Recommended Sunday Reading & Viewing

Happy Sunday. It’s a rainy and cold day here in Michigan, and I’m taking advantage of that to catch up on a few things I’ve neglected over the past couple of weeks. I don’t have time to write a proper entry (yet) about my Ben Irving Postcard searching in Detroit, but it was a successful start. In the meantime, I wanted to signal-boost a great article in Sports Illustrated and a great new documentary. I don’t know how valuable my endorsement here is, but I wanted to at least commend the respective producers for jobs well done from this geographer’s perspective.

Recommended Reading : THIS IS BRAVES COUNTRY / THIS WAS BRAVES COUNTRY

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I’ll be honest; I subscribed to Sports Illustrated following the Caps’ Stanley Cup victory so I could get an Ovechkin print and a limited-edition Washington Capitals Collectors’ edition. I only care about a few sports, and my short list doesn’t include the gambling-heavy ones the magazine usually focuses on.  All that being said, Sports Illustrated deserves a LOT of credit for elevating their topical writing and specialized coverage in an age when some magazines (which shall remain nameless) have turned into tabloids in an act of desperation to retain physical sales. For one thing, their 2019 swimsuit issue made a point to feature an ethnically and physically diverse set of models, focus on the models’ lives and thoughts, and address the elephant in the room about why the swimsuit edition even exists.

For another thing, the latest issue (October 7th, 2019) includes an excellent article about race, class, and baseball in Atlanta. Brian Burnsed takes a critical look at how the Braves’ move from Fulton County to Cobb County is not only a gigantic middle-finger to the team’s middle- and under-class African-American fans, but also microcosmic of Atlanta’s accelerating privatization and segmentation of population along racial and political lines in its unyielding sprawl. Though several of my best friends live there, I would never consider Atlanta among my favorite American cities, and I’m hardly familiar with the MLS stars Atlanta United, but Burnsed’s article makes me want nothing more than to go and hang out with the team’s fans in “the Gulch.” I had the “privilege” of going to a Braves game at Suntrust Park last season, and (to give the most insightful, academic analysis) it sucked. We parked in a lot adjacent to an office park, paraded over one mile with thousands through at least one or two other office parks, and sat in a sea of fans who, following a spirited video of Jason Aldean telling them to do so, did the tomahawk chop (in 2018). It’s all disenchanting, and a little dispiriting, particularly considering the angry letters I’m sure SI is receiving from “100% not racist” white Braves fans in the wealthy, season-ticket holding pockets of Cobb County upset that Sports Illustrated had to “make everything about politics.” I’d be interested in seeing what happens when Atlanta beefs up and privatizes the Gulch around Mercedes-Benz stadium.

Recommended Viewing: PUNK THE CAPITAL, BUILDING A SOUND MOVEMENT IN WASHINGTON DC (1976-1984)

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The post-screening Q&A panel for Capitals of Punk. (L-R) Moderator Otto Buj, Andy Wendler (The Necros), director James June Schneider, Tesco Vee (The Meatmen/Touch & Go zine), Jeff Nelson (Minor Threat/3/Dischord Records).

Though I’m still processing the fact that it happened in the first place, on my way out of Detroit, I stumbled upon a screening of James June Schneider’s new Punk the Capital documentary at Third Man Records. I met James a few summers ago when I was in DC to do some zine research for my dissertation, so I wanted to say hi and congratulate him on completing the thing. I knew that the film’s release had been delayed for some years. On Friday night, I found out that he had been working on it for over 15 years, and it showed.

Punk the Capital is a MASTERPIECE, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I don’t think I had seen as much as five seconds of the footage, most of which came from Paul Bishow’s treasure-trove of Super 8 footage from the proverbial ‘back in the day.’ I can’t remember the last time a documentary made me smile and tap my foot this much, and in a strange way, it made me feel even more validated in devoting so much of my own life to studying and writing on how harDCore has seismically changed the world.

Also, the Q&A was a lot of fun, replete with stories from the handful of punk legends sitting on the stage. Tesco Vee mentioned the latest price tag he spotted on one of those /100 Necros Sex Drive EPs on eBay: $5,300. That’s not a typo. Five thousand and three hundred dollars. Good luck if you spot one for sale and have a 401k sitting around you can cash out.

James was joking with me after the screening that he and I would be competing on google now. I don’t imagine that will actually happen, but on the off chance somebody stumbles onto this website or Capitals of Punk, I’ll copy and paste the slew of upcoming Punk the Capital screenings here, in case you’re in one of these cities so you can drop whatever plans you have to go see the film (if isn’t already sold out).

  • October 13th, Milwaukee WI, Real TinselQ and A with Jeff Nelson ( Dischord Records / Minor Threat ) and filmmaker(s)
  • October 14th, Kansas City MO, Record BarQ&A with Jeff Nelson ( Dischord Records / Minor Threat ) and filmmaker(s) – co sponsored by Oddities Prints!
  • October 15th, Iowa City IA, Film Scene Q&A with Jeff Nelson ( Dischord Records / Minor Threat ) and filmmaker(s)
  • October 16th, Omaha NE, The Union for Contemporary Art Q and A with Jeff Nelson ( Dischord Records / Minor Threat ) and filmmaker(s)
  • October 17th, Denver CO, Aztlan Theatre 7:30 pm – no advance sales 
  • October 18th Reno NV, (flash screening! TBA)
  • October 19th, San Francisco CA, Artists Television Access Q and A with Chris Stover (Void), filmmaker(s) + bonus Void short film!
  • October 20th, Oakland CA, Land and Sea Q and A with Chris Stover (Void) and filmmaker(s) + bonus Void short film!
  • October 21st, Los Angeles CA, The Regent Q and A with Henry Rollins, filmmaker(s) and others moderated by Ian Svenonius
  • October 23rd, Tucson AZ, The Screening Room Q and A with co-director James June Schneider
  • October 24th, El Paso TX, Alamo Cinema Drafthouse (listing TBA) Q and A with co-director James June Schneider
  • Phoenix AZ, October 26th, Film Bar, Facebook Q and A with co-director James June Schneider
  • October 27th, Albuquerque NM, The Tannex, Facebook Q and A with co-director James June Schneider
  • October 28, Tulsa OK, Circle Cinema (POSTPONED BY VENUE!)
  • October 29, Memphis TN, (flash screening! TBA)
  • October 30th, Asheville NC, Grail Moviehouse – Q and A with filmmaker (s)
  • November 9, Washington DC area, AFI Q&A with filmmaker(s) and special guests TBA
  • November 10, Washington DC area, AFI Q&A with filmmaker(s) and special guests TBA
  • November 11,Washington DC area, AFI Q&A with filmmaker(s) and special guests TBA
  • November 17, Leeds, UK, Leeds International Film Festival
  • November 19, Leeds, UK, Leeds International Film Festival
  • November 23rd, Amsterdam NL, Occii

