optimism

Another Post-Bar25 Update


The crowd at the “open door” day for the launch of the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project.

Recently, there’s been some more news on the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project. The city has changed its plans for the property that’s up for sale, and this might benefit the bid and development proposal put forward by the Holzmart/Mörchenpark team. In a recent article in the Berliner Zeitung (from which I’m getting most of my information for this update), the author Karin Schmidl summarizes the changes thusly: “No high-rises, no office-building monolith, no hotel blocks.” Whose development proposal was already free of all these things? That’s right: Holzmarkt.

As you might recall  (more…)

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MusicBoard Berlin: Government Interventions in Berlin’s Music Scenes


Some tile-work inside the Abgeordnetenhaus, where the city’s senate meets and does business.

Musicboard is a cultural policy and funding initiative created by Berlin’s municipal government, with the stated goals of supporting the city’s music industry, presumably in a way similar to Berlin’s Medienboard for film and media industries. According to its official website, the project is supposed to “make Berlin more attractive as a site for popular music.”  Starting in 2013, the city of Berlin will make 1 Million Euros available towards supporting these goals, but the debates have already started about how this money will be distributed, what the role of Musicboard should be, who should be running it, and even whether the project will improve or worsen the conditions of music-making in Berlin. (more…)

Chapter 5. Smooth Experience/Rough Experience: Coming Undone and the Night Out


Tony Rohr and Elon at the Volatl/Clink party at DEMF 2010

Grüße aus Berlin! I made it back to Berlin after the AAA conference in Montréal, and lately I’ve been something of a shut-in, mostly shunning the nightclubs (and thus neglecting my fieldwork, in a sense) and devoting my time to catching up with job applications, fellowship applications, conference papers, and so on. Nonetheless, I’m still committed to finishing this series of chapter-by-chapter summaries of my dissertation. More than halfway there!

(NOTE: This is the eighth installment of a series where I summarize my dissertation through blog posts. You can find the inaugural post here.)

My main argument in this chapter might sound a bit obvious to people who do any kind of nocturnal partying, but at the same time it’s surprisingly hard to describe and interpret in a coherent way. Essentially, I argue that, when most people go out—or plan on going out, or remember going out—their notion of what makes “a good night out” seems to involve the combination of contrary desires for (more…)

Chapter 4. Thickening Something: Music, Affect, and the Sense of the Social


Detroit Electronic Music Festival, 2010

Detroit Electronic Music Festival, 2010

Okay. It’s been nearly three months since my dissertation defense, two months since my graduation, and two weeks since I moved to Berlin. Things have been crazy busy, but I’m still determined to finish this series of chapter summaries. It’s a surprising amount of work to summarize this gigantic, sprawling thing as a series of “plain English” blog posts. Anyway, here comes the affect!

(NOTE: This is the seventh installment of a series where I summarize my dissertation through blog posts. You can find the inaugural post here.)

This chapter is about tracing the connections between intensity and togetherness. The full version of this chapter wades into a fair bit of theory, but I’ll try to keep things streamlined here. Essentially, this is how I go about tracing the connections: (more…)

Inconvenience and the Privilege of the Local DJ


Somewhere in Revaler Straße 99, someone is very pleased with himself

In this post, I want to make the somewhat counter-intuitive argument that there are some privileges to being a local DJ. In so doing, I’ll also explore how the privliges of being local intersect in surprising ways with vinyl/digital debates and ideas about expertise, labor, artistic value, authenticity, and so on. More broadly, I’ll be making some arguments about how privilege works in Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scenes and why this should make us re-think how we understand our commitment to the values of inclusiveness and equality that are part of the history of EDM scenes (if sometimes in contradictory ways). You might ask why I use the term “privilege” here instead of “advantage” or “benefit.” This is because the notion of privilege helps give me clarity about how the ease or difficulty of doing something can say something about the uneven distribution of access, opportunity, and resources in society. I’ll come back to privilege in a moment, but let’s begin first with brighter side of local-ness. (more…)

Nigel Thrift, gatherings, and light-touch intimacy


One of the things I’ve promised on this new version of my blog is reviews/summaries of scholarly texts that I’ve been working with, so here is my first attempt. Lately, I’ve been really inspired by Nigel Thrift’s work. He’s a UK sociologist geographer (thanks, LB!), working in urban studies, who has been championing what he considers a non-representational theory of urbanity—that is, a concept of the urban that takes into account things like affect, speed, and spaces animated by action. I’ve been particularly interested by his concept of “light-touch intimacy,” which appears in his essay:

Thrift, Nigel. 2005. But malice aforethought: cities and the natural history of hatred. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30 (2):133-150.

[This essay also forms a chapter in his monograph: Thrift, N. J. 2008. Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect. London and New York: Routledge.]

Thrift begins by noting that there is a long history to the trope of the city as doomed; (more…)

Uncertainty Feels Better


This is the story of why I’m glad that I got a late rejection letter.

[Hi! I’m back. This is my new blog, where I move away from the old post-every-day model, and instead focus on a few specific things. See the “about” page for more details.]

So a lot has happened since the last time I posted something on my old blog, and a lot of can’t really be recounted in a public forum like this one. What I can say is that:

  • I’ve written two more chapters. Four in total so far. Yay!
  • My sense of being supported and respected by my program has been profoundly damaged, and the events that led to that damage also led me into a financially precarious situation for next year (when my funding runs out).
  • The month of March has been particularly cruel in this regard, since this is when results for fellowships and job searches usually arrive. I’ve become something of a connoisseur of rejection letters.

Now to the story.

This past weekend, I put myself in a 5-day lockdown to finish my fourth chapter in time for a March 30th due date. At the beginning of this period, my stress levels had become such that I was only sleeping a couple of hours a night and I had erratic episodes of elevated heartbeat (which I think is what a low-level panic attack is supposed to feel like, but I digress). In sum, I was under a lot of stress and was feeling defeated both by events in the recent past as well as challenges looming on the horizon ahead of me.

Then, I heard from a couple of classmates that they received their rejection letters for the ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship the week before. Where’s my rejection letter? Why is the response taking so long? Is it maybe that I’m going to get a fat envelope instead of a thin one this time? Excited by the possibility of securing $25,000USD to support my dissertation work next year, I scoured the internet for information on when the award letters were sent out. I looked at several wiki pages dedicated to humanities fellowships and discovered that the response letters had been sent out almost two weeks earlier. Clearly, my (hopefully good) news would be arriving in the mail any day now.

This morning, when I went to campus to take care of some paperwork, I discovered that my letter hadn’t been delayed; it had just been sent to my academic mailbox. As you might’ve guessed from the first line of this blog post, it wasn’t an acceptance letter.

But here’s the funny thing. As depressing as the news was, I was really glad to learn of this news today and not five days ago. (more…)