Monday, April 30

Capitalism and the Family

Victor Berger, Bertha Hale White, and Eugene V. Debs in 1924.
"Issues of gender and sexuality are dominating the American public in a way that has few precedents in the recent past. From the alarmingly open misogyny of the president to the cascading revelations of sexual attacks in the workplace on one side, to the energy behind the historic women’s marches on the other, gender relations have risen to the top of the political debate. In a wide-ranging conversation, historian Stephanie Coontz places the current juncture in historical perspective, and offers her thoughts on how gender relations have been affected by the recent stagnation in working-class incomes and skyrocketing inequality. She closes with an eloquent plea to integrate gender politics into a broader progressive political vision. ..."
Catalyst: Capitalism and the Family
Socialism: An American Story (Video)
The Nib - Socialism: As American As Apple Pie
Red State: Does Socialism Have a Future in Texas?
When Socialism was Popular in the United States
Jacobin: Beyond Social Movement Unionism
Jacobin: Socialism and Black Oppression
The Nation: America Has a Long and Storied Socialist Tradition. DSA Is Reviving It.
The Nation: The Next Generation of Democratic Socialists Has Started Winning Local Elections

DSA members at the Women’s March in New York City on January 21, 2017. 

2016 April: Bernie Sanders and the History of American Socialism, 2014 September: Anarchism in America (1983), 2015 August: The Prophet Farmed: Murray Bookchin on Bernie Sanders,  2017 January: Reason, creativity and freedom: the communalist model - Eleanor Finley, 2017 February: Socialism’s Return, 2017 July: Don’t March, Organize for Power, 2017 December: Vermont Progressive Party, 2017 December: The 2017 Progressive Honor Roll, 2018 February: Catalyst, 2018 April: Are You Progressive?

Detroit Was Crumbling. Here’s How It’s Reviving.

"Last week, we visited the city to find further signs of recovery as Detroit moves out from under budgetary oversight. ... In Brush Park, construction equipment whirs non-stop. Old Victorians glisten with new interiors. 'What brought me back?' said John Davis, a Detroiter who moved away, then returned. 'Economic indicators.' ... Some houses sit on blocks alone, reminders of an essential struggle: A city built for 1.8 million residents now has fewer than 700,000. The dilapidated houses left behind have been torn down by the thousands. ... For a while, Detroit couldn’t pay for services most take for granted. With a cheerier budget picture, the city has resumed cleaning out storm drains and sending street sweepers down neighborhood streets, where years of grime had accumulated. ..."
NY Times


Wikipedia - "JOIN, or DIE. is a political cartoon, attributed to Benjamin Franklin and first published in his Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. The original publication by the Gazette is the earliest known pictorial representation of colonial union produced by a British colonist in America. It is a woodcut showing a snake cut into eighths, with each segment labeled with the initials of one of the American colonies or regions. New England was represented as one segment, rather than the four colonies it was at that time. Delaware was not listed separately as it was part of Pennsylvania. Georgia, however, was omitted completely. Thus, it has eight segments of a snake rather than the traditional 13 colonies. The two northernmost British American colonies at the time, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, were not represented, nor were any British Caribbean possessions. The cartoon appeared along with Franklin's editorial about the 'disunited state' of the colonies, and helped make his point about the importance of colonial unity. It became a symbol of colonial freedom during the American Revolutionary War. ..."

Sunday, April 29

The 54 Galleries to See Right Now in New York

Annette Kelm, Proposal for Knots (2018)
"Is the New York art gallery scene thriving or dying? It may be doing both, depending on where you look. Blue-chip galleries are expanding, and a surprising number of international galleries are opening here, too, mostly on the Upper East Side. (Not to mention the prosperous art fairs arriving next week, including Frieze New York, TEFAF and the 1-54 International Contemporary African Art Fair. And they’ll be followed by the big May auctions.) But many midsize and small galleries are in survival mode, facing rising rents. There have been regrettable closings; this week, for example, that of Real Fine Arts, a pioneering Brooklyn space. Yet other midsize and small galleries persist. And good thing, too: They’re crucial as discoverers of new talent. Art fairs and auctions notwithstanding, they also help develop new collectors, those with independent taste and a sense of risk-taking. Even for occasional visitors, these intimate arenas can open new worlds. It can seem like the city is breaking out in galleries. There is now a Chinatown gallery district and one in East Chelsea/NoMad may be in the offing. My fellow critics and I have fanned out to take the pulse of the scene, producing one of the best, most evenly distributed gallery roundups in quite a while. — ROBERTA SMITH"
NY Times

Interstate Projects is showing “The Celibate Machine,” an exhibition by Cindy Ji Hye Kim. It includes, from left, “Parable of the Blind,” after Bruegel, and “As a Dog Returns to Its Vomit, a Man Repeats His Sins.” - NY Times: 12 Galleries to Visit Now in Brooklyn and Queens

Bill Frisell - Music IS (2018)

"The tradition of solo jazz guitar recordings is a long one, with guitarists like Johnny Smith, Al Viola, George Van Eps, Lenny Breau and Joe Pass demonstrating just how far a mere six (in some cases, seven) strings could be taken on their own as far back as the 1950s. Subsequent guitar soloists like John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner went even further by, at times, taking advantage of the recording studio's facility to overdub layers of guitar to create even broader expanses. But it's been during the past two decades or so that guitarists like Eivind Aarset and Stian Westerhus have explored extensive use of looping and other technological innovations, truly developing the orchestral potential of their instrument. ... If ever there was an album title to reflect the infinite potential of an art form that has occupied most of [Bill] Frisell's life, it's Music IS. ..."
All About Jazz
Release: Bill Frisell "Music IS"
YouTube: Rambler (Alternate Version) (Live)
YouTube: Music IS @Full Album 2018 11 videos

