This Week’s Best Of: I Believe Anita Hill

 

Lo these many years ago, a scruffy band of boho assholes with incomprehensible lyrics and a Burroughs fetish broke into the mainstream.  They were called Sonic Youth.  After spending about ten years recording ten-minute-long, screeching, meandering dirges, they decided to take a swing at grunge stardom.  They started recording songs with, you know, actual choruses and, like, melodies.

Most people don’t remember this, but the Sonic Youth of Dirty and Goo was kind of a poppy version of Kim and Thurston.  They were never going to be massively popular, but the band actually did make a go at recording songs like “100%,” “Youth Against Fascism,” and “Bull in the Heather” that could actually be legible in some kind of pop music patois.  For people who are basically exactly the age of the ToM editorial staff and most of our writers, this musical moment of the early-to-mid 1990s was a watershed; in retrospect, it almost seems utopian that a band like Sonic Youth could even plausibly try to sell out.

In any case, Sonic Youth recorded the song “Youth Against Fascism” in 1992, in the wake of the Bush administration’s horrible elevation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and at yet another time that was being called “The Year of the Woman” in politics.  “Another can of worms, another stomach turns… it’s the song I hate,” Thurston Moore sang.  And, crucially: “I BELIEVE ANITA HILL.” This felt very punk rock at the time.

How much and how little has changed since then?  We’re probably about to find out — and probably not much.  Fascism is back in vogue; parading traumatized women in public for ritual abuse and humiliation is apparently also a thing again.  Who will write a song that says “I believe Blasey Ford”?

greg miller photo npr

Despite the truly grotesque awfulness of what’s been happening in the news, there has been a lot of great stuff written, reported, and posted online this last week, starting with a truly extraordinary “op-ed” in the Washington Post that is really an epic poem of magisterial eloquence.  We hear from Annie Thériault with a frank and moving essay about dealing with suicidal ideation.  And we see Greg Miller‘s heartbreaking photographs of young people waiting for the schoolbus, dwarfed by the huge emptiness and mortal fear of the day that lies before them.

Some interpersonal verbs, conjugated by gender (WaPo)

Why I Lived (Flare)

Where The Driveway Ends, Photographer Dad Sees Hopes And Fears (NPR)

‘It’s Prince, thinking aloud on the piano’ (BBC)

Establishment Media Shy Away From Claims of Perjury by Kavanaugh (FAIR)

Patsy Takemoto Mink’s Trailblazing Testimony Against a Supreme Court Nominee (Atlantic)

Photojournalists Are Demanding A #MeToo Reckoning (NPR)

No, I Will Not Debate You (Longreads)

Great story: Paedophile cult leader Warren Jeffs tore this town apart. Now his victims are putting it back together (New Statesman)

Lol… basically the avatar of boomer douchiness: Chevy Chase is 74, sober and ready to work. The problem? Nobody wants to work with him. (WaPo)

A Music Industry Peace Treaty Passes Unanimously Through Congress (NPR)

This one hurt: a patron saint of ToM is gone. Big ups to Badass Denise Scott Brown. Robert Venturi Passes Away At 93 (ArchDaily)

How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Choosing Presence Over Productivity (Brain Pickings)

Scientists Gave MDMA to Octopuses—and What Happened Was Profound (Gizmodo)

Author: Alex Sayf Cummings

Alex Sayf Cummings is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University, whose work deals with technology, law, public policy, and the political culture of the modern United States. Alex's writing has appeared in Salon, the Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, Al Jazeera, and Southern Cultures, among other publications, and the book Democracy of Sound was published by Oxford University Press in 2013 (paperback, 2017). Alex can be followed on Twitter at @akbarjenkins.

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