“I met Tyler. Me and Tyler are friends. I had a talk with him before about allowing other races to use the “N” word. I heard his side and he heard mine. I come from a generation where we didn’t tolerate that. There’s an unwritten rule for other cultures to not use that word. We took that word to empower ourselves and made it different. When you get to a new era now, where someone in India can say “What’s up my nigga,” there’s a weird feeling that runs down your spine. Tyler was saying that “It’s a new generation, we don’t care about that kind of thing.” My side is like, after all these people who fought for it, who got bit by dogs and sprayed by hoses and sat on the back of the bus, they would be really not happy with the way we allow people to use a word that, bottom line, denigrates our existence as black people. I think his message is that he is trying to desensitise the word, so I do get it, and I want to hear him, cause I would want to be heard. After that conversation me and Tyler became closer, we talk about music, we send messages. I think he’s a very talented cat, he’s going places, and I think I put a little bug in his ear and he’ll remember what we spoke about. Maybe he’s in a meeting one day, and some 57 year old Caucasian man and walks up to him and says, “What’s up my nigga,” and then he’ll wonder what to do. People grow up. I have full faith in Tyler that he’ll do the right thing.”—Really interesting interview with Dam-Funk, especially this bit about different generations’ perspectives on the use of the word “nigga.”
“I’m not interested in punk as an aesthetic and I certainly don’t give a shit about what some hardcore kid thinks of our record. It’s a fucking arm-wrestling match and it’s pathetic. My idea of punk is not being interested in what other people think of punk.”—
“The most interesting response my piece was the accusation that I was ‘full of myself’ for putting so many ‘selfies’ (slang for photographic self-portraits) online. I have to wonder how many times Van Gogh was called a narcissist for painting so many self-portraits. On Facebook, I have never seen a boy accused of narcissism for posting self-portraits; most of the time they are hailed as ‘artsy’ or ‘deep’ or ‘hilarious,’ and occasionally ‘weird’ or told they are ‘acting like a girl.’”—This lengthy essay by Mary Bond about her selfies project is really interesting reading.
“Australia’s national flag has remained at full mast over parliament house on the day that Nelson Mandela died, in contrast to flags above Downing Street in the UK and the White House in Washington. The prime minister’s office confirmed that Tony Abbott had not requested the flag be flown at half-mast, but added that the decision to lower the flag rested with the presiding officers of parliament.”—
For all the nasty corporate influence, excessive sponsorship deals, gross product placement garbage, and general ‘selling of ones cool’ that is happening right now in the music press, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why one would focus the brunt of those complaints on a handful of young female writers who primarily cover diy punk and indie bands that tend to be feminist or at least female-fronted, while simultaneously playing bro-dad to their male counterparts.
As far as I’m concerned, this is all that needs to be said about any of this.
Because I was on holidays I deliberately stayed out of this whole silly business. But: yes.
“People want to believe gender is something that’s essential, and people repeat these essentialist ideas all the time. “Oh, women do that” and “Oh, men do that” and the reality is that all women don’t anything. We as individuals do what we do, you know, and sometimes that’s informed by gender and sometimes it’s just who we are. And I think all that just makes people really, really uncomfortable because they don’t want to think about who they are.”—Laverne Cox (via lucrezialoveshercesare)
First, sex positivity is not for you or men like you. Sex positivity is for marginalised groups to reclaim their sexuality. We live in a society that caters to your desires, and creates crushing stereotypes for everyone else that gets us violently sexually assaulted and killed. I first have to make it clear the critique to be made of porn is solely political, not moral grounds. Sex is not wrong, or nasty, or shameful, or dirty. Sexual desires are not immoral. The eroticisation (as found in sexual cultures such as BDSM) of systems of domination and submission is not morally wrong. Telling sex workers they are “morally wrong” or “dirty” is sexist as fuck. What I’m saying is that you cannot ignore the abuse of women within the sex industry.
