I loved this popular satire section of the magazine, so I tried to write some funny satire myself. All my attempts fell flat. Or did they? You decide.

An introductory note: I wrote this one in the form of a high school newspaper article.

“Poopooing Shampoo, Before It Was Cool.”

By Rebecca S. Winfield, Special to the Hartshorne High School Times

“I honestly think in five years people are going to go, ‘Oh God, remember when we used to wash our hair with shampoo?’” says Michael Gordon. ─Wired magazine

Lately, it has become fashionable to give up shampoo. Fast Company’s October article, “The End Of Shampoo? The old lathering hair rinse has a bit of a branding problem,” was one of a series of articles questioning traditional shampoo. Everyone from Marie Claire to Vogue, Wired to Elle have written about the supposedly negative effects of traditional foaming cleansers, and documented the way stylish young skeptics on both sides of the Atlantic are joining what’s called the no-poo movement. But George Wexler, right here in Middleton, New Jersey, did it first. …

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AP Photo/Capital City Weekly, James Brooks

I know as much about classical music as I do car mechanics, which is close to nothing, but I do know I like it. Not choruses. I’m not a fan of things like Bach’s choral works. And as much as I appreciate Mozart, his best work is too tempestuous for me. I prefer chillaxed baroque chamber music. I prefer Bach’s Orchestral Suites and Brandenburg Concertos. And Franz Schubert, Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn, Handle’s Water Music, “Pachelbel’s Canon,” and the kind of sprightly, buttoned-up small group sound that fits quiet workday mornings and cups of tea. If there’s anything I’m not, it’s buttoned-up, so my particular love of chamber music still surprises me. Bad Brains’ fast songs and Dead Moon’s gritty guitars sound like my spirit feels, but I’m a Gemini, and my opposite side is contemplative, calm, and still, suited to reggae, jazz piano trios, and Schubert’s Octets. I find that kind of classical soothing. Maybe it counteracts the blaring amplified guitar part of me. …

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AP Photo/Richard Vogel

It’s always 420 somewhere, especially here in Portland, Oregon, where a cannabis dispensary seems to stand on every other corner. I smell weed while biking with my daughter through quiet residential neighborhoods. I smell weed while driving with my windows closed. I smell it at the food carts and on the clothes of college students whose papers I used to help revise at Portland State University. Last year I was skating a park around 8 am one morning, and I smelled weed. No one was walking a dog. No one was playing Frisbee golf. I swear the squirrels must have been blazing in the trees. It’s easy to feel like I’m part of a small minority of Portlanders who don’t get stoned. But legal cannabis is more than easy stoner jokes and giggly good times. Legalization is decriminalization, and that’s a very important distinction in a nation that both disproportionately incarcerates people of color for minor offences and clings to an ineffective, military battle approach to the social and health challenge of addiction. Weed is far less harmful than heroin and alcohol, but it can still be harmful when habitual. …

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Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“On psychedelics,” Dr. John Halpern, head of the Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, told The New York Times Magazine, “you have an experience in which you feel there is something you are a part of, something else is out there that’s bigger than you, that there is a dazzling unity you belong to, that love is possible and all these realizations are imbued with deep meaning. I’m telling you that you’re not going to forget that six months from now.” That rings true to me.

For the record, I’m not encouraging anyone to take psychedelics. Powerful substances such as LSD, D.M.T., and psilocybin are not for everyone, and they are illegal. That said, these substances behave in the body very different than opioids, alcohol, and cocaine, and they offer what many people view as the possibility for enlightenment, for constructive personal revelations, and insight into the cosmos. The stories collected here offer insight into this idea. …

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Tommy Potter, Charlie Parker, and Max Roach performing. William Gottlieb/Redferns

I am a jazz devotee, the kind with shelves of jazz books and photos of John Coltrane and Charlie Parker in his home office. Because I love music so much, I want to understand where it came from, and learn about the people who made it.

What is jazz? “It can be said that the entire story of jazz is actually a story about what can urgently be passed down to someone else before a person expires,” Hanif Abdurraqib writes in his book Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes on A Tribe Called Quest. “Jazz was created by a people obsessed with their survival in a time that did not want them to survive, and so it is a genre of myths — of fantasy and dreaming, of drumming on whatever you must and making noise in any way you can, before the ability to make noise is taken from you, or until the noise is an echo in your own head that won’t rest.” …

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Bob Dylan playing on the Olympia stage, France, May 24, 1966, on his 25th birthday. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Music legends from Tom Waits to Joni Mitchell immediately heard Dylan’s genius in songs like “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,“ but not me. It took me two decades to warm to Bob Dylan. It’s a common story. He’s one of those artists that people say will “grow on you,” or, in more patronizing terms: You’ll understand when you’re older. No young person wants to hear that, but people I knew in high school loved Dylan, so I gave him a try.

