Friday, April 29, 2016

On the Hearth (The World's On Fire)

"Class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination; yet class conflict pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society. 
I cannot imagine a free society which has eliminated class conflict. So long as there is inequality in the distribution of property and variety in the nature of economic interests, so long will politics center on economic issues; and so long the insurgency of the disconented will provide the best guarantee against the tyranny of the possessors"
- Arthur Schleshinger, The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom

Corey Robin at Jacobin on the distinction by Clintonian neoliberalism and classic liberalism

- Emily Nussbaum won the Pulitzer for TV writing.  There's a great collection of her writing from the past page at the Pulitzer page

-Interesting rundown by Saby Reyes-Kulkarni (if a bit hagiographic) on Sepultura's 20 year old Roots, with particular attention on its interaction with the indigenous Xavante culture in Brazil (via PopMatters)

Gary Suarez at Noisey on why subscribing to all three streaming services would cost you less than if you just bought Drake, Beyonce, and Kanye's new albums outright

Speaking of Kulkarnis, a number of great pieces on Prince roaming around there including Neil Kulkarni's on his personal blog, Michaelangelo Matos at MTV, Simon Reynolds at Pitchfork on gender/androgyny in his work, probably tons of others I'm missing

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mama Testa- "Magna Data"

from Next Era Dancefloor on #FEELINGS

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Just Got Back from Disneyworld

Mickey has changed

Longer things from 2016/late 2015 that you should dig into and I haven't already upped:

Black Tears- The Long Decline
Charli XCX- Vroom Vroom EP
Chelsea Wolfe- Abyss, Hypnos/Flame
Chino Amobi- Anya's Garden/Airport Music for Black Folk
Diamondstein- The Ridges
DJ NJ Drone- Syn Stair
DJ Rashad- Afterlife
Hellion- Myself
These Hidden Hands- These Moments Dismantled
Throwing Shade- House of Silk EP

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hellion- "Myself"

Balam Acab- "Underwater Forever"


Balam Acab are responsible for what is no doubt the ultimate Witch House release, See Birds, and a great followup LP Wonder/Where that had relatively litte to do with Witch House.  He has since had an active soundcloud and a few surprise MP3 releases, but these have been of varying quality.  "Underwater Forever" is his first epic tune since the last proper LP>

Friday, April 22, 2016


Pretty hard to find Prince content online to embed since he was so prickly about it, so perhaps it's easier to commemorate the insanely pivotal artist by some of the work he did with others/wrote for others/had covered/covered himself:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Party's Crashing Us Now

After the market crash of '08, government made a choice, a conscious choice about whether it still believed in democracy.  It knew that no one was going to let a bank bailout slide without a recovery act for the people hurt by the banks, but the federal government opted out of the latter. 

Over the following eight years with a Democrat at the helm of the executive branch, Republicans gerrymandered districts, repealed the voting rights act, abstained from and blocked innumerable votes, attempted to veto hard-won bills they just didn't like, tried to give religion a pass to discriminate, blamed women for their rapes and said they should be punished for their abortions, shut down the government, and slowly festered a toxic culture of hate in which "anchor babies", Muslim-American citizens with no ties to terror, gay wedding shoppers, teachers’ unions, and 15-year-old girls who'd been raped by their fathers posed more of a threat than corporations who'd gouged the American worker of billions of earned wages, giant polluters and fossil fuel companies who'd desecrated the planet to near extinction level, city emergency managers who'd caused an entire city of children to likely suffer permanent brain damage, police officers who murdered civilians in cold blood, pharmaceutical price gougers who'd killed by cost, and gun enthusiasts whose deranged protectionist bloodlust was apparently valued more than the lives of schoolchildren, the disabled, churches, moviegoers, et al.

And if you think there's one political party that didn't take this skeezy route, think again. The Democrats cried inertia, but their schema was just as brutal, if only slightly less deranged.  Many of these things the Republicans did were criminal acts and there were zero impeachments, trials, or prosecutions for any of it.  Republicans, with the silent complicity of the democrats, weakened the federal government to the point where it's now as ineffective as the U.N.

As a result, power has instead mediated to the unchecked balance of the states, which are like a fucking free-for-all.  A great deal of the lunatics at the state level run unopposed, are super corrupt, and are essentially lobbying wings of whatever giant industries keep their towns and counties' waning "jobs" market afloat.  While the bailout legislation the democrats signed off on made the banks pay back their loans to the Fed (with no real stipulations to prevent future bad behavior), the state governments have never recouped from the market crash and many are still wading in debt, eager to sellout to whatever poisonous, shitty franchise tyranny can keep their town from descending into a Flint or a Detroit.

