Monday, July 27, 2020

Lee Dorsey - Riverboat

The gift of time on one's hands! The Internet, properly used, can really take you places. 

That Betty Harris song (below) had very few comments, and most of them were simple exclamations. There was room for a minor controversy about the identity of the drummer on the cut. Long story short, it's James Black, self-proclaimed "Drummer Impossible." He's on this Lee Dorsey cut too, proving that he earned the right to that nickname. 

The comments also led to a web site that would "settle the issue." The blog is defunct now, but the post that was linked was fascinating. You should read it. This is also James Black on Riverboat (1970). Allen Toussaint wasn't getting what he wanted from the drummer he had originally hired for the  session, so he called Black. Black read the part once, and played it through. "Is that what you want?" Why yes, thought Tousaint, that will due nicely.  

betty harris - there's a break in the road

So Freddy, why you playin all these records we've heard before? Okay, boys and girls. If you've heard this before, I'm jealous. 


Another great Brunswick gang arrangement. I love the interplay of the two mutually supporting guitar parts. Nice work, fellows. And major kudos to this bass player. 

Barbara Acklin - Just aint no love..

1968? I think so. Good song; very good job by Barbara Acklin; and a great arrangement by Sonny Sanders. I guess that means that it was Sonny's idea to bring the bass so far forward, and that idea worked out just fine. 

I'm pretty sure that this is the regular bass player for a lot of great Brunswick Records hits from this period. I don't know the guy's name, but man, he sure can play. Maybe I'll share "Can I Change My Mind?" That's another Brunswick hit with the bass up front.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Fleetwood Mac - Stop Messin' Round

Obituary: Peter Green Is No More

Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, "Need Your Love So Bad." 

One of the crying shames of the 1960s music scene was that the lists for the musical Mount Olympus were kept too short. We could be overly judgmental then and, if the comments on YouTube are any indication, there's an excess of judgment in circulation to this day. Best band, best drummer, best bass player, best, best, best. The most highly contested race was best guitar slinger. “Eric Clapton is God” was just hitting the walls of rock club bathrooms when Jimi Hendrix came along, and each had his legions of backers for the title. I have always thought that this was a bit problematic.

Unfortunately for anyone wishing to take this competition seriously, the discussion was usually limited to guys in the most popular musical genres, rock and, for a time, “blues.” That left out some real contenders in the guitar scene, like Wes Montgomery, Chet Atkins, Kenny Burrell, and Les Paul, to name just a few. For that matter, even the real blues guys were left out! The three Kings* got a mention, but where was Wayne Bennett? Or Earl Hooker? Otis Rush? Magic Sam? Those guys would cut other players to ribbons, given half a chance. In the “stage battle” sense, of course.

Myself, I'm not a “best” kind of guy. I rather think that there is always a number of people clumped together around the top of the list. Most beautiful woman in the world? Even if it were possible to judge the entire field, you'd never narrow it down to fewer than ten million.

Oddly missing at the time from the list of contenders were two players who had a good claim to the title: Jeff Beck and . . . Peter Green. In Jeff's case, he just seemed to be having too much fun. He made it all look easy, so casual observers didn't take him seriously. Jeff, God bless him, continues to confound observers to this very day. Guitarists with talents measurable within the normal human range still don't even know what he's doing most of the time, but by now everyone agrees that he's a phenomenon, and, more importantly, a pleasure to listen to. Peter Green represents another forgotten group: guitar players who were on the shy side, who perhaps lacked charisma, guys who were never quite comfortable in the limelight. When he disappeared, after about five years of impressing the hell out of anyone that mattered, most people didn't even notice.

Why did he disappear? It does not seem to have been a matter of simply giving it up, or of the shyness becoming too much to overcome. No, it was due to his whole personality being driven off of the tracks by a malign outside influence. The band, “Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac,” arrived in Germany and Peter was enticed to join a group of Euro-trash, jet-set hippies who promised him nirvana. Nirvana in the form of some really, really great acid (LSD). Peter left with them in their vehicle, and he was never the same again.

DISCLAIMER: I am not now, nor have I been for many decades, involved with illegal drugs. Neither am I familiar with the fate of Peter Green from any personal experience or inside information. Regarding the former, I know what I know; regarding Peter Green, I know what information has been available to interested parties over the years.

These were the kind of young or youngish rich Europeans who have plenty of money, great connections, and time on their hands. They know what to listen to and what to wear, from research rather than from personal interest, and they know what is in and what is out. Someone who didn't look carefully enough could be fooled into thinking that they were hip. Someone particularly stupid or gullible might think that they were cool. My guess would be that they were neither hip, nor cool. Just a pack of wannabes. Regarding Peter, my guess is that he was on the gullible side. And it was all about the love, baby! The freedom! Let's go! I have twenty-four hours before the next show! Big mistake.

Not that those pseudo-hipsters intentionally destroyed the life and livelihood of Peter Green. They may have had good intentions. Maybe they were just showing off for a genuine English rock star. They may have believed that if a little acid is good, a lot is probably better, and way too much is probably just about right. That logic was afoot then, believe me, and it might have worked fine regarding many of the popular drugs of the day. But with LSD there are rules, oh, are there rules. Violate the rules at the peril of your immortal soul. Just ask Sid Barrett. Or Skip Spence. Or a certain German rock musician from a band that was popular at the time, whom I met in Los Angeles a few years later. He couldn't talk on the phone anymore, because the receiver looked “like a bone.” Or any number of any other insufficiently cautious individuals who lost everything on a roll of laughing Sam's dice.

LSD is powerful stuff. Doses are measured in micrograms. One microgram is one-thousandth of a milligram. For reference, my beta-blocker is two-point-five milligrams. One good street dose of LSD was about 250 micrograms, or one-fourth of a milligram. That would set you up nice for the entire afternoon and most of the evening. When you read about LSD in blotter form, or on sugar-cubes, those are about 250 micrograms. Take two of those and you are in for a wild ride. I knew one guy who tried 1000 mics one time, that would be one milligram. When you are talking about powerful drugs, and you move from the normal scale of measurement to the next level, you are riding the tiger. He came through that okay, but it took him a few days to settle down.

I have a hunch that those European hipster wannabes took Peter to a house somewhere in the German countryside that was filled up with exotic musical instruments, Afghan vests, Italian scarves, Moroccan hats, and drugs of all kinds. I'd bet that they had a big block of great hashish, cigarettes from France, England, and America, pharmaceutical cocaine, jars of pills of all descriptions, and a small bottle of LSD right from the factory. “Now be sure to put only one small drop on a sugar cube or something,” somebody had no doubt explained to them. “Don't get carried away.” And a firm, German version of, “this shit means business.” My best guess is that they dosed Peter with a few milligrams, just pour some into a glass of Coke or something. One normal dose is a trip. Just pour some from the bottle into a Coke? That's an intergalactic journey. You'll see things that aren't there, and you will achieve insights that you will never be able to explain to anyone after you come down. You may “understand” the entire universe, and you may find that your relationship to human reality has changed. Whatever it was for Peter, it was the end of his successful music career.

You can read about it in the real obituaries, or on websites. He eventually returned to music, but he was never the same.

You have to feel bad for the guy, because he really was one of the best. He had a great touch on the electric guitar, fantastic tone. The guitar is all in the hands, really. Two decent guitarists play the same rig and the sound is different, because their touch is different. No less an authority than B.B. King waxed poetic about Peter Green's tone. Mr. King would always speak politely of other guitar players, but I think that he reserved his highest praise for Peter Green. He could feel it.

Well, his road is at an end now, so that ship has officially sailed. Water under the bridge, as they say, that's where our lives are going, and his is gone. Fare thee well, Peter. Thanks for everything.

*The three Kings, B.B., Albert, and Freddie.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Rolling Stones - Back Street Girl

This was a "let's see what's lying around" album. (1967 release of things that had been recorded in 1966.) Gather up some orphan songs and put out a record. I liked it myself, but then again I was a big fan. This is a great song, I think. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Mysterious Attempt On The Life Of A District Court Judge

First of all, my sincerest condolences to Judge Esther Salas on the heinous murder of her son and the grievous wounding of her husband. Your honor, my heart goes out to you. Taking the bench, and putting on the robe, is a hard job to begin with. You expect the lawyers lying to you all day and wasting your time with specious motions, but no one should ever have to go through what you are going through right now. The simple version that is being put forward as of today, July 21st, tells a sad and terrible story. I am afraid, though, that the real truth of the matter is much worse.

As first reported, the facts were that a man dressed as a FedEx delivery driver came to the judge's home and rang the front door bell. When her son opened the door, he was shot dead, and the shooter then shot at the judge's husband, who happened to be in the vicinity. Then the perpetrator fled the scene, as they say.

