Sunday, September 24, 2023

Al Green - Perfect Day (Official Lyric Video)

Another, more recent, great cover. Another home run? Well, I think it cleared the fence in fair territory. Lou still takes the cake and keeps title to the song. Mr. Green does a great job though. 

Ms. Simone's cover of "Here Comes the Sun," right below this one hereon, is one of those rare covers that clears the fence in center field, sails over everyone's heads, leaves the ball park far behind, and they're still looking for the ball out in the parking lot somewhere.  

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Here Comes the Sun

Is it a triumph or a tragedy for the singer/ songwriter when a truly great artist covers one of your songs and completely takes it over, elevating it above everything that has come before? 

Still Looking ForThe Silver Lining In Our Climate Situation


It was a matter of some interest to me that on September 19, 2023 there were two large TORNADOES in China. Not the little cyclones that you see in big storms pretty much everywhere and never give a second thought, no, these were “Wizard of Oz” sized tornadoes, like three on the five scale. (China uses the same scale as the United States, so I guess the Chinese weather service wasn’t as surprised as I was.) These came with enormous amounts of rain and new flooding, adding more misery to what is already probably called “the Summer of Huge Fucking Floods.”

No less fascinating was the twenty or so inches of rain that fell in a day on a large but focused part of Libya, making a mess of a coastal city and destroying two earthen dams in the mountains above the city. The resulting water/ mud event washed away most of the city and the reporting of the death count was disturbingly imprecise. The spokesman said that about ten thousand people were dead, and another ten thousand were “still missing.” He assumed that many or most of the missing had been washed out to sea along with all of that mud. When the numbers get that round, it’s obvious that no one has any idea of the real casualty figures.

Huge amounts of rain in a limited time within a tight location is no longer considered exceptional. It has become a regular thing.

Warehouses are filling up with new stock footage of rapidly moving flash floods in a wide variety of settings. There are also large areas on multiple continents where it hasn’t rained at all for years. Climate driven migration has begun in earnest. Then there are the fires. The starving migrants must be lucky to avoid running into one of the many large fires. Crops have begun to fail, not only because of the droughts, but also because average annual temperatures have gone up a couple of degrees. A warming climate invites new insect pests. That’s no surprise, I suppose, but did anyone else read the predictions that a warming climate would interfere with crop propagation? I read that one, but I wasn’t supposed to live to see it. Only five years ago they were still talking about effects that we would see in 2030 or later. More imprecision.

Ocean temperatures are raising some eyebrows among the scientific community. Way too low in the North Atlantic, threatening to stall the Gulf Stream, and way too high around the West Indies and Florida, threatening stronger hurricanes. You needn’t look far for bad climate news.

Who remembers the way that George W. Bush and his “proud to know nothing” friends were laughing at a temperature rise of only a few degrees. Remember the asshole who brought a snowball into a meeting of the Senate? They, you know who they are, had a good laugh at that. Climate change was a hoax! Or, if it were a real thing, it was the Chinese trying to destroy the American economy. I don’t hear so much laughing now. If it was a Chinese idea, it backfired. The naysayers seem to be holding their tongues, but they have no proposals to offer in mitigation. One of our great statesmen was asked how he feels about the current state of climate change. “Autumn,” he said, “it’s called autumn.”

The only people who are happy about the situation are the lobbyists for the fossil fuel industries. Those companies just want to maximize profits while they can. Time to cash out boys! I’m sure that they have proper bunkers prepared, and food stocks put away for emergencies. It was fun to read about the plans they have to protect themselves from their own security forces. Now there’s an interesting conundrum: they obviously need the security forces to protect their compounds or bunkers from regular people, but then it’s also obvious that the security forces will see their own best interest in slaughtering the rich people and taking the security for themselves. Don’t worry, no beautiful women will be harmed in the course of these takeovers. I’ve already seen multicolored maps showing what areas may fare better, and what areas will soon be musts to avoid. The entire South West of the United States is a death in progress, with colossal heat waves in effect and water disappearing faster than a magician’s assistant.

I guess it’s good that people in every demographic seem to be getting the message that urgent action is required, but the people who actually have the power to alter our destructive habits are either going along with the wait and see thing or actively getting in on the cashing out thing.

It all strikes me as doom writ large, but that’s my nature anyway. So don’t listen to me. It’ll all be fine!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Visual Clues About Other Cultures May Be Misleading


We received two newspapers every day and three on Sunday; we got our weekly copies of Life and Newsweek magazines; and we also subscribed to the National Geographic magazine. This means that our household was better informed than most. This was in the time when early television was a very poor information source, and computers were as big as automobiles, ran on punch-cards, and were to be seen only in certain high-value industrial settings. There was also a nice library in our town, a good sized branch of the New York Public Library, and I appreciated that. Our library offered little in the way of current events, although it was okay for history. (I enjoyed browsing in the card catalog and reading in the encyclopedia.)

