Sunday, January 25, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
--Genesis 37:19-20 (N.R.S.V.)
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only Love can do that.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
George Gershwin, "Variations on 'I've Got Rhythm'," Boston Pops Orchestra, Arthur Fiedler conducting, Earl Wild, piano. A lively start to my walk. Hear it here.
oud while accompanying belly dancers. He later played a central role in creating the surf guitar style, to which he introduced Middle Eastern scales, which are a feature of "Miserlou," a folk tune believed to be of Anatolian Greek origin. "Miserlou" is probably now best known for its use in Pulp Fiction (1994) by Quentin Tarantino. Hear it here.
Dave Hickey. Unfortunately, like much of Marshall's work, this isn't available on line. You can read about her here, hear two of her songs here, and visit her website here.
live performance video, featuring Bob Weir on lead vocal.
Hear it here.
version here has the same hilarious preceding verse, and is followed by the lively reel, "The Nine Points of Roguery." Some years ago I got to meet the Boys' great Shetland fiddler, Aly Bain, because my date for their concert at Town Hall was his sister-in-law.
Get your rag on here.
Hear it here.
Listen up here.
Hear it here, with footage from Dick Clark's American Bandstand.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
God made Shakespeare, then broke the mold,Or, from the Bluegrass Inn, in Nashville:
God broke the mold, then made Jacqueline Susann,
MAILER will advise God what molds he's trying on,
LSD consumes 47 times its weight in excess reality.Image: Marcel Duchamp, "Fountain" 1917 (original lost). Readymade porcelain urinal. Height 60 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Monday, January 12, 2015
It was also a year of other losses. I lost my last physical connection to my old home city, Tampa, with the sale of the house that had been my and my parents' home. I missed the last performance of Black 47, which happened in November. I had a previous commitment that I had to honor, but I'll cherish the memory of seeing them live, I have their recordings, and I have this clip (thanks to dartheadmike) of "Living in America" from their farewell performance at B.B. King's:
Unfortunately, the sound quality isn't the best, but you can hear the song as it was recorded for the Fire of Freedom album, accompanied by still photos, here. The tune is based on the Irish rebel song "The Foggy Dew," which you can hear by Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftains here.
While I'll miss the opportunity to see Black 47 live again (perhaps made keener by the surprising knowledge that I'm more Irish than anything), I can't begrudge their decision to disband, still as friends, after 25 years. I've known Larry Kirwan, their lead singer, guitarist, and guiding genius, for 37 years, since he and Pierce Turner were, as Turner & Kirwan of Wexford, the house band at the Bells of Hell. Larry has other talents to pursue, and I'm sure he will appreciate relief from the rigors of touring.
The past year is also when I realized that I will probably never again practice law in the ways I had for over forty three years, in law firms or as in-house corporate counsel. I've kept my oar into the legal stream by working on document review projects. This may sound dull, and it does have its times of tedium, but it's given me the opportunity to see the guts of businesses of which I had little or no previous knowledge; among them banking, Big 4 accounting, construction, and hedge funds. It also allows me to leave work without worrying about having possibly overlooked something, or about an impending deadline. I'm then free to concentrate on my writing, both for this blog and for the Brooklyn Heights Blog.
It's my custom in my New Year's posts (this one is a bit late; the real world has been too much with me) to recognize friends whose help has been useful to my blogging. The statistics I get from Blogger, the Google entity that hosts this blog, show that my most popular post is still Grace Slick at seventy, for which I am grateful to Michael Simmons, who sent me the photo. Michael has given me material for several other posts (and some more I haven't written yet), including another that's made into my all time top ten in popularity, Bob Dylan, "Pretty Saro" (I must confess, that post's popularity is almost entirely because of Michael's having linked it to a post of his.)
Holding a strong second place in my post "hit parade" is Lady Day: Henry Ossawa Tanner's Annunciation, for which I owe a continuing debt to the Rector of Grace Church, the Rev. Stephen Muncie. This post has attracted clusters of hits from several institutions of higher learning, probably because Tanner has been mentioned in classes (art? religion? African American studies?) and students have done web searches for him.
In third place is another post about art, Pierre Bonnard, "Late Interiors", at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For this I owe another ongoing debt, to Mark Crawford, a friend and neighbor whose art I admire, and who incited my interest in Bonnard. I must also give Mark partial credit for my sixth most popular post, Sol LeWitt, "Structures," at City Hall Park, New York City, because, while I was photographing LeWitt's sculptures, I encountered Mark, and his comments were helpful in shaping my post. You can see Mark's recent works on his website.
