Arrested Development

I was reading the Daily Dish today, and Conor Friedersdorf posted a response to Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review‘s lament that kids today don’t hear songs that are wholesome? morally upright? Her request is:

In their 75 hours a week of pop entertainment, I want young men and women to hear songs about, say, a girl who knows she doesn’t have to settle, or how they can have more than they’ve seen modeled around them in their own lives, or how they can be made of the strong stuff of true commitment and love.

He responded with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, Arrested Development’s “People Everyday”, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’s “Home”, respectively. I’m teaching my 1213 composition class in the spring on youth culture, and I often see Lopez’s complaint made of young people: they’re not exposed to enough “correct” influences, pop entertainment is “corrupting”, etc.Now Lopez’s argument is inherently a political one; she’s talking about the tea party movement and drawing cultural lines in the sand. (She also makes a strange argument about country music being the last bastion of wholesome goodness, which is odd from a music standpoint. Has she never heard “Jackson”? Or most country songs? I get it from the let’s celebrate rural America and the music that supposedly represents it standpoint. But, I’m going to hazard a guess that she has never been to Arkansas, the place where metal still lives.) It’s an old argument. I tend to think the people who make those arguments are disengaged from pop culture at a certain critical level or never learned how, or had someone teach them how, to curate their tastes.To them, pop music is so much noise, and since they’re not critical readers of pop, young people must not be either. It’s a fallacious syllogism, and one that grossly under estimates the ways that people are inherently trained to filter through and read the products of culture.

But, I didn’t begin this post to dissect Lopez’s argument. No, I began it because the second band Friedersdorf linked to was Arrested Development, one of my all time favorite hip hop bands from the 1990s. I was teenagery excited to hear them again, nor were they an expected choice.  “People Everyday” is a great song, but I was always more partial to “Mr Wendel”, “Tennessee”, and “Raining Revolution”.


“Raining Revolution”: I don’t know who thought to pair this song with the dance sequence from Singin’ in the Rain, but it’s a brilliant pairing. It’s the mashup Glee wish it did in the Paltrow episode.


Christmas Day Goodies

We’re having a lazy Christmas morning, in large part due to my uncle not getting to have a lazy day at all. He has to work today, so we moved back the family gathering so he could be there.It’s allowed me to peruse the interwebs for Christmas goodies.

My brother emailed me this story about a couple in Chelsea who started getting hundreds of letters addressed to Santa Claus. They actually tried to make the Christmas wishes contained in the letters come true, or at least, did so for as many as they could. Here’s the video from the New York Times. Full warning: I cried.

The Dabbler, a blog on culture, has a compendium of Christmas memories up.

TPM has a recap of the “biggest battles” in the War on Christmas.

Also from the brother, a list of the 20 best knitting patterns, including a Dalek and a little Tardis. (Squee!) Just in time for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, which is airing for the first time the same day as it’s released in the UK.

Conor Friedersdorf over at the Daily Dish reposts the classic “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter from the New York Sun, 1897. It’ll make you tear up too.

And, this word less video of downtown Dallas, a runaway boy, a fairy like girl, and the Children’s Parade by Jun Kang.

Hallelujah Chorus: Kansas City Flash Mob

I heard about the Kansas City flash mob of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah on NPR yesterday. What began as Ann Sundeen’s idea and roughly 20 people turned into roughly 450 people singing in the Crown Center in Kansas City. They were inspired by the Philadelphia opera company who did this over Thanksgiving.

The video gives you more of a feel for the scope of the crowd singing, even if the camera work is a bit shaky. I can’t tell if that’s the person holding the camera or the reverberation of 450 people singing.

Child Labor, Vintage Dallas Photos, and Lewis Wickes Hine

“Six-year old boy, Louis Shuman, and his 11 year old brother. Dallas Newsboys. The little fellow usually has a brother who makes him do most of the work. Dallas has too many of these little newsies.” Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, from the Library of Congress Archives.

I’ve recently added the Dallas Observer‘s blog, Unfair Park, to my Google Reader. Mainly, it keeps me abreast of the goofiness that is the Dallas City Council. But the blog is wide ranging in its interests. Robert Wilonksy, a long time reporter and now editor for the Observer, has been running a series of posts on Lewis Wickes Hine, a photographer commissioned by the National Child Labor Commission (NCLC) to document abuses of children by employers in the 1910s. The National Library of Congress has recently made available Hine’s photographs for the NCLC. Historian Joe Manning has been tracking down the children in the photographs. He also contacts the families of the children, many of whom have no idea these pictures exist. Manning told Wilonsky, via an email exchange,

I am so grateful for this opportunity. I had no idea that I would be so successful. It’s the most rewarding work I have ever done. The most amazing thing is that most descendants haven’t seen the photos, so it’s a huge deal for them to see their parents or grandparents as children.

One of the reasons I do the kind of work I do is because of the hunt. The movement through documents, in person or online, and the stories those documents tell. I may be looking at how text operates in the periodicals, but I still find those stories infinitely valuable.

Manning’s website documenting his research process and stories he’s collected is here.

Good News

As an academic, rejection is par for the course. It’s the baseline, default position. You stay there because it helps you manage the rejection when it comes your way. Well, that and Carrie Leverenz’s sure fire solution: drink a margarita the evening you get the bad news and then get right back to it the next day. Still, getting the good news is exciting. A friend of mine got her acceptance email to a conference we both applied to yesterday, so I’ve been checking my phone a lot in the last 24 hours. I got mine this morning. It’s nice to be accepted.