At the beginning of this year, I started work on my first assignment for the second semester. We were asked to develop a schedule for our academic work over the next few years – what would the day-to-day look like?
I wrote this assignment as a blog post and here it is.
Eleven days after I wrote this post, my mother died. We were then under the ludicrous convoy occupation and soon after that in an act reminiscent of the Second World War, Russia invaded Ukraine.
My schedule looks a little silly now.
Being in school; being a principal had some semblance of order. This calls for a different sort of calendar.
I do try to write in the morning. It sounds like a lovely idea, but that always doesn’t work out. I am writing this now at the end of a long day and a long week of writing and researching every day. Learn something new – work when you can, be more flexible, schedules crumble. (but, I am writing the final version this morning – much better)
I have done it. Three very demanding courses along with lots of thinking about what I will be writing about and researching for the next three years. The elements of the new plan reside in the questions I have been writing about for the past two weeks:
Choose a qualitative methodology – OK Critical Participatory Action Research (PAR). This was a true revelation for me. In PAR the actions and research are situationed in the real world. The product does not necessarily return to the academy, instead it is left in the hands of the participants. This type of work shows the ultimate respect for the subject and breaks down the barriers that usually exist in qualitative research. This reseach has true meaning and that is an inspiration. PAR is framed in social justice and focuses on revealing truth – truth with a plan – to the people who are part of the project. This kind of work offers so many incredible opportunities!
how have different writers sought to critically address the teaching of history education in Canada? – Here is a question that will stay with me. I wonder what people in our country think about their history? While it seems to be different in Quebec, most Canadian students have to take only one course in Canadian history while in high school. I have taught this course and have seen it taught many times. Most students see it as something they have to get through. Most probably come out of the course with a rudimentary understanding of their country’s history (Gibson & Peck 2020). In most cases, the teaching of history remains unchanged and relies on old, tired, and outmoded methodoligies. Barton and Levstik write:
One of us, in fact, has a daughter currently enrolled in eighth grade U.S. history, and she analyzes exactly as many primary sources, reads exactly as many works of historical literature, takes part in exactly as many inquiry projects and simulations, and considers exactly as many alternative historical perspectives as her father did nearly 30 years ago: zero. We wish this were an isolated example, but we know that it isn’t. (Barton & Levstik, 2004, p. 3)
how do tensions in this work these lead to a disruption of settler-colonial narratives about Canada’s past? The tensions are so interesting. Historical Thinking Concepts remain the accepted methodology, but there are questions – how many teachers actually use this in their classrooms? As a more scientific approach to the study of history – what qualitative features of our narrative are sidelined? We live in a society informed by the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we are also more and more a diverse, multicultural society, especially in our urban centers – how can one methodology address all of these challenges?
This is a very rich experience. There are so many interesting questions I want to work on, and I just love the experience of exercising my mind and working on my writing. I have one course to go and then I get to start preparing for my comprehensives. I want to get this done by the fall.
So, next – a little reading for the next few weeks:
New Possibilities for the Past: Shaping History Education in Canada – Penny Clark (Ed.)
Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts – Sam Wineburg
We Want to do More Than Survive – Bettina Love
History Education and the Construction of National Identities Carretero, Asensio, Rodriguez-Moneo (Eds.)
Beyond History for Historical Consciousness – Levesque and Croteau
Colonialism/Postcolonialism – Ania Loomba
Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History by Margaret MacMillan
This list comes from my profs and the research I have been doing. They are the foundation of the next step and I will be working through all this until the summer.
Next – I really need to figure out how to organize all this information. Some people are using Zotero, others NVivo some Dedoose. People speak with such authority about these programs, but I really need to do my own research and figure something that will work for me. In case I haven’t listed enough tools here are nine more.
I have to sort through the tangle of ideas to come up with questions for my comp question. Am I any closer to figuring this out?
And, finally another thing I have learned, it would be good to do this:
James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg – Reel Around the Fountain
Our show on Mixcloud
Quivers- You Are Not Always on My Mind
The Quivers performing some pop perfection:
Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen – Like I Used To
I have to start with another fun quote from the Guardian
“I strongly believe that if Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen teamed up to sing anything up to and including Las Ketchup it would be a moment so emotional we’d all emerge three minutes later with dewy eyes and a strong urge to become better people. So you can imagine what they’ve done with this swirling eddy of a song. Exhaustingly amazing.”
