September rambling: end the stigma

Musicians Across Five Continents

post-apocalyptic section
The Most Segregated City

Vlogbrothers: End the stigma

What happened to Jaye McBride could have happened to any of us

WAVE 3 News reporter kissed on live TV; here’s why it’s not cool – Sara Rivest is the daughter of Michael, a guy I know in Albany IRL

The differential privacy video the Census Bureau sponsored from MinutePhysics

Unmarried Partners More Diverse Than 20 Years Ago

Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies at 75

Longtime TV newsman Sander Vanocur dies at 91

Bill Schelly, R.I.P.

Amy Biancolli turns 56

The Surreal End of an American College

What Happens Right Before Your Best Employee Quits

Alan Zweig’s Vinyl documentary – a record collector’s expose

Baking Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card

The Guardian: 100 best films movies of the 21st century. 1) I’ve seen 26 of them, at least two of which I disliked; 2) the year 2000 is NOT in the 21st century

Save on Internet Safety guide

Chef Boyardee: The Sine Qua Non of Homemade Pizza

Alex Trebek saying “genre”

Epergne: It’s time this Kitschiest of Obscure Vintage Treasures had a Comeback

The Evolution of a Fractured Coin of the Rebellion

The Modern Jonah

Now I Know: Who is MP and Why Are His Initials on My Checks? and An Aria a Day Keeps the Cougars Away and The Aquarium That Turned a Blind Eye Toward Bullies and The Island That Floated To Safety and Why We Give 21-Gun Salutes


The Beauty of Being Bilingual

Merriam-Webster dictionary adds ‘they’ as a nonbinary pronoun – America’s oldest dictionary claps back at grammar snobs as it embraces a more inclusive definition

Public is or Public are: “British English tends to see either a plural or singular verb, pronoun or noun as acceptable, depending on the context in which the collective noun is used. American English, however, is considerably more rigid in sticking with the singular. Though they too may reconsider occasionally, based on context.”

Harry Potter and the Poorly Read Exorcist

Boss Tweet

New Yorker.20191007
He is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for

If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is and If Democrats put off impeachment until he does something worse, he’ll do something worse and His call to Zelensky was not out of the ordinary – for him and With the Gears of Impeachment Finally Grinding, the Hard Part Begins; also Lindsey Graham’s Impeachment Views in 1999 Vs. 2019

Iran Policy Is a Failure

Health Insurance That Doesn’t Cover the Bills Has Flooded the Market

The Race to Prepare for a Potential U.S. Exit From the World’s Mail System

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Legal Immigration

Travel ban really was a Muslim ban, data suggests

Comedian John Mulaney has the perfect analogy for what’s going on in our country today [explicit language]


What’s My Name – Ringo Starr

Playing for Change: The Weight – Robbie Robertson, Ringo Starr, and Musicians Across Five Continents

Old Town Road -Courtney Hadwin

Overture: L’italiana in Algeri, or The Italian Girl in Algiers by Giacchino Rossini

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – Sleeping At Last

Happy Birthday, Hans Zimmer edition

Coverville 1278: The Leonard Cohen Cover Story V

Love’s Creeping Up on Me – United Image, a 1971 Stax song that sounds more like Motown to me, and is billed as Northern Soul

All Kinds of Kinds – Miranda Lambert

Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris Trio Documentary

The importance of choir: John Rutter (there are about 20 seconds of him in b&w before he actually begins to speak)

Real Arrogance Over False Humility: The Beautiful Honesty of Joni Mitchell

The First Time I Met Prince, by Sheila E

The church – is it even Christian?

the nature of God?

christian churchSometimes being a Christian is odd for me. Maybe because I spent over a decade away from the church, pretty much the entire 1970s, I am able to see the other side.

In Anything But Christian: Why Millennials Leave the Church, the author, Emma Cooper, notes: “Hello, friends. We’re not apes, you know. The reason we’re staring blankly back is that, frankly, we’re insulted. We don’t want coffee. We don’t want multi-colored stage lights.
“We want Jesus.
“And we can’t find Him in your churches.”

That’s a stinging indictment. It always reminds me of the description Tom Lehrer uses, “Sell the product,” in the introduction to The Vatican Rag over a half-century ago.

Another piece: Let’s Stop Pretending Christianity Is Even “Christian” Anymore. “The vast majority of Christians can’t even explain the main tenet of their faith and look very little like their founder. Why?”

