Whenever The Hold Steady is brought up in conversation, someone almost always references their “authenticity” and “gritty realism.”
For his seventh studio album, Josh Ritter was faced with a daunting challenge: follow up two of modern folk music’s mini-masterpieces, 2006’s The Animal Years and 2007’s The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter.
Thanks to summer jobs, I haven’t been able to join my family on many of our recent summer vacations. At first I didn’t really mind—skipping family trips meant having the house to myself for a week to live as slovenly as I desire (which is quite slovenly, if I do say so myself). After the initial euphoria of living alone for a week wears off, though—usually after about 12 hours, when I notice that no one has washed my dirty plates—I always come to the same conclusion. As grating as being in a confined space with my family can be after seven or eight days, most of my best stories actually come from family vacations. It is the sort of thing that I really miss now that I have fewer and fewer opportunities to make new stories.
Vice President Joe Biden is one of the most recognizable men in the country. He is Barack Obama’s right-hand man. He helped pass universal healthcare. But when he said, “this is a big fucking deal” on national television, Biden cemented his place in my heart. Biden was embracing the president in front of television cameras and microphones, and he probably thought that he was speaking out of range when he blurted out this statement to his boss. He was not.
A plastic mail bin sits on Daniel Satin’s desk, nearly overflowing with a mix of thin white envelopes and manila envelopes so thick that a single stamp won’t suffice. Every month, he receives between 40 and 70 of these envelopes, their contents all asking for the same thing: a second chance.
A couple of days into the new year, I found myself standing in the middle of a massive parking lot wearing three pairs of pants. I tried to shield myself from the harsh, freezing wind by taking shelter against the side of a Winnebago that probably had not seen a good day since the Carter Administration. Around the lot, men huddled over fires in metal trash cans, evoking scenes from every post-apocalyptic film ever made.
Was there ever really a time when athletes could be considered paragons of morality? Years before Tiger Woods slept with every cocktail waitress in the greater Orlando area, the American public gave up trying to look up to sports stars as role models. And between Janet Jackson’s nipple, Prince’s giant penis-guitar, and any beer commercial ever, the Super Bowlbowl should have even less moral credibility.