Monday, July 25, 2022
Earlier this summer I read Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm's memoirs. (It's too bad the other members of The Band didn't write their own- I'd love to know what Garth Hudson made of it all.) Helm's was the better written, more engaging book, but Robertson's had a lot more detail, about The Band's creative process, and about their business arrangements. Both men admitted that there was a lot of substance abuse going on, which will shock nobody, but neither was particularly candid about their own drug use, except to admit that, yeah, they took a lotta drugs. Along the way Helm discusses his relationship with his wife, Libby Titus, and it is pretty clear that he really loved her, and that the failure of their relationship was on him.
Helm mentions Titus's talent as a singer and songwriter, so I downloaded her second album- the only one that seems to be available for streaming- and found that I had a very dim recollection of it- particularly "Fool That I Am". Titus's album was released in 1977, which was a time of voracious musical consumption on my part, but a wistful romantic ballad wouldn't necessarily have been something I would have been in the market for. It must have gotten pretty good airplay is what I figure. In any event the album is quite good, and in places excellent. She co-wrote "Love Has No Pride" which Linda Ronstadt owns, and which Bonnie Raitt can also claim, but Titus' version stands with them both. And then the trail goes cold. She collaborated with Burt Bacharach on some stuff, and married Donald Fagen, and played some club dates in the 80s, and that seems to be as much as the internet can tell me.
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Number 80 at my polling place at 11:14
Friday, June 24, 2022
Pour one out for American jurisprudence. This Supreme Court term has been a disaster for civil rights and liberties, and things will only get worse from here. There is no coherent, consistent basis for what this Supreme Court has done this term. To briefly review: if you live within 100 miles of an international border the Fourth Amendment does not apply to you. All firearms regulation is presumptively unconstitutional. Sorry, women- your healthcare choices are not your own. The Federal regulatory structure is rolling back to the 19th century. Oh, and your Miranda rights are really more like suggestions.
In a weird way these results have been brought about because sometime in the 70's legal scholars posited that laws are devised to maintain the status quo of society and thereby codify its biases against marginalized groups. As my late law school classmate Willie Ryan exclaimed about three weeks into our first year Contracts class, "These judges are just doing whatever they want!" For a while conservatives rejected Critical Legal Studies, but they have now embraced it completely and the result has been legal nihilism, without pretext. I don't see the path out. Even if we were able to pack the Courts with jurists who believe in now outdated concepts like stare decisis all that would mean would be that we would be acknowledging that the Supreme Court is an unelected super-legislature. It actually always has been, but before this there were recognized limits on how far the Court could go. That's gone now.
Consider: abortion rights are not found in the text of the Constitution, and are therefore not Constitutionally guaranteed. On the other hand, it's fine to ignore the first 13 words of the Second Amendment when you are constructing an explanation for why firearm regulation is unconstitutional. History should guide our interpretation, rather than the long-established jurisprudential norms that we've been working with since Marbury v. Madison.
Friday, June 17, 2022
An interesting thing about the LIV Tour, the Saudi backed venture is that the golfers who play in those tournaments get guaranteed money. It'd take a better golf observer than I am to figure it out, but I wonder if that will have an effect on play. Lots of professional athletes gamble- and golf is a good outlet for that activity, conducted as it is largely in private. There is a theory that Michael Jordon's stretch in AAA baseball came about because he got popped for gambling and was secretly suspended, and we know that Phil Michelson's flutters have been very, very costly. This is why I dislike Lefty- athletes who gamble are athletes who are vulnerable, and Michelson's style of play- aggressive, and risk-taking, makes him a particularly good candidate for flubbing a shot or two. Not a lot, maybe, but let's face it, golf is a sport where a hustler can do all right. So now he's got a guaranteed payday. Sure, it is blood-soaked money, and of course nobody in the world would ever look to a professional golfer as a moral avatar. Does this damage the sport? It's whole reputation is built on personal honesty- Trump cheats at golf, but when Bryson DeChambeau signs his scorecard we're supposed to believe that he has taken the equivalent of an oath.
Wednesday, June 01, 2022
Bourbon Bacon Jam. When I have a kitchen again I am making this first thing
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
It occurs to me that part of the problem with law enforcement agencies is that we don't have a very clear idea of what it is that they should be tasked with. Crime prevention? Not really: a look at any penal code will establish that most criminal activity is either spontaneous or opportunistic. Criminal investigations? Sometimes, but frequently the police function primarily as a sort of publicly funded insurance adjustment agency. Public safety? Well, sort of, but this seems to be something that cops are poorly trained to do in many cases. Rethinking the role of the police seems to be what is called for, but I don't see that happening.
Monday, May 16, 2022
There is a great deal to be said about the May 14 mass shooting at the Jefferson Avenue Tops supermarket, but I am probably not the person to say much of it. I am angry, so I will limit my remarks to this: the person who gunned down my neighbors had access to combat level weapons and equipment. That is how this happened. The so-called "good guy with a gun", a retired cop who was one of the victims shot the murderer but the murderer's body armor protected him.
It would be great if we lived in a world where toxic bigotry and mental illness didn't exist. It would be a fine thing indeed if we addressed mental health care as it deserves to be addressed, but neither of these things are going to happen in the short term. Right now we can do something about the fact that hateful bigots have access to the instruments that this guy used. If we'd done that last year maybe the person who was at Tops buying a birthday cake- or any of the rest of those people- would be with us today.