A cold slap of water
in the face on the problem
Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado. Putnam, 2014, 195 pages.
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A cold slap of water
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Last night, the National Book Awards (NBA) ceremony took place here in NYC. There were many things to celebrate at the event, including Jacqueline Woodson’s NBA win for her book Brown Girl Dreaming, First Book Founder Kyle Zimmer being honored for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, and Ursula K. LeGuinn’s terrific acceptance speech.
But the event took a bad turn when the MC for the night, Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket), followed up Woodson’s acceptance speech with these comments:
Handler: I told you! I told Jackie she was going to win. And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned this summer, which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind.
And I said you have to put that in a book. And she said, you put that in a book.
And I said, I am only writing a book about a black girl who is allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornell West, Toni Morisson, and Barack Obama saying, “this guy’s ok! This guy’s fine!”
Video here (those comments start at about 39:00)
Author David Perry does a good job on his blog explaining why Handler’s comment is so problematic, so I won’t go into that too deeply. If you’re curious about the history of the watermelon stereotype and why it’s racist, this Atlantic article linked by Perry gives a good rundown. Suffice it to say, it’s not a nice thing to make jokes about, and particularly not a nice thing to make jokes about in reference to a very talented author when you’re a white man hosting an award ceremony. In front of a huge audience.
But what I really want to talk about is not Handler himself (who, yes, has issued a short apology via Twitter, the first choice Apology Outlet for all those who have made tasteless jokes) but the larger publishing community. Because the joke may have been Handler’s, but the environment which made a joke like that permissible is everyone’s problem and responsibility. It’s well known and well documented that publishing is, to put it lightly, homogenous. According to Publisher Weekly’s most recent salary survey, around 89% of publishing staff identifies as white/caucasian. That means, in a country where nearly 40% of the general population is comprised of people of color, only 11% of publishing staff are—and, I’d venture a guess, probably even less when you start looking at management roles.
Publishing is also notorious for being totally out of touch with diversity and race issues. Take a look at the low numbers of books published by/about people of color over the last 18 years:
Yet, in this year’s salary survey, almost 40% of respondents were neutral or actually disagreed with the statement, “The publishing industry suffers from a lack of racial diversity.” As my grandma likes to say, Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
Publishing routinely treats people of color poorly in so many ways: limiting the number of diverse books they will acquire, giving those books meager marketing budgets, whitewashing covers, creating all-white lineups at major book events…the list goes on and on. So it’s really no surprise that Handler would feel that his joke might play well to the largely white and racially unaware audience sitting in that room. And he was right, because people laughed (and, hey, The New York Times even called him “edgy”! Thanks, New York Times!)
An apology from Handler is nice, but that won’t stop this kind of thing from happening again. What is required is a true commitment from publishing: to right wrongs, to make concrete and sustainable efforts to be inclusive, to educate staff on the nuances of racism and privilege and to move toward a state of deeper understanding. There are certainly many individuals within publishing who are already committed to these things. But whether the industry as a whole will ever commit, and what it will take for them to do so, is a question I just don’t know the answer to.
In the meantime, readers and authors aren’t willing to wait, and that’s one big reason why the We Need Diverse Books campaign has done so marvelously. As of today, the campaign has raised over $108,000 to fund various projects that will increase diversity in books. That money is proof that a lot of people care and won’t let the publishing status quo, which hurts so many, reign supreme. I hope publishers will be willing to work with them on many of the initiatives they’ve developed.
In a great speech on sexual abuse in the military, Army chief Lt. Gen. David Morrison said, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” I think that goes for all of us. Hey, publishing, we’ve all walked past a lot of things. Let’s not walk past this too.
Filed under: Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation Tagged: national book award, NBA Display Comments Add a Comment
To follow-up on yesterday’s post, here’s an excerpt from Eric Weisbard’s Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music.
“The Logic of Formats”
Nearly every history of Top 40 launches from an anecdote about how radio station manager Todd Storz came up with the idea sometime between World War II and the early 1950s, watching with friends in a bar in Omaha as customers repeatedly punched up the same few songs on the jukebox. A waitress, after hearing the tunes for hours, paid for more listens, though she was unable to explain herself. “When they asked why, she replied, simply: ‘I like ’em.’ ” As Storz said on another occasion, “Why this should be, I don’t know. But I saw waitresses do this time after time.” He resolved to program a radio station following the same principles: the hits and nothing but the hits.
Storz’s aha moment has much to tell about Top 40’s complicated relationship to musical diversity. He might be seen as an entrepreneur with his ear to the ground, like the 1920s furniture salesman who insisted hillbilly music be recorded or the 1970s Fire Island dancer who created remixes to extend the beat. Or he could be viewed as a schlockmeister lowering standards for an inarticulate public, especially women —so often conceived as mass-cultural dupes. Though sponsored broadcasting had been part of radio in America, unlike much of the rest of the world, since its beginnings, Top 40 raised hackles in a postwar era concerned about the numbing effects of mass culture. “We become a jukebox without lights,” the Radio Advertising Bureau’s Kevin Sweeney complained. Time called Storz the “King of the Giveaway” and complained of broadcasting “well larded with commercials.”
Storz and those who followed answered demands that licensed stations serve a communal good by calling playlist catholicity a democracy of sound: “If the public suddenly showed a preference for Chinese music, we would play it . . . I do not believe there is any such thing as better or inferior music.” Top 40 programmer Chuck Blore, responding to charges that formats stifled creative DJs, wrote, “He may not be as free to inflict his musical taste on the public, but now, and rightfully, I think, the public dictates the popular music of the day.” Mike Joseph boasted, “When I first go into a market, I go into every record store personally. I’ll spend up to three weeks doing interviews, with an average of forty-five minutes each. And I get every single thing I can get: the sales on every configuration, every demo for every single, the gender of every buyer, the race of every buyer. . . . I follow the audience flow of the market around the clock.” Ascertaining public taste became a matter of extravagant claim for these professional intermediaries: broadcasting divided into “dayparts” to impact commuters, housewives, or students.
Complicating the tension between seeing formats as pandering or as deferring to popular taste was a formal quality that Top 40 also shared with the jukebox: it could encompass many varieties of hits or group a subset for a defined public. This duality blurred categories we often keep separate. American show business grew from blackface minstrelsy and its performative rather than innate notion of identity —pop as striking a pose, animating a mask, putting on style or a musical. More folk and genre-derived notions of group identity, by contrast, led to the authenticity-based categories of rock, soul, hip-hop, and country. Top 40 formats drew on both modes, in constantly recalibrated proportions. And in doing so, the logic of formats, especially the 1970s format system that assimilated genres, unsettled notions of real and fake music.
Go back to Storz’s jukebox. In the late 1930s, jukeboxes revived a record business collapsed by free music on radio and the Great Depression. Jack Kapp in particular, working for the US branch of British-owned Decca, tailored the records he handled to boom from the pack: swing jazz dance beats, slangy vernacular from black urban culture, and significant sexual frankness. This capitalized on qualities inherent in recordings, which separated sound from its sources in place, time, and community, allowing both new artifice — one did not know where the music came from, exactly — and new realism: one might value, permanently, the warble of a certain voice, suggesting a certain origin. Ella Fitzgerald, eroticizing the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” in 1938 on Decca, with Chick Webb’s band behind her, could bring more than a hint of Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom to a place like Omaha, as jukeboxes helped instill a national youth culture. Other jukeboxes highlighted the cheating songs of honky-tonk country or partying &B: urban electrifications of once-rural sounds. By World War II, pop was as much these brash cross-genre jukebox blends as it was the Broadway-Hollywood-network radio axis promoting Irving Berlin’s genteel “White Christmas.”
