Boob Jubilee: The Cultural Politics of the New Economy

Boob Jubilee: The Cultural Politics of the New Economy

by Thomas Frank
     
 

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Salvos of sane and humorous dissent from the worship of the almighty market.
For a magazine dedicated to debunking the nation's business culture, the final years of the twentieth century overflowed with bounty. "It was the most spectacular outbreak of mass delirium that we are likely to see in our lifetimes," wrote the editors ofThe Baffler. What was for others

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Overview

Salvos of sane and humorous dissent from the worship of the almighty market.
For a magazine dedicated to debunking the nation's business culture, the final years of the twentieth century overflowed with bounty. "It was the most spectacular outbreak of mass delirium that we are likely to see in our lifetimes," wrote the editors ofThe Baffler. What was for others the dawn of a "New Economy" was for The Baffler a cornucopia of absurdity the costliest political and financial hustle in living memory. Reporting from places far from the white-hot centers of the libertarian revolution, Baffler writers were the people of whom it was fashionable to say they just don't get it. While New Democrats turned somersaults for Wall Street and economic commentary became puffery, these bold, talented, and very funny writers observed the crescendo of folly with which the century turned. Here their best writings are selected, updated, and reaffirmed, to sharpen our wits and inoculate us against follies yet to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For those who doubted the New Economy would be the answer to mass discrepancies in wealth in this country, or the liberator of the overworked and underpaid laborers of the world, there is nothing so sweet as saying, "I told you so." In this collection of essays previously published in the Baffler, a 15-year-old journal of cultural criticism, the contributors skewer the myth of the omnipotent free market. Rather than regurgitating cold figures, they tell stories to reflect the impact of misguided economic policies. Mike Newirth's "Give the Millionaire a Drink," set in East Hampton, N.Y., takes a cinematic look at the local denizens and channels Fitzgerald in its description of the decadence and superficiality endemic to the late 1990s. In "American Heartworm," a tale of Midwestern desperation that evokes Steinbeck, Ben Metcalf asks of the Mississippi, "What other waterway has been the seat of more shame, or has inspired us to greater stupidity, or has inflected more brutal and embarrassing wounds upon our culture?" Frank, Mulcahey and their colleagues at the influential publication that prides itself on analyzing "business culture and the culture business" have collected some of the better pieces of writing from this unusual period. Along with Studs Terkel's stirring introduction, this is a powerful study of the contemporary American experience. (Aug.) FYI: Norton published a previous Baffler book, Commodify Your Dissent, in 1997. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"These are grotesque times," say one writer in this assembly of pieces from The Baffler, echoing other contributors as they chronicle the fallout from the New Economy. The late-20th century wasn’t the first time a culture and economy went bananas--witness tulipmania and the South Sea bubble--but the New Economy was a "cornucopia of absurdity," and the writers here take great bites from it. The dominions of the New Economy were a "rum bunch of two-fisted boodlers, upper-class twits, and hang-’em-high moralists," hustlers in an old game of "spectacular booms and crushing busts, wages that go nowhere, shitty health care, unaffordable schools, and ever-widening prison roundup, and a culture in which organs of opinion are prostituted to boosterism." The Chicago-based Baffler brought, and brings, skepticism, dissent, and critical intelligence. There’s not a rotten apple in these 32 articles, but all have range, depth, and purpose, whether about union-busting at newspapers (of some pugnacious strikers, "one begins to suspect they might be the last of the hardened, rooted, class-conscious species of journalists that defined American literature for most of the twentieth century"), on the growth of the intern (i.e., wage-free) economy, the routinizing of bankruptcy, or the disarming of rock music’s joustings with the corporate music industry: "Indie rock smuggled a sort of star system back into the underground." There are clawed swipes at some old bugaboos (press junkets, commodified deviance), a few batterings (David Lazare on Hilton Kramer: "One can defend Picasso and even write appreciatively about Julian Schnabel and still be a card carrying member of the loony right"), and some well-drawn,figurative items, such as Ben Metcalf’s portrait of the Mississippi River: "Having taught the midwesterner to freeload, and to lie, and to steal, and to work violence against his brother, the Mississippi now rings its doleful school bell once more." Fine muckery, with fingers pointed and blame apportioned. Like being lifted up high, where the air is clear.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393324303
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/02/2003
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
404
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Frank is the author of One Market Under God and The Conquest of Cool.

David Mulcahey is managing editor of The Baffler.

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