Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kev Thompson - Auld Lang Syne

About as close as you may get to hearing it as it was originally sung. Happy new year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What Has Obama Done For You?

Thomas Lane of Talking Points Memo provides an answer.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Charles P. Pierce on Skocpol and Williamson's Analysis of the Tea Party

Sometimes the obvious needs to be pointed out. From Pierce's blog at

The Tea Party is nothing more than the hard right wing of the Republican party, rebranded by the more conservative end of its corporate wing. It's approximately as "new" as the 1964 Republican national platform and, that being the case, will disappear again as soon as another Republican wins the White House.

H/t Atrios.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RIP Sam Rivers

Sam Rivers died Monday at the age of eighty-eight. A prominent figure in the jazz avant-garde of the last fifty years, for a brief period in the early sixties he played in Miles Davis's band. According to Wikipedia he was too free a player for Miles at the time, and when he was replaced by Wayne Shorter, Miles's "Second Great Quintet" was complete and went on to its own glory. Rivers maintained his own career, but to memorialize him today we'll hear this example of his work with Miles.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Irish Rovers - Good King Wenceslas

Today is the feast day of St. Stephen, which is mentioned in this traditional Christmas song.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gail Collins on the Establishment Republicans vs. the Tea Party

Ms. Collins, as she is capable of doing, pretty much nails it.

I think the moral here is pretty clear. We have talked for nearly three years about how the Tea Party is terrorizing the Republican establishment, until the old country-club, deal-making model was verging on extinction. But it now appears that if the new populist right does something that actually endangers the well-being of the old, entitled right, the establishment will rise up and slap those little whippersnappers down faster than you can say Mitch McConnell.

Friday, December 23, 2011

House Republicans Cave

From Politico:

Boehner knew the year-end fight to renew the payroll tax would be bad — but he couldn’t possibly have anticipated how bad it would get. Obama always knew the fight would be good for him — but not this good. It got the president not only the tax cut he wanted but provided a jolt for Democrats anxious about 2012 who felt Obama had been played by House Republicans in earlier negotiations.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Roberta Flack / Donny Hathaway - Where Is The Love

Ralph MacDonald, whose death was announced yesterday, was a percussionist whose work landed him on dozens (if not more) albums in the seventies. He was also a skilled songwriter, co-writing this song with William Salter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hitchens via Pollitt

Katha Pollitt, a longtime colleague of Christopher Hitchens, presents a measured perspective of him. H/t Atrios.

So far, most of the eulogies of Christopher have come from men, and there’s a reason for that. He moved in a masculine world, and for someone who prided himself on his wide-ranging interests, he had virtually no interest in women’s writing or women’s lives or perspectives. I never got the impression from anything he wrote about women that he had bothered to do the most basic kinds of reading and thinking, let alone interviewing or reporting—the sort of workup he would do before writing about, say, G.K. Chesterton, or Scientology or Kurdistan. It all came off the top of his head, or the depths of his id. Women aren’t funny. Women shouldn’t need to/want to/get to have a job. The Dixie Chicks were “fucking fat slags” (not “sluts,” as he misremembered later). And then of course there was his 1989 column in which he attacked legal abortion and his cartoon version of feminism as “possessive individualism.” I don’t suppose I ever really forgave Christopher for that.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Krugman on the Incipient Chinese Financial Crisis


Some commentators say not to worry, that China has strong, smart leaders who will do whatever is necessary to cope with a downturn. Implied though not often stated is the thought that China can do what it takes because it doesn’t have to worry about democratic niceties.

To me, however, these sound like famous last words. After all, I remember very well getting similar assurances about Japan in the 1980s, where the brilliant bureaucrats at the Ministry of Finance supposedly had everything under control. And later, there were assurances that America would never, ever, repeat the mistakes that led to Japan’s lost decade — when we are, in reality, doing even worse than Japan did.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

They're Out

Last American military base in Iraq is closed. From the Washington Post:

The last of the troops left Contingency Operating Base Adder about 2:30 a.m. Kuwait time for the 218-mile trek through the empty, dark desert to the border. In contrast to the U.S. invasion in 2003, the final American convoy, made up of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, drew little notice from Iraqis. The road from the U.S. base to the border was almost entirely deserted, which was the way the U.S. military wanted it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Last Days of Hitch

The British novelist Ian McEwan shares a reminiscence of his old friend as he approached the end of his life.

Friday, December 16, 2011

RIP Christopher Hitchens

I'm among the people who admired him more at the beginning than at the end -- his full-throated support of the Iraq war betrayed a lack of critical thinking that was surprising from someone who prided himself on being a much more rigorous and tough-minded thinker than most political writers -- but there's no doubt that he brought something rare to the American political scene. He never pandered to his readers: for example, although mostly conservative, he was a staunch, even fierce, atheist until the end. The Guardian appreciation is here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Iraq War Officially Ends

It's telling and sad that this story is not the top story on the Washington Post website (at the NY Times it is). I usually post a short quote from the article I link to, but this one is so carefully non-analytical about the war itself that there's not much point. Over 4500 Americans died (along with many more Iraqis), tens of thousands of Americans were left permanently injured (again, even more Iraqis). And for what? The supposedly liberal WaPo carefully avoids drawing any conclusions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spike Jones - Sabre Dance

Happy 100th birthday to the late Spike Jones, who was an avatar of some force -- I'm not sure which -- of which this world has too little.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Freddie King - Have You Ever Loved A Woman

I noted Laura Nyro's selection for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week, but somehow missed that Freddie King, one of the great electric guitarists of the blues, also made it in. Here he performs one of his signature songs, which was also performed by his disciple Eric Clapton on the Layla album.

Monday, December 12, 2011

E. J. Dionne on Obama's Evolving Foreign Policy

Mr. Dionne makes an interesting point that I hadn't seen before.

