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My Husband's Stupid Record Collection
March 16, 2014 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Alex and I have lived together for 9 years. In those 9 years we have packed up, moved and unpacked his record collection 5 times. It’s about 15 boxes, about 1500 hundred records “that includes the singles and stuff, which you’re also going to have to review.” Is what Alex just said to me from the other room... Here are the rules I’ve set for my self. Start with the “A’s” these records are set up in alphabetical order by artist. Listen to the entire thing even if I really hate it. And make sure to comment on the cover art. Are you with me? Let’s see how far I can go. (20 so far...)
posted by Going To Maine (230 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm kind of wierded out by the 'ladies aren't supposed like this' comments that both she and her husband made about the Anthrax album. As a woman who loves metal, I do not comprehend this sentence: "Why does music have to be such a division of the sexes sometimes?"
posted by LindsayIrene at 4:00 PM on March 16 [33 favorites]


I don't really get this -- has she like never heard of any music except for One Direction, or something? Is there a level of snark I'm not comprehending? Like, she's never heard of The Animals? "OOoh, it's open-y"?

I'm surprised someone is willing to go on the internet and voluntarily be this dumb. And I recently started a tumblr wherein I read/explicate this one particular Star Trek novel I used to wank to.
posted by Sara C. at 4:09 PM on March 16 [34 favorites]


Let's see how far you can go? I'm guessing, until you get a stupid book deal.
posted by ReeMonster at 4:10 PM on March 16 [68 favorites]


Huh. Her husband is Alex Goodman from On the Media.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:12 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


I could've traded for an original copy of Spirits Rejoice yesterday but I decided to go for a couple of other things on ESP-Disk instead, which is a long way of saying I cannot relate to this woman at all.
posted by solarion at 4:13 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by briank at 4:16 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


I'm sort of weirded out by this, since it seems to rely on the idea that women are these naive listeners who don't collect records or know, apparently, anything about any sort of music at all, and it's sort of "authentic" and yet lulzy to read their ramblings as they encounter records owned by a Serious Dude. Well, serious dude, I also have many of the same albums as you, and I are a queer assigned-female-at-birth person who was at one time obsessed by latter-period punk and its personnel.

Also, weirded out by the Albert Ayler section for reasons I cannot quite define, except that it does not seem like the best approach to Ayler even for a total newb.

It is true that everyone I know including me got into free jazz in the late nineties, which is why I have Spirits Rejoice, which I like. But I felt that it was because a lot of key people like Mark Stewart had themselves been super into free jazz and free-jazz-like experiments, so it wasn't a reaction but a continuation.
posted by Frowner at 4:17 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]


A couple of the things she reviewed are records I really like (like the Au Pairs), and others are stuff I don't like at all. It's hard to say which category produced worse reviews, honestly -- I mean, I get the idea, that she's coming in as if totally ignorant and giving her immediate impressions, but it's not telling me much other than that she is clueless and lacks the language to do this well.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:18 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


it seems to rely on the idea that women are these naive listeners who don't collect records or know, apparently, anything about any sort of music at all, and it's sort of "authentic" and yet lulzy to read their ramblings as they encounter records owned by a Serious Dude

It's especially weird when you think about the fact that the woman in question is apparently married to the Serious Dude.

So, like, what could they possibly even talk about, if he has a relatively serious and expansive 1500 LP vinyl collection and she's like "whats Adam Ant?"
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 PM on March 16 [25 favorites]


Also weirded out by the idea that a naive approach to records is necessarily an internet-mockery style approach - like if you don't know anything about something, the best and most interesting way to approach it for an audience is not necessarily to take it on its own terms relatively seriously while also using your brain but to have this sort of ha-ha lookit the funny artifact from the past ironic distance.

It reminds me a bit of that one linked here where this woman tried a recipe from Laura Ingalls Wilder which specifically said to whip the egg whites until stiff before adding them to the batter, decided she was not going to whip the egg whites until stiff and then made a lot of jokes about stupid people in the past and their dense, leaden cakes. Like, yes, if you willfully mess up the leavening part of the cake, it will indeed be dense.
posted by Frowner at 4:21 PM on March 16 [19 favorites]


I'm proudly ignorant of jazz so I'm going to write about it as if everyone agrees with me!
posted by ReeMonster at 4:23 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


HOW HAD SHE NEVER HEARD AC/DC's "BIG BALLS"??????
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 PM on March 16 [26 favorites]


So, like, what could they possibly even talk about, if he has a relatively serious and expansive 1500 LP vinyl collection and she's like "whats Adam Ant?"

Well, I can reasonably see this being their specific point of division, as it at least seems to be in good humor. Perhaps they're actually able to mingle their book collections and go or not go out to the same protests.
posted by solarion at 4:23 PM on March 16


I was all ready to hate this (and I agree with the meh faces about casting the woman as the ignoramus and the dude as the srs bzns music listener) but I enjoyed her Adam Ant pieces, so there's that. She does come off as an archaeologist from the future listening to the music of my youth, which can be good or bad.

On the other hand, I look at the srs bzns music dude and his vinyl collection, and it reminds me of guys I have known and loved who dragged longboxes of sealed comics everywhere and never read them again. I am not sure that srs bzns music dude with his expansive vinyl collection is coming off any better than the (deliberately posed as?) naive spouse.

(Also I tend to write a couple of sentences of first impressions of albums I listen to in my journal, and I wouldn't want to be judged on them. They're not my strongest writing. But listening to a lot of music and writing about it certainly seems like a valid way to discover your own musical taste and develop a critical ear, even if it's not a professional critic's ear.)
posted by immlass at 4:25 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


How is she married to someone who owns 1500 albums, none of which she has apparently ever heard? Does he own all these albums and never play them? If so, I'd be pretty pissed at having to haul them around if I were her, too.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:26 PM on March 16 [20 favorites]


HOW HAD SHE NEVER HEARD AC/DC's "BIG BALLS"??????

Well, in the intro post, she does admit that her tastes have moved from Disney musicals to Dave Matthews to the Pixies "in college."

So I'd say it's Dave Matthews' fault.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:26 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


After reading through a few pages I'm processing what to say, not weirded out per se, and really trying not to slip into condescending tones: So this... we all have our paths towards becoming more rounded individuals, and while there are a lot of assumptions and (intentionally?) silliness I dislike/disagree with here I suspect at the end of the process she'll know a lot more then she did going into it... hopefully.

HOW HAD SHE NEVER HEARD AC/DC's "BIG BALLS"??????
Same way she had no clue about All In The Family I guess, and yeah... um what do her and he husband talk about I wonder (honestly).

Get off my effing lawn you rug rats!!!
posted by edgeways at 4:27 PM on March 16


So, like, what could they possibly even talk about, if he has a relatively serious and expansive 1500 LP vinyl collection and she's like "whats Adam Ant?"

I have a collection several times this size, and Mrs. Listener had only a passing interest in any of it. This was never a problem because, you know, there's a whole world out there full of wonderful things to talk about besides old records.
posted by Longtime Listener at 4:29 PM on March 16 [52 favorites]


I must admit "owning lots of albums and never playing them" is much easier when you have CDs than vinyl, and easier still with all that newfangled mp3 stuff the kids have now. If nothing else, this is a good reminder to me that I should be listening to my music more often. I've been meaning to take up embroidery again (as all the women in my family seem to have completed a Great Work of embroidery during their lives, and I haven't done one) and that would be a great opportunity to re-listen to some of this stuff.
posted by Frowner at 4:29 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


I own a record shop and can say with certainty that couples like this are extremely common.
posted by dobbs at 4:29 PM on March 16 [31 favorites]


> So, like, what could they possibly even talk about, if he has a relatively serious and expansive 1500 LP vinyl collection and she's like "whats Adam Ant?"

I recall a friend saying that the secret of a happy marriage is to have no more than 60% of your interests in common.

Their musical interests do not overlap. I don't think it's weird at all. Why should they like all the same things?
posted by ardgedee at 4:30 PM on March 16 [18 favorites]


In fact, they barely wrote any songs on this album and the ones they did write aren’t that good, like the song “The Story of Bo Didley.”
posted by goethean at 4:31 PM on March 16


I think that couples like this (okay, and then I will knock off posting in this thread for a bit) are common because of the language around music listening and collecting. I've spent much of my adult life as the one female (or female-enough-for-the purposes-of-argument) person in a group of dude record collectors - and I love going round the record shops, certainly - and it's never been fun. I'm always one down, there's always something being proved, it's often a very empty conversation because it doesn't seem to address the social meaning of the music, just a list of who produced what, not even a list of who produced what and how that person's philosophy affects how the music sounds. I remember the one fucking time that I made a mix CD that pretty much stumped the dudes in the room, and I feel bad that it is a big deal to me that I could stump them because that is not how music listening should be.
posted by Frowner at 4:33 PM on March 16 [36 favorites]


It's not so much that I think they need to like the same things, as, well, OK. I'm in a new relationship. Neither of us owns 1500 LPs. But we've listened to music together on many occasions. I have a vague sense of his taste in music, and I imagine he would say the same.

We've had a few conversations where I'll say, "Did you know Hari Kondabolu is the brother of one of the dudes in Das Racist? How cool is that?" and then we'll talk about hip hop for a minute and maybe put on some Wu Tang or something.

We don't talk about music that often, neither of us is a huge music geek, and our tastes don't really overlap. But over the course of a couple months, it's come up a time or two. Like, I feel like I'd already know if he had never heard of post-punk or free jazz.
posted by Sara C. at 4:35 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Alright this sounds like saws sawing through pipes, and the lyrics are disgusting.

This is a fine comment from a record review, in my opinion.

Honestly, you guys, she moved that collection 5 times! Just based on that, she has the right to write whatever she likes about the albums. That's love, right there.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:35 PM on March 16 [40 favorites]


I like this. I'd say my taste runs more closely to the husband's than the blogger's, but I genuinely enjoy seeing things from the perspective of someone completely new to them. What comes across, what survives when you have no sense of a work's reputation to condition you as to how to approach it? That's interesting with the works I know, and with the ones I don't it fun to get some tips as to new stuff, too -- I'm definitely going to check out the Soul Makoussa albumn.

I kind of feel like any critic's work can be useful to you once you understand their taste, and know where it overlaps yours.
posted by Diablevert at 4:39 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, if my household replicated this tumblr blog, the first ten albums my partner would have to listen to are:
A.M. by Wilco
Abana Ba Nasery by Shem Tube, Justo Osala & Enos Okola
The ABCs of Anarchism by Negativland and Chumbawumba
Absinthe by Naked City
Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin by Alarm Will Sound
Acoustics by Kaiser, Kimura, O'Rourke and Oswald
Aereo-Plain by John Hartford
Africa: Drum, Chant & Instrumental Music
African Marketplace by Abdullah Ibrahim
After Hours: Live in Paris by Bothy Band

And the first ten I would have to listen to are:
ABC: The Remix Collection
Abductions and Reconstructions by Thievery Corporation
Acoustic by Everything But the Girl
Acoustic Movement by Oldfish
Affection by Lisa Stansfield
Affirmation by Savage Garden
Afrika Shox by Leftfield
Ain't Ever Satisfied: The Steve Earle Collection
Albinoni: Adagio; Pachelbel, Etc. by I Musici
All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2
posted by ardgedee at 4:39 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


I agree, there is a bad "I'm so dumb" shtick to all this. But interestingly, her husband seems to be off as well. I read the review of the Animals, where she wondered why anybody would records covers of artists that they liked. Her husband offers the explanation:

"Alex told me his theory of why this was done a lot back then was because it was a “safe” way for white people to listen to black people’s music, and I think that’s a valid point and probably true. But all in all, it’s not too bad of a way to listen to a lot of classic hits."

But this is wrong. Bands like the Animals recorded classics of their genre partly because the originals weren't so widely available, the more so in England and Germany which was clearly the target market. Your listeners may well not have access to any other recording of that song unless they were big on buying imports from the US.
posted by Thing at 4:41 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


This will soon end as Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East is surely just around the corner.

Nothing more is required. Nothing more needs to be said.
posted by hal9k at 4:44 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


She should have done it backwards and started with John Zorn.
posted by parki at 4:45 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


But this is wrong. Bands like the Animals recorded classics of their genre partly because the originals weren't so widely available, the more so in England and Germany which was clearly the target market. Your listeners may well not have access to any other recording of that song unless they were big on buying imports from the US.

Listeners in England and Germany, maybe. But the Animal's cover of House of the Rising Sun was a #1 hit in the U.S. as well, way better than the Nina Simone version, which I believe they were covering (they also did her Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood).

Covers in general were just way more common then --- white artists covered white artists as well, and in the early 60s you might have four or five different bands put out the same song. I think it's a holdover from big band jazz --- back then when you went to the club, you'd expect every capable band to be able to pull off a version of April In Paris or whatever the hot song at the time was for people to dance to. It wasn't until the mid-60s and Dylan that the idea of the singer-songwriter takes hold, that the singer was attached to the song because it was supposed to be meaningful to them, personal to them.
posted by Diablevert at 4:50 PM on March 16 [29 favorites]


This combines all the dubious charm of those 'let's watch 6-year-olds get baffled by VCRs' things that always show up here, with the exhaustive banality of those tumblr-to-book-deal 'watch me do something for a year or in alphabetical order because I have no ideas or purpose in my life oh god I wish I was still in school' other things that always show up here.

It would actually be better if they had 6-year-olds either reviewing the records or playing frisbee with them, but no, that would require some actual work.
posted by hap_hazard at 4:53 PM on March 16 [15 favorites]


The second song is called “House of the Rising Sun”, and I totally know this song!

That makes me feel old.

Fun fact. Or allegation, at least. Eric Burden ripped off his interpretation from Bob Dylan, who had to stop singing it because the Animals had had a bigger hit with it than Dylan ever had. Serves him right since Dylan had ripped it off from Dave Van Ronk, who had made it his own for the coffee house circuit and had planned on making it his break-out vinyl.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:57 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Hey now, it's alphabetical by artist, not title. (Though V/A stuff is alphabetical title.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:58 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Hi. This is my wife. And my record collection. Goarsh, I feel so exposed.

Sarah listens to a lot of my records. But she has other interests and just never picked up a good chunk of my collection.

Sorry about the way this story is cast, but...uh, she's who she is and I'm who I am. I'm into weird music and she has read 4x as many books as I have.

We started this thing two weeks ago with no goal other than to get to know each other better. All of this scrutiny is a little weird, but hey, we put it on the Internet, so that's on us. There's a long way to go, so maybe you'll start to like it better as it goes on.
posted by Alex Goldman at 4:59 PM on March 16 [98 favorites]




I'm kind of wierded out by the 'ladies aren't supposed like this' comments that both she and her husband made about the Anthrax album. As a woman who loves metal, I do not comprehend this sentence: "Why does music have to be such a division of the sexes sometimes

I am woman, hear my collection of Wesley Willis music roar...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:03 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


The elitism in this thread is ridiculous. Music nerds are the worst.

You're allowed to have different interests! The lady married mr internet man at the public radio station in new york, do you really think she's going to turn out to be a boring, plain person to talk to?

Get a hold of yourself, metafilter.
posted by pmv at 5:03 PM on March 16 [36 favorites]


There's a long way to go, so maybe you'll start to like it better as it goes on.

I was thinking we might see something quite interesting should we get to N and the changes in appreciation become quite visible (because you can't listen to 700-odd records without picking up something). Good luck with it all.
posted by solarion at 5:03 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


> Hey now, it's alphabetical by artist, not title.

