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The Prose Of Fear
Going to write quick or I won't get to it: John O'Hara's best decade was the 1960s, actually — a lot of it in The New Yorker; and why can't somebody who turns 60 in the middle of a decade be legitimately as much a part of its experience as someone who turns 25? But obviously when people think of "the Sixties" they're not thinking of John O'Hara and of his actresses and businessmen making fleeting connections and blabbing their life away. But The New Yorker was a big part of my 1960s because it came into our house once a week via my parents' subscription. We also read the Saturday Review courtesy of a neighbor's subscription. So there were two rock critics I read consistently, Ellen Willis in The New Yorker and Ellen Sander in the Saturday Review, both women and both Ellen!

But anyway, my friend Mark Sinker wrote a complicated post on his Patreon in which in a minor subclause he claimed that The New Yorker has printed many excellent music critics, "beginning with the great Ellen Willis." I have no current opinion of jazz critic Whitney Balliett, but my guess is if I revisit him he'll rate as an excellent music critic employed by The New Yorker prior to Ellen Willis. And Ring Lardner was better than either of them while capturing the flippant and desperate early '30s as The New Yorker's "radio critic," overwhelmingly writing about music, his words closer in style to the music he was writing about than Ellen Willis's ever could be, and closer in style as well to what fierce and rocking and fiercely analytic rock critics Richard Meltzer and Lester Bangs would sound like forty years later. Lardner's subjects were the Kerns and Astaires and Boswell Sisters but also the noise and ra-ra and promo bullshit they were embedded in. ("The 'Little Street' enjoyed a long radio life, a fact that ought to silence those pessimists who argue that a song can't last unless it's got something.")

While excavating old Lardner pieces I discovered another pop critic contemporary of his writing in The New Yorker under the name "Pop." So, for sure excellent music writing in The New Yorker decades before Ellen Willis and she was not the rag's first pop critic, though it's not surprising that modern MusicWrite thinks she is, this attitude a holdover from the Sixties g-g-generation thinking that nothing really novel happened until they themselves did it — but Willis is someone I also need to revisit and she was probably better being Ellen Willis than she would have been trying to embody her times.

Mark's bigger point — his post wasn't about Willis or The New Yorker's music writers — was that the 1960s New Yorker fumbled the culture it was living in, just wasn't adequate to it. He cites Tom Wolfe and Wolfe's own apparently fumbling Sixties attempt to take down The New Yorker, a piece called the "Tiny Mummies!" which I haven't read but I'm sure Tom Wolfe's right to go for a takedown. The New Yorker was much too careful to try and generate rock 'n' roll in its prose. But anyway, this post is basically my response to Mark, tweaked and expanded slightly in the hope of making it at least one-tenth accessible to people who haven't been privy to Mark and me digging thoughts out of each other for the last thirty years. Mark seems to have mainly read the reactionary pwning-the-libs and pwning-the-art-farts Tom Wolfe, all the essays I've intuitively avoided. My wish is that Mark would visit the great struggle in Wolfe's early prose, attitudes you just can't call "conservative," Wolfe's knowing that what he's trying to channel from stock car racers and rock 'n' roll and scandal mags — all this huge unreported life in plain sight that's somehow not quite capital-C Culture and not the mass TV culture either — is bigger than his own words and he'll have to distort style and punctuation to communicate it. Tom Wolfe is certainly more of a factor in creating my prose than Pauline Kael or Ellen Willis ever were. Though I don't know: maybe Kael and Willis were present in the opinionated or expository style-before-I-was-conscious-of-style that I wrote in up to age 15 without my putting thought into how I could be writing, but then Wolfe is there for me when I'm changing myself into a big-W "Writer," changing from being someone who previously and unreflectively just used words as tools in the way I was taught. So perhaps I'd internalized Kael and Willis without my knowing it and maybe my tools were already wider and wilder than I realized when I began trying consciously to make them such. But anyway, see my mind-scrawl The What Thing, when I was barely 17; Wolfe is all over it.

Btw, though I don't have the mid-'70s piece in which she did it, Willis once called The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test the best book from the Sixties. But back in 1969 in The New York Review of Books she was saying "Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test asked the pertinent questions — Is it possible to reinterpret and salvage the American trip by painting the bus with Day-glo? Is there an underground exit from the maze? — at a time when most of us were not yet especially concerned."

I've avoided Wolfe's "Radical Chic" and "The Painted Word" and "From Bauhaus To Our House" which I'm sure have some value but I fear they're mostly just poking holes in things. He always had modernism in his gunsights — he was challenging modernism's claim to speak for the modern world. But he had something to challenge modernism with: the custom car shows and demolition derbies and acid tests and secret teen drag races were an implicit and sometimes explicit rebuke to Form Follows Function — more like form spews in all directions for the hell of it. But The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test also ends up really sad, the Merry Pranksters fall apart, the project disintegrates, the colored bus won't go further, life as art can't sustain itself, We blew it (says the What Thing), and this failure is what touched Willis as profound.

But of course I hate The New Yorker, in the Sixties and ever since. I know it did great things, O'Hara, Baldwin, overrated-but-vibrant-and-sloppy-and-complaining Kael, staid-but-thoughtful Willis. And I'm sure the mag is a lot worse now and still necessary — a couple of friends of mine get published in it — and maybe there's no good magazine now. The New Yorker's demographic shattered in the Sixties. There was no way it could contain my parents and at the same time contain me. It watched the Sixties, it didn't try to live the Sixties. Its prose was the prose of fear. I merely felt fear, sometimes almost all the time, but I didn't want to write fear.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/374687.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I'm Going To Eat Like Crushed Bridges (Frank's Eardrums July 2019)
My flow cuts the sky
Like I'm a Khalo Frida
I'm the push behind the swing
No one needs to understand

I'm going to eat like crushed bridges
I'ma bite your feelings out

Smells in the air
but I'm feelin so alone
Roof was on fire,
You never let me know

I'm Going To Eat Like Crushed Bridges is my new Eardrums playlist. It's up on my YouTube channel. Here's the link:


Go here for all my YouTube playlists:


I'm Going To Eat Like Crushed Bridges (Frank's Eardrums July 2019)
1. Liberate P ft. Professor Jay "สิ่งที่ประเทศกูไม่มี"
2. Lil Pump ft. Chief Keef "Whitney"
3. Heavy-K x Moonchild Sanelly "Yebo Mama"
4. Bhad Bhabie ft. Tory Lanez "Babyface Savage"
5. Franko "La Remontada (Freestyle)"
6. Bali Baby "Introduction"
7. Company B "Fascinated"
8. Hong Jinyoung (홍진영) "Love Tonight (오늘 밤에)"
9. Valee ft. Jeremih "Womp Womp"
10. The Collins Kids "Shortnin' Bread Rock"
11. A.K. "No Lackin (Bodak Yellow Remix)"
12. Dave Richmond "Confunktion"
13. The Clash At Demonhead (Brie Larson vocals) "Black Sheep"
14. Ken Boothe "Old Fashioned Way"
15. Van Morrison "Beside You"
16. Sofi Tukker "Johny"
17. Fabulous Disaster "Red Blister"
18. A$AP Rocky ft. FKA twigs "Fukk Sleep"
19. Farrah Abraham "On My Own"
20. U-Roy "Drive Her Home"
21. Kiiara "Gold"
22. Iggy & The Stooges "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" (Bowie Mix)
23. 100 gecs "hand crushed by a mallet"

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/374526.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.
Tags: ,

Andrew Klimeyk
Posting to let you know that my friend and former bandmate Andrew Klimeyk suffered a series of strokes and lost his job and needs several therapies. John Morton of X___X has set up a GoFundMe page for Andrew. Andrew is a great human being and a brilliant musician (X___X, Ugly Beauty, Johnny & the Dicks, Red Dark Sweet, Death On A Stick, Scarcity of Tanks).

Here's the link:



This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/374043.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

The MTDE Awards (MaHaWaM and Farrah Abraham)
Dave posted this on Tumblr:

I seem to be subconsciously looking for the closest thing I can find to the vibe of “My Teenage Dream Ended” each year (last year it was Jenny Wilson's EXORCISM).

This year it appears to be Mahawam: Is an Island, which is very brief and very good.

I replied:

Dave, I just checked YouTube to find that Farrah Abraham has taken down all her vids from My Teenage Dream Ended. Still has "Blowin'," a more conventionally song-like track from a couple of years later, and she continues to put vlogs and the like on her YouTube channel (some contributed by her daughter, she says on her "About" page). Haven't explored them yet. [EDIT: It's possible that there's some other explanation for the absence of the videos than "Farrah Abraham has taken down all the vids." But I can't think of what another explanation would be, since I don't know who else would or could take them down or if someone else could claim some authority or ownership over them. Publisher? MTV?]

My guess is that, unfortunately, she must have internalized all the criticism and hatred that was thrown at her for her absolutely odd and original music. The music's still up in bits and pieces, posted by one fan here, another there, sometimes creating their own videos. In the meantime, no one's made music like it, before or since.

(I realize that it's hard to explain or justify that last sentence, since any description I'd give — "singing, but not melodically, the words being scraps of images, confession, events, feelings, some rhythm but no attempt at meter or rhyme" — could describe at least some, for instance, spoken word, improv, jazz poetry, hip-hop (the latter probably something of an inspiration; she may be an outsider but that doesn't mean she's from Mars*). So the conception isn't radical. She's not going rhythmically against meter and line, it's just that her rhythms and repetition don't come from there, come from speech instead, but with dancebeat music backing her she's not constrained by the coherence of normal conversation either; nor by poetry. So it's the result that's radically different.)

(Dave and I once talked about some related Farrah issues on LiveJournal ("I'm In With The Out Crowd"), and Dave and lots of others talked about her all over the place at the time, Dave even getting a piece into The Atlantic.)

*And it wouldn't hurt modern Soundcloud rappers to give her a listen. I bet you some would get ideas.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/373930.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Where "Galaxy," naturally enough, means "Italo" (Top Singles, First Third 2019)
Was going to use the title "Trap Hegemony And The Italotrot Question" because I knew it would make Chuck Eddy smile; but I decided "Where 'Galaxy,' naturally enough, means 'Italo'"* was funnier, though maybe David Frazer will be the only one to smile. David's the person who came up with the genre title "Italotrot" to describe Hong Jinyoung's "Love Tonight." I wouldn't say that "Love Tonight" poses a deep question, really: But why is it this song, a trot song — as opposed to, for instance, a K-pop song ("trot" being Official Old Person's Dance Music in Korea**) — that's pulling into itself deliriously catchy freestyle and Italodisco riffs, as if to declare that being trot is no barrier to incorporating any coin and color that makes Frank Kogan feel good? I mean, this is something K-pop itself used to be so good at, insinuating disco and freestyle and Italopop into itself without making a fuss over it or sounding the least bit retro. K-pop still pulls in music left-hand, right-hand, and back-hand, but it's more of a drag these days. See quasi essay below the list.

In the video Jinyoung turns into a cat, or a cat turns into her. —Yes, T-ara did that too, and so I'm sure have many others, that's what comment threads are for if you're so inclined. (Inclined to tell us of other performers who've turned into cats, that is; not inclined to turn into a cat yourself.)

From China, meanwhile, Rocket Girls 101 "Galaxy Disco," where "Galaxy," naturally enough, means "Italo":

Sounds just like the music on Italodisco comps out of Singapore and Hong Kong that populated the three-for-a-dollar cassette bins in SF's Chinatown back in the '80s and '90s. I'd assumed then that most of the music was produced originally in Italy or Germany (with input from Miami and Toronto and Montreal: Tapps and Lime were all over those stores, Tapps with not-quite-so-cheap compilations of their own), but there'd be remixes and mashups and stuff — an impressive version of "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" that in a later day would have been screwed and chopped but this used amphetamines rather than cough syrup — and uncredited performers and unknown vocalists, and I was guessing or hoping that some of the talent was Asian. Anyway, "Galaxy Disco" sounds so much like that stuff*** that I wonder if it's actually a cover. It's so familiar. The sound is spot-on, from the reed-thin riffs to the dental-floss vocals.

Of course, most of what's coming is hip-hop, the so-called trap hegemony of my rejected title: though the list itself — here it is! a playlist followed by the list itself, and more commentary below the cut — starts with gqom, which is generally considered more a derivative of house.

