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March 31, 2006

speaking of nerds

Some dood has put together a complete online list of releases by a number of labels (including bluebird) here.
Holy mamma, that's some nerdy shit.

"speaking of nerds" was posted by dogpossum on March 31, 2006 5:26 PM in the category music

I like Brunswick.

Right now there's 3/4 kilo of beef bones sitting in 3L of water with some onions and garlic and a bay leaf. I know they're enjoying themselves - I can smell it.

This is in preparation for a pumpkin soup I'm making this evening. See, the "potatoes, potatoes, fresh and new" guy came around this week and I bought a whole pumpkin. And the most amazing onions. I'm not usually one to wax lyrical about onions, but these... they're purple spanish onions, and when you slice them they're so fresh and bright - the layers seem clearer and crunchier than usual onions. We really enjoyed cooking with them and making them into onions last time (don't get me started on the tomatoes - oh MY GOD!!): organic = yes baby. The taste is far superior to chemicaled crap: you don't need so many herbs and spices to make flavours, and can really explore simple, effective flavour combinations. Plus everything is so happy and healthy. No gross chemical urk to wash off. Yay!

any hoo...

So I check out Stephanie's big orange book for pumpkin options - I wanted an interesting pumpkin soup or curry recipe. I love love love a pumpkin and mustard seed curry I've had at Nepalese restaurants, but don't have a recipe. I also like Thai-ish pumpkin and coconut milk soups. But I settled for a sort of Spanishy/European pumpkin soup. Uses bacon bones to make stock, then add pumpkin and spud (oh, what's that I see? Some organic potatoes (fresh and new)? how wonderful!), and finally some chorizo to finish.

Yesterday, after lunch with J I stopped off at the Spanish supermarket to get some Spanish chorizo (no, not Portugese. Spanish).

Today I got my veggies from la manna, then went over to the Mediterranean supermarket to get some fresh Italian sausages (no thanks to the Italian chorizo - I'm good), side-stepped a brawl between two Italian nannas and tried (in vain) to find that good parmesan Brett buys. Looks like I've got to go up to the IGA to get some. Yes, our local IGA sells fucking AWESOME Italian cheeses. We live in BRUNSWICK - home to spotlight and the best food shops EVER.

Then, I dropped in at Nino and Joe's, a new, fancy (and huge) butcher I'd not been into before (we usually go to Istanbul Meats or up to Coburg to the Chinese dood) to get some bacon bones to make the stock for the soup. No joy on bacon, but they did give me 1 1/3 kg of beef bones for free with some awesome lamb shanks, steak, etc etc. That butcher ROCKS. They do huge, sexy boned lamb leg roasts, a sweet looking rolled beef roast, and even their pre-prepared chicken dishes looked good (marinated drumettes). I don't usually eat that sort of shit because I hate jarred sauces and stuff - too much salt, too much sugar, too many preservatives, too many extra 'flavours' - and frankly, why would you buy that crap when you live 5 minutes by bike from such AMAZING delis? But the ones in that butcher looked good. The herbs were actually fresh herbs. Plus the Italian nannas were buying it, so....

So tonight we're having soup. I had thought to do the sausages with a fennel salad on the side, but I don't think I could fit it all in my belly...

Anyway, I do love living in Brunswick very much. And, if you followed those links to the various providore I frequent, they're all listed under 'ethnic'. Which is so weird - the crappy skip butcher next to spotlight isn't listed under 'ethnic' (even though it should really be listed under 'don't fucking buy meat here'). Sure, sure, I could get onto the whole whiteness = ethnicity thing, but you know the drill. And can google.
But it just seems weird to hear these places popped in the 'other' basket, when for me they're just my local shops. I go to la manna because the veggies are good and fresh and they deliver (though which days they deliver vary depending on who you ask). I go to the mediterranean supermarket because it's across the road from la manna and sells canned tomatoes for 55c (as well as dried pasta for 90c, fresh pasta, dried fish, chorizo (Italian, thanks) and has a coffee shop full of Italian nannas and poppas and cakes). I went to Nino and Joe's because it's around the corner from all these other places. And of course, Spotlight is right there in the middle of it all. All on one block in Brunswick.

The people I see in all these places are my neighbours, and I often run into them at each place or on the bus or street. I like it that the skips are in equal proportion to the Greeks and Lebanese and Syrian and Lebanese and so on.

And I can't imagine the sort of shit that went down in Sydney going down here in Brunswick... though I did worry when that nanna got shitty in the supermarket. She would totally kick my arse. It just seems like such a mellow, friendly family area. The local high school has kids from at least 30 different ethnic and language groups enrolled. The Chinese butcher in Coburg greets the Greek and Italian nannas with "ciao senora!" The Hope Street Bus* driver will stop to pick you up, even if you didn't waive him down, just because he saw you walking along the road (and he always waves to me on my bike). I don't much care for all the young hipsters moving into the area - they're far more interested in the pubs than the greengrocers and care far too much about their fashion. Arseholes.
But I love Brunswick.

