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Stubs of ideas, some of which may turn into future posts:

(1a) A punk votes for a punk (Johnny Rotten says nice things about Trump). Okay, he's not necessarily saying that he did vote for Trump, though from what he said it's a good assumption he did; but anyway, my armchair psychosocial analysis of the Trump win already had been "Punks voted for a punk," my using the word punks in a sorta pre-punk-rock sense, meaning people who compensate for subconsciously feeling weak by scapegoating and bullying and hurting the vulnerable; but such "punks" can include normally nice people too, people who let the punk aspect of themselves do their electoral thinking.



(1b) Only "sorta pre-punk-rock" given that original garage-rock punks such as ? And The Mysterians and the Syndicate Of Sound and the Seeds were indeed punks in the old sense, weak bully-type punks (and sexists as well),† but most of the great punk rockers — I'd start "punk rock" w/ Stones and Dylan, actually, with the caveat that the true punks, the garage rockers, weren't Stones and Dylan but the garage kids who'd dumbed Stones, Dylan, and Yardbirds down into punk, which'd be a fine explanation except that no one limits "punk rock" this way; most critics etc. would also include the Velvet Underground and MC5 and Stooges and Patti Smith and Richard Hell and Rocket From The Tombs and even more would include Ramones and Sex Pistols and the Clash and the Heartbreakers and X-Ray Spex and Black Flag and Nirvana and Hole, generally self-aware nonbully types, and if you're going to do this you've got to go back and count Dylan and the Stones — ...anyway, most of the great punk rockers (as generally defined) were about punk way more than they were punk; nonetheless, being self-aware, they drew the connection between actual inner true punk impulses and the punk rock they were playing, understanding their own weakness and that bullying and scapegoating were in there lurking, sitting dangerously inside. But anyway, of all the great punk rockers, the Sex Pistols, who were maybe the greatest ("They make everyone else sound sick by comparison," said my friend Bill Routt), were the ones who were true nasty punks as much as they were about punk. They were the band that made punk safe for fag-bashers (fortunately only somewhat safe).* None of which explains why Johnny Rotten would shit his brains down the toilet and support Trump (apparently, Johnny can't tell a racist from a hole in the ground). If you want to turn to social affinity and group identification as an explanation, Johnny's loyalty is to real punks, not to punk rock. (Yes, there's no way to come up with a unitary reading of the word "punk" in this paragraph. It'd be a stupider paragraph if you could.) I doubt that many self-identified "punks" — those who embrace the music as part of their social identity — voted for Trump. These people veer left instead. If you go by social category, Trump got many of the rocks and hoods and greasers and grits and burnouts — at least, more than he should have — but few of the punks. (Among whites he got a significant amount of the jocks and middle managers, too, and their psyches are probably as much punk as the hoods' are, but that's not relevant to Johnny Rotten's social identification.) I doubt that many Trump voters had ever bothered to listen to punk rock (not counting the garage hits they heard way back); if they had, the aboutness would've stung them, and they'd have been repelled. Nonetheless, I think I can understand that what makes the Sex Pistols sound true and real to me, the screaming squalling blind attempt to stand against anything acceptable and settled that can get you by, is what makes a lying hollow pathological bully like Trump sound transgressive and therefore real and true and honest and substantial to a lot of his fans.

(1c) Of course Trump doesn't win if he gets only the punks. And my armchair analysis isn't based on any actual research of mine into "the Trump voter." As I said two sentences ago, there's more than one type of Trump voter, and individual voters are multi-faceted in their urges and ideas anyway (so a particular Trump voter can be more than one type). I'm actually doing two questionable things: (i) reading the characteristics of the voter off of the characteristics of what they voted for, rather than actually asking the voters who they are and why they like what they like; (ii) using a psychological model that can apply to an individual person to explain the behavior of a group of people (the punk types who voted for that punk Trump), as if the group were an individual writ large. Obviously I think the analysis kinda sorta works, or I wouldn't have made it. It's a strong hypothesis, punks voted for a punk, strong in my mind anyway, though maybe someone more knowledgeable could beat it down with an alternative. ("Strong" analysis? Seriously? How so? It tells you what most of you already know: (1) that I don't like Trump, (2) that I think many of his voters voted for a lot of what I don't like about him, even if they don't understand the policy implications, and (3) that he's a punk. You already knew that. He's a punk. It's maybe a correct analysis, but not strong, since it doesn't tell you anything you don't already know. Maybe it makes you think harder about punk rock, and what I write below maybe'll help you think harder about social class.)

