Friday, February 19, 2010

Riding Bikes in February

This week, Maine is seeing yet another heat wave with temperatures inching up to the mid-40s by tomorrow. What this means is that many cyclists are pumping up our tires and riding our bikes. Yes, there is still snow on the ground, but we are out there.

Yesterday, I rode 25 miles with my partner and it was SO much more rewarding than the spin classes that have sustained my cycling mojo for the last few months. And were far from the only ones. I heard cyclist sightings in Skowhegan and Oakland, and this weekend there will be a group ride out of Vassalboro. We are on the move, and much earlier than any of us expected (thank you El Niño!).

Unfortunately, more cyclists on the roads earlier than Mainers are used to seeing us means that cars aren't behaving as well as they are used to. On our way out to West River Road (Rt. 104), a car had the nerve to honk at us for not riding in the debris-filled shoulder on Elm Street. A few minutes later, the driver grudgingly apologized for honking, then said, "aren't you supposed to ride within 5 feet of the curb?"

My partner responded, "In this state, and many others, cyclists may take up to an entire lane, and cars are supposed to give us a 3 feet buffer."

The driver responded, "well in Virginia, where I'm from, bikes have no rights. It's open season on them."

I said, "Maine is one of the best cycling states in the country."

And then he said something I couldn't believe: "Maine should be more like Virginia and force cyclists to take more responsibility if there's an accident."

I curtly said, "You have a right to your opinion," and rode away. I should have said, "then you should go back to Virginia," but I thought better of it.

I've heard stories like this, especially about Virginia and West Virginia. Cyclists are a hunted species and they have no legal protections on the road. Lovely. I let the guy's comments go and continued on my ride, but I'm hoping that's the last of the hostilities for a few weeks. It's too early in the season to be scared while riding my bike.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cycling in Cold Weather: An Admission

Those who know me best are all too aware of how important cycling is to me. Living in a cold climate with dramatic shifts in weather presents me with quite the challenge. Over the course of the last two months, I have learned a few important things about myself that make the prospect of cycling in freezing weather very unlikely.

Example 1: Just over a month ago, I hit the big brick wall of my cold weather cycling tolerance. When I left my house, the temperature was 30 degrees fahrenheit (just a tad below freezing). I was wearing 3 layers on the top, long fingered gloves, a wool snow cap, and long cycling pants. My cycling route was short (just over 2 miles), but it was mostly uphill. Climbs and layers aside, I arrived at my destination with slight hypothermia. I couldn't feel my hands for a good 20 minutes after I was inside, and I spent the rest of the day feeling cold and intensely hungry. Unpleasant doesn't even begin to cover it.
Lesson 1: when riding in weather below 40 degrees, a wind vest is mandatory. It turns out that layers just won't cut it when you are moving faster than 10 miles per hour.

Example 2: Whenever I ride when the temperature is between 40 and 45 degrees, I feel warm enough with layers and long fingered gloves. The persistent headaches, however, are completely new. It turns out that the enamel on my teeth is not as strong as it used to be and cold air against them is causing headaches.
Lesson 2: Either my sinuses need to be clear enough to allow me to ride with my mouth closed or I need to invest in some sort of riding scarf.

::sigh:: None of these changes are fun to contemplate. There is hope, however. Just last week we had a day when the temperature was a 50 degrees. You better believe I rode for the 8 hours or so when we had sunlight.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Confessions of a Californian in Maine

So we lost. And there will be much hand-wringing about the gay rights groups like HRC and NGLTF who poured in amazing organizing resources into the campaign. I have no complaints. As someone involved in the fights against Prop 8 and Maine's Question 1, I can tell you there is no comparison between the two elections aside from the slow, creeping feeling that we lost around midnight after ballots came in. We had a smarter campaign, but it wasn't enough to change people's minds against hate.