That is what is happening under the umbrella of sex positivity. An individual’s ‘agency’ trumps social factors/impacts. This immediately frames the debate in individual terms, isolated from any greater ideology or impact. But in terms of your individual, private, sex life, is it really fair to say that, for example, pornography is something that is individual and private? Or would it be fair to say that pornography is a cultural, social phenomenon that exists as it does today within a particular framework of domination, subordination, sexism, and violence? I think we could all agree that pornography has influenced our perceptions of women and of men, of femininity and masculinity and, of course, of sex and sexuality, as a society, as well as individuals. Turning this into a conversation about individual likes and dislikes completely misses the point.
Aamna, addressing a man on the porn industry and sex positivity (via maarnayeri)
so right now I’m into the idea that, if cultural products that have issues are being inevitably dragged into the agora for discussion, making an effort to engage with the muddled-if-salient points within while simultaneously deriding the things that are lousy about them is the way to go? not to make the art look better, and DEFINITELY not to excuse the artist, but to make the discourse less… monolithic? despair-inducing? hmm, neither of those is the exact term, but i do think that the rapidfire nature of internet discussion and the way in which outraged! opinions! attract attention is not really helping the state of the world at this point in time.
AMEN. The internet’s outrage machine is infinitely tiresome
Annually, there is a major New York City sporting event that attracts affluent white people by the thousand: The US Open. Guests in white shorts, pastel sweaters and polos flood every hotel in NYC to take in some tennis and then laugh in your face when you suggest taking the subway.
Here are some 100% real quotes from US Open guests this year:
“I didn’t ask where the bottled water was. I asked where the Evian was.”
“I’m very frustrated with your televisions. You don’t carry BBC 3, only BBC America?”
“WHERE IS THE CLOSEST TALBOTS? HURRY.”
“Excuse me, boy. Fetch me a bottle of water.”
“Hi sweetie. My grandkids drink Pepsi, not Coke. Is the owner of [major hotel brand] here so we can fix that?”
“HAVE YOU SEEN MY WIFE? SHE WAS ON HER WAY TO TALBOTS.”
“Where’s a good restaurant nearby where rich people go?”
"I can’t believe you don’t have a room ready for me. I just had to fly economy!"
"WE COULDN’T FIND A TALBOTS. PLEASE ORDER ME A CAR TO THE CLOSEST NORDSTROM’S. WE’LL PAY ANYTHING."
“In 1694, a consortium of English bankers made a loan of £1,200,000 to the king. In return they received a royal monopoly on the issuance of banknotes. What this meant in practice was that they had the right to advance IOUs for a portion of the money the king now owed them to any inhabitant of the kingdom willing to borrow from them, or willing to deposit their own money in the bank — in effect, to circulate or ‘monetize’ the newly created royal debt. This was a great deal for the bankers (they got to charge the king 8 percent annual interest for the original loan and simultaneously charge interest on the same money to the clients who borrowed it), but it only worked as long as the original loan remained outstanding. To this day the loan has never been paid back. It cannot be. If it ever were, the entire monetary system of Great Britain would cease to exist.”— David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Yearsis all kinds of fascinating
And so draws to an end Manic Street Preachers week on One Week // One Band. Thanks to Hendrik for having me here, and thanks to you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed my work, do follow me on Twitter and/or Tumblr.
In the meantime, here’s an index of everything I’ve run this week:
The Manics never really bought into rock’s testosterone mythology — they’ve always been determinedly androgynous (albeit reluctantly, in some cases), and their entire aesthetic has drawn heavily on the more gender-bending aspects of rock’s past: glam, LA spandex rock, punk. The band’s lyrical/political wing — ie. Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards — took great pleasure in subverting rock’s machismo, and the fact that James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore are more conventionally masculine has only heightened the sense of fascinating variety in the confines of a single group.
Beyond this, both Wire and Edwards have written from a female perspective in a manner that seems at least both well-intentioned and credible. These songs have addressed subject matter that many of their contemporaries would approach with trepidation — prostitution and the male gaze (“Little Baby Nothing”), eating disorders (“4st 7lb”), self-mutilation (“Roses in the Hospital”), destructive relationships (“She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach”) — and generally done so with insight and compassion. Their interest in feminism is also reasonably well-documented — after all, this is a band who were quoting Andrea Dworkin when James Brooks was still in diapers (not, incidentally, a jab at Brooks, whose ongoing engagement with feminism has been fascinating.)