Todd Storz’s notion of Top 40 put the jukebox on the radio. Records had not always been a radio staple. Syndicated network stations avoided “canned music”; record labels feared the loss of sales and often stamped “Not Licensed for Radio Broadcast” on releases. So the shift that followed television’s taking original network programming was twofold: local radio broadcasting that relied on a premade consumer product. Since there were many more records to choose from than network shows, localized Top 40 fed a broader trend that allowed an entrepreneurial capitalism — independent record-label owners such as Sam Phillips of Sun Records, synergists such as American Bandstandhost Dick Clark, or station managers such as Storz—to compete with corporations like William Paley’s Columbia Broadcasting System, the so-called Tiffany Network, which included Columbia Records. The result, in part, was rock and roll, which had emerged sonically by the late 1940s but needed the Top 40 system to become dominant with young 45 RPM – singles buyers by the end of the 1950s.
An objection immediately presents itself, one that will recur throughout this study: Was Top 40 rock and roll at all, or a betrayal of the rockabilly wildness that Sam Phillips’s roster embodied for the fashioning of safe teen idols by Dick Clark? Did the format destroy the genre? The best answer interrogates the question: Didn’t the commerce-first pragmatism of formatting, with its weak boundaries, free performers and fans inhibited by tighter genre codes? For Susan Douglas, the girl group records of the early 1960s made possible by Top 40 defy critics who claim that rock died between Elvis Presley’s army induction and the arrival of the Beatles. Yes, hits like “Leader of the Pack” were created by others, often men, and were thoroughly commercial. Yes, they pulled punches on gender roles even as they encouraged girls to identify with young male rebels. But they “gave voice to all the warring selves inside us struggling.” White girls admired black girls, just as falsetto harmonizers like the Beach Boys allowed girls singing along to assume male roles in “nothing less than musical cross-dressing.” Top 40’s “euphoria of commercialism,” Douglas argues, did more than push product; “tens of millions of young girls started feeling, at the same time, that they, as a generation, would not be trapped.” Top 40, like the jukebox before it and MTV afterward, channeled cultural democracy: spread it but contained it within a regulated, commercialized path.
We can go back further than jukebox juries becoming American Bandstands. Ambiguities between democratic culture and commodification are familiar within cultural history. As Jean-Christophe Agnew points out in his study Worlds Apart, the theater and the marketplace have been inextricable for centuries, caught up as capitalism developed in “the fundamental problematic of a placeless market: the problems of identity, intentionality, accountability, transparency, and reciprocity that the pursuit of commensurability invariably introduces into that universe of particulate human meanings we call culture.” Agnew’s history ranges from Shakespeare to Melville’s Confidence Man, published in 1857. At that point in American popular culture, white entertainers often performed in blackface, jumping Jim Crow and then singing a plaintive “Ethiopian” melody by Stephen Foster. Eric Lott’s book on minstrelsy gives this racial mimicry a handy catchphrase: Love and Theft. Tarred-up actors, giddy with the new freedoms of a white man’s democracy but threatened by industrial “wage slavery,” embodied cartoonish blacks for social comment and anti-bourgeois rudeness. Amid vicious racial stereotyping could be found performances that respectable theater disavowed. Referring to a popular song of the era, typically performed in drag, the New York Tribune wrote in 1853, “ ‘Lucy Long’ was sung by a white negro as a male female danced.” And because of minstrelsy’s fixation on blackness, African Americans after the Civil War found an entry of sorts into entertainment: as songwriter W. C. Handy unceremoniously put it, “The best talent of that generation came down the same drain. The composers, the singers, the musicians, the speakers, the stage performers —the minstrel shows got them all.” If girl groups showcase liberating possibility in commercial constraints, minstrelsy challenges unreflective celebration.
Entertainment, as it grew into the brashest industry of modernizing America, fused selling and singing as a matter of orthodoxy. The three-act minstrel show stamped formats on show business early on, with its songand-dance opening, variety-act olio, and dramatic afterpiece, its interlocutors and end men. Such structures later migrated to variety, vaudeville, and Broadway. After the 1890s, tunes were supplied by Tin Pan Alley sheet-music publishers, who professionalized formula songwriting and invented “payola”— ethically dubious song plugging. These were song factories, unsentimental about creativity, yet the evocation of cheap tinniness in the name was deliberately outrageous, announcing the arrival of new populations —Siberian-born Irving Berlin, for example, the Jew who wrote “White Christmas.” Tin Pan Alley’s strictures of form but multiplicity of identity paved the way for the Brill Building teams who wrote the girl group songs, the Motown Records approach to mainstreaming African American hits, and even millennial hitmakers from Korean “K-Pop” to Sweden’s Cheiron Studios. Advertisers, Timothy Taylor’s history demonstrates, used popular music attitude as early as they could —sheet-music parodies, jingles, and the showmanship of radio hosts like crooner Rudy Vallee designed to give products “ginger, pep, sparkle, and snap.”
The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, a Top 40 forerunner with in-house vocalists performing the leading tunes, was “music for advertising’s sake,” its conductor said in 1941.
Radio, which arrived in the 1920s, was pushed away from a BBC model and toward what Thomas Streeter calls “corporate liberalism” by leaders like Herbert Hoover, who declared as commerce secretary, “We should not imitate some of our foreign colleagues with governmentally controlled broadcasting supported by a tax upon the listener.” In the years after the 1927 Radio Act, the medium consolidated around sponsor-supported syndicated network shows, successfully making radio present by 1940 in 86 percent of American homes and some 6.5 million cars, with average listening of four hours a day. The programming, initially local, now fused the topsy-turvy theatrics of vaudeville and minstrelsy —Amos ’n’ Andy ranked for years with the most popular programs —with love songs and soap operas aimed at the feminized intimacy of the bourgeois parlor. Radio’s mass orientation meant immigrants used it to embrace a mainstream American identity; women confessed sexual feelings for the likes of Vallee as part of the bushels of letters sent to favored broadcasters; and Vox Pop invented the “man on the street” interview, connecting radio’s commercialized public with more traditional political discourse and the Depression era’s documentary impulse. While radio scholars have rejected the view of an authoritarian, manipulative “culture industry,” classically associated with writers such as the Frankfurt School’s Theodor Adorno, historian Elena Razlogova offers an important qualification: “by the 1940s both commercial broadcasters and empirical social scientists . . . shared Adorno’s belief in expert authority and passive emotional listening.” Those most skeptical of mass culture often worked inside the beast.
