How Jack White Became One of the Most Influential Men in Music

Jack White

By bringing the past into the future, Jack White has changed the way we experience music. When we think of the artists who revolutionized the rock music industry, we often harken back to the artists of yesteryear. Jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane influenced rockers like Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, who in turn paved the way for the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Their classic sounds produced entire generations of copycats who churned out hit after hit, only to be replaced by the next big thing. For a while, it felt like originality was dead. Then came Jack White. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, White (née John Anthony Gillis), has always been something of an enigma. Though known for his unconventional, slap-you-in-the-face guitar riffs, he grew up listening to classic country and blues, including the Stooges, Son House, Captain Beefheart, Charley Patton and Loretta Lynn. The White        …read more

This Sex Podcast Could Bridge an American Divide

sex podcasts

Sex podcasts are demystifying one of America’s favorite pastimes. A man who’s married to a RealDoll. A trans performer who’s fearful for her future. A former United States Surgeon General who was fired for suggesting Americans teach children about masturbation. These people couldn’t seem more different, but their stories can help us reexamine the way we view sex in the United States, which is exactly what sex podcasts such as American Sex aim to do. He’s into clown play, and she fancies mimes. Much like their guests, one might not imagine American Sex creators and hosts Sunny Megatron and Ken Melvoin-Berg to fit into a traditional love story narrative. Yet, somehow, the sexuality educators have found a way not only to make their relationship work but to also inspire their listeners each week. Though they’re perhaps best known for their work on the Showtime series Sex with Sunny Megatron, the        …read more

‘My Favorite Murder’ Makes Murder Great Again…Kind Of

My Favorite Murder

How two California girls are bringing sexy [murders] back with their popular comedy podcast ‘My Favorite Murder.’ Plus: 4 tips to not get murdered! What’s your favorite murder? Is that a weird question? Are you freaked out? I can explain. Let’s back up a little bit. Rewind to early 2016, when friends Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark gave us the gift we never knew we needed: a true-crime podcast focused on murder…that’s categorized as a comedy. They weren’t the first duo to venture into true-crime podcasting, but their charm and (usually inappropriate) humor have earned them worldwide recognition in a short two years’ time. Fast-forward to present day, and the duo have a website, badass fan art, and live-show tour. You may be wondering, “What kind of people start a true-crime podcast and have the audacity to label it comedy?” Well, let’s meet the California natives. Introducing Karen and Georgia        …read more

Logan Paul Apologized, But We All Feed the Machine

Logan Paul

Oh, Logan Paul…you poor, goofy young man. Now, now, I know everyone is up in arms over how he started 2018, and I’m certainly not saying his recent video in Japan was tasteful or even artful. But Logan Paul is an artist. And as a society, we need to learn from his experience, especially as more and more bright teens aspire to become famous YouTubers. Of course, disrespecting the dead is offensive; but it is important to note that Paul did not commit murder or rape or worse. He simply exhibited very poor judgment based on a certain brand of ignorance that online culture has actively encouraged. And that’s what I’d like to discuss here. First, what did Logan Paul do exactly? He traveled with friends to the Aokigahara forest beneath Japan’s Mount Fuji to go “ghost hunting.” Upon arrival, he and his seemingly vapid, hapless posse came across a man        …read more

How the Jewish Experience Gave Rise to Our Favorite Comic Book Heroes

Jewish Creators

Whether consciously or not on the part of the Jewish creators and innovators, what comes to mind when we think of comics and superheroes comes straight out of troubled times for Jews. Comic books are lifted from the myths, plights and religious teachings of the Jewish people. Let’s start with the framework for comics as we know them. It’s 1933, the heart of the Great Depression, and M.C. Gaines (born Maxwell Ginzberg) needs an idea to make money and provide for his family. One day while reading through old comic strips, he begins to wonder if others would enjoy them too. So he decides to publish a collection of old strips, and the first comic book, Famous Funnies, is born. This is followed by Popular Comics, which includes an original strip called Scribbly about a boy cartoonist, based on its Jewish creator Sheldon Mayer. Realizing this success would be short-lived,        …read more

