Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
"I always think, 'What if I can’t?' Then I always think, 'Oh shit, don’t think that.' Because thinking about it can make it happen. Not like it’s happened that often. But I get scared about it. We all do. Anybody that tells you they don’t they’re full of it. They’re always scared it might happen." There's a lot of really bad writing about sex. This is a piece about some of the good stuff.
If the idea of Rachael Ray as queen of the food world shivers your timbers, read no further: Gourmet magazine, until now stewarded by the excellent Ruth Reichl, will cease publication with the November issue, the NY Times reports. Condé Nast also gave the axe to Cookie, Elegant Bride, and Modern Bride. The print media mass grave fills apace...
Sasha Dugdale believes that Ted Hughes's greatest contribution to the world of poetry remains Modern Poetry in Translation, the magazine which got its start thanks to an off-hand suggestion by Hughes at a cocktail party in the mid-sixties. Here’s our review of Jonathan Bate’s recent take on the poet, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorized Life.
“What I didn’t know then was that these decorations evolved from the Jewish menora, the Hebrew festival of lights. I don’t think my mother knew that either, but if she did she never mentioned it. And I certainly never contemplated the resemblance of a sleigh to a cradle. A sleigh is basically a very large cradle.” Mary Ruefle on Christmas trees.
Elaine Kaufman supported writers at her restaurant when she was alive, and the Table 4 Writers Foundation keeps her legacy going with its grant. The third annual writers' grants contest will award a $5,000 grand prize and two $2,500 prizes for promising writers. Applications are due by November 15 and can be submitted here. For more on Kaufman, read our own Bill Morris's tribute.
In 1817, the painter Robert Benjamin Haydon invited several guests over for what he called an “immortal dinner.” Why the bombastic name? The guests included Keats and Wordsworth, whom Haydon wished to introduce to each other. In the WaPo, Michael Dirda takes a look at The Immortal Evening, a new book about the event by Stanley Plumly.