Monday, September 24, 2018

Shit We Missed, Part 23

One of The Music Desk's favorite albums of 2016 was Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Denial and one of our favorite shows of that same year was Car Seat Headrest's performance at Terminal West, so much so that we anxiously anticipated their next set in the Atlanta region at the 2017 Shaky Knees Festival.

So imagine our excitement when, well over a year later, CSH returns to Atlanta for a show tonight at Variety Playhouse.  

We instinctively knew not to buy advance tickets, mainly because it was a Monday night show and who knows what might come up on a Monday?  What fresh hell we might have to deal with?  

Our instincts were right, because some stuff did come up (more on that in posts later this week) and we wouldn't have been able to make it.  Or to the Friday night show at The Fox Theater (St. Paul & The Broken Bones) either, for which a dear friend had kindly scored us some tickets.  

We haven't been to a show since last July 17, when Animal Collective performed at Symphony Hall. This may be one of the longest hiatuses outside of the mid-winter doldrums in quite some time.

At least we have David Byrne at The Fox to look forward to next week.  Meanwhile, we'll just have to content ourselves with basking in the nostalgia of past Car Seat Headrest performances.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

We at WDW feel it has something to do with yesterday victory by the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs (4-0) over the University of Misery (you probably pronounce it "Missouri") or with the upcoming showdown between Kavanaugh and Ford or with the announcement of the lineup to next year's Big Ears Festival or with the impending release of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey.

There can't be more to life than that, can there?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

From the Politics Desk

Accused attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh should not be appointed to the Supreme Court.  Frankly, he shouldn't even be given a vote.  

Allegations of attempted rape aside, at least at this point (we'll get to that later), it's obvious that there are two separate reasons why Congressional Republicans and our so-called President want him on the Supreme Court so badly:
  1. The Republicans are confident that given the opportunity, Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade and take the right to abortion away from American women, putting the United States into the same category with certain (but by all means not all) third world African countries and certain small island nations. Even Ireland will have more access to legal abortion that post-Kavanaugh America.   

  2. Our so-called President wants Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because of the positions he's taken on executive privilege and the unimpeachability of the the President.  Since it appears more and more likely with each passing day that Pumpernickel is going to face criminal charges, if he's going to get the chance to hand-pick the judges who'll hear his case, of course he's going to want the guy most likely to rule in his favor. 
Republicans have accused Democrats of trying to stall the selection process until after the mid-term election, when they're likely to at least take control of the House, and you know what?  They're right. Of course they are.  But the reverse is also true - the Republicans are trying to rush through the process before the midterms, as they're not likely to get their anti-choice, pro-President candidate through a Democratic congress after Election Day.

But here's our problem:  the Republican position is fundamentally anti- lower-case-D democratic. The Republicans know the public is against them and they know that recent (July 2018) Gallup polling shows that 64% of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand. They are trying, before they get tossed out of office, to subvert the will of the people and implement their own, unpopular policies. It's a last-ditch, 11th-hour attempt to install a radical judge badly out of touch with American values before the People have a chance to speak.

Republican Mitch McConnell famously refused to even allow a vote for Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, because it was his "last year in office" and the people should get a fresh chance to vote for the person who nominates a candidate to the Supreme Court.  By that logic, the people should get a fresh chance to vote for the persons who hold the hearings on the nominee and eventually vote for or against that nominee. Especially with the election only some six weeks away.  Especially when it's already clear that the mood of the electorate has changed.

But, no, the Republicans know that installing an anti-choice zealot onto the bench will fire up their base and keep the Evangelicals in their camp for years to come, and are willing to face the consequences of rushing an unpopular candidate onto the Court.  The so-called President wants to pack the bench with fans of unlimited and unchecked executive power in the hope that it might save him from the impeachment that now seems all but inevitable.

We call on Congress to allow the People to first elect the representatives they want to decide on a matter of the importance of a life-long appointment to the Supreme Court.  We don't apologize if the current Congress is unhappy with what the results of that democratic process are likely to be.

