Thursday, September 20

The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far

"On an October afternoon before the 2016 election, a huge banner was unfurled from the Manhattan Bridge in New York City: Vladimir V. Putin against a Russian-flag background, and the unlikely word 'Peacemaker' below. It was a daredevil happy birthday to the Russian president, who was turning 64. In November, shortly after Donald J. Trump eked out a victory that Moscow had worked to assist, an even bigger banner appeared, this time on the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington: the face of President Barack Obama and 'Goodbye Murderer' in big red letters. Police never identified who had hung the banners, but there were clues. The earliest promoters of the images on Twitter were American-sounding accounts, including @LeroyLovesUSA, later exposed as Russian fakes operated from St. Petersburg to influence American voters. The Kremlin, it appeared, had reached onto United States soil in New York and Washington. The banners may well have been intended as visual victory laps for the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history. For many Americans, the Trump-Russia story as it has been voluminously reported over the past two years is a confusing tangle of unfamiliar names and cyberjargon, further obscured by the shout-fest of partisan politics. ..."
NY Times (Video)
NY Times: A Timeline Showing the Full Scale of Russia’s - Unprecedented Interference in the 2016 Election, and Its Aftermath
NY Times: Collecting the Details of the Russia Investigation in One Place

Houston Chronicle: Russian online trolls organized a protest of an Islamic center in Houston in 2016. ("A Houston protest, organized by Russian trolls" - Feb. 20, 2018)

Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Resina, Shida Shahabi - The Sea At The End Of Her String (2018)

"‘The Sea at The End of Her String’ is a seven-track EP that highlights three adventurous, hugely talented female artists from the current roster of FatCat’s pioneering 130701 imprint. Featuring seven exclusive new tracks, the EP is available both digitally and in a limited edition, one-time-only vinyl pressing of 300 copies to be sold alongside a short, triple-bill UK tour. Both tour and EP feature the same three artists – French pianist / composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Polish cellist Resina and Swedish-Iranian pianist Shida Shahabi. The EP’s title is taken from a line in Sylvia Plath’s poem, ‘Three Women’ and, whilst taken somewhat out of context, is used here to indicate both the instrumental rooting of the three artists’ music (bound to the resonating strings of the piano or cello) and to offer some suggestion of the fluidity and vastness it either draws from or expresses. ..."
fat cat records
Soundcloud: Emilie Levienaise - Farrouch - Layers Of Sentiments (Audio)
YouTube: Époques; Morphee; A Trace Of Salt

Wednesday, September 19


Wikipedia - "Neo-noir is a modern or contemporary motion picture rendition of film noir. The term film noir (popularised by two French critics, namely, Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton, in 1955) was applied to crime movies of the 1940s and 1950s, most produced in the United States. It meant dark movie, indicating a sense of something sinister and shadowy, but also expressing a style of cinematography. The film noir genre includes stylish Hollywood crime dramas, often with a twisted dark wit. Neo-noir has a similar style but with updated themes, content, style, visual elements or media. Neo-noir, as the term suggests, is contemporary noir. The film directors knowingly refer to 'classic noir' in the use of tilted camera angles, interplay of light and shadows, unbalanced framing; blurring of the lines between good and bad and right and wrong, and a motif of revenge, paranoia, and alienation, among other sensibilities. ..."
W - List of neo-noir titles
10 Great European Neo-Noir Films
Independent: The ten greatest neo-noir films
10 Neo-Noir Films That Should Be Essential Viewing

Meet the Cultural Illuminati Guarding France’s Most Sacrosanct Asset: The French Language

The Institut de France, home to the Académie Française, situated in Paris’s Sixth Arrondissement. Opposite, the Académie’s meeting room.
"When you’re known as 'the immortals,' as are the 40 members of the Académie Française, it’s hard to take yourselves lightly. Over the course of five centuries, 732 of them have walked the earth and reigned as the guardians of France’s most sacrosanct asset: its language. A linguistic secret service, if you like, they project an almost priestly aura when they don their habits verts—long black cloaks embroidered with leafy-green botanical motifs—accessorized with elaborate ceremonial swords. Drawn from the arts and academia as well as the clergy and government, the Académie is considered to include the nation’s finest minds, and is revered accordingly. It is, after all, the most exclusive club in France. ... Inside their temple-like palace on the left bank of the Seine, opposite the Louvre, in the majestic coupole-topped chamber where they convene, a good portion of the numbered fauteuils have sat vacant for long stretches (six were unoccupied in 2017) while the Académie goes through its laborious election process. In May, it chose its fifth living female immortal, and the ninth ever. ..."
Vanity Fair
W - Académie française

Philologist and newly elected Académie member Barbara Cassin at her Paris apartment.

