To understand the title and the context of William “Upski” Wimsatt’s new book, we need to talk about its predecessor first. Wimsatt wrote a book called Bomb the Suburbs in 1994, and it has since become a cult classic in independent bookstores and radical reading lists. That book was about hip-hop culture and history, and white kids who listen to rap. It wasn’t actually about blowing shit up, but that title eventually came back to bite Wimsatt in the ass. As he explains in the book’s introduction, “bombing” is another word for graffiti, and he thought the book’s title was edgy and attention-grabbing at the time. Fast forward fourteen years, to when he started to get involved in politics. A little digging showed his potential employers, critics—and everyone else—the title of the book he wrote, which doesn’t seem so cute in this day and age. And that’s where the title of the book comes from, “Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs is a book about not sabotaging yourself,” Wimsatt explains.
The main theme in this book is growing up, personally and politically. Some of you might refer to it as “selling out,” but Wimsatt begs to differ. He starts out by taking a look back at the hip-hop movement that he was a part of in its “golden age” from 1984-1996. Wimsatt says that he became politically aware through rap albums that talked about issues like gangs, AIDS, and drugs.
Then he graduated high school and went off to college, where he picked up a few new ideas. He then proceeded to drop out and move to WashingtonDC to get involved, and play a leading role in, the progressive moment. The rest of the book—the bulk of it—is about what he’s trying to do, which is basically to build a liberal “super-movement” that will be as organized and mobilized as the right wing population. Wimsatt believes that progressives should vote for Democratic candidates. He doesn’t see it so much as “the lesser of two evils” as much as, “who is least hell-bent on driving the world into fiery destruction at top speed.”
I’m skeptical, but this book is worth a read because Wimsatt is an excellent writer and he does have some good points. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be moved to vote for Obama’s re-election. –Lauren Trout (Akashic Books, PO Box 1465, NYC, NY 10009)