Monday, January 14, 2019
Music: current count 30949  rated (+36), 263  unrated (+3).
Rated count remains healthy despite my various disabilities. The
breakdown shifted rather dramatically toward "recent reissues, compilations,
and vault discoveries" -- probably because I finally added a few rather
deep compilation-oriented lists to my
EOY Aggregate and its
Old Music companion,
including the complete
Poll: Reissues/Historical list. Some other late-breaking polls I
The James Brown compilation topped the Ye Wei list, and could have rated
higher had I spent more time with it. The FOLC is one of those retro-rock
things Phil Overeem especially loves. I was vaguely aware that a lot of
Sun Ra had been reissued last year, so when my first two picks turned out
to be especially good, I tried out a bunch more. Trying to figure out the
lay of the land, I jotted down a list of 85 more Sun Ra albums on Napster
that I haven't heard. I should return to them at some point.
There is a new
XgauSez over on
Robert Christgau's website, as well as the
2018 Dean's List. I wanted to get the reviews caught up, but in
the end decided just to post the list. Still don't feel up to starting
the planned site redesign, and probably shouldn't risk it until I do.
I gather there is a Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll in the works,
so that will probably wrap up my EOY list madness. Christgau held back
his point assignments for the poll, although I wouldn't expect them to
post ballots this year after they failed last year. Christgau will be
writing some kind of piece for the poll. For the first time in 15+
years I didn't get an invite, so I find myself losing interest. Much
more info can be mined from my own EOY Aggregate anyway.
New records rated this week:
- Art Brut: Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out (2018, Alcopop!): [r]: B+(**)
- David Binney: Here & Now (2018, Mythology): [r]: B-
- Itamar Borochov: Blue Nights (2018 , Laborie Jazz): [cd]: B+(**)
- Peter Brotzmann & Fred Lonberg-Holm: Ouroboros (2011 , Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(***)
- Chuck Deardorf: Perception (2017-18 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Delines: The Imperial (2019, El Cortez): [r]: B+(***)
- Bryan Ferry and His Orchestra: Bitter-Sweet (2018, BMG): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe Fiedler: Open Sesame (2018 , Multiphonics Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Miho Hazama: Dancer in Nowhere (2018 , Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(**)
- Janczarski & McCraven Quintet: Liberator (2016 , ForTune): [bc]: B+(*)
- Brandon Lopez: Quoniam Facta Sum Vilis (2018, Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(*)
- Loretta Lynn: Wouldn't It Be Great (2006-17 , Legacy): [r]: B+(**)
- Quinsin Nachoff's Flux: Path of Totality (2016-17 , Whirlwind, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- May Okita: Art of Life (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Ernie Watts Quartet: Home Light (2018, Flying Dolphin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Zeal and Ardor: Stranger Fruit (2018, MVKA): [r]: B+(*)
- Denny Zeitlin/Buster Williams/Matt Wilson: Wishing on the Moon (2009 , Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Gordon Beck Quartet: When Sunny Gets Blue (1966-68 , Another Planet): [r]: B+(*)
- James Brown & the Famous Flames: The Federal & King Singles As and Bs 1956-61 (1956-61 , Acrobat, 2CD): [r]: A-
- Feeling Kréyol: Las Palé (1988, Strut, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!! And Rights!! (, FOLC): [bc]: A-
- Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth-Boogie in 1980s South Africa (Soundway): [r]: B+(**)
- Guy Lafitte: His Tenor Sax & Orchestra 1954-1959 (1954-59 , Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(***)
- Guy Lafitte: Quartet & Sextet Sessions 1956-1962 (1956-62 , Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)
- Dave McKenna: In Madison (1991 , Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
- John Prine: Live in Asheville '86 (1986 , Oh Boy): [bc]: B+(**)
- Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Sun Ra With Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold: Judson Hall, New York, Dec. 31, 1964 (1964 , Enterplanetary Koncepts): [bc]: B+(**)
- Sun Ra: Astro Black (1972 , Modern Harmonic): [r]: B+(*)
- Sun Ra: The Cymbals/Symbols Sessions: New York City 1973 (1973 , Modern Harmonic, 2CD): [bc]: B+(***)
- Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Discipline 99 (Out Beyond the Kingdom Of) (1974 , Enterplanetary Koncepts): [bc]: B+(**)
- Sun Ra: Of Abstract Dreams (1974-75 , Strut): [r]: A-
- Sun Ra and His Arkestra: Taking a Chance on Chances (1977 , Enterplanetary Koncepts): [r]: B+(***)
- Sun Ra: God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be (1979 , Cosmic Myth): [r]: A-
- Sun Ra: Sun Ra Plays Gershwin (1951-89 , Enterplanetary Koncepts): [r]: B
- Jesse Sharps Quintet & P.A.P.A.: Sharps and Flats (2004 , Nimbus West/Outernational Sounds): [r]: B+(***)
Old music rated this week:
- Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra: We Travel the Space Ways (1960 , Enterplanetary Koncepts): [r]: B+(*)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Joshua Redman/Ron Miles/Scott Colley/Brian Blade: Still Dreaming (2017 , Nonesuch): [r]: [was B+(**)] B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Moppa Elliott: Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band (Hot Cup, 2CD): February 14
- Iro Haarla, Ulf Krokfors & Barry Altschul: Around Again (TUM)
- Alexander Hawkins: Iron Into Wind: Piano Solo (Intakt)
- Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions (Flat Langston's Arkeyes)
- Human Feel [Chris Speed/Andrew D'Angelo/Kurt Rosenwinkel/Jim Black]: Gold (Intakt)
- Greg Murphy Trio: Bright Idea (Whaling City Sound)
- Tom Rainey Trio With Mary Halvorson and Ingrid Laubrock: Combobulated (Intakt)
- Dave Rudolph Quintet: Resonance (self-released)
- Wadada Leo Smith: Rosa Parks: Pure Love: An Oratorio of Seven Songs (TUM): February 15
- Ernie Watts Quartet: Home Light (Flying Dolphin)
Sunday, January 13, 2019
For many years now, I've identified two major political problems
in America. The most obvious one is the nation's habit and obsession
with projection of military power as its leverage in dealing with
other nations. As US economic power has waned, and as America shed
its liberal ideals, it's become easier for others to challenge its
supremacy. In turn, American power has hardened around its military
and covert networks, placing the nation on a permanent war footing.
This near-constant state of war, since 1945 but even more blatantly
since 2001, has led to numerous social maladies, like domestic gun
violence and the xenophobia leading to the current "border crisis."
The other big problem is increasing inequality. The statistics,
which started in the 1970s but really took off in the "greed is good"
1980s, are clear and boring, but the consequences are numerous, both
subtle and pernicious. It would take a long book to map out most of
the ways the selfish pursuit and accumulation of riches has warped
business, politics, and society. One small example is that when GW
Bush arbitrarily commanded the world to follow his War on Terror lead
("you're either with us or against us"), he was assuming that as US
President he was entitled to the same arbitrary powers (and lack of
accountability) corporate CEOs enjoyed.
I used to wonder how Reagan was able to affect such a huge change
in America despite relatively sparse legislative accomplishments --
mostly his big tax cut. The answer is that as president he could send
signals to corporate and financial leaders that government would not
interfere with their more aggressive pursuit of power and profit.
Reagan's signals have been reiterated by every Republican president
since, with ever less concern for scruples or ethics or even the
slightest concern for consequences. All Trump has done has been to
carry this logic to its absurdist extreme: his greed is shameless,
even when it crosses into criminality.
Still, what the government lockout, now entering its fourth week,
shows, is that we may need to formulate a third mega-ailment: we seem
to have lost our commitment to basic competency. We should have seen
this coming when politicians (mostly Republicans) decided that politics
trumps all other considerations, so they could dispute (or ignore) any
science or expertise or so-called facts they found inconvenient. (Is
it ironical that the same people who decry "political correctness"
when it impinges on their use of offensive rhetoric are so committed
to imposing their political regimen on all discussions of what we
once thought of as reality?)
A couple things about competency. One is that it's rarely noticed,
except in the breech. You expect competency, even when you're engaging
with someone whose qualifications you can properly judge -- a doctor,
say, or a computer technician, or a mechanic. You also expect a degree
of professional ethical standards. Trust depends on those things, and
no matter how many time you're reminded caveat emptor, virtually
everything you do in everyday life is built on trust. We can all point
to examples of people who violated your trust, but until recently such
people were in the minority. Now we have Donald Trump. And sure, lots
of us distrusted him from the start of his campaign. He was, after all,
vainglorious, corrupt, a habitual liar, totally lacking in empathy, his
head full of mean-spirited rubbish.
On the other hand, even I am shocked at how incapable Trump has been
at understanding the most basic rudiments of his job. There's nothing
particularly wrong with him having policy views, or even an agenda, but
the most basic requirement of his job is that he keep the government
working, according to the constitution and the laws as established per
that constitution -- you know, the one he had to swear to protect and
follow when he took his oath of office. There have been shutdowns in
the past -- basically ever since Newt Gingrich decided the threat would
be a clever way to extort some policy concessions from Bill Clinton --
but this is the first one that was imposed by a president.
His reason? Well, obviously he's made a political calculation, where
he thinks he can either bully the Democrats into giving him something
they really hate ($5.7 billion so he can brag about how he's delivering
that "big, beautiful wall" he campaigned on) and thereby restore his
"art of the deal" mojo from the tarnish of losing the 2018 "midterms"
so badly, or rouse the American people (his base, anyway) into blaming
the Democrats for all the damage the shutdown causes. Either way, he
feels that his second-term election in 2020 depends on this defense of
political principle. Besides, he hates the federal government anyway --
possibly excepting the military and a few other groups currently exempt
from the shutdown -- mostly because he's bought into the credo that
"politics is everything, and everything is politics" (which makes most
of the Democrat-leaning government enemy territory).
On the other hand, all he's really shown is that he's unfit to hold
office, because he's forgotten that his main job is to keep the United
States government working: implementing and enforcing the laws of the
land, per the constitution. One might argue that using his office for
such a political ploy is as significant a violation of his trust as
anything else he's done. Indeed, one might argue that it is something
he should be impeached for (although that would require a political
consensus that has yet to form -- not that he isn't losing popularity
during this charade).
Some scattered links this week:
Trump's Hannity interview reveals a president out of touch with
But this is the crux of the matter. He doesn't consider this issue very
important. It's not important enough for him to offer Democrats anything
of substance in a legislative swap, and it's not important enough for him
to have bothered to learn anything about the issue or even develop a
specific proposal. He is imposing huge costs on a huge number of people,
but he personally is suffering nothing more than the indignity of hanging
out in the White House.
And he's so unselfconscious that he actually threw himself a pity party
in the midst of all the problems he's causing. There's no apology here for
the inconvenience, followed by an explanation of why he's doing it. Because
he's not sorry. He wants us to feel sorry for him. And that, in some ways,
is the most disturbing thing of all.
Yglesias focuses on the workers who aren't getting paid, but there
are much larger potential costs to many more people if you can factor
in the work that doesn't get done, and the signals not doing this work.
