Sunday, October 30, 2005

So this year I'm helping figure out what gets into this thing. If you have ideas, forward them to Eric, NOT to me (that's Ought to be interesting to see what comes of this.

The 2006 Experience Music Project Pop Conference
Seattle, WA, April 27-30, 2006

What forces are at work when we like something we “shouldn't”? What role does shame, either shame succumbed to or shame resisted, play in the pleasure we as fans and interpreters take from the music we love? Is loving music passionately (collecting it, critiquing it, fashioning one’s identity around it) itself becoming a guilty pleasure, i.e. something increasingly rare and in need of explanation, something self-indulgent or questionable? To what extent do these issues reveal hierarchies of taste, transformed subjectivities, the effect of politics on culture, or other lines of contestation permeating popular music?

For this year’s Pop Conference, we invite papers, panels, or other presentations on these topics. Related questions include but are not limited to:

--In what terms do “guilty pleasures” operate beyond the U.S. experience? How do different genres define the inappropriate?

--Who are the performers, the issues and the hidden pleasures, that you have wanted to write about but never dared, or who you loved and then forsook?

--What happens when you center your focus on “minor” histories?

--How do the desires for novelty and permanence, diaspora and roots, or for that matter extremity and conformity, play out against each other in music?

--Can we think in less whiggish and salutary ways about pop and progress, or how music functions in dark times?

--Does doubt affect the creation of musical works, and not only reception? What guilty pleasure do performers feel about their own social impact?

--How does technology and futurist rhetoric affect distinctions in pop fashion between the sublime and the ridiculous?

--What are the connections between pop shame and “passing”: sexual, racing, class, nationality?

The EMP Pop Conference first convened in Spring 2002 and is now entering its fifth year. The goal has always been to bring academics, writers, artists, fans, and other participants into an all-too-rare common discussion. Most presentations are of the 20 minute panel talk variety, but unorthodox suggestions are our favorite kind and we can support a wide range of technological experimentation. Previous year’s conferences have resulted in the anthology This Is Pop (Harvard, 2004), the current special issue of Popular Music (“Magic Moments”), and a second anthology that is under preparation. This year’s program committee includes Drew Daniel (Matmos), writer Jessica Hopper, Jason King (New York University), Michaelangelo Matos (Seattle Weekly), Ann Powers (Blender), David Sanjek (BMI), Philip Schuyler (University of Washington), and Karen Tongson (University of Southern California).

Proposals should be no more than 250 words, should be accompanied by a brief bio and full contact information, and are due January 16, 2006. Proposals are judged by liveliness of prose as much as pertinence of topic. Email them, as well as any questions about the conference, the theme, your topic, or the application process, to organizer Eric Weisbard at For more information on previous conferences, including a full range of participants and abstracts, go to:

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Since Erica C. Barnett can't be bothered correcting her own nonfacts despite my having emailed her about it several days ago, I'll mention that from what I understand, Bob Mehr, the person I replaced at Seattle Weekly two and a half years ago, is not in fact "two young women" but a guy. Also, there's no "s" at the end of Michaelangelo. You're welcome. Edit: Josh Feit, the news ed at the paper, writes: "[T]he S on Michaelangelos was intentional. Erica added the S in her post laughing out loud in deference to a goofy habit I have. See, I give people nicknames by pseudo "fancying up" their names. So, for example, Amy Jenniges is Amy Jenigeeez, and Schmader is Mr. Shmah-day and Sean Nelson is Gouverneur Neeelson, Bradley is Mr. Steinbayshore etc.... Soooo, when I saw that you had such an elaborate sort of name to begin with, Michaelangelo Matos, I couldn't resist trying to make it even FANCIER. I added you to my roster of exaggerated names by adding the S to Michaelangelo." Ho-kay. No idea how they still figure Mehr is "two young women," though.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Change your links, kids: Rod Smith's got a new web home, and he's aiming to make it a far less sporadic one, lucky us.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Re: previous post. Things are about as wonderful and sunny and flowers-like as you might imagine. Doomsday? Probably not, but I don't see much good coming from it either. Happily I have options, but I am not going to be pleased to have to exercise them if in fact that's what it comes down to. This isn't news, of course--we've been hearing stuff about this (unofficially) for months. And we won't actually have anything happen for another month, at least. But it is, as Peter Scholtes says, not "growth." It's a takeover, end of story. And it fucking sucks.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Friday, October 14, 2005