Today, we are told that a made to order stooge has killed himself while implicating himself in the crime. A lawyer, named Roy Den Hollander, was found dead in his car. He was an “apparent suicide,” and the judge's name and photo were found in his car. The car was within a couple of hours drive from the judge's house. Mr. Hollander had an Internet footprint as big as Dallas, and it all sounded crazy. “Thousands of pages” of anti-feminist ravings were discovered immediately. Judge Salas was mentioned by name. Hollander's most recent gift to the world of self-publishing was a 1,700 page book that sounds like it consists entirely of misogynistic hate speech. That book alone is the length of six good-sized novels. The man was a fast typist with plenty to say. Exactly the kind of borderline-insane rage monster that would commit such a crime. Right?

That's the narrative so far. I suppose that it is statistically conceivable that it all happened just that way. I put the likelihood somewhere under ten percent.

But Fred, haven't you been watching too many old episodes of the Blacklist? Are you suggesting that someone orchestrated this complex drama, casting Mr. Hollander in the role of Jack Ruby? My answer is perhaps.

But, you say, he botched the job! He didn't even shoot the judge! I think that it's quite possible that Judge Salas was not the intended target of the murder. She was the target of the intimidation. The killing of a sitting Federal District Court Judge is a crime that shakes the universe. It causes ripples in the fabric of space-time itself. The shooting of family members merely muddies the water.

But, he had her name and her photo in his car when he killed himself! Please consider that that evidence points more strongly to him being set up for the crime than it does to him having committed the crime. What need did he have for her name and her photo? He knew the judge, and he knew what she looked like. The killer obviously knew where she lived. He certainly didn't need her name and her photo to carry out his nefarious plan, striking a blow for downtrodden men everywhere in our feminazi run world.

It's all to easy. Hollander had a crazy history, but I don't see any criminal history. I would bet that he would have a very difficult time just trying to get his hands on a FedEx uniform. The man was seventy-two years old, for crying out loud! Have you ever seen a seventy-two year old FedEx driver? The police, of course, are ready to declare the case “solved!” The case was dumped into their laps fully formed. Within two days, the file included a perfect patsy with evidence to spare. And the patsy had already killed himself! That's a home-run as far as the police are concerned. Case closed. I'll bet that when they interview the wounded husband, he will describe a shooter of the same general height and weight as Mr. Hollander. Witness descriptions are generally unreliable. The judge herself may even have caught a glimpse of him, but the shooter almost appears to have been avoiding that inevitability by quickly shooting anyone near the door and then leaving. Either way, in between muzzle flashes and bursts of adrenaline, it's very difficult to be absolutely sure of what you have seen in those situations. And FedEx drivers wear those cute baseball caps. The whole thing smells like fish.

No, you wouldn't have to be Raymond Reddington to put a successful killing like this together, whatever the purpose. There's a certain case around right now that already has one such mysterious homicide circling its flame like a moth lingering too long while the bats are out. Actually, it is a cluster of cases around a nexus that is deep and wide, a nexus that includes many important people with huge fortunes behind them. The first homicide was also delivered to the police as a case that was closed almost before the labels for the file could be typed up. “Suicide.” It's an interlocking-directorate of trouble, and there are several more likely candidates for mystery. If I were Ghislaine, I would be having trouble sleeping these days. Adding a level of interest, Judge Salas was recently assigned to one of the cases in the nexus.

People who become lawyers are disabused of certain comforting beliefs within the first few years. The first thing to go is truth. Truth becomes whatever the judge or jury say it is, depending on the question. Justice follows quickly; it simply evaporates like a shallow puddle on a hot day. Evidence becomes unreliable, because so often strong evidence falls like a house of cards with the arrival of one new bit of the puzzle. Coincidence is a tough one to let go of, but all too often coincidence is discovered to be more like cause and effect.

We are being asked here to believe that this crazy incel set out to kill the judge because of his deep hatred of his own mother. Maybe we should all wait and see what happens. What's the fallout? Who derives any benefit? What new evidence shows up? Roy Hollander appears to have been certifiably crazy, but in the end I'm not so sure if he'll go down as a murderer or a murder victim.

Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Reasons To Be Cheerful, Pt. 3 (Slayd5000)

The news from home has me shitting the red blood of terror and depression. Don't we all need some reasons to be cheerful? Thanks, Mr. Dury! 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Black And White All Over

Last week the New York Times announced that they would begin capitalizing the “black” in “Black Americans” immediately. This was a break from convention. The word “Negro” has always been capitalized; African-American has naturally been capitalized; the word black, as applied to American Negroes, has not. So this was kind of a big deal. (For reference, “white” has also by long tradition been rendered in all lower case letters.)

