Thank you very much for music

Sly is especially thankful

Thanksgiving is coming. To the degree that I have maintained sanity this year, it’s been from listening to recorded music. A lot.

One of my friends envies how invested I am in music. It’s not as though I made a choice. It has always been omnipresent. I still remember chunks of my father’s singles collection. I sang in school, in church, with my father and sister. I’m appreciative of that, but there’s never been a point when it wasn’t a big part of my life.

Thank you very much for music.

Some songs about thanks

Sam and Dave – I Thank You  (“I want everybody to get up off your seat And get your arms together, and your hands together And give me some of that o-o-old soul clapping.”)

Led Zeppelin – Thank You   “If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.”

Sly and the Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) –  I was a sucker for songs by artists who refer to their other songs. See Creeque Alley by the Mamas and the Papas, Glass Onion by the Beatles. This includes Dance to the Music, Everyday People, Sing a Simple Song, and You Can Make It If You Try. Thank You For Talking To Me Africa  A stoned version of the above.

Boyz II Men – Thank You. The first song on their second album, and my favorite

Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend. The late son of the late, great Marni Nixon. This is the theme of the TV show Golden Girls 

The Beatles – Thank You, Girl. The perennial B-side, of the single From Me to You in the UK, of the single Do You Want to Know a Secret in the US

Alanis Morissette – Thank U  

John Denver – Thank god I’m a country boy 

Neil Diamond – Thank the Lord for the Nighttime.  My absolute favorite Diamond song.

Give Biden access to the damn briefings

No justification for withholding the PDB

Presidential Daily Briefing
Presidential Daily Briefing

This came up in a conversation with my sisters. One of them has Trumpian friends. They are making the argument that the current regime ought not to give Joe Biden access to the Presidential Daily Briefing. Their argument is “What if they got the election wrong?” This is hurting my head.

ITEM: Presidential candidates begin to receive intelligence briefings in the immediate aftermath of the political conventions. “So when an individual becomes their party’s nominee, the briefing is offered to them… It’s an analytic briefing, so there are no… operations discussed, no covert actions discussed, no sources and methods discussed. It’s simply what do we see as the threats…why do we see it that way…how those threats evolved and where might they be heading.”

ITEM: “Such briefings had been standard practice since the candidacies of Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson… This understandable dilemma… had occurred in a great many transitions, with the outgoing administration not sure which candidate would accede to the office and thus very protective of sensitive and classified information. But… its intelligence officers [were] on the hook to provide the best and most useful available information to candidates who might soon be in the White House.”

ITEM: You’ll remember “the close 2000 election when the outcome was in doubt for more than a month after the voting. In spite of that, President Bill Clinton’s outgoing administration began intelligence briefings for George W. Bush before he was officially declared the winner.”

The Incredible Sulk  

ITEM: This regime is not allowing Biden “to receive intelligence briefings —  even those he was getting during the campaign.” In other words, IMPOTUS is even denying Biden access to the level of info that Obama gave to him before the 2016 election. This just shows pique, not any national security concerns that Biden, who used to get such information as Veep and even as the prez candidate, ought not to get them now.

Even a week ago, even Republican senators “are calling for Biden to have access to the information.”

“‘I just don’t know of any justification for withholding the briefing,’ Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said. ‘I see no problem with that,’ said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican Party’s longest-serving senator. ‘I think so, yes,’ said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest confidants, when asked if Biden should be briefed.”

Instead, on Tuesday, he fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election. In a tweet, naturally. He said that Christopher Krebs’ “recent statement defending the security of the election was ‘highly inaccurate.’ The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, comes as Trump is… removing high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal.”

The Biden team is locked out of key vaccine information as COVID rages. “More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” the President-elect said this week. “How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What’s the game plan? It’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking.”

Ascertainment

Per the Presidential Transition Act of 1963,  the chief duty of Emily Murphy at this moment “is to affirm the projected result of the presidential contest.” This is something “previous GSA administrators have generally done within a matter of hours of the election being called.” This action allows the incoming administration’s personnel to get busy setting up a new government.

Ascertainment is necessary for the seamless transition of power. Meanwhile, she’s looking for another job, suggesting she knows how this will play out.

The losing candidate’s false claims of “a stolen election are unoriginal, and evoke a dangerous historical precedent.” John Oliver has much useful to say about the election results. Also, check out the Weekly Sift.  Or even Randy Rainbow.

Not incidentally, the regime has “replaced the top tier of  Pentagon officials with men who have two things in common: fervent loyalty to Trump and a complete lack of qualification for their jobs.”

Oh, yeah, they’ve rushed to auction off Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling rights before the Biden inauguration. January 20, 2021, can’t come quickly enough.

Great American Smokeout 2020

“They all are”

Great American SmokeoutIn a normal year, I would have been long aware of the Great American Smokeout 2020. I might have written about it a month or two ago. Of course, I needn’t tell you the obvious.

“The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout® is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or to quit smoking on the day of the event – the third Thursday in November each year. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.”

Yeah, but you’ve given up so much already this year! Someone wants you to quit tobacco too? Well, yeah.

