Talk Shit, Get Shot: A Rebuttal to Post-Racial Amerikkka

Body Count victim

On May 2014 the self-identifying ghetto-metal band, Body Count, released their fifth album, Manslaughter, after an eight year hiatus. Body Count’s front man, Tracy Lauren Marrow, better known by his stage name Ice-T, formed the band in 1989 with fellow Crenshaw High School friends Ernie “C” Cunningham, Lloyd “Mooseman” Roberts, Victor “Beatmaster V” Ray Wilson, and Dennis “D-Roc the Executioner” Miles. All members hail from South Central Los Angeles and Compton, and from an early age shared an interest for metal music. Ice-T is better known for his role as the “Godfather of Gangsta Rap” and his participation in the TV show Law & Order. Body Count began garnering media attention in the … [Read more...]

The Rebellion against the Mission of the Saintly Prince the Archangel, San Gabriel of the Temblors, 1785

Toypurina-Daniel González

Standing on the western edge of the city of South El Monte, where the shoe factories and shipping centers, and warehouses of Rush Street dead end at the Whittier Narrows Rec Area, one is roughly midway between the two sites of Mission San Gabriel. To the north is the better-known location on the Camino Real de California, the royal road that is today Highway 101 and more than one city’s “Mission Road.” The well-preserved stone and adobe mission, its famous capped buttresses and tall, narrow windows evincing the impression Moorish architecture had left in the minds of its architects. To the south, at the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue near the Bosque del Rio Hondo, a … [Read more...]

Bootlegging as Material Culture

Bob Dylan - Front

Long before "cassette culture" and DIY, there was a distinct culture of homemade media: bootleg records.  Even with the technological limitations of shellac and vinyl, pirates, collectors, and music fans figured out how to reproduce sound.  In doing so, they also invented a unique aesthetic of piracy in the form of the sleeves and liner notes of illicit (or at least unauthorized) records.  Due to a loophole in copyright that left sound recordings unprotected in the United States until 1971, bootleggers could at least claim that they operated in a realm of quasi-legality (though that claim was often disputed, as I explore in my book Democracy of Sound).  Legal hijinks notwithstanding, bootleg … [Read more...]

Radical Politics, Disgruntled Veterans, Internment, and the Fear of Dependency: The Military and Social Welfare Reform: Best of AHA 2014, Part 3

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Over the past couple of decades, categorizations like “military history” have undergone numerous permutations. Georgia State’s John Southard ruminated on the state of the field for ToM in 2012 and ToM devotes an entire page to the subject. (There’s even something for the Civil War buffs. ToM has even posted some original research in the area of the military and postwar suburbanization.)  Historians like Roger Lotchin, Ann Markusen, Carol Lynn McKibben, and Andrew Myers have offered new insights into the ways military installations in the South and California have interacted politically, economically, and socially with local cities, towns, and suburbs in which they are located or abut. The … [Read more...]

Transnational Protest, Media Bias, and Monopolized Airwaves: Best of AHA 2014, Part 2

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In part II of ToM’s AHA 2014 coverage our correspondents begin with papers on the efforts of Latin American students, workers, and rebels of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970 to use non-violent activism as a means to gain greater rights and autonomy in the face of increasingly repressive regimes.  We end with talks on media bias, conservatism, Rupert Murdoch/Fox News and the NAACP. What does it mean if we have more voices and greater diversity with those appearing in the media, but more and more of the airwaves under the control of fewer and fewer individuals? Remember, we went to the AHA so you didn’t have too.  For Part I of AHA 2014 - Bed-Stuy, The Illuminati, and the Importance of Fungus … [Read more...]

Bed-Stuy, the Illuminati, and the Importance of Fungus Identification: Best of AHA 2014, Part 1

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Going to conferences is one of the great mixed blessings of the academic life.  On one hand, it offers the chance to get away (to New York or LA, or sometimes even exotic destinations like Richmond, VA) and travel, like an Actually Important Person (AIP), sometimes with your department or university picking up the tab.  We get to reconnect with old friends and have more than the appropriate number of drinks--on the pretext, of course, of "getting a feel for the city" (or in Richmond's case, not). On the other hand, there is the actual conference itself--a dreary procession of monotonously recited presentations, ranging from the navel-gazingly esoteric to the merely boring.  And if it's … [Read more...]

13 of Our Favorite Posts from 2013

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2013 was Tropics of Meta's biggest year yet, as we welcomed numerous new contributors (hello LG, Brian, Mark, Jimmy et al) and continued our collaboration with South El Monte Arts Posse, most notably with the East of East community mapping project.  Some of our pieces traveled far and wide online, such as Clement Lime's spirited defense of Howard Zinn.  Ryan's Minutemen piece got tweeted by Mike Watt, who is now our bestie (not really).  In any case, let's take a look back at some of the most interesting writing from the fourth installment of a five-year plan that just can't fail.  (When have five-year plans ever gone wrong?) The Spanish Roots of the 99% Jeffrey Lawrence explores the … [Read more...]

Dropping a Dime on Madiba: How the CIA Helped Arrest Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela in prison

If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Nelson Mandela, 2002 The president’s press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, a terse, stout spokesman for a vacillating chief executive, grew irritated.  “We find no value in reviewing a 30-year-old history in this case,” growled Fitzwater.  In June of 1990, the Cox News Service newspapers published reports that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (the CIA) had in 1962 tipped off the South African security forces, enabling them to arrest the embattled leader of the resistance to apartheid, Nelson Mandela.  Indignant that the Washington press corps … [Read more...]

Making Sense of North Carolina’s Political Mess

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As the late, great Larry Goodwyn might say, it all goes back to Populism.  The roots of today’s right-wing putsch in the Old North State, which has seen resurgent Republicans in the General Assembly and Governor’s Mansion push an extreme agenda against the poor, minorities, education, the environment, voting rights and reproductive freedom, stretches back over a century, long before the rise of Barack Obama or the Tea Party. It has been hard for many observers to square the state’s recent sharp turn to the right with its reputation as among the most moderate and even progressive of Southern states.  The long, ugly career of Jesse Helms notwithstanding, North Carolina could boast of its … [Read more...]

Dog Days Classics: Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. - Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream I know this quote is probably not the ontological narrative or historiographical prose you expect to see at the beginning of one of these posts.  My passion is cultural and intellectual history, but when I developed this interest as an … [Read more...]

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