Personally, though, for all that the band’s feminism has been welcome and inspiring, I’ve always been particularly fascinated with their examination of the other side of the gender binary: the nature of masculinity. For all that rock ‘n’ roll is full of chest-beating declarations of manliness, songs that make a genuine attempt at addressing what it means to be a man are thin on the ground — Joe Jackson’s “Real Men,” Pulp’s “I’m a Man,” a few others.
how many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A:The terrible sex had made him feel deeply interesting, like a murder victim.
A:The beast, which had represented his feelings, was dead. “I think I’ll do a pushup,” he announced to the sea. The sea respected him for it.
A:[4000 words from the narrator about his feelings on his childhood circumcision]
A:War is hell.
A:He straightened his tie. He had lost, but in a romantic way, which meant that he had won. “I’m going to do a pushup,” he announced to his tie. His tie respected him for it, and secretly wished that it could have sex with him.
A:You wouldn’t understand.
A:He swore curses at his coworkers. He was making a lot of money. Fuck.
A:This neighborhood in New York City was very different from the other neighborhood in New York City he’d just been in.
A:He lit a cigarette. His glass of whiskey lit a cigarette too. “I can only truly love my best friend,” he said, “but not in a gay way. Women wouldn’t understand it. They’re too gay.” Both of the cigarettes agreed.
A:[4000 words about an isolated encounter with a service worker that borders on racist and goes nowhere]
A:“The cocaine isn’t the point. The cocaine is a metaphor,” he explained wearily over the pile of cocaine. She folded her arms. She didn’t understand his cocaine. “Didn’t you read my manifesto?” The prostitute had read his manifesto. Why couldn’t she?
A:This lightbulb is inauthentic.
A:”It’s only the institution I have a problem with,” he explained to the empty bar.
A:The time had come for him to go to war, and also find himself, and also reject the rules of your society.
A:His alcoholism was different, because someday he was going to die.
A:[Nothing happens for 450 pages; receives fourteen awards]
“Reed took drugs and drink with abandon, celebrating a long addiction to heroin and amphetamines in countless songs. His ambiguous sexual persona coupled with tales of wild sex only increased his legendary status in the music business.”—
"A VERY debauched walk on the wild side: He did more than any other rock star to give drugs a false and dangerous glamor. Now, after a liver transplant in May, Lou Reed’s own excesses have finally caught up with him," The Daily Mail.
This sensationalistic, petty, factually wrong, sex-negative, lazy, morbidly giddy and utterly disgusting article was written by @tomleonard78.
Agree completely with the sentiments about this muck-raking turd and his awful article, but my favorite response to it came from Jared Earle on Twitter: “The Daily Mail are using Lou Reed as a cautionary anti-drugs tale. Don’t do drugs or you may die at 71, respected the world over.”
Elliott Smith died ten years ago Monday. This fact means a lot of different things to a lot of different people; for me, it means that it has also been just about ten years since the first time I published a piece of “music writing,” which is not something I used to put quotes around but now increasingly feel the need to do. I had been writing about music and pushing it out into the world through LiveJournal entries and self-made webpages for years and years before October 2003, but there was something about a byline, even just in a tiny liberal arts college’s tiny weekly student newspaper, that changed how I thought about myself—as a writer, as a person. It would not be entirely accurate to say that I was an Elliott Smith fan at the time of his death; I was more familiar with his general belovedness than any of his albums. That week I went to one of my first newspaper staff meetings and when the Arts & Entertainment editor asked if anyone had story ideas I chirped something about Elliott Smith having died and that possibly meriting some kind of tribute. The idea wasn’t to write the story myself, because I didn’t think I deserved to write it myself; it had more to do, probably, with seeming cool (and useful, and smart) to the rest of the staff, these people who I thought were so cool—they were all upperclassmen and knew their way around campus and had long-standing in-jokes and knew how to put together a newspaper, all of these things I was desperate to fathom and have as parts of my own self. I figured they already knew that Elliott Smith had died and that one or more of them had a wrenching, heartfelt ode set to run—but (not that I would have recognized or copped to this at the time) I just wanted them to know that I knew, too. Shockingly, they did not know, not one of them. And so I found myself in the position of having to explain not only that this person had died, but who he was to begin with. I left the meeting with the assignment. What I wound up writing was maybe an ode, at most half heartfelt and probably only wrenching because I had no idea what I was doing but was trying so hard to know. The newspaper was print-only then so it’s not online now, and even though it’s probably sitting in an accordion folder at my house or my parents’ house I haven’t yet felt brave or stupid enough to go dig it out. Having said that, now I guess I have to. Anyway, I am feeling pretty great about not lobbying harder to digitize the newspaper once I crawled my way up to editor a few years later.
