Ann Marlowe

  • Rock at Princeton

    REALIZING THAT “Youth Music and Youth Culture,” a Princeton conference last November, was actually about the 20th-century cultural hegemony of African-Americans was like seeing for the first time that Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner only masquerades as a human/android love story and is actually a movie about the historical wounds of slavery. Asking how “we” can tell the difference between a human and a replicant, and what the rights of a replicant might be, Blade Runner is really preoccupied with the alienness of blacks and whites to one another, and the inhumanity of whites to blacks. That it takes

  • Rap Hermeneutics

    THE PUBLIC ENEMY T-SHIRT worn by Terminator 2’s young hero John Connor aligns him with “resistance” in some vague form, but hardly with an underground. After all, everyone knows who Public Enemy are, or their name wouldn’t be in a big-money entertainment aimed at a nation of millions. The shirt works as a Stones T-shirt might have in 1970, but not as a Sex Pistols T-shirt would have in 1980. It functions like the Guns N’ Roses song on the sound track: we’re hip, the filmmakers are saying, but accessible. (And we contain multitudes, from Axl to PE’s Chuck D.) Yet this shirt is far more richly

  • Platonic Rock

    The damming of the stream of real life, the moment when its flow comes to a standstill, makes itself felt as reflux: this reflux is astonishment.

    —Walter Benjamin

    PUNK CLAIMED, OR THREATENED, that anyone could be extraordinary, and that even the crudest musical performance might be extraordinary for those who witnessed it. As punk itself becomes history and burden (and genre, for those who enjoy dressing up in the costumes of the time), these claims seem to have been reduced to the premises that you don’t have to be exceptional to participate in rock and that a musical experience doesn’t have to