Much of what the government does is meant to keep companies honest and
trustworthy. Losing that doesn't seem to bother Trump, and indeed most
people may not notice the loss -- until it's too late.
FBI agents' union slams Trump, says the shutdown is harming national
The more Trump talks, the less likely it is he'll get his precious steel
slats: "To get things done, the president needs to shut up." That
Trump keeps trying to make political hay out of the lockout suggests
he's only concerned with the political optics. (On the other hand, if
it isn't talked about on Fox & Friends, is it even real to
Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020: "Americans want outsiders,
reformers, and fresh faces, not politicians with decades of baggage."
In particular, "Why nominate another Iraq hawk?" With Clinton on the
shelf, it's hard to think of any Democrat with more easily attacked
baggage than Biden. (John Kerry has similar problems -- some exactly
the same. And sure, Andrew Cuomo and Rahm Emmanuel were on track to
catch up, but they're already pretty thoroughly discredited.) Biden
is a guy that some in the media enjoy touting and that most Democrats
would settle for, but no one really likes him. (You do know that
Leslie Knope's "hots" for him was a joke, don't you?)
It's not just that Biden, despite his currently strong polling, would
make for a weak candidate if he runs. The entire spectacle of once again
re-fighting every intraparty battle from the past two generations of
Democratic Party politics would be bad for almost everyone at a time
when Democrats should be talking about their ideas for the future rather
than raking over the past.
The real crisis is that Trump has no idea what he's doing.
The shutdown is intractable because Trump's wall is ridiculous and
Republicans know it: "Conservatives won't trade the wall for anything
good because they know it's a bad idea.".
Taxing the rich is very popular; it's Republicans who have the radical
position: "But TV news anchors are rich."
Networks giving Trump free airtime on Tuesday refused to air Obama's 2014
The "skills gap" was a lie: "New research shows it was the consequence
of high unemployment rather than its cause." Nothing on who knew better at
the time, although I suspect that when I start looking around, Dean Baker
and Paul Krugman will have something to say on that.
Trump confronts the prospect of a 'nonstop political war' for
The impact of the government shutdown is about to snowball.
Shutdown means EPA pollution inspectors aren't on the job.
Living on a quagmire planet: "Honestly, this could get a lot
Before Trump, Steve King set the agenda for the wall and anti-immigration
Searching for a substantive response to Trump's hateful speech:
"Shutting down the government over the border wall is to policy what
writing a pouty letter to Kim Jong Un is to diplomacy, and the leader
of the Senate opposition should have no part in elevating it." Then
Gessen finds the response she's looking for, from Alexandria
The one thing that the President has not talked about is the fact that
he has systematically engaged in the violation of international human
rights on our border. He has separated children from their families.
He talked about what happened the day after Christmas -- on the day of
Christmas, a child died in [Customs and Border Protection] custody.
The President should not be asking for more money to an agency that
has systematically violated human rights; the President should be
really defending why we are funding such an agency at all. Because
right now what we are seeing is death, right now what we are seeing
is the violation of human rights, these children and these families
are being held in what are called hieleras, which are basically
freezing boxes that no person should be maintained in for any amount
of time. . . . He is trying to restrict every form of legal immigration
there is in the United States. He is fighting against family reunification,
he's fighting against the diversity visa lottery. . . . This is systematic,
it is wrong, and it is anti-American.
Unthinkable: 50 moments that define an improbable presidency: I'll
just list them, and you can go to the page for links and details:
- Donald Trump touches the magic orb
- A cabinet officer likes private planes too much
- The president praises the congressman who body-slammed a reporter
- An overcompensating press secretary lies about crowd size
- Trump tells the Boy Scouts about a hot New York party
- A name-calling feud ends with the secretary of state's ouster by tweet
- The WikiLeaks president goes silent
- The nation loses its consoler in chief
- The first president to complain about an election he won
- Trump waits 19 months to pick his science adviser
- The president's most trusted adviser is his own gut
- A White House economist creates facts for the president
- Trump holds a top secret confab on the Mar-a-Lago dining terrace
- The president just wants to go home
- Trump threatens to strip security clearances from his critics
- Mueller's "witch hunt" is good at finding witches
- Trump leads the country to the longest government shutdown in American history
- The chief justice of the United States corrects the president
- Trump disseminates Soviet propaganda
- The White House punishes a CNN reporter for asking questions
- The buck stops over there
- The president tries to kick transgender service members out of the military
- Trump tweets the wisdom of Mussolini
- Turkish agents assault protesters near the White House
- Trump helps the Saudis cover up a murder
- "We're gonna have the cleanest air"
- The president can't stop talking about carnage
- America gets a first daughter
- The UN General Assembly laughs at the president
- Rain stops Trump from honoring the dead
- The president learns about separation of powers
- The president learns about the Justice Department
- The president lies constantly
- Trump threatens to press his "nuclear button"
- Public humiliation comes for everyone in the White House
- The CIA dead become a TV prop
- You know you're in a constitutional crisis when . . .
- Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford to a cheering crowd
- A new term enters the presidential lexicon: "shithole countries"
- Trump throws paper towels at Puerto Ricans
- "I have the absolute right to pardon myself"
- The president calls his porn-star ex-paramour "horseface"
- Trump picks the wrong countries for his travel ban
- Trump declares war on black athletes
- James Comey is fired
- Putin and Trump talk without chaperones
- The president still hasn't released his tax returns
- "Very fine people on both sides"
- Children are taken from their parents and incarcerated
Saddest thing about this list? I didn't have to look any of them up.
Second saddest thing? The umbrella didn't even make the cut.
Confronting "Alternative Facts": "A Twenty-First-Century Incredibility
Chasm: Life in the United States of Trump."
Bricks in the Wall: A history of US efforts to fortify the border
with Mexico, starting in 1945 with a 10-foot high chain link fence that
stretched 5 miles near Calexico, CA, built with materials that had been
used in Japanese-American internment camps. Grandin has a new book on
the subject: The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border
Wall in the Mind of America.
As Democratic elites reunite with neocons, the party's voters are becoming
far more militaristic and pro-war than Republicans: I can't help but
think Greenwald has cherry-picked a few facts here and turned them into a
gross slander of the Democratic Party base.
Jack Healy/Tyler Pager:
Farm country stood by Trump. But the shutdown is pushing it to the breaking
Why so many people who need the government hate it: "Everyone benefits
from welfare. Here's why most people don't know that." Interview with
Suzanne Mettler, author of The Government-Citizen Disconnect.
"If individual citizens withdraw from public life, the only people in society
who have power are those with lots of economic power."
"We have to find a way to recapture that sense of the government as an
instrument of good in our lives, and we have to stop thinking of it as the
"If we become more and more anti-government, we're against ourselves.
We're against our own collective capacity to do anything."
Trump's ties to the Russian mafia go back 3 decades: Interview with
Craig Unger, author of House of Trump, House of Putin.
Trump's big libertarian experiment: "Does contaminated food smell
"Government," declared Ronald Reagan in his first Inaugural Address, "is
not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." Republicans
have echoed his rhetoric ever since. Somehow, though, they've never
followed through on the radical downsizing of government their ideology
But now Donald Trump is, in effect, implementing at least part of the
drastic reduction in government's role his party has long claimed to favor.
If the shutdown drags on for months -- which seems quite possible -- we'll
get a chance to see what America looks like without a number of public
programs the right has long insisted we don't need. Never mind the wall;
think of what's going on as a big, beautiful libertarian experiment.
Seriously, it's striking how many of the payments the federal government
is or soon will be failing to make are for things libertarians insist we
shouldn't have been spending taxpayer dollars on anyway.
Melting snowballs and the winter of debt.
Elizabeth Warren and her party of ideas: The tide has turned:
Today's G.O.P. is a party of closed minds, hostile to expertise,
aggressively uninterested in evidence, whose idea of a policy argument
involves loudly repeating the same old debunked doctrines. Paul Ryan's
"innovative" proposals of 2011 (cut taxes and privatize Medicare) were
almost indistinguishable from those of Newt Gingrich in 1995.
Meanwhile, Democrats have experienced an intellectual renaissance.
They have emerged from their 1990s cringe; they're no longer afraid to
challenge conservative pieties; and there's a lot of serious, well-informed
intraparty debate about issues from health care to climate change.
The corrupting falsehoods of Trump's Oval Office speech.
Trump's advisers push for emergency declaration -- while assuming it'll be
stopped in court.
Democrats need to think way bigger on guns: Doubts about focusing
on background checks.
All 20 previous government shutdowns, explained. In my introduction,
I blamed the phenomenon on Newt Gingrich, but most of these were prior
to 1985 (mostly when Reagan was president). This doesn't go into further
threats made by Gingrich and later Republican threats aimed at Obama,
although it does include the 2013 shutdown. Related:
Javier Zarrancina/Li Zhou: The astonishing effects of the shutdown, in
Trump's typos reveal his lack of fitness for the presidency.
Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin
from senior officials in administration.
Ocean warming is accelerating faster than thought, new research
As the planet has warmed, the oceans have provided a critical buffer.
They have slowed the effects of climate change by absorbing 93 percent
of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases humans pump into the
"If the ocean wasn't absorbing as much heat, the surface of the land
would heat up much faster than it is right now," said Malin L. Pinsky,
an associate professor in the department of ecology, evolution and natural
resources at Rutgers University. "In fact, the ocean is saving us from
massive warming right now."
But the surging water temperatures are already killing off marine
ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.
US carbon emissions surged in 2018 even as coal plants closed.
Eric Schmidt/Mark Landler:
Pentagon officials fear Bolton's actions increase risk of clash with
Trump the toddler: "The president is pursuing a child's strategy for
getting what he wants."
National parks are getting trashed amid the government shutdown.
This strikes me as one of the most telling stories of the lockout.
I've spent a lot of time working late in offices, and as such I've
noticed people coming in to clean them up every night. It turns out
that it takes a lot of work to keep any place inhabited by humans
from turning into a dump, but most office workers, clocking in and
out on expected schedules, never see that.
The US isn't really leaving Syria and Afghanistan: Author sees
mostly technical problems, largely because the US military is much
better at building bases than dismantling them -- especially when
it wants to do one and not the other. There's also the problem of
not having a coherent plan let alone viable allies. And up and down
the command chain there are people who can't be trusted not to fake
a crisis or provocation if it serves their agenda. Whenever you give
someone like John Bolton the opportunity to explain what Trump means,
it's likely to spin around 180 degrees.
The government shutdown is hurting America's diplomats -- and
Pompeo and his Bible define US policy in the Middle East:
Pompeo's speech had three dimensions: it was anti-Obama, anti-Iran, and
in favor of so-called traditional allies, as Robert Malley, the president
of the International Crisis Group and a senior National Security Council
staffer in the Obama Administration, told me. "The first reflects a
politicization of foreign policy for which it is hard to conjure up a
precedent. The second an ideological obsession that does not comport with
reality. And the third an implicit celebration of an autocratic status quo
that masquerades as a tribute to stability. Pompeo's self-proclaimed message
was that America is a force for good. Whether that ever was the case, his
speech was proof that, today at least, it plainly is not."
