Arts Desk

Go-Go Live Author Says Politics & Prose Silenced Her Mix CD, Store Disagrees

A reading of Go-Go Live, a new  book about D.C.'s homegrown sound, at Chevy Chase's Politics & Prose last night turned into a parody of race relations in the District, according to author Natalie Hopkinson.

Hopkinson brought a mix CD of funk and go-go songs to play during the signing. But 30 seconds after the first track, Parliament's "Chocolate City," began playing, a white customer complained to the store's owner that the song was racist, Hopkinson writes on her blog today.

An employee for the store turned it off, and then skipped to another song, Chuck Brown's "Run Joe," according to Hopkinson.

"The fact that such people live in D.C. and have these views is not surprising," Hopkinson writes. "What is surprising is that the deciders at Politics & Prose would go along with it."

But Bradley Graham, who owns the bookstore with his wife Lissa Muscatine, says Hopkinson's account of the reading is wrong. In a statement, Graham and Muscatine deny keeping the CD off.

"This idea that we silenced discourse or didn't allow the music to play or whatever is really a distortion," he said in a phone interview.

According to Graham, before the reading started, the "Chocolate City"-hating customer asked an employee to turn off the song. The employee turned it off while he waited for Graham to come over. Graham says he then put the CD back on.

Graham points out that Politics & Prose has been prominently featuring Hopkinson's book, suggesting that the store isn't hostile to go-go.

"I'm dumbfounded that this incident should have attracted the attention that it has," he says.

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  • ByeByeFiesta!

    Manufactured outrage to sell more middling books about a dead genre. She isn't even from DC.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    This book costs more than a RE show! Phuck dat.

  • DCer

    Actually, the manufactured incident won't boost a middling writer's book sales. The book is so marginal, it's amazing it's getting any serious attention.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @DCer... tell it! It don't crank. It's that dirt-bush.

  • Reuben

    The fact that the store's owners don't understand why this is noteworthy says a lot about, well, a lot of things in my very Southern, very stratified home town.

  • PetworthRes

    And clearly African America bookstores should be expected to play Waylon Jennings and Bluegrass without any customer input. This is a silly issue, and just makes me want to frequent PandP more often.

  • tina

    The owner confirms Ms. Hopkinson account that P&P employee turned the music off.

    If a an author is reading a book about bluegrass music, it would be reasonable to expect him to play bluegrass music, regardless of the race of the bookstore owner.

    The fact that they turned the music off and that the P&P owner doesn't get why it's an issue amplifies the point Ms. Hopkinson makes in her book.

  • name

    Tina, your reading comprehension skills are lacking. A lowly employee (not the owners) turned off the music, temporarily, in the midst of trying to resolve the dispute *not to resolve the dispute*.

    Everything else is just grandstanding.

  • LOL

    And that is why you should have gone to a library in a neighborhood where the music is actually enjoyed.

    And this story is manufactured publicity.

  • Sally

    Lame publicity ploy by the author.

    Won't help shitty book sales.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @LOL -- You are right. The book need somethings like publicity for folks to pay $40 for what they could basically learn, if they didn't already know, simply riding most of city's Metro buses...

  • Dave

    I get why the author is miffed, but why turn this into a race thing?

    Oh, right, this is overwhelmingly white Chevy Chase, so obviously the stores there don't want to play Go-Go music because they're racists.

    Come on. This is why we can't have serious discussions about race here. Also, I can't help but notice that, for all of her manufactured outrage, Ms. Hopkinson hasn't pulled her books from P&P's shelves. You would think she would object to her work being sold in a racist establishment.

  • Chris

    Is there any way to work allegations of sexism, homophobia, and bias toward the transgendered into this exchange? Hey, I just did! Hope it sells some books.

  • Chris

    P.S. Here is a proposed title for the sequel:
    Stay-Stay Dead
    Musical Zombie Life On The Chocolate City's Vanilla Fringe

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