This is not to mention the economic impact on the people in those towns and cities, large numbers of whom have dropped a whole class level and still persist in a purgatorial economic depression while the Democrats gloat over how wonderful the recovery has been.    Though markets do seem to be generally on the upswing (a pivot that seems to teeter on the brink of disaster at any second), the jobs the economy created were service industry, temporary, and other low-wage/low-benefit engagements.  Tech-sector bros, a giant lobby that tends to lean pro-Democrat, even created new labor models for precarious contract work, masterminded in part by David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and Senior VP of Policy for Uber.

During this time, popular people's movements (Occupy and Black Lives Matter being the most prominent) rose up in response to capitalism’s attack against democracy and activists made great strides in their efforts for social justice- which democrats promptly took credit for, all the while acting like they were the great mediators between this extremist unwashed rabble (gleefully looting CVS aisles and doing bong rips in hippie tents near the financial district) and their proto-fascist counterparts in the Republican party.  But what Democrats actually did was rally for the status quo, which was a status quo moving ever rightward and becoming less lowercase-d democratic by the minute. 

Democrats will claim that they were too busy on the defensive, fending off the Republican assault mechanism.  But the truth is that after 8 years of capitulating to the Bush project, of being complicit in his dirty corporate politics and war crimes, the democrats forgot how to get offensive, how to generate energy, and fight with vitality and purpose like those popular movements had done so effectively. Instead, they refused to side with Occupy until fairer weather came along and told BLM in patronizing tones that both sides needed to cool down, creating false equivalencies between state violence and civil unrest.  They tried to act like their well-coifed, well-manicured, and polite disposition was some kind of synecdoche for civility and if we all just acted like professionals, dammit, we could barter some kind of negotiation. In short, they forgot they were sitting in the literal halls of justice and not the board room.  They drafted a bunch of votes, held a bunch of conferences and treaties, and politely asked for an incremental change that pretty much never came.

As the Republicans became increasingly upfront about their disdain for the will of the voting population or the electorate, Democrats decided to continue their surveillance of every American and protect their techbro buddies who wanted to do the same. They punished whistleblowers who tried to make the country safer or better in some way.  They drafted plans to devastate communities and the environment by drilling for oil at home, attempted to pass another NAFTA-like trade agreement which would continue to undermine labor and reward the elimination of blue collar US jobs, complained that $15 was too much to pay for a minimum wage, dropped robot bombs on overseas civilians, reigned in SuperPAC money, and courted corporate executives for Washington roles supervising the industries they were charged with overseeing.   They took vast sums of money from private prisons, giant investment banks, pharmaceutical companies, big oil, and defense contractors under the guise of the high cost of running for public office, though public funding of elections has always been an option on the table they didn’t seem interested in.  And their latest scheme, sponsored by Debbie Wasserman Schulz, the head of the DNC, is to make it harder for the Consumer Protection Bureau to regulate and punish predatory payday lenders who essentially tithe and starve out poor people who can’t pay exorbitant bills for things like public utilities which could easily be price-controlled at the federal or state level.  Oh, but Democrats totally passed gay marriage.  It had nothing to do with hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ activists working tirelessly to defeat the discriminatory laws Democrats all supported just a few years back.

With the latest primary, they've attempted to use superdelegate power, media manipulation and distortions, potential voter fraud, and disenfranchisement of their base to prove that voting itself is irrelevant. Why?  Because the socialist Jew is totally unrealistic about how things get done.  He has been out there standing on picket lines with unions and not waiting for the politically convenient time to champion human rights causes.  Doesn’t he realize that it’s coercion and control, pandering and pre-compromise that get things done?  Didn’t he realize that we already reserved the Presidency for the person who got second place last go-around?

So, after Democrats have eliminated old pie-in-the-sky Sanders, the Presidential race becomes less of a race than a confirmation hearing, a formality.  Because none of you are actually going to vote for Cruz or Trump, right?  With that said, it's less than a coin toss.  It's a coronation of one candidate.  There's only one name on the ballot.  Does that sound like democracy? Keep telling Bernie to drop out, though; that way you're complicit in it and the people will have spoken on how much they like their aristocratic god-kings.  In a sham democracy, every incremental inch they dig us further into or out of our graves comes with an endorsement from those stupid enough to vote into it.

