The death of a public figure

Ask Arthur Anything response

Harvey Milk.George Moscone
Harvey Milk and George Moscone

For Arthur’s Ask Arthur Anything feature – I wonder where he got THAT idea? – I asked him one or two questions. One was “Other than Nigel [his late husband], whose death did you most mourn? Also what death of a public figure most affected you?” I’m going to focus on the latter.

Arthur wrote: “Two deaths affected me well afterward: Harvey Milk’s assassination in 1978 and Matthew Shepard’s murder twenty years later.” And it is true for me as well.

At the time, I thought Harvey Milk was the “other guy”, a city councilman killed along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by colleague Dan White. This happened only a short time after the Jonestown massacre, in which a large number of Bay Area residents died, traumatizing the community. Congressman Leo Ryan was also murdered in Guyana, tearfully announced by Moscone.

But by the time I saw the 2008 film Milk, I knew how important Harvey’s leadership was in LGBTQ+ rights. And that he went to school at the University at Albany.

I discussed Matthew Shepard in a comparison with Emmett Till, about whom I’ve written often. “Neither victim was a publicly known person; they weren’t activists in their respective civil rights struggles. Yet because Emmett’s mother had his battered body photographed in an open casket, because we saw the fence upon which Matthew was symbolically crucified, they were remembered nationally far beyond how the average murder victim is recalled.”

And yes, I protested in Albany against a certain ‘religious” Hate group, which came to town some years ago to complain about Laramie Project performances.

Dead musicians

Unlike John Lennon’s assassination, which hit me immediately, George Harrison’s death didn’t have the same instant impact. I knew he was dying. It was after 9/11; in fact, he was on the cover of TIME magazine in late November 2001, the first cover that wasn’t about 9/11 or Afghanistan in a couple of months. As I played George’s music, and later, when I heard the  Concert For George, his passing developed a greater resonance.

Sometimes, I’ll point out to Brian Ibbott, host of the podcast Coverville, which music stars had birthdays the following month that were divisible by five. I noted that David Bowie would have been 75 on January 8, 2022. Someone commented, “There hasn’t been a David Bowie cover story since the tribute in 2016. January 10 will also be the sixth anniversary of this sad day. So, please!”

Weird thing. I was recently watching that bit with Bowie and Bing Crosby on the latter’s holiday special. You know, the one with the fascinating dialogue. I was thinking, “Crosby died [on October 14, 1977] before that thing aired.” And suddenly, I realized, “Bowie’s dead too!” This is obviously something I knew intellectually since I had written about it more than once. Yet it took me by surprise and made me quite sad.

I’d count Prince, especially since my niece Rebecca Jade started singing with Sheila E. in 2017, and they cover so many of his songs. They both appeared in the televised Let’s Go Crazy — An All-Star Grammy Salute 2020, with Sheila as a musical director.

Martin

The person, though, whose death has hit me more at a later date is Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember when he died in 1968. However, I’ve learned SO much more about him subsequently. I’ve tried to make a point in the past decade to write about him every year around the dates of his birth (January 15) and death (April 4).

This is particularly true since certain people have hijacked his message into simplistic tropes. I wrote in 2013, What Would Martin Do, which is pretty representational of what I’ve been going for.

There are many others. For instance, several late entertainers and athletes I’ve admired, from Ella Fitzgerald to Hank Aaron, who had to endure Jim Crow.

Coincidentally, the very same day Arthur debuted the aforementioned post, Kelly shared For Carrie,  noting Carrie Fisher, gone five years. It’s worth checking out.

Random posts, or the illusion of same

MLK, blogging, music, movies, race, anger…

randomHere is my annual compilation of random posts from the previous year by month. Or maybe it’s an illusion. “Humans tend to see patterns when, in fact, the results are completely random.”

Speaking of which, Kelly “randomly” selected the Concerto No. 1 in F minor for piano and orchestra, by Alexander Glazunov. You should listen. 

January. MLK: When Peace Becomes Obnoxious. “I come to declare war over injustice.” This is from a 1956 sermon. This was a catch-his-breath bit because the sentences before and after are much longer and detailed. Still relevant, and possibly more so.

February: Death of the Times Union community blogs “’Nothing urgent, but please give me a ring if you have a few minutes — cell is…'” Casey Seiler, the editor of the Times Union newspaper, was the caller. I was surprised to discover that, although I was not dependent on the TU blog – I have this one, after all – I was still sad to see it go.

Looking into the future

March: Paul Whiteman and the hits of 1921
“’After all is said and done, there is really only one.'” The lyrics are to a tune called Margie by Eddie Cantor. I have a version of the song by Ray Charles. The nice thing about the series is that, if I’m still blogging, I know that in October 2029, I will be writing about the #1 songs from 1999. Hint: one of them is Smooth by Santana featuring Rob Thomas. I have the album from which that song was pulled.

April. Review: Judas and the Black Messiah. “FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) considered Hampton a threat to decency in America and wanted him surveilled from the inside.” It was one of my favorite films of the year.

May. Critical Race Theory. “Much of the recent discussion seems to center around the response by Senator Tim Scott to President Biden’s ‘Can’t Be Called the State of the Union’ address.” I don’t know why I wrote about CRT. Almost no one was talking about it in 2021.

June. Musician Nils Lofgren is turning 70. “He was a two-time member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.” A friend of mine told me this fall they never read my music pieces because they don’t care about music. OK.

Side Two

July: Anger, a national disease “But living near a hotheaded neighbor who thinks we’re always calling the cops on her -I did once, because of the dog – unexplained noises at night are unsettling.” I BELIEVE that my neighbor moved in December, thank Allah.

August: Sunday Stealing, March 2020. “But only the ones I feel like answering.” When I get stuck or busy or tired, the quiz is the way to go.

September: The SCOTUS abortion ballet. “In a state that leads the country and much of the developed world in the rate of maternal mortality, women in Texas will now have to travel to another state to secure an abortion or resort to life-threatening back-alley coat-hanger abortions.” And SCOTUS has taken up the Mississippi law. I fear this will not end well.

October: Rhymin’ Paul Simon turns 80. “I got Stranger to Stranger in 2016, when it came out.” Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder were my favorite musical artists in the 1970s.

November: The way-too-detailed diaries. “I wrote or received letters from people A, B, and C.” My disappointment was that the diaries so far hadn’t gleaned much useful bloggable information.

December: Six Legends of Baseball. “Minoso lead the American League in being hit by a pitch for 10 seasons.” That would be Minnie Minoso, who played primarily for the Chicago White Sox.

December rambling: slowest rate

Nell Stokes, Rebecca Jade, Literary Legends, public domain

Photo taken by Wayne
Photo was taken by Wayne

U.S. Population Grew 0.1% in 2021, Slowest Rate Since Founding of the Nation and  Net International Migration at Lowest Levels in Decades

What State of Matter is Fire?

Frequency Illusion? What’s the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

Black mothers turning to doulas in light of the nation’s horrifying maternal death rates

Two Texas teens dressed as Klansmen tased their Black classmate

Solomon Northup’s “A Slave’s Christmas” 

Wreck of last US slave ship mostly intact on the coast

NEA Guide for Racial Justice in Education

Missouri Cop Pulls Over School Bus Driver For Wearing A Mask

147 New York dams are ‘unsound’ and potentially dangerous Thousands of dams have not been inspected in more than 20 years

The departed

Hidden Pentagon records reveal patterns of failure in deadly airstrikes 

Desmond Tutu, a cleric who campaigned against apartheid in South Africa,  dies at 90. “A moral beacon in a deeply troubled land, Tutu managed to irritate the African National Congress government that took power after South Africa’s first all-race elections, as much as he had riled the apartheid regime that had previously oppressed the country’s Black majority.”

