Politics and Prose, Go-Go, and the Rashomon Book Signing

Photo courtesy of farrelley
Politics & Prose
courtesy of farrelley

Turns out, maybe Chevy Chase is ready for Go Go after all?

Natalie Hopkinson, author of Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City was invited to sign her book and speak at a reading at Politics & Prose in Chevy Chase this past week. As Go Go music is integral to her book, she assembled a playlist heavy on DC favorites and brought it with her to be the soundtrack for her signing. She gave the disc to Politics & Prose, they put it in, and that’s where everything went haywire.

The lead song on Hopkinson’s playlist (found on her blog, with her side of the events that transpired on Monday night) was Parliament’s 1975 famous track Chocolate City, a love song to the non-federal District of Columbia. The book itself takes on the complicated– and divisive – issues of class, race, music, and gentrification in the District and their affects on its native music: Go Go. It would make sense that a Go Go playlist would be perfect soundtrack for Hopkinson’s signing.

Not so much.

A patron objected to the first 30 seconds or so, according to Hopkinson, of Chocolate City, whose lyrics read:

Uh, what’s happening CC?
They still call it the White House
But that’s a temporary condition, too.
Can you dig it, CC?

The song was skipped, the music turned off. When I talked with Politics & Prose owner Bradley Graham this afternoon, he had said that this was for two reasons: 1) they were near to the beginning of Ms. Hopkinson’s reading that evening, and 2) sometimes you have to deal with frustrated customers while you’re balancing other events in your business. Graham cited other distractions in the minutes before the event, which kept him from keeping the music going. In a statement released on the bookstore’s Tumblr this afternoon, P&P owners Graham and Lissa Muscatine told their side of the story:

Politics & Prose does not censor or ban music or books, nor does the store allow one person’s point of view to silence a group discussion. This would contradict everything P&P has stood for throughout its 28 years. We regret that the music was turned off, however briefly, and that the interruption in any way detracted from an event that the author herself has described on her blog today as a “great reading” and “a truly wonderful dialogue about go-go music and the history of the Chocolate City.” As always, P&P will continue to provide a forum for community discussion that gives voice to a diverse range of ideas and points of view.

We reached out for more detail from Natalie Hopkinson on the signing last night, but our email has not been returned. Hopkinson will likely also have a message from Graham, as he said he’d been trying to reach her since the posting on her blog went live this morning.

No story is as simple as a single viewpoint, something which Hopkinson’s own book reflects.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

Facebook Twitter Flickr 

2 thoughts on “Politics and Prose, Go-Go, and the Rashomon Book Signing

  1. The plight of the oppressed blonde in Chevy Chase is no minor thing….

    How odd. Both that anyone could hear anything over the noise in P&P and that anyone would think that’s racist. She’da been real unhappy in my house in November 2008; “Paint the white house black” played pretty much daily.

    Someone shoulda shot her with the bop gun to free her mind.

  2. Love me some P&P, a bastion of progressive thought.

    Will give them a pass on this one, but will stay tuned.