(1di) Trump got more working-class whites than he was expected to )

(1dii) The terms hoods, greasers, grits, and burnouts as stand-ins for current social identities )

(1diii) The class systems in people's immediate experience are not an exact match for the upper-middle-working class grid )

(1div) They voted against Clinton because she's a student-council type )

(1dv) Kids who bombed out of the classroom still hurt by it )

(1e) Middle class divided )

(1f) Want to hurt people and feel good about hurting them )

(2) The failure of education )

(3a) Duncan Watts criticizes idea of 'representative agent' )

(3b) How would we measure 'punks voted for a punk'? )

(4) The principle of the inferred et cetera )

(5) Top 100 singles of 2016 )

(6) A punk votes for a brat )

(7) Etc. )
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Have this and at least another post to add to my previous discussion of "tribal." I'll reiterate right now that the term "tribal" when used for modern social identity is very wrong, and you shouldn't use it unless you're referring to actual tribes or clans.* But I do want to take better stock of the positive appeal of the term, why people reach for it and aren't readily coming up with alternatives.

 photo Gathering Of The Tribes.jpg

One quick answer is that, especially for those who apply it to themselves, "tribe" is a much warmer term than "class" is, is much warmer than any other available term except for "family," in fact is in use precisely because it suggests a family-like bond but can be used for groups larger than the family, can be used for strangers with whom one might nonetheless sense a strong attachment, a feeling of being potentially at home with them — but "tribe" also carries the potential of leaving you alone and apart and under threat when you're not with your tribe or family but are instead dumped into what feels like someone else's, or in a shack in that family's back yard, or you're born into the wrong one.

So "tribe" here feels more emotionally apt than the other available terms and doesn't have the negative connotations that adhere to words like "clan" or "caste" or "ethnic group" or "religion" or "nation."

Prior to reading my first post, Mark Sinker, who was busy celebrating his birthday instead, emailed me this comment based on the title and the first few sentences:

On Friday I was interviewing and filming my old friend Liz Naylor... She was describing how the rock press in the 70s — and the free press and the alt press and the zine press — were her substitute for going to university, basically. She came from a suffocatingly cloistered working-class home in Hyde, which is a small satellite town of Manchester (also world capital of serial killers: the Moors Murderers and Harold Shipman). She grew up in a house with no books; no access to "culture" in the sense of films or music or art or anything. School was no help: it just amplified the announcement that if any of this stuff exists — books or films or music or art — it is NOT FOR THE LIKE OF YOU, LIZ. In desperation, she set off for libraries, independent bookshops and record shops, Fall gigs etc. The rock press, she says, is "how I located my tribe" — meaning (at first bite) other feminist lesbians of mischievous punky bent, committed to a lifelong battle with self-destructive urges, and (at second) always somewhat in truculent contention with any group she appears to be declaring herself part of.

If she'd said "The rock press is how I located my class," it would immediately have necessitated a second level of explanation: because surely (or anyway at first listen) her "class" is what she was ESCAPING from.
My immediate response to Mark, unsurprisingly, was that her family is what Liz was escaping from as well, and also "This is how I located my tribe" is akin to "This is how I located my self" (via locating my true kin in opposition to my mere biological kin), this is where I live, this is true vibrancy. Whereas, "This is how I located my class," would've missed this resonance, that she'd found her home, her people, "class" being too obviously contingent, being somewhere she's stuck, maybe, or something she might leave or lose — contingent of course being EXACTLY WHERE SHE IS, imo. (Her "truculent opposition" might be precisely because she feels a familial bond, hence somewhat trapped again, but (also) might be because she's not in a class but in class systems, which give us the background feeling that we're behaving out of continual choice and that locations are precarious.) "Tribe" is false here, but it is in use precisely because it seems to explain the socioemotional pull of the group.

Fwiw, this is one way social mobility happens, through the leaving and finding of cultures.

One thing about actual tribes is that they're fundamentally not a choice. Maybe in some instances you could defect from one tribe to another, or one tribe could split off from another; but my assumption is that mostly you were either born into one or you married into it, with occasional people being kidnapped into it.
 