1. Heavy-K x Moonchild Sanelly "Yebo Mama"
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. Tory Lanez "Babyface Savage"
3. Jvcki Wai, Young B, Osshun Gum, Han Yo Han "Dding"
4. Hong Jinyoung "Love Tonight"
5. Lil Pump "Butterfly Doors"
6. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie "Look Back At It"

7. DALsooobin "Katchup"
8. Gasmilla ft. Mr Eazi "K33SHI"
9. Loopy&nafla "Ice King"
10. Marilina Bertoldi "O No?"
11. Rich The Kid "4 Phones"
12. Gunna "Big Shot"

13. KeshYou "Уят емес"
14. Kim Bo Kyung "It's Not Discarded"
15. Lil Pump ft. Lil Wayne "Be Like Me"
16. Gasmilla ft. Kwamz & Flava "Charle Man"
17. Solange "Binz"
18. Brooks & Dunn ft. Luke Combs "Brand New Man"
19. Kidd Kenn "'Next Song' Freestyle"

20. Rema "Iron Man"
21. Sofi Tukker "Fantasy"
22. Rocket Girls 101 "Galaxy Disco"
23. Bad Bunny "Solo De Mi"
24. Blueface ft. YG "Thotiana (Remix)"

Trap hegemony, shining asteroids, wild world, boom and doomCollapse )

Hong Jinyoung "Love Tonight"

Heavy-K x Moonchild Sanelly "Yebo Mama"

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/373664.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Snow, May 21
Snow, Denver, May 21, 2019

This entry was originally posted at
https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/373276.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Doo-doo d-doo-d-doo-doo-doo, boom-boom b-boom-b-boom-boom-boom (Sexyy Red's "Ah Thousand Jugs")
In 2002 Vanessa Carlton had this beautifully girlie and arty song, "A Thousand Miles," and now just last year Sexyy Red grabbed it and probably liking all its nuances and the chord twists and tuneful turns she nonetheless had fun bashing around in it, "Ah Thousand Jugs," just pawing at it with a who-cares out-of-tune voice, throwing her own words onto it, slapping around Vanessa's sweet and aspirational piano trills, "plink-it y-plink-p-plink-plink-plink" in the original and sung here, "doo-doo d-doo-d-doo-doo-doo," like it's a Sexyy Red water pistol; then turning it into sung gunshots, just as casual and who-cares and out-of-tune as before but now "boom-boom b-boom-b-boom-boom-boom" like a spray of bullets. Vanessa had sung, poetically, "If I could fall into the sky," Sexyy Red sings "We put 'em in the sky," meaning she killed someone.

Sexxy Red "Ah Thousand Jugs"

I'm interested in working out how this works aesthetically, of course, wondering why it works since some drunken lout can take a song and maul it and it's usually unfunny or you had to be there and what's so great about taking beauty and turning it into a song about gunshots and die-bitch-die anyway? Something about excellent social and emotional timing, Sexyy Red not prettying her voice up for the occasion, though if her timing doesn't work for you I doubt that I could explain what's working for me. On the page her words aren't really much fun. On tape there's a pretty good combination of insouciance and sarcasm; and the doo-doo d-doo-d-doo-doo-doo and boom-boom b-boom-b-boom-boom-boom are penetrating and lacerating and blissful: maybe it's also how the casualness and the casually taking the piss partake of an underlying sense of social dread. This doesn't necessarily mean that the dread is real or that song or singer or audience have to believe in the dread to play with it*: how many people care about dogs and postmen and about who does or doesn't walk into a bar, after all? But people use these stock characters and plot conventions as setting for all sorts of gags. I think there's something deeper here in the daily dread — whether Sexyy Red pulls her gag machine from supposedly tough urban life or from the plots of hip-hop videos. There's an anomalous instruction, "Kids stay in school," right in the middle, though maybe she's just sending up a counter-cliché amidst the bang-bang clichés.

Sexxy Red "Ah Thousand Jugs" video

In any event, although a song that's out there to get laughs and reactions isn't meant as a picture of What Life Is Actually Like, it nonetheless draws on people's sense of the world. "Draws on" and "sense of the world" are pretty vague, but I've been thinking about this ever since college, to tell you the truth. I was thinking back then about, for example, Barrett Strong's original version of "Money" from 1959 and how in his version the lyrics aren't A Great Truth About Life but rather setups for gags and vocal inflections and riffs and vamps and feelings ("The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I need money, that's what I want"), but the words draw on a social background of wisecracks and pseudo-wisdom, "romance without finance is a nuisance" and "can't buy me love" and such (similar to "the race is to the swift" and "slow and steady wins the race": neither of these gets to be the truth, but both are there when you need them**) and in the original version of "Money" with Strong's matter-of-fact delivery the issue of moolah is just sort of matter-of-factly there, not a big deal but not going away. Whereas the Beatles' version in 1963, four years later and across the sea, is a different sensibility; John Lennon is throwing it in your teeth like it is a great truth, take that!, the humor is basically lost (though that doesn't stop you from laughing with it, if you want), but in socking us with this truth the Beatles actually put it way more into question — something to be challenged — than Barrett Strong had.

I don't know where Sexyy Red is with her boom-boom b-boom-b-boom-boom-boom; feels more on the Barrett Strong matter-of-joke, matter-of-fact side, but that doesn't mean that's where all her listeners are, and hip-hop is really all over the place on such things. YouTube commenter Bri Moni: "'I killed anotha fool, Kids stay in school' 😂😂 so we killing or we learning?? Im confused"

*In an online interview Sexxy Red doesn't really clarify her intent:

Sexxy Red: "I was just playin when I did it. And I recorded it and everybody was laughin at me. In the studio when I recorded it I'm like, "This isn't— what's funny?"

Princess Stormm: "I'm dead ass!"

**Filched this insight from Thomas Kuhn. See his "Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice" in The Essential Tension.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/373091.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

My 2018 Freaky Trigger and ILM ballots (plus bunches of other people's in the comments)
Chuck Eddy sent me his Pazz & Jop and his Country Critics ballot early last month (which I've reprinted down in the comments along with shitloads of other stuff from Chuck and other people's lists). I actually had no idea there still was a Pazz & Jop. I'm not commenting on the results because I haven't read them yet — still — but here are my Freaky Trigger Readers' Poll ballot and my ILM tracks ballot. Haven't looked at ILM results yet either, but here's the link; here's the link to the ILM album results, though I didn't vote in the album poll. Here are the four links to the Freaky Trigger results rollout: link, link, link, and link.

These were both "tracks" polls, so I included singles and nonsingles.* For the ILM poll you vote for tracks that are nominated; anyone can nominate a total of 30 albums and tracks, split however you want (say, 29 tracks and 1 album), but I always nominate very few so that I'll vote for/pay attention to stuff that at least some other people are plumping for. My two nominees this year were Kidd Kenn's "Slide Remix" and KeshYou & Baller's "Swala La La." The deadlines for the two polls were three-and-a-half weeks apart (Dec. 31 for Freaky Trigger, January 25 for ILM); sharp eyes will notice that I keep changing my mind on the relative merits of the Kidd Kenn, the Cassie, and the KeshYou & Baller.

*My 2018 top 100 or so singles playlist is still ongoing, if you want to take a look at its current makeup; and in late December I finally posted my Top 100 Singles And Commentary for 2017, where in the comments we talk about 2018 and 2019 too (esp. Jvcki Wai, who's like a 16-year-old just discovering anarchy and the joys of anticlericism, which is pretty appealing even though she's 22).

My ILM's 2018 End of Year Tracks Ballot

Kidd Kenn - Slide Remix
Cassie - Don't Play It Safe
KeshYou & Baller - Swala La La
bhad bhabie ft. lil yachty - gucci flip flops
Cardi B - Be Careful
Valee ft. Jeremih - Womp Womp
Niniola - Saro
Bali Baby - Backseat
Cardi B ft. Bad Bunny & J Balvin - I Like It
Bích Phương - Bùa Yêu
blocboy JB ft. drake - look alive
Dladla Mshunqisi ft. Nokwazi & Prince Kaybee - Wangibamba
Tropical Fuck Storm – Rubber Bullies
DaniLeigh - Lil Bebe
LOOΠΔ/Olivia Hye ft. JinSoul - Egoist
Doja Cat - Go To Town
NCT U - Baby Don't Stop
Wande Coal - So Mi So
Vince Staples - FUN!
Lil Kesh - Apa Mi
MEUTE - You & Me (Flume Remix)
Tropical Fuck Storm - Chameleon Paint
Panic! At the Disco - High Hopes
Lady Leshurr - RIP
City Girls - I'll Take Your Man

My Freaky Trigger Readers' Poll Ballot 2018

1. Lil Pump "i Shyne"**
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. MadeinTYO, Rich The Kid, Asian Doll "Hi Bich (Remix)"
3. Cassie "Don't Play It Safe"
4. Franko "La remontada (Freestyle)"
5. Ninety One "Ah!Yah!Ma!"
6. KeshYou & Baller "Swala La La"
7. Kidd Kenn "Slide Remix"
8. Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~"
9. Zulu Mkhathini ft. DJ Tira "Uniform"
10. 6ix9ine "Billy"
11. Bhad Bhabie "Thot Opps (Clout Drop) / Bout That"
12. Bhad Bhabie ft. Lil Yachty "Gucci Flip Flops"
13. 6ix9ine "Mooky"
14. Sheck Wes "Do That"
15. Cardi B "Be Careful"
16. Niniola "Saro"
17. A$AP Rocky ft. FKA twigs "Fukk Sleep"
18. Crowd Kontroller ft. Niniola "Bambam"
19. Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J. Balvin "I Like It"
20. Bali Baby "Backseat"

Despite not looking at P&J and ILM results yet, I will say that by one definition of "pop" — poppy-sounding stuff that's popular or at least semi-popular — Anglo-American pop these days is worse than at any other time in my life and has been for a decade (though maybe the earlier part of the decade qualifies as another time in my life; I don't know). But by another definition of "pop" — stuff in styles that are popular from all over the place, especially including hip-hop — pop is doing great, even in Anglo-America, and even with K-pop having an off-year. Anyway, I won't elaborate on these opinions just yet. Robyn is worse. Ashlee is worse. But neither is particularly representative of what I mean. As for my lists, the Bhad Bhabie I have as number two for Freaky Trigger is a remix of a track I liked even better last year but only had as number ten (though it made it up to number five when I eventually closed my 2017 singles list); so the top of my list may not be up to the top of last year's list but I assure you my number 100 will be way better than last year's number 100. Lots of really interesting stuff from all over. Very little I vote for or listen to represents my sensibility, owing to people culturally like me having stopped making good music around 1980, so in mucking about the world on YouTube I always feel like an outsider. But I'm sure my lists still manage to represent my attitudinal footprint in some way, "the sort of stuff I get taken by" or something, even if I don't feel at home in the musical worlds that are generated and depicted.

Chuck and I overlap on Bhad Bhabie, Bali Baby, City Girls, and Mylène Farmer, 50% of whom are baby.***

**I probably should've credited this to "Lil Pump and Carnage."

***Well, Dev now too but I hadn't heard "Rock On It" until he listed it. It's yet another year with Cassie, Dev, and K-pop.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/372772.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Twitter thread Q-pop K-pop etc. 2018

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/372731.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Exhaling And Wrestling: Top 100 Singles from the year that ended 11-and-5/6 months ago (yes, 2017)
I finished this list mid February, then was beset by various blocks and distractions and by thinking I had to write something good, also that I'd waited and dithered just as long on the 2016 list. "At least I won't be as late as I was last year." And now I'm later.

And it feels like a different world: Over the past ten months American hip-hop became central for me again, so I'm wrestling again with and against a lot of tough talk, some of it atrociously retrogressive and seemingly stupid* but obviously I'm not ready to dismiss it or I wouldn't be wrestling. Anyway, if I were doing this list now Playboi Carti's "Magnolia" would be top ten. But I'm not doing it now.

Haley Georgia's "Becky" sounds as natural as exhaling — I can imagine someone coming across it unschooled and unaware and thinking it's in a genre that could do anything and go anywhere, make a song out of any old thing. And I don't know that this isn't true — I haven't been listening much to country this decade — but my sense of country is that it's the opposite: it's like trying to walk through grass-flavored cement. —Haley's subsequent EP, First Rodeo, from this year, 2018, may not totally shut the door on her promise, but doesn't renew the promise either, nothing like "Becky"'s skipping along from slide to single-note celebrations to conjuring David Essex out of thin air. I wonder where she can go for camaraderie and support. Too bad there's no Bali Baby for her in country to splash around with her and shoot stars every which way.

Lil Debbie did a duet with Bali Baby this year and it was Debbie sounding stuck in cement. Pondering Lil Debbie's "F That" as my 2017 number one, it seems kind of cute, the toughness so bogus — except when I listen it's still locked-in power, no matter how stiff Debbie is and unnatural in the idiom — I know that's a cliché, to call the white woman in hip-hop "stiff," but in this instance it's true and on this track doesn't hurt the music (white Bhad Bhabie's not at all stiff, but I'd still rate Bhabie's "Hi Bich" 5th to Debbie's "F That" at 1).

