Unpopular Culture

Somethin’ Slick Goin’ On: The Proletarian Funk of Johnny “Guitar” Watson

Somethin’ Slick Goin’ On: The Proletarian Funk of Johnny “Guitar” Watson

Johnny “Guitar” Watson was a fascinating contradiction: a man dressed like an icon of fame and wealth whose lyrics depict the struggle of working people trying to make ends meet in an era of looming economic destitution. Though he dons a funky getup, Watson’s bleak expression of working life under economic and social oppression derives from the long blues tradition dating back to slavery and the Reconstruction era.

Field Notes on Tunisia’s Green Revolution

Field Notes on Tunisia’s Green Revolution

Ayeb’s focus is the struggles of direct producers who work in agriculture in a natural world beset by the dislocations and mounting disorders of agro-industrial capitalist farming. Through interviews, he assembles an anecdotal yet accurate account of Tunisia’s rural productive system, a collage of testimony and analysis.

Rattling Devils

Rattling Devils

The point is to place the human operator back in the frame, to ask after those who tended the machine before it was available as a spectacle, and to listen to how they understood what they were tangled in the midst of.

A Butterfly Reads History

A Butterfly Reads History

While Adorno claimed that to write poetry after Auschwitz was barbaric, hip-hop claims that it is necessary to write poetry after the barbarism of slavery. Its history, and its historical consequences, must be recorded.