Each network radio program had a format. So, for example, Kate Smith, returning for a thirteenth radio season in 1942, offered a three-act structure within each broadcast: a song and comedy slot, ad, drama, ad, and finally a segment devoted to patriotism —fitting for the singer of “God Bless America.” She was said by Billboard, writing with the slangy prose that characterized knowing and not fully genteel entertainment professionals, to have a show that “retains the format which, tho often heavy handed and obvious, is glovefit to keep the tremendous number of listeners it has acquired and do a terrific selling job for the sponsor”— General Foods. The trade journal insisted, “Next to a vocal personality, a band on the air needs a format —an idea, a framework of showmanship.”
Top 40 formats addressed the same need to fit broadcast, advertiser, and public, but through a different paradigm: what one branded with an on-air jukebox approach was now the radio station itself, to multiple sponsors. Early on, Top 40s competed with nonformat stations, the “full service” AM’s that relied on avuncular announcers with years of experience, in-house news, community bulletins, and songs used as filler. As formats came to dominate, with even news and talk stations formatted for consistent sound, competing sonic configurations hailed different demographics. But no format was pure: to secure audience share in a crowded market, a programmer might emphasize a portion of a format (Quiet Storm &B) or blur formats (country crossed with easy listening). Subcategories proliferated, creating what a 1978 how-to book called “the radio format conundrum.” The authors, listing biz slang along the lines of MOR,Good Music, and Chicken Rock, explained, “Words are coined, distorted and mutilated, as the programmer looks for ways to label or tag a format, a piece of music, a frame of mind.”
A framework of showmanship in 1944 had become a frame of mind in 1978. Formats began as theatrical structures but evolved into marketing devices — efforts to convince sponsors of the link between a mediated product and its never fully quantifiable audience. Formats did not idealize culture; they sold it. They structured eclecticism rather than imposing aesthetic values. It was the customer’s money —a democracy of whatever moved people.
The Counterlogic of Genres
At about the same time Todd Storz watched the action at a jukebox in Omaha, sociologist David Riesman was conducting in-depth interviews with young music listeners. Most, he found, were fans of what was popular— uncritical. But a minority of interviewees disliked “name bands, most vocalists (except Negro blues singers), and radio commercials.” They felt “a profound resentment of the commercialization of radio and musicians.” They were also, Riesman reported, overwhelmingly male.
American music in the twentieth century was vital to the creation of what Grace Hale’s account calls “a nation of outsiders.” “Hot jazz” adherents raved about Louis Armstrong’s solos in the 1920s, while everybody else thought it impressive enough that Paul Whiteman’s orchestra could syncopate the Charleston and introduce “Rhapsody in Blue.” By the 1930s, the in-crowd were Popular Front aligned, riveted at the pointedly misnamed cabaret Café Society, where doormen had holes in their gloves and Billie Holiday made the anti-lynching, anti-minstrelsy “Strange Fruit” stop all breathing. Circa Riesman’s study, the hipsters Norman Mailer and Jack Kerouac would celebrate redefined hot as cool, seeding a 1960s San Francisco scene that turned hipsters into hippie counterculture.
But the urge to value music as an authentic expression of identity appealed well beyond outsider scenes and subcultures. Hank Williams testified, “When a hillbilly sings a crazy song, he feels crazy. When he sings, ‘I Laid My Mother Away,’ he sees her a-laying right there in the coffin. He sings more sincere than most entertainers because the hillbilly was raised rougher than most entertainers. You got to know a lot about hard work. You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly. The people who has been raised something like the way the hillbilly has knows what he is singing about and appreciates it.” Loretta Lynn reduced this to a chorus: “If you’re looking at me, you’re looking at country.” Soul, rock, and hip-hop offered similar sentiments. An inherently folkloric valuation of popular music, Karl Miller has written, “so thoroughly trounced minstrelsy that historians rarely discuss the process of its ascendance. The folkloric paradigm is the air that we breathe.”
For this study, I want to combine subcultural outsiders and identity-group notions of folkloric authenticity into a single opposition to formats: genres. If entertainment formats are an undertheorized category of analysis, though a widely used term, genres have been highly theorized. By sticking with popular music, however, we can identify a few accepted notions. Music genres have rules: socially constructed and accepted codes of form, meaning, and behavior. Those who recognize and are shaped by these rules belong to what pioneering pop scholar Simon Frith calls “genre worlds”: configurations of musicians, listeners, and figures mediating between them who collectively create a sense of inclusivity and exclusivity. Genres range from highly specific avant-gardes to scenes, industry categories, and revivals, with large genre “streams” to feed subgenres. If music genres cannot be viewed —as their adherents might prefer —as existing outside of commerce and media, they do share a common aversion: to pop shapelessness.
Deconstructing genre ideology within music can be as touchy as insisting on minstrelsy’s centrality: from validating Theft to spitting in the face of Love. Producer and critic John Hammond, progressive in music and politics, gets rewritten as the man who told Duke Ellington that one of his most ambitious compositions featured “slick, un-negroid musicians,” guilty of “aping Tin Pan Alley composers for commercial reasons.” A Hammond obsession, 1930s Mississippi blues guitarist Robert Johnson has his credentials to be called “King of the Delta Blues” and revered by the likes of Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Rolling Stones questioned by those who want to know why Delta blues, as a category, was invented and sanctified after the fact and how that undercut more urban and vaudeville-inflected, not to mention female, “classic” blues singers such as Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, and Bessie Smith.
The tug-of-war between format and genre, performative theatrics and folkloric authenticity, came to a head with rock, the commercially and critically dominant form of American music from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. Fifties rock and roll had been the music of black as much as white Americans, southern as much as northern, working class far more than middle class. Rock was both less inclusive and more ideological: what Robert Christgau, aware of the politics of the shift from his first writing as a founding rock critic, called “all music deriving primarily from the energy and influence of the Beatles—and maybe Bob Dylan, and maybe you should stick pretensions in there someplace.” Ellen Willis, another pivotal early critic, centered her analysis of the change on the rock audience’s artistic affiliations: “I loved rock and roll, but I felt no emotional identification with the performers. Elvis Presley was my favorite singer, and I bought all his records; just the same, he was a stupid, slicked-up hillbilly, a bit too fat and soft to be really good-looking, and I was a middle-class adolescent snob.” Listening to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones was a far different process: “I couldn’t condescend to him — his ‘vulgarity’ represented a set of social and aesthetic attitudes as sophisticated as mine.”
The hippies gathered at Woodstock were Riesman’s minority segment turned majority, but with a difference. They no longer esteemed contemporary versions of “Negro blues singers”: only three black artists played Woodstock. Motown-style format pop was dismissed as fluff in contrast to English blues-rock and other music with an overt genre lineage. Top 40 met disdain, as new underground radio centered on “freeform”— meaning free of format. Music critics like Christgau, Willis, and Frith challenged these assumptions at the time, with Frith’s Sound Effects the strongest account of rock’s hypocritical “intimations of sincerity, authenticity, art — noncommercial concerns,” even as “rock became the record industry.” In a nation of outsiders, rock ruled, or as a leftist history, Rock ’n’ Roll Is Here to Pay, snarked, “Music for Music’s Sake Means More Money.” Keir Keightley elaborates, “One of the great ironies of the second half of the twentieth century is that while rock has involved millions of people buying a mass-marketed, standardized commodity (CD, cassette, LP) that is available virtually everywhere, these purchases have produced intense feelings of freedom, rebellion, marginality, oppositionality, uniqueness and authenticity.” In 1979, rock fans led by a rock radio DJ blew up disco records; as late as 2004, Kelefa Sanneh felt the need to deconstruct rock-ism in the New York Times.
