Despite my ongoing struggles with mediafire, I did post a mix last week, including Sonic Youth, experimental chinese music, Michio Kurihara, the inevitable Chopin, and other dreamy drony things. Download it now before mediafire makes it disappear in their mysterious way.
Bunch of stuff this week. First, I have an article about why Bob Wills is country and not jazz over at Splice Today.
The point here isn’t that Wills was ripping off Count Basie like Elvis ripped off Jackie Wilson. Rather, that “ripping off” doesn’t really do justice to the pervasive way in which race and marketing have affected American music. Because the fact is that Bob Wills is different from Count Basie. He used different instruments, he played different songs, he didn’t use the same musicians. (Segregation meant he couldn’t have, even if he wanted to.) Those differences could have been less important than the similarities, but, because of history and marketing and race, they weren’t. Similarly, Elvis is different from Jackie Wilson, and contemporary R&B is different from contemporary country. How music gets labeled affects who listens to it, who loves it, who uses it, and, thus, what it is.
My interview with Andee at the amazing San Francisco record store Aquarius Records is online at Madeloud. Here’s an excerpt, including a little bit that didn’t make the published version:
Me: Looking at these lists online, you sort of get the feeling that the store itself must be gigantic. How big is the store? How many records do you have in stock at one time?
Andee: That’s funny. It really does. And I sometimes feel bad when someone finally gets to visit, having come all the way from Japan or the UK, I feel like we should apologize for how small the store is, but almost always, people dig it. It’s small-ISH, but there’s tons of records, cds, plants in the windows, posters and flyers, and crap all over the walls, doors and posts and windows have been painted by artists, there are video games (a Tron, a Rastan and a Joust, and we usually have a Ghosts And Goblins, but that one’s broken), there’s good music playing, it’s just really comfortable and worn and home-y, the way a record store should be. I love places like Amoeba and Virgin and Tower, but that’s a whole different vibe, places like aQuarius are more inviting to just hang out, browse, shoot the shit with whoever is working, play some Joust. I like it like that. As for how many records we have in the store, only a fraction of what’s on the website. we’re usually full to capacity, but the cool thing about visiting is, there’s always plenty of stuff that is NOT on the site, maybe stuff we haven’t reviewed yet, stuff that we were only able to get a few copies, not enough to post on the site, some stuff that just won’t make it on the site, for whatever reason, not to mention TONS of awesome used stuff, and new arrivals and more…..
Also Splice Today has reprinted my review of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which ran some years back in the Baffler. (I think it was my first published essay, actually.) And I have a review of a Tommy Cash reissue at Metropulse.
Hoods Everywh…Oh, Wait, Those Aren’t Hoods
A note on this website points out that the deevolutionizer in this issue of Wonder Woman apparently inspired Devo. Who knew?
This is a great fucking essay by Terry Eagleton about what atheists are stupid and god is great, even if he isn’t real.
And so the very act of attempting to close history down has sprung it open again. Both at home and globally, economic liberalism rides roughshod over peoples and communities, and in the process triggers just the kind of violent social and cultural backlash that liberalism is least capable of handling. In this sense, too, terrorism highlights certain contradictions endemic to liberal capitalism. We have seen already that pluralistic liberal societies do not so much hold beliefs as believe that people should be allowed freely to hold beliefs. The summum bonum is to leave believers to get on with it unmolested. Such a purely formal or procedural approach to belief necessitates keeping entrenched faiths or identities at a certain ironic arm’s length.
Yet this value—liberal society’s long, unruly, eternally inconclusive argument—also brings vulnerability. A tight national consensus, desirable in the face of external attack, is hard to pull off in liberal democracies, and not least when they turn multicultural. Lukewarmness about belief is likely to prove a handicap when one is confronted with a full-bloodedly metaphysical enemy. The very pluralism you view as an index of your spiritual strength may have a debilitating effect on your political authority, especially against zealots who regard pluralism as a form of intellectual cowardice. The idea, touted in particular by some Americans, that Islamic radicals are envious of Western freedoms is about as convincing as the suggestion that they are secretly hankering to sit in cafés smoking dope and reading Gilles Deleuze.
This is actually the last chapter of Eagleton’s latest book, “Reason, Faith and Revolution,” which is amazing. Best purchase on Amazon I’ve made in a good long while. If you want to check it out, it’s here.