Rebecca Jade, the first niece

A Shade of Jade

Since Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is having a significant natal day tomorrow, I figured it was time to write about her again.

She and her parents lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC, for her first two years. I first visited her when she was a month old. For sure, I was at her first and second birthday parties. Then, her family moved to Puerto Rico.

Still, I’d see her on occasion. The picture above is after my Grandma Williams’ funeral at Trinity AME Zion Church in Binghamton, NY. It’s my favorite picture of us together, although the one of me walking with little Becky, when she’s wearing a red jumper, is cool too.

She, her mother, and I would converge on Charlotte, NC, for my parents’ anniversaries divisible by 5. We often had family photos taken. On one occasion, Rebecca had remnants of chicken pox on her face, which shows a bit in the photo.

I attended her high school graduation in El Cajon, CA. She played basketball for Berkeley, and I saw her play once at a road game in the NYC area; I also made it to her college graduation.  

She was at both of my parents’ funerals in 2000 and 2011. My mom’s was the latter when she first met my daughter. But my daughter had seen Rebecca on television in a competition called Wipeout on ABC-TV in 2010. My niece placed second.

Rebecca attended my last wedding in 1999, and I attended hers to Rico in 2005. My family, Rebecca and Rico, spent Thanksgiving 2013 together at our cousin Anne’s house in New Rochelle, NY.

Cold Fact

The first musical recording of the first niece was a three-song demo when she was a teenager. However, one of her earliest albums was 2011’s The Jade Element, which one can find here.

There are two Rebecca Jade and The Cold Fact albums, the 2015 eponymous one and 2019’s Running Out Of Time. You can get the former here or here. The latter can be found here or here ,or on vinyl – vinyl! – here or here.

In 2018, I caught Rebecca and the Cold Fact’s gig in a San Diego club. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen her perform professionally, but it was the initial time I saw her with her band. They won a humungous $5,000 check!

Peter Sprague

I’ve seen her sing with jazz guitarist Peter Sprague and his band several times during his Liveish sessions online. Even during the height of COVID, they performed by being in separate rooms or even outside. Check out It’s For You (2021), Are You Going With Me (2021), In My Life (2022), and Guinnevere (2023).

Peter and Rebecca recorded the excellent Planet Cole Porter in 2017, which you can get here. Check out the title song, the only one not written by Porter, live.

Being a bit of an RJ completist, I also have  Sparks and Seeds by Peter Sprague and Randy Phillips (2018). Rebecca sings four songs, with additional tunes by Emily Elbert, Leonard Patton, Lisa Hightower, and Allison Adams Tucker

At home


During COVID, Rebecca did about a dozen Home Made shows. Some are on Facebook. Episodes 10 and 11 11 on YouTube.

She’s put together a great new album, A Shade of Jade, which one can get at her website, along with seeing more videos, checking out her upcoming shows, and the like.

In 2023, I got to see Rebecca thrice. On July 4, she was supposed to sing backup for Sheila E. as she had in NYC in 2017 and at the New York State Fair in 2019. A thunderstorm canceled the show, but my extended family and I got to talk with her at the hotel where the band stayed.

In August, she sang in a Syracuse park. My wife, my daughter, and I saw her before the performance. Afterward, we got to hang out with her, a couple of the musicians, and promoters. Then, in late September, I saw her, for 10 seconds, in the Charlotte airport as she rushed to her connecting flight.

I would have gone to see her on the Dave Koz Christmas tour this year, as I did in 2021, when I went down to Long Island, but in 2023, they are not getting closer than Cleveland and near Pittsburgh.

Happy birthday, first niece! I love you, but you knew that, didn’t you?

July rambling: False Equivalence

Concert by Peter Sprague and Rebecca Jade

No Labels: The Party of False Equivalence

djt’s Attacks on the Legal System Are a Preview of How He Plans to Govern, so Authoritarianism Will Be on the Ballot

The Steep Cost of Ron DeSantis’s Vaccine Turnabout and Republican Deaths in Florida, Ohio Linked to COVID vaccine Politics

Nikki Haley Calls for ‘Generational Change’ Then Declares She Would Support a Second djt Term

The Rogue Court vs. Modern Democracy

Arrgh. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) argued at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that a tweet from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about baseball legend Hank Aaron’s death after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine was “just pointing out facts.” 

My Sister Lucy’s Death and Life: Picturing an Alternate Timeline of Recovery By Amy Biancolli

Irish Singer Sinéad O’Connor Dies at 56

The Emotional Recession Is Here

More Americans Are Living Alone

National Marriage and Divorce Rates Declined From 2011 to 2021

F-Rated Charities Receive Top Ratings & Seals From Nonprofit Trade Associations

Streaming Giants Have a Local TV News Problem

Comic books took center stage for the first time in more than a decade at Comic-Con

Bruce Lee & Me: A reflection on the 50th anniversary of my friend’s death by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Why We Say “Pardon My French,” “It’s All Greek to Me,” and Other National Idioms

The CJ Cregg Memorial Globe

Now I Know: How iTunes Saved Dunder Mifflin and The Third Little Pig’s Guide to Computer Hardware and Where There’s a Way, There’s a Will?