The Democrats too made the choice between capitalism and democracy and guess which one they chose?  However, if you believe for a second that even one of the above mentioned examples of both parties reneging on their deference to the power of the people is true, even if you have your doubts on the validity of all of them, then democracy and capitalism both are fundamentally broken and the situation is dire.  The horizon is upon us and the drop beyond it is steep.   Would Trump’s fascist intent scare us one iota if there were a legitimate system of checks and balances in place to protect us from it?

We can rise to this occasion, but we can't do so by voting for or surrendering to incremental change.  And if you do so, don't be surprised and shocked when you are the one begging for the lag to catch up to your need.  These capitalist statists will chip away at your home value, your labor value, your social security, your life expectancy, your self-worth.  Your children will live a shittier, shallower future, if they're lucky enough to live to see it since going to school, drinking the water, eating the frankenfood, and getting sick are all now bigger risks than they once were.  Democrats and Republicans and the megalomaniacal executive suite inbetween all benefit from us being either too cynical to think that anything could ever change or too depressed to think anything we do could ever make a difference, but we can bust out of these pre-written narratives. 

It will be awkward to stand up now when you haven't before, to deviate from what the rest of the world seems to be telling you, but it will be rewarding because you will be on the right side of history.  And it's a relatively minor risk compared to the gambles people take all the time just fighting for the right to be recognized as a black or a trans human with dignity or to even be recognized as a woman who is allowed to comment on movies or video games on the internet.  Your risk in denouncing the system and asking for something better is relatively small.  I know because I'm a cowardly little shit and even as I inch further into an income level and a business class with certain expectations, all it costs is my pride to stand outside, to reject mainstream society's demented values and to be positive rather than cynical about new directions.  

I'm not a religious man or a believer of any kind, but I do feel that King is possibly the closest personification we've had of Christ on earth in historical memory.  In addition to their great moral clarity, King's words have a powerful literary grace.  One of his better known statements is that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice".  What's often forgot in our present moment is that the arc is only long because we are the ones who bend it.  It takes work and it takes patience sure, but we have to demand that it bend when it's not doing so.  We can't just rely on a lesser evil to bend towards us and not the other way.  The magnetism of the greater evil will always be equally as strong as us, if not even greater. It holds all things that humans innately desire- power, success, fame, wealth, control- but which the arc of justice finds intrinsically problematic.

Earlier in the same speech, King says "I must admit to you that there are still jail cells waiting for us, and dark and difficult moments. But if we will go on with the faith that nonviolence and its power can transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows, we will be able to change all of these conditions... We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience."

Democrats and Republicans are not concerned about their conscience when they undermine democratic methods of governing to achieve incremental changes to status quo, bending the arc towards more poison, more suffering, more torture, and more struggle while tossing out an inappropriately small amount of life preservers for a few.  For all the flustering about religion and God that both parties pay lip service to, the public is well aware that there's a deep spiritual void at the heart of the cooperation between state and capital.  Corporate and state power both know that people waiting for a better tomorrow are prone to look out for one another, and that their collective grief with the structural injustices that benefit the elite may one day be loud enough to stir even those comfortable enough to be complacent with the status quo.  So, they create divisions and find ways to silence or marginalize voices. They change the law to fit their needs and create the illusion of consent from a poorly informed or a morally compromised public.

There's a flipside to this though too.  A pro-democracy movement that works against this will need to first compete with it.  The situation we find ourselves in, particularly with regard to climate change, is serious, but can we get to the point of reversal quickly enough by allowing people to elect in?  Will we need to force people's hands, to stop debate, and to marginalize some voices or risk losing the species?  And if so, does this constant back-and-forth between various power communities represent a species worth saving?

What's at stake here is not just ideology or different approaches, but a full-on species-wide existential crisis that demands to know- who are we as a people? Are we a society that can live with its conscience?  Are we a world that even desires utopia or are we content to seek some slightly more desirable niche in this current state of discomfort, incrementally bending the arc to and fro and hoping it doesn’t one day whack us so hard that we all fall down? I'm not naive enough to think one election can make much of a dent in this age old philosophical debate, but I'm also not shortsighted enough to think that there won't be another election year with another Hillary and another Trump and another Cruz coming down the bend shortly.  There will be more setbacks and more harm and more challenges and maybe a few victories between now and then, but what will really change if it's just the same players playing the same game serving the same motives? 

And think about this-who will the Democrats enlist to be their snake oil salesman facsimile of a democratic socialist next time?  Capitalism is nothing if not adaptive.    If it senses change, it jumps at it.  It is always ready to deterritorialize for the sake of reterritorializing later.  The window of opportunity to break free from this box before we death spiral into dinosaur territory may be small.  Please use it and use it wisely. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Decline of Clintonism

Bill Clinton, posing in front of  confederate milestone Stone Mountain with black prisoners, Zell Miller (who infamously backed GWB in 2004 because the Democratic party was not militaristic enough) and Ben Lewis Jones (Dukes of Hazzard actor and Confederate Flag proponent)

"It is hard to imagine the DLC would not have been aware of Stone Mountain’s significance as a theater of white supremacy when it staged Clinton’s campaign event at the prison there. In fact, the choice of that particular place as a campaign stop—arranging white political leaders in business suits in front of subjugated black male prisoners in jumpsuits—is illegible except in light of this history. One would be hard-pressed to find a photograph that more forcefully exposes the deep racial paradox of the DLC and the modern Democratic Party. Perhaps this helps to explain why Alexander holds “little hope that a political revolution will occur within the Democratic Party without a sustained outside movement forcing truly transformational change.” 
"...Whereas the modern Republican Party often seems disturbingly unwilling to critique even the most conspicuous forms of white supremacy, the Democratic Party seems eager to reach for “post-race” without giving serious attention to the historical production of race itself. The difference is more tactical than substantive. 
"Most problematic, however, is the near-total erasure from canonical history of watershed, critically symbolic events such as Clinton’s photo op at Stone Mountain—and what they reveal about the birth of the modern Democratic Party. Examination of this history unlocks the possibility of truthful public conversations about the harm done by the party’s rightward shift. It is a pre-requisite in moving the party back to the left.

-Christopher Petrella, On Stone Mountain, Boston Review

"Dig [Toni] Morrison's description of Clinton's blackness 
"After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President’s body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and body-searched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear: “No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and—who knows?—maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us.”

"With the exception of the saxophone-playing detail, everything here boils down to power. Clinton isn’t black, in Morrison’s rendition, because he knows every verse of Lift Every Voice and Sing, but because the powers arrayed against him find their most illustrative analogue in white supremacy. “People misunderstood that phrase,” Morrison would later say. “I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp.”

"Now, one can make all sorts of arguments over whether the pursuit of Clinton was, in fact, analogous to how black people have been regarded across American history. But Morrison was not giving Clinton an award. She was welcoming him into a club which should not exist

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, It Was No Compliment to Call Bill Clinton 'The First Black President', The Atlantic

Top& Middle: The Segregated Golf Course Bill Clinton played at prior to the 1992 Election.  Bottom: Clinton playing golf with Trump, Guiliani, Bloomberg, Baseball legend Joe Torre, and Billy Crystal at Trump's Golf Course

"Yet, I would be reluctant to say that Bill Clinton's angry tirade against BLM was a misstep, a moment of him just losing his cool, or an unfortunate slip of the tongue. Rather, not only do I think that the former president meant every word he said, I also think that his pushback was deliberate and purposeful. A calculated risk, perhaps, but one that could pay off big in the long run. Clinton might have been dismissing the young people who spoke out against him and his wife, but he was really talking to another audience, one that was largely outside of that room. 
"Sure, Bernie Sanders has the bleeding hearts on lock, but the Clinton campaign is not just interested in winning over liberals and progressives. They also hope to garner votes from disaffected whites who feel left behind in the economic and demographic shifts the country is going through. And while some, perhaps even many, of these white potential voters are supporting Donald Trump, some of them are on the fence about the demagogue and are equally disinterested in his truly conservative opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. 
"Bill Clinton was talking to those voters, letting the folks who think that today's BLM protesters are whiny, entitled, spoiled Millennial brats who don't know about following orders. And that he and, by proxy, Hillary Clinton are not afraid to put these uppity negroes back in their place. Bill Clinton is also signifying to those in black communities who find the current rhetoric of black protest too brash and aggressive, those who feel like protesters should be marching peacefully, demanding rights while they sing hymns, as the sanitized history of Martin Luther King Jr. suggests is the most respectable way to make change.