From Lone Mountain - John Porcellino (2018)

"John Porcellino makes his love of home and of nature the anchors in an increasingly turbulent world. He slows down and visits the forests, fields, streams, and overgrown abandoned lots that surround every city. He studies the flora and fauna around us. He looks at the overlooked. Porcellino also digs deep into a quintessential American endeavour—the road trip. Uprooting his comfortable life several times in From Lone Mountain, John drives through the country weaving from small town to small town, experiencing America in slow motion, avoiding the sameness of airports and overwhelming hustle of major cities. From Lone Mountain collects stories from Porcellino’s influential zine King-Cat—John enters a new phase of his life, as he remarries and decides to leave his beloved second home Colorado for San Francisco. Grand themes of King-Cat are visited and stated more eloquently than ever before: serendipity, memory, and the quest for meaning in the everyday. Over the past three decades, Porcellino's beloved King-Cat thas offered solace to his readers: his gentle observational stories take the pulse of everyday life and reveal beauty in the struggle to keep going. ..."
Drawn & Quarterly
A From Lone Mountain exclusive showcases a master minimalist’s skill

Saturday, April 28

A Cinematic Journey Through Paris, As Seen Through the Lens of Legendary Filmmaker Éric Rohmer: Watch Rohmer in Paris

"Site of so many historic screenings, cradle of so many innovative auteurs, setting of so many memorable scenes: does any city have a more central place in the cinephile's consciousness than Paris? Filmmaker-professor Richard Misek calls it 'the city where cinephilia itself began.' It certainly has a place in his own cinephilic journey, beginning with a chance encounter, 24 years ago in the district of Montmartre, with one of the luminaries of French New Wave film: Éric Rohmer, who was then in the middle of shooting his picture Rendezvous in Paris. ... He tells this story early in Rohmer in Paris, his hour-long video essay on all the ways the auteur used the city in the course of his prolific, more than fifty-year-long filmmaking career. Misek describes Rohmer's characters, 'always glancing at each other: on trains, on streets, in parks, in the two-way shop windows of cafes where they can see and be seen,' as flâneurs, those observant strollers through the city whose type has its origins in the Paris of the 19th century. ..."
Open Culture (Video)
W - Éric Rohmer
W - Éric Rohmer filmography
vimeo: Rohmer in Paris

My Night at Maud's (1969)

Friday, April 27

The History of 135 Hudson

"In 1882, few of the once-grand houses that had graced the former St. John’s Park neighborhood still stood. The elegant park had been replaced in the 1860s by the Hudson River Railroad Company’s freight terminal. Wealthy homeowners abandoned their Federal-style brick mansions, which in turn were rapidly converted for business or razed for hulking warehouse buildings. No. 135 Hudson Street was an exception. ... Basically Romanesque Revival, the severe composition smacked of a medieval fortress—or prison. Gaping arches—one on the narrow Hudson Street façade and seven along Beach Street—were separated by rounded brick piers. The architects used the rounded shape not so much to add visual interest; but to eliminate the sharp corners which would be easily broken off by the in-and-out traffic of freight wagons. Iron tie rods, which elsewhere in the city added ornament by being cast as stars, starfish, or curlicues, here had the straightforward appearance of giant screw heads. These, like the iron anchor plates which were purposely left exposed, stressed the structural integrity of the building. ..."
Tribeca Citizen

2017 July: Seeking New York: The Stories Behind the Historic Architecture of Manhattan, 2017 October: The History of 452 Greenwich Street, 2018 February: The History of 121 Chambers

Women Intellectuals and the Art of the Withering Quip

"... The literary critic Michelle Dean’s new book of the same name, a cultural-history-cum-group-biography, examines the lives and careers of ten sharp women, among them Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Dorothy Parker, Renata Adler, Hannah Arendt, and Zora Neale Hurston. What unites this disparate group, Dean claims, is the ability 'to write unforgettably.' If this casts something of a wide net, it does so out of necessity: the collected body of work this constellation of women produced—a mixture of fiction, book and movie reviews, essays, cultural criticism, and journalism—comprises a map of twentieth-century thought. ..."
The Paris Review

No Hope, No Fear: Industrial Music in Zagreb

"It was at a secondhand shop for electronics in the former Yugoslavia where, in 1982, Vladislav Knezević found a cassette by chance. It was a bootleg copy of Für Immer, by Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft. The insert had the tracklisting in both English and German, its letters uneven and patchy from the inconsistent typewriter ribbon. DAF – an electronic band with a minimalistic sound that focused on fast-paced basslines and simplistic German vocals – had somehow found their way to Zagreb, hidden among the throwaways of the shop. At the time, Knezević had no clue what an impact DAF and their style of music would have on the future of his city. But much later on, after he became an electronic musician himself, he would look back on the appearance of the cassette as nothing less than destiny. Two years earlier, the first Yugoslavian president, Josip Broz Tito, died. The country, then one-sixth of Yugoslavia, was left without stability after 27 years. There was a feeling of uncertainty that initiated an unfamiliar sense of freedom amongst the people, especially the youth. At the cusp of a new decade, Tito’s passing would prove pivotal to the history of Zagreb, and all of Croatia. While Croatia was a socialist republic before the president’s death, the 1980s promised change. ..."
Red Bull Music

