What Scholars Owe Each Other

An acquaintance I like a great deal is working on a country music book, has been for years and this person thought they’d found a publisher for it, but it turns out the publisher decided not to do it, even though it had two good reviews (and one negative one).  This person is concerned that there might be a small but significant faction of folks who’ve decided the project is stupid not because the project is stupid, but for political reasons.

This makes me sad because, right now, there are maybe four university presses who publish country music scholarship consistantly–Illinois, Oxford (kind of), North Carolina, and Mississippi (kind of).  That’s right.  The word on the street is that Kentucky is out of the music book publishing business.  And I’ll politely decline to comment on the local situation.

I know publishers have been asking themselves where the young country music scholars are, who’s doing good scholarship, and whether it behooves presses to continue to publish country music books now that Charles Wolfe is dead and his contemporaries are all retiring.

What a bad time for in-fighting!  If ever there was a time when you wanted to project to presses that good work is being done, now’s it.

That’s one thing about the Hispanists.  They write thoughtful readers’ reports and even when they can’t recommend publication, they tend to give good and meaningful advice about how a project might be redeemed through revision.  Even though the field is relatively small, the impression they give outsiders is that vibrant, vital work is being done in the field.

Not so with the country music scholars.  I imagine that, if the country music scholars are splitting into camps, it’s out of some sense of loyalty to somebody or other and, at one level, I respect that.  On the other level, though, I feel like I’m watching a slow suicide.

Country music has so much to tell us about ourselves, especially as rural folks, and white folks, and the kinds of folks who feel the Coasts are aligning against them.  You would think this would be a fertile field to harvest from, year after year, even if the group of folks willing to farm it is small.

I don’t know what it is.  I was talking to NM’s husband the other week and he was talking about the split in country music journalists, how some folks understand country music journalism as being just an extention of the labels’ PR machines, and how that makes it hard for journalists who really want to write stories about artists and music, because you can set up an interview thinking that you’re doing a story story and when the story comes out, you’ve got all kinds of angry folks from the label because they thought you were doing old-fashioned Nashville journalism.

I can’t help but wonder if that split is there in country music scholarship as well.  Maybe not that same split, but a similar kind of split.  Are you going to tell the story you find or are you going to tell back to folks the story they’re used to hearing?  And isn’t that Pete Peterson’s whole thing?  Authenticity and commercialism–the driving forces behind country music, twined and entwined until you can’t tell one from the other.

It’s hard to talk about country music, I think.  On the one hand, we like to pretend like it’s so easy we don’t need to bother with it, so we can focus on the performers instead.  On the other hand, the folks who really get it, who sit down wiht the music and know it inside and out and who can then turn around and talk about the song itself, those folks are very rare.  As far as I know, Heartaches by the Number, Bill and David’s book, is the only book-length attempt at such an endevour.  And they’re not scholars.

We lost something greater than Charles when Charles died, I think.  It’s like we lost the idea that country music scholarship was worth doing and worth supporting, even when people we don’t personally like are doing it.

It’ll come back, that notion.  I believe that.

But until it does, I guess we’re relying on journalists to keep things going.

Which is a shame, because journalism and scholarship are not the same tasks.

Criminalizing Miscarriages

Via Rachel over at Women’s Health News comes the story of a dead fetus and the police department that loves it.  This is what it’s come to, ladies.  If the police find evidence of your personal tragedies, they will hunt you down and demand you justify to them your behavior during said tragedy.

I mean, please, what crime do they think has been committed here?  That’s clearly bullshit.  They found something they consider weird and they feel they have the right to find the woman who produced it and demand she give an accounting of herself.

I just cannot wait for the anti-abortionists to turn this into Communist Romania where we all have to take pregnancy tests each month, abortions are illegal, and each miscarriage is investigated as a possible murder.  That will be good fun.

Conservatives: For a Government Small Enough to Sneek into Your Bedroom

Courtesy of Lil’ P, we learn that Martin Kennedy sees nothing funny about nor even particularly wrong with a self-hating gay man passing legislation that deliberately curtails the rights of other gay people.

