Origins Of Fear/Hatred Of Disco Part Deux

By Tim Ivison


This marks part two of “Origins of Fear/Hatred of Disco” edited and serialized for Facsimile Magazine. Originally a message board thread that evolved over the last three years on I Love Music (, “Origins of Fear/Hatred of Disco” is a volatile, solipsistic, hyperbolic, and often maddening conversation about the reasons behind a particular kind of vitriolic hate for Disco Music. Like many I Love Music threads, the conversation is constantly derailed by tangents, inane opinion and blatant flame-bating. Somewhere amongst all the confusion, though, this thread transcends the usual digressions, offering a compelling, insightful, and rewarding debate of dance music semiotics, technology, sexuality and class. Part one is a build-up that established most, but not all of the main protagonists of the conversation, with a good deal of personal reflection on the disco era. Part two delves deeper into technical and sexual politics, introducing the more academic and theoretical threads of the debate. To skip ahead, add to the debate, or read the complete unedited text; Click Here...


I actually don't fully subscribe to the Empire of the Beat equation. I think the related 'unnatural' qualities of homosexuals and machines (and by extension disco) have more to do with their challenge of origin myths (whose privileging is also related to logocentrism and the obsession with authenticity).
-- Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:17 (2 years ago)

some very ingrained form of puritanism. Again, subconscious. People don't have to be outwardly religious to have this mindset. It's hard to describe, but I think that's getting at it. (or am I?)
-- donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:18 (2 years ago)

A lot of this can seem pretty off-topic, but I would say that the disco era really put these ideas and anxieties on full display. This whole discussion has got me craving the new Daft Punk album for a number of reasons!
-- Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:19 (2 years ago)

thx for clearing that up Spencer (the "unnatural" thing didn't occur to me at all - mostly cuz the whole judgment of something being "unnatural" seems fundamentally flawed to me). Now I can go back to fantasizing about my new, healthy, all-natural gay robot-a-go-go band, the Sperm Trees.
-- Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:29 (2 years ago)

First of all, give up the idea that hatred against disco had anything to do with racism or homophobia. It didn't. Not at all.

There were several other good reasons for people to dislike it though:

  1. Rockers felt threatened by the polished sound, completely free of noisy guitars
  2. Prog fans disliked it for the same reason they had also disliked bubblegum and the teen oriented glam stuff, and would later dislike punk: It was too musically simple
  3. People preoccupied with rock ideology disliked the fact that there were people behind caring more about constructing hits to bring them money rather than about making good music.

-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:43 (2 years ago)

I'm kidding, I do not have a new all gay-robot band called the Sperm Trees.



-- Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:44 (2 years ago)

And, yes, indeed (and some of you funk fans seem to ignore): Funk fans disliked it because the disco beats were too simple and too machine-like.
-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:45 (2 years ago)

I don't doubt that all those reasons are correct at the subtext level, Geir, but the real reason is what Matos and Chuck have suggested: the bottom fell out of the market, supply exceeded demand, etc. It's simple economics. (By the way, straight males might have listened to Sylvester and Chic's "Real People" album more carefully if they'd realized they would have gotten laid if they'd danced to those hits. Most indie boys nowadays know that dancing - well or badly - makes you 10 times hotter. Here in Miami we have the swishy mid '90s Britpop to thank for that development).
-- Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:47 (2 years ago)

Of course, disco lived on in a way. Those 80s soul weekenders were pretty close to disco, as was a lot of 80s Europop. And today you will hear artists from Daft Punk to Annie using discofied 4/4 beats. But the original disco sound, with strings and all, more or less died in the late 70s/very early 80s.
-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:58 (2 years ago)

The supposed subconscious machinephobia = gayphobia thing still completely eludes me. (and this ranks with the more cryptic comments I've ever seen on ILM: "the related 'unnatural' qualities of homosexuals and machines (and by extension disco) have more to do with their challenge of origin myths (whose privileging is also related to logocentrism and the obsession with authenticity)") What if I explained to you that the disco sucks crowd was way more likely to be working on automobile assembly lines than to be, uh, Amish or something? People in the Rustbelt LOVE machines; machines are their LIFE. (Why the hell do you think techno and house were invented there, for Crissakes?) ROCK MUSIC depends on machines -- or at the loud heavy kind that came from Detroit always did. (And a lot of it, from Iggy to Alice Cooper was blatantly androgynous, too. Detroit rock fans had no problem with Bowie singing "Panic in Detroit," either -- and Bowie's diamond-dog decadence blatantly influenced disco, as well.) So sorry, I don't buy it.
-- xhuxk, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 22:59 (2 years ago)

Spencer, read the essay before ascribing an "Empire of the Beat" equation. He's talking about stuff a lot differently than we are here (as I keep pointing out!)

xpost that proves my point!
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:01 (2 years ago)

Chuck as per usual, we'll just have to agree to disagree. There are a number of texts that elaborate on this theory so I know I'm not out of my mind - or at least I'm not alone, haha. What is cryptic about it? For the record, I do not think that homosexuals and machines are 'unnatural'.
-- Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:03 (2 years ago)

For the record, my dad may have hated "I feel love" because he found it machine-like but he did not hate gays. He did kind of hate machines, now that I think about it. And all this talk about disco, machines and gays cannot lumber forward another step without a mention of "There But for The Grace Of God Go I" by MACHINE which is, in and of itself, a version of this very discussion...
-- Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:03 (2 years ago)

Carlos and Carmen Vidal just had a child
A lovely girl with a crooked smile
Now they gotta split 'cause the Bronx ain't fit
For a kid to grow up in
Let's find a place they say, somewhere far away
With no blacks, no Jews and no gays

There but for the grace of God go I

Poppy and the family left the dirty streets
To find a quiet place overseas
And year after year the kid has to hear
The do's the don'ts and the dears
And when she's ten years old she digs that rock 'n' roll
But Poppy bans it from home


Baby, she turns out to be a natural freak
Popping pills and smoking weed
And when she's sweet sixteen she packs her things and leaves
With a man she met on the street
Carmen starts to bawl, bangs her head to the wall
Too much love is worse than none at all


-- Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:05 (2 years ago)

I can see how someone would think gays are "unnatural", and I can see how someone would think machines are "unnatural" - but those POVs don't seem to actually overlap or complement each other (unless we're talking about Puritan Luddite grandpas here, which we obviously are not since, as chuck points out, it wasn't the Amish leading the "disco sucks" charge)


-- Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:05 (2 years ago)