"Hi. I'm Jack Shafer, and I've never used an iPod. Additionally, I have no idea that before the iPod took off commercially--long after it was introduced to the market--Apple had next to zero press credibility for a good decade or so. I say things like, 'Although staffed by dorks and drizzlerods, Apple projects itself and its products as the embodiment of style and cool," without the self-awareness to figure out that I have just described every cultural enterprise in the universe short of the National Review. And I cite 'the introduction of the Apple III+, the Lisa, the Macintosh Portable, the Mac TV, the Newton, the Apple G4 Cube, and eWorld' as being 'greeted with great press fanfare before falling off the edge of the world' without mentioning that the thing that pushed all of them off was, in fact, their press coverage. Have a nice day.

P.S. Don't forget to download the iPod-ready audio version of this story here, or sign up to get all of Slate's free daily podcasts. Thank you for choosing Microsoft."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sasha reprints the piece that first made me notice him, about the Arkology box.

For the past day or so, I had a fairly nasty message here intended for a person I hold dear. That message no longer applies, and I wish to express my apologies for putting it there. I also wish to extend another apology and many thanks to a number of people who've written me over the past year about various things of mine they've liked that I haven't responded to. It's hard to respond to those things sometimes--being busy is part of it, but part of it too is that I've never taken compliments well, and panic a little when I get them. I'm trying not to do that anymore, especially considering how basically rude it is, whether I mean it to be or not. Saying thanks shouldn't be a task, but I seem determined to make it one. I'll be keeping an eye out against that from now on. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Today, in the mail: Pull My Finger, Jingle Smells, featuring the cover blurb, "100% Gastrointestinal Emissions." Tracks include "We Wish You a Smelly Xmas," "Soil the Halls," "Silent Butt Deadly Night," "We Wish You a Smelly Xmas--Unplugged," "Sugarplum Farties," "Soil the Halls--Unplugged," and "Farts Under the Mistletoe." No I am not going to play it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

So my hard drive bit it on Thursday; luckily, Andy the IT guy was still in the office, and got me a replacement about an hour before leaving for vacation. This means I have to wait until Tuesday to find out whether he can recover anything off my hard drive. Not a ton of stuff I'll need, but enough to be a complete pain in the ass. So I get to be in limbo, not knowing what I have upcoming in terms of assignments, until then--if I send a query to all my writers it might be in vain, and if it's gone I'll find out late. Fuck fuck fuck.

Speaking of limbo, got Da Capo Best Music Writing 2005 in the mail today. Last year's edition was 360 pages; this one's 202. The honorable mention list is almost twice as long as usual to complement the page count being nearly halved. I like SFJ's Clash '79 piece, haven't read Michael Corcoran's, and seriously question the wisdom of including both, considering the downsizing. It's a relief, though to note that they included Ingrid Sischy and Camille Paglia's ever-so-enlightening back-and-forth on the relevant topic from that bastion of thought, Interview magazine. How else could I have known that Paglia thinks that "People generally view Eminem as a rapper trying to blend with black culture, but I classify him with the punks"? Thank you, "J.T. LeRoy." Thank you.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Scott Woods is doing song-to-song matchups between the Blender and Rolling Stone top-500-songs lists--a good idea, and probably the only useful one to come out of all this 500-best-whatever nonsense. (Yes, this is me saying this, which means it's really gone too far.)

Scroll to the end of this, then watch each episode in order. Funniest thing I've seen in ages.

Simon Reynolds on the Gang of Four re-recordings. He mentions that precedents for this kind of thing are hard to find; I say they're legion--not in rock, but in R&B. Start with James Brown and move on to Prince's "1999--the New Master," and you've got . . . a mixtape idea, anyway.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I doubt I'll ever wade fully into the thicket of legalese that blankets the thing, but this blog, put together by a trio of NYC lawyers to keep track of the RIAA's lawsuits against ordinary citizens for file-sharing, is the kind of thing blogs were invented for.