Saturday, July 30, 2016

Liberal Redneck - Belief Don't Matter None

"Crazier than Michelle Bachman on bath salts . . ."

Sure enough, this dude's funny. Makes a lot of sense, too.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Muddy Waters - Pinetop's Boogie Woogie

Here's a great live version of Pinetop Perkins' "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie," from 1978, apparently with the Muddy Waters Band. It was an old standard for Pinetop by then, and certainly the model for "Shake It," below.

Or not, the model, that is. These songs came around and went around, sometimes for many decades. That John Lee Hooker riff, the one he sued Z.Z.Top over, was that riff really his? It probably came from one of those 1920s guys that never got famous. Handed down, you know. They were expected to play for hours in those days, and playing some little riff by itself for a while was a break for the musicians but allowed the crowd to keep on dancing.

Pinetop is sure a fine player, though. He's in great form here, and certainly not a kid anymore. Music is what it is, and theft is a part of it, copyright laws notwithstanding. My advice is: if you're going to steal somebody's songs or riffs, it's better not to have any money of your own. If you have no money, no one will sue you. Them's the rules in the US of A.

(I'll prove it to you. Did John Lee Hooker sue Savoy Brown? No, he did not. No money in it. You can go and listen to Savoy Brown Boogie. It's a much closer cop than anything Z.Z.Top every put on a record.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Delightful Turkish Coup D'etat

It’s a couple of weeks now since something along the lines of a coup d’etat happened in Turkey. It was all, at least, very coup like, while it lasted. It was quite dramatic, but the aftermath has been much, much higher on the drama scale. Perhaps a thousand percent higher.

The coup itself was defeated almost immediately, and the actions that the plotters took did not seem likely to achieve the desired results. Within minutes of the event, the strongman who was the target of the coup descended like the hordes of hell on a vast list of Turks in a great many different fields. Way too fast, he descended. And I’m not the only one who thought so.

Over in old Europe, Johannes Hahn, the EU’s Enlargement Commissioner, said, “I mean, (that) the lists are available already after the event indicates that this was prepared and at a certain moment should be used.” An infelicitous sentence, that, but I’m pretty sure he meant to say that it was most suspicious that the lists of people to be snatched had obviously been drawn up before the coup, so why and how were good questions.

My sentiments, exactly. Who benefits? That’s always a good question. It’s clearly the strongman who will benefit here. (I say strongman, because I won’t dignify the guy by using his proper title, of which he has long since made a mockery.)

So, how many people have been arrested/detained/suspended/or removed, Johnny?

Detained: 7,500 people, including 6,000 soldiers and 800 judges and prosecutors.

Suspended: 8,000 police; 30 provincial governors; 47 district governors.

Removed: 2,800 judges.

Something has also happened to about fifty journalists, but I don’t know what category they fall into. All of these are old figures by now. I decline to update them. They’re from a day very soon after the coup hit the fan.

None of this is really out of character for the strongman. He’s been moving in this direction for years. How did all of this come to happen? Good question. It’s a shame that no one seems overly interested. The way it has disappeared from the news is a puzzlement in itself. (Unless it hasn’t disappeared. I do try to ration my daily news intake. Got to watch that blood pressure!) 

duke jenkins - shake it 7''

I looked up Duke and he was a very well respected jazz piano player and bandleader. The obit that I read was up on, and the orchestra was called, "Cleveland's #1 band!"

Was it Pine Top's Boogie that had the same stop and go motif that's found in this song? I'll go check. I'll bet that there were more.

Nice guitar work on this cut, too. Unsurprising, I guess. There were some great guys hanging around Cobra in those days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Blumechen Kaffee

As I say, my father was a real card. He loved to get his little digs in, and he was extremely competitive. For example . . .

