White Bear on American regionalism is a MUST-READ. I know y'all are busy people, but "Gumbo: Why and How to Make It" is well worth every minute you spend on it. To whet your appetite:
As someone who grew up mostly in Kansas, I am appalled by the unbelievably ignorant shit that passes for reading material on the subject of who Kansans are. Thomas Frank's book would do some good if East Coast folks would either (a) read the inside of the book, rather than just throwing up their hands and saying, "What IS the matter with Kansas? Yuk, yuk," or (b) understand that it is about politics in Kansas and has little to do with the real character of the people who live there. ...
Rich East-Coasters know comically little about the rest of the country. They are appalled when they find someone of their acquaintance hasn't been to Paris or Rome, but they couldn't find Louisiana on a map. "Isn't that, like, in the South?" they say. "I hear they eat intestines down there and keep little racist figurines on their knick-knack shelves." And, of course, I've bitched about bourgeois ignorance of Kansas here. Coastal liberals are always talking about needing to mobilize other areas of the country to informed political action, but I fear that, deep down, they write off most of the country as a bunch of backward, inbred yokels with their thumbs up their asses.
As someone who grew up in Missouri and Colorado, with almost all my relatives living in Kansas, you all know how I feel about all this. I couldn't agree more. But I'm not nearly as smart or articulate as White Bear, so I leave you to her. After all, she actually offers you snobs a solution.
Femme Feral, in keeping with my Unofficial (or is it now official?) Music Week, discusses music in commercials with "Wash Your Punk Down With Some Hip-Hop". A taste:
Commercials freak me out. Especially the ones with little kids talking about juice. Yikes.
But two newish commercials aren't freaking me out as much as they seem to be signifying the ultimate de-fanging/crossover of two (historically or potentially) radical musical genres.*
The first one is the "Punky Chips Ahoy, Oi! Oi!." In this commercial, cherubic claymation punks (white kids with green liberty spikes and mohawks, combat boots, and cuffed jeans) and a giant, puffy-looking cookie cabaret kick their way down a London street as fisher-price sounding buzz-saw guitars churn their way through anemic Sex Pistols-style chords. They're singing all about "punky chips ahoy" until they're interrupted by a scowling bobby with a billy club who informs them -- "it's not PUNKY, it's CHUNKY." Oh, hilarious first-letter confusion!!!
Now, I feel compelled to tell you that the SB describes this commercial as "really cute." I also have a hunch that some of you will get a kick out of reading about how one singer was dubbed "too punky for cookie commercials." Interesting, since as the SB notes, this quality of "punkiness" is something -- in the corporate mind -- that is totally separate from the performance of punk. Moreover, the British version of punk sort of declared itself sold-out from the start, so the fact that it has taken 30 years to make it into a snack food commercial gestures towards a meta-meta cylce of corporate-capitalist culture.
Finally, Donny B goes deeper into scary recesses of corporate-capitalist culture with the frightening "Pringles and Pimpfants". Readers, I hope you can handle this. A nibble:
How do you make eating junk food fun, unpredictable and educational? Print Guinness Book World Records on them. Now your food will not only make your body fat, it will make your brain fat...with useless information. It's like Trivial Pursuit, only crispy.