Joan Didion, Literary Titan, Dies at 87;  Jon Avnet on Making ‘Up Close and Personal’ With Her

 TCM Remembrance of performers past

This Year, Hollywood’s China Relationship Finally Unraveled

After his performance in The Music Man, Hugh Jackman touts Broadway understudies, standbys, and swings. The role of Marion Paroo, the female lead, was supposed to be played by Sutton Foster, who tested positive for COVID. The role was covered by a swing named Kathy Voytko, who also covered seven other smaller roles in the production.

Flying from Honolulu to Buffalo just before Christmas

I Stopped Caring About My Kids’ School Grades. You Should, Too.

“She could never love me!” Comic books and disability cliches 

Chuck’s best blog moments of 2021, which includes me!

The Awakening – Albany’s first movie (1914)

See the movie short:  Seasoned Greetings (1933 Vitaphone). Lita Grey Chaplin w/ 7 Yr Old Sammy Davis Jr

Now I Know: A Brick That Broke The Glass Ceiling and The Amazing Spider-Man Coincidence and When It Feels Good to Pay More

Inspiring Quotes: If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror. – Shane Koyczan

Nominate the next Literary Legend!

Each year, the Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library select a new outstanding person of letters to be honored as our Literary Legend. The FFAPL invites the public to nominate writers for the selection committee to consider.

Nominations must be received by January 9, 2022, for consideration by this year’s Selection Committee. The Literary Legends Selection Committee includes members of the FFAPL board, past Gala Chairpersons, and APL librarians.

Sound Treasures Enter the Public Domain

On January 1, 2022, 400,000 pre-1923 sound recordings will enter the public domain, thanks to a new U.S. law, the Music Modernization Act. To celebrate, you may attend a virtual event on January 20, “A Celebration of Sound.”

And it’s not just music! On January 1st, children’s classic Winnie the Pooh, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Rudolph Valentino in The Son of the Sheik, in addition to musical recordings such as Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, and thousands more will all be free for creative reuse and sharing.

MUSIC
Hendrix.Nesmith.Tork
Hendrix.Nesmith.Tork found on Facebook

Am I Enough. Words: Nell Stokes. Vocals: CJay Philip, Nell’s daughter. Musical arrangement: Gail Sparlin. Piano: Larry Finke.

You Should Be Dancing – Dee Gees, who look a little like the Foo Fighters

Coverville 1382: Cover Stories for Patti Smith, Dido, and Britney Spears

New York State of Mind – NYCNext

Losing My Mind -Imelda Staunton, in a 2017 production of Follies by the National Theater

Tainted Love – Broken Peach 

Songbird -MonaLisa Twins

Dream On – Ann Wilson, live 

Stand By Me – Playing For Change

Mary, Mary, written by Michael Nesmith (30 Dec 1942-10 Dec 2021): Butterfield Blues Band Band, The Monkees 

It’s still Christmastide

Dave Koz and Friends // The Greatest Hits of Christmas – LIVESTREAM VIRTUAL CONCERT Recorded 12/12/20. With Jonathan Butler, Peter White, Kenny Lattimore, Michael Lington, Brian Simpson, and REBECCA JADE!

Have a sultry, soulful Christmas!

River – Joni Mitchell, Her first official video

J. Eric Smith –  Ten Songs You Need to Hear: Crimbo Version

Binghamton and Albany, NY

140 miles

I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in upstate New York, specifically Binghamton and Albany.

A while ago, Kelly sent me a link to Walking America, part 2: Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott. Photos and thoughts from Broome County, New York.

Of course, Binghamton is my hometown. But I can’t argue with the first sentence. At all. “Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott are either the northern-most cities in Appalachia or the eastern-most in the Rust Belt, depending on what expert you talk to.” Even when I lived there, there were people suggesting the Appalachia designation.

(It doesn’t help that there is a Census-Designated Place called Apalachin in neighboring Tioga County. It’s less than 10 minutes west of Endicott and 15 minutes from JC. Apalachin is 20 minutes from Binghamton, the Broome County seat, and the only one of the Triple Cities which is actually a city, as the other two are villages.)

