“The Devil Had Worshipers Long Before Lenin”: The Occult Spy Novels of E. Howard Hunt

By Michael Grasso

In his series of “Peter Ward” novels, published by various paperback houses (Signet, Dell, and Fawcett) between 1965 and 1971, Hunt conjures an agent with a pedigree strikingly similar to his own: Ivy League-educated (at Brown), possessing both a mysterious past involving disastrous CIA ops gone wrong and a burning desire to see himself accepted by the clandestine Washington D.C. power structure…

Deserts, Screens, and Empty Smiles: The Vast Wastelands of Jean Baudrillard’s ‘America’

By Michael Grasso

In the early 1980s, French philosopher, media theorist, and cultural scholar Jean Baudrillard visited the United States several times, taking in the vastness of the continent-spanning nation, from Manhattan to Manhattan Beach. In 1986, his account of these trips, America, was published in France. Two years later, the book came to the US in a translated edition. In the work, Baudrillard ruminates upon Mormons and breakdancers, fitness nuts and canned laughter on television, on all of the sources of beauty and horror of American culture and society in the 1980s…

New Age Nebraska: ‘Entourage: A Ceremony of Dreams’, 1977

An experimental music group founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1970, The Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble began as an exploration into the edges of jazz, folk, and free-form ambient music. Their self-titled debut album with Folkways Records, an independent label focusing on international music and spoken word recordings, was released in 1973…

“Looks Like It’s Gonna Be A Free Country”: ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’, 1973 – 1976

It’s hard for me to square the aesthetic of these friendly, vivid, hippie-lite cartoons with the messages they convey. The patriotic, even nationalistic approach to American history was nothing if not commonplace in K-8 schools even in the liberal Northeast as late as the 1980s. Plymouth Rock, 1620, taxation without representation, Bunker Hill, Lewis and Clark, Manifest Destiny, Civil War, women’s suffrage: the parade of America’s history presented as a series of easy-to-remember facts and figures…