Something important has happened to President Obama’s foreign policy. For some time after he took office, he only rarely spoke out for human rights or used the word “democracy.” In the wake of the George W. Bush years, he was focused on rebuilding alliances and moving toward both a more measured and prudent use of American power. It was an approach much closer to the old-fashioned realism practiced by the first President Bush....This is evolving, as [Secretary] Clinton’s excellent week brought home. Like the elder Bush, Obama remains a foreign policy realist, but the Arab Spring may have encouraged him to speak ever more forcefully about democracy and human rights. The intervention in Libya — careful, limited, but effective — was a signal moment.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly, Part 5

This is getting depressing in more than one sense of the word. Krugman explains.

The crisis really has settled some major issues in economics. Unfortunately, too many people — including many economists — won’t accept the answers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Donny Hathaway - A Song For You

How about Donny Hathaway's version of the song we heard Amy Winehouse do a couple of days ago?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Amy Winehouse - A Song For You

From the new collection of unreleased material Lioness. Amy covers Donny Hathaway covering Leon Russell. The bit of dialogue at the end where she talks about Hathaway -- "Donny Hathaway, like....he couldn't contain himself, he had somethin' in him, you know?" -- was obviously included because she might as well be talking about herself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Laura Nyro - It's Gonna Take a Miracle

Laura Nyro, who died in 1997, was chosen to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today. She's best known as a songwriter who wrote hits for others, so to vary things let's play a song that she sings but didn't write. This is the title song from her 1971 album of covers, featuring material that she loved from the early sixties, songs that had heavily influenced her own songwriting. She's accompanied by LaBelle, and the moment near the end where the four women's voices blend in a near-a-capella moment is, well, just listen for yourself.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Krugman on the Republican Presidential Race

Looking at the same situation as Dionne yesterday, Krugman makes some of the same points but from a different perspective.

The larger point, however, is that whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won’t be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process.

Monday, December 5, 2011

E. J. Dionne on the Republican Presidential Race

Dionne makes sense, which by today's standards means he's an insane liberal.

But what’s going on is not just a Romney problem. The Republican Party’s core electorate has changed radically since 2008 — and even then John McCain won the nomination against the wishes of many on the Republican right because the opposition to him was splintered.

A party that lived by the tea crowd in 2010 is being severely hobbled by it now. The Republican right wants the kind of purity that led it to take candidates such as Cain and Bachmann with great seriousness for a while. The same folks took Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller seriously in the 2010 Senate primaries, too. None of them got elected.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bob Dylan - Visions of Johanna

A solo live version from (I think) 1966, shortly after it was written.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yr Space Pix: Vesta Rotates

Isaac Asimov early in his career wrote a story called "Marooned off Vesta," which is where I first remember hearing of this large asteroid. Now we get close-up pics of it. Ah, modern times...

H/t DarkSyde @ DailyKos.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly, Part 5

Krugman lays it out does not look good.

How did things go so wrong? The answer you hear all the time is that the euro crisis was caused by fiscal irresponsibility. Turn on your TV and you’re very likely to find some pundit declaring that if America doesn’t slash spending we’ll end up like Greece. Greeeeeece!

But the truth is nearly the opposite. Although Europe’s leaders continue to insist that the problem is too much spending in debtor nations, the real problem is too little spending in Europe as a whole. And their efforts to fix matters by demanding ever harsher austerity have played a major role in making the situation worse.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Romney Stumbles, or Was Tripped

From TPM:

Nor is this out of character for Mitt. The guy doesn’t like getting questioned too hard or pressed too closely. That’s not altogether surprising given the life Mitt’s led. But he shows it. Remember the debate six weeks ago when Rick Perry finally took his geritol and managed to seriously get under Mitt’s skin on the illegal immigration issue? There’s a difficult to describe mix of surprise, put-off-edness and testiness that he exhibits in these cases.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good News on the Global Financial Front?

We'll see. From the Washington Post.

The world’s major central banks made it easier Wednesday for banks to get dollars if they need them, a coordinated move to ease the strains on the global financial system.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1812 Overture (according to Ken Russell)

Can't let Ken Russell's passing pass, so to speak, without one more mention. This is from The Music Lovers, his "biopic" of Tchaikovsky, and shows well how Russell earned his reputation as a brilliant lunatic fascinated by brilliant lunatics.

Monday, November 28, 2011

RIP Ken Russell

In the words of William Blake, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." One of my favorite filmmakers for a long time now. The Guardian has a full account of his career.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

David Ackles - Laissez-Faire

This song actually ties in with much recent political discussion. From 1968.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Krugman on The Elite of the Economic Elite

Dr. K explains why talking about the 99.9% tells you more than does talking about the 99%.

The economic crisis showed that much of the apparent value created by modern finance was a mirage. As the Bank of England’s director for financial stability recently put it, seemingly high returns before the crisis simply reflected increased risk-taking — risk that was mostly borne not by the wheeler-dealers themselves but either by naïve investors or by taxpayers, who ended up holding the bag when it all went wrong. And as he waspishly noted, “If risk-making were a value-adding activity, Russian roulette players would contribute disproportionately to global welfare.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) - Sly & the Family Stone Live on Soul Train

Give thanks.

Thanksgiving is a USA holiday, but wherever you are in the world, you can participate in one aspect of the day: think of something that you're thankful for. Me, I'm grateful that even though I know the rules of English grammar I'm not such a pedant that I won't end a sentence with a preposition. There are other things too, of course...such as YouTube, where it's possible to find a forty-year-old clip of a rare live version of one of Sly's biggest hits.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ooh Child - The Five Stairsteps

Sometimes when I read the news I end up thinking of this song. I thought I'd posted it before but couldn't find it in the archives, so it's fair game.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Krugman on What the Markets Really Want

It's a version of arcane hermeneutics, like Kremlinology during the Cold War, where tiny signs require detailed interpretation. Krugman explains what some recent market behavior means. H/t Atrios.

