When people talk about large-scale social crisis in the United States the topic eventually gravitates straight toward marriage. Or more precisely, the current lack of it. If children are in crisis it is because marriage is in crisis. If loneliness is epidemic it is because marriage is in decline. And if people are poor […]
Posts by Ben Fulton
Of all the works currently on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum we can be surest that Anselm Kiefer’s Burning Rods will never be printed for postcards in the museum’s gift shops. A massive painting that stands about 11 feet high and stretches just beyond 18 feet wide, this dark […]
Released five years after the surrender of imperial Japan in World War Two, but at least two decades before Americans would start loathing Japan’s prowess in mass-producing fuel-efficient compact cars, Rashomon had the immediate disadvantage of provoking xenophobic reactions. Even in the early nineties, as a college student attempting to bond with […]
Andy Warhol once said he loved Coca-Cola because regardless of who bought a bottle, it remained the same product for everyone. “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are […]
Nostalgia travels at the speed of sound. This is the obvious conclusion after watching four, five or—why the hell not?—twenty-five old MTV-era music videos archived in YouTube’s vast URL indices. The age of a person’s cultural tastes, on the other hand, travels far faster. So fast that if you search for […]
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” is easily the most famous film-script shorthand, if not legerdemain, for what we mean when we say that fiction has outrun or beaten reality at its own game. Film fans everywhere know it as the most famous line from the 1962 John Ford […]
St. Louis’s Cherokee Street district is where you are most likely to find a late-night bowl of vegan chili or a stroll through neighborhoods on the cutting edge of gentrification. What you least expect is an impromptu exploration of mental health through brain scan imaging recast as visual art. Neuro Blooms, an […]
Everyone who knows Christmas, whether they celebrate it or not, knows A Christmas Carol (1843). The Gospel of Luke is, of course, the holiday’s founding text. Just try adapting it for the screen and stage and see what happens. At the risk of sacrilege, but in terms of story itself, it […]
Substitute teaching is one of the most important, underrated jobs of all. Thrust into an unfamiliar environment, in front of an audience that tends toward the hostile, these unfortunate people bridge a canyon of lessons from one ledge to the other until the full-time instructor returns. I had these substitute teachers […]
Most of the time we have the freedom to choose what music we listen to, and when we listen to it. Then there is the Christmas season, when most of the music we hear is chosen for us by the tastes of previous generations, and anyone else eager to enter a […]
Ever since the rise of “prestige television” there has been a corresponding rise in the number of documentary films and documentary series. The choice is bewildering to the point of being intimidating: celebrities and athletes dead and alive, every murder solved or unsolved, sommeliers and sushi chefs. All make […]
There are any number of life rituals parents notice as pivotal maturations of their child(ren)’s development. Among the perennials: the first sleep-over without parents, driving lessons, the first good cry over a desperately sad movie. They all have their place. For now, my own is watching my daughter evolve her own […]
Centuries before we turned to wristwatches and cell phone screens it was sundials and the ancient obelisks of Greece and Rome that told us the time of day. There was no electricity to mediate the day, hour, or minute. Light did it all. If we want to discuss metaphors light, perhaps […]
Before misinformation, disinformation, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica fiasco, and “deep fakes” it is hard to remember the time when the internet was a (largely) uncorrupted landscape of novel, good-hearted fun. From cat videos to laughing babies, everyone had their favorites when the internet was still young. The slow-moving genre loosely known as […]
If necessity is the mother of invention, convenience is the father of a strange brand of privileged indifference. The advent of indoor plumbing in the mid-nineteenth century improved daily life and public health by such exponential leaps and bounds that we shudder to think of life without an indoor toilet or […]
Two score and some odd years ago, when my second-grade friends and I tumbled out the doors of Missoula’s Lewis and Clark Elementary, Wacky Packages were for months on end our sole reason for a trip to the nearby Circle K convenience store. Clutching our spare change so hard that the […]
Christmas music resides along a spectrum wide enough to include light allegories about bullying a young reindeer (John David Mark’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 1949) and masterpieces such as J.S. Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” (1734). Most of us would be hard-pressed to name Halloween music classics—although lists do exist, and there is […]
In our current polarized atmosphere, it helps to take a break from heated arguments and instead examine policy ideas that both sides of the aisle seem to agree are bad. In this case, that policy idea is the proposed building of a whole new slate of U.S. cities. This curious idea was proposed […]
The “living dead” are neither living nor dead, but they possess incredible longevity in our culture. But have we ever stopped to consider what the zombie apocalypse genre has done for us, if not to us? Prophesying scenarios about the end of the world is not new. According to scholars, zombies are […]
For anyone who adores the fall season, there is something of a child’s disappointment at Christmas delayed when, after months of brutal heat and humidity, the first week of October lands in temperatures near the high 80s. There are few if any, golden and amber-red leaves for nature to unwrap on […]
The historical facts regarding Soviet-Russian dictator and revolutionary Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler’s sadistic roommate in the twentieth-century house of horrors, fall like so many blows to the head. As with so many Russians and many things Russian, Stalin—although technically Georgian—is a figure whose reputation precedes him. His “kill rate,” so to speak, […]
Most of us remember well our first sight of a dead human body. Most often it is surrounded by the aura of silent respect, but also more than a little horror, as if catching sight of a ghost while singing a hymn in church. Roadkill, on the other hand, usually offers no […]
Songs and music give tangible form to the invisible by making the invisible audible, and therefore visible in our hearts and minds. Listening to music, we travel through the human soul. Hopefully, the following songs and music give ample space only to some of the best songs of all time.
Late Marriage is one of the few films concerning marriage bold enough to suggest that our modern insistence on personal fulfillment in romance is the double-edged sword that brings two people together but can also poison them with expectations that tear romance apart. And it is one of the more honest films about marriage in its open, forthright acknowledgment that the institution—and in this film, marriage is most certainly an institution—involves far more than the forces and desires of two people.
From David Bowie’s cousin to his childhood friends, his managers, musical collaborators, girlfriends, writers such as novelist Hanif Kureishi, and extraneous celebrities to the last word of the midwife present at Bowie’s birth, A Life leaves almost no stone unturned, no corner empty, and no speculation left unsaid.
Ghosts is a drama of many themes. At its core, though, is the idea of “sickness” as the inexorable tide we push for, or against. It is the one drama—dare it be said, the only?—wherein “sickness” becomes the widest possible metaphor not just for disease, but inherited social convention, accepted ideology, and the crucible of family without which we cannot survive, but in which we can also decay and die.
“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric,” said Irish poet W.B. Yeats, “out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” And it is out of the quarrel of presidential candidates that U.S. voters intuit their way closer toward Election Day.
Why our culture of law enforcement—and tensions between police and communities—is a lot more nuanced and interesting than you might think.
One measure of the extent to which we believe age influences political beliefs is the extent to which we know Churchill’s famous phrase, “If you’re not a socialist before you’re 25, you have no heart; if you are a socialist after 25, you have no head.” Or, at least, whether we believe we know it.
For a decade in which rock music was reaching its zenith as a profitable business, the 1970s, it is staggering to consider the sheer number of risks Bowie took, without any hint or appearance that he was risking anything at all.
In a world where entire stock market indices can be built on castles of sand, where war can break out any moment, or your child’s happiness can turn on a dime into dread despair, stores such as Whole Foods make us small masters of our own destiny.