Works in Progress I: So I Had this Idea for a Show

I’m toying with the idea of creating a podcast. As an avid podcast listener the idea of putting my hat in the ring is daunting but also exciting. My idea is to talk about music. I know that getting the format right is important and updating on a schedule is key. My ambitious* idea is to have one song (or piece) a week: once a month the song would be recent (a term I’ll define later) and once a month the song would be ‘classical music’ (again, something I’ll define later). I would feature guests to talk about certain pieces, including people I know in musicology departments, musicians and I know, as well as other family and friends. We would use the music to talk about other things, for example:
the Star Trek Soundtrack
-theramin history and usage
-autism and race
Amadou and Miriam
-World music/African music market
Beck – Song Reader
-“slow music movement” (like slow food for music)
-history of parlor music
-Beck and Scientology, does it matter?

I have no idea how long such a conversation might last, I’m thinking maybe 10-30 mns. This is my example script/notes for a Star Trek Soundtrack show.

Guest (I have a certain UCLA musicologist in mind for this some)
Some questions:
Are you a Star Trek Fan? How did you first come across the franchise? Which is your favorite series?

What was your impression of the soundtrack?

The original Star Trek theme is known for being an early use of the theremin (though according to Wikipedia it wasn’t). The theremin is an early electronic instrument named for its inventor Leon Theremin. It is recognizable for its use in sci-fi soundtracks.

Star Trek the original series is also known for its progressive treatment of race (the first interracial kiss on TV!). The crew featured all the major ethnicities, Sulu representing Asians, Uhura for Africa, Chekhov Eastern European, Scotty, Western European, Kirk, America (I guess). What struck me watching the movie now was how short-sighted this view multicultural view was. In the future all races will work together, in equality, but they won’t reproduce with each other? There were no mixed-race characters. Weirdly, Khan seems to represent a multi-racial Asian, dissecting his full name Khan Noonian Singh you might get, Khan: Central Asian, Noonian: Middle Eastern, and Singh: South Asian (YES I realize this is total racist speculation, that’s how Roddenbery seems to Roll). The Khan as terrorist Osama Bin Laden analogy seems too easy so we won’t talk about that.

In addition to the diversity on earth, the original series featured a representative of an extraterrestrial race with Spock the Vulcan. It was interesting to me how Vulcan tendancies were very in line with the autistic spectrum. Autism is having a moment in America, according to the PSAs, 1 in 50 children will develop autism. Some possible causes I’ve heard are: assertive mating, high income, computer culture, and vaccines, etc.

In conclusion, don’t see Star Trek for the music, it’s not that great. And frankly, the movie’s not that great either, but I was entertained throughout. I hope you were just as entertained by this conversation.
This has been — podcast, with our special guest —– —–
Shouout to — (probably my mom, who will be my one listener)
you can find more information at the website (which I’ll create) etc.

Let me know if you have ideas for titles, sponsors, words of wisdom/warning, etc.

*I know this schedule is extremely ambitious, especially since I haven’t been able to maintain a schedule for this blog lately, (and I’ve been unemployed!) but I think once I get started it will easier to maintain.

Queens of Black Bohemia

Some of my favorite podcasts are the Culture Gabfests with music critic Jody Rosen. I’ll never forget his comments from a podcast 3 years ago that there’s a hunger in black bohemia for heroes. I am always on the lookout for the new heroes of black Bohemia. Here are is a playlist of black bohemian queens to tide us over for the next big thing, in roughly chronological order:

Nina Simone

Phoebe Snow:

Zap Mama:

Lauryn Hill:

Les Nubians:

The Noisettes:


Janelle Monae:

Left off Eryka Badu, Sade, Jill Scott, Grace Jones and others. But interested to hear what others think.

9/4/2013 Added Laura Mvula:

Thanks to Slate Culture Gabfest.

Asexuality Movie

(A)sexual the movie is on Netflix now so I watched it last night while I couldn’t sleep. In high school I started to explore my own asexuality and found AVEN, the Asexuality Visibility Network. I remember reading an article about David Jay, and being relieved to find a label that worked for me, that seemed to define my position on the sexuality spectrum. But like sex, asexuality just didn’t seem to hold my interest. In college I was too busy studying to worry about caring about my sexuality, it really never seemed that important to me. Lately I’ve been exploring the possibility of sexuality for myself, but seeing the movie gave me a sense of relief, to reinforce that there’s nothing wrong with asexuality in our sexualized society was really powerful and comforting to me.

I was reading about the 10 Most Common Reactions to Asexuality. One thing that’s important for me, but that I didn’t hear expressed in the movie, is that while these are not what define asexuality, you can be asexual for zero, any and all of those reasons. Maybe you’re ugly, repressed, have a hormone problem, and hate men because of sexual trauma. So what? If you’re not interested in sex you get to call yourself an asexual, and if you want you can explore your asexuality with others you should be able to do so.

I thought the movie was really interesting, and a great starting point for asexuality education. I was surprised and disappointed to find the link between asexuality and aspergers because for me it seemed to reinforce a stereotype that asexuals (a word spellcheck doesn’t recognize) are just too socially awkward to find dates. I think the reason David Jay has become such a good spokesperson for asexuality, and why I was drawn to him and the movement, is that he is conventionally attractive and socially adept; showing that his asexuality is a choice, not just the result of social ineptitude. (The article I read in high school described David Jay as having Kennedy-esque good looks and as being extremely well spoken.)

The movie showed many different types of asexuals but in doing so associated asexuality with a wacky freakishness that kept me from using the label for myself (eg. I had to fast forward while a woman hammers a nail into her face). So one drawback of the movie for me was an embracing of a certain kind of diversity, but, with classic human narcissism, what I found lacking were representations of me, and my own type of diversity. As far as I can recall there were 3 black people in the movie, 2 bigoted black guys at the beginning who didn’t believe asexuals existed and one ‘naturally celibate’ woman at the end.

I was also disappointed by Dan Savage’s comments which seemed to undermine the community. His view is that people who are asexual need to disclose this to any potential partner and should not be in relationships with sexual people. His idea is that it’s asexual people don’t need a movement because there isn’t real stigma associated with it, just go do that on your own, no one cares. His second point seemed to really undermine the first point though because without a movement to identify asexuality you wouldn’t know what to disclose at the beginning of a relationship. So many people don’t identify as asexual because they don’t know it exists, if you want people to self identify and remove themselves from the dating pool, or whatever, they need to understand and identify with the language and the language doesn’t develop without a community. That’s what I think, at least. I agree with Dan Savage so much, which is why I was so disappointed that he isn’t supportive of my part of the sexual spectrum.

Asexuality is difficult to define as a sexual orientation precisely because it is non-sexual, you could almost describe asexuality as the right to be left alone if you want to be. SPOILER ALERT Ultimately I found the end of the movie to be pretty sad. To find that David Jay thinks he won’t be able to have a meaningful relationship or raise a child without a somewhat sexual relationship made me really disappointed, but this is the subject of another blogpost to come.

P.S. I don’t want people to think I’m hating on the woman who hammers a nail into her face, she seemed pretty awesome. Aside from just liking her hair and her style and she said one of the things I most identified with in the movie, she said that before learning about asexuality she just thought that she was going to have to have sex at some point but that the thought was so repulsive to her that she figured she would have to drink herself into a stupor beforehand. This is exactly how I have always felt and it felt really refreshing to hear this expressed, and to see her in a relationship with someone who respected and heard this from her. The only other time I’ve heard this sentiment expressed is by a lesbian talking about straight sex, and I never identified as a lesbian. Anyway, it’s always nice to hear you’re not alone.