Flamboyant masculinity is not common in Australia; our celebrated “mateship” only really functions when a man is much the same as his neighbour. The great dynamism of You Am I, at least on their early records, came from the ordinariness of suburban life as directed through Rogers’ blowtorch charisma and, at times, his rage. He was sexy, and he was angry – an almost irresistible combination – windmilling and pirouetting across the stage, but his lyrics were wry, tender and generous. In his narrative sympathy, his eye (and ear) for small sadnesses, Rogers closely resembled his idol, The Kinks’ Ray Davies.

Anwyn Crawford, “You Am I and the New Nostalgia,” The Monthly (October 2013)

A touch awkward to write it out, since I work with her, but it’s amazing what a great critic, and a great writer, Anwyn is.

From the same piece:

Sound As Ever wasn’t that great an album, even 20 years ago, but it does contain two genuinely great songs: ‘Berlin Chair’ and ‘Jaimme’s Got a Gal’. The latter remains as moving an examination of male friendship as I have ever heard, rivalled only by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s crushingly sorrowful ‘I See a Darkness’. “Jaimme’s got a girl / Don’t think things gonna be the same,” sings Rogers at half-volume. “He ain’t coming out and drinking tonight / I think he’s gonna change his name.” It’s a love triangle not often broached in popular music, a woman interrupting the poignant, unacknowledged intimacy between two men.

Erin thinks I should buy Taylor’s sweater, because hashtag #girlswhodresslikejonathanbradley.

Erin thinks I should buy Taylor’s sweater, because hashtag #girlswhodresslikejonathanbradley.

The wind blowing across the British Isles was odorous with fear of asylum seekers, infecting everybody with the panic of impending doom, and so articles were written and read, simply and stridently, as though the writers lived in a world in which the present was unconnected to the past, and they had never considered this to be the normal course of history: the influx into Britain of black and brown people from countries created by Britain.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

Yes, but I’m worried I will leave grad school and no longer be able to speak English. I know this woman in grad school, a friend of a friend, and just listening to her talk is scary. The semiotic dialectics of intertextual modernity. Which makes no sense at all.

Chimamanda Ngozi Abichie, Americanah (2013)

And later, unrelated to the above:

She had told Blaine about it later, and there was an impatience in her tone, almost an accusation, as she added that academics were not intellectuals; they were not curious, they built their stolid tents of specialized knowledge and stayed securely in them.

Carly Rae Jepsen, “Your Heart is a Muscle,” Kiss (2012)

"Your Heart is a Muscle" has an unreliable narrator, but not one in the smug sense that asks the audience to share in the author’s condescension of her. After all, CRJ makes a good argument. Your heart is a muscle. Why aren’t you working at this?

This might be my favorite song on Kiss, because it doesn’t comment on denial — it doesn’t really allow for the existence of denial — it just exemplifies it. “You’re a real good listener but you don’t have much to say.” It is trying to animate a relationship back to life, even while watching it ebb away as you think up excuses for why “you won’t pick up the phone, whatever.”

And yet, the song, text qua text, never loses hope, never fails to rebuke its hook: you say love’s a fragile thing, made of glass.

(Source: Spotify)

Apr 18


we’re distressed


She hungered to know everything about America, to wear a new, knowing skin right away: to support a team at the Super Bowl, understand what a Twinkie was and what sports “lockouts” meant, measure in ounces and square feet, order a “muffin” without thinking that it really was a cake, and say “I ‘scored’ a deal” without feeling silly.
 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

And they ambled, these Americans, they walked without rhythm. They avoided giving direct instructions: they did not say “Ask somebody upstairs”; they said “You might want to ask somebody upstairs.” When you tripped and fell, when you choked, when misfortune befell you, they did not say “Sorry.” They said “Are you okay?” when it was obvious that you were not. And when you said “Sorry” to them when they choked or tripped or encountered misfortune, they replied, eyes wide with surprise, “Oh, it’s not your fault.” And they overused the word “excited,” a professor excited about a new book, a student excited about a new class, a politician on TV excited about a law; it was altogether too much excitement.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

At the checkout, the blond cashier asked, “Did anybody help you?”

"Yes," Ginika said.

"Cheley or Jennifer?"

"I’m sorry. I don’t remember her name." Ginika looked around, to point at her helper, but both young women had disappeared into the fitting rooms at the back.

"Was it the one with long hair?" the cashier asked.

"Well, both of them had long hair."

"The one with dark hair?"

Both of them had dark hair.

Ginika smiled and looked at the cashier and the cashier smiled and looked at her computer screen, and two damp seconds crawled past before she cheerfully said, “It’s okay, I’ll figure it out later and make sure she gets her commission.”

As they walked out of the store, Ifemelu said, “I was waiting for her to ask, ‘Was it the one with two eyes or the one with two legs?’ Why didn’t she just ask ‘Was it the black girl or the white girl?’”

Ginika laughed. “Because this is America. You’re supposed to pretend that you don’t notice certain things.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

So over republicans who want to act like we shouldn’t have personal beef with the monarchy.

Monarchy survives as an institution by creating a cult of personality around its representatives. That’s how it legitimizes itself. If you participate in their cult of personality, you’re propagating their political power. Royalty presents itself as something natural and uncontroversial by branding itself as an alternate form of celebrity, instead of the question of politics it really is.

The republic and the royal family are not separate issues. If you support the former, you should consider the latter contemptible.

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