Now on to the charges of attempted rape.  We've heard people wonder why, if the victim were so traumatized by the attempted rape, she didn't report it to her parents or the police those 35 or 36 years ago.  Gee, we wonder, why wouldn't a 15-year-old girl want to tell the parents she was at a party she probably wasn't allowed to go to, where there was drinking going on and she may have been drunk herself, and that she got in over her head with some older boys?  She probably would have been grounded for life, literally, to this very day.  She was probably intimidated at the thought of somehow being blamed herself for what happened (even though she was herself blameless).  She was probably reluctant to come forward for all the reasons so many other victims of rape and abuse have been reluctant to come forward. 

We've heard people say that Kavanaugh, even if the charges were true, has changed since then, and that a grown man shouldn't have to be held accountable for mistakes he made as a juvenile.  Really?  That's the conservative position now? First, let us just leave this here:

And then let us remind you that these same conservatives are calling for the deportation of children, the so-called "Dreamers," who arrived here through no fault of their own as the children of immigrants. So unlike the Central Park Five (every one of whom, by the way, was later found to be not guilty before Pumpernickel got his wish to have them executed) or the so-called "Dreamers" (who did nothing wrong as children and are only guilty of the "crime" of being children of the "wrong" parents), white persons of wealth and privilege can get a free pass on the actions of their youth?  Especially if they appear willing to overturn abortion rights and acquit a guilty president?  Is that the conservative position now?  Or is that just how tortured their logic is in their blind allegiance and loyalty to their tribe?

We've heard people way that there's something "suspicious" about the victim's request for an FBI investigation before she's willing to testify before Congress, that it's really just a stall tactic to delay the confirmation.  Considering that lying to the FBI is a crime punishable by prison, and that she's willing to talk to the FBI but Kavanaugh's supporters don't want the FBI involved, who is more likely to be telling the truth? 

Even if Congress does rush the nomination through before the election, next year's Democratic Congress is likely to impeach Cavanaugh as soon as the rape charges are affirmed, and replace him with a more qualified candidate.  May I suggest they consider Judge Merrick Garland?

Accused attempted rapist Brett Cavanaugh has no business being nominated to the Supreme Court, the current Congress has no business in choosing a judge, and the sitting (duck) president has no business cherry-picking his own jurors. Stop it, all of you, immediately.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dreaming of the Masters

Okay, if the Montreux Jazz Festival can do it, then we can do it too.  Anna von Hauswolff's music may be a lot of things (post-rock, goth, doom, folk-metal, etc.), but one thing she isn't is jazz.  No one ever has accused her of being a jazz musician or mistaken her music for jazz.

But great music is still great music, and if von Hausswolff can perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival, we can post her here in our Old School Fridays, DOTM series. Here's Goodbye from the LP Ceremony (2012). 

Interesting side note - that's not Anna in the video, although the girl looks just like her, or at least a younger version of her.  At first, I thought the clips might be from von Hausswolff home movies, or of some little sister of hers, but it's actually from a 1974 Czech film titled Robinsonka (Karel Kachyna, dir.).  

This is the young actress Miroslava Safránková:

And this is Anna von Hausswolff:

And here's the poster for Robinsonka (Czech for Robinson Girl).

Very clever mixture of image and music by original poster Sonya Kossta, who does this kind of thing a lot, and very skillfully done, too.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Holy shit!  Here's the incredible Anna von Hausswolff with her sister, Maria von Hausswolff, at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Stravinsky Hall, July 12th, 2018.  If you give this performance some room to breathe and let it grow, its epic scale is almost breathtaking.

The Music Desk has had Anna's Dead Magic on heavy rotation on the car's iPod (our daily commute has become our primary music-appreciation time) for a couple months now, and it just gets better with repeat listening. Come Wander With Me/Deliverance is from her 2015 album The Miraculous, however.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Infinite Jest VIII: Florence

Before bringing it to conclusion, we're still tying up some loose ends on the Infinite Jest videos, this time by making a companion piece to the totally random Infinite Jest IV.

