You’re making me feel sorry for you again,” Reagan said.

Cath turned her fork on Reagan. “Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.”

“I can’t help it,” Reagan said. “You’re really pathetic.”

“I am not.”

“You are. You don’t have any friends, your sister dumped you, you’re a freaky eater … And you’ve got some weird thing about Simon Snow.”

“I object to every single thing you just said.”

Reagan chewed. And frowned. She was wearing dark red lipstick.

“I have lots of friends,” Cath said.

“I never see them.”

“I just got here. Most of my friends went to other schools. Or they’re online.”

“Internet friends don’t count.”

“Why not?”

Reagan shrugged disdainfully.

“And I don’t have a weird thing with Simon Snow,” Cath said. “I’m just really active in the fandom.”

“What the fuck is ‘the fandom’?

Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl (2013)

You guys. This book.

May 24



Billie - “Because We Want To” (1998) (#794, 1 week) Under discussion here:

How much of this Popular entry is about Doctor Who? Quite a lot. Also! Stage schools v art schools in British pop, and two types of teenage rebellion songs. I like my binaries in this one.

I liked this part particularly:

This is one of the big late-90s pivots in British pop — the point at which stage school really started to become the training ground for a pop career. And to accentuate the shift — though one trend does not cause the other — it happens when the art school tradition that had fed into UK pop since Lennon and Stu Sutcliffe has begun to sputter out, a victim of funding cuts and the end of student grants.

The rise of stage schools following the decline of art schools has an ongoing effect on who gets to be pop stars in Britain, a shift in emphasis that also shapes the critical reception of UK pop music. Critics train themselves to spot and respond to the kind of qualities the art-pop tradition fosters: self-expression, conceptual fluency, executing your ideas well. The story of British pop in the 60s is — partly, at least — the story of people discovering how fantastic an arena pop was for those qualities.

A performing arts education — I apologise for the vast and possibly ignorant generalisations I’m committing here — is set up for slightly different things. Performance, obviously. The discipline and craft to repeat those performances. And the ability to inhabit, interpret and communicate material, deeply and quickly. Pop music should benefit hugely from that stuff too — though almost nobody, whatever their education, gets to be famous in pop while being awful at communicating and performing.

It’s not that one educational tradition is good for pop and that one is bad. It’s not that a stage school background means you won’t be great at the kind of things art school brought to pop.


It was such a relief to arrive in Fukuoka from Busan, and not because I disliked Korea (which I didn’t). But after having been unable to communicate with anyone, being able to use even rudimentary Japanese felt remarkably freeing.

Now, having been in Japan for coming up on two weeks, I’ve found the limits of my Japanese, but, better, I’ve found how far I can stretch them. It’s immensely satisfying to realize how much better I get at communicating with the people around me each day I am here, how each stupid thing I say leads to me saying a less stupid thing the next day.

But my language abilities are limited — sometimes I think that, in being unable to communicate with the English language, I’ve lost the single thing I’m best at — and that has created a strange situation whereby all my speech is necessarily proscribed.

Yet sometimes I will meet someone who, I can tell, is fluent in English, and at those times, the too-easy outpouring of words from my mouth seems excessive. After days and weeks of carefully measuring and preparing words, those occasions on which I am suddenly allowed to unleash a lifetime of learning, I feel like in doing so I’m being indulgent. Should I really so readily embrace the opportunity to turn thoughts into speech? Is it fair to unveil my words upon people simply because they can understand them?

English never felt like opulence before. In a few weeks, it will once again be as commonplace as oxygen. But, at the moment, using it seems like a luxury to be grasped transiently and jealously.

Directioners > Dylanologists.

Dylanologists is the dumbest fan nickname ever. We seriously need to help those dudes find something better immediately.

Bobliebers? The Bob Hive? Little Medylansters? Bob-Whites of the Glen?

May 19

In the meantime, Green clamped down on all lawlessness, even banning cross burnings for a while, lest they be charged with violating local fire ordinances. Instead, he kept his men busy with improbable public relations stunts. Food was distributed to the needy and twenty pairs of long johns, stamped “K.K.K.,” showed up at an old folks’ home. In the most memorable act, a Klansman donned a Santa Claus outfit — over his white robe and hood — and presented a 107-year-old black man with a brand new radio.

Kevin M. Cruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (2005)

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Incidentally, this is in 1947, meaning said black man had already lived through 25 years of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow.


The leaks came from Stetson Kennedy, an enterprising writer who had infiltrated the Klan and delighted in airing its dirty laundry. In a particularly inspired move, he contacted the scriptwriters of the Superman radio serial and gave them detailed descriptions of Klan ceremonies, right down to the passwords. Atlanta Klansmen soon found their own children imitating the episodes, fighting over who got to be Superman and who had to be the cowardly Klansmen.


I totally want to see this book adapted into a Mad Men–meets–The Wire 1940s Atlanta TV drama. 