Benjamin Sledge posits that people believe: “God is a cosmic genie or butler who gives you Werther’s Original candies — much like your WWII vet grandad did — as long as you’re nice.” Yeah, too often that DOES seem to be the case. Inoffensive, non-threatening pablum that talks a lot and says nothing.

I find myself surprisingly agreeing with Scott Sullivan, a conservative theologian:

“There’s something that gets under my skin… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone object to doctrines like Divine Simplicity or even just arguments for God’s existence by saying this…

“‘I don’t need all that theology, my Bible is all I need to know my God.’

“First, that’s a theological statement. Second, it’s also pretty bad theology. Here’s the deal, and it’ll probably be pretty controversial: The Bible was not written in isolation from the Church nor is it written systematically to explain doctrine.”

This is why I tend to be mystified with literal believers in the Bible. It makes no sense to me. I’ve read the Bible at least thrice all the way through, the KJV in 1977-8, the RSV in the mid-1980s, and the NIV in 1996-7. I’m overdue for another pass, probably the NRSV.

Sullivan notes, correctly, “It’s mostly narrative, history, and written letters. Even Paul’s letters, which contain a lot of instruction, focus more on the moral implications of Christian doctrines. Where do we find a systematic break down of the nature of God?

“There aren’t any extended doctrinal explanation of essential Christian doctrines like the Trinity or the Incarnation. Rather, there are bits and pieces of these doctrines scattered throughout Scripture and received clarification with its gradual unpacking by great thinkers throughout the history of the Church.”

Sullivan is fond of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. His larger point is this: “We would be fools to reject 2,000 years of reflection on what natural reason and Divine Revelation tell us about the nature of God.”

For me, this verse from Jeremiah 29 speaks to me: “Thus says the Lord of hosts. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Even though it’s Old Testament scripture, it feels like the message of a New Testament Jesus.

Cars and Money: Ric Ocasek and Eddie

a brash new wave sound

ric ocasekSome of the comments I read when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voting was taking place in the autumn of 2017 puzzled me. There was a loud contingent that seemed to think that The Cars were not worthy. Oh, they had their hits, but they lacked that je ne sais quoi. Owning three or four of their albums, I seriously disagreed.

They did well in the fan voting and was inducted in 2018. The Rock Hall folks wrote: “Ric Ocasek’s hook-savvy songwriting and stylish, modern vocals for The Cars fused garage punk, pop, and Avant-rock to create a brash new wave sound that sparked a decade of rock classics. His later work as a producer drew on his innovative spirit and endeared him to new generations of musicians and fans.”

After Ocasek, lead singer and principal songwriter of the group died in September 2019, my friend Steve Bissette linked to a 1980 Rolling Stone interview. “The Cars Take on Their Critics – ‘You can’t be loved by everybody. I know that, and I’ve really come to accept it. That denial of love, in fact, eases my mind,’ says Ric Ocasek.” That seems to have been a very useful attitude to develop.


A scene from Hairspray

Listen to:

Just What I Needed, #27 in 1978
Drive, #3 for three weeks in 12984
Let’s Go, #14 in 1979
You Might Think, #7 in 1984
Touch and Go, 37 in 1980

Shake It Up, #4 in 1982
Good Times Roll, #41 in 1979
My Best Friend’s Girl, #35 in 1978
Since You’re Gone, #41 in 1982
It’s All I Can Do, #41 in 1979
Three songs that went to #41? That’s just weird.

Whereas I was only familiar with Edward Mohoney, who became Eddie Money, from his radio hits. He too passed in September 2019.

Listen to:

Baby Hold On, #11 in 1978
Two Tickets To Paradise, #22 in 1978
Take Me Home Tonight, with Ronnie Spector, #4 in 1986
Coverville 1279: Tributes for Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek and Springsteen Mini-Cover Story

Chart action per the Billboard Top Pop Singles charts

The time we met Sheila E.

The Glamorous Life

Rebecca Jade.Lynn Mabry.Sheila E
Rebecca Jade.Lynn Mabry.Sheila E

If you go to the New York State Fair, there will be structures filled with animals. Lots of animals. We saw none the day before, so off to the cattle barn on Sunday, September 1. We went into the dairy barn. Nearby was the dairy products building, where the butter sculpture, which looked like two sockhop teens at a diner, was located.

We saw the aquarium and saw all the 4-H setups. Most counties were represented in the 4H area. Also, my daughter got her hair done and she decided to buy some product with her own money.

