Danny Duncan Collum, author of the novel White Boy, teaches writing at Kentucky State University in Frankfort.
Posts By This Author
There's something reassuring about the fact that the flag, the old Stars and Stripes, can still kick up so much popular controversy.
Nestle Boycott: The Sequel
As you might recall, in the late 1970s and early '80s, a broad international coalition of church, health-care, and community groups waged a 7-year-long campaign against Nestle S.A
Old Thinking and New Weapons
The month of August marks the 44th birthday of the nuclear age. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
The Real Deal on Dope
The usual rap on TV cop shows is that they trivialize real life-and-death matters into a glossy package of sanitized violence designed to sell soap and soda pop.
Paying the Savings and Loan Bill
When Mr. Bush came back to Washington, the crisis in the savings and loan industry finally emerged on the public agenda.
The Last Dear Abbie Letter
For this future cultural analyst, the legendary '60s were an after-school special.
Say a Prayer for the Salt of the Earth
Political philosophers tell us that one of the great driving forces of human history is the tension between individualism (or liberty) and community (or equality).
The Iron Curtain of Secrecy
Winston Churchill's metaphorical Iron Curtain between East and West may be lifting in these days of glasnost, detente, and other foreign phrases.
Someday in the far-distant future...
Someday in the far-distant future, some 23rd-century Mel Brooks may make a satirical film called The History of the World: Part MCXXXXVII.
The ad line for the new Oliver Stone-Eric Bogosian film, Talk Radio, gets my first nomination for The 1989 William Jennings Bryan "Cross of Gold" Award.
Rap in America
Eyes & Ears
Growing Terror and Limited Rights in Northern Ireland
With the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, terrorism, as human tragedy, media sensation, and political catch-all, is back with a vengeance.
The Shock of Recognition
In the waning weeks of 1988, a wave of shocks hit the Middle East. The source of the shock wave was not an earthquake or, for once, an aerial bombardment. The earth, in fact, stood still.
The State of the Union: Perspectives on the Post-Election Political Terrain
An Opening for Populism
Twenty-Five Years Later
As this is written on November 22, 1988, the pop-cultural atmosphere is a-swamp with remembrance of things Kennedy.
A Red-Letter Year
The 1987-88 pop culture season was definitely a red-letter year. And the letter was Hawthorne's scarlet "A." That's for adultery, in case your high school lit is rusty.
Ronald Reagan, it is said, has run America's first cinematic presidency, often taking his ideological cues and policy prescriptions from his familiar world of the silver screen.
Hussein's Middle East Gambit
The revealing nature of America's closest friends in the Arab world
Perhaps the last thing anyone would have expected to happen during the Reagan era was a renewal of interest in the idea of legalizing drugs.
The Days of the Drug Legalization Debate
On the subject of drugs, as on so many others, American culture tends toward Utopian extremes of hedonism and puritanism. Twenty years ago the voluntary alteration of consciousness was celebrated by some otherwise intelligent and noteworthy Americans as a new inner frontier—the spiritual equivalent of outer space lying in wait for human exploration.
In those days, the legalization of various psychotropic chemicals was proposed as a psychic Homestead Act, opening new territory for the great American experiment in liberty and the pursuit of happiness. More traditional liberals of an ACLU bent may not have bought the drug culture's religious fervor, but many of them supported legalization as a freedom of conscience issue.
As the song says, "Those days are gone forever." And good riddance. The people who are usually wrong about the '60s are mostly right about the negative effect of the drug culture. A contemporary rock and roller and student of Americana such as Bono of the Irish rock band U2, who is usually right about the '60s, isn't far from the mark when he blames the collapse of that decade's idealistic promise on drugs in general and LSD in particular.
But now the famous pendulum has swung. These are the days of "Just Say No," when prominent persons, including the president of the United States, go about claiming to believe that the ancient human interest in blurring, sharpening, or colorizing consciousness actually can (and should) be eliminated from the culture of this particular city on a hill.