For more on Pompeo's speech/mission:
Monday, January 07, 2019
Music: current count 30913  rated (+39), 260  unrated (+9).
The 13th Annual Jazz Critics Poll results were published by NPR early
Saturday morning, with two pieces by Francis Davis:
The 2018 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll: Top 50 new albums (blurbs by
various authors on top ten), five additional blurbs on "Solitary No. 1s"
(records that only received one vote, a 1st place, including one I wrote
on The Music of Anders Garstedt), and one blurb and top ten (or
less) standings for the other categories: Reissues/Historical, Debuts,
Wayne Shorter Travels the Spaceways, with Davis's own year summary
plus his own annotated ballot.
As has been the case since 2009, I tabulated all of the ballots and
formatted them and complete totals
here. Since I posted
all that, I've had to update the files a few times. Most troubling
were cases where I counted votes for the wrong record by an artist
(one of the Esperanza Spalding votes should have been for her 2017
album; two of the Mingus votes should have gone to Live in Montreux
1975. Other problems were routine typos, but all (so far) have
been easy to fix.
Bigger problem is that I never got copied on Richard Scheinin's
ballot, so it didn't get counted. Still unresolved what to do about
that, but I took the trouble to dig his top-25 list out of his
and added it into my
EOY Aggregate. I've
also added the entire new and historical album lists, but thus
far I haven't dipped into the individual ballots. I've started
to pick up individual ballots from
All About Jazz writers (only a few of whom voted in JCP), and
before long I'll take a look at the
JJA member lists (which I wasn't able to find until today).
I'm also doing some mop-up on rock/pop lists, but I'm starting
to skip lists of little/no interest (chiefly metal). Don't know
how long I'll keep this up, as the EOY list season is basically
done, and the
223 lists I currently
have logged give a pretty fair picture, at least in rock/pop,
hip-hop, and (somewhat less) electronica.
While most of the records below are 2018 releases I've noted on
lists and am belatedly checking out, two of the new A- albums are
2019 releases (and another by Quinsin Nachoff will show up in next
week's report). I'm also treating Eric Dolphy's Musical Prophet
as a 2019 release: physical CDs don't hit the market until Jan. 26,
although a digital release came out Nov. 23, and enough critics
heard and voted for it to finish 3rd in JCP -- alas, not me, not
that it would have cracked my ballot (even if I didn't follow my
recent rule of only voting for historical records I have physical
So the only new A- this week from the 2018 lists turns out to
be Spiritualized, which at 49 was the highest-rated album I hadn't
heard yet. I once loved their 1997 album, Ladies and Gentlemen
We Are Floating in Space, but last time I checkec them out the
record got a B-. Wound up playing the new one three times. Next few
EOY Aggregate records I haven't heard don't seem more promising:
Julia Holter, Iceage, Kurt Vile, Deafheaven, Anna Calvi, Cat Power,
Drake, Troye Sivan, Ghost, Lump, MGMT, Daughters, Florence + the
Machine, Jorja Smith, Elvis Costello, First Aid Kit. I'll probably
play a few of those before end of January.
Among the top 50 JCP albums, I've managed to hear 47. The exceptions
are numbers 50 (Elio Villafranca), 48 (Noah Preminger/Frank Carlberg),
and 1 (Wayne Shorter). None of those are available on Napster or
Bandcamp, nor do I recall any download offers. Shorter's Emanon
is a 3-CD live set with a hard-cover graphic novel costing $53.82 on CD
and $156.38 on vinyl. Not sure how well this was serviced -- I don't
even get email from Blue Note these days, which hasn't been a problem
given that everything else they release is available on Napster, and
since they decided to bet on hip-hop fusion they haven't released much
that's worth hearing. (This year: two ***, from Rosanne Cash and Charles
Lloyd/Lucinda Williams; two **, from Kenny Barron and Dave McMurray;
five *: Ambrose Akinmusire, Terence Blanchard, Nels Cline, GoGo Penguin,
José James; five B or worse.)
On the other hand, I've only heard 5 of the top-ten historical,
with Dolphy's Musical Prophet the only physical (too late).
Francis Davis remarked to me that the new albums list seemed to be
governed by "more is better": 3-CD Shorter (and Sorey); 2-CDs from
Akinmusire, Coleman, Halvorson, Salvant, Washington, plus separates
that could have been joined by Threadgill and Thumbscrew (we counted
the former separately, but merged the latter), plus 6-CD monsters
from Okazaki and Kimbrough -- all in the top-20. But the real home
of gigantism is the historical list, where the top 8 were all 2-CD
or more, topped by the 21-CD The Art Ensemble of Chicago and
Associated Ensembles and the 11-CD Sextet Parker 1993.
(I had naively assumed that the latter was just a repackaging of
Braxton's brilliant Charlie Parker Project 1993, so didn't
bother investigating further, but the full digital is available on
Bandcamp. I should take a close look at the site and see what
else is accessible.
I've been tempted to revisit several albums after seeing how they
placed in various lists. The only one with a regrade so far is Tierra
Whack's 15-minute EP Whack World. When Christgau placed it in
his top-10, I thought it might overcome my prejudice against EPs. Even
without the video, it feels remarkably full. I also gave Mitski's
Be the Cowboy (last week's
Christgau A-, number 2 in my EOY Aggregate) another chance, but didn't
for a moment feel like moving my grade above B. I'm usually a sucker
for a well-crafted pop album, but there are several this year that do
precious little for me (Robyn, Ariana Grande; I like Sophie a bit more,
but a recent retry didn't help it). Right now re-listening to Joshua
Redman's Still Dreaming (number 2 for Francis Davis), which
will probably get a small bump.
Just finished reading Suzy Hansen's Notes on a Foreign Country:
An American Abroad in a Post-American World, which winds up with
a thoroughly damning critique of US foreign policy, not least because
it pains her so much to admit to it all. But the cinch for her seems
to have been returning to the US (Brooklyn, Mississippi) and seeing
first-hand how the imperialist bile rots the nation from the inside.
At a more detail level, she illustrates without coming to any real
conclusions the ambivalences she feels about Kemal and Erdogan and
their respective cults with their peculiar ways of both dovetailing
with and rebelling against American hegemony.
New records rated this week:
- 6lack: East Atlanta Love Letter (2018, LoveRenaissance/Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
- Christopher Ali Solidarity Quartet: To Those Who Walked Before Us (2018, Jazz Och Solidaritet): [r]: B+(**)
- Atmosphere: Mi Vida Local (2018, Rhymesayers Entertainment): [r]: B+(**)
- Baco Exu Do Blues: Bluesman (2018, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Blue Standard: A Good Thing (2018 , Big Time): [cd]: B
- Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz: Volume Two (2012-18 , Origin): [cd]: A-
- Sheldon Brown Group: Blood of the Air (2018, Edgetone): [cd]: B+(*)
- The Coathangers: Live (2018, Suicide Squeeze): [r]: B+(**)
- CupcakKe: Eden (2018, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
- Kris Davis/Matt Mitchell/Aruán Ortiz/Matthew Shipp: New American Songbooks: Volume 2 (2018, Sound American): [bc]: B+(**)
- Dos Santos: Logos (2018, International Anthem): [r]: B+(*)
- Dave Douglas Quintet: Brazen Heart: Live at Jazz Standard: Saturday (2015 , Greenleaf Music, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Fire!: The Hands (2018, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B+(**)
- Tim Hecker: Konoyo (2018, Kranky): [r]: B
- Carlos Henriquez: Dizzy Con Clave: Live From Dizzy's Club Coca Cola (2018, RodBros Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Here's to Us: Animals, Wild and Tame (2018, Hoob Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
- Rolf Kühn: Yellow + Blue (2018, Edel/MPS): [r]: B+(**)
- Jon Lundbom Big Five Chord: Harder on the Outside (2018 , Hot Cup): [cd]: B+(***)
- Mad Crush: Mad Crush (2018, Upon This Rock, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Adrianne Lenker: Abysskiss (2018, Saddle Creek): [r]: B+(*)
- Jack Mouse Group: Intimate Adversary (2017 , Tall Grass): [cd]: B+(*)
- Grant Peeples & the Peeples Republik: Settling Scores Vol. II (2018, Gatorbone): [r]: B+(**)
- Rae Sremmurd: SR3MM (2018, Ear Drummer/Interscope, 3CD): [r]: B
- Rejoicer: Energy Dreams (2018, ,Stones Throw): [bc]: B+(**)
- Jay Rock: Redemption (2018, Top Dawg/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
- Jeff Rosenstock: Post- (2018, Polyvinyl): [r]: B+(*)
- Greg Saunier/Mary Halvorson/Ron Miles: New American Songbooks Volume 1 (2017, Sound American): [bc]: B+(**)
- Boz Scaggs: Out of the Blues (2018, Concord): [r]: B+(*)
- Serengeti: Dennis 6e (2018, People): [r]: B+(**)
- Spiritualized: And Nothing Hurt (2018, Fat Possum): [r]: A-
- Stephan Thelen: Fractal Guitar (2015-18 , Moonjune): [cd]: A-
- Martin Wind: Light Blue (2017 , Laika): [r]: B-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (1963 , Resonance, 3CD)
- Svein Finnerud Trio: Plastic Sun (1970 , Odin): [r]: B+(*)
Old music rated this week:
- Chicago Farmer: Midwest Side Stories (2016, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Eric Dolphy: In Europe Vol. 1 (1961 , Prestige/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
- Eric Dolphy: In Europe, Vol. 2 (1961 , Prestige/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
- Eric Dolphy: In Europe/Volume 3 (1961 , Prestige/OJC): [r]; B+(***)
- Eric Dolphy: Conversations (1963, FM/Vee Jay): [r]: B+(***)
- Eric Dolphy: Iron Man (1963 , West Wind): [r]: B+(***)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Tierra Whack: Whack World (2018, self-released, EP): [r]: [was: B+(***)] A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Ran Blake/Clare Ritter: Eclipse Orange (Zoning): February 15
- Itamar Borochov: Blue Nights (Laborie Jazz): February 1
- Samantha Boshnack's Seismic Belt: Live in Santa Monica (Orenda): March 15
- Sheldon Brown Group: Blood of the Air (Edgetone)
- Chuck Deardorf: Perception (Origin): January 18
- Joe Fiedler: Open Sesame (Multiphonics Music): February 25.
- Miho Hazama: Dancer in Nowhere (Sunnyside): February 8
- Christoph Irniger Pilgrim: Crosswinds (Intakt): January 18
- Michael Kocour: East of the Sun (OA2): January 18
- Dave Meder: Passage (Outside In Music): February 8
- Quinsin Nachoff's Flux: Path of Totality (Whirlwind): February 8
- May Okita: Art of Life (Origin): January 18
- Jamie Saft/Steve Swallow/Bobby Previte: You Don't Know the Life (RareNoise): cdr, January 25
- Wing Walker Orchestra: Hazel (Ears & Eyes): February 15
Names I had to add death dates for (*names I was aware of): Misha
Alperin, Charles Aznavour, Robert Barry, Eddie Campbell, Eddie
Clearwater, Vic Damone, Nathan Davis, Sonny Fortune, *Aretha Franklin,
*Roy Hargrove, Fred Hess, Algia Mae Hinton, Morgana King, Denise
LaSalle, Lazy Lester, Didier Lockwood, Kasse Mady [Diabaté], Geoffrey
Oryema, Perry Robinson, Philip Tabane, Marlene VerPlanck, Bill
Watrous, Tad Weed, Tony Joe White, Wesla Whitfield, *Nancy Wilson.