Tuesday, September 18

Radiant and Radical: 20 Years of Defining the Soul of Black Art

Elizabeth Catlett’s 1968 mahogany sculpture “Black Unity” and Faith Ringgold’s 1967 painting “American People Series #18: The Flag Is Bleeding” in the new Brooklyn Museum exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.”
"It will be a happy day when racial harmony rules in this land. But that day’s not coming any time soon. Who could have guessed in the 1960s, when civil rights became law, that a new century would bring white supremacy tiki torching out of the closet and turn the idea that black lives matter, so beyond obvious, into a desperate battle cry? Actually, African-Americans could have seen such things coming. No citizens know the national narrative, and its implacable racism, better than they do. And no artists have responded to that history-that-won’t-go-away more powerfully than black artists. More than 60 of them appear in the passionate show called 'Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power' now at the Brooklyn Museum, in a display filling two floors of special exhibition space with work that functioned, in its time, as seismic detector, political persuader and defensive weapon. ..."
NY Times
Brooklyn Museum - Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power
Tate - Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (Video)

Benny Andrews, Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree? 1969

Monday, September 17

My Journey with Jazz

The saxophonist Alan Braufman and the pianist Cooper-Moore reunited recently to play at National Sawdust, in Brooklyn.
"The first jazz album I bought was John Coltrane’s 'Interstellar Space.' At the time (I was a teen-ager), I knew almost nothing about jazz, beyond typically clichéd impressions that it was contemplative, grownup music, and people always seemed to be romantically snapping their fingers, ecstatically bopping their heads. ... In the seventies, young musicians enthralled by the new, collaborative possibilities of 'free jazz' and avant-garde experimentation began moving to New York, where rents were cheap, loft spaces abundant, and zoning codes rarely enforced. In 1973, the pianist Gene Ashton (now known as Cooper-Moore) and some other musicians found a four-story building at 501 Canal Street, on the west side of Manhattan. The saxophonist Alan Braufman, a friend from Berklee College of Music, in Boston, soon joined him. On Friday nights, they would set up some folding chairs and open the doors to anyone who wanted to come, listen, and join their excursions. ..."
New Yorker
NY Times: Coming of Age in the Loft Jazz Scene
The Quietus: Alan Braufman (Video)
Bandcamp (Audio)
YouTube: "Valley of Search" (Live In The Greene Space), Alan Braufman "Valley of Search" full album 43:10

Charles-François Daubigny (15 February 1817 – 19 February 1878)

The Bridge between Persan and Beaumont-sur-Oise, 1867
Wikipedia - "Charles-François Daubigny (15 February 1817 – 19 February 1878) was one of the painters of the Barbizon school, and is considered an important precursor of Impressionism. Daubigny was born in Paris, into a family of painters and was taught the art by his father Edmond François Daubigny and his uncle, miniaturist Pierre Daubigny. Initially Daubigny painted in a traditional style, but this changed after 1843 when he settled in Barbizon to work outside in nature. Even more important was his meeting with Camille Corot in 1852 in Optevoz (Isère). On his famous boat Botin, which he had turned into a studio, he painted along the Seine and Oise, often in the region around Auvers. From 1852 onward he came under the influence of Gustave Courbet. In 1866 Daubigny visited England, eventually returning because of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. In London he met Claude Monet, and together they left for the Netherlands. Back in Auvers, he met Paul Cézanne, another important Impressionist. It is assumed that these younger painters were influenced by Daubigny. ..."
The Clark: The Bridge between Persan and Beaumont-sur-Oise, 1867, The Clark: The Creek, 1863

