Wednesday, September 29, 2004

In Canada They're Called "Smarties"

Earlier this week Bush mocked Kerry by saying that the latter could "debate himself." The administration got a lot of mileage out of that one, but what a sad comment on their attitude toward intelligence. I mean, I get the joke, but isn't this also a roundabout way of trashing introspection, deliberation, critical consciousness? Shouldn't we have the ability to "debate ourselves" before making any important decision? Otherwise, aren't we just going through the motions?

Speaking of the role of intelligence in this campaign:

Scientists Appear to Tilt Toward Kerry

"First came the report accusing the Bush administration of politicizing science. Then came the letter from a bipartisan group of Nobel laureates endorsing John Kerry for president.

Now, from laboratories, classrooms, and boardrooms, comes Scientists and Engineers for Kerry, a group of researchers intent on unseating President Bush. Its goal: to recruit scientists and students to write letters and deliver speeches supporting the Kerry campaign."

Kelly Field, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1

And then there's this great piece by David Corn. A sample: "The Bush team has done a marvelous job of infantilizing the campaign. With Bush the Big Daddy you will be safe; with Kerry the Big Weenie, you are in peril. It’s that simple, and Bush and his lieutenants push simplicity as the ultimate virtue. They promote strength and steadfastness as the Olympian ideals—regardless of the ends to which these traits are applied—and deride thought, analysis and re-evaluation as evidence of impotence." And: "In my darker moments, I’ve often said that human interaction doesn’t evolve all that much past high school. In this campaign, the Bush clique is doing all it can to prove this theory correct. But it is the rest of the kids—I mean, the voters—who will determine if the politics of derision, big lying, fear mongering, simplicity and immaturity will work."

Smart guy.

Monday, September 27, 2004

New York, New York

Gotta be brief but before I forget:

The IJG will be on WNYC this coming Wednesday evening. We'll be featured in a program of large ensemble music played during John Schaefer's New Sounds program.

Even though I still haven't figured out the trick of making this group financially lucrative, getting on New Sounds is something of a personal milestone for me; the show was an important source of new music for the pimply-faced suburban high school kid that I used to be. And although I don't get to listen now that I'm in LA, I'll bet it's still one of the best programs of its kind. (Don't believe the hype: L.A.'s "Morning Becomes Eclectic" is one of the most overrated new music shows ever.)

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Eyes Have It

Did Rembrandt have extropia? Some scholars think so.

My favorite quotation from this piece: "[Rembrandt's condition] illustrates that disabilities are not always disabilities. They may be assets in another realm."

What a Difference Three Days Make

Apparently, according to whatever the latest polls are, Bush and Kerry are now neck-and-neck. At last, it seems, Kerry is starting to focus his attacks. Yesterday's speech to National Guard folks in Las Vegas was apparently pretty scathing; today's press release has Kerry stating: “It is clear:  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have mismanaged every aspect of the war in Iraq." Even that is putting it lightly, but anyway this statement is much more relevant than having to engage the Vietnam issue.

At least it's more relevant for people like this lady: "A woman wearing a T-shirt with the words 'President Bush You Killed My Son' and a picture of a soldier killed in Iraq was detained Thursday after she interrupted a campaign speech by First Lady Laura Bush."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mal: Adroit

One of several things on the jukebox today: Mal Waldron's The Quest, recorded in 1961. With Waldron on piano and compositions, Eric Dolphy on alto and clarinet, Booker Ervin on tenor, Ron Carter on cello, Joe Benjamin on bass, Charlie Persip on drums.

The IJG has grown so much over the last year that it was a nice change when this last tour forced me to revisit the quintet format (because of space considerations at one of our gigs). To get in the mindset for that I started listening to a lot of small groups again, and Waldron's on this recording is one of the best I've come across. One might anticipate certain problems before checking them out. Ervin and Dolphy together, one might assume, would echo the intensity of each other's playing. Carter and Benjamin together would produce an excess of low frequency. But these fears are unjustified: it all works.

The tunes themselves are focused, minimalistic, haunting. There is an "unfinished" or "sketch-like" quality to many of them, but it doesn't register as a deficiency. In the end the quality of the tunes and the quality of the players makes it difficult to tell where the lead sheet ends and the improvisation begins.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

You've got to be kidding me...

How is it that an election that should be a slam dunk in the Democrat's favor could possibly be going the way the polls claim it is? It's true that with each Bush fuckup the media tends to get quickly bored, even after an initial flurry of attention (is anyone even talking about Abu Ghraib anymore?). But Kerry / Edwards should be picking up each and every one of these stories and hammering them home. I mean, this stuff is gold! A stolen election, a superstitious and inept commander-in-chief, a war based on lies, a rising casualty list, a perversion of language that would shock even Orwell, etc., ad nauseum.

Siva Vaidhyanathan recently suggested that the Killian memos (assuming they turn out to be forgeries) could actually have been planted by the Bush campaign. I'll take that suspicion to a ridiculous extreme and wonder aloud if Bush isn't somehow getting Kerry to take a dive in this election. That's a completely outlandish idea, I admit, but at the moment it's no more outlandish to me than the idea that Bush could actually be ahead.

Of course, there's also the question of how reliable the polls actually are.