Fritz, the hatreds do not necessarily go hand in hand, but there are interesting parallels and they often overlapped especially during the disco period.
-- Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:06 (2 years ago)

Cryptic (translate into comprehensible english, ok thanks):

  • - challenge of origin myths
  • - privileging
  • - logocentrism
  • - obsession with authentic

(I get the idea you might be taking an interesting idea and turning it boring; I just have no idea what the idea *is*, because you haven't remotely explained it.)
-- xhuxk, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:10 (2 years ago)

hell, the disco sucksters all had CB RADIOS, dude! AND quadrophonic speakers!
-- xhuxk, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:12 (2 years ago)

Like I said Chuck, I unfortunately don't have the time to elaborate at the moment (but I fully plan to!). Sorry about the "boring" and "cryptic" terminology.
-- Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:12 (2 years ago)

The thing about the rustbelt is that the folks in it heavily prize rugged individualism (haha I'm also talking about this on ILE, Let's talk about the non- pop culture pop culture enjoyed by Real Amurricans in the '70s.) whatever their contact with machines. Midwesterners love cars because cars = freedom--and also for more practical reasons, but we're talking about romantic iconography here. And for plenty of rust-belters, or at least the ones I grew up around, freedom was exemplified by rock (autonomous prime creators) rather than disco (machine-tooled, lockstep, collaborative, with often hidden or "faceless" auteurs who lacked "personality," and never mind the exact same thing could have been said of Foreigner--see also racism/sexism/classism above).
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:14 (2 years ago)

i'm looking forward to the explanation sans others personal issues with being bored or not understanding
-- Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:17 (2 years ago)

sorry--the "above" at the end was meant to refer back to something I deleted from the post. I'm just thinking about the people I grew up around (people in their early-mid-20s at the most, my mother had me as a teenager), and realizing how completely racist, sexist, and homophobic a lot of them were. All of which factors in, to me, as part of the disco backlash when in fact much of the era's rock had many of the same exact musical qualities (or lack thereof) that the anti-discoids detested.
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:20 (2 years ago)

Does anyone remember "no synthesizers were used on this recording" stickers? I seem to recall seeing it on some vinyl rock records (maybe a Boston record - but I'm guessing).
-- Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:25 (2 years ago)

Queen! (until they started using synthesizers)
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:25 (2 years ago)

Tesla's actually always used to say "no machines were used on this recording"! Which is pretty weird, seeing how they were named after the guy who invented the alternating current motor, and their albums all had names like Mechanical Resonance and The Great Radio Controversy.
-- xhuxk, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:30 (2 years ago)

Boston would be pretty weird too, since M.I.T. genius Tom Scholz was clearly the biggest techie in the history of rock music (he even invented the Rockman, so you can walk around playing guitar without plugging it in or something).
-- xhuxk, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:32 (2 years ago)

I think hatred of synths had nothing to do with homophobia (who knows how many disco haters even were aware of its roots, anyway) and everything to do with an aversion to/fear of assembly-line, mass-produced, soulless music.
-- ()ops (()()ps), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:35 (2 years ago)

you could say that about string sections, too, but the point is that rock = masculine for a lot of the people I'm talking about.
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:37 (2 years ago)

There's always this pop glam rock bridge between disco and rock in the mid 70s that's always grossly overlooked.. mainly in the UK.. Sweet, Angel, Heavy Metal Kids, Johnny Kongos, Gary Glitter, etc. that sort of invented what we call "American Sports Rock".. Queen fortified it. It's an interesting paradox.

()ops, synths were the absolute shit in rock circles in the 70s.. as were vocoders. Get one Frampton Comes Alive!
-- donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:37 (2 years ago)

So anyway, all this is adding up to is that rock was conflicted and contradictory about its impulses toward presenting itself as "real". But then again, so was disco -- at least once "soulfulness" of vocals (loleatta holloway, etc) became an on-again off-again obsession. (cheryl lynn and sylvester had big hits ABOUT feeling real.) and so is every other kind of western popular music. Maybe rock in the disco-sucks late '70s was just more *neurotic* about it, but it was hardly alone. (disco sucks basically IS hair metal sucks, when you get down to it. sylvester was a poison fan; he would totally agree with me.)
-- xhuxk, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:40 (2 years ago)

Well then why the "no synths used" stickers? it's not as if "rock circles" is this monolithic entity, and every person who bought a rock album in the 70s liked and thought the same things.
-- ()ops (()()ps), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:40 (2 years ago)

The post disco-sucks era is, of course, when things got REALLY interesting and the robots took over completely. Things always get so good when nobody is looking.
-- scott seward (scott seward), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:47 (2 years ago)

Yeah but Chuck my sense is that while obviously disco divadom goes back before disco solidified as a genre, back then it was more like "church-bred R&B singing" or whatever; the "disco diva" as a vocal type didn't really come into its own till Donna Summer or so, and I'd say it didn't become solidified into an archetype till around the time "disco died," just like the Grateful Dead's music didn't become really psychedelic until after they'd left Haight-Ashbury. (and Scott is basically otm, but there's been loads of discussion and agreement about that on ILM for years now!)
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:49 (2 years ago)

yeah but Chuck my sense is that while obviously disco divadom goes back before disco solidified as a genre, back then it was more like "church-bred R&B singing" or whatever; the "disco diva" as a vocal type didn't really come into its own till Donna Summer or so, and I'd say it didn't become solidified into an archetype till around the time "disco died,"

this completely makes sense -- just like how, in the pre-sgt. pepper's '60s, none of the rock bands ever had to bill themselves as "real rock bands"; in fact, nobody had to do that until, when, Springsteen? something like that. Maybe The Band or Creedence or Flamin Groovies did; I dunno -- but if your point is that the alleged authenticity doesn't have to advertise itself as such until it has sort of reduced itself to an *homage* to authenticity, i think I agree.
-- xhuxk, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 23:57 (2 years ago)