The Creek, 1863

Sunday, September 16

Songs of Resistance 1942-2018 - Marc Ribot

"Like many other Americans, guitarist Marc Ribot had a visceral reaction the night Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Almost immediately he began studying history's political songs to interact with the present, selecting what he thought would work right now. The result of that sojourn of study, writing, arranging, and recording is Songs of Resistance 1942-2018. He reworked classic songs and wrote new ones. He enlisted a stellar cast of collaborators including Fay Victor, Justin Vivian Bond, Meshell Ndegeocello, Sam Amidon, Steve Earle, Tift Merritt, Tom Waits, Syd Straw, and Ohene Cornelius. Profits from the recording will be donated to the Indivisible Project. The union of jazz saxophones and anthemic rock on the traditional 'We Are Soldiers in the Army' is a rousing entry point with Victor's voice taming the squall and improv intensity, holding the melody amid the sonic maelstrom.
Open Culture: Tom Waits Releases a Timely Cover of the Italian Anti-Fascist Anthem “Bella Ciao,” His First New Song in Two Years
Songs Of Resistance 1942 - 2018 (Audio)
YouTube: "Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful)" (feat. Tom Waits), "Srinivas" (feat. Steve Earle & Tift Merritt), "The Big Fool", "John Brown" (feat. Fay Victor), "Rata de dos Patas" (feat. Ohene Cornelius), "How To Walk In Freedom" (feat. Sam Amidon & Fay Victor)

La Musique Perdue: This Map Offers An Interactive History Of Record Stores In Paris

"Vinyl is in the midst of a major resurgence. It seems that in every corner of musical fandom you’ll find audiophiles discovering, rediscovering, and generally geeking out over the rich, lush, layered sound of music pressed to plastic. The pinnacle of such devotion is Record Store Day. Founded in 2007 by some Baltimore record shop owners, the day for all things vinyl is now celebrated the world over, with overnight lines forming for limited edition releases. To commemorate the day, and acknowledge his own enduring love of old records, Paris-based Thomas Henry–he of the most adorable mini-chairs street marketing campaign for his Paris bar–took it upon himself to create an interactive ode to Paris’ bygone record stores with Disquaires de Paris, or Record Stores of Paris. By using a timeline slider, the site charts where a Parisian might have procured their phonographs, and provides information such as the store’s opening and closing dates, as well images of the illustrated records sleeves, stickers or stamps such stores would have given to patrons. ..."
Fast Company
Disquaires de Paris
Documenting the Disappearing Record Stores of Paris

Saturday, September 15

Paul Manafort Agrees to Cooperate With Special Counsel; Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charges

"WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort agreed on Friday to tell all he knows to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as part of a plea deal that could shape the final stages of the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The deal was a surrender by Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, who had vowed for months to prove his innocence in a case stemming from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine. And it was a decisive triumph for Mr. Mueller, who now has a cooperating witness who was at the center of the Trump campaign during a crucial period in 2016 and has detailed insight into another target of federal prosecutors, the network of lobbyists and influence brokers seeking to help foreign interests in Washington. Mr. Manafort’s decision, announced at a federal court hearing in Washington in which he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges, was likely to unsettle Mr. Trump, who had praised Mr. Manafort for standing up to prosecutors’ pressure and had hinted that he might pardon him. ..."
NY Times (Video)
NY Times: Opinion - This Is Not the End of Trump
NY Times: Opinion - Welcome to the President’s Rat Pack, Paul Manafort
[PDF] NY Times: Read the court documents.
NY Times: How a Ukrainian Hairdresser Became a Front for Paul Manafort

Friday, September 14

Isle of Dogs - Wes Anderson (2018)

Wikipedia - "Isle of Dogs (Japanese: 犬ヶ島 Hepburn: Inugashima) is a 2018 stop-motion animated science-fiction comedy-drama film written, produced and directed by Wes Anderson. Set in a dystopian near-future Japan, the story follows a young boy searching for his dog after the species is banished to an island following the outbreak of a canine flu. ... In a dystopian near-future Japan, an influenza virus spreads throughout the canine population, with a risk of crossing to humans. The 6-term authoritarian mayor of Megasaki City, Kenji Kobayashi, signs a decree banishing all dogs to Trash Island, despite a scientist named Professor Watanabe insisting he is close to finding a cure for the dog flu. ..."
NY Times: Wes Anderson’s Bleakly Beautiful ‘Isle of Dogs’ (Video)
YouTube: Isle of Dogs Official Trailer #1