Compared to all the loud, cutting-edge guitar bands my friends and I listened to in the ’90s, like Bad Brains and Meat Puppets, Dylan seemed to belong to what my naive teenage mind characterized as ancient rock dinosaurs like The Rolling Stones and The Who: historically interesting but obsolete. I was in high school. Shows what I knew. Dylan and The Who were nothing alike. As cool as Dylan looked in old photos with his cigarette and sunglasses, folk music could not have seemed less cool. My friends and I skated and moshed in the pit. Acoustic guitar didn’t move me. Then I heard about Dylan’s legendary 1966 concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, from the tour where he played controversial electric sets. As a die-hard fan of live recordings, a legendary rock show seemed a great place to start with Dylan. …

The story of the jazz saxophonist’s final artistic achievements

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Starting with his first Blue Note Records comeback session in July, 1959, tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec recorded five albums worth of material as a leader in the early 1960s, two of which are undisputed masterpieces: Blue and Sentimental with guitarist Grant Green, and the organ jazz album Heavy Soul with organist Freddie Roach. Quebec died of lung cancer in 1963 at age 44. He was just getting restarted. History has divided his career into before his comeback and after his comeback. …

Revolutionary times call for revolutionary music

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Those of us who love the Bad Brains always will, but recent vocal protests to end the violent, systematic oppression of Black Americans have revitalized the band’s message of unity and resistance.

Founded in 1977 by four Black men in Washington D.C., Bad Brains blends punk, reggae, metal, and funk, particularly across the course of their first three landmark albums Bad Brains, Rock for Light, and I Against I. Darryl Jenifer plays bass. Gary “Dr. Know” Miller plays guitar. Earl Hudson plays drums, and Earl’s brother Paul “HR” Hudson sings. HR stands for Human Rights, which tells you where they’re at. …

“The Ballad of Johnny Butt” is one of the California band’s most moving songs, even if it’s the least-serious sounding

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Sublime playing Warped Tour in Asbury Park, NJ 8/18/1995. Getty Images

“Lovin’ is what I got. Said remember that.” –Bradley Nowell

For a perpetually stoned band that took very little seriously, the California band Sublime played some seriously powerful music.

Twenty-plus years after their dissolution, you might not think it’s cool to like Sublime. You might think of them as a white boy reggae-punk “SoCal” band for backwards hat frat boys who smoke herb but hate peace and ride longboards to their college classes even though they live in Ohio. And in many ways, that’s what Sublime represents to some people. But Sublime’s music still means a lot to many people. It’s the soundtrack to their lives. It’s the sound of southern California in the 90s that still sounds like southern California today. It’s the sound of freedom, rebellion, youthful good times, of sobriety for some and permanent summer for others. Twenty years on, you can still hear fierce originality in many songs and surprising depth in others. Because trust me when I say that underneath Sublime’s cool, tattooed beach dude image — always holding beers, rarely wearing shirts — and beneath the proud Long Beach, low-rider, cholo-style regionalism — was some incredibly tender, emotionally charged music, some of it built from the same improvisational abilities as jazz, except drunker. Not the fast songs that spun the moshpit, like “New Thrash” and “Seed,” which are awesome. Not the irie, upbeat, joyous jams like “Foolish Fool,” “Doin’ Time,” and the reggae cover “Kingstep,” which are timeless, too. I mean the pained, heartfelt songs like “Badfish,” “Pool Shark,” “Jailhouse,” and “Pawn Shop.” Sublime’s music mixed reggae, dub, punk rock, surf rock, hip-hop, acoustic porch jams, even Blues. It was diverse, and within that range of styles you find songs that inhabit the more sensitive side of the musical spectrum, especially their final live performance of “The Ballad of Johnny Butt.” A fan recorded them playing it the night before singer Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose in his motel room at age 28, in the bed next to his drummer Bud Gaugh.


Aaron Gilbreath

Essayist, Journalist, Burritoist. Longreads Editor. Writing: Harper’s, NYT, Slate, Paris Review, VQR, Oxford American, Kenyon Review. 3 nonfiction books.

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