Revolutionary Eruption: The Violent Sound of Magma and Musical Fusion in 1970s France

magma attahk album cover

What follows is an excerpt from Sounds French: Globalization, Cultural Communities and Pop Music, 1958-1980, the new book by Indiana University Northwest professor (and ToM contributor) Jonathyne Briggs.  It examines the history of popular music in France between the arrival of rock and roll in 1958 and the collapse of the first wave of punk in 1980, as well as the connections between musical genres and concepts of community in French society. During this period, scholars have tended to view the social upheavals associated with postwar reconstruction as part of debates concerning national identity in French culture and politics, a tendency that developed from political figures’ and … [Read more...]

¡La Lucha Continua! Gloria Arellanes and the Making of a Chicano Movement in El Monte and Beyond

Brown Beret Pics 007

“So we moved here to El Monte, and I remember all the neighbors were white,” recalled Gloria Arellanes in a 2011 interview conducted by the UCLA Library Center for Oral History Research.[1] “Eventually white flight came about and they started moving out to the Covina area, San Bernardino area.” This was extremely different from East Los Angeles, where she was born in 1941. Growing up in El Monte was not easy, she explained. Unlike East Los Angeles, where ethnic solidarity and family had sheltered her, in El Monte, discrimination and racism were omnipresent. It was not uncommon for her to hear disparaging comments about Mexicans: “that we were lazy…We’re dirty. In those days…[Y]ou couldn’t … [Read more...]

Breathing in Selma: The Powerful History and Contemporary Resonance of Ava DuVernay’s Film

SELMA

In 1915, Woodrow Wilson famously praised the film The Birth of a Nation for “writing history with lightning.” Based on Thomas Dixon’s novel The Clansman, the film portrayed the Ku Klux Klan’s heroic campaign to end Reconstruction in the South. Director D.W. Griffith used the still young medium to show American spectators how the military occupation of the defunct Confederacy had placed ignorant former slaves and corrupt Republican carpetbaggers in power, subjecting an already prostrate South to unnecessary indignities. The film was laden with racist portrayals of black politicians crudely eating while in the legislature and black soldiers sexually assaulting innocent young white women. … [Read more...]

ToM “Besties” of 2014

TOM best of montage

Hello there. You are now witnesses to a kind of confrontation between me and these three men. And it ain’t so simple, treasonous crime. No it ain’t so simple and there’s reasons why When Detroit’s Protomartyr released their 2014 album Under Color of Official Right (itself eerily descriptive of public discourse from all sides this year), how could they have known their mix of Wire-like punk dirges would be emblematic of the last 12 months? The year seemed punctuated by rough arguments, sometimes violent confrontations, and the kind of disagreements that as Protomartyr sings, “Ain’t so simple and there’s reasons why.” Yet, our little blog dedicated to engaging these sorts of “conflicts” … [Read more...]

Letting It All Burn: How A 2013 “Best of” serves as a reminder of 2014’s “Worst of”

th-4

“This police department here in Philadelphia could invade Cuba,” Mayor Frank Rizzo told reporters. “What I’m saying is that we are trained and equipped for war.” Rizzo’s appraisal might have been made nearly 30 years ago, but it now seems eerily prescient. With the events of the last few months, few films from the past couple years capture the current angry zeitgeist like Let the Fire Burn (2013) a documentary investigating the disastrous May 1985 confrontation between the Philadelphia Police Department and the back to earth, black power, anti-technology, commune/organization known as MOVE. After all was said and done, three city blocks, about 60 houses, lay in ruin and eleven MOVE members, … [Read more...]

Ya Me Cansé

ya me canse

Last Friday Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced at a press conference that officials believe they have found the remains of the 43 normalistas from Ayotzinapa. The basic story the government has put forth is that police turned the students over to Guerreros Unidos, a local drug gang with ties to the former mayor of Iguala and his wife (who officials recently apprehended). Members of Guerreros Unidos killed the students, chopped up their bodies, added branches and trash to the pile, and then doused it in gasoline and set it aflame. They kept the fire burning for more than twelve hours, until all that remained was ash, some teeth that “turned to powder” when touched, … [Read more...]

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...]

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