Sunday, January 06, 2019
Another pretty awful week, followed by a few hours grabbing a few
links in case I ever want to look back and see what was happening,
other than my own misery.
One point I've been wanting to make is that over quite some number
of presidential administrations, I've noticed a pattern. At first,
presidents are overwhelmed and wary of screwing up, so they tend to
defer to their staff, in many ways becoming prisoners of whoever
they happened to install -- usually the choice of their staff plus
the party's unelected Washington insiders. However, presidential
staff are usually careful to flatter their boss, faking fealty, and
over time all that deference (even if insincere) bolsters the ego
of whoever's president. Meanwhile the president gets comfortable,
even a bit cocky about his accomplishments, so starts to impose his
opinions and instincts. There are often further stages, and two-term
presidents tend to go to seed six years in (Eisenhower and Reagan
are obvious examples; Nixon didn't get that far; Clinton, Bush II,
and Obama were sidelines with enemy-controlled Congresses). But
we've clearly made the transition from Trump being the front man
to actually being in charge, running an administration and party
that is increasingly deferential to his every whim. And while most
of us thought Trump was pretty nuts to start with, he used to stay
comfortably within the Republican Party playbook. But increasingly,
his chaos and madness are becoming uniquely his own. Sure, he still
has to walk back an occasional notion, like his decision to withdraw
ground troops from Syria. He may even find he has to give up on his
budget extortion ploy (aka, the shutdown).
Lots of bad things are likely to come from this, but one can hope
that two recent trends will only take firmer and broader root. The
first is the understanding that what's wrong with Trump and what's
wrong with the Republican Party are the same things, all the way
down to their shared contempt for democracy and the people. The
second, an outgrowth of the first, is that the Democratic Party is
changing rapidly from a party that opportunistically tries to pass
itself off as a "kinder, gentler version" of conservative/neoliberal
orthodoxy to one that is serious about solving the real problems of
war and powerlessness and inequality that have hurt the vast majority
of American voters so grievously since Reagan.
I didn't write much about these themes below, but there's plenty
of evidence to back them up.
Some scattered links this week:
Trevor Aaronson/Ali Younes:
US ramps up bombing of ISIS in Eastern Syria following Trump withdrawal
No, Trump cannot declare an 'Emergency' to build his wall.
Rachel M Cohen:
Could expanding employee ownership be the next big economic policy?
The great illusion of The Apprentice: "Even more than wealth,
the reality-TV show promised its viewers accountability."
What does Donald Trump think about when he thinks about "wall"?
What the President could do if he declares a State of Emergency.
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts expected to announce retirement, giving Democrats
hope of a blue Kansas. Actually, the Democrats would enjoy better odds
running against Roberts, who (much to their surprise) nearly lost in 2014,
than against a generic (but much younger and very likely more right-wing)
Greg Grandin/Elizabeth Oglesby:
Washington traind Guatemala's mass murderers -- the the Border Patrol played
Ryan Grim/Glenn Greenwald:
US Senate's first bill, in midst of shutdown, is a bipartisan defense of
the Israeli government from boycotts.
Moscow's little-noticed Islamic-outreach effort: "Russia is promoting
Islamic moderation in unison with Arab powers -- and further cementing its
position in the Middle East."
The philosopher redefining equality: "Elizabeth Anderson thinks we've
misunderstood the basis of a free and fair society."
The real story behind the Havana Embassy mystery.
The Lethal Crescent: Where the Cold War was hot. Book review of
Paul Thomas Chamberlin: The Cold War's Killing Fields: Rethinking
the Long Peace.
A brief guide to David Bernhardt, Ryan Zinke's replacement at the Interior
Robert D Kaplan:
Time to get out of Afghanistan: "The United States is spending beyond
its means on a mission that might only be helping its strategic rivals."
Kaplan has been a hawk on Afghanistan at least since his 1990 celebration
of the CIA-sponsored Soldiers of God: With the Mujahidin in Afghanistan,
and even before 9/11 he's frequently hired on as a paid consultant to the
US military, while writing propaganda like Imperial Grunts: The American
Military on the Ground. So fair to say, if he's throwing in the towel,
the "mission" is totally fucked.
What you need to know about Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's new far-right
The Blob: Ben Rhodes and the crisis of liberal foreign policy. Book
review of Rhodes: The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White
The Green New Deal is good for the planet -- and the Democratic
Rep. Ro Khanna on Afghanistan: "Trump's instincts to withdraw are correct,
but the tactical implementation matters".
Trump's border wall demand is constitutionally illegitimate.
CIA's Afghan Forces leave a trail of abuse and anger: "The fighters
hold the line in the war's toughest spots, but officials say their brutal
tactics are terrorizing the public and undermining the US mission."
Rather telling, at this late date, that the author still thinks there
is a "US mission" in Afghanistan. Also that Afghan Forces' tactics are
any more brutal than what the US has been doing there for the last 18
(or is it 41?) years.
House Democrats officially unveil their first bill in the majority: a
sweeping anti-corruption proposal: "Democrats will take up voting
rights, campaign finance reform, and a lobbying crackdown -- all in
their first bill of the year."
An alternative reflection for 2018 -- thank you note to writers who
nurtured my mind and soul.
Middle-class shame will decide where America is headed: "Who can appeal
to the people who feel the cost like they've gotten a raw deal?"
In Trump's mind, all deals are private. 'Public interest' means nothing
to him: "At least a scoundrel knows when he is doing wrong. But the
president is blind to the very idea of public interest."
The Green New Deal, explained: "An insurgent movement is pushing Democrats
to back an ambitious climate change solution."
Trump's bizarre Rose Garden news conference shows why he's impossible to
negotiate with: "Unhinged, incoherent, oblivious, and dangerous.".
This map shows where in the world the US military is combatting
terrorism -- where "terrorism" is basically anything that
challenges American political and economic power.
It's good to talk about impeaching the motherfucker.
Why Trump taking credit for low gas prices is a bad idea.
In 2019, let's finally retire 'electability'.
The House Democrats' best path forward: "To counter Donald Trump, and
to prepare for 2020, the Party needs to think big."
Iraq's post-ISIS campaign of revenge: "The corruption and cruelty of
the state's response to suspected jihadis and their families seem likely
to lead to the resurgence of the terror group."
Steven K Vogel:
Elizabeth Warren wants to stop inequality before it starts: "Redistribution
is important, but it comes too late." On the other hand, we're not talking
about a future threat. It's already too late.
2019 will be the worst year of Donald Trump's life.
Now Mattis admits there was no evidence Assad used poison gas on his
Trump just warned the shutdown could last for years. That's pretty
Tuesday, January 01, 2019
Noted in my twitter feed yesterday, a quote from Donald J. Trump in
2013: "A shutdown falls on the President's lack of leadership. He can't
even control his party and get people together in a room. A shutdown
means the president is weak."
Possible 50-word piece for NPR:
Joakim Milder/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Mathias Landraeus/Filip
Augustson/Fredrik Rundkvist: The Music of Anders Garstedt
Swedish trumpeter Garstedt left a scant legacy when he died at
age 31, but 18 years later five [former] bandmates revive his music
brilliantly. The two saxophonists (Milder and [Fredrik] Ljungkvist
bob and weave, while pianist [Mathias] Landraeus anchors a free-ranging
rhythm section: tricky postbop as coherent as classic swing.
Added this in the cover letter (much more than 50 words):
You have several obvious options here. Cover only gives the last
names, so you can save space by dropping the first names, but then you
have to add them to the review. If you leave them in the credit,
scratch the bracketed [Fredrik] and [Mathias] in the text. My normal
practice in cases like this (and I mostly write super-terse reviews)
is to spell them out up front, but you may want to budget your space
differently. You can also save space by dropping the bassist
(Auguston) and drummer (Rundkvist). They are much less recognized than
the first three. You could drop Landraeus, in which case you could get
rid of the parenthetical, since "two saxophonists" matches the two
remaining names names are saxophonists (Ljunkvist also plays some
clarinet, but I already skipped over that.) You could even reduce the
credit to Joakim Milder. Ljungkvist is better known in US, but Milder
is a couple years older and may have a better connection to Garstedt
(really hard to tell).
I dropped [former] when trimming words, but it might help
clarify. I originally had "vibrant" instead of "coherent" and don't
have much of a preference. Maybe "as classic swing" should be changed
to "as any classic"? Thought about adding "wax and wane" after "bob
and weave," but didn't think I had the space.
Two tenor saxes (latter also credited with soprano and clarinet), plus
piano-bass-drums. The composer was Swedish, played trumpet, died in
2000 at age 31, didn't leave any records under his own name, not many
side credits either (one each with Fredrik Norén and Christian
Falk). The musicians claim ties to him, and bring his music
brilliantly to life.
Monday, December 31, 2018
Music: current count 30874  rated (+32), 251  unrated (-18).
Surprised I accumulated so many records given how miserable I've been
all week. I've only been able to sit at the computer for more than an
hour at a time the last couple days. That cut down on how much I could
stream, but I did make a considerable dent in my physical CD queue: as
of this moment, I have zero pending 2018 albums, and not much looking on
I added Robert Christgau's grades to my
EOY Aggregate. I've only been
adding my own grades as I've collected items from other lists, so there
are a lot of things I will eventually add to the list but that aren't
there now. Somewhat surprised that the following Christgau-rated albums
hadn't appeared in any previously compiled list (his grades, then mine,
where I have one):
- Atmosphere: Mi Vida Local (Rhymesayers) [**, **]
- Mandy Barnett: Strange Conversation (Dame Productions/Thirty Tigers) [A-, A-]
- Born Ruffians: Uncle Duke & the Chief (Yep Roc) [*]
- Chris Butler & Ralph Carney: Songs for Unsung Holidays (Smog Veil) [**]
- Chicago Farmer: Quarter Past Tonight (self-released) [A-]
- Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba: Routes (Twelve/Eight) [A-, A-]
- The Coathangers: Live (Suicide Squeeze) [**, **]
- Doctor Nativo: Guatemaya (Stonetree) [A-, A-]
- E-40: The Gift of Gab (Heavy on the Grid) [**]
- Robbie Fulks/Linda Gail Lewis: Wild! Wild! Wild! (Bloodshot) [***, A-]
- Gift of Gab: Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again! (Giftstribution Unlimited -EP) [***, A-]
- Hamell on Trial: The Night Guy at the Apocalypse: Profiles of a Rushing Midnight (Saustex) [A, *]
- Clay Harper: Bleak Beauty (self-released) [B+, *]
- Homeboy Sandman & Edan: Humble Pi (Stones Throw -EP) [A-, **]
- Joan Jett: Bad Reputation [Music From the Original Motion Picture] (Legacy) [A-, A-]
- George Jones & the Jones Boys: Live in Texas 1965 (Ace) [***, ?]