2013 November: Wes Anderson Honors Fellini in a Delightful New Short Film, 2013 November: Rushmore (1998), 2013 Decemher: Hotel Chevalier (2007), 2014 March: Wes Anderson Collection, 2014 April: The Perfect Symmetry of Wes Anderson’s Movies, 2014 July: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), 2014 August: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), 2014 December: Welcome to Union Glacier (2013), 2015 January: Inhabiting Wes Anderson’s Universe, 2015 July: Books in the Films of Wes Anderson: A Supercut for Bibliophiles, 2015 November: Moonrise Kingdom (2012), 2015 December: Chapter 8: "The Grand Budapest Hotel", 2016 June: Here's pretty much every song used in a Wes Anderson film, 2016 November: Watch Come Together, Wes Anderson’s New Short Film...., 2016 December: All of Wes Anderson’s Cinematic Commercials: Watch His Spots for Prada, American Express, H&M & More

“It Really Comes Down to Empowering the Working Class”

"On the heels of democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s unexpected victory against a ten-term incumbent in the recent Bronx and Queens Democratic primary, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi swore that socialism is not ascendant. It was kind of like a realtor informing you that the house isn’t haunted; the only reason to bring it up is because there have been sightings, the stairs creak at night. This September, New York voters will have a chance to nominate another member of Democratic Socialists of America for political office. In Brooklyn, twenty-seven-year-old Julia Salazar is running for New York State Senate on a platform of single-payer health care, housing as a human right, protecting public schools from privatization, expanding collective bargaining rights, and ending mass incarceration and deportations. ..."

Thursday, September 13

Season Ticket: A Baseball Companion - Roger Angell (1988)

"Reading the opening pages of Season Ticket - Roger Angell's fourth and latest collection of baseball reports written originally for The New Yorker - one experiences a little of the same anxiety that he himself admits to early in the book when he describes his 'secret Calvinist fear that baseball will run out on me someday and I will find nothing fresh at the morning camps, despite my notes and numberings, or go newsless on some sun-filled afternoon, and so at last lose this sweet franchise.' After all, so much of what he writes about here has been covered before, whether it is the round of the baseball year from spring training to World Series, or the effects of drugs and labor disputes on the game, or the wonders of George Brett hitting and Keith Hernandez fielding and Vince Coleman going from first to third. ..."
NY Times
W - Season Ticket: A Baseball Companion
LA Times: Spring, and an Old Fan's Fancy Lightly Turns

Art Tatum & Ben Webster - The Album (1956)

"The only album-length collaboration between pianist Art Tatum and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster (accompanied by a rhythm section of Red Callender, bass, and Bill Douglass, drums) was this September 11, 1956, session under the auspices of Norman Granz's Verve Records label. ... This is a good approach, since Tatum never subsides to simple comping; he just keeps soloing away under Webster's rich tenor tones until Webster stops playing, and then keeps on to the end. So, although this is billed as a group effort, it's not a group of equals or really one in which the players are cooperating with each other. Tatum might as well be playing solo, since he takes very little account of what's happening around him. Granz makes it work by varying the volume of the different instruments in the mix, and the result is a fascinating study in contrasts."
W - The Tatum Group Masterpieces, Volume Eight
BEN WEBSTER AND ART TATUM CONSIDERED (2008): Genius loves company
YouTube: The Album 1:04:43

The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s

"Sometimes it feels like the neon thumbprint of the 1980s never went away. It’s arguably the defining throwback aesthetic of American culture today, from the TV series we reboot to the prints we wear. And when it comes to its music, well, that’s even more ubiquitous: The decade was one of great upheaval and innovation, and the seeds it planted continue to flourish. It was a time when disco and punk were in tatters, its artists rebuilding from the rubble with new innovations to birth hardcore and new wave. Rock was getting more ridiculous, with Aqua-Net to spare, but it was also paring back into the thoughtful nexus that would someday be called 'indie rock'—or it was throwing up pentagrams, getting sludgier and meaner, and turning into metal. Jazz and ambient were pushing their experimental borders, getting more cinematic and free. Singer-songwriters in folk and R&B were plumbing new depths of the human experience, getting frank about social and gender politics. And hip-hop was evolving at a head-spinning clip, expanding its reach and ambition along the way. ..."
Pitchfork (Video)

