Saturday, October 31, 2015

Neko Case Performs "Night Still Comes," "Calling Cards," & "Local Girl"


Happy Halloween! I've been waiting to post this set by a gal born in the same year as me.

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Girls Will Be Girls

The local paper interviews Katherine Howe, the "best-selling author and also an expert on the Salem witch trials, which took place in Massachusetts in the late 17th century" who "draws a closer-to-home parallel to the witch trials through the mass psychogenic illness among young women a few years ago that took place in Le Roy, New York" — Cornell lecturer offers insight on Salem witch trials.
    The people would ask me about the afflicted girls all the time. A few years ago there was a strange illness that happened in Le Roy, New York, which is about an hour away from us. A group of teenage girls got really strangely sick and they were having vocal tics and weird tremors and they went through all these different interpretations of what was wrong with them. Erin Brockovich came out to see if it was caused by pollution and everyone was hand-wringing that it was caused by Gardasil. … Then they kind of came out with what the answer was, and that was that it was conversion disorder, which is when your body is under so much stress, your body converts it into physical symptoms, and when it happens in a large group as it did in Le Roy, it is called mass psychogenic illness. So essentially there was a hysteria outbreak in upstate New York while I was freshly moved there.

    It got me thinking about, what is unique to this experience of being a teenage girl, what makes that such a specifically difficult condition of life? It got me thinking about parallels between that experience in the present and that experience in the past. So that gave rise to my novel, “Conversion.”

    [....]

    I look back to the girls in Le Roy, too. People were hoping it was a reaction to a vaccine because if it is, all you have to do is stop using the vaccine – and fixed! Presto! And it’s much scarier to think that for the girls in Le Roy what was wrong with them was their lives. Their lives were what was wrong with them. And that is a totally intractable and physical problem. And what was wrong with the people in Salem was their lives as well. I think that’s a bigger and more scary conclusion. It also means we can’t relegate it safely to the past because the other thing the ergotism hypothesis does, is it lets us in the present feel really smug and secure, to be like, "that will never happen to us. We have modern technology, we know how to clean things. We’re smarter than them." Oftentimes when we talk about Salem, there’s this present-ist bias in which we look to people in the past and think that they were so stupid for holding these beliefs, how could they have possibly thought that way. I have a real problem with that kind of interpretation because the people in the past were educated and thoughtful, decent human beings. They just had a limited set of tools that were historically circumscribed and you know what, so are we.

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The Genesee Brew House's Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter


Local beer guru Will Cleveland on the "beer that has the Rochester craft beer community buzzing" — Genesee's delectable Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter. Fellow "admitted Genny homer" Mr. Cleveland again reiterates that "Genny Light will always be my favorite beer," a shocking, counterintuitive belief which changed my life when I first heard him utter it about a year ago.

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Grant Hart Performs "California Zephyr," "So Far From Heaven," "You're the Reflection of the Moon," & "Barbara"

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Musical Universality

Ted Gioia explains the "growing evidence for musical universality" and asks "why are music scholars ignoring it" — Face the Music. The author notes, "[T]he more deeply I delved into song categories such as the work song and love song, the more I found inexplicable patterns of congruity and similarity, even at a granular level of detail, that required some kind of explanation — and an explanation beyond the standard diffusion or functional models of the social sciences."

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Franz Schubert's Deutsche Messe. Sung by the Moscow Oratorio, Directed by Alexander Tsaliuk


Today, we found ourselves at Saint Michael's Church for the annual “German Mass” (Novus Ordo Missae, obviously) at a parish that is now 90% Nuyorican. It is their classical musical ministry with students from the Eastman School of Music that draws us there.

There were two intentions at today's Mass, one for the German founders of the parish in the 1800's and the other for a boricua parishioner who just died. “This is Catholicism!” acclaimed the priest. Behind us was the elderly lesbian couple I see there every time I go, who sit apart from each other in the pew at a distance suggesting that lesbian bed death had set in some time in the 1970's.

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Rajesh Barnabas for Monroe County Executive!


Burned-Over District Observer hereby endorses the man whose candidacy was announced in our local rag here — Green Party candidate seeks county exec seat. "He has been involved as an activist with groups such as Rochester Against War, the Coalition for Police Reform and Rochester Indymedia." From a more recent article, Rajesh Barnabas challenges status quo, we learn:
    As a youngster growing up in Webster, Rajesh Barnabas grew accustomed to hearing the dinner-table stories about his grandfather John Barnabas' commitment to social justice.

