East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"

Flashback Friday: Sam Cooke's Crossover Pop Success and How It Made Change Come.


Sam Cooke (Image Source)


Earlier this spring, when rapper Kendrick Lamar dropped his critically praised album, "DAMN", it shot up to the top of the Billboard charts. Thing is, it wasn't just a hit in Hip Hop; it was a certified success in the realm of Pop, too. Slate boasted, "Kendrick Lamar’s New No. 1 Proves He’s Not Just Our Greatest Rapper. He’s One of Our Biggest Pop Stars."

Rappers can be Pop Stars, yes. Twenty years ago (!), the recently deceased Notorious B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize" spent most of May '97 atop the Hot 100 Charts until being bumped by Hanson's "Mmmbop" (!!). But it wasn't long before Biggie's producer/ B.F.F./ kind-of-a-rapper... kind-of... Bad Boy Records founder- buddy Puff Daddy knocked the blond brothers from number one with "I'll Be Missing You". It was an ode to Biggie that featured fellow Bad Boy artists 112 and Faith Evans, Big's widow.

In other words, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, a young Black music producer of Urban music, with a roster of Urban acts (Lil' Kim, Mase, The Lox), and a performer who sampled some of the best classics of old school Soul music... became not just a Pop hit, but a definitive Pop star. 

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The sophistication of "The Simpsons".



If you don't know by now, I'm a huge fan of "The Simpsons". The classic, early years AND the current episodes. I never stopped watching, even during that *very* rough period in the ealy aughts. 

Why? Just watch the video below from Vulture which celebrates the landmark show's thirty years on television (it first appeared as a series of shorts on "The Tracey Ullman Show" in April 1987 before getting it's on show in 1989).


For more fun, check out this Complex article from 2012 showcasing "The Simpsons" love of high brow art, or "The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'Oh! of Homer", a book that critically analyzes the family from various views such as American anti-intellectualism, Aristotle and Sartre, or this Traveller article on the funniest takes on international travel from Homer and co.

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Lent- Day 31: Still missing?

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(Image via Buzzfeed; Evan Hurd Photography / Getty Images)


Remember how I talked about the Missing Richard Simmons podcast last month? Well, it wrapped, and while it did make me think, it won't hold too much space in my personal pop culture collective. Maybe it would've had more room if I hadn't listened to the very powerful S-Town last week. Still, there IS a there- there, and Pier Dominguez, writing at Buzzfeed, expounds on it. Namely, the very peculiar religiosity within Simmons:


But the real problem with Missing Richard Simmons is that the show’s narrative added to the confusion around Richard Simmons the cultural persona and Richard Simmons the person. The fascination with his disappearance is ultimately a cultural conundrum that can be traced through a consideration of the way Simmons’ celebrity evolved, especially the persona that emerged in the ’80s and ’90s as a kind of Mother Teresa of fitness. That image worked — apparently too well — by disrupting gendered boundaries between personal and professional, between commercial and spiritual, between camp and sincerity. And it is by understanding how that image functioned — and how it was received — that the fascination with his retirement makes a different kind of sense.

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Lent- Day 23: The most hated woman in America.

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Melissa Leo as Madalyn Murray O'Hair in Netflix's "The Most Hated Woman in America". (Image: Google)


Over the weekend I watched Netflix's new biopic "The Most Hated Woman in America" about infamous activist/atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Here's the trailer:


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Lent- Day 20: Before Christ, no one is anonymous.





Today's hotest video features Kanye West, but it's most definitely not Yeezus approved. Before I continue, if you're sick of me mentioning Mr. West so much during these Lenten posts, my apologies. He keeps popping up here because, dagnabit, these dude is making headlines like Lindsey Lohan circa 2007. It's kind of hard not to talk about him. Still, if you've had enough, come back tomorrow, kay?


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Lent- Day 9: Frank Underwood doesn't understand Jesus.


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(House of Cards, Season 3)




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Lent- Day 6: If your tweeting this it's too late.


Top, Chris Brown (source); Middle, Amber Rose (source); Bottom, Khloe Kardashian (source)



Another day, another stupid celebrity twitter tirade.


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Lent- Day 3: A chasing after the wind.



(Marie Claire)



Last week, as Kanye West's post-Grammy rant went viral, my brother Joe sent me a simple text:

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Some Sunday Stuff: November 2nd.

Long time no write. But I'm doing okay, staying busy with family. My dad was moved from a subacute wing in a hospital to a nursing home. This is progress- after having pneumonia four times and bronchial infections, needing to begin dialysis three times a week (which is continuing)- he has finally become stable enough to be released to a nursing home. He will now begin extensive occupational therapy and physical therapy. He has a tracheotomy and will have to learn to speak through it. On Tuesday, Zoe and I accompanied my stepmom Kathy as Dad was moved via ambulance to his new digs. Daddy got so excited when he saw Zoe. It was his first time seeing her in six months, and when she sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider", I had to calm him down because I'm pretty sure he was going to cry. Actually, the Big Softee almost cracked up another couple of times, and being that he hasn't gotten the hang of the trach, crying equals severe coughing spells. So I had to shut that down. 


He's got a long road ahead of him, so please keep him on your prayer lists. It was so good to see him out of a hospital, though, and in a pretty nice nursing home, to boot.


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Zoe as Batgirl on Halloween

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Some Saturday Stuff: September 27th.

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Me, yesterday, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather while deep in thought... and snapping a selfie.


Long time, no write. I hope all has been well with you, Dear Readers. I've been doing alright. Staying busy. Despite- or actually because- Zoe being more independent than ever (potty trained and all!), I have far less "free" time on my hands. Starting around July, I began doing a bit of homeschool for Zoe. A bit because I don't have a strict curriculum, and I don't write lesson plans (outside of notes in an agenda planner). I use free resources available online, and follow Zoe's natural curiousity (she asks "Why?" at least fifteen hundred times a day, give or take a hundred).  We go to the library regularly, as well as the park and a local Anglican church. We've gone to a farmer's market a couple of times and a watercolor show at the nearby university. And of course, these trips are either low- or no- cost.


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