Liz made a heartfelt choice, almost a romantic one, like modern marriage — but in a sense by calling it a tribe she cast it as not a choice: perhaps the tribe she discovered would have been her one-and-only tribe even had she not discovered it. Without it, she'd have wandered in the wilderness. Those were her people, even if she hadn't found them. Of course, like modern romantic marriage, she could actually go through a break up, and likely will, likely did. But when she found it, it felt like forever.

Actually, in a clip that went up on Mark's Kickstarter site, what she says is, "there was just this real sense of survival, of needing to kind of go out in the world and find my tribe, find my people," which is a bit different from saying "how I located my tribe": the first makes it a search, puts the tribe in her future, with perhaps a sense of creativity, not just looking for her tribe but helping to bring one into existence. (This makes my riff above on the "one-and-only" even more questionable than it already was, since Liz may never have exactly found her "tribe." Mark says, "i'd have to check if elsewhere she says she found her tribe — i think she did mention it more than once." Also, "she's using the word slightly flippantly anyway (to mean, 'it's absurd to imagine such a thing could exist but what else do i call it?')."**

* * *

The next post will return to what got me going last time, the use of the term "tribal" by Krugman, Klein, DeLong et al. to identify problems, "tribe" not being altogether a pejorative, but "tribal" being used to connote an impediment, something that prevents people from seeing clearly and acting for the overall public or general benefit.***

But in the meantime I'm pasting in the rest of my email convo with my buddies Mark Sinker, Luc Sante, Don Allred, and John Wójtowicz:

Email, the Wild Frontier )

*Is "tribe" even the right word for tribes? That'll also be briefly taken up in a future post, the potential lumping together of disparate social forms and social groups in one category — not just "tribe," but "Latino" and so on. —"Cultural appropriation," though, isn't my beef with the word "tribal." The word's mainly being used as a metaphor, anyway; the problem is that it's the wrong metaphor. See the June "tribal" post for part one of my beef.

**Longer quote:

I had this sense somehow that there was this, loads of information out there, there was loads of interesting things in the world, and, you know, I kind of didn't know how to get to it. I think I sort of knew my own world was, felt a bit impoverished... I think there was just this real sense of survival, of needing to kind of go out in the world and find my tribe, find my people. That's easier said than done in Hyde, because it really was, there was one shop that stocked music press.
Later in the clip:

"I knew my tribe was something to do with music."

***I am hoping this post will inform that one, the sense that "familial" or "tribal" bonds feel harder to break than do "class" ones, that families and tribes claim more allegiance — even though these aren't actual familial or tribal bonds, we're not as attached or forced into them, and they're continually broken, though without this breakage necessarily helping us to move onward from the world they give us: the social systems tend to hold us even though the group identifications don't.

****E.g. Bob Dylan "She knows there's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all."

*****She mentions "grammar school," which in England is a type of secondary school, whereas in American usage the term refers to elementary school (roughly ages 6 through 11), the term now fading out.
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Stop using the word "tribal" for modern political and social groupings.

1. The groupings in question actually act much more like classes than like tribes. (Yes, I'm putting the matter crudely and confusedly.)

2. Setting aside its potential racism towards Native Americans — "clan" or "family" would be just as wrong conceptually — the term mislabels a part as a whole. That is, a tribe is a society with an internal social structure, whereas groups like "lower-middle-class whites" and "college-educated blacks" and "Republicans" and "Democrats" and so on are subgroups within a society, subgroups that relate to one another to form social structures.

Not that tribes themselves never had relations with one another. (I can't say I know much about it, either the structure of, say, the different Native (North) American tribes and Amazonian tribes, etc., or the structure of the interplay between tribes.) "Inside" and "outside" are never absolute social distinctions. But caveats such as this one shouldn't be used to obscure the basic mistake built into the metaphor "tribal."

3. The deep basic mistake that concerns me most is the idea that we have social class, here, as one kind of social relation, but that then there's this other stuff, "culture," there, that works differently from class. In fact, instead, class and culture are so deeply intertwined that "intertwined" itself is much too weak a word.

