Friday, March 30, 2012

Chavez liked the gays

I have a blog post up at EQCAblog about César Chávez, where I interviewed Marc Grossman, the communications director for the Chavez Foundation and César Chávez's aide and speechwriter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Half the time I feel like the Death Grips are right down my alley, what with noize beats and alt rap. The other half the time, I think I'm judging them on targets they're not aiming for, like that the dude's flow would suck if he was a rapper, and that it's not too far from Die Krupps and all the rivethead shit I listened to in high school. They're seriously one thin membrane from Frontline Assembly meets Rage Against the Machine on the Judgment Night soundtrack sometimes. I feel like I just can't step far enough away from the band to think about them objectively (which is kinda weird itself, since I don't know them).

Beginning to see the light

An essay (PDF) by Ellen Willis about feminism and punk. More on Willis, the New Yorker's pop critic in the late '60s and '70s, from Sasha Frere-Jones, New Yorker's current pop critic.

It's got some really interesting insights, as well as a perspective that seems bafflingly quaint — really, you thought "God Save the Queen" was from "All the Young Dudes"? — but part of the essay is how Willis came to really get punk (the Brits showed her how) and love it, and it gives a nice counterpoint to the general narrative of punk being the sudden blast that killed Prog or Arena Rock or whatever. (It didn't.) Instead, Willis complains of having to explain to editors that punk wasn't tragically retro, too passe for publication.

And along the way, she nails some themes (like the too-apologetic-to-rock female rock band or the brief suggestion of class issues in disco glam) that resonate with contemporary music pretty presciently, along with making me think more about one of my least favorite Sex Pistol tunes ("Bodies" always felt like a less funny "Belsen Was a Gas").

Friday, March 16, 2012

An open letter

I have few illusions about the traction of letters written to my congress members, but I'd like to think that when some poor intern googles me to make sure I'm not a terrorist, seeing it here might make them think, "Hey, that sounds like that awesome letter I was reading."

Dear Senator Feinstein,

Tonight, I watched the Daily Show report on the defunding of UNESCO by the US, due to a 20 year old law that requires us to punish the UN for recognizing Palestine.

I know that you, and likely the staffer that screens this email for you, enjoy the Daily Show. You're a smart person, and I think that you realize this is ridiculous. The law's a bit of imperialist bullying from the United States, and makes us look like jerks. Taking away funding for critical infrastructure and cultural programs due to the results of a democratic international process makes us look like spoiled children and only panders to an aging demographic that's likely to vote Democratic anyway.

You know what's right. Repeal the bill. Or even modify it to allow a vote on each international agency. That way, should it be too important to keep from funding some other organization, we can deal with that when it comes up. That allows us to pursue justice while still respecting the voices of those who might disagree with funding any individual agency.

Let's end this idiocy, Senator. Please do that for me.