There was no complacency among equality supporters: everyone knew the entire time that the vote was going to be stupidly close (news flash: 5 percent is close). And we would have been perfectly happy winning by one vote. Protect Maine Equality (No on 1) made a point of incorporating actual gay people in their television ads (a complete revolution, from my perspective) and keeping their message positive: take a stand, support equality, don't discriminate. Stand for Marriage Maine (Yes on 1) was sneaky and ended up angering many of their supporters, including large numbers of devoted Catholics, who expressed non-stop disappointment in their campaign. For many of them, what they understood to be a virtuous message – maintain traditional marriage as the Church sees it – ended up being quite hate-driven. In those frequent open discussions with people of faith who supported the measure, these Yes on 1 supporters confessed that they wished their church were not involved because it sullied their message of faith. It ended up galvanizing many Catholics to support No on 1. Wow! This was nothing like what happened in California with the LDS.

One thing I do know is that the analysts attempting to explain why a relatively secular and libertarian state went against gay marriage do not really understand Maine. Nate Silver thinks that the vote came down to an urban-rural divide. Queerty blames the ubiquitous "soccer moms." Those theories, while catchy, only partially explains it. Two larger urban areas – Lewiston and Augusta - voted yes by large margins and many rural towns and small coastal islands voted no. After some analysis, I think it's more indicative of the huge cultural differences between southern and northern Maine. If you look at a map, most tourists never go north of Augusta, let alone Waterville, where I live. The rest of the state is huge. Once you get north of Bangor, you run out of coastline. The towns up there are extremely quaint and traditional. Many of the people who live in the north have never been south of Bangor let alone outside of the state and have no desire to leave. While they may be regular church-goers, religion is not the driving force of their lives. Yet, from what I understand, they have no desire to change. One of the full-time volunteers for the campaign described anti-gay harassment in one of those towns on par with levels that I haven't heard about for 15 years. This is the part of Maine where even if you have lived there your entire life since you were 2 years old, you are not a real Mainer and are thus "from away." It is nothing like the Maine that most visitors to Portland, Freeport and the Boothbay harbor experience.

And then there is the question of the ads. In the last week of the campaign, the Yes on 1 side released ads that basically gave people who were borderline supporters of marriage equality an easy out. The message said, in essence, "voting Yes doesn't mean you hate gay people and want to deny them their happiness; it just means you want to keep marriage 'traditional.' We can extend domestic partnership rights later. Vote Yes now." This, coupled with the classic "what about the children" ads gave anyone with creeping discomfort about gay people an excuse to tell a portion of their society that they are not worthy. According to what I heard, the group of people who were most moved by the last round of ads were non-republican women – a designation far more liberal than "soccer moms."

As someone who got married in California when I could, marriage rights represent the brass ring, something the movement should build up to. Unfortunately, I don't think we've done a good job building up the rest of the basic human rights, like being able to work where you want (hello, armed forces?) and protection against housing discrimination based on gender presentation. And while we are at it, what about accepting and promoting the more radical elements of queer people. If that is what comes from this most recent setback, then it isn't a setback at all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thoughts on Urban v. Rural, pt. 1

I have the rare opportunity to be teaching a course that thinks about musical cultures through the lens of urban studies. Doing this in a place so remarkably not urban forces me to consider what it all means. Thus, I have decided to write a series of posts contemplating how music from urban centers considers the rural and vice versa. We'll see what this turns up. Thus I present: a blog post in bullet points on rural v. urban academia.

• I've been reading many academic discussions of world/global cities and their role in globalization. Theorists like Saskia Sassen contend that urban centers like New York, London and Tokyo are the main conduits of globalization to such an extent that nation-states are no longer dominant. Fun stuff! It's strange to be thinking so strongly about such megalopoli while living in a rural part of the country. It's even stranger to be discussing different genres of music that romanticize rural life but are, in essence, city born. I'm thinking of the folk music revival of the 1950s and '60s in NYC, the university Forró craze in São Paulo, and the modern mariachi sound from Mexico D.F. This doesn't even begin to approach the hybrid genres that accompany these revivalist movements or transnational transformations of folk genres (like cumbia)... What is it about urbanity in the americas that promotes such romanticizations and reinventions? The easy answer might be the legacy of 19th century nationalism with its idealizations of the land. My instincts tell me that it is probably more complicated. Many of these genres also have to do with social class and sometimes persons celebrating the working class from a position of power leads to gross generalizations and vulgarizations. Think of what John Wayne pictures did to generalize the "American Frontier." Thomas Turino contends that urban, middle class appropriations of rural folk music has to do with a lack of participatory music making (see his Music as Social Life) and a larger lack of marked culture. My mind is spinning...