- Rich Krueger: Life Ain't That Long (Rockink) [A, **]
- John Kruth & La Societŕ dei Musici: Forever Ago (Ars Spoletium) [A-, A-]
- Jinx Lennon: Grow a Pair!!! (Septic Tiger) [A-, *]
- Jeffrey Lewis: Works by Tuli Kupferberg (1923-2010) (Don Giovanni) [B+, A-]
- Mad Crush: Mad Crush (Upon This Rock -EP) [B+]
- Wynton Marsalis Septet: United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas (2003-07, Blue Engine) [A-, *]
- Walter Martin: Reminisce Bar & Grill (Family Jukebox) [*, B]
- Mast: Thelonious Sphere Monk (World Galaxy) [A, ***]
- Medhane: Ba Suba, Ak Jamm (Grand Closing) [*]
- Molly Tigre: Molly Tigre (Very Special) [***, ***]
- Maria Muldaur: Don't You Feel My Leg: The Naughty Bawdy Blues of Blue Lu Barker (The Last Music Company) [A, A]
- Nas: Nasir (Mass Appeal/Def Jam -EP) [*, **]
- Willie Nelson: My Way (Legacy) [*, **]
- Grant Peeples and the Peeples Republik: Settling Scores Vol. II (Gatorbone) [***, **]
- Primo!: Amici (Upset the Rhythm) [*]
- Allen Ravenstine: Waiting for the Bomb (Morphius/ReR Megacorp) [*, *]
- Ike Reilly: Crooked Love (Rock Ridge Music) [**]
- Riton & Kah-Lo: Foreign Ororo (Riton Time) [A-, A-]
- Derek Smalls: Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing) (BMG) [*]
- Sidi Touré: Toubalbero (Thrill Jockey) [***, **]
- The Chandler Travis Three-O: Backward Crooked From the Sunset (Iddy Biddy) [*]
- Wreckless Eric: Construction Time & Demolition (Southern Domestic) [A-, ***]
- I'm Not Here to Hunt Rabbits (Piranha) [A-, A-]
- Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s (Legacy) [B+, **]
Those are all 2018 releases. Christgau's Dean's List will no doubt
include his usual slew of late finds, but they fall out of
List is pretty long, but would be longer had I not already counted
lists from known Christgauvians like Chris Monsen (Mekons 77, Amy
Rigby, Elza Soares) and John Smallwood (Rigby, Lyrics Born, Wussy:
What Heaven Is Like). I'll get to more as I find them, and
at some point add in my own thus-far missing grades. Also results
from Jazz Critics Poll, once they become public (soon, I think).
175 EOY lists compiled to
date, totalling 1798 + 46 albums (latter are reissues; very few lists
focus on them so far). Not sure how many more I will pick up before
I give up. The effort came to a standstill ten or so days ago, and
I doubt I'll ever pick up the slack. The top of the list is fairly
stable at this point (not that I've been paying close attention).
My main interest in the list is to identify records worth checking
out, so my intention now is to focus more on lists that line up well
with my own interests. That probably means I've seen enough
metal already. On
the other hand, the current
jazz listings are
only about one-third as deep as the Jazz Critics Poll standings
(154 vs. 487 new albums) and one-fourth as deep as my own personal
ratings (176 vs. 678 new + old albums).
New records rated this week:
- The 14 Jazz Orchestra: The Future Ain't What It Used to Be (2018 , Dabon Music): [cd]: B
- The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018, Dirty Hit/Polydor): [r]: B
- Sam Broverman: A Jewish Boy's Christmas (2018, Brovermusic): [cd]: B
- City Girls: Period (2018, Quality Control): [r]: B
- City Girls: Girl Code (2018, Quality Control): [r]: B
- Julien Desprez/Luís Lopes: Boa Tarde (2016 , Shhpuma): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Kit Downes: Obsidian (2016 , ECM): [r]: B
- Jake Ehrenreich: A Treasury of Jewish Christmas Songs (2017 , self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Peter Evans/Agusti Fernandez/Barry Guy: Free Radicals at DOM (2017 , Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(**)
- Lupe Fiasco: Drogas Light (2017, 1st & 15): [r]: B+(**)
- Lupe Fiasco: Drogas Wave (2018, 1st & 15th): [r]: A-
- Nils Frahm: All Melody (2018, Erased Tapes): [r]: B+(**)
- Gaika: Basic Volume (2018, Warp): [r]: B+(*)
- Nabihah Iqbal: Weighing of the Heart (2017, Ninja Tune): [r]: B+(*)
- Thomas Johansson: Home Alone (2016 , Tammtz): [r]: B+(**)
- Jones Jones [Larry Ochs/Mark Dresser/Vladimir Tarasov]: A Jones in Time Saves Nine (2016 , NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(***)
- Let's Eat Grandma: I'm All Ears (2018, Transgressive): [r]: B+(*)
- Doug MacDonald Trio: View of the City (2016 , Blujazz): [cd]: B+(*)
- Roberto Magris: World Gardens (2015 , JMood): [cd]: B+(***)
- Mac Miller: Swimming (2018, REMember Music/Warner Bros.): [r]: B+(*)
- Liudas Mockünas: Hydro 2 (2017 , NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(*)
- Joel Moore/Nick Mizock/Paul Scherer/Michael Barton/Paul Townsend: Magnetic EP (2018, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(*)
- Mřster!: States of Minds (2018, Hubro, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
- Simon Nabatov/Barry Guy/Gerry Hemingway: Luminous (2015 , NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
- Judy Night Quintet: Sliding on Glass: Live at 210 (2018, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(*)
- Kresten Osgood: Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz (2018, ILK, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- Otherworld Ensemble: Live at Malmitalo (2017 , Edgetone): [cd]: B+(*)
- Alister Spence and Satoko Fujii Orchestra Kobe: Imagine Meeting You Here (2017 , Alister Spence Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Kristen Strom: Moving Day: The Music of John Shifflett (2018, OA2): [cd]: B
- The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: Best of the Jazz Heritage Series Volume 1 (2018, self-released): [cd]: B-
Grade (or other) changes:
- Maria Muldaur: Don't You Feel My Leg: The Naughty, Bawdy Blues of Blue Lu Barker (2018, The Last Music Company): [cd]: [was A-] A
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Jon Lundbom Big Five Chord: Harder on the Outside (Hot Cup): February 1
- Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed (Verve)
- Lyrics Born: Quite a Life (Mobile Home)
- Janelle Monáe: Dirty Computer (Bad Boy)
- Maria Muldaur: Don't You Feel My Leg: The Naughty, Bawdy Blues of Blue Lu Barker (The Last Music Company)
- Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel (RCA Nashville)
- John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness (Oh Boy)
Sunday, December 30, 2018
No Weekend Roundup last week, and I didn't have any intention of doing
one this week either. But when I sat down at the computer today, I figured
I'd copy a few links (without comments) into the notebook for future
reference. Wound up with quite a few. I started with Matthew Yglesias,
then decided to stick to the format I used there: boldfacing the author,
linking the article. Normally I would group related articles, such as
on the shutdown/wall, or the Syria withdrawal, but only in a couple
instances did I do that -- mostly when an article by a unique writer
adds or counters one I already had pegged. I wound up with a couple
very brief comments, noted interviews, and added tag quotes or subheds
under long articles, where the title didn't explain enough.
Still awful sore, but this was probably the first day in ten where
I've been able to sit at the computer for more than an hour without
really paying for it. Managed to listen to some music along the way,
so Music Week tomorrow won't be a total wash.
Some scattered links this week:
Spencer Ackerman/Adam Rawnsley:
$800 million in taxpayer money went to private prisons where migrants work
Andrew J Bacevich:
Warren-Schakowsky Bill is a huge step toward bringing drug costs
Peter Baker/Maggie Haberman:
For Trump, 'a war every day,' waged increasingly alone: "At the midpoint
of his term, the president has grown more sure of his own judgment and more
isolated from anyone else's than at any point since he took office."
Why Trump is right to withdraw troops.
The 9 thinkers who made sense of 2018's chaos: 1 and 2) Steven Levitsky
and Daniel Ziblatt on the big picture of the Trump presidency [authors of
How Democracies Die]; Kimberlé Crenshaw on the battle over "identity
politics" and "intersectionality" [author of On Intersectionality];
4) Kate Manne on the Brett Kavanaugh fight [author of Down Girl];
5 to 7) John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Vavreck on the midterm elections
[authors of Identity Crisis]; 8) Carol Anderson on the war on voting
rights [author of One Person, No Vote]; 9) Zeynap Tufekci on the
baleful influence of social media [author of Twitter and Tear Gas].
I haven't read any of these, and am rather skeptical of most of them.
What the Yemen vote reveals about the Democratic Party.
A new Trump rule could take food stamps away from 755,000 people.
Claire McCaskill's bitter farewell.
Did a Queens podiatrist help Donald Trump avoid Vietnam?
Susan B Glasser:
How Trump made war on Angela Merkel and Europe.
Immigrant deaths in private prisons explode under Trump.
Trump's approval rating drops to Charlottesville levels during
I worked in the Interior Department. Watching Zinke's tenure was
Ten ways 2018 brought us closer to climate apocalypse.
Patrick Radden Keefe:
How Mark Burnett resurrected Donald Trump as an icon of American
The Coming of Hyperwar.
What 2018 looked like fifty years ago.
Eric Levitz: Trump: Give me a wall or I'll engineer a recession.
Slats, fences, and wall, explained: what exactly the shutdown fight is
Roberts, leader of Supreme Court's conservative majority, fights perception
that it is partisan. On the other hand:
Nelson W Cunningham: A holiday mystery: Why did John Roberts intervene in
the Mueller probe?
Eric Lipton/Steve Eder/John Branch:
'This is our reality now.' On Trump and the environment: Dismissing
science; Easing a 'war on coal'; Sidestepping protections; Profiting, at
At last, divestment is hitting the fossil fuel industry where it
The Trouble With Patrick Shanahan.
Trump sounds 'more like a mob boss than president' with Cohen
The making of a trade warrior: on Robert Lighthizer. Related:
Annie Lowrey: The 'madman' behind Trump's trade theory: on Peter
Journalists faced 'unprecedented' hostility this year, report says.
United States added to list of most dangerous countries for journalists
for first time.
Trump scores, breaks generals' 50-year war record.
An unnatural disaster: "Yemen's hunger crisis is born of deliberate
policies, pursued primarily by a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United
GOP leaders won't tolerate Trump's chaos for much longer. Who's he
kidding? The only other person who still harbors such fantasies is:
Thomas L Friedman: Time for GOP to threaten to fire Trump.
Scott Shane/Sheera Frenkel:
Russian 2016 influence operation targeted African-Americans on social
Netanyahu government falls.
Ringing in a new year of war.
What the Republican tax bill did -- and didn't -- do, one year later:
"The GOP tax cuts didn't pay for themselves. They did, however, deliver
a lot of stock buybacks."
The establishment will never say no to a war.
The Trump Administration's war on wildlife should be a scandal.
The oil industry's covert campaign to rewrite American car emissions
Trump's secret trip to Iraq didn't quite go as planned.