On a visit to his home in Alamogordo, a few years before his death, he started to dig in to me about my coffee drinking habits. He wondered why anyone would drink such “weak” coffee. I’d make a pot of coffee with three scoops of his regular coffee. “My coffee would be too strong for you,” he said, “I use four scoops of the regular and one of the Turkish blend.” That’s the competitive part.

The next day he asked me if I knew what Blumechen Kaffee was. We’d both studied German and gotten the hang of it. He was a better reader; I had a better accent and made easier conversation. This was a test, another competition. Blumechen means “little flowers,” and Kaffee is, of course, coffee. My reply was, “I’m going to say that it was some kind of ersatz coffee that they resorted to during the war, made with flowers that were handy.” That’s a good guess right there. I’d give it a B.

He allowed that it was a pretty good guess, and then he explained to me that there were little flowers in the porcelain of German coffee cups, some on the bottom too, and that Blumechen Kaffee was coffee that was so weak that you could see the little flowers right through it. He never gave up, that one.

So now we’re after the hosing that he gave me in his will, and I’m tending to be annoyed about every little thing. I make my coffee in the morning, and I hear those little digs every day, in real time, in his voice. I’m sure that it will wear off before too long, but in the meantime it is very annoying to be reminded so constantly that I’d never measured up as far as he was concerned. In ways both little and big, I was a disappointment.

But look for the good, Fred! I’m trying, believe me. 

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.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Bony Hand From The Grave

There is no shortage of bony hands from the grave raising havoc with my emotions these days. Trying to make sense of recent developments, I find myself revisiting the past for answers. There may not be any answers, why, there might not even be any questions, but we are always tempted to look. The human brain is a tool for identifying and solving problems, after all.

For the last forty years of my mother’s life, I was a dutiful and considerate son. Not, perhaps, the classic “loving” son, but there you have it. More like “dutiful and considerate.” My parents lived on the opposite coast, but we visited them often, and they came out to visit us. All such meetings were pleasant. I spoke to my mother on the phone four or five times every month, usually for about an hour each time. I told her that I loved her, and I’m pretty sure that it all sounded quite sincere. We laughed and gossiped on the phone. Sometimes after hanging up I’d shake my head and say to my wife, “when I die, I’m going straight to heaven, because I was nice to grandma.”

I had one hard and fast rule for those conversations: there would be no talking about the old days.

Once in a while she’d let out some apparently innocent remark that contained a kernel of discovered insight. For instance, the time that the subject of men came up while my wife was on the phone and my mother said, “well, you know, men don’t want sex after the age of forty or so.” I put that one together pretty quickly. That would have been about the time when my mother torpedoed a big promotion for my very ambitious father by refusing to move to Massachusetts. He never forgave her for it. We saw little of him after that, and thereafter he treated us all like strangers, unless there were people around. It was a de facto abandonment, unnoticed by family or friends. He suffered no criticism for it. After my mother’s comment it was apparent that he had never touched her again after that.

Other little comments were harder to parse.

My father’s recent disinheritance of me has been a serious blow, I’ll admit it. Of all of the possible reasons, one is that he may have thought that enough money had been squandered on me already. For example, two years of college tuition as a teenager during which time my index was 1.7 (yes, I know, it seems impossible, but I managed it). Things like that. Examining this item I recalled another of my mother’s throw-away lines.

In one of our conversations my mother strayed to the old days in one of her sudden bursts of exculpation. The old, “you know how much we loved you!” Before I could cut her off and return to the present, she added, “why, your allowance was thirty dollars a week!”

That would be an amazing figure for the 1960s, and it was certainly never true. I got ten dollars a week, plus a modest amount every school day for transportation and lunch. That was already generous for the times, but thirty dollars! I’d have remembered that if it were true. Thirty dollars was enough for five record albums, two concerts or ball games, AND a restaurant meal for two people. A dollar was a dollar back then. I let it go, finding no significance in the claim at the time.

