The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

“The Big Idea: In Conversation with LULZSEC”

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The Royal Court Theatre hosts a conversation among former Anonymous LulzSec members facilitated by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman.

Interview with Alison Bechdel

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NPR interviews cartoonist Alison Bechdel on the occasion of her MacArthur Genius Grant. “I guess I’m proudest of just really sticking with this odd thing I loved and was good at — drawing comics about marginal people (lesbians) in a marginal format (comics). I never thought much about whether that was responsible, or respectable, or […]

An Interview with Gordon Parks

In an interview with the National Visionary Leadership Project, the late Gordon Parks talks Life Magazine, photography, racism, his hometown and offers advice to young Black people.

Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s “Black Rainbow”

Ryan Holmberg reads Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s Black Blizzard closely with Tatsumi’s memoir, A Drifting Life, and discovers Black Blizzard is an adaptation of pulp mystery writer Shimada Kazuo’s story, “Black Rainbow,” then puts Tatsumi’s work in the context of other mass entertainment of its time.  The piece itself is worth it for the discussion of Shimada […]

Big Damn Heroes

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For all his various meanings, attributes and forms, the hero of a Romance novel is really just the male protagonist.  He can be heroic in nature, of course, and he often is, but it isn’t required.  Sometimes the actual heroism, should there be any, falls to the heroine.  And sometimes it falls to the writer.

Afghan Notebook

Ted Rall documents his travels through Afghanistan in Afghan Notebook. (He also gets himself added to the list of artists like Joe Sacco, Guy Delisle and Emmanuel Guibert).

RIP, Harvey Pekar

Famous curmudgeon and writer of the comic, American Splendor, Harvey Pekar has died. The Cleveland Plain Dealer blog has more information.

“Total Nowhere Emotion Expansion”

What is “Total Nowhere Emotion Expansion?” It’s a digital art exhibit on the back of a trailer in Australia. “Eight artists from five countries have mashed together snippets of online culture – chatrooms, Second Life, online dream journals, first person shooters and more – to make some interesting observations about what cyberspace has become.”  See […]

Portrait of the Artist (with the Sound of Cicadas)

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Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s A Drifting Life is all the proof anyone would ever need that comics can be serious art. It will show up at the top of year end lists and on syllabi. The fanciest of blurbs will be written about it. Comic fans will hound the unsuspecting at parties and in their homes to […]

SHOPPING FOR PANTS WITH MARTIN KOVE

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There’s a pair of pants in the bottom drawer of my dresser. They don’t fit me. In fact, they’re kind of ugly. They’re chocolate brown with thick vertical half-hound’s-tooth white stripes, a trio of faux-bone oblong buttons (non-functional) running up the side of each pocket and belt loops wide enough to accommodate a belt half […]

Author abducted by Aliens!

Ah, the anal probe as metaphor.

Aliens rarely abduct the authors of mass-marketed paperbacks. Once in a while, though, a writer drives along an Interstate highway or recklessly vacations in a remote mountain cabin. Whitley Strieber, the author of The Hunger and most-recently co-author of The Day after Tomorrow, was one of the first to capitalize on the alien abduction memoir […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Royal Court Theatre hosts a conversation among former Anonymous LulzSec members facilitated by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman.

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    “Japan’s estimated population at the time of their last census was 127 million, and people have been living on this small collection of islands since the Jomon period (~12,000 BCE.) In an increasingly crowded country with a strong traditional belief in ghosts and hauntings, the question of avoiding a marauding ghost becomes impossible to solve, without outside help.”Atlas Obscura has more (with neat illustrations).

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    At Mostly Film, Blake Backlash writes about films “mixing of Hollywood’s Grande Dames with Grand Guignol.”  “Such cinematic mixing of Grande Dames and Grand Guignol had its heyday in the second-half of the sixties, and such films are sometimes (more-or-less) affectionately known as psycho-biddy pictures. They tended to feature an actress over 50 in some sort of peril, a melodramatic plot and a title that ends in a question mark.  But there is another, related tradition that goes back further that I think we could place these films in.” (via Dr. Giallo)

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    “I want to tell you about when violent campaigns against harmless bloggers weren’t any halfway decent troll’s idea of a good time—even the then-malicious would’ve found it too easy to be fun. When the punches went up, not down. Before the best players quit or went criminal or were changed by too long a time being angry. When there was cruelty, yes, and palpable strains of sexism and racism and every kind of phobia, sure, but when these things had the character of adolescents pushing the boundaries of cheap shock, disagreeable like that but not criminal. Not because that time was defensible—it wasn’t, not really—but because it was calmer and the rage wasn’t there yet. Because trolling still meant getting a rise for a laugh, not making helpless people fear for their lives because they’re threatening some Redditor’s self-proclaimed monopoly on reason. I want to tell you about it because I want to make sense of how it is now and why it changed.” Emmett Rensin writes more at Vox.

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    At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Elyse has some things to say about reading Romance. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.”

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    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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