Obviously, all my points here are what on Wikipedia they call "stubs." This one has the most stubble of all. To say briefly what needs several hundred thousand words: what we tend to call "economic class" must have a cultural component or else class mobility both up and down would be too easy and desirable. Embedded in this idea is that e.g. those "in" the "lower" classes get positive status, and meaning, and love and excitement and a feeling of at least being somewhat "at home," right where they are, even though where and who "they are" is actually always necessarily slippery and at risk and even though they don't necessarily conceive where "they are" as belonging to or inside a class. ("In" got scare quotes above for being a problematic word.) The classes nonetheless make up the landscape in which people find (or look for) themselves. So a class isn't altogether unlike an ethnic group. But it is fundamentally different nonetheless in that to be in (or near) a class is to be part of a social structure that relates you to those who are in or near other classes.

That is, people don't fit snugly within a class. That's not how modern class works. They live instead within class systems, social structures, some of which are fairly ad hoc. But it's within these systems that they work out who they are, their creativity and their loves as well as conflicts and oppression and resentments. And they don't find movement all that easy, or inviting.

(To add another circular or elliptical twist or tangle to all this, as the world gets ever more cosmopolitan, ethnic groups themselves are more and more acting like classes (even more than they always did), so are in relation to other groups as part of a structure, rather than as separate structures in themselves, but paradoxically appear more and more as a choice, with at least some leeway, much greater than in the past, as to whether or how much one deploys one's ethnic identity (of course depending on circumstances).)

4. But most crucially and controversially I'll say that, while upper-middle-working class or some near variant on that is probably "right," i.e., is the basic structure of modern "advanced" societies, such classes often aren't the classes of our most immediate experience, and often aren't the classes that are in most immediate effect. So e.g. being a "freak" or a "feminist" or a "progressive" or a "leftist" or "indie" or "intellectual" may not just feel more crucial and more like an identity than being precariously "middle class" does, it puts you in everyday relation to other social groupings. For example, back in my high school, freaks were in relation to normies, to liberals, and to greasers so were part of a social structure that included these other groups. (And yes, I'm claiming such groupings really do structure a good deal of social life, as do the everyday adult groupings that are much vaguer and more ad hoc than the ones in high school.) Again, it's not that you feel at home in your particular class or group — most students felt estranged and many were unaffiliated — it's that such groupings constitute the social landscape and affect and direct your social choices. (If you're an "outsider" you're nonetheless in this social structure, which tells you you're outside the available groups, but nearer to some than to others, and influenced by all.) My basic point here is that to understand such groups, e.g. "freaks," you have to think of them as CLASSES not TRIBES.

Items 5 through 14: the sideways middle class, and bad explanations )

Ezra Klein’s "How politics makes us stupid" )
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Can you imagine Teena Marie writing for The Singles Jukebox? —Well, she's dead, but I mean someone of her social type and sensibility.

Or Trey Songz or Ty Dolla Sign or Taeyang or Sturgill Simpson or Enrique Iglesias?

Actually, I could imagine a few Sturgill Simpson types doing so. Not the others, though I don't know much about them so perhaps I'm wrong. But a combination of selection and self-selection would keep most of them out.

I'm six days late on this, but The Singles Jukebox is looking for writers — go here for the full pitch, and yes I encourage you to try. Here's an excerpt:

We are not a Pitchfork or a Rolling Stone; we are an international site that thrives on diverse voices and opinions. We are particularly interested in applicants who are under-represented in music writing and strongly encourage women and people of color to apply.
Except the additional women and people of color they get will end up resembling the people who already write for the site, and I don't think the Jukebox could do anything about this even if it (they/we) wanted to. Don't know how many people involved in the site know how to go about wanting to, though.

I don't know if I know how to go about wanting to, but I do have a good idea what "wanting to" means. It means wanting the Jukebox to read more like the comment threads on gossip sites and YouTube but ideally, in utopia, with even more self-reflection than the Jukebox already has.

Gossip sites and YouTube comment threads frequently scare me.

If you're going to think about diversity you have to have to have to think about social class and social types and social conflict, or you're just not serious. How many bank officers write for The Singles Jukebox? How many house painters? How many who back in high school had been called rocks, hoods, greasers, grits, burnouts, dirtbags, jells, farmers, rednecks? (Showing my age here. Don't know the current terminology.) How many of the socs, debs, preppies, jocks?

The Jukebox is volunteer; nobody gets paid; so it's all in people's spare time. What sort of people are socialized to do this in their spare time?

In the pitch, the Jukebox asked applicants to blurb two from a list of tracks. That's where I got my performers above. Here are all of them. So, how many of these performers — i.e., members of their social sets — can you imagine writing for the Jukebox? Or posting on a koganbot comment thread, for that matter? Or posting at Freaky Trigger?