But after my father’s recent demonstration of his lack of regard for me, I recalled that “thirty dollar” comment and saw the possible significance of it. My mother never worked; she got a certain amount of money to run the house. My father was very conservative with money, and watched his budget very closely. It occurred to me that my mother may have wanted that extra twenty dollars every week for something that was important to her. Like whiskey, for instance.

My mother was an all-day drinker. She was a secret drinker; you never saw the evidence. The owner of one of the town’s liquor stores was a friend of hers from grammar school. He was kind enough to personally deliver a week’s supply at a time in a cardboard box, picking up the empties at the same time. Cheap stuff, Carstair’s rye. All of this bounty was kept in the garage. Something like a hundred dollars a month would be hard to explain, so I now suspect that she blamed it on my allowance. How she would have explained why I needed so much money, I don’t know, but it would have been easier than owning up to all of that drinking.

Neither of my parents were the type to ever actually talk about anything. If that thirty dollar allowance was a device to hide her whiskey budget, he would just have stewed about it in silence, believing the allowance story. He’d never forget about it, either. He was never to type to forgive or forget. He remembered ancient slights and disappointments clearly and bitterly all of his life.

Oh, the bony hand from the grave! What mischief we make in the name of ego, and self-interest. Even the dead have damage left to do. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Jeff Beck Group (with Rod Stewart): Drinking Again

Boy, Rod Stewart was sure good there for a couple of years or so. How does that happen?

This band was so great that it was a challenge to credibility. Mr. Beck, up there in the forefront of musical giants from 1964 to the present day; Mr. Wood, still alive, as unlikely as it might seem sometimes, and making a great living with the Rolling Stones, as unlikely as that might seem sometimes; Mickey Waller, a very talented drummer and perfect for this band; and Mr. Stewart, when he was being very useful.

Rod Stewart had a few great solo albums, and his work with Jeff Beck was superb. He and Ron Wood went over to re-constitute the Small Faces as "the Faces" after Steve Marriott left, and those are good records. Did anything of real merit happen in Rod's solo career after that? Maybe "People Get Ready" on that Jeff Beck record. Maybe Jeff brought out the best in him.

There's an X-factor involved in all of this stuff. Music; sports; a lot of things. Sometimes it all works, and sometimes it all falls flat, and the difference can be hard to quantify.

Whatever, Rod's got all of the credentials that he needs to get into Rock and Roll heaven. Just tell 'em I sent you!

Jimmy Scott - Sycamore Trees

Jimmy sang better when he was younger, like almost all singers. This is a good one though, a nice piece of new material written by David Lynch and Angelo B. for the TV show, Twin Peaks. (1991)

It's moody! And Jimmy could do moody better than anybody.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Promise Of Religion

Long time readers know that I am no fan of religion. I have no use for it myself, and I seek no solace from it. I try to tolerate the impulse in others, but if they make too much of a fever of it I find that the whole enterprise becomes distasteful in a big hurry. There are times, however, when my feelings about religion change character. They do not become actually positive, but the tone of my negativity shifts its axis. There are times, frankly, when I dearly wish that the promise of religion could be fulfilled.

All of us face times in life when push comes to shove in dramatic fashion. And then the negatives of life on earth may come into strong contrast with the positives. The process may include details that call into question the very efficacy of the positives in the first place. Things go around, and come around, and may bring with them the seeds of their own horrors down the road, the way that being born ineluctably leads to dying. Where is the profit in all of this suffering? And to whom can we go for help?

It may be that religion itself was a response to just this kind of worrying. We still have little understanding of the natural world, or our place in it, so perhaps we can understand that during the epoch in which religion first appeared man had virtually no understanding of his situation. He felt even more helpless than we do. Religion gave man answers, which I am sure were comforting, and religion gave man rituals to bind him to his community. I might even admit that religion was useful for a time, and to some.