I think you can get at the gays/machines connection without having to strain yourself to make the "people who dislike the one also dislike the other" claim. With *electronic music* making (so this shades into but is not the same as disco, obviously) part of the imagery or rhetoric around it as an activity is that it is somehow *unnatural* because it is mediated by technology whose novelty makes its mechanical / thinglike qualities show up as marked in some way. Acoustic guitars are obviously manufactured technological artifacts too- but they don't *code* in that way, while drum machines and synths do- that's just how our culture has tended to see these things. This capacity of electronic gear to signify as more technologically mediated than other instruments is compounded by the imagery and sound design contexts (Forbidden Planet sdtrk, sci-fi films and TV shows in general) in which these instruments were first used in pop culture- a context and imagery bound up with the future. So if electronic music making is associated with the unnatural AND the futuristic, it is going to appeal to people who somehow feel themselves to be 1) "unnatural" in terms of their identity, their gender, their ability to fit in 2) have a stake in imagining a future society precisely because they feel ill at ease in the present society. I think this is a partial, maybe sketchy explanation for why proportionally gays are over-represented in sci-fi fandom, and also why there seems to be an associative link in the culture's imagination between queerness and electronic music making. You could compare this interface between the inhuman, the unnatural, the futuristic, and the queer with, say William S. Burrough's cultivation of the inhumanity of the junkie as one way of negotiating his queerness, routing it through a celebration of the artificial in terms that make it seem both repellent and yet powerful, compelling. What drag does to the authenticity of gender as something you can simulate, electronic instruments do with the capacity to create simulations of acoustically immediate "natural" sound: it reveals the "real" to be something you can manipulate and chop up and reconstruct- this is appealing (maybe falsely so) to people who regard themselves as shut out from access to a membership in the sanctioned collectivity of people who celebrate their real love with real legal marriages etc. This may or may not convince you, but it's one way of trying to connect these things together.
-- Drew Daniel (Drew Daniel), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:11 (2 years ago)

the post disco-sucks era is, of course, when things got REALLY interesting and the robots took over completely.

Well, basically, the hatred against disco ended because the same people suddenly felt even more hatred against synthpop.
-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:18 (2 years ago)

Which reminds me of something I was thinking about when trying to answer the "songs about gayness" thread. The closet is still the founding experience of most gay adolescents, and I reckon it makes you less likely to be the kind of person who grows up to be the "lead singer of rock band"- the closet is all about inhibiting yourself, not expressing or giving away what you think and feel, etc. It conditions your reflexes in ways that would probably hold you back from being a charismatic confident hey look-at-me kind of person, and from feeling comfortable taking up the first person and singing "I feel X . . . ". On the other hand, it would give an emo singer plenty of fodder for endless navel gazing self-analysis and complaining, so maybe the closet is PERFECT. But I reckon the closet would probably produce more bass players, you know, the one in the background who's not flashy, who just holds it down. Okay now I've probably totally derailed this thread so I'll shut up.
-- Drew Daniel (Drew Daniel), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:23 (2 years ago)

I still think these links to homophobia and/or racism are still clueless, and just pathetic attempts to defend a style of music that was simply musically inferior.

There were more signs of homophobia in the hatred against boybands during the late 90s, although that too, was mainly just a hatred against corporate mass-produced commercial pop.
-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:26 (2 years ago)

Geir, if you cannot honestly comprehend how "disco sucks" was homophobic (and please keep in mind that "sucks" wasn't a widespread epithet back then--it's mostly due to the "disco sucks" brigade that it became one), please stick your head back in the sand.
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:34 (2 years ago)


"musically inferior" eh? inferior to what, exactly? If you have a logically clear, non-circular, non-question-begging definition of what constitutes musical "superiority" and "inferiority", I would love to hear it.
-- Drew Daniel (Drew Daniel), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:38 (2 years ago)

Disco was musically inferior to, for instance, symphonic rock - a style of music that was musically complex and required a lot of talent to play, not to mention compose.
-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:40 (2 years ago)

When i was in "high" school in the 80's i think we paid, like, 100 dollars for a gram of coke. and it wasn't always very good. now it's like, what, ten dollars? okay, it's probably not that cheap, but it's cheaper isn't it? Kids today don't know how good they have it!
-- scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:52 (2 years ago)

Um, isn't coke really cheap nowadays? I reckon Middle American can afford it.

xpost to Geir

So I'm assuming that by your "quantity (of talent) X complexity (of form/composition) = overall superiority index" formula (which I rather charitably assume you to have though through in such a manner), you would then agree that composers of symphonies are then "musically superior" to the composers of symphonic rock, who are in turn "musically superior" to the composers of poor old disco, correct? And if so, that would mean that composers who write works that require multiple orchestras (Ives, Stockhausen and Xenakis all come to mind) are "musically superior" to people who limit themselves to just one measly old orchestra, correct? So then, I'm curious, maybe you could help me out here as I'm not quite as confident as you seem to be about gauging musical superiority-- which is "musically superior", Stockhausen's "Gruppen", Xenakis' "Duel" or Ives' "Universe Symphony"? Who is *truly* superior?
-- Drew Daniel (Drew Daniel), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:54 (2 years ago)

Ives! Cuz he is OG Danbury hardcore and Connecticut hardcore rulz!!!
-- scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:56 (2 years ago)

Drew, no. Don't do it. For real. No one has made it out of the abyss, don't let it happen to you.
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 01:56 (2 years ago)

Has anyone written a book yet about how a lack of cheap coke hastened the demise of disco and increased the demand for crack which invented rap which started out as disco?
-- scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 02:02 (2 years ago)

Scott, I have always had a
coke = high end (disco hi hats, snares, strings, synths)
weed = low end (reggae, dub, hip hop kicks and basslines)
-- Drew Daniel (Drew Daniel), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 02:04 (2 years ago)

Scott, read the Jeff Chang book--there's a whole section about how crack came to be, really interesting stuff.
-- Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 02:06 (2 years ago)

Yeah, homophobia definitely had something to do with the death of disco, but you gotta remember how MAINSTREAM disco was at one point. I suspect that the majority of those tens of millions of people buying the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack didn't associate the music with homosexuality (was there a gay character in the film, by the way? Been about ten years since I've seen it.) It's not like it was on the way up and was beaten down; it really couldn't get any bigger.
-- Mark (MarkR), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 02:23 (2 years ago)

i think the fear of machines = fear of gays thing makes perfect sense and as other folks have already elucidated (something which bears repeating) I think it's about the supposed unnaturalness of machines and homosexuality. Even if we Midwesterners (I count myself among those ranks) spend our lives with machines, they still can take on a very macabre quality especially if they are job-replacing-machines or machines that deal with surveillance. Similarly, homosexuality's unnaturalness (to some) stems from these same kinds of fears - fears about the undermining of the traditional family unit, promiscuity, another equally valid way of life that is threatening and other. Disco may have been about Halston and cocaine (it still is to a very large extent obsessed with fashion and drugs, but so is a shitload of other genres of music), but it also represented a (somewhat hidden?) upward mobility for minorities be they of race or sexual orientation. so the backlash against disco, if it was ostensibly against Travolta and the glitz of Saturday Night Fever, was also against these very real societal changes that the disco phenomenon itself represented.
-- tricky disco (disco stu), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 02:58 (2 years ago)

