Friday, December 19, 2014

The Decemberists Perform "Down By The Water," "Rox In The Box," & "June Hymn"

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無爲

The Western Confucian, this blogger's previous incarnation, would have been all over this "paradox [that] is essential to civilization," this "theory of spontaneity based on millenniums of Asian philosophy and decades of research by psychologists and neuroscientists" — A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying.

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Robin Whiteman


"I like to champion the feminine, the soft, the organic, the small, the intimate; [t]hat isn't considered to be powerful, but that is where all of the power comes from," says the local ceramic artist, profiled by Rebecca Rafferty — Anti-gravity and grace. Exceprts:
    While so much of our culture is characterized by violence, our days are action-oriented, and our collective headspace is inundated with noise, the work of sculptor Robin Whiteman focuses on the sacred serenity of being a body.... Whiteman was raised in a very religious family, and she says her earliest conscious inspiration came from the Catholic Church and religious art, though today she draws influences from a variety of sacred sources, including nature.

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Joyeux Noël (2005)


On the Cth anniversary of the events it tells, I was finally able to watch, through the magic of Feeln.com, the great anti-war film Joyeux Noël (2005), synopsized below by LewRockwell.com's Butler ShafferGreat Christmas Movies?
    Based upon actual happenings during World War I, when the war-time slaughter was put on hold on Christmas eve, and soldiers from German, French, and British trenches came out to peacefully socialize with one another, exchange meager gifts, perform Christmas music, and even play a game of soccer, this movie makes the kind of clear contrast that even the gang at CNN and Faux News might grasp. After this brief respite from the murderous purposes of the state, military officials were quick to reassign the soldiers who participated in it to other battlefields, lest the virus of “peace” spread to other warriors. It’s a film that would terrify the hell out of the Dick Cheneys and all the other reptilian-brained denizens of the war-racket!

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The National Perform "This Is The Last Time," "I Need My Girl," "Pink Rabbits," & "Sea Of Love"

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"Thereness"

    There is no evading the fact that we human beings have a profound need for ‘thereness,’ for visible and tangible things that persist and endure, and thereby serve to anchor our memories in something more substantial than our thoughts and emotions.
Thus spake co-editor Wilfred M. McClay, whose new book is reviewed by Jonathan Coppage here — The Localist Manifesto. "That essential 'thereness' drained out of American life over the 20th century, which makes a recovery of place an urgent project for the 21st century," the reviewer writes, "The lesson to be gleaned from this book is: centralization is bad, but centeredness is good."

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"True Temperance"


Kristen D. Burton posts the above "cartoon from Puck magazine [that] presented a different image of temperance, one that struck a balance 'Between Two Evils'" — Blurred Forms: An Unsteady History of Drunkenness. An excerpt:
    To the right, an Intemperate Teetotaler appears, snobbishly refusing to even gaze upon a repulsive glass of alcohol. To the left, an Intemperate Drunkard, who, in many ways, reflects the same physical deterioration as described by temperance writers like Arthur. In the middle, though, sits a man who represents True Temperance. He holds a mug of beer, but no bodily decay marks the Temperate Man’s features; he is well dressed and of amiable countenance. While anti-liquor advocates long promoted the physical decline incurred by drinking, this figure represents quite the opposite. T. S. Arthur scoffed at the idea that alcohol could provide any source of nutrition. Benjamin Rush claimed that drinking at all would create an insatiable appetite for stronger drinks, leading, inevitably, to incurable drunkenness and death. Samuel Clarke warned that alcohol would open the drinker to possible corruption from the Devil.

    Sitting between these two extremes, the Temperate Man grasps his mug of beer and, with a small smile, resolutely states, “I want nothing to do with either of you!”

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Dr. Pangloss Redeemed


Marc E. Bobro on "one of the most impressive figures in the history of modern science, mathematics, and philosophy," who is sadly "chiefly remembered today, when he is remembered at all, for [having] invented the calculus" and "author[ing] the provocative statement that this world is 'the best of all possible worlds,' [a] claim... famously lampooned in Voltaire’s 1759 satire Candide" — The Optimistic Science of Leibniz.

This was a man "who, while never rejecting Lutheranism, preferred a much more ecumenical approach to religion, even trying to unify Calvinist and Lutheran denominations as well as Catholics, Protestants, and Greek Orthodox," and was even "offered the position of custodian of the Vatican library." The Western Confucian, this blogger's former incarnation, would have certainly taken note of this:
    He wanted to merge the academies of France, Italy, and England with the newly formed German academy in order to promote “the universal harmonious relationship of the learned” by supporting education and the sciences, including medicine and the experimental sciences such as physics and astronomy. Leibniz even wanted to include China in this scheme. He had a long-lasting interest in China, although not much was known about it in Leibniz’s Europe. But he befriended or read the writings of a number of Catholic missionaries, whose knowledge of China was the best available. In 1716, the last year of his life, Leibniz wrote a lengthy letter to a French correspondent on the subject of Chinese natural theology and on the relation between the binary number system (which he invented) and its use in deciphering one of China’s oldest sacred books, the I Ching.

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Was Chomsky Wrong?

"For decades, the idea of a language instinct has dominated linguistics," writes Vyvyan Evans. "It is simple, powerful and completely wrong" — There is no language instinct. An excerpt:
    In the 1960s, the US linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky offered what looked like a solution. He argued that children don’t in fact learn their mother tongue – or at least, not right down to the grammatical building blocks (the whole process was far too quick and painless for that). He concluded that they must be born with a rudimentary body of grammatical knowledge – a ‘Universal Grammar' – written into the human DNA. With this hard-wired predisposition for language, it should be a relatively trivial matter to pick up the superficial differences between, say, English and French. The process works because infants have an instinct for language: a grammatical toolkit that works on all languages the world over.

    At a stroke, this device removes the pain of learning one’s mother tongue, and explains how a child can pick up a native language in such a short time. It’s brilliant. Chomsky’s idea dominated the science of language for four decades. And yet it turns out to be a myth. A welter of new evidence has emerged over the past few years, demonstrating that Chomsky is plain wrong.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Flag Perform "No More," "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie," "Jealous Again," "Wasted," "Clocked In," "American Waste," "Padded Cell," & "Louie Louie"


Something refreshingly hardcore in honor of this blogger's walk down memory lane with American Hardcore (2006) last night courtesy of Crackle and the Black Flag t-shirt bought at Record Archive on Record Store Day with some used Wilco CDs, a performance by "one of [last] year's two Black Flag reunions."

Wow! With the above stellar performance, I think I can finally say I definitively prefer the nasal whininess of Keith Morris' vocals over the macho posturing of Henry Rollins'. It was, after the all, the former I heard in the early '80s screaming from my kid sister's bedroom, a wake-up call that something new and exciting was happening. Greg Ginn's guitar is missed, though.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kris Kristofferson Performs "The Ballad of Ira Hayes"


A cover revisited on Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited.
    Call him drunken Ira Hayes
    He won't answer anymore
    Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
    Nor the Marine that went to war

    Gather round me people there's a story I would tell
    About a brave young Indian you should remember well
    From the land of the Pima Indian, a proud and noble band
    Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land

    Down the ditches for a thousand years
    The water grew Ira's peoples' crops
    'Till the white man stole the water rights
    And the sparklin' water stopped

    Now Ira's folks were hungry
    And their land grew crops of weeds
    When war came, Ira volunteered
    And forgot the white man's greed

    Call him drunken Ira Hayes...
    There they battled up Iwo Jima's hill,
    Two hundred and fifty men
    But only twenty-seven lived to walk back down again

    And when the fight was over
    And when Old Glory raised
    Among the men who held it high
    Was the Indian, Ira Hayes

    Call him drunken Ira Hayes...

    Ira returned a hero
    Celebrated through the land
    He was wined and speeched and honored;
    Everybody shook his hand

    But he was just a Pima Indian
    No water, no crops, no chance
    At home nobody cared what Ira'd done
    And when did the Indians dance

    Call him drunken Ira Hayes...

    Then Ira started drinkin' hard;
    Jail was often his home
    They'd let him raise the flag and lower it
    like you'd throw a dog a bone!

    He died drunk one mornin'
    Alone in the land he fought to save
    Two inches of water in a lonely ditch
    Was a grave for Ira Hayes

    Call him drunken Ira Hayes...

    Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes
    But his land is just as dry
    And his ghost is lyin' thirsty
    In the ditch where Ira died

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Johnny Cash Performs "As Long As The Grass Shall Grow" With Pete Seeger and June Carter Cash


Just bought Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited, which marks the Lth anniversary of the monumental but ignored album of Indian protest songs, and which begins with this exquisite cover — Gillian Welch - As Long as the Grass Shall Grow (Look Again To The Wind).
    As long as the moon shall rise, as long as the rivers flow
    As long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow

    The Senecas are an Indian tribe of the Iroquios nation
    Down on the New York Pennsylvania Line you'll find their reservation
    After the US Revolution Cornplanter was a chief
    He told the tribe these men they could trust that was his true belief

    He went down to Independence Hall and there was a treaty signed
    That promised peace with the USA and Indian rights combined
    George Washington gave his signature the Government gave its hand
    They said that now and forever more that this was Indian land

    As long as the moon shall rise...