A beautiful piece from Rachael Maddux about growing as a writer and growing away from “music writer” as an identity. I relate to this. If I’m honest, the idea of not being in the business of music writing is pretty frightening for me, and the idea of leaving it behind and saying “Maybe there is something else” seems brave. Not that there is anything special or particular about being a “music writer” (it’s just a job), and it’s not that I’ve grown tired of this life or questioned its value. It’s just that when you have invested a lot of yourself in one thing it’s hard to leave that and go in search of something else. Because there is an idea that life is mostly about accruing specific experiences, skills, etc, and if you’ve done that and decide not to use them it can lead you to ask, “So what am I, then?” Anyway, read this.
I’ve thought about this a lot. I think that ultimately as a writer, you’re a writer. I’ve written a lot about music because I like it and I have a lot to say about it, but I’ve never thought of myself as a music writer and I still don’t. Wait ‘til I finish my novel, fuckers
my blog is the best on this entire site. it is pretty much the platonic ideal of tumblr and maintains all of the positive aspects of ‘good’ blogs while avoiding the pitfalls that almost all of them face. for example, while most active tumblr users might feel some need to post multiple times a day…
The thing about all this WRITING FOR / ABOUT MONEY stuff we’ve all been discussing for the last couple years (and now here at Scratch) is that there’s been so much Younger Single People Career Anxiety. Which is fine and normal but you can always go live…
tl;dr - I’m fine, so everything must be fine!!!1!1!!
“Here’s how this article was supposed to go down: As a kid, I lived in Florida. Back then I loved the books of Piers Anthony—especially his humorous, bestselling Xanth series, which is set in a parallel version of Florida where magic and mythical creatures exist. For this installment of Memory Wipe, I was going to reread A Spell For Chameleon, the 1977 novel that started the Xanth series (whose 37th—yes, 37th—volume, Esrever Doom, comes out this month). Then, in poignant prose, I would revisit the magic of my own Floridian childhood, even though that childhood was actually pretty fucked up, but maybe not quite as fucked up as it seemed at the time. The big takeaway: Thanks, Piers Anthony, for the swell book, not mention giving me a tidy epiphany about how fantasy, geography, and nostalgia overlap in the hazy mists of reminiscence.
Instead, this happened: I reread A Spell For Chameleon, and during those excruciating hours all I could think about was what a sad, misogynistic piece of shit it is.”—
Jason Heller is pretty much always worth reading, but as a kid who loved Piers Anthony who grew up to realize what a sad, misogynistic, predatory piece of shit he is, there is a very specific kind of catharsis for me in his brutally accurate takedown of the first Xanth book. The worst part of these books are that they’re horrific; but one of the knock on effects of the poison coursing through their veins is that they’re just bad stories as well.
Part of me writhes in agony, reading the excerpts, knowing that I read that book as a kid and didn’t even recognize what was wrong with it. But a lot more of me just feels profound, profound gratitude that for whatever reason I came away from reading (a fair bit of) Anthony’s work without it ever effecting my view of the world and that I’ve gotten to the point where I can recognize just how awful he was and is (again, Heller covers a lot of it). The crazy part is that when I was younger, at least, the Xanth books in particular were regarded as harmless light fantasy, fine for young people. I wish for his future obscurity.