Lots of Good Stuff

1. Few things move me to email strangers, but this post made me email Andrew Sullivan. Dude links to an article about American Idol’s Southerners and a lack of recording opportunities for Southerners that doesn’t even mention Nashville. Here’s my theory–and I’m right–about why there are so many Southerners on American Idol. Southerners go to church a lot more than the rest of the country, which means there are a lot more Southern teenagers in church, some of whom are singing, and some of whom are getting solos. There are more Southerners not because they lack opportunities to record, but because they have more opportunities to perform in front of a crowd. They come with some polish.

2. Cool story out of Clarksville about two men who share the family farm. I know everyone’s experience with finding their slave ancestors–or hell, even if they want to find their slave ancestors–is a kind of weird personal journey, but I swear, for the people who want to look, the responses I keep hearing and reading over and over are like Jackie Collins’s, “I was glad to find them. They had a name. They were human. They were real.” I think white people are kind of worried that, if black people find out who their slave ancestors were, they will immediately cast about for the people who enslaved them and look to be pissed at them. But you know, it’s not about us white people. We aren’t the center of every American story. A person can want to know who his great-great-great grandmother was without then turning his whole life into a revenge fantasy against the man who fucked her over.

3. An interview with Dorothy Parker. I aspire to always be so vibrantly engaged with things.

4. The Chronicle has a story about the shut-down of the University of Missouri Press. A whole lot of college administrators seem to be under the strange impression that librarians will just be able to and have the time to teach themselves how to publish books.

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5 thoughts on “Lots of Good Stuff

  1. You probably know more about what’s happening in Missouri than the article indicates, but I did not read it at all as “the librarians will take on the work of the press.” I read it as, “We’re focusing on other issues in scholarly publishing, some of which the library science folks are actively involved in (which is presumably true).” If your interpretation is correct, I think that’s a mistake, because they’re probably not upping the library budgets for that.

    I do think university libraries and presses should work much more closely together, though.

  2. Where else did that guy miss in his analysis of the South? Memphis… New Orleans… Chapel Hill… Atlanta… Athens… Louisville… Knoxville… Asheville… Muscle Shoals… Oxford… Norfolk… Jacksonville… Mobile…

    Oh, not to mention anyone with a laptop, some rudimentary recording gear, and an Internet connection.

    My theory, so much as it is, is that the Southern US does as much to contribute to the beating heart of American culture as any other region, perhaps more so. And whether the oeuvre is rock, blues, country, jazz, R&B, funk… well, the South gets credit for inventing most if not all of those.

    What I really want to know is how so many middling contestants end up winning the damned contest. (Me, I am of the opinion that the winner in each of the past 3 seasons are frauds, inasmuch as it’s my firm belief that they were no more selected by the audience than I selected my own shoe size. Accounting and disclosure aren’t exactly traits I’d assign to this enterprise.)

  3. Rachel, i could be wrong, but it seems to me that this attitude of “Well, publishing is easy now. The library can do it.” is very pervasive. Even close to home. I’m trying to help a library which shall remain nameless out of this very problem right now.

    We do need to work more closely and make use of each other’s strengths. But we’re both going to have to watch administrators’ “eh, it’s so easy, the libraries can do it” attitude.

  4. Interesting, I totally have not run into that – frankly, we have enough to do without taking on your jobs, too. We definitely need to be better advocates for our unique skills and contributions on both of our sides, and I’d love to see some strong partnerships that take advantage of those.

  5. Me, too. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been so helpful with my situation. I want them to report back that they ran into all kinds of obstacles and it was only because of the expertise of the Press that they were able to surmount them.

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