Another year has come and gone, a perfect time for reflection and, inevitably, best of lists. I am pretty proud of what I do here, and so I would like to share my favorite posts of mine this year in case you actually like this blog and missed one of them. (Stuff I wrote for other sites is included as well.)
Slacking as Refusal (A Gen Xer Reflects)
Talkin' 'bout my generation. People try to put us down, etc etc.
From Broadway To Gravel Roads And Back
I went back home in January to go to the funeral of a relative, and that prompted some reflection on the clash between the world where I am from and the one I live in now.
Ben Sasse: The Sassiest Boy In America
At long last I wrote my takedown of Ben Sasse, the Eddie Haskell of the Plains. It felt good.
Billboard Top Ten Albums February 6, 1982
This is my favorite of my top ten recaps this year.
Notes on a Trip to Pelham Bay Park
I don't write enough travelogues anymore, and I really like this one.
Take the 2020 Presidential Primary Pledge
This is a pledge I need to follow better. Let's spend our efforts and words more effectively.
Requiem For A Small Town Bookstore
The bookstore in my hometown closed and it felt like the death of a loved one.
The Decline of the University Humanities as a Metaphor for America
No future for you
A Teacher's Due
On why I do what I do.
The Pleasures and Despair of Driving in Suburban New Jersey
Strong dad energy on this one.
If The Democratic Primary Field Was A University History Department
This went viral, a thing I wrote as a fun toss off. It was a reminder not to take what I do too seriously. Thanks to everyone who shared it.
Thoughts On Metzl's Dying of Whiteness
Dying of Whiteness is the best summation of the confluence of misery and a politics that worsens that misery in white, rural America. Go read it.
Cracked Windshields and Free Beer on a Bush League Nebraska Night
I love this essay. Nobody wanted to publish it, but it is near and dear to my heart.
On Seeing To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway
"I feel like this play reinforces some of the bad habits of mind of its audience, who are mostly educated liberals. They think of the current crisis as a moral one, not as a matter of life or death for millions of their fellow Americans. They are willing to do some things to resist, to be sure, but are incapable of taking the more radical action the current times demand. After all, the Atticuses of the world will be able to go on living comfortably, while the Tom Robinsons are sent to the grave. Until the Atticuses wed their moral duty to a greater sense of urgency, nothing is going to change."
How "Meetings Day" Sums Up the Worst of Teaching in Low-Level Higher Ed
"My old university was full of a lot of good people. If they had been given the power to run things instead being forced to obey the whims of others, that institution could've been something special. Today I am thinking of all my friends and colleagues still working in the world of low-level higher ed, and hoping against hope that the tide can be turned and that universities will someday be worthy of their faculty and students."
The Consolation of Baseball
My favorite baseball post of the year.
REM, Murmur, and Solace in Hard Times
Music has been helping me survive all this.
Reflections on Summer Travel Around America
"We have sadly treated the current crisis like something to be watched on television and to be affected by, rather than a play where we all take part."
Stop Asking The Children To Save You
I hate that I have to keep saying this.
Quitting (A Labor Day Reflection)
With the crushing of labor quitting is the only surefire weapon workers have.
What Socialists Can Learn From Obama And Trudeau
"I'm not talking here about policy, though. I am talking about the way they make their cases to the people. "Sunny ways" and "hope" are not slogans, they are effective techniques. Leftists spend so much of their time shitting on liberals, then wonder why they keep losing to them. (That's when they're not shitting on each other.) They ought to think a little harder about this and learn from the success of others."
Chronic Town (REM Rewind)
My favorite album dissection of the year.
The Weaponization of Cynicism
This is one of those takes that will piss everyone off.
Badfinger, "Got To Get Out Of Here"
My favorite song analysis post of the year.
Neil Young, "A Journey Through The Past"
This is my number two.
Pete Buttigieg and the Dead Weight of the Status Quo
"There is nothing more difficult in the whole wide world than convincing a middle class Boomer that younger than generations have had it harder than them. These Boomers got free child care in their youth via their stay at home moms, cheap mortgages via the FHA and suburbanization, practically free college, and are now enjoying Social Security and Medicare paid for by younger workers. They seem to assume that future generations also got this sweet deal instead of higher home prices (which benefitted the Boomers whose homes have appreciated in value), student loan debt, precarious employment, and ridiculously expensive child care. Mayor Pete understands that these voters want to think that the youth love and look up to them, and so he has played the part of the dutiful son. This strategy has gone over gangbusters."
1877, 1972, and 2016: Our Ongoing Low-Grade Civil War
This piece summed up a lot of my political and historical thinking this year.
"We are not on the verge of a revamp of the Blue and the Gray on the killing fields of Antietam and Gettysburg. However, there have been less overt versions of civil war in this country’s history that we typically fail to understand as such. Reconstruction and the 1960s both represented deep disputes over how to define the nation and who belonged to it, both ended with reactionaries taking over the state to reinstate inequality. We need to understand the echoes from those times to understand the current civil war moment."
My Family's Uncensored Christmas Letter
Ending things with some dark humor. It's also a reminder that my family has made the horror of the world today bearable
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