Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A music meme from Ginger:

1. Of all the bands/artists in your cd/record collection, which one do you own the most albums by?
Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane.

2. What was the last song you listened to?
"Johnny B. Goode", Johnny Winter

3. What’s in your record/cd player right now?
"Miles Smiles", "ESP" and "Seven Steps to Heaven"

4. What song would you say sums you up?
Hmm. "Reelin in the Years"? "Misunderstood"?

5. What’s your favorite local band?
The Fabulous All My Children Band, of course.

6. What was the last show you attended?
Steve Toure

7. What was the greatest show you’ve ever been to?
I still shake my head and say "Wow" when I think about Dave Holland. Springseen at the Garden. I remember almost none of it, but I do recall walking on air after the Rolling Thunder Review. T.S. Monk's big band at Rockwell Hall. The Roches at Carnegie Hall. Lou Reed. I'm sure there are others that would come to me if I thought for a few minutes. The Clash.

8. What’s the worst band you’ve ever seen in concert?
I'm blanking here, thank goodness.

9. What band do you love musically but hate the members of?
Huh? Who cares?

11. What show are you looking forward to?
Dewey Redman.

12. What is your favorite band shirt?
What am I, 14?

13. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?
No comment.

14. What musician would you like to be in love with for a day?
What am I, 12?

15. Metal question: Jeans and Leather vs. Cracker Jack clothes?
What are cracker jack clothes?

16. Sabbath or solo Ozzy?
Oh, please.

17. Commodores or solo Lionel Ritchie?
Lionel Ritchie is proof that black doesn't have to equal cool.

18. Punk rock, hip hop or heavy metal?
Punk. Duh.

19. Doesn’t Primus suck?
I don’t even know who Primus is.

20. Name 4 flawless albums:
"Kind of Blue". Freedy Johnston's "Can You Fly". Linda Ronstadt's "Heart Like A Wheel." "Let It Bleed". Frank Sinatra's "Songs for Swinging Lovers".

21. Did you know that filling out this survey makes you a music geek?

22. What was the greatest decade for music?
The late 40s into the 50s, probably. Maybe late 50s into early 60s.

23. How many music-related videos/dvds do you own?
Not many. The Dylan thing, "Hail, Hail Rock'n'Roll".

24. Do you like Journey?
This survey is starting to bore me.

25. Don’t try to pretend you don’t!
Or perhaps it is irritating me.

26. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?
I'm not a soundtrack listener.

27. What was your last musical ‘phase’ before you wised up?
Who can remember that far back?

28. What’s the crappiest CD/record/etc. you’ve ever bought?
I was just thinking the other day about what a let down the Little Village CD was. What are the odds that it wouldn't have a single good song?

29. Do you prefer vinyl or CDs?
Vinyl for the art, CDs for the convenience.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Growing up on Long Island, it was pretty much impossible to resist Billy Joel-- the best you could do was to say that you liked "Cold Spring Harbor"-- "Before he got commercial, man." Truth to tell, there are plenty of Billy Joel songs that I like, and even more that I kinda like, but it is a guilty pleasure for me. (Christgau: "I give up--it would be as perverse to resist his razzle-dazzle as to pretend Led Zep doesn't knock your socks off.... The worst you can say about him is that half the time his aim isn't perfect." Jody Rosen nails it, I'd say: "Elton John, in addition to being infinitely gayer and more fabulous than Joel, seems at peace with his status as a god of the adult contemporary charts, which Joel decidedly is not. Forget punk rockers and gangsta rappers: Billy Joel is pop music's angriest man.... Joel, of course, is Long Island's favorite musical son, and it's tempting to write off his fuck-everyone attitude as a regional tic: The Song of the Bridge-and-Tunnel Tough Guy. But the chief source of Joel's resentment is his place in the musical pantheon. He's never stopped moaning about rock critics dismissing him as a lightweight." I wouldn't trade my Bay Shore boyhood for a Bayonne upbringing, but at least the Jersey guys got Springsteen.