• On a related note, many of my colleagues commute close to 4 hours a day just so that they can live in a reasonably-sized city and work in the country. Other colleagues commute from central Maine to NYC and even Washington D.C. every weekend. They love their urban lifestyles and their research so much that they will do anything they can to stay connected to it. This seems to me to be the polar opposite of the economic factors that drove urban growth during the last 150 years where people migrated from rural to urban spaces for work. But for this particular group of academics, urbanity is such an integral part of their lifestyles that they go through great lengths to maintain it. I would be traveling with them if I had the time to spare and the money to do it. Alas, I do not and I am getting used to life here in central Maine. Odd that.

• Many of my students have great difficulty imagining urban life that isn't like Boston or New York. As a southern California native I feel like I am at a distinct advantage for understanding the newer geographic formations born in Los Angeles that serve as the template for global megacities (a la Soja and Mike Davis). For the first time in my life, I am thankful that I resided in LA for 10 years and not elsewhere. It really does help when I try to explain why people in these global centers would rather stay home than sit through hours of traffic...

On a related note, I miss good cycling weather.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Planning to Cycle the Rural New England Winter

My summer cycling in Maine was nearly ruined by the wettest July and August in recent memory. Of course I got out, but my weekly miles are considerably lower than I would like them to be. In the coming weeks, I'm going to start saving money to buy the necessary gear to equip my bike for commuting in inclement weather. Already the temperature is dropping in the mornings and evenings. Thus, here is the beginning of my planning for cycling on ice and snow!

Studded tires or inverted fat tires: according to most sources, studded tires are necessary when roads become icy. According to NOA, New England's winter is supposed to "mild" while the Farmer's Almanac predicts painfully cold months ahead. Which wins? What is the happy medium between the two winter tire options?

Mud flaps: kind of a no brainer. My cross-bike is practically designed to handle fenders and rain-friendly alterations.

Base layers: think of these as thermal layers for cyclists.

Lubricants: if it gets so cold that my chain freezes up, what do I do? I've heard recommendations for teflon, to sub zero oil based lubricants. I must admit that I'm at a loss when it comes to this one.

Lighting System: My cateye lights just won't do once I'm cycling in rural Maine after I teach. I've currently got my eye on a generator lighting system that powers itself as you pedal.

Any suggestions?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Syllabus - Music and the Global Metropolis

This fall semester, I will be teaching a course at Colby College entitled "Music and the Global Metropolis." I thought it might be fun and productive to post the syllabus minus audio examples on Musicology / Matters and here, for commentary and public use. So please, feel free to use the syllabus as you like!

Music 197 A: Music and the Global Metropolis


Kariann E. Goldschmitt
Lorimer Chapel 001

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
1:00PM – 2:15PM
150 Bixler Art and Music Center

Office Hours:

Required Texts:
Thomas Turino, Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (New York: Verso, 2007).

Readings on Reserve in Bixler Library:
e-Reserves (ER)
Bixler Reserves (BR)

Course Description:

Metropolises bring together diverse groups of people in concentrated locations all over the world. Despite the dangers that these cities represent (violence, crime, and poverty), they also produce an astounding variety of musical innovations. This course is an exploration of the meetings of disparate musical cultures in major metropolises of the world. Throughout the semester, we will study six different major cities (New York, Mexico City, São Paulo, Paris, Tokyo, and Mumbai), the major musical developments to come from them, and the cultural conflicts and celebrations that emerge in contemporary urban life. We will discuss styles such as hip hop, punk, reggaeton, mariachi, nor-tec, dancehall, roots music, samba, j-pop, shibuya ke’i, karaoke, bhangra, filmi, “world music,” and electronic dance music, and how they relate to the urban environments where they were developed and where they continue to thrive.

