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March 26, 2007

so what have i been doing?

Posted by dogpossum on March 26, 2007 12:36 PM in the category dogpossum

Sorry I haven't written anything interesting lately. I've just been busy with other things. I am reading your blogs, though - just not commenting. If I owe you an email - sorry!
What have I been doing?

Going to yoga twice a week or so. The class I did on Saturday really kicked my arse. I've been having more trouble with my right hip (as I get older and less fit I find my minor niggles getting more niggley), so we did a lot of stuff to help the sartorius and whatsit get it together. We did a lot of standing poses, which I quite like, and lots of work on the sixty zillion muscles in our lower torsoes and around our hips. So today I am really sore and achey. My adductors (you can see a map of the adductor gang here) are talking to me. But at least I'm not getting grizzle from my Tensor fasciae whatsit - which is usually especially achey (it might not be called the Tf - I am crap with names). My lower back is achey, there's some grumbling from various abs and my shoulders are aching - shoulders meaning everything across my back from my neck to the bottom of my shoulder blades. I also have achey ankles. These are all good aches, because it means that I've actually been using these buggers.

I <3 yoga, but yoga is not for babies.

Reading about blues music, the record industry and radio in the 1920s. I am working on a paper in a very loose way (I discussed the stuff I was reading here, ages ago), but mostly just reading where my interest takes me. I'm fascinated by the social, political, industrial and economic forces colliding in the blues music of that period. Blues music was incredibly, crazily popular in the 20s. Yet segregation was still seriously in place throughout the US, so black artists couldn't work in the control booth with whites, were un- or underpaid by record labels, or dismissed as 'low'.
'Coon songs' were also very popular - and very disturbing. A Coon song was basically a song performed by a white artist in black face, or otherwise 'pretending' to be black (and many of these were Jewish, which is weird stuff). They were pretty dang offensive. Minstrelsy generally was still very hip. But the blues music being sung and performed (often by women) was politically quite hardcore - the example I discuss in that earlier post (linked to above) is just one of a series of songs dealing explicitly with racist violence, domestic violence, poverty, sexuality and sex and so on. And it didn't pull punches.
In addition, the Great Migration was happening - thousands of African Americans were moving north to escape lynching, Jim Crow laws and unemployment in the south. They ended up in cities like New York, LA and Chicago. So there were thousands of people from all sorts of different regions coming together and sharing music and dance in new, urban communities. Like Harlem. Race riots happened in most cities.
In terms of the music industry generally, radio turned up in the mid 20s, and within a six month period the phonograph industry was completely gutted. Prior to that moment it had been incredibly successful. But radio - with 'free music' - just killed it. So the race record labels (like Black Swan (NB I think the dates are wrong in that article) - labels run by African Americans and recording African American artists) were killed off. And their positive social work was cut off as well.

Then I've also been reading about the shift from blues to jazz in the late 20s, and the effect this might have had on black participation in the music industry. What was the impact of the formalisation and regulation of American radio on the independent black stations pushed off the dial by white business interests? What did it mean that radio stations wouldn't record black artists in many cities? What's significant about white artists pretending to be black (and vice versa) when they sang on the radio? When you keep in mind the fact that black artists and live music was very, very popular, what does it mean that white radio stations were ignoring black artists? And then, even more interesting, what is the import of each major regional centre/city having its own radio stations and radio legislation? And how does the American Federation of Musicians fit into all this - what with their recording bans in the 40s and racially segregated ranks during the 10s, 20s, 30s...? Surely there's some sort of labour/union/race/class thing to be ferretted out there...

So I've been distracted by all that lovely stuff (who knows what was happening in Australia in the 1920s, music industry wise). But eventually I'll get to the (interesting) point where I'm discussing how contemporary swing dancers - largely white, middle class urban youth - get into this type of music.
I've read a lot, but I need to stew it for a while before I can write cleverly about it.

Going to the Astor Cinema. To see the Fountain and Eragorn in a Friday night double. Nice date night action. The Fountain was dull, Eragorn was dumb (and if you've ever read any sf ever, 100% derivative... but not bad for a teenager). The Astor rocks, it's nice to be able to go see a double feature on a Friday night for $13. The seats are uncomfortable, but they have nice cakes for the intermission. And it's a nice art deco cinema (not as posh as the Westgarthe, but still lovely). We catch our tram down to the Domain interchange (about 30 minutes), then a tram down to the Dandenong Rd/Chapel St intersection (about 15 minutes). 45 minutes to get so far south is pretty good stuff, really. And they've extended the tram hours on Friday nights, so we can get home comfortably as well. All up it costs about $20 each for tram tickets, two films and snacks. Not bad at all for a nice date night. We have started eating dinner down there as well before the films, but have yet to find a cheap restaurant that's not serving greaser food. Suggestions welcome.

westwing.jpgWatching lots of West Wing and other telly on DVD. WW rocks the world. Yesterday I got Commander in Chief's first four episodes out on DVD. Dumb. It simply can't compete with the fabulousness of WW. It's poorly acted, poorly written, scarily simplistic and politically naive (it's a soap, really), and all this does no favours to the concept of a woman president. Maybe I'd have dug it if I'd never seen WW. But not now.

I've also been working my way through House, which is much better than I thought it would be (admittedly, I'd thought it'd be shit). I'm really interested in the way they deal with 'ethics'. The assumption is that Dr House doesn't pay attention to formal medical ethics - he ignores 'DNR' (do not revive) orders, he bosses patients around and is rude, he does as he likes. With this in mind, how does this sort of bloke handle relationships with women, and more importantly, how does an American soap deal with an ethically dodgy protagonist? Is he going to get 'reformed' (I have my suspicions), is it going to be normalised? In addition to House's own dodginess, his best friend (whose name I can't ever remember - they guy from Dead Poets' Society) seems always on the brink of adultery; one of House's 'assistant' doctors (residents?) worked to undermine House by spying on him for the temporary boss-of-hospitality, all in order to save his own job; House's lady resident is smitten with him and has been signed as 'damaged' in some way. It's all a bit suss. But that's what makes it interesting. Not interesting in a WW way, but interesting in a 'what will this pop TV do with these issues?' way.

While I'm on this tack, I have to say I have some minor niggles with the way WW handles gender. CJ seems to get quite different treatment (narratively, as well as by other characters) than the men. I don't know if this is the program being 'realist', or some 'unnoticed' sexism sneaking in. Either way, it's interesting enough to keep me watching.

DJing a bit, dancing a bit. Nothing to report. It's kind of boring, actually, and I'm much more interested in yoga at the moment. There are plenty of CDs I want, and books I want to buy and read. But not much to talk about, really.

Reading a stack of crime fiction. I've finally made my way through a massive stack of sf from the Mother, and have started hoeing through a stack of crime fiction from the Supes (she reviews crime novels for a newspaper so has lots and lots of good things to borrow). I'm selective with my crime reading - I don't like true crime, and I don't like those voyeuristic and scupulously detailed discusssions of brutal rapes and murders. But I do like figuring out who did it and why. Right now I'm reading a Michael Connolly called the Lincoln Lawyers, and I've just finished one called The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow, which is apparently going to be a film in 2008. I'd really like a nice slab of sf, though, as the crime is kind of coming to an end. I think I'll pop into the book shop in the city (called swords and something or other, or to Rendezvous Romance - because they sell really cheap new novels) and burn a hole in The Squeeze's credit card.

Posted by dogpossum on March 26, 2007 12:36 PM in the category dogpossum