I consider this edition, subtitled Florence, to be an artistic failure.  I wanted to contrast the frenetic IJ IV with the most static, totally boring video I could possibly make, but somehow the music added some unexpected drama to the opening sequence, and then the single-shot video itself has a trance-like, hypnotic effect.  Basically, the companion piece to IV, which briefly referenced Hurricane Sandy, became a meditation on Low Country landscape and what existed before the recent Hurricane Florence, so yes, it's boring, but no, not as boring as I had hoped.  Sorry about that.

You can access the entire Infinite Jest series by clicking on the Infinite Jest label at the bottom of this post.

While I usually say at this point that I don't hold the copyrights to any of this material, in this case, I do - I actually shot the video myself with my iPhone.  So, yes, I DO own the rights to at least the visual component of this piece, but I give it freely to the world to do whatever you wish with it.  If you've figured out a way to make a profit off it, good for you!  You must be a very, very clever person and I wish you well.  However, I don't own the copyright to the soundtrack (please don't sue me) and don't represent that I own the copyright (please don't sue me).  I make no profit off these videos, either directly or indirectly, and it's all just for fun.  Please don't sue me.

Monday, September 17, 2018

What We Like About The South

Before we get to the actual point of this post, the Sports Desk insists on pointing out that the AP sportswriters overcame their groupthink and did the right thing yesterday, moving the Georgia Bulldogs up to the No. 2 spot on the college football Top 25 list, passing the Clemson Tigers and putting the Dogs right behind the archrival Alabama Crimson Tide.  We're No. 2, baby!  

Also, the Weather Desk notes that the first drop of Florence rainfall has yet to fall on the Atlanta area.

But with all that out of the way, today the Politics Desk noticed an article in the New York Times discussing several new publications and webzines that cover the so-called New South, beyond the NRA and NASCAR stereotypes.  The forums discuss progressive politics, cuisine other than biscuits-and-gravy and sweet tea, and southern art and literature.  Which is all fine and good, but what interested us more were the reader comments that followed the article.

Even though the author pointed out that stereotypes many outside of the South have about this region are often outdated and obsolete, and that predisposition against the South and of Southerners is one of the last remaining non-taboo prejudices, the fine readers of the Journal of Record couldn't help but pile their antipathy onto the South.  "Nice try," someone wrote from Portland, Oregon, but they've met people from the South, and found them to be close-minded and bigoted.  The commenter ought to educate him- or herself about the history of formerly "whites only" Portland before passing judgement on the bigotry of other areas.      

The South "is still an enclave for racists of the white persuasion and people who do not value diversity, education, change, etc.," someone else wrote, effectively profiling everyone who lives in one quarter of the nation with the same outdated brush.  "I traveled through the South four years ago," someone else wrote, adding that they'll never go back again.  Even though a few commenters pointed out that "stereotype" is just another word for prejudice, the primarily non-Southern commenters kept on stereotyping and demeaning the South, raising the question of who the real bigots were here.

We've lived in Georgia since 1981, and to be sure, we've heard more racist comments and seen more intolerance that we care for, but then again our tolerance for that sort of thing is pretty low.  But we've seen just as much racism when we lived in the North, too.  When we were a young child, we attended an all-white parochial school on Long Island and during a field trip to the Bronx Zoo, the kids reacted to the sight of crowds of black schoolchildren enjoying their field day at the zoo by pointing out the windows and screaming "Negro! Negro!" (we'll use the word "Negro" rather than the far more deplorable epithet that was actually used).  What we still don't understand to this day is why the teachers and chaperones didn't try and stop us.  By the way, the parochial school teachers and chaperones were all nuns.

In the early 70s when we attended High School in Northern New Jersey, we were told we had to leave a party because we had arrived with a friend of ours who just so happened to be black. We were told we had to "get the Negro out of there" (the epithet substitution continues).  "You're blowing our minds, dude," they said.  That's never happened to us in the South.

Later in the 70s, we moved to Boston, possibly the most racist city in America, and during a court-ordered school desegregation, saw white adults throwing rocks and bricks and hurling racial epithets at school buses full of terrified black schoolchildren.  