Remind me to tell you the story of the three old Greek doods and the the time I carried three giant plastic crates home on my bike. It's a good one.

*yes, the Hope Street Bus route is only about 1.5km each way (roughly 10minutes by leg or 3 terrifying high-speed minutes by bus. If you see/hear the Hope Street Bus coming when you're riding down Hope Street you get on the pavement. You just do). It's for nannas. And you can get on or off it anywhere. Everyone sits up near the front and talks. Most people get it if theyr'e too tired to carry 10 kilograms of lamb or a charcoal grill home.

"I like Brunswick." was posted by dogpossum on March 31, 2006 3:42 PM in the category fewd

March 25, 2006

probably worse than buttons

Am I the only one who has trouble with the idea of

"probably worse than buttons" was posted by dogpossum on March 25, 2006 2:06 PM in the category clicky

March 24, 2006

thesis update

I am editing like a crazy person. Well, preferably like a clever, articulate and focussed academic.

I'm up to the 4th draft of Chapter 2 (Dance as public discourse: Afro-American vernacular dance). Actually, I'm mid-way with draft #4 of Chapter 3 (cultural transmission in dance: the movement of cultural form and practice as ideological and mediated process). This will be followed by the 4th drafts of Chapter 4 (AV media in contemporary swing dance culture: revivalism and the ideological management of mediated dance), Chapter 5 (DJing in contemporary swing dance culture: the collusion of cultural practices in mediated dance), Chapter 6 (institutions in contemporary swing dance culture: swing dance schools and the ideological management of embodied practice via media) and rounding up with a first draft of my conclusion. Then I go back to Chapter 1 (Introduction) to do its 4th draft.

Then I edit for typos/grammar/spelling and all that rubbish. Hopefully to submit in August.

It's all going pretty well, and the supes gave me the thumbs up on my recent effort at making 6 seperate blobs of work one comprehensive 'story' about swing dancers' use of media in embodied practice. It was a matter of juggling writing style, making each chapter support a key thesis (which I can't articulate right now, sorry), and then each point in each chapter support that thesis.

So Chapter 2 is now looking pretty comprehensive (dance as discourse; how to discuss dance as discourse, theoretically and analytically; dance discourse as culturally specific; then considering Afro-American vernacular dance of the 20s/30s/40s as an example, paying most attention to the relationship between the introduction of new ideas/dance steps (mostly through improvisation) and community structures which regulate/manage this process. In other words, how is the representation of 'self' and individual identity (through improvisation, creative 'work') by individual dancers 'managed' by community structures (such as musical structures, social conventions regarding sexuality and public behaviour, etc etc).
I make the point quite clearly that individual self expression in Af-Am v dance (or the representation of self and individual interests and 'difference' in public (dance) discourse) is more flexible than in contemporary swing dance culture.
I see the formal heirachies of teaching and learning (esp in schools) as the reason why there's less tolerance/opportunity for the representation of self/difference in contemporary swing dance culture. And teaching and learning in contemporary swing dance culture is dominated by 'revivalist' ideology - the idea that swing dances are dead, they were great, and they need to be 'revived'.
I explore this in greater detail in Chapter 4, the AV chapter, where I look at the role of archival film in the revivalist project.

In Chapter 3, though, I talk about 'cultural transmission', and consider contemporary swing dance culture, noting how it's a fairly homogenous culture, in fact a predominantly youth/consumer culture, a consequence of the formal pedagogic practices of swing culture. I take Melbourne as an extreme example, looking at how the swing dance school's commodification of dance as a package to be bought and sold via classes has resulted in a homogenous 'market' for this product - white, middle class, hetero kids.
But this chapter is more interesting than that. I argue swing dances' movement into the white American mainstream in the 30s was achieved primarily through the mediation of the form: film and dance studios brought swing dances to the mainstream (with obvious asides to stuff like Afro-American troops interacting with white women, though I argue that the segregation of the day prevented the wide-spread effect some dance historians argue for. I think film and dance teachers were significant - though it was a combination of factors).

I'm most interested in the mediation of swing dances in their movement from Afro-American communites to mainstream America and then into the internaitonal community. There's plenty of work on this stuff, esp in relation to mambo and latin dance and their movement into mainstream America (admittedly in later years).
I'm interested in how film was important. Then I make the point in Chapter 3 that these films represented the racism and segregation of the day in various ways (ie some studios not showing black and white characters on screen together - segregation in-text; racist work-practices in the studios themselves). And then, that revivalist dancers cannot help but reproduce these racist and dodgy themes in using these films as key sources for reviving swing dances. The problem lies in their not critically engaging with these issues in their teaching/researching dance. In fact, I argue quite strongly that swing dancers today are notably reluctant to engage with issues of race and class in their discussions of swing dance history. Which concerns me, esp as 20s and 30s 'Harlem' and 'slavery' seem quite ideologically loaded terms.

