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A search for black voices in music writing / by David Turner

The weather outside was getting colder. I could tell it would be one of the worst winters I’d ever known. It was my last year at Elon University and facing the stress of academic life ending, I grabbed whatever books I could find. I wanted to try and shut out nature and my overwhelming school commitments, and get lost in something. So I did.

At the end of 2012 and into 2013 I began freelancing first for Pitchfork, and then slowly my byline started appearing in Complex, Noisey, Spin and a few other publications. Every new place offered a new tone and separate lens to try and approach music criticism. But last summer the critical discourse I found myself within caused increasing frustrations. I felt I was constantly in private conversations about the whiteness pervading most music criticism, and rap in particular. In a world where so many conversations happening amongst music writers happen in public on Twitter, I felt unsure of the potential ramifications of being more explicit and public in my critique. It is one thing to air out criticism of the technical aspects of another writer, but to bring up an issue that called into question their own lack of racial understanding felt too much for public discourse.

But once school was out, with the fullness of a summer day to tune into the music writing world, I saw the reality of just how few black, and general other POC, wrote for most of the sites I read be it the New York Times Arts sections, local weeklies back home in North Carolina or even sites I wrote for like Pitchfork or Noisey. It became the daily routine of checking to see if any underrepresented voice either by race, gender or sexuality appeared in these publications. I was (and am) often disappointed at the constant lack of diversity. That I felt a bit of an outsider among these sites was not particularly new, but the more I read pieces on black music it became clearer just how much their experience with the music fundamentally didn’t line-up with mine. These white writers clearly knew the history of rap music, but they noticeably did not understand opening your eyes to the world and to look down and see black skin.

To find direction for all of . . .

The new Laura Poitras film covers Edward Snowden, the NSA, and surveillance / by Liz Pelly

Edward Snowden's breath is getting heavier. He's sprawled out on a bed of luxe white hotel pillows, but appears the opposite of relaxed. His eyes are fixed on the television behind frameless glasses. Glenn Greenwald is on the news, giving an interview. Greenwald had been in the same hotel room himself earlier, but now he's on CNN answering questions about the massive NSA secrets he has just made public via Snowden, a former employee of the National Security Agency. Snowden's chest rises and falls and rises and falls like he's just run a race. He appears nervous, excited, and most of all, amused.

The power of director Laura Poitras' new film, CitizenFour, is in these intimate wordless glimpses at the body language of the 29-year-old, just after he's risked a great deal in the name of

revealing injustice. The film largely chronicles in vivid detail the 8-day period in June 2013 at Hong Kong's Mira Hotel, where Snowden debriefed journalists Greenwald (previously a blogger for Salon) and Ewen MacAskill (a reporter for The Guardian) on the massive secret surveillance program being run by the National Security Agency. "I will be in the corner of the restaurant with a rubix cube, ask me the hours of the restaurant" Snowden had told Poitras via an encrypted email, when suggesting the collaboration in Hong Kong. They reportedly communicated for five months before she even knew his name; 'CitizenFour' is the secret alias under which Snowden initially reached out.

The historical moments that make up CitizenFour are the kind rarely captured on film -- and so

the whole thing plays out kind of like a combination between scripted '76 Watergate film All The President's Men and a futuristic sci-fi drama, but it's entirely real. We see everything from the moment Snowden reveals his identity to MacAskill, to the point when he guides the two reporters through his hard drive of secret NSA documents. We see Snowden walking Greenwald through how to encrypt email. We see him chatting on his laptop with his girlfriend after the FBI has started looking for him, unsure of what's to come in the following hours and days. We observe Glenn Greenwald's journalistic trajectory on the story, of processing what's been leaked to him, and boiling it into stories about the documents versus stories about Snowden.

"I'll come out, just to go . . .

There's a party and we're all going / by Steven Spoerl


by Pandora Christ
Mind funeral.

by Faye Orlove
A very scary Halloween.

by Laurie Spector
An interview with Priests' Katie Alice Greer.

by Steven Spoerl
Split Feet, Ex Hex, and Speedy Ortiz in Chicago.

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