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Fortnightly Culture Thread January 9, 2022

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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gregtimo proposed in comments recently the idea of a Culture Thread.

It’s a great idea. Currently culture is a bit strange, but people read, listen to music, watch television and film and so on – spread the net wide, sports, activities, interests, all relevant – and any pointers are always welcome. And it’s not just those areas but many more. Suggestions as to new or old things, events that might have been missed, literally anything.

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1. polly - January 9, 2022

Isabel Wilkerson ‘Caste’. It is a knockout. It has been out a year but if you missed it at the time she has pulled together all the serious studies, science and statistics about African slavery and Jim Crow laws in the United States, in support of the simple theses that
– disadvantage, by caste, does persist
– it does so because the people it advantages don’t want to let it go.

All readers who are privileged in any dimension have multiple defences to close their ears to this kind of message. Her achievement is to get the truth past those defences by calm simple repetition of invontrovertible facts, interspersed with individual stories.

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WorldbyStorm - January 9, 2022

Just looked up a review in the Guardian. It sounds inspirational.

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polly - January 9, 2022

Look up the review in the London Review of Books, you might be as flabbergasted as I was to find that the reviewer criticises it for not being about slavery in the Caribbean and Central and South America (it isn’t meant to be) and for being readable (it is meant to be). The reviewer was a Prof of African American studies in Yale who – it shouldn’t matter but I was curious because the review was so misconceivedly begrudging – is a white woman from Devon.

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WorldbyStorm - January 9, 2022

Curious. I see jc notes her father is a Jamaican immigrant, which is fair enough but doesn’t take away from the odd criticism about readablility. The more works like this that more people engage with the better. It’s vital.

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WorldbyStorm - January 9, 2022

A couple of odd rabbit holes recently. First up Phil Jones on Work Without the Worker, Labour in the Age of Platform Capitalism. Just started so no preconceptions about it at all. The other thing I’m reading is A Hidden Landscape Once A Week which is a series of essays and other writings about the UK music press in the 70s and 80s. I like it but almost would prefer a less academic history.

And for no good reason, well, actually playing L.A. Noire on PS4, I started reading Mickey Spillane (don’t much like), rereading Chandler (like a lot though at almost a century’s remove the gender politics is…erm…. different. I didn’t remember that!) and Ross McDonald who I’ve never read but seems interesting.

And Dune and Bond. Flawed but interesting the two of them.

I’d also strongly recommend the Veronica Mars movie from the early 2010s, and, anyone who hasn’t seen it check out the Patti Smith documentary from the late 2000s, Dream of Life. She has to be the most unpretentious pretentious person and all the better for it.

And mentioned the Apple doc, on to episode two and it’s weirdly soothing to watch.

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oliverbohs - January 9, 2022

I read the Hidden Landscape Once a Week book but I found it disappointing, academics and writers from the golden years of music writing score settling aeons later. It isn’t a conventional overview, more a near transcript of series of discussions during a conference about the music press as well as some added essays. Funny, there’s a guy with a twitter handle nothingelseon who posts columns and reviews from the NME and MM from late 80s, at the moment 1989, and there’s some wheat but majority chaff, and those who are good writers in the main are still going today. One surprise- by ’89 dance music is where it’s at but both inkies are still slow to acknowledge it fully, that did come later but Record Mirror really was more clued in by then, shame it had as much real content as your local freesheet newsletter

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WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2022

That’s my feeling too oliverbohs, unnecessarily academic and not catching the spirit.

Do you have a link to that site. Would be very handy.

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sonofstan - January 10, 2022

Best bit in Hidden Landscape is Paul Gilroy eviscerating the white boys club of the NME in the 70s/80s. I have access to Rock’s Back Pages (the ‘rock’ is the title is telling) via the uni and going back to journalism I remember fondly is disappointing – it’s often a lot worse than you might recall, and the casual sexism and sometimes racism masquerading as hipness is grating.

