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The good news of the day: Reading Comics has been nominated for an Eisner Award!

I spent the weekend at the Experience Music Project Pop Conference up in Seattle. My own talk (on “The Ballad of the Green Berets” and its bizarre 20-year trail through history and subsequent near-total disappearance) went well, I think, although I ended up feeling like it was… kind of low-stakes for me, at least compared to the papers I liked best. (“What would be high-stakes for you?” my friend Sarah asked me when I told her that. Good question.)

Highlights of the parts of the conference I saw:

*Jody Rosen on Eva Tanguay, one of the biggest American pop stars of the 1905-1920 period, and now largely forgotten, in part because she made only one recording. He quoted part of Aleister Crowley’s hilarious encomium to her (it’s about a third of the way down here, and worth looking at…). Memorable line from Rosen: “Eva Tanguay and Johnny Rotten actually had quite a bit in common, the main difference being that Eva Tanguay was way more punk rock.”

*Robert Christgau (in the context of explaining why he really likes John Mayer!) zinging the practice of, and I think I’m paraphrasing, “finding hegemony at the end of every road to pleasure”—a problem with a bunch of presentations I saw over the weekend. (Generally the kind that end “In this paper, I have shown…”)

*Greil Marcus on the “I’m Not There” tribute concert: “Most of the performers acted as if these songs liked them.” (He also played the first couple of minutes of the Roots’ “Masters of War,” sung to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—specifically Jimi Hendrix’s version.)

*Gayle Wald on a 1969-1973 NYC Channel 13 show called “Soul!,” which had live performances by most of the major soul performers of its day, but also free-jazz types, discussions with black intellectuals, poetry readings… I mean, Ashford & Simpson and Amiri Baraka and Max Roach: this is my kind of show. Apparently it will never appear on DVD thanks to contract hell, and the only way to watch it is to go to the Library of Congress. Anybody happen to know if there exist any bootlegs in circulation?

*And the best thing I saw, Daphne Carr’s “Getting Closer: Extreme Loudness and the Body in Pain/Pleasure,” which she delivered with a hood pulled over her head, and which violated my “in this paper…” rule right off and got away with it. I was told that the papers after hers were really good too, but I had to leave after that because I didn’t want anything to take it out of my head.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas published on April 14, 2008 7:48 PM.

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