1. "How Dave Brubeck used his talents to fight for integration"
Henry Grabar, The Atlantic Cities
On Wednesday, legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck died at age 91. Brubeck was most famous for his unconventional time signatures, which he and the other members of the Dave Brubeck Quartet used in hits like "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk." But in addition to his legacy as a jazz musician, Brubeck will be remembered as an early proponent of racial integration — even when it threatened to hurt his career:
In 1958, Brubeck's manager began to receive letters from Southern universities insisting that the Quartet drop [black band member Gene] Wright in order to perform. "We have no integration down here," the president of LSU told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It wasn't easy," Brubeck said in 2007, recalling the sense of danger, of being sought out for music but rejected as people. "And we went through many things." Brubeck refused to compromise. He cancelled gigs at Georgia Tech, Memphis State, and elsewhere. He took a similar stand on the Bell Telephone Hour, a musical TV program, when the producers made a similar ultimatum. "I told him that we weren't going to change," Brubeck recalled. "And, they said, 'Well, then we can't have you.' And I said, 'All right, I'm not going to do your television show.'
2. "Tea and promises"
David Weigel, Slate
On Thursday, Jim DeMint, the quintessentially conservative senator from South Carolina, surprised the beltway when he announced that he would be stepping down to lead conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. DeMint has long stood out as one of the most vocal and influential leaders of the Tea Party Movement, successfully backing far-right candidates over more moderate Republican opponents in primaries. Here's an excerpt from a dispatch on the first-ever meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus in January 2011:
"You can keep on reminding us that what is rational and reasonable here is not rational and reasonable on the outside," said DeMint. "What seems doable here is not enough." He pointed to Rand Paul of Kentucky, a founder of the Senate Tea Party Caucus along with DeMint and Mike Lee of Utah. Paul had just proposed a package of deep cuts. "When he suggested cutting $500 billion, they said 'Aw, he's a far right-winger.' But if I walk through this crowd, I'm hearing that cutting $500 billion isn't enough. I'm not right enough!" That right there is the relationship between the Tea Party and the GOP. There were many questions about whether DeMint's rebels were getting on with the leadership. "How would you describe the Tea Party caucus's relationship with Republican leaders?" one reporter asked Paul. Paul just shrugged. "Good," he said.
3. "Daydream believer"
James Parker, The Atlantic
When the Grammy Award nominations were announced on Wednesday night, one name was particularly conspicuous in its absence: That of Justin Bieber, the 18-year-old pop star beloved by preteen girls the world over. A 2011 article attempts to make sense of the Canadian sensation's carefully crafted appeal:
The kid is teenybop-perfect, eagerly suspending his charm-particles in the requisite solution of pure nonentity. He smiles, he thanks, he praises; he displays a persona from which every hint of psychology has been combed out; and he wonders, mildly but without cease, just who the right girl for him might be. “I haven’t been in love yet but I’ve felt love,” he told M magazine in 2009. “It’s a beautiful emotion that you can’t really describe.” No matter that he could, presumably, be slathered in gratifications at the snap of his princely fingers; or that he drops a saucy hint, here and there, about Beyoncé or Rihanna or Kim Kardashian … Justin is alone, silhouetted against the blast of his fame. He pines nonspecifically, a knight-errant with cloche hair at the foot of an invisible tower. “Is she out there?” he calls, echoingly, at the end of “Somebody to Love.” “Is she out there?” And the pulse of longing goes forth, like sonar, to reverberate in the cells of a million unformed libidos.
4. "Does the Pope wear Prada?"
Stacy Meichtry, The Wall Street Journal
The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Pope Benedict XVI would be joining Twitter, embracing social media to answer questions about faith. But even though the Pope's Twitter account has well over 500,000 followers, he only follows himself. This article explains why the Pope has to be very careful about which products, organizations, or people he endorses:
Unlike movie stars, who can command huge sums for product endorsements, or the queen of England, who discreetly allows companies to mention royal patronage, the pope, as the moral and spiritual leader of more than one billion Catholics, endorses holiness and chastity but not products. That means companies have to hope the pontiff uses a product they have donated to him and then tastefully note the event, or delicately capitalize on a photograph showing the 79-year-old theologian using or wearing a particular brand. Astute marketers say the key words are "tastefully" and "delicately." Pursuing pope-and-product juxtaposition poses risks. Brands have to be careful not to appear opportunistic or they could risk a backlash with the pope's followers. "The question of endorsing products, especially from a figure such as the pope, raises an enormous number of questions in terms of the ethics of each company," says Ben Cronin, general manager and research director of S.Comm, an international advertising-research firm.
5. "Welcome to the firm"
Matthew Engel, The Financial Times
British palace officials confirmed on Monday that Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — long plagued by pregnancy rumors — are expecting a child. But the baby will join the royal family at a tumultuous time, when it is facing a future of ever-diminishing political importance. Here's an exploration of the royal family's place in the modern era, written on the eve of William and Kate's April 2011 wedding:
On their last public engagement before their marriage, William and Kate went to Lancashire to open a playing field in a park outside Blackburn. They had just been opening an academy in nearby Darwen, where it pelted with rain, and cold rain at that. The response in both towns seemed welcoming but not overwhelming. The numbers on a working Monday were respectable, but by no means huge: the crowd mostly comprised the young and the elderly (many of them grandparents on childcare duty, it being school holidays). There were flags on buildings along the route into Darwen, but they had been placed there by the council. The people had handheld flags, but these had been given away — as one side proclaimed — by Crown Paints. These loyal subjects saw the couple arrive, wave momentarily, then disappear into the dry. The sensible ones then left. “Was it worth it?” I asked a group of escaping young mums. “Nooooo,” they shouted back in unison.