Flyer for a Borghesia show at Club Đuro Đakovic in Zagreb – June 16th, 1988

Thursday, April 26

Women Artists in Paris 1850-1900

"In the second half of the 19th century, Paris attracted an international gathering of women artists, drawn to the French capital by its academies and museums, studios and salons. Featuring thirty-six artists from eleven different countries, this beautifully illustrated book explores the strength of these women’s creative achievements, through paintings by acclaimed Impressionists such as Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, and extraordinary lesser-known artists such as Marie Bashkirtseff, Anna Bilinska-Bohdanowicz, Paula Modersohn-Becker, and Hanna Pauli. It examines their work against the sociopolitical background of the period, when women were mostly barred from formal artistic education but cleverly navigated the city’s network of ateliers, salons, and galleries. Essays consider the powerfully influential work of women Impressionists, representations of the female artist in portraiture, the unique experiences of Nordic women artists, and the significant presence of women artists throughout the history of the Paris Salon. By addressing the long-undervalued contributions of women to the art of the later 19th century, Women Artists in Paris pays tribute to pioneers who not only created remarkable paintings but also generated momentum toward a more egalitarian art world."

Marie Bashkirtseff (Ukrainian, 1858-1884), In the Studio, 1881

People Have the Power - Patti Smith (1988)

"'People Have the Power' is a rock song written by Patti Smith and Fred 'Sonic' Smith, and released as a lead single from Patti Smith 1988 album Dream of Life. The cover photograph is by Robert Mapplethorpe. The music video is filmed mostly in black-and-white and features Patti Smith singing, writing and walking. The song was ranked number 22 on NME magazine's list of the 'Singles of the Year'. For most of U2's Innocence + Experience Tour, the group has used 'People Have the Power' as its entrance music. Smith herself joined them to close their show with the song at London's O2 Arena on October 29, 2015, as well as the December 6, 2015 show at Accorhotels Arena in Paris. ..."
YouTube: People Have the Power

Wednesday, April 25

Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson (2017)

"Reynolds Woodcock, a couturier plying his trade in London in the 1950s, has a habit of sewing secret messages into his garments. ('Never cursed' is the blessing stitched in lavender thread that he slips into the hem of a wedding gown commissioned by a princess.) These invisible traces of his hand — hidden meanings in the literal sense — signify that his dresses are more than luxurious commodities. They are works of art, obscurely and yet unmistakably saturated with the passion and personality of their creator. It hardly seems an accident that Paul Thomas Anderson has inscribed his monogram in the title of his eighth feature, 'Phantom Thread,' which chronicles a few chapters in Reynolds’s fictional life and career. This is a profoundly, intensely, extravagantly personal film. I don’t mean autobiographical. I know little and care less about the details of Mr. Anderson’s personal life. Whether or not his longtime partner, the actress and comedian Maya Rudolph, has ever cooked him a mushroom omelet is a matter of complete indifference to me. Not every movie about an artist is a self-portrait of its director, but 'Phantom Thread' almost offhandedly lays out intriguing analogies between Reynolds’s métier and Mr. Anderson’s. The fashion designer, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, turns drawings into drama, manipulating color and movement and the human form to construct a material object that is also artificial, idealized and fantastical — a commodity that impersonates a dream. ..."
NY Times
W - Phantom Thread
New Yorker: The Claustrophobic Elegance of “Phantom Thread”
YouTube: PHANTOM THREAD - Official Trailer

The Next Standing Rock? A Pipeline Battle Looms in Oregon

"Each spring and fall in the old days, Chinook salmon swam up the Klamath River, crossing the Cascade Mountains, to Upper Klamath Lake, 4,000 feet above sea level. For millenniums, the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Band of Snake Indians fished salmon from the lake and the river. The Klamath had agreements with the downriver tribes — the Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok among them — to let fish pass so that some could swim all the way back to their spawning grounds. After dams were built on the river starting in 1912, the salmon were blocked. Today the only 'c’iyaals hoches' (salmon runs) are enacted by the Klamath Tribes, whose members carry carved cedar salmon on a 300-mile symbolic journey from the ocean to the traditional spawning grounds to bring home the spirit of the fish. The Klamath River’s dams are scheduled to be demolished by 2020, in what will be one of the largest river restorations in American history. But there’s a threat to the dream of a revitalized river — a project that would put a newly unobstructed Klamath at risk of contamination while simultaneously contributing to climate change, desecrating grave sites and trampling the traditional territory of the Klamath people. If you’ve read anything at all about the protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, you might be able to guess what that threat is. It’s a pipeline. ..."
NY Times (March 8, 2018)

2011 July: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Dee Brown, 2012 September: The Ghost Dance, 2016 September: A History and Future of Resistance, 2016 November: Dakota Access Pipeline protests, 2016 December: Police Violence Against Native Americans Goes Far Beyond Standing Rock, 2016 December: Dakota Protesters Say Belle Fourche Oil Spill 'Validates Struggle', 2017 January: A Murky Legal Mess at Standing Rock, 2017 January: Trump's Move On Keystone XL, Dakota Access Outrages Activists, 2017 February: Army veterans return to Standing Rock to form a human shield against police, 2017 February: Standing Rock is burning – but our resistance isn't over, 2017 March: Dakota Access pipeline could open next week after activists face final court loss, 2017 April: The Conflicts Along 1,172 Miles of the Dakota Access Pipeline, 2017 May: 'Those are our Eiffel Towers, our pyramids': Why Standing Rock is about much more than oil, 2017 June: Dakota pipeline protesters won a small victory in court. We must fight on, 2018 February: PHOTOS: Since Standing Rock, 56 Bills Have Been Introduced in 30 States to Restrict Protests