Here's the YouTube playlist, top singles 2017, and the list below, and more commentary at the end of that. I think the music's worth several hours, if you've got 'em. Beauty and surprise:

1. Lil Debbie "F That"
2. Jovi "Ou Même"
3. MC G15 "Deu Onda"
4. Haley Georgia "Becky"
5. Bhad Bhabie "Hi Bich / Whachu Know"
6. LOOΠΔ/Yves "new"

7. Ninety One "Su Asty"
8. Miso "KKPP"
9. Scooter "Bora Bora Bora"
10. Omar Souleyman "Ya Bnayya"
11. Bhad Bhabie "Cash Me Outside (DJ Suede Remix)"

12. Omar Souleyman "Chobi"
13. Pocket Girls "Oppa Is Trash"
14. BTS "Go Go (고민보다 Go)"
15. NCT 127 "Limitless"
16. CLC "Hobgoblin"
17. Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia "Bounce TV"
18. Koppo "Gromologie"
19. Pristin "Wee Woo"
20. Hyolyn x Kisum "Fruity"
21 through 100: Cherry Coke to Mink'sCollapse )

Commentary: LOOΠΔ/Yves, Zhonti, Tenor, Kenji Minogue, Leningrad, Hyolyn, NCT, Mozee Montana, Playboi CartiCollapse )

NotesCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/372325.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

The Same Great Burr (ASHLEE + EVAN, preliminary thoughts)
Preliminary thoughts, after only a few listens, ASHLEE + EVAN EP, Ashlee Simpson & Evan Ross.

GOOD (maybe even GREAT):





"Safe Zone"


"I Want You"


"I Do"

Evan's voice seems anonymously Michaelesque, missing Jackson's tension but with potential to glide and swoop. In "Safe Zone," it's his voice that feels ready to move, while Ashlee is the one who sounds stuck. The other songs, you're relying on Ashlee to provide the personality. "Home" might grow with more listens; I'm wondering what could have been added or rearranged to make it as wonderfully sweet and poignant as, say, Miley Cyrus's "Malibu." "Paris": Ashlee's voice has the same great burr as in the past, and she adds high tones* that are effectively searching and probing, already the sense of a lot happening even though I'm not yet taking in the lyrics. Evan is a sweet steady presence accompanying the search. I think if the other songs had gotten more work they'd all have moved one level up, though I'm not sure what the work should have been (made more stark? given more obstacles? more lift? better tunes?). I've always loved Ashlee's voice: it's not capable of transforming all that it touches, but it contains automatic pain and hope no matter what.

Anyway, if this were a popular music review site, and if people actually visited it, I wouldn't be the one I'd assign to review this EP.** I have such insane love for Ashlee Simpson's Autobiography I have too many unreasonable hopes and expectations and fears around her. Right now I'd give this a B-MINUS overall, but there's one solid A song, and two or three potential growers.

Regarding "Now I'm free, yeah, and the world keeps spinnin round" in "Paris," unfortunately or fortunately, or rather irrelevantly, I keep thinking of the Elaine Stritch line in The Perfect Furlough:

Assistant: We discovered he was gone.
Les Tremayne: He's loose in Paris?
Keenan Wynn: ...Well?
Elaine Stritch: Well... everybody's loose in Paris.

*Actually, I'm assuming it's her on the high tones, but I'm so unused to hearing her sing an upper register I'm not sure it's not some third singer. It does have the same bumps as her usual deep voice, even while high and gentle. In a brief Google search I didn't locate musician credits for the EP.

**[EDIT: "Christgau once warned against assigning a follow-up review to someone who loved the previous record" (link). And yes, there are a couple intervening Ashlee albums after Autobiography: I only got to really know Autobiography after reviewing I Am Me, and I am half-and-half on Bittersweet World (as Xgau'd predict, and I'd probably still be that way now, but I never did review it or rate it), but the hangover from Autobiography is still hanging. New York Dolls and Highway 61 Revisited may be my only other albums that are "sacred" in the way Autobiography is; there are definitely albums I think are better than those three, but I still have trouble putting those three and my old intense love for them in any kind of perspective. (Btw, Xgau himself didn't stop reviewing New York Dolls albums, despite loving one after the other.)]

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An instant hit about a party (Top Singles Through Three Quarters 2018)
City Girls, in Miami, seem like basic teengirl rap yammerers (early twenties, actually) similar to many others going back to Roxanne Shanté except with especially snappy rhythm. Bali Baby, in Atlanta, claims gang and trap heritage but despite her being black she reminds me more of opportunistic, less-to-the-manner-born white girls like Bhad Bhabie and Lil Debbie and especially Kitty Pryde. Her sound can veer towards a dreamy Kittyish I'm-talking-to-my-diary feel, whatever the boasts and threats coming out of her mouth. A commenter Crownfay at genius.com says, "Sugartrap is a unofficial genre as I call it because it's a way of rapping on a sweet candy like beat but the lyrics on some trap gang type thing." (I think the term "sugartrap" is more associated with Rico Nasty, but I base that on a 5-minute Google search.) I do find Bali's money and fighting lyrics something of a drag; prefer her messed-up-in-love stuff, the two not being mutually exclusive, of course. Bali Baby's also got a way with pop hooks. My favorite old Bali Baby is "Do Da Dash," my favorite pop Bali Baby is "Backseat," my favorite dreamy Bali Baby is "Part The Sea." A YouTube commenter wants her to do a track with Bhad Bhabie; actually Bhad Bhabie released a track with City Girls, "Yung and Bhad," which is kinda meh unfortunately. Must've been cut at least three months ago, because JT of City Girls reported to prison on July 2 to start a 2-year stint for check fraud. My favorite City Girls track is "Period (We Live)." ("Talk game got his dick hard/Now I'm the authorized user on his credit card." Um.)

My top singles, YouTube playlist:

Vast inventiveness from all over — just now dipping into South African gqom, a dubby kind of house of the sort that I sometimes deride as "spare and stringent for the dance connoisseur" but that's hitting me at the moment with exuberant syncopated beats* and sound washes that feel alternately (or simultaneously) "haunting" or "contemplative" or "comforting" or "menacing" depending on my mood. On my list: DJ Tira, Zulu Mkhathini, DJ Maphorisa, DJ Shimza, Moonchild Sanelly, Dladla Mshunqkisi, Distruction Boyz, Prince Bulo, Dominowe, Tk Da Magnet, Amanda. Of course there are thousands I haven't heard. "Exuberant" is what I get from the videos. "Strenuous," too. I've read descriptions that call it "angry" and "euphoric."