If we truly seek to understand segregationists — not to excuse or absolve them, but to understand them — then we must first understand how they understood themselves. Until now, because of the tendency to focus on the reactionary leaders of massive resistance, segregationists have largely been understood simply as the opposition to the civil rights movement. They have been framed as a group focused solely on suppressing the rights of others, whether that be the larger cause of “civil rights” or any number of individual entitlements, such as the rights of blacks to vote, assemble, speak, protest, or own property. Segregationists, of course, did stand against those things, and often with bloody and brutal consequences. But, like all people, they did not think of themselves in terms of what they opposed but rather in terms of what they supported. The conventional wisdom has held that they were only fighting against the rights of others. But, in their own minds, segregationists were instead fighting for rights of their own — such as the “right” to select their neighbors, their employees, and their children’s classmates, the “right” to do as they pleased with their private property and personal businesses, and, perhaps most important, the “right” to remain free from what they saw as dangerous encroachments by the federal government. To be sure, all of these positive “rights” were grounded in a negative system of discrimination and racism. In the minds of segregationists, however, such rights existed all the same. Indeed, from their perspective, it was clearly they who defended individual freedom, while the “so-called civil rights activists” aligned themselves with a powerful central state, demanded increased governmental regulation of local affairs, and waged a sustained assault on the individual economic, social, and political prerogatives of others. The true goal of desegregation, these white southerners insisted, was not to end the system of racial oppression in the South, but to install a new system that oppressed them instead. As this study demonstrates, southern whites fundamentally understood their support of segregation as a defense of their own liberties, rather than a denial of others’.

Understanding segregationists in such a light illuminates the links between massive resistance and modern conservatism.
Kevin M. Cruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (2005)

Paul Simon, “Graceland,” Graceland (1986)

About five years ago, maybe more, I declared that I hated Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” I like it now, and nothing has changed.

When I first considered this, Simon’s lyrics encroached too strongly on me: “My travelling companion is nine years old; he’s the child of my first marriage.” I couldn’t handle — I knew at the time I couldn’t handle — this bland subdued adulthood: an adulthood of fatherhood and divorce and nine-year-olds who can be companions. It felt unfathomably sad to me, to be living that modestly, and it wasn’t the kind of sadness that was cathartic, but the sort that drags you down with it.

"The Mississippi Delta is shining like a National Guitar/I am following the river down the highway to the cradle of the Civil War."

It’s a lyric freighted with history, and I’ve become more comfortable with history as I’ve got older. Simon’s song is about helplessness, religiously grounded or otherwise — “we’ve got reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland” —  and I guess maybe as you get older helplessness seems more acceptable. Not more real, since we’ve never not been helpless, but not something that always needs to be kicked against.

Defeat made beautiful.

I don’t think I was wrong when I was younger and that I am right now. It’s too tempting to see life as a linear journey from ignorance to wisdom, ever building to a more perfect existence, but I don’t think that’s true. We think the things that we think because we think they’re best suited to our time now. For every action we could have improved through 20/20 hindsight, there’s another that could benefit from youthful impetuousness.

Appreciating the sadness of “Graceland” is something young men are right not to do. We should not feel the strain of sons of divorced marriages. We should recoil when asked to understand how flimsy is our grasp on our histories.

"There is a girl in New York City who calls herself the human trampoline."

Paul Simon is too clever for his own good, always. “The man in the gabardine suit is a spy.” “Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages.” In “Graceland,” his smarminess almost works; it’s part of the character.

Probably U2 already got there first though. (With “Trash, Trampoline, and the Party Girl.)

(Source: Spotify)

I only really understood the joke of “Gangnam Style” after had I come here. Gangnam is the complete opposite of some goofball dancing like a horse — the comedy is in how Psy is the farthest thing from Gangnam style imaginable. Back when the song came out, there were too many thinkpieces about how “political” it was, and though that might be going too far, the tune does manifest an undercurrent of class revenge: all those fancy rich people must have slowly had to come to the realization that their upmarket address now connotes a silly music video.

I am in Fukuoka now.

Seoul was a wonderful place and I had such fun there, but it is a relief to be in a place where I can say and understand more than two phrases. (In Korea: “gamsa hamnida” — thank you — and “sillye hamnida” — excuse me.) Don’t by any means overestimate my command of the Japanese language — it is very poor — but it’s amazing what a difference it makes in terms of sociability to just have the rudiments of a language, to be able to read some of it, and to understand how it is supposed to work. After four days of near silence, it’s fantastic to again make sounds, even ones not in my native tongue, even if they’re not always the correct sounds.

Also had a dope Hakata ramen at this izakaya, so there’s that.

There is a clothing chain here called Teenie Weenie. It seems to occupy kind of a Urban Outfitters/American Apparel market niche, except its stores deliberately cultivate an aesthetic of WASP Teddy Ruxpin. Here are bears summering in the Hamptons. Here are bears getting ready for freshman year at an Ivy League college. Here are bears wearing the new moderately priced line of spring fashion.
Can someone who knows Korean please translate the bios of Willy and Kate, from Newhaven Connecticut?
omg, are Willy and Kate perhaps named for that dreadful autocratic couple?

There is a clothing chain here called Teenie Weenie. It seems to occupy kind of a Urban Outfitters/American Apparel market niche, except its stores deliberately cultivate an aesthetic of WASP Teddy Ruxpin. Here are bears summering in the Hamptons. Here are bears getting ready for freshman year at an Ivy League college. Here are bears wearing the new moderately priced line of spring fashion.



Can someone who knows Korean please translate the bios of Willy and Kate, from Newhaven Connecticut?


omg, are Willy and Kate perhaps named for that dreadful autocratic couple?

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