This is another artist(s) that seem to be really popular in the UK, but I have never heard them here. Not that this is any measure of note. But everything I read about this new single is really positive and the video is pretty good too. Last word goes to Pitchfork:
Their first collaborative single, “Like I Used To,” lives up to its potential, plays to their strengths, and still manages to pack a surprise.
Bleachers is an American indie pop act based in New York City. It is the official stage name of songwriter and record producer Jack Antonoff, who is also part of the bands Steel Train, Fun, and Red Hearse. Bleachers’ pop music is heavily influenced by the late ’80s, early ’90s and the high school-based films of John Hughes while still using modern production techniques. Their first single, “I Wanna Get Better“, was released February 18, 2014.
The world’s premier Springsteen tribute act is back with producer extraordinaire Jack Antonoff channelling the Boss into a skittery break-up song. It feels as if it’s trying to say one thing and do another, with the gang vocals attempting to build to euphoria, but coming off a bit like a bunch of lads worse for wear on the train after a match.
Instead, we featured the song Chinatown and there are several Youtube videos of this song, all with Bruce Springsteen. This is the one I liked
How did Jack Antonoff get Bruce Springsteen to play on this song? You will have to listen to the broadcast to get Bob’s reasoning which makes lots of sense.
Another great song, but outside our timeline is Roller Coaster
Their upcoming album including Chinatown and Stop Making This Hurt will be Take The Sadness Out of Saturday Night.
The Goon Sax are indie pop trio from Brisbane, Australia. Formed in 2013, the band consists of Riley Jones, Louis Forster and James Harrison.
I think Robert Christgau, (the “ Dean of US Rock criticism “) hits the nail on the head,
The Goon Sax
Up for Anything [Chapter Music, 2016] A-
We’re Not Talking [Wichita Recordings, 2018] A-
Consumer Guide Reviews:
Up for Anything [Chapter Music, 2016] My brilliant wife heard Go-Betweens in this high school band well before I learned that Robert Forster’s son Louis was a cofounder or that they were “driven” by a female drummer or even that they were Australian. Nah, I told her, though I liked them fine–too crude. And indeed, they’re cruder than even the earliest Go-Betweens, who were a university band after all, and somewhat static at their worst. Usually, however, they’re charming at least. When Louis fantasizes about a “Boyfriend” or James Harrison hates the “Telephone,” it just accentuates the specifically adolescent angst they pin down so much more candidly and affectingly than any other high school band that comes to mind. “If you don’t want to hold my sweaty hands / I completely understand”? Pretty mature, in its way. A-
We’re Not Talking [Wichita Recordings, 2018] Although Louis Forster takes fewer leads on this young threesomes’s smoother and trickier follow-up, their unpretentious affect, plain guitar, and flat groove still recall the early years of his dad’s Go-Betweens. True, Louis reports that he’s barely heard them. But I doubt de facto frontman James Harrison was so cautious, and can imagine drummer Riley Jones learning that Lindy Morrison never stepped up to the mike and deciding she’d better: “I don’t want distance / When distance always seems to be the thing / That comes and hurts us.” In any case, a university art band they’re not. Instead they’re still reflecting on adolescence with a humility and concentration that hurts. No one’s calling but they’re not picking up the phone. Passing your bus stop hurts even though they know you need time to yourself. Come to think on it, they “never knew what love meant” anyway. Yet already mortality impends in the form of “piles of books I’ll never read / And a list of things I’ll never be.” Twelve songs in half an hour that say more than they pretend and plenty they may only intuit. A-
Comparisons to the Go- Betweens are unavoidable. Here’s a neat little 5 minute bio with Louis Forster’s dad Robert.
Japanese Breakfast – Paprika
This is the second act that Bob and I were both planning to feature for this show. Here are some selected quotes from Exclaim Magazine.
“When the world divides into two people / Those who have felt pain and those who have yet to,” Michelle Zauner sings during the aching ballad “Posing in Bondage.” It’s clear that she falls into the former camp, but Jubilee, her third album as Japanese Breakfast, dances the pain away. Whether it’s the fashionable funk of “Be Sweet” and “Slide Tackle,” the stately Beirut horns of “Paprika,” or the honeyed pop classicism of “Kokomo, IN” and “Tactics,” Jubilee is always tinged with melancholy but never defeated by it.
I couldn’t find a good version of Paprika on Youtube so instead here is her performance on the Tonight Show with Be Sweet from the same album.
