Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Gerry's Joke

I found this on my friend Gerry’s Facebook feed. I forget the whole setup, but two guys are talking to each other on Line or something.

One of them sends the following message:

“370HSSV 0773H”

The recipient expresses a lack of understanding.

“Turn your phone upside down.”

How funny is that? I’m not sure, but I did laugh. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Guitar Slim "The Things That I Used to Do"

There's a magic in the music of black Americans, there's a truth in it all. Our black brothers and sisters have never had the luxury of living in a dream world that white Americans take for granted.

No, black Americans must deal with the world on a reality basis, with few resources and often with no help outside of themselves. In this, they may have only the strength of their own bodies and the strategies of acceptance and directness.

Me, I'm just thankful to live in y'all's neighborhood, maybe catch a little shine on the rebound. America without our diversity, well that would be a day without sunshine right there. There are too many people who need to hurry up and knew that.

Times Change; Tastes Change Too

I was fifty-five-years-old before I could tolerate coffee. For most of my life it just upset my stomach. I was a tea drinker, mornings, anyway. By now I rather like coffee. Not too much, or too strong, but coffee is now my morning companion. Times change.

Later on I even developed a taste for popcorn, which had always been abhorrent to me on textural grounds. I couldn’t stand the feeling of it on my teeth. Now I like some popcorn, too, of an evening, watching some old noir B-movie on the wi-fi TV.

So I’m beginning to wonder if pickles are not the awful things that I have always suspected them to be. I well remember, as a small child, my paternal grandmother’s amazement that anyone would not love pickles. To her, it was as if someone didn’t like ice cream. She was born and raised in New York, but her parents were German immigrants, and the family spoke German at home. Germans love their pickles. Upon discovering that I would not eat them, she shook her head in a puzzlement that I can still picture.

What else is out there? What other delights await me? I should devote more time to the inquiry. Time is running out, after all.

Maybe opera music. Who knows? It might be fun. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

EDDIE & ERNIE Outcast [Classic R&B - 1964]

Eddie and Ernie, a few great cuts and gone. Almost forgotten, too. It's a shame.

And how about that prominent guitar in this production? Well, guess who? Any guesses? No less than the much underappreciated Ike Turner. He produced the cut, too. More than just a wife beater, as I have always maintained. Not without fault, Ike, but rich in talent. Say thanks to Ike!! Dude wrote the book.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The History Of "History"

That Duck Quack so called patriarch was in the news again recently, quacking on about his unlearned theories about the world, and Mr. Jesus. His thesis was that Jesus was obviously God incarnate because why else would we still be counting the years since his birth? His sub-thesis was that anyone who acknowledged that this was the year 2016 was also acknowledging that Jesus was lord.

That’s a pretty silly thing to say. For anyone with a sense of history it should be clear that the years are counted as they are because of the introduction of the Augustinian Calendar around the time of the Year Zero. Before that, the calendar had the wrong number of days and the seasons changed character over time, you know, like January moving over to where April should be. Also, before that, whenever a new emperor was brought in, or even when some new king was crowned somewhere, they called it the year one in that jurisdiction. So the number of the year was different in different places. The Emperor Augustus knew that that was no way to run an empire, so he commissioned a new calendar and straightened the whole problem out in a way that is still to our satisfaction. Later on, that numbering system took hold over much of the world, and we still use it today in most countries.

The imagined Jesus connection is obviously wrong, because the year ten, let’s say, was the year ten before anyone had any idea of the existence of Jesus. Except maybe the three wise men, but their comments, if any, were not recorded.

The designations “BC” and “AD” came later, and to some extent they are not even used anymore. For AD, CE has crept into use (“Common Era,” or “Christian Era”); for BC, make that BCE. Even Christian Era is just an acknowledgment of the fact that in this era Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman world and then way beyond that.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. The Duckster’s comments served to remind me of another popular misapprehension. The feeling that many people have that the word “history” somehow means “his story,” as in “that’s not my story . . . that’s HIS story!” Well, that’s kind of a silly idea, too, in a way.

History, a noun (plural, histories) 1. The study of past events  2. The past, considered as a whole. (and maybe, the whole series of past events connected with someone or something.) 3. A continuous, typically chronological record of past events or trends.

Origin: Middle English: via Latin from Greek, historia, meaning narrative or history; from the earlier word, histor, meaning a learned, wise man.
Looking up historia in Latin yields further insight.

Historia, plural historiae, feminine, 1. An inquiry, the results of inquiry 2. Learning, a historical narrative or history 3. In general, a narrative or a story.

