June 12, 2022, Pride Parade, Lark St between State and Lancaster Sts, Albany, NY. The car that was the basis of the First Presbyterian Church Albany float stalled out; this was the improvisation. Photo by Jay Zhang, first used by the [Albany] Times Union. Used with permission.
In response to my most recent Ask Roger Anything request – you can STILL ask! – TWO music questions.
My old buddy Kevin, who grew up in my area, but who I didn’t know until college, asked: What are your favorite albums by 1) the Moody Blues, 2) Bob Dylan and 3) Bruce Springsteen?
The Moody Blues is easy. While I have a few albums on vinyl that I haven’t listened to in forever, I never got any on CD or as downloads, except for a greatest hits CD. So the only album I can remember without looking it up is Days Of Future Passed. And I liked it not just based on its themes of dayparts, but the fact that a 1967 album could generate a hit half a decade later. Nights In White Satin went to #103 pop in 1968, but to #2 pop for two weeks in 1972.
My first favorite Springsteen album was Born To Run, the album that got him on the cover of Time and Newsweek simultaneously. And Darkness On The Edge Of Town was a very strong follow-up. Born In The USA is, naturally a great album, but I heard it a bit too often in the 1980s.
I should note that c. 2000, my late brother-in-law John asked me what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. I said any Springsteen CD prior to 1992, most of which I had on vinyl. He bought me Asbury Park, both Born albums, Darkness, and The River, the two-record set which I had never owned.
Around 2006, my sister Leslie bought me We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Some great songs, done well. But many of them appear in the two-CD Live in Dublin that came out in 2007, and they’re even better.
Considering the vast number of Dylan CDs I now own, it’s peculiar that I never bought a Bob album in the 1960s. It’s due in part to the fact that I had belonged to the Capitol Record Club in 1966/67, where I got the bulk of my Beatles LPs, not to mention albums by the Beach Boys, Lovin’ Spoonful, and others. Bob was on Columbia. The ONLY Dylan song I owned was from a cheap compilation album, The Best of ’66, which had I Want You.
In fact, the first Dylan album I purchased was for my high school girlfriend, the double album Self-Portrait, which came out in 1970. I wasn’t impressed, and I’m not even sure whether SHE liked it.
Eventually, I bought a few LPs – John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. But it wasn’t until CDs came out that I started to backfill my Dylan collection: Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, and my favorite, Blood on the Tracks.
I had pre-ordered Love and Theft, which was to be released on September 11, 2001. After I left work early that day – we all did – I was riding my bike home and I went past the record store. I stopped, got the album, and stood around the store awhile as the television was recapitulating the awful news of the day.
I didn’t listen to the album for well over a week. But when I did, I LOVED it, especially the run that began with the third track, Summer Days. I played this album a lot, and it made me happy in a very sad time.
Julie, who I’ve known for a few years – I have a pic of her holding my daughter when L was a baby – wants to know: What is the best solo Beatles album?
Oh, my, I have been musing on this forever. Conventional Wisdom would put All Things Must Pass by George and Plastic Ono Band by John at the top of the list. These would be totally legitimate choices, especially ATMP, which proved that John and Paul underestimated their younger bandmate. I just watched Concert For George from 2002, and it reminded me just how much I loved Wah Wah.
Yet, and maybe it’s because I’ve listened to it recently, that I’m picking Paul’s (and Linda’s) Ram. Your folks would know that when it came out in 1971, it was savaged by much of the music press. Part of this was a function of the less-than-kind things John said about the album.
As this 2021 review noted, “The record… saw the singer lay down a blueprint that would eventually help build some of the most notable genres around. You can trace everything from Britpop to pure jangle indie back to this record.” Too Many People, for instance, was a jab at John, much more subtle than John’s How Do You Sleep on his Imagine album.
From All Music: “In retrospect, it looks like nothing so much as the first indie-pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies, a record that’s guileless and unembarrassed to be cutesy. But McCartney never was quite the sap of his reputation… There’s some ripping rock and roll in the mock-apocalyptic goof Monkberry Moon Delight, the joyfully noisy Smile Away, where his feet can be smelled a mile away, and Eat At Home, a rollicking, winking sex song.”
When I played it recently for the first time this century, I said, pretty much to myself, “Damn, I really LIKE this album!” And I remembered it amazingly well.
Oh, and I have a great affection for the Ringo album, which featured all four of them, not all at the same time. Do the Travelling Wilburys count as “solo”? Because I’d stick that first album in the mix.
Since the break-in of the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex hit the half-century mark, pundits have decided to do a comparison. Watergate versus The Big Lie.
