Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Mxyzptlk shows up. Also time travel.
Friday, February 07, 2020
Time for Oscar Picks! From time to time I write about movies elsewhere, but this annual exercise is always fun to do.
Monday, February 03, 2020
My favorite parts of Super Bowl Sunday involve Mr. Ed's Super Bowl Warm Up and Bruce Eaton's Art of Jazz. Over the years Mr. Ed's has evolved into an event that Jim Jarvis and I run annually, and bring a Special Guest to. This year Jim brought his sister Wendy, and I brought Caroline's husband, Jared. Jared proceeded to win his age group by an impressive margin, thereby making the rest of us much faster, on average. I made it home in time for a fast shower (something had to be fast), and then on to Christian Sands and his High Wire Trio. For the next two years, while the Albright-Knox is under construction, this series is being held at Kleinhans' in the Mary Seaton Room, a beautiful venue. Sand's set was a tribute to Erroll Garner, so there were a lot of complex, melodic piano fireworks, which was cool. Garner's work reminds me of Art Tatum in a way- not so much in sound as in the fact that neither are noted for who they played with. They both are, in the truest sense, solo artists, even when backed by a trio. Sands gave his collaborators some room, but I'd have liked a little more give and take. The set also featured recorded clips of interviews with Garner and other luminaries, so it had documentary feel to it that I was not crazy about. Even so, it was great performance, and a great day overall.
Monday, January 13, 2020
The thing about my vinyl collection is that it is a snapshot of a time long past. My shift to CDs came about as my listening habits turned to jazz, and I really didn't replace very many LP with the new format. As a result by record shelves have a weird mix of things that I seldom listen to- a lot of punk and new wave, a surprising amount of reggae, quite a bit of what has come to be known as the American Songbook, and, of course, a ton of rock and roll. There's no question that vinyl sounds better, and even though I have to get up and flip the side every 15 minutes I feel as though I should be listening to more music in this format. One of the things that stops me from collecting more, however, is that I remember when a $20 bill would buy me an armful of sides. Nowadays that's not so true
Thursday, January 09, 2020
Over the years I've come to realize that race is at the heart of all things American, and teaching Constitutional Law has only underlined it. As I view our present scene I am impressed by how thoroughly blind to this reality our media is. The present narrative about President Trump is that his base elected him out of "economic anxiety" and that's so hilariously wrong that it almost seems like a conspiracy. The difficulty is that it is not easy to tell someone that they are a racist. Unless someone is an avowed Nazi the accusation is deeply insulting, no matter how true- and it is always true. So what can we do about it, if we can't even be honest enough about it to admit it? I confess that I do not know. I know that this has been thinking about this for a while- I started drafting this note by going back and searching Outside Counsel for a Robert Christgau quote: "There really is a crisis of meaning in this culture, especially for white males who regret at whatever level of conscious intellection their complicity in an ideology of domination they're at least half ashamed of." One way that 2020 seems different from 2005, is that there seem to be a lot more people who will admit to their bigotry, and do so with appalling pride. Those people are lost to us, of course, and always have been, but at least now we know for sure who they are. The question that remains is how many of them there are, and whether there is enough of the aspirational United States to be worth saving.
Tuesday, January 07, 2020
One of the things that was special about my time with Squeaky Wheel was that I got to work with and become friends with Tony Conrad, an important and influential artist. Every now and then his name pops up in an unexpected place: today he is mentioned in Greil Marcus' Real Life Top Ten
Monday, December 16, 2019
Lately I'm finding that I'm more interested in the way a movie or a television series tells its story than I am with the story proper. I also find myself thinking about the way streaming programs have changed storytelling. The expanded format allows for a lot more nuance, for example. Because it is distinctly not something A would enjoy Watchmen has been episodic for me, as opposed to binging, which has made me think about why it works as a series when the movie, which was practically a shot-by-shot remake- fell short of expectations. Part of it, I think, is that as with comics the series has moved on from the first iteration of this universe and is telling a new story, with attributes that are recognizable from the world-building in the original. Spider Man movies, for example, are bad at this: how many times have we seen Peter Parker get bitten by that radioactive spider? Too many times. Move on, Spider Man filmmakers.