Three reasons why this blog exists:
1. To help with the writing process. When I was in grad school, working on my dissertation, I experienced two full years utterly, hopelessly devoid of structure. I’d read Jo Freeman’s classic feminist essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”–I was even writing about it, at least theoretically–but it took on visceral new meaning in the face of days that began around noon, lurched into midafternoon, and then contended with Los Angeles’s repertory film calendar. When to hunker down and dissertate?
So I figured the more I committed myself to writing, the more I’d write. I became a book reviewer for the Library Journal, a strange gig that involved random books showing up unannounced and needing comment. I became a music writer, a hack of a music writer to be sure, mostly for the free CDs and guest-list tickets. But it did help me write consistently (if not well), mostly about Guided By Voices and every related album I could throw my slavishly devoted prose at. Once I got to hang out on Napalm Death’s tour bus and see what they were reading, but mostly I churned out slightly overwrought comparisons of Robert Pollard’s lyrics to T.S. Eliot. Hopefully things here never get quite that dire. I just figure writing regularly and casually will help preclude the familiar boom and bust cycle in which days of hopeless procrastination are punctuated by manic 15-hour bursts of verbal explosions.
2. To get a little more involved online. I see friends blog, guest-blog, and comment, and I . . . work on revisions for a piece that might see the light of day in 12-18 months. They’re not mutually exclusive, and one seems more fun than the other; it’s 2013, so it’s high time to jump aboard those fabled interwebz. I’ve enjoyed my occasional forays–a co-authored post on Philadelphia’s legendary Toynbee Tiles at the National Council for Public History’s commons, an interview at Columbia University Press’s blog when my book came out, and then a two-part guest blog for them about the politics of pornography in 2012. Oh, and I also started a ridiculously pointless blog about the various albums to emanate out of the Byrds, as something of a warm-up gig (short version: Gene Clark is woefully underrated, Gram Parsons is somewhat overrated, and none of the other Byrds ever did much worth noting, unless it is to note how unrelentingly wretched the inexplicable half-century career of David Crosby has been). But having a central forum–dedicated to topics more engaging than dollar-bin vinyl detritus–seems timely (at least as of, oh, 2008 or so, before the tweets and the tumblrs came along) and, hopefully, rewarding.
3. I thought there was a third reason. Maybe ethics: no trees are killed for this, nobody (I hope) is forced to read it, and its only tangible impact that I can think of is a tiny, tiny contribution toward the heat death of the universe, which is impending anyway. So why not?