Yet it would be simplistic to reduce rockism to its disproportions of race, gender, class, and sexuality. What fueled and fuels such attitudes toward popular music, ones hardly limited to rock alone, is the dream of music as democratic in a way opposite to how champions of radio formats justified their playlists. Michael Kramer, in an account of rock far more sympathetic than most others of late, argues that the countercultural era refashioned the bourgeois public sphere for a mass bohemia: writers and fans debated in music publications, gathered with civic commitment at music festivals, and shaped freeform radio into a community instrument. From the beginning, “hip capitalism” battled movement concerns, but the notion of music embodying anti-commercial beliefs, of rock as revolutionary or at least progressive, was genuine. The unity of the rock audience gave it more commercial clout: not just record sales, but arena-sized concerts, the most enduring music publication in Rolling Stone, and ultimately a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to debate rock against rock and roll or pop forever. Discursively, if not always in commercial reality, this truly was the Rock Era.
The mostly female listeners of the Top 40 pop formats bequeathed by Storz’s jukebox thus confronted, on multiple levels, the mostly male listeners of a rock genre that traced back to the anti-commercial contingent of Riesman’s interviewees. A democracy of hit songs, limited by its capitalist nature, was challenged by a democracy of genre identity, limited by its demographic narrowness. The multi-category Top 40 strands I will be examining were shaped by this enduring tension.
Pop Music in the Rock Era
Jim Ladd, a DJ at the Los Angeles freeform station KASH-FM, received a rude awakening in 1969 when a new program director laid down some rules. “We would not be playing any Top 40 bullshit, but real rock ’n’ roll; and there was no dress code. There would, however, be something known as ‘the format.’ ” Ladd was now told what to play. He writes bitterly about those advising stations. “The radio consultant imposed a statistical grid over the psychedelic counterculture, and reduced it to demographic research. Do you want men 18–24, adults 18–49, women 35–49, or is your target audience teens? Whatever it may be, the radio consultant had a formula.” Nonetheless, the staff was elated when, in 1975, KASH beat Top 40 KHJ, “because to us, it represented everything that we were trying to change in radio. Top 40 was slick, mindless pop pap, without one second of social involvement in its format.” Soon however, KAOS topped KASH with a still tighter format: “balls-out rock ’n’ roll.”
Ladd’s memoir, for all its biases, demonstrates despite itself why it would be misleading to view rock /pop or genre /format dichotomies as absolute divisions. By the mid-1970s, album-oriented rock (AOR) stations, like soul and country channels, pursued a format strategy as much as Top 40 or AC, guided by consultants and quarterly ratings. Rock programmers who used genre rhetoric of masculine rebellion (“balls-out rock ’n’ roll”) still honored Storz’s precept that most fans wanted the same songs repeated. Stations divided listeners explicitly by age and gender and tacitly by race and class. The division might be more inclusive: adults, 18–49; or less so: men, 18–34. The “psychedelic counterculture” ideal of dropping out from the mass had faded, but so had some of the mass: crossover appeal was one, not always desirable, demographic. And genre longings remained, with Ladd’s rockist disparagement of Top 40 symptomatic: many, including those in the business, quested for “social involvement” and disdained format tyranny. If AOR was formatted à la pop, pop became more like rock and soul, as seen in the power ballad, which merged rock’s amplification of sound and self with churchy and therapeutic exhortation.
Pop music in the rock era encompassed two strongly appealing, sometimes connected, but more often opposed impulses. The logic of formats celebrated the skillful matching of a set of songs with a set of people: its proponents idealized generating audiences, particularly new audiences, and prided themselves on figuring out what people wanted to hear. To believe in formats could mean playing it safe, with the reliance on experts and contempt for audiences that Razlogova describes in an earlier radio era: one cliché in radio was that stations were never switched off for the songs they didn’t play, only the ones they did. But there were strong business reasons to experiment with untapped consumer segments, to accentuate the “maturation” of a buying group with “contemporary”— a buzzword of the times —music to match. To successfully develop a new format, like the urban contemporary approach to black middle-class listeners, marked a great program director or consultant, and market-to-market experimentation in playlist emphasis was constant. Record companies, too, argued that a song like “Help Me Make It through the Night,” Kris Kristofferson’s explicit 1971 hit for Sammi Smith, could attract classier listeners for the country stations that played it.
By contrast, the logic of genres —accentuated by an era of counterculture, black power, feminism, and even conservative backlash — celebrated the creative matching of a set of songs and a set of ideals: music as artistic expression, communal statement, and coherent heritage. These were not necessarily anti-commercial impulses. Songwriters had long since learned the financial reasons to craft a lasting Broadway standard, rather than cash in overnight with a disposable Tin Pan Alley ditty. As Keightley shows, the career artist, steering his or her own path, was adult pop’s gift to the rock superstars. Frank Sinatra, Chairman of the Board, did not only symbolically transform into Neil Young, driving into the ditch if he chose. Young actually recorded for Reprise Records, the label that Sinatra had founded in 1960, whose president, Mo Ostin, went on to merge it with, and run, the artist-friendly and rock-dominated major label Warner Bros. Records.
Contrast Ladd’s or Young’s sour view of formatting with Clive Davis, who took over as president of Columbia Records during the rise of the counterculture. Writing just after the regularizing of multiple Top 40 strands, Davis found the mixture of old-school entertainment and new-school pop categories he confronted, the tensions between format and genre, endlessly fascinating. He was happy to discourse on the reasons why an MOR release by Ray Conniff might outsell an attention-hogging album by Bob Dylan, then turn around and explain why playing Las Vegas had tainted the rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears by rebranding them as MOR. Targeting black albums, rather than singles, to music buyers intrigued him, and here he itemized how he accepted racial divisions as market realities, positioning funk’s Earth, Wind & Fire as “progressive” to white rockers while courting soul nationalists too. “Black radio was also becoming increasingly militant; black program directors were refusing to see white promotion men. . . . If a record is ripe to be added to the black station’s play list, but is not quite a sure thing, it is ridiculous to have a white man trying to convince the program director to put it on.”
The incorporation of genre by formats proved hugely successful from the 1970s to the 1990s. Categories of mainstream music multiplied, major record labels learned boutique approaches to rival indies in what Timothy Dowd calls “decentralized” music selling, and the global sounds that Israeli sociologist Motti Regev sums up as “pop-rock” fused national genres with a common international structure of hitmaking, fueled by the widespread licensing in the 1980s of commercial radio channels in countries formerly limited to government broadcasting. In 2000, I was given the opportunity, for a New York Times feature, to survey a list of the top 1,000 selling albums and top 200 artists by total US sales, as registered by SoundScan’s barcode-scanning process since the service’s introduction in 1991. The range was startling: twelve albums on the list by Nashville’s Garth Brooks, but also twelve by the Beatles and more than twenty linked to the gangsta rappers in N.W.A. Female rocker Alanis Morissette topped the album list, with country and AC singer Shania Twain not far behind. Reggae’s Bob Marley had the most popular back-catalogue album, with mammoth total sales for pre-rock vocalist Barbra Streisand and jazz’s Miles Davis. Even “A Horse with No Name” still had fans:America’s Greatest Hits made a top 1,000 list that was 30 percent artists over forty years old in 2000 and one-quarter 1990s teen pop like Backstreet Boys. Pop meant power ballads (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion), rock (Pink Floyd, Metallica, Pearl Jam), and Latin voices (Selena, Marc Anthony), five mellow new age Enya albums, and four noisy Jock Jams compilations.
