Monthly Archives: November 2012

Punk Archaeology: Joe Strummer on DIY

This evening I revisited the documentary, “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten” on the Web 2.0/DIY platform that is YouTube. I have AppleTV jacked into a shamelessly huge flat-screen, and the AppleTV somehow allows me the ability to stream any YouTube selection through it. So by punching in “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten,” YouTube’s search engine returned a series of 2008 uploads by the YouTuber named “madferrett.” Smack dab on 4:02/8:24 in the fourth of eleven installments (the subtitle is “Squatting 101’ers DAY’S”), the late Joe Strummer defines Punk as straight-away Do-It-Yourself. Of this DIY ethos, Joe in the video says:

We had the nerve to rent a room above a pub, and charge people 10 p [aka, pence] to get in. That’s how we learned to play, by doing it for ourselves, which is like a punk ethos. I mean, you gotta be able to go out there and do it yourself, because no one is going to give it to you.

Here is the Joe Strummer YouTube embed:

In the long-winded scheme of things, this is also referred to as being an autodidactic, or a self-taught learner. As fellow blogger Bill Caraher and I continue conversations with any and all about Punk Archaeology, this invariably has helped develop and shape the all-important fineries of the Punk Archaeology conference scheduled to take place in downtown Fargo, North Dakota on February 2-3, 2013 (it starts Saturday evening and is scheduled to end Sunday morning).

It seemed reasonable to post Joe’s remarks, if nothing else to continue to consider what the phrase Punk Archaeology means. In one sense, there is the localized archaeology of punk within Fargo-Moorhead, where any number of bands formed up in DIY fashion to cut loose on stage. In another sense, there is punk archaeology (or Punk Archaeology, depending on how formal one wants to be), the latter word “archaeology” not only specific to the discipline of said archaeology, but also to other DIY attitudes intrinsic to sustaining the disciplines and vocations and trades, and also as in the archaeology of knowledge. Punk archaeology is all around, and often right in front of us. Back to it on this end.

Coffee Science in Fargo

I was trying to think of something epic to blog on for this 100th post. Since winter has taken over autumn on the northern Great Plains, hot coffee seems just as good a topic for analysis as any. There are a couple places around the campus of North Dakota State University to purchase cups of coffee. As of late, I have wondered about coffee temperatures. This thought came from being served super-heated coffee in paper cups with those petro-plastic lids within NDSU’s memorial union — a place that fosters memory and unity, no doubt. In the last couple weeks, I have encased the paper cup in one of those cardboard sleeves, and have had to let the super-heated coffee cool enough to sip. Once cooled, I sip the coffee, but then wonder whether the heat melted the insides of the cup: was I just tasting burnt coffee? Or was I tasting coffee infused with melted glue? And was this more damaging to my innards than, say, drinking pints of chilled energy drinks that seem to have begun replacing otherwise traditional coffee drinking? I have no idea, but this in turn led to another idea: data collection on the heat temps of coffee around the Fargo-Moorhead area. So this is the first entry of coffee SCIENCE! in Fargo, North Dakota.

The coffee reviewed in this case is not from the coffee shop alluded to above. Instead, this coffee is from Jitter’s, a coffee house located to the southwest of the intersection of 12th Avenue North and Albrecht Boulevard in Fargo, North Dakota. Here is the raw data from my field notes. Equipment used: one of those thermometers you pick up for around five bucks at the grocery store.

Coffee science.

Objective data: On November 13, 2012, at 9:30AM, the temperature reading from the medium roast coffee just pumped from a thermos into a heated ceramic mug at Jitter’s read 151° F.  The room temperature read 70° F, and the outside winter temp was 19° F (this according to A second reading was taken after a refill at 10:25AM, this at 139° F.

Subjective data: at 151° F, I was able to sip the coffee immediately (no need to let it cool). This immediacy was important since it is necessary to intersperse coffee sips with apple fritterer bites upon the ceremonious opening of the pastry bag. Before getting my coffee, I only had to stand in line for approximately 13 minutes while waiting for the two patrons ahead of me to order some kind of double soy latte decaf with a re-caffeinated infusion loaded with Italian syrup and topped with whipped cream (this will eventually contribute to the downfall of the West to North Korea, a running hypothesis of mine here).

