a couple notes on delivery


I totally forgot to post this whenever I started writing it. So pretend it's a couple weeks ago...

In the Chronicle, Princeton University Press' Peter Dougherty offers a "Manifesto for Scholarly Publishing." Dougherty's claim that university presses actually need to publish more is a rim-rocking one, insofar as anything associated with the academy can be that splashy. It's probably true that universities and not-for-profit presses offer "difficult ideas" a valuable incubation period--The Simpsons did not become shorthand for "postmodern" overnight. And it's certainly true that expanding offerings to include finance history, design history, etc would help as well. Dougherty's call is heartening and necessary and almost utopian, given that academic publishing circa now is more beholden to "publish-or-perish" imperatives than the pursuit of "difficult ideas." But it's fantastic that someone is this optimistic. In a weird way it slots nicely alongside Lindsay Waters' Enemies of Promise, a slim, highly recommended book about the present "tyranny" of academic publishing.

In the Times, Ben Sisario reports on the last day of the Union Square Virgin Megastore--the last large-scale record store in New York City. I love the closing anecdote, wherein a Virgin clerk makes off with discounted CDs by Melt Banana and Current 93. I had a passing bout of nostalgia when the Tower chain closed a couple years back, and a lesser version of that infected me when I walked by Virgin and saw some kind of temporary, pop-up healthy living pavilion set up inside. It's strange to feel that way for a corporate chain, let alone one that was devoid of personality or taste and overcharged badly for its CDs. But growing up far from niche record shops in a pre-digital age, a chain like Tower, with its imports, seemingly infinite aisles and occasional indie gems, was an essential gateway. The Union Square Virgin was an eyesore, and it was unnecessary given all the great indie shops mere blocks away. But its passing is yet another symptom of just how rapidly music--how it is made, who makes it, how it is distributed, why it is made--is changing.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. More

Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Bookforum, Slate, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe Ideas section and The Wire (for whom he writes a bi-monthly column). He is on the editorial board for the New Literary History of America.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Entertainment

Just In