February rambling: Perseverance

Chick Corea

perseveranceShe counted ballots in a pandemic, and he killed two people. Guess who gets treated like a hero?

One county, worlds apart: Bridging the political divide.

Weekly Sift: Why You Can’t Understand Conservative Rhetoric

Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Fixing our Democracy.

Trust Is The Coin Of The Realm.” by the late former secretary of state George Schultz.

Detailed interactive map of the 2020 Election.

How 100 years of Democratic rule have shaped the city of Albany.

How I survived a Chinese ‘re-education’ camp for Uighurs.

Texas

Rick Perry and the Hard Libertarian Formulation.

How the Bush family turned off the lights.

El Paso Heeded the Warnings and Avoided a Winter Catastrophe.

Ted Cruz is feckless.

Perseverance needed

Fascist insurgency persists with the merging of QAnon, militia movements, white extremists. They spread new conspiracy Trump will be president again on March 4, so Trump’s D.C. hotel nearly triples its rates.

History Will Find Trump Guilty.

How the Proud Boys Pitch Themselves to People of Color.

Health  and wellness

COVID-19 Is Ravaging Local Newspapers, Making it Easier for Misinformation to Spread.

John Green: I Predicted the Pandemic (over and over and over again).

The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship

Second COVID-19 Shot Is a Rude Reawakening for Immune Cells. Side effects are just a sign that protection is kicking in as it should.

I’m getting good at this grief thing.

Tony Bennett’s Battle With Alzheimer’s

Embrace the nap

Assemblage

How to be a  genius

Bill Mahar gives the Baldy Award to policy wonk Henry Waxman.

17 years ago, Jason West, mayor of New Paltz, NY set the groundwork for the 2011 marriage equality law by presiding over same-sex marriages in his community.

“When in Doubt, Do Something.” Harry Chapin in Recent Media.

Jaquandor reviews the 1994 film What Happened Was… 

After GM poked fun of Norway in Super Bowl ad, Norway painfully hits back.

The Curse of the Buried Treasure

The Hollywood Con Queen Who Scammed Aspiring Stars Out of Hundreds of Thousands.

Missed: He flew to Paris to surprise his girlfriend. She flew to Edinburgh to surprise him

Larry Flynt paid me $1,000 to keep my clothes ON.

She traded her way from a bobby pin to a tiny house in 6 months.

JEOPARDY!

Alex Trebek’s family donates his wardrobe to charity.

Brayden Smith 

The guest host schedule.

Now I Know

Frederick Douglass  Is Not Amused. The Hunger Stones.  When Ziggy  Should Have Zagged. The Little Bit of Sun That Cost a Half-Million Dollars.  In the President’s Dog House.  The Search For Life on Earth.

Black History Month

Black Futures Month

Jacob Lawrence painted Black America for Black people — not the white gaze.

Jim Crow Filibuster

The history of overalls

Caste book supplement.

Lift Every Voice and Sing, A Celebration of African American Music – Sounds of St Olaf.

MUSIC

With God on Our Side – The Neville Brothers.

Who’s Yellen Now? – Dessa.

Marjorie Taylor Greene – Randy Rainbow.

I Won’t Dance -Willie Nelson ft. Diana Krall.

Tribute to Pops and Ella – Leonard Patton with Rebecca Jade.

Sixteen Tons – Geoff Castellucci.

Psychedelic Jazz Guitar – Boogaloo Joe Jones, 1967 album.

Sweet Blindness – The Fifth Dimension and Frank Sinatra.

A video analyzing in extreme detail Lady Gaga’s rendition of the national anthem at the inauguration. (ht/ch)

Coverville

1344: Cover Stories for Alicia Keys, Neil Diamond, and Phil Collins.

1345: Justin Timberlake Cover Story and Delvon Lamarr Interview. 

1346: Cover Stories for Gene Pitney and Feist. 

1347: Stone Roses Cover Story and the 50th Anniversary of Tapestry

Chick Corea

Obit and photo tribute and Remembrance and video link.

Play On: A Celebration of Music to Make Change

eclectic

Play On

As is often the case, I recorded a TV program only to watch it about a month later. Play On: A Celebration of the Power of Music to Make Change aired in mid-December 2020.

“Play On is a concert benefit for The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. (LDF) and WhyHunger, two charities fighting for the country’s most pressing issues: Racial justice, equity, and food insecurity.”

It was hosted by Kevin Bacon and Eve. There were other non-performers involved, including Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Ringo Starr, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, most of these brief.

Recording these types of programming is actually the best way to watch them. One can fast-forward through the parts where the announcer intones, “Coming Up:” this one and that one. It happens during awards shows, which is why I record, say, the Academy Awards then start watching the DVR an hour later.

“SixDegrees.Org created the Play On Fund to amplify the work of both LDF and WhyHunger. You can learn more about their work at playonlive.org.” The artists played at shuttered venues across the country: the Troubador in Los Angeles, The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and the Apollo in New York City.