Yeah, homophobia definitely had something to do with the death of disco, but you gotta remember how MAINSTREAM disco was at one point. I suspect that the majority of those tens of millions of people buying the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack didn't associate the music with homosexuality

that's what i'm saying. it's like saying people who don't like rap hate it because they hate Jamaicans who immigrated to new york city. You can never say for certain why a disparate group of millions of people hate something. i'm sure many did hate disco cause of homophobia (many others probably didn't like it cause "it sounds gay, man", which is not the same), but that doesn't mean everyone had that at the root of their hatred, and we can now wipe our hands and close the book, the mystery of why disco became hated now solved.

xpost making perfect sense doesn't make something true though
-- ()ops (()()ps), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 03:02 (2 years ago)

There were more signs of homophobia in the hatred against boybands during the late 90s, although that too, was mainly just a hatred against corporate mass-produced commercial pop.

This, in particular, doesn't make sense. The hatred is and always was aimed at the people who were enjoying a particular style of music alien to the anti-***** faction, not the musicians/singers/bands themselves.
-- Eric H. (Eric H.), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 06:57 (2 years ago)

Skim-reading through this thread, it seems to me that the homophobia card is being massively overplayed - possibly in the light of all the history books that have been written on the genre, especially since the mid-1990s, i.e. it "all began" at The Loft/Paradise Garage etc. Which might be historically true, but by the time disco had gone mainstream, its roots had been thoroughly glossed over.

Speaking as someone who was 18 and gay in London in 1980, and working with a whole bunch of people who loved mainstream disco, I have to say that nobody - nobody - was pinning the music as "gay" music, Village People/Sylvester notwithstanding. The whole point of mainstream disco culture was as a backdrop for heterosexual courtship rituals.

And that was one of the main reasons why it was hated - not because it was "outsider" music, but because it was precisely the opposite: music for ordinary joes to consume uncritically. Music for lobotomised thickos, if you like.

From where I was standing, the decline of disco stemmed simply from the commercial end of the genre being flooded out, running out of ideas, and going stale. ("Disco sucks" had no impact over here at all.) It was also the usual generational turnover thing - disco meant your newly divorced auntie in her late 30s, whereas the next generation of clubbers were coming through new wave/synth-pop. (Pivotal genre-straddling record: Blondie's "Atomic"; early Spandau/Visage also had clear disco influences.)

So all that happened is that the "good stuff" continued to evolve in more limited circles - Solar records, Vandross, Gap Band, jazz-funk, Evelyn King, West End, Prelude - as the word "disco" was quietly dropped owing to its "wally" connotations (Boney M, Lipps Inc, Liquid Gold etc). Then along came D-Train, Arthur Baker, the assimilation of electronic influences, and also the emergence and - for the first time - wider recognition of a specifically "gay" dance music (first known as "Boystown"). But for 99% of the population, there was no conception of a "gay" music until late 1982 at the very earliest.
-- mike t-diva (mike t-diva), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 08:54 (2 years ago)

This, in particular, doesn't make sense. The hatred is and always was aimed at the people who were enjoying a particular style of music alien to the anti-***** faction, not the musicians/singers/bands themselves.

That certainly doesn't make sense. The boyband haters (at least the younger ones out of them) were really hot for those girls (because most of them were girls) who were into the boybands. They didn't hate them in anyway, they just hated the music they enjoyed.
-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 09:31 (2 years ago)

**believe me, at a time when mid-Americans had no idea the Village People or Queen were gay... **

Believe me, some of us got the was as obvious as that flashlight in Freddy Mercury's front pocket. I was no sophisticate in 1978, unaware of the "gay clone" image, but when that first Village People LP came into my record store I sensed something vaguely homosexual at play. Of course the people I sold VP albums to -- mostly moms with 12 yr old boys in tow -- had no idea. But in the wake of Bowie/glam etc Queen was no mystery to most, and paradoxically were huge (hehheh) w/ the disco sux/AOR radio set.

The infamous "Disco Demolition" rally, 7/12/79 at Comiskey Park, began as a protest against DJ Steve Dahl's former employer "going disco." A pyre of disco LPs was ignited during a double-header break, the kids stormed the field and the rest is history. As Chuck points out, a lot of the anti-disco fury was rock radio feeling threatened by the Saturday Night Fever-inspired disco fad.

In my estimation, disco was the first fad that the music business mis-calculated and failed to exploit. Flooding the marked with disco albums when consumers wanted to buy 12-inch extended versions of the hits resulted in the crash of 1979. Two years later cassettes started outselling vinyl records, the hometaping controversy flared and CDs waited in the wings. Disco was the turning point for the music biz (see the Casablanca chapter in Dannen's Hit Men) and I suggest the start of disillusionment w/the album format and desire for SONGS. Not to mention the moment when technology reinvented the music-making and recording process. Hiphop took it to the next level.

One more time, with feeling: the definitive book on this subject is Albert Goldman's Disco. A decadent coffee-table book that's way out of print and hugely overpriced now, Disco delivers about 10,000 words worth of a)social history of the nightclub scene b)musical history of the DJ and development of turntable techniques c)the most thorough analysis of technology and its effect on pop music ever. Goldman's flowery, over-the-top style is perfectly suited to the excesses of the late 70s and here his contempt for rock/hippie culture is totally appropriate rather than annoying. Search!
-- m coleman (lovebug starski), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 10:07 (2 years ago)

Do you think those songs sound like or are arranged like "Funky Town" or "Le Freak"???
-- Spencer Chow (spencercho...), April 5th, 2005.

They don't sound alike, and neither are they arranged alike (I personally greatly prefer the latter two), but my point is anyone who liked "Born in the USA" or the two Springsteen songs above (or for that matter, a whole lot of early '80s non-new wave, non-New Romantic top-40 rock) has no business calling anything robotic in its production or arrangement.

I think "robotic" and "machine-like" were used by people searching for musical terms to describe music that they don't like for non-musical reasons. Among the real disco-haters in my high school, sure, some people really didn't like it for musical reasons, but in many cases "robotic" and "machine-like" were often far down the list of reasons they hated disco, after terms like "it's n***** music" and "it's f***** music."

