A Final Note for C.K. Williams

A Final Note for C.K. Williams

C.K. Williams passed away on September 20, of cancer. In Hopewell, mere miles from here. 

As a former student of C.K. Williams, everything I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to surrounding his work and his impact — from Princeton to Paris, from Newark to New York, from poetry to translation, from critical theory to literature — matters a lot to me, and I suspect that others feel the same way. I think the more stories we have about Williams, the more we share his work, the better.  It keeps his legacy urgent, of the moment, and alive. 

He was a poet I always called Professor. He even offered to be one of my senior thesis advisers — I ended up writing my thesis with Tracy K. Smith, and I graduated with a B.A. in English and a certificate in Creative Writing in 2014. He really made an impact on me. 

Broad City's Abbi and Ilana Are Actually Just the Marx Brothers in Crop Tops and Hot Pants

Broad City's Abbi and Ilana Are Actually Just the Marx Brothers in Crop Tops and Hot Pants

Yes — it's dangerous to try to explain why something is funny. But Comedy Central's Broad City seems to defy genre. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer's skanky, wacky sitcom is not Girls, 2 Broke Girls, or even Inside Amy Schumer. The show has been described as the "absurd, slapstick-y misadventures" of two "heedless, daffy, mostly benign" Jewish girls who barrel through their days with hilariously awkward "madcap follow-through".

The truth is that Broad City is old school slapstick funny. Abbi and Ilana are more Charlie Chaplin than Lena Dunham; more Moe, Larry, and Curly than Sarah Silverman. The Broad City girls are straight up vaudeville buffoons with a knack for physical comedy — hello, Ilana even smashes her face into a cake at the end of "Stolen Phone" (Season 1, Ep. 6).

Dracula (1897) and Lolita (1962): How Monster Stories Seduce You, and Why You Can't Resist

Dracula (1897) and Lolita (1962): How Monster Stories Seduce You, and Why You Can't Resist

Last year, British literary critic Robert McCrum included Bram Stroker's gothic novel, Dracula (1897), in his "Top 100 Best Novels." The list is a selection of British and American novels chosen by a London-based editorial team from The Observer and The Guardian. The most recent entry is No. 75, which he awards to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. 

Bram Stoker's Dracula is a ghost story about a man who can't die. Although many films have camped up the Count as a character (Murnau's 1922 Nosferatu silent film with Max Schreck, Browning's 1931 cult classic with Bela Lugosi, and even Werner Herzog's 1979 Phantom der Nacht), it's Gary Oldman's pitch perfect performance in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992) that reveals the monster's true nature.

"The Old Ornament of His Cheek": What the Hipster Beard Craze Stole from Shakespeare

"The Old Ornament of His Cheek": What the Hipster Beard Craze Stole from Shakespeare

Beards are back. It's impossible not to notice — hirsute is hip, from Brooklyn to Hollywood, from the corner artisanal whatever shop to the flawlessly kept chins of Jon Hamm, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling. The trend has persisted beyond no-shave November; scruffy is still popular. But why? And who are these men — these manly men who judge the mirror, who pluck, tweeze, trim?

Some have called these fashionably bearded men "lumbersexuals" — an aggressively masculine and naturalistic antidote to the "metrosexual", the mid-aughts dandy portmanteau. Last month, Slate's Culture Gabfest took on the lumbersexual trend with Willa Brown's fantastic article in the Atlantic, "Lumbersexuality and Its Discontents."