    There were tales of how his grandfather stood side-by-side with Mahatma Gandhi during the struggles of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. And there were the stories of how as a United Nations diplomat, John Barnabas worked with Haile Selassie to help decolonize and build a new Ethiopian government after the Italian occupation ended in 1941.
SJW, though he may be, and however much I disagree with some of his positions, how often does one get the chance in a local election to both support a third party and vote for someone with two degrees of separation from both the Mahātmā and Jah Rastafari to boot?

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Domenico Zipoli's Missa a San Ignacio Preformed by Ensemble Elyma, Directed by Gabriel Garrido


"Written for the Jesuit missions in early 18th-century South America, this work includes concerted mass movements, organ solos, choral motets and chant," explains the blurb for this evening's performance here in town, for which I was unable to secure free tickets on time — Organ Concert: Zipoli's Missa a San Ignacio SOLD OUT!

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Perform "Holy Roller," "Kindness Be Conceived," "City," & "We The Common"

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An Open Letter to Morally-Panicked post-America

    A man was in a Massachusetts park, holding a camera and taking a stroll. A woman got the vapors from this horrible sight, and called the cops to tell them there was a pedophile stalking children. SIX cops surrounded the man and questioned him for twenty minutes, before letting him go.
Above, Roissy sets the stage for the "open letter to the fevered bitch who wanted to criminalize his existence" — Wages Of A Socially Atomized, Paranoid, Man-Hating, Feminist Utopia. The letter has "gone viral" as they say, and deserves wide attention, so here it is:
    Dear Neighbor,

    Yesterday was a beautiful day, I think you will agree. I decided to take a short walk from my house on Hamilton Street to Dana Park, which I have been coming to almost daily since 1989, the year my son was born. As I often do, I brought my camera, sat on a bench for about 10 minutes, did one lap around the park and headed home.

    I had barely gotten across the street when three police cars pulled up: I was told to stop, and swiftly surrounded by six policemen. I was “detained” there for approximately 20 minutes and questioned; another officer returned to the park to find out why you had called them.

    My suspected crime, apparently, was having a camera in a public park, and allegedly taking pictures of children. As it turned out, I had taken no pictures that day. But I have been photographing in this neighborhood for 30 years, and have published a children’s book of poems and photographs, always with permission.

    The policeman returned and wanted to see my “flip phone,” and then asked me if I knew how he knew I had a flip phone: I didn’t. He knew, he told me, because the woman who called the police had taken a picture of ME, sitting on the bench, and shown him the picture. They then took away my phone, scrolled through the few pictures that were on it.

    They continued to hover around me asking questions. As it happened, I was standing near the house where my son now lives, and when my wife appeared, walking down the street after work, and saw me standing in front of his house with six policemen, she instantly feared something terrible had happened to our son. She was shaking, and I explained the situation. She is an English teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School; I am a college professor of English. Our son spent much of the first 15 years of his life in Dana Park.

    You must be new in the neighborhood. I am often in the park, on foot or on a bike, talking to friends who have children who play in the playground. I know you were standing very near to me for the entire time I was on the bench, though I could not figure out why. Now I know: you were taking my picture.

    Suggestion: the next time you suspect someone is up to no good, perhaps you should say hello, speak to them first and, if still anxious, ask what they are taking pictures of. That’s what people do in a neighborhood park: talk to each other. This would save someone the humiliation and degradation of being stopped and held by the police, and might save the police from wasting their time when they could be doing something more useful, like managing the daily mayhem in Central Square.

    The fact that you now have my picture in your phone is both sadly ironic and, well, creepy. Could you please delete it?

    Your neighbor,

    — David Updike, Hamilton Street

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歸來


Last night I took the missus on a date to the Pittsford Cinema 9 to see the great Zhang Yimou's latest, Coming Home (2014), a profoundly moving love story with an anti-state, pro-family theme.

Chen Daoming plays a husband, who after 20 years in a Maoist gulag for "rightist" activities, returns to a wife, played by Gong Li, so traumatized by events of the Cultural Revolution, to an extent we only learn late in the film, that she cannot recognize that it is her husband who has returned. She instead devotedly waits for him as he devotedly attends to her failing mind unrecognized. The lovely Zhang Huiwen has a crucial role as the couple's daughter in several key moments in the film, including an incredibly beautiful scene of forgiveness.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson's Setting of Kolbeinn Tumasson's Heyr Himna Smiður Sung by Shaw Street Collective


Another belated Leif Erikson Day greeting. Árstíðir, featured below, had a viral hit with this XIIIth Century Icelandic hymn performed in a German train station — Árstíðir - Heyr himna smiður (Icelandic hymn) in train station. A more polished recording — Heyr himna smiður - Árstíðir-Konzert in Hagen 2014. Here's another choral rendition — Háskólakórinn - Heyr Himna Smiður.
    Heyr, himna smiður,
    hvers skáldið biður.
    Komi mjúk til mín
    miskunnin þín.
    Því heit eg á þig,
    þú hefur skaptan mig.
    Eg er þrællinn þinn,
    þú ert drottinn minn.