Don't forget about the clothes, either.
-- Rick Massimo (Rick Massimo), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 14:12 (2 years ago)

People hated disco way before disco started using machines. Remember, the first disco records were based on a Philly-influenced sound built on strings, funk guitar, bass and real drums.
-- Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 16:47 (2 years ago)

Village People, KC and the Sushine Band -- they could definitely name some others at the time. (But Geir's initial point was about boy bands, anyway -- and the homophobia connected with hatred of them.)

But obviously, disliking certain kinds of music does not necessitate hating either the artists themselves (as people) *or* their audience. In the late '80s, I was actually accused of homophobia by another *Voice writer (who I wound up later being friends with), after I compared some lame-assed Wire comeback record (*The Ideal Copy*, I guess) to a short laundry list of crappy quasi-decadent art-disco acts who apparently (though unbeknownst to me at the time) were largely gay-identified. The gay identification meant nothing to me, no more than the gay identification of lots of bands I loved; the fact that they all made shitty music (that took the life out of disco, if anything) did matter. (I later answered in an A Flock of Seagulls review that I'm biphobic - meaning, scared of *everybody*.)

Which is to say that "not sharing a gay sensibility" (I think drag shows tend to be idiotic, too, or at least the ones I've been too -- sorry, but men dressed up was women spouting retarded sex puns that would have made me laugh when I was a 10-year-old boy don't exactly strike me as the epitome of cleverness now that I'm a grownup) is not the same as "being homophobic." (Though anybody who's seen my Hi-NRG and Italo collection would be in AWE of my gay sensibility, actually.)
-- xhuxk, Wednesday, 6 April 2005 17:37 (2 years ago)

OK, I back off making it sound like it had nothing to do with the actual music purveyors. But still, hatred knows no bounds. If you hate an artist/genre, the fanatical, loving devotion of its fans is just as apt to set you off. (i.e. and on the other side of the coin: DMB, Christian rock, Radiohead, U2)

Somewhere there was a thread devoted to the gays and Lacanian principles of being unable to accept other people's happiness and reacting with revulsion. The fact that most disco music seemed to be conveying a message of utopian happiness (a bliss that our Lacanian test cases would have been locked out of) is what, I think, has me looking beyond Geir's equally "blatantly false" reduction of this phenomenon of hatred as being a reaction against "too simple" beats.

Plus, anti-disco cretins dreaded the extended dance 12" because it mocked their inability to get it up for more than three minutes thirty seconds.
-- Eric H. (Eric H.), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 17:44 (2 years ago)

Not the prog-rock ones! They'd been keeping it up for 12 minutes on end for years. (And it's no mistake that lots of Eurodisco acts remade "Ina-gadda-da-vida." Disco was *inspired* by psychedelic rock. In the sci-fi department too, actually. Which makes me wonder -- were Sprinsteen fans, say, more likely to be disco-sucksters than Rush or Pink Floyd fans? I have no idea, but that might actually make sense.)
-- xhuck, Wednesday, 6 April 2005 17:49 (2 years ago)

Yes, but you could program the 12"s into sets that would require HOURS of perpetual priapism.

I guess if we wanted to get extremely self-limited, it could be a question of angry tension (straight rock fans) vs. jouissant catharsis (gay disco fans)...

Of course, I wouldn't choose either. The very best disco usually came from heavily dischordant (not to mention pretty straight) places (bands who cut their teeth on funk): Funkadelic's "(not just) Knee Deep," Brass Construction's "Movin'"
-- Eric H. (Eric H.), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 17:53 (2 years ago)

On the other hand, of course, Bruce's music always kinda has its own gay sensibility (and big cock, no doubt - Ronan, you're a moron.) Not to mention plenty of his fans may well have identified with Travolta in *SNL. But I'm curious about the prog/disco sci-fi crossover -- did "Magic Fly" by Space seduce any Hawkwind fans? It should have. Pretending rock is mainly "angry tension" is, uh, somewhat reductive (to be nice). (Have you ever actually *listened* to rock music, Eric?)
-- xhuxk, Wednesday, 6 April 2005 17:57 (2 years ago)

So, basically a lot of different people in different cities had varying reasons to dislike the disco phenomenon...

I'm glad we cleared that up.
-- donut debonair (donut), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 17:59 (2 years ago)

For a cinematic treatment of rock/disco, see Stallone's Rocky (1976). Apollo Creed as inauthentic/effeminate/commercialized/black disco boy, Rocky as real/masculine/working-class/white, well, "Rock"er.
-- These Robust Cookies (Robust Cookies), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 19:52 (2 years ago)

Interesting. 1976 is pretty early for a rock/disco dichotomy, though...
-- xhuxk, Wednesday, 6 April 2005 20:03 (2 years ago)

And Rocky trains to disco music, doesn't he?
-- Eric H. (Eric H.), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 20:15 (2 years ago)

If it's early, then we'll just have to say that it anticipates the rock/disco conflict, perhaps even contributes to the shape it takes, given how big that movie was. In any case both partake of the same race- and class-tinged discourse of authenticity, americanness, etc.

As for Rocky's training music--you mean the Rocky theme? Well then that's perfect, you get to deconstruct...
-- These Robust Cookies (Robust Cookies), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 21:02 (2 years ago)

That would require having to actually watch the damned movie a second time.
-- Eric von H. (Eric H.), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 22:01 (2 years ago)

I apologize if someone has already said this (I haven't read the whole thread) but it seems to me there were WAY more openly gay rock musician than openly gay disco musicians in the 70's. I mean with disco you had the Village People and who else? Nobody that I can think of. Is it possible that their 3 or 4 hits gave the rest of the entire genre a case of the gays? Personally, I think the backlash had more to do with a perceived exclusiveness to the genre... you know the whole Studio 54 red rope business.
-- darin (darin), Wednesday, 6 April 2005 22:43 (2 years ago)

Sylvester was pretty out and gay . . . . on the other hand, KC of KC and the Sunshine Band was not. Which is weird but maybe indexes the crossover to straight America imperative going on.
-- Drew Daniel (Drew Daniel), Thursday, 7 April 2005 04:25 (2 years ago)


Sylvester. But I think you're missing the point. It's more a question of sensibility then the overt sexual identity of the performers.

Then again I'm not sure what rock musicians were "openly gay" rather than toying with androgynous and perhaps bisexual images, and that mostly in the glam/glitter i.e. more theatrical (read European) rock genres. Those burning disco records probably preferred Journey to Bowie. Not that there's no queer subtext to arena rock, but y'know...
-- These Robust Cookies (Robust Cookies), Thursday, 7 April 2005 04:27 (2 years ago)

(forgive me if someone already expressed the following points already. I haven't finished reading the thread, yet, but I feel the following must be said...)

