Monday, April 30, 2012

T.S. Eliot - The Waste Land (The Burial of the Dead)

For the last day of April, one of the most famous opening lines in English literature.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Breaking News: Republicans Cause Congressional Gridlock

Finally some self-described conservatives are stating the obvious, at least in the pages of the WaPo.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

George Martin - From Me To You Fantasy (from Help!)

Just a bit of soundtrack music, but it's stuck with me over the years.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vogue Magazine "Disappears" Controversial Article

Life in the Internet age. From the Washington Post:

[The] article [about Asma al-Assad, Syria’s first lady], in the March 2011 issue of Vogue, drew widespread surprise and ridicule, especially among Washington’s foreign-policy community, which had long regarded Syria as a regional troublemaker and leading violator of human rights. It contained little hint of the Assad family’s history of repression, offering only that Syria is “a country full of shadow zones.”
And then the story disappeared.
The 3,200-word article apparently proved so embarrassing to the magazine that it scrubbed it from its Web site, an almost-unheard-of step for a mainstream media organization and a generally acknowledged violation of digital etiquette.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

RIP Chris Ethridge

Chris Ethridge, who played bass, was one of the pioneers of the late-sixties blend of country and rock that proved extremely influential in the following decades. From the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, The Gilded Palace of Sin in 1969, here's a song he co-wrote with Gram Parsons. The images of Peter Fonda are kind of beside the point, but after all, this is being posted for the music, no?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wal-Mart: Bribes and a Cover-Up

Well well. The Evil Empire hits a snag. For all the legitimate complaining about the NYTimes's subservience to power, they're still among the few organizations with both the will and the resources to do this sort of investigative work.
In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.....The lead investigator recommended that Wal-Mart expand the investigation. Instead, an examination by The New York Times found, Wal-Mart’s leaders shut it down.....The Times’s examination uncovered a prolonged struggle at the highest levels of Wal-Mart, a struggle that pitted the company’s much publicized commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards against its relentless pursuit of growth.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

RIP Levon Helm

As usual, the Guardian has the best obituary I've found.

A shorthand way of describing Levon Helm, who has died of cancer aged 71, would be as the drummer with the Band. This would have made him eminent enough, but his career stretched in many other directions, as drummer with the rock'n'roller Ronnie Hawkins, solo artist, prolific film actor and, most recently, host of the all-star Midnight Ramble Sessions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

RIP Dick Clark

From the first episode of American Bandstand, February 15, 1958.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tupac Shakur at Coachella 2012

Okay, this is just weird. A hologram of Tupac performed Sunday night at the Coachella music festival along with the real Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre.

Actually, I'm wrong. It's not just weird. It's also an indication of what the future holds. Just about everything I've read online about this performance indicates mixed feelings on the part of the writer. I feel the same. The truth is, this looks pretty good, but it's also more than a little creepy. It's good for Tupac's heirs and the audience, but does it really add anything to his legacy?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Krugman on European Austerity and the Continuing Crisis

Or, as he calls it, "Europe's Economic Suicide."

Just a few months ago I was feeling some hope about Europe. You may recall that late last fall Europe appeared to be on the verge of financial meltdown; but the European Central Bank, Europe’s counterpart to the Fed, came to the Continent’s rescue....The question then was whether this brave and effective action would be the start of a broader rethink, whether European leaders would use the breathing space the bank had created to reconsider the policies that brought matters to a head in the first place.

But they didn’t.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gillian Welch - April The 14th (Part 1)

I posted this last year but not until the day after, so this time I'll get it right. April 14 marks the date of both Abraham Lincoln's shooting in 1865 and Titanic hitting the iceberg. (In both cases, however, it wasn't until after midnight, and therefore April 15, that the final act of the drama played itself out.) In this song Welch links those events to memories of a small-time rock show witnessed as a teenager, and by implication the mingled glamor and tragedy of life as a whole.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Krugman on Christie

In the larger scheme of things, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey may not be that big a deal. But he perfectly exemplifies conservative tendencies nowadays, and does so in two of the largest metropolitan areas in the US. Krugman explains.

Mr. Christie’s big move — the one that will define his record — was his unilateral decision back in 2010 to cancel work that was already under way on a new rail tunnel linking New Jersey with New York. At the time, Mr. Christie claimed that he was just being fiscally responsible, while critics said that he had canceled the project just so he could raid it for funds.

Now the independent Government Accountability Office has weighed in with a report on the controversy, and it confirms everything the critics were saying.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Majority of Republicans Want US Out of Afghanistan

Wasn't expecting this.

Public support for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low, with only 30 percent of respondents saying it has been worth fighting.
Since the 2001 invasion, almost 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 15,000 have been wounded in Afghanistan. According to the poll, two-thirds of Americans think the war has not been worth fighting, equaling the most negative public assessments of the U.S. war effort in Iraq.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Van Dyke Parks - Donovan's Colours (Alternate Mix)

The original version is on the Song Cycle album; this version was released only last year on the Arrangements Volume 1 album.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Janis Joplin - A Woman Left Lonely

Written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. Nice Hammond organ solo in the middle.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Earliest Dickens Film - The Death of Poor Joe (1901)

A bit of history. This is a recently discovered film made sometime before March 1901 in London, and it depicts the death of the crossing-sweeper Jo (not "Joe" as in the official title of the film) from the novel Bleak House. To give some idea of how old this film is, Queen Victoria, monarch of Britain for most of the 1800s, had died in January 1901.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

G. F. Handel - I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

From Messiah. Sylvia McNair with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mike Campbell - My Guitars (Part 1)

I've posted occasionally about guitars and guitar players, and in that vein here's the first installment in a series that Mike Campbell is doing about his guitars. Not particularly technical, but I guess they're trying to reach a wider audience than just geeks like me.

For some reason I can't get the embed to work, but if you click on the link in the screen below it'll take you to a watchable page.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Kristof on the Fed and Inflation

Dr K speaks. I hope enough people listen.

Large parts of the private sector continue to be crippled by the overhang of debt accumulated during the bubble years; this debt burden is arguably the main thing holding private spending back and perpetuating the slump. Modest inflation would, however, reduce that overhang — by eroding the real value of that debt — and help promote the private-sector recovery we need.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Wasn't expecting this. Good news is so rare I'm not sure how to handle it.

Four New Orleans police officers have been sentenced to decades in prison over the killing of two people and wounding of four others fleeing the massive flooding of the city by hurricane Katrina. A fifth officer was sent to jail for his role in a web of fabrications to cover up the true circumstances of the shootings on the Danziger bridge in 2005.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Soul Stirrers (featuring Sam Cooke) - Nearer to Thee

From The Great 1955 Shrine Concert, this is Sam Cooke a couple of years before he began his secular singing career.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Charles Mingus - A Foggy Day

Mid-fifties Mingus. The album Pithecanthropus Erectus is considered by some to be the first "real" Mingus, in which his characteristic traits as an arranger are first fully realized by his band. In this case the impressions of London traffic sounds blend with the musical performance in an interesting and deliberately rough way. Not at all rough is the flawless swing in every beat.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Earl Scruggs & Joan Baez - Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word

Apparently recorded in JB's living room. One of the Bob Dylan songs that Bob Dylan never recorded.