The performers

American Reckoning – Bon Jovi. This is a song from the band’s 2020 album. It is actually the first Bon Jovi album I ever purchased. My wife requested it, and I gave it to her on Valentine’s Day.

Hold On – Yola with The Highwomen. I have a Highwomen album, but I was unfamiliar with Yola. Some promo I heard referred to her as the “gender-bending Yola,” as though that were the most important of her attributes.

Feed the Babies – Gary Clark Jr. I should buy his music.

Illegal Search – LL Cool J featuring DJ Z-Trip. He said he can’t believe he wrote the song 30 years ago, yet it’s still relevant.

Beware of Darkness -Sheryl Crow. Yes, the George Harrison song.

Justice/Get Up Stand Up  – Ziggy Marley and Andra Day.

Benefic – Machine Gun Kelly. Not my cuppa, but he has a lot of energy.

Better Than We Found It – Maren Morris. She said the song was inspired by becoming a new mother in March 2020.

People Get Ready – Sara Bareilles, Emily King, Jon Batiste, and Steve Jordan. Trading licks.

The whole thing.

Lydster: Zoom school sucks!

The ever-educational They Might Be Giants

zoom schoolAs I must have mentioned, my daughter was all primed to go to school in person as late as August 24, 2020. Instead, she got Zoom school this fall, after suffering through it from mid-March 2020 and on. It’s not actually on Zoom, but whatever. And that’s not what they label it.

They call it “remote learning.” Remote: “having very little connection with or relationship to”; that’s about right. On the last Sunday of January, I had five Zoom meetings. Well, almost. The church was on Facebook and one of the meetings was on a Zoom-like platform called Wonder.

Except for church, though, it was people looking at other people located in little rectangles on my computer. Worse, some people STILL haven’t mastered the mute button.

So I feel my daughter’s pain. She has four or five of those every weekday. Some folks, in trying to encourage her… well, didn’t. I’ve occasionally sat in on some of those courses. Despite the best effort of some of her teachers – some of them are preternaturally cheerful! – it was still stultifying after a couple of classes.

Since my wife has also taught remotely off and on, including two weeks in January 2021, I know it is harder emotionally, technologically, and organizationally, especially when she switched back and forth. The one thing she liked about remote learning was the extra 30 minutes of sleep.

The homework helper

It was less true at the beginning of the school year but more true now. I am the homework helper. My assistance with statistics, which I took twice, in college and grad school, is spotty at best. Whereas I’m better with American history because I actually remember the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the 1857 Dred Scott case. (No, I’m NOT that old.)

Still, I occasionally learn things I either forgot or never knew. For instance, everything you need to know about the 11th President appears in James K. Polk by They Might Be Giants. Possibly the most successful one-term chief executive.

Sometimes, I just sit with her to help her keep on task, such as when she works on her Environmental Science. She almost never even asks for my help in her art classes since she knows that it’s not in my wheelhouse.

Too political

For one course, she was supposed to find and describe a poster that addresses social justice. The caveat is that the work is not to be political. If by political, they mean “vote for Bernie” or “X sucks”, then OK.

But it seems that social justice, by its very nature, is at least small-p political. Labor rights, hunger, fighting racism/sexism/homophobia, et al. These all often require political action, allocation of resources. Sure you can buy a meal for someone, but addressing systemic food deserts require a broader action. Or  José Andrés,, at least.

Redlining and The Color of Law

author Richard Rothstein

Redlining.HOLC_map_AlbanyA few months ago, CBS News did a piece on redlining. That is the discriminatory practice in which “a mortgage lender denies loans or an insurance provider restricts services to certain areas of a community, often because of the racial characteristics of the applicant’s neighborhood.”

More amazing, though, was the report in February 2021 when CBS’s Tony Dokoupil reflects on how “his family benefitted from government housing policies that were denied to Black Americans.” And he spoke to some of the neighbors with whom he grew up. One said, essentially, that what’s past is past and we’ll do better in the future.

The problem is that the wealth gap shows “evidence of staggering racial disparities. At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016.”

It’s rather like running a 10K race, with the competition already at the 9K mark. It’s impossible to catch up.

The issue is not just with redlining. I’m in the midst of reading an important book entitled The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. It shows in excruciating detail that the segregation in American cities is de jure rather than de facto. It is the deliberate product of “systemic and forceful” government action, and so the government has a “constitutional as well as a moral obligation” to remedy it.

More than the month

This is why I support, more than ever, Black History Month. Not that it should be limited to February. Indeed, black history should be “taught in all schools—especially those with a small Black student population.” I’ve heard a number of times people trying to create racial awareness, only to receive pushback in their work or organizational environment. “We don’t have that many minorities here.”