Disco started out as a wonderfully robotic version of funk. Unfortunately it devolved quickly into to a depressingly not funky version of pop slathered in fake violin strings* and incessant burts of police whistle**. Funnily enough, it might be that not enough black|gay|women were involved in the music at that point.

Or maybe they were all doing too much Cocaine. Yeah. Thats it. Cocaine. I'm going to blame it on Cocaine. Yeah.

* = Was ABBA the only ones who could (subtly) put strings in a Disco song without destroying it?

** = That got old really fucking quick. I suspect I'm oversimplifying, and I'd have to re-listen to every disco song I have all in a row, with a clipboard in front of me to prove or disprove the theory; but I bet the one thing that really splits the Great Disco Songs from the Utter Shite Disco Songs is the prescience of the Incessant Blurts of Police Whistle!!! Fweeeeet! Fweeeet! Fwe-Fweeet! FUCKING GIMME THAT WHISTLE!.
-- Lord Custos Omicron (Lord Custos Omicron), Thursday, 7 April 2005 04:40 (2 years ago)


Read Origins Of Fear/Hatred Of Disco Part Uno

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800 Words Or Less About Me

By Jess Minckley

diamond eyes

People called me Mr. Ed in junior high. I have huge teeth.

Somewhere I learned to cover them up with big words, or the pout girls get. I was the brunt of much finger-pointing growing up. Picture this: eight years old, self-proclaimed Atheist in Salt Lake City, Utah; knob-kneed and over-bitten walking home in the snow. That thickened my blood and my skin to the big talkers in art school. They couldn't tear me down, pulverize me like they do in the movies. I looked like everybody else for once, white-skinned, black-clad and ready. For what, I had no idea.

I thought I might become a children's book illustrator. I hated the Beatles and Andy Warhol, but I got over all of that.

Beforehand, when California was sand in my bathing suit and sunny chimichangas, I thought I might make an OK B actor, the tragic kind from Lifetime television, the death scene queen. Not a lot of work out there for that...

Before I knew the difference between Paul McCartney and Paul McCarthy, and where the Spiral Jetty was, I considered being a cosmetologist or a floral designer- you know, those jobs take creativity. I lived in Texas for a few months once, painted some menu boards, realized I wasn't going to go very far if I wasn't in a big city.

After undergrad and before I got rejected from Columbia, I realized I couldn't bother with New York unless I had a great reason. If I could get used to L.A., I could live anywhere. Except Vegas, or maybe Bangkok. Why not stay?

With a useless diploma in one hand and an ice pick in another, I made T-shirts that said "It's not me- it's you." I was unstoppable.

Then, there's this definitive moment when one realizes- no one cares what Miss America answers for big questions are, we just want to know: how much cellulite does it take to be Ms. ConnectICut? Who wrote your letter of recommendation? What's your age and ethnicity? Where are you from? I'm not in a particularly interesting demographic.

I am an addict and a manic-depressive though, that's fun. It's the boys I get high on, then and still; coming, coming down; hiding the teeth, not lips. I'm a love junkie, and the junk didn't have to be great. I was too drunk to tell most times anyway. Just wanted some acceptance, instead I got a dick in the rump. I made it out with only two limbs and a suitcase. I lived on a pull-out couch method; did my time; slept on forest floors. I can tell you the Martha Stewart swatch name for institutional green wall paint: Jaded Memory.

The slope got slipperier. I became befuddled and adrift. I dug the knife in as deep as it would go, and let the blood run down the drain. Still I felt nothing. I learned to confuse the smell of night blooming jasmine with freshly hosed piss on the sidewalk again and again. After years of being here, one gets the privilege of leaving the house without parking-lot-anxiety, and one gets to say he's from Los Angeles. Don't forget your cesspool.

I live in Los Angeles still with toothless users and 36B actresses. The thrill is you get to see the beauty pageant of cutters and fiends until they become faint shadows in the periphery of a gold, lusty tunnel-vision. I stuck my fingers in my ears a lot in the beginning; I was naïve. I wore blinders like horses do when their lives are somebody else's ride. Just say it with me: "LA LA LA LA LA."

I intercept denial with things more tangible, I'm not no ego-maniacal art star. I'm too Emo for that, even thought that's not "cool" anymore. Art is pretty sacred; it's my denomination and the one thing that kept me from offing myself. Painted representations of animals are a favorite polytheism. My drawings are prophetic inspiration when I've had a mint julep. I find and rescue and alter objects from Sav-On, Home Depot garden centers, and BigLots!. They jumble around, images on top of one another like a semiotic orgy. Cut off private parts and dirty, public amalgamations are shrines to vacant poetics and lost nightmares. Most people scare me, but I can put them on, I'll scare 'em back with my art. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I try to do what's right, and I give shit about my work. I'm looking forward to showing my teeth in laughter and defense.

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(Notes On) How To Build A Fire.
In Los Angeles.

By Lia Trinka-Browner
Photographs by Zachary Leener

car radio

It’s easy to turn to our historical bookshelves for ideas on the concept of fire, as fire is an established and universal beginning. It’s the primordial stepping-stone, Goethe’s extracurricular activity scientifically, and at the very least, the projector of shadows in Plato’s cave. What attracts me to the historical book-shelved “fires” is the pioneering romanticism of building one, or sometimes failing to build one, with language. The best words seem to come from the sad storyteller Jack London, or more so, from an original boy-scout transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau who wrote, “You can always see a face in the fire. The laborer, looking into it at evening, purifies his thoughts of the dross and earthiness which they have accumulated during the day.” [1] It’s easy to understand the need to purify and do so through ritual (not in the obsessive sense, but rather in an activity that has increased meaning and therefore pleases the person doing it). It’s more difficult, though, to face the subsequent accumulation of “dross and earthiness” that builds up all over again the very next day.

There are treatment therapies for this accumulation of dross and earthiness. Divulging my own understandings of dealing with repetition and routine, I’ve joined a gym. I’ve joined a gym that has 32 Treadmills side by side with television screens above them, 24 Elliptical Machines, 15 Recumbent Bicycles and 5 working Stairmasters. My usual Treadmill is right behind a large neon green conical pillar. I don’t watch the televisions and I don’t listen to the music, but I do run (twice a week dispersed between yoga twice a week) and think about the idea of focus. I think that everything, every thought, every problem, every grocery list or reminder, every worry, every moment of hilarity, every moment of glee, every fantasy, both disappears and surfaces while running. It’s the dross and the aspiration coming in and out of focus, like the slow turning of the lens of a camera. Everything in your mind is both increasingly active and increasingly inactive, foreground and background. Because a fire in a wood stove or at a campsite is constantly moving, the focus is both soft and sharp. Both are concentrative, purifying and both temporarily remind us of our primordial compulsions.