Thanks to Francis Morrone for inspiring, through a reminiscence about the Drake Hotel, my post (though he's not responsible for my opinions expressed in it) about 432 Park Avenue, which, thanks to my linking it to a commment on a Gawker post, has gone, if not viral, at least bacterial, and rocketed to fourth most popular on my list.
Other posts that have received consistent attention have been my reviews of books. These include Tania Grossinger's Memoir of an Independent Woman, Dermot McEvoy's The 13th Apostle (I must also credit Dermot for maintaining an email list that keeps Lion's Head alumni/ae in touch), and Peter M. Wheelwright's As It Is On Earth. I also thank Peter and his wife, Eliza Hicks, for spurring my interest in the Grace Chorale of Brooklyn and for inviting me to a spectacular performance of Cavalleria Rusticana.
Thanks to John Loscalzo of Brooklyn Heights Blog and Brooklyn Bugle for sharing my works and providing me with another forum, and to my wife, Martha Foley, for her support and forbearance. Finally, thank you to all of my readers and friends, and best wishes for the coming year.
Monday, January 05, 2015
In some Spanish speaking countries it is an especially joyous occasion. The video clip above, courtesy of Conociendo a Puerto Rico, shows the celebration in the city of Mayaguez. There are three costumed "kings" in front of whom children pose for photos and, of course, lively music.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
With bad luck, we may be subjected to more Viñoly designs, like 125 Greenwich Street, all of which will end up being pieds a terre for billionaires, with perhaps a few lower floor, smaller apartments going to mere multi-millionaires.
Viñoly discusses his design philosophy in this video. He plays piano well.
The developers of 432 Park are CIM Group and Macklowe Properties. Harry Macklowe is a developer whose company was once fined two million dollars for reckless endangerment resulting from the rapid night-time demolition of two buildings. Macklowe compares 432 Park to the Mona Lisa.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The basic structure remains the same: at the end nearest the gallery entrance there's a model of Grand Central, with tracks under it and the Met Life building looming over it. Beyond that is the Empire State Building along with other midtown skyscrapers, then a stretch of lower-rise Manhattan (Chelsea and the Village?), a bit of suburbia with a gas station, and at the far end a mountain (Hudson Highlands or Catskills) with a tunnel. Details and rolling stock change from year to year, although there's always a New York Central passenger train and a New York City subway train, with platform.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The video clip above has Bing's Adeste Fideles as the audio track, accompanied by a slide show that starts with the famous "Earthrise" photos taken by one of the Apollo 8 astronauts and is followed by a series of artworks depicting the infancy and life of Jesus. Thanks to manfreadstraw for creating the clip.
Sunday, December 07, 2014
The label says "Belgian-Style Ale with Ginger, Orange Peel and Fennel Seed." As I've mentioned before, I'm leery of brews with additives. To riff on The Lovin' Spoonful, "All I want is malt, yeast, water, and hops just to set my soul on fire." Still, despite initial strong doubts, I liked Coney's summer brew, Tunnel of Love Watermelon Wheat. I found their autumn offering, Freaktoberfest, less pleasing. Pumpkin is not one of my favorite flavors, although the espresso beans added an interesting note.
So, here are my notes on "The Plunge", which I had with a spicy take out from Curry Heights:
Color: vivid amber (see photo).
Head: ample, but not over-the-top (ditto).
Aroma: fruit and spices, hint of licorice (thanks to the fennel).
Taste: a rich mix of fruit, spice, malt, and a muted hop finish, with a touch of licorice. As the meal progressed and the ale warmed in the glass, the fennel accent became more pronounced, and malt carried through to the finish.
The Plunge went well with the spicy curry, its own spiciness complementing rather than amplifying or fighting that of the food. All in all, a pleasant drink, and one I'll enjoy again. Would I compare it to a swim in frigid water? To me, it was more of a sitting in front of a fire on a winter's night kind of beverage. At 6.9 percent ABV, it will warm you up. Technical details are here.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Since then, in part because of a discussion on Facebook, I've come to realize that "to gift" is a back formation of a novel verb, first reported from 1995, to re-gift, or sometimes un-hyphenated "regift." This means "to give (a previously received gift) to someone else." Here I'll confess, "re-gift" has an ironic zing that "re-give" lacks. I can see how this led to the original giving of the gift becoming "gifting." Does this bother me? Yeah, sorta. Still, substituting "gift" for "give" to describe the giving of a gift doesn't seem that big a deal. The confusion of the past tense "gifted" with the adjective seems curable by context.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
The action begins when Santuzza (Sarah Hetzel; photo above by Arielle Doneson) finds her lover Turiddu (Alex Richardson) in a passionate embrace with Lola (Joan Peitscher). Santuzza first seeks solace with Turiddu's mother, Lucia (Kirsten Sollek), then confronts Turiddu and Lola, then lets Lola's husband, Alfio (Richard Lippold), know he's been cuckolded; he then vows revenge. After the Easter mass ends, Turiddu encourages the townspeople to celebrate while he and Lola share what seems to be the Dogpatch ham of wine bottles. The jollity ends when Turridu is confronted by Alfio, who challenges him to a duel, leading to the fatal conclusion.
Hetzel's rich mezzo voice gives full expression to Santuzza's despair, jealousy, and rage. Richardson's Turiddu, in blazer and open collared shirt, is a sexy good old boy; his ringing tenor runs the gamut from amorous to celebratory to furious. Peitscher, another mezzo, plays Lola as a shameless hussy in a bright flowered dress, dispensing seduction and scorn. Lippold's Alfio, in suit and tie, is a smug yuppie who enters bragging, in his confident baritone, about his good job and having scored a trophy wife on his first pass. Sollek's Lucia is understated, her alto registering emotion in muted but compelling tones. The orchestra, under the sure direction of Eli Spindel, was flawless, as was the choir, directed by Jason Asbury. Overall direction of this superb performance was by Sam Helfrich.
Re-posted from Brooklyn Heights Blog.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
The video is courtesy of The Boston Globe. On it, Tom credits the song's popularity to WBZ. I believe WBCN was their FM radio affiliate.
Another of my favorites Tom sang at the concert was "No Regrets," which he followed with the haunting instrumental "Rockport Sunday." He told how he wrote "No Regrets" and sang it for the first time while visiting Judy Collins, who served tea. When he finished the song, Judy's response was simply to pour another cup. Thus discouraged, Tom didn't release the song for several years. It became his first hit, and has been covered by, among others, the Walker Brothers and U2. Tom said he now realizes Ms. Collins' lack of response was because "she was overcome by emotion."
In the clip above, Tom sings and plays "No Regrets" and "Rockport Sunday" at Club Passim, a nonprofit venue for musical performances and center for the preservation and encouragement of folk music, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge is where Tom got his start as a folk singer in his days as a Harvard student and after, in venues like Passim's predecessor, Club 47.
Tom also did a song I hadn't yet heard, "Remember Song," from his latest album, What I Know. The lyrics made me think of an old joke: a minister says to an elderly parishioner, "Do you ever think of the Hereafter?" The parishioner says, "Sure. I often walk into a room and think, 'What am I here after?'" It happens to me way too many times these days. I also thought of going to a Kingston Trio concert some twenty or so years ago, where Bob Shane, his slate gray pony tail hanging to his waist, looked out at us and said, "God, you all look old."
I was pleasantly surprised by another song Tom did, which is also on What I Know (I hadn't heard the album yet, but it's now on my Christmas list). He covered one of my favorite R&B songs, "Drift Away," originally done by Dobie Gray. Does it cut Dobie's original? No. Still, it has a compelling, older guy perspective.
Tom ended his regular set with another of my old favorites, his song about growing up in New Hampshire, "Merrimack County." This is prefaced, as most of Tom's songs are, by a longish but very funny story.
Called back for an encore, Tom finished with a rousing medley of "Who Do You Love?" and "Hey, Bo Diddley." He did every song I had hoped to hear, and charmed my wife, who had been dubious. When I worried about getting there early to get good seats, she said, "It's not like we're going to a Beatles concert." Afterward, she said, "He's from my neck of the woods."
Thursday, November 06, 2014
My mother's maiden name was Lane. Her father showed me what purported to be a family crest. Above the shield, topped, as I recall, with a knight's helmet, was the name "O'Leign." So, it seemed, the Lanes were Irish. My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Miles, which I assumed to be English, but which I now know to be of Norman French origin, and to be known in both England and Ireland. Other ancestral names on my mother's side are Mott, which could be English or German, Woods, and Rush, both of which seemed quite English.****
What I expected my DNA to show was that I was perhaps sixty percent or so English, maybe twenty five percent Irish (with some Scandinavian mixed in, thanks to the Vikings), and the rest a mixture of Scottish, German, and maybe a few surprises from some generations back (French? Native American?).