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WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2022

I have to admit I always preferred the Melody Maker over NME, and Sounds over both of them. I think there was a period 89-93/4 where they all improved markedly as dance and electronica sort of battered down the doors (and exposed some as the rockists they actually were). I guess an argument can be made that hip hop did begin to sort the wheat from the chaff earlier.

It’s funny, I can’t find a justification for paying for Rock’s Back Pages. And yet the inkies were at one point a central feature of my reading, and in fairness I’d still argue they had an educative impact, in amongst all the dross and back slapping and worse.

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sonofstan - January 10, 2022

“And yet the inkies were at one point a central feature of my reading, and in fairness I’d still argue they had an educative impact, in amongst all the dross and back slapping and worse”

Yes, sure, same here.
I co-taught a class last year on music journalism, with me taking up to 2000 and someone much younger, who writes for the NME among plenty of other gigs, taking the last 20 years. I couldn’t believe how ‘back in the day’ I sounded, or how much I had underestimated what the kidz today get out of the media they consume. I can’t see it because it’s not talking to me, just as the NME wasn’t talking to boring old jazz bloke back then.

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2. jc - January 9, 2022

Hazel Carby is the author of the LRB review. Her father was a Jamaican immigrant.

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polly - January 9, 2022

That is me getting what I deserve for commenting on someone’s colour. I take back the ad hominem bit, and stick to my guns that it is a weirdly begrudging response to a really valuable book.

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Fergal - January 9, 2022

Haven’t read the book…sounds fascinating does it suggest solutions? Does it discuss the role played by the US’s lack of universal healthcare and free education, along with low minimum wage and lax labour laws?
Polly, surely the LRB critic’s thoughts are what matter most not her skin colour?

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Fergal - January 9, 2022

Sorry Polly, just saw your comment above on the critic

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3. EWI - January 10, 2022

Reviews coming in

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WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2022

Big cuddly Eoin O’Duffy! Evil steely-eyed Cathal Brugha! Oh yeah, it’s all clear to me now. 🙂

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EWI - January 10, 2022

Big cuddly Eoin O’Duffy! Evil steely-eyed Cathal Brugha!

December is going to be a horror of FG and their supporters claiming that Rory O’Connor and Liam Mellows deserved to be extra-judicially murdered by the Free State, while Bishop Micheál Martin solemnly intones about how ‘mistakes were made’ and we need to move on.

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4. Liberius - January 10, 2022

While looking over the Christmas period at the output of various radio stations in Europe I found France Musique’s Monday-Friday jazz programme Banzzaï is available as a podcast and fairly easy to integrate into the day; not a bad mix, plenty of newer stuff with a generally decent selection of old classics, though much of that older stuff is with lyrics and not to my taste but it’s fine.

https://www.francemusique.fr/emissions/banzzai

January as brought with it a need for distro hopping (currently in VM while waiting for a new USB flash drive), was initially thinking of OpenSuse Tumbleweed, but even though I quite like YaST I’m just not convinced it’s cohesive enough once all the amendments are made to make it suitable for my usage. On to Fedora, I like that you get a much cleaner install with nothing really other than the basic GNOME software installed, it’s quicker then to bring it to a state where it wouldn’t need any more work, though I did encounter a strange issue where I couldn’t add folders to Jellyfin, I’ve been rifling through documentation but really not sure why. This brings me on to Debian, initially I didn’t think this was a serious option, and admittedly there are oddities like needed to replace the native ESR version of Firefox with the Flatpak version but between backports having yt-dlp, syncthing having an apt repo and Jellyfin working perfectly I think it makes the most sense, only real question mark is the Flatpak version of Steam, not used a non-native steam install before though think it might well be necessary to have the latest versions of Mesa and Proton. There is also the old friend that is Synaptic, much like YaST I remember with fondness the old days where it wasn’t a choice between a sanitised “app store” and Terminal fundamentalism.

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WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2022

That’s a great find that jazz podcast.

re distros etc, that sounds fun if time-consuming. I take a much much more cosmetic approach – every once in a while I install Virtual Box and just lash around with various installs like Ubuntu just to see how different it all looks and if I can try out the odd game here and there.

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EWI - January 10, 2022

I find it traumatic enough to spend a week every five or six years with a new (second-hand) Mac, transferring stuff across. I gave up on Windows and Linuxes a long time ago; really want it to be like a toaster and ‘just work’,

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Liberius - January 10, 2022

In fairness it’s not entirely necessary too time-consuming, all three distros were set up in sub 1 hour time frames from beginning the installer to the point at which it would be usable for me if installed on bare metal. And in fairness to Fedora the Jellyfin (for context Jellyfin is a open-source equivalent of Plex) issue is probably some simple thing that I’m just not getting having never used Fedora before. I would have done an install on the old Lenovo S210 laptop rather than using a VM if the USB flash drive hadn’t gone rogue, though having never used.

On the looks front, I kind of mostly kicked the habit of doing too much aesthetic modifications back in my teens when I’d install things like Beryl and have cubed workspaces and wobbly windows and all that lunacy. One of the aesthetic differences in choosing between Fedora and Debian is the GNOME version, Debian 11’s freeze period started before GNOME 40 was released so it’s missed out on the move back to horizontal workspaces, while I’ve gotten used to the horizontal workspaces I’d not be unhappy returning to vertical, also the overview won’t need the blur my shell extension to get rid of the massive amount of grey.

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WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2022

Sounds great. And sub-one hour timeframes are doable, definitely. Urghhh… wobbly windows.

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Liberius - January 10, 2022

And in fairness to Fedora the Jellyfin (for context Jellyfin is a open-source equivalent of Plex) issue is probably some simple thing that I’m just not getting having never used Fedora before.

Simple it is, unlike on Debian the service user didn’t have access rights to the home directory, looks like it was added as its own user on install…

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WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2022

It’s amazing the feeling of satisfaction when an install goes right and everything works. But it’s almost more satisfying hunting down the issues that arise. And then everything works.

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Liberius - January 11, 2022

It’s probably why Linux users like to distro hopping (within reason), there is always something new to learn. That being said it’s only really the interregnum period between bare metal installs that I tend to do it, and if I actually believed Solus will survive its current crisis I probably wouldn’t be now, but then nobody forced me to install a “boutique” distro, it’s been a good couple of years.

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WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2022

Yeah the fun aspect is key.

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5. sonofstan - January 11, 2022

A Rodeo in Croke Park 1924

Conor Heffernan at UU has a fascinating article on this

https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/DZUEGXIXDXJBYXXE9QD9/full

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Bodb - January 21, 2022

“Cowboy Masculinity”! Yup!

Liked by 1 person

6. sonofstan - January 21, 2022

A plug for the reissue and update of folk singer Shirley Collins’ memoir, America Over the Water, the story of her childhood in Hastings and trip to the American south in 1959 with Alan Lomax to record a veritable pantheon of great music. It’s a brilliant tale, told plainly and without ego, and with some passages worthy of a deadpan Faulkner (if that’s not a contradiction). Describing Fred McDowell coming across the fields with his guitar and hearing him sing the first time: I had to stop reading for a bit just to take in what seemed to have just happened, so vivid was it.
Her childhood in wartime and post-war England feels just as distant: CLR relevant detalis – her older sister, Dolly, bought their first guitar mail order on HP from Czechoslovakia via an ad in the Daily Worker, and Shirley was worried at Ellis Island that they’d find out her mother was a commie. Dolly studied compostion with the Workers’ Education League and you feel that the opportunities open to two working class girls then, via people such as Bob Copper, the Sussex folk singer, and Seamus Ennis, each working by times for the BBC, simply wouldn’t happen now.

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yourcousin - January 21, 2022

Damnit man! Like I don’t have enough books to read!

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