Two recent events have merged in my mind.  One was the video for Jason Aldean’s Try That In A Small Town. A right-wing online site I follow – so you don’t have to – calls it a fake controversy.

The song was released in May, but “not a peep from the perpetually offended. Another two months passed before his label released the video, and then the left unleashed the Kraken.” Bands and labels release videos so that more people listen to the song. Duh.

Not incidentally, after the controversy, streams for the song jumped 999 percent.

“If the words were offensive and scare-wordy ‘racist,’ why didn’t they seize and pounce on them when the song was first put out? Because there is nothing offensive or racist about the lyrics.”

Or because most racism exists without anyone using the N-word or whatever. Modern bigotry is coded with dog whistles. As someone wrote, “The lyrics alone are coded just enough to maintain plausible deniability.” Conversely, the video centered on a Tennessee courthouse that was the site of a famous lynching

Indeed, the song is part of a long legacy with a very dark side. “Betsy Phillips, a writer for the Nashville Scene…  explains: ‘There were at least two lynchings in Columbia, but I can’t stress enough that there were many, many lynchings in the surrounding counties.’

“Asked whether she believes Aldean had direct knowledge of the Maury County Courthouse’s frightening history, Phillips points to interviews where Aldean has boasted, ‘I haven’t read a book since high school.'”

An editor for a small-town newspaper notes: “While Aldean’s lyrics may seem flattering to small towns, they do the opposite. They do damage to our efforts to be welcoming communities. The song doesn’t inspire; it divides. It doesn’t promote small towns; it stereotypes and diminishes them.”

Several people on social media mentioned Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who tried jogging in a small town and was murdered by gun-toting racists. I immediately thought of Arbery, Emmett Till,  Trayvon Martin, Mathew Shepherd, sundown towns, and other manifestations of bigotry that Aldean may not be familiar with. 

Only heroes

This segues into the DeSantis-approved version of American racial history. “Florida wants to tell a story about race in America that has heroes but no villains. This is in line with the demands of DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act, which requires that students be indoctrinated with an upbeat narrative.”

A Florida textbook publisher disallowed mentioning Rosa Parks was Black in one of their books because of the act.

“By banning an AP course on African-American studies, banning books about race, sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity in various school districts… DeSantis is showing he intends to not only purge Black history — he intends to rewrite it so that the ugly parts sound beautiful. This is a deliberate effort to gaslight citizens and teach children to believe the U.S. was always great, not because chattel slavery didn’t exist, but because it did.”

It’d be like saying Jews could avoid the Holocaust by being useful. Wait, someone from Fox news essentially did say that.

To the degree that enslaved people learned skills, they were designed for the enslaver to exploit further. An 1856 editorial in the Richmond Enquirer tells the truth: “Democratic liberty exists solely because we have slaves … freedom is not possible without slavery.” OK, “freedom” for those of power and privilege.

Also, in 7 of the 16 examples described by Florida education officials,  the people were not enslaved at all. Lewis Latimer was born to free, self-liberated parents in 1848 before he worked on the development of the telephone. Henry Blair, Paul Cuffe, John Chavis, and entrepreneur James Forten were other examples provided by Florida, despite them being born free.

Aldean said, “What I am is a proud American. I’m proud to be from here. I love our country, and I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls— started happening to us. I love our country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that. I’ll tell you that right now.”

In the “good old days,” ignorance was bliss… at least for some people. “They won’t listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don’t want the truth; they want their traditions.” ― Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky.


Live(ish) at SpragueLand Episode 34 —Peter Sprague and Rebecca Jade – How Will I Know concert

Sinéad O’Connor’s Best: 12 of Her Finest Musical Moments

Andre Watts performs the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor by Camille Saint-Saens.

Coverville 1449: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees 2023 and 1450: Cover stories for Joan Osborne and Rufus Wainwright and 1451: Sinead O’Connor Tribute and Rolling Stones Cover Story

A selection of music about the moon

Hey Nineteen – Kent Nishimura on Solo Acoustic Guitar 

Common Tones in Simple Time – John Adams

For What It’s Worth –  MonaLisa Twins

August rambling: personality cult

The 2030 Census

Guns and reproductive system
Original source unknown

“Unite the Right” five years later

Secret Service Held Onto Violent Jan. 6 Threat Against Pelosi

Governing Party vs. Personality Cult

djt: His Alleged Crimes at CRIME-A-LAGO and THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO ALL THE WAYS HE IS LEGALLY SCREWED, and his discarding and hoarding of documents just might be pathological

The FBI Confirms Its Brett Kavanaugh Investigation Was a Total Sham

Let’s Hear From the Women Lis Smith Smeared. The political operative who covered for Cuomo is on a comeback tour, trying to paper over the damage she caused.