“Being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“If you currently smoke, quit. Now, if you used to smoke, don’t start again. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. Counseling from a healthcare provider and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications can double the chances of quitting smoking. For help quitting smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov.

My sort of relative Arnold

Arnold Berman, the brother of my late great-aunt Charlotte I loved communicating with. He died in 2018, I believe, though my sense of time is shot to heck. He noted a few years ago, “You should know that the US Surgeon General was shamefully late with that first report.

Then this personal reflection. “I started smoking in 1939 at the age of 15 – I was pretty sophisticated. In 1952 I read the reports from Sweden clearly linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer. I discovered that this was old news with such reports dating back at least 10 years. Weighing this against the benefits of smoking I quit cold turkey – I was pretty sophisticated. In 1953 my wife of three years and I split. Wallowing in self-pity I started smoking again.

“In 2001 I discovered that I had an advanced abdominal aortic aneurysm and agreed to have open surgery for repair. My California daughter, a nurse-midwife, called the surgeon’s office to inform them that I was a smoker. She reported to me that the response was ‘they all are; that’s why they’re here.’ I gave up smoking for good.”

Empire State Plaza fireworks with sound

Corning Tower

Empire State Plaza pic
c. 2020 Chuck Miller. Used with permission.

It wasn’t that I needed another piece of “stuff.” But there was something both familiar and wacky about this piece of art and craft by Chuck Miller that I had to put in at least an opening bid on. And, as it turned out, I won.

Here is one of Chuck’s photos of the Empire State Plaza fireworks, this from 2018. He’s taken quite a few of them over the years. As he explains here, “I’ve dabbled with electro-luminescent wire projects – mostly my neon sign recreation projects that later became successful art sales at Historic Albany Foundation’s BUILT charitable auction.

“So I wanted to build another one, and this time I wanted to integrate sound-activated lights in it.” And he did and offered it to the HAF auction.

Yes, it does light up with sound activation, such as talking or clapping. Playing music on the CD, though was less successful unless I played it very loud. But two things really work to create sustained lighting. One is to sing Om at approximately the F below middle C. That is amazingly effective. And fun. One can do that for only so long, though.

The other is to take the sleep machine I use every night. For most purposes, I set it to Stream, which replicates a babbling brook. For this exercise, I put it on Calm, which sounds a bit like a chant. Maybe sometime, I’ll bug my wife to pull out her clarinet to see what sound is most effective.

Sight and sound

I’m musing on this piece’s appeal to me. It is a fine photograph. It’s also the Albany connection. The Corning Tower, at 42 stories, is the tallest building between Montreal and New York City.

The picture is a reminder of something approaching “normal” in 2020, though the shot was taken in 2018. I hadn’t gone down to the plaza to watch the fireworks n a couple of decades, as it’s too crowded and noisy. But I had done so frequently last century.

The combination of sight and sound connected with me. I always find my own photographs of fireworks depressingly lacking. And I have no skills whatsoever on the mechanical front.

If nothing else, I can put Empire State Plaza fireworks with sound below the front windows. If anyone tries to commit a break-in, the burglar will be startled by the flashing lights.

The Couples Club, with Trudy Green

The treasurer?

couples clubMy father was SO involved with activities that my mom often was overshadowed. My father’s first cousin Ruth sent me this photo of members of the Couples Club.

In the front row is Billie Anderson (I remember from the choir), Trudy Green (mom), and Eleanor Powell. In the back is Walter Smith, Midgett Parker (pillar of the church), and a guy neither Ruth nor I can identify. Cousin Ruth wrote, “This pic was taken from a 1970 / 1971 Trinity AME Zion yearbook.” She’s been “buried working on church history stuff.”

When I searched for Couples Club in Newspapers.com, I found a lot of churches and synagogues had them in that period. They were social groups but would also provide some services to the community. I wasn’t paying that much attention to their activities at my church. After graduating from high school in January 1971, I got a job at IBM in March and was working an average of 56 hours per week.

So I forgot Mom’s nice ‘fro. I’ve said this before, but she was a proud black woman. She might have had to work harder at it actually because she was so light-skinned. My mom and I talked a lot over the years about an array of topics. But I don’t remember us talking about that.

Balancing the checkbook

We did occasionally discussed being overshadowed by dad, the singer/artist/florist/activist. She didn’t, in my estimation, seek the limelight. But she had an ego too and enjoyed being appreciated like almost everyone else.

I have no idea, but if I were to take a guess, I imagine she was probably the treasurer of the Couples Club. She was very good with numbers, first as a bookkeeper at McLeans department store in Binghamton, NY. Later, she was a teller at First Union Bank in Charlotte, NC.

Whereas my father was terrible, awful with money. More specifically, dreadful at keeping track of expenditures. He’d buy items for their various flea market projects in Charlotte but fail to give the receipts to mom or their frustrated accountant Cecil.

Once, in the presence of the whole family, in January 1997, she really lit into him over money issues. It was quite uncharacteristic of her and wasn’t the topic we had been discussing. But she was correct on the facts.

Trudy Green would have been 93 today.