nemo williams

Working to Play, Playing to Work: Mexican-American Baseball & Labor in Southern California

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“I remember traveling to Lake Elsinore, which was a long way in those days,” reminisced Zeke Mejia in 1996. “But the only ride we could get was from a friend who hauled fertilizer in his truck, so all the guys crawled inside … and tried not to breath during the ride. By the time we arrived to play well we all smelled like fertilized fields. We did it because we loved the game.” 1

For Mejia and thousands of other Mexican Americans laboring in Southern California during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, baseball served as a means to at once demonstrate belonging in the United States, while simultaneously asserting their own identity. In Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties, Mexican American baseball teams dotted the landscape, creating a human geography of social, economic, and political connections that helped buoy working class communities, and even contributed to unionization efforts amid widespread…

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— nemo williams.

Top 40 Albums of 2016

Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs

black-and-white-city-skyline-buildings-copyFor me, this list is the most important thing I write all year. While I enjoy all the various writing avenues I take, the “Top Albums” list is really the end-all-be-all. I’d be beating a dead horse if I discussed what a disappointing year 2016 has been, but instead, I want to focus on some of the great music released.  Once again, I’ve compiled a list of some incredible albums that hail from a wide range of genres. Give the first 20 a read through and a listen, and I’m sure you’ll find something that strayed beyond your listening peripheral in 2016.

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“clouds (written half-awake at one o’clock, this a.m.)”

(as I mentioned earlier: so, since I decided to relaunch this blog on January 2nd, I decided to start reposting some older stuff — material that was on here before I abandoned this blog / picked it back up. Cheers.)


and what a thing to be:
pale, proud ghost against the weight of the night,
a milky white island in a darkening sea.

Calm it stays, even if it sees the abyss,
whether by wind, or shaken by a kiss.
but baby i know we’ve both witnessed this dance before:
wild & wicked, too much to ignore,
like holy birds of love, locked in eternal war.

Gather your worries, shake off your dust,
and circle with me around the moon;
make it fast, I hope to see you soon,
before we are gathered away in a gust.

syd williams.


HA. — syd williams.

Dick (1999): The Forrest Gump of Stoner Movies

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betsy and arlene dick

It is the fate of the cult movie to be ahead of its time. One thinks of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, which opened to middling reviews and pitiful box office receipts in 1983, only to see its dark media fantasia look far more prescient as video games and the Internet matured in the 1990s. Mike Judge had the distinction of directing two modern classics that tanked at the box office but flourished in video release; 1999’s Office Space resonated with the deepening economic malaise of the early twenty-first century, while 2006’s Idiocracy makes more sense today than ever before.

Sometimes, though, a film manages to be both ahead of and behind its time—as the 1999 alternate-history farce Dick makes clear. Numerous commentators over the years have noted that the Watergate spoof faced an impossible dilemma in its search for an audience; as a quasi-teen movie, it likely turned off the…

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Borges and $$$: The Parable of the Literary Master and the Coin

Borges in 1951. Via Wikimedia Commons.


Elizabeth Hyde Stevens | Longreads | June 2016 | 31 minutes (7,830 words)

Nothing is less material than money. . . . Money is abstract, I repeated, money is future time. It can be an evening in the suburbs, it can be the music of Brahms, it can be maps, it can be chess, it can be coffee, it can be the words of Epictetus teaching us to despise gold. Money is a Proteus more versatile than the one on the island of Pharos.

—Jorge Luis Borges, “The Zahir”

I fell in love with Jorge Luis Borges when I was a freshman in college. That year, full of hope and confusion, I left my hometown for the manicured quads of Brown University, desperately seeking culture—art, beauty, and meaning beyond the empty narrative of wealth building that consumes our world. It is easy to look back and see why Borges spoke…

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Where Are All the Aliens…?

The Pilots of Instagram: Beautiful Views from the Cockpit, Violating Rules of the Air


Doc Sportello & The Dude: Separated at Birth?

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Doc Sportello and the Dude.png

When I heard that Paul Thomas Anderson would be translating a Thomas Pynchon novel for the the screen, I could not help but be excited. Here was one of today’s most ambitious and talented filmmakers interpreting an author of such dazzling obscurantism that his novels were generally considered by critics to be the acme of unfilmable.  It was like the unstoppable force finally met the immovable object.  Who would prevail?

The answer was probably not Anderson.  The film adaptation of Inherent Vice only made back $14.7 million on its $20 million budget, though it earned a respectable 74% approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.  The movie was universally ignored by the award shows and seemed to leave many viewers puzzled by its labyrinthine, shaggy-dog storyline and unmistakable resemblance to The Big Lebowksi. Lovable stoner gets mixed up in crazy crime plot, full of wacky side characters and red herrings?…

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