Facebook workers are the only ones who can hold Facebook
John Kelly confirms he was lying all along: The White House is in
Sheldon Adelson was a giant loser in midterms -- and Trump is letting
him know it.
Trump as gotten 66 judges confirmed this year. In his second year, Obama
had gotten 49.
Two pieces on the late Amos Oz:
Haidar Eid: Amos Oz was no dove; and
Marc H Ellis: Amos Oz and the end of liberal Zionism.
Friday, December 28, 2018
Streamnotes (December 2018)
Pick up text
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Music: current count 30842  rated (+34), 269  unrated (+0).
Surprised the count is this high. I was on a tear early in the week,
especially between the time I compiled last week's results and when
last Wednesday. However, that came to a screeching halt on Thursday
or Friday (I can't remember which), when I woke up and found it very
difficult and painful to sit up or stand. It doesn't seem like back
pain; more in my hips, evenly distributed. I've had something like
this happen a few widely scattered times in the past, but it's always
cleared up in a couple of days. This doesn't seem to be getting better.
Once I straighten up I can walk around without too much pain, but
bending over or kneeling down is tough.
I had ambitious plans for fixing a Christmas Eve dinner, working
mostly out of two Yotam Ottlenghi cookbooks, Ottolenghi and
Jerusalem. I figured I should do some preliminary shopping on
Friday, even though I hadn't fully sorted the menu out, and do a bit
more on Sunday before starting to cook that evening. But with the
pain and immobility, I started cutting back. I got my wife to drive
me to Dillons for the Friday shopping, and made do with the single
stop. Then I asked one of my guests to help out with the cooking.
Linda Jordan joined me for several hours Saturday evening and from
1:30 through dinner on Sunday, and somehow we knocked out a decent
menu of dishes (descriptions from memory):
- Shawarma: a leg of lamb, marinated overnight in a spice paste,
- Sweet potato gratin: sliced into rounds, packed with garlic and
sage, partly baked, then covered with cream and baked more to finish.
- Eggplant: cut in half, roasted, topped with sauteed onions, spices,
and feta cheese.
- Eggplant: cut into cubes, roasted, in a saffron-yogurt sauce.
- Endive: split, carmelized, stuffed with a mix (bread crumbs, parmesan,
herbs, cream), topped with prosciutto, and baked.
- Pearl barley and parsley salad: also with toasted cashews and spiced
- Zucchini and tomato salad: also with walnuts, in a yogurt sauce.
- Tomatoes: cut into chunks, with basil and dressing.
- Mast va khiar: cucumber, scallions, golden raisins, walnuts, and mint
- Amish Door's date pudding,
topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream.
Saturday night Linda made the pudding and caramel sauce; we roasted
the eggplants, cooked the barley, prepped the feta, mixed up the marinade
and rubbed it into the lamb. After Linda left I did the mast va khiar and
the whipped cream.
Sunday I had to get the lamb into the oven by 1:30. I sliced an onion,
and started frying it. Linda arrived and took over. I mostly mixed sauces.
I tried cutting the sweet potatoes with a mandoline, but gave up and used
the food processor instead (harder to set up, but cut much faster). Two
ovens were the key: while the lamb was roasting at 325F, the gratin and
the endive needed 400F: 70 minutes for the sweet potatoes and 20 for the
endive. We actually had all the side dishes and the latter ready for the
oven by 4:30, so there was no last-minute drama. I hadn't really thought
that through in the planning, but it worked out perfectly. Food was pretty
Pain wasn't too bad walking around, or sitting on a high bar stool
doing prep. Linda did pretty much all of the stovetop cooking, as well
as shuffling things in and out of the ovens. Got a good night's sleep,
but this morning was the worst yet -- especially after sitting at the
computer 15-20 minutes. This stretch on the computer has gone on for
two hours. Not too bad crouched over working here, but I expect it
will be tough getting up.
Plan is to come back and post this later tonight. I'm due to post
December's Streamnotes sometime this week. I may go ahead and push
it out without the usual indexing. Music count for the last 3-4 days
has been close to zero. No idea when I'll be able to do more.
I should note that the Howard Riley album below (Live in the
USA) would have topped my Reissues/Historical ballot in the Jazz
Critics Poll had I gotten to it in time. I've said before that most
years I find another A-list album within 2 days of filing my ballot,
and a ballot-contender within two weeks. I'm usually thinking of new
releases there, but note that Adam Forkelid's Reminiscence
(also below) is up at number 12 in my
Best Jazz Albums of 2018 list, so just barely below top ten.
New records rated this week:
- Lynne Arriale Trio: Give Us These Days (2017 , Challenge): [r]: B+(*)
- Bob Baldori/Arthur Migliazza: The Boogie Kings: Disturbing the Peace (2018, Blujazz/Spirit): [cd]: B+(*)
- Eraldo Bernocchi: Like a Fire That Consumes All Before It (2018, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(*)
- The Beths: Future Me Hates Me (2018, Carpark): [r]: B+(*)
- Samuel Blaser: Early in the Mornin' (2017 , Out Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Bobby Bradford/Hafez Modirzadeh: Live at the Blue Whale (2017 , NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(***)
- Brockhampton: Iridescence (2018, RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Marie Davidson: Working Class Woman (2018, Ninja Tune): [r]: A-
- Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: Presence (2018, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B
- Adam Forkelid: Reminiscence (2017 , Moserobie): [cd]: A-
- John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: All Can Work (2017 , New Amsterdam): [bc]: B
- Park Jiha: Communion (2016 , Tak:til): [r]: B+(**)
- JLin: Autobiography [Music From Wayne McGregor's Autobiography] (2018, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(***)
- Phillip Johnston: The Adventuers of Prince Achmed (2013 , Asychronous): [bc]: B+(*)
- Phillip Johnston & the Coolerators: Diggin' Bones (2017 , Asynchronous): [bc]: B+(***)
- Martin Küchen/Rafal Mazur: Baza (2017 , NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(*)
- Lotic: Power (2018, Tri Angle): [r]: B
- François Moutin & Kavita Shah Duo: Interplay (2018, Dot Time): [r]: B+(***)
- Now Vs Now: The Buffering Cocoon (2018, Jazzland): [r]: B
- Jacob Sacks: Fishes (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Scheen Jazzorchester/Eyolf Dale: Commuter Report (2018, Losen): [cd]: B+(*)
- SLUGish Ensemble: An Eight Out of Nine (2018, SLUGish): [bc]: B+(**)
- Martial Solal: My One and Only Love: Live at Theater Gutersloh (2017 , Intuition): [r]: B+(***)
- Luciana Souza: The Book of Longing (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Subtle Degrees: A Dance That Empties (2017 , New Amsterdam): [bc]: B+(***)
- Earl Sweatshirt: Some Rap Songs (2018, Tan Cressida/Columbia, EP): [r]: B
- Trio HLK: Standard Time (2018, Ubuntu Music): [bc]: B+(***)
- Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & Ole Morten Vĺgan: Happy Endings (2018, Odin): [r]: B+(**)
- Yves Tumor: Safe in the Hands of Love (2018, Warp): [r]: B
- Ben Wendel: The Seasons (2018, Motéma): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Marion Brown/Dave Burrell: Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981 (1981 , NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
- Detail [Johnny Mbizo Dyani/Frode Gjerstad/Evin One Pedersen/John Stevens]: Detail at Club 7 (1982 , Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
- Howard Riley: Live in the USA (1976 , NoBusiness): [cd]: A
- Wadada Leo Smith/Sabu Toyozumi: Burning Meditation (1994 , NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
- Cecil Taylor: Poschiavo (1999 , Black Sun): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Ran Blake/Jeanne Lee: The Newest Sound You Never Heard (1966-67, A-Side, 2CD): January 25
- Blue Standard: A Good Thing (Big Time): January 18
- Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz: Volume Two (Origin): January 18
- Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance, 3CD): January 26
- Kresten Osgood: Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz (ILK, 2CD)
- Alister Spence and Satoko Fujii Orchestra Kobe: Imagine Meeting You Here (Alister Spence Music): January 18
- Stephan Thelen: Fractal Guitar (Moonjune): January 18
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Music: current count 30808  rated (+34), 269  unrated (+10).
Collected the lists late Sunday night, after I wrapped up
Weekend Roundup, but still didn't get started writing this until
late Tuesday night. Francis Davis was supposed to hand in the 13th
Annual Jazz Critics Poll results and analysis today. I assume that
happened. At least, I have 139 ballots tabulated (including a couple
days of stragglers, but safe to say it's too late to weigh in now).
We went back over several contentious and/or confusing issues Monday,
making minor adjustments to the votes in cases where some voters got
the New and Reissue/Historical categories mixed up. We also carried
2017 votes forward in cases where a record got more votes (not just
more points) this year than last.
The poll won't be published until January. Evidently NPR needs the
extra lead time to line up sample music and such. I'll try to refrain
from commenting until then. One thing the delay does is give me some
time to do little bits of programming to clean things up. Probably the
most annoying thing for me is that the sort beyond points/votes looks
to be accidental. (I think it actually follows the order of albums in
the table, which this year were entered as I encountered them on the
ballots, mostly in submission order.) Whether I get around to that
remains to be seen. Also whether I write up any real commentary on
whatever I learned in the process. I've thought about that the last
few days, and have a few scattershot notions, but I'm not being very
Actually, I'm feeling pretty fucking depressed. The season may have
something to do with it. My mother was a very big Christmas fan, and
it's never been the same for me since she passed. And it diminished
further when my brother and his family moved away. Then my sister died
in March, so this year I'll be cooking Christmas Eve dinner for one
nephew, and maybe a couple of friends who don't have their own family
obligations. Still, that dinner is a project that give me some meaning.
It's much of what I thought about today, and will be until the date.
Doesn't seem like much else pressing to do.
We had a tough time organizing our annual latke dinner (Hannukah,
but the point is potato pancakes). Did that on Sunday, and my nephew
was the only guest who showed up. I grated five russet potatoes, two
onions, added five eggs, salt, and pepper, and fried up a bunch of
6-inch discs. Salted some average-looking salmon, and sliced it up.
Served sour cream and applesauce (actually the leftover pear-apple
mix from the Peace Center desserts). In the past I've made various
side dishes, but none of that this time. I did make an apple shalet
for dessert: basically, bread pudding with baked sliced apples. It
could have used some ice cream, but that's my usual reaction to
Weather bothers me too. Back in the summer I hated the heat so much
I couldn't even recall what cold felt like, but it turns out that it
hurts -- even more. I wanted to do some work on my nephew's house, but
haven't felt like it (nor has he). Haven't done any projects here, at
least beyond some minor leaf work. Nothing inside either. I keep talking
about replacing the floor drain in the basement, and spent some money
(bought the replacement drain, also a cement chisel since the hard part
is busting up the old floor and mixing and pouring a new one), but have
yet to start the work. (I did look into renting a small jack hammer, in
case the hand tools aren't up to the job.)