I was always most curious about the articles that shed light on people’s daily lives in other countries. Once you were familiar with the four-color globe, and had discovered how many countries and people there were in the world, questions about their lives became of urgent concern, at least they did for me. The weekly magazines were often helpful, but the National Geographic was the best. That was their thing, wasn’t it? It was a monthly travelogue. It was lavishly illustrated with first-rate photographs, and it included well written text explaining what you were looking at. My favorite articles were either about distant lands where exotic women never bothered to cover their breasts, or about Russia.

Every article about a foreign land featured photos of the local people. Some looked prosperous and happy; some looked poor and miserable. The people in those countries were accurately reflecting the readers expectations, based upon their attire and their surroundings. Those things are to be expected. It got interesting when the people appeared either very poor, yet perfectly happy, or relatively prosperous, yet completely miserable. (Disclaimer: I’ve been living for twenty years in a country where most people are poor, but those poor people are very happy.) The countries that defied expectations were worth looking up in the encyclopedia. Why the tension between their situation and their emotions? Then there was Russia, where people appeared content and happy in propaganda photos, while looking like zombies in any unofficial public photos.

Moscow had good roads, albeit without much traffic. There were solid looking apartment buildings with windows and curtains. The people did not appear underfed, and their clothing seemed up to western standards, at least from a distance. There was public transport of various kinds, and it all seemed to be in working order. It looked fine. Those Russians of long ago displayed an affect that was unique: they all walked with good posture, looking straight ahead (although I’m sure that their eyes were darting about), walking with intention, like they might have quite a distance to cover, and on their faces they showed no emotion at all. They mostly stared straight ahead with their faces fixed in the expression called “blank.” It was as though they were autistic, or had been subjected to electroshock therapy when they were younger. How did they feel about their situation? There were no clues to be gleaned from photographs taken in public spaces.

I now understand that average Russians of the time were actually quite animated and emotional behind closed doors. Alone with their families, or friends sufficiently close and trusted, they were loving and quite funny. I’ve read many of the jokes invented by Russians and told among themselves over the decades, and they were acutely aware of the irony and contradictions raised by their existence as cogs in the Soviet machine. Many of the jokes are very insightful regarding the day to day lives of the big-shots, and of things like the Gulag and state-sponsored antisemitism. Out in the larger world, they braced up their posture and put on the mask.

It was hard then not to think about Russia. What about the bosses? Who were these despots who held large numbers of powerful nuclear bombs over our heads at every moment of every day? What about the people? Russian soldiers seemed wildly happy in private, unofficial wartime photos taken after they had killed several tens of thousands of Nazi soldiers. Now, ten or fifteen years after the war,  they were all huddled down in their frozen wasteland of a country concentrating all of their energy on the manufacture of more nuclear bombs, bigger bombs, and no smiles in sight.

The bombs never bothered me. I never remember worrying about any hypothetical impending nuclear event. It didn’t seem possible, or as we say in the law, practicable. I was already familiar with the fate of Germany and Japan for having the temerity to start World War II. That was all recent memory at the time, and anyone with any sense could see that no one would be starting any all-out wars with either Russia or the USA any time soon. Germany and Japan had both been reduced to endless seas of rubble, not a stone standing on a smoking stone, and their people reduced to hunger and tears. That was the fate of countries that declared war on America or the USSR. I was sure that those bombs over our heads were being held very, very carefully. The price for a mistake was just too high, and intentional action was too stupid to consider.

The Soviets are a dead letter now. That unfortunate system left the scene unmourned. Don’t let that door hit you in the ass on the way out! No sooner had cracks appeared in the foundation than the entire building fell to rubble in no time flat. It was a perfect joy for me to see the unrestrained relief and happiness of regular Russian people filling the streets and celebrating the passing of that awful mess.

Aye, it was an interesting world, the world of my youth. It was full of strange behavior and weird events. I suppose that it still is, even if the strange behavior is now pathological and many of the weird events could have been avoided. Looking now at that four-color globe, one is forced to realize that most of the asylums are being run by the inmates. And what goes around still comes around. That old saying still holds. Old wine in new bottles. But I’ll let you consider the political changes of the world through the filters of your own experiences. You may be twenty-something, or seventy-something, but you have seen many changes. Things happen so quickly now! Several things are changing this very minute!

I wish us all luck.