On the background to new album Showtunes, converting guitar into piano sounds, continuing to embrace technology and broadening his range of collaborators
Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner (Photo: Angelina Castillo)
As frontman of Lambchop for the best part of the last 30 years, Kurt Wagner has pursued a long, satisfying musical journey where developments within the band’s sound have been gradual and considered. Yet, there have also been discreet nods to different genres along the way, pleasing embellishments and expansions to their core alt-country aesthetic. New album Showtunes provides another stylistic detour of sorts, building on the fresh direction put in place on 2019’s This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You) and 2016’s FLOTUS as Wagner takes indirect inspiration from showtunes, American standards from the first half of the 20th century.
These aren’t covers or close appropriations however, but rather typically impressionistic pieces that bring together Wagner’s songwriting strengths and his broader interest in musical experimentation. Given the sense of progression that has defined Lambchop’s recent releases it feels oddly apt that when we catch up with Wagner to talk about the album, the conversation begins on a travel-related note. “I’m out here in Las Vegas visiting my in-laws at the moment. We haven’t seen them in quite a while, so we just drove on out here. It feels weird to actually travel. I haven’t been on an interstate for over a year. It feels like things are transitioning with the pandemic. Having driven across the country, it feels like we’re on the cusp of a lot of people getting out and about.”
Mahamadou Souleymane, known professionally as Mdou Moctar (also M.dou Mouktar; born c. 1986 or 1984) is a Tuareg songwriter and musician based in Agadez, Niger, and is one of the first musicians to perform modern electronic adaptations of Tuareg guitar music. He first became famous through a trading network of cellphones and memory cards in West Africa.
If it were up to Mdou Moctar, the fiery, psychedelic rock music that has made him one of the most respected guitarists working today would be kept far away from professional recording studios. “With all due respect to all engineers,” the Tuareg virtuoso recently confessed to Reverb, “I find it much too square.” Late last year, the Nigerien musician gathered his bandmates outside a friend’s house in Niamey to test out material from Afrique Victime in a more comfortable environment. In the open air, the quartet quickly attracted an audience: adults dancing, children air-drumming, and others just watching in awe as Moctar’s songs ascended and burst in the desert sky like fireworks. As Sam Sodomsky writes in his Best New Music review: “You get the sense that when the lights go down and he looks out at his audience, he doesn’t just see his community: He sees the future.”
His first guitar was made from wood and bicycle parts and his first songs were shared via Bluetooth in the desert. But the Niger musician has become international – and is taking aim at France
How do you even dream of making music when your family and religious leaders disapprove, when you live at the edge of the Sahara desert, and you cannot afford an instrument?
It helps that the Tuareg musician Mdou Moctar, from Niger, is not easily discouraged. Unable to acquire a guitar, he made one out of a piece of wood with brake wires from an old bicycle for strings, and taught himself to play in secret. “I was from a religious family and music was not welcome, but I would go and listen to local musicians and dream of being like them,” the 32-year-old singer-songwriter says over the phone while on tour in the US.
“My parents didn’t have the means to buy me an instrument and wouldn’t have done so. To them, becoming a musician would mean I was a delinquent, a terrible person drinking beer and taking drugs. I never told them I wanted to play the guitar, I didn’t dare. So I made one.”
The next challenge was reaching an audience. Moctar, born in the village of Abalak in the Azawagh desert of northern Niger, began playing at weddings, singing in Tamasheq, the Tuareg language. His first album Anar – composed for a lost love – was recorded in Nigeria in 2008: it introduced Moctar’s simple, raw guitar sound and haunting lyrics, a style known locally as “assouf”, a word that does not easily translate, but evokes desert blues. Anar wasn’t officially released; instead, it spread across the continent via Bluetooth swaps between mobile phone data cards.
Mdou Moctar – Full Performance (Live on KEXP)
Mdou Moctar immediately stands out as one of the most innovative artists in contemporary Saharan music. His unconventional interpretations of Tuareg guitar and have pushed him to the forefront of a crowded scene. Mdou shreds with a relentless and frenetic energy that puts his contemporaries to shame.
James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg – Reel Around the Fountain
James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg are an instrumental duo who play original compositions and a stunning diverse set of cover songs. Who would think of covering The Smith’s, “Reel Around the Fountain”?
Here’s the original version juxtaposed to scenes from the film, “Atonement.” I guess both song and film have fountains?
Nathan Salsburg is also the Curator of the Alan Lomax Archive at the Association for Cultural Equity. This is the website. It is definitely worth diving into.
I mentioned Brador in passing. In celebration of June 24th, here is a stubby of Brador!