Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. This website has been static for the past two months, and I do apologize for my negligence.

I’ve been busy writing about everything from terrorism to the godfather of heavy metal, Lemmy Kilmister, at Salon and the Daily Beast.

Like everyone else, I too have written about Donald Trump. I’ve written about religion, economics, and politics, but also about more pleasant topics such as the aforementioned work of Motorhead, the literature of Gore Vidal, and the novels of Jim Webb.

The Daily Beast ran an excerpt from my book on John Mellencamp, while my book on Metallica has received press and great reviews from Consequence of Sound, Record Collector, Illinois Entertainer, and the Chicago Music Examiner.

Make sure to follow this space throughout 2016 for more essays on politics, culture, literature, and music, and for a major update on my next book.

Book Signing

Metallica – New 33 1/3 Book – Available Now

My new book on Metallica is currently available. For the book, I had the thrill of interviewing all of the members of the band, producer Bob Rock, and Jason Newsted.

For all coverage related to the book, go to the the 33 1/3 website. You’ll find an “apologia” addressing why I wrote the book, an interview I conducted with DX Ferris about the relationship between Metallica and Slayer, and much more.

To discuss the book, I also had the pleasure of appearing on Jacques Lamore’s podcast, and then the podcast of thrash metal frontman, Howard Smith.

Buy the book from Bloomsbury or at Amazon.

Metallica Cover

New Article at AlterNet: 6 New Creative Techniques Republicans Have Developed for Torturing the Poor

In my new article for AlterNet, I enumerate six particularly despicable and dangerous state laws punishing the poor for their poverty. No longer content to merely neglect the needs of the poor, many right wing state governments have become actively abusive – weaponizing public policy, and transforming the arm of governance into an aggressive apparatus of destruction against America’s most vulnerable citizens.

Read the article at AlterNet.

Shortly after the publication of my article, the Daily Report – a radio program in Minneapolis, Minnesota – invited me on to discuss the “war on the poor.” Listen to the discussion at 950 AM, Minneapolis.

New Essay at AlterNet: How Donald Trump is Feeding Off The Death of the American Dream

In a new essay, I give my take on the madness of Donald Trump’s popularity. He acknowledges that America is a society in decline, and this resonates with many ordinary Americans who feel the pain of economic contraction and cultural decay in their own lives. Like a true demagogue, Trump then panders to Americans by locating the source of all their misery in foreign countries and emanating from foreign people. As the Trump candidacy demonstrates, there is a bottomless appetite for xenophobia in much of America.

Read the full essay at AlterNet.

New Essay at AlterNet: Why The Macho Sludge Peddled by ‘American Sniper’ Is Really Cowardice

Martin Luther King exemplifies real bravery in Selma...

In my new essay for AlterNet, I compare the conflicting notions of heroism and manhood playing out in the cinema between Selma and American Sniper and Martin Luther King and Chris Kyle. Then, with a little help from King, Gore Vidal, Paul Newman, Jim Harrison, and Bruce Springsteen, I also present a case for America to progress beyond its macho glorification of violence, and move toward a manhood that allows for tenderness, sensitivity, and compassion.

Read it at AlterNet.

New Essay at AlterNet: How Our Nation’s History of Sexual Oppression is Still With Us

In my new essay for AlterNet, I offer a wide ranging take on America’s history of racist, sexual oppression, using as a springboard, the brilliant book, Policing Sexuality by Jessica Pliley. Pliley is a historian at Texas State University, and her book should become mandatory reading for every high school history student in America.

From the beginning of my essay:

For anyone willing to look right in the face of America’s sexual repression, sexist assumptions, and racist fears, Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and The Making of the FBI by Jessica R. Pliley, is at once a magnifying glass and flashlight. It is an indispensable history of all the American anxieties, hang ups, and priggish obsessions in one neat, little package.

Read the rest at AlterNet.

New Essay at AlterNet: America’s Decay Into a Violent, Cruel Place

Historian Morris Berman brings all the analyses of America’s decline and decay in a violent and cruel culture of greed and selfishness to a “question of values.” Most liberals and leftists are rightly critical of American institutions – the avarice of corporations, the corruption of government, the ruthlessness of the Pentagon, and the idiocy of the media.

The detached abstraction of American dysfunction is how most critics also explained the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings, and the subsequent release of the officers responsible without charges or trials. Everyone blamed “the system”, as if the system is a giant computer.

What most critics ignored is that in both cases, and many similar cases, grand juries of twelve Americans review the evidence, and coldly release the killers. The criminal justice system is structurally racist, but the system is powered by people. The values of the  majority of the American people are dangerous. The sane minority protests in the street, while the silent majority of Nixon’s delight sits comfortably in their living rooms. The same silent majority supports war, approves of torture, and applauds the cutting of social services.

Those that do not actively promote the cruelty and violence of the status quo are disengaged and disinterested. According to a study from Newsweek, 70 percent of Americans cannot name a single part of the Bill of Rights.

It is the battle of the sane minority and the silent majority that is the subject of my new essay for AlterNet.

New Essay at Salon: My Week in the Right Wing Lie Machine

In my new essay for Salon, I react to the reaction my essay on America’s idolatry of the military. I expand on America’s indifference to the rape epidemic within the military. I describe my own personal connection with veterans (my grandfather, my father, and former students), and I analyze the meaning of the death threats and hateful campaign my article provoked. The poison of propaganda from Fox News and right wing media became clear, as did the hideousness of the social media sewer.

Most importantly, I write about the moving story of Fred John Boenig, and his son, Austin, who committed suicide while serving in the Air Force in Afghanistan. Fred and I spoke at length on the phone after the publication of my original essay on the military. His kindness and honesty moved me profoundly, and the journey of his son is worthy of mourning, but also examination from all Americans.

Read the essay at Salon.