Roundup Posts

d / m / s / r Year Three in Review (and Patreon Announcement)

On June 7, 2016, I launched this blog as a long-term writing project and, more importantly, as a way to process the inexplicable sense of loss I felt in the wake of my favorite artist’s passing. I often say that I’ve made less progress in these past three years than I would have liked, and that’s true; but on the other hand, there’s also no way for me to have predicted that I would still be doing this in three years, or–even more surprisingly–that people would actually want to read it.

That being said, let’s see what I accomplished since last June. My productivity did go up, though not as much as I wanted it to: I managed 26 posts–more than last year’s 20 but still significantly less than my first year’s 45. I had said I really wanted to get through more than two albums by this June, but I must have jinxed myself; in fact, I got through exactly two:

Controversy, 1981
Ephemera, 1979-1981

And, of course, this moderately increased writing productivity came at the cost of my putting the brakes on the d / m / s / r podcast. In 2017-2018, I put out 15 episodes, which makes me tired just thinking about it. Since then, I’ve done two, both from the latter half of 2018:

New Power: A Conversation with Takuya Futaesaku
Prince (1979) Revisited

All of which is to say, I want to do better, but I fear that I’m bumping up against my capacity for a pure labor of love. So, after three years and 91 posts, I’d like to propose an alternative arrangement: as of today, I’m launching a Patreon, which–if supported, obviously–will help me to justify the time I spend on d / m / s / r amidst my many other competing responsibilities.

Asking for money is something I’ve been mulling over for a while, and I don’t take it lightly: I initially considered launching the Patreon around this time last year, but decided against it because I didn’t think the amount of work I had been producing justified the ask. I’m doing it now, in large part, because I want to help normalize the idea that people producing creative work–including music criticism–are compensated for their labor. The Patreon model has its flaws, but on the whole it seems like a fair way for readers to support writers whose work they enjoy–and, as paid freelance writing rapidly becomes as anachronistic a notion as pensions and other forms of traditional job security, I suspect it’s going to be something more of us will have to embrace.

At the same time, I also recognize that not everyone who reads the blog wants or is able to support me financially, so I want to assure you that I’m not about to put everything behind a paywall. After my 100th post, I will start making new posts Patreon-exclusive for a short time–say, a week–before sharing them with the public. Mostly, though, the Patreon will be a way for me to deliver more to the people who want it, while also allowing me to turn down other (paid) opportunities and focus on the stuff that, trust me, we would all rather I focus on.

There are other benefits, too: if there’s interest, bringing back the podcast on a more regular basis is one of my stretch goals. More enticingly, it’s long been a pipe dream for me to start revising my blog entries and putting them out in more permanent, tangible form (i.e., books). Once the Patreon hits a certain monthly level of support, I will be able to justify taking on such a time-intensive project. Obviously, if this idea becomes a reality, patrons will be thanked in the books and, if supporting at a certain level, will receive copies as they come out.

Just to make myself clear, I don’t plan to become wealthy or even financially solvent from the Patreon; I have never been under the illusion that writing about Prince will allow me to quit my day job or retire early. But let me put it this way: I have about 200 regular readers, and if every one chipped in a dollar a month, that $200 would make a big difference in my ability to make ends meet. So would half, or even a quarter of that amount–basically, if the Patreon can allow me to put even a couple more hours a week into this passion project, then it will be accomplishing what it’s supposed to. In return, you’ll be getting more regular blog posts, as well as more “ancillary” pieces for patrons: in the coming weeks, for example, I’ll have a review and some revised/updated posts around the new Originals compilation. And if that doesn’t appeal to you, hey, no harm done: you can keep reading without contributing a dime, and I’ll appreciate you every bit as much as I do now.

To everyone reading this–future patrons and others–thanks for making the first three years of d / m / s / r feel like a worthwhile endeavor. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Patreon, just click the link below or the one I’ll be adding to the left sidebar of the site. Otherwise, I’ll be back soon to put another notch on my “completed albums” tally for Vanity 6!