Ok, so with all that in mind, I then introduce swing dancers as fans, through their media use, and through their class/age/etc demographics.

Then I say: 'ok, so with all that in mind, what evidence do I have for all that in actual examples from dancers' embodied practice? Where is this shit in the dancing?' And then I do some neat analysis of actual dance stuff, in particular reference to gender and sexuality (because they're key issues in swing culture). And I make the argument that just that fans are engaged in 'textual poaching' - tactical engagments with dominant ideologies and discourses, so too are swing dancers. It's even more interesting when you read Afro-American vernacular dance as embodying tactical resistance to dominant American ideology and discourse of the day - hell, let's be blunt. When you read Afro-American vernacular dance as the dance of people whose history involves racism, segregation, jim crow legislation, racial violence, etc etc. In that situation, of course cultural production will be resistant. Particularly dance, for people of West African descent.

So then I do some neat analysis, basically asking how sexual and gender differences are represented in contemporary swing dance cultures around the world. I look at how, for example, young women in North America use swing dance to explore 'sexual display' within a safe social context, where they may (beyond dance) be unwilling to do things like flash their knickers, wear suspenders for show, shimmy, etc. I'm also interested in stuff like women leading and men following as a way of subverting heternormative social forces. I'm also facinated by local differences - eg blues dancing in Korea and Japan, as opposed to blues dancing in Canada or Australia or New Zealand.

And of course, the most imporant part of all this the role media plays. How contemporary swing dancers use the internet, AV media, etc in all this. How important are swing discussion boards in the way young people in swing dance communities represent sexual and gender differences? I argue that media is very important, and provide some neat examples from different discussion boards, websites and email lists.

Then I move on to AV media in Chapter 4, where I talk specifically about media use in contemporary swing dance culture. I take AV media as an example of one key media form (and practice), and then DJing as an example of the collusion of different media forms and embodied practices - in swing DJing we see dancers using discussion boards, email lists, websites, digitial music technology (from downloading mp3s to DJing from laptops), to research, purchase, discuss and explore music and how to use it. Then I look at how all this stuff functions in embodied practice: how DJs' media use actually functions in their embodied DJing for a crowd of dancers.

In Chapter 5 I look at how all this stuff - media use - is managed by institutions in contemporary swing dance culture. I focus on Melbourne as it has the largest swing dance school in the world, and is a local scene dominated by school discourse (which is, incidentally, capitalist discourse). And I look at how capitalist discourse functions to commodify what was once a vernacular dance - to sell young people a lifestyle product. And, most facinating of all, how they are also sold an ideological 'product' as well. I'm interested in how the ideology and discourse of schools in Melbourne reflect dominant social discourse and ideology in the wider Melbourne and Australian community.

Therefore proving my original argument, that dance = public discourse, where ideology is represented, and that this discourse is representative of the social/political/cultural forces of the wider community in which this community-of-interest is located.

I squeeze the fandom stuff in Chapters 4 and 5 in more detail, mostly to explain specific media practices.


"thesis update" was posted by dogpossum on March 24, 2006 8:07 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and thesis



I'm sorry Brian, I'm sorry. Chick Webb does rule... well, after Fats and the Duke and Billie and... well, he does rule.

New Proper chick webb collection purchased at via amazon for a reasonable price (check it here). Could have found it cheaper, but didn't bother.
Quality: superior to anything else I had.
DJableness: yes
Range: covers Webb's career on 4 CDs. As with other Proper collections, I guess it'll do a good job covering the key moments in his career. I'm not so familiar with Webb, so I'll have to get back to you...

If you're not a Webb person already... we're talking Old Scratchy action here.
Sweet-as swinging jazz recorded between 1931 and 1939. I previously knew Webb through Ella Fitzgerald - she got her first serious gig with his band as a teenager (and later led the band after his death) - knew he was important (in part for his association with the Savoy Ballroom, Home of Happy Feet), read varying discussions about the quality of his band and of course danced de lindy hop to him many times.
I had a few albums already (mostly rubbishy 'greatest hits' or not-so-greatly-remastered albums) and wanted something comprehensive so I could get a handle on his action, and then seek out specific albums or greater collections (let's not talk about how my Billie Holiday obsession began).