Throughout the course, the professor will bring audio, visual and participatory examples that relate to the reading. Students are encouraged to do the same so long as they email the professor in advance.

Students will become familiar with the critical issues at stake to these musical communities through a variety of course readings, writing assignments, exams and the development of term paper. Class objectives include:

· increasing basic understanding of the relationship of music and geography;
· developing of critical reading and listening skills;
· understanding the diversity of musical practices in different places in the world;
· appreciating music as a site of conflict and celebration in present day urban policy;
· the development and revision of an original term-paper that meets the academic requirements of the course.

Course Expectations:

o Students are expected to do all reading for the course and have questions and comments prepared before class convenes. The easiest way to succeed is to take note of questions that arise as you engage with course materials and bring those concerns to class meetings.
o Students are expected to keep up with the listening on a regular basis. The musical examples for this course will be available through links on the course website (under “A/V examples”), often in the form of YouTube videos and streaming audio.
o All students with documented disabilities will be given special dispensations if they so require them. Please notify me during the first sessions of class.
o I am happy to answer questions and chat with you about your thoughts and ideas about this class. Please feel free to visit me during Office Hours. I am also available by appointment via email, text or phone and I maintain an open door policy with all students.

Grading and Assignments:

I. There will be two exams in this course: a midterm (worth 15% of your final grade) and a final (worth 20% of your final grade).
II. There will be three short written assignments designed to help you work through recurring issues in the course and help you develop your term paper: one reading response (1-2 pages in length) worth 5%, one listening response related to your term paper (2-3 pages) worth 5%, and a final paper proposal outlining your repertoire / locale of choice, your line of inquiry, and how it relates to the class (10%). I will discuss the details of writing assignments throughout the term. Keep copies of all papers in the case my copy goes astray. Late papers result in a grade deduction of one-third a grade every day they are late.
III. There will be one term paper (7-10 pages), worth 25% of your final grade. You must show evidence of incorporating the professor’s comments on your writing assignments into the final paper to get a good grade.
IV. Due to privacy, I only discuss grades in person. Please make an appointment or visit my office hours if you wish to inquire about your performance.

Grading Breakdown:

15% Midterm Exam
20% Final Exam
20% Writing Assignments
25% Term Paper
20% Participation

Schedule of Class Meetings

Unit 1: Conceptual Foundations to Music and Urban Geography

[Music] / [Global] / [Metropolis]

• Wk 1: September 9 Introduction to Music and Globalization
Bohlman, Philip V. “Colonial Musics, Post-colonial Worlds, and the Globalization of World Music.” In World Music: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. ER
Turino, Thomas. “Introduction: Why Music Matters.” In Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

• Wk 1: September 11 Urban Studies and Musical Participation
Davis, Mike. “Urban Climactic.” In Planet of Slums. New York: Verso, 2007.
Turino, Thomas. “Participatory and Presentational Performance.” In Music as Social Life.

Urban Geography, Community, and Divisions

• Wk 2: September 14 Musical Communities and Music as Culture
Turino, Thomas. “Habits of the Self, Identity, and Culture .” In Music as Social Life.

• Wk 2: September 16 Music Technology and Urbanism
Krims, Adam. “Introduction.” In Music and Urban Geography. New York: Routledge, 2007. ER
Turino, Thomas. “The Recording Fields: High Fidelity and Studio Audio Art.” In Music as Social Life.