Wednesday, September 12

A Museum of the World

"Only 50 years ago, Saadiyat Island’s 27 square kilometers were something of an empty quarter where sea and sand met only the blue of sky. The few inhabitants mainly earned their livings fishing and pearl-diving, and they had to cross to the mainland to find drinking water. Departing from this image, not that far away in time, we find today a far different one: an urbanism so new it can appear as if it is being swept to the surface from the desert like colossal archeological discoveries. Opened in November, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the most recent product of the emirate’s ambitious cultural movement, powered by the plan of its Department of Culture and Tourism for a district on Saadiyat that emphasizes education and culture alongside tourism infrastructures. New York University opened a branch in 2010, the Zayed National Museum is under construction, and plans call for a Guggenheim museum and an opera house. ..."
Aramco World
The Atlantic: The Opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi
W - Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi

People walk near a sculpture by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi on November 7, 2017, a day before the official opening.

Between Heaven and Hell: Florian Fricke & Werner Herzog

"The marriage of Popul Vuh’s music and the films of Werner Herzog was one made in heaven and hell. It was a marriage of opposites – of temperance, spiritually luminous optimism and high-mindedness and moral squalor, dark excess and despair – but also like minds. Both artists were forged in West Germany, but their perspective was unconfined and international. Formed in 1969, with their leader Florian Fricke managing to obtain a Moog synthesizer long before such instruments were available to his peers, Popul Vuh are rightly considered foundational to the Krautrock phenomenon. Fricke’s credentials were impeccable: Born in the Bavarian island town of Lindau in 1944, he was introduced to the piano as a child. ..."
Red Bull Music Academy Daily (Video)

Tuesday, September 11

Fight to Retake Last ISIS Territory in Syria Begins

"The last vestige of Islamic State territory in Syria came under attack, as members of an American-backed coalition said Tuesday that they had begun a final push to oust the militants from Hajin, the remaining sliver of territory under the group’s control in the region where it was born. The assault is the final chapter of a war that began more than four years ago after the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, seized enormous tracts of land in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate. The Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led militia that has been fighting the Islamic State in Syria with the United States and its allies, said in a statement that its forces had launched an offensive on the area from four sides on Monday evening. The caliphate put the Islamic State on the map both physically and politically, filling its coffers and swelling its ranks both there and abroad, where adherents committed attacks in its name. ..."
NY Times
NY Times: If the Regime Comes Here, Everyone Will Be Targeted
amazon: Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War, by Marwan Hisham (Author), Molly Crabapple

A drawing by one of the authors of people watching fighter planes fly above Idlib, Syria, which is controlled by forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

2018 July: NY Times: Caliphate (Audio), 2014 August: The Islamic State, 2014 September: How ISIS Works, 2015 February: The Political Scene: The Evolution of Islamic Extremism, 2015 May: Zakaria: How ISIS shook the world, 2015 August: ISIS Blows Up Ancient Temple at Syria’s Palmyra Ruins, 2015 November: Times Insider: Reporting Europe's Refugee Crisis, 2015 November: Three Teams of Coordinated Attackers Carried Out Assault on Paris, Officials Say; Hollande Blames ISIS, 2015 November: The French Emergency, 2015 December: A Brief History of ISIS, 2015 December: U.S. Seeks to Avoid Ground War Welcomed by Islamic State, 2016 January: Ramadi, Reclaimed by Iraq, Is in Ruins After ISIS Fight, 2016 February: Syrian Officer Gave a View of War. ISIS Came, and Silence Followed., 2016 March: Brussels Survivors Say Blasts Instantly Evoked Paris Attacks, 2016 April: America Can’t Do Much About ISIS, 2016 June: What the Islamic State Has Won and Lost, 2016 July: ISIS: The Cornened Beast, 2016 October: Archaeological Victims of ISIS Rise Again, as Replicas in Rome, 2016 December: Battle Over Aleppo Is Over, Russia Says, as Evacuation Deal Reached, 2017 January: Eternal Sites: From Bamiyan to Palmyra, 2017 February: Tour a City Torn in Half by ISIS, 2017 March: Engulfed in Battle, Mosul Civilians Run for Their Lives, 2017 May: Aleppo After the Fall, 2017 July: Iraqi forces declare victory over Islamic State in Mosul after grueling battle, 2017 July: The Living and the Dead, 2017 October: ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse, 2018 August: After ISIS, Iraq Is Still Broken