From Chicago, Queen Key, who's done one of the "Slide" remixes (number 58 below), is also on here in her own right with "Hoes Out Toes Out." In her vids she looks benignly happy no matter the nasty things she's saying about you. She does seem genuinely benign — brag and insult being her path to good humor. She's making common cause with gay rapper Kidd Kenn, which puts her in my good graces. (Like, if she knew me she'd care about my graces?)

Hip-hop toughies, politics, more gqom, FrankophilesCollapse )

My top singles, three-quarters through 2018.

1. Cassie "Don't Play It Safe"
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. MadeinTYO, Rich The Kid, Asian Doll "Hi Bich (Remix)"
3. Ninety One "Ah!Yah!Ma!"
4. Kidd Kenn "Slide Remix"
5. Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~"
6. Lil Pump "i Shyne"
7. KeshYou & Baller "Swala La La"
8. 6ix9ine "Billy"
9. Zulu Mkhathini ft. DJ Tira "Uniform"

10. Bhad Bhabie "Thot Opps (Clout Drop) / Bout That"
11. Bhad Bhabie ft. Lil Yachty "Gucci Flip Flops"
12. Bhad Bhabie "Both Of Em"
13. Cardi B "Be Careful"
14. Niniola "Saro"
15. Boy Tag ft. Tala A. Marie "Talla"
16. Tay-K "After You"
17. Sheck Wes "Do That"

18. The EastLight. "Don't Stop"
19. Crowd Kontroller ft. Niniola "Bambam"
20. Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J. Balvin "I Like It"
21. Tenor "Alain Parfait (Á L'Imparfait)"
22. Yella Beezy ft. Lil Baby "Up One"
23. MHD "Moula Gang" (AFRO TRAP Part.10)
24. Mylène Farmer "Rolling Stone"

25. Bali Baby "Backseat"
26. Bangg 3 ft. Goldie "Slide Remix"
27. Sen Ptit Galle All Stars "Sargal Akon 'Na Na Na Na'"
28. Rich The Kid "Bring It Back"
29. FBG Duck "Slide"
30. Chi Pu "Talk To Me"
31 to 77; Hong Jinyoung to JoviCollapse )

Bali Baby "Backseat"

*I mean, on the handful I've heard. A couple of articles say the genre uses "broken" beats. What I've heard doesn't seem so broken to me.

**[EDIT: By "some of them might, anyway" I mean "In my imaginary scenario, with Trump's racism not being so obvious, some of them — not necessarily all of them — might be suckered into thinking he's strong" (as opposed to "some might be imagining he's strong even as it is, with his racism obvious," which isn't what I meant but I wrote it poorly enough that someone could read it that way).]

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/371469.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

If you feel like china breaking
Jefferson Airplane "If You Feel"

Marty Balin. Penetrating singing, good little songs with hooks. Sentimental. "Jefferson Airplane loves you." Not a deep sentiment, but sweet.

More on the Airplane here and here: many tangents and directions; few performing units were as varied.

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Dreamcatcher "Lucky Strike"

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Pointillist Haze
I found it! Live recording from the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, 1965, Duke Ellington "Second Portrait of the Lion," first track I heard affixed to the word "jazz": instrumental (so to speak) in fixing in my brain the idea of jazz as quick notes in a pointillist haze.

(Surely I'd heard jazz previously in movie scenes and on TV shows: lounge singers and their accompanists, as private eyes and wise guys pass through. But not part of my sense of a genre "jazz.")

[This is in regard to my post here (The Elephant And The Giraffe) (or in deeper context at Freaky Trigger) regarding my teen jazz tokenism, and the strange early appearance of the Duke.]

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No, I'm Not Your Friend (Top Singles, First Half 2018)
"It's a real nigga party, you cannot get in," which not only leaves me out, it leaves out most people who describe themselves with the n-word as well, and leaves you out, the way FBG Duck defines it: "Niggas really shoot, no accident / I can't make this shit up, I cannot pretend, damn." The thing is — I'd call it a strange thing except it's actually quite natural — his disinvite has attracted hordes: not people trying to get into the aforementioned party, but people using the track — FBG Duck's "Slide" — as a model for creating their own parties. He captured it, the way people speak, the long slow drawl, dragging out and down the last word of the phrase, "I can't make this shit up, I cannot pre-te-end." Primal sentences, "I can't shake your hand, no I'm not your friend / I don't fuck with rappers, no I'm not a fan, damn." Dave and I were grievously underrating his voice over on my comment thread, but people find themselves in it, take his words and mold them into their words: Bangg 3: "Issa bad bitch party, you cannot get in / I can take your man, pass 'im to my friends." There are eight versions so far on my top singles list, and scores more out there on YouTube, new ones every day. There's one in Romanian, another in Greek. There's a kids one by Mac Sauce: "It's a little kids party you cannot get in / We know that you're too old, we know that you're not ten." And the best version, by gay rapper Kidd Kenn, stone courage: "It's the faggot party baby you cannot get in / Takin' all the men, his homies and his friends, damn / If you think the boy is straight, well think again."

FBG Duck "Slide"

Bangg 3 ft. Goldie "Slide Remix"

Kidd Kenn "Slide Remix" [Flashing lights]

FBG Duck is daring you to come out and shoot, so he can shoot you ("Let me see some fuckin' shots fired then / Make me shoot that crib up you hidin' in"). Most of the male versions copy him in this (Yung Cat manages to be even more obvious: "It's the real killa party you cannot get in"); most of the female versions copy Bangg 3 in that having sex with someone is to prove something to someone else, to take something from someone else, to get even with someone else. (Sexyy Red: "[You] ain't got a lotta friends, I'm tryna fuck your man.") This is where Kidd Kenn goes, too. There are basic combinations, disses. Pretty Savage: "All your bitches' pussy don't get wet / Pull up, pop yo asses, how you pop them Percocets." Queen Key: "Heard some bitches dissed me but nobody liked it / I think yo music like yo pussy, bitch, nobody buys it, tried it (ha)."

Wit and phrasing aside, this is self-defeating behavior that — minus the bullets and sex acts — kids are learning to sidestep or shrug off or get beyond when they're still in kindergarten. At least trying to get beyond. (The only "Slide" remix devoid of nastiness is the one by little Mac Sauce.) Nonetheless this stuff still feels real, and that's because it feels risky, and we let the feeling stand in place of the truth. (It's role playing, of course, some people living the roles and some people not, either way still a role, a stereotype.)