There’s no “his” at all in “history.” In its origins, the word was closer to the idea of it being the story rather than the subject matter. So it’s best not to take the whole thing too personally.

A Big But . . .

The word may be innocent in itself, but the whole history of history does include plenty to be angry about. Maybe angry is too strong a word; it might be better to say there’s plenty to be annoyed about. Within the study of History as an academic pursuit, the concentration on the history of the white world quickly becomes apparent. This is also true of Art History. Not only of the white world, but of the history of important white men who were prominent in its events.

My undergraduate degree is in Art History. I had always enjoyed history, but I had become disappointed in history’s preoccupation with kings, wars and treaties, relieved only by a passing interest in things like plagues and the like, to break up the monotony. It was only the history of important white people in white kingdoms, with scant mention of ordinary people or people of other races. 

I found Art History more interesting, since at least it included the history of the artists themselves, their commercial lives, their patrons and their subject matter. This all started out being the church and the rich as patrons, and mostly religious scenes and saints as their subjects, but it grew during the Renaissance to include the new commercial class as patrons and scenes of ordinary life and people as subjects worthy of depiction. During my education in the field, however, I came to find oppressive the omission of the rest of the world from the curriculum. It was still a very white, European Art History.

Towards the end of my BA, I became fascinated with the Balinese artist, Gusti Lempad. You can look up Google Images of his stuff, and it is just remarkable. We had a wonderful Art History library at my university, with a large collection of books and scholarly magazines, and even some interesting galleries. But of Lempad, there was almost nothing. There were mentions in a book or two, and there were some articles to be found, and even then most of that was in Dutch. 

If I had stayed in the field, and wished to pursue Lampad studies, it would have been in the manner of genre studies, a sub-category called Asian Art or something. There wouldn’t have been any market for teaching it, either, unless it was at a university that had a big South East Asian Studies program. Are there even any of those? That’s a dubious future after all the work of mastering Dutch and Bahasa Indonesia, and probably Balinese as well.

I gave up the idea of devoting my life to the study of Art History for two major reasons: 1. Early in your career you move around the stix teaching survey classes to bored students from other majors; and 2. The office politics in our department was a snakes’ nest of intrigue that no one would want to pursue. We had a few professors that were quite famous already, and several moved over time to Ivy League schools. What a slog, though. I just figured that I didn’t have the constitution for fighting like that.

So I understand why non-white people look at history as it is studied and discussed and become annoyed at the all-white-all-the-time character of it. History should include all of history, without way too much weight being given to white history. All of the world’s people have contributed to the world we find at our doorsteps every morning, and their contributions should be acknowledged. (And not as condescending footnotes, either.)

I still think that the “his-story” thing is a bit silly. The onomatopoeia of it is too coincidental to make it really useful for anything but a protest sign. The problem is real, though, so I guess that I should be happy that people bring it up at all. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Beethovens 5th as salsa arr: Sverre Indris Joner

I just love this kind of cross-dressing. Mix things up, you know. I think that Mr. Beethoven would like it too. He was a pretty wild musical prodigy in his youth, the Jimi Hendrix of his day. Mr. Improvisation at his early concerts, with the hair and everything.

I found this posted to my friend Jose's Facebook today. Jose was a fascinating guy, and a great friend, back in my two-part New York incarnation, 1970s-'80s. He had three or four thousand record albums, only two of which were rock and roll. Both were Rolling Stones albums (everybody likes the Rolling Stones). He had an amazing variety of Salsa records, including one by a Cuban band that was four guys, playing conga, bongos, timbales and traps (regular kit drums). Man, Jose was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Jose is still carrying the music flag. He has moved back to his native Dominican Republic now that the economy down there has swung way over to the good. He runs a record store, which must be a natural for him. He must have ten thousand of his own by now. Good luck, Jose, and thanks for this heads-up.

Monday, July 11, 2016


There's something about the sound of a record. Maybe even more so about a 45 RPM record.

It's a nostalgia thing by now, I suppose.

We listened to these songs on records, both 45 and 33 1/3 RPM; we listened to them in cars; we listened to them on table radios, or even console radios; we listened to them on juke boxes. All of those sources had a different sound. How did they mix them to sound good on all of those different devices? Did they concentrate on the table radio sound? Good question.

Now we listen on CD, and that media has its own character as well. Better? Worse? There's a lot of disagreement.

I'm guessing that the best sound to be had is a 33 1/3 RPM vinyl record played through a good tube amplifier. Pure analog heaven; miles and miles of headroom and natural reverb. If I ever win the lottery, maybe I'll buy a rig. And a house in the countryside so I can play it loud.