Monday, September 10

The Prevalence of Ritual: On Romare Bearden’s Projections

The Street, 1964. Photostat on fiberboard, 31 x 40 in.
"On October 6, 1964, at the height of the American civil rights movement, fifty-three-year-old Romare Bearden, a mature artist with a moderately successful career as a painter behind him, debuted nearly two dozen billboard-size, black-and-white, photographic enlargements of collages—Projections, he called them. Instead of the large abstract work he had been painting up to then, he filled his canvases with the faces of black people. Their expressions, unflinching and intense, dominated crowded city streets, southern cotton fields, and ecstatic rituals. ... A surge of civil rights activism swept the country, compelling an urgent need for change. Figures in Bearden’s Projections embody that urgency, confronting their viewers like characters in a play caught in mid-action. At first glance the figures in Projections look ordinary, as if the artist were merely reporting a news event, except faces are fractured and dislocated, their hands swollen to twice their normal size, bodies pieced together from startling juxtapositions, including, as one commentator notes, 'parts of African masks, animal eyes, marbles, corn and mossy vegetation.' ..."
The Paris Review

Romare Bearden in his Long Island City studio with the photograph of his great-grandparents Henry and Rosa Kennedy on their porch around 1920 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

2017 November: Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

The Progressive

Cover for June 2013 issue. 
Wikipedia - "The Progressive is an American monthly magazine of politics, culture and progressivism with a pronounced liberal perspective. Founded in 1909 by Senator Robert 'Fighting Bob' La Follette, it was originally called La Follette's Weekly and then simply La Follette's. In 1929, it was recapitalized and had its name changed to The Progressive; for a period The Progressive was co-owned by the La Follette family and William Evjue's newspaper The Capital Times. Its headquarters is in Madison, Wisconsin. The magazine is known for its strong pacifism. It devotes much coverage to combating war, militarism, and corporate power. It supports civil rights and civil liberties, women's rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, labor rights, human rights, environmentalism, criminal justice reform, and democratic reform. ..."
The Progressive
YouTube: The Progressive Magazine

Sunday, September 9

Bugalù (from The Dap-Kings) • DJ set

"Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band, The Delfonics, Four Mints, Soul Toronados, MEMPHIS SOUL and more. This upload was 51st in the #funk chart and 64th in the #soul chart."
Mixcloud (Audio)
Paris DJs: A Conversation with Neal Sugarman
W - Daptone Records

Winter Time Blues - Lightnin' Slim (1998)

"Winter Time Blues collects some of Lightnin' Slim's later singles for the Excello label, and while it might be hard to believe, these tracks sound positively lush when placed next to his earlier sides. Not that anything here is too fancy, but these songs at least have recorded basslines (the early singles were just Slim on electric guitar and vocals, accompanied by a drummer and a harmonica player, usually Lazy Lester) and the occasional added wash of an organ for texture. Truthfully, part of Slim's appeal is his nerve-bare starkness, and these later tracks show less of that, although the chilling bayou voodoo of 'I'm Evil,' included here, makes it one of his most powerful songs."
allmusic (Audio)
W - Lightnin' Slim
WIRZ - Lightnin' Slim
YouTube: Winter Time Blues 1:05:28