That will eventually mean reaching the Gs and facing thousands of tracks by Guided By Voices. And, well, if I didn't like GBV I wouldn't have accumulated them all, but listening to nothing else for days on end without a break is not a fate I would wish on anybody.
posted by ardgedee at 5:03 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Alex Goldman, don't listen to these jerks!

I have been in your wife's shoes and this is exactly what I wanted to do. You just two just keep trucking on.
posted by pmv at 5:04 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Hi Alex, I'd welcome you to metafilter but it looks like you've been here for a minute, so here, have a tagline-

metafilter: hey, we put it on the Internet, so that's on us

also, I'm a bad person and I should feel bad :(
posted by hap_hazard at 5:05 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


I was just in the process of composing a FPP about the Vinyl Bunker at The British Museum, so yeah, this saves me from writing it...
posted by growabrain at 5:05 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Sorry about the way this story is cast, but...uh, she's who she is and I'm who I am. I'm into weird music and she has read 4x as many books as I have.

It's a great idea! But I think the casting would be a lot more favourable to you both if it was more "woah all these people make all these amazing sounds I've never heard before" and less "golly gee willikers what is all this boyfriend musics".
posted by Jairus at 5:06 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter: golly gee willikers
posted by Going To Maine at 5:09 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


But I think the casting would be a lot more favourable to you both if it was more "woah all these people make all these amazing sounds I've never heard before" and less "golly gee willikers what is all this boyfriend musics".

If she already felt that passionately about it to begin with, she wouldn't be in a position to do this, because she'd already have her own giant music collection and a fully-formed taste. The interesting part about it is someone learning to like something they don't already like, someone who's not coming at it from a perspective of being a fan to start.
posted by Diablevert at 5:11 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Eric Burden ripped off his interpretation from Bob Dylan, who had to stop singing it because the Animals had had a bigger hit with it than Dylan ever had. Serves him right since Dylan had ripped it off from Dave Van Ronk...

And before that, Leadbelly. And before that, Tom Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster.
posted by Longtime Listener at 5:11 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


MY SO thinks I have too many King Crimson albums.

Still, I'd like to read the reviews she could write if she listened to all my old vinyl.
posted by DarkForest at 5:12 PM on March 16


She's writing these blog posts, right? It's not the man creating a fictional character and choosing her voice due to gender stereotypes... It's a grown woman expressing herself in her own words in a public forum.

But I guess women can't be trusted to share their own opinions and experiences correctly. Thank god we're here to set her straight?
posted by jsturgill at 5:13 PM on March 16 [34 favorites]


She recognizes the implicit threat. Marriages come and go; crates of records are forever. Someone will have to move them after you are dead.
posted by thelonius at 5:16 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


If she already felt that passionately about it to begin with, she wouldn't be in a position to do this, because she'd already have her own giant music collection and a fully-formed taste. The interesting part about it is someone learning to like something they don't already like, someone who's not coming at it from a perspective of being a fan to start.

I don't know, I mean she says she thinks Anthrax is beautiful, so I don't know that I buy that anyone who doesn't have a giant collection and a fully formed taste can't be passionate about new experiences.
posted by Jairus at 5:16 PM on March 16


I think people identify with their taste in music above and beyond their taste in almost any other kind of media. During our lonely teen years it became a part of who they are.

This is a fairly normative experience and so on some level it's more socially acceptable to be a deep, pedantic nerd about this shit.

I'm a fairly class sensitive kinda guy, but music nerdery has always deeply bored me because it seemed like such an expression of privilege, at least prior to the era of Total Media Availability (~2007). On the evening prior to the dawn of the age of Youtube, to be well versed in music meant that you either worked at a record store and or possessed enough disposable income to accumulate dozens of records/cds/whatever.

(It's even worse today; not only do you the disposable income to actually buy the things, but to also waste in additional dead square footage, which in big cities counts for something, since we no longer need records to listen to music, but I digress)

Also you gotta set a higher boundary for your pop culture outrage; AC/DC I feel hasn't really outlived it's generation, but I think we can all agree that someone who has never consciously listened to a Beatles song is just shut to the world of pop music entirely.
posted by pmv at 5:17 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


because the Animals had had a bigger hit with it than Dylan ever had

I love The Animal's version as well as Dylan's and Frijid Pink's versions. They don't compete at all, unlike most song remakes, IMHO.
posted by DarkForest at 5:19 PM on March 16


Lol I like this a lot. Funny. I've always had a giant record collection and I've lived with a few women over the years, including my current wife, and I'm pretty sure they would all say similar things about my giant pile of vinyl.

We both like jazz and classical a lot, but I'm pretty sure my Up With People album would generate a fair amount of hate.
posted by freakazoid at 5:19 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


She's writing these blog posts, right? It's not the man creating a fictional character and choosing her voice ...
what a great character that would be; he'd be writing the blog in hopes that an ex/exes would read it and be jealous when in reality they would all be wondering who this woman was, no really now, who wrote all these posts.
Yeah I'm definitely using this
posted by From Bklyn at 5:20 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Listeners in England and Germany, maybe. But the Animal's cover of House of the Rising Sun was a #1 hit in the U.S. as well, way better than the Nina Simone version, which I believe they were covering (they also did her Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood).

Well that's true! I suppose I didn't mean to say covers weren't sometimes valued as music in themselves or part of an existing tradition, just that they weren't inexplicable duplications of songs you already had. Getting hold of a recording of a song or a specific album from abroad could be difficult, and in many places you couldn't just walk into a shop and buy a Bo Didley album.
posted by Thing at 5:21 PM on March 16


It is an interesting idea, but I am put off a bit by her tone. Why does she have to call it his STUPID record collection?

I was a bit of a music nerd in my youth, and yes it did shock the young men when I knew more than they did... on the other hand, I lived for many years with a musician whose tastes I did not share. When we first started going out and he played Led Zeppelin, I was all 'yuk that sounds like random noise' and by the time we broke up I wanted to keep all the Led Zeppelin.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:24 PM on March 16


MY SO thinks I have too many King Crimson albums.

Do you have this yet? It's probably got live versions of "Easy Money" that you haven't heard.
posted by thelonius at 5:25 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


That will eventually mean reaching the Gs and facing thousands of tracks by Guided By Voices. And, well, if I didn't like GBV I wouldn't have accumulated them all, but listening to nothing else for days on end without a break is not a fate I would wish on anybody.

I'm pretty sure I only have Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes on vinyl. I'm a collecter, but definitely not a completist. One day I want to have them all!
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:26 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]



I don't know, I mean she says she thinks Anthrax is beautiful, so I don't know that I buy that anyone who doesn't have a giant collection and a fully formed taste can't be passionate about new experiences.


Yeah, but she doesn't have to be respectful about it, either. There's the rub, I think. Most of us aren't respectful of interest we don't share; for her this collection has mostly been filed under "a pain in the ass to lug around" rather than "the beloved works of amazing musicians which have delighted me time and again". I think that's the part people take as an insult --- as I stop and think about it, if this blog had been about someone who never reads reading their spouse's book collection, I probably would have been one of the indignant ones myself, because while I enjoy music, books are my blood, and I am, if I'm honest, contemptuous of people who don't read. So I get that. But I still think part of the reason why it's interesting is that she gives things no due, and to come at it with the attitude of "I'm so excited about the amazing things I'm about to hear" is to start from a position of respect.
posted by Diablevert at 5:27 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


I'm sort of weirded out by this, since it seems to rely on the idea that women are these naive listeners who don't collect records or know, apparently, anything about any sort of music at all. . . .

Just more (unintentional) ammunition to reinforce all the tropes about "WAF" and "females" being fundamentally hostile to music, stereos, etc. that are constantly bandied about on music/audiophile forums. I hang out at such places occasionally but have to take frequent breaks because they are the very epitome of boyzone.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:27 PM on March 16


As far as the whole "I'm annoying by moving this crap all the time", how's about paying some college kid 100 bucks to haul the boxes around next time?
posted by ReeMonster at 5:28 PM on March 16


On the evening prior to the dawn of the age of Youtube, to be well versed in music meant that you either worked at a record store and or possessed enough disposable income to accumulate dozens of records/cds/whatever.
Or live within range of WFMU (and make lots of tapes of it).
posted by unmake at 5:28 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Why does she have to call it his STUPID record collection?

she moved 15 boxes of heavy records 5 times. that is 75 heavy boxes up and down flights of stairs, let us not even speak of the hours spent collecting those boxes, lovingly packing and unpacking them, etc. what word should she have used?
posted by andreapandrea at 5:29 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]


I just read the Albert Ayler post and loved the fact that she was willing to sit through an entire album of music from a genre so foreign to her. Her account of the experience was straightforward and honest, and gave a pretty good idea of what the music was like, given her limitations. I love this, and wish I had the time to read more of her posts, let alone the time to sit down and listen to twenty albums and write about each one.
posted by kozad at 5:34 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


I am wondering what she would make of cricket if we went to see a full international (five day) match and reviewed it.
posted by Wordshore at 5:36 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


My ex and I had no musical taste in common. He liked metal speed hackery and could be reliably driven into a (hilarious to me) frothing rage by my pretending that I thought it was all made by Heart. I of course have impeccable musical taste and partly made the decision to divorce him because of a nasty crack he made about Frank Sinatra.

I guess my takeaway here is that Alex and his wife should beware. I'd call her by name except I didn't see it anywhere on the tumblr which also weirds me out a little.
posted by winna at 5:38 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


I'd call her by name except I didn't see it anywhere on the tumblr which also weirds me out a little.

"...because I feel like this is Sarah’s blog, not mine. But Sarah told me I needed to comment on this one..."
posted by Wordshore at 5:40 PM on March 16




I am wondering what she would make of cricket if we went to see a full international (five day) match and reviewed it.


Can't get you that, can get you a similar piece co-written by one of the writers for the US Office/showrunner for Parks and Rec.

And now I'll quit drowning the thread.
posted by Diablevert at 5:40 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Where on the tumblr is that? I guess that ineptitude is on me.
posted by winna at 5:44 PM on March 16


The bottom of the Albert Ayler post.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:48 PM on March 16


I love the tone of her writing, and I'm old enough to be astounded (briefly) that she's never heard of Adam Ant. Keep on keeping on, Sarah!

winna: Bottom of the first (latest) post.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:48 PM on March 16


Or live within range of WFMU (and make lots of tapes of it).

That's my excuse! I'm listening at this very moment in fact!

she moved 15 boxes of heavy records 5 times. that is 75 heavy boxes up and down flights of stairs, let us not even speak of the hours spent collecting those boxes, lovingly packing and unpacking them, etc. what word should she have used?

The music is important to the person she loves. Did she personally pack and haul every single item? I'll take their word for it they don't care... it just bugs me. I'm not saying she has to share all his interests, just calling his interest stupid grates on me, that's all.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:49 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


I am really disappointed by this thread and I feel like a lot of music nerds are applying their own issues onto this writer. She's approaching the collection from the outside and cataloging her experience as it comes to her. She's not pretending to be super naive because hey, it's possible to go through life without having heard every essential album from 1982. It should also be possible for her to write from her own perspective without being accused of purposefully playing into gender stereotypes just because she admits her own lack of knowledge.
posted by Think_Long at 5:50 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


On the evening prior to the dawn of the age of Youtube, to be well versed in music meant that you either worked at a record store and or possessed enough disposable income to accumulate dozens of records/cds/whatever.

Or you listened to the many varying-format FM stations around in the 1970s, or you checked a lot of books and music out of the public library, or you and your friends borrowed and taped each other's records, or you spent your 75 cent weekly allowance + babysitting money on 45s, or you joined the Columbia House record club and got 12 records for $3.00 and listened to your older siblings' records. . . .
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:51 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


Do you have this yet?

Ha! That's impressive. But I'm far from a completist, and most of my music purchases come from the thrift stores these days (Latest purchase was Masterpieces of Russian Church Music and Bob Newhart's The Button Down Mind on TV). If I want to hear live Crimson now, I'll just put on 21st Century Schizoid Man from Earthbound nice and loud.
posted by DarkForest at 5:52 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


This thread consists of reviews of her reviews. Very meta.
posted by memebake at 5:57 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


But I still think part of the reason why it's interesting is that she gives things no due, and to come at it with the attitude of "I'm so excited about the amazing things I'm about to hear" is to start from a position of respect.

Yeah, fair enough! That makes sense.
posted by Jairus at 6:04 PM on March 16


> so maybe you'll start to like it better as it goes on.

I like her reviews (and her reviewing style) very much. Sasha Frere-Jones has much to learn.
posted by jfuller at 6:06 PM on March 16


Why does she have to call it his STUPID record collection?

because you could fit FLAC versions of the whole thing on one lousy portable hard drive?

(i say this as someone who's got at least 3 times the vinyl her husband has)
posted by pyramid termite at 6:09 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]




Criminy, I haven't heard most of the bands/songs that some people on this thread seem to think everyone sentient on earth must have heard.

Not everyone shares the same experiences. We should admire a person for giving a listen to something they were previously unfamiliar with, not aghast that they had never heard it before.
posted by kyrademon at 6:23 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


That will eventually mean reaching the Gs and facing thousands of tracks by Guided By Voices.

Some listening to The Godz before that, maybe.

she moved 15 boxes of heavy records 5 times.

Moving is always stressful. Shuffling the compact cartons of books and records is much less fuss than moving various awkward furniture, kitchen cutlery, bathroom personals, and other random crap.
posted by ovvl at 6:25 PM on March 16


Bands in the 60's put out new albums on an amazingly fast pace - covers were a way of filling out the album around the one or two singles. Plus it generated royalties for the record company's back catalog of tracks.
posted by jkosmicki at 6:25 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


I own a record shop and can say with certainty that couples like this are extremely common.

Yup.

This blog was making the rounds with my library friends because the author's also a librarian, and many of my colleagues thought I'd like it.

I thought it was fine, but not really my thing because it reinforces a stereotype that really bugs the shit out of me - Women sort of going "LOL records. Aren't they weird?" to their man's collecting. Why does it bug the shit out of me? Because I have to deal with it when I go record shopping. Often the store owners (usually guys) seem surprised I'm buying records for myself. They try engage my husband in conversation when it's sort of clear he's just chilling there to humour me. Then there's the annoying thing where women try to make small chat with me when I'm scouring the crates because they're bored and they think I must be too.

I've been collecting since I was in high school and never thought about it because my collecting mentor was also a woman, but over the years I realized it can be really gendered and it's annoying. I know that not everybody gets it, or cares that I have some pretty sweet records, and that's OK. I just wish, as Frowner mentioned upthread, that I didn't have to always work to prove myself a little bit harder than the rest of the guys. (Oh and when we moved, I moved all of my records myself. I didn't trust anybody else.)

All that baggage aside, I always get a kick out of reading about other people's collections. I like the project aspect of it and the open conversation between two people. I will keep checking in on it.
posted by kendrak at 6:30 PM on March 16 [19 favorites]


"The first time I met you? Modell's sister's high school graduation party, right? 1955, and Ain't That a Shame was playing when I walked in the door!"

am hoping there's no shrevie in this narrative
posted by Spatch at 6:31 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


We should admire a person for giving a listen to something they were previously unfamiliar with, not aghast that they had never heard it before.