As always, the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot this year provides some interesting grist. If I could vote Rick Aguilera, Bert Blyleven, Dave Concepcion, Goose Gossage, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, and Bruce Sutter would all be on my ballot. Yes, that's a lot of relief pitchers, but think about it-- they each dominated, and they had long careers to boot. That's HOF as far as I'm concerned. You'd never catch me voting for Steve Garvey or Jim Rice. And how sad is it that Dwight Gooden will never be there? If you'd told me that in 1987, I'd have thought it'd be impossible that he could miss on the first ballot. Donny Baseball, same thing. Orel Hershiser is an interesting case-- he didn't help his cause with his Mets years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Right now, in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York-- my favorite federal district court-- there is a big money laundering trial going on in which an issue is the admissabiltiy of the attempted hit on rapper 50 Cent. It sounds like the sort of thing that would be interesting if I was interested in the hip hop scene, but I'm not. Still, the defense argument to preclude evidence of the 50 Cent shooting caught my eye: counsel "compared its possible reception to that of 'a plot to kill Bob Dylan.'" I guess I'd want to know more about the composition of the jury before I could comment one way or another, but I'd have to say that most juries I've seen probably wouldn't know Mr. Cent.

61 Bands and their corresponding Authors. "The rationale of these parings could be specific or intuitive. In musical alphabetical order it begins with linking AC/DC to Julia Childs. Rationale: they are both extremely popular, are reliable craftsmen, and exude a charismatic, “come on and get it” quality. A more typical and legible pairing is Kate Bush--James Joyce: in this case, Bush’s lyrics are in the Joyce tradition. Some other more indirect connections include Douglas Adams to Phish (their fans are similar types and both artists are whimsical) and Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Vonnegut (an adolescent’s discovery of each one has a similar thrilling quality)."

Hilariously, this little game is brought to you by The Bad Plus. (Via The Morning News.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Here's to Link Wray: our world sounds different because of him, and now he's gone.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hey, a happy Birthday shout-out to EGA, who is approching the age I still think I am.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My sister-in-law has taken up the preservation of church buildings on Buffalo's East Side as her latest project-- her last project was a runaway success, and I expect that she will accomplish a great deal with this endeavor as well. Church building preservation is a tougher problem than saving a single structure-- if the building is owned by a religious organization, like the Diocese of Buffalo-- it is not going to be on the tax rolls, which means that it is a drain on the community. The reason it is empty is usually going to be because the population it once served has moved away from the neighborhood. There's a shortage of priests, so economic decisions have to be made about where to spend resources. Reading this week's edition of the Annoying Mary Kunz Goldman's column (I don't know why-- because it feels good when I stop, I guess), I was struck by the thought that perhaps one way that the Diocese could address the problem of having to close parishes might be to consolidate in the city, rather than in the suburbs. I realize that the first objection would be that the Diocese should situate its parishes in the neighborhoods where the people who attend live, but let's think about it for a moment. The churches in the suburbs are attended-- almost universally, I should think, by people who are driving to Mass. The churches in the suburbs are almost universally newer and uglier than the sorts of building my sister-in-law is trying to preserve. The churches in the suburbs don't really have much historical interest, and are probably buildings that could be more readily adapted to some other use. Why can't the people in the suburbs drive to the nicer buildings in the city, allowing the Diocese to turn the newer, uglier, less historical churches in the suburbs into strip malls or something? G-d knows they have the parking.

I can hear the wailing. What about the schools? Well, I see no reason that schools have to be tied to parishes, so if people in the suburbs want to have Catholic schools, and they don't want to send their children to the Catholic schools in the city, let them. I think that is a separate question, in other words. What about the idea that people should have churches in their neighborhoods? Well, we tried that, and you all drove to church anyway, and built ugly buildings, and what's up with all that terrible folk music? Go to a nice old Polish church, hand built by artisans that knew their stuff-- the church your grandparents might have attended. Mary Kunz Goldberg does, and she is very hip-- just ask her.

I see my plan as having collateral benefits to the economy of the neighborhoods where these churches are, too. Bakeries and coffee shops would be revitalized, as would other small businesses that have been dying because nobody goes to those neighborhoods any more. This is a chance for the Diocese to step up to the paten, so to speak, and do something good while addressing a set of real problems.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dahlia Lithwick ran a poll a few weeks back, when the Miers nomination was still out there, asking who could claim, like Miers, or Clarence Thomas, that they'd never discussed Roe v. Wade. The results are in, and I get quoted. This is like getting a shout-out from Bruce Springsteen-- Lithwick is the biggest rock star I can think of when it comes to on-line legal writing.

Oh, and the overwhelming majority of the respondents-- lawyers and lay people-- said that they've discussed the case.