Mostly, though, we were vamping for time until Sheila E.’s 2 pm performance. I bought what was purported to be a chicken spiedie. A kid from Binghamton, NY knows what a spiedie looks like and tastes like. Was this marinated at all? And it was baked or boiled, certainly not grilled.

The Chevy Court, the outdoor venue where the performance would take place already had about one hundred people in the space by 1 pm for a 2 pm program, so we took our seats just behind a section designated for folks in wheelchairs.

My niece, Rebecca Jade, and I texted back and forth. She came out from backstage just after she arrived, around 1:30, and we got to get hugs.


The show started on time with the Funky National Anthem: Message 2 America. Some folks stood. This segued into some covers of what sounded like Parliament/Funkadelic and, of course, Prince.

Leader of the Band was a song by Pete Escovedo, Sheila’s dad. For the first time, she performed the new song No Line, featuring Snoop Dog’s prerecorded vocals.

Sheila had audience members dancing onstage to something called Bailar. Lynn Mabry (I’ll Take You There) and Rebecca each got solos. This was in part because, though you couldn’t tell by looking at her, the star wasn’t feeling well, from some bad seafood the day before.

Still, Sheila circumnavigated the grounds, singing with her guitar. I couldn’t actually SEE her because everyone was standing, but I did see her instrument as she walked around the handicapped area.

She ended with a medley that includes her version of America, plus a bunch of Prince songs, including Baby I’m A Star. Naturally, she concluded with The Glamorous Life and a drum solo. Some of the songs were the same as two years ago, but hardly all.

My wife, daughter and I left, with a plan to pick up the niece 30 minutes after she got to her hotel. But as we got about a quarter-mile away, I checked my phone. Rebecca texted that Sheila wanted to meet us! We scurried back.

We went backstage with a couple of my sister Leslie’s friends, Cathy and John. John was the guitarist for sister Leslie’s first band in Binghamton, Crystal Ship. Kathy was the longtime significant other of Bobby, Crystal Ship’s late drummer.

Sheila and Lynn both came out from behind the curtain to the dressing area. Sheila hugged us all. Someone, maybe Lynn, said I looked like Leslie with a beard, which I suppose is an insult to Leslie.

We ended up at the hotel where she was staying. Rebecca, all showered, went out with us for dinner. She explained trying to balance her own gigs in the San Diego area with being on the road with Sheila. She now has some entity to arrange her agenda. It was a great time seeing the niece for more than five minutes after the show.

After we dropped Rebecca off, my wife drove us back to Albany, frequently during a driving rain.

Lydster: Instagram, copyright, bullying

teen drama

breaking bad kids
via Aaron Paul’s Instagram
Early in my retirement, my wife and I were sound asleep in our bed at 11:30 p.m., because that’s what we do. Our dear daughter came into the room needing to talk, preferably to the male parent. Oh yeah… zzz.. that’s me.

The issue is that some young woman, who I’ll call Happy, had taken a graphic from someone else’s Instagram page. The artist, who I’ll call Art, is a friend of my daughter.

Art politely asked Happy to take the piece off her page. Happy refused. As some of Art’s friends got involved in the conversation, Happy became more adamant. She suggested that Art and all of his friends should get together and cut themselves.

My daughter wanted my advice, which I suppose I should appreciate. I recommended, regarding both the artwork and the response by Happy, was to contact Instagram.

This is not the first time I’ve learned about the Sturm und Drang involving teenagers on social media. Back in the old days, if there were bullies, you and your geographically close friends knew who they were and how to avoid or confront them.

Now, there’s a network of friends and “friends” who get intricately involved in these dramas. I am utterly fascinated, baffled and more than a bit concerned how these issues can escalate.

I know this is probably unAmerican, but I have never warmed to Instagram. It seems difficult to ascertain what pictures actually belong to whom, with photos and graphics swapped about.

Huh. I went to my Instagram account, which I hadn’t used in so long that I had forgotten the password, which is not that rare. I was puzzled to note that while I had 14 followers, I have apparently never posted anything.

It’s weird because I swore that I had submitted photos of some of my ancestors. I probably will use Instagram at some point in my purported free time. But I will have expectations that the pictures will be shared.

Oh, here’s the kicker. Because I went to visit Happy’s Instagram page, she sent me an invitation to friend her on Facebook! I declined.

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