I have no problem with the fact that she's never heard of X or Y band, or that she hasn't already listened to all this stuff*. I actually think this is a pretty cool project, and I think it would be even cooler if it were Alex's project, actually listening to his 1500 records that he's been lugging around for years, in order, once and for all. I'm not even het up about the book deal angle.

My only real beef is with the deliberately ignorant wide-eyed tone. Like, "so there are some people of some kind on the cover, and the music has, I don't know, drums?" I'd be a little happier with it if she were more honest about the fact that she is a human being on Earth in the 21st century and has probably heard popular music before. The tone actually comes off as uninformative and not really useful for evaluating anything, because all it tells me is "this woman has never heard music before," over and over, not really anything about the music specifically.

*OK, this is kind of a lie, because I do find it weird and sort of incurious of her to not have ever listened to this stuff. But mostly I don't care about that.
posted by Sara C. at 6:32 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


This thread consists of reviews of her reviews. Very meta.

By pointing out the obvious and calling it "meta," this comment accords a privileged epistemic status to itself which it denies to "lower-order" criticial interventions and etc etc
posted by clockzero at 6:40 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Shuffling the compact cartons of books and records is much less fuss than moving various awkward furniture, kitchen cutlery, bathroom personals, and other random crap.

Oh god no. The sacred vinyl is worse than the books, which are compact but heavy and generally large in number. But books don't generally break if you accidentally drop them (not to mention warping in any condition other than pristine perfect climate control--don't ask how I learned that.)
posted by immlass at 6:42 PM on March 16


i was a little shocked that she'd never heard of the animals - they were one of your basic british invasion groups and maintained an AM radio presence until about 1968 - and still get played on oldies stations
posted by pyramid termite at 6:44 PM on March 16


The writer only just turned 32 - I'm not surprised that her musical priorities are not The Animals and AC/DC.
posted by 41swans at 6:47 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


I'm surprised about the Animals, but only because House Of The Rising Sun seems like such a staple or classic rock stations. That said, I consider myself something of a music nerd in a similar age demographic & have felt roughly no compunction to hunt down any AC/DC, though also a smidge of guilt about that lack of guilt.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:53 PM on March 16


I'm a fairly class sensitive kinda guy, but music nerdery has always deeply bored me because it seemed like such an expression of privilege, at least prior to the era of Total Media Availability (~2007). On the evening prior to the dawn of the age of Youtube, to be well versed in music meant that you either worked at a record store and or possessed enough disposable income to accumulate dozens of records/cds/whatever.

I mean, technically yes you had to have disposable income in the sense that you wouldn't see a lot of working class music nerds with families to feed. But there were plenty of working-class music nerds who were stereotypically single males and simply spent *every bit* of disposable income on music. Have you ever known a REAL PUNK type or hip-hop head? Or, well, any musicians?
posted by atoxyl at 7:01 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


At least they actually listen to their vinyl records. I've carted my two crates of vinyl around for thirty years but haven't actually owned a turntable for more than half that time now. I'm pretty sure that none of my records have been heard since 1995 or so.
posted by octothorpe at 7:06 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


My goodness, she has to take a picture of herself with each album? We must be living in the golden age of narcissism.

At least she liked Kings of the Wild Frontier, which is my go-to barometer for being a decent human being.
posted by Catblack at 7:07 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


On "how she missed 'Big Balls'" -

Well, in the intro post, she does admit that her tastes have moved from Disney musicals to Dave Matthews to the Pixies "in college."

Okay, but I'm not an AC/DC fan either and yet I'm still, like, cognizant of it. It got played, and still gets played, a lot out in the world.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


I didn't get even the slightest hint hint from this that the blogger was trying to frame this as "hey, imagine what would happen if I - a woman! - tried to listen to serious records!" She pretty much lays out her musical background in the "about me" post, and it's pretty clear that a deep interest in the nuances of popular music isn't really part of it. That's the whole point of her blog. She never claims to be representing women in general.
posted by whir at 7:08 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


On "how she missed 'Big Balls'" -

Well, in the intro post, she does admit that her tastes have moved from Disney musicals to Dave Matthews to the Pixies "in college."

Okay, but I'm not an AC/DC fan either and yet I'm still, like, cognizant of it. It got played, and still gets played, a lot out in the world.


So, speaking for me: I have read many best of lists with AC/DC on it. I know they are well-known for "Hell's Bells" and "Highway To Hell". Until very recently -like, in the past few weeks recently- I would not have been able to identify Highway To Hell. When I finally heard the song in the context of its name, all I could think was "Oh! That's the mwah=mwah-MWA-MWAH song I've heard every so often." It's only today that I've learned that AC/DC has a song called Big Balls, and it's made me draw a line between them and King Missile that I hadn't realized had existed. My mind is a smidge blown.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:15 PM on March 16


Ugh. Not knowing about All in the Family is virtually a cardinal sin our house. I can learn nothing from any doofy youngster on the street.
posted by readyfreddy at 7:16 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Personally, I thought this was a perfect summary of AC/DC: "Back in Black" has a very spooky start and made me think I was listening to Black Sabbath for about 30 seconds, until the lead singer’s cheesy ass voice came in and ruined everything. [...] Listening to this album has made me realize that those weird scary kids who I secretly thought might be cool, the ones who wore AC/DC t-shirts in middle school, were not listening to scary music at all or cool music. They were listening to cheesy music with a high pitched cheesy ass singer.
posted by whir at 7:19 PM on March 16 [18 favorites]


I lost my virginity in the early 80's to a major ACDC fan, while they were playing on her record player. So ... yeah, I'll always smile hearing their early albums...
posted by Catblack at 7:21 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


See, I'm going to disagree a bit here with the idea that this type of writing is just someone being herself, because writing isn't just a transparent placement of the personality on the page. We choose our tone, in large part, and this seems to me to be pretty artful writing in a "golly gee" vein, not a pure feed from the id. The naive style is chosen; it's not the sum total of every thought the writer has about music.

But I still think part of the reason why it's interesting is that she gives things no due, and to come at it with the attitude of "I'm so excited about the amazing things I'm about to hear" is to start from a position of respect.

But that's the absolute standard blogular approach to past artifacts - that they're faintly risible and best encountered by denying any pre-existing knowledge we may have which would situate them in any way.

I've been trying to pin down why this bugs me, and I feel like it's because of the usual internet mockery-defensiveness approach. The piece establishes that it is mildly risible to own 1500 records, because of course what isn't risible about being serious about a pastime, right? We've established that the best approach to the records for the internet is to pretend to a kind of blank naivete - "ooh, look at the pictures! I don't even know what a record sleeve is called" - that constantly gestures at itself in order to remind us that the writer is not responsible and this is just the naive opinion of an outsider, the writer is full of girlish innocence about Serious Man Things, etc. Difficult music is kind of funny, right? I notice that these guys are pretending to be pin ups, gosh they must have been Serious About Their Hipster Art! But I don't have any further thoughts about that!!!

This seems to be the main non-scholarly internet approach to the past - trying simultaneously to avoid seeming too serious hence fuddy-duddy/arrogant/expert and to avoid getting something wrong through lack of expertise. I often get the impression of discomfort - as if the writers want to distance themselves from their topics, so as not to be tainted by the uncoolness of the past even as they engage with it.

(On another note, it interests me that things which didn't sound cheesy at the time sound cheesy now, or how things that were cheesy and trite in the past gain resonance now. For blog-discourse, what that means is "lol we did not realize we were so cheesy in 1985!!!!" but it's really strange how things' emotional effect can shift so powerfully with time. That's fascinating, not a sign that the past was stupid.)

(I also add that the way one was a broke record nerd back before 2007 or so was called taping things from your friends. One person would have, say, a coveted cassette tape, and everyone would copy it, or the person with the fancy cassette player would copy it for everyone else. Or the person with the CD player would copy it for everyone else. And there was just a whole lot less of shit. You used to have long lists of things you'd check every record store for in the faint hope that someday you'd find them.)
posted by Frowner at 7:29 PM on March 16 [24 favorites]


Look, I'm all for the vigilance in monitoring gendered binaries and sexist bullshit and privilege ignorance and the rest -- that's part of what being a thinking person in an information society requires. That said, I find myself a little...thrown off by that perspective being laid on top of this project. It's a husband and wife. They are young and made a thing about records and music and put it out there for other people that might enjoy the thing. I read the most recent 10 -12 entries and the writing is conversational and entertaining and puts out a musical opinion on the internet which isn't the easiest or most natural thing in the world.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, chill out. There's no one being harmed here. It's actually a rather sweet and creative and interesting project to me, and I have to think it will be enlightening and fun for the couple. Relax on this one?
posted by lazaruslong at 7:34 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


When I finally heard the song in the context of its name, all I could think was "Oh! That's the mwah=mwah-MWA-MWAH song I've heard every so often."

Well, but surely you've also heard:

Dum
Da Da Dum
Da Da Dum
*pause*
*pause*
DaDaDaDum Daaa Da

Dum
Da Da Dum
Da Da Dum
DAdum DAdum DAdum DaDOW

(I seriously had to listen to that song twice to figure out how to . . . . what? Notate it phonetically? Onomatopoeiacally? Kinda interesting trying to work out how to do that.)
posted by soundguy99 at 7:35 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Alex Goldman: she's who she is and I'm who I am. I'm into weird music and she has read 4x as many books as I have.

In this regard, you are much like me and my wife, except my music collection is mostly on CD, so the boxes upon boxes of music that have been moved a few times now weren't quite so heavy. And she pruned her book collection way back, while I have a really hard time letting go of music. I keep music even if I know it's not good, because there might be a good track or two on there, or maybe a good riff I could sample. You know, for when I start making sample-based music.

Which is not any time soon.

And my music collection is not in alphabetical order, because I'm a terrible collector.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


This story could have easily been me 8 or 9 years ago. When I moved to Japan, I had the difficult decision of whether or not to lug the collection all the way across the Pacific. I opted to store them with a friend, and just bring 1 or 2 crates worth. But then after I had been In Japan a while, the more I was removed from them, the less I contemplated how to slowly ship them over and the more I thought about who I should sell them to. It has been a liberating experience learning to break out of by hoarding ways.

I still have my regrets about letting some of the records go, but I can pinpoint the moment when I was sure I made the right decision. I was visiting a monkey park on the side of a mountain where visitors can basically walk around hundreds of free roaming semi-wild monkeys. One particular monkey was off by himself, both hands filled with rocks. He'd stop to inspect them, wash them in puddles, discard the ugliest ones when he couldn't carry them all, and constantly check his surroundings for rock thieves. In that moment I felt so superior to that idiot monkey for having already abandoned my rocks two years earlier (granted, I do still have thousands of mp3s to keep me company).

As for the blog: I think it's an fun read, and a good idea. The stereotypes of record collecting as a boy's club, and vinyl as old-timey geekery do open the door for all kinds of criticisms about how you should frame this which, while interesting for discussion, I hope doesn't affect the blog ifself too much. She can write however she wants; if you don't like it, gyofb.
posted by p3t3 at 7:40 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


I guess what I'm trying to say is, chill out. There's no one being harmed here.

Nobody's harmed by the collective eyeroll of a subset MeFites at the way this project lines up pretty dead-on with some gendered norms about music fandom that some of us find annoying or even pernicious either. As Goldman said upthread, they put it on the internet, and that's what happens when you put stuff in the internet.

Goldman's wife gets to write the way she wants to, and more power to her! Similarly, those of us on Metafilter get to feel however we feel about the blog, and even write about that on the blue, too. We don't have to get our own fucking blog to have an opinion about stuff that's posted here.
posted by immlass at 7:45 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


The naive style is chosen; it's not the sum total of every thought the writer has about music.

Absolutely, I agree, but I guess I just don't see the same latent hostility towards music in taking this stance that you do. There's also the fact that, taking her at her word, the blogger literally does not have any background knowledge about most of the stuff she's listening to, so an authoritative / expert voice is right out.

I don't get the sense that she thinks that music itself is risible, even when she finds risible things in her husband's collection (like AC/DC). And I don't get that she's denying the existence of the possibility of musical expertise either, she just doesn't care about the history, relationships to other music in the same genre, and so forth very much, in comparison to the actual music she's listening to and her own reactions to it. She's not going to be Greil Marcus out of the gate, and I think that's a fine and valid approach to writing about music.
posted by whir at 7:49 PM on March 16


The stereotypes of record collecting as a boy's club, and vinyl as old-timey geekery

I think that is a more recent stereotype, matched up with the more hipstery stereotype of vinyl collecting, i.e. "Let's go to Rough Trade in Williamsburg and pay 30 bucks for the new Warpaint album on flawed vinyl that weighs like 10 pounds or let's overpay for shitty pressings of all our favorite indie bands or overpay for reissues of whomever else because 180-gram vinyl sounds better." Yes, Rough Trade records did release flawed vinyl of Warpaint, and the whole 180-gram thing doesn't make for better sounding records. In my limited experience with newer "180-gram" pressings, I've found pits, warps, scuffs, or other general imperfections.

Serious audiophiles or anyone who simply loves listening to music and loves hearing it sound the best it can possibly sound are into vinyl for that reason alone (not because it's cool or old-timey, unless they actually play into the old-timey thing by buying dollar records or crap vinyl because they think hisses, pops, skips and other "charming" characteristics are what vinyl is about. There's nothing I love more than sitting friends down and letting them hear for themselves the difference between 320-mp3, FLAC and clean vinyl of the same music. Even with a quality DAC and Audirvana instead of iTunes, the difference is staggering and audible to even an inexperienced listener.

My long-winded and rambling point is that that stereotype is aggravating on a few levels.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:01 PM on March 16


Man, I am often sad to read vicious metafilter comments doing gymnastics for favorites, about how some innocuous piece of culture sucks and then I saw that it was Alex Goldman's wife and then I thought well shit he's going to show up here and see all these shitty comments and then yep. What an embarrassing thread. Sorry Alex, I am enjoying this project so far and I look forward to reading more of it.

And sorry if someone wrote something non-shitty after Alex's comment, that's where I was kind of too ashamed of us to continue.
posted by Kwine at 8:03 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


"Ride On" on side two kind of sounds like a Bob Dylan knock off at first/a bluesey ballad. I think I like it. It feels like a really good song to put on the middle of a mix tape. It can definitely hold it’s own and is the second best song on the album.

She's got a perfectly fine, intuitive sense of taste & an ear for quality. I think the naysayers a just put off by the fact that she's right. Please keep up the reviews - they're great.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:03 PM on March 16


I was prepared to be super annoyed with her but...she seemed to dig Anthrax's "Among the Living" so I'll give her a bit of a pass. As for "Back in Black", well, I love it and I make no apologies. I'll never forget the look on my dad's face when he walked through the door and 12 year old me was cranking "What Do You Do For Money Honey" on the stereo in the living room. I don't think he appreciated the lyrics. As for Adam Ant, well, I was caught in a YouTube '80s music video vortex the other day and realized Adam Ant just doesn't hold up for me.
posted by MikeMc at 8:04 PM on March 16


I think this project is kinda great! I love seeing/ hearing things through fresh, unjaded eyes, it's like rediscovering it all over again. I'll be watching for more posts!
posted by platinum at 8:06 PM on March 16


I say, everyone has quite outdone themselves in trying to find a problematic aspect with the way a person tries to like a new thing their significant other is really into and wants to share her exploration with others.

Really, good job all around. I hope all your personal projects are met with an equal amount of genuine criticism on the grounds the project is presented and not problematic aspects nearly woven out of whole cloth because, again, a person likes a thing different from you.

Gold stars for everyone.
posted by griphus at 8:39 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


There is no more humorless place in the internet than Metafilter.
posted by one_bean at 8:39 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


I scrolled down far enough to see he had 4 Adam & the Ants and he had 2 AC/DC.

If I were her I would definitely dump the motherfucker already.
posted by bukvich at 8:44 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


The writer only just turned 32 - I'm not surprised that her musical priorities are not The Animals and AC/DC.

Yeah, that seemed sort of obvious going in. What really surprised me is that Alex isn't that much older. He does have an older brother, which explains some things, but not, e.g., the All In The Family album.

Not *shocking* since I'm a fan of lots of things that predate me, but not what I was expecting.

I scrolled down far enough to see he had 4 Adam & the Ants and he had 2 AC/DC.

If I were her I would definitely dump the motherfucker already.


Right? Easily twice the AC/DC anyone would need.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:48 PM on March 16


Just dropped by to ask who the hell IS The Loneliest Monk?
posted by evilDoug at 8:54 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


heh
posted by evilDoug at 8:55 PM on March 16


See, I'm going to disagree a bit here with the idea that this type of writing is just someone being herself, because writing isn't just a transparent placement of the personality on the page. We choose our tone, in large part, and this seems to me to be pretty artful writing in a "golly gee" vein, not a pure feed from the id. The naive style is chosen; it's not the sum total of every thought the writer has about music.

It doesn't come across that way to me. I think your sense of "average person's baseline level of knowledge of/interest in music" is off. Way off. There are a lot of passionate music fans out there in the world. And then there's a lot --- far more, probably --- of people who own seven CDs and one of 'em Christmas music and one's of 'ems Celine Dion. (Not that I'm saying the blogger's like this, but I think she's closer to average than a fan.) I mean, the onion's been on this beat for a decade. I have no idea why you think they're hiding some depth of knowledge here, some actual grounding they're attempting to disguise.

I suppose you can argue that the naif approach can be defensive --- emphasizing your ignorance in order to put your self out of the running in a race for hipster cred that you're sure you'll lose. But sometimes people just...aren't familiar with stuff. I mean, you think she's wikipediaing All in the Family for kicks?

But that's the absolute standard blogular approach to past artifacts - that they're faintly risible and best encountered by denying any pre-existing knowledge we may have which would situate them in any way.

I've been trying to pin down why this bugs me, and I feel like it's because of the usual internet mockery-defensiveness approach. The piece establishes that it is mildly risible to own 1500 records, because of course what isn't risible about being serious about a pastime, right?


Eh, I think there's two different things at play. A) I don't think the "the past sure was weird and silly" thing is unique to blogs/the internet; I think it's more the typical attitude of youth to age. The past is always unimaginable to the young, everything that happened before you were born seems equally ancient, from member's only jackets to stovepipe hats. And also equally enviable, evocative; because the past is a land of imagination, built of poster-paint and kindling and a few half-remembered facts. That tone or stance infects the internet because the internet loves the cutting edge, the future, ephemerality --- youth, essentially. But you get the same tone coming across when Dickens talks about tri-corn hats or when Booth Tarkington bloviates over the post-Civil War midwest. It's just that it happens faster now. There's 20 year olds now for whom myspace is about as much a wondrous artifact of the past as a toppled statue of Ramses II was to Shelly...

As for whether a vinyl collection is the proper object of risibility, if we're gonna be for real for real about this, doesn't most of the evidence suggest that music appreciation is a lot like wine appreciation, in that if you make people listen blind it's actually pretty tough to distinguish between audio equipment vis a vis the quaility? Past a certain level? There's clearly such a thing as the audio equivalent of super-tasters, and there's people with perfect pitch and whatnot, but for the most part I think loving vinyl is as much about the atmosphere around it, the nostalgia, the scene, all that. There's no practical purpose to it. Which is fine. There's no practical purpose to birding (for the most part) some people just like looking at birds. But I think it's pretty bog standard for a fond partner to mock their loved one's eccentric passions even as they indulge them. Every hobby seems faintly risible if it doesn't interest you. That's what's unusual about the project, she's approaching something that only somewhat interest her because it's a passion of his, and she wants to understand him better.

We've established that the best approach to the records for the internet is to pretend to a kind of blank naivete - "ooh, look at the pictures! I don't even know what a record sleeve is called" - that constantly gestures at itself in order to remind us that the writer is not responsible and this is just the naive opinion of an outsider, the writer is full of girlish innocence about Serious Man Things, etc. Difficult music is kind of funny, right? I notice that these guys are pretending to be pin ups, gosh they must have been Serious About Their Hipster Art! But I don't have any further thoughts about that!!!


Why "pretend to"? What makes you assume that the writer is lying, that she's not being honest in her reaction? She actually said she did know the word for record sleeve, she just forgot it, because for her it was obscure vocabulary. Given that it is 2014 and it's entirely possible that a 32 year old woman could have spent the past 30 years without touching a record player, that doesn't seem at all surprising to me. As for her not taking the album art seriously....it's the job f the artist to provoke the reaction, but you can't control the reaction, no? So, 30 years out of date and entirely out of context, and the album art for some punk band comes off as merely goofy instead of a clever subversion of gender norms as manufactured by the record industry, so what? "Hushed and reverent" is not the only nor the most interesting critical posture.
posted by Diablevert at 9:00 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Also I envy the shit out of anyone who gets to hear Prince Charming for the first time because it is Scientifically Impossible to hear that chorus without feeling better about yourself than before you knew the song existed.
posted by griphus at 9:15 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


My wifes record collection is fucking fantastic.
-Every Husband ever

Three brazillion reasons my husbands record collection is the absolute worst is a great band name.
posted by vozworth at 9:18 PM on March 16


What bothers me the most is actually not her ignorance, but the disconnect between spouses. Our house is filled with hobbies including my album collection and guess what - we try to get to know the interests of each other. That's one of the richest parts of a marriage, and to be so ignorant of a major interest of a spouse like this blog projects is actually kind of depressing, not funny.

With all the AC/DC chatter, it's also worth noting that Back in Black is the second highest selling album of all time. If you haven't hard of it or at least one song on that album, you are walking into willfully ignorant territory, and I have to believe that's the point of the blog. In fact, to have not heard a cut off that album is to not have seen an episode of The Daily Show with Lewis Black (his intro), Iron Man 1 or 2, the 2011 Muppet Movie, a gazillion commercials over time, or of course older movies like Maximum Overdrive (that featured the album).
posted by Muddler at 9:21 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


That's one of the richest parts of a marriage, and to be so ignorant of a major interest of a spouse like this blog projects is actually kind of depressing, not funny.

Unless you consider hobbies as part of "me time" or that two people who love each other can consider one another's deepest interests wholly uninteresting and choose to not impose boring things on one another out of marital obligation, in which case your judgement of other peoples' marriages by your own seems a bit weird.
posted by griphus at 9:24 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


We both like jazz and classical a lot, but I'm pretty sure my Up With People album would generate a fair amount of hate.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away...

I was in Up With People. In my defense, I was kicked out nearly halfway through our year long tour for a drunken incident involving the law. I'm not proud of either, but performing the damn show 4-5 times a week with all this horrible music was making me crazy, and so I ended up skipping a lot of shows and eventually flaming out in Montana. I was the first person in the 25 year history of the group to be kicked out. My regret was that the European leg of the tour was in the second half of the year, which I missed, but I just couldn't handle doing that show one more time.

I used to have a good collection of vinyl, but the '90s that followed my time with UWP were mostly a blur...
posted by krinklyfig at 9:29 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Way back when I was married, my wife had the great music collection. I had seriously great punk rock records, but she had everything from Throbbing Gristle to very left field classical (which she insisted is NOT a musical genre, it's ART music), and all stops in between. She taught me a lot. There is no doubt in my mind, she's one of the best things that ever happened to me.
posted by evilDoug at 9:48 PM on March 16


What bothers me the most is actually not her ignorance, but the disconnect between spouses. Our house is filled with hobbies including my album collection and guess what - we try to get to know the interests of each other.

Yeah they should definitely find a way to remedy that disconnect, some kind of project.
posted by one_bean at 9:53 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Was so ready to hate, did not hate, nice. Something about her writing, it's cheerful.

Also, I know several people (all female, about the same age, fwiw) with almost exactly the same minefield of musical blindspots as the writer.

The first one that comes to mind: while playing 80's Trivial Pursuit:

"The band Reo Speedwagon 'that's R-E-O Speedwagon' had how many number one hits?'"
posted by Cosine at 9:53 PM on March 16


Metafilter: "It doesn’t even sound like they’re playing their instruments correctly and it also sounds like a desperate, crying, dying animal."
posted by mecran01 at 9:59 PM on March 16


With all the AC/DC chatter, it's also worth noting that Back in Black is the second highest selling album of all time. If you haven't hard of it or at least one song on that album, you are walking into willfully ignorant territory

That's some pretty harsh language. I mean, it's arguably "willfully ignorant" to not listen to rock music or read any kind of music journal because you're not into those things, but "willfully ignorant" suggests a certain kind of deliberate snubbing that goes beyond just not being interested. It also suggests that people have some kind of responsibility to pay attention to pop music, which is just not true.

Thriller is the highest selling album of all time, and I couldn't name a single Michael Jackson song for most of my youth because I didn't listen to pop; on the other hand, I'd have been happy to talk with you about Orbital for quite some time, because all my friends listened to techno. Was it willful ignorance? I had no hooks into the pop music world, and while I sort of wanted them I simply wasn't that interested.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:04 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Are any of these albums about a giant metal chicken
posted by shakespeherian at 10:05 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


How many of you could hum the main theme of the funeral march from Beethoven's Eroica Symphony? They played it when JFK was killed, and they played it for the murdered athletes in Munich. Maybe it never got to number 2 on the sales charts, but it's been around a couple hundred years. Ignorance, man, everyone has it! There are only so many hours in the day. I know music but I have never seen a lot of the movies that "everyone" has seen, and what I don't know about novels is damn near everything. Knowledge of late 20th century pop culture is not the standard of incuriosity let alone willful ignorance. There's a whole lot else in the universe.
posted by in278s at 10:22 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


There's clearly such a thing as the audio equivalent of super-tasters, and there's people with perfect pitch and whatnot, but for the most part I think loving vinyl is as much about the atmosphere around it, the nostalgia, the scene, all that. There's no practical purpose to it. Which is fine.

Practical purpose: On a good system, vinyl sounds better.

Find an original pressing Led Zeppelin II mastered with Robert Ludwig's initials in the deadwax and play it on a table with a great cartridge and stylus through a nice tube amp to some decent speakers and you'll have an experience completely unlike most common modern methods of audio distribution. And to some, myself included, it sounds better. Much better. For me, life-changingly better. I often work in sound, and when I got back into vinyl after a long hiatus and realized I had only been hearing a small potential of the sound of most music I'd listened to in the previous ten years it was a revelation. I have no love for crackle- a good clean record on a good system produces almost none, and this is one of the reasons older sealed records go for so much. Listening to music you'd heard as compressed mp3's on vinyl again on a good system can often be mind-blowing. It's about the sound.

This may not be everyone's reason for loving vinyl, but among vinyl collectors it's one of the main reasons.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 10:56 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


What in278s said. I wouldn't know AC/DC if I tripped over their Big Balls. Never heard their music. I never liked their kind of music. Their shtick involved a guy who wore shorts; that's all I know. And their music was hard rock/heavy metal or something.

I don't really care if the guy sitting next to me on the bus never heard of Thelonious Monk. But if he cares that I don't know about AC/DC...well, that's like a Christian telling me I'm doomed if I don't believe in Jesus.

We're all different. I like this musical naif's noble goal. It's as if I promised to watch ballet for a year until I understood it. There is a lot of art on this planet.

I was in a Gamelan Orchestra for a while. Some people can't stand the sound; others are mesmerized. I obviously have more love for those who were enthralled (literally: in slave to) by our sound, but I could marry someone who didn't care for that kind of music. In fact, I did.
posted by kozad at 10:57 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


With all the AC/DC chatter, it's also worth noting that Back in Black is the second highest selling album of all time. If you haven't hard of it or at least one song on that album, you are walking into willfully ignorant territory

It's pretty evident from the reviews themselves that she has, in fact, heard some of this music before. In the Back in Black review specifically, she even says that she routinely sings along to parts of You Shook Me All Night Long. I'm not sure if it's the original presentation or the discussion here, but the amount of naivete in these reviews is being heavily overplayed. She might not be particularly familiar with much of this collection, but she also mentions how she's that she's heard and previously enjoyed a number of songs and even entire albums that have come up so far.
posted by Copronymus at 11:00 PM on March 16


I think your sense of "average person's baseline level of knowledge of/interest in music" is off. Way off. There are a lot of passionate music fans out there in the world. And then there's a lot --- far more, probably --- of people who own seven CDs and one of 'em Christmas music and one's of 'ems Celine Dion.

Holy cow, yes. Seriously, in my experience, most people simply don't engage with music the way fans & music nerds & collectors do - especially not once they're past about 25 or so.

And most of 'em would probably say, with all sincerity, that they love music. And they're not wrong. They genuinely love the 50 or 100 or 200 songs they've heard over the course of their lives. It's just that (for whatever variety of reasons) they never felt much of an urge to put effort into getting more information about the music they hear or of finding music beyond the stuff that's handed to them by friends and the media.

They may not quite be *My People*, but that doesn't make them Bad People.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:08 PM on March 16


They may not quite be *My People*, but that doesn't make them Bad People.

Well let's not say anything we can't take back.
posted by Jairus at 11:12 PM on March 16


I like how she approaches each album without knowing any critical context or any of the hipcool lore behind it. I plan to take her attitude to music to heart during my future listening.
posted by telstar at 11:27 PM on March 16


Any fault you can pick with her approach or criticism of these albums melts away for me when I consider that she's willing to take on this project. Somebody probably said that better up above my comment, but I didn't read every one, much less analyze them at length individually in my blog.
She>me.
posted by current occupation: at 11:55 PM on March 16


I didn't enjoy her critiques of the music as much as I would have liked, found them narrow and a bit insulting. Too bad, would be amazing to get someone who really understands different genre's of music across the board to relate it in a blog a bit differently. Did however, enjoy the boyfriend's take regarding Albert Ayler, he gets it, why she doesn't is a little beyond me. It's not that she doesn't like the music, to each their own (melody is in the ear of the beholder) more so, it's the way in which she goes about describing it: a wee bit insulting and harsh at times. At the same time, she is at least rating them and taking the time to do so. Kudos to her for that. It must be a challenge when you consider some of these she has heard, some not so much. Quite an endeavor, so while I cringe at some reviews, I'm glad someone is taking the time at all.
posted by Fayrose at 12:34 AM on March 17


With all the AC/DC chatter, it's also worth noting that Back in Black is the second highest selling album of all time. If you haven't hard of it or at least one song on that album, you are walking into willfully ignorant territory, and I have to believe that's the point of the blog.

Eh. It's perfectly possible to hear pieces of music all the time without knowning what it is or who it's by, just that it is "that music from that commercial, you know". That it's a best selling album is meaningless; there are still always many more people who haven't bought an album than have.

Also, the original poster is said to be thirtytwo; so somebody born in 1982, who therefore largely grew up listening to music long after most rock music became obsolete and irrelevant. She would've grown up with pop, hip-hop and r&b playing on the radio and on MTV, not hard rock. Perhaps, if lucky, there would've been a bit of classic punk music like Greenday in there as well, but AC/DC?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:25 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I like how she approaches each album without knowing any critical context or any of the hipcool lore behind it. I plan to take her attitude to music to heart during my future listening.

