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.



You draw your own conclusions from the number of reviews.

The uncut version of my blurb was a post about the Paramore album I’d been planning for here, and it seemed suitable enough for an “Ain’t It Fun” blurb that I gave it to the Jukebox. Here’s the original:

It isn’t quite as sharply focused or finely drawn as Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography, but like Carly Rae Jepsen’s Kiss, Paramore’s latest album finds inspiration in having newly arrived at the cusp of adulthood. “Been through the wringer a couple times/I came out callous and cruel” it begins, picking up from the point it first becomes clear that your world falling apart and your world ending aren’t the same thing. “Grow Up” finds strength in difficult decisions: “If I have to, I’m going to leave you behind.” And while “Ain’t It Fun” isn’t a title entirely bereft of irony, it does genuinely locate the joy in emerging from the turbulence, even if it can’t be done unscathed. The chorus’s not-quite-sure yet not-quite-sarcastic “Ain’t it good living on your own?” acknowledges the bravery as well as the necessity of self-reliance, and “What are you gonna do when the world don’t revolve around you” is comforting because telling yourself to find some maturity is nearly as satisfying as telling other people. The coda, “Don’t go crying to your mama,” demonstrates that more pep talks should include gospel choirs.


If you go to Lonely Planet’s Japan website, it introduces the country with:

"Japan is a world apart — a cultural Galápagos where a unique civilisation blossomed, and today thrives in delicious contrasts of traditional and modern. The Japanese spirit is strong, warm and incredibly welcoming."

And there’s little that makes me want to click “read more” less than that sort of orientalist bullshit.

I’ll be in Japan in three weeks time, and (remember when I wrote this last year) though this trip has been a long time coming, in its development I’ve always been keenly aware of how I don’t want to approach the country. 

That is, Westerners have been for centuries exoticising and stereotyping Japan, and whether it’s French painters in the 19th century or Bert Cooper from Mad Men or dumb white nerds who like to call themselves otaku this is an approach I really want to avoid, in learning about both the country and its history. The latter of which I’m hella ignorant about, like, I can describe the sociology and politics of antebellum USA in fine detail, but I’m not actually confident I know what, like, the Meiji Restoration is.

And the Western tradition of exoticising Japan has never been something I’ve felt a part of anyway. I only started watching anime and listening to J-Pop after I’d begun trying to teach myself the language, and I only did that because I wanted to keep up with how one of my American friends and her mom talked to one another. (“Why did you say Ittekimasu just now? What does that mean?” etc.) I mean, I was never that kid dreaming of discovering the land of aidoru and bishoujo or yakuza and ronin or, I dunno, the mystic serenity of Shinto shrines and tea ceremonies.

But sometimes when you learn more and you get more interested you start wondering if you’ve become fascinated by a real place and real people in all their complexity or if you’re just another Westerner resolving a complete society into a fixed set of self-gratifying ideas.

But anyway, what I’m actually saying is that I really want to stay in this dumb ryokan in Nara with its stupid deer and its claim that it doesn’t even have internet access, like wtf, how is that a good thing. But still I think it’ll probably be neat.

Obinze just said trunk, ma. He said it’s in the trunk of your car." In their America–Britain jousting, she always sided with his mother.

“Trunk is part of a tree and not a part of a car, my dear son,” his mother said. When Obinze pronounced “schedule” with the k sound, his mother said, “Ifemelunamma, please tell my son I don’t speak American. Could he say that in English?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)

Team Obinze, tbh

How to Fit 1991 and 1990 in the '90s

Five Years of the Singles Jukebox


We’re not usually big on self-aggrandisement or mythologising. More or less, we just do one thing — we rate pop songs out of ten — but we love it and we do it well. We don’t pay attention to the consensus around us; we build our own (sometimes, but we often disagree). And we’ve now been doing it for five years.

Of course the story of the Jukebox goes back further than that. We started as a pair of columns on Stylus, one for UK singles and one for US singles, which ran until the site closed in 2007. A chance meeting between two writers in a pub led to a few emails going across the globe, and all of a sudden the band was back together, just like we’d never split up. Sure, our friends at Pitchfork began to focus on individual tracks in earnest a month earlier, stealing our thunder somewhat, but we’ll always have the extra decimal place.

In the last five years, there have been nearly 3400 songs covered from over 60 countries, with about 30,000 individual paragraph-long reviews from us adding up to about 2,000,000 (two million) words. It’d take you a week solid to read the site from front to back. We don’t recommend you do that, so here are some highlights from our first five years. Feel free to share your own in the comments!

Here’s to another five just like these.

Read More

Guys, it’s our birthday! Or, it was a few weeks ago, and now we’re having the party.

P.S. The chance meeting in question involved me and it was absurdly chance. Full story some other time, maybe.

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