We went rollerskating on Sunday and they played all kinds of pop hits. They played “Dancing Queen” and “YMCA,” sure, but they also played a lot of recent big hits. And I said to myself either I have grown more tolerant of pop songs or pop songs are simply better than they were in the 80s and 90s.
Because I thoroughly enjoyed hearing “Gangnam Style” (perhaps a pop song where you don’t know the words is really the way to go) and “What Does the Fox Say?” (or perhaps when the words are so preposterous). “Blurred Lines” is incredibly catchy (although it would be better without the offensive lyrics). I also enjoyed “Call Me Maybe” which is treacly sure, but the melody is super catchy and “Rolling in the Deep” because Adele kicks ass.
Of course when I looked at the list of #1 hits for 2013, I literally didn’t know any of them (except “Blurred Lines” and “Royals,”) so maybe pop is not what I think it is. Maybe I just like YouTube sensations.
Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! Happy New Year.
[READ: December 27, 2013] Five Dials #30
I was surprised to get this issue of Five Dials just as I was reading the other recent ones. It allowed me to finish up Five Dials and the year at around the same time. This issue introduces a new graphics editor: Antonio de Luca and he really changes the look of the magazine. (He also used to work for The Walrus). Rather than pictures being centered in the page, they spread from one page to another (which works well online but less so if you print it out). The illustrations are also much bolder.
This is a short issue (which I appreciated). And it does what I especially like about Five Dials–focusing tightly on one thing, in this case Albert Camus, who I like but who I have not read much. It’s his centenary and many things have been said about him, so what else is there to say? They find two things worth saying.
CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Tony, On Dean, On Camus, On Algiers
Taylor talks about the illustrations of the issue–they were spray painted on walls by an Algerian-French collective known as the Zoo Project. The new editor took photos and then Photoshopped away the extraneous stuff to leave us with just the graphics–giving them a permanence that they would normally not have. Taylor also says goodbye to Dean Allen, the outgoing art director. Then he gets to the heart of this issue: Albert Camus and Algiers (where Camus is from). Curtis Gillespie decided to go to Algiers to find out how much the people there know and love Camus (and he found it to be a much more difficult trip than he imagined).
CURTIS GILLESPIE-A Stranger Again: The Complicated Legacy of Albert Camus
Camus lived and wrote in Algiers before it gained independence. When the struggle for independence was on, Camus couldn’t take sides–he didn’t likethe violence either way. And then he won the Nobel Prize in 1957. When he died in a car crash in 1960 (aged 46), he had not taken a pro-independence stance. And now, fifty some years later student in Algiers have no idea who Camus was. Not only don’t they study him, college English majors have never even heard of him. Gillespie traveled the country talking to people and is shocked to see the complete abandonment of Camus in any educational framework. In the country he called home. Gillespie meets some older people who knew Camus and they speak highly of him as an author but all agree that if he has been pro Algiers and not pro French-Algiers, they would respect him more. It’s really quite a surprising article.
ALBERT CAMUS-Summer in Algiers
Camus writes about his home country. He writes of mundane things and also about race relations. I have to admit I didn’t really enjoy this essay very much.
DEBORAH LEVY-A List: A-Z of Death Drive (a perilous road trip through death, celebrity and the automobile)
This is an A-Z list of deaths associated with cars. For example, B: Marc Bolan, J.G. Ballard; C: Albert Camus; D: Princess Diana, James Dean; M: Midlife Crisis; O: Oral Sex; S: Shrines; Y: Yawning, etc. It’s an interesting collection of sketches, and they’re not just people but concepts and milestones in automotive history and how they connect to Freud’s Death Drive.
The final page is a handwritten letter from Albert Camus to Hamish Hamilton himself. It’s in French so I don’t know what it says, but it’s still neat to see.
And that’s it. A short issue to be sure, but a solid one. It gives me a little more appreciation for Camus and the shocking realization that he could have still been writing during my lifetime.