My friend David Dayen wrote this week about the launch of California’s high-speed rail line — it’s starting with a short section of the Central Valley — and the inspiring Bizarro Robert Moses story of its triumph over lawsuits and de-funding attempts. If any civic project has a mandate, it’s…

There are many reasons to be an Anglophile, many reasons to appreciate the relationship between Brit journalists and Brit musicians, and C86 epitomized them all. It was a cassette tape (really, how twee) packaged with an issue of the NME (which used to mean New Musical Express) in, yes, 1986….

This year, like every year, I consumed a bunch of #content. Less than usual, and far fewer books than usual, as I have trouble committing to a long read when I’m finishing up my own. I saw roughly half as many movies as I did in 2013, which actually led…

As I keep saying, partly to remind myself to go back to working on it, 2014 is the year I finish the progressive rock history that I’ve wanted to write since I was 20 or so. And 2013 was the year I should have done more work on this, the…

Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, 2014) If you have not yet seen Ken Burns’s documentary about the Dust Bowl, then go, do. It’s a little shy of four hours long, but all of those hours are on Netflix, and they’re compelling in the way that only resurrected history can be. From the…

The Fault in Our Stars (Josh Boone, 2014) Hollywood’s romance with Young Adult novels, which have remained plot-focused while the grown-up kinds have gotten more abstruse, produced this faithful adaptation of (I’m told) the defining millennial non-vampire love story. It aims for tear-jerking, and does not miss. Hazel (Shailene Woodley,…

Locke (Stephen Knight, 2014) Not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Locke is a “bottle” movie, set almost entirely inside the car of the eponymous Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), as he drives from Birmingham to London and conducts phone calls with his in-auto bluetooth. We learn quickly that Ivan…

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2014) First off: What a title! The phrase “Only Lovers Left Alive” dates back 50 years, to a science fiction novel in which adults have departed and left the world to be run by reckless, sexy teenagers. (This was not an uncommon theme in…

Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014) Earlier this year, New York culture critics came up with one of those trends that’s unprovable outside Brooklyn yet sets the entire Internet on fire. “Normcore,” allegedly, was a “self-aware, stylized blandness” adopted by cool kids, who were eschewing high fashion. (Surely this had nothing to…

Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014) If you’re the sort of geek or critic who relies on extra-textual information to judge a movie, Guardians of the Galaxy is simply too good. Which narrative do you choose? The likeable blockbuster that saved Hollywood after a dismal summer? The rise of…