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