COMMUNITY VOICES | Popular culture’s appropriation of the Harlem Shake

UPDATED: February of 2013 forever engrained flailing bodies, ridiculous costumes, and a deep, chopped and screwed voice commanding  everyone to “do the Harlem Shake” in the minds of hundreds of millions on the internet.  This new dance, “Harlem Shake”, was wildly popular on the internet last February as an internet meme. At its height four thousand videos were uploaded daily to YouTube with the top ten videos averaging 25 million total views. Calling the dance a “meme” is very appropriate way to describe the viral nature of these videos. The word “meme” comes from the work of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins who believes “memes propagate themselves […] leaping from brain to brain via a process within can be called imitation.” These memes, he describes, “should be regarded as living structures, not just metaphorically but technically.” The copycat videos uploaded to YouTube in February featuring Brooklyn-based producer Baauer and his track “Harlem Shake” in fact did possess a living component. Namely, these viral videos forever changed popular culture’s understanding of the “Harlem Shake.”The fact is, the “Harlem Shake” is a Harlem cultural production that has been replaced by this new “dance”, to use the term loosely. The “Harlem Shake” videos uploaded to YouTube have almost no ties to the original dance other than a name. Continue Reading

Spring snow in St. Paul

Heavy snowstorms have stalled the arrival of spring here in the Twin Cities. On April 18th as much as seven inches of snowfall was reported in Ramsey County. Macalester College students continue to wait for winter to end as they walk through sleet and snow to class.Ben Conlon, 21, a junior at Macalester and lifelong Minnesota resident said he hates it, but is “trying not to be ready for summer until May comes around.” Anna Andersen, 20, a sophomore at Mac from Wausau, Wisconsin said, “Hopefully, it melts by June!” After all, “How many igloos can you build?”This is one of a number of articles produced by students at Macalester as part of a New Media class. Continue Reading

Community meeting focuses on curbing crime in St. Paul parking lot

A parking lot is usually a place where people come and go, but the parking lot at the corner of University Avenue and Grotto Street has recently become a hangout space for young people and a hotspot for crime, according to St. Paul police and community residents. The lot next to St. Paul Grocery at 712 University Avenue has seen nearly 100 reported calls according to a Saint Paul Police Department report for the specific address. [See PDFs of reports below.]On Wednesday February 20, a community meeting at Rondo Community Outreach Library organized by the Aurora/St. Continue Reading

St. Paul Challenge: “Love the House. Hate the Neighborhood”

Wearing an oversized winter coat with his hood up and gloveless hands in his pockets Tim Goss stood on the front porch of the newly renovated house he calls home – for now.“I love the house. Hate the neighborhood.”The 37 year old Goss is referring to his rental duplex in Frogtown located at the intersection of University Avenue and Grotto Street. This specific home was one of seven known boarded and vacant homes recently developed by the Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation to be rented out as affordable housing.Goss moved into his house May 14, 2012 and says he is very happy with the formerly vacant home. “The house itself is nice,” said Goss. “It’s roomy, the location is great, and there is a fenced yard for the kids.”Goss and his wife have two kids, ages 9 and 11, and despite his enthusiasm for his house, he is concerned Frogtown is the wrong environment to be raising kids. He worries for their safety and is concerned they will be exposed to crime and violence at a young age.Shaking his head and looking off in the distance Goss said, “This is not a safe area.” He pointed to the southeast corner of University Avenue and Grotto Street and said there had been two men shot in the parking lot the other day. Continue Reading