    Guð, heit eg á þig,
    að þú græðir mig.
    Minnst þú, mildingur, mín,
    mest þurfum þín.
    Ryð þú, röðla gramur,
    ríklyndur og framur,
    hölds hverri sorg
    úr hjartaborg.

    Gæt þú, mildingur, mín,
    mest þurfum þín,
    helzt hverja stund
    á hölda grund.
    Send þú, meyjar mögur,
    málsefnin fögur,
    öll er hjálp af þér,
    í hjarta mér.
    Hear, smith of heavens.
    The poet seeketh.
    In thy still small voice
    Mayest thou show grace.
    As I call on thee,
    Thou my creator.
    I am thy servant,
    Thou art my true Lord.

    God, I call on thee;
    For thee to heal me.
    Bid me, prince of peace,
    Thou my supreme need.
    Ever I need thee,
    Generous and great,
    O’er all human woe,
    City of thy heart.

    Guard me, my savior.
    Ever I need thee,
    Through ev’ry moment
    In this world so wide.
    Virgin–born, send me
    Noble motives now.
    Aid cometh from thee,
    To my deepest heart.

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Árstíðir Performs "Someone Who Cares," "Nú Gleymist Ég," "Moonlight," "Things You Said," "You Again" & " Shades"


Happy belated Leif Erikson Day! I recently learned I was the descendant of Vikings through my maternal grandfather. "In the mountains of Scotland's west coast and on the Hebrides islands, the ancestors of the McCaskey family were born," I learned. "Their name comes from an ancient Norse warrior name Askell, which means cauldron of the Gods and denoted son of Asgaill." Here's to you, Áskell!

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Libertarian Anti-Statists vs. the Islamic State

"I have often said that if someone wants the United States to fight against some country or people he should go fight himself and not expect me to send my sons or pay for the military action," rightly says the LRC Blog's Laurence M. Vance, in a post titled "ISIS Fighters" reporting "that some Americans have done just that" and linking to this informative article — Meet the American Vigilantes Who Are Fighting ISIS. God bless them.

What forces had they joined up with, I wondered. It turns out the People's Protection Units (YPG), the "main armed service of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, the government of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava)," which "also recruit[s] Arabs, Turks... and [has] Assyrian/Syriac Christian units integrated into its command structure," has an International Freedom Battalion to boot. The Lions of Rojava is their homepage.

It gets even better if your views on political-economy are anywhere near my own. These Lions of Rojava are being recruited for the purpose of "establishing a society based on principles of direct democracy, gender equity, and sustainability." And they are claiming successes — Despite the war, Rojava’s libertarian economy growing.

"Rojava’s economy follows the libertarian philosophy of Democratic Confederalism, which is the guiding system of Rojava," the article notes, explaining, "The democratic confederalism of Kurdistan is not a State system, it is the democratic system of a people without a State… It takes its power from the people and adopts to reach self-sufficiency in every field including the economy." More:
    In practice this means a series of unions, groups and civil organizing according to the democratic economy model. This is the third way that Rojava is pursuing away from the confines of left and right. Rather than a state with welfare that disempowers the poor and an economy dominated by large corporations, Rojava is creating systems of cooperatives that provide for their members and allow people to guide their own work.

    Now in Efrin canton this model is proving itself. Under the old Baath regime there was absolutely no development in any area of Rojava. A new 84 thousand square meter industrial park close to Eshafiye neighbourhood has 800 workplaces providing for 5000 families.

    Because of the war the population of Efrin has swelled from around 200, 000 to 1 million people. Workplaces like the industrial park are helping to generate employment for thousands of people. These workplaces are not disconnected from their local areas, and are answerable to the local neighbourhood committees and assemblies that govern.

    These new spaces have also become an area for the organisation of social life, and now the administration is searching for another location to create 150 new such work spaces.
The parallels with the Spanish Civil War are striking. (But don't go comparing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to Francisco Franco; a better comparison would be to Pol Pot, who would end up coming out looking good.) Regarding that 1930's ideological struggle, I had gone into Hugh Thomas's tome of the subject expecting to side with the Generalissimo, but instead found myself siding with the Basques, who, like the Kurds, opted for a third way.

