Dreams and Songs: A Conversation with Warren Haynes about Music, Art, and Politics

I recently had the profound thrill of sitting down in conversation with Warren Haynes, the frontman of Gov’t Mule – a musical unit I recently called the “world’s best band.”

Haynes, a brilliant conversationalist, and I discussed the power and mystery of creativity, the need for personal innovation from artists, and the value of art in times of trouble.

Read my essay on the discussion, Gov’t Mule’s new record, Revolution Come…Revolution Go, and their recent concert performance in Milwaukee, WI, at Salon.

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A Review of Richard Ford’s Memoir, and an Essay on Parents

Richard Ford, one of America’s greatest novelists, makes his nonfiction debut with the taut and terse memoir, Between Them: Remembering My Parents.

In my new essay for Salon, I review Ford’s beautiful book. I also examine how we are to understand our relationships with our parents, and how we can attempt to fully see our parents as human beings separate from their children – full of virtues and vices; greatness and failure.

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An Exhibition of Excellence: The Music and Performance of Richie Kotzen

Richie Kotzen, an impossibly soulful singer, guitar virtuoso, and prolific songwriter, is one of the best and most underrated musicians in America.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kotzen before attending a recent live performance he and his outstanding band gave in St. Charles, Illinois.

At No Depression, I write about his storied career, and relay his insightful thoughts on songwriting, live performance, and what separates his approach to leading his hard rock band, The Winery Dogs, and creating and playing as a solo artist across a variety of genres.

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Stop Blaming Identity Politics for the Problems of White Bias and Blindness

Are white people responsible for anything? In my new essay at Salon, I break with American tradition by answering, “yes.”

Read my column on the idiocy of blaming liberal identity politics for the election of Donald Trump, and how it relates to perpetual denial of white responsibility of everything from rural poverty to heroin addiction, at Salon.

The Rolling Stones and the Art and Aesthetic of Rock ‘n’ Roll

I had the pleasure of attending the new exhibit on the history of The Rolling Stones, Exhibitionism, in Chicago with my friend – singer, songwriter, guitarist extraordinaire, Kev Wright.

The immersive and interactive experience is essential for any admirer of the Stones, or fan of rock. I was particularly struck by the aesthetic sophistication of the Rolling Stones. From commissioning Andy Warhol to photograph and artistically depict the band to finding inspiration for stage sets in classical philosophy, the Rolling Stones, most especially Mick Jagger, helped cultivate a rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, at once capturing and projecting the imager and iconography of rebellion, creativity, individuality, and sexuality.

Read my essay The Rolling Stones and the aesthetic of rock ‘n’ roll at Salon.

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Hillary Hatred Exposed

In my newest essay for Salon, I review feminist scholar Susan Bordo’s topical and timely book, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton.

I admire Hillary Clinton.

Clearly, I am in the minority. To express admiration for Hillary Clinton has become a radical act. While the accomplished public servant is not without flaw (her cynical support for the Iraq War is still infuriating), the level of hatred and hostility that exists for Clinton is clearly hysterical and paranoid; without any basis in the rational universe. She has become history’s greatest monster, even while a gruesome amalgam of stupidity, corruption, and bigotry occupies the Oval Office.

Bordo, as bewildered as I am by the odd animosity for Clinton, analyzes the 2016 election. With an emphasis on misogyny, Bordo presents a convincing case that right wing paranoia, double standards against women, and mass media mediocrity coalesced to poison the public against one of the most intelligent and qualified candidates for the presidency in the modern era.

The book has its weaknesses. Bordo never acknowledges that Clinton made massive missteps in her campaign, but more important, her argumentation is detached from the the actual lives of many voters, most of whom she admits do not pay close attention to politics.

The roots of misogyny are much deeper, and have a much more personal origin, than idiotic journalism or manipulative campaign tactics.

Read how I excavate those roots at Salon.

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Republicans are Divorced from Reality

In my latest column for Salon, I examine how Republicans in government are incapable of governance. After having spent years mocking liberals as overly ideological, naive, and unable to make difficult decisions, conservatives have now drifted so far to the fringes of the right that they cannot implement or administer public policy.

The fiasco of health care reform is an illustrative example of Republican ineptitude.