And, of course, I'm running into various "confuser" problems. Since
I set up an email list for technical advisors, I've been getting ten
emails from my server every hour complaining about "excessive resource
use" by the various Mailman scripts (none of which have delivered a
single email as yet). I'm pretty sure they're false alarms -- e.g.,
the processes are sleeping, not using anything more than a little RAM --
but this means I find close to 200 new emails when I get up (obviously,
not my only source of nuisance email, but a big one). I doubt the list
itself will be any help for this particular problem: only two people
have asked to join so far, both known to me and neither likely to be
much technical help. If you can help on website tech issues, or
just want to monitor and occasionally weigh in on user issues, please
email me and ask to be signed up.
One tech problem I would have liked to throw open to the list had
to do with the
RSS Feed at Robert
Christgau's website. When I checked it, after posting yesterday's
my browser dropped all of the formatting I had seen from previous
tests. I ran it through a
validator, found and fixed a couple problems (mostly date/time
format), and finally got it to validate. But I still get no format in
Firefox. Since I've never used RSS feed clients, I'm having lots of
trouble figuring out whether it's working. It could be that Firefox
itself has changed: I know now that they've dropped their "Live
Bookmarks" feature, but I'm not sure when (or aware of an update
on my end). I need to do more research when I get some time, but
it's one of those questions that someone probably knows much more
about than I do.
I want to backport the RSS code to my own website, but should hold
off until I understand it better. I thought I might try some experiments
with my WordPress-based
Notes on Everyday Life
website, but I found it in a terrible mess -- itself a rabbit hole
that would take me days (or weeks) to work back out of. Seemed easy
when I originally built the site, but I don't seem to be able to get
my mind around the tools this time (or have lost the patience for
doing so). In fact, I still haven't fixed the boot problem on my new
main working computer. Just did a software update this afternoon, so
now it wants to be rebooted. Trouble is, it doesn't book cleanly since
the last major update. I've been able to overcome this by switching
into the BIOS and manually booting from there, but that always seems
risky. So for now I think it would be a good idea to hold off until
I post this and update everything else. Just a precaution, but as
they keep telling us, we live in a dangerous world, where things we
depend on can no longer be trusted to fucking work.
I should write something about progress with the
EOY Aggregate file, but
will have to save that for another day.
New records rated this week:
- Andrew Barker/Daniel Carter: Polyhedron (2017 , Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(**)
- Jon Batiste: Hollywood Africans (2018, Verve): [r]: B+(*)
- Beak>: >>> (2018, Temporary Residence): [r]: B+(*)
- Boygenius: Boygenius (2018, Matador, EP): [r]: B
- Christine and the Queens: Chris (2018, Because Music): [r]: B+(**)
- Maria Da Rocha: Beetroot & Other Stories (2018, Shhpuma): [r]: B+(**)
- El Eco With Guillermo Nojechowicz: Puerto de Buenos Aires 1933 (2017, Zoho): [r]: B+(*)
- Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Kikoeru: Tribute to Masaya Kimura (2018, Libra): [cd]: A-
- Fernando Garcia: Guasabara Puerto Rico (2017 , Zoho): [r]: B+(*)
- Vinny Golia/Henry Kaiser/Bob Moses/Damon Smith/Weasel Walter: Astral Plane Crash (2018, Balance Point Acoustics): [r]: B+(**)
- Hamar Trio: Yesterday Is Here (2016 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Lonnie Holley: MITH (2018, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B
- François Houle/Alexander Hawkins/Harris Eisenstadt: You Have Options (2016 , Songlines): [r]: B+(***)
- Quin Kirchner: The Other Side of Time (2018, Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(***)
- Knalpot: Dierendag (2017 , Shhpuma): [r]: B+(*)
- Leikeli47: Wash & Set (2017, Hardcover/RCA): [r]: B+(***)
- Leikeli47: Acrylic (2018, Hardcover/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Master Oogway: The Concert Koan (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Peter McEachern Trio: Bone-Code (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: A-
- Música De Selvagem: Volume Único (2017 , Shhpuma, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Rico Nasty: Nasty (2018, Sugar Trap): [r]: B+(**)
- Barre Phillips: End to End (2017 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Antonio Raia: Asylum (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Mattias Risberg: Stamps (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Bobby Sanabria Manhattan Big Band: West Side Story: Reimagined (2017 , Jazzheads, 2CD): [r]: B
- Travis Scott: Astroworld (2018, Epic/Grand Hustle): [r]: B+(**)
- Thollem/DuRoche/Stjames Trio: Live in Our Time (2015 2018], ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- John Coltrane: 1963: New Directions (1963 , Impulse!, 3CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Soul of a Nation: Jazz Is the Teacher/Funk Is the Preacher (1969-75 , Soul Jazz): [r]: B+(***)
Old music rated this week:
- John Coltrane: Newport '63 (1961-63 , Impulse!): [r]: A-
- Barre Phillips: For All It Is (1973, Japo): [r]: B+(**)
- Barre Phillips: Journal Violone 9 (2001, Émouvance): [r]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Bob Baldori/Arthur Migliazza: The Boogie Kings: Disturbing the Peace (Blujazz)
- Bobby Bradford/Hafez Modirzadeh: Live at the Blue Whale (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
- Marion Brown/Dave Burrell: Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981 (NoBusiness)
- Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Kikoeru: Tribute to Masaya Kimura (Libra)
- Jones Jones [Larry Ochs/Mark Dresser/Vladimir Tarasov]: A Jones in Time Saves Nine (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
- Martin Küchen/Rafal Mazur: Baza (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
- Doug MacDonald Trio: View of the City (Blujazz)
- Liudas Mockünas: Hydro 2 (NoBusiness)
- Joel Moore/Nick Mizock/Paul Scherer/Michael Barton/Paul Townsend: Magnetic EP (Blujazz, EP)
- Simon Nabatov/Barry Guy/Gerry Hemingway: Luminous (NoBusiness)
- Judy Night Quintet: Sliding on Glass: Live at 210 (Blujazz)
- Howard Riley: Live in the USA (1976, NoBusiness)
- Wadada Leo Smith/Sabu Toyozumi: Burning Meditation (1994, NoBusiness)
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Some scattered links this (or the previous) week:
The latest Obamacare ruling is part of a larger conservative attack on
democracy: A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday that the whole of
ACA is unconstitutional, despite a previous ruling by the Supreme Court
that it is constitutional, despite the failure of the Senate to repeal
or significantly rewrite it during the 2017-18 Congress, despite the
elections in 2018 that overturned Republican control of the House and
various states, including Wisconsin -- where this particular case
originated. It's a good example of why Republicans obsess so much
over appointing their political hacks to the courts.
Friday night he [Wisconsin Solicit General Misha Tseytlin] scored his
triumph -- his kooky legal theory is the law of the land, according to
at least one federal judge.
Other judges may disagree and as best I can tell experts in the legal
community are deeply skeptical that this challenge will ultimately prevail,
arguing that it reflects a fringy legal perspective. I'm not a lawyer
myself and more importantly I'm not a psychic so I don't know what John
Roberts wants to do with this issue.
But what strikes me about the case is how utterly mainstream Tseytlin's
theory became in GOP circles very quickly, and how brazenly undemocratic
Republicans have been in pursuit of their goal of depriving people of their
health insurance. . . .
The striking thing about all of this, however, is that it's not just one
oddball judge in Texas -- it's twenty Republican attorneys general. And
it's not just one GOP elected official misleading voters about their stance
on preexisting conditions, it's dozens. And it's not just one embittered
losing gubernatorial candidate pulling an undemocratic fast one during the
lame duck session -- it's the near-unanimous decision of two different state
legislative caucuses. This is, evidently, how the overlapping networks of
donors, operatives, activists, and elected officials who comprise the GOP
think the country should be run.
You've probably heard that Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan have
scrambled to pass lame-duck legislation to strip powers from incoming
Democratic governors (much as North Carolina Republicans did after losing
the governorship there in 2016). One of those laws prevents the new
Governor and Attorney General from withdrawing from lawsuits like this
one. After decades of increasingly unscrupulous effort to manipulate
the public and manoeuver behind the scenes, Republicans have lost all
respect for democracy. More links on this:
Other Yglesias links:
Top House Democrats join Elizabeth Warren's push to fundamentally change
American capitalism: Support is growing for Warren's Accountable
Capitalism Act, which introduces the idea of "codetermination" to the
structure of US corporations. The idea is practiced in Europe, mostly
in Germany. When you give workers seats on corporate boards, companies
behave better, and not just to their workers but to customers and to
the general public. Germany, for instance, has retained most of its
manufacturing base while maintaining favorable trade balances -- the
exact opposite of what US companies have done under the prevailing
doctrine of doing nothing but increasing shareholder profits. This
sort of reform seemed inconceivable in America before 2010, when
Thomas Geoghegan's book, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?
How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life, came out. No
one mentions this book, but the growing interest in socialism has
something to do with awareness of successful European models.
Warren's corporate accountability initiatives would have huge economic
implications but zero budgetary cost. At a time of low levels of public
trust in institutions, these proposals don't ask anyone to have faith
that government officials are going to make good use of resources.
What's more, while the co-determination aspect of the proposal does
draw inspiration from Germany, fundamentally, the pitch for the overall
package is a lot closer to "Make America Great Again" than to "make
America like Scandinavia." The basic notion is that the American private
sector used to operate in a better, more inclusive way before the rise
of shareholder supremacy and with a couple of firm regulatory kicks we
can get it to work that way again.
My late grandfather, who was an old-line communist in his day, used
to tell me with mixed admiration and regret that FDR had saved capitalism
by entrenching institutions that guaranteed broadly shared prosperity.
Those institutions, fundamentally, are what was undone in the shareholder
Warren and her new allies are betting is that at a time when the
political right is increasingly not even bothering to pretend to offer
economic solutions anymore, America can pull off the same trick a second
time -- offering the public not a huge new expansion of government programs,
but a revival of the midcentury stakeholder capitalism that once built a
middle class so prosperous that the idea of surging mass interest in
socialism was unthinkable.
Trump keeps complaining about the Fed while appointing people who don't
agree with his complaints. Yglesias adds, 'He's very bad at doing his
job." Still, that ignores the extent the Fed has been captured by the
interests it's supposed to regulate.
It's ridiculous that it's unconstitutional for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
to run for president. No, it isn't. And no, we didn't miss a precious
opportunity by barring Arnold Schwarzenegger from running for president.
There are ridiculous things in the Constitution, but this isn't one of
them. And even if it were, the political climate is so corrupt these days
I'd rather go with what we got than risk a Constitutional Convention.
Still, if we were to change the rules on presidential eligibility, I'd
go more restrictive, not less. In particular, I'd like to see children
and spouses of presidents barred from running. Too bad they didn't write
that into the 22nd Amendment.
Why criticism of Amazon isn't sticking. "Despite an elite backlash,
the public still loves a good deal."
Good riddance to John Kelly:
No person's entire career can be summed up in a single quote. But ousted
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's defense to the charge that the
Trump administration's child separation policy at the border was cruel
deserves to be etched into his tombstone.
"The children," he said, "will be taken care of -- put into foster care
That is roughly the degree of thoughtfulness and consideration that was
put into the policy. And it properly reflects Kelly's true legacy as chief
More on Kelly and his job:
The Trump-era threat to democracy is the opposite of populism.