Perhaps there is much to learn from these stateless peoples. I'm reminded of a post of mine on a book about that "anarchistic region in Asia," which "encompasses parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma, as well as four provinces of China," "the largest remaining region of the world whose peoples have not yet been fully incorporated into nation-states" — The Art of Not Being Governed.

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"Cultural Relativism is Not Moral Relativism"

Hats off to the "hard left" CounterPunch.org for exposing the vile "Man-Boy Love Thursday" practices of US-taxpayer-funded allies — The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan.

The neocon right of course turns a blind eye, as Our Heroes™ on the ground had been told to do. One wonders what Senatorette Miss Lindsey Graham would have to say. Those who have been paying attention know that the Northern Alliance's penchant for buggering boys was a major reason the good people of Afghanistan have been supporting the Taliban.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Watkins Family Hour Perform "Steal Your Heart Away," "In The Pines," & "Hop High"


The NPR Music blurbist writes:
    The Watkins Family Hour began a dozen or so years ago as a way for a group of friends to get together and play old and new tunes. For Sean and Sara Watkins, it served as a monthly bit of magic: a musical variety show filled with extraordinary talent in the world of folk, bluegrass and beyond at L.A.'s famous Largo.

    Now, the Watkins siblings — known for their work in Nickel Creek, among many other projects — have taken their fiddle, guitar and charm on a country-flavored yellow brick road, gathering friends and surprises along the way. For this tour and their Tiny Desk Concert, their biggest surprise is the addition of Fiona Apple as a guest vocalist who actually yowls along to songs like the traditional tune "In The Pines."

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The Alash Ensemble Perform "My Throat Solo"


The Alash Ensemble is being featured live on Rootabaga Boogie, Sundays at 10 a.m. from Ithaca, New York, simulcasted here on WRUR as I blog. They performed down the road a ways in my favorite town, something else I missed for being offline.

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"Sustainable Localism: Sages, Prophets, and Jesters"

The American Conservative reported on the conference I would have been at yesterday if I had been paying more attention online lately — Front Porch Republic Takes (Upstate) New York. Here's what I missed just down the road in Geneseo, New York:
    TAC‘s own Jeremy Beer will be speaking on Booth Tarkington, while panels are held on sustainable localism, Christopher Lasch, and more. New Urbanism icon James Howard Kunstler will deliver the keynote address. Expect Bill Kauffman to have plenty of appreciation for his backyard to pass around.

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Cowpocalypse


Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014), "the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he daringly seeks to find the real solution to the most pressing environmental issues and true path to sustainability," was my Netflix.com pick t'other night.

The documentary, made by a somewhat self-absorbed Millennial, clearly exposes animal agriculture as the gravest threat to the environment, far greater than fossil fuels and fracking, and more devastatingly exposes Greenpeaces and Sierra Clubs of this world for ignoring this issue, suggesting they were on the payroll of the animal agricultural industrial complex. Most importantly, the film definitively demolishes the arguments of the misanthropic anti-population crusaders, explaining how the world could be easily fed on a plant-based diet, which is why this blogger chooses to abstain from meat.

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First They Came for the Gay Prostitutes

I did not speak out; I was not a gay prostitute (nor even gay) — Raid of Rentboy.com by Homeland Security stirs anger. Apologies to Martin Niemöller, but this should stir the anger of anyone concerned with our civil liberties.

The article mentions the "anger and fear in the gay community," and while it is interesting to note that a raid on a brothel would not stir similar anger and fear in the heterosexual community, that misses the point. Say what you will about the United States Department of Homeland Security, and I say it should be abolished or better yet never have been created, is it not clear that this is an egregious example of mission creep?

Especially ironic is the fact that DHS was part of the greater GWOT, which had our taxpayer dollars funneled to foreign forces like the Northern Alliance, whose penchant of buggering boys was a major reason the common people supported the Taliban.

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The Unbearable Heteronormativity of Biology


"Romance is just the vacuous finery of biological processes," reads the blurb introducing the above Cracked.com video — 6 Ways Your Body Tells You Who to Love. This is hardly anything new for anyone with basic scientific knowledge, but interesting nonetheless in the times we find ourselves in.

Five of the six process described relate directly to reproduction; "Reproductive science is controlling us like puppets." Lipstick lesbians might be partly explained by one of the processes, but do they even exist in the real world? The question I have is that if Biology is as heteronormative as some religions (all of them actually), will it too come under attack?

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