Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid) wrote,
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
ludickid

This is Pop (Conference)

Hello, friends! I've wound up my first visit to the achingly beautiful city of Seattle, where I was a presenter at the 2007 EMP Pop Conference. During my stay in the Emerald City, I delivered an exceptionally geeky talk* as part of a panel on the Wu-Tang Clan, or, as the sign outside the venue read, "the Wu-Tan Clan". The panel was hosted by Robert Fink, who previously had delivered an outstanding presentation on James Brown's "Soul Power", and we had a fairly decent turnout despite having to go on at 9AM on a Saturday morning opposite the dean of American rock critics, Robert Christgau. I went first, which means only about 20 people saw my talk, but I would be lying if I said that was the smallest crowd I've ever gotten at a reading. hipsterdetritus went next, delivering a very good talk on the Wu's soul influences; Charles Mudede followed, and delivered what may well have been a great presentation if he'd ever gotten around to it and also if I'd understood any of it; and Steven Shaviro closed it up with a piece, delivered at a machinegun clip, on Ghostface Killah. He had some pretty insightful things to say about Ghost's voice as a unique musical instrument of the Wu. All in all, I thought our panel was pretty good -- we were the only one who focused specifically on one group, and it was pretty tight and coherent, and flowed well with the exception of my nerded-up crap.

I wasn't there long enough to do much sightseeing, but I do have a few notes, in the easy-as-pie-and-only-slightly-horribly-destructive list form we all love so well, to share with you.

FAVORITE LINES FROM POP CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS:

- Mark Sinker: "Can an art form be meaningful if its fans don't want to read about it?"

- Mike Powell: "[North Korea] itself has an on-line store, which I am extremely wary of."

- Elena Passarello: "I read an article about 50 Cent in Forbes..."

- Sasha Frere-Jones: "You guys remember Elvis? Okay."

- Steven Shaviro: "Rhetorically, she holds her own, and in hip-hop, there's no discounting that."

HIGHLIGHTS:

- Free hotel upgrade!

- Getting to meet a bunch of writers whose work I like, and talk to them, and find out that a lot of them are really great, friendly, smart people and great conversationalists.

- Getting to meet and hang out with Davey Schmitt.

- Bookstores with three cats, Irish pubs with 32 kinds of whisky, and sushi with really fresh fish.

- Meeting Michaelangelo Matos and getting drunk at his house.

- Saying howdy to Mike McGonigal, the guy who got me my first-ever writing gig.

- Sharing a cab with Simon Reynolds, who later gave one of three terrific presentations on the "Urban Dance Squads" panel (along with the insightful Cosmo Lee and the charming Geeta Dayal) which helped fill in huge gaps in my musical knowledge.

- Talking to Peter Doyle, the Australian who did a fantastic presentation on the psychogeographic features that shaped some of Syndey's music (and who wrote this amazing book.

- Mike Powell's creepy, fascinating talk on North Korean popular music.

- Coming up with an awesome decorating idea for my new place.

- The "Countercultural Positions" panel, featuring an interesting talk by Michael J. Kramer on underground military radio stations in the Viet Nam War, Michael Daddino's hilarious presentation on the National Review's rock criticism, and Mark Clague's compelling musicological breakdown of Hendrix's performances of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

- Getting a handful of writing gigs while out of town, including at least one that I will announce here later in the week when it's official.

- Having a couple of friends call or write me to wish me luck, which makes me all choke-uppy.

- Scott Seward's fall-down funny presentation of folk influences in extreme metal.

- Having a total stranger come up to me and tell me they read my website and like my work -- stranger, I appreciate your coming out more than I can say, and I wish we'd had more of a chance to talk, but I was on my way to lunch and on a tight schedule, so please do forgive me.

- Being alternately mocked and celebrated for my love of American Idol.

- Drinking, generally.

- The "Dancing About Architecture" presentation, including funny and/or thoughtful presentations on music writing by Mark Sinker and Randall Roberts

- Jonathan Lethem's excellent keynote address, and getting to ask him a question about the Jack Kirby essay he wrote in Give My Regards to the Atom-Smashers.

LOWLIFES:

- Watching people form a magic worship circle around Robert Christgau wherever he went. I mean, come on, people, I like the guy just fine and it's a goddamn shame what the Voice did to him, but it's Robert Christgau, not Jesus.

- American Airlines, generally.

- The pathetic underavailability of taxicabs in the Seattle area.

- Not getting to see Davey Schmitt's performance thanks to abovementioned cab inavailability.

- A few people and presentations that I can't really talk about because I don't wanna burn any bridges or nothin', but believe me, GEEKS, and also some fashion choices, although I am not one to talk in that regard.

- Not having enough time to get a tattoo.

- Realizing that carrying out my awesome decorating idea would be ruinously expensive.

- Grotty Frank Geary architecture at Experience Music Project that made the whole place look like it was designed by an elf with severe personality disorders.

- Being so fucking swamped for the next month or so that ever sleeping again seems like an impossible fantasy.

- Spending about 14 hours on planes and in airports yesterday and getting about 4 hours of sleep last night.

- A crazy man asking Jonathan Lethem if he thought there was a conspiracy to kill Kurt Cobain.

- My presentation.

*: Note the amusing inaccuracies in that bio: I am not a staff writer for Urb magazine, my website is not regularly updated, and my bio reads better if you don't take all the good jokes out.
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