“Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.’ But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today but for tomorrow.”
New(ish) John K. Samson song about fantasy baseball, fascist fuckers, the end of the world, demolished hope and helping “to organize something better, something beautiful”. So basically about the summer of 2020.
I highly recommend the debut novel by Olivia Wenzel.
“Etwas, das damit einhergeht, eine neue, gesunde Angst in dein Leben zu lassen – eine Angst, tief, wärmer und zerreißender als jede Angst um dich selbst, dein Leben, deine identitären Beffindlichkeiten es je sein könnten: eine Angst, gebunden an eine Liebe, so stark wie alles, was du bisher kanntest, mal 1000.”
“Something that goes hand in hand with a new, healthy fear in your life – a fear that is deep, warmer and more tearing than any fear of yourself, your life, your identity sensitivities could ever be: a fear bound to a love, as strong as anything you knew before, times 1000.”
1000 Serpentinen Angst is the great first novel by Olivia Wenzel. While browsing a bookshop recently, a friend recommended the book to me, especially referring to the book’s treatment of racism experiences of a Black person in Germany. And the novel is about that – in part. It’s also about (Black) life, (Black) joy, (Black) insecurities and (Black) fear in Germany. I was most impressed by the passages on the main character’s struggle with anxiety and the impact the disorder had on her normal life, her friendships and love. I recognized some of it, but the experience of being a Black queer woman in Germany adds extra layers of fear and complexity to the illness.
The story is told through constant dialogues between the main protagonist and a constantly shifting counterpart. The narrative form is fantastic, slightly experimental and really successful in transporting these complexities, more so than an omniscient narrator or inner monologues could. This narration of the protagonists life and her complex relationships, particularly to her loving yet racist grandmother and her ill and mostly absent mother, creates a tremendous pull. Fantastic.
“The white boys bruised differently than the black boys and called it the Ice Cream Factory because you came out with bruises of every color. The black boys called it the White House because that was its official name and it fit and didn’t need to be embellished. The White House delivered the law and everybody obeyed.”
Colson Whitehead’s book after Underground Railroad tells the story of a reform school, the Black boys in the school, the devastating impact of the school and the system that enables it.
This novel has similar strengths (based on a true story, the concept, the research and historical truth behind the concept, the heft of the prose in the best parts) and weaknesses (underdeveloped secondary characters, the sometimes less inspired prose in transitional plot phases) as Underground Railroad. It’s still a great book that is important and deserving of its success and accolades.
But it also made me realize how the important, successful, critically acclaimed, powerful ™ books by and about Black people too often focus on (historical) hurt and pain. I could use some recommendations for important, successful, powerful ™ books about Black joy. Not because books like Nickel Boys or Underground Railroad make white people like me uncomfortable – that’s the best part about Whitehead’s work – but because stories of joy and success need to be celebrated and supported, too. Especially in these times.
I’m just going to go out on a limb here: You or Someone You Know by Worriers is my favorite record of the year. Such a perfect punk/power pop record – I listen to it when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m sitting in the sun on my balcony, when I have to work too long once again. Headphones, speakers, smartphone – it always sounds great. The production is flawless. So warm, so smart, so great. The opening track, “End of the World” is the song of 2020:
Set my sights on the life that you get when you put the hard work in. Only to be told, keep your fingers crossed that they vote you a person. I apologize; you’ve been trying to go with the safer bet. It’s true I didn’t think that far, but how do you plan for the death of a safety net?
What can I possibly say, is it me or the end of the world? Cover your eyes and ears and hope I don’t notice and nothing hurts. It must weigh on you a bit, but it’s not me that has to fix it. Could you just hold on to me for now?
And their account is one of my favorites on Instagram, too.
“A Hero’s Death” is the new single by Fontaines D.C. The video is a great downward spiral with a Birdman-vibe, starring Aiden Gillen. The song is really terrific, and it soundtracked my end of the workweek yesterday. Sometimes hearing a postpunk reminder that
Life ain’t always empty Life ain’t always empty Life ain’t always empty Life ain’t always empty Life ain’t always empty Life ain’t always empty
Muff Potter released a new single and I’m so excited, I even reactivated my blog.
Last year, when I stood in the crowd of a frenetic, fantastic reunion show in Munich, I realized just how much I missed Muff Potter. I swiped away a tear or two and desperately hoped this wouldn’t be a one time thing, and there would be new literary, angry pop music by my favorite band.
A bit more than a year later, here is a new great single “Was willst du” and I’m so excited, I even reactivated my blog.
Punk is really at its best when its angry and abrasive – and Deutsche Laichen, a decidedly queer feminist punk band from Göttingen, Germany, are really, really abrasive. Their self-titled debut LP is almost physical in its rejection of toxic masculinity, homophobia and (cis)sexism. Case in point: “Du bist so schön, wenn du hasst”, the standout song from the album: