Friday, November 19, 2004

Purge it, baby

These three sentences by Bob Dreyfuss (posted under a blog entry about Colin Powell's resignation) really capture (well, in my humble opinion) what is happening at the highest levels of government (notice all those suddenly empty offices?). Which is just to say that the Bush administration is going all bulemic on our collective asses, barfing up everyone who might prevent it from getting its way in foreign policy matters. (Hmmm... bit of an awkward metaphor, perhaps, but you get the drift.) Anyway, Dreyfuss writes:

"It’s clear to me that the invasion of Fallujah was just a diversionary action. It was meant to distract attention from the real offensive: the blitzkrieg against the CIA and the State Department. Those two agencies were the locus of opposition to Bush’s reckless foreign policy, and they are no more."

Check out the whole damned blog here.

Oh yeah, is there any other "Colin" in the world who pronounces their name "Colon"?!

If you're at all interested in the future of creativity... should tell your Senator to oppose the omnibus copyright bill currently emerging in Congress. Here's why this proposed smorgasbord of laws is so heinous.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

If you're at all interested in the future of jazz... should probably check out the recent (2003) NEA-funded report on the worklife of jazz musicians. You can get it here. Scroll down and download the PDF of the Executive Summary.

Right there, in the introduction, I finally saw in writing exactly the thing I've been struggling with over the last four years with the IJG. I quote:

"As A.B. Spellman indicated in his introduction to the NEA publication American Jazz Masters Fellowships 1982-2002, jazz was 'built on the discipline of collective improvisation ... which allowed for maximum expression of the individual within the context of the group.' The group, however, is often an ever-changing one. Unlike classical music, with orchestral members staying together for decades, or even rock, where more often than not musicians make their music as a group, jazz musicians often look for jams or gigs as individuals rather than in groups."

And later:

"Playing with multiple groups can be problematic. Musicians may not stay in a group long enough for it to grow into a solid band, and moving from group to group and gig can make linear career development difficult."

Yes... for both musicians and bandleaders. What you end up with are fewer cohesive, innovative groups, and more pickup groups that get together ephemerally to play--what else?--standards. Think about it: how can you pull off something Mingusian, something Ellingtonian, in a session, in a weekend, even in a tour? Those guys had more or less regular working bands which, though never entirely consistent in terms of personnel, were together long enough to push each other in some concerted but fascinating new directions.

Anyway... everything else you might have assumed about the extra-musical aspects of jazz is borne out by this study: in particular, most of its musicians are highly educated, pathetically underpaid, and lacking in health and retirement benefits. All this in the face of jazz being identified as a "national treasure" by the US Congress. Dontcha love the irony?

(Thanks to Robert Jacobson for forwarding this to me.)

Let the healing begin!

(But first there's this...)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Tomorrow is "Impeach Bush Day." (Probably the first of many.)

National Impeach Bush Day
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to initiate the impeachment process. (Faxes are particularly effective.) Tell your friends. Make an "Impeach Bush" sign for your window. Restore law and order to the White House! Refer them to this website for more information.

And now for something completely different...

My first two reviews for All About Jazz were just published:

Here's one about the Yohimbe Brothers's Tao of Yo.

And here's one about David Sanchez's Coral.

Funny, I liked the Sanchez album more, though I think the review of the Yohimbe Brothers is better written and more interesting. Both reviews were edited very slightly, I'm not sure to what effect.

Friday, November 12, 2004

More on civil war... within the Republican Party

George Paine picked up this item from America Blog:

Religious right BLASTS Mary Cheney's "flaunting" of her homosexuality.

Red Dawn, sort of

Okay, I was hesitating to blog this, because it at first seemed so, well, incredible (in the literal sense of the term). A few (very few) places on the web are addressing a story about tanks on the streets of LA, apparently used to intimidate an anti-war protest. I'm still skeptical (I'm skeptical about everything these days), but I just got off the phone with a friend who has a friend who was there. So I wish some qualified investigative journalist would get on this story and clarify it for the rest of us. (Particularly those of us who actually have to live and work in LA!)

Friday, November 05, 2004

United States of Canada

Remember when Dave Foley (of the Kids in the Hall) referred to Canada as "America without the guns"?

America the Beautiful

You need to read this, though be sure to have a barf bag nearby.

How can you have an intelligent discussion with someone who rejects the notion of compromise out of hand?

Moral values, eh?

Someone sent me this. There was a story on Salon too, but I won't send you there because you have to be a member or watch an annoying History Channel ad. The original video was released by Texans for Truth sometime at the end of October (as far as I can tell). Why did Kerry not just put this in a campaign ad and saturate the swing states with it?

And then there's this...

Whaddya know? There were problems with electronic voting in Ohio.

More about the kids...

Students at a Colorada high school protest Bush.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Insult to injury

Elizabeth Edwards has breast cancer. We all hope she will have a speedy recovery.