What I got as the sources of my genome was: Ireland, 34%; Scandinavia, 27%; Europe West (basically France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries), 14%; Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), 14%; Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), 6%. The remaining five percent is divided among traces of Italy or Greece; Finland or Northeast Russia; Poland or Ukraine; and a less than one percent dab of North Africa, which I suspect came en suite with the Iberian Peninsula connection.
I was surprised that Ireland and Scandinavia together accounted for over sixty percent of my genome, and that Great Britain, which for Ancestry.com comprises England, Scotland, and Wales, contributes only six percent. I now know this was because of my mistaken belief about the origin of the name Scales (see footnote * below), which turns out to be Scandinavian, arriving in England by way of Ireland, where some Irish may have gotten mixed with it. It's also possible that my Miles ancestors on my mother's side were of Irish origin (see footnote **** below).
The Iberian connection just about floored me, as I know of no Spanish or Portuguese ancestors on either parental side. One suggestion from a co-worker is that some of my Irish forebears may have married survivors of the wrecks of Spanish Armada ships on the Irish coast. This often expressed theory about the origin of the dark haired and eyed "Black Irish" is, it is said, supported by very little evidence. My wife, whose late father could be described as "Black Irish," has no trace of Iberian in her DNA. Perhaps in her ongoing genealogical research, which includes my family as well as hers, she'll find where there's--to borrow a book title from John Lennon--A Spaniard in the Works.
* When we were in England, from 1951 to '54, my dad got an historical map of Hertfordshire, the county where we lived. Not too far a drive from our house (well, nothing in Herts is too far a drive), according to the map, there was a dotted outline labeled "Scales Castle." We got into our Austin A40 and went there, finding nothing but a pasture. I now know that the castle belonged to the holders of the de Scales barony, descendants of a Norman nobleman who arrived in England with William the Conqueror. I also know that I am almost certainly not descended from the noble de Scales family (the barony was terminated during the reign of Richard III, as the family were at the time on the losing side of the Wars of the Roses, although there have been attempts to revive it).
During my first year of law school (1967-68), while on a weekend afternoon stroll, I went into the Widener Library, found the reference section, and in it the Century Cyclopedia of English Names. In the book I found "Scales" followed by the notation "A-S", which I took to mean Anglo-Saxon. It then said the name meant "dweller in the hut," a "scale" being a crude lean-to hut or shelter. A more recent source repeats that story of the name's meaning, but gives its origin as not Anglo-Saxon, but Scandinavian. Many Vikings settled in North-West England during the tenth and eleventh centuries after being expelled from Ireland by Cearbhall and Brian Boru. It's believed that these Viking immigrants from Ireland are the forebears of most, if not all, of the people named Scales in England.
** I've seen two versions of how the French word napier became a Scottish surname. The one I don't believe, because it is the more romantic, is that the first to bear the name so distinguished himself in battle that the King said, "Tha hast nae peer [no equal]." The one I believe is that the family were linen keepers, perhaps for the royal family, and took the French word for such as their name. Napier can also be an English name, but my father believed that his grandmother was somehow related to John Napier (1550-1617), the Scottish philosopher and mathematician who discovered the principle of logarithms and invented the first crude slide rule (a device still used by my generation during our school years, but now supplanted by the electronic calculator), called "Napier's bones."
*** The term "Hillbilly" was given to Scotch-Irish settlers in Appalachia because of the popularity among them of the name William, a popularity stemming, no doubt, from the victory of William of Orange's army over the Catholic rebels at the Battle of the Boyne. King William is also the source of the term "Orangemen" for Northern Irish Protestants.
**** I've now learned that Woods can be either English or Scottish. Rush is commonly English, but is found in Ireland as a derivative of several Gaelic names, or may be an Anglicization of a German name. It's an oral tradition in my mother's family that we're descended, through my great grandmother Ellen Susan Woods Miles and her mother, Susan Rush Woods, from Benjamin Rush, physician of the Continental Army and signer of the Declaration of Independence. This was reported as fact in my great grandmother's obituary in the Tyrone Daily Herald. Unfortuntely, because of a lack of information available about Susan Rush, it's proved so far impossible to trace the lineage. What I've seen in various Rush family genealogies strongly suggests that Susan was not a descendant of Dr. Rush, though she may have been a collateral relative.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
quickly exceeded ridership expectations. Nevertheless, in 2006 the possibility was raised of the local transit agency, HART, not renewing its contract to operate the system. The reason given was that few local people, as opposed to tourists, used it. Extension of the system to downtown evidently has relieved this problem.
