Book review: March, Book Three

An interesting aspect of the book is the appearance of one Barack Obama.

march-book-three-coverBack when Jon Stewart was hosting The Daily Show, he had on Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), the lion of the civil rights movement. He was plugging March, Book Two, which continued the description of the “historic events he participated in as a leader of the civil rights movement,” sharing “his desire to inspire the next generation of activists with his graphic novel trilogy.” I said, “I should get that,” but did not.

Recently, Lewis returned to The Daily Show, now hosted by Trevor Noah, promoting March, Book Three. So when I got a chance to review that book, I took it.

If you saw the movies Continue reading “Book review: March, Book Three”

A New York Newspapers State of Mind

With any recording, there are two copyrights: one for the song, the composition, and another for the performance of that song, the recording.

There’s a line in a classic Billy Joel song New York State of Mind:
“But now I need a little give and take
The New York Times, the Daily News.”

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, I used to read those two New York City papers, even though I lived 150 miles away. The New York Times, “All The News That’s Fit To Print,” I’d read nearly every day. Even into the 1990s, I was at least devour the massive Sunday Times, which might take all week. In the earlier period, I also read the Daily News, a tabloid publication, on Sunday, mostly for the funnies and the sports.

I almost never read the other tabloid in New York City, the New York Post, which was terrible even before Rupert Murdock bought it in 1993. (Certainly, one of its low points was in 1980, when they showed a slain John Lennon in the morgue.)

It’s nice to see my old friends of the news IN the news:

nyt.selma

Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura participated in the reenactment of the march 50 years ago in Selma, Alabama on March 7. They were on the front line, but do not appear in the photo above. The narrative from some is that they were cropped out.

But in viewing several pictures of the event, it was clear that the picture was not wide enough to include the Bushes without making the shot far too small to see from the newsstand.

Moreover, Times photographer Doug Mills notes: “As you can see, Bush was in the bright sunlight. I did not even send this frame because it’s very wide and super busy and Bush is super-overexposed because he was in the sun and Obama and the others are in the shade.”

Nevertheless, there will be people who will find political motivation in this.

There are some who thought Bush should have stayed home, since his Supreme Court justices have weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the very law signed by President Lyndon Johnson as a direct result of the original march. I’m glad Bush was there.

Here’s a poignant Selma story.

traitors.newyorkdailynews.mar2015 A couple of days later, I was astonished to see THIS headline in the Daily News go viral, with the paper blasting the 47 US Senators for sending a letter to Iran.

As Vox.com puts it, “The mere act of senators contacting the leaders of a foreign nation to undermine and contradict their own president is an enormous breach of protocol. But this went much further: Republicans are telling Iran, and, by extension the world, that the American president no longer has the power to conduct foreign policy, and that foreign leaders should assume Congress could revoke American pledges at any moment.”

Now, Arthur explains this situation more than I’m inclined to. Read also links to several other newspaper editorials.

Whether the letter, signed by four men (Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio) who have suggested a desire to be the Republican nominee for President, is actually traitorous is open to debate. That it was a brazen, gratuitous, and plainly stupid action is pretty clear. And some Republicans agree.

Humorous responses: Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama and An Open Letter to 47 Republican Senators of the United States of America from Iran’s Hard-Liners.: “You have opened our eyes. We are brothers.”
***
In other news, Jurors hit Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams with $7.4-million verdict over the song Blurred Lines.

I was surprised by the results. A couple of weeks ago, intellectual property lawyer/drummer Paul Rapp, a/k/a F. Lee Harvey Blotto, wrote this:

The…case, in which Marvin Gaye’s kids are trying to shake down Robin Thicke, Pharrell and TI, is…not going very well for Team Gaye. The judge knocked the stuffing out of the Gayes’ case last month by ruling that the jury would not be allowed to hear the Marvin Gaye recording of Got To Give It Up [LISTEN] the song allegedly infringed by Thicke & Co. in writing Blurred Lines.

Why, you ask? Well it’s like this. With any recording, there are two copyrights: one for the song, the composition, and another for the performance of that song, the recording. What constitutes the song is typically limited to the melody and lyrics, and sometimes a unique chord or song structure. Everything else is embodied in the performance.

Here’s a side-by-side snippet. Oh, and here’s the UNRATED, NSFW Blurred Lines video (don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Incidentally, I’m one of those people who found Blurred Lines’ suggestion of possibly non-consensual sex very creepy.

There is concern that the verdict could be bad for music, “possibly lowering the bar for what’s considered creative theft.” While I hear the similarities, I’ve found other songs, not litigated against, with far greater parallels. I think the decision was wrong, per this New Yorker article.

But after the “Blurred Lines” victory, the Gaye family takes another listen to “Happy”. They should take Stevie Wonder’s advice.

Since these things will get further litigated, it’s too early to know the final outcome. But my first thought was, “What will happen to the Weird Al Yankovic song, Word Crimes [LISTEN]? It’s credited to Williams, Thick, rapper TI and Yankovic.

Roger is 62; march on Selma 50th anniversary; Rebecca and Rico’s 10th wedding anniversary

10363854_10202214370783246_1907365070559906358_n

I don’t really blog on my birthday, so I need to steal stuff from other people. Even myself.