Hazing and baiting and jealousy, but the guys are acting tough with it, while the girls are having a lot of fun. Sashaying around, wiggling, having a pillow fight. Men have the power advantage; women have the cultural advantage. The guys get to wave guns, that's it* — though maybe that's their entryway to having fun too, jumping around with and into each other, a secret dance in plain sight, the guns as the prop that masks it as something different.** The young women meanwhile can dance without excuses.

Ongoing Singles Playlist 2018

Top Singles, First Half 2018
1. Cassie "Don't Play It Safe"
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. YBN Nahmir, Rich The Kid, Asian Doll "Hi Bich (Remix)"
3. Ninety One "Ah!Yah!Ma!"
4. Kidd Kenn "Slide Remix"
5. Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~"
6. Bhad Bhabie "Both Of Em"
7. Tay-K "After You"
8. KeshYou & Baller "Swala La La"

9. 6ix9ine "Billy"
10. Boy Tag ft. Tala A. Marie "Talla"
11. Tenor "Alain Parfait (Á L'Imparfait)"
12. The EastLight. "Don't Stop"
13. Cardi B "Be Careful"

14. Yella Beezy ft. Lil Baby "Up One"
15. Bhad Bhabie ft. Lil Yachty "Gucci Flip Flops"
16. Niniola "Saro"
17. Lil Pump "i Shyne"
18. MHD "Moula Gang" (AFRO TRAP Part.10)
19. Crowd Kontroller ft. Niniola "Bambam"

20. Mylène Farmer "Rolling Stone"
Chi Pu through Boonk Gang, 21 through 57Collapse )

Short shots, Niniola, Lil Pump, etc.Collapse )

*[EDIT: Well, obviously Kidd Kenn's not playing those rules.]

**Rob and I were talking about this back in 2000, regarding DMX.

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Leslie was very brave
Today I played the Your Mom Too half of England's Newest Hit Makers for Clare.* She liked it a lot. She said, "Leslie was very brave." "How so?" I asked. She said, "That wasn't a time [1986] when girls were allowed to sing like that." I responded, "That was exactly the time when girls were allowed to sing like that." More accurately, to the extent there ever was a time when girls were allowed to sing like that, that time (1978 through the early 1990s, roughly) was it,** for girls who could connect via mail or mag or via people they knew to the postpunk music world.

Nonetheless, Leslie was very brave.

I find it really hard to describe the music in a way that doesn't mislead. She/we were doing something that few others were. You could say "lo fi" but nothing else in that category sounds like it. Vaguely, "postpunk" and "experimental," which places the sound socially but not musically. I'd say "a cross between Teenage Jesus And The Jerks and Billie Holiday," which probably won't bring anything to mind especially to the people who've heard Teenage Jesus since no sound will probably make sense as a cross between the two. (We were less screechy than Teenage Jesus and less in tune than Billie and we deliberately "detuned" our guitars though we tried to then keep the same detunings, which means there were tonal relations that we were quasi-replicating, even though we couldn't tell you what they were.)

Teenage Jesus And The Jerks "Orphans"

Billie Holiday/Teddy Wilson "I Must Have That Man"

Footnotes and program notes in the comments.

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"I Am My Own Mommy, The Fuck!" (Top Singles, One-Third Through 2018)
Closed my 2017 Top 100 on March 3, giving myself a sigh of relief that "Gummo" and "The Race" were near misses and I wouldn't have to write about them. But here those guys are anyway, 6ix9ine and Tay-K, sure things on this list for "Billy" and "After You." And I still haven't done my writeup for 2017. Probably don't have much more to say about those guys other than that they're acting tough while the music cries tears behind them — "cries tears" is in reference to the stark and edgy beauty of the musical settings, while in front 6ix9ine is saying "Whole squad full of fuckin' killers, I'm a killer too/Sending shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, nigga/Everybody gettin' pop, pop, popped, nigga." Meanwhile Tay-K may be losing his race, in jail for capital murder for allegedly taking part in a drug robbery that resulted in the death of a dealer, was 16 when the killing happened though last I heard the state of Texas wants to charge him as an adult. "Hands in the air like a statue, I shoot you in a classroom (fucking classroom)," which one of the readers at genius.com explains, "No matter the situation Tay-K will shoot and he doesn't care where it takes place." And the keyboard sounds like sad little bubbles rising to the sky, as if it knows better, though I doubt it does.*

Ongoing Singles Playlist, 2018

hemming and hawing, dearth over thirty, males, Ninety OneCollapse )

Bhad Bhabie is a messed-up 14-year-old who rose to prominence being exploited on a Dr. Phil freakshow and got the phrase "Cash Me Outside" sampled effectively in hip-hop and turns out to have a lot of talent in her own right. You wonder though — I wonder — if being famous will be good for her psyche at all. It's not like her ability disappears if she waits until she's 22. But maybe nursing a budding career is just the thing for her to pull herself together. How would I know? In the vid for "Gucci Flip Flops" she runs a hoary milkman gag: the milkman knocks, "Hey little girl, you're so cute; is your mommy home?" She tells him: "Bitch, I am my own mommy, the fuck!" That's incredibly sad, if you think about it; but for the girl who says it, it's got the joy of her declaring her own adventure.

footnotesCollapse )

Here's the list, and more commentary beneath it. (Ongoing playlist here.)

Singles First Third 2018 (actually I can do arithmetic and I know it's really the first five-twelfths, but I meant to do this a month ago):

1. Cassie "Don't Play It Safe"
2. Bhad Bhabie ft. YBN Nahmir, Rich The Kid, Asian Doll "Hi Bich (Remix)"
3. Ninety One "Ah!Yah!Ma!"
4. Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~"
5. Bhad Bhabie "Both Of Em"

6. Boy Tag ft. Tala A. Marie "Talla"
7. Royal KD "Swagchy"
8. Tay-K "After You"
9. KeshYou & Baller "Swala La La"
10. 6ix9ine "Billy"

11. Tenor "Alain Parfait (Á L'Imparfait)"
12. The EastLight. "Don't Stop"
13. MHD "Moula Gang" (AFRO TRAP Part.10)
14. Cardi B "Be Careful"
15. Yella Beezy ft. Lil Baby "Up One"
16. Niniola "Saro"

17. Bhad Bhabie ft. Lil Yachty "Gucci Flip Flops"
18. Lil Pump "i Shyne"
18. Mylène Farmer "Rolling Stone"
20. Chi Pu "Talk To Me"
21 (Burna Boy) through 37 (Tia)Collapse )

Commentary, Cassie, Boy TagCollapse )

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The breakdowns are of a kind with reading incomprehension more than innumeracy
Reblogged this from Dave over on Tumblr, adding my comments.