Gomaco Trolley Company of Ida Grove, Iowa. The Tampa fleet now includes a restored Birney that was used on the city's old system, as well as a replica of an open air "breezer" car.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Haven't done one of these since January. The idea is: I take a walk, usually around my neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights, as well as through Brooklyn Bridge Park and adjoining areas, but sometimes across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. On my walk, I have my iPod on, set in the "shuffle" mode so that it plays music randomly. At or near the start of each piece of music, I take a photo. The photos are therefore also random, though I do try to shoot whatever looks best or most interesting at the time. What follows is the log of a walk I took on September 16. After each photo I tell what was playing when I took it, giving a link to a site (usually a YouTube clip) where you can listen to it. Where necessary, I also give some explanation of what's in the photo.
Eliot Wagner has turned me on to. Hear it here.
Photo: This is a view down the "charming cloister like walkway" (Francis Morrone, An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn) that leads from Hicks Street to the entrance to the Grace Church Parish House (1931), which also houses the Grace Church School (pre-K and K; hence the carriages on the walkway). On the right of the photo is the south wall of Grace Church, completed in 1848 and designed by Richard Upjohn, one of the pre-eminent American church architects of the nineteenth century.
traditional song of obscure origins, but which was in the repertoire of Buddy Bolden perhaps a century ago or more. Live performance video here.
Photo: This is a portion of "The Fence", which extends most of the length of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and showcases the work of photographers who will be featured in Photoville, an annual event at the Park.
Every Picture Tells a Story, one of the best rock albums ever. Hear it here.
Photo: In the foreground, the harbor tanker Patrick Sky (not named for the folk singer) leaves Buttermilk Channel heading into the East River, while a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers debris collection vessel (probably Driftmaster) goes in the opposite direction.
Hear it here. I think of this as the metaphorical flip side of Dolly Cooper's 1953 gem "I Wanna Know", also from the Savoy archives.
Photo: The former U.S. Navy helicopter training carrier Baylander and the "Fredonia" type fishing schooner Lettie G. Howard, which belongs to the South Street Seaport Museum and is used for educational purposes in conjunction with the New York Harbor School, are moored beside Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5.
Hear it here.
Hear it here.
Photo: The sculpture is part of Dahn Vo's We the People, in which the sculptor has modeled, in full scale, fragments of the Statue of Liberty, and placed them in locations around the world, including Brooklyn Bridge Park.
OKeh Western Swing, which included "Knocky, Knocky", that he had been a member of the Light Crust Doughboys. There's no video of "Knocky, Knocky", but you can play it on Spotify here (if you aren't registered on Spotify yet, you can do it for free), and you can hear Professor Parker playing Scott Joplin rags here.
Live performance video here.
4 Way Street. There is no video of the Massey Hall performance, which I think unparalelled for its emotional immediacy, but I found this clip of another performance, with a montage of scenes from the Kent State killings.
clip here of an uncredited orchestra (commenter "Chuck Norris" suggests the conductor may be Karl Fischer) playing the piece, accompanied by a "graphical score" made by Stephen Malinowski, which I found fun to watch. It shows you what the various instruments are doing.
Will.I.Am)? Video here.
jump the English Channel with this version of a dance tune from Cornwall by Ireland's Chieftains, taken from their album Celtic Wedding. There's no video for this, but you can listen on Spotify here.
eclectic backgrouund, shows his talents on harmonica and as a singer on this piece. Hear it here.
Hear it here.
Photo: What we see from the back is the Henry Ward Beecher Monument (1891), by John Quincy Adams Ward. Beecher was the first minister of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, and is remembered principally for his fierce dedication to the cause of abolishing slavery. Flanking the pedestal of the monument are images of slave children, their arms stretched upward in their struggle for freedom.
Robert Johnson was a gifted singer and guitarist who is credited with having established the style that became known as Delta blues. There's a clip here where you can hear "Sweet Home Chicago," accompanied by vintage film of life in the City of Broad Shoulders.
Photo: Late summer bounty at the Borough Hall Greenmarket.
let you know, if you dare.
Photo: This is the south facade of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. It was designed by Minard LaFever, another pre-eminent nineteenth century American church architect, and completed in 1847. It has the first complete set of figural stained glass windows to have been made in North America.
Hear it here.
Photo: These are the facades of two adjoining mid-1880s apartment buildings on Montague Street, the Berkeley at left and its near twin, the Grosvenor at right. Both were designed in a typically Victorian style by the English born architects the Parfitt Brothers.