I don't read all of the still-available newspapers from America, neither those of the USA Today variety, nor the undead remnants of local newspapers like the L.A. Times, etc. If I did, I would have noticed that other papers had already made the shift. It will come as a surprise to no one that I find this annoying.

My guidance in using the term “black Americans” came not only from dictionaries and style books, but also from its usage by W.E.B. Du Bois, author of, inter alia, “The Souls of Black Folk,” and from the personal experience of being scolded by black, not Black, friends on a website from the early 2010s that I was extremely fond of, called “We Are Respectable Negroes.” (The irony, take my word for it, was intentional.) The outpouring of racism and white supremacy that accompanied President Obama's time in office had piqued my interest in the subject of racism in America. There were vigorous daily conversations in the comment threads, and I joyfully participated. Long time readers of this blog may remember that somewhere around 2013 I switched from “Black” to “black.” I had been capitalizing Black, because I felt that “black” seemed disrespectful. I had been doing that on this blog for four years already, and race has always been a frequent topic of mine. Black Americans are so much more than their color. There is a proud history there, and a deep, shared culture. Shared, in fact, with the rest of us Americans; American culture itself has been shaped and molded importantly by its black, or Black, components. The black American experience is unique among the black skinned members of the race Homo Sapiens. Strictly in the interest of uniformity, I also capitalized “White.” That was the deal breaker for my friends on the web site, and they were kind enough to gently educate me on the subject.

They would, all of them, cheerfully tolerate the small “black” to avoid the capital “White.” They had no objections to black. It was, after all, the common usage among black writers and civil rights leaders. “White” was a must to avoid, smacking so strongly of White Power, etc.

I read the Time's announcement with a snarl on my lips, thinking that it must be part of this “New Woke Vocabulary” that we are all being forced to adopt. This annoyed me, although the reasons given by the Times were similar to my feelings before being corrected by friends. My first question was: will White also be capitalized?

The answer, of course, is no. That would be white supremacism! Here is a quote from the Time's coverage of Trump's “press conference” at the White House yesterday:

he denied that Black Americans suffered from police brutality more than white Americans.”

Google Results:

The Diversity Style Guide

The subject is addressed at some length on

'...most journalism style guides, like those of the Associated Press and the New York Times, call for putting both “white” and “black” in all lowercase letters.' So we can assume that this wave of change has only recently arisen from the always shifting currents of language.

The National Association of Black Journalists does not capitalize Black in its publications, including the NABJ Style Guide.”

The Chicago Manual of Style [allows] capitalization if an author or publication prefers.”

All of this suggests that the proposed change is controversial, and that the whole matter is currently in a state of flux.

The Atlantic Magazine

There is a big article addressing this matter in the June 18, 2020 issue. You can find it at

The article recognizes that the capitalization of Black leading to the capitalization of White is problematic. It also mentions that using Black to apply to Black Americans with the “same shared culture and experiences,” i.e. the long experience of American slavery and its aftermath, leaves out many black American citizens. Much of the article is devoted to shedding light on some of these problems.

(Fred's editorial comments) I might add, that simply calling the more recently arrived black immigrants “African-Americans” leaves out Jamaicans, for one thing. I think that it's also worth remembering that any visually black person in America is going to be treated with the same bad humor, the same discrimination, and the same contempt, regardless of where they came from or when.

The entire effort to categorize human beings by color is difficult and problematic. Toes will be stepped on. Take the example of Americans from Indian backgrounds who happen to be Tamils. Many Tamils are among the darkest skinned people in the world, although technically they may think of themselves as Indians, and thus Caucasians. Something similar may happen when I say the word, “Polynesian.” You may already be picturing people whose skin is a cheerful copper color. There are many thousands of islands involved, and the inhabitants of many of them are rather dark skinned.

Oregon Live!

I found a recent letter to The letter was posted July 2, 2020, and referred to the site's recent switch to “Black,” while sticking with “white.” The writer felt like this new editorial policy was “a slap in the face to white people.”

I could make a joke about which side of the Cascades the letter writer hailed from, but this is a serious matter. America has suffered a huge increase in vocal, demonstrative racism since President Obama was elected. Half of white Americans said, “that's great!” and the other half went crazy. Much of the racist poison that had been kept under a lid boiled over, and the problem is still growing. Failed President DJT loves to stoke the racist fires at every opportunity. (“Confederate flags are free speech!” “Police kill more white people than black!”) Witness all of the Confederate and Nazi flags now in evidence, at Trump rallies and elsewhere.

