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by Katharine Wray

16 Oct 2009

Authors Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein document and reveal American women across the continent in Girldrive: Criss-crossing America, Redefining Feminism, while traveling the literal and metaphorical road. With a manifest certainty, these life-long friends hit the road in search of “what do other 20-something women care about? Have they heard of this nebulous idea of ‘feminism’ and do they relate to it?” As recent college grads, Nona and Emma decide to take this trip to hear women’s different stories about feminism in America, using their talents as writers and photographers.

There is a trio of plots being told in this unassuming book. The cover and size of the book is similar to that of a photo album, but it’s filled with more than just pictures and memories. The book starts with an ominous dedication, “For two kick-ass feminists who left this world too early”: Emma Bee Bernstein, one of the authors of Girldrive, and Ellen Willis, Nona’s mother.  This information lends a bittersweet poignancy to certain transitional passages.

As Nona and Emma travel the United States, they can’t help but feel “entrenched in a cinematic and literary idea of road tripping.” This nostalgic theme runs through the book, making it at times read like a travelogue, in the cleverest way. Like any well told road trip, this tale stirs wanderlust in the reader. They actually travel from sea to shining sea.

However, above all, this is a book about feminism. As Nona and Emma travel through the States, they interview young women about perspectives on being a woman in modern America. While the authors are strident feminists and embrace the word and it’s history, many of their subjects don’t subscribe to the term, ignore it, or protest against it. Yet, all of these women have very strong opinions about being empowered females.

The tales of these women accompanied by stirring photographs offers a decidedly female perspective in Girldrive. Nona and Emma manage to exhibit the feminine perspective on the American countryside, as well as social and racial issues, with a sense of humor.

by Rob Horning

16 Oct 2009

Metafilter linked to this interview with Andrea Natella, director of Guerrigliamarketing.it, which (I think) pursues culture jamming under the auspices of being an advertising agency. The translation isn’t great, but as far as I can tell, the idea behind this is either that ads have become their opposite, or that resistance to ads has become a latter-day form of advertising in itself. (I prefer the far more cynical second interpretation.) In Natella’s own words: “Guerrigliamarketing.it was born out of a bet. Is it possible to imagine modalities of radical participation on the universe of brands and at the same time present oneself as an advertising agency? Is it possible for the professionals of communication not to give up their own political ideas in carrying out their job?”

What happens when you make “resistance to marketing” your brand? Is that some sort of parallax approach to advertising? Can you converse in the discourse of brands without tacitly endorsing it? Doing Wacky Package-style art seems to vindicate the power of brands rather than subvert it. I guess I am skeptical of the whole “culture jamming” concept, which seems less like Situationist detournement than borderline-cruel pranksterism (sort of like Improv Everywhere). I know it is supposed to “make us think”, but culture jamming often ends up mocking the consumers it purportedly wants to win over.

It strikes me that a strategy of less clever nuisances might be more effective in slowing the juggernaut of thoughtless consumption. When an effort is made to mitigate the inconvenience that inevitably arises from monkeying with the retail market with what can be taken as hipster humor, it alienates the discomfited even further. That makes the subversion of culture jamming into advertising a weird sort of dialectic that ends up vindicating consumers, if you believe Natella, anyway: “What we try to do is to increase the awareness that true value is produced by the consumers.” This is a familiar theme in cultural studies, that consuming culture is an underappreciated form of production—users innovate new techniques to use things, and produce signs and cultural capital with regard to what cultural goods mean. But that doesn’t mean marketing is ultimately benign; it just suggests that its modality is depressingly easy for laypeople to adopt. The value we produce is often something that marketers most appreciate; it is our doing their job for them. So while Natella touts the more obvious capacity of guerrilla marketing to be confrontational—“We made people think that in order to sell a company [the agency] is ready to do anything, also on the border of illegality. We tried to confuse these borders”—the more radical implication is that we are all being drafted as guerrilla-marketing recruits without especially realizing it. Marketing has so saturated culture —with people adopting the discourse of branding, with online activity being tracked and parsed by companies to serve ads, with people embracing hype as a conversational strategy, and so on—that we produce ads simply by virtue of living our lives.

(Incidentally, do not follow the link to thisman.org. It will haunt your nightmares.)

by Faye Rasmussen

16 Oct 2009

The Decemberists have teamed up with four filmmakers—Guilherme Marcondes, Julia Pott, Peter Sluszka and Santa Maria—to create an hour-long animation for their most recent album, The Hazards of Love. The band has officially released the trailer for their upcoming event, on October 19, where they will perform the entire piece synchronized with the animation, as well as an additional second set of old songs and new material. The show will take place at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.

by Tyler Gould

16 Oct 2009

Various Artists
Zevolution: ZE Records Re-Edited
Releasing: 24 November

This batch of re-edited songs from the legendary post-punk label includes dance floor classics (“Annie”), fresh mixes (“Almost Black”), and the odd rarity (“No Turn on Red”). The package will come with an extensive booklet with an introduction by Greg Wilson and sleeve notes by Bill Brewster.

01 Kid Creole & The Coconuts – I’m Corrupt (Idjut Boys Edit)
02 Gichy Dan’s Beachwood No 9 – Cowboys & Gangsters (Social Disco Club Edit)
03 Gichy Dan’s Beachwood No 9 – On A Day Like Today (Todd Terje ‘Friendly Children’ Edit)
04 David Gamson – No Turn On Red (Fat Camp version)
05 Material with Nona Hendryx – Bustin’ Out (Rub & Tug Edit)
06 Aural Exciters – Spooks In Space (Luke Howard & Felix Dickinson Edit)
07 James White & The Blacks - Contort Yourself (Twitch-Optimo mix)
08 Was (Not Was) – Tell Me That I’m Dreaming (Greg Wilson ZE-Edit)
09 James White & The Blacks – Almost Black (Richard Sen’s Padded Cell Edit)
10 Garcons – Encore L’Amore (Leo Zero Edit)
11 Don Armando’s Seventh Avenue Rhumba Band – I’m An Indian Too (Pilooski mix)
12 Kid Creole & The Coconuts – Annie I’m Not Your Daddy (Soul Mekanik ‘Bounty Girls’ Edit)

Aural Exciters
Spooks In Space (Luke Howard & Felix Dickinson Filthy & Foolish Edit) [MP3]

by Eleanore Catolico

16 Oct 2009

Shoegaze songstress Tamaryn drapes palpable reverb over the lovely “Mild Confusion”, a beautiful melange of spiky guitar, monster drums, and Tamaryn’s sultry timbre.

Mild Confusion [MP3]

//Mixed media

'Doctor Who': Casting a Woman as the Doctor Offers Fresh Perspectives and a New Kind of Role Model

// Channel Surfing

"The BBC's announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor has sections of fandom up in arms. Why all the fuss?

READ the article