Oonops Drops – Smoky Jazz Session 6

"A new round for the 'Smoky Jazz Session' with Oonops and his long-time dj-duo partner Karbunck Lottinger. It’s the sixth time that they smoke out the jazz of their vinyl selection be that pure jazz or jazz which gets entangled with rap, afro, funk or beats. Cold crushed tunes on vinyl by Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra, Badbadnotgood, Joe Henderson, Tony Allen, Damu The Fudgemunk, Dave Grusin, Quantic, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Henry Wu and many more for open minded headz and jazzcats. Get down and enjoy this little mixtape with Nina Simone’s words: Jazz is not just music, it’s a way of life, it’s a way of being, a way of thinking!"
Brooklyn Radio (Audio)

2017 December: Oonops Drops - Jazz'n'Beats 2, 2018 February: Oonops Drops – Volume 1

Tuesday, April 24

Jackie Robinson’s last stand: To see blacks break into the MLB managerial ranks

American baseball player Jackie Robinson (1919 – 1972) of the Brooklyn Dodgers is signing paperwork, January 3, 1945. 
"Jackie Robinson went to the grave with his final request of Major League Baseball unfulfilled. The Los Angeles Dodgers legend died discouraged and frustrated with big league teams because of the way they dragged their feet on hiring black managers and front-office employees. Some opined that black managers hadn’t been hired in the 25 years since Robinson integrated baseball because white players weren’t ready to take orders from a black man and white fans would be exceptionally cruel to them. Others speculated that the crop of black players who would eventually be hired as skippers were learning the ropes as coaches and working the minor leagues. That, of course, is a puzzling explanation, considering Buck O’Neil broke the color barrier for black coaches in 1962 with the Chicago Cubs and in the 10 years after O’Neil did so, nine black men — Gene Baker (Pittsburgh Pirates), Jim Gilliam (Dodgers), Ernie Banks (Cubs), Larry Doby (Montreal Expos), Elston Howard (New York Yankees), Satchel Paige (Atlanta Braves), Luke Easter (Cleveland), Ozzie Virgil (San Francisco Giants) and John Roseboro (Washington Senators, California Angels) — had risen to the coaching ranks by the time Robinson used his silver anniversary to call out MLB on its biggest stage. ..."
The Undefeated
SI: And Then The Barrier Broke: Remembering Jackie Robinson's first 10 days as a big leaguer
SI: The Breakthrough: Why May 1947 was crucial for Jackie Robinson
Crossing the Color Barrier: Jackie Robinson and the Men Who Integrated Major League Baseball
W - Jackie Robinson
W - Baseball color line

Monday, April 23

Are You Progressive?

"What distinguishes a progressive from a liberal? This is one of the more pervasive ambiguities in contemporary American political discourse. In a recent issue of the journal Democracy, the historian Sean Wilentz addressed it head-on: Liberals, he argues, recognize the flaws of capitalism, are dedicated to remedying them, and have great achievements to their credit in that regard, notably those of the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society. Progressives are meanwhile 'emphatically anti-liberal'—because they are hostile to capitalism and, 'deep down, harbor the hope that one day, perhaps through some catastrophic event, American capitalism will indeed be replaced by socialism.' But here’s the problem: The progressives Wilentz describes aren’t really advocates for socialism in its authentic sense of total 'public ownership of finance, industry, and agriculture.' Rather, he writes, they claim for socialism ('democratic socialism,' of course) the social-welfare achievements of American liberalism and Scandinavian social democracy, while rejecting the full architecture of those ideologies. ..."
New Republic

2016 April: Bernie Sanders and the History of American Socialism, 2014 September: Anarchism in America (1983), 2015 August: The Prophet Farmed: Murray Bookchin on Bernie Sanders,  2017 January: Reason, creativity and freedom: the communalist model - Eleanor Finley, 2017 February: Socialism’s Return, 2017 July: Don’t March, Organize for Power, 2017 December: Vermont Progressive Party, 2017 December: The 2017 Progressive Honor Roll, 2018 February: Catalyst

Poetry Center Digital Archive

"Poetry Center Digital Archive makes available significant portions of early audio recordings from the Poetry Center's American Poetry Archives collection, supplemented by select archival texts and images. New files will be added incrementally as recordings are prepared and as we proceed through the collection from the 1950s onward. The Poetry Center, founded at San Francisco State College (now SFSU) in 1954 by English professor Ruth Witt-Diamant, has been recording and archiving tapes of its public events for nearly six decades. We have compiled and maintained one of the most significant public collections in the USA of original recorded performances by poets and related writers reading their work. In 1974, poet Kathleen Fraser, serving as director, created within the Poetry Center, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Poetry Archives. This collection, together with the Poetry Center housed within the SFSU College of Humanities (Department of Creative Writing), today holds over 4,000 hours of unique original audio and video master-recordings, 1954–present – an inestimable cultural asset. ..."
Poetry Center Digital Archive - About
Poetry Center Digital Archive (Video)

The Unlikely New Hero of Turkey’s Opposition

Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu, the mayor of Ovacık, a village in eastern Turkey, drew national attention when he delivered on his campaign promise of transparency and accountability.
"There’s something unusual in Ovacık, a village in a snow-capped valley in eastern Turkey where the Turkish Air Force regularly bombs Kurdish rebels. In the lobby of the town hall is a painting of Karl Marx, not of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, whose picture hangs in most other Turkish government offices. In early February, a piece of paper posted on the building’s outer wall itemized the town’s income, expenditures, and surplus budget, part of which goes to scholarships for university students. Displaying the itemized income each year is a practice that the local mayor, Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu, began when he was elected, four years ago. Maçoğlu promised the village’s roughly thirty-one hundred residents transparency and accountability; publicly itemizing the local government’s income was one way to deliver it. Soon after this year’s income was posted, a photo of the piece of paper was shared on Twitter—a source of news for many young Turks. Within weeks, the obscure village mayor became a grassroots symbol of good governance in Turkey. ..."
New Yorker

2016 February: The Feminist, Democratic Leftists Our Military Is Obliterating -  Debbie Bookchin, 2016 May: Turkey’s Authoritarian Turn, 2016 July: How Turkey Came to This, 2017 March: As repression deepens, Turkish artists and intellectuals fear the worst, 2017 July: A Long March for Justice in Turkey, 2017 July: Radical Municipalism: The Future We Deserve, 2017 September: Istanbul: Memories and the City - Orhan Pamuk, 2018 January: Turkey’s State of Emergency

Sunday, April 22

The Many Languages (and Foods) of Jackson Heights

Roosevelt Avenue’s street vendors can provide you with everything from fruits and vegetables to a new case for your cellphone.
"Tania Mattos Jose is an organizer with Queens Neighborhoods United, which works to promote sustainable development without displacement in Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. Mattos is an unabashed cheerleader for the neighborhood where she grew up — and hopes that visitors arrive with an eye toward honoring its residents, their culture, and the community they’ve built. Myself and my family migrated from Bolivia to Miami to Jackson Heights, and I’ve lived in the neighborhood for thirty years now. My aunts lived here, so we lived in their one room — me, my brother, my dad, and my mom — we stayed there for a few months so we could get on our feet and get an apartment. What I love is that it’s a very tight-knit community. Even though there are so many cultures and languages and people from different countries, for the essential things that matter to people, we overlap each other. ...'
WNYC: Land of 167 Languages (Video)
Jackson Heights: Unearthing the People’s Struggle
W - Jackson Heights, Queens
W - In Jackson Heights
NT Times: Jackson Heights Through the Eyes of Frederick Wiseman

An image from Frederick Wiseman’s documentary “In Jackson Heights”

Le Spectrum de Montréal

"The Spectrum (French: Le Spectrum de Montréal) was a concert hall, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that closed on August 5, 2007. Opened on October 17, 1982, as the Alouette Theatre, it was briefly renamed Club Montreal before receiving its popular name. The Spectrum had a capacity of about 1200 and had a 'cabaret' setup with table service. A unique effect was the wall mounted lighting which included hundreds of small lightbulbs. The last show was performed by Michel Rivard, the only performer to have played over one hundred concerts at the venue. The block on which the building stands was slated to be torn down and rebuilt as a combined shopping centre and office complex. The Spectrum had been owned by Équipe Spectra which owns other venues in Montreal. On February 17, 2008, the borough of Ville Marie voted to proceed with demolition plans and on October 18, 2008, almost 26 years to the day from when it first opened, the Spectrum was torn down." (New Order, 1984; King Sunny Ade, 1985; Fela Kuti, 1989)

2013 October: Montreal Metro, 2014 July: Montreal, tales of gentrification in a bohemian city, 2016 August: Montreal-style bagel, 2016 August: Montreal-style bagel, 2017 April: St-Henri, the 26th of August - Shannon Walsh (2011), 2017 May: A family affair: St-Viateur Bagel celebrates 60 years, 2017 August: Saint Catherine Street / Underground City, Montreal, 2018 February: Counter Intelligence: Montréal

Seven and a Half Short Notes on Sandy Denny

"... 1) I just finished the recent Sandy Denny biography. I was very disappointed by it. In the end, she dies. In the bio that I want to read, she’s now living in a cottage in Wales and drinking only on Thursdays. 2) In 1968, Sandy Denny joined Fairport Convention, a new British band modeled on the sound of the Byrds and on American folk rock. She was twenty-one and had spent time at university and worked briefly as a nurse but was happier staying out all night at folk clubs. Fairport had already recorded an album and were modestly successful, but Sandy upped their game exponentially, not just with a voice that could stop time with a whisper but with original songs as rich and strong as the traditional ballads the band were exploring. The three albums she recorded with them in 1968 and 1969 are breathtakingly beautiful and mysterious, digging deep into British traditions and dragging them into an ecstatic and electric future. When she left to go off on her own in late 1969, first with her own group, Fotheringay, then solo, she was at the top of her game and was lost. ..."
The Paris Review

2009 March: Sandy Denny, 2013 January: "A Sailor’s Life" - Fairport Convention, 2013 May: The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, 2018 March: Like an Old Fashioned Waltz (1974)

Saturday, April 21

Friction: The Making Of Television’s Marquee Moon

"THE ELUSIVE FOUNDING FATHERS of New York punk– they literally built the CBGB stage in 1973 – Television were the last of the first wave of bands to actually record an album. But they more than met the heavy expectations piled upon them by delivering a masterpiece, Marquee Moon. Now a regular on any Greatest Albums lists, Marquee Moon failed even to scratch the US Billboard Top 200 on release in February 1977, although it hit No. 28 in the UK. It is a defining artifact of New York punk, yet has little to do with its peers. Influences are there to be spotted – shards of Nuggets-style garage, moves copped from the sharpest Brit-invasion groups – but Tom Verlaine’s barked, sneered and whispered lyrics have a tense, abstruse poetry and lend a cool, questing, nocturnal urban intellectual bent to the album. However it’s the long, free-jazz inflected guitar duels, duets, gangfights and trade-offs between Verlaine and the group’s co-founder Richard Lloyd that truly set Television apart, and became their signature. Marquee Moon is a record that seemed to come rising out of nowhere. ..."
Damien Love
Episode 9: MARQUEE MOON (Audio)
W - Marquee Moon
YouTube: Marquee Moon (1977) - Full Album, Marquee Moon (Live At CBGB, New York City, NY 04/17/75)

2007 November: Tom Verlaine, 2010 March: Tom Verlaine - 1, 2011 October: Warm and Cool,  2012 December: Words from the Front, 2013 July: Flash Light, 2013 October: See No Evil, 2014 October: Dreamtime (1981), 2015 January: Adventure (1978), 2015 October: Tom Verlaine (1979), 2017 June: Little Johnny Jewel part 1 & 2 (1975)

Welcome to the New World - Michael Sloan

"Two brothers, Jamil and Ammar, fled Syria in 2012, with their wives and children. After four years waiting in Jordan, they finally received a visa and traveled to the United States as refugees. They arrived on Nov. 8, 2016, which happened to be Election Day. It was, of course, a loaded moment. In effect, the brothers and their families landed in one country and woke up the next morning in another. Since then, I have been reporting their stories and creating a 'true comic' about their lives in America. I went to their mosques, schools and job-training programs. I was also there when Ammar’s family received a frightening death threat, which ultimately forced them to flee their town. Today the illustrator, Michael Sloan, and I bring you the final installment in their story. — Jake Halpern
NY Times
NY Times: Welcome to the New World - The true story of a Syrian family’s journey to America.

Friday, April 20

The Death and Life of Great American Cities - Jane Jacobs (1961)

"The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a 1961 book by writer and activist Jane Jacobs. The book is a critique of 1950s urban planning policy, which it holds responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Going against the modernist planning dogma of the era, it proposes a newfound appreciation for organic urban vibrancy in the United States. Reserving her most vitriolic criticism for the 'rationalist' planners (specifically Robert Moses) of the 1950s and 1960s, Jacobs argued that modernist urban planning rejects the city, because it rejects human beings living in a community characterized by layered complexity and seeming chaos. The modernist planners used deductive reasoning to find principles by which to plan cities. Among these policies she considered urban renewal the most violent, and separation of uses (i.e., residential, industrial, commercial) the most prevalent. These policies, she claimed, destroy communities and innovative economies by creating isolated, unnatural urban spaces. In their place Jacobs advocated 'four generators of diversity' that 'create effective economic pools of use': mixed primary uses, activating streets at different times of the day; short blocks, allowing high pedestrian permeability; buildings of various ages and states of repair; density. ..."
W - The Death and Life of Great American Cities
NY Times: Neighbors Are Needed (Nov. 5, 1961)
The Atlantic: The Prophecies of Jane Jacobs
Celebrating Jane Jacobs
An Illustrated Guide to Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): Why Neo-Cons loved communitarian urbanist Jane Jacobs
Happy 100th, Jane! We’re still with you on the sidewalk
[PDF] The Death and Life of Great American Cities
YouTube: Remembering Jane Jacobs

Hero Worship - W.S. Di Piero

Dueling Warriors, ca. 530 BCE. Glazed ceramic.
"We usually think of the Greek gods as figures, as human embodiments, but to the Greek mind the gods were also, above all, states or conditions of being. Poseidon is god of the sea, yes, but he’s really the ungovernable force of natural disturbances — he is tempests and earthquakes. Virginal, woodland-rover Artemis punished the youthful hunter Actaeon (by turning him into a stag that his hounds turned on and killed) not simply because he’d seen her bathing naked but because his trespassing violated virgin wilderness. The gods meddled constantly in human affairs but remained awesomely remote as beings. Greek heroes, though, were closer to the human scheme of things because Herakles, Achilles, Odysseus, and Helen were mortals or semi-mortals; they were implicated in historical time, in the human order and its travails. They’re active presences in our consciousness because we recognize in their tasks, conflicts, and journeys analogies to our own existence and because they possess mortal attributes: Herakles, strength and stamina; Achilles, peerless violent valor; Odysseus, cunning. Theirs are among the oldest stories, and they never get old. The stories are illustrated and elucidated in the San Diego Museum of Art’s Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. ..."
San Diego Reader
NY Times: Those Greek Heroes, Sometimes Behaving Badly
amazon: Art’s Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece

2016 March: W.S. Di Piero, 2016 December: Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful, 2017 March: March of time: 20th Century icons from an old art museum in Buffalo are at the Museum of Art, May 2017: In from the cold, 2017 July: Turner set free: Nature as roughhouse theater by W.S. Di Piero, 2017 August: Big Black Sun by W.S. Di Piero