Saturday, September 8

BRD Trilogy - Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Wikipedia - "The BRD Trilogy (German: BRD-Trilogie) consists of three films directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Veronika Voss (1982), and Lola (1981). The films are connected in a thematic rather than in a narrative sense. All three deal with different characters (though some actors recur in different roles) and plotlines, but each one focuses on the story of a specific woman in West Germany after World War II. The three letter acronym 'BRD' stands for Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the official name of West Germany and of the united contemporary Germany. The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) begins in the last days of World War II during the rushed marriage ceremony of Maria Braun, after which her husband is sent to battle the advancing Allies. After Maria later hears that he has been killed, she becomes the mistress of an African-American soldier. When Maria’s husband unexpectedly returns alive, she kills the soldier in a scuffle, but her husband takes the blame. Maria becomes the self-centered assistant and lover of a wealthy industrialist and a model of post-war recovery. Veronika Voss (1982) depicts the twilight years of film actress Veronika Voss in stark black-and-white. A sports reporter becomes enthralled by the unbalanced actress and discovers that she is under the power of a villainous doctor who keeps her addicted to opiates in order to steal her wealth. Despite his best attempts, he is unable to save her from a terrible end. The original German title, Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, translates as 'The longing of Veronika Voss'. Lola (1981) is loosely based on Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel and its source novel Professor Unrat by Heinrich Mann. It tells the story of an upright new building commissioner named Von Bohm who comes to a small town. He falls in love with Lola, innocent of the fact that she is a famed prostitute and the mistress of Shuckert, an unscrupulous developer. Unable to reconcile his idealistic images of Lola with reality, Von Bohm spirals into the very corruption he had sought to fight. ..."
W - The Marriage of Maria Braun, W - Veronika Voss, W - Lola
Mirroring History: Fassbinder’s The BRD Trilogy
Jim's Reviews - Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy
FilmStruck: Rainer Werner Fassbinder ($)
YouTube: GER 330 Final Project - Rainer Werner Fassbinder and His BRD-Trilogy 11:10

This Space Available

"They proliferate like gaps in an otherwise welcoming smile, vacant storefronts along New York City’s most popular retail corridors. 'When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas — even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space,' said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who said the increase in storefront vacancies in New York City had created 'the most challenging retail landscape in my 25 years in real estate.' A survey conducted by Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, she said, compared with roughly 7 percent in 2016. While a commercial crisis might more likely be associated with periods of economic distress, this one comes during an era of soaring prosperity, in a city teeming with tourism and booming with development. That has aggravated the vacancy problem by producing a glut of new commercial real estate. ..."
NY Times

Friday, September 7

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century - Barbara Tuchman (1978)

Wikipedia - "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century is a narrative history book by the American historian Barbara Tuchman, first published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1978. It won a 1980 U.S. National Book Award in History. The main title, A Distant Mirror, conveys Tuchman's idea that the death and suffering of the 14th century reflect that of the 20th century, especially the horrors of World War I. The book's focus is the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages suffered by Europe in the 14th century. Drawing heavily on Froissart's Chronicles, Tuchman recounts the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, the Papal Schism, pillaging mercenaries, anti-Semitism, popular revolts including the Jacquerie in France, the liberation of Switzerland, the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and peasant uprisings. She also discusses the advance of the Islamic Ottoman Empire into Europe, ending in the disastrous Battle of Nicopolis. Yet Tuchman's scope is not limited to political and religious events. She begins with a discussion of the Little Ice Age, a change in climate that reduced the average temperature of Europe until the 18th century, and describes the lives of all social classes, from nobles and clergymen to the peasantry. Much of the narrative is woven around the life of the French nobleman Enguerrand de Coucy. Tuchman chose him as a central figure partly because he lived a relatively long life and could therefore stay in the story during most of the 14th century. (Coucy was born in 1340, seven years before the Black Death began in southern Italy. He died in 1397.) He was also close to much of the action, tied to both France and England. ..."
Commentary Magazine
NY Times: In Time of War and Plague (1978)

MADONJAZZ From the Vaults vol 20: Deep & Spiritual Jazz Sounds

"MADONJAZZ From the Vaults vol. 20: Deep & Spiritual Jazz Sounds . An 1hr set including jazz gems from Dom Um Romao, Batsumi, Phillip Cohran, Sun Ra, John McLaughlin and the legendary Randy Weston, who passed away recently. Recorded live in a London venue, in SEP 2015. All vinyl. Enjoy!"

Bobby Jaspar Quintet

Wikipedia - "Bobby Jaspar (20 February 1926 – 28 February 1963) was a Belgian cool jazz and hard bop saxophonist, flautist and composer. Born in Liège, Belgium, Jaspar learned to play piano and clarinet at a young age. Later, he took up the tenor saxophone and flute. With the 'Bop Shots' band, he took his first steps in the jazz world. In 1950, Jaspar moved to Paris, playing and recording with the best musicians of the era. Here he met singer Blossom Dearie; the two were married in 1954 but separated in 1957. In 1956, Jaspar was persuaded to try his luck in the United States, where his reputation in jazz circles had preceded him. He played and recorded with the quintet of J. J. Johnson, with Kenny Burrell, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Donald Byrd and many others. ... Bobby Jaspar died from a heart attack in New York City on 28 February 1963 at age 37."
YouTube: Bobby Jaspar Quintet 41:50