Black Lives: Struggle (St. Louis)

 

Thanks to my friend Ben for bringing this to my attention. The Russian news network RT recently released the first episode of a brutally honest and thought-provoking look into America’s black communities. This episode focuses on St. Louis, a city with a deep catalog of problematic (to say the least) policies in the areas of population retention, law enforcement, and of course, urban planning:

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It was a real privilege to teach a summer course on human rights and genocide. I’m always grateful to provide a forum for people to flesh out their understandings of how and why people’s relationships with the state become contentious, who benefits (if anyone does), and what we as individuals can do in our communities to help spread hope. Genocide and ethnic cleansing aren’t one-dimensional processes or isolated events, and we cannot build anything while people remain active proponents of either (and self-identify as such, very openly, in comments sections).

New Review in ‘Gender, Place, and Culture’

9781479817863_fullJust checking in to you let you all know that I just had a new review published in the Feminist Geography journal Gender, Place, and Culture. I had the opportunity to write about Roshanak Kheshti’s challenging and very interesting book Modernity’s Ear: Listening to Race and Gender in World Music. 

You can read my review here, where you can also find information about where to order the book.

Citation:

Tyler Sonnichsen (2017): Modernity’s ear: listening to race and gender in world music, Gender, Place & Culture, DOI:10.1080/0966369X.2016.1275112.

Knoxville in a Japanese Documentary, 2002 (Videos)

I don’t even know.

A few months ago, I published an interview with my friend Shane Rhyne about his myriad experiences with Knoxville music. One of the sticking points was his appearance on a Japanese documentary on the diffusion of Irish music in 2002. The full interview is available here, but here is that excerpt:

Actually, you’ve mentioned to me before that you made an appearance on some public television program in Japan about American Country Music? Do tell.

That was a fun and bizarre experience. In 2001, a Japanese television producer asked if I would agree to be a part of a documentary being filmed about the history of rock’n’roll. The documentary would be hosted by a Japanese rock star who was traveling across the world to explore the various influences. He was coming to Knoxville to look at the Appalachian influence and they had heard/read another interview with me talking about Knoxville’s melting pot influence downtown of Irish music, Jewish culture, African-American music and rural music traditions.

I agreed to do the interview but had little idea what to expect. I arrived at the Airport Hilton on the afternoon of the interview to learn that that rock star was named Daemon Kogure, who performed in a Kabuki-style makeup. He would be interviewing me while in his makeup and we would be driving around downtown Knoxville in a rented RV talking about country music. It was the one of the more surreal experiences in my life as we walked around the Old City and discussed Irish music on camera.

Well, far be it from Shane to disappoint, he rummaged for his old VHS, which I’ve converted for your viewing pleasure. Here, on my brand new Vimeo site, is that long-awaited clip of Shane meeting and speaking with Daemon Kogure.

One of the purest forms of discourse analysis is to consider that quintessential “outsider perspective” on a place. There could be fewer better case studies in that perspective than Japanese rock star turned media personality Kogure. Eastern Tennessee’s longtime residents have a wide variety of opinions on their local/regional cultural heritage, but seeing this is a loud wake-up call in understanding how Southern Appalachia is perceived by international music fans, especially non-Western ones. I really wish I spoke Japanese, but I’ve had some assistance thus far, and I can post more details on what Kogure is saying sometime soon hopefully.

It’s a lot of fun seeing what the Old City looked like in 2002, which is surprisingly not a whole lot different than it does today. According to Rhyne, Market Square (the current lynchpin of downtown Knox) was near-silent at the time, so Old City carried a much heavier load of the city’s nightlife. I feel like people in the Old City would react similarly to seeing somebody dressed like Daemon today, though. I imagine these interactions were staged, but still an interesting slice of local culture through foreign eyes.

This documentary’s treatment of race within the context of American history is also fascinating. The Japanese are one of the most homogenous nationalities on Earth, and the Americans are possibly the least, so that dichotomy right there explains why such a pragmatic, less-nuanced view on race relations is not as much of a surprise here. Where the “blues” as a concept has come to be almost completely co-opted by old white men (see King 2006 for further reading on this), here Daemon presents it as a mere curiosity for an audience with few African-origin members, widely disconnected from the ideas of modern slavery. That being said, 我が心のアイルランド [Ireland, deep in my heart] does present a fair share of blackface footage from the pre-War era, most of which has been scrubbed clean from mainstream American media. When certain subjects become taboo in one culture, sometimes that culture must rely on another for any type of understanding.

LINER NOTES

King, S. A. (2006). Memory, mythmaking, and museums: Constructive authenticity and the primitive blues subject. Southern Communication Journal,71(3), 235-250.