Yet nearly all this spectrum of sound was owned by a shrinking number of multinationals, joined as the 1990s ended by a new set of vast radio chains like Clear Channel, allowed by a 1996 Telecommunications Act in the corporate liberal spirit of the 1927 policies. The role of music in sparking countercultural liberation movements had matured into a well-understood range of scenes feeding into mainstreams, or train-wreck moments by tabloid pop stars appreciated with camp irony by omnivorous tastemakers. The tightly formatted world that Jim Ladd feared and Clive Davis coveted had come to pass. Was this true diversity, or a simulation? As Keith Negus found when he spoke with those participating in the global pop order, genre convictions still pressed against format pragmatism. Rock was overrepresented at record labels. Genre codes shaped the corporate cultures that framed the selling of country music, gangsta rap, and Latin pop. “The struggle is not between commerce and creativity,” Negus concluded, “but about what is to be commercial and creative.” The friction between competing notions of how to make and sell music had resulted in a staggering range of product, but also intractable disagreements over that product’s value within cultural hierarchies.
To read more about Top 40 Democracy, click here.
Blog: The Open Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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National Adoption Day this November 22 and National Adoption Month this November afford a time to share experiences and reflect on families. Whether you have students who have been adopted or are part of a family considering adopting a child into your home, all children can benefit from learning about adoption. Children are very curious about each other’s families, quick to categorize into groups, and intent to define what makes a family, well, a family.
Picture books provide a medium to discuss, celebrate, and learn about adoption and exploring the definition of “family.”
- Bring Asha Home Word Search by Lee & Low
- The Best Thing Guided Reading Lesson Plan by Lee & Low
- Chinatown Adventure Guided Reading Lesson Plan by Lee & Low
Discussion Questions during and after reading:
- What does “family” mean to you? How might the word mean something different to people?
- What does it mean to be adopted? What might be some challenges for a family with an adopted child or for a child who is adopted? What might be some benefits for a family who adopt a child or for a child who is adopted?
- How is this character’s family similar to and different from your own family?
- How do this character and family share and have fun together? What do you enjoy doing with your siblings and family members?
- How does the character feel at the beginning, middle, and end of the story? How does the main character change from the beginning to the end of the story?
- How would you describe this character’s relationship with his/her parent in the story?
- Learn more about the country from which the character is adopted. On which continent is the country located? What countries border this country? What language is spoken there? How many people live in that country? Who are some famous people from that country? Find a recipeof a food from this country to make.
- Share and reflect on this list of famous adoptees or adopters from TeacherVision by Beth Rowen.
- Draw a family portrait of your own family.
- Write a paragraph describing what makes your family unique and why you are proud of your family.
Further reading about adoption:
- Children’s Books About Transracial Adoption
- Why is Black Barbie Less Important? Talking to Kids About Race
- Books That Fit Your Definition of “American Family”
Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, Holidays and Celebrations Tagged: Adoption, children's books, diversity, Educators, holidays, multicultural books, Multiracial, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, Transracial adoption Add a Comment
The Sound of Music (rated G) Movie Review
My favorite movie would have to be The Sound Of Music! I love the story that it tells and how it does it in such a creative way. The characters sing songs to express their feelings, which is not something you see in an everyday movie. The music is what I love most about the movie. I get the songs stuck in my head for days after watching it!
I would recommend this movie to children my age for various reasons. To begin with, if you are a music lover like me, then this is what to watch because there are many different types of songs. Some songs are happy or funny, while others are romantic or sad. The actors and actresses are so talented.
In addition, the movie is all about the love that the nanny, Maria, gives to the seven kids she cares for. They learn to love her even though they want to be mean to her at first. It shows you that sometimes things work out differently than you planned. Also, the romance between the father of the household and Maria will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Lastly, this movie informs as much as it does entertain. I learned a lot about what happened during World War II, which is a very important time in history. I love The Sound Of Music, and I bet others will too. It is a classic, but also an original! I recommend it to everyone. I think this is the best movie of all time, and I can’t wait for more people to enjoy the thrill that I had when I first saw it!
Grace, Scholastic Kids CouncilAdd a Comment
Blog: The Chicago Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Eric Weisbard’s Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music considers the shifting terrain of the pop music landscape, in which FM radio (once an indisputably dominant medium) constructed multiple mainstreams, tailoring each to target communities built on race, gender, class, and social identity. Charting (no pun intended) how categories rivaled and pushed against each other in their rise to reach American audiences, the book posits a counterintuitive notion: when even the blandest incarnation of a particular sub-group (the Isley Brothers version of R & B, for instance) rose to the top of the charts, so too did the visibility of that group’s culture and perspective, making musical formatting one of the master narratives of late-twentieth-century identity.
In a recent piece for the Sound Studies blog, Weisbard wrote about the rise of both Taylor Swift and, via mid-term elections, the Republican Party:
The genius, and curse, of the commercial-cultural system that produced Taylor Swift’s Top 40 democracy win in the week of the 2014 elections, is that its disposition is inherently centrist. Our dominant music formats, rival mainstreams engaged in friendly combat rather than culture war, locked into place by the early 1970s. That it happened right then was a response to, and recuperation from, the splintering effects of the 1960s. But also, a moment of maximum wealth equality in the U.S. was perfect to persuade sponsors that differing Americans all deserved cultural representation.
And, as Weisbard concludes:
Pop music democracy too often gives us the formatted figures of diverse individuals triumphing, rather than collective empowerment. It’s impressive what Swift has accomplished; we once felt that about President Obama, too. But she’s rather alone at the top.
To read more about Top 40 Democracy, click here.
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New Book Trailer for the Starring Jules Series (for ages 7-10)
You should watch this AWESOME trailer if ANY of these apply to you:
- You love the Starring Jules series by Beth Ain.
- You like catchy songs.
- You don’t know why you aren’t famous yet.
- You enjoy blowing milk bubbles.
- You’re a regular kid.
- Your teacher is strict.
- You have a little brother.
- You wear pigtails in your hair.
- You like reading books that make you laugh!
If you nodded your head yes to any of those, then this series is for you. Still not convinced? Check out the trailer and rock out with shining star Jules Bloom!Add a Comment
Blog: Emilyreads (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I wish I could have
any faith that Joey will
be okay. RAAAAGE. Sigh.
The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos. FSG, 2014, 176 pages.
The Worry Tree (for ages 7-10) by Marianne Musgrove
Juliet worries way too much. She has problems at school, home and within herself. She can never get them out of her mind, no matter how hard she tries. She can’t stop worrying! Does that ring a bell? Do you have worries you can’t stop thinking about? Whether or not you do, you will enjoy The Worry Tree by Marianne Musgrove.