Contribution to Coffee Memory: The rise of the prepared sugar bomb drinks could be felt easily in the year 2000 if a person was engaged in serious coffee drinking at the Dinkydome or throughout the coffee houses in Dinkytown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. It seemed a bit more gendered, though, at least in my mind, as I remember it. Young women tended to order white cafe mochas left and right. Today, full grown men are shamelessly purchasing these types of drinks — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nonetheless, I’m fairly supportive of nudging our culture in the direction where there are separate but equal ordering lines in coffee houses: one for straight-up coffee drinkers, and the other for sugar-bomb drinkers. More to come on objective and subjective coffee data collection throughout Fargo, ND.

Leaning Towards Great Plains and World History

The final chapter in Mischa Honeck’s 2011 work, We Are the Revolutionists: German-Speaking Immigrants and American Abolitionists after 1848 is titled, “A Revolution Half Accomplished: Building Nations, Forgetting Emancipation” (Athens & London: The University of Georgia Press, 2011). To capture the opening point of this chapter title, a Thomas Nast cartoon illustration is included from a November 20, 1869 issue of Harper’s Weekly, “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner.” The illustration shows a global thanksgiving table with a “Universal Suffrage” centerpiece. Surrounding the table are representative cartoons from a variety of ethnicities, including African-American, Chinese, Russian, Native America, and so on. This cartoon does not capture the realities of U.S. policy toward Native America at that time, but it does reflect Nast’s personal ideals. This tension between the ideal (or the way things ought to be) and reality (the way things are) is a crucial element to setting down a good piece of history, and in this vein Honeck delivers.

During the American Civil War, Anglo-America battled with one-another over abolition and that “peculiar institution.” This struggle between brothers and cousins is captured by the ever-growing and all-important industry that is Civil War historiography, nostalgic Ken Burns documentaries notwithstanding. If wanting to think about the Civil War in the context of the Atlantic World, or in the context of Global or World History, however, Honeck is where to find it. Numerous immigrants arrived to the United States in the years preceding the Civil War, and Honeck’s history focuses on the German element.

By the late 1840s, population dynamics contributed to the upheaval of existing institutions throughout Europe, and political factions in Germany eventually induced the revolutions of 1848 — the revolutionaries had these crazy ideas about democracy and voting on their brains. On the ground throughout the cities of

A German lithograph from 1849 depicting the Aristocratic crackdown on the democratic revolutionaries of 1848. Note the coast of western France, and the two boats loaded with Europeans preparing to cross the Atlantic.

Europe, street fighting was the norm. In order to escape this street fighting and the Aristocratic reaction to the democratic requests, individual Germans started chain migrations, or emigrations out of Germany and into the United States. By the 1850s numerous pockets of German-Americans had began settling the Great Plains, including liberal German thinkers and the North American Turnerbund throughout the continent (New Ulm, Minnesota is an example of a free-thinking Turner Society settlement). There is a paradox with the arrival of German-American idealists to settle in territories and states throughout the Great Plains, though, and Honeck only hints at it (in his defense, though, his study is mainly concerned with the eastern 3/8s of the United States and the Atlantic World). That paradox is this: while German-Americans carried with them democratic ideals, their physical settlement on the Great Plains invariably contributed to the protracted displacement of indigenous populations.

Nonetheless, many German-Americans became part of the Union Army fighting force during the Civil War. Honeck references the words of the radical Eduard Schläger who in 1871 noted how German-Americans had abandoned those — ahem — silly notions of egalitarianism and gained, “…a growing respect for ‘Anglo-American business methods,’ particularly the disagreeable ones, such as ‘the greed for the dollar.'” Schläger was particularly grumpy, in part because he felt philosophical foundations were being undermined once a little or a lot of money was put on the table. Honeck concludes with how German-America appropriated ideas of industrial capitalism, and this is a ground-level view of how Max Weber’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrial capitalism eclipsed Adam Smith’s eighteenth-century notions of moral sentiments, empathy, sympathy, and compassion. We are well aware what happened throughout the Minnesota River Valley in August of 1862, from Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory to New Ulm, Minnesota and everywhere in between and on the periphery (including Mankato, Minnesota, the site of the largest mass execution in United States history). Native America would indeed feel the brunt and shock-wave of this industrial capitalism throughout the Great Plains, and there is definitely more work for historians and archaeologists to carry out. In this way much of the past has yet to be considered and written. Honeck’s concluding chapter is an excellent starting point to push scholarship in needed directions, at least as it concerns how Anglo- and German-American ideals gave way to the nation-making processes within the continental interior during and following the American Civil War.