Thursday, September 6

Frederick Wiseman: 10 essential films

"As Errol Morris once quipped of the Boston-born, Jewish-raised Frederick Wiseman: 'Fred likes institutions like Fellini likes the circus.' In his half-century career as a documentary maker, Wiseman has tirelessly charted American institutions and communities, with a style that’s often reductively described as flat, fly-on-the-wall vérité. As a result, compared to more famous auteurs, Wiseman gets short shrift as an ‘invisible’ presence behind the camera – or he’s mischaracterised as a dry descendent of the 60s Direct Cinema documentary movement. Yet the man himself has always argued that his often lengthy movies are more novelistic than journalistic, and indeed, several of his films have been transcribed and republished as screenplays. ... Here are 10 of the best places to start. ..."
BFI (Video)
W - Frederick Wiseman
Zipporah Films (Video)
LA Times: Frederick Wiseman's first decade of docs kicks off a vital retrospective

In Jackson Heights (2015)

2017 August: National Gallery (2014), 2017 September: Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (2015), 2018 April: In Jackson Heights (2015)

Last Rites for the Village Voice, a Bohemian Who Stayed On Too Long

"The death last week of The Village Voice, the storied alt-weekly, was in some ways to be expected. When its latest owner, Peter D. Barbey, who bought it in 2015 to restore it to its early glory, stopped print publication almost a year ago, it seemed that it would be only a matter of time before its online presence ceased as well. The Voice didn’t appear to have a strong sense of identity anymore, in part because the New York that it covered — downtown, the underground, bohemia and its ephemera — didn’t exist anymore, neither in a physical sense nor as a state of mind. SoHo, once the stomping ground of artists and punk rockers, is a high-end shopping mall. CBGB, which The Voice covered religiously when Blondie and Television were at their apex, has been turned into a John Varvatos store and lives on as a T-shirt. The East Village is … I don’t know what it is anymore. At least Spike Lee is still in Brooklyn. ..."
NY Times
Voice: Robert Christgau’s Five Favorite Pazz & Jop Essays (Jan 15, 2014)

Wednesday, September 5

5 Takeaways From Bob Woodward’s Book on the Trump White House

"A new book by Bob Woodward, the longtime Washington Post reporter, portrays a White House with relentless infighting and a work culture so toxic and volatile that many of President Trump’s top advisers and cabinet members became accustomed to working around their boss, whom they described as unstable and uninformed. 'Fear: Trump in the White House,' which is set for a public release next Tuesday and already sits atop Amazon’s best-seller list, is one in a series of insider accounts published this year that have drawn the ire of the West Wing. 'Fire and Fury,' by the writer Michael Wolff, and 'Unhinged,' by the former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman, also reported the kind of hostility and interpersonal feuding that Mr. Woodward depicts. Mr. Trump reacted to both books with numerous tweets targeting the authors. On Tuesday, after copies of Mr. Woodward’s book leaked to reporters, Mr. Trump told The Daily Caller that parts of it may have been made up. ..."
NY Times: 5 Takeaways From Bob Woodward’s Book on the Trump White House

NY Times: In ‘Fear,’ Bob Woodward Pulls Back the Curtain on President Trump’s ‘Crazytown’
Esquire: The Rats Are Fleeing the Sinking Ship—and Talking to Bob Woodward
Washington Post: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency (Video)

‘Store Front’ Photographer Karla Murray Races Against Time to Document ‘Fun and Funky’ NYC

"Longtime East Village photographers James and Karla Murray installed a structure in Seward Park recreating the Lower East Side’s Cup and Saucer, which closed after more than 70 years in business. Now, they’ve set up a gallery show featuring photographs from their 'Store Front' books just a few blocks away at The Storefront Project (70 Orchard Street). The exhibit, 'Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York,' pays homage to the mom-and-pop shops of the Lower East Side and will remain open through August 12. Bedford + Bowery chatted with Karla Murray about her hopes and thoughts on the changing neighborhood. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. ..."
Bedford + Bowery