I saw a C-SPAN broadcast of a town-hall meeting she participated in a few weeks ago. She's an amazing, articulate, super-smart woman.

Speaking of C-SPAN, I saw the rebroadcast of Kerry's concession speech last night. I had already read the transcript, but watching the video, I realized that there was something about his expression that seemed to convey what those of us who had supported him were feeling: a sense of exhaustion, incredulity, and grief. It was as if someone we loved had unexpectedly died.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

In the words of Hunter S. Thompson...

"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it -- that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

Things to do today

1. Pick jaw up off floor. (You mean the combined forces of Bruce Springsteen, Howard Stern, and Eminem couldn't sway this election?!)

2. Bitch and moan for 24 hours or so (hey, I think we're all entitled).

3. Get over it.

4. Note to self: Nixon was re-elected too. (Indeed, as Eleanor Holmes Norton put it today, Kerry nearly did the impossible by almost unseating an incumbent war president. These guys (i.e., incumbent war presidents) tend to get re-elected without much trouble.)

(By the way, all you working class folks who voted for Bush... I don't know why you're rejoicing. It's primarily your kids who are going to be killed in this war. It's primarily your jobs that are going to be outsourced.)

5. Consider that Bush is now emboldened. He thinks he has a mandate. That means that at some point very soon, he will probably get so extreme that the more center-leaning of his supporters will make attempts to rein him in. There may already be signs of this, in fact. As Bruce Bartlett told Ron Suskind in a recent New York Times piece, "if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3." Let's hope.

6. Sit my lovely wife down and make a plan to have more kids. Why? I realized during one of my many half-awake / half asleep moments last night that the reason the evangelicals tipped this election (assuming they actually did) is that they procreate like rabbits. Hey, that's what happens when you're opposed to both abortion and birth control. And I'll bet there's a study somewhere that says that progressives are less likely to raise big families. C'mon people, let's get on this! It will have the added benefit of relieving some of the tension of the last few months.

7. Brainstorm about ways to develop out progressive religious movements (like liberation theology, for instance). Now, I'm the least qualified to speak on this topic, as I waver between being a lapsed Catholic, an agnostic, and an out-and-out atheist. But someone on the left needs to pick up and run with this thread or we're never going to win those damned "red" states. Sean Carroll has a similar idea.

(By the way, what's up with that color scheme business? Didn't it used to be a bad thing to be "red"?)

8. Beer. Lots of beer. And music. Lots of music.

9. Hug my wife and daughter and make sure they know I love them.

Monday, November 01, 2004

One more before voting...

Hey, get a load of this.

For whatever convoluted reason, it reminds me of the RIAA's amnesty program.


This election sure is bringing out the worst (or at least the most extreme) in people. Look no further than my last post, for instance--clearly over-the-top for someone who prides himself on rational, even-handed thinking.

It's a broad phenomenon. On Friday conservative psycho-bitch Ann Coulter (ah, shit, I did it again!) roused the antipathy of Bill Mahr's audience, and particularly that of Mahr's other guest, Richard Belzer. Belzer reached a boiling point ("She's repugnant!" he exclaimed--she, earlier, had referred to him as "Osama bin Laden") and a usually in-control Mahr actually seemed, for a few wincing moments, well... hapless in the face of this confrontation between his two friends.

On Saturday I saw a CBC program on the election (broadcast courtesy of C-SPAN, one of my favorite channels). Some anchor was moderating a kind of town-hall meeting of American voters; the discussion was interspersed with comments by concerned Canadians. One of the latter was actually a soft-spoken middle-aged American woman who had renounced her US citizenship as a last-resort protest against Bush's policies. It wasn't a violent protest in any sense; at one point she actually started weeping, apparently while considering the ramifications of her decision. It was horrible, pathetic, moving. One might argue it was patriotism at its most poignant, and at its most extreme.

I have always tried to resist the tendency, whether on the right or on the left, to see the world in Manichaean terms. Much as I admire Michael Moore, for instance, part of me is slightly embarrassed by his penchant for broad strokes; he's like the Oliver Stone of documentarians. You would think that the bald truth about the administration's actions would be horrifying enough to serve as the kind of searing indictment Moore is ultimately after; the creative edits and ironic soundtrack moments are fun, sure, but not necessarily convincing to those who aren't already anti-Bush (as the recent spate of anti-Michael Moore books and films has demonstrated).

On the other hand, reason doesn't seem to do the trick either, because there are plenty of more measured critics of the administration whose message is nevertheless not getting through (again, quoting Belzer: "Americans are stupid!"). So maybe we need Moore, however much we might not agree with his tactics (Todd Gitlin aptly called him the "anti-Bush"). And maybe we're just living in an era of extremes. Time and again I re-consider the evidence, trying to find some weakness in the argument against Bush. Time and again I come to the same dreary conclusion: that the administration is absolutely, insanely wrong. That conclusion terrifies me--it's a Manichaean conclusion, after all--but I can't escape it.

I hope we all escape it tomorrow.