But if you read the Bloomberg piece carefully, what it actually says is that market players fear that the absence of a debt deal means no stimulus. So the actual fear is not that spending won’t be cut enough, it is that it will be cut too much — which actually makes sense, and is consistent with the action in stock and bond markets.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Victim at Center of Penn State Scandal Bullied at School

I'd say it's unbelievable, but sadly I have no trouble believing it. From ABC News:

The mother of the alleged victim, who set off the investigation that has rocked the world of college sports and led to 40 counts of child sexual assault against Sandusky, told ABC News that students at her son's high school blame him for triggering the sex abuse scandal that led to the firing of Paterno, the beloved head coach who oversaw the university's Nittany Lions football team for 46 years.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Income Inequality in the United States

Mark Sumner at DailyKos -- click through to see the stunning graphics.

That's how America looks to corporations and organizations who are piloted by these Godzillas of the 1%. Why should they be bothered if their massive strides should squash a few ants in passing? What difference does it make if their corporate colony gets its ants from China, or Cambodia, or wherever is cheap this week, rather than American ants? The 1% measure value by wealth, and the ants don't have any. You put all the ants together, and they still can't match even the beetles that live at the 90% mark. Actually, ants are bit of an exaggeration. You know those tiny black ants that try to invade your kitchen in the spring? Compared to the fiscal titans of the 1%, you're not that big. Think more along the lines of dust mite.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kathleen Parker on Republican Candidates and Republican Voters

I generally don't cite Republican pundits, but Kathleen Parker seems willing to confront a few hard truths about her party. Of course, she's one of the conservative writers at the Washington Post, which for most Republicans would mean that she's a liberal Democrat until proven otherwise.

The Republican base requires that candidates tack away from science toward the theistic position — only God controls climate. More to the point, Rush Limbaugh says that climate change is a hoax and so it must be. Huntsman may as well be a Democrat.

It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual Republican base. Call it the Palinization of the GOP, in which the least informed earns the loudest applause. The latest to this spectacle is Herman Cain, who has figured out how to turn his liabilities into assets. After fumbling for an answer during an editorial board meeting to a simple question about his position on Libya, a lead news item since February, Cain blamed — who else? — the media.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Krugman on the Committee That is Super

Krugman isn't shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater, he's quietly pointing out that the theater is on fire. Someday the NYT will cut him loose under pressure from the right, so enjoy him while you can.

So the supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work?

Well, maybe the idea was that the parties would compromise out of fear that there would be a political price for seeming intransigent. But this could only happen if the news media were willing to point out who is really refusing to compromise. And they aren’t. If and when the supercommittee fails, virtually all news reports will be he-said, she-said, quoting Democrats who blame Republicans and vice versa without ever explaining the truth.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Mountains That You Can't See

Cool stuff.

The Gamburtsevs are the size of the European Alps and yet they are totally buried beneath the Antarctic ice. Their discovery in the 1950s was a major surprise. Most people had assumed the rock bed deep within the continent would be flat and featureless....[A] multinational effort in 2008/2009 flew aircraft back and forth across the east of the White Continent, mapping the shape of the hidden mountain system using ice-penetrating radar.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Great Plains, Small Towns, Hispanics

This is interesting, partly for its own sake and partly for what it suggests about the political future of some of the reddest states. H/t kos.

For generations, the story of the small rural town of the Great Plains, including the dusty tabletop landscape of western Kansas, has been one of exodus — of businesses closing, classrooms shrinking and, year after year, communities withering as fewer people arrive than leave and as fewer are born than are buried. That flight continues, but another demographic trend has breathed new life into the region.

Hispanics are arriving in numbers large enough to offset or even exceed the decline in the white population in many places. In the process, these new residents are reopening shuttered storefronts with Mexican groceries, filling the schools with children whose first language is Spanish and, for now at least, extending the lives of communities that seemed to be staggering toward the grave.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Life by the Drop

Doyle Bramhall (not to be confused with his son Doyle Bramhall II, most widely known for playing guitar with Eric Clapton) died over the weekend. He was a mainstay of the Austin blues scene since the 1970s, and acted as something of a mentor to Stevie Ray Vaughan. This continued throughout Stevie's career: when Doyle entered recovery for his substance abuse problems in the 1980s, he later was able to encourage Stevie when he did the same thing. One result of that process was this song, co-written by Bramhall.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

CAROL KAYE interview/video chat about her work with BRIAN WILSON on THE BEACH BOYS` "SMiLE" sessions

I love the twenty-first century. A German interviewer and an LA musician using webcams to discuss Brian Wilson and the Smile sessions. If you're a certain type of music fan, this is heaven.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly, Part 4

Dr K explains.

But what’s the meaning of the eurodebacle? As always happens when disaster strikes, there’s a rush by ideologues to claim that the disaster vindicates their views. So it’s time to start debunking.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Step Aside, Bill

Chait via DeLong via Atrios: Daley’s Demotion: How Washington Elites Got Obama Wrong.

But the interesting legacy of Daley’s tenure is not his mechanical performance. It’s that he conducted an experiment based on the Washington elite view of the Obama presidency. That view, shared by business leaders, centrist pundits, and other elites, holds that Obama’s main problem has been excessive partisanship, liberalism in general, and hostility to business in particular....Daley, pursuing his theory, heavily courted business leaders. He made long-term deficit reduction a top priority, and spent hours with Republican leaders, meeting them three-quarters of the way in hopes of securing a deal that would demonstrate his centrism and bipartisanship. The effort failed completely.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Solo Guitar Version of "Wonderful" by the Beach Boys

From the same era of the Beach Boys as yesterday's song, "Wonderful" is here rearranged beautifully for acoustic guitar. In fact it's a Django Reinhardt-style guitar, although the musical style is very different.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Beach Boys - Cabinessence

This is one of the songs on the new Smile Sessions release, but this version was first released on the 20/20 album. It's a great example of the kind of music that was coming out of Brian Wilson's head in 1967, and how different it was from what had come before: "Shut Down" had not had a banjo, or harmonica and flute playing in contrary motion, like this song does. Have you seen the Grand Coulee working on the railroad?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Miles Davis - Konda

Another track from the Complete Jack Johnson Sessions. Recorded in the spring of 1970.

Miles Davis (trumpet)
Keith Jarrett (electric piano)
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Airto Moreira (percussion)

Friday, November 4, 2011

GWAR - Release the Flies

RIP Cory Smoot, better known as Flattus Maximus, who besides being lead guitarist for GWAR performed the lead vocal on this song.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse at the Circus

Krazy Kat was a comic strip phenomenon and never really made much of a splash in films, but the attempt was made, as seen here. If you're not familiar with the Kat, go to the official website and check the Wikipedia entry. The appreciation of Krazy Kat in artistic circles was an early element in the creation of what we now think of as the cultural entity known as pop art.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Greek Referendum

Not sure if it's accurate, but very interesting if so. From Robert Kuttner at the American Prospect. H/t Atrios.

What is the Greek leader up to?

On one level, Papandreou is simply weary of being the agent of his own country’s economic destruction at the hands of bankers. He also is tired of the political unpopularity that comes with the role of broker of austerity.

But more important, Papandreou is resisting a double-cross already being cooked up by the bankers. He is playing the one card he has: If the bankers walk away from the partial debt relief committed in principle at the recent EU summit, Greece will default. And Papandreou wants that decision to be made, knowingly, by the Greek people and not by technocrats.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Miles Davis - Go Ahead John (1/3)

A different version of the music posted two days ago. This is the way it was released on the Big Fun album.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Krugman on Republican Hypocrisy, Part XXXVII

Maybe shamelessness is a survival instinct. Krugman discusses why Republican members of Congress want to cut all types of government spending except big weapons systems.

But why would anyone prefer spending on destruction to spending on construction, prefer building weapons to building bridges?

John Maynard Keynes himself offered a partial answer 75 years ago, when he noted a curious “preference for wholly ‘wasteful’ forms of loan expenditure rather than for partly wasteful forms, which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.” Indeed. Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, “Solyndra! Waste!” Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Miles Davis - Go Ahead John (Part 2 [A])

Some of the music being made in the spring of 1970. From The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions, Miles creates a musical environment in which John McLaughlin lets loose. McLaughlin on guitar, Dave Holland on electric bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Steve Grossman on soprano sax. Miles lays out, but his presence is everywhere.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly, Part 3

There actually may be a light at the end of the tunnel. No, really.

If you’ve been reading accounts of the financial crisis, or watching film treatments like the excellent “Inside Job,” you know that Iceland was supposed to be the ultimate economic disaster story: its runaway bankers saddled the country with huge debts and seemed to leave the nation in a hopeless position.

But a funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland’s very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules. Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Draughtsman's Contract - Opening Scene

Peter Greenaway is sort of the anti-Michael Bay, gaining small audiences while doing intelligent work. Like Bay, however, he never pretends that he's showing the viewer something realistic. IF you haven't seen any of his work, it's definitely worth seeking out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Your Morning Python

In 1975, ABC had a not particularly successful morning show called AM America. To boost their ratings, one morning they had three members of Monty Python -- Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, and Eric Idle -- more or less co-hosting while promoting their new movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The results were predictable if you knew the Pythons, but apparently came as a surprise to the people running the show. H/t HuffPo.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly, Part 2

Yes, it is possible for things to get even worse. And the sad thing is that it could be avoided, but there are no indications that it will be. Krugman explains.

The story of postwar Europe is deeply inspiring. Out of the ruins of war, Europeans built a system of peace and democracy, constructing along the way societies that, while imperfect — what society isn’t? — are arguably the most decent in human history.
Yet that achievement is under threat because the European elite, in its arrogance, locked the Continent into a monetary system that recreated the rigidities of the gold standard, and — like the gold standard in the 1930s — has turned into a deadly trap.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Miles Davis - Walkin'

The second great quintet, in Germany in 1967, tearing into a song from Miles's early fifties period. Tony Williams, who'd been with Miles for four years, was still only about twenty-one.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Johnny Thunder - I'm Alive

In an interview he gave in 1969, Bob Dylan said that this was one of the best songs he'd heard recently.

Friday, October 21, 2011

RIP Barry Feinstein

Hate to do two RIPs in a row, but Barry Feinstein was an often unnoticed but significant part of popular music in the sixties and seventies, and his passing deserves notice. His NY Times obituary has the details, as well as some examples of his best-known work.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Spirits of Rhythm - Nobody's Sweetheart

Still following up on musicians who were favorites of Jerry Wexler. The Spirits of Rhythm were a string jazz band, as opposed to the far more common horn bands. Their energy in this 1933 recording drives the song, but the musicianship, top-notch all the way, lifts it to become something memorable.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

RIP Sue Mengers

Probably the only Hollywood agent I ever knew much about, Sue Mengers was a towering behind-the-scenes figure in the 1970s film industry. Here are appreciations from the L.A. Times and Vanity Fair. Recommended viewing: What's Up Doc, which starred two of her clients (Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal) and was directed by a third (Peter Bogdanovich), plus S.O.B., in which Shelley Winters plays a character based on her (not very flatteringly, but then Mengers and Blake Edwards did not get along).

Monday, October 17, 2011


A sparrow came up to pick food off the ground while I was eating outdoors at a restaurant.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Ravens - Summertime

Another one of Jerry Wexler's favorite acts, about whom I knew very little until I read his autobiography. (He didn't produce them, he was a fan.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Eddie Hinton - Very Blue Highway

Still on a kick of posting musicians that Jerry Wexler mentioned admiringly in his autobiography. Eddie Hinton was one of the session players associated with the Muscle Shoals scene, but then began to carve out a career as a songwriter and singer. He never became as famous as his admirers thought he deserved. Still, the body of work he left is still resonating today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs - AV Club's Take

There may be better appreciations of Steve Jobs out there, but this is the best one I've read. From the AV Club:

But all revolutionaries, once they actually change the world, become the de facto establishment. And it’s to Jobs’ credit that—no matter how many hubristic quotes there are collected on the Internet, or reports you will find of his difficulty as a boss, or the amount of exacting control he exercised over his products—he always, always strove to use his powers for good, and reward his followers for their incredible loyalty. And reward them he did, time and again.
The Apple II, the Macintosh, the iMac, the iPad—for many, Jobs’ computers were all they ever knew, and they were the tools that helped them create just about everything they ever did in their lifetimes. (It's no surprise I’m writing Jobs’ obituary on a MacBook Pro; ever since I played my first game of Oregon Trail on an early Macintosh, I've done nearly all of my personal computing on a Jobs invention.) And as if these things alone weren’t enough to earn Jobs a huge debt of gratitude, he also changed music—the way we listen to it, the way it’s bought and sold, even the way it’s envisioned by its creators—nearly overnight.
The iPod was an invention that was so forward-thinking that no one even knew they were supposed to want one until it was announced—and then, setting a pattern for so many Apple products to follow, everyone absolutely needed one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Krugman on Thin-Skinned Billionaires

The K-man lays it out.

What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Faux Candidate in Arizona

The prime mover behind Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration, State Senate president Russell Pearce, angered so many people that a recall campaign against him was created. In the subsequent special election, a candidate appeared out of nowhere, a Mexican immigrant, who turned out to have been persuaded to enter the race by none other than people working with Pearce, in an apparent attempt to split the votes of those who oppose him. From the NYTimes:

Critics of Mr. Pearce’s hard-line approach to illegal immigration collected enough signatures to force him into a recall election in November. But allies of Mr. Pearce, who is one of the state’s most powerful politicians, did not take that humiliation lightly. They recruited Ms. Cortes in what was an effort to split the anti-Pearce vote, particularly among Latinos, a judge later found.....It remained unclear who exactly financed Ms. Cortes’s short-lived campaign.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bert Jansch - Blackwater Side

I neglected to note the passing this week of Bert Jansch, deeply influential English guitarist. Here he performs one of his best-known songs, "Blackwater Side." It's based on an old folk song, and was later appropriated by Jimmy Page for his "Black Mountain Side," which puts Jansch somewhere in the middle, somehow, I guess. But it's wonderful stuff, and if you don't know his work you should check him out, especially if you play guitar.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs - "The Crazy Ones"

One more Steve Jobs post. The version of this ad that was aired used the voice of Richard Dreyfuss, but the first version had Jobs himself providing the narration. Here's what it sounds like.

At the Wikipedia page for this ad there is a list of the people shown in the ad.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs


If you really care about digital technology, then as Leonard Cohen once put it, "Everybody got this broken feeling / Like their father or their dog just died."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Augustus Pablo - King Tubby's Meets Rockers Uptown

Augustus Pablo is the credited performer, but what makes this performance is King Tubby's mixing. Considered by some to be the best dub ever.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Digby Said About What Herman Cain Said

Are things ever going to get better? La Digby as usual gets to the nub of things.

"Playing the race card" has a very specific meaning. It means mentioning Republican racism.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Krugman on US Response to China's Currency Policy

Cross your fingers, maybe something good will happen.

In the last few days a new objection to action on the China issue has surfaced: right-wing pressure groups, notably the influential Club for Growth, oppose tariffs on Chinese goods because, you guessed it, they’re a form of taxation — and we must never, ever raise taxes under any circumstances. All I can say is that Democrats should welcome this demonstration that antitax fanaticism has reached the point where it trumps standing up for our national interests.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Train to Mars

This is very cool. It's been proved that space travel is possible -- the next step is to show that it can be practical and routine. H/t DailyKos.

Friday, September 30, 2011

RIP Sylvia Robinson

Sylvia Robinson has died at the age of seventy-five. To mark the occasion, here are two of the songs with which she was associated: the first as performer, the second, a quarter of a century later, as producer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Miles Davis - Baby Won't You Please Come Home

Miles Davis left the planet twenty years ago today, so we note the occasion. Obviously there are many songs to choose from, and I've posted this one before, but it's a lesser-known gem that I always return to. From 1963, backed by the germinal form of the Second Great Quintet (no Wayne Shorter at this point).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tommy Quickly - Kiss Me Now

Early sixties homegrown English pop music. The Buddy Holly influence is strong.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weather Report - A Remark You Made

I was in a conversation recently about Jaco Pastorius, and thought of this song. It was written by Josef Zawinul and the primary soloist is Wayne Shorter, but Jaco's contribution is huge, even though his part is fairly simple. The original studio version is better in some ways, but this is still excellent -- and Jaco's smile at one point is priceless.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Digby Said About What Michael Tomasky Said

Easiest just to go read it. Basically, there's good reason to think that Perry bests Romney in spite of the fact that he's a clumsier candidate.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Krugman on the Taxing Disparity

"Class warfare" -- yeesh. Krugman explains.

One consequence of the shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work is the creation of many situations in which — just as Warren Buffett and Mr. Obama say — people with multimillion-dollar incomes, who typically derive much of that income from capital gains and other sources that face low taxes, end up paying a lower overall tax rate than middle-class workers. And we’re not talking about a few exceptional cases.

According to new estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, one-fourth of those with incomes of more than $1 million a year pay income and payroll tax of 12.6 percent of their income or less, putting their tax burden below that of many in the middle class.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


A cover of one of my favorite REM songs, by a YouTuber. I loved them in the beginning but gradually grew disenchanted, but, well, they once mattered, which means to one degree or another they always will.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Randy Newman - Dixie Flyer

R. Newman is, when you look behind his reputation with the public at large (based mostly on "Short People" and the Toy Story movies), a writer of some very sad, sweet, and strange songs. Here's a perfect example.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Krugman on the Continuing Crisis

I was thinking that it makes me feel bad when Krugman tells the truth, but then realized that it doesn't make me feel as bad as when the Foxbots don't.

Consider, in particular, what is happening to America’s manufacturing base. In normal times manufacturing capacity rises 2 or 3 percent every year. But faced with a persistently weak economy, industry has been reducing, not increasing, its productive capacity. At this point, according to Federal Reserve estimates, manufacturing capacity is almost 5 percent lower than it was in December 2007.

What this means is that if and when a real recovery finally gets going, the economy will run into capacity constraints and production bottlenecks much sooner than it should. That is, the weak economy, which is partly the result of budget-cutting, is hurting the future as well as the present.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Al Kooper - The Great American Marriage/Nothing

Another song from long ago, but not quite so long ago as the previous one.

Tangle Eye Blues

Got busy and didn't post yesterday, so two today. First is a song by a prisoner in Parchman Farm penitentiary in Mississippi, recorded by Alan Lomax in the late 1940s. I don't have the liner notes so unfortunately can't provide the singer's name.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jimi Hendrix - If 6 Was 9

Mr H left us on this date a long time ago now. This is the song with the line, "I'm the one that's going to have to die when it's time for me to let me live my life...the way I want to."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Benny Golson - Out Of Nowhere

A curiosity.

A friend recently loaned me a CD reissue of an album from 1962 that was one of those recordings meant to demonstrate the wonders of stereo. Benny Golson was hired to create arrangements of jazz standards in two forms: a jazz version and a "pop" version. The pop version would have strings, the other would have jazz horn players. (The musicians themselves were all A-list, including Eric Dolphy and Bill Evans.) The kicker is that the two versions would share the piano/bass/drums rhythm section, and the pop version would play in one stereo channel with the jazz version in the other. Therefore, according to the liner notes, the buyer would get three times as much entertainment: listen only to the left channel for the pop version, only to the right for the jazz, or both together for...something else.

Which is what this version is. Try listening to one side at a time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Henry Qualls - Motherless Children

Sometimes called the last of the country blues musicians, Henry Qualls didn't get much attention until the nineties, when he began recording regularly and playing blues festivals. Here he is in the studio in 1994. He died in 2003.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly

When you think that things can't get any worse on the world's financial stage, along come the leaders of the European Central Bank...

Financial turmoil in Europe is no longer a problem of small, peripheral economies like Greece. What’s under way right now is a full-scale market run on the much larger economies of Spain and Italy. At this point countries in crisis account for about a third of the euro area’s G.D.P., so the common European currency itself is under existential threat.

And all indications are that European leaders are unwilling even to acknowledge the nature of that threat, let alone deal with it effectively.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


This photo was taken on the morning of September 11, 2001, by an astronaut on the shuttle. We are looking at the New York City metropolitan area. A trail of smoke from the twin towers goes from the center to the right.

The MSNBC article which has this pic is here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Scene from the Bastrop Fire

From the Austin American-Statesman, a car that was burned and partially melted.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jefferson Airplane - Thunk

Some late early psychedelia, so to speak. From 1972, a composition by their then drummer, Joe E. Covington.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Republican Looks at Republicans

This article by a former Republican congressional staffer has been making the rounds. Who am I to stand in its way? H/t Atrios.

This constant drizzle of "there the two parties go again!" stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends. The United States has nearly the lowest voter participation among Western democracies; this, again, is a consequence of the decline of trust in government institutions - if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mike Bloomfield - My Labors

A live version I'd never heard before from 1975, with Nick Gravenites singing his own composition. The reggae arrangement makes this notably different from the original 1969 studio recording.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sting - You Can Close Your Eyes

The world's best-known lutenist (although not the world's best lutenist) does a James Taylor cover.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


One of the last few survivors of the original Mississippi Delta blues scene of the 1920-30s has died at the age of ninety-five. Along with the passing of Pinetop Perkins earlier this year, we lose one more link to a time and place so vital that it still resonates decades later.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Krugman on Science and the Republican Frontrunners

Trying not to feel hopeless...

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

WaPo: 2012 Budget Battle May Not Be a Battle After All

Reading between the lines: seeing the recent polls, Republican leaders in Congress have decided to block attempts by freshmen to cause more trouble. From the Washington Post.

But in recent weeks, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have each indicated that Congress should accept the $1.043 trillion funding limit set in the recent deal to raise the nation’s legal borrowing limit, and have been urging that topline number on their GOP colleagues.

Friday, August 26, 2011

We're Screwed, Part Whatever, Plus One


Obviously, the U.S. economy remains deeply depressed, and under normal conditions we would expect the Fed to pump it up by cutting interest rates. But the interest rates the Fed normally targets — basically rates on short-term U.S. government debt — are already near zero. So what can the Fed do?

Well, in 2000 an economist named Ben Bernanke offered a number of proposals for policy at the “zero lower bound.” True, the paper was focused on policy in Japan, not the United States. But America is now very much in a Japan-type economic trap, only more acute. So we learn a lot by asking why Ben Bernanke 2011 isn’t taking the advice of Ben Bernanke 2000.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

John Lennon - Stand By Me

In spite of having Lennon's name at the top, this post is meant to commemorate Jerry Leiber, who died on Tuesday. But I thought it would be good to use this recording as an example of the influence of Leiber and Stoller (joined as songwriters in this case by the original singer of this song, Ben E. King) -- after all, Lennon is singing this song because it had clearly burned itself into his memory when he was young. From the mid-fifties to mid-sixties, Leiber and Stoller were everywhere in pop music, but weren't noticed that much because they weren't performers, they were songwriters and producers. Their influence was huge, however, and everyone affected by the music of that era has been affected by them. RIP Jerome Leiber.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Who - The Ox

Keith Moon was born on this date in 1946. To mark the occasion, here's a drum showcase from the first Who album.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mondo Cane - Trailer

From the NY Times:

Gualtiero Jacopetti, Maker of ‘Mondo Cane,’ Dies at 91

Among the more bizarre cultural phenomena of the early sixties. Fascinating exploration of strange human behavior or crappy exploitation flick? You decide.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Octavian in the Senate

Two thousand and fifty-four years ago today, Octavian Caesar essentially forced the Roman senate to elect him consul. This was one of the most significant turning points in the Roman Republic's becoming the Roman Empire. Here's a scene from the HBO series Rome of the young Octavian, already a powerful military figure, making his first appearance in the senate.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

R. B. Greaves - "Take A Letter Maria"

I was interested to learn from Jerry Wexler's autobiography that this song was produced by Ahmet Ertegun himself, whose reputation for appreciating deep strains of African-American music did not preclude him from working on a pure pop song -- and realizing its commercial potential.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Perry in the Spotlight

As annoying, at best, as I find Rick Perry, it's interesting to watch how quickly the knives have come out against him in the mainstream press. Don't misunderstand, he's a creep -- but he's been a creep for a long time. It wasn't until he announced his candidacy for the presidency that this kind of coverage started, though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cantinflas tiene cien años

Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes, known to the world as Cantinflas. In the English-speaking world he's known almost entirely for his supporting role in Around the World in Eighty Days, but in the Spanish-speaking world he was a major star for decades. I had planned to post a clip from the film that made him famous, Ahí está el detalle, in 1940, but apparently the copyright holders aren't allowing that, so head over to YouTube to check it out.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Iron Butterfly - Iron Butterfly Theme

Things were getting weird in '68...

If I remember right, the Morse code at the end spells I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U. Groovy, man.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Riots in England

Didn't see this one coming. From the Guardian.

Buildings were torched, shops ransacked, and officers attacked with makeshift missiles and petrol bombs as gangs of hooded and masked youths laid waste to streets right across the city.

The sheer number of incidents – including in Hackney, Croydon, Peckham, Lewisham, Clapham and Ealing – seemingly overwhelmed the Metropolitan police at times, who had poured 1,700 extra officers onto the streets.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Milton Nascimento - Nada Será Como Antes

I first heard this song in Flora Purim's English language version a long time ago. Brazilian music comes in so many flavors while still being distinctively Brazilian.

Friday, August 5, 2011

We're Screwed, Part DCCXLIII

Thereisnospoon has started posting at Digby's place, and is doing some good stuff.

Wall Street types can't live with American consumers, but can't live without us either. So they get fat at our expense, abuse us, and then wake up one day and suddenly realize we're not quite as hot as we used to be. But we do still pay half the rent, so they can't quite leave us yet, either. So we get schizophrenic jumps and declines in the market, as Wall St. variously ignores and then over-focuses on the American consumer. These people aren't really any smarter than your average beer guzzling philanderer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Deal Passes House

...and passing the House was the biggest hurdle. Count me in the group who are relieved that it's over but somewhat sick about where things stand. From the Post:

House Democrats were, as a group, angry, saying that the democratic process had been overtaken by right-wing ideologues. Many Democrats complained that the White House had ignored them in its negotiations with Republicans. And many were furious that the final deal would do too little to protect programs for the poor, in their view, and would not live up to Obama’s pledge to have a “balanced” approach — higher tax revenue from corporations and the wealthy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Krugman on the Deficit Deal

This is not good.

In fact, Republicans will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats. He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a pattern here.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wall Streeters Realize Tea Party Serious About Default

The dithering and timidity of the Street would be funny if the consequences weren't so serious. From the NYTimes.

Wall Street is no longer watching from the sidelines as the most polarizing political fight in years plays out on Capitol Hill. In the last few days, top executives have been in close contact with Washington in a last-ditch attempt to prod lawmakers toward a compromise by Tuesday, the administration’s deadline to reach a deal.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tommy Johnson - Cool Drink of Water Blues

Something old, something blue. Robert Johnson definitely listened carefully to his older non-relative Tommy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Krugman on the Current Stalemate and the Lure of Centrism

Man alive.

So what’s with the buzz about a centrist uprising? As I see it, it’s coming from people who recognize the dysfunctional nature of modern American politics, but refuse, for whatever reason, to acknowledge the one-sided role of Republican extremists in making our system dysfunctional. And it’s not hard to guess at their motivation. After all, pointing out the obvious truth gets you labeled as a shrill partisan, not just from the right, but from the ranks of self-proclaimed centrists.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Amy Winehouse - You Sent Me Flying

Anyone who can write the line "You sent me flying/When you kicked me to the curb" is an authentic talent. What a loss.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dealing with the Budget

Oh boy. This is like watching the world's biggest train wreck.

Many of the 87 new GOP freshmen were propelled to office by the tea party movement, which distrusts and disdains the establishment in both parties. “Neither side has a middle . . . And I think that’s the main problem. That’s why this is unlike anything else,” said Charles Stewart III, a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said that Boehner is charged with leading a caucus that is primed not to follow him: “I don’t see how this deal is going to happen.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Krugman on Possible Medicare Cuts

Is there any good news anywhere? The Nobelist speaks.

The crucial thing to remember, when we talk about Medicare, is that our goal isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, defined in terms of some arbitrary number. Our goal should be, instead, to give Americans the health care they need at a price the country can afford. And throwing Americans in their mid-60s off Medicare moves us away from that goal, not toward it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse - Amy, Amy, Amy

RIP to someone whose personal turmoil obscured her genuine talent. She was a musician, not an entertainer, and deserves to be remembered for the quality of her best work.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Krugman on the Current Nodes in the Ongoing Economic Crisis

The news is not good.

There’s an old quotation, attributed to various people, that always comes to mind when I look at public policy: “You do not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rebekah Brooks Resigns

How the mighty have fallen. Via the Guardian.

The tide began to turn on Brooks two weeks ago when the Guardian revealed that not only had messages been intercepted on Dowler's voicemail but they had been deleted to make way for new messages, giving her parents false hope that she was still alive.

By Wednesday the question was — did the News of the World get any scoop without hacking into phones, with allegations that it had also snooped on 7/7 victims and Afghan soldiers' families? A scandal that had previously been confined to celebrities and politicians was now threatening to engulf Murdochs' entire newspaper operation, with police confirming that there could be as many as 4,000 victims of the hacking.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dolly Parton - Jolene

After posting Ray LaMontagne's song of the same name, it's only proper to post Dolly Parton's much better-known song. I would have posted Bob Dylan's song that also has the same title, but I couldn't find a good version on YouTube.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Murdoch, NOTW, Hacking, Politicians -- Stir and Mix

The Guardian has the best article I've seen on the News of the World phone hacking scandal as it affects Rupert Murdoch. One tidbit in the article: Tony Blair was undecided on whether the British would join the US invasion of Iraq, but Murdoch convinced him it would be a good idea. Oy, to say the least.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Unemployment and its Discontents

We're doomed.

The unemployment rate climbed to a six-month high of 9.2 percent, even as jobseekers left the labor force in droves, from 9.1 percent in May.

"The message on the economy is ongoing stagnation," said Pierre Ellis, senior economist at Decision economics in New York. "Income growth is marginal so there's no indication of momentum.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Weather Report - The Juggler

Joe Zawinul was born on this date in 1932. "The Juggler" started out as a solo piece of his that other band members contributed to, and was included on their best-known album, Heavy Weather. It's not one of Weather Report's best-known pieces, but it's always been one I keep coming back to.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fats Navarro - The Things We Did Last Summer

At the height of the bebop era in jazz, many aficionados felt that Fats Navarro was the best of the trumpet players. His career seemed assured. Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis (among others) were still productive decades later, but Navarro died on this date in 1950 at twenty-six. He appears in Charles Mingus's autobiography as a character somehow both dreamlike and substantial, which sort of also describes this solo.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Eugene Robinson on the Debt Ceiling Negotiations

ER seems to have a good grasp of the situation.

Every independent, bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel that has looked at the deficit problem has reached the same conclusion: The gap between spending and revenue is much too big to be closed by budget cuts alone. With fervent conviction but zero evidence, Tea Party Republicans believe otherwise — and Establishment Republicans, who know better, are afraid to contradict them.

The difficult work of putting the federal government on sound fiscal footing can’t begin as long as a majority in the House rejects simple arithmetic on ideological grounds.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Paul Simon - American Tune

I've posted a version of this song before, and may well do so again in the future. Paul Simon adapted a piece by Bach around the time US involvement in the Vietnam War was coming to an end and Watergate was starting to heat up. Here he performs it on the BBC a couple of years later with strings. The subtitles in Asian orthography (sorry, I can't tell what language) are a nice reminder that YouTube, as a part of the World Wide Web, does indeed cover the whole wide world. And the last ninety seconds feature Toots Thielemans and Richard Tee doing "Sounds of Silence," and where else are you going to hear that?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bachmann v. Petty

A WaPo columnist has a good take on the dustup about Bachmann using Tom Petty's "American Girl" to kick off her presidential campaign, and Petty's cease-and-desist letter in response.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bound to happen sooner or later...

We've put the nothing-matters-but-stock-prices-because-the-free-market-regulates-itself bean counters in charge of the medical profession. Guess what the result is.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Trim the Deficit

From TPM: the Congressional Budget Office predicts that "deficits will disappear entirely by the end of President Obama's second term (if he gets a second term) if Congress were to just sit on its hands and do nothing."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keith Richards - Locked Away

People generally don't think ballad-with-rich-harmonies when they think of Keith Richards, but lookie what we got here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bob Dylan - Dignity

From his Unplugged session.

"Someone showed me a picture and I just had to laugh;
Dignity never been photographed."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Illusionist - Trailer

By far the finest French animated movie set in Edinburgh in 1959 that I have ever seen. Highly recommended if you liked The Triplets of Belleville and/or Jacques Tati.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Randy Newman - My Life is Good

Newman at perhaps his most cynical, though as usual the delivery is straight-faced. From 1983.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Goodbye Wild Man Fischer

Larry "Wild Man" Fischer died Thursday. The fact that at one point I listened to Wild Man Fischer meant that a lot of other music around at the time sounded very boring. Here's the trailer to Derailroaded, a documentary about him from 2005.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Texas state budget includes spending on commercials for Fortune 500 companies"


State Rep. David Simpson says the state budget lawmakers sent to Gov. Rick Perry spends money in the wrong places — such as on Walmart commercials.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wallace Stevens - Sunday Morning

Don't know who the reader is. I could have posted this on Sunday morning, but I'm posting it now because it's the closest thing to an elegy (although it isn't a true elegy) that says something like what I wanted to say today.

Friday, June 10, 2011

James Taylor - Fire and Rain

Such an iconic song of the easy listening type, it's hard to remember that it's about dealing with a friend's suicide and heroin addiction. But it is.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Linda Ronstadt - You're No Good

Posting this because nearly all the instruments were played by one person, Andrew Gold, who died a few days ago. A remarkable piece of musical craft.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weinergate, the Latest

From Talking Points Memo, ordinarily sympathetic to Anthony Weiner, a useful overview of his comments.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Collateral Damage"

Haven't commented on Weinergate yet, and hadn't planned to, but this is a good article on one aspect of it: the college student to whom the rude Tweet was sent.

“If I’ve refused to do interviews with credible shows like Good Morning America, why would I give an interview to @NewYorkPost?” she tweeted. Again, rhetorically addressing Fenton, she tweeted: “Why would I do an interview with a tabloid about how I don’t want media attention? Trash.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gerry Mulligan & Paul Desmond - Stand Still

Baritone and alto, with only bass and drums, is a combination you don't hear often. But it's Mulligan and Desmond, so...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Oliver Nelson - Stolen Moments

The band consists of Nelson, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Roy Haynes. From the classic album Blues and the Abstract Truth.