Trey Songz
Nicki Minaj
Migos
Brett Kissel
Kira Isabella
Blake Shelton
Gwen Sebastian
Skepta
JME
Kasabian
Faith Evans
Missy Elliott
Sharaya J
Annalisa
Black M
Jennifer Hudson
Timbaland
Taeyang
Zoe Muth
Ty Dolla $ign
Wiz Khalifa
Sturgill Simpson
Enrique Iglesias

To my embarrassment, there are six names here I don't recognize. I can kinda imagine Nicki Minaj and Blake Shelton getting a kick out of doing something like the Jukebox, though don't know how many in their prime audience would want to themselves.

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[I'm not at my home computer, so I don't have the quote exact, but I'm doing a variation on an old riff of mine from 1987, from my fanzine Why Music Sucks, some of whose readers and writers also wrote for or edited at the Village Voice. I said that coverage at the Voice was broad but tone of voice wasn't. Could you imagine Teena Marie or Merle Haggard writing for the Village Voice? Music editor Doug Simmons read this and told me he'd love to print Teena and Merle. But over the years, Teena and Merle types never ended up as Village Voice writers. Fuller Teena quote, from the liner notes to Emerald City: "Once upon a time there lived a little girl named Pity who decided more than anything in the world she wanted to be green."]

*I could be someone helping to run the Jukebox, if I had time and made it a priority. But have barely even posted in half a year.
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Crayon Pop seem to be occupying a social space that doesn't exist in America: not of the mainstream but with no apparent estrangement from the mainstream either, not even to the extent that the mainstream itself is estranged from the mainstream (being estranged from the mainstream is a mainstream attitude). And while Crayon Pop gathered a fanatic core audience before they hit big — people who traveled miles to the Crayon Pop appearances and chanted along with the guerrilla street performances — that audience seemed to be doting-uncle types, not connoisseur types. But then, what counts as "connoisseur" isn't set in stone. For instance, Sunday evenings are an unofficial car show in the parking lots along Federal Blvd. on Denver's Hispanic west side, people hopping into their vehicles and finding spots to show off. There are many venues for discerning eyes.

In any event, Crayon Pop seem to be into music more for the art of it and the process than for fame and fortune or even a career.* Going "trot" this year with "Uh-ee" (and dressing like aunties) fits this: the attitude is "What can we try next?" Makes me think of the otherwise very different "Gentleman," by Psy: not a followup to "Gangnam Style" so much as "What can I do to shift around and fake you out?" But Psy is coming from a well-trod social territory, the outsider hip-hop guy who breaks big but still wants to set the terms of discussion. Whereas with Crayon Pop it's more like, "What color should we paint our house now?" At least that's how Crayon Pop come across. So even if they are secret bohemians (Way did got to art school, for instance), that's not where they live in the public landscape.

Whether or not you think I'm right about Crayon Pop, and even if you don't pay attention to K-pop, I have this question:

Who else — anywhere, present or past — seems to be occupying a social space similar to the one I describe for Crayon Pop?

I'm thinking that certain potential stuff wouldn't count, the reason being it has too much of a chip on its shoulder and too much outsider status: early hip-hop dj's in the Seventies, for instance, or the custom car shows and stock-car races and demolition derbies of the early Sixties that Tom Wolfe analyzed and celebrated in The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. Or maybe I'm wrong, and we should count these things.

Anyway, bohemia from nowhere near bohemia.

Also, we need a new term. "Bohemia" is played out. Care to coin one?

As delinquent lollipop girls in "Bing Bing," five months before fame:


Disco trot Hey Mister )

Opening for Gaga in Milwaukee )
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A call to [livejournal.com profile] skyecaptain, [livejournal.com profile] freakytigger, [livejournal.com profile] petronia, and anyone else who inhabits the worlds where Rockwrite and anime-and-videogame and Fanfic worlds overlap. I claimed, while conversing with [livejournal.com profile] arbitrary_greay on the wallpaper-music-as-the-elephant-in-the-center-of-the-living-room thread, that:

Geekdom and video games and anime have enough cachet that the music that attaches to them is not going to end up in the category "We So Don't Pay Attention To This Stuff That We're Actually Hearing Quite A Lot Of That We Don't Even Notice That We Don't Write About It" in the way that AC does, but rather'll get written about by critics more and more as time goes on.
I can't say I'm the one to make the argument, though, so I hope you all might care to comment, on this or on what AG says.

