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The Power of Sunshine

Alexander Cockburn, 10 January 1991

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 462 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 86091 303 1
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... as the red light filters through the foul air rolling towards Riverside and the desert seventy miles east of the Pacific. And when the Santa Ana winds blow the other way and clean out the whole basin there’s nothing warm in the colour tones even then, just an eerie depth of field so clear throughout its focal range that it’s hard to keep an accurate ...

Philip’s People

Anna Della Subin, 8 May 2014

... office of Buckingham Palace. Compiled by Philip’s now retired private secretary, Brigadier Sir Miles Hunt-Davis (or, as the Tannese, with their love of malapropism, rendered it, Big Ass Dear Summer Lance Daisies), the papers included retellings of the cult’s foundational myths. As the villagers sat round a fire ...

El Diablo in Wine Country

Mike Davis, 2 November 2017

... and Wilder selected Santa Rosa, a picturesque agricultural community of 13,000 people, 55 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. The following year, Santa Rosa was introduced to millions of filmgoers in a series of establishing shots that began with aerial views of its pretty countryside and ‘all-American’ downtown. Wartime restrictions ...

Another Tribe

Andy Beckett: PiL, Wire et al, 1 September 2005

Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 577 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 21569 6
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... of these genres had defeated everyone except very rare, much more experienced talents such as Miles Davis and Captain Beefheart, but the Pop Group were undeterred: not only did they plan to create a new music, they planned to use it to carry the most challenging political lyrics. The music press, which was going through a highbrow phase almost ...

Among the Bobcats

Mark Ford, 23 May 1991

The Dylan Companion 
edited by Elizabeth Thomson and David Gutman.
Macmillan, 338 pp., £10.99, April 1991, 0 333 49826 7
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Bob Dylan: Performing Artist. Vol. I: 1960-73 
by Paul Williams.
Xanadu, 310 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 1 85480 044 2
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Dylan: Behind the Shades 
by Clinton Heylin.
Viking, 528 pp., £16.99, May 1991, 0 670 83602 8
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The Bootleg Series: Vols I-III (rare and unreleased) 1961-1991 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £24.95, April 1991
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... range of other artists he appeals. Surely the only thing in common between Samuel Beckett, Miles Davis, Martin Scorsese, Philip Larkin, Frank O’Hara, Bob Marley, would be their shared interest in his music. His songs have been more widely covered by other musicians, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Jimi Hendrix, from Olivia Newton-John to the ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... just the acting: Hopper really was a zeitgeist man. He hung out with jazz musicians (apparently Miles Davis composed ‘So What’, on Kind of Blue, inspired by Hopper’s repeated use of the phrase), with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky and Warhol and Lichtenstein. He bought paintings that became a major Pop Art collection and took photographs that ...

Motorised Youth Rebellion

Andy Beckett: Radical LA, 18 February 2021

Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties 
by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener.
Verso, 788 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78478 022 7
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... the sense of 1960s LA as an apolitical place largely undisturbed.With Set the Night on Fire, Mike Davis and Jon Wiener attempt to change that. The book documents a whole world of interconnected, often forgotten rebellions that took place on the streets, on campuses, in schools, on beaches, in churches, at workplaces, in radical newspapers and journals, in ...

Diary

Mike Davis: California Burns, 15 November 2007

... writer who spent most of her life ranching in the rugged hills near the hamlet of Ramona, 35 miles north-east of downtown San Diego. Despite the BBC’s incurable penchant for portraying Southern California through the prism of celebrity, it wasn’t Malibu, but Van der Veer’s Ramona that was the epicentre of the Witch Creek fire, the largest and most ...

Damnable Heresy

David Simpson: The Epic of Everest, 25 October 2012

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest 
by Wade Davis.
Vintage, 655 pp., £12.99, October 2012, 978 0 09 956383 9
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... pursuit of a ‘militant geography’ larger and grander than the mere search for knowledge. Wade Davis’s book on the British Everest expeditions of 1921, 1922 and 1924 shows how each demonstrated its own form of militant geography, its own blend of poetry and politics, error and achievement. Mallory occupies the centre of this story, but the book reaches ...

Kindergarten Governor

Gary Indiana: It’s Schwarzenegger!, 6 November 2003

... a quixotic canard then became a surrealist juggernaut, culminating in the ousting of Governor Gray Davis and the risible election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, action figure, as the custodian of the world’s fifth largest economy. Like Schwarzenegger, Congressman Issa has a piquant history. In the early 1980s, his car-alarm company, which did work for a much ...

Neo-Catastrophism

Eric Klinenberg: Sinful Cities?, 9 October 2003

The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea 
by Thomas Bender.
New Press, 287 pp., $30, September 2002, 1 56584 736 9
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Dead Cities: and Other Tales 
by Mike Davis.
New Press, 448 pp., $16.95, October 2003, 1 56584 844 6
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... of creative destruction, refusing to let any obstacle block its path? Thomas Bender and Mike Davis are two of America’s leading urban scholars. Bender is a cultural historian known for his accounts of the intellectual and aesthetic life of US cities, and for tracing the distinctively metropolitan influences on American arts, letters and politics. He ...

A Giant Still Sleeping

Lorna Scott Fox: Mike Davies, 4 April 2002

Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 202 pp., £10, November 2001, 9781859843284
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... Mike Davis has gone from meat-cutting and truck-driving to a migrant professorship, from the hands-on New Left to the New Left Review, from California to Edinburgh, Belfast and back. He is one of the last relics of madder, more eclectic days. The poet and environmentalist Lewis MacAdams claims that ‘in a Greek restaurant one night I saw him talk his way through an entire dinner, from the spanakopita to the baklava, without taking a bite ...

Southern Comfort

Claude Rawson, 16 April 1981

Jefferson Davis gets his citizenship back 
by Robert Penn Warren.
Kentucky/Transatlantic Book Service, 114 pp., £4.85, December 1980, 0 8131 1445 4
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Being here: Poetry 1977-1980 
by Robert Penn Warren.
Secker, 109 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 436 36650 9
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Ways of light: Poems 1972-1980 
by Richard Eberhart.
Oxford, 68 pp., £5.95, January 1981, 9780195027372
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... native Todd County, Kentucky, to attend ceremonies in honor of another native son – Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, whose United States citizenship had just been restored, ninety years after his death, by a special act of Congress.’ The scene is set for a fine old feast of Southern Nostalgia, a versatile literary property whose ...

It should have ended with Verdi

John Davis: The Battle of Adwa, 24 May 2012

The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire 
by Raymond Jonas.
Harvard, 413 pp., £22.95, November 2011, 978 0 674 05274 1
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... of mules and camels and 44 elephants in India, and shipped them to the Red Sea. After marching 780 miles overland to Tewodros’s capital, he defeated the imperial army (with the loss of two British soldiers) and burned Magdala to the ground. Tewodros committed suicide, and Napier, his job done (at the cost of £9 million to the British taxpayer), marched back ...

No Longer Merely the Man Who Ate His Boots

Thomas Jones: The Northwest Passage, 27 May 2010

Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage 
by Glyn Williams.
Allen Lane, 440 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 84614 138 6
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Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation 
by Andrew Lambert.
Faber, 428 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 0 571 23160 7
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... to the passage, which he called Frobisher’s Straits; in fact he had penetrated a hundred miles or so into an inlet on Baffin Island now known as Frobisher Bay. But he also appeared to have found something even better: a gold mine. He led another expedition the following year and returned to England with 200 tonnes of ore that his men had ‘dug out ...

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