Yep, here we go again. 2013 will undoubtedly have the same ups and downs as every year: politics, births, deaths, crime, celebration, war, recession and economic upturn, mega-mergers, and downsizing. The only real changes we can look forward to with no collateral damage are in arts and culture. So here for discussion are some artistic events I have experienced of late, or simply look forward to.
Wildhearts' new record, via Pledge: The Wildhearts have been an English institution since the mid-'90s. They even had some success in Japan and Europe, but never quite made a big-enough mark in the U.S. to keep the band a viable business venture. Record companies have shied away from the Wildhearts, and the band had almost closed up shop. They decided to try a Pledge (pledgemusic.com) campaign to make one last record, asking their fans to help them raise $50,000; instead, the Wildhearts were overwhelmed with $400,000. They have recently made three new records; the first will be released this April. If you love good English rock 'n' roll, give the new Wildhearts a shot. It's a great success story of a band that was down, but refused to be counted out.
Django Unchained: This movie kicks ass. Jamie Foxx is the best Western superhero since Clint Eastwood. Blood, guts, racism, slavery, and redemption. Typical Tarantino . . . pushing everything to the limits.
Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski: Another WWII instant classic (read his The Greatest Battle). Nagorski illustrates the unlikely rise of the Third Reich through the eyes of American journalists who reported from Germany from 1921–41. It's a fascinating and thought-provoking angle. Nagorski has become the ultimate WWII historian since the passing of Stephen Ambrose, and his writing will send you to the footnotes looking for more books on war (Nagorski's reference material has now become my de facto reading list).
On deck: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan: The Seattle author who wrote the epic American Dust Bowl treatise The Worst Hard Time, Egan is one of those historical writers a guy like me simply can't get enough of. E