I was raised in the Catholic Church, the one, holy and apostolic Roman Catholic Church. God was in His heaven, usually imagined to be a bearded older gentleman on a throne; to God’s right hand sat Jesus, His only begotten son, still thought to inhabit an earthly body; and the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, was . . . where? Perhaps hovering above, yes, that’s it, in the form of a dove, probably more like a holographic dove. The whole earthly family of Jesus was there too, close at hand, probably. There was Mary at least, having also retained an incorruptible earthly human form. (Joseph would be at some remove, if I don’t miss my guess, and without his body. He did not appear in the Baltimore Catechism with anything like Mary’s frequency. He got even less credit than most earthly fathers do.) No other family of Jesus is mentioned in the officially sanctioned ancient writings. And then of course there would be the huge catalog of Catholic saints, one for every occasion, and several for many popular specialties. And dear old Uncle Roger, who was such a nice man, and went to First Friday Mass all of his adult life, well he must be there too. All of these entities were in constant contact with every person on the earth, it was imagined, and any of them could be petitioned to intercede with God and get something done on our behalf, we, the living. That would be a comforting reality to inhabit, especially if positive results could be had.  

Jesus, of course, saw into all of our souls, and was Himself God, cutting out the middle-man of the intercession with God. Help was never further away than the simple thought of it!

How great would that be, if it were true? Why, one could almost wish that it were true.

A lot of praying went on in those days, but without a lot of results, I’m afraid. This is where the whole “God’s will” concept comes in, as in, “it just wasn’t God’s will.” Or, “God works in mysterious ways.”  The law of periodic reinforcement was in full effect, because sometimes little Betty would get over that pneumonia after a stern bout of praying. That too, of course, was God’s will, through the power of prayer.

Oh, but sometimes, when the pushing really comes to the shoving, and the going gets tough and it’s time for the tough to get going, I really long for that simple world that religion promised me so long ago. I rejected it then, and I have never regretted it, but sometimes I do wish that it was all really that simple.  

The real world as we find it a mixed bag of tricks that can be truly horrible at times. We’re on our own, with few resources to fall back on. Money does little good in a pinch, and often does no good at all. Family and friends are better, but not consistently reliable. All we can do is suffer with a smile, in silence, and wait our turn for the final bell. If there were a heaven, doing that successfully would get you in for sure. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sly & The Family Stone - Runnin' Away

This album is so important. Just fucking nuts, really, and for a few reasons.

There's a Riot Goin' On, 1971. Music receives a shock from time to time. Back in the late 1940s, some 'Bird cut trashed the old world. It's an old story. Louis had been there; Duke, too. I'll never forget the first time my friends and I heard Jimi Hendrix (Purple Haze b/w The Wind Cries Mary; we flipped). Sometimes you just know that the entire world has changed in a minute, just by listening. This Sly album was that kind of experience for me.

Sly and the Family Stone had had a bunch of hits for four years already when Riot came out. They were a ground-breaking act; men and women in the band, black and white together. And they had great enthusiasm and great material, and, of course, they could really play. Larry Graham, Greg Erico. I loved them; I wore those records out. Riot was something really new, though. All of my friends liked the old hits (well, somewhere on a scale of like to love). Only a few of them got (dug) Riot. Some of them actively disliked it. That's what happens when shit is too new.

But boy, didn't Riot go on to become one of the most influential records of them all? Ten years; twenty years; thirty years; forty years; there's lots of Riot clones out there.

Another exciting thing about Riot is that it proves something about cocaine. No, not that cocaine is for horses, although that's probably true too. The truth is that cocaine might be good for you, creatively or otherwise, it might, but even if it is, it will only be good for you for a very limited amount of time. Like one year, or eighteen months, tops. After that, you're hiding in your closet waiting for the boogie man, and the well runs dry. Then your money runs out and everything turns to shit in a big hurry.

So, to recap: Yes, listen to There's a Riot Goin' On frequently; and no, don't ever fall into the cocaine trap, or any of the other drug traps that are out there. Man, I can't even keep up any more. (And neither can the cops, or the consumers! It's a designer zoo out there!)