For a long time, I’ve been joking about writing a rock ‘n’ roll mystery set in the world of obsessive Phish fans — until the joke sounded more and more like a good idea.
Now I’m putting the finishing touches on The Ashakiran Tape, first in a series of books set at rock concerts called Head Cases. The Ashakiran Tape is set at the June at the June 2–5, 2009 Phish shows at Jones Beach.
You can read “Shakedown Street,” the first chapter of The Ashakiran Tape on Medium. If you’d like to be notified when the book comes out, follow me on Twitter or sign up for the newsletter.
Longevity is not exactly a feature of the Internet, so it’s especially nice when long-ago work suddenly resurfaces in unexpected places. This week brought not just one but two references to pieces I wrote decades ago — quite literally:
- At SmashCut, Nathan Smith watched Star Wars Wars: All Six Films At Once and quoted from my 2005 review of Revenge of the Sith.
- Jordan Hoffmann managed to sneak a reference to my 1995 (!) essay “The Fractals of Familiarity and Innovation: Robert Hunter and the Grateful Dead concert experience” into a Playboy article on the Fare Thee Well concerts. That’s right, a paper I wrote in grad school made it into Playboy. The wonders never cease.
My photo of Emilie Faye accompanies an article by Kathryn Werntz on the Thomson Reuters Foundation website. Faye is one of the women involved in the “Live with Water” project in Pikine, a suburb of Dakar, Senegal, that is profiled in the article: “Dakar women grow herb business from floodwater.”
You can see all of my photos from Pikine on Flickr.
I’ve been in Dakar for a month now, and when I happened to break my eReader, it was finally time to write about it. You can read my essay “Third World Problems” on Medium. Discussed: mosquito nets, courier families, the Dakar Club Med, The Neverending Story, The Sheltering Sky, William Gibson’s The Peripheral, books as shelter, Wolof greetings.
RogerEbert.com editor-in-chief Matt Zoller Seitz was kind enough to interview me about Raves and my career as a film critic. We talk about Revenge of the Sith, the Wiesbadener Kurier, and why I quit reviewing after twelve years.
It takes a certain confidence to not just have an opinion but also deem it worthy of broadcasting. You have to muster this authority to say, this is worthy, this isn’t. And yeah, I found that more and more difficult, especially with the negative reviews. My attitude started to change to, who’s to say? It’s not for me, but hey, if someone likes it, that’s fine with me.
And once that starts happening, you’re probably finished as a critic.
For twelve years, I reviewed movies with a passion. I loved film and believed that criticism mattered, and I never got tired of asking myself and everyone inside and outside the screening room the eternal critic’s question: “Did you like it?” I went to premieres and festivals, cheerleaded for one of the best films of the decade — P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood — and caught abuse from fans, colleagues and one sore director for critical reviews they disagreed with.
And then one day, I simply couldn’t do it anymore.