I'll let you know how it goes - so far I like it a lot. The tempos are pretty high (as you'd expect from an old skool Scratchy from the Savoy), which makes it less flexible for DJing (esp when the DJ in question seems destined never to play for anyone other than newbs - but I don't fret. I'm getting valuable skills... and one day those newbs will be advanced dancers. And then, with my army of newbs, I will conquer the world!), but it's neat for listening. Though I probably shouldn't listen to it before bed. Like watching clips - it makes me jiggly. And it could only fuel my recent series of weirdo dance/DJing/suppressed thesis anxiety dreams).

"revelation" was posted by dogpossum on March 24, 2006 7:26 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music

ve believe in nusink

We are big Coen brothers fans at our house, particularly The Big Lebowski. Last night we were sitting in a BBQ joint in China Town eating duck on rice, when 3 Chinese kids come in with super-cool hair and super-cool black clothes.
I remark: "cool hair"
The Squeeze remarks: "ve are nihilists. jah. ve believe in nusink"

And I proposed to him then and there.


"ve believe in nusink" was posted by dogpossum on March 24, 2006 11:31 AM in the category people i know

March 22, 2006


I know, I know, I've not been around much any more. But I can't help it! I've been editing like a crazy editing fool, and then I move from the computer to the bike to ride off to yoga or into the city or wherever the fuck I want to go - because I can ride my bike as fast as the wind, certainly faster than Commonwealth Games stalled traffic. And it's much easier for me to get onto my bike than it is for a cranky commuter to get onto a tram these days as well (PT users city-wide are 'amused' by the little notes at the tram stop: avoid using trams during peak periods. Nice one - two thumbs).

Though I am worried about the disappearing bike lanes. Melbournians will be familiar with the Games Lanes marked in blue on on CBD streets. Not so many will have noticed the way several key bike lanes (a few-block section on Swanston Street, all of Queensberry Street) have completely disappeared. I'm paranoid - really worried - that they won't come back after the games have finished. But this hasn't stopped me speeding into town or off to Brunswick Street or to the cinema. 20 minutes to town (official time down 10minutes on previous personal best). Still 20 minutes to Carlton, but surely that's a timing error? Yoga, however, is down to 10 minutes.
I am truly In Love with Blacky. Though its first service seems in order... how could we bare to be parted?

On other fronts, I've DJed no less than four times in the past three weeks. It seems there's a bit of a DJ drought in Melbourne atm. My skills have necessarily taken a serious up-turn and I'm sure the groupies are moments away. They are no doubt waiting for a tram somewhere on Swanston Street.

"speed" was posted by dogpossum on March 22, 2006 10:03 AM in the category bikes and lindy hop and other dances and thesis

March 1, 2006

contemporary 20s jazz recreationists - rough ideas

Listening to a new CD by the Charleston Chasers, I was struck by the short musical step between British brass bands and the earliest jazz and ragtime. The story goes: Afro-American slaves took up the instruments abandoned by fleeing southern American soldiers at the end of the 19th century and invented ragtime. Ragtime moved to New Orleans and was made over in that multicultural city to become hot jazz. You can hear the sames sorts of instruments in early jazz and ragtime as in marching bands - tubas, trumpets, clarinets, big drums. The difference being the African influence. Or, more specifically, the difference being the blues.

The specific similarities in the history of jazz and the history of British brass bands are worth noting. The more obvious online sources refer to the relationship between brass bands and miners in the UK. Brass bands, as with jazz, were the creative work of marginalised or working class people in both countries. The clearest difference, however, lies in British brass band's role as competitive performance bands, and jazz's more comprehensive position in Afro-American vernacular culture. The parallels could continue, if we referred to American - specifically New Orleans - marching bands, but that's not my concern here.

The Charleston Chasers are a British band, and I was struck by the similarity between their music and the brass bands of British tradition. The Charleston Chasers, despite my high hopes, aren't such a great band for swing dancing - for charleston or other 20s dances. I suspect that it is because they lack the blues. To me, that translates to their music feeling like it lacks soul. It doesn't make me want to shake my arse.

I have some reservations about some of the larger 'society jazz' type bands recreating 20s jazz, mostly because I find they reproduce the more mannered jazz you might associate with a 'high society' band of the 20s, rather than the grittier jazz from the 20s which I prefer.
That hasn't stopped me liking Vince Giordano's work (including my new CD, and I tend to sort of audio-ly skim over the shinier aspect of this music.

I'm also struck by the vast superiority of the original music and bands from the 20s - is it a race thing? An ethnicity thing? Part of me - somewhat suspiciously - simply feels that these new, predominantly white recreationist bands are simply too 'white' to make for good charleston. I like a little grunt, a little grit in my charleston music.

"contemporary 20s jazz recreationists - rough ideas" was posted by dogpossum on March 1, 2006 6:04 PM in the category music