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September 18, 2007


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Patrick J. Mullins


Thank you so much for bringing up the Warhol personnel. He told Bob Colacello that "Yee-ah, 'Bike Boy' was good...but we used Valerie..." (she played 'Woman in Street') His death in a New York hospital alone makes him a fully modern legend--without having ever tried to do anything to lead one to think he was interested in anything that wasn't essentially prosaic. But the poetry is everywhere, of course...not least in the links above: If anybody has aged well, it is Sylvia Miles , of 'Sylvia Miles in Heat'...she's frum da Vul-lage, I luv huh...and did wonderful whore-outs in 'Midnight Cowboy' and hotel drunk in 'Farewell, My Lovely.' She told Andy 'I'm a professional person, Andy, and you can't expect me to be treated like that Pat Ast and Andrea Feldman kind of amateur trash...' These exquisite new photos are upgrading your blog into the ethers of HX Magazine, Next Magazine, MetroSource Magazine, and the party parts of the Village Voice.

patrick j. mullins

Oh yes, Happy Birthday, Jodi and Valerie! That was most rude of me and quite the characteristic of some of the bloggers whom I wish to continue in my 'wonderful criticism of'! This is how they've learned to bring about a complete realization of the hyperreal while decrying Baudrillard, which is plain idiotic. I can't remember if Ms. Solanas is still alive, though.


Good post, Jodi.

I also have trouble figuring out why students -- or people, really -- can't get whipped into a frenzy anymore. The absence of manifestos goes hand in hand with the absence of an audience capable of being shocked, and *willing,* *desiring* to be shocked.

The history of the avant-garde in modernist music and theatre is a history of audiences that took pleasure in their own withering dismissal by the artist/dramaturge/composer in question. Everyone would go to the concert to see what all the fuss was about, and soon after the first dissonant downbeats, or the opening choreographic monstrosities, everyone would break off into their loyal factions -- the Wagnerians, the Debussistes, the dandies, the traditionalists, etc. -- so as to insure that *someone's* artistic tempermant would be sullied or inflamed, providing an excuse for the theatre to erupt in a din of self-amusing outrage.

When was the last time you went to a concert that in its aesthetics, or style, was capable of generating that amount of vocal dissent?

Instead, we've arrived at a moment in which such events are met by bland indifference.

I guess it's sort of the same thing that you describe. Everyone has the right to their opinion, from the racist bigot to the militant feminist, and there's no sense in getting all bent out of shape about it... they have a right to express their feelings. In exactly the same way, Stravinsky or John Cage or Pharaoh Sanders or Fluxus or Sonic Youth or whoever have the right to "express their feelings," just so long as they don't expect anyone to feel committed to what they've brought into the world. That wouldn't be "cool."


I'm struggling with some of these issues in the class I'm TAing this semester. Students, having read an essay on manifest destiny, interpreted the author's message as: yes, reality and myth of the American West impact each other and thus we should not make moral judgments on historical events. Appreciate complexity, put aside your indignation.

I struggle with this as a TA whose job is to teach students close-reading practices, to understand the complicated nature of argument and representation. Their instinct, once they've set aside kneejerk politics, is to place primacy on the rhetoric of a work and to forego issues of ethics. They want to sit around in a circle and agree with each other.


That's exactly what they do. It's very weird. I notice that students will say "I agree." And then say something that contradicts the view with which they have just claimed to agree.

They are passive aggressive larvae who hate challenge and confrontation but crave shock, horror, blood, and gore. Three nights a week they binge drink and take all sorts of interesting drugs so as to hide from themselves the banality of their views and expectations.


Wow, Jodi, that last comment put my disdain for "The Kids" more concisely than I ever have. Thank you; I'll have to remember that quote...

I blame the internet. It's a tiresome cliche to hear Oldsters pine for the days when you really had to hunt for "your" people/music/cinema/etc. and now the internet serves it up at the click of a button, "Where's the thrill of the hunt or discovery in that," blah blah blah... BUT it's true! If I decide I want to listen to nothing but ghettotech electro dance music this week, I can immediately find a thousand different MySpace pages catering to that niche. If I want to understand who all these continental dudes y'all keep name-dropping are, a weekend spent on Wikipedia will bring me right up to speed.

There's no need for any kind of intellectual or cultural committment when it's all online. It's there if you want it, so why get all excited?

There are, however, two performances I've witnessed that actually manage to generate outrage and contempt between audience & performer. The first, oddly enough, was Ween - yes, the juvenile novelty-rock duo. All it took for them to push the show to the brink of a hostile stage-invasion was endless excursions into Hendrix-esque solos. And this was after the show had started with nothing but good-natured goofball singalongs like "Spinal Meningitis." But then, drunk fratboys who just wanna make AIDS jokes probably aren't big on meandering jam songs.

More confounding was when I saw the Brian Jonestown Massacre. First off, anyone who's seen the rock-doc "Dig!" knows what I'm talking about:


...but frontman Anton Newcombe is blessed with the ability to infuriate, and without doing much more than being obstinately, belligerently self-confident. It was bizarre; I'd seen performers that had called the audience far worse names in a far more "aggressive" (at least stylistically) atmosphere, but I'd never seen so many people in the audience become earnestly involved in personally arguing with the man on stage. Then again, it may have been the first those folks in the audience had had their privilege to passive enjoyment challenged by the very person they thought was enabling it.


"If I decide I want to listen to nothing but ghettotech electro dance music this week, I can immediately find a thousand different MySpace pages catering to that niche. If I want to understand who all these continental dudes y'all keep name-dropping are, a weekend spent on Wikipedia will bring me right up to speed."

Wow, you nailed my last year of my master's degree with that.


Name dropping and citation are not the same thing. Neither is reading a summary or reading a text.

Kara Miller

hey prof,

just got done reading your post. its late, and i should be reading the material for tomorrow. but someone commented to me today that you have quite a lot to say in your blogs, and that I should check them out. so i did. and I was particularly struck by something.

I told you about my sister and her encounter with this 10 year old girl, and the nigger usage. You make it seem like in your blog, Im ok with the fact that this little girl was expressing her opinion. Of course Im not professor. OF COURSE IM NOT. I feel like yelling this at you, though you are probably just rewording your interpretation of what i told you.

I hate more than anything that that is how people think. I hate that people are incredibly ignorant, and that the word nigger can flow freely from the mouth of a ten-year-old girl. I hate that all my sister could say was, "we're not going to use words like that anymore", and that was it. No more discussion. No anger. Just nine words, that this 10 year old probably disregarded as soon as she heard them. And I hate that I wasn't able to express that to you in class.

So are you wondering if it angered me? LIKE HELL IT DID PROFESSOR. LIKE HELL. And would I have handled it differently, I sure hope I would have. You know what. I know I would have.

I wonder if I was one of the students you wanted to pistol whip, or shoot. That's an interesting thought.

I'll be more mouthy next time we have a heated discussion.


Thanks, Kara. Your anger at the incident is much more apparent in your comments here than it was in class.

(But, I would have only shot you in the arm, nothing that would do permanent damage.)

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