Me too. <3 this.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:44 AM on March 17


I'm proudly ignorant of jazz so I'm going to write about it as if everyone agrees with me!

She's not alone in that at all. There has been, sad to say, a strong current of of this kind of thing running through American culture for decades now. It's very often reinforced in movies, TV shows and such: the jazz nerd is, yeah, a nerd, and the *normal* people just kinda roll their eyes and laugh at him before high-fiving each other and turning on their Sheryl Crowe and the football game. I guess it's a certain strain of the anti-intellectualism that has always been a big part of the American *common man* identity.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:47 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


She should have done it backwards and started with John Zorn.

And then on to Tom Zé.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


Although, if hubby has John Zorn, he *might* have Zorn's old keyboard buddy Wayne Horvitz's band Zony Mash, and that would be first.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:56 AM on March 17


Hey folks - I want to apologize. My own bad mood is no reason to make the snarky and overly personalized comment I made earlier. I've actually flagged my own comment as inappropriate.

I've clearly demonstrated the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory. Don't follow my lead.
posted by Muddler at 4:22 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I picture her as the girlfriend of Dick in High Fidelity (Todd Louiso) who has a very mainstream musical taste and then gets together with an obsessive.

I liked the blog more than I thought I would, but I think she lays it on a bit thick, with not having heard of The Animals etc
posted by DanCall at 4:37 AM on March 17


chk chk chk chk chk chk *tck* *tck*

BOMP!
Bana nah
Bana nah

Squeedooledee dee!

*musical grimace*
posted by petebest at 4:55 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I like this project. I'm in a very similar situation with my wife, who would probably have about the same general level of interest in music from before 1990. Except I gave away almost all 500 of my records before moving to NY. Now that's love!

For all this talk about her naivety, she NAILS the Animals. Why do we music nerds listen to gravelly white guys covering blues songs when the blues exists? Fuck. Busted.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:04 AM on March 17


I think he's got a pretty good record collection. I'd rather not hear what she has to say about it. I'm a bit interested in his comments.

Too bad the whole thing isn't published as a playlist I could set on random or scan to discover gaps in my not-as-cool-as-him musical knowledge.
posted by surplus at 5:39 AM on March 17


Metafilter: a bit of classic punk music like Greenday
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:28 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Why "pretend to"? What makes you assume that the writer is lying, that she's not being honest in her reaction? She actually said she did know the word for record sleeve, she just forgot it, because for her it was obscure vocabulary. Given that it is 2014 and it's entirely possible that a 32 year old woman could have spent the past 30 years without touching a record player, that doesn't seem at all surprising to me. As for her not taking the album art seriously....it's the job f the artist to provoke the reaction, but you can't control the reaction, no? So, 30 years out of date and entirely out of context, and the album art for some punk band comes off as merely goofy instead of a clever subversion of gender norms as manufactured by the record industry, so what? "Hushed and reverent" is not the only nor the most interesting critical posture.

My point isn't that anyone is lying - and I apologize if that's the impression that I gave. Even if someone writing this type of piece straight out said "I don't even know what a record is" or something, that would be...hyperbole? comedy? Artistic license? Obviously no one is on oath for this type of writing.

But on the other hand, we choose what we write. If I emphasize in my writing that "oh, I don't even know what this common item is, or this one either, isn't it funny?" and don't include anything to counterbalance that, I'm creating a persona around my lack of knowledge. That's an intentional thing that a writer might do for a great variety of reasons, some of which I would be totally into. (The repetition of "look how little I know" is a gesture towards a certain writerly persona, not some authentic revelation of ignorance.) The writer obviously knows a bunch of stuff other than what a record sleeve is called and who the Animals were, but she's seeking to create a persona of giddy, cute naivete so she leaves that out - which is one of those valid artistic choices that she can make and I can dislike.

It's a persona, I think, that women are particularly rewarded for adopting - women who know stuff can be intimidating; women with opinions are bitchy; women who are Wrong On The Internet attract death threats and trolls. The internet is much happier, in my experience, when women project naive niceness and a sort of "ha ha difficult stuff" attitude, and I think it's a way of writing that feels very comfortable.

.it's the job f the artist to provoke the reaction, but you can't control the reaction, no? So, 30 years out of date and entirely out of context, and the album art for some punk band comes off as merely goofy instead of a clever subversion of gender norms as manufactured by the record industry

Flattening the past isn't a good approach - and "not flattening" isn't the same as "hushed and reverent". Consider, for example, free jazz. Seriously, this is a musical movement that's tied in with black liberation, afrocentrisim, all kinds of radical black arts stuff*. A very good reason to be a little bit cautious in our lolling about the past is that hey, we might actually not want to lol about all of it, or put ourselves out there as the kind of people who lol about all of it.

Of course I can't listen to - for example - A Certain Ratio as I would have if I were, like, 22 when they were first active. And I don't think I'd want to - there wouldn't be much space for me as a person read as female, or a visibly queer person, in that particular time and place. But that's not the point - I don't have to try to act like a hipster dude circa 1978 to be aware that the past isn't just fodder for contemporary giggles. (And sometimes the past is uncomfortable! There's tons of music that was left wing in, like, 1980 that comes across as very disturbing now in all kinds of ways! I'm not really into giggling when Elvis Costello sings about hitting his girlfriend, either, or about the satire of fascism/real fascism in the Pogues' "Transmetropolitan".)


*To me it's almost unbearably cool that there's all this radicalism intermingled with this very cerebral, difficult music when what I'm used to in this political vein is on the level of, like, perfectly standard punk rock.
posted by Frowner at 6:31 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


But actually, I should have said all of this in a more positive "yes, and..." way when I responded to the blog. It isn't helpful to criticize something in language which seems to be saying "don't do this" when we're talking about music reviewing.
posted by Frowner at 6:54 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


A very good reason to be a little bit cautious in our lolling about the past is that hey, we might actually not want to lol about all of it, or put ourselves out there as the kind of people who lol about all of it.

On the other hand, there's something to be said about the commentary of a person just sitting down with exactly zero context, listening to a piece of music and reacting to it just as a piece of music written and performed by musicians as a work of sonic art. I'm not sure why you think the person writing this stuff is necessarily putting on a persona -- as opposed to just a narrative voice -- just because it happens to overlap with some of your notions or experiences of how certain women act in certain contexts. I mean just this right here:

"While I already knew that this type of jazz existed, this is probably my first time listening to an entire album of it all the way through and intentionally."

Is so much more than you can ask of just about anyone who isn't Into Music.

The expectation that a person should be aware of the context of a piece of music before being able to pass judgement on it, especially in a project where the naiveté of the listener is the central thesis, defeats the entire purpose of that sort of listening.

I mean, basically every fan I know of difficult or weird or experimental music (myself included) rarely introduces someone to a piece of such music with a PowerPoint on who made it and why and what was the context and why they chose certain instruments and so on. Because that bores the shit out of people long before they can even get to experience the music. When I put on something weird for someone, and when someone does that for me, it's always the exact same spiel: "just shut up, listen to the music, and react to it."

As far as music appreciation is concerned, the genuine opinion -- however phrased -- of a person taking the music on the terms of "noises people made" should be valued on those terms. There's a reason certain sorts of music outlast others, and one of those reasons is that zeitgeist evaporates over time and if you try to make too much of your music dependent on it, you're making music for your time and not the ages. Which isn't a problem, but down the line it also opens that music to a sort of criticism that doesn't favor it, and that criticism isn't any less valid.

As a big music fan, a single person saying "I actively listened to an entire album of a difficult genre I don't really understand, and didn't particularly enjoy it and here's why" is worth more than a thousand explanations of why that album should be respected because of the context in which it was conceived.
posted by griphus at 7:01 AM on March 17 [9 favorites]


Frowner - I don't exactly disagree with anything you say, but I think you are approaching this from an angle that isn't entirely fair to the author. A lot of music nerds (not meant derisively) seem to have a lot of problems when non-experts people approach their media without the proper level of dedication.

So, when this author is purposefully approaching this subject from the outside, from a non-researched position because this is, after all, a personal blog for amusement, I think it's a little unfair for her to be dismissed for failing to upend the gender-norms that she may not have been aware even existed. She is not, after all, a music nerd.

Additionally, nerds generally, and I would argue music-nerds especially, hold outsiders to a high level of accountability that just isn't possible for them to meet because they are by definition non-experts. That this blogger chose to write her fresh experience of listening to free jazz without first understanding the context within the afrocentric movement is not a failure, it's just not what she was going for. When 'context' becomes a necessary pretext before you are even allowed to say whether or not you like a piece of art, then 'context' just becomes a barrier. I would posit that barriers like this might explain why someone would have avoided diving into that 1500 album collection until now.

(on preview, also what griphus said)
posted by Think_Long at 7:15 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


I just can't agree. One of the most difficult lessons for me as a white person from a the US, for instance, has been that I just shouldn't flail away naively about other people's cultural production, saying whatever I feel, rushing in to talk and write about whatever feels good. I think that's how marginalized voices get overwritten and how non-standard aspects of the past get disappeared - it's very easy for me, for instance, to write my naive narrative of a genre which accords well with the mainstream narrative and reinforces it, while leaving out really important stuff.

So, for instance, I learned from mainstream culture that disco was stupid and embarrassing. When I heard disco, my "this is stupid and embarrassing" filters kicked in, and I had to make fun of it. That was because I was ignorant, and because I assumed that what I heard was what was there. It wasn't until I knew more (mostly by reading Turn The Beat Around) that I was able to listen differently. I look back on the racist and homophobic narrative about disco that I endorsed and realize that it was rooted in deep ignorance about the seventies, and it was kind of gross, and now I wish I hadn't had all those dumb-ass conversations where I made a lot of play of my ignorance and helped other people (who thought I knew what I was talking about because I was all punk rock) to stay ignorant as well.

I do think that some stuff should be respected because of the context in which it was conceived, partly because I think "I don't respect this and I don't have to learn anything about it but I am entitled to do whatever I like with it" is already our default state, what we have already learned about how to be in the world - it's not like an individual character flaw, it's what people of certain cultural backgrounds learn automatically. I don't think there's ever a neutral, pre-narrative way to encounter things, and assuming that there's a way to be a pure, naive listener is itself a political position.
posted by Frowner at 7:21 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


But look, I don't want to be a pill about this - I feel like I've ended up arguing something much more strongly than I feel it - I'd say that this is something that I feel in a middling way rather than in a militant way, more of a "I'm a vegan and I think veganism is pretty good, but you go ahead and have your bacon" way than anything else.

I do think that enthusiasm is important, and it is difficult to balance Serious Learning In A Serious Manner and enthusiasm, and it's perfectly possible to make a case that the end result is better when you start with enthusiasm - that's not my case, but I think it's totally reasonable.

Could we just say that perhaps I jumped in little too strongly and agree that this is a matter of interpretation?
posted by Frowner at 7:28 AM on March 17


Oh yeah, for sure. At the very least it's an interesting discussion, figuring out where we each draw the line for an aesthetic-to-contextual response to art.
posted by Think_Long at 7:33 AM on March 17


I want to add that as someone who has played both Back in Black & You Shook Me in a cover band that yes, people really do shout out that "Knockin' me out with those American thighs" line, pretty much every time. She seems like very much the demographic of casual listener that cover bands appeal to, in my observations after 20 years of the cover business.

There is a gender split there. Back in Black is more popular with the guys & You Shook Me definitely gets the women out on the dance floor. Her observations about AC/DC fandom & gender are spot-on, & looking back, Squealer makes me feel squicky, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:36 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


It would be really, really awesome if there were a gender-flipped version of this. As a woman who has been in possession of hundreds of records and thousands of CDs (and who has many female friends similarly into music), the whole "I'm a girl who doesn't know about AC/DC" is quite tiring.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:53 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


(And sometimes the past is uncomfortable! There's tons of music that was left wing in, like, 1980 that comes across as very disturbing now in all kinds of ways! I'm not really into giggling when Elvis Costello sings about hitting his girlfriend, either, or about the satire of fascism/real fascism in the Pogues' "Transmetropolitan".)

The music tumblr I want to start--as someone with a lot of interest in listening to different kinds of music but not so much in the nerdery of recording or genre (but quite a bit in the sort of social context Frowner mentions)--is the one that takes lyrics from classic rock and pop songs of my youth and puts them out there for judgement. There's some squicky, nasty shit in those lyrics that those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s took for granted and I cringe when I hear it now even if I otherwise enjoy the song. That's not a music nerd thing so much as an observation of how much society has changed in the 30-40-50+ years since that music showed up on the airwaves.

Which is also the thing I got out of the reviews I liked: a fresh eye on music I was already aware of and interested in. But 1500 albums' worth of that, while a great project for the people involved, isn't going to be a great read for people not personally invested in it. Anyone who cares enough about music to read 1500 music reviews is unlikely to find this approach worth reading for that long. It'll be more interesting to social historians interested in attitudes toward music and pop culture.

I know Metafilter is all about the blog-to-book pipeline, but this is one I wonder about the audience for. (NB: I don't know who Alex Goldman is other than having looked him up when comments here implied he's some sort of celebrity. Maybe there's an audience of his fans.)
posted by immlass at 7:56 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


In some cultures, approaching something with a beginner's mind is a positive thing. Instead of experiencing and learning through a veil of cultural baggage (like "disco sucks" or whatever), you explore the new (or old) domain of knowledge with your authentic self, which allows you to create true experiences and experience real learning ("wow, this beat is killer"). I think she's succeeding admirably at experiencing this music authentically, and I respect her for it!

I think there's a huge problem, at least on MetaFilter, of some people really wanting to force every narrative into the narrative of their lives, their growth, their experiences, their trauma. The world is so complex, of course there are people who have never really heard AC/DC, except maybe that one time in that movie or commercial. There are virgins in college, and parents who never once smoked marijuana, and someone, somewhere in America has never had a McDonald's Big Mac. This doesn't make those people willfully ignorant. It makes them a person with a complex back story that you aren't privy to, no matter how nice it feels to judge them for not knowing what you know, for not liking what you like, for not being aware of the problems you've overcome or the traps you try to avoid.

Someone growing as a person and realizing they were a shit when they were younger who dismissed something great because of abstract cultural pressures to fit in? That's nice. But maybe you should leave that baggage in your head instead of bringing it to every thread, or share it with a youth you're mentoring who happens to be in the right frame of mind to receive it, or whatever.

An individual experiencing something new for the first time without a lot of context is a beautiful thing. Let it be a beautiful thing. Fight the good fight where there's actually something worth fighting about, instead of reflexively just telling everyone around you they're doing it wrong because they're in a slightly different place than you are right now, or have a different approach or feeling to life or this moment than you want them to have.
posted by jsturgill at 8:12 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


The music tumblr I want to start--as someone with a lot of interest in listening to different kinds of music but not so much in the nerdery of recording or genre (but quite a bit in the sort of social context Frowner mentions)--is the one that takes lyrics from classic rock and pop songs of my youth and puts them out there for judgement. There's some squicky, nasty shit in those lyrics that those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s took for granted and I cringe when I hear it now even if I otherwise enjoy the song.

immlass, I'm torn between wanting to read that and wanting to have it as a recurring thing on my own blog.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 AM on March 17


It would be really, really awesome if there were a gender-flipped version of this

Hmmmm! I could maybe do this with my wife's anime collection. I've watched through a few with her and really enjoyed some of them, but there are just.. hundreds more, like HIGH SCHOOL KID ROMANCE DRAMA THING BUT ONE OF THEM HAS ANCIENT PENTAGRAM BIBLE POWERS THAT ONLY ACTIVATE WHEN SHE FALLS IN LOVE AND THE TEACHER IS A SECRET SPACE POLICE AGENT THAT MUST PROTECT HER that I could probably sustain a fairly amusing blog about it for a while.