“Empty as the man’s mind was of thoughts, he was keenly observant, and he noticed the changes in the creek, the curves and bends and timber jams, and always he sharply noted where he placed his feet…”
–Jack London “To Build a Fire” [2]

We don’t usually need to build fires in Los Angeles, so a guidebook to building one is ineffective, unless you’re unheated during the months of December through March. Winter in Southern California, although never incredibly cold, can still be dreary and rainy. For me there are many trips to the Laurel Canyon store to buy firewood and much saving of paper to get them started. Some fires burn clean and some fires burn hot and the best fires burn clean and hot. Well-seasoned hard woods are better, but less seasoned soft woods work well too. Oak, Madron, Eucalyptus, Walnut, Fir; the quality of the wood is important.

There’s a myth that you can never burn Eucalyptus; that it’s poisonous. I think that the oil has a poisonous content but not enough for anyone except over-worried mothers to think about. Eucalyptus bark, in fact, burns very easily. The Eucalyptus tree is Australian, only introduced to California during the Gold Rush. They’re attractive trees but useless for most of the local fauna. That doesn’t stop admiration, or proliferation. Snaking up the bungalow-ed roads of Laurel Canyon, their abundance is clear. I consider the Eucalyptus to be an appropriate, if not obvious, metaphor for the people who live in Los Angeles. Not only does this tree thrive, it also seems to understand the nature of what it means to have real “staying power”, despite its perfunctory proliferation and its transplant status. It keeps on staying, surviving, whether it belongs here or not. It mixes well with the Chaparral, the California Live Oaks and Bay Laurels. And the landscape turns, coming up from the city, into a greener-than-green umbrella, letting both soft light come through and keeping the dark mossy green shade in. Eucalyptus: Eu, in Greek meaning “well” and Calyptos, meaning “Covered”, these elegant towers become the weeping willow of warm climates. I imagine that many people who have lost their homes in Southern California wildfires have regretted having the transplant tree as decoration in their front yards, near their verandas or poolside complimenting their ornamental Asian pears. If you’ve seen a Eucalyptus tree go up in flames, it erupts as if it was soaked in lighter fluid and usually regenerates quickly after the fire. It’s both the fuel of the fire and the first sign of life in the charred remains.

Thoreau, who was writing Walden in 1853, saw at least 8 changes of season with regeneration from one year to the next. He took on a very simple, yet epic project, making the idea of routine, in a sense, the mainline river vein to his native pinecone needle. His writing meanders through his private experiences projecting a transcendental understanding of natural autonomy. Despite his meandering, many ideas are completely precise. And despite the precision, many of his sentences open up a deliberately poetic idealism.

“For a week of even weather, I took exactly the same number of steps, and of the same length, coming and going, stepping deliberately and with the precision of a pair of dividers in my own deep tracks, -to such routine the winter reduces us, - yet often they were filled with heaven’s own blue.” [3]

The idea of repetitive steps becoming heavenly steps may be arduous for those of us who aren’t on the beaten path to the woods every morning, but rather shuffling from a parking lot to an internal office with an air-conditioned hum. Interestingly, with Thoreau and London, changes in weather (either “even weather” or fatally drastic Yukon freeze, respectively) are, in these small instances tied directly to the awareness of the placement of feet. These two allusions take something so simple as noticing foot traffic and turning it into a consideration of private concentration and ritual. It’s an awareness that places focus on, in London’s case survival, and in Thoreau’s case poetic realization of the magnificence of simply walking. Ultimately, routine becomes ritual through simplicity of action and soft concentration; a slow and calculated awareness that’s similar to having what’s called “soft eyes.” With “soft eyes” peripheral vision is increased and details are noticed without using tense, strained foveal vision. Soft concentration is deliberate and meditative: running, building a fire, focusing a camera, walking from here to there; this soft concentration can hold even the most seemingly dull activities accountable.

We don’t usually need to build fires in Los Angeles. Un-ordinary, when it rains in here (the rarity of change in Southern California weather makes everything very different) and people start staying inside at night, we start talking about the rain as if we’ve forgotten that the streets don’t melt into a mercurial liquid. We wonder if it’s possible to live in a place where rain isn’t some phenomenon forgotten for most of the year. We forget that having the rain is something of a luxury. Even more so is having a fire while it’s raining. If you have a wood burning stove then the raindrops make their own staccato rhythms on the chimney and there is nothing more affecting than listening to the rain hit your roof at night. Like the Eucalyptus, it blankets us and dissolves unfocused tension, but it only lasts so long. It’s the codetta that concludes the exposition of the sonata that is running off our private marathons and then building a soft fire in the rain when we get home.



How To Build A Fire (Short-Version):

Firewood comes in bundles, usually saran-wrapped up with a rope handle stapled to one of the logs. At home I recycle the paper trash, cardboard and cereal boxes. Sometimes I tear up the boxes from online ordering and delivery of books, from care packages from ex-boyfriends, boyfriends, girlfriends, grandmothers, parents or the more common leftover container for the order of buck slips or stationary for my current place of employment. In a joy that only comes from creating something that is impermanent, I tear these up into wads of burnable product.

Some wood has obvious fractures in their makeup. The grain of the wood has a directional idea of where it wants to be split. I use a small concrete area by the front door to split the wood, making sure that what’s underneath the log can sustain the swing of the axe. Like most understandings of tools and their usefulness, the axe does the work. Once I have the kindling cut, I arrange the paper under the smaller slivers of wood, building a pyramidal tee-pee. The larger logs can be maneuvered about on top of this (you can wait until the fire has started or build the whole set-up before actual lighting). Once lit, fires, both inside and outside, still have to be kept. Blowing on certain areas is effective in keeping the fire oxygenated. Maintenance is important and even more so, it is ritualistic and I find myself enjoying and sometimes needing the ritual because it keeps me focused and at the same time allows for disappearance of self in the act of creating something so temporary.