And I'm linking Bob Dylan — not as an example of BGM but 'cause I assume "Ballad Of A Thin Man" is what first shot the words "freak" and "geek" into the culture as positives. 1965:

http://vimeo.com/52383325
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Any opinion of Millionaires? They seem like a really cheap, bad version of Ke$ha, but a cheap, bad version of Ke$ha doesn't particularly violate the spirit of Ke$ha (though the comparison only works best if one notices only the party-'n-excess Ke$ha without the rest of her). Also, it turns out that Millionaires' early singles predate Ke$ha hitting the Top 40, so influence may run two ways here or might not be direct but just a similar milieu or zeitgeist. Also, I like Millionaires' live cover of "My Chick Bad" (the studio version is drier).



Also, "cheap and bad" isn't always bad. Also, I kind of like "Drinks On Me," at least when it reaches the chorus. And the video is clever:

Drinks On Me )

They're no Ke$ha, or Dev, but I'm not here to think about their relative merit so much as to compare and contrast them to Simon & Garfunkel in order to sketch out my ideas about social class. Well, won't even sketch the ideas, just say that "upper-middle-working-class," while often playing a role, is conceived too broadly to describe how we perceive/conceive social class in our immediate experience. (The word "immediate" is my fudge factor here.)

Critical Thinkers And Party Pukers )
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I want you to post here how Facebook ruined your life. You see, my friend Tina (as in "Roger Williams In America" and "The Wind From My Head" in Real Punks Don't Wear Black) started a Facebook group last week called Campus Restaurant Revisited which she's been pressuring me to join. The thing is, I'm not on Facebook, since I don't want yet another social network hijacking my time. The Internet can suck the life out of you, another social network would squeeze me dry, and I'm not nearly caught up with the stuff I need to be doing anyway, etc. These days, a lot of people go to restaurants and coffeeshops so that they can bring their laptops and get the WiFi. Whereas, when I go to these places it's to get away from the 'Net. But...

It was like my little hometown had created its very own East Village* within the four walls of a cruddy downstairs eatery. This was in the Sixties, early Seventies. When the freaks were cutting school, that's where they went, and I get the feeling that for a lot of them that was their emotional home when what was happening in their nuclear family wasn't working for them. Like the East Village, the scene facilitated fucked-up behavior too, amid all the vast creativity, and you can be clingy and neurotic in your adopted families as much as in your real ones; but the freaks being so numerous and charismatic, they cracked open the social map of my entire high school. Wherever you were on the map, you never could settle into a place, because the places kept shifting. This could be rough on some people and it was rough on me, but it worked well for me too, in that it ensured I could never be smug, so it helped to create my brain. And for some kids it created space to flourish they'd never have had in a more steady setting. It also helped there to be a whole lot of interesting people in my world, wherever they found themselves, whether they were the freaks or not at all close to the freaks.

I wasn't one of the freaks; I was more a liberal veering into I don't know where. Didn't go into the Campus Restaurant much, basically 'cause I didn't know if I'd be welcome, though my guess now is that of course I'd have been. A year after I graduated I was back visiting town and I went to meet Tina at the Campus Restaurant, and after the two of us were done talking I saw my ex-friend and ex-nemesis Jeff (see "Junior High" and "Death Rock 2000" in Real Punks) and we had a really good talk, though what I mostly remember from it was that he was being self-derogatory in a way that I hadn't remembered him back when we'd been close; and it didn't dawn on me to see if it was safe to ask him the questions that I really wanted to ask. At one point when I was a senior I remember Maureen saying to me and Jay that Jeff was just a slug, and we gaped at her. Like, didn't she understand? This was JEFF KINNARD! He'd been to social life at Storrs Grammar School what James Brown was to soul. So the question I didn't even think to ask was what happened, how'd he change so that he'd be willing to give the impression to the beautiful Maureen Nolan that he was a slug? Why?

Anyway, Tina has sent me a PDF file of some of the posts from the group. I didn't see anything from Jeff there, though Peter Fish posted a photo of Jeff standing next to Mr. Pride, the art teacher. Most of the people posting I hadn't really known, and a lot of the names I don't recognize. But Tina is there, Tansy Mattingly is there, Steve Nesselroth is there, Tim Page is there, Larry Groff is there, Francesca Holinko is there.

hemming and hawing and the need for a discussion of social class )

So. Tell me about Facebook. Can I avoid friending people, and avoid getting them to friend me? Is it easy to ignore, if, like me, you're fundamentally compulsive and have no OFF switch?