We don't need to be looking for ways to recruit more white supremacists.

Cost Benefit Analysis:

What are the costs and benefits of switching at this delicate moment from black and white to Black and White, or Black and white?

Does the benefit envisioned accrue to black Americans? Is it intended to be a marker of their value, or of our love for them? I cannot presume to speak for black Americans, but the black Americans that I know share a few characteristics. They are hard-nosed realists, for one thing. They will not be influenced by semantic changes, living, as they do, in a world that is crying out for major changes addressing very real problems. They are also a bit suspicious by nature, having long experienced the differences between what the (white) authorities say, and what they do. Do not expect any big benefit from an outpouring of good will in either direction on the issue of Black vs. black. Blacks will not be swayed by tiny changes in grammar masquerading as encomiums.

Is there a Cost? If there were any chance at all that capitalizing Black would push the current tendency towards growing racism in American culture, I would shit-can the entire idea so fast that its head would spin.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Old Blog Quotes

From Spin Easy Time, April 25, 2019: “The 2020 Democratic Presidential Sweepstakes”

Sometimes I read old posts, and I usually find things that I like. I'm inconsistent, but I can turn a good phrase occasionally. 

Re: Cory Booker

He is a slippery one when question time comes. I know the trick for grabbing an eel in a bucket, but no one seems to know the secret of getting a straight answer out of Cory Booker on a policy question.”

Re: Joe Biden

Joe's legislative history goes back to 1972, and it's mostly bad. Joe has more negatives than Weegee after a particularly busy night of crime-scene photography in Manhattan.”

Tell Mama ~ Etta James

Tina wasn't the only great singer in the 1960s. 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

My Trump Surprise

You may remember that Trump and I grew up in Queens at the same point in history. I mentioned it recently. He grew up rich in southern Queens, Jamaica Estates, while I was growing up in a factory town in northern Queens. I knew Jamaica Estates very well. My family doctor had his office there, in an apartment building that was probably owned by Trump's dad. I attended evening summer school at Jamaica High School one year. That's not quite Jamaica Estates, but it is north of Hillside Avenue. I delivered the mail in Jamaica as a young man. There is a famous early photo of Trump and his dad, standing on an overpass with giant apartment buildings behind them. That was in the early to mid-1970s. I read the accompanying article with interest. After that, Trump was regularly featured in newspaper articles ranging from borderline scandalous, to vaguely positive, to financially embarrassing. We've known a lot about him for a long time.

At some point, around the late 1980s, I believe, I discovered something about Trump that surprised me. He's not a Jew! All early mentions of Trump included details about his father's real estate empire and great wealth. They never mentioned that the family was Presbyterian. I only knew one man who owned a few apartment buildings in Manhattan, and he was a Jew. He was the uncle of a good friend of mine. Based on other reading from newspapers in the 1960s and 1970s, and driven by naivete mostly, I had come to the belief that the big-time real estate business in New York was dominated by Jews. You know, like the Kushner family. Perhaps it was. Fred Trump may have been an exception, for all I know.

I don't think that there was any prejudice in my belief. I have always liked Jews. There were people in my family who were prejudiced against blacks and Puerto Ricans, but I don't recall a bad word spoken about Jews. My own father admired Jews (the family doctor mentioned in the first paragraph was Jewish. He was a first-class family doctor who delivered me and my sister, made house-calls for $5, and took great care of us until he retired). If people needed a lawyer, and in New York you must hire a lawyer to represent you in the purchase of any real property, the odds were great that the lawyer was a Jew. I never heard anyone complain about this. In fact, just the opposite was true. I do remember multiple references like this: “he's so stupid, he hired a Christian lawyer.” My uncle, later in life and on his deathbed, wrote to me, “don't worry about me. My doctor is a Jew from New York. And you know there's only one thing better than a Jewish doctor from New York, and that's two Jewish doctors from New York.” Upon reflection, maybe people were just being careful. No sense in pissing off most of the lawyers and doctors in the world.

My confession is this: I spent the first fifteen years of Trump's public life with the casual belief that he was a Jew.

I discovered my error about the time that Trump was going broke in the casino business in Atlantic City. How can you go broke in the casino business? It began to make sense when I discovered that he wasn't Jewish. “Oh,” I thought, “I see.”

Now put your mask on! Go meditate or something! Buckle up, Buttercup. The next eighteen months are going to be all bad road, all the time.