-Susanna Morris, Bill Clinton Knew Exactly What He Was Doing With That Tirade Against Black Lives Matter, Cosmopolitan

"What would upset these allies, however, is a second aspect of [Clinton's withdrawn nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Lani] Guinier's writing. She not only condemns the Republicans who "refused to court the black vote at all" but also castigates Democrats. Mainstream Democrats, she writes, have "taken blacks for granted" and "do not accept black Democrats, such as Jesse Jackson, as legitimate party spokespersons." Taking aim at the low priority Michael Dukakis placed on issues of racial justice in his presidential campaign, Guinier writes that "the vision Democrats offered in 1988 hardly mentioned, even indirectly, problems of race, and . . . deliberately ignored connections between racism and poverty." 
"The Democratic Party," she charges, "has responded to racial polarization by distancing itself from black interests." Pursuing and broadening her point, Guinier argues that "Democrats who control both Houses of Congress seem unaware that reciprocity in bargaining requires the active promotion of black interests, not just the occasional subvention and authorization of civil rights enforcement. In other words, black legislative issues can be ghettoized from the Left as well as the Right." She asserts, moreover, that "the Democrats' policy of benign neglect toward African Americans has not gone unnoticed." Arguing that blacks' support for Democrats has far outstripped Democrats' support for blacks, she raises the specter of black withdrawal from the Democratic Party."

- Randall Kennedy, Lani Guinier's Consitution, the American Prospect Fall 1993

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Virtue Complex

"Regardless of who leads it, professional-class liberalism seems to be forever traveling on a quest for some place of greater righteousness. It is always engaged in a search for some subject of overwhelming, noncontroversial goodness with which it can identify itself, and under whose umbrella of virtue it can put across its self-interested class program. 
"There have been many other virtue objects over the years, people and ideas whose surplus righteousness could be extracted for deployment elsewhere. The great virtue-rush of the 1990s, for example, was focused on children, then thought to be the last word in overwhelming, noncontroversial goodness. Who could be against kids? No one, of course, and so the race was on to justify in their name whatever your program happened to be. In the course of Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book, It Takes a Village, for example, this favorite rationale of the day—think of the children!—was deployed to explain her husband’s draconian crime bill as well as more directly child-related causes such as charter schools.

"...While national leaders busied themselves with the macro-matters of privatizing and deregulating, microloans would bring the science of markets down to the individual. Merely by providing impoverished individuals with a tiny loan of fifty or a hundred dollars, it was thought, you could put them on the road to entrepreneurial self-sufficiency, you could make entire countries prosper, you could bring about economic development itself.

"What was most attractive about micro­lending was what it was not, what it made unnecessary: any sort of collective action by poor people coming together in governments or unions. The international development community now knew that such institutions had no real role in human prosperity. Instead, we were to understand poverty in the familiar terms of entrepreneurship and individual merit, as though the hard work of millions of single, unconnected people—plus cell phones, bank accounts, and a little capital—was what was required to remedy the Third World’s vast problems. Millions of people would sell one another baskets they had made, or coal they had dug out of the trash heap, and suddenly they were entrepreneurs, racing to the top. The key to development was not doing something to limit the grasp of Western banks, in other words; it was extending Western banking methods to encompass every last individual on earth.

"Microlending is a perfect expression of Clintonism, since it brings together wealthy financial interests with rhetoric that sounds outrageously idealistic. Microlending permits all manner of networking, posturing, and profit taking among the lenders while doing nothing to change actual power relations—the ultimate win-win.

"...In 1997 [Hillary Clinton] cochaired a global Microcredit Summit in Washington, D.C., replete with the usual Third World delegations. Hillary’s own remarks on that occasion were unremarkable, but those of the president of the Citi­corp Foundation were well worth remembering. Here is what he said to the assembled saviors of the Third World: “Everyone in this room is a banker, because everyone here is banking on self-employment to help alleviate poverty around the world.” At the closing session of the summit, bankers joined national leaders in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

...let’s be clear. What drives this market are the buyers. Like Walmart and Goldman Sachs locking arms with the State Department, what these virtue-consumers are doing is purchasing liberalism offsets, an ideological version of the carbon offsets that polluters sometimes buy in order to compensate for the smog they churn out." 
-Thomas Frank, Nor a Lender Be, Harper's 

Michelle Alexander Interview

Monday, April 4, 2016

The People vs. Televised History Lessons

"At their best, such narratives can uncover possibilities and dilemmas in the recent past that we have not resolved, however much we have become sensitized to them. At their worst, such narratives are complacent, mythologizing the past with seductively nostalgic allure while smugly lecturing us about what we already all agree were its shortcomings.

