Essays

After Pulse: Queer Intimacies in the Shadow of Orlando


Existential Stress Ball

It’s been ages since I’ve posted on here, and I’m both saddened and frustrated that it’s taken the anniversary of the Pulse Orlando massacre for me to get back to writing about these sorts of issues. The shootings at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida, USA, took place exactly one year ago, when I was working on a book manuscript about intimacy, belonging, and affect on the (electronic music) dancefloor. As the summer went on and the shockwaves from the attack continued to reverberate within queer Latinx/QTPoC, I found myself writing a very different epilogue to the book than I had planned. I’m still putting the finishing touches on the manuscript, but I thought I would share an excerpt from the epilogue, which recounts the aftermath of the Pulse shooting and begins to reflect on what that might mean for queer public intimacy, shared risk/trauma, and historiography.


I learned of the Orlando massacre right after returning home to Birmingham after a week spent teaching at a summer school in Prague. After the plane landed (more…)

RBMA gives RA article nod for “Best Music Journalism”


RBMA Best Mus Journ

Red Bull Music Academy has posted their roundup of best music journalism for February 2014, and my article for Resident Advisor, “An alternate history of sexuality in club culture” was included. Yay! In academia, it’s very easy to come to the assumption that nobody reads your writing and/or finds it relevant, so it’s nice to hear that this has made an impact.

And now, back to more research.

Terre Thaemlitz on Queer Nightlife: The Unabridged Interview


© 2004 Comatonse Recordings

© 2004 Comatonse Recordings, with gracious permission from T. Thaemlitz

So, last week, an article of mine was published on Resident Advisor, entitled “An alternate history of sexuality in club culture.” It’s success was truly surprising—especially considering that the whole thing ran well over 8,000 words long! Despite its exceptional length, one of the hardest challenges I had in writing this article was to keep it short(er), because there was just so much to write about. That’s also a good thing, in the sense that it means that there’s still a lot to say about queer nightlife and club culture, but I was especially pained to have only included a few brief quotes from the fantastic email-interview I did with Terre Thaemlitz/DJ Sprinkles. Despite being a very busy producer, speaker, alternative historian, etc., she was immensely generous with her time,  answering all of my questions in great detail. It seemed a tragedy that most of the interview wouldn’t make it into the RA article, so I’ve arranged to have the full interview published here (more…)

Lubricating Social Frictions


"Serve Yourself" says the caption over this urinal in Strasbourg, France.

“Serve Yourself” says the caption over this urinal in Strasbourg, France.

The image of the industrial economy as a great machine oiled by the sweat and blood of its workers has been a common trope for Marxist and anti-capitalist writers. Much has changed since the industrial revolution inspired such metaphors, but the costs of lubricating social processes remains a relevant issue in these post-industrial, accelerated, and uncertain times. Based on the last two decades of social and cultural studies, one could gather that the world we live in is becoming increasingly fluid (Bauman) and mobile (Urry). But what enables social and cultural “matter” to flow at increasing rates?

This question is inspired by discussions that took place during the Touring Consumption conference at Karlshochschule this past weekend (more…)

La Mission: Life in a Hedonist-Doomsday-Cult-Art-Collective


La Mission Logo

La Mission’s mail logo / revolutionary symbol.

La Mission has been a big part of my life here in Berlin since last summer, but strangely enough it’s taken me nearly a year to get around to writing about it on this blog. Maybe I wanted to wait until the first round of multimedia craziness emerged from this performance art collective / music label / magazine, before I started crowing about it. Maybe I was too shy about discussing my own creative work. No, wait…I remember why: I was on the academic job market last fall, which meant that I got nothing else done.

La Mission is a lot of things, including a satirical doomsday cult, a music label, a magazine, an art collective, and a group of dance-music-lovers with a very dirty sense of humor. La Mission’s identity is perhaps best summed up by cult-leader El Jefe’s manifesto/sermon, “The Sermon for the Steps of the Ziggurat in our Hearts,” published in our first La Mission magazine: (more…)

New Publication, New Gig, Still in Berlin


Front cover of Musical Performance and the Changing City (2013), edited by Carsten Wergin and Fabian Holt.

Yikes! It’s been embarrassingly long since I last posted something on here. If you’re still reading, thanks for not abandoning this blog out of boredom. As you might have guessed, things have been very, very, very busy over the last few months. The last major post I had put on here had been about all of my troubles getting a !@#$ing residency permit for Germany, and I’m happy to state that this has been more or less resolved—although not precisely in the manner I had intended.

In any case, I have a great deal of updates for this blog, far more than I can fit into even a week of daily blog posts. It’ll take me a while to get through the backlog, but I should post the two most important pieces of news first: 1) I have another publication fresh off the presses, and (more…)

Feeling Alien in Germany: Bureaucracy and the Thresholds of Belonging


The trash collectors in Berlin have an excellent sense of humor.

The trash collectors in Berlin have an excellent sense of humor.

Nothing makes you feel quite as alien and precarious as waiting in an immigration office, especially as you wait for a Beamter/in (clerk, officer) to make a decision about your future in Germany—based, it seems, primarily on their current mood and digestive health. And yet, one of my interviewees once claimed that she never felt more at home in Berlin than when she was at the Ausländerbehörde (immigration office), the Bürgeramt (citizen’s registration office), or the Finanzamt (finance and revenue office). And she has a point: when the process is successful, there is a sense of satisfaction and membership that you can get from interfacing with the behemoth that is German bureaucracy. But, as a foreigner in a foreign land, you remain at the mercy of this bureaucracy and the many people that work in it, and that sometimes means that your experience is far more alienating than welcoming.

Much of my research here on so-called “techno tourism” and music-related migration to Berlin has revealed the ways in which recently-arrived people manage to feel at home here, even before they have spent enough time to “integrate” culturally. But my recent experiences with Germany’s Ausländerbehörde has reminded me of how fragile this sense of being “at home” can be (more…)