Anyway, as a lover, writer, engineer, collector, and student of music, and as a spouse, this brought a huge smile to my face, I adore it. Alex, you and your wife are both awesome. Also reminded me why I don't make music-related FPPs, as much as I love MeFi in general.
posted by jake at 8:14 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Look you guys, I’m really liking it. It’s oddly beautiful, but I feel like it’s really hard for girls to get to know this kind of music.

I think she has a point. I remember how derisory the metal boys were at my school when I'd chat to them about it - I know my music and have done my share of crate-digging, I'm the girlfriend that introduces boys to bands I like more than the other way around, but metal has always been a blind spot for me.

I don't know very much about opera, and if I were to blog about my boyfriend's opera collection (unlikely, he's more into Guided by Voices and girl groups singing about dead boyfriends) I'd probably sound as 'dumb' as she does. It's just not my area of knowledge. And that's fine.
posted by mippy at 8:32 AM on March 17


I know Metafilter is all about the blog-to-book pipeline, but this is one I wonder about the audience for. (NB: I don't know who Alex Goldman is other than having looked him up when comments here implied he's some sort of celebrity. Maybe there's an audience of his fans.)

I think that the assumption that this was intended to be a "blog-to-book" thing isn't particularly justified here. It's possible, in that many blogs have been made into books. But the sharing-things-because-we-can nature of post-Web-2.0 society means that sometimes people just want to share a large number of things in sort-of public, because it's a lot easier than adding people one at a time to a private blog. The act of sharing can be a way to stay motivated, and to catalog one's impromptu thoughts (as she is doing). The fact that you go viral is in some ways an almost unwanted side effect, because the odds of it happening are relatively small.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:56 AM on March 17


I think that 'blog-to-book' criticism was originally intended for those single themed tumblr deals, so it's odd when it is applied to a blog with actual writing and content. Heaven forbid that someone wants to get a book published, I guess.
posted by Think_Long at 9:01 AM on March 17


It would be really, really awesome if there were a gender-flipped version of this.

I would READ THE SHIT out of a blog by a straight dude who decided to watch his girlfriend's entire collection of movie musicals on DVD. Or listen to her entire collection of Original Broadway Cast albums.
posted by Sara C. at 9:14 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


*dances about architecture*
posted by entropicamericana at 9:20 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I think that 'blog-to-book' criticism was originally intended for those single themed tumblr deals

I could make a pitch for a blog like this as a book deal pretty easily. The content doesn't bear out the commercial potential of the single-sentence pitch "Spouse with no music background reviews every record in [celebrity] spouse's 1500-record collection", though. It just looks like a random person's topic-focused tumblr blog when you get into it.
posted by immlass at 9:54 AM on March 17


I may have missed it in the thread above, but another, sometimes entertaining version of this theme can be found in Anna Minard's column "Never Heard of 'Em" in the Stranger.
posted by cultcargo at 11:19 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I'm also a fan of Rembert Tries To Explain The 80s, which does a pretty good job of approaching cultural artifacts from a place of ignorance without either being kneejerk dismissive or playing too naive.
posted by Sara C. at 11:29 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


There's also All Songs Considered's You've Never Heard?...
posted by Going To Maine at 11:31 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Postcards from Yo Woman... as She Listens to Your Records coming in 2015 from Harper Studio.

The rest of this thread is just noise.
posted by 99_ at 12:20 PM on March 17


Hee! "You've Never Heard?" opens with Back In Black.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:34 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Sara C., do you know how badly I wanted Rembert to review this? SO BADLY.
[/derail]
posted by pxe2000 at 2:01 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


This "You've Never Heard?" about Patti Smith's Horses is the gold standard for "approaching challenging music you're not familiar with", in my opinion. The author explains pretty clearly his previous knowledge of the album (he'd heard some things about Smith, knew this was supposedly an "important" record), is honest about his thoughts without being too Gee Golly Gosh about it, and rather than a selfie with the album cover, multimedia includes clips of some of the music on the album so you can see what he's talking about/judge for yourself.

That said, yeah, the NPR series is done by pro music writers. But I kind of don't think it's too much to ask that someone who wants to write about music look at what other music writers are doing, and how other people are approaching unfamiliar material.
posted by Sara C. at 2:08 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


It's written by interns and it shows.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:24 PM on March 17


There's a new review up of the B-52's first album, which about Planet Claire:

I think this would be an excellent song to listen to while driving on a winding road near the ocean, or while driving at night in the country with your high beams on.

I don't know if truer words were ever written abut that song, myself.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:40 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I thought about this a lot, since it was posted.

And overall i think a lot of the criticism of it is bullshit.

The whole thread of thought along the lines of "Why does this have to be treated as a Nerdy Boys thing and a Ignorant Ladies thing?" How about, that's what this specific couples interests and places of approaching it are from? What if this just wasn't something she was interested in before now? I thought the whole point of feminism was that you weren't a shitty person if you liked the "traditionally normal" things and that was just what you liked, and the whole point was choice?

I mean, that's a logical error i see people commit a lot. That someone is somehow less cool or playing in to some negative force in the universe by happening to align with that shit. I fail to see how the women i know who work at record shops, labels, are musicians or are generally "music nerds" are somehow subjectively cooler than her or more progressive or whatever. Or how this guy is somehow a shitty person for just, like, existing alongside her or something? I've seen direct statements and vibes of a lot of that stuff in this thread, and seriously, wow.

Secondly, the whole thoughtweb along the lines of "Ugh these are shitty reviews she sucks at writing and bla bla" that also came up more than once. What if these uninformed thoughts are what makes it interesting and why it isn't the same old tired shit again? What if, by not saying the same stuff, it's not just a "a dumb gimmick" or whatever you might be imagining?

I mean, sorry, but all the criticism of this just strikes me as so BAH, HUMBUG and grumpy fartmachine speed.

There's a new review up of the B-52's first album, which about Planet Claire:

Ok to switch gears and be completely silly;

A while ago i was playing this album and this song, right after a cramps album off of a shitty boombox while doing ~80mph at night in my 66' plymouth. It has rusty metal anti-shatter cages over the headlights, the paint is peeling, the seats are ripped. The gas gauge was broken, and i had no idea what i was doing or where i was going. I was wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses. Predawn. No one else was on the road. Just that song blasting slightly distorted, the sound of the carburetor singing with the v8 trumpeting out the exhaust, and the wind whipping through the wing-window.

For a brief moment, i felt cooler than the blues brothers and steve mcqueen combined.

Then my grooveshark playlist rolled over, and Link Wray's "rumble" started playing.

After a few minutes i rolled over from feeling really cool to feeling like a Shatner-level ham, but that couple minutes in the middle there, jesus.
posted by emptythought at 4:52 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I thought the whole point of feminism was that you weren't a shitty person if you liked the "traditionally normal" things and that was just what you liked, and the whole point was choice?

I think the problem is conflating a criticism of the project, or a criticism of the tone, with a criticism of the author.

Nobody in this thread has a problem with the author of the blog.

If said author didn't want her work criticized, she should have written it down in a notebook rather than putting it on the internet.
posted by Sara C. at 5:08 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


She's being criticized for her tone, her lack of respect, her lack of knowledge, and her culture. She's being criticized for being stupid and disconnected and presenting herself in a way that is harmful to women. Not too much here actually criticizing her work.
posted by jsturgill at 5:27 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


She's being criticized for [...] presenting herself in a way that is harmful to women. Not too much here actually criticizing her work.

The authorial pose is part of a written work, especially for opinion pieces written in the first person.

What I've learned about the blog from this thread is that it's really not the subject matter that's a problem, because both the bits of Rembert and the You've Never Heard posted here were way more interesting to me as methods of approaching music/culture the author doesn't know much about than this blog. I'm now also interested in checking out the Stranger column mentioned above. The topic turns out to be pretty cool to read about. The blog, not so much.
posted by immlass at 6:08 PM on March 17


A lot of the criticism here seems misguided, but I bet most of it wouldn't exist if the reviews were super interesting or insightful. There's definitely something to be said for the uninformed person who naively stumbles into a club and hears a certain type of music for the first time, and then describes it in an utterly obvious and yet somehow endearing and insightful way. This isn't that, this is more a fun thing between two people that is now out in the world, and that seems to annoy people.
posted by cell divide at 11:09 PM on March 17




From the flavorwire piece:
it also perpetuates the more general, ’70s-Woody-Allen-worthy idea that heterosexual relationships revolve around men educating women.
This really gets at where my uncomfortability lies with this project. There's something about it that reminds me of my first relationship, in college, with a dude who was a Criterion Collection laserdisc completionist, and who, the second week we were dating, made me this huge list, in multiple columns covering an entire sheet of legal-sized paper, of all the movies I needed to see before, like, I counted as a human being or whatever.

Now, of course, this is not a project of Alex and Sarah meeting for the first time and Alex telling Sarah their relationship would go nowhere if she didn't listen to all 1500 of his records. Alex seems like a chill dude, and Sarah seems like an adult, and I'm sure they have a great relationship.

But it just gets at something, for me. Something I can't entirely put my finger on, and which is really exacerbated by the "adorkable" tone. Something about the kinds of cultural knowledge men are supposed to have, the kinds of cultural knowledge women are supposed to have, and what the tradeoff is supposed to be. It bothers me in the way that men using their wives as social networking proxies bothers me. And it calls back to the idea that men are supposed to be more experienced out in the world, and have a role to educate their wives so that the wives can carry on the proper sort of cocktail party banter, which is what all that 70s Woody Allen stuff touches on.

This could be "The Yellow Wallpaper" for the 21st century, in a lot of ways.

Now, I know that obviously that is a LOT of baggage to throw on a cute tumblr project started, I assume, earnestly. But a lot of these blogs crystallize the ways men and women relate to each other in 2014, in ways that I think aren't entirely fair to the people who start the projects. I have a lot of the same feelings about this project that I had about the sandwich engagement blog from last year. Except that these people don't seem like irredeemable assholes, so I want to handle them a little more delicately? But you don't have to be a bad person to be sort of an amber-preserved specimen of the things that suck about gender relations in your particular cultural context.
posted by Sara C. at 10:58 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Did we sap all the fun out of this yet or is there a bit left at the bottom of the tube
posted by shakespeherian at 12:54 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


You know when you were a kid and you stirred all the food on your plate until it was kind of all evenly mixed together? And then maybe because you weren't inspired to stop or anything and no one was paying attention anyway you just kept stirring and stirring and stirring and then finally it was all just an entropic, lukewarm, mush?
posted by From Bklyn at 1:09 PM on March 18


Yes, hello?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:31 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


But it just gets at something, for me.

Sometimes a stereotype is true and enjoyed, and the stereotype doesn't mind that it's true or that they are enjoying it.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:37 PM on March 18


Since this went viral, I've been reading lots of comments from women DJs/music nerds/collectors whom I deeply admire and respect, and almost to a tee they're exasperated at the tropes that this blog plays into. I shouldn't have to preface this with a disclaimer, but I don't think the author or her husband are bad people who intended to be anything but lightheartedly teasing and fun with this project. I do think she is intentionally striking a bit of a faux-naive tone (and "adorkable" puts it nicely as well) and playing into this High Fidelity trope of her husband as a gatekeeper of deep musical wisdom. She's also poking fun of him for it and lightly trying to deflate the music collector ego and baggage that comes with it. But that dynamic of "man, gnomic collector/manchild figure of music knowledge + eye-rolling woman who grudgingly accepts and pokes fun of it" is present.

And, look. Quite a few people are basically saying "Lighten up - it's just a cute thing, and it's sweet that she's taking an interest in her man's collection." And that's exactly the problem, right? It's "cute!" It's the same dynamic behind why so many women in the music community are not taken seriously. They can't be the connoiseurs who appreciate the deeper nuances of outre noise or jazz skronk. But if they want to dip their toes into a man's vast, forbidding collection, it's funny. It's cute! Meanwhile, my friends have to constantly fight gendered assumptions about their lack of musical knowledge.

I'm gonna quote a friend and I don't know if she wants her name attached, so I'll keep it anon: "If I had a penny for every time a dude asked me if that was my gear/started setting my shit up for me without asking/mansplained a record I owned to me/etc. I would be Scrooge McDuck - and so it is for many non-dude music heads.... If we lived in a world where tropes didn't exist and have real life impact on people's lives, you could read it 100% individually. I get that this is about their dynamic, but their dynamic follows a trope which happens to be pretty frustrating and hurtful for a lot of us and in some ways impacts our careers too."

Another friend, one of the main music critics working today: "it's super frustrating being a woman in a man's world. and honestly and I don't mean any offense against my colleagues but like... when stuff like this is elevated at a time when there is only one full-time female critic on staff ANYWHERE in the states it not-even-implicitly says a lot about how women's perspective on music is viewed. we are either clueless teenyboppers or clueless partner-trainspotters. and this idea absolutely feeds into how the perspectives of women are portrayed in the mainstream media."

So yeah, to you it might be an innocent and cute blog. But it burrows into something that actually does affect people's lives. There's a lot of gendered bullshit out there. If nothing else, it's worth having that conversation when blogs like this get a lot of enthusiasm and attention. What's going on behind that enthusiasm? Is there a dark undercurrent there? Why do all these super-knowledgeable women - professional critics! - feel like they have to constantly prove themselves compared to their male colleagues? Sorry if it sucks the fun out and is a tad unfair to Sarah and Alex, but plenty of people feel strongly about this for good reasons.
posted by naju at 2:32 PM on March 18 [11 favorites]


I think the problem is conflating a criticism of the project, or a criticism of the tone, with a criticism of the author.

Nobody in this thread has a problem with the author of the blog.

If said author didn't want her work criticized, she should have written it down in a notebook rather than putting it on the internet.


I don't think i'm having any such problem. And i don't think you can separate any of these into neat little categories out of context that don't interact with eachother.

Even in the direct attacks on the project and the tone therein, there are implicit or even explicit attacks on the author. I haven't yet read a post in this thread criticizing this that was longer than a sentence or two, and didn't somehow dip in to the "and therefor she's a bad person for doing this because it's sending a message i'm uncomfortable with" type of stuff.

I just think it's super unfair to, as you yourself said, throw that much baggage on what is something presented entirely in earnest that we have no reason as of yet to doubt is run by nice people just having fun.

All this criticism kind of strikes me as some crypto version of the attitude that was being calleed out in the calling things fake meta we just had. Like theres some big unintentional unconscious bad faith going on here where she's like, pulling the wrong way in a game of tug-o-war without even realizing it or something.

I just hope everyone who is shitting on this really hard, and airing their frustrations about situations they've encountered in the music nerd and musician community(which i'll openly admit is a fucking dongfest full of mansplaining drunk brodudes who treat women like children) realizes that they're essentially doing the same shitty thing as people who crypto/dogwhistle or openly crap on women who want to be stay at home moms or whatever.