• Wk 2: September 18 Cultural Impact of Post-Fordism and Urban Renewal
Davis, Mike. “The Prevalence of Slums.” In Planet of Slums.
Abrahamson, Mark. “Introduction, Background, and Preview.” In Global Cities. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ER

Unit 2: New York City, United States

The Five Boroughs and the ’70s and early ’80s: Hip Hop, Punk, and Club Culture

• Wk 3: September 21 Downtown to Uptown: The Development and Spread of Disco
Lawrence, Tim. “Pollination: The Rise of the Downtown Party Network.” In Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. ER
Lawrence, Tim. “Recognition: The Crystallization of a Sound.” In Love Saves the Day. ER

• Wk 3: September 23 Urban Grit and Noise: Punk and DIY
Polk O’Meara, Caroline. “The Bush Tetras, ‘Too Many Creeps,’ and New York City.” American Music 25 (2007): 193-215. ER

• Wk 3: September 25 Hip-Hop and the Bronx
** Writing Assignment 1: Reading Response Due in Class (5% of Final Grade)
Chang, Jeff. “Necropolis: The Bronx and the Politics of Abandonment.” In Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. ER

The City, Migration, and Mobility

• September 28 No Class – Yom Kippur

• Wk 4 TBA Latinos and Música Negra I: Nuyorican Soul and Salsa
Knights, Vanessa. “Nostalgia and the Negotiation of Dislocated Identities : Puerto Rican Boleros in New York and Nuyorican Poetry.” In Postnational Musical Identities: Cultural Production, Distribution and Consumption in a Globalized Scenario. Edited Ignácio Corona and Alejandro L. Madrid. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007. ER
García, David F. “Embodying Music / Disciplining Dance: The Mambo Body in Havana and New York City.” In Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader. Edited by Julie Malnig. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009. ER

• Wk 4: September 30 Latinos and Música Negra II: Reggaetón
Marshall, Wayne. “Dem Bow, Dembow, Dembo: Translation and Transnation in Reggaeton.” Lied und populäre Kultur / Song and Popular Culture: Jahrbuch des Deutschen Volksliedarchivs 53 (2008): 131-51. ER
Marshall, Wayne. “From Música Negra to Reggaeton Latino: The Cultural Politics of Nation, Migration, and Commercialization.” In Reggaeton. Edited by Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall, and Deborah Pacini Hernandez. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. BR

• Wk 4: October 2 Urban Folk Music and Class Mobility
Turino, Thomas. “Old Time Music and Dance.” In Music as Social Life: the Politics of Participation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Unit 3: Mexico City: The Biggest City in the Western Hemisphere

Intranational Musical Genres: Mariachi and Cumbia

• Wk 5: October 5 Mexico City and the World
Davis, Mike. “Treason of the State” and “SAPing the Third World.” In Planet of Slums.

• Wk 5: October 7 Cultural Industry and Mariachi
Sheehy, Daniel E. “Mexico.” In Handbook of Latin American Music. 2d Edition. Edited by Dale A. Olson and Daniel E. Sheehy. New York: Routledge, 2007. ER

• Wk 5: October 9 Transnational Hybrids: Cumbia and Tecno-Cumbia
** Writing Assignment 2, Listening Response Due in Class (5% of Final Grade)
García Canclini, Néstor. “Mexico: Cultural Globalization in a Disintegrating City.” American Ethnologist 22 (November 1995): 743-755. ER

Transnational Music of Mexico: Rock en Español, Nor-tec, World Music of Mexico

• Wk 6: October 12 No Class for Fall Break

• Wk 6: October 14 Rock en Español and Border Music
Kun, Josh. “Rock's Reconquista.” In Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. ER
Dillon, Hope. "Café Tacuba: Forging a New Mexican Identity." Journal of American Culture 20 (1997): 75-83 ER

• Wk 6: October 16 Mexican World Music
Gonzales Aktories, Susana. “Lila Downs: The Voice of a Butterfly.” Lied und Populäre Kultur / Song and Popular Culture: Jahrbuch des Deutschen Volksliedarchivs 53 (2008): 153-166. ER

Unit 4: São Paulo, Brazil: Urban Jungle and Folk Music Revivalism

A City of Division and Peripheries
• Wk 7: October 19 São Paulo and Spatial Segregation
Caldeira, Teresa P.R. “São Paulo: Three Patterns of Spatial Segregation.” In City of Walls: Crime, Segregation and Citizenship in São Paulo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. ER
Davis, Mike. “Illusions of Self-Help.” In Planet of Slums.