Juliet finds an old tree painted on the wall after she peels up the wallpaper in her new room. Her Nana explains the legend of the Worry Tree to her, and Juliet is intrigued. Could this solve her problems and finally get her worries out of her mind?
It is really easy to relate to Juliet’s problems because this book has a realistic amount of drama and doesn’t send characters into fake drama hysterics. I enjoyed this book because it isn’t magical in the way Harry Potter is, but it does have a mystical element! This is a very easy read; I read it in third grade in a day. Nonetheless, older kids will enjoy this too! If you are looking for a fun and easy read, The Worry Tree is perfect!
Beata, Scholastic Kids CouncilAdd a Comment
Blog: The Open Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Book News, Dear Readers, Diversity in YA, New Releases, Tu Books, diversity, e-novella, Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies, Native American, native american heritage month, Native American Interest, prequel, rose eagle, sci-fi, stacy whitman, Add a tag
Ten years before the events in Killer of Enemies, before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.
In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.
Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.
Filed under: Book News, Dear Readers, Diversity in YA, New Releases, Tu Books Tagged: diversity, e-novella, Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies, Native American, native american heritage month, Native American Interest, prequel, rose eagle, sci-fi, stacy whitman, Tu Books Add a Comment
Take CycloneVampire’s Personality Quiz!
This Personality Quiz is creative because the results will come from you! Answer the following questions and then write in the Comments what your personality type is. The results can be as creative as you are!
The questions were written by CycloneVampire7 who says, “I love these things, and have always wanted to make one, so yep. Here it is!”
- What is your favorite color? (There. I said it.) A) Warm colors such as brown, red, gold, orange. B) Rich colors such as emerald green, purple, lapis. (Look it up.) C) NEONS!!! (Me: Totally! XD!) D) Black.
- What are your hobbies? (These are just a couple I came up with.) A) Reading (Me: XD!!!) B) Writing! (Me: Yay! Keep going!) C) Drawing D) Other (Me: Please tell me what it is in the Comments! Pwetty pls?)
- Your friends . . . ? A) I have TONS and they all would support me with their lives if they had to!!!(You’re just extremely perky, aren’t you? Lol. You: YEP!!! ) B) I have my own special group. We like to talk about random stuff. #MEME! (Me: You just had to, didn’t you?) C) I have my besties! We like retro! Yahoo! The party doesn’t start till we- (Me: I’m so sorry, but I had to stop you there. Super sorry.) D) My bestie. We talk about deep stuff like poems and such. (Me: O.o)
- Fave book? (It actually tells a lot . . .) A) I like reading animal stories and the like. All the classics as well. B) Science fiction/Fantasy. I’m not as techie as you think. Seriously! C) Romance and stuff like Twilight or The Fault in Our Stars (both for ages 12 and up). D) Anything dark/scary. It could also be deep or well written.
- Did you like this? I’m also sorry if it sounded stereotypical. I didn’t mean to, honest. (DON’T ADD THIS! IT DOESN’T COUNT FOR YOUR FINAL ANSWER!!!) A) Well . . . It was somewhat stereotypical, but all in all, I LOVED IT!!! B) It kinda offended me . . . Still OK though.(Me: I’m so sorry!) C) Phsshaaaa, girl, I loved it! (Me: Awwww . . . Thanks!) D) ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! THIS WAS THE WORST, MOST STEREOTYPICAL QUIZ I’VE EVER SEEN!!!!! Society these days! (Me: *whimper*.) E) It was pretty good for your first one! It’s really hard sometimes to make a personality quiz that does NOT sound stereotypical. (Me: Thank you! I’ll take that into account!)
Ready for the results? You have to create your results! YOU tell US what your personality is! Leave a Comment with your creative result for this creative personality quiz!Add a Comment
Blog: The Winged Elephant (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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In The Awful Truth, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne play a divorcing couple determined to frustrate each other’s attempts to find new love. In The Crowd, young John Sims sets out for New York City, determined to become one of those stars of the big city. In Love Affair, a French painter and an American singer, both already engaged, fall in love against all odds. All romances of some sort, theseAdd a Comment
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do not go unnoticed.
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith. S&S, 2014, 288 pages.
Books Writing Prompt from Skyelark Moon
I’m sure most of you have had a similar conversation where you ask someone about a book, and she replies, “Don’t read that book; it’s bad.” That lead me to the question: what makes a book *bad*? Is it the characters? The plot? The general way the story is written? Is the book *bad* because of a negative connotation that was put towards it?
What do you think makes a book *bad*?
For me, I have found a *bad* book to be one that I simply did not enjoy. In general, either the characters or the plot (or both) weren’t engaging enough for me to enjoy the story to its full potential.
That then leads to the question of: what makes a *good* book? To me, I find the characters and the plot quite important. Of course, that is not all I look for, but they are certainly a large factor.
What do you think makes a *good* book?
I’m very interested in hearing *cough*reading*cough* your answers! Have a wonderful rest of your day!
Fly you high,
Skyelark Moon who used minimal smilies in this post.
Blog: The Open Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, CCSS, Educators, ELA common core standards, guided reading, teaching resources, Add a tag
The learning differences, preferences, and varied backgrounds existent in the classroom present teachers with a challenging task: help every student become a successful learner. How can teachers support all students’ diverse needs? Much confusion and fear have surrounded differentiated instruction and its use in the classroom.
Myth #1: Differentiation = Individualization
Differentiation doesn’t mean individualizing the curriculum for each student. Yes, when teachers meet one-on-one and conference with students, modifying instruction to best suit the student’s needs, both individualization and differentiation are taking place. However, writing an individual lesson plan for every student in the classroom is NOT differentiating (it’s insanity). Instead, differentiation involves using quality and effective instructional practices to strategically address groups of students based on various levels of learning readiness, interests, and learning styles.
Myth #2: Every student should be doing something different
Teachers should consider each student’s strengths and areas that need support, but that does not mean 30 students are engaged in 30 different activities. Instead, teachers use differentiation to provide a range of activities and assignments that challenge and offer variety in students’ learning opportunities. This includes flexible grouping, or organizing students by ability, learning styles, and academic needs. Students may work individually, in pairs, collaborative groups, or as a class based on learning objectives and their individual needs and preferences. For example, one group may be practicing math skill fluency while another group is applying this skill within more challenging settings. Differentiation also involves modifying the content (the what), process (the how), and product (the end result). Using assessment to inform instruction, providing leveled reading books, increasing or decreasing task complexity, and assigning tasks based on visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning preferences all support such differentiated learning opportunities.
Myth #3: Test prep doesn’t allow you to differentiate
Differentiation’s first objective is to help students deeply understand the content. This is essential to encourage the progressive achievement of a desired level of mastery in preparation for students’ successful careers and futures. Differentiated instruction better prepares students for standardized tests through authentic learning experiences that exercise higher-order, critical thinking skills and encourage the development of strong conceptual understanding. Secondly, differentiation aims to prepare students for varied forms of assessment, including group projects and research papers, as well as multiple-choice questions on a standardized test. Therefore, using standardized testing preparation to assess and monitor students’ progress and understanding is important, but it is only one of the many types of assessment teachers use. Undifferentiated or standardized assessments should be provided along with authentic and performance-based assessments.