In the 1980s, we (briefly) dated a woman in upstate New York who after several drinks predicted that one day the Negros will elect a Negro President, who will pass a law forcing white women to marry Negro men.  "I don't know what particular date they have in mind," she opined,"But you wait and see, that day will come."

These, of course, are random observations based on the non-scientific polling of our one singular experience, but we are yet to be convinced that racism and intolerance exists in only one part of the country and doesn't exist in others.  All of America, a nation founded on the twin atrocities of African slavery and native genocide, still has a lot of collective karma to be worked out, and although we've come a long way, there's still a lot of progress to be made.

Another problem with painting all of the South with the same brush is that the area is simply so large and diverse, no single set of characteristics could ever define it.  Georgia alone is large enough that one could fit all on the six New England states inside of it, except for a portion of the northern Maine wilderness.  The area extending from Virginia down to Florida, and extending westward to Louisiana and Arkansas (we'll leave Texas and Oklahoma out, thank you) is almost as large as New England, the mid-Atlantic, and most of the northern mid-West combined, an area that no one would try to characterize with a single sweeping generalization (other than the derogatory Southern term, "Yankees").

Whatever else you think about the South, we'll tell you this: here in Atlanta, we can take you on a short walking tour starting at the Nelson Mandela memorial in Piedmont Park, and then walk along the Freedom Park Trail to a sculptural tribute to our congressman, the civil-rights icon John Lewis, and from there over to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, and then back around to the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthplace and National Historic Center.   Did you just feel that?  That was your predisposed attitude about the South just changing a little bit. And just wait until you see just how hard the Blue Wave hits the Southern states this November to really shake up your misconceptions.

And hey, our deeply divisive and racist so-called "President," the white supremacist Donald Pumpernickel, is from New York City, y'all, not Montgomery or Tallahassee or Macon or Baton Rouge or anywhere from the South for that matter. Down here, our millionaires typically tend to be more like philanthropists Ted Turner and Jimmy Carter.

But as we were saying, we've lived in the South for some 35 years now, occasionally leaving briefly and then just as quickly returning.  We like it here, we like the weather and we like the food and we like the diverse music and arts and we like the natural beauty of the area. We've told people for literally decades now that we moved here from Massachusetts thinking that the sun rose and set over the Boston Basin, but some combination of the weather, country music, Southern women, and barbeque kept us from ever returning, or at least staying away for long.

Also, the South has got to be one of the most beautiful areas we've ever seen.  Like a doting grandparent, we keep pictures of the beauty on our cell phone, sharing the pics with anyone interested or who can't persuade us to stop.  Here's a picture out our front door in the wintertime (and proving we do indeed enjoy four seasons down here):

And here's the view out a back window in the spring:

The Georgia coast on a summer sunset:

And in mid-afternoon:

An autumn afternoon in Athens:

Here's a random graveyard in South Georgia:

Or closer to home, Atlantic Station, just a mile or so south of here:

And Midtown:


Here's Knoxville on a weekday morning:

Kudzu grows on everything:

In fact, nature's always trying to reclaim everything:

And tries to get a foothold wherever she can:

We could go on and on, and besides, you've probably seen many if not most of these pictures before.  Now, before you start sending us pictures of wherever it is you're from, we'll be the first to admit that there's beauty everywhere if you know where - and how - to look for it and that this isn't a competition.  

Our point here is that the South is a fine and wonderful place to live, and if you're mind is open and not trapped by your own prejudices and preconceived notions of what the South is or isn't, it's a wonderful place to live. 

And we don't need approval or validation of some bigoted Yankees for our opinion, thank you very much.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Florence's rains still haven't reached Atlanta yet.  In fact, it now looks like they won't get here at all - the forecast for this evening calls for only a "slight chance" of showers, although just two hours east of here, Clemson, South Carolina is experiencing an 80% chance of Florence rainfall, proving that even God hates the Clemson Tigers.  

So if you haven't guessed already, this isn't a weather post, this is the Sports Desk talking.  Yesterday, the No. 3-ranked Georgia Bulldogs improved to 3-0 on Week 3 of the college football season.  3, 3, 3 - there has to be some significance in there somewhere.