The intelligence of The People v. O. J. Simpson is rooted in the deftness with which it avoids the latter trap. First, it is not quite “prestige TV.” The critics that initially ridiculed it have clearly become used to the super-tasteful sheen and emotional earnestness of that genre. The People v. O. J. is candy-colored pulp, not above playing for jokes, and has no glamour. The taupes and pastel pinks of its sets; the lime green and pale yellow shirts, the wide, baroquely patterned neckties; the beige-toned sofas, bloated French Country furniture, and boxy, disposable-looking cars—all of that mid-1990s ephemera seems cheap even when it’s expensive, and more than a little embarrassing, a bottle of Zima instead of Don Draper’s Old Fashioned. 
By refusing to take itself seriously, by not seducing us with solemnity, the show manages to be far more adept than its peers. It doesn’t traffic in grand secrets or tragic revelations, but in a world of crazy happenstance, tangled contingencies, ridiculous impostures. That, as it happens, is its second virtue: the focus on the small scale, the fidelity to slippery feeling over narrative momentum. It isn’t too much to say, in fact, that Simpson’s guilt or innocence is the show’s MacGuffin, the ultimately irrelevant plot motivation that occasions the narrative’s truly important business. What emerges into a sharp foreground isn’t any tantalizing mystery, but what we now call microaggressions: the places where structural inequities lurk under behavioral norms. The camera lingers on cruelly appraising glances and wounding offhand remarks, on a cashier’s comments as Clark buys tampons, on a traffic cop’s impassive face as he handcuffs Cochran for a minor violation. No small part of the show’s visual wit is its emphasis on fences, doors, barriers between bodies. Each of the major characters—Clark, Cochran, Chris Darden—has an essentially private understanding of what it means to live in their skin, one that they can share with others only indirectly." 
-Nicholas Dames, "The People vs. O.J. Simpson" As Historical Fiction, Public Books

This show is phenomenal, soaring way beyond what seemed to be its potential.  It casts alight the precise moment when reality, identity, news, et al. became entirely performative.  I've talked to some who've thought the constant bustling of the Kardashian kids on screen serves as little more than winking fluff, but their appearance is little more than...circumstantial. It was in this paradigm that the Kardashians were coronated, wherein they learned what was rewarded from a life lived in the spotlight.  Much like Mad Men, The People vs. O.J. Simpson is less a historical curiosity or a gloating slice of judgment hindsight (a la the Newsroom).  It's not for nothing that the series launches on footage of the L.A. riots.  The series wants us to think about how these issues are still living with us, how history doesn't erase itself, but merely complicates the present with its continued presence.

As something the media refused to ignore, it set the precedent for 24 hour news channels (MSNBC and FoxNews would both launch the year after the verdict) and their capacity to concentrate on the banal, the speculative, and to exploit the firey passions and prejudices of its audiences.  The media's concentration on passing ephemera made it miss the forest for the trees in the case, which came pre-cocked with the gunpowder residue of classism (a rich celebrity able to skirt the law), sexism (who also beat his wife for years with no repercussions), racism (a police force who had never had a referendum for their brutal and deadly interactions with the black body politic), and questions about the role of the press (off-screen, but constantly directing the momentum of the action).

As Mark Fuhrman is escorted into court, protestors outside chant "No Justice, No Peace" and the show's producers seem to take this quite literally.  The conceit seems to be that O.J. Simpson was quite possibly the most guilty man to ever be guilty, but he is ironically able to escape his punishment because a racist system will always cast a shadow of doubt onto that guilt.  There can be no justice for Nicole and Ron without peace for Rodney. The past isn't letting us off the hook that easy. It stays with us and complicates us until we're ready to face it for what it actually is, rather than the surface of how it appeared.

Friday, April 1, 2016

All Within Reach (NSFW)

I remember getting the Dead Kennedy's LP Frankenchrist around 1995 or 1996 or so.  I'd read the story of how they'd been sued into bankruptcy over the H.R. Giger called "Penis Landscape" in the Spin Alternative Music Guide from '94, but my CD copy didn't have this artwork in it.  I had to imagine it in my mind. I don't think there were any plans to ever reprint it in the near future so it had to remain some kind of outlandish mental notion of a series of interlocked genitalia.  Tipper Gore and her PMRC allies went to great lengths to shield my impressionable mind from ever seeing it.

There's something appropros then about the fact that any kid with an internet connection can now just log on to Wikipedia and do a quick search to find an actual image of the thing.  The guardians of morality have long since moved on, their fight never really about the obscenity itself to begin with,.

Walton Me Worry?

August Landmesser


Make America Great Perhaps For the First Time

"Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home-
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay-
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-
The land that never has been yet-
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME-
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath-
America will be!"

-Langston Hughes, "Let America Be America Again"