Ronald Weaver illustration
(Illustration by Ronald Weaver)
Issue 49, Winter 2024

Anatomy of Influence The delight and danger of swaying others

Prince, Goldsmith and Warhol

Fair Use or Brazen Theft?

Appropriation art has not only outraged artists over the unauthorized and lucrative exploitation of their artwork but has been the subject of high-stakes lawsuits for decades. Appropriation artists defiantly operate under the flag of “fair use,” which some have described as a copyright lawyer’s full-employment act.

son Vance

A Son Teaches His Father About the Magic of Swing Sets

As the father of a ten-year-old, I find myself talking constantly with teachers and therapists, joining autism groups, attending school board meetings, speaking out against the censorship of school library books. I taught Vance to hold a fork; he taught me how to stay connected with the rest of humanity.

How St. Louis Admen Sold the Nation Its Spirits

How did our bland city become a hot spot for national ad campaigns? Overhead was low, flights were easy in any direction, and smart, creative talent was abundant. Between the two world wars, Winston Churchill himself, speaking at an international advertising conference, pronounced the St. Louis Ad Club “far ahead of other cities.” By midcentury, the Midwest was the obvious place to study middle America.

How to Paralyze Someone with Laughter

Might this be a way of coming to terms with feeling so unmoored from my birth country: journeying on a cultural tugboat up the largely English comedy river in search of the TV shows and comedians that had once influenced and shaped me? If I dipped my toe in the dimly remembered comedies of my childhood and youth, would I discover who I once had been?

Cait Stott

The Dangerous Game of Persuasion

The Classical Athenians told stories of Persuasion connecting brute desires and communal concerns, for both good and ill, because they experienced persuasion as an extraordinary power that could fortify or undermine their democracy.

Maria Teneva

Who Speaks Here? Ourselves or Our Machines?

Nearly every college writing textbook begins by reassuring incoming first-years that they already know how to write, usually in an embarrassing, cross-generational, trying-to-be-cool way: You write persuasive arguments when you create your Tinder profile or when tell the group chat about how much you love the latest Marvel film. As I begin another semester of […]

John Balaban

“Praise to Those Still Coming Through On Song”

Reading John Balaban’s poems and translations, you gain the camaraderie of poets as far-flung as Basho, Li Po, Anna Akhmatova, American John Haag, Georgi Borrisov, Bulgarians Kolyo Sevov and Lyubomir Nikolov; epigraphs by Homer, Polybius, Brecht; the people who wrote, remembered, and sang folk ca dao, and the many characters who live to speak again, from Ovid, miserable in his exile in Tomis, to Root Boy Slim, “lead singer and composeur for his Sex Change Band.”

Notorious BIG Tells Us It Is All Right to Be about Nothing

When Abiodun Oyewole, founding member of The Last Poets, filed a copyright lawsuit against the estate the Notorious BIG (aka Biggie or BIG) it connected the nationalist bard of the 1960s to the politically ambivalent emcee of the 1990s. It also signaled both aesthetic continuity and an ideological impasse between two generations of African-American wordsmiths.