The World’s First Supernatural Horror Magazine: ‘The Orchid Garden’

horror magazine

Almost 100 years ago, German publishers introduced the world to ‘The Orchid Garden’ and a new art form: the supernatural horror magazine. One of the greatest inventions of all time? Paper. Though its creation is commonly attributed to Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty, archaeological research suggests paper existed in an earlier time. With the advent of the printing press in 1440, people were able to enjoy all kinds of printed works. In our now-almost-forgotten public libraries, in bookstore aisles and at the grocery checkout counter, we can still find a form of reading material that’s been popular for centuries: the magazine. In 1731 Englishman Edward Cave released The Gentleman’s Magazine, which would go on to enjoy 200 years in publication. Cave’s goal was to create a periodical that would interest the general public, so he included everything from essays and poems to stories and political musings. With the        …read more

Did Our Favorite Indie Comics Grow Up or Sell Out?

indie comics

How did indie comics ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘The Tick’ rise from cult followings to franchises, and what did they give up for mass appeal? When I saw that a new version of The Tick was coming out — from creator Ben Edlund, no less — I was ecstatic. However, the pilot was not the laugh riot I expected. I was leery of the dark, serious tone and the direction it was taking. An odd approach, if you remember the original indie comics. When I was a kid, comic books were my be-all and end-all. While other kids dressed up as athletes or in occupational garb, year after year I dressed up as superheroes and — I likely should be embarrassed to write this — still do every Halloween. So imagine my delight when, as a young teen, I ran into two indie comics: The Tick and Teenage Mutant        …read more

The Greatest Magicians the World Has Ever Known

greatest magicians

From Houdini to David Blaine, the greatest magicians have captured imaginations for generations. Magic is as old as it is transcultural, and the greatest magicians tap into this fact. From figures like the wizard Merlin in Arthurian legend to books like the I-Ching from ancient China, magic has existed in cultural narratives for as long as we can remember. From one perspective, magic makes sense of life’s larger questions, filling in the gaps where contemporary science falls short. From another perspective, on the threshold between spirituality and mysticism, magic is not at odds with science, reason or logic; rather, it forms them. Whether we take one view or another, magic has developed through modern society to become a form of entertainment and, depending on the person practicing it, an art form. The greatest magicians have evolved from wizards to showmen. Sleight of hand, feats of mental discipline and death-defying stunts        …read more

8 Best TED Talks to Inspire You

best TED Talks

Looking for more happiness, focus, creativity? Here are the best TED Talks to put you on track for your best year yet. TED Talks have long been the go-to videos for inspiring, thought-provoking ideas from a variety of experts and leaders. Following are the eight best TED Talks, each under 20 minutes, if you're looking to find your calling, expand your creativity and confront your fears. 1. ‘There’s more to life than being happy’ Author and writer Emily Esfahani Smith upends the long-held theory that we should all be happy as we saunter through this mortal coil. Rather, she says, we should focus on these four pillars of living a meaningful life: belonging, finding purpose, transcendence and storytelling. Essentially, Smith encourages us to seek belonging in relationships or a community, which helps us feel valued. Finding valuable work is important in order to feel like you’re contributing to society,        …read more

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ and Bill Watterson: A Phenomenon and a Recluse

Calvin and Hobbes

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ first appeared on November 18, 1985. The strip has remained relevant for more than 30 years, and its creator has stuck to his principles through it all. It was one of those things moms say to their kids to impress them about their jobs, as if being an outstanding AP teacher weren’t enough. But of course, I was just a young boy. Name-dropping has its effects. “Bill Watterson graduated from Chagrin Falls,” she told me. Chagrin Falls High School in Northeast Ohio, that is. The school where my mom’s now taught for 22 years. Calvin and Hobbes, the revolutionary comic strip, made Chagrin Falls’ own Bill Watterson a household name. Calvin and Hobbes had always reminded me of home. The precocious Calvin and his stuffed tiger live in an idyllic Midwestern town with many Chagrin Falls characteristics. In one of the first Calvin and Hobbes strips, for        …read more