A year ago, I wrote my first post You Don't Miss Google Reader, You Miss College because my friend Steven Buss was getting dragged by graybeards for daring to say that Google Reader was canned because the internet changed. This kicked off a year of writing, thinking, and map-making. Over the past year, I have written about expanding the House of Representatives, Build Back Better, rural America, Airlines, satellite imagery, and a bunch of other topics. Thank you all for reading, sharing, and discussing my posts. It has meant the world to me to be able to share my work with you all.
Here is to another year of geography, technology, politics, and culture! Here is a map for a series that I have been planning on doing, but has sat in my to-be-used folder for the last 3 months. I will eventually get around to writing it.
Taylor Swift and Emo
I posted a tweet thread this morning while the US is asleep, but it is going to get deleted in a week due to my tweet deletion script. So, I am going to rehash it here and expand on it here.
In one of my favorite songs on one of my favorite albums, Cursive has a banger series of lines at the end of the first verse. (Okay the full lyrics are to die for, but I can only post a few lines in good faith.)
Fall in love to fail
To boost your CD sales
And that CD sells
(Yeah, what a hit)
You've got to repeat it
You gotta sink to swim
—“Art is Hard” by Cursive off of The Ugly Organ
The Cursive song is sometimes thought to be a commentary about rock critics and fans who require artists to go through cycles of self-destruction for their music to be “real” or about Cursive’s contemporaries Bright Eyes and Dashboard Confessional who were known for their breakup songs. I personally think Tim Kasher is writing about himself here because Cursive’s previous album, Domestica, was a concept album about a relationship falling apart that mirrored Kasher’s divorce. How could he top it for their next album?
Released in 2003, the song is a weird herald to the rise of mid-2000s pop-emo. The next year MCR released Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and the year after Fall Out Boy released From Under the Cork Tree. While they were at the peak of their popularity in 2006, Taylor Swift released her debut self-titled album. Because of how they are contemporaries it is easy for me to think of the two as somewhat linked.
In some ways, without knowing it, “Art is Hard” speaks to Swift. Like her punk-influenced contemporaries, Swift was, at the time, known for ripped-from-a-diary confessional lyrics about love lost. There was a time where it seemed that she needed her relationships to fall apart to write her next album. Fans were expecting a kind of musical content.
Unlike emo artists, she is a woman. While Jawbreaker, Hawthorne Heights, Fall Out Boy, etc. were praised for doing this, Swift faced a backlash in the wider culture. I think this is an example of people hating things that teenage girls like. Swift’s main audience in the mid-2000s was millennial women. To make it worse it was millennial women who enjoy country music. The off repeated line from that era was “I like all kinds of music except rap and country”.
What makes dredging this up in 2021 with the release of the re-recorded version of Red is how out of date it is and the fact that Red, of all albums, is the flashpoint.
like any great popular performer, Swift’s music changed as tastes change. Red, released in 2012, is the last Swift album with ripped-from-a-diary confessional lyrics and the last that could be charitably described as country music. Through her Pop and Folk phases, Swift has embraced much more conventional, but no less personal, storytelling.1 She even lampooned the perception of her as someone who does what Cursive talks about on her next album, 1989.
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They'll tell you I'm insane
But I've got a blank space, baby
And I'll write your name
—“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift off of 1998
I can’t think of a song where she trashed an ex-partner in the same confessional way in a top-10 hit since Red. The album is a turning point in Swift’s career.
You should listen to the new version of Red. I think she made every track on the album better in some way.
Apologies for missing Thursday’s post and pushing Tuesday’s to Wednesday. It has been a busy time here in Denmark. Last Saturday was the Marine Corps Birthday Ball here in Copenhagen. It was a lovely time and my first time seeing the Marine Corps cake cutting ceremony. Happy belated birthday USMC! Thank you for your commitment to keeping the United States and its diplomats safe.
The day after, my wife started to come down with, what we now know is, a cold. She then passed it along to me. We got tested last week and it, thankfully, is not COVID. This is the first time that I have been sick in close to two years. For the amount that I dislike social distancing and masking, they have kept me healthy for the COVID pandemic.
On top of this, our household effects (HHE) shipment arrived. This is the second to last of our four shipments to arrive here and contains most of our stuff. The downside is that we have been trying to unpack, put things away, and put artwork on the walls as quickly as possible to make our house presentable for the holidays.
100 Wikipedia Maps in 100 Days
I figured that it would be quite hypocritical for me to talk about the dismal cartography on Wikipedia without making some myself. My goal is to illustrate 100 articles with maps in the next 100 days. Here are the articles I made since I put out my article.
And each of the phases of Truman’s campaign that never got used, but I want to show off anyways
I sometimes think that Folk is Country music for liberals without the flag-waving, Jesus, or actual poverty, but that is another post for another day