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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, January 13, 2020

The thing about my vinyl collection is that it is a snapshot of a time long past. My shift to CDs came about as my listening habits turned to jazz, and I really didn't replace very many LP with the new format. As a result by record shelves have a weird mix of things that I seldom listen to- a lot of punk and new wave, a surprising amount of reggae, quite a bit of what has come to be known as the American Songbook, and, of course, a ton of rock and roll. There's no question that vinyl sounds better, and even though I have to get up and flip the side every 15 minutes I feel as though I should be listening to more music in this format. One of the things that stops me from collecting more, however, is that I remember when a $20 bill would buy me an armful of sides. Nowadays that's not so true

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Over the years I've come to realize that race is at the heart of all things American, and teaching Constitutional Law has only underlined it. As I view our present scene I am impressed by how thoroughly blind to this reality our media is. The present narrative about President Trump is that his base elected him out of "economic anxiety" and that's so hilariously wrong that it almost seems like a conspiracy. The difficulty is that it is not easy to tell someone that they are a racist. Unless someone is an avowed Nazi the accusation is deeply insulting, no matter how true- and it is always true. So what can we do about it, if we can't even be honest enough about it to admit it? I confess that I do not know. I know that this has been thinking about this for a while- I started drafting this note by going back and searching Outside Counsel for a Robert Christgau quote: "There really is a crisis of meaning in this culture, especially for white males who regret at whatever level of conscious intellection their complicity in an ideology of domination they're at least half ashamed of." One way that 2020 seems different from 2005, is that there seem to be a lot more people who will admit to their bigotry, and do so with appalling pride. Those people are lost to us, of course, and always have been, but at least now we know for sure who they are. The question that remains is how many of them there are, and whether there is enough of the aspirational United States to be worth saving.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

One of the things that was special about my time with Squeaky Wheel was that I got to work with and become friends with Tony Conrad, an important and influential artist. Every now and then his name pops up in an unexpected place: today he is mentioned in Greil Marcus' Real Life Top Ten

Monday, December 16, 2019

Lately I'm finding that I'm more interested in the way a movie or a television series tells its story than I am with the story proper. I also find myself thinking about the way streaming programs have changed storytelling. The expanded format allows for a lot more nuance, for example. Because it is distinctly not something A would enjoy Watchmen has been episodic for me, as opposed to binging, which has made me think about why it works as a series when the movie, which was practically a shot-by-shot remake- fell short of expectations. Part of it, I think, is that as with comics the series has moved on from the first iteration of this universe and is telling a new story, with attributes that are recognizable from the world-building in the original. Spider Man movies, for example, are bad at this: how many times have we seen Peter Parker get bitten by that radioactive spider? Too many times. Move on, Spider Man filmmakers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Fifty Non-Fiction books. I've read some, and others seem worth following up on.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Number 57 at my polling place at 12:07 PM

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Deadspin c'est mort. I have often mentioned that I became a lawyer because I happened upon Inherit the Wind at an early age. What I probably haven't related is that it was a close call between law and journalism. Lucky me, I get to do the latter sometime, but I think about how it might have gone from time to time. It's funny to say that I dodged a bullet by going into this glamor profession, but more and more that appears to be the case. In the story I tell myself I graduate college and start working as a stringer for the declining number of town papers on Long Island, covering town council meetings, local sports, and anything else that someone thought might help fill the news hole. Maybe, after a few years of that I would catch on at Newsday, maybe I'd get some freelance work from the Village Voice or something. There was a brief moment when there were a few publications that I might have done some work for, all of which I miss to this day. The internet changed all of that- classified ads and advertising in general were what supported reporting. To some extent that's still true. The necessary infrastructure for a newspaper or a magazine includes printing costs, but also includes distribution, and pushing "Send" is a good deal less expensive than paying a bunch of kids in tweed caps to stand on corners shouting, "Extra!".

The funny thing is, there is still demand for content. Deadspin provided terrific content. I will track down the places where its writers go, and I will continue to read their work- what I will miss is having it all in one place, just as I miss the Village Voice, and Seven Days, and WigWag, and a lot of others I can't think of just now in my mourning.

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