Myth #4: There is no time to differentiate
Differentiation doesn’t have to be thought of as separate from instruction. The key is to treat differentiation as a core part of the lesson and unit plan, rather than as an afterthought. The best answer is to start small, such as differentiating one subject or unit at a time by modifying the plans and materials you already have. Even though a teacher may feel he/she has little control over the content, differentiating instruction can support how he/she will teach it.
Myth #5: Differentiation is the end-all-be-all solution for academic achievement
Differentiation is one way to help all students of varying abilities, learning styles, interests, and background experiences meet or exceed grade-level expectations. Parent engagement, assessment, reflection, professional development, and content and grade-level collaboration are all part of the toolbox schools and teachers need to proactively anticipate and appropriately respond to students’ continuously changing needs.
What does differentiation look like in action? This is Part 1 of 2 posts about differentiation and how it is used in the classroom.
Cash, R. M. (2011). Advancing differentiation: Thinking and learning for the 21st century. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
Veronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources Tagged: CCSS, Educators, ELA common core standards, guided reading, teaching resources Add a Comment
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
If you loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, then prepare yourself for another amazing book by Brian Selznick coming out on September 15, 2015! With 440 pages of original drawings and 200 pages of text, The Marvels promises to be epic, and it will have a beautiful cover! Look! Just look at it!!
In The Marvels, Selznick weaves together two spellbinding stories—one in words, and the other in pictures. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The written story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. How the picture and word stories intersect will leave readers marveling over Selznick’s storytelling skill. Get it? Marveling! The Marvels is filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heartrending beauty, and features Selznick’s most arresting art to date.
Here’s what the author has to say about The Marvels: “I’m thrilled to finally share The Marvels with readers after three years of intense work on the book, including living briefly in London and spending an entire year drawing the pictures,” says Brian Selznick.
And here’s what I have to say about The Marvels: “I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 15!!!!! And also, what are those cool serpent thingies on the cover? Oh, I can’t wait!”
Leave a Comment to tell us what you think about this news.
Sonja, STACKS StafferAdd a Comment
Blog: The Chicago Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Today is the last day of #UPWeek—so goes with it another successful tour of university press blogs. On that note, Friday’s theme is one of following: What are your must reads on the internet? Whom do you follow on social media? Which venues and scholars are doing right? University of Illinois Press tracks the geopolitics of imagination, University of Minnesota Press (hi, Maggie!) author John Hartigan explains the foibles of scholars on social media, University of Nebraska Press delivers another social media primer, NYU Press teaches us Key Words in Cultural Studies, Island Press tracks the interests of its editors, and Columbia University Press talks their University Press Round-Up.
Us? We’re running with the idea that history and progress aren’t synonymously bound. The way forward with media is often the way back or through, or at least a trip to the past demonstrates that the seed for new forms of mediation are (apologies for this) always already planted. I realize this makes Follow Friday a bit of Throwback Thursday, but here’s a great photo from UCP author Alan Thomas that has been making the rounds on Twitter of the very first e-book we published. Richard A. Lanham’s The Electronic Word required 2 MB of RAM and a floppy disk reader, yet in its “out-of-timeness,” we can already see the othering of the book-as-object and our desire to store information in as portable (and small) a capacity as possible. Kindle Fire quivers. We keep moving.
For more on #UPWeek, follow the hash-tag on Twitter.Add a Comment
Kira Kosarin Plays Phoebe on The Thundermans
Q: Tell us about your show The Thundermans.
Kira: It’s a show on Nickelodeon about a family of superheroes who move to the suburbs to try to live a normal life, but that doesn’t always work because we all have superpowers. I play Phoebe who is a really strong superhero and my twin brother [played by Jack Griffo] wants to be a super-villain, so comedy ensues.
Q: What is an unusual talent that most people don’t know you have?
Kira: I can talk crazy, crazy fast and rap. No one thinks I can rap, but I can. My friends know. I don’t have many secrets. I’m kind of an open book.
Q: What was your most embarrassing moment?
Kira: I fell during a live taping of The Thundermans. I wiped out on the stage. That was pretty embarrassing.
Q: If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?
Kira: In The Thundermans we have a talking bunny and I think that would be so cool! Our bunny talks because he was a super-villain who got turned into a bunny. On the show it’s actually a puppet.
Q: Are you a city person or a country person?
Kira: City. I’ve lived in both. I’ve lived in New Jersey, Florida, and then here [Los Angeles].
Q: What’s one thing that you think could help make the world a better place?
Kira: If everyone would do something really small it would make a difference in any arena. I think people should be taking care of the environment more, throwing out your trash, and recycling, and unplugging things. I think that if everyone could be nice to each other, it would be great!
INTERVIEW BY SUE SCHNEIDERAdd a Comment
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Today is day two of #UPWeek, which considers the past, present, and future of scholarly publishing through pictures. Among posts dotting the web, you’ll find: a photographic history of Indiana University Press, documentation of 1950s and ’60s print publishing at Stanford University Press, a photo collage from Fordham University Press, a Q & A with art director Martha Sewell and short film of author and illustrator Val Kells at Johns Hopkins University Press, and images of the University Press of Florida through the years. With these surveys in mind, we’re happy to share a few snapshots from our own recent launch of Victoria Tennant’s Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo at Peter Fetterman’s Gallery in Santa Monica, California (including a cameo by Norman Lear). Don’t forget to follow #UPWeek on Twitter to keep up with the AAUP’s celebration of university presses’ blogging culture.
To read more about Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, click here.Add a Comment
Blog: The Open Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Book Lists by Topic, Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Lee & Low Likes, Race, book list, booklist, Crazy Horse, diversity, Ira Hayes, Jim Thorpe, Joseph Bruchac, Lee & Low Books, Native American, native american heritage month, Tu Books, Add a tag
November is Native American Heritage Month! Native American Heritage Month evolved from the efforts of various individuals at the turn of the 20th century who tried to get a day of recognition for Native Americans. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a resolution that appointed November as Native American Heritage Month. You can learn more about Native American Heritage Month here.
For many years, Native people were silenced and their stories were set aside, hidden, or drowned out. That’s why it’s especially important to read stories about Native characters, told in Native voices. Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with these great books by Native writers:
Quiet Hero by S.D. Nelson – Ira Hayes grew up on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona. When he was in his late teens, World War II raged, and Ira Hayes joined the Marine corps. Eventually they were sent to the tiny Japanese island of Iwo Jima, where a chance event and an extraordinary photograph catapulted Ira to national awareness and transformed his life forever.
Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D. Nelson – Crazy Horse, whose childhood nickname was “Curly,” defies traditional custom and risks his own life by running away, up to the hills, to seek a vision.
Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D. Nelson – While Jim Thorpe struggled at school, he excelled at sports. He later went on to win several Olympic medals.
Home to Medicine Mountain by Chiori Santiago, illustrated by Judith Lowry – Two Native American brothers are sent to a strict, government-run boarding school. There, they are forced to speak English and to unlearn their Native American ways. Inspired by their dreams of home and the memories of their grandmother’s stories, the boys embark on an adventurous journey from the harsh residential school to their home in Susanville, California.