If you are too young to remember or weren’t near the United States at the time, it may be difficult to understand the earlier event. The Watergate hearings were so unexpectedly shocking that people were watching them for double-digit hours every week that they aired.
After what was termed a ‘third-rate burglary” in June 1972, both the Washington Post and CBS News were perceived as having a vendetta against President Richard Nixon. He was re-elected president, carrying every state except Massachusetts, plus the District of Columbia.
Yet, by May 1973, the Senate hearings under conservative Sam Ervin (D-NC) began. They were riveting, and almost everyone was watching. “‘Never have I enjoyed watching television more than in the last two weeks,’ one Washington Post letter writer testified, ‘with the spectacle of high human drama interwoven with the finest possible example of the democratic process at work unfolding before my eyes for hours on end, with no rehearsal, no canned laughter, very little commentary (none needed!), and, best of all, almost no commercial interruption!'”
A “fascination of the hearings was the questioning of young Nixon aides who left senators incredulous with their explanations that ‘ends-justifies-the-means’ morality had become semiofficial White House policy.” Ultimately, with Republicans recognizing that, indeed, Nixon WAS a crook, RMN resigned in August 1974.
Compare and contrast
djt was impeached a second time in January 2021, but acquitted by the Senate the next month. I thought I had heard all I needed to know back then. But the manner in which the January 6 committee laid out the details was stunning to me.
The first hearing showed how the Big Lie led to the insurrection at the Capitol. It was even more brutalizing than I’d seen before. And BTW, here are some companies that Empower the “Big Lie”.
Hearing number two made it clear that 45 KNEW that the claims of fraud and conspiracies were crap. He may have chosen to ignore White House lawyers, campaign lawyers, and his staff. AND he profited monetarily, something I noted at the time, from gullible supporters told they were helping to fight corruption. Nah, the corruption was a quarter of a BILLION dollars, much of it going to his hotels.
Regarding the third hearing, I’d like to say here, poor Mike Pence. I’d like to, but the former veep was such a sycophant. Yes, he withstood the great campaign to get him to violate the Constitution by nixing Biden’s electoral college votes. I’d heard it before, but djt’s assertion that maybe rioters were right when they chanted “Hang Mike Pence” was chilling What kind of person says that? The angry mob came within 40 feet of the vice president. djt called Pence a “wimp” and “pussy” that morning, using a tone Ivanka Trump had never heard her father use towards the veep.
I didn’t know that former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who I had despised policywise, was one of the folks floating the idea of removing djt via the 25th Amendment, but Pence rejected it.
State election officials were up for hearing number four. They were pressured by djt or surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani to “find” votes for Trump and/or invalidate Biden electors. And when they refused, they were harassed.
A truck was driven through the neighborhood of Rusty Bowers (R), the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, playing a recording accusing him of being a pedophile. The wife of Brad Raffensperger (R), Georgia’s secretary of state, received “sexualized” threats by text.
Black, female poll workers Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, were called out by name by djt and Giuliani in a ploy that was both violent and racist. Ms. Freeman said there is “nowhere I feel safe. The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one.”
We know djt planned to declare premature victory even before election day. Were Supreme Court justices considering joining a scheme to overturn the election? What does Ginni Thomas have to say regarding her conversations with John Eastman, the law professor who cooked up the false and illegal strategy?
Department of Justice officials described at hearing number five how djt hounded them to pursue his false election narrative. If he had replaced the agency’s leader with a more compliant, unqualified person, there would have been mass resignations at DOJ.
Multiple Republican members of Congress requested pardons after January 6, including Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
No big deal?
For me, January 6 is far, far worse than Watergate. More than one analyst suggested that Watergate had, in the end, a positive outcome because “the system worked.” That’s a reasonable assertion.
But lots of Americans are convinced that January 6 was just a vigorous exercise of freedom of speech. Some folks can be easily conned. And/or members of Congress and other officials are feeling beholden to djt. Hell, Rusty Bowers said that he would vote for djt in 2024 if he were running.
And it’s not over. Election denier Jim Marchant is the Republican nominee for Nevada secretary of state. He’s hardly the only one who puts the integrity of future elections at stake. For instance, current members of Congress.
“If I become president someday, if I decide to do it, I will be looking at [the Jan. 6 rioters] very, very seriously for pardons — very, very seriously,” djt said. “Should I decide to do it, we’re going to be one people and one nation.”
Not about partisan revenge
The Boston Globe says There is no question: Merrick Garland must put Trump on trial. “If the former president and his allies can get by with nary a scratch after plotting an overthrow of the US government, then what message will that send? Prosecuting Trump is not about partisan revenge; it’s one of several necessary steps that the federal government ought to take in order to meaningfully reform the presidency and defend American democracy.