  1. Thoreau, Henry David, Walden and Civil Disobedience (New York, Penguin 1983)301. This is taken from his chapter titled “House-Warming” which is a title that deserves many obtuse references to parties and gifts, especially since it deals mainly with being alone. Not loneliness, but being alone.
  2. This is from the second version of this short story, the first being arguably, a little more dramatic and prescriptive. I’m not a big Jack London fan but I do enjoy the idea of a hard brisk pioneer writing novels called “A Daughter of the Snows” and “The Abysmal Brute.”
  3. Thoreau, 312

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Happy Valentine's Day To You Elisha Gray!

By Wikipedia

elisha gray

In 1869, Elisha Gray and his partner Enos M. Barton founded Gray & Barton Co. in Cleveland, Ohio to supply telegraph equipment to the giant Western Union Telegraph Company. Barton had been employed by Western Union to examine and test new products.

In 1870 financing for Gray & Barton Co. was arranged by General Anson Stager, a superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Company. Stager became an active partner in Gray & Barton Co., which moved to Chicago. Gray moved from Ohio to Highland Park near Chicago and remained on the board of directors. But he gave up his administrative position as chief engineer to focus on inventions that could benefit the telegraph industry. Gray's inventions and patent costs were financed by a dentist, Dr. Samuel S. White of Philadelphia, who had made a fortune making porcelain teeth. White wanted Gray to focus on the acoustic telegraph which promised huge profits to the exclusion of what appeared to be unpromising competing inventions such as the telephone. It was White's decision in 1876 to abandon Gray's caveat for the telephone.

Because of Samuel White's opposition to Gray working on the telephone, Gray did not tell anybody about his new invention for transmitting voice sounds until Friday, February 11, 1876 when Gray requested that his patent lawyer William D. Baldwin prepare a "caveat" for filing at the US Patent Office. A caveat was like a provisional patent application with drawings and description but without claims.

On the morning of Monday February 14, 1876, Gray signed and had notarized the caveat that described a telephone that used a liquid microphone. Baldwin then submitted it to the US Patent Office. That same morning a lawyer for Alexander Graham Bell submitted Bell's patent application. The caveat allowed an inventor to delay filing the more expensive application, while still establishing priority of invention. If a patent application for the same invention was later filed by a different person, the patent office would declare an interference and contact the first person and allow him or her to file a substitute application within three months. When Gray was notified through Baldwin, his lawyer, of this interference, Baldwin advised Gray to abandon his caveat because he said Bell had invented it first and had it notarized earlier than Gray. This reinforced White's opposition to Gray's work on the telephone. When Gray agreed to abandon his caveat, the examiner granted the patent to Bell.

elisha gray's telephone caveat

Contrary to the popular story, Gray's caveat was taken to the US Patent Office a few hours before Bell's application. But the filing fee for Gray's caveat was entered on the cash blotter hours after Bell's filing fee which led to the myth that Bell had arrived at the Patent Office earlier. Bell was in Boston on February 14 and did not know this was happening until he arrived in Washington on February 26. Whether Bell's application was filed before or after Gray's caveat no longer mattered, because Gray abandoned his caveat and that opened the door to Bell being granted US patent 174,465 for the telephone on 7 March 1876.

Although Gray had abandoned his caveat, Gray applied for a patent for the same invention in late 1877. This put him in interference with Bell's patents. The Examiner held "while Gray was undoubtedly the first to conceive of and disclose the [variable resistance] invention, as in his caveat of February 14, 1876, his failure to take any action amounting to completion until others had demonstrated the utility of the invention deprives him of the right to have it considered." Gray challenged Bell's patent anyway, and after two years of litigation, Bell was awarded rights to the invention, and as a result, Bell is credited as the inventor.

Bell's patent was still disputed because there had been rumors that the Examiner allowed Bell to see Gray's caveat and allowed Bell or his lawyer to add a handwritten margin note describing an alternate design identical to Gray's liquid microphone design as opposed to Bell's design which required customers to shout into Bell's voice-powered transmitter/microphone. But the courts rejected this issue as Bell's original application has no such handwritten modifications, and the material in question initially resulted in a finding of interference against Bell.

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Scientists Create Darkest Material

By United Press International

the new black

A scientist at a Houston university has created the darkest known material -- about four times darker than the previous record holder.

Pulickel Ajayan, a professor of engineering at Rice University, created a carpet of carbon nanotubes that reflects 0.045 percent light, making it 100 times darker than a black-painted Corvette, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

"The final numbers, when we measured how dark this material was, were more dramatic than we thought," Ajayan said.

Ajayan said the material, which has been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records, may have some practical applications. He said the material's ability to absorb light could be beneficial to solar panels and it also minimizes the scattering of light, making it a potential boon to telescope manufacturers.

The previous darkest known material, a nickel and phosphorus alloy created by scientists in London, reflected about 0.16 percent of light.

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Fuck Off Smokers!

fuck off smokers!

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By Ryan Waller

do it yourself

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A Hard Day At The Office

By Ali Boulala

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Represent! The Dirty South!

By Jamie Thomas

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White Lightning

By James Hardy

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By Frisbee Jackson

chris anderko smile

The other day, after having received compensation for my freelance writing, I was venturing past a strip mall and noticed an intriguing little store. The orange awning with "FACSIMILE" neatly printed in clean white letters caught my eye. It was tucked in between a designer Tupperware store and a pharmacy. Some would call it love at first sight; I prefer to call it fate.

As I opened the heavy glass door, a tinkling bell sounded alerting the owner I had come in. A stout young man with white-rimmed glasses came sweeping out behind the back counter. "Anything I can help you with?" he asked quietly. I politely answered that I was just looking around and began to poke around the store. What I found was gold. Rare interviews and photos beautifully laid out in books that I normally would never have found. Even hard-to-find pieces by the fantastic author Zhang Mieyan lay on the beautiful wooden shelves. I would often come to the store for hours on end and sift through the myriad of treasures. The store-owner did not mind. Facsimile quickly became my favorite store, and I would stop by after school almost everyday, never buying anything. The inventory only changed monthly, so I would always get extra excited at the coming of a new month because I knew that also meant the coming of new books to read and pictures to marvel at.

One day, as I parked my red bike and chained it by the Tupperware store, I noticed something odd. The bright orange awning that had caught my eye before was now gone. A closer inspection revealed a small sign hung in the window. "Facsimile is out of business. Thanks for coming," printed neatly in pencil. Beneath that was a flashy bright blue sign filled with a logo for "Ross Builders: We build it better, or we tear it down." Apparently the Tupperware store needed out more room anyway and bought out Facsimile. And that was the end of that… I came to find later that it had been closed mainly due to lack of revenue, and rumors of a methamphetamine laboratory in the storage room.

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putney swope