Sky Dancers by Connie Ann Kirk, illustrated by Christy Hale – John Cloud’s father is in New York City, far away from their Mohawk Reservation, building sky scrapers. One day, Mama takes John to New York City and he sees his Papa high on a beam, building the Empire State Building.
Kiki’s Journey by Kristy Orona-Ramirez, illustrated by Jonathan Warm Day – Kiki is a city girl that calls Los Angeles her home. Her family left the Taos Pueblo reservation when she was a baby, so it doesn’t feel like home. How will it feel to revisit the reservation?
Stories for Teens
Rattlesnake Mesa by EdNah New Rider Weber, photographs by Richela Renkun – When EdNah’s beloved grandmother dies, she is sent to live on a Navajo reservation with a father she barely knows. Once EdNah finds herself getting used to her new life, she is sent to a strict government-run Indian boarding school.
Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac – When Luke King’s father, a black ops infiltrator, goes missing, Luke realizes his life will never be the same again. Luke sets out to search for his father, all the while trying to avoid the attention of the school’s mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters, who seem much too interested in his own personal secret
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac – In a future where technology has failed, Lozen has been gifted with a unique set of abilities magic and survival skills that she uses to hunt monsters for the people who kidnapped her family. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.
Rose Eagle by Joseph Bruchac – Several years before Killer of Enemies, the Lakota are forced to mine ore for the Ones, their overlords. Rose Eagle’s aunt has a vision of Rose as a healer. She sends Rose on a quest to find healing for their people.
What other books by Native American authors and illustrators do you recommend?
Filed under: Book Lists by Topic, Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Lee & Low Likes, Race Tagged: book list, booklist, Crazy Horse, diversity, Ira Hayes, Jim Thorpe, Joseph Bruchac, Lee & Low Books, Native American, native american heritage month, Tu Books Display Comments Add a Comment
Book Reviews by Kids, for Kids
Are you looking for 100% kid-approved book recommendations? The STACKS has them. This week, CycloneVampire7 recommends Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (for ages 9-12). Have you read this book? What did you think? Read on for CycloneVampire’s 4-star-review.
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Fly by Night is a beautiful book about a girl named Mosca Mye. In Mosca’s world, books are dangerous and outlawed, and supposedly fill your mind with lies and poisonous ideas. But Mosca can read. Her father taught her to. He is dead now, so when Mosca meets Mr. Eponymous Clent, a dangerous man with a poet’s way with words, she decides to help him. As things slowly start to unravel, Mosca realizes that things aren’t always as they have been, and Comfort isn’t always the good guy. It’s a little hard to understand at times, but all-in-all, a wonderful book. I would probably say it’s for ages 10+ because it’s hard to follow, or age 9 if you’re a good reader.
I <3 STACKS Shows!
I have noticed a very fun trend on the STACKS Message Boards: people making their own shows. They are all super-creative and each person’s show is different. Here is a sample of some of the shows I’ve been seeing lately.
W: Hey, guys! Today is our first ever radio show on the STACKs! This show is all about having fun. Stay tuned for quizzes, interviews, STACKs news, and much, much more! The roof is about to get raised!
Before we start, let’s introduce ourselves! I’m WinterWonder9300 and I love to read! I’ve loved every second of my four years of being on this site. I can’t wait to spend many more years here.
S: And I’m SoftballAthena7. I love to read, write, play sports, and, of course, I’m all about Greek mythology.
W: Now, since this is a radio show… we have a few songs to listen to! “Amnesia” by 5 Seconds of Summer and “Believer” by American Authors
While you check out those songs, here is some STACKs news. . . (Click here to read the rest of this show.)
The Purplewizard50 Show by PurpleWizard50
So, as most of you may know, I got this idea from CatGymnastics, my Stack Pal. So thanks, Melanie! And here’s your reward! You’ll be this week’s Featured STACKer! Anyway, let’s start the show off with the newest fan fiction I’m writing. Basically, I’m going to be writing a chapter in every episode!
Everything in this story is true. Trust me. Or don’t. Most people don’t trust me because I’m totally unreliable. Others don’t trust me because my father is a jewel thief and my mother is a murderer. My name is Scarlett Moon. (Click here to read the rest of this show.)
If you are not on the boards, you should go visit and join the fun. Maybe you can write your own show!
Sonja, STACKS StafferAdd a Comment
Blog: Emilyreads (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: award bait, biography, great jacket, haiku, historical, middle grade, nonfiction, political, young adult, Add a tag
A infuriating story,
Justice not served.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook, 2014, 208 pages.
Blog: The Open Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Lee & Low Likes, The Diversity Gap, Big Hero 6, Disney, diversity in Hollywood, movies, Add a tag
This past weekend, Disney released its newest action-comedy, Big Hero 6. The movie chronicles the special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.
Big Hero 6 has been getting tons of great reviews, and earned an impressive 88% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps most impressively, it beat out Christopher Nolan’s highly buzzed-about sci-fi epic Interstellar at the box office, taking an an estimated $56.2M in its first weekend. That makes it the second best cartoon opening of the year, trailing only The Lego Movie.
This isn’t just a win for Disney and Big Hero 6—it’s a win for diversity, and those who make the argument that diversity sells. Big Hero 6 takes place in a future “San Fransokyo” and features an extremely diverse cast of characters: Go Go Tomago, Tadashi, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred. And, unlike some cartoons, it doesn’t whitewash its casting: the voices behind the characters are just as diverse as the characters themselves. Hiro, Tadashi, and Go Go are all voiced by Asian American Actors (Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, and Jamie Chung, respectively) and the diverse cast is rounded out by Damon Wayans Jr. (Wasabi), Genesis Rodriguez (Honey Lemon), and Maya Rudolph (Cass).
That means, of the 10 top billed characters in the movie, 6 are voiced by people of color. That’s significantly higher than Hollywood’s standard dreary stats of underrepresentation. It also means that a movie featuring people of color in the top roles earned more money than a major blockbuster film starring several Oscar-winning actors and directed by one of the most famous directors in Hollywood. And not a very diverse one, I would add.
How’s that for proof that diversity sells?
Not everyone loves Big Hero 6. Some fans of the original comics were disappointed to see that while the characters in the original comic were all Japanese, Disney chose to recast some of the characters in the movie as other races. You can see more about the changes they made here. Was Disney afraid that a cast of all-Japanese characters might scare off the American moviegoing audience? We’ll never know.
Diversity done well can be hard, but it’s worth celebrating the wins even when they’re complicated. You may have noticed the Diversity 102 logo at the top of this blog post. From here on in, we’re going beyond the Diversity 101 story that everyone tells: there’s not enough diversity, there’s nothing out there, diversity doesn’t make money, people don’t care. It’s important to acknowledge that there’s work to be done, but the story goes deeper than that. There are many exciting things happening, and we want to spotlight them.
So, are you going to see Big Hero 6 this weekend? Did you see it already? What did you think?
Filed under: Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Lee & Low Likes, The Diversity Gap Tagged: Big Hero 6, Disney, diversity in Hollywood, movies Add a Comment
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