In a recent column for Salon, I have reviewed the excellent new series starring Kevin Costner, Yellowstone, arguing that it uses America’s ongoing ecological destruction, along with the plight and predicament of Native Americans, to present an intriguing, but dark look at the emptiness of American culture.
For the American Conservative, I defended the late historian, Howard Zinn, against an attack from an American Conservative writer. Zinn was a true believer in the populist necessity to exert control over the reckless, and often cruel, application of power. His work is important and valuable.
My most recent column for Salon is an interview with Greg Olear, a novelist and journalist whose new book, Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia, is the most arresting and alarming explanation of the Trump-Russia connection I have found.
America is a religion to Americans. Great American artists present a necessary, intelligent, and truthful alternative to the dogmatic lie of naming the country a “shining city on the hill.”
In my latest essay for Salon, I explore the beautifully heretical tradition of the American arts, paying particular attention to Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Bruce Springsteen, Raymond Chandler, and Joan Didion.
Read it here.
Salon recently ran a brief excerpt from my book, Metallica, as part of their ongoing series spotlighting the outstanding 33 1/3 series of which Metallica is a part.
Read it here.
I recently had a fascinating and fun conversation with artistic legend, John Mellencamp. We discussed his new painting exhibition, the arts in America, and living according to the demands and joys of creativity. Read my essay, based on the interview, at Salon.
Salon published my first interview with Mellencamp last summer. In that conversation, we focused on his music.
Fifty of us gathered at the Chicago St. Pub in Joliet, Illinois to have a criminally fun time when I gave a talk on the history and importance of bars in American culture. In my talk, I covered a wide variety of intellectual territory – from the foundation of the United States to the contemporary affliction of loneliness in American life. Brent James and John Condron provided musical accompaniment in key moments. Naturally, libations flowed liberally.
Due to my unforgivable negligence, I have not updated this page in a few months. The world has turned in the interim period, however, and I have written. I have written about music, literature, politics, intellectual culture, and sexuality.
Read my work on Salon, No Depression, and the American Conservative.
My new book, Barack Obama: Invisible Man, is now available!
The Chicago Reader recently summarized the book as following: The cultural critic’s new book Barack Obama: Invisible Man is, in a broader sense, about how America banged its collective head against Trump Tower after last year’s election, no longer able to believe in the kind of change Obama had brought to the Oval Office. He touches on issues not often raised, such as race, privilege, and Obama’s demeanor. Masciotra has previously written about John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, but needless to say this is his most controversial topic.
Jesse Jackson, as I have written before, is a largely unsung hero of the American story. More than nearly anyone else, he has enlarged the franchise for all Americans over the past forty years.
I recently sat down with Jackson in his Chicago office to discuss current battles over voter suppression and registration. Read my essay on the discussion at Salon.
I recently had the pleasure of spending time with songwriting legend, Steve Earle. We had a wide ranging conversation about music, politics, history, and love. Read my essay on the experience at Salon.
In a recent essay for Salon, I revisited the Bruce Springsteen masterpiece, The Rising. It is a record that grows even as its gains distance from its precipitating event, the attacks of 9/11. Read my summary and interpretation of the record at Salon.