• Wk 7: October 21 Developmentalism and Regional Folk Music Reinvention
Davis, Mike. “Haussman in the Tropics.” In Planet of Slums.
Caldeira, Teresa P.R. “The Increase in Violence.” In City of Walls: Crime, Segregation and Citizenship in São Paulo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. BR

• Wk 7: October 23 Drum ‘n’ Bass in the São Paulo Periphery
Fontanari, Ivan Paulo de Paris. “Globalizing the Periphery: Transnational Extensions and Local Tensions in an Global/Underground Music Scene in Brazil.” Echo: A Music-Centered Journal 8 (Fall 2006). ER

Immigration and Transnational Identification

• Wk 8: October 26 Brazilian Cultural Capital
Ortiz, Renato. “Legitimacy and Life-Style.” In Latin American Cultural Studies Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), 474-497. ER

• Wk 8: October 28 Regional and Folk Music and Cannibalist Aesthetics
Olson, Dale A. “Music of Immigrant Groups.” In Handbook of Latin American Music. 2d Edition. Edited by Dale A. Olson and Daniel E. Sheehy. New York: Routledge, 2007. BR

• Wk 8: October 30 Brazilian Hip-Hop
** Term Paper Proposal Due in Class (10 percent of Final Grade) **
Pardue, Derek. “Hip Hop as Pedagogy: A Look into ‘Heaven’ and ‘Soul’ in São Paulo, Brazil,” Anthropological Quarterly 80 (2007): 673-709. ER

Unit 5 Paris, France as Cosmopolis

Chanson, Parisian Electronic Dance Music and Hip-Hop
• Wk 9: November 1 Parisian Chanson and the Legacy of Colonialism
Looseley, David L. “Chanson as National Myth: The Authenticity Debate.” In Popular Music in Contemporary France: Authenticity, Politics, Debate. New York: Berg, 2003. ER

• Wk 9: November 3 Parisian Hip-Hop and Electronic Dance Music
Hawkins, Peter. “MC Solaar: A Gardiner of Words.” Chanson: The French Singer-Songwriter From Aristide Bruant to the Present Day. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000. ER
Prévos, André J. M. “Postcolonial Popular Music in France: Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture in the 1980s and 1990s.” In Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA. Edited by Tony Mitchell. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002. BR

• Wk 9: November 5 Midterm Exam (15 percent of Final Grade)

Unit 6 Mumbai, India

Film Music Producer

• Wk 10: November 9 Mumbai as Cultural Producer
Davis, Mike. “Slum Ecology.” In Planet of Slums..
Neuwirth, Robert. “Mumbai: Squatter Class Structure.” In Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World. New York: Routledge, 2006. ER

• Wk 10: November 11 History of Bollywood and Film Music
Sen, Biswarup. “The Sounds of Modernity: The Evolution of Bollywood Film Song.” In Global Bollywood : Travels of Hindi Song and Dance. Edited by Sangita Gopal, Sujata Moorti. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. ER

• Wk 10: TBA Contemporary Bollywood and NRI Culture

North Indian Classical Music, Light Classical and Popular Music

• Wk 11: November 16 Bollywood and Classical Music
Booth, Greg. “Pandits in the Movies: Contesting the Identity of Hindustani Classical Music and Musicians in the Hindi Popular Cinema.” Asian Music (2005): 60-86. ER

• Wk 11: November 18 Non-Cinematic Popular Music in India
Manuel, Peter. “Popular Music in India: 1901-1986.” Popular Music 7 (1988): 157-176. ER

• Wk 11: November 20 No Class!

