Saturday, August 30, 2008

The New Job

I have a number of people ask me about "how the new job is going" and I always answer, "Very well", which is true. Of course that is about as spartan as I could be, but it also convenient. It's been two weeks and to go deep into detail about how lucky I feel and how impressed I am with my colleagues just seems gushing. However, it's how I feel. I feel lucky and happy to be here.

First, I have had more interesting conversations with faculty about media that they like/love than any place since I was at Northwestern as a Graduate Student. I have my theories about this, but I will say that without naming places and persons I have worked with a number of colleagues who are positioned as media scholars who don't really seem to like it that much. This isn't the majority by any means, but I am often stunned by how negative critique dominates our field. At its worst I tend to hear about what PhDs hate rather than what they love. If I can be grateful for one thing, most everyone I know in my department is a lover fist and hater second.

With the new job comes new research agendas that I am pursuing. Right now I am developing a long-term project on popular music in the age of the end-user which will study and argue for an understanding of another economic and techno-structural change of popular music industry. If this sounds like something I have argued before, well, guess what, I have. However the difference now is I am in the middle of that change and this change has yet to completely play itself out. By the way, if you want to read about my last argument it's in my book Making Easy Listening. I am not above shameless plugs.

What I have been doing is surveying a mile of literature on "network societies", "social media", etc. It's great to start a new project. It's even better to understand that the field of literature is yet-to-be defined. "New Media Studies", which is a term that makes me gag for a variety of reasons, is wide open. My foot is in the door and, yes, I will be one of those people who make you gag in the future.

The New Job has also exposed me to the world The American South. Teaching in Indiana and Ohio I had to learn a kind of lingua franca that included understood a world of Amish people, Big State U Football, a distrust of Urbanity and a kind of given homogeneity. Working in a southern city, however, has reconfigured my sense of culture and history. From gaslights to BBQ to student-teacher relations (a couple of students insist, rather openly, on calling me "Professor", which I always discourage). It's a new world.

On the issue of pop music: I have yet to really listen to anything new in a long time. BY new I mean new pop. Moving for the billionth time I have learned to just ball up and listen to standards. I have been downloading a lot of older Calypso music (Lord Kitchener is spending a lot of time on my playlists as of late), but mainly it's AC/DC, Augustus Pablo and Felt. Somewhere there may be a psychologist who can figure out why those three, but I don't have enough money to afford him or her, I am certain.

I am certain that once I get uncoiled, perhaps when we sell the house and get the family out here (again, another year of separation from the family), then my ears will be a little more open. Right now I will just stick with learning the New Job, enjoy it and if I run into anything new in the musical vein then I will let you all know.

By the way, that doesn't mean I won't be posting. Expect more of those with a few new projects such as the one I mentioned in my last post ("The Lion's Share") as well as much on my new research issues. It turns out that this IS part of my new job as well. :-)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Ventures in Old Virginia

Ok, now I may have some time to blog. This is my first post in I don't know how long. That's both good and bad. Bad in the sense that the reason that I was unable to blog was that I was with my family and now I am living in a small room in Norfolk with my roommates. Yes, I miss my wife and my family in a terrible fashion. There is no substitute for the loving business that family provides. I couldn't blog much, if at all this summer, but I did get a lot of love.

However, it is a gift. I have a job, a good one at that, with a great set of colleagues whom I admire and seem to get along with. Also, unlike some past gigs, Old Dominion is intensely multicultural and, well, the weather is good (for now!). The university has a sense of mission, the likes of which I have never experienced and everyone has been very helpful so far. Frankly, I am very lucky. My classes start on Monday and I will be doing some things I have never done before. I can hardly wait.

One new venture will be something I am working that is titled "The Lion's Share" for now. I won't go too far into it other than to say it will be good fun and intended to build a scholarly community. My research will begin to blossom unless something terrible happens and, well, if that happens then that is life. And, finally, I am getting to live in the South, which is something I have always wanted to try. All and all it is a good thing.

As for media: well, the best thing I have heard this year is the new Girl Talk release (is it a CD, LP, Album... who knows?),Feed the Animals. Not profound, but over-the-top in terms of pleasure. The best concert I have seen all year, in fact the best one I have seen in probably 20 years was Gogol Bordello at the Newport in Columbus, Ohio. I won't even try to describe it other than to say it is a gypsy rock spiritual that everyone should see at least once. And the best dance... well, it was the Chicken Dance I did with my wife at our wedding.

Surprise movies: Be Kind, Rewind and Speed Racer.
Movies I saw that I enjoyed a ton: The Dark Knight and The Lady from Shanghai.
Movies I look forward to: Wall-E, Water Lillies and Tropic Thunder.

TV: Learned to love The Deadliest Catch and Dr. Phil; Learned to Loathe The Price is Right (Drew Carey is just horrific on that show); Still love those Sonic Drive-In Commercials and the Menard's guy.

Will miss: Mike Ricordati and constant Buckeye football coverage (even if you don't love the Bucks, it becomes the way you follow the seasons in Central Ohio); Massey's and Ange's Pizza; Studio 35 and the Wexner; The Wiggles (but they will be in my life soon).

Ok, will post on some actual issues that are pertinent to you all soon!