Monday, June 21, 2010

Blow Your Whistle

I ♥ the public library. Doesn't matter which city-the library is the bees knees. I loved the branch libraries and the Bookmobile when I was a kid in Austin, Texas. I adored the gigantic reading rooms of the New York Public. And now I dig the Stadt Bucherei--you know, the one with the dizzy facade, at the Burgasse stop of the U6 U-Bahn. The library has always been where I go to get new ideas for absolutely fucking free.

Something caught my eye when I was there a few weeks ago. A shiny silver glitter ball in the shape of a Big Apple. And the word "Disco" in the title. I picked it up casually, gave it a glance, then put it back--I was on a different mission that day. But I noticed that it was written by Vince Aletti, who I've always been intrigued by: he wrote about photography and pop culture for the Village Voice, now he's at the New Yorker. He's smart. But I didn't know he was also the inside man journalist at Ground Zero Disco Manhattan nineteen-seventy-five baby!

A week or two later, I went back, checked it out, and brought that book home with me. It's called The Disco Files 1973-78, and it collects all of the columns Aletti wrote about dance music for a trade magazine in the middle 70's. This is a great book. It came out (!) in 2009, but I must have missed it. Aletti writes about music with a ton of passion, but he balances that with the perspective of a DJ, who has to also think of music as a functional thing. A surgeon thinks a heart is just another kind of pump, and a DJ thinks of a piece of music as a people mover. Or a sedative. Music as a firestarter or a fire dowser. This perspective makes The Disco Files a nice mix of infectious music criticism and epic shopping list.

So now I'm obsessed with finding a copy of Hot Blood's "Soul Dracula." And I'll also be needing a copy of "7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Blow Your Whistle" by Gary Toms Empire. Yes! Did you know the Ventures did a (allegedly great) disco tune? It's called "Superstar Revue"! One, please!

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