Required Reading #1

I'm starting up a new regular feature here at "Atonal Notes." Every week (or so) I'm going to post up a list of articles relevant to a radical take on music, poetry, theater and other topics discussed at this blog. Obviously, it's impossible for the small staff of writers and bloggers at Red Wedge to cover anything and everything within our purview, so perhaps this "Required Reading" feature will be a way to drawing readers' attention toward solid outside material.

That being said, we'll see how long this lasts. Here we go:

  1. Independent musician Carl Magnes has a piece up at Jacobin on how badly musicians and artists are exploited by the festival circuit. This cuts against a lot of the myths tossed around that even mid-level bands have somehow "made it" when they're able to hit the road for significant periods of time. A worthwhile read on the topic of art and labor.
  2. On a similar note, there's been a flurry of opposition popping up here in Chicago to this year's Riot Fest. I admit it: I attended last year's festival and the one before. I had a good time at both of them. But the damage done to Humboldt Park -- a large, public facility mostly used by the surrounding working-class and Puerto Rican communities -- was far beyond acceptable. Local residents have been organizing against the proposal for this year's festival. There are three things that should be read on this. Kenzo Shibata's piece at HuffPo does a good job laying out how the fest is a prime example of corrupt public-private partnerships. The DNAinfo piece illustrates some of the waves that the organizing has been making in Humboldt itself. Lastly, there's the petition at, which provides a blow-by-blow of the economic and ecological damage done to the community. You should sign it.
  3. Boots Riley is making a film. It's got the same title as the Coup's most recent album, based on his time as a telemarketer and will incorporate sci-fi, surrealism and dark comedy. I could say more but honestly, why bother? That should be enough to build up the anticipation.
  4. Contemporary poetry has constructed itself into a prison house. That's the basic thrust of Felix Bernstein's recent post at Hyperallergic. There's a potential blindspot in the piece, namely that in focusing on poetry connected to the "art world" as such, it runs the risk of giving the impression that nothing good is happening in poetry. Anyone reading the newly released anthology The BreakBeat Poets can attest to that. Nonetheless, Bernstein's post is informative in its take on how poetry's postmodern cul de sac is informed by the same self-fetishization and rarefication endemic in the art world.
  5. The UK elections are over, and they've ended with bad news. I sincerely enjoyed reading this piece from veteran rock critic David Stubbs at the Quietus on the history of political engagement on the part of British pop music. It goes well beyond the usual mentions, and also serves to remind that there is more complexity to the notion of any given era's musicians being "political" or not.
If capitalism is performative, then the revolution will be a masterpiece. "Atonal Notes" is Red Wedge editor Alexander Billet's blog on music, poetry and performance. Follow: @UbuPamplemousse