‘Einstein on the Beach’ Manuscript Goes to the Morgan Library in New York

‘Einstein on the Beach’ Manuscript Goes to the Morgan Library in New York
"An original score for Einstein on the Beach (1976), the transformative opera work by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, is going to New York’s Morgan Library & Museum by way of a gift from the estate of the late collector and philanthropist Paul F. Walter. ... In a statement, Colin B. Bailey, the Morgan’s director, said, 'Many have said that the true starting point of contemporary opera was 1976 with the production of Einstein on the Beach in Avignon'—the site of the work’s premiere in France before further performances in Europe and a storied two-night run that same year at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The announcement of the news acknowledged ways in which Einstein on the Beach 'broke a host of operatic conventions,' which is one way to put it. Another way is to just cite these words from a typically mesmerizing part of the four-plus-hour work, uttered some 43 times by a wonderfully inscrutable character named 'Witness'. ..."
YouTube: Einstein On The Beach - Act 3. Scene 1. Trial. Prison. ("Prematurely air-conditioned supermarket")

2009 November: Philip Glass, 2010 April: Satyagraha, 2010 May: Koyaanisqatsi, 2010 July: The CIVIL warS, 2010 November: Akhenaten, 2011 January: Landscape with Philip Glass (1975), 2011 May: Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera (1985), 2011 August: Philip Glass Ensemble - "Train/Spaceship", 2011 December: The Satyagraha protest, 2011 December: Glassworks, 2015 June: THE EARTH MOVES. A documentary about Einstein on the Beach, 2015 December: Composing Myself: Philip Glass (2015)
2008 April: Robert Wilson, 2010 January: Einstein on the Beach, 2010 July: The CIVIL warS, 2011 May: Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera , 2011 August: Stations (1982), 2012 February: Absolute Wilson, 2012 August: Einstein on the Blog: Christopher Knowles’ Typings, 2013 March: The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin, 2013 April: Death, Destruction and Detroit, 2013 October: crickets audio recording slowed way down, 2013 October: Beached, 2014 January: The Louvre invites Robert Wilson - Living Rooms, 2014 November: The Old Woman - Robert Wilson, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe, 2015 May: Watermill Quintet: Robert Wilson Curates New Performances, 2015 June: THE EARTH MOVES. A documentary about Einstein on the Beach., 2018 March:Video 50 (1978)

Thursday, April 19

Savant - Artificial Dance 'The Neo-Realist (At Risk)' (1983/2015)

"Fans of Brian Eno & David Byrne's 'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts' will enjoy this album as it is a revelatory document of tape spliced funk, fourth-world foraging and nonconformist musical ethos. The reference to Byrne/Eno is apposite...there are similarities in construction and the use of narrative snippets but this music shines in its own light...not borrowed glory. It has great rhythm, layered textures and drama which make for detailed and discerning listening... One to savour. RVNG Intl. revisit Kerry Leimer's incredible Savant releases, compiling the group's sole LP and 12" with hard-to-find compilation cuts and three unreleased tracks. Overlapping dates with last year's solo collection A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975 - 1983), this album surveys Leimer at the desk again, but this time cutting up and patching together source material from a gang of like-minded local musicians from Seattle who were just as unconcerned with commercial success and social status as Kerry himself. ..."
Holland Tunnel Dive
YouTube: The Neo-Realist, Knowledge And Action, Using Words, Shadow In Deceit

The Postcolonial Moment

Sanlé Sory, courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
"Burkina Faso is a landlocked country, closer to the desert than the ocean. Its cities are freighted with dust, beaten into submission by the harsh sun, red, hard-packed earth, potholed, black-tarred roads, and sturdy but uninspired greenery, buildings, modern and traditional, crowding each other, all of it shrouded in a layer of fast change, the wider ambitioms of the region, and deep melancholy. Ibrahima Sanlé Sory first began taking photographs here in the late 1950s, documenting highway wrecks near his hometown of Bobo-Dioulasso, in what was the new nation of Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso. He risked crashes every day riding around on a motorbike chasing photos. He also made a name for himself photographing the country’s emerging music scene and illustrating record sleeves. But he didn’t truly find his voice until 1960, the same year Upper Volta gained its independence from France, when he opened Volta Photo, his portrait studio. ..."
New Republic
W - Burkina Faso

Work Rest and Play - Madness EP (1980)

Wikipedia - "Work Rest and Play is an EP by British ska/pop band Madness. ... The EP was headlined by the song 'Night Boat to Cairo', from the band's debut album One Step Beyond. The EP's success was largely down to 'Night Boat to Cairo', which headlined the set and had an accompanying music video. The fourth song, 'Don't Quote Me On That', was a commentary on press coverage which had tried to paint the band as racists who supported the National Front. Some of the band's shows had been disrupted by skinhead violence and, in a 1979 NME interview, Madness member Chas Smash was quoted as saying 'We don't care if people are in the NF as long as they're having a good time.' This was quoted to add to the speculation that Madness was a racist band supporting the National Front, although the band members denied those allegations. ..."
W - Night Boat to Cairo
YouTube: Night Boat to Cairo, Deceives the Eye, My Girl