I will let those of you who are married without children explain to Martin how deep in bullshit he stands when he says, “Extending the benefits of marriage to those who can not procreate renders marriage an arbitrary relationship.”   I, instead, ask you readers to consider the following:

Who better than Larry Craig to appreciate that allowing gays to serve openly in the military could be problematic?  A gay person’s right must be balanced with concern regarding the unique mission of the military – to fight and win wars.  Who better than Larry Craig to appreciate that gay marriage is not the same thing as traditional marriage?  The state has a keen interest in the state of the family.

I’m sorry.  I wish I had astute analysis but I’m too busy laughing.  Seriously, this is ludicrous.  It’s like there’s a huge fabulous pool we might call “Homosexual America” and all the folks who are in the pool are having a grand ole time, they just wish they had a diving board like the folks at the “Heterosexual America” pool.  Now let’s say that, for some reason, the folks at the Heterosexual America pool are the ones in charge of doling out the diving boards and, for some reason, they refuse to give the folks at the other pool one.  The folks in the pool are all “Hey, we’d really like one.”   The folks in the straight pool are split, but most folks believe, for some reason that giving the gays a diving board would somehow ruin their diving board.

And who do straight people like Kennedy turn to for guidance about this?  Not the vast majority of gay people who are openly in the pool and openly having a good time.  No, he turns to the fucked-up dudes who are standing in the bushes, peering through the fence at the gay pool, throwing rocks at the cute boys, trying to get their attention.

That is hilarious to me.

Reason Number 542 I Cannot Take PETA Seriously

They don’t like Bonsai Kitten.  And so, even though they acknowledge that “no kittens were actually harmed,” they want you to sign a petition to get the site taken down.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has so little to do with its time, apparently, that they’ve now taken up for imaginary animals.

In that spirit, folks, I ask you to boycott anything called “St. George’s,” since glorifying that terrible, cruel dragon killer only serves to promote the idea that killing dragons is appropriate behavior for men.

Oh, AP, You Tickle Me

Lil’ P reports on this hilarious line from the AP:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a divorced, billionaire dad, said Tuesday that unwed fathers increase poverty and the government should take steps to get them back with their families.

Oh, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Bless Lil’ P’s heart, he doesn’t even give you the most sexist line of the piece (but, of course, I will), when Bloomberg says, “‘Fathers have been missing from the table,’ said the mayor, a divorced father of two who made a fortune creating an eponymous financial data firm. ‘We have to do more to connect fathers to jobs and to their families.'”  [emphasis mine]

Yes, you can ditch a woman and kids and skip out on child support, but as far as Bloomberg is concerned, that family belongs to you.  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.


You want to be a part of a family, you act like a part of a family.  You don’t have to be married–in fact, I think getting married just because you’re having a baby often compounds the problem, especially if you’re young–but you have to be there and pay your share.

A “dad” is not some name on a piece of paper.  A dad is the dude who’s there when the chips are down and who is fighting for you.

Does the system need to be reformed?  Yes it does.  The Butcher and I know a ton of people back home who have kids with their significant other but are intentionally not getting married because they can get more money single than they can together.  I don’t think there should be a marriage benefit–I don’t think you should get more money for being married–but you also shouldn’t be penalized.

So, fine, but, at the end of the day, those men are not the men Bloomberg is talking about.  They’re still a part of the family unit.  They’re just scamming the system.  If those men married their babies’ mammas, it would not reduce poverty because they haven’t not been contributing to the family.

Here’s my question.  Why would we try to encourage men who refuse to contribute to families they helped start to marry back into those families?  Never mind the problem with just ignoring whether the woman wants the man in her life in the first place, he has, by the very act of withholding child support, proved that he’s an evil jerk who doesn’t put his children’s welfare above his own needs.  What makes Bloomberg think that being married would reform him?

Do all poor women have magical cooters?  If we can just keep bad boys in them long enough, eventually they’ll be transformed into good fathers?

And what are you going to do with the men who have five kids by five different women?  Or even two kids by two different women?

What if the man’s still single but the woman has married someone else?

And, not to ask the stupidest question, but how, if he’s poor and she’s poor, is getting married going to magically make them not poor?

Seriously, is there some Harry Potter shit that politicians know about that the rest of us don’t?