Support d / m / s / r on Patreon


Podcast: New Power – A Conversation with Takuya Futaesaku, Author of Words of Prince

I gave myself a little hiatus from the dance / music / sex / romance podcast after Celebration 2018, but now we’re back in business with guest Takuya Futaesaku, author of the book Words of Prince. Takki and I talk about his book and his experiences as a Prince fan in Japan; it was a pleasure to speak with him, so hopefully it will be a pleasure to listen, too! Special thanks this episode go to Crystal for helping me track down the Japanese shows you’ll hear during the podcast.


Review: Words of Prince

I first saw Takuya Futaesaku’s Words of Prince before I knew what it was, cradled in the arms of a fan in the Paisley Park soundstage at Celebration 2018. What caught my eye was the cover art–drawn, I later discovered, by the delightfully-named Japanese pop artist Radical Suzuki–as well as the book’s impressive heft.  It was obviously a fan-created work of some kind, but I couldn’t imagine what it might be. A few weeks later, I was contacted by Leslie Swiantek, a writer who has been helping Futaesaku promote his book in the States, to get in touch with him and maybe record a podcast. I contacted the author for an electronic version of the book to read, and he kindly ordered me a physical copy–the same colorfully-illustrated, hefty tome I’d seen at Paisley back in April.

Incidentally, the Radical Suzuki illustration is no longer on the cover of Words of Prince; it was cut for the book’s second English edition, a victim of the Prince estate’s recent rash of copyright-based takedowns (I patiently await my own C&D letter). Futaesaku’s solution was funny and not a little ingenious: the book now comes with a blank purple cover, serving as both a reference to Prince’s similarly monochrome Black Album and a canvas for each buyer to draw their own cover, copyright restrictions be damned. This DIY touch is, I think, a big part of the book’s appeal. Words of Prince isn’t a conventional biography or critical work; indeed, it doesn’t really fit any of the genres or formats one might expect from a book about Prince. Its structure and approach is as idiosyncratic as its subject–or, more accurately, as any one of our relationships with Prince as fans.

What this means, of course, is that the book isn’t for everyone. Hardcore fans who know it all about Prince’s life and work won’t find much more to glean here; Futaesaku is passionate and knowledgeable, but he’s still (mostly) beholden to the same secondary sources as the rest of us. Sticklers for polish may also find themselves disappointed:  Words of Prince is translated from Futaesaku’s original Japanese, and it shows, with some typos and the occasional odd phrasing, e.g. “Self Produce” for a chapter on Prince’s singular artistic drive (note that, per Swiantek, the book will be retranslated for a forthcoming electronic edition).

Where Words of Prince shines, however, is as a testimonial to the dedication and creativity of Prince’s fan community–and, for American readers especially, a window into the Japanese fandom. Futaesaku makes a convincing case for Prince’s special relationship with Japan: one of the farthest-flung places where he consistently toured. In one of the most memorable chapters, the author interviews another Japanese fan, who recounts a story about Prince playing a surprise version of “Bambi” on request during a Nude tour stop at the Tokyo Dome; the so-called “Bambi Incident” is just one of several nuggets of minor, but compelling information that Western readers are unlikely to know. The book is also amply illustrated with original art from members of the Japanese fan community, including Radical Suzuki, Nobuaki Suzuki, Mizuno Hiroatsu, Satsuki Nakamura, Saiko Sugawara, Yukiko Yoshioka, Hiromi Greer, Yasuhiro Matsushita, Tetsuo Sugiyama, and Mikako Takahashi. These contributions–many of which are quite artistically impressive–have a charming, homemade feel that is perfectly suited to the book. Whatever else it might be, Words of Prince never feels like anything less than a genuine, heartfelt expression of love for Prince and his music.

As a bonus, Words of Prince features an appendix of interviews with former associates including St. Paul Peterson of the Time and the Family, New Power Generation rapper Tony M, photographer Steve Parke, and others. While hardcore fans are again unlikely to read anything here that they haven’t heard anywhere else, Futaesaku’s questions are thoughtful and empathetic. He also makes room for others from the fan community, interviewing third parties like author Duane Tudahl and Heidi Vader from the charitable organization Purple Playground.

As I noted before, Words of Prince isn’t for everyone; but for anyone with an interest in fan culture, and especially in fan communities beyond the United States and Europe, it’s an easy book to recommend. Its warmth and good nature may even remind you of why you became a Prince fan in the first place.