Wednesday, April 18

Think big, be free, have sex … 10 reasons to be an existentialist

De Beauvoir and Sarte on a Paris street after their release from police custody, June 1970. They were arrested for selling a newspaper advocating the overthrow of the French government.
"I was a teenage existentialist. I became one at 16 after spending birthday money from my granny on Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea. It was the cover that attracted me, with its Dalí painting of a dripping watch and sickly green rock formation, plus a blurb describing it as 'a novel of the alienation of personality and the mystery of being'. I didn’t know what was mysterious about being, or what alienation meant – although I was a perfect example of it at the time. I just guessed that it would be my kind of book. Indeed it was: I bonded at once with its protagonist Antoine Roquentin, who drifts around his provincial seaside town staring at tree trunks and beach pebbles, feeling physical disgust at their sheer blobbish reality, and making scornful remarks about the bourgeoisie. The book inspired me: I played truant from school and tried drifting around my own provincial town of Reading. I even went to a park and tried to see the Being of a Tree. I didn’t quite glimpse it, but I did decide that I wanted to study philosophy, and especially this strange philosophy of Sartre’s, which I learned was 'existentialism'. No one can be completely sure what existentialism is, since its own chief thinkers disagreed about its tenets and many of them denied being existentialists at all. Among the few exceptions were the two most famous, Sartre and his companion Simone de Beauvoir, who accepted the label mainly because they grew tired of telling people not to call them it. ..."

Albert Camus

Kendrick Lamar and the Shell Game of 'Respect'

"Here’s one among the many provocative questions raised by Kendrick Lamar’s Damn winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music: Is Damn the best work of rap or pop ever made? The Pulitzers, whose only stated criteria is 'for distinguished musical composition by an American' in the eligible timeframe, have previously only awarded classical and jazz artists. By making an exception for Lamar, the Pulitzers could be seen as saying that he is, well, the exception. That only Lamar’s blazingly intricate 14-track reckoning with vice and Geraldo Rivera can compete with rarefied types like Caroline Shaw (winner in 2013), Wynton Marsalis (1997), or Aaron Copland (1945). That the rest of pop—not to mention the rest of hip-hop—remains of an unmentionable tier, except maybe for Bob Dylan, who won a special citation from the Pulitzers in 2008. This is a dubious and snobbish thought, yes—but it’s a result of the inevitably thorny logic that always goes along with artistic awards-giving. ..."
The Atlantic

2015 December: To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), 2016 March: When the Lights Shut Off: Kendrick Lamar and the Decline of the Black Blues Narrative by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah (2013), 2016 March: Who gets to say how black people see themselves? - Marlon James, 2016 March: untitled unmastered (EP - 2016), 2016 July: BET Awards 2016: Watch Beyoncé Perform “Freedom” with Kendrick Lamar, 2017 April: Damn. (2017)

Jeddah’s Historical Al Balad Neighbourhood

"Sami Nawar, who’s leading a project to restore buildings in Jeddah’s Al Balad area, stands on the roof of Naseef House, a tall building right in the middle of the neighbourhood. ‘It will start soon, just listen,’ he says. It is just before sunset and the weather, pressingly hot and humid all through the day, is becoming more agreeable. There is even a slight wind from the west, coming from Jeddah’s Red Sea coast. On the other side, to the east, is the age-old road leading to Mecca. Suddenly, ‘it’ begins. The unmistakable sound that is heard five times a day across Saudi Arabia: the voices of muezzins, many at once, calling people to prayer. ‘You can hear the sound coming from all directions up here, and you can see everywhere,’ says Nawar. Surrounding Naseef House on all sides are white buildings, several storeys high, with elaborate hand-carved wooden shutters and balconies. Some are painted bright green or blue, others are naturally brown. The houses were built between the 16th and early 20th centuries, during which Jeddah grew from a small fishing settlement to a fortified wall city, largely thanks to its position as an important port on the Indian Ocean trade route and the gateway to Mecca. ..."
W - Al-Balad, Jeddah
Ten Things to do in Al-Balad Historical District, Jeddah
YouTube: Al Balad District Jeddah, Al-balad-Jeddah

Tuesday, April 17

On Tax Day, Reread Thoreau’s ‘Civil Disobedience’

Protesters on tax day last year.
"There must have been a lot of Abu Ghraib-inspired loitering in post offices that year. The first time I had to turn in a tax return after seeing those photos of Iraqi prisoners of war being tortured by United States Army reservists, I stood in front of a mail box for 45 minutes, hesitating to contribute to the federal coffers and envying the folk singer Pete Seeger. Mr. Seeger’s wife, Toshi, used to cover their tax return with a blank sheet of paper so he saw only the one line he had to sign and not the amount of money he was sending to Washington to pay for wars he disapproved of. I played Al Capone in an eighth grade re-enactment of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. So of course I mailed my tax return. I slunk home and figured I had two choices: I could cheer up, or I could reread Thoreau. Henry David Thoreau delivered a lecture on 'resistance to civil government' that would acquire the post-mortem title 'Civil Disobedience.' ..."
NY Times

2009 April: Henry David Thoreau, 2012 September: Walden, 2015 March: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), 2017 March: Civil Disobedience (1849), 2017 April: The Maine Woods (1864), 2017 June: This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal, 2017 July: Pond Scum - Henry David Thoreau’s moral myopia. By Kathryn Schulz, 2017 July: Walden, a Game, 2017 October: Walden Wasn’t Thoreau’s Masterpiece, 2017 December: Walden on the Rocks - Ariel Dorfman, 2018 March: A Map of Radical Bewilderment