It can only get better

At Binghamton’s nadir, in the 1990s, the Boscov’s was the only major retailer keeping downtown Binghamton afloat. It depressed me greatly.  In fact, for years, I just didn’t go downtown at all. I’d be in Broome County attending the Olin family reunion. But it was held in one of two parks in Endicott. And we’d stay in Endicott or Vestal, or even an hour away in Oneonta at my in-laws.

When I was a Binghamtonian, Harpur College/SUNY Binghamton seemed remote. (It’s technically in the town of Vestal.) So it didn’t have that economic stimulus some colleges provide to their locales. I’m thrilled the new businesses downtown, driven by the college kids now living there, has created new opportunities.

Still, as the article notes: “They are struggling towns with good people trying to keep their heads afloat. Towns that haven’t recovered from all the lost jobs that were once here, like making shoes [Endicott-Johnson, where my mother briefly was employed]  or making computers [IBM, where I spent five months before college], and all the good people that left because of that.”

Capital city

I saw this article in the Albany Times Union: Ex-Capital Region news anchor schmoozes with extremists in a bid for Arizona governor. Ugh.

“Former WNYT Channel 13 television anchor Kari Lake… is greeting supporters who include a Jan. 6 insurrectionist, an anti-mask advocate, and a Nazi sympathizer… ” Of course, she’s being supported by 45.

“In August 1998, she moved to the Capital Region… At the time, Lake told the Times Union she ‘just wanted to live in a real nice place. And that is Albany.’ Some 15 months later,  Lake was finished in Albany…”

But I think she was right about one thing at the time. “‘It is so parochial here. I could be here 30 years and feel sort of new… We came all the way across the country, to find out just how much we miss home.'”

I used the P-word when I wrote about the place back in 2013.  My theory was that it does take about three decades to fit in with the unspoken norms. I moved here in 1979, so I’m nearly as close to a native as can be.

98 acres

Still, I wasn’t present when 98 acres were leveled to build the Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, “a massive modern office complex” designed to transform ‘historic but shabby’ Albany into a ‘brilliant, beautiful, efficient and electrifying capital.'”

Well, there are modern office buildings, performance spaces, and many other amenities. But at a cost. “7,000 people, old and young, black and white, immigrant and native-born” were displaced as well as “more than 400 businesses, most of them small—neighborhood groceries, grills, taverns, tailors, and shoemakers.

“Over the course of two-and-a-half years, as the State demolished 1,150 structures to clear 40 city blocks, residents and businesses were forced to move out.” Occasionally, I STILL find someone who will lament the loss.

Two visits

Walking America has made TWO visits to Albany, The first contains this paragraph: “Here, the poverty and wealth are juxtaposed against a downtown filled with politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists who claim to care about the very inequality they are surrounded by, making it a physical metaphor for the failures of our political class.” Ouch. 

And he had avoided the aforementioned Empire State Plaza the first time, so he came back. “Avoiding it wasn’t fair though, because the Plaza dominates Albany, both spatially and as the manifestation of a technocratic philosophy found in every modern political center: The idea that government, empowered by the best and brightest, wielding ‘Science!,’ can mold humans, cities, and societies into their better selves…

“While the [surrounding] blocks are poor they also have what the Plaza doesn’t have. A genuine humanness.” The last part, alas, is certainly true. This doesn’t mean I don’t care for the place – and changing it back is impossible -but the downtown, in particular, is a bit soulless.

Still, I’m not looking to live elsewhere. Given the vagaries of climate change, being here suits me just fine.

Dad’s observation

Here’s one thing my late father, who grew up in Binghamton, but moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974, noticed. He made a comparison between his old city and his new one. Binghamton is near the Pennsylvania border, just as Charlotte is close to South Carolina. One has to travel northeast to get to the state capital, 140 miles to Albany, 175 to Raleigh, NC.

December rambling: Tread carefully

new Rebecca Jade music!

road-to-xmas-board-game
From https://wronghands1.com/2021/11/19/road-to-xmas-board-game/

Spotlighting The Black And Missing Foundation’s Commitment To Locating Missing Persons Of Color

Hillary Clinton was right about the “deplorables” — and about the end of Roe v. Wade. Still hate Hillary’s guts? Fine. But let’s admit that she saw all this coming — and way before the rise of Trump

The Roe v Wade Death Watch

But the Cancer Was “Indolent” — Doctors: Tread carefully when offering patients an optimistic outlook

What Is a Surgeon ‘Supposed’ to Look Like?