"She's being the person that some brodude i interacted with assumed and mansplained at me was how all women are, and that pisses me off because i don't want that to really exist or be promoted!" is a shitty reason to poop on someones project. I get that dealing with this shit directly can be frustrating, but taking it out on her is a shitty lowbrow way to go.
posted by emptythought at 3:31 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


After reading a couple more of the entries, I'm not sure I get a "gender" source of the tone at all. The early entries do kind of come across like "I'm a kid doing a book report for homework because I have to" kind of slogging through it, which doesn't seem like a gendered thing to me.

However, then I read the review of the B-52's thing - and the tone was really different, and I realized it was because it was an album she wanted to do because she was excited about it. And it struck me that that's the source of how the tone is coming across in the earlier entries; it gives the impression that she is going into them expecting not to like them. If what she's GOING for is a sort of jokey "this is just our thing but I'm actually okay with it even though complaining about it is just the way I tease him" kind of thing, it simply isn't coming across that way is all; and it's when she's writing about the songs and music she genuinely likes, her writing comes much more alive.

And that's not a gender thing as such, it strikes me as more about a writer trying to find her footing. I do respect that this kind of "I'm just a clueless person about this topic" thing can be spun as gendered, but it doesn't necessarily have to be.

Personally, too, I don't necessarily give a shit what the album covers look like unless they're notably unusual, so I'm questioning the need to summarize every album covers' wardrobe choice, but that's just a personal taste thing. And even here she has some fun with that here and there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:03 PM on March 18


However, then I read the review of the B-52's thing - and the tone was really different, and I realized it was because it was an album she wanted to do because she was excited about it.

I really really wanted to think this when I saw this entry pop up in my tumblr feed, but then she included a line about how her husband says she has to use "S/T" to mean Self-Titled and that was pretty much when I started scrolling down to maybe some of those shirtless Teen Wolf boys or something.

I do think she's struggling to find her voice in this project, though, and I really do respect the shit out of it. Which is why I'm still reading, even as I scoff.

I'm really curious to find out how these reviews will sound in a year when she's gotten a ton more exposure to different stuff and is a bit more confident with the language.
posted by Sara C. at 4:10 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I suppose I should read down the comments thread a little more, but I got pretty irritated by all the dumb broad comments. They read like a couple of ironic-t-shirt wearing dudes during a Saturday afternoon Warhammer Tournament who are snidely commenting on the woman who walked into the store looking for a copy of Scrabble. No she doesn't know the difference between your dwarf warrior and that ogre mage.

I was in London a few years ago, and I spoke with a younger woman who had never heard of The Beatles. Yes, completely flabbergasted, I couldn't believe my ears.

So, when I read her reaction to Soul Makossa, I don't go straight for the "You've never heard of Michael Jackson's 'Wanna be startin' somethin'?" - I give her credit for listening to entire LP's and commenting.

The dude was only 3 when Friend or Foe came out, fer chrissakes. She must not be old enough (and probably not a record addict like she walked in on Jack Black's character from High Fidelity) to even know what she's listening to.

It's actually pretty cool. And I think Love Shack is easily one of my least favorite tunes by the B-52's...I have a copy of that LP that I wore out...but if you're going to play music for people, you'd better drop that shit at the door or nobody's going to have a good time.
posted by Chuffy at 5:22 PM on March 18


I just hope everyone who is shitting on this really hard, and airing their frustrations about situations they've encountered in the music nerd and musician community(which i'll openly admit is a fucking dongfest full of mansplaining drunk brodudes who treat women like children) realizes that they're essentially doing the same shitty thing as people who crypto/dogwhistle or openly crap on women who want to be stay at home moms or whatever.

Whoa there. Maybe it's because I'm one of the aforementioned people airing my frustrations about the music nerd community, but it doesn't seem like the conversation went anywhere near that. If anything, to my sense there are a considerable number of comments basically telling us all to chill out, stop being so critical and unfun, and that we're being mean spirited.

Honestly, a lot of the people saying those who are critical of the project make me sort of feel like my experience doesn't really matter in this context (which may be true) and I'm a hater for sharing. I'm pretty used to it by now.

I have a lot of the same feelings about this project that I had about the sandwich engagement blog from last year. Except that these people don't seem like irredeemable assholes, so I want to handle them a little more delicately? But you don't have to be a bad person to be sort of an amber-preserved specimen of the things that suck about gender relations in your particular cultural context.

This is pretty much how I feel. The project is lighthearted and I will probably continue to read it. They seem like a fun couple. It also plays to a voyeuristic side of me that loves to see what other people collect. (It can say a lot about a person!) At the same time it does annoy me that it reflect something I don't like dealing with, and I guess that's my baggage to carry around and leave behind.

As for the B-52's. "Love Shack" was the song that got me hooked on them when I was 7. They were the first band I was obsessed with that my parents didn't introduce me to, and within in a year I bought all of their tapes. As much as I prefer their earlier stuff now (and Ricky Wilson's distinctive guitar work), I will always have room in my heart for Cosmic Thing.

And related to the Flavorwire link, I was joking with my husband that if I were to do a similar project with his stuff it'd be his books. Ha!
posted by kendrak at 5:40 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


That will eventually mean reaching the Gs and facing thousands of tracks by Guided By Voices. And, well, if I didn't like GBV I wouldn't have accumulated them all, but listening to nothing else for days on end without a break is not a fate I would wish on anybody.

My roommate and I did this in college, minus the reviews and blog. Just listening.

We both had a lot of vinyl. A weird mix of vintage albums from the 60s and (at that time) new imports from the UK. Boy howdy, did we curse ourselves when we got to her collection of every Depeche Mode remix 12" ever made.

And I have to defend this woman for not knowing Anthrax. I somehow made it through life without hearing Stairway To Heaven until just a few years ago. And I've never listened to the entirety of The Dark Side of the Moon. It's easy to have big gaps in your music knowledge when you are into other genres.
posted by missmerrymack at 4:53 AM on March 19


I own a record shop and can say with certainty that couples like this are extremely common.

Count us in! I listen to oldies, pop, and showtunes; my husband listens to (I hesitate to try and classify for fear of getting it wrong). He owns a lot more music than I do. We've had a good time getting to know each other's music collections. The day we were listening to Standing Room Only and he recognize Michael Rupert's voice, my heart nearly burst with pride.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:52 AM on March 19


I just discovered this thread (though one of my FB friends posted the blog a couple days ago), so I'm still reading comments, but, since I just read ardgedee's, here are the first ten records in my collection:

Joshua Abrams - Natural Information
Acid Birds
Larry Achiampong - Meh Mogya (Sample of Me)
Jason Adasiewicz - Sun Rooms, Roll Down, Varmint
King Sunny Ade - Synchro System
Africa (1975, Gallo)
Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble - U.S.A. (Universal System of Attack), B.F.B.F.
posted by box at 6:03 AM on March 19


(If we're throwing CDs in there too, please add Aaly Trio/DKV Trio, The Abyssinians and Aesop Rock.)
posted by box at 6:15 AM on March 19


There's a long way to go, so maybe you'll start to like it better as it goes on.

Yeah, I'd really like to revisit the blog in a few months, to see if there's any kind of cumulative effect, and what it is.

Especially because the alphabetical approach is pretty unique, almost out of left field. I think most people who are into music learn about stuff via similarities and chronologically (both forward and reverse.) Whereas in starting with 'A', for example, the writer's now (in a way) heard both the "beginning" (Louie Armstrong) and the "end" (Albert Ayler) of jazz, and I'm curious to see if that informs what she thinks about, say, Duke Ellington or Miles Davis, or if listening to other jazz artists makes her go back and re-assess Armstrong or Ayler.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:52 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


update

A lot of the criticism of this blog is that it plays up this idea that women’s voices are marginal or less important, but for all that has been written, no one has made any effort to reach out to me for comment, or even to ask me a question. One article got my name wrong throughout. It’s clear that critics are more interested in making me a symbol of some harmful stereotype than understanding what this is, or who I am. Talking to me might make that difficult. It might humanize me.
posted by cincinnatus c at 7:58 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that's been bugging me. The husband of the blogger is a MetaFilter member, has commented here in the thread, and it's obvious that he (& probably his wife) are reading the thread. People posting criticisms are talking directly to them, whether they realize it or not, yet abstracting them into totems of ideals & stereotypes. THEY'RE RIGHT HERE IN THE ROOM.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:45 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


People posting criticisms are talking directly to them, whether they realize it or not, yet abstracting them into totems of ideals & stereotypes. THEY'RE RIGHT HERE IN THE ROOM.

But we're not criticizing them.

We're criticizing the project.

Which is perfectly fair.

If you don't want people to think your blog is sort of retrograde, don't start one.
posted by Sara C. at 9:21 AM on March 19


This is kind of inspiring. I'm a recovering collector/hoarder and have a lot of hard materials that I've never listened to, or used to listen to a lot but ha e since outgrown.

Like I'm not having drunkenly ironic thrift store VHS nights with my friends and maybe I can gift that UK Breakdancing Competition to someone who is. I'm not sure if I'll ever want to listen to that novelty country record by The Vandals again but it's bounced across 10+ apartments in Chicago without getting taken out of the sleeve once.

I think treasures deserve to be with someone who will treasure them, and I'm thinking about reviewing some of my not - dead - but - weakened format entertainments and offering up the lovers to trade. Start small with the zines and 7" records, work my way up to cassettes, cds, VHS, DVD, and novels. I give it a solid month before I get distracted and forget about it forever.
posted by elr at 9:39 AM on March 19


I thought this bit from her update sums up my feelings on the matter pretty pithily: It's not my responsibility to compromise who I am in the name of subverting gender stereotypes. [...] I wanted to write in a style I enjoyed, I wanted to learn something new, and I wanted to do something creative with the guy that I love.

I do know that record nerd circles can be something of a boyzone (although personally most of the nerdiest music nerds I know are women), and that there is an undercurrent of sexism towards women's opinions about music that underlies that, but I'm not sure it's incumbent on this blogger to compromise her own voice in the service of changing it. If she's being honest about her experiences, I don't know what other obligations she has. Readers can dislike her writing voice, and that's fine, but I the notion that she's under some kind of moral obligation to sound more authoritative or something to be incredibly weird.
posted by whir at 9:49 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


But we're not criticizing them.

We're criticizing the project.


But neither are you talking to them despite her husband participating in the thread. you've been talking past them and about them, while paying no attention to their actual intentions where those intentions don't fit your perceived ones. Did you read her most recent post? About the controversy and how people are talking past her as if she wasn't there to ask? Maybe address that, since it's fully addressable.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:04 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


It seems much ruder, to me, to say HEY ALEX AND SARAH, HERE'S A LIST OF SEXIST TROPES YOU EMBODY, than to critique it as a piece of media. Which is what it is.

I don't know Alex and Sarah. I didn't go over to their house, discover that Sarah had never listened to any of Alex's records, and start judging them personally as a couple.

Sarah started a blog, and I'm a reader of that blog, and I have opinions about the blog. This is perfectly appropriate.

I have a lot of thoughts about why people have tended to approach Alex instead of Sarah about this project, and why people are not directly reaching out to Sarah to ask her questions about all this. None of them are things you're going to want to hear, and most of them are verging on personal criticism that I don't think is appropriate to this forum. So I've politely refrained from commenting about that.
posted by Sara C. at 11:16 AM on March 19


Devils Rancher, I think that her observation in her post that "people are talking past her" refers more to critics who've made blog posts themselves.

But for the record - Hi, Alex, can you convey the following to your wife?

Hi - I see from your most recent blog update that you wanted to give a feel of you and your husband lying around on the floor listening to records. Which is a great idea, I agree! However - especially in some of the earlier entries, it kind of sounds more like your'e a kid doing a book report you really don't want to do.

And I suspect that that's because you've kind of got a foot in two camps - on the one hand, maybe you're trying to go for the kind of jokey complaining thing, you know, "ugh, the fact that we've had to schlep these things around all this time has been driving me nuts, so FINE, lemme try listening to them and see what the big deal is, grumble grumble grumble...." and the other side is more of a lighthearted "whee, we're listening to records and I'm learning new music."

Now, either one of those would be fantastic. But it sounds kind of like you're trying to do both at the same time, and...that's what kind of gives it the "I'm a kid doing a book report that I don't want to do" feeling, maybe.

It's a tone thing I'm reading, in other words. Which could just be beginning-of-the-blog growing pains, you know, where your'e trying to figure out what it is the blog kind of is. But that may be something to look at, whether your tone is going to be "grumble" or "whee".

For the record, I didn't get any kind of "gender" thing from the tone myself, but I suspect that the "kid doing the book report" feeling is what other people are slapping a gender thing on, so maybe just taking care of that will make that kind of critique go away.

My two cents!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:16 AM on March 19


I'm perfectly aware that the author is most likely "in the room," so to speak. My problems are not about her as an individual, a critique of her lifestyle, an attempt to minimize her into a symbol, or any of that. On a larger level, it's only partially about the blog's style etc. (though she's of course a smart writer and is aware that a blogger's voice is largely performative.) The people who are focusing on "intent" are missing the point. I have no doubt that it's an innocent project with some light teasing and a way to connect with her husband's interests. But we should consider the audience's reception of it as well. How did this get elevated to such a huge viral level, why was it so readily accepted over other blogs and women's voices that are out there? The virality and tropes go together. I think there's a really valuable discussion that can come of this, and I'm disappointed that some people seem to want to shut that out simply because her husband is a MeFite. I'm sure they're cool folks, but the larger reaction to the project and what it means in macro is distressing. Can't that be on the table to talk about without hurting anyone's feelings?
posted by naju at 11:28 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "Except that these people don't seem like irredeemable assholes, so I want to handle them a little more delicately?"

Oh, gee, that's big of you.

Good grief, could we do a little less projecting.
posted by desuetude at 11:28 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


But we're not criticizing them.

We're criticizing the project.


First of all, i don't think you can speak for everyone else here.

And second, i think it's been made pretty clear throughout the thread that plenty of people are up for criticizing her(and him). Ducking behind the blast shield of "but we're criticizing the art, not the artist. If they didn't want that criticized they shouldn't have posted it!" is cheap.

By saying "what you're doing is making you embody these things that make me uncomfortable" you are criticizing her, and not the art. You're saying that by making this art, she is being this trope you don't like.

How can you not see that this is just "but mom, i'm saying ass like a donkey not a butt!" type of stuff and that you are actually, plainly attacking her and definitely so are some of the other harsher people in here? Why not just own up to it?

Saying it 50 times in a row doesn't make it true that you're only attacking the work.
posted by emptythought at 1:52 PM on March 19


How can you not see that this is just "but mom, i'm saying ass like a donkey not a butt!" type of stuff and that you are actually, plainly attacking her and definitely so are some of the other harsher people in here? Why not just own up to it?

It's sort of the same way I could think A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius is a stupid book, but Dave Eggers seems like a cool guy.

Or I could think that Jersey Shore is a terrible show, but Snookie seems like an OK person.

You can critique a piece of media without having a personal problem with the person who created it. This is a pretty axiomatic and understood thing.

As far as speaking for others, could you point out some places in this thread where people made explicit personal attacks on Sarah and/or Alex? Because I haven't seen that. I'll admit to having wondered "what do these people even talk about?" before Alex revealed himself in the thread, and I regret going there.

I don't really get your point, here? Everybody has to like this blog because the author's husband is a mefite? Nobody can criticize anything because it might be mean?
posted by Sara C. at 2:12 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say not to criticize the blog on its merits, but do acknowledge that you're in the same room with the people who created it, and maybe take notice when they say things counter to your understanding of its/their intent.

