“Serve Yourself” says the caption over this urinal in Strasbourg, France.
he 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?
Somewhere near Erkstrasse and Sonnenallee in Neukölln.
y Berlin research files are organized under a number of folders, including one for “Tourism Debates” and another one for “Gentrification Debates.” These days, I’m thinking I need to merge these two folders, since the debates have become increasingly intertwined (and often hopelessly confused). In a recent opinion article in Die Zeit online, entitled, “Burn the Tourists” (“Touristen anzünden”), David Hugendick complains that left-political anti-gentrification discourse has taken an ironically xenophobic turn by harnessing anti-tourist (and, more broadly, anti-foreigner) sentiment. Of course, this article is almost interchangeable with a wide range of opinion pieces that have been appearing in mainstream German-language newspapers in the last while, part of a larger (and older) pattern in Berlin of countering critical voices from the left by associating them with violent tactics and contrarian positions.
In any case, although it is debatable whether (more…)
“Pass This On” by The Knife. A (rather muscular) drag queen singing in what looks like a Bavarian Football club.
olks, I need your help. I’ve been seeing a trend in indie and eletro-ish music videos towards scenarios that involve ostensibly “straight” young men and older drag queens, usually involving some sort of wordless, eye-to-eye communication that causes some sort of transformation or breaking of boundaries. I want to figure out what this is about and why this is a popular theme right now, but first I need to build an archive of them. You can help me by posting links to music videos in the comments (or emailing me if you prefer), and then I’ll update this blog post and add your suggestions.
“Pass This On” by The Knife. The young man who is drawn to her.
As you probably noticed, I’ve been rather silent on this blog for the past couple of months. Sometime around mid-April, I realized that the deadlines for the submission of the final draft of my dissertation aligned with travel plans for both me and my committee members in such a way that I needed to either defend my dissertation in mid-June (with plenty of time to revise post-defense) or in mid-July (with barely a week to do all revisions). I went into Emergency Dissertation-Finishing Mode (more…)
Somewhere in Revaler Straße 99, someone is very pleased with himself
n 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…)
ello there! I bet you’ve been wondering where I’ve been. The short answer is: in Chicago. The slightly less short answer is: on the job market and applying for every fucking post-doc on the planet. So, things have been a little busy over here. Also, relocating across the Atlantic, writing new dissertation chapters, revising old dissertation chapters, submitting two new journal articles and reviewing two books is keeping me rather occupied.
But I’m back. I’m no less busy—that’s for sure—but I have days and days worth of ideas and stories that I want to publish here and I’m quickly realizing that there is never a “good time” to sit down and write new, unsolicited, non-deadlined material. But before I even post a link to that amazing set of sketches about Berghain or comment on the recent spate of homophobia-related violence or write a short essay on the problem of doing academic work on a “fun” topic…I want to indulge in some nostalgia and write a brief review of my last weekend in Berlin this summer. Some of the events described here will reappear as a feature in Resident Advisor very soon (i.e., the Luna Land party and the drama behind it), so stay tuned for that, too!
Part of what made this weekend especially epic was the presence of a friend from Britain, whom I had met last spring at DEMF / Movement (in Detroit). In the interest of privacy, I’m going to give him the obviously fake name of Milhouse, which should also make for some amusing resonances with The Simpsons as you read through this.
t this point, those of you who’ve read my previous mini-profile of Berghain already know that getting in can be complicated; there’s severe selection at the door, and yet the door policy is never fully revealed or explained, and so any night out here is accompanied by a flurry of analysis and strategizing. As readers of my previous blog, Luis in Paris, will remember, I’m also interested in the rather fluid ethical component of this process (something I’ve called liquidarity in my work): who goes in with whom and who vouches for whom, based on differences in access, appearance, “coolness,” familiarity with the bouncers, and so on. Last Friday and Saturday comprised my “homecoming” to Berghain / Panorama Bar, and both evenings provided rich examples of how contingent and complex entry into a nightclub can be.
Friday, July 9th
I was joined this weekend by Bob and Donna, two French friends living in London, who come to Berlin nearly every three weeks to party. (more…)
his 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…)