Instead of Travel Bans, Let’s Defeat Omicron Variant With Global Vaccination

Horse-paste enthusiasts are threatening hospital workers.

Dr. Oz Has A Long History Of Promoting Quack Treatments

Alden Global Capital, which has gutted newsrooms, desires to acquire
Lee Enterprises, the owner of the Glens Falls Post-Star as well as the Buffalo News and the Auburn Citizen

Awareness

Barbados Bids Farewell to British Monarchy as It Becomes a Republic. It is actually the only country I’ve ever been in besides Canada and Mexico.

The End Game (dealing with Stuff)

Louis Vuitton Designer Virgil Abloh Dead From Cancer At Age 41. Abloh “chose to endure his battle privately” and underwent “numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.”

How to Identify What You Enjoy. Arthur C. Brooks and Lori Gottlieb discuss the importance of fun and the cultural distortion of emotions as “good” or “bad”

College Students Write Children’s Book About Their Inclusive Friendship, Raise Awareness for Down Syndrome

Anne Rice, the gothic novelist who wrote ‘Interview with the Vampire,’ dies at age 80

Ken Levine remembers Shari Lewis, interviewing her daughter Mallory

Cara Williams, RIP

The Best of Trevor’s Accents – Between The Scenes | The Daily Show

Why younger people say ‘no problem’ instead of ‘you’re welcome.’

The Automat

The history of the blinking cursor 

Themself or themselves as a singular form? I’m leaning toward the former; cf yourself and yourselves.

A snowflake photo

 The history of paintings of dogs playing poker 

BobDole

I never voted for the longtime Republican Senate leader. He was elected to the House in 1960 and the Senate in 1974. He became Senate majority leader briefly in 1980s, then in 1994.

Gerald Ford picked him as his Vice-Presidential partner in 1976, but they lost to Carter/Mondale. He was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for president in 1996 against the incumbent Bill Clinton.

But I didn’t find him loathful. His right arm was left permanently paralyzed from World War II, and that gave him some perspective, to help veterans and those with disabilities. He is the first “real” person, as opposed to an actor, to promote pills for erectile dysfunction. (So THAT was what ED was.)

Redlining, continued

In response to a post of mine about redlining, Bankrate wrote to me. “Although housing discrimination is an illegal practice, its impact remains in mortgage and lending practices. Our experts created a guide explaining the lasting effects of housing discrimination, how it impacts the mortgage industry, and how to combat these issues.” Here’s the link

Subsequently, I read this.  To prove lowball appraisal, Black couple ‘white-washes’ home—value rises by nearly $500K. The CBS News story referred to a 2018 Brookings report: The devaluation of assets in Black neighborhoods – The case of residential property.

Also, When a Hyundai is also the family home 

The Racial Gap in Financial Literacy

Now I Know

The Road With a Toad-Away Zone and It’s Better to Be Afraid Than Embarrassed? and The Best Reason for a Delayed Flight? and Giving the Train a Slip and The Horse Hide

MUSIC

What’s It Gonna Be – REBECCA JADE: link and video

Jimmy Fallon, Ariana Grande, and Megan Thee Stallion release pro-booster It Was A Masked Christmas 

November Woods by Arnold Bax 

Mary Of Silence  · Mazzy Star

Batman TV show theme sans the word “bat”

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury and the Blockheads, because
1. Sondheim would love that rhyme that’s spelled differently:
In the wilds of Borneo
And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho
Move their body to and fro
2. Someone is “in the wild”, but “in the wilds of” a place. Why IS that?

Michael Nesmith — considerably more than a Monkee — dies at 78; a loose salute

 The Sting Interview by Rick Beato

Salon satire: Deleted scenes from “The Beatles: Get Back” we’ll never see