Lily Allen, Lumberjacks, and the Lottery: What’s New in Book, Film and Music Reviews

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Looking for a distraction? Here’s a quick guide to what we read, watched, and listened to in our March/April 2009 issue:

In this age of Google maps (Street View, Earth, et al), it’s easy to think that we live in a transparent world. Not quite: In Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World, geographer Trevor Paglen exposes the secret airstrips, extralegal prisons, and bases that the government claims don’t exist. Moving from the world of stuff the government doesn’t want you to see to stuff you don’t want to see, there’s the documentary Food, Inc., an eye-opening tour of all the myriad gross things that could happen to your meat—from farm (chickens with breasts so big their legs can’t support them) to slaughterhouse (sick cows being tortured before slaughter) to meatpacking plant (a variety of stomach-churning germs)—before it gets to your plate.

Once you’ve learned about the backstory of your food, check out Brush Cat: On Trees, the Wood Economy, and the Most Dangerous Job in America for the inside scoop on the dying breed of lumberjacks who bring you your furniture, books, Starbucks cup, and even your McDonald’s milkshake (for reals).

 

There’s more: Learn how Blago fits into the the lottery’s sordid history in The Lottery Wars: Long Odds, Fast Money, and the Battle Over an American Institution. In Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption, a woman wrongly identifies her rapist and sends an innocent man to prison for eleven years. Later, against all odds the two form a deep and enduring friendship.

Music we dug includes a satisfyingly sassy new album from British pop idol Lily Allen, and the latest from psychadelic crooner Robyn Hitchcock. Political rockers The Living Things sneer their way through Habeas Corpus, and the Malian duo Amadou & Miriam cram an impressive variety of instruments into Welcome to Mali.

Enjoy.


 

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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