Gavin Newsom promised to fix California's housing crisis. Here's a bill
that would do it. "A bold vision for denser construction, this time
with more tenant protections."
Democrats need some 2020 Senate candidates. Points out that the map
is currently very strongly skewed in favor of Republicans (median state
is R+6%), so Democrats will be hard pressed to gain enough seats in 2020
to make a difference (and failing to do so will drastically hurt their
chances of implementing much-needed reforms). I would add that I've long
considered Congress to be much more important than the Presidency. The
first (and almost only, aside from war issues) question I'd ask of any
Democratic presidential candidate is what are you doing to build up the
party down-ballot. (Anyone who starts to answer that with "I" is suspect.)
The ongoing power grabs in Wisconsin and Michigan should remind Democrats
that if the 2020 election leaves Republicans in charge of the Senate, they
will likely use that authority in unprecedented and aggressive ways that
make it completely impossible to govern. And while the presidency is a more
important office than any single Senate seat, the recruitment of quality
candidates probably matters more on the Senate side precisely because the
map is so skewed. It's completely understandable that individual ambitious
politicians are gazing at the White House, but party leaders, operatives,
donors, elder statespeople, etc. have a serious obligation to discourage
this trend and push talented politicians into the Senate races where they
The Weekly Standard's demise is a reminder that there are some idea worse
than Trumpism: "The most principled resistance to Trump comes from
conservatism's most dangerous faction." Regardless of how much snark
William Kristol et al. direct at Trump, you should never forget Kristol's
role in formulating and promoting the neoconservative capture of American
foreign policy, especially their embrace of permanent war, the only state
possible given that any equitable peace must be rejected as a sign of
Yet the demise of the Weekly Standard is not exactly a disastrous blow
to American intellectual life. The independence from Trump's perspective
was welcome, but unfortunately, that doesn't mean its brand of conservatism
was any better than that of the ranting demagogue. In fact, it was arguably
more damaging in terms of its concrete impact on the world.
There's so much on war and empire here that Yglesias doesn't bother with
Kristol's most important directive: that Republicans should never compromise
on health care policy. This dates back to Clinton's 1990s proposal, defeat
of which really put Kristol on the map, and set the standard for Republican
obstruction and rejection of all reforms -- even when Obama had lined up all
of the interested business lobbies to support ACA. Until Trump came around,
Kristol was at the center of virtually every malign direction in American
politics. It's worth noting that Weekly Standard never paid its way. From
day one, it was a subsidized propaganda organ, doing the bidding of wealthy
owners and sponsors. Its failure signals declining utility: evidently, in
the Trump era the right no longer needs clever sophists like Kristol who
can appeal to elites. Going forward, mass delusion will have to suffice.
More links on Weekly Standard:
I also read pieces by
Franklin Foer and
John Judis that try much too hard to show Weekly Standard respect.
Despite congressional pressure, Amtrak can't get its story straight on
The $21 trillion Pentagon accounting error that can't pay for Medicare-for-all,
Ross Barkan: Clean water: the latest casualty in Trump's attack on the
Sharon Lerner: Trump's Attack on the Clean Water Act Will Fuel Destructive
Charles Duhigg: The Real Roots of American Rage: A long piece on "the
untold story of how anger became the dominant emotion in our politics and
personal lives -- and what we can do about it." Starts by showing how anger
can actually facilitate communication and lead to more understanding, but
that isn't what we're seeing in politics today, especially coming from the
right (although the author clearly would like to spread the blame around
all sides of political spectrum).
When we scrutinize the sources of our anger, we should see clearly that
our rage is often being stoked not for our benefit but for someone else's.
If we can stop and see the anger merchants' self-serving motives, we can
perhaps start to loosen their grip on us.
Yet we can't pin the blame entirely on the anger profiteers. At the
heart of much of our discontent is a very real sense that our government
systems are broken. . . . Many of the nation's most contentious issues
are driven by a feeling that our institutions have failed us. Historically,
this feeling has been at the root of some of America's most important
movements for change. Ours, too, could be a moment for progress, if we
can channel our anger to good ends, rather than the vanquishing of our
It may be that anger is pretty broadly distributed in America these
days, but one particularly nasty form of anger is almost exclusively
embodied in Trump's political theater: I don't usually recommend video,
but see Adam Serwer's explication,
Trump and His Supporters Thrive on Cruelty.
Charles Dunst/Krishnadev Calamur: Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War
Lee Fang: Billionaire Republican Donors Helped Elect Rising Centrist
David A Farenthold/Matt Zapotosky/Seung Min Kim: Mounting legal threats
surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under
George T Conway III/Trevor Potter/Neal Katyal: Trump's claim that he didn't
violate campaign finance law is weak -- and dangerous. "The case against
the president would be far stronger than the case against John Edwards was."
Edwards was prosecuted (but acquitted) for paying off a mistress during his
Jen Kirby: What you need to know about accused Russian spy Maria Butina's
Andrew Prokop: What's next for the Trump hush money investigation, and
The Trump inauguration is now being criminally investigated.
Asha Rangappa: Mueller should try to indict Trump. It would guarantee his
report goes public.
James Risen: Is There Anything Trump, Cohen, and Manafort Didn't Lie About?
Aaron Rupar: What's illegal about Trump's hush payments to women, briefly
explained. Not only were the payments effectively political contributions,
they were strategically important, perhaps even decisive, ones. The payments
kept two stories of extramarital affairs out of the media during the last
few weeks of the campaign. Had the stories broke then, they would have been
big deals in the media, especially as they would add credence to the "grab
them by the pussy" bus tape, much as Comey re-opening the investigation of
Hillary Clinton's emails dredged up that whole back story. That, quite
conceivably, could have turned the election, and spared us most of the
last two years. You might be inclined to argue that such stories shouldn't
have mattered, but given media attitudes to sex and scandal, you know it
did matter. Rupar also wrote:
"You can make anything a crime": Republicans shrug at Trump being implicated
Rebecca Solnit: Trump's countless scams are finally catching up to him.
Jeffrey Toobin: Adam Schiff's Plans to Obliterate Trump's Red Line:
"With the Democrats controlling the House, Schiff's congressional
investigation will follow the money."
Umair Irfan: Ryan Zinke to resign as Interior Secretary at the end of
the year. Subheds: "Ryan Zinke racked up a long list of scandals";
"Zinke was an ideologue who served fossil fuel interests"; "Zinke
worked to drastically weaken environmental protections." Until Trump
finds someone worse, he will leave the department to "deputy David
Bernhardt, a former oil executive." Also see:
Robinson Meyer: Ryan Zinke Is the Blue Wave's First Casualty:
Every single one of these initiatives is almost certain to continue under
Bernhardt. What will not continue is Zinke's penchant for publicity. . . .
That hubris made him a terrific target for Democrats. They hoped to use
his personal misdeeds to point to the larger pattern of deregulation and
industry friendliness at his department. . . .
In resigning, Zinke reveals the power of Democrats' new ability to
oversee the Trump administration. Zinke is the first casualty of the 2018
blue wave: the first Cabinet official who stepped down in the face of
subpoenas. He left, in fact, to avoid facing subpoenas. Yet in
resigning, he also shows the limits of that same new power. Democrats
can no longer use Zinke's hubris to get people to pay attention to the
Trump administration's larger set of policies at Interior.
Irfan also wrote:
Countries have forged a climate deal in Poland -- despite Trump:
not sure the article justifies the headline (not that the dig against
Trump isn't warranted). Also see:
Carolyn Kormann: How the US Squandered Its Leadership at the UN Climate
Emily Atkin: Have the Democrats Hit a Tipping Point on Climate Change?
The latter notes that Democrats have talked much more about climate change
since Trump was elected, especially after Trump's denialism became so all
Jen Kirby: The Senate just passed a resolution to end US support for the
Saudi war in Yemen. Also:
Tara Golshan: The bizarre story of Democrats helping Republicans stall
action on Yemen: "Everyone had the same question: Why didn't House
Democratic leadership fight harder?" Also related here:
Samuel Oakford: Washington Sends the Saudis a Long-Overdue Bill.
Also of interest here:
David D Kirkpatrick/Ben Hubbard/Mark Landler/Mark Mazzetti: The Wooing
of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis Got a Friend in the White House.
George Monbiot: How US billionaires are fuelling the hard-right cause
in Britain. You know, it's not like Putin invented the idea of trying
to influence foreign elections.
George Packer: The Corruption of the Republican Party: "The GOP is
best understood as an insurgency that carried the seeds of its own
corruption from the start." He's not the sharpest analyst (nor the
clearest writer) but I'm pretty sure he's not blaming it all on Lincoln --
more like the Goldwater/Reagan conservative ascendancy, which founded a
political vehicle for elite capitalism fueled by cultural resentment,
first and foremost of white racists. Five of the six states Goldwater
carried were the core of the Confederate Slave Power, and they've
remained solid Republican ever since. One mistake Packer makes is in
positing the existence of "conservatives who still believed in democracy."
Conservatives, pretty much by definition, never have believed in any such
thing. At best, they give it a little lip service, but deep down their
great fear is that people will realize that they can use their votes to
create more equality, and thereby limit the power of the rich. Nothing
does more to sow doubt in the masses than to turn government into a vast
cesspool of corruption.
Kim Phillips-Fein: Atlas Weeps: Better title (the link caption): "The
Bad History -- and Bad Politics -- of Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge's
Capitalism in America." Review of a book you won't want to read but
could use a brief report on.
Nomi Prins: A World That Is the Property of the 1%: "The inequality
gap on a planet growing more extreme."
Ola Salem: Saudi Arabia Declares War on America's Muslim Congresswomen.
Kind of like the way Israel attacks Jewish-American critics while cozying
up to right-wing Americans; see, e.g.,
Katherine Franke: The pro-Israel Push to Purge US Campus Critics.
Li Zhou: Arizona Sen. John Kyl is officially stepping down on December
31: "Arizona will get two new senators in 2019." One elected, one
not. Zhou also wrote:
Republicans' civil war over criminal justice reform, explained.
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Music: current count 30774  rated (+38), 259  unrated (-5).
No Weekend Roundup this week. Sunday was the deadline for ballots
for the 13th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, and I spent pretty much every
waking hour collecting and compiling mail, checking details on records,
and occasionally kicking back requests for clarification or changes --
main problem is the arbitrary 10-year cutoff date between new and
historical music categories. Still counted a couple of stragglers
today, giving us 137 ballots -- same as in 2017. I expect results to
be published at NPR sometime next week, but don't know anything for
sure. Presumably they'll let me know in time for me to set up the
complete totals and individual ballots on
I still have some annotation to do, but everything is pretty well
set up on my end. That means I should get back to normal shortly --
it's just that aside from JCP, nothing I had planned to do last week
got done, so I'm starting from a hole.
I did wind up making one minor change to my JCP ballot (see
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase from 10th place on my new list and
moved Martin Küchen & Landaeus Trio: Vinyl into its slot
from the Reissues/Historical list (moving the following three records
there up). Küchen's music dates from 2013-14, so doesn't qualify as
historical given the 