*If I were ever to start one of these groups, it'd be "Strand Book Store, 1977-1980."
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Lotsa convos on Tumblr today somewhat inspired by Xhuxk's P&J essay, e.g., this one and this one and this one and this one. The problem that I'm having with them, and that Tom recognizes better than the other posters, is that the words "consensus" and "populist" and "contrarian" don't take care of themselves without elaboration. [EDIT: Chuck didn't write the headline that used that word, by the way.] One gripe I have in particular is the degradation of the word "consensus," which didn't used to mean "taste cluster" or "gets a plurality of votes" but rather "general agreement" or, more strongly (as in "the decision was reached by consensus"), "virtually everybody in the room signs off on it." So, there was no consensus in 2002 2000 that George W. Bush was the best man to be president or even that he won the election, but there was consensus that we should abide by the Supreme Court's decision as to who was to be president.

One reason I dislike the word's degradation is that if you're standing against a "consensus" that a whole bunch of other people don't actually consent to either, you're not being particularly contrarian. So if you communicate with a lot of rock critics you're not going to find consensus either that Animal Collective and ilk are good or that Taylor Swift et al. deserve to be dismissed out of hand, so in opposing those positions you're not really contrarian. In certain offline situations your ideas might put you genuinely alone among your friends, but still, you carry the rockcrit world in your mind so you're not alone in that world.

As for "populist," what's populist? Are you populist if you're for the cheer captain, who is popular, after all? Or do you have to be for the girl on the bleachers, or for the kid who snuck across the street to cop a cigarette?

But what interests me most is that people, despite trying to simultaneously stand with The People and stand against the crowd (good trick if you can pull it off; I'll give some examples in the comments), don't love and vote for particular songs for such reasons but rather vote for what they consider good music. "Sounds good" or "I like the way the music makes me feel" or "I like the mood" or "it's got a killer beat and I like dancing to it" or "I'm taken intellectually and emotionally by what's going on in the lyrics" or "I'm impressed by the philosophical and political questions the lyrics raise" or "I'm fascinated by the music's form" and so forth will trump "liking this makes me a populist" or "liking this makes me a contrarian" every time. So the fact that people's tastes do tend to cluster by social group and social class has to be explained, as does the fact that through their taste people get to differentiate themselves personally and socially from their fellows. I raised this issue in my very first Rules Of The Game column in mid 2007 and kept working at it in all the columns and followups through Rules Of The Game #9 (see links for all of them here) and then returned to the question throughout the series especially at nos. 12, 13, and 18. My point there was that social solidarity and social differentiation and personal differentiation all have an effect, but the effect is neither direct nor some mystical social pull but rather comes out of one's daily music listening and one's interaction with friends and acquaintances and with the broader culture that one gets through the media and participates in online. The words "consensus" and "populist" and "contrarian" wave vaguely at the world of such interaction without bringing us to it.
koganbot: (Default)
the further the problem was from the solver's expertise, the more likely they were to solve it

"If it could easily have been solved 'by people within the industry, it would have been,' he said."

(So the question here for me is what are the problems that I'm working on that people in my rock-critic and blog worlds are having trouble thinking about, and where do I find people from elsewhere who might be willing to think about those problems? E.g., my ideas on "social class," that we need to think about what social class is, and we need to think about it differently. For instance, I think Ashlee and Jessica Simpson belong to different social classes, but with the way class is generally defined, what I've just said would be considered nonsense.)
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Latest column. I belatedly jump into the Sasha-Carl convo, though I guess my point was that the convo wasn't yet happening in their pieces. And I assert that the Backstreet Boys belong to the discussion.

The Rules Of The Game #22: Night doesn't work, day doesn't work

I display insecurities, ask questions )

Links to my other Rules Of The Game columns )
koganbot: (Default)
Latest column. Britney, Bowie, and the unavailability of cool.

The Rules Of The Game #14: The Death Of The Cool

Key sentence: "But where coolness - or any knowledge - stumbles is when it becomes the attribute of a particular class."

So what's been your experience with "cool"? Is there such a thing? What would it be now?