Correcting Misinformation About Dr. Fauci

Poll Finds 3 in 4 Voters Want to Expand Social Security by Taxing The Rich

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Afghanistan and Carbon Offsets 

Most victims of the global problem of out-of-control militarism don’t get the same attention from the Western press.

Is This The Moment For A Third Political Party?

The 10 Things That All Flat Earthers Say

Mr. Brunelle: quiet quitting and new Florida teachers

Census and more

Census: Post-Enumeration Surveys and Bureau Invites Public Input on Designing 2030 Census, and Bureau Must Ensure the Next Census Deploys the Highest Quality Science

Average Lifespan Of Residents In Each US State,

Federal and State Agencies to Notify of a Name Change

Salem Witch Trial Victim Exonerated After 329 Years

Was King Arthur a Real Person?

Should Christians Listen to Explicit Music?

Frederick Buechner, popular Christian ‘writer’s writer’ and ‘minister’s minister,’ dies at 96

Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and broadcasting legend, dies at 87

Ken Levine remembers Vin Scully 

Cross-Pollinating for the Collective

Kelly’s eclectic linkage

Jodi Balfour on the Importance of Her Coming Out on ‘For All Mankind’

14 Notorious Movies and TV Shows That Have Never Been Released

Academy Apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather for Her Mistreatment At the 1973 Oscars

Capitol Records Severs Ties With A.I. Rapper FN Meka, Apologizes to Black Community for “Insensitivity”

Steve Martin on His Late Career Surge; he plays well with others

Now I Know: The Musician Whose Big Break Was a Broken Instrument and Münchausen by Internet and Why U-Hauls Pretend to be From Arizona and  Why Barber’s Poles Have All Those Stripes and How to Get Supplies to an Underwater Laboratory

Student debt

President Biden’s announcement on student debt cancellation generated a lot of conversation. Some believe the $10,000 forgiveness was far too little, while others bemoaned doing so at all. A Facebook comment by Kelly Sedinger resonated with me.

“Nothing illustrates our society’s abdication of the notion of leaving a better world for our children than we ourselves received than (a) creating an economy where higher education is almost a requirement to succeed at any level of comfort, (b) making said education wildly expensive, to the point that virtually no one can afford it out of pocket, (c) thus requiring a system of financing that applies higher-than-they-should-be interest rates and making that debt unable to be dissolved in bankruptcy, and finally (d) freaking out at forgiving some of that debt.”

Mark Evanier added:  “A lot of folks who are fine with your, my and their tax dollars going to very, very rich people sure get upset when that money goes to people who are not very, very rich.


Lock Him Up Yesterday – Randy Rainbow

I Hope So – Katrina Stone

Coverville 1411: The Jethro Tull Cover Story

Javelin by Michael Torke.

Let It Be – Peter Sprague,  featuring Rebecca Jade

Apotheosis of this Earth by Karel Husa

Shattered Memories – Michał Łapaj (feat. Mick Moss)

I’ve Just Seen A Face – Peter Sprague, featuring Rebecca Jade

Home Grown – Booker T and The MG’s (stereo)

Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna – Franz Von Suppe’

Nov. rambling: down the rabbit hole

ancient board games


Does the red pill have an antidote? Why do previously reasonable people go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, and what can be done to bring them back?

The vaccine tore her family apart. Could a death bring them back together?

Pharmaceutical messianism and the COVID-19 pandemic

Why WHO skipped ‘nu,’ ‘xi’ for the new COVID variant, omicron

Trump believed his press secretary when she told him he’d win ‘because’ of COVID

Nations Fiddle While the Earth Burns (and Floods)


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Union Busting and The Power Grid 

 Wealthy Americans get paid leave. Shouldn’t the rest?

The scary rise of private intelligence companies 

What your smart devices know (and share) about you

 Public-Private Partnerships Are Quietly Hollowing Out Our Public Libraries 

Parents are scrambling after schools suddenly cancel class over staffing and burnout. (It’s happened at least twice in Albany this fall.)

