

Why Lucinda Williams Now? Maybe because it's time.

Life is (Sad and) Beautiful

by Danny Duncan Collum 05-01-1999

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 03-01-1999

Notes from a small southern town.

Paging Stuart Smalley

by Danny Duncan Collum 03-01-1999

Twenty-five years ago, I was a 19-year-old college kid joyously wallowing in Watergate.

Woody Guthrie Saves Rock and Roll

by Danny Duncan Collum 01-01-1999

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 11-01-1998

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?

by Danny Duncan Collum 09-01-1998

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 07-01-1998
On Dr. Benjamin Spock

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 05-01-1998

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 03-01-1998

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"

by Danny Duncan Collum 01-01-1998

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 11-09-1997

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 09-01-1997

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

by Danny Duncan Collum 07-01-1997

During Easter weekend this year, I finally visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

We Have Met the Enemy . . .

by Danny Duncan Collum 07-01-1997
Timothy McVeigh is more "one of us" than we like to admit

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy . . .

by Danny Duncan Collum 05-01-1997
The mass audience message is on the front page: "Rosenberg spied."

Beginning of the Middle of the Muddle

by Danny Duncan Collum 03-01-1997

Not many meaningful public rituals in America remain. 

The Digital Clock Will Not Turn Back

by Danny Duncan Collum 01-01-1997

''Of the making of books, there is no end" goes a moth-eaten quotation. But maybe there is after all. At least that's the war cry of the latter-day Luddites.

A Pioneer of Pop

by Danny Duncan Collum 11-01-1996
A Tribute to Bill Monroe

Live from Mt. Olympus...

by Danny Duncan Collum 09-01-1996
Like all other values without price, Jefferson's ideal of an informed and enlightened electorate is out the window in the Free Market Era.

The Atlanta Summer Olympics descended upon media-mad America like a vast mind-numbing, soul-sapping fog. The Olympic telecast, in any season, is like the Deep South heat so much discussed at the Atlanta games: It is there, and it won't go away. Mere mortals are powerless over it.

The other Leap Year staples—the Democratic and Republican political conventions—were once like this, too. The coverage was gavel-to-gavel and wall-to-wall for at least four days per party on all three networks; even political junkies got sick of it. Now the conventions get, maybe, an hour of prime-time per night. This is all part of an inexorable process that will lead to the banning of all not-for-profit activities by the year 2020.

The word from the sales department is that politics doesn't pay, at least not over the counter, in public. So the conventions are off the screen. There is no commercial payoff to Jefferson's ideal of an informed and enlightened electorate. Like all other values without price, that ideal is out the window in the Free Market Era.

The Olympic Games used to carry an aura of unsightly non-profit, touchy-feely ideals. The Games were inherited from the ancient Greeks. Every four years their best athletes climbed to the home of the gods, Mt. Olympus, to offer the finest of human performance.

The Games were revived at the turn of this old century with a lot of mush about international brotherhood and something called "amateurism." That was supposed to mean running the race or playing the game for the pure love of it. Excellence for its own sake and perfecting a skill simply for the joy of a job well done were suitable goals.