About

As an historian, I write about sexual politics, the law, gender, culture, and heterornormativity, particularly through the lens of obscenity and pornography. My first book, Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right, came out from Columbia University Press a few years ago. My second, Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression, arrived in September 2013 from the University Press of Kansas. I am mostly too lazy to blog rigorously about matters academic; cinematic depictions of Newark seem to be where things here tend, but I try to keep it updated in regard to more formal things I’ve written or occasionally cool archival documents I find.

Titling one’s blog after oneself is surely the height of pomposity, unless one’s profile in the world can bear such weight. And no Jack Balkin or Eugene Volokh am I. But what I have that those esteemed professors lack is simple: a name that ends with a B. Resistance is futile when it rolls off the tongue so smoothly. So strublog it is. Also, I didn’t have any better ideas when push came to shoving the enter key.

On my slightly cheesy Amazon profile, I claim to spend a lot of time taking pictures of my cats. It is a true claim, I assure you, but I’ll try not to get carried away with it here. They are pretty cute though, let the record show:

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Drop a line: wstrub at gmail dot com

Recent Posts

Newark under Surveillance: Highlights of the COINTELPRO files, and Confessions of an Undercover Cop (1988)

It’s a good time to think about surveillance and its history. We have a nakedly racist administration escalating and further militarizing the already cruel and counterproductive monitoring, harassment, and deportation of Latino/a people. Meanwhile, in the fraudulent name of national security, they’re trying to bar people (read: Muslims) from seven nations responsible for zero acts of domestic terrorism, as part of their New Crusades Theater-spectacular. One of the first things the Trump administration did was to round up data on which federal scientists were doing their fricking jobs by tracking climate change, and if native-born white U.S. citizens somehow still think they’re exempt from all of this, oh hey, they’re also checking IDs at exits from domestic flights.

None of this is normal, that can’t be emphasized enough. But neither is it a radical break from the grotesque U.S. history of internal domestic surveillance of radicals, people of color, queer people, etc. During the Obama years, the NYPD shamefully spied on the Rutgers Muslim Student Association, and as recently as last month continued to refuse to confirm or deny its possession of surveillance records. And don’t get me started on the PATRIOT Act and its travesties.

Congressional Democrats aren’t going to save us—the very day I’m writing this, eleven of them voted to confirm scumsucking racist mouthbreather Rick Perry to head a department he literally did not remember existed in the recent past, just the latest capitulation in a shameful month-and-a-half descent into Trumpism. The only hope for American democracy to survive this onslaught comes from two sources, in my estimation: first, the resistance that has galvanized millions of Americans to put their bodies on the line in streets, airports, town hall meetings, and elsewhere; there are more of us than there are of these jackbooted fascists, and if we can stay focused, angry, and active, we have at least a chance.

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Newark Liberty International Airport, 28 January 2017

Our second—and maybe more powerful—hope is the sheer ineptitude of the national security state. Nearly all of Trump’s appointments veer toward utter slack-jawed stupidity, Perry’s not alone: Ben Carson and his mushmouthed ramblings, Betsy DeVos and her delusions that HBCUs grew out of a “choice” in Jim Crow America, and most tellingly Michael Flynn, before he was deposed by his lying: the very man who was supposed to head the NSA tweeted fake news because he couldn’t tell the difference. And then there’s Steve Bannon, a man so desperate to be perceived as an evil genius that he misuses the term “deconstruction” (not synonymous with destruction, which is what he seems to intend for the administrative state) because it sounds like . . . wait, those smarty-pants professors that I thought we were supposed to hate, and whose earlier career as a director of dud rightwing documentaries was so pathetic that a recent Film Comment podcast compared it unfavorably to the cinematic works of Alex Jones and Dinesh D’Souza. I apologize for so many italics here, but just let that sink in, seriously. I actually saw his Sarah Palin movie, and while it made me fear his ability to pander to racist, nationalist chestbeating, I did not walk away awed by his intellect, to say the least.

All of which leads back to COINTELPRO. Continue reading

  1. Newark Deserves a City Symphony: New Work: Newark in 3D (2009) Leave a reply
  2. Blogging against Trump Leave a reply
  3. Newark’s Greatest Film at Fifty: Troublemakers (1966) 1 Reply
  4. Juice in Newark: O.J.-Made in America (2016) and the Hertz ad campaign (1975) Leave a reply
  5. The Sticky Floors of History at the Little Theater (Pornography in Newark, Part 4) Leave a reply
  6. Sidney Lumet’s Newark Pitstop: Find Me Guilty (2006) Leave a reply
  7. Curt McDowell, with Love and Leather 3 Replies
  8. Archive Fever: New Jersey Lesbian Cat Poetry of the 1970s (and a brief election rant) 1 Reply
  9. Pornography in Newark, Part 3: Hello, Hardcore! Leave a reply