How am I going to be able to remember how old I am THIS year, without doing the math?

Ah, the (19)62 World Series, between my two favorite teams at the time, the New York Yankees (Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford) and the San Francisco Giants (Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal). Great 7-game series.

Also, for some businesses, such as Amtrak, I’m a SENIOR CITIZEN.

Here’s a picture of me with younger sisters Leslie (l) and Marcia, probably from the fall of 1963. Virtually all the family photos come from Marcia scanning them, then posting them to Facebook.

When Arthur turned 56 (whippersnapper!) a month and a half ago, he wrote:

I’ve also become increasingly aware as the years pile up of how important it is to record all sorts of things that mark progress through life. Memory isn’t anywhere near as reliable as many people assume, but it tends to become less reliable as the years pass…

…it was through writing these posts that I realised just how highly I regard my birthday, not merely for the celebration or being the centre of attention… but because birthdays symbolise for me a fresh start, a new beginning, with the promise of unexplored territory ad, sometimes laying just at the horizon or maybe around a bend, but there all the same. Looking back, then, has reminded me how much I value looking forward, and moving ahead.

What he said.

I must note that today is the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the first disastrous attempt for civil rights activists to cross the Pettus Bridge in Selma. I was outraged, not only by the actions of the police, but by the fact that they dare do that ON MY 12TH BIRTHDAY. Talk about narcissism.

Here’s an article about a Japanese American activist heading back to Selma to commemorate the march.

On a cheerier note, this is the 10th wedding anniversary of Rebecca Jade, the eldest niece, to Rico Curtis.

The #1 song on Wednesday, March 7th, 1900 was Ma Tiger Lily by Arthur Collins

The #1 song on Thursday, March 7th, 1901 was Stars and Stripes Forever by Sousa’s Band

The #1 song on Friday, March 7th, 1902 was Tell Me Pretty Maiden by Byron G Harlan, Joe Belmont and the Florodora Girls

The #1 song on Saturday, March 7th, 1903 was In the Good Old Summer Time by Haydn Quartet

The #1 song on Monday, March 7th, 1904 was Bedelia by Haydn Quartet

The #1 song on Tuesday, March 7th, 1905 was Give My Regards to Broadway by Billy Murray

MOVIE REVIEW: Selma

Selma’s Bloody Sunday took place on my 12th birthday.

selmamovieIt seemed like the obvious thing to do. The Wife and I went to see the movie Selma on the Martin Luther King holiday, which also celebrates Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Arkansas Mississippi, and, notably, Alabama.

While The Wife dropped off the Daughter at the sitter’s, I waited for her, and for the massive crowd to see this film. And there was a stream of people coming in the Spectrum Theatre, to see… American Sniper, which, to be fair, had just opened, while Selma had opened the week before. Still, our theater was about 85% full.

You must understand that I recall these events extremely well. Bloody Sunday took place on my 12th birthday. I remember Andrew Young, Bayard Rustin, Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams, and others. I surely remember Sheriff Clark. When a guy named James Reeb comes on the screen, I say to myself, “He was a Unitarian minister from Boston.”

So here’s my review: it was great. Director Ava DuVernay was visionary in recreating the feel and look of the period. David Oyelowo didn’t so much look or sound like Martin Luther King Jr., as embodied his essence. The same can be said for Carmen Ejogo as
Coretta Scott King.

But I was having trouble writing this review, not because I didn’t know how I felt about the movie, but rather because I didn’t know what to make of the “controversy” around it. Specifically, it had to do with the role of President Lyndon B. Johnson, played extremely well by Tom Wilkinson. Even before we saw the film, an in-law had mentioned that “Selma, the film, is not exactly true.” After seeing the movie, all I can say is: claptrap.

It’s not that Selma should be impervious to being critiqued. It’s only that the criticism, which the ‘Selma’ director responded to, seems disproportionate to the total picture. Folks who well know the Alan Turing story found The Imitation Game enjoyable, even while recognizing that it’s far different than the actual events. Walt Disney didn’t actually go to London to pursue the “Mary Poppins” author, as it was portrayed in Saving Mr. Banks.

In the case of the film Selma, I believe not everything was factual – the reference to the Birmingham church bombing was in 1963, not as chronologically close to the 1965 Selma story as it might have appeared. But it showed a greater truth about a people being terrorized by racism.

Bill Moyers, who I admire greatly, thought the film was wrong in suggesting that LBJ was behind J. Edgar Hoover’s sending the “sex tape” to Coretta King. I had a chance to talk with a film critic, and we both thought the movie was far more ambiguous than that.

These two articles pretty much reflect my sentiment: It’s Critics of ‘Selma’ Who Are Distorting Civil Rights History and What’s really behind the “Selma” backlash.

I didn’t agree with this section of the article from Slate: “The film’s running time is a swift two hours; I wouldn’t have minded an extra 30 minutes to learn more about the rest of the civil rights pioneers (all real historical figures) who march arm-in-arm on the front lines with King.” The film, as it says at the end, is not a documentary. There are plenty of them already about this era.

This was an extraordinary piece of filmmaking, especially considering the movie doesn’t use the actual words from MLK’s speeches, for copyright reasons.