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.

What is a “factoid”? How a misunderstood word explains Trump

In his masterful blend of biography and novel, Marilyn, Norman Mailer invented the word “factoid” to describe untrue ideas many people accept as real only because they have appeared in the mass media for many years. “It is possible,” Mailer wrote, “that Richard Nixon has spoken in nothing but factoids for his entire political career.”

Donald Trump, like no other president of American history (not even Nixon), is a factoid politician.

Read my essay on factoids and Trump at Salon.

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New Column at Salon: Jim Harrison’s Blueprint for Pleasure

In my new column at Salon, I continue to explore my love and enthusiasm for the magnificent work of the late and great Jim Harrison.

Harrison’s new book, a posthumous collection of essays on food, wine, pleasure, and art, acts as a manifesto for Epicurean hedonism. It is a joy to read, but also subversive in a largely Puritanical culture.

Read the column.

I have previously written about Harrison for Salon, the Daily Beast, and this website. Read my past essays.

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New Column at Salon: A Love Letter to Alicia Keys

In an era of phony vulgarity, Alicia Keys represents wisdom, authenticity, and genuine artistic vision.

It is impossible to imagine how any sentient human being is not in love with Alicia Keys. Her beauty, no matter what she’s wearing, is so powerful it becomes as poetic as the lyrics of urban, street-smart gospel that animates her latest record, “Here.” Her sensual grace, and effortless charisma, find melodic accompaniment in her intelligence, wit and impassioned investment in the ongoing struggle to inspire individuals to dream without a leash, while attempting to tame the ugly impulses of sexism and racism rampant throughout society.

Read the rest at Salon.

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