Friday, November 28, 2008

What Thanksgiving means to me

Homemade raspberry chiffon pie, and the coolest, most beautiful little family in the world.

He saw it coming

More Friday morning economic meltdown humor, this time from the incomparable Louis CK.

"I agree with that. I find my funds to be grossly insufficient!"


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you

I have many things to be thankful for, but here's one I wasn't expecting -- after seven years, our first album, Hardcore, is now officially sold out. As in I have to order more.

If you count promo freebies, that's around one hundred sales a year. Not exactly Thriller, but it's a start.

I'll try to have more ready in time for Christmas... cuz, you know, I'm sure there will be a clamor.

Anyway, thanks, IJG fans! (And non-fans who bought the album by mistake...)

I did not choose la meme, la meme chose me

I'm generally not one to participate in these internet pass-arounds, but getting tagged by two people I respect in the space of a few weeks seemed to be a bit of an omen, so I figured I'd give in for a change.

Here are the rules. And here they are in a more recent permutation. Like David, I ended up going with the magic number eight.

What follows is incredibly boring -- though, on the flip side, it's not as bombastic as my usual posting fare. I tried to stay away from anything having to do with my so-called art, cuz I figured that if you read this blog you get enough of that already.

1. In high school, I was known as either "Andy" or "Durk." Some friends from that period of my life still refer to me that way, and I'm happy to let them (but if you weren't there, I generally discourage it). I don't know where those nicknames came from (I was always "Andrew" before high school). But I probably let them flourish because I thought they would help me attract girls somehow. (Boy was I wrong.)

2. When I was in junior high, my best friend was an Indian kid named Ajay Sharma. Our idea of fun was to throw rocks at each other, across a busy street, at rush hour. Many years later, in college, I was in an anti-fraternity called "Monkey Pus" -- a gang of first-year hooligans who basically wanted very little to do with the mainstream educational experience -- and one of our many truancy-oriented pastimes was to play pool as if it were basketball, attempting to throw the balls into the pockets instead of knocking them in with a cue. (Amazingly, no one ever got hurt.)

3. When I was a Boy Scout, I once got lost on Bear Mountain. This was in the context of a hiking trip. I have always had a problem with authority, and I disliked everything about being a Boy Scout, except for the fact that it provided me with a foil (enabling me to cultivate certain habits of resistance that I have found essential to survival in the adult world). Anyway, on this particular trip, a comrade and I decided to break away from the group, and we spent the better part of a day wandering around in the wilderness. We were finally reunited with our Scoutmaster just before sunset (and just as true panic was setting in).

4. In my worst nightmare ever, an evil magic Play Doh Fun Factory Extruder worked in reverse, sucking people and things through its tiny aperture, and converting them into a single nondescript lump of clay.

5. When I was in first grade, my mom -- bless her heart, she was a single mother trying to raise two kids on a budget -- always played barber to my brother and I. This was in the mid 70's, but Mom's idea of an appropriate hairstyle for male children was "so last decade": the tried-and-true crew cut. Perhaps this is where I developed an early appreciation for incongruity. In any case, I picked up the nickname "Peach Fuzz," because most of my classmates had true Eight is Enough manes, while my hair was always extremely short.

6. I can't stand organized sports, either as a participant or an observer. I'm sure this is at least in part because of my relationship with my father, who is a sports fanatic. (See also: my problem with authority, above.) To me, the idea of developing an affection for a specific team, following the exploits of a given player, or maintaining a knowledge of the stats and obscure rules of the game -- all of this seems like an absurd way to spend one's time. I have never understood the romance of it. Which is not to say I dislike physical activity or the thrill of casual athletics. But I can't help but experience any organized sporting activity through the ironic frame of the "Block that kick!" bit from "Revolution no. 9." It all seems vaguely fascist to me.

7. I have a hard time relaxing, in the sense of just kicking back and enjoying some activity not directly related (in my own mind, anyway) to what I consider "work." Related: I'm a pacer. Particularly when I'm writing, reading, or listening to music, I find it hard to sit still. So I walk around a lot. To some extent this has more to do with certain physical realities (limitations) -- chronic back pain, restless legs -- than a short attention span. Which is not to say I don't have a short attention span.

8. I once put a close friend through what I can only imagine was an extremely awkward kind of hell, by forcing his superior to force him to fire me from an office job that he had helped me get in the first place. Why did I let this happen? I was too lazy, distracted, and bored to take the damned job seriously. Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever going to grow up.

* * * * *

Alright, thanks to Matt and David for the tagging. I can't actually bring myself to pass the game along to anyone else (as I said, I'm no good at this sort of thing). But hell, since you got this far, I'd be happy to read your own list of random nonsense if you are so inclined to write it down. So consider yourself tagged if you want to be.

(Photo credit.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's all about you

John Cole:

Obama Announces His Economic Team

And while I have little clue who most of them are, I feel duty bound as a blogger to express my shock that his choices are not progressive/moderate/conservative enough, and I will do my best to write a hysterical 2,000 word post saying that if he would only listen to me, things would be better. Also, I will, without irony, note that he is appointing too many Clinton re-treads, failing to acknowledge that if Obama had not won, Clinton would have, and probably would have appointed more… Clinton people. Finally, I will whinge incessantly that I was misled during the election. I thought he would be much more progressive/moderate/conservative than he is acting now, and I wish I had voted for the alternative (the crazy old man McCain).

Why oh why will he just not listen to me?

'Tis the season to buy stuff

I wish I had come up with the idea for this T-Shirt.

Did I mention that it makes a perfect gift for the composer in your life?


Wait, I've got one. How's this:

"On Sale: Free Jazz"

The Frogman Cometh

No, not Clarence. (Though he's amazing enough to deserve a post all his own.)

I'm talking about L. Frank Baum's Frogman, recently encountered (or rediscovered, actually), as Thandie and I make our way through the crazy-ass Oz books:

The Frogman wakened first on this morning, and after going to the tree where Cayke slept and finding her still wrapped in slumber, he decided to take a little walk and seek some breakfast. Coming to the edge of the grove, he observed half a mile away a pretty yellow house that was surrounded by a yellow picket fence, so he walked toward this house and on entering the yard found a Winkie woman picking up sticks with which to build a fire to cook her morning meal.

"For goodness sake!" she exclaimed on seeing the Frogman. "What are you doing out of your frog-pond?"

"I am traveling in search of a jeweled gold dishpan, my good woman," he replied with an air of great dignity.

"You won't find it here, then," said she."Our dishpans are tin, and they're good enough for anybody. So go back to your pond and leave me alone." She spoke rather crossly and with a lack of respect that greatly annoyed the Frogman.

"Allow me to tell you, madam," said he, "that although I am a frog, I am the Greatest and Wisest Frog in all the world. I may add that I possess much more wisdom than any Winkie--man or woman--in this land. Wherever I go, people fall on their knees before me and render homage to the Great Frogman! No one else knows so much as I; no one else is so grand, so magnificent!"

"If you know so much," she retorted, "why don't you know where your dishpan is instead of chasing around the country after it?"

"Presently," he answered, "I am going where it is, but just now I am traveling and have had no breakfast. Therefore I honor you by asking you for something to eat."

"Oho! The Great Frogman is hungry as any tramp, is he? Then pick up these sticks and help me to build the fire," said the woman contemptuously.

"Me! The Great Frogman pick up sticks?" he exclaimed in horror. "In the Yip Country where I am more honored and powerful than any King could be, people weep with joy when I ask them to feed me."

"Then that's the place to go for your breakfast," declared the woman.

"I fear you do not realize my importance," urged the Frogman. "Exceeding wisdom renders me superior to menial duties."

"It's a great wonder to me," remarked the woman, carrying her sticks to the house, "that your wisdom doesn't inform you that you'll get no breakfast here." And she went in and slammed the door behind her.

Ah, L. Frank Baum. Where else in children's literature do you get explorations of transexuality, feminism, plastic surgery, amputation...

They just don't make them like that anymore. And as I ponder ways to adapt the IJG show for a children's audience (if that's even possible) -- over and against the Dora-the-Explorer-ish shout-fest pablum that passes for kids' entertainment these days -- Baum is certainly a model.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beautiful lacunae

Sometimes, when you are making a piece of art (or whatever), there are gaps. And sometimes half the fun of the art-making process is allowing those gaps to be filled in by other people (after figuring out 1. which gaps to offer up for that purpose, and 2. which gaps you had better fill in your own damn self).

Some artists will have none of that. Surrounded by an army of "assistants" whose job is to help them complete a given piece, they nevertheless leave very little to the talents of these collaborators:

Hidden details whenever possible. References to my children (from youngest to oldest as follows): Evie, Winsor, Chandler and Merritt. References to my anniversary date, the number 52, the number 82, and the number 5282 (for fun, notice how many times this appears in my major published works). Hidden N's throughout -- preferably thirty N's, commemorating one N for each year since the events happened.

Never have I seen the word "fun" used in such an odd, incongruous way. What this overdetermined art practice really is? Bloody hell boring.

But maybe I'm speaking with the bias of a big band leader (h/t to DJA for the interview from which this excerpt comes):

FJO: So what does it mean to be writing for people who are themselves already decision makers on that level?

MS: It means that a lot of times they come up with really great ideas that I end up adopting. In the case of Frank, it means that a lot of times, instead of writing an introduction to a piece, I let him just come up with it. He's improvising it and it sets up the music differently every time. Sometimes I say, "I don't know what to write here." Frank will figure it out, and he'll make it great every time.

When I first brought Concert in the Garden to the band, it was just horrible. It was called Quasi Catu, because it was based on this maracatu Brazilian rhythm. I'm telling you, it was a piece of dreck, and I was so panicked. We were rehearsing at Hunter College and there was this little organ, and I was playing this melody on the organ and the guys were taking a break. Ingrid was sitting there diddling on her horn, and I said, "Ingrid, why does this sound so good here and it just sounds like crap in the band?" And she said, "You know, that sounds like accordion; you should get Gary Versace to play that. We should call him and have him play on this." I was like, "That's a great idea." So she's thinking like a composer, but outside of my box. I was thinking, "I have this big band. I have to write for this big band." But we called up Gary, and he could do the concert. Suddenly it gave me a whole new way to write because he's got the high tessitura. He can play high and soft forever. A flute can't do that. A trumpet can't do that. Nobody in the band could. A piano can play high, but it decays immediately. So here the accordion can go eeeee super high and just go forever, and it gets this whole kind of ethnic sound going. I fell in love with it. So now I always write for that, but it wasn't my idea.

FJO: And Gary Versace is now a regular member of the band.

MS: Yeah. So, you know, they all come up with ideas. When we had that gig at Visiones—we played there for five years—I would bring pieces in, not knowing exactly what I wanted. But playing them every week, [the musicians] started developing a way of phrasing—especially Keith O'Quinn on lead trombone, Tony Kadleck on lead trumpet, and George Flynn on bass trombone. These are not guys I'm always giving solos to. They're good soloists, but they're incredible lead players. And they would do these things with articulating notes—releasing, crescendoing—and the whole section would then start following them. When I started hearing how they phrase, then when I would come home and write my next piece, I would write to that. You know, I'd say, "Oh wow, yeah, I'm gonna do that and write sforzando-piano-crescendo here." It was because of this collection of people, playing it their own way, collectively influencing each other, finding a collective way of phrasing without talking about it. There are so many layers of my music that I would have never found if I'd always been writing for a different group. Just by doing it, they made me write a certain way. And I would imagine that my writing and their playing it over the years has helped them find things in their own music, too. So we've changed each other. It's the reason I don't think I can ever end the band; it's an organism now. It's not a collection of people. It's an old shoe that your foot fits perfectly in. You don't ever want to throw it away. But it's also almost like a living thing on its own. I can't put [another] collection of musicians together and get the same breadth out of the music as what they do. They're just exquisite.

I call this sort of thing the Ellington dynamic, and it's one of the main reasons I identify as a jazz composer.

(Photo credit: "Lacuna" by franz84j.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cyber-style is revealing

George Bush used AOL.

Obama doesn't use emoticons.

And there you have it, in a nutshell.


Trust me, kid, Jebus doesn't want to hear your crappy voice

For those in need of a late-night dada fix:

My music classes go a little bit like that. (The kids call me "Durk" too.)

E.g.: "What? You say you can't play that chromatic scale? Better make yourself do it, motherfucker!"

Geez Louise.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The little house I used to live in

Via Secondtino, this rather cool video of an attempt (by Dutch designer Piet Schreuders) to digitally recreate Laurel-and-Hardy-era downtown Culver City.

The setting in the clip is minutes from where we lived during our last four years in southern California. We meandered down those very streets many times. And from our current vantage point, all the way up the coast, the filmic history / mythology that suffuses not only Culver City, but all of LA, is indeed compelling. So I get why a European would be fascinated enough to want to undertake this project.

Of course, when that history / mythology was right in front of me all the time I found it irritating beyond belief.

I considered myself an avid film buff before moving to LA. My last job before heading off to grad school (back in 1995) was working in the AV department of a local library -- and one of the perks of that job was that I had direct access to a pretty extensive collection of the very flicks that are usually included in the typical "canon." I watched most of them -- hundreds of movies -- during the year I had that job. (I had to geek it up, of course, by forcing myself to take notes on most of what I saw.)

And I brought that enthusiasm with me to USC. I took every film class I could. I took advantage of the school's impressive film library (which was, needless to say, much more extensive than my old job's), back when doing so as a non-cinema major was pretty hassle-free. And I'll admit it: I naively thought it was the coolest thing in the world that there was a building on campus named after George Lucas.

And then, at some point, I slowly but ineluctably became impatient with the whole culture. I grew tired of getting stuck in traffic at random because some film production had decided to take over an entire city block (or more). I grew tired of randomly but repeatedly meeting people who were "in the business," each of whom was driven by that "special idea" that would be the "next big thing." (I grew tired, in other words, of dodging pitches.) I grew tired of the way Hollywood -- a concept more complex than the stereotype, but certainly rooted in it -- put its style-over-substance stamp on everything. (I'm sure the academic star system is a national phenomenon, but to me it made perfect sense that such a thing would thrive at a place like USC.)

And because I found less and less to like about the way movies are made, or the people who make them, I (unfairly, I admit) found myself generally unable to enjoy the art form at all anymore.

Crazy, huh?

In a weird way, maybe it was a good phase for me to go through -- it ultimately (and radically) helped me affirm my commitment to the ear (not the eye) as the superior human sense organ.

And all is not lost: now that I've escaped from LA, I'm happy to report that I'm slowly learning to dig film again. Of course, now I'm getting off on stupid shit like War of the Colossal Beast and The Crawling Eye. But it's a start, right?

Anyway, context is everything.

* * * * *

BTW, this is awesome:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Because someone has to make the art

It is difficult
to get the news from poems,
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

-- William Carlos Williams

Monday, November 10, 2008

More wages, more profanity

Via Balloon Juice, Joe "Blowhard" Scarborough drops the F-bomb:

Turns out jazz musicians aren't the only foul-mouthed citizens of this fair country.

John Cole provides his typical spot-on analysis:

There are several really funny things about this story. The first is the way Scarborough blurted it out- it was casual, as if he has more than a passing acquaintance with the f-word himself. Someone who really did get his panties in a knot when people used curse words would not be able to effortlessly blurt that out as he did in that clip.

Second, it points out how twisted the inside the beltway priorities still are- these knuckleheads are talking off camera, all aghast that Emanuel has told people to fuck off, and think this is somehow a great sin. It is truly bizarre for a number of reasons, especially for folks who worship “average” and “ordinary” Americans. Average and ordinary Americans use profane language. Go to a sporting event. Watch a movie not made by Disney. Go to the mall. Spend thirty seconds within a hundred yards of any military unit anywhere (I remember some cadences we sang during PT that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush). Or a police department. Or a fire department. People swear. You may not like it, but it is what it is.

Actually, I do like it. But I'm, you know, depraved (or something).

Friday, November 07, 2008

Barack the President

Sorry, I couldn't resist just one more play on that stupid "Joe the Plumber" meme.

Anyway, yes. America is officially the hippest country on earth. Now if we can only do something about all of these damned problems...

Alas, my post-election thoughts remain mostly scattered (unlike last time, when anger and grief compelled me to make an orderly list). At least I can admit that I cried a few times on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sappy, I know. Not that I was surprised -- I've been surreptitiously convinced that this was in the bag for about a month -- rather, the mistiness was generated by the sheer, incontrovertible fact of the thing.

Obviously, now the hard part begins. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed that while the country went apeshit Tuesday night, Obama himself appeared more somber than ever. (Didn't catch it? Check out this behind-the-scenes Flickr set, especially the part where the reports of victory start coming in. The dude doesn't even crack a smile.) The actual business of governance (I suspect) is going to make the triathlon that was the campaign look like a fun run.

* * * * *

In any case, can I dare to hope, for the record, that we begin to see a new kind of political discourse emerge (even if only in parallel to what already exists) as a result of this election? That wasn't explicitly on anybody's platform, I know (how could it have been?), but we shouldn't forget the deleterious role played by the media in recent years -- which I think boils down to the Fourth Estate's seemingly endless fascination with narrative for its own sake.

One of the things that caught my attention about the Obama operation, from the very beginning, was that it seemed to eschew this phenomenon. One example: as it got better at winning elections, the campaign developed a remarkable capacity for confounding the professional chattering class. Again and again, the people who framed politics for a living failed to find the right frame for Obama. And whatever was really going on behind the scenes, the President-elect and his staff made that failure seem inevitable, gently demonstrating that while the folks on the Tee Vee (or wherever) were, in principle, playing an important role, at the same time they were just guessing too.

The Obsidian Wings blogger Publius hinted at his own experience with this sort of thing in the wake of Obama's infomercial:

Remind me to stop doubting the Obama campaign. I can't seem to stop it -- the doubt comes [start melody] regularrrr like seeeeeasons. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and each day publius doth worry about something stupid. Today's worry was that the ad was overkill, that it was unnecessary, etc. It literally bothered me all day long.

But then I watched it -- and I honestly thought it was great, and even sincerely moving at times (I'm basically a sucker for stories about his mother). Like everything else they do, it was pitch perfect. It wasn't focusing on Obama (as I feared it would), but upon the struggles of working families and how an Obama administration would address them. I didn't hear the word McCain once.

So I'm done doubting. I'm done saying Axelrod needs to do this or that. My measly pundit powers pale in comparison. I'm like a rope on the Goodyear Blimp.

How I wish more high-profile public commentators -- in the blogosphere, sure, but especially on cable news and talk radio -- would own this kind of self-criticism (or even develop this kind of self-awareness), regardless of their political affiliations. Instead, so many of them have seemed less motivated by an interest in actual facts than by a desire to have us view them as fact checkers (for instance). At times watching the news this election season was like watching a political version of To Catch a Predator, where the subtext was always the host's fascination with him or herself.

For that matter, at times watching the news this election season was (shudder) like watching a campaign reporter watching porn (and worse: being implicated in that watching):

It occurred to me, as I sat there watching, that jacking off in a hotel room was not unlike the larger experience of campaign reporting. You watch two performers. You kind of like it when one of them gets humiliated. You know they’re professionals, so you don’t feel much sympathy for them. You wish you could participate, but instead you watch with a hidden envy and feel vaguely ashamed for watching. You think you could probably do as good a job or better. You sometimes get a glimpse, intentionally or not, of society’s hidden desires and fears. You watch the porn week after week, the scenes almost always the same, none of them too memorable. The best ones get sent around the Internet.

The bottom line was that savvy voters had to learn how to distinguish between the news and the story that was being told about the news, because there was often a very wide gap between the two. Of course, this is not an argument that the media should stop scrutinizing politicians -- far from it. But scrutiny should be thoughtful and rigorous, driven by a desire for truth. Whatever else I saw on the air this election season, I didn't see a whole lot of anything I could recognize as truth. Not without digging through layers and layers of mediation first.

So, maybe this is sappy too, but what about media change we can believe in? No more hankering for conflict that needs to be resolved. (If the conflict is there, fine. But don't amp up something silly just because you need a story.) And while we're at it: no more theme songs. No more forced neologisms or ready-made catchphrases (tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse). No more branding or logos. No more discussing ratings on-air. No more photogenic, snarky hosts. No more simply repackaging shit that I can already see on YouTube. No more freaking holographs.


Okay, okay, maybe I'm just burned out. Maybe there is a place for all of that stuff. But not, I beg of you, at the expense of straight news. Sweet christ on a cracker, is Jim Lehrer the only one doing (more or less) straight news these days?

* * * * *

And what about this idea: maybe, with an Obama presidency, we can actually reboot America as a meritocracy?

Let's face it, most of the politicians who have come down the pike in my lifetime have been mediocre in that sad and stereotypically American way. With a few notable exceptions, there was an underlying ethical laziness, based at least in part on an underlying physical / material / psychic comfort (not to stray too far into psychohistory, but I have always found it interesting that some of our best presidents have lacked certain of these comforts -- e.g., FDR was paralyzed, Lincoln suffered from depression). Whatever good they did, the balance was usually tilted toward power in the end.

Watching from the safety of the sidelines through the 80s, 90s, and double aughts, I was of course fully versed in the political apathy of my generation. My running internal commentary was typically along the lines of the idea that shit, I could do better than that... but why on earth would I want to? It was a dead-end cynicism born out of more than just a recognition of deep corruption -- it came from a sense that the system existed primarily to perpetuate itself. Talent and intellect were nice but ultimately didn't matter because there was no real payoff -- material or otherwise -- for possessing those qualities.

With Obama, for the first time I feel like I'm witnessing a balanced politician, whose intellect, integrity and interest in "the public good" seems to match his huge ambitions and his (let's face it) highly political nature. Watching him work is strangely humbling, yet at the same time he's the first politician who has -- for me, anyway -- actually made the idea of participating in politics appealing. It isn't really about him, in other words -- it's about the new pathways and synapses that are opening up as a result of this election. That impulse to participate, which I would bet is pretty pronounced in most of the Americans who voted for Obama, gives the lie to the paranoid right-wing view of him as a smooth-talking demagogue (a paranoid view that, by the way, completely confuses servitude with service). And real change is only going to happen if that impulse is realized.

Perhaps the McCain campaign recognized these things too and tried to exploit them to populist effect by elevating everyman bumpkins like Palin and "Joe the Plumber" to national prominence. If so, they missed the point. Democracy, while best suited to a bottom-up model of grass-roots type organizing -- something Obama has stressed from the beginning -- shouldn't be about simply allowing the lowest common denominator to ride roughshod over the national agenda. The price for participation? Excellence.

Which, of course, reminds me of this Zappa quote from the late 80s:

You celebrate mediocrity, you get mediocrity. People who could have achieved more won't, because they know that all they have to do is be "that" and they too can sell millions and make millions and have people love them because they're merely mediocre. Few people who do anything excellent are ever heard of. You know why? Because excellence, pure excellence, terrifies the fuck out of Americans because they have been bred to appreciate the success of the mediocre. People don't like to be reminded that lurking somewhere there are people who can do some shit that you can't do. They can think a way you can't think, they can dance a way you can't dance. They are excellent. You aren't excellent. Most Americans aren't excellent, they're only OK. And so to keep them happy as a labor force, you say, "OK, let's take this mediocre chump," and we say, "He is terrific!" All the other mediocre chumps say, "Yeah, that's right and that gives me hope, because one day as mediocre and chumpish as I am I can..." It's smart labor relations. An MBA decision. That is the orientation of most entertainment, politics, and religion. So considering how firmly entrenched all that is right now, you think it's going to turn around? Not without a genetic mutation it's not!

Let's hope the national mutation is here at long last.

[This last pic: footsteps seen at the PDX Obama headquarters.]

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The vote's in the mail

This being the first national election I've participated in since moving to Portland two years ago, it' also just sinking in for me that Oregon is the only state in the union that requires a vote-by-mail system.

So I have no dramatic stories of waiting hours in line to cast my vote (good thing too, because it rained like a motherfucker yesterday). The whole process was about as humdrum and routine as you could imagine: you get a ballot delivered to you in the mail, you fill it in, and you mail it back (or drop it off, if you prefer). We were done with the whole thing last week.

Given Rachel Maddow's argument that the long lines at polling places amount to a new kind of poll tax, the rest of y'all might seriously consider following Oregon's lead on this.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Let the joyous news be spread

Paul Simon was right: "Sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears."

But this comes close:

Eight long years. It's still amazing to me that there are people who didn't anticipate Bush's glib willingness to beat this country to within an inch of its life. Look: he came very close to completely destroying this crazy, beautiful place, and all of the positive things it has stood for.

But as Ezra Klein wrote earlier today:

If you can say anything good of the financial crisis, it's that it has sealed Bush's historical fate. There will be no revisionism, no credible reconstruction of his legacy. He has been worse than a bad president: He has harnessed the power of America to do genuine evil under his watch. On Iraq, on global warming, on famine, on nuclear non-proliferation, and on much else, America has not been the last, best hope of mankind, but instead, a contributor to the very forces that threaten the health and welfare of countless human beings. I have no particular opinion on whether Bush meant well, or is a good man in private. Nor am I particularly interested in those questions. As a president, he has been monstrous, responsible for the needless deaths of, at least, tens of thousands. As one of those rare individuals who had the opportunity -- indeed, the power -- to do great good, he has been negligent in a fashion that's borderline sociopathic. He left a world largely united in its contempt for America and a country largely united in its revulsion for him. History will, and should, judge him harshly.

That's great for history, though perhaps a little frustrating for those of us who have been judging Bush harshly for a long time.

A prediction

There are going to be a whole lot of babies born nine months from tonight.

More later. But for the time being: fuck-to-the-hell-yeah.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

RIP Yma Sumac

Xtingu (aka the IJG's Jill Knapp) has a solid appreciation here.

As I get older, I find myself on a somewhat desperate search for more and more remarkable music. I like a lot of what's out there, but I count myself lucky if I discover, in any given year, a handful of artists whose music compels me to take advantage of my CD player's auto-repeat functionality. Sumac was one of that rarefied crowd (for me) in 2006. And I'm still in awe.

If you've never heard her, be warned that you will probably either love her (as I do) or think she's just awful. This is not the music of moderation.