Ike & Tina Turner - Bold Soul Sister

1969, which might have been an odd year for Ike and Tina. Two things for sure: Ike could still put a great band together, and Tina could still sing up a storm. They opened for the Rolling Stones tour that year, at Madison Square Garden, anyway. The day I was there, anyway. Reading about that tour, the opening acts were rotating through, or just covering part of the geography. The show that I saw was 1) Terry Reid; 2) Ike and Tina Turner; and 3) The Rolling Stones. Great show. 

This riff made the rounds in the late 1960s, as is reflected in the comments on YouTube. But that's music, dear readers. You steal some, they steal some. We're all just trying to make a living. Most musicians understand. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Awesome Power Of Chance

Nice article in the Atlantic now about the way that the very fabric of reality can be altered by an insignificant, unseen accident of chance. The article refers back to a movie that took up the theme: someone catches a train at the last second, or they miss the train by one second. Everything changes. This is a subject that is close to my heart.

There was a time when I was working at a part time law clerk job in the west valley while attending school in Malibu. I took a couple of evening classes to accommodate the job. Therefore, for a year or so, I spent a lot of time on Malibu Canyon Road between the 101 Freeway and the Coast Highway. It's a beautiful road, without a lot of traffic at the times that I was using it. That stretch is somewhere between seven and nine miles, I believe. Figure twelve minutes or so. Driving it west, towards the ocean, there's a steep hill running up on your right side, and a deep canyon on your left, with a guardrail but almost no shoulder. Not enough over there to change a tire. I'm thinking of one day in particular, in the late afternoon but with plenty of daylight left and no sun in my eyes. Perfect driving weather; beautiful setting; good driving car (1990 Honda Accord, manual transmission); perfect black-top road surface with no gravel or oil. I was having fun on the sweeping turns, but not overdoing it. Then, without warning, there's never any warning, I almost got zotzed.

I came around a right hand turn in the road and onto a straight piece. There was the mouth of a short tunnel about six hundred yards ahead. I covered part of that distance and then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, to my right. I moved my eyes to focus on it, and saw that it was a boulder about twice the size of a basketball, and it had just bounced off the sharp hillside on its way down to the road. It was going to beat me to its chosen spot on the road. I just had time to begin to attempt a time and motion calculation, addressing the issue of either braking or accelerating to avoid the boulder hitting my car. While I was performing that mathematics I maintained a constant speed. Almost instantly the boulder struck the road about two car-lengths in front of my bumper and took an impressive bounce. Almost simultaneously, I rolled over the debris spot where it had hit, and out of the left corner of my eye, in the driver's side window, I could see the boulder sailing into the canyon, airborne.

This is what we, growing up in Queens, used to call, “I didn't know whether to shit, piss, or throw up.”

The best way to look at an event like that is to shake your head once, smile, and move on. Don't dwell on it. But I've never been one to leave well enough alone, so I dwelt on it for quite a while. A new math problem presented itself, and I tried to identify the variables. I had covered about two/ thirds of the distance on Malibu Canyon Road, so I had driven about eight minutes at about fifty miles-per-hour, before the rock struck the road. It was a fraction of a second between impact and my passing over the spot, so that number would be in thousandths of a second. How much of an increase in my speed would have brought me to the spot at just the fatal moment? The debris spot was in the center of my lane, which would have put the rock in the center of my windshield if had been traveling microscopically faster. I still shudder to think about it.

The Atlantic article focuses on several pieces of alternate-history fiction, books or movies, that have bearing on our modern day politics. The lesson of the boulder, however, for me, is that every person on earth regularly experiences these near misses. There is a terrible randomness to who lives to see tomorrow and who dies today, and this is our reality every day.

Combat veterans feel this most acutely. They often comment on the randomness of who dies and who lives in the combat zone. Real combat is not like it is in the movies. There is a lot more shooting and a lot less hitting anything. Rifle bullets travel faster than the speed of sound, and the little sonic-booms make a snapping sound when they pass close to you. Many of the combat memoirs that I have read mention the sense of wonder that the man experienced from coming through so much danger untouched, and many wonder why they were unharmed while so many other men, similarly situated, were killed. Usually they chalk it up to just being one of those things. If you're in the right place at the wrong time, you catch one.

So here's to being lucky! Bon chance, mes amis! Just another day in paradise, if you made it through yesterday.

Sunday, July 5, 2020


I was randomly reminded today of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. I love it when that happens. A reference tucked away in a corner of an unrelated article, something like that. And boom! Memory chains, new interests, new things to listen to. What a world! I hate the world, I love the world, and everything else, all at the same time. Very interesting.