In our opinion, the Dogs should be ranked at least No. 2.  While they handily defeated a ranked opponent last week, beating then-No. 24 South Carolina 41-17, and then beat unranked Middle Tennessee State 49 -7 this week, the No. 2-ranked Clemson Tigers barely squeaked by Texas A&M last week, needing a missed Aggies two-point conversion to prevent OT, and this week beat unranked Georgia Southern by "only" 38-7.  Georgia has played better and scored more points against better teams, but the AP Poll still keeps Clemson at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3.

The Sports Desk thinks Hurricane Florence is just God's way of flushing the entire state of South Carolina - the overranked Clemson Tigers, the overrated South Carolina Gamecocks, Lindsey Graham, their ridiculous mustard-based barbeque, and everything - back into the ocean and the primordial ooze from which they crawled.

Of course, the big news down here is that Auburn lost a heartbreaker to LSU, 22-21, on a last-second field goal.  We're disappointed to see a team in the Three-Hour Drive lose to a team from outside the radius, and are concerned because Georgia has both LSU (at Death Valley) and Auburn (between the hedges) on it's schedule later this season.  Both games should be challenges, as well as a showcase for Georgia to make their case for a No. 1 ranking. 

Tennessee (also on Georgia's schedule later this season) won their game, as did Alabama (we'll probably be seeing them in the SEC Championship game), although both Georgia Tech and Georgia State lost theirs.  The Tech and State losses give those two teams losing records so far on the season, and as they're both here in Atlanta and in the very center of the Three-Hour Drive, it makes the Sports Desk wonder if the geometry of the 3HD isn't actually a simple circle but more like a donut with a hole in the middle.  

Next week, the Bulldogs travel to Missouri, where they historically have had their troubles.  Clemson comes to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech, Alabama hosts A&M, and Auburn hosts Arkansas.  All should be good games.

Anyway, you know the schedules and you know the scores - there's no big reveal here - you have the internet, you've watched the games, and you know what happened.  It's just that the Sports Desk believes that this is going to be Georgia's year (we thought that last year, too, but oh well) and is stoked over the quality of their play this year and the quality of the competition, and we are going to keep posting about our Dogs until they bring the CFB Championship back to Athens where it belongs.  

Meanwhile, we're looking forward to watching former Bulldogs running back Sony Michel's NFL debut with the New England Patriots later this afternoon.  You better play him, Belichick, and not keep him on the sidelines and exclusively run Rex Burkhead . . .

Finally, we're pleased to see that Michel's former Bulldog teammate, Nick Chubb, has carried twice so far today for 14 yards for the Cleveland Browns.  Last week, he carried three times for 21 yards, so 7-yards-per-carry seems to be Chubb's M.O.  We just wish he were on a better team with more potential (a Burkhead-for-Chubb trade, Belichick?).    

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Letter To The Gas Company

WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?  While the whole rest of the country is keeping an eye on Hurricane Florence, towns in the Merrimack River Valley (home of Jack Kerouac as well as my Mom, sister and brother-in-law) are suffering catastrophic natural gas explosions.  One dead, dozens injured, scores of homes damaged or destroyed, thousands evacuated or displaced, and I still haven't heard a convincing explanation of exactly what happened, or why, other than it seems to be due to the incompetence of something called the Columbia Gas Company.

This reminds me on an infamous letter written to the Hartford Gas Company back in 1891:
Dear Sirs: 
Some day you will move me almost to the verge of irritation by your chuckle-headed, goddamned fashion of shutting your goddamned gas off without giving any notice to your goddamned parishioners. Several times you have come within an ace of smothering half of this household in their beds and blowing up the other half by this idiotic, not to say criminal, custom of yours. And it has happened again today. 
Haven’t you a telephone? 
Samuel L. Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain)
  The man had a way with words. . . . 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dreaming of the Masters

It was only a matter of time before the DOTM series got around to Herbie Hancock, but we here at the Music Desk think it might have been Hurricane Florence that reminded us of this particular composition and finally got us to post some Herbie.  

More to follow, we're sure.