Monday, November 14, 2005

To The Steve Turre Quintet yesterday at Bruce Eaton's Microsoft Art of Jazz program. A was out of town, so LCA accompanied me, and I have to admit I was hoping that a band with both trombone and tenor sax might get her thinking about picking up a horn again. No such luck, but we both got a charge out of the show. Any time you have two horns going you have a good basis for believing that you will see something good. Billy Harper was exceptional, and the two blended beautifully. Harper was a nice surprise, actually-- I'd heard of him, but, again, was not sure what to expect. He is an elegant player, who took off on extended solos a couple of times and surprised even Turre, I think.

You have to love Turre's background: he started out with Ray Charles, then moved on to play with Woody Shaw in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He's played with a bunch of other people, but the other notable influence was Rahsaan Roland Kirk. You can hear all of it informing his playing-- his trombone style is notably crisp, and although it is not fast for the sake of speed alone, he can certainly play fast.

Turre is noted for playing seashells, which had me concerned. I am wary of novelty instrumentation, and shells sounded like it might be kinda New Age. He only played one number featuring the shells, the finale, and that was where the Kirk influence came shining through-- like Kirk it was no gimmick, it was a means to a specific sound. He played a range of them (finishing up by playing two at once) and achieved sounds that ranged from "sort of like a flute" to "sort of like a car horn". He made it swing, which is what counts.

A solid band-- the two veterans on horns, and a rhythm section that was younger but knew the moves: pianist Shedrick Mitchell, bassist Gerald Cannon, and drummer Dion Parsons were all guys worth seeing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Via Backup Brain, this: Jon Corzine should appoint Bruce Springsteen to the United States Senate. It makes sense, in a crazy sort of way-- he wrote the New Jersey anthem after all. Beyond that, The Boss's positions on just about everything that might come up are well known, and he has a ligitimate stake in taking a principled stand-- Joe Biden can let his soul slowly erode away, because nobody can remember what he ever stood for, least of all Joe Biden. Bruce has a career based on his integrity that he have a hard time going back to if he voted in favor of drilling in the Alaska wilderness. He has a reputation for honesty, which would interesting in New Jersey politics. And he is at least thoughtful, which is a rare quality in the majority of the population, and something you hardly see at all I the United States Senate. Why not?

(I wonder if he owns a tie.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bad audiophile products. In Robert McCloskey's "Centerburg Tales a salesman comes to town with a miracle product called "Eversomuchmoreso" that makes everything you sprinkle it on better-- or, at least, more like what it already is. This sort of thing impresses me as being along that line. I mean, you've spent the big coin on your components-- why wouldn't you want to be sure that the knobs on your amp aren't messing with your sound? $485 bucks. You know you have to have these. (Via The Morning NewsPosted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bad facts make bad law. If the Supreme Court came to our house to search for drugs they'd say, "Screw it, I don't want tetanus". Judge Thomas, don't look in the refrigerator!

I was 497 (out of 909 registered) at my polling place this evening at about 6:30. Not great, but not bad-- and the ladies who sit there seemed okay with the turnout.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Of "The Basement Tapes" Robert Christgau wrote: "We needn't bow our heads in shame because this is the best album of 1975. It would have been the best album of 1967 too. And it's sure to sound great in 1983." The same could be said of "Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" Holy smokes, this is some side. Monk and 'Trane both stretch out, but what is really notable is how in synch with each other the members of this band sound. We are all familiar with this material, but it sounds fabulously fresh here. The sound is exceptional, the (extensive) liner notes are terrific, and I think I have a couple of new favorite versions of some of these songs.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I was obliged to take LCA to the orthodontist yesterday, and thought I'd just bring her back to the office. "Thursday is the only day I don't have dance," she said. "I want to go home and play "I Capture The Castle." "What's that?" I asked. "I'm going to take a bath, and eat chocolate."

It's hard to argue with someone who has that sort of plan in place, so I acquiesced. She really does take dance seriously, which dismays me. Later that evening I told her, "I liked it better when you were playing an instrument." "Actually," she replied, "I'd like to take voice lessons." "Good grief," I said. "What the hell for?" "People say I have a good voice. I could be a triple threat." We talked some more, and moved on into a discussion of jazz singing, then specifically into vocalese, playing some different stuff. For a twelve year old she has really good taste. "There are words to 'Caravan'?"