“Now that the United States has gone through one failed attempt at overthrowing the government — instigated by none other than a man who was president at the time — it is more crucial than ever to show future occupants of the White House that breaking the law in the Oval Office will not stand.
“But there is also another reason for the Department of Justice to hold anyone who participated in trying to overthrow the government, including Trump, accountable: Not only would it deter a future president from breaking the law in such a brazen way, it would also discourage their cronies and sycophants from playing along. Government officials at any level must be shown that they can be held personally liable for abusing their power.”
Blowhards such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who’s another Big Liar, suggest that he’ll investigate Hunter Biden next year if the GOP takes back the Senate and if Garland acts against djt. Here’s my working theory: Johnson will investigate Hunter Biden REGARDLESS of whether Garland acts, so it’s a non-issue.
1. If you were to be granted one wish, what would it be?
The ability to sleep through the night, he wrote at 12:50 a.m., after going to bed two hours earlier.
2. If you could spend one night alone with anyone in the world who is currently alive, whom would you select?
I’m assuming other than my wife. A number of friends would qualify. If we’re talking about someone who’s a stranger to me, Richard Branson. He’s the most interesting billionaire I could think of at this hour.
3. If you could spend one night alone with anyone in history, whom would you choose?
Sojourner Truth. I’d want her to know that my college alma mater has a library named for her.
4. If you could physically transport yourself to any place in the world at this moment, where would you go?
Hawai’i, where I hope it’s less hot and humid.
5. If you could have lived through any war in history (without actually fighting in it), which would it be?
The Grenada invasion of 1983 was very short. I do think was a ruse to distract Americans from the fact that an explosion in a U.S. military installation in Lebanon had killed over 240 U.S. troops only days earlier.
6. If you could eliminate one type of insect permanently from the earth, what would you get rid of?
7. If you had to eliminate any single type of animal forever, which would you choose?
Isn’t an insect also an animal? Anyway, I went to the Invasive Species Profiles List and picked the Zebra Mussel.
What DO I covet?
8. If you could have an elegant dinner alone with anyone presently alive, whether you know them or not, who would you want it to be?
I’ll go with Angela Merkel, assuming we had a translator or her English is WAY better than my English. My MIL is reading a book about her.
9. If you could alter one physical characteristic of your mate, what would it be?
She would probably say of herself to lose a little weight, but it’s really not a concern of mine except as it’s a concern of hers.
10. If you could change one thing about your childhood, what would it be?
Maybe a bigger house, with a real bedroom.
11. If you could have any room in the world become your bedroom, which room would you choose?
Any decent-sized library, where I could put my books and music.
12. If you could alter one thing about your physical appearance, what would it be?
Now I would like to lose weight.
13. If you could have stopped aging at any point in your life up to the present, how old would you wish to remain?
I was 51 when my daughter was born, so I’ll say that.
14. If you could suddenly possess an extraordinary talent in one of the arts, what would you like it to be?
15. If you could have permanent possession of any single object in the world, what would you want it to be?
I don’t know. What do I covet? Hmm. I suppose some expensive piece of art or jewelry so I could sell it and do good things. Which of course violates the permanent possession part, now doesn’t it?
I was musing to my wife that sometimes it’s difficult to hit on a topic for a blog. “It’s not as though you can write, ‘An acorn turns into an oak tree.’ Where’s the narrative?”
My wife says, “You know that oak tree that’s in the backyard?” It would be difficult not to. It’s about a meter from the fence. Our absentee landlord neighbor complains about the occasional branch that falls into his yard. And I’m sure that he’s annoyed by the leaves he has to rake every autumn.
“That tree began the year that our daughter was born.” Huh. I did not remember that. Some squirrel undoubtedly got an acorn from somewhere else but dropped it onto our lawn. Now it’s the largest tree in our yard, bigger than the spruce and maple. That’s not unlike the fact that our daughter is now taller than her parents are. The little acorn we had is becoming a mighty oak.
About five years ago, my wife called a tree service to trim back the older trees. She asked the guy if he thought the oak tree also needed tending. He said, rather effusively, “Oh, no. Let it grow freely.” NOW, all of them need to be cut back, lest they interfere with some low-hanging wires.
Here’s an odd thing. My daughter and I often communicate on Facebook Messenger even when she’s IN THE HOUSE. And it’s not, “I’m home” or “You’ve got mail.” The discussions are usually some sort of philosophical treatise. Would she become lazy if she could take advantage of nepotism? Or a bizarre conversation comparing Jerry Maguire with Jerry Seinfeld.
Texting is not my preferred method of communication. I prefer to talk. It’s mostly because I’m more likely to mistype what I meant, which confuses her. But one must meet people where they are, and for her, it’s on the cellphone.