White People, Blues Music, and the Problem of Cultural Appropriation

In July 1956, Elvis Presley released what would become his signature song. Hound Dog became absolutely huge. Even now, everybody knows how it goes. Elvis, who was 21 years old, was already well on his way to being a star. But Hound Dog shot him into the stratosphere: the song was simultaneously top of the […]

Small, White and Strong: How French Cigarettes Became the Coolest in the World

How do two French cigarette brands become so cool that the government wants to outlaw them? Short, stubby and with an intense, distinctive smell: it’s easy to make unkind and stereotypical comparisons between French people and their iconic cigarettes. But Gitanes and Gauloises are subject to a prospective law in France which has smokers up […]