Sam McPheeters

  • Green Miles

    The signage of segregation, terrible and tangible, left us with a deficient vision of Jim Crow America. The cruelty of a whites only placard may seem like the bookend to Bull Connor’s gross brutality, but such signage implied that the dangers and humiliations of Jim Crow always came labeled. White supremacy drew its power from the ritualized humiliation of black people having to ask if a public service was available. Even sundown towns—communities across the nation that violently banned African Americans after dark—didn’t always advertise their own rules. For mid-twentieth-century black Americans,

  • culture December 12, 2010

    Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide To Punks on Film, edited by Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly

    When I first heard of this book, earlier this year, I felt a mix of fascination and dread. Listing every appearance of punk rockers on film seemed laughably masochistic, for both reader and writer. That a friend was one of the editors (Zack Carlson and I have intersected in the punk underground world for a dozen years) made the venture a potential lose-lose for me, leaving either disappointment or jealousy. And how could two editors actually pull off such a grandiose project? And even if they did, how could they convince the reading public that their labor-intensive thesis—presenting an entire

  • culture November 18, 2010

    George Washington's America: A Biography Through His Maps by Barnet Schecter

    Writing with relevance about George Washington is a strange trick. It’s not just that the terrain has been so thoroughly covered, although there is that (as of this writing, Amazon sells 13,172 books with the words George Washington in the title). It is the unique challenge of writing about a jewel of American exceptionalism who was himself genuinely exceptional. There’s the gifted military feinting, the repeated rejection of dictatorship, the young man who treated food and sleep as optional. There are those suspicious intercessions of "providence:" all those horses shot out from under him,