Pluralistic: 31 May 2020

Today's links

Parts Found in Sea (permalink)

When I was a young teen, I was obsessed with the Toronto music scene, which is hilarious, because I was too young to get into any of the clubs where it was taking place, like the legendary Larry's Hideaway (believe me, I tried).

But I would obsessively note the names of the bands whose handbills were wheatpasted up and down Yonge Street and scour the bins at Sam the Record Man for their self-produced EPs and then play them over and over.

Some of those bands were…not good.

But I was absolutely obsessed with one band: Parts Found in Sea, whose name was taken from a newspaper headline about a plane crash (!). They were a damned hardworking act, playing – it seemed – every weekend at Larry's.

Since the Napster era, I have been periodically scouring the web for MP3s of the band, for sale, for free, whatever. I just wanted to hear them again.

Sometimes you revisit the music of your youth and realize that what made it good was that your own lack of sophistication – you didn't have the context to make the comparisons with other bands, didn't know that you were hearing a weak imitation of something amazing.

I feared that must be the case with PFIS: the fact that none of their music was available might mean that it just wasn't very good, and hadn't stood the test of time.

Then I discovered Stevy Zong's Youtube video of a live PFIS show at Larry's Hideaway and hearing that music again only renewed my ardor for the band. I also learned the name for their genre: "Darkwave."

(It was also great to see them perform live, at last! The band was dissolved and Larry's was out of buiness by the time I was old enough to get into the club)

Inspired by that video, I bought a "Seat of the Writing Man," one of my favorite EPs by the band, on Ebay, and asked my friendly neighborhood archivist, Taylor Jessen, if he'd rip the vinyl for me, and he very kindly did, sending me the tracks last night.

And the band is every bit as good as I remember. I mean, just fucking great. Especially the Frank Lippai's bass-playing, which is just…wow. As far as I can tell, Lippai is living in London, Ont now, running something called "Artisans Almighty," but that's all I've got.

Frontman Steve Cowal graduated to a semi-famous Canadian band, Swamp Baby, and was featured in Bruce McDonald's "Hardcore Logo," but I can't find anything he's doing these days.

The EP really showcases some spectacular talent, right down to the engineering by Ken Friesen, who is still working:

And while some of Cowal's lyrics are a little over-the-top emo, the songs are beautifully constructed, these long, jam-band-ish tracks that have two or three movements apiece, transitioning through different moods. They must have been amazing to dance to at a club.

I just couldn't keep this disc to myself. I've uploaded it for your listening pleasure, but only for 24 HOURS. Tomorrow morning (Pacific), I'll be deleting it. I figure that strikes a balance between celebration and misappropriation.

But if anyone out there is looking to reissue some wonderful audio unobtanium, they should track down the band and get these tracks into the stream of commerce.

2019 Nebula Award winners (permalink)

Last night, the Science Fiction Writers of America held its first-ever virtual Nebula Awards, handing out prizes for excellence in the field that had been voted on by its members – the writers' own peers.

As ever, the list is a brilliant tour through the year's work, and I'm especially pleased by the best novel winner, Sarah Pinsker, who won for "A Song for a New Day," which I reviewed and blurbed.

"Song" has a bit of (un?)fortunate timing, in that it is about gig economy workers in an oligarchic, locked-down world where pandemic and terrorist have everyone in the country locked inside, permanently, dependent on an Amazon-like company for drone deliveries.

It's a great rock-n-roll novel, about the underground club scene that flourishes in this all-too-familiar totalitarian world – and how it is co-opted by entertainment corporations – and how it ultimately resists co-option and fights a war of liberation.

Congrats to all the winners and nominees!

Why Minneapolis can't fire violent cops (permalink)

If you're following the wave of uprisings against racist police violence, you've probably heard that Derek Chauvin, the cop who murdered George Floyd, had a long history of criminal conduct, but was still carrying a gun, wearing a badge, and billing the taxpayer.

Chauvin was no aberration. Minneapolis, like many cities, has a police crime problem – that is, a problem addressing the crimes committed by its own police force, thanks to a combination of impunity, white supremacy, opacity, and militarization.

Even where police reforms are enacted, the forces ignore them…and get away with it. That happened in Minneapolis. As The Marshall Project documents, a half-decade after the DoJ investigated problems with Minneapolis's police, virtually nothing has changed.

In Minneapolis, policing was supposed to be moderated by use-of-force guidelines (which officers ignored), "coaching" programs (which were inconsistent and chaotic), and automated misconduct detection (whose data the public can't see).

As to why the cops got away with it, consider that the police union boss Lt Bob Kroll kept his job even after he showed up for work with a white power badge on his uniform.

You might have wondered why Chauvin's colleagues stood idly by as he committed murder in broad daylight. It's a little easier to understand when you know that some of those cops also had long histories of committing violent crimes with impunity.

Like Officer Tou Thao, who knocked out Lamar Ferguson's arrest in 2017, but got to keep his job, even as the taxpayers of Minneapolis shelled out $25,000 to settle with Thao's victim.

Minnesota's state legislature has failed to pass even one of the dozen+ police reform bills tabled in the state house. Meanwhile, the state's Peace Officers Standards and Training Board is a toothless tiger, with no power to sanction or remove criminal officers.

There's a bipartisan consensus on impunity for criminal cops. Think of Bill De Blasio blaming protesters after NYPD officers drove their cruisers through a protest, re-enacting the murder of Heather Heyer.

Or consider how Amy Klobuchar, who, as Minneapolis's top prosecutor, declined to prosecute Derek Chauvin, giving him license to commit a string of crimes that culminated in the daylight murder of George Floyd.

This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago MDs ask patients to assign copyright in any web-posting that mentions their care, to simplify censorship

#10yrsago RIP, Jeanne Robinson

#5yrsago PATRIOT Act expires — now what?

#1yrago Public outcry has killed an attempt turn clickthrough terms of service into legally binding obligations (for now)

#1yrago Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz calls neoliberalism "a failed ideology" and sketches out a "progressive capitalism" to replace it

#1yrago Google's API changes mean only paid enterprise users of Chrome will be able to access full adblock

#1yrago Chase credit cards quietly reintroduce the binding arbitration clauses they were forced to eliminate a decade ago

#1yrago Ted Cruz backs AOC's call for a lifetime ban on lobbying by former Congressjerks

#1yrago For the first time since the 70s, New York State is set to enshrine sweeping tenants' protections

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (, Taylor Jessen (, SFWA (

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 529 words (21044 total).

Currently reading: Adventures of a Dwergish Girl, Daniel Pinkwater

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 03)

Upcoming appearances: Discussion with Nnedi Okorafor, Torcon, June 14

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here: Get a personalized, signed copy here:

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

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