To Catch a Turtle Thief: Blowing the Lid Off an International Smuggling Operation

An Extraordinary 500-Year-Old Shipwreck Is Rewriting the History of the Age of Discovery

Land Back and The Third Reconstruction: A Truth Commission with the Shinnecock Nation 

Can a Doughnut Heal Our World?


etymologyAn Indigenous chef is putting her heritage on the menu with landmark restaurant 

French dictionary adds non-binary pronoun

Sesame Street debuts Asian-American muppet

Lee Elder, first Black golfer to play in Masters, dies at age 87

How to wake up early, even if you’re not a morning person

The link to Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library book talks 

Some People Can Literally See Time 

Your 2 Step Guide To Creating Mindfulness Gratitude Practice

Ancient Board Games, even more ancient than I am

Ken Levine’s 250th podcast: For Those Who Love Lucy

David Brickman and Stanley Tucci are not the same person

RIP, laugh track 

The Love Boat video shows every single guest in alphabetical order.

Now I Know:  What Does the Fox Spray? and How Ben Franklin Killed the Competition and The Boy Who Shared His Wish and  The Somewhat-Fake Sausage That Saved Lives

Heart-pulling Christmas commercials


How Great Thou Art, performed by Carla Fisk

A Pile Of Dust – Voces8

Fanny Mendelssohn 

Peter Sprague Plays Miles Davis

Romanian Rhapsody #2 by Georges Enescu

Come A Little Bit Closer – Jay and the Americans

Barnyard Boogie – From Acoustic Rooster’s Barnyard Boogie: Starring Indigo Blume

Overture to Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin

Future Past (Visualizer) – Duran Duran

Symphony No. 3 by Aram Khachaturian

J. Eric Smith: Be Thankful for What You’ve Got

Latke Recipe – the Maccabeats

Coverville 1379: Cover Stories for Lorde and Taylor (Swift) and 1380: Covering the 2021 Inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft – Carpenters

May rambling: food and death

100 years since Tulsa, and one since George Floyd


I’ve been thinking a lot about food and death. NOT death caused by food poisoning.

At my FIL’s funeral this month, someone told a story about how my parents-in-law met. They were both students at what is now UAlbany. She was a food server, he made deliveries of supplies. He came into the dining area, just as she was about to eat her fried egg sandwich. Instead, she offered it to him.

The next week, they went to the movies together. They lived happily for many years. It is a sweet story, but the telling was incomplete. The kicker is that he HATED fried egg sandwiches, but he ate it anyway.

My wife has discovered there were foods that were always in her parents’ house. One staple was spaghetti and meatballs. As it turns out, she HATES spaghetti and meatballs, but he liked them, so she served them. Now my wife has stopped buying them for her.

Arthur tells of taste obsessions and his late husband Nigel.

Some links

Generally, I have no energy for the Big Lie believers or the January 6 deniers who say those insurrectionists were tourists, blocking an investigation. But if Chuck wants to rant about Marjorie Taylor Greene – she’s beyond reprehensible.

Why Liz Cheney Matters.

We’ll Never Stop Trying to Cut Taxes for the Rich, Republicans Warn.

John Oliver: Stand Your Ground gun laws “exalt a white person’s fear over a black person’s life.” Also, sponsored product on the local news broadcasts.

I, too, rage America.

Avoiding Overtaxing Minorities When We Need Them Most.

100 Years: Remembering the Tulsa Race Massacre, which I wrote about here

What to make of Israel/Palestine?

Wage theft is a huge problem that requires a creative solution.

Restaurant Workers Say They Won’t Return to Work Without a Living Wage

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.
– Jack Kornfield

And more

Working 55 hours a week can be deadly.

The Problem With Bitcoin

Comics writer and journalist David Anthony Kraft passed away.

In honor of Ms. Ruby Hughes.

Adam Ragusea on converting recipes in liters and milliliters to pounds and ounces, and Vidalia Onions.

It’s going to rain. Can you smell it?

How to Conduct an Address Search to Access Data for your Location. Census Reporter is an option to find your block group, state and Congressional districts, and more.

Why you need to have your ancestor’s New York death certificate.

The filing cabinet was critical to the information infrastructure of the 20th-century.

Are you getting robocalls purportedly – and clearly not – from the Social Security Administration saying your number has been compromised? I’ve gotten a few dozen on my landline and my cell this year, from several area codes, mostly the 30-second version. Annoying, but also really pathetic.

Now I Know: The Forest Man of India and How Elephants Communicate From Miles Away and The Circle of Life and The Secret Ingredient is Curiosity and The Reason Florida Disavowed Space Oranges.


Spring Ain’t Here – Peter Sprague, featuring Rebecca Jade.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Afro Fiesta feat. Twanguero and I-Taweh.

Main themes from Laputa: Castle in the Sky – Joe Hisaishi.

Coverville 1358: Cover Stories for Dave Mason, Donovan, and Graham Gouldman.

Danse slav from the opera The Reluctant King by Emmanuel Chabrier.

We Love the Drums – Peter Sprague, featuring Duncan Moore.

I Fought the Law – Bobby Fuller Four.

The Hamilton Polka – “Weird Al” Yankovic.

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