I think it's just my length of service here, but MetaFilter has a long, long history of harshly criticizing people's work, only to have them pop up in the threads and say "hey guys, I made that." This is about the jillionth time I've seen it happen, and I guess I just feel a little sorry for people constantly going through the MeFi Judging Machine.

I'm really happy that my personal blog is too boring for anyone to post it to the front page -- I'd probably rage-quit after the 3rd "critique."
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:11 PM on March 19


Also, Snookie seems like a perfectly terrible person to me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:16 PM on March 19


Ignore them, Sarah.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:19 PM on March 19


I saw this post a couple of days ago when it was first posted. I clicked the link and started reading through it. I didn't check the comments because sometimes they spoil the link for you, y'know? And I read the whole tumblr over the last couple of days. And I really enjoyed it. I know women like her. I married a woman like her. My wife and I have different tastes and different worlds and we make jokes about it all the time.

And I just got to her update where she said she was getting a lot of criticism. I didn't like that because seriously, I enjoyed her writing. And I immediately thought, Gee. I hope that's not MetaFilter. So I came here. I got two comments in and it definitely is us behaving badly.

"I'm kind of wierded out by the 'ladies aren't supposed like this' comments that both she and her husband made about the Anthrax album. As a woman who loves metal, I do not comprehend this sentence: "Why does music have to be such a division of the sexes sometimes?""

She's writing how she feels about a song. It's not a women's studies course. She doesn't have a responsibility to enlighten the world.

"I'm surprised someone is willing to go on the internet and voluntarily be this dumb. And I recently started a tumblr wherein I read/explicate this one particular Star Trek novel I used to wank to."

That's just mean and insulting. The SECOND COMMENT. Why did you have to do this?

God help me, I'm going back to the beginning of the thread. Please, MetaFilter. Redeem yourself.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:42 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


You can critique a piece of media without having a personal problem with the person who created it. This is a pretty axiomatic and understood thing. ... I don't really get your point, here? Everybody has to like this blog because the author's husband is a mefite? Nobody can criticize anything because it might be mean?

Roger Dodger already posted a good example of the kind of thing i'm talking about, so i'll just go straight to this.

All the examples you gave are scripted works of fiction if visual media, or just fictional stories if not.

What she has posted here is "these are my opinions and experiences with something", that's it. This is not some fantasy world she has created in which she's written up characters with problematic aspects, or something.

You, and others criticizing her work but not her are basically saying "i'm uncomfortable with the way you're presenting your opinions and experiences, and i think that presentation in combination with where you're coming at it from is somehow bad". Like, the whole thing above about her being a preserved in amber example of some negative 1950s, woody allen movie character-esque woman or something.

If you can't see how those sorts of comments aren't a direct attack on her, i don't know if we'll ever meet in the middle. Calling them not direct attacks seems like moving the goalposts so you don't have to feel bad for crapping on her not being the 21st century feminist woman archetype though.

And to be clear, i'm not writing this just to you. Simply to your assertion that this is somehow not a direct attack on her. Hell, her response above says she feels attacked. There's plenty of other people doing the attacking including that particularly egregious bit quoted by Roger.

So yea. If i'm sitting here on the sidelines going "woah, this looks like a lot of attacking and crapping on" and she's posting "wow, i feel attacked and crapped on" why is it so hard to accept that hey, maybe it's not raining but people are just peeing on her head? what is there to gain by denying that?

That's what's confusing me right now.
posted by emptythought at 5:03 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


do acknowledge that you're in the same room with the people who created it

Although Alex seems to have -- very wisely IMHO -- stepped back from participating in this thread after his initial "Hi, this is my wife" comment.

I too do not consider this Metafilter's Finest Moment.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:09 PM on March 19


Roger Dodger already posted a good example of the kind of thing i'm talking about

I actually am the person who posted that. So I think I can speak for myself when I say the person who posted that didn't intend to criticize the author as a person, but the work itself.

I feel a smidge guilty about using the word "dumb", but I still stand by the gist of that comment, which is basically that I don't get whether this is parody or like has she actually not heard of AC/DC or...?

I still think the tone is pretty distinctly not good, though I keep fluctuating on how much of a put-on I think it is.

All the examples you gave are scripted works of fiction if visual media, or just fictional stories if not.

I mentioned a memoir and a reality show. I pretty specifically chose my examples as examples of works of nonfiction.

I think tumblr can be pretty complicated, because it's sort of a grey area between social networking and blogging. So on the one hand, people are willing to be un-self-conscious on tumblr blogs in a way that is pretty unusual for other types of long-form prose writing on the internet. On the other hand, it's a blog. Don't start a blog if you don't want people to weigh in on whether they think you're a good writer or not.

Nobody is guaranteed a book deal. With virality comes criticism. Sarah is a grown woman, and I'm sure she can handle it.
posted by Sara C. at 5:14 PM on March 19


Some comments were out of line, but by and large I thought this thread has been civil, with plenty of people disclaiming that they think this couple is cool and aren't setting out to attack them. But the conversation about this goes way outside of MetaFilter, by the way. This has been all over my Facebook and Twitter the past few days, unreflective shares at first followed by a wave of criticism, and hell, Slate and The Stranger and a bunch of other places pointed out the exact problems that this thread brought up. If I've personally caused any distress let me be the first to officially apologize. But this is totally part of the pop cultural conversation at this point, as much as any other tumblr that gets this big becomes.

Meanwhile, emptythought, you've been kind of weirdly dismissive of a few people here who've written out thoughtful critiques (some of whom are relaying their frustrating experiences as women in music circles): "And overall i think a lot of the criticism of it is bullshit." "I mean, sorry, but all the criticism of this just strikes me as so BAH, HUMBUG and grumpy fartmachine speed." I mean fine, but not a great way to engage in dialogue either, probably.
posted by naju at 5:23 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


That's a pretty "NO U" response. I mean, all i'm saying is that i feel uncomfortable with the vitriol displayed just specifically on mefi towards this. Saying that i'm oddly dismissive of the people who've put effort in to critiquing it doesn't really change how weird the vibe is.

Secondly,

I actually am the person who posted that. So I think I can speak for myself when I say the person who posted that didn't intend to criticize the author as a person, but the work itself.

I feel a smidge guilty about using the word "dumb", but I still stand by the gist of that comment, which is basically that I don't get whether this is parody or like has she actually not heard of AC/DC or...?


Fair enough. And i believe that was your intent, but that's a whole lot of words that weren't in the original comment which did come off as pretty mean, especially in the context of all the other comments here.

Which is really why i feel that picking out a few of the more thoughtful critiques is unfair as a representation of what way the wind really was blowing. There's an awful lot of booing and tomato throwing here, even when it's dressed up in "these are my experiences with this sort of thing" the closing statement generally seems to be "so piss off" to her.

"She shouldn't have posted it if she didn't want criticism" is a pretty lame response to "wow, i think people are being pretty mean here". That's like, something a bully would say. And especially considering how hard she's getting trebuchet'd by the rest of the internet i don't see why there's this urge to be so defensive at me expecting something better from MeFi.

Also, "weighing in on whether you think she's a good writer" can easily be a personal attack. Hell, you phrased that as discussing her personally and not just talking about her work, and that's exactly the kind of freudian slip i'm talking about. I mean yea, i get that i'm being pedantic here but i really think that you and others are splitting hairs when it comes to her vs her work.

I realize that i may be in the minority on this opinion, but this isn't the first time i've seen this happen even on here. People don't like someones work, and start making assumptions or judgements about them(Which honestly, is how the "willfully this dumb" thing came off to me and others. intent is not magical). Then when pushed, they're just having a lively discussion about the work or whatever despite the fact that it's turned into a slag-on-the-artist fest. And this one, as i said, hits especially close because it's not like some short film or something.

I'm reiterating myself though, so i'll park it.

Oh and on this: I mentioned a memoir and a reality show. I pretty specifically chose my examples as examples of works of nonfiction.

Fair enough, that's a flub on my part. I think the general gist of what i was saying that this sounds like personal criticisms people really want to or just are making dressed up as critiques of the work aren't just hot air and flatulence.

posted by emptythought at 5:38 PM on March 19


or like has she actually not heard of AC/DC or...?

That still reads as condescending to me. Go back and read the review of Back in Black again, in case you missed the part about her liking You Shook Me, and always dancing to it & singing along when she heard it, and get down off of that high horse. It's unbecoming that you're not even willing to give up that little gem of a thought.

And yes, it's possible in this day and age to not listen to the radio & pay attention to any particular popular band. Lots of people don't care very much about various aspects of popular culture, and insinuating that someone is an ignorant rube because they haven't paid attention to a popular album is actually, by the definition of the word, an insult, however veiled.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:53 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


All I can say is that if I put something out there on the internet that was my personal feelings and thoughts about new experiences, and I had to read some of the comments that I've read above, I would feel pretty shitty about myself.

Maybe (probably) that's all on me and because of my shortcomings as a person and my need to be accepted. Which is why I don't put my stuff out there.

However, there is a difference between constructive criticism and plain old tearing people down. Some here should give more thought to where that line is and what that difference means to them and the people that they interact with. Even if it is semi-anonymous commenting on a website.

I do think the first two comments I mentioned earlier set the tone for the thread. Some may say it was unavoidable. Regardless, I would have much preferred hearing many more people talk about cool things in their record collection.
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:29 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


My biggest disappointment is that it's going to take forever to get to We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:41 AM on March 20


Sara C.: "I actually am the person who posted that. So I think I can speak for myself when I say the person who posted that didn't intend to criticize the author as a person, but the work itself."

You asked for examples and your question was answered, okay? Rather than arguing about what you really meant in your prior comments, which we can all read just fine, could we discuss the FPP some more?

For my part, I think that the blogger's really casual, goofy, unselfconscious tone makes it temptingly easy to cherry-pick comments to feel superior, or laugh at her or with her, or remember your own first reaction to a song, or be offended at your sacred cow being dismissed, or whatever. Is this more or less frustrating than the kind of achingly-hip rock-nerd snobbery that can suck the fun out music reviews?

She's not exactly a total musical naif, she's referencing Sparks and Tom Tom Club as comparisons.

What she's doing is she's not being cool. Sheeesh how could she say that she's never heard Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, how is that possible? But she does know AC/DC... about as well as a lot of people who aren't particularly into that genre. It's just that she's being kind of literally honest and not-invested, where a lot of us (myself included) would probably kind of half-fake cultural familiarity with disjointed bits of knowledge.

I'm fairly sure I knew the names of bands like AC/DC and also had heard a few of their songs on the radio before I totally put together that [song] and [other song] were both from [band]. And I sure didn't announce it when I figured it out. But, did I know AC/DC? Uh, yeah, sure. Well enough to nod along with the conversation, certainly. Right, Back in Black, yeah.
posted by desuetude at 10:18 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I pretty specifically chose my examples as examples of works of nonfiction.

Eggers' memoir and a reality TV show are nonfiction like Lysenkoism is science. (Which, to be clear, is not at all.) This isn't to dispute your point: in some ways, the art and the artist are seperate things. But these particular artistic works are not good comparisons to make unless you think there is some serious misdirection, manipulation, and outright deception taking place in all of Sarah's blog posts. I think they are more authentic than that, though of course I could be wrong.

...

I don't want to invalidate anyone's experiences. There are gender stereotypes, there are unfortunate dynamics, there are problematic roles people try to fill, intentionally and otherwise, that actually exist. Of course that is so. This reality can inform one's feelings about all sorts of things, including these blog posts.

But Sarah isn't a fictional character. This is a real person, whose real self seems to be very close to the surface. She is being criticized like one might criticize a dumb, manic pixie dream girl character dreamed up by an author one does not particularly care for. But she isn't that. She isn't a symbol, or a metaphor, or an outward manifestation of some creative type's stunted adolescent sexual hangups. The comparisons of Sarah to fictional characters dreamed up by neurotic, sexist artists were a real thing that happened, and are, I think, dehumanizing and probably inappropriate. Eliding that by attempting to go back and say no, I'm talking about her authorial voice, not her personal character, is to assume that her voice is inauthentic, and not a part of her. I don't know that you can make that leap.

It also appears to me that yes, she as a person is being criticized in this thread and other places online. One could easily talk about how unsettled one is by the mechanics of it going viral -- how men and media outlets who are sharing it are doing so because they unfairly, and in a sexist manner, are comforted by having a woman be the newcomer to a traditionally male domain that they want to remain male. Or whatever it is about the attention, not her person and her words, that is upsetting.

Unfortunately the focus here has been on her, and her words, and her marriage (for god's sake!) rather than the media, or the suspect motivation of some of the people sharing the link.

Attacking a woman for speaking out in a public sphere, because she's not respectful enough? That is something that I personally do not think feminists should do, almost categorically.

I think an earlier comment, comparing some criticism in this thread to conservative attacks on feminists and feminism, is somewhat on-point or at least a fruitful thought exercise. Women should not be attacked for sharing their authentic opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Particularly if they are opinions, thoughts, and feelings caused by direct experience and interaction with whatever she's talking about!

You know those articles about how tend to men dominate college classroom discussions because the female students are more reserved or hesitant to share their feelings, due to fears of being criticized, belittled, or marginalized? That dynamic doesn't exist only in classrooms. I see it playing out here in this thread, which I suspect will make Sarah more hesitant to share her thoughts (which are good thoughts, on the whole!) publicly in the future.

Of course, this leaves me in a double bind. I'm clearly criticizing things women are saying here in this thread, which are their authentic opinions, thoughts, and feelings, informed by direct experience.

One way of resolving that double bind might be to assert that some of the critical opinions in this thread are harmful words that are not neutral and, because of this, there is license to respond.

Another resolution of the double bind might be to say that within the context of this thread, we're having a discussion about what things women are saying, how they're saying them, and why they're problematic. Once space is created for that kind of discussion, particularly if it is initiated by women, it is not wrong to engage with the discussion and continue it.
posted by jsturgill at 10:22 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]


I thought this post on Jezebel was fairly good, FWIW. It goes into the issues with the response to the blog, without blaming or criticizing the author.

"And but nobody loves to tell you all the fuck about music like a dude with a bunch of records, trust. So O'Holla may not have gotten direct shit, but in a way, she got shit for not getting shit if that makes sense. Because what O'Holla is doing fits really perfectly into a very traditional notion about how men impart knowledge to women, especially music. That is, we are cool with dudes teaching women things and we love when they are eager students. We are less cool when women are doing the knowledge-dropping with anything like authority. This is not her individual fault or anything for wanting to review some records, but the response is useful and emblematic. Because it was endearing when I wanted to consume my boyfriend's record collection at 15 and liked being quizzed on singles and trivia — but when I later covered music for years for the alt-weekly in Nashville at 28 as the local rock scene there simmered up, I got an unending stream of shit for daring to write like I thought I had something to say that mattered in the slightest."
posted by naju at 4:29 PM on March 20


Eh, jsturgill, i think a third way to look at it is that criticizing or calling someone else out for criticizing someone else is a different thing than the initial criticism. Sort of related to your first resolution there, but still.

Good post though.
posted by emptythought at 10:08 PM on March 20


OK, I have generally found the blog charming, but this post tips over TWICE into "surely nobody is this naive" territory.

(But then I remember that I once accidentally played both sides of a Vangelis LP at 45rpm and kinda liked it...)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:20 AM on March 31


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