An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, December 18, 2017
Music: Current count 29021  rated (+26), 389  unrated (+1).
Spent most of the week sorting out the Jazz Critics Poll ballots, but got slowed down the last few days. Every year we do a Hanukkah party: no religious significance, basically just an excuse to fry up some latkes for friends. Over the years I've added a few side dishes: I salt-cure a chunk of salmon, make some chopped liver, make my own applesauce (we still buy the sour cream). Last year I baked some rye bread to go with the chopped liver. This year I did honey rye rolls (from The Gefilte Manifesto), and whipped up a batch of their "everything bagel butter." I also had some sauerrubben (salted turnip) left over from a previous meal, and the citrus-carrot horseradish, so I made a terrine of gefilte fish (used dover sole) to go with that. I also fried up and pickled some frozen perch fillets I found in the freezer. The centerpiece were the potato pancakes: 3 lbs of russets, 3 onions, 3 eggs, fried in grapeseed oil in three skillets. I don't get to eat until the frying's done, by which time everyone else are pretty well sated.
For a light dessert, we had a bowl of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries with a wine-sugar syrup and a second bowl of vanilla cream. I recently bought a 12-cup food processor, which made quick work of the onions and potatoes, the chopped liver, and the other tasks I presented it with (although it wasn't great at mixing up or kneading the bread). Prep work was pretty relaxed. The frying caused problems, first tripping the smoke alarm, then the range hood shut down. Doesn't seem to be a permanent problem, but it's never been so fussy before.
I played golden oldies while cooking, hence the low rated count. Also lost more than a few hours to a carpentry project: a new pantry rack that'll attach to the basement door. Bought some more paint for that today. Should get it up in a couple of days.
One casualty of this work was no Weekend Roundup yesterday. You can, at least, check out Matthew Yglesias: The 4 biggest policy stories of the week, explained: A Democrat won a Senate election in Alabama; Republicans wrote their tax bill; Sexual harassment accusations kept roiling Congress; Net neutrality (i.e., the end of, so your ISP can start auctioning you off to the highest bidder). Given that a candidate as inept and disgusting as Roy Moore still managed to get 650,000 votes (48.4%), I doubt the good news about Alabama will last long. Everything else is more/less horrible. The takeaway is that Republicans don't care about doing vastly unpopular things as long as they advance their owners' agenda. Even if they blow up and cost them a couple elections, like 2006-08, they believe they can claw their way back to power. Yglesias' piece, a piece arguing Why Trump's tax cuts won't be repealed, reveals part of the reason: a profound lack of ambition from the Democrats.
Another thing I didn't have time for was working on the EOY Aggregate List. Picked up a couple lists, but nothing much changed. Much of what I did come up with was suggested by various jazz lists, but still lots of things not on Napster or Bandcamp. Finally wound up with Ron Miles' I Am a Man on YouTube, but that's hardly a fair medium for reviewing. Note three B+(***) records among the vault discoveries: Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, and Oscar Pettiford all did well in the Jazz Critics Poll, but one spin (especially for the 2CD items) wasn't enough to convince me. Indeed, I also had Call Super pegged at B+(***) before I chanced an extra spin this afternoon, and enjoyed it enough to nudge it over the line.
I was saddened, and given that he was only 61 years old, shocked to hear that Ralph Carney has died. He grew up in Ohio, played clarinet (saxophone, all sorts of other instruments) in the Akron-based new wave rock group Tin Huey -- kind of a big deal c. 1979, with Chris Butler going on to form the Waitresses -- and released a few albums from 1987 on. I'm especially fond of two of the jazzier ones: Carneyball Johnson (2006) and Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project (2009); also fine, by the latter group, was Seriously (2011). I wrote him once for records, and he was uncommonly gracious and generous, leading me to his work on several fine "spoken word" albums: Ira Cohen's The Stauffenberg Cycle, Robert Creeley's Really!!, and David Greenberger's OH, PA. He was probably most widely known for his long association with Tom Waits, but he did much more than that.
Keely Smith (originally Dorothy Jacqueline Keely) also passed away last week. She got a job singing for bandleader Louis Prima in 1949, married him in 1953, divorced him in 1961. Prima did some good work as far back as 1934 and had some hits in the '40s, but their period together (along with saxophonist Sam Butera, aka "the wildest") made them stars, especially in Las Vegas. Especially notable is their 1958 Live From Las Vegas. She continued recording up to 1965, then made brief comebacks around 1985 and 2000. The only album I noticed came out in 2005, a thoroughly enjoyable recapitulation of her heyday called Vegas '58 -- Today.
New records rated this week:
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
Old music rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: