by carl wilson

That Was Pop

Image by Kai Althoff, aka Workshop.

Because I haven't gotten 'round to the promised final Pop Conference wrap-up (sleep deprivation, work and last night's Trampoline Hall intervening), and because I'm about to get bizzy repurposing the material into this weekend's column, I direct your attention to Franklin Bruno's own EMP review, and not just because he says nice things about my paper in it. Also: I apologize sincerely to my fellow Fake Band panel members that I was still editing my paper while you were talking. It's been awhile since I wrote anything in this style (and length) and so the process was more purgatorial and Sisyphean than it oughta have been... Otherwise the paper felt like it went well, a small crowd because it was a high-traffic time slot, but plenty of crowd response and post-discussion. Ann Powers was especially helpful in directing my attention to the question of whether part of the reason songwriters might use band aliases is also to direct sexuality away from themselves in the rock-audience dynamic. (Ann was contrasting Smog to Cat Power, for instance, whose handle distances and come-hithers simultaneously and thereby moves to enhance rather than erase sex magick.) What started as a paper about a poetic strategy - the band name as a way of problematizing subjectivity - has become a paper in some ways about the abject masculine at the 1990s fin de siecle... I've still got lotsa refining to do on it.

Notice Franklin's mention of the Dance Off, which took place at the War Room: I don't know that I would have summoned the nerve to tag along if I'd known that Drew Daniel was a former go-go dancer on top of being a musician (Matmos, Soft Pink Truth), producer (Bjork), conceptual artist and PhD student, given that Jessica Hopper and Julianne Shepherd were such already-obvs dance-floor pros, but Franklin and I got our older-schlub moves on just fine. (I am the "guy with a beard [Jessica] did not know" - sorry, I am shy with the introductions, and normally I just have stubble.) In general my one main criticism of the Pop Conf is that the social convening is not so well done - an opening cocktail party is basically just like everybody showing up in a bar, and the closing-night gathering asked everybody to come watch (more!) performances, rather than finding ways to promote interaction. Same goes for panels, where we could be encouraged more time talking to one another (as on the opening night plenary) as well as to the audience. We decided lunchtime dance parties would be the best first step!

Footnote to musicologist Peter Mercer-Taylor's grand gloss on Cradle of Filth at "Black Mass" Sunday: Would it make any difference if they were named Shitcrib instead? (See fourth item.)

Best shopping moment: Out on the S-town on Sunday afternoon, finding a CD by Workshop, the semi-non-existent band that was the subject of David Grubbs' intriguing paper during our panel with ear-tickling excerpts that made me want to track them down. I thought it would take a couple of weeks of Internet trawling - nope, Yog Sothoth just jumped up into my hand. Serendip-dip. You can hear some Workshop here.

I was chuffed to meet so many people (including, hors-conference, John from Utopian Turtletop and Jake London, and to see Don and Deb and Lisa from P2 and stage an occupation of Jim Cox's house). But I was sorry I didn't manage to talk to many others, usually due to my own reticence, for instance (with some links to their own post-EMP posts where possible): Sasha (dude, you kept slipping away like a white shadow); Douglas Wolk (whose paper I had to miss, but was from all accounts terrif); Keith Harris (whose paper on how Springsteen lost touch with his audience by shifting out of Jersey voice into Okie voice, and basically talking down rather than to people, and how that contrasts with Toby Keith's political savvy, I really enjoyed); Jess Harvell; Matos, who generously posts his paper, which I didn't get to hear; and everyone else, of course, but with more complete-strangers I at least have a better excuse. I'll try to be less lame next year: And I'm pretty sure I will go again next year whether I'm giving a presentation or not - there's really nothing like this conference, and I hope that should the EMP's fortunes falter (which does seem a possibility) the pop-hop-soul-a-roll-ademia writing massive will find a way to carry this event forward, no matta. It was energizing, inspiring, enlarging. Oh yeah, and exhausting. Zzzz. Later.

Update: Barbara at Flaskaland rounds up the EMP roundups much more thoroughly, although she doesn't seem to be distinguishing previous years from this year.

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, April 19 at 04:41 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)




What do you mean by 'problematizing subjectivity'? This is a kind of english I'm not familiar with.

Posted by Mr B on April 20, 2005 10:25 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson