Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Hully Gee --whatever the hell that means --Geppi's Entertainment Museum of downtown Baltimore is one classy display of childlike memorabilia. They have toys and fun-stuffs categorized by era and type. Most of all, they have rare, interesting, and poignant comics that chronicle popular society and business. While cartoons are childlike, gross exaggerations and absurd in just about every way, Geppi's Museum presents an almost academic view of the cartoon: how it sells, what it sells and has sold, who done it, and what came from where. Geppi's not only familiarizes its audience with popular culture, it informs us of many others like us and not like us vicariously through what once "sold" to the public.

Although it was the last thing I saw before the gift shop, the small gallery of duck art caught me as a current fan of ducks and a long time fan of Scrooge McDuck (possibly the best character name ever). Everything else I sort of knew about, gawked at a bit, and moved on but I felt a special affinity for reading about Scrooge McDuck. I wished there were more about him and his epic adventures and legendary greed but was forced to begrudgingly move on. Scrooge McDuck sold to me.

Well that isn't entirely true, the bit alluding to general apathy. I was mostly unaware of Buster Brown and felt his design as a character was quite excellent. And what's more is that he was in the same room with Yellow Kid, a highly repulsive character meant to contrast the class difference between Yellow Kid and Buster Brown (high class v. lower class English). The blunt style to which Yellow Kid was utilized to sell things was comical (this booze is great, these smokes are the finest, buy the paper suckers!) in a way that polarized the gist of Buster Brown (Resolve: I shall refer to my male part as a tie to which I'd like to assist a female in dressing with). Both characters were utilized for sale to the markets that they ridiculed.

I suppose the same can be said of comics after the fall of racist propaganda. The stereotypical reader of comics is not particularly heroic or even athletic; heroes often battle social outcasts and people whom are quite abnormal. While media commentary of this sort is not the main of a Geppi's experience it can certainly inspire such thought, which I believe is their intent. It's quite difficult and certainly impressive to accumulate fine examples of human pop culture from the last two centuries. There's only so much room to show an audience what's important, all of which is not adequate to the vast bounds of understanding there is to be had about the subjects discussed in each piece of work. Geppi's presents material with the hope of giving patrons a deeper interest in what is and has been so damn entertaining.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Intellectual Freedoms

I hereby declare that my course topic for AMST 325 is Negativland.
They're a late '70s experimental music group who still exist in their same copyright fighting fashion. They're the granddaddies of mash-up, mixing, and sound manipulation; while not all their tracks are the most lyrical or melodic pieces in the annals of music history they're still pretty important. They're important for music and beyond, as their works pertain to popular media and the industry of it. They've reached out and touched the big guys (in a less than pleasurable way): Pepsi, Disney, U2 & Island Records, the general news media, and the gub'ment. I'm a big fan of a group related to them, a later '80s mash-up group more interesting in the way that their material is catchy and musical: Evolution Control Committee. In spite of this importance, however, I have been unable to get "into" the sound of Negativland. I have a hard time sharing it with others and generally liking it too. I certainly respect what I know about the group. I appreciate the wonderful tricks they've played, what they stand for, and the fun that they poke at big media. I chose Negativland because I like them and I don't. It's occurred to me recently that I might even have a shot at getting a few words from them as I move on through the course; they're the type of people that enjoy spreading information from what I can tell. Either way, I feel this group will prove to be excellent material pertaining to their importance to and within the context of Popular Culture™.