    On the Seneca reservation there is much sadness now
    Washington's treaty has been broken and there is no hope no how
    Across the Allegheny River they're throwing up a dam
    It will flood the Indian country a proud day for Uncle Sam

    It has broke the ancient treaty with a politician's grin
    It will drown the Indians graveyards Cornplanter can you swim
    The earth is mother to the the Senecas they're trampling sacred ground
    Change the mint green earth to black mud flats as honor hobbles down

    As long as the moon shall rise...

    The Iroquios Indians used to rule from Canada way south
    But no one fears the Indians now and smiles the liar's mouth
    The Senecas hired an expert to figure another site
    But the great good army engineers said that he had no right

    Although he showed them another plan and showed them another way
    They laughed in his face and said no deal Kinuza dam is here to stay
    Congress turned the Indians down brushed off the Indians plea
    So the Senecas have renamed the dam they call it Lake Perfidy

    As long as the moon shall rise...

    Washington Adams and Kennedy now hear their pledges ring
    The treaties are safe we'll keep our word but what is that gurgling
    It's the back water from Perfidy Lake it's rising all the time
    Over the homes and over the fields and over the promises fine

    No boats will sail on Lake Perfidy in winter it will fill
    In summer it will be a swamp and all the fish will kill
    But the Government of the USA has corrected George's vow
    The father of our country must be wrong what's an Indian anyhow

    As long as the moon shall rise (look up), as long as the rivers flow (are you thirsty)
    As long as the sun will shine (my brother are you warm), as long as the grass shall grow

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Two Americans at Appomattox


"I am glad to see one real American here," said Robert E. Lee extending his hand to Ely S. Parker, who responded, "We are all Americans."

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Suburb vs. Neighborhood

    One thing about Oak Lawn Estates: if a child-or anyone-had screamed long and high and hard like that on George Street, Mrs. Fountain, Mrs. Godfrey, Ida Rhew, and half a dozen housekeepers would have flown outside in a heartbeat ("Children! Leave that snake alone! Scat!"). And they would mean business, and not stand for any back talk, and stand watch at their kitchen windows after they went back inside just to make sure. But things were different at Oak Lawn Estates. The houses had a frightening sealed-off quality, like bunkers or mausoleums. People didn't know each other. Out here at Oak Lawn you could scream your head off, some convict could be strangling you with a piece of barbed wire, and nobody would come outside to see what was going on. In the intense, heat-vibrant silence, manic laughter from a TV game show wafted eerily from the nearest house: a shuttered hacienda, hunched defensively in a raw plot just beyond the pine skeletons. Dark windows. A gleaming new Buick was parked in the sand-strewn car-port.
From The Little Friend by Donna Tartt, whose The Secret History and The Goldfinch are largely responsible for this blogger's quietude for the past couple of months.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Nicolas Gombert's Missa Media Vita in Morte Sumus Sung by The Hilliard Ensemble

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Lord, Have Mercy



As 9-year-old Mercy Kennedy sobbed along with neighbors mourning news
of her mother's death, not a person would touch the little girl to comfort her...

A Pulitzer Prize-worthy piece of photojournalism. Let us pray for this daughter and all the people of our daughter republic Liberia and her neighbors.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Della Mae Perform "Pine Tree," "Hounds" & "Carter Country"

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MLB, MiLB, LLWS

Yesterday, with my dad and my son I drove the thee hours to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series. O, the purity!

We started the season driving an even longer distance to see the Toronto Blue Jays forgettably host the New York Yankees. In between, we saw many a good Rochester Red Wings game. We finished the season watching Seoul defeat Tokyo and are looking forward today to watching the former play Chicago in fifteen minutes.

The LLWS is like going to the school dance with the girl next door. MiLB is like spending some quality time with the missus after a hard day for the both of you. MLB is like whacking off alone to hardcore porn on the Internet.

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True Patriotism

"It is in the interest of every American to understand why war is so dangerous to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," reminds Mike Marion — Anti-war Is Pro-American.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Walt Wilkins & The Mystiqueros Perform "Night Train Rolling By"


Walt Wilkins and The Mystiqueros play tomorrow night at the Abilene Bar and Lounge.

Guitalele in hand, last night yours truly hopped a freight train, just for practice, near the trestle pictured above.

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