Randy Newman, Killer Mike, and John Ashbery: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today we have a chronicle of Randy Newman’s influence on the music of movies, an essay from rapper Killer Mike, some satire from McSweeney’s, and John Ashbery on poet Delmore Schwartz.

First up, rapper Killer Mike wrote an essay for CNN about the case of a student rapper who was suspended from high school and forced to attend an “alternative school” after he recorded a rap song that criticized administrators and coaches — and the song was never performed on or near campus.

During the disciplinary process, administrators never notified police. They never bothered to search Bell’s locker. In other words, nobody at the school appeared to believe that the song was a threat. Even one of the coaches identified in the song said he thought it was “just a rap.” And yet after Bell appealed his punishment, arguing that his song was being misrepresented, the School Board upheld his suspension on the grounds that he had “threatened, harassed, and intimidated” school employees. The School Board’s misguided decision was later upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a divided opinion.

Over at McSweeney’s, Evan Williams imagine a world in which his mother interns for a non-profit, forever altering her emails. For anyone who has worked at a non-profit, it all rings as very accurate.

Son, Can you take a moment to imagine what would happen if you died? Can you see the funeral? Tears flowing down the cheeks of your father, your sister and even your cousin Robbie, maybe. Soon we won’t have to just imagine that funeral. Because if the mold situation in your apartment gets any worse, your funeral could be just around the corner.

Vanity Fair writer David Kamp writes about the intriguing way Randy Newman’s family has influenced the music of movies — and it goes way beyond Pixar.

The musical Newmans are as storied an Old Hollywood family as the Goldwyns, Warners, or Zanucks, if less recognized as such. As is often the case where Old Hollywood is concerned, the roots lie in the shtetl. Much as Schmuel Gelbfisz, a penniless 19th-century child of Warsaw, evolved into the Thalberg Award-winning Samuel Goldwyn, and as Harry and Jack Warner, a Polish cobbler’s boys, willed themselves into the men who delivered to the masses everything from Casablanca to Bugs Bunny, so did Alfred Alan Newman

Adapted from a 1996 talk in Japan, The New Yorker has a piece by poet John Ashbery on the troubled life of poet Delmore Schwartz, who lived through enough tragedy for at least three lives.

The pain of Delmore’s poetry is only a pale reflection of the painful life from which it grew. I’ll abridge the downward drift of his later years: two failed marriages, erratic employment as a teacher and a book and film reviewer, increasing poverty, alcohol and various other addictions.