Blanks & Postage: Kyle Barnett and the Record Cultures of Wild Midwest

Despite a plot that takes place a century ago, nearly every twist of Kyle Barnett’s new scholarly work Record Cultures: The Transformation of the U.S. Recording Industry feels acutely connected to the present. With a big picture historical view, Barnett maps how the unsettled and undefined chaos of American music coalesced into the modern world of record labels and genres with all their racist complexities and romantic myths.

Blanks And Postage: How To Build A Diving Bell, or Tape-Hunting Tips For Quarantined Gormandizers

Just as many of us were folding into our geo-domes for extended isolation in early March, a tweet floated across my transom that asked the reader to “Imagine a world where there were archives of live P-Funk and Fela recordings as extensive and well-curated as those devoted to the Grateful Dead.” To paraphrase a recent viral hit: it’s easy if you try. At least, the imagining is. Just pretend that they’re the Dead…

Blanks And Postage: How To Weird Your Mind

Several recent books provide counterpoints to Michael Pollan’s best-selling How To Change Your Mind. “Psychedelics for normies” in writer Alison Hussey’s memorable phrase, Pollan’s 2018 book almost instantly transformed the dialogue around the substances with its clear and direct arguments about their miraculous power to heal trauma. Only on occasion, though, does it entertain a present or future in which psychedelics might be used meaningfully outside the medical model, or acknowledge the ways that’s occurred in the past. How To Change Your Mind is a skeptical book, and draws some of its power from this, an extension of Pollan’s role as a mainstream journalist, but its tone is also an act of erasure in other ways.