None of my daughters are oriented towards particularly practical things, but I find it easier to accept EGA's intellectualism or CLA's athleticism than LCA's desire to be on the stage. I suppose I should be pleased that she applies herself to it with such discipline, but I can't help but wish that she'd found a different outlet. And now Voice. Yikes.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A read the Sunday Times Magazine excerpt from Maureen Dowd's "Are Men Necessary" with some consternation, and has been engaged in an email discussion with her sisters and daughters and others about whether "feminism" as a movement has failed. Personally, I believe that Dowd is something of an intellectual fraud, and not half so clever as she thinks she is. I also think that a great deal of her premise is shaky. The question itself is, however, an interesting one: it does seem to be true that quite a few younger women seem to be more socially conservative than A and my age contemporaries. They take their husband's names, as Dowd points out, and, of course, the "soccer mom" constituency has been characterized by staying at home except when they go out to vote for George W. Bush. I know a lot of women-- ranging in age from high school on up, who have no qualms whatsoever in declaring, "I am not a feminist". Such a statement would have branded one as a backwoods reactionary, a gingham-attired, barefoot-and-in-the-kitchen victim back in the day, but I'm not so sure that the statement means what Dowd, and others, including A, think it means.

It is important to recognize that the sort of social and economic elite that we are operating in here came of age when everything, down to the music we listened to, was politically charged. For people our age it still is, and I'm afraid that I'm even able to level an accusation of "false consciousness" at someone who disagrees with me-- my undergraduate exposure to Herbert Marcuse has permanently stained my political thought. The political Right, however, has moved on, and determined that arguing about the way things are is not the battlefield where these fights are won. In a maneuver the my other undergrad hero, Ludwig Wittgenstein, would have enjoyed, they have decided to take control over the meaning of words, and, by so doing, have shifted the terms of debate away from actual substance. The paradigm is, I think, in the ongoing debate about reproductive choice. Conservatives seized the high ground here when they designated their position as "Pro Life". As an alternative to "Anti- Abortion" this was brilliant, and the "Pro Choice" alternative is pretty weak tea as a rhetorical reposte.

Examples abound, of course. You can be anti-war, or you can Support Our Troops. As AES points out in the comments to the post about "Janus Words" the other day, "family values" doesn't really mean what it seems to mean-- in many ways, in fact, you might say that "family values" has become the anti-feminist rhetorical position. The Orwellian re-definition of words and concepts by the right has stripped us of our ability to articulate and argue for the positions that we believe advance society and promote our common humanity. But does that mean that our beliefs have lost their validity-- or their appeal? I'm not so sure about that. Leonard Pitts spoke to the question the other day in the context of a column about the Geena Davis show about a woman president. I haven't seen the show, but I think Pitts is onto something when he speaks to the question of sexual equality: " Sometimes, we act as if feminism were about women. It isn't. It is, inevitably, about women and men. After all, male and female are two halves of a whole. One side cannot change without requiring the other to do the same. So I think some of us are asking the wrong question here. "

Exactly. A expressed the concern that feminism, as a movement, has had its day, and failed. She compared it to the Civil Rights Movement, saying, "People think that a long weekend in February means that it's finished, and it that's what they think, then it's failed, too." I don't know that I would distinguish the two, myself. It seems to me that both, and the slow movement towards equal rights for gay people, and progressive thinking generally, are all of a piece, and I am inclined to think that we will keep moving, even if we have slowed down. But we also need to get back the ability to discuss these issues.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

EGA and I have been talking about words and phrases that are so frequently used incorrectly that they have taken on the incorrect meaning. "Begs the question" is a particular peeve that we share, as is "peruse". The former, for the record, is a term of art used in logic. It is a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises. Begging the question is similar to circular argument. If you are using it to mean something like, "invites the inquiry" you are wrong, except that almost nobody uses it to mean "circular reasoning", and nearly everyone uses it to mean, "invites the inquiry", so now the phrase has lost its meaning, and EGA and I are forced to consider whether a statement is circular whenever we hear someone use the expression.

"Peruse", by the way, means to examine closely. For some reason people think it means to skim, or to scan. ("Scan" itself has this property.) This is almost a sub-catigory: words that have taken on their opposite meaning. ""Literally"" is another. Jesse Sheidlower says these are called "Janus words," "contranyms," or "auto-antonyms," and mentions also cleave ("to stick to" and "to split apart"), dust ("to remove dust from" and "to sprinkle dust upon"), moot ("able to be discussed; arguable" and "purely theoretical"). I'm not so sure that we are talking about exactly the same thing-- Sheidlower, who's the lexographer, to be sure, seems to be taking a relativist stand here that may be appropriate when studying how people use words, but seems wrong to me when we are talking about meaning. Ambiguity is a lawyer's bread and butter, of course, but so too is clarity.

I say using the word to mean its opposite is mis-use. Anybody have any other candidates for our collection?

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