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Coastal English professor writes rock n roll book

May 21, 2004

A Coastal Carolina University English professor has written a book, But Is It Garbage? On Rock and Trash, recently published by the University of Georgia Press.

Steve Hamelman, full-time professor of early American literature and part-time drummer in a faculty rock band. explores the relationship between rock music and various definitions of trash. A major theme of the book is how rock reflects modern consumer culture and its emphasis on disposability from lyrics that hype a state of wastedness in performer and audience, to technical evolutions in packaging (LPs, 8-track, VHS, CDs, etc.) that beget unending cycles of junk for each new generation to throw away.

Hamelman, of Conway, is well known outside the classroom for his enthusiasm for rock music. For years he has played with the faculty band, Virtue Trap, comprised of several Coastal professors who play in area taverns on weekends.

For many people, including me, nothing will ever surpass rock-n-roll in the bliss department, says Hamelman, who describes himself as a very straight-edge guy who has never tasted a mind-altering or mood-swinging substance and who decries the myth that the drugs and rock are somehow joined at the hip. You don't need heroin to get high on rock, he says.

Theodore Gracyk, author of I Wanna Be Me: Rock Music and the Politics of Identity, had this to say about Hamelmans book: Like Lester Bangs with a Ph.D., Hamelman is a unique voice in popular music studies. Chill some beer, crank some tunes, and start reading anywhere in this collection.