My perception is that a lot of people think they know about slavery. They may be oblivious to rebellions or underestimate the brutality, but it’s on the radar. The period after the Civil War from Reconstruction to the imposition of the Black Codes, Jim Crow, and lynching, is less familiar. Stories about Wilmington, NC, and Tulsa, OK, for instance, are just now being heard in the broader population.

And of course, at least some kids have heard about MLK, Rosa Parks, and Jackie Robinson.

But the systemic governmental and institutional (banks, unions, real estate agents) forces that limited the creation of wealth in the black community in the 20th century have been largely a hidden phenomenon.

The maps don’t lie

Check out, for instance, Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America. It shows maps from all over the country reflecting the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation policies between 1935 and 1940. The areas in red were considered economically “hazardous.” The map shown is of Albany, NY, with Arbor Hill, West Hill, and the South End in red. (Note the city actually points more to the northwest.) But it’s hardly unique. Search YOUR city.

“HOLC assumed and insisted that the residency of African Americans and immigrants, as well as working-class whites, compromised the values of homes and the security of mortgages. In this they followed the guidelines set forth by Frederick Babcock, the central figure in early twentieth-century real estate appraisal standards, in his Underwriting Manual: ‘The infiltration of inharmonious racial groups … tend to lower the levels of land values and to lessen the desirability of residential areas.'”

I may write about the book The Color of Law. Or I may let my friend Alison do so since I know she took nine pages of notes when she read it.

This month, the House of Representatives held hearings on H.R. 40 – a bill that would set up a commission to examine the institution of slavery and its impact and make recommendations for reparations to Congress. Note the effects of slavery did not end in 1865. Jim Crow segregation and enduring structural racism are endemic to our society.

Arthur’s Law, Pre-Fab 4, smooth jazz

We get the funniest looks

More of the MonkeesIn response to my Phil Collins post, Arthur, who I’ve never mentioned, wrote: “As well you know, ‘Arthur’s Law’ keeps me from getting too worked up about what other people like or don’t like…

“This post reminds me of all the fashionable pile-ons over the years—Kenny G, Michael Bublé, Justin Bieber, etc., etc., etc. That’s a topic you could work on for the future?” Nah.

Arthur’s Law, as you all know, is: “Everything you love, someone else hates; everything you hate, someone else loves. So, relax and like what you like and forget about everyone else.”

Two things come to mind, one a group, and one more a subgenre. I know there are others, but usually, I had so absorbed Arthur’s Law so completely that it became a non-issue.

Or I have no real idea about their oeuvre. I’ve heard the music of Bieber, for instance, and it just doesn’t stick to my brain. You could play My World, and I’d say, “Who is that?”

Here We Come

The group is The Monkees. They were the Pre-Fab Four, a created group who didn’t even play their own instruments! And I suppose I bought into that disdain for a time.

Eventually, they did play some of their instruments and write some of their own songs. More to the point, lots of singers and groups couldn’t, or weren’t allowed to play on their albums in the day.

As I recall, most of the Byrds were piqued when only Roger McGuinn was allowed to perform with the Wrecking Crew on a particular album. The next time out, with the Byrds playing, the process was considerably longer.

Or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, studio musicians besides Herb in the studio, and pickup bands on the road. The Beach Boys was a working band, but the music they created in the studio was often augmented from Pet Sounds and forward.

Walkin’ Down the Street

The Beatles’ legendary Sgt. Pepper album came out in 1967. It was #1 for 15 weeks on the Billboard charts. Do you know the number one album in 1967 in the US? More of The Monkees, on top for 18 weeks, following the eponymous first album, #1 for 8 weeks in 1966, and 5 more in ’67.

Plus 1 week for Headquarters and the last 5 weeks with Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd. That’s 29 weeks for The Monkees at #1 in the Summer of Love.

Now, success is a weak reason to laud a band. But I learned to actually LIKE many of their songs. Pleasant Valley Sunday, with Mr. Green, “he’s so serene.” WordsGoing DownListen to the Band.

And Mary, Mary, which was originally performed by the Butterfield Blues Band. When The Monkees covered it, the rock intelligentsia was appalled. But the song was written by Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. So there, music snobs!

Music lite

The genre is light jazz or smooth jazz. REAL jazz was Ella or Satchmo or the Count or the Duke or Miles. That commercially successful stuff of Kenny G or Chuck Mangione – is that REALLY jazz?

Here’s a definition: “The fundamental difference… lies in the chief instrumentalist’s approach to improvisation. Typically, at least on record, smooth jazz musicians just don’t improvise. …

“As the artists found on smooth jazz playlists make clear, the ‘smooth’ is usually more important than the ‘jazz.'” Here’s the thing, though. If jazz is limited to mostly dead people, or people emulating dead people, the genre will die.

Moreover, a lot of those smooth folk are extremely talented. I caught the Christmas 2020 program of Dave Koz. He and his contingent (including one Rebecca Jade!) could really cook! And I don’t mean in a culinary way.

As one sage person once wrote, “Music is music if the feeling’s right.”