Links to previous columns. (And they've finally added the paragraph breaks to last week's column. Comments didn't make it through, however. LVW got the italics too, but missed them this week, and I'm not going to press the matter.) UPDATE: That link "to previous columns" no longer works, but I've got the whole set here now:

http://koganbot.livejournal.com/179531.html

(Also, here's a link to that Michael Ventura article I refer to, "Hear That Long Snake Moan," about the African sources of cool, and the New Orleans source of everything. Ventura cannot be accused of understating his case.)
koganbot: (Default)
My latest column, where I try to justify my nonstandard use of the word "class."

The Rules Of The Game #12: Jocks and Burnouts

I'm curious if you think the social map that Eckert provides and the social dynamic that I identify (the basic form being "jocks vs. burnouts" [w/ different category names in different times and places], but there being an unsettled effect when a third group, the "freaks," appears in strength) have anything to do with the situation at the high school you went to. If not, what was the social map? Also what sort of map(s) would you apply to situations you've been in after high school?

Oh yeah, and here's another chance for you to help me figure out what the hell it is I'm trying to say about Elvis.

Links to my other Rules Of The Game columns )
koganbot: (Default)
Rules Of The Game #8: Which Social Class Sounds Better?

Tuesday Morning, 2 a.m. )

My use of "class" is as problematic as ever, but the question here is can one class (or whatever) make better music than another class? And my answer is "sure," but this isn't inherent in the class; the goodness of the music happens in a particular time and place and has to be explained historically in reference to that particular time and place. From 1963 through about 1979 Anglo-American bohemia made some of the best music in the world; then it rather abruptly went down the crapper (at just about the time I was starting to perform onstage). This doesn't mean it wasn't subsequently meaningful and of value to the people who cared about it. And interestingly some of my favorite current music from both the mainstream and from country - ordinary mainstream girls like Ashlee Simpson and Kelly Clarkson, country oddballs like Deana Carter and Big & Rich [whose new album is a snore, unfortunately] - is saturated in old bohemian values. So...????

Links to my other Rules Of The Game columns )
koganbot: (Default)
Help me write my next column figure out what I mean by the phrase "social class"!

--What do people mean when they say "class"?
--What do I mean when I say "class"?
--What should I mean when I say "class"?

I do not necessarily mind that my own and other people's use of the term is vague and inconsistent and contrary, but I do think I should be more specific about the various different species that my inconsistency and contrariness suggest and my vagueness covers up.

Buncha further questions )
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Rules of the Game #2: Metal Clusters

OK, second full column is up, brings up some things we talked about in the previous thread, about how there can be a chance element in which music you identify with socially.

(EDIT: Strangely, the link for the piece changed from the one I'd originally posted, so I've fixed it. I wonder how often this will happen. If you're looking for my pieces and the links aren't working, go to the Las Vegas Weekly main page and you'll probably see near the top something that says "Music: Rules Of The Game" followed by a subtitle, and that will be my latest column. Then, if you follow the link to the column, at the end of the column there's a link for "more articles from this author," which will take you to my previous columns.)

Links to my other Rules Of The Game columns )

UPDATE: I've got all the links here now:

http://koganbot.livejournal.com/179531.html
koganbot: (Default)
Here's the first ever Rules Of The Game Followup Column. Contains metal and morality, romance and longing. Quotes Martin. You're encouraged to comment here, there, everywhere.

EDIT, JUNE 8: Strangely, the link I'd posted in the previous paragraph didn't work after a few days, so I had to track down where the piece was and fix the link.

Links to my other Rules Of The Game columns )
koganbot: (Default)
Hurrah, I've been given a column (first one here: The Rules Of The Game #1: Joining In) at the Las Vegas Weekly website, where I can actually get paid to write stuff I've always wanted to write - to ask questions, basically, and to intellectualize to my heart's content. The column runs every Thursday* with a brief minicolumn update on Mondays. I welcome your commentary: in fact, will need it, since my hope for the Monday minicolumns is that at least some of them will have me addressing people's comments about the previous Thursday's column.

*The especially sharp-eyed among you will notice that today is Friday, not Thursday. The Las Vegas Weekly is revamping its website and going through something of a shakedown cruise, so things don't always go up in a timely fashion. Some future Thursdays may also end up as Fridays, and some Mondays will be Tuesdays.

Links to my other Rules Of The Game columns )

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