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jberrett has commented on (2) products.

Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds
Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984

jberrett, January 2, 2013

Even in the cut-down American edition (the original British version is apparently 350pp longer), an epic tale of how punk not only didn't die with the last Pistols show in SF (Johnny's famous "ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" line) but actually got better, weirder, friendlier to women, African-Americans, and gay musicians in its postpunk form. Reynolds acutely links the music to the academic-theoretical currents that inspired it, introduces me to the unknown (to me) lengthy prehistory of Dexy's Midnight Runners before they washed up here wearing overalls, and visits scene after local scene, from Manchester to Akron, each time pulling out what was new, original, and interesting. It got me into legions of songs I'd missed the first time around (my listening at the time being limited to the Stray Cats and Duran Duran, which I still kind of enjoy in a semi-ironic/semi-non-ironic way), some of which still Reynolds' discussion did make kind of exciting both culturally and musically, even 30 years later.
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Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman
Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza

jberrett, January 1, 2012

Just an amazing book, beautifully constructed as well as stuffed with learning and astonishingly educated oddballs. Clearly meant as a metaphorical recreation of the geniza itself and successful in that endeavor--a story that creates a Borgesian sense of life and literature interwoven, except in reality. The geniza was a repository for the Cairo Jewish community's unacceptable texts of all sorts, which could not simply be destroyed (the underlying theological notion of the eternal life of the written word prohibiting that) and thus were interred behind a wall in the women's part of the synagogue, then rediscovered several different times in the 1890s, bound out from Egypt in one of those resource-grabs the empires were so good at (no mention of Zahi Hawass here, so maybe he doesn't see this as part of Egypt's cultural patrimony), and then slowly and painstakingly (continuing to this day) reconstituted by a corps of ludicrously learned scholars, many but not all Brits, with various degrees of comfort within the English class system. (Most were Jewish, with a few philo-Semites thrown in.) The results have been revelatory for Jewish religious, cultural, political, and social history, and the authors have fun with their various scholars' compulsions and oddities while also respecting the magnitude of their effort and achievement. Best part: Jewish mothers complaining their sons don't write and don't call, in the 13th century.
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