• Wk 12: November 23 Light Classical Music
** Term Papers (25 percent of Final Grade) Due!
Manuel, Peter. “Cassettes and the Modern Ghazal.” In Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. ER

Unit 7 Tokyo, Japan: The "Postmodern" City

Post World War II Development, J-Pop, Karaoke, Shibuya Ke’i

• Wk 13: November 30 Tokyo Post-WWII
Atkins, E. Taylor. “Bop, Funk, Junk, and That Old Democracy Boogie: The Jazz Tribes of Postwar Japan.” In Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001. BR

• Wk 13: December 2 Contemporary Tokyo, J-Pop and Karaoke
Shimatachi, Hiro R. “A Karaoke Perspective on International Relations.” In Japan Pop! Inside the World of Japanese Pop Culture. Edited by Timothy J. Craig. 2000. ER

• Wk 13: December 4 J-Pop and Shebuya Ke’i
Toth, Csabah. “J-Pop and Performances of Young Female Identity.” Young 16 (2008): 111-129. ER

Hip Hop, Video Game Music, and Cosplay

• Wk 14: December 7 Japanese Hip-Hop
Condry, Ian. “A History of Japanese Hip Hop: Street Dance, Club Scene, Pop Market.” In Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA. Edited by Tony Mitchell. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002. ER
Condry, Ian. Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. BR

• Wk 14: December 9 Contemporary Japanese Popular Music
Mattar, Yasser. “Miso Soup for the Ears: Contemporary Japanese Popular Music and its Relation to the Genres Familiar to the Anglophonic Audience.” Popular Music and Society 31 (2008): 113-123.

• Wk 14: December 11 Video Game Music and Cosplay

Final Exam TBA!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Notes on Being "From Away"

You may have heard, but I no longer live in Los Angeles. And I no longer survive on merely "two wheels." Last month, my partner/wife (depends on state) and I packed up our cat and our household and high-tailed it across the country to Waterville, Maine where I will be a Postdoctoral Fellow of Non-Western Music at Colby College starting September 1. While I'm grateful for the job at such a nice educational institution, some very basic things about my life have fundamentally changed.

I now live in rural New England. I live in a state with around 1 million residents and a city with around 12,000 people. Everyone knows that I am not from around here. Mainers have an expression to describe people like me – "from away." And that isn't necessarily a good thing. In the campaign to preserve the right for same-sex couples to marry, the opposition is quick to inform voters that the other campaign is using dollars and personnel "from away." (Technically, both sides are doing this but no matter.)

The climate and food politics are really different here. The locavore movement has been huge in this region for quite some time, which specialty license plates saying "support local agriculture" and the Hannaford's supermarkets featuring "local produce" alongside produce from Mexico and California. Also, many restaurants proudly support local agriculture. I often hear, "Maine was local before it was trendy." All of this local agriculture is really different from what I am used to. When I go to Farmers' Markets, I will encounter produce that is about 6 months off from what we used to get in our CSA box in Los Angeles. We are still eating a lot of chard, kale, and squash. It also means that I'm more likely to encounter blueberries and goat's milk products than I ever thought possible. Unfortunately because Maine has been trapped in unseasonal rainfall and a nasty bit of blight invading crops, it means that all produce is much more expensive here.

The rain also means that I am riding my bike significantly less than I used to. At first the rain was completely discouraging, but now I am of the opinion that unless the forecast predicts a 50 percent chance of rain or more, I will ride if possible. But thunder storms (and flood warnings) happen, and I'm still not riding as much as I'd like. Whereas a typical week in LA had me riding between 150-250 miles a week, here I'm lucky if I can hit 90 miles. It's quite depressing. Sure there are cycling clubs and groups in my area, but people here are content to do 30 miles maximum. They all think I'm a little intense in my desire to go long.

And cycling is really different here. The air is clean. There are no major climbs. There are significantly fewer cars on the roads. Cyclists ride two-three-four abreast. And there are cows and wild turkeys alongside the roads. Often when I ride around, I never have to stop at a traffic signal. There is less of a need to fight about cycling etiquette because there is so much more space. Whenever I talk about my collisions with cars in Los Angeles, people just don't understand. Cycling culture shock is not something I expected in the least, but there it is.

Rural New England also means that I am now the proud(?) owner of a car. I try to avoid using it whenever possible, but I'm driving much more than I want to be. A few weekends ago, we drove to a camp site with our bikes in tow and went for a nice ride around a Maine peninsula. It was beautiful and vastly different from what I am used to. We'll see how I continue to adjust in the coming months.