My school started using a blended curriculum model (which I won't name here) recently, and I have a lot of thoughts about it, some pro- and some anti-, none of which would be totally appropriate for me to share here yet. The one thing that it has undoubtedly done, though, is dramatically improve our math curriculum.

In the pre-blended days, our long-suffering but talented and enthusiastic math teacher would randomly pull from a grab bag of mathematical concepts and subdisciplines – geometry, trigonometry, algebra, repeat – trying to patch together a satisfactory sampler of mathematics to students who very often had significant gaps in even their most basic math knowledge. "You have to get 'em when they’re young," she says, sadly, so often.

Now we have an integrated math curriculum, where students re-frame some of their understanding of math to tools that will be more broadly applicable to different mathematical problems: identifying patterns, creating spreadsheet tables, graphing data. These are all skills that I use, more or less, in my day to day work and life &ndash you could use these tools to find significance in a lab experiment or organize your taxes, say.

So that's good. And yet there's still a kind of fog of specialization running through this integrated math; students still learn concepts they'll soon forget, and I find myself dumbing down my "so what" talks so that they'll just remember the difference between a domain and a range, or a mnemonic device to help them find the slope of a line.

It seems to me that there is something very deeply wrong with the whole concept of mathematics at a pedagogical level, and I think the problem with it is the way in which teaching math outside of meaningful applications of that math doesn't even provide some of the basic building blocks of what you'd need to apply it later. Some of the ways we teach reading suffer from this, but at some level the pay-off of knowing how to put letters into words and words into sentences at least has some obvious, immediate value. The higher level meaning-making of literacy is a lifelong project, and subject to constant, frustrating backpedaling, sometimes among very smart people for no reason other than general cognitive biases. (It's amazing, for instance, how your reading comprehension suffers when you really don't want to change the ideas you had coming in.)

But at some level, I understand at least the connection between learning the basics and applying the basics to some other thing – reading a newspaper, scrolling through a Facebook feed, even. I have a harder time seeing that much "higher" a level in mathematics than learning some baseline of competencies.

I think of the non-fiction books I've read on innumeracy, probabilistic thinking, other "mathematical errors" that so many people make, especially when interpreting or conveying their understanding of data. But in many of these cases, what's being described is the breakdown I mentioned above, a way of tactically, if perhaps subconsciously, not understanding something because you don't want to, not (just) because you can't. I think of someone like Nate Silver, lamenting the inability of journalists to convey his site's probabilities in a way that is true to how they're actually presented. But such inability doesn't necessarily speak to some breakdown in the way in which that person learned math. That person can likely do their taxes, use a spreadsheet, figure out the slope of a line if they really needed to. The breakdowns that I most commonly read about are of a kind with reading incomprehension more than they are of innumeracy.

This is a meaningful distinction for me as I work with lots of kids with genuine innumeracy &ndash it just doesn’t look like “dumb analysis” or shallow thinking. It looks like students who really can't calculate numbers, are unable to estimate or make mathematical inferences at a level far beyond misunderstanding or mischaracterization. It is closer to what it looks like when a student can't read a sentence, can't put the words together, than what it looks like when a student uses a poor argument to make their point.

The thing that makes this frustrating for me is that I genuinely have no idea what math should look like. I have at least some inkling, some model, some research, some something for how I understand and imagine almost every other school subject and its relevance to student outcomes. I know what I know, I know what I don't know, I have some provisional thoughts about where to go with it, where it works and where it doesn't. But math continues to totally perplex me. (And I now know, as someone who has developed about as much understanding as you’d need to teach all of the math at my school, that the problem isn't just that I suck at math.)

This is the best post I've read all year (at least, best post in the category Something Positive And Just Plain Fun To Think About Even If The Underlying Problem Is Frustrating And Depressing). I may take a while to give this the response it deserves. I wonder if there's a way to get Duncan Watts and Brad DeLong to read it. I think you're completely right that the problem in a lot of what’s called "innumeracy" is bad reading or listening comprehension rather than an incapacity with numbers.

What I'd hope to explore further, though, is that a possible way to connect two areas of intellectual breakdown (or for that matter intellectual success) is through the idea of "logical inference": you say X, someone correctly infers that you must also believe Y but that you haven't implied anything one way or another about Z. Whereas you say X and some others — Maura Johnston or Simon Reynolds, say — incorrectly infer Z, which they've spent the last ten years happily refuting, and BOOM BOOM BOOM. It isn't just that they don't want to understand you; there's actually something askew in their cognitive apparatus. Of course, if they really do want to understand, or one of their friends wants them to understand, they might eventually get it right — bad logical inference isn't an on-off switch, it's more like a dimmer.

But isn't logic something of a bridge between at least some of math and some of the verbal? That's what I'd like to think more about.

I'd put bad logical inference as the core of communication breakdown and bad critical thinking. But logical inference can be taught, at least somewhat. People get better with practice.

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Past and passed, as time passes (more Raymond Chandler)
Later in "Spanish Blood," the story I quoted from in my last post, the detective returns to the house described in the passage I'd embedded. I actually jotted down these sentences for the words "past" and "passed," two words that I often screw up, putting one where I need the other (Chandler uses "past," correctly, but I don't know if I'd get it right if I were trying to write a similar sentence), but in any event, once again there's the immediate experience of time as it's being lived:

He looked at her white shattered face once more, very quickly. Then he swung around, walked away over the lawn, past the pool with the lily pads and the stone bullfrog along the side of the house and out to the car.

Chandler had already described the pool and lily pads and bullfrog on the detective's way to the backyard. Now, as the detective leaves, Chandler mentions them again to suggest the time taken by the return walk, and the pace (if the detective were in a hurry you wouldn't have those details). Also, this gives the reader time for the emotions of the just-ended conversation to hang in the brain and then begin to settle, before the detective gets around to the front of the house and into his partner's car, and the two start talking.

I've been reading Chandler stories chronologically from his start at Black Mask, seeing how he develops; this one is the earliest where he's now full-force Chandler from beginning to end; still more bullets than necessary, and a family of victims is dispatched perfunctorily, but the psychology and mood are there as they will be for the next fifteen years.

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