Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cultural Stasis?

This is interesting. From thereisnospoon at Digby's Hullaballoo:

In architecture, art, fashion, music and other aspects of popular and consumer culture, there is very little difference between the culture of 20 years ago and that of today. By contrast, think of the enormous differences between 1992 and 1972, or between 1972 and 1952, or 1952 and 1932, or 1932 and 1912. Technology has changed significantly, of course, but styles haven't.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Krugman on the Austerity Pushers

When will it all end? Who knows? Dr. Krugman talks about the latest.

Surpassing the track record of the 1930s shouldn’t be a tough challenge. Haven’t we learned a lot about economic management over the last 80 years? Yes, we have — but in Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Moanin'

A jazz classic from the fifties. I first heard it in the Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross vocal version, which is very nice, but this pretty much epitomizes a particular type of jazz: relaxed but always meticulously focused rhythm, melodic content related to the blues but not twelve-bar blues, the musicians always, always, always listening to each other, etc.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spirit - Dark Eyed Woman

Some classic rock that isn't played to death on the classic rock stations.

Friday, January 27, 2012

RIP Winston Riley

One of the important figures of Jamaican music of the last forty years, Winston Riley died at sixty-eight of injuries from a shooting in November. Here from 1971 is his production of Dave and Ansell Collins's "Double Barrel."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Krugman on Green Shoots

Dr K explains. Maybe, maybe, maybe, cross your fingers...

There are reasons to think that we’re finally on the (slow) road to better times. And we wouldn’t be on that road if Mr. Obama had given in to Republican demands that he slash spending, or the Federal Reserve had given in to Republican demands that it tighten money.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mâlem Sassi Lebrati

Some traditional North African music, from about fifty years ago. I've been listening to Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM, which contains much wonderful music from a wide variety of African cultures.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

RIP Etta James

Harry Warren, who wrote many songs, quite a few of which were recorded many many times, said that this was his favorite recording of one of his songs. Goodbye Etta James, and thanks for leaving us this, along with so much other wonderful music.

Friday, January 20, 2012

RIP Johnny Otis

A key figure in West Coast R&B in particular. Extremely influential, as a bandleader he gave career boosts to Big Mama Thornton and Esther Phillips, among others. But under his own name he's probably best known for this song.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Abyssinian Baptist Choir - Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody

This is officially "The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir Under The Direction of Professor Alex Bradford," and I posted some Alex Bradford recently. This is a perfect example of mid-twentieth-century African-American gospel music. It was recorded at a church service instead of in a recording studio, so it's more representative of how the music usually sounded: the choir feeds off the energy of the congregation, and vice-versa.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dark Web

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact today's Web blackouts have. The SOPA and PIPA bills are clearly overkill (except to their corporate supporters), but this sort of protest by organizations like Google and Wikipedia is something too new to have a predictable effect. If you're reading this, you use the Web, so you have an opinion. But I know that at least some people who visit this site do not live in the US, so the fact that a US law could so easily affect them says something about how, although Web use has become common, the nuances of how it is used are still often poorly appreciated.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Art Ensemble of Chicago - Theme de Yoyo

From a soundtrack that the AEC did for a French film in 1970. Features Lester Bowie's ex-wife Fontella Bass on vocals.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Last Cent - Louisiana Rhythm Kings

The phenomenon of white musicians loving African-American music goes back long before the Beastie Boys et al. The Louisiana Rhythm Kings were actually from Chicago, and recorded this in 1929.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"One Life to Live" Ends

For decades, going back to when there was no television and soap operas existed only on radio, there has always been at least one of them that was produced in New York City. No more. It may not matter much to you, and I honestly was never a watcher, but such a cultural shift deserves mention. From the Washington Post:

Quite unsoapily, “OLTL,” like “All My Children” in the fall, has become a victim of the dullest possible villain: slackened ratings and the simple fact that reality TV is cheaper to produce.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

RIP John McWhinnie

When someone who deeply cares about culture, and is innovative and inventive in exploring and promoting it, dies unexpectedly and relatively young, it's worth noting.

“He has been one of the primary forces to bridge the gap between the art world and the establishment rare book world,” said Sheelagh Bevan, assistant curator of printed books at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York. “He was usually two years ahead of everyone else in elevating an overlooked group of artists or writers–Mary Beach comes to mind, but there are many others–to the point where institutions and private collectors took notice.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Night in Dixville Notch

From the Washington Post. A longstanding tradition continues for the first voters in the first primary.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nick Gravenites & Mike Bloomfield - Moon Tune

Posted just because it's some wonderful guitar work, not very well-known. As usual with Bloomfield's live guitar work from this era, he goes a little out of tune after the string-stretching, but what the hell.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Krugman on the Economic Debate

I was going to post something musical from YouTube this morning, but their sharing function has some kind of glitch at the moment. So some Krugman to keep your political tooth satisfied:

People like Kantoos or Tyler Cowen start from the presumption that when people with the right credentials, like Cochrane, or Jean-Claude Trichet, or Robert Lucas make strong statements, that they must have a defensible model behind their assertions. And so if someone like me or Brad says that there is no such defensible model, we must be engaged in a “rant”, treating these people unfairly.

But sometimes people with impressive credentials do talk complete nonsense — and on fiscal policy in the Lesser Depression, that has been more the rule than the exception.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Charlie McCoy, Session Musician

Just thought it would be interesting to juxtapose these two songs as an example of what it means to be a skilled session musician. The lead guitar (played on acoustic) on Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" and the harmonica on George Jones's "He Stopped Loving Her Today" were both played by Charlie McCoy. Two more different instruments on two more different songs would be hard to imagine, but Charlie McCoy nails them both.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Professor Alex Bradford - Leak in the Building

Traditional mid-twentieth-century African-American gospel music. Powerful stuff.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Perry Fifth in Iowa, Loses First Election Ever

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and the look on Rick Perry's face says it all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Kristof on Celebrities, and News That Matters vs. News That Gets Covered

Nicholas Kristof:

Frankly, it’s just humiliating when news organizations cover George Clooney (my travel buddy on one Darfur trip) more attentively when he breaks up with a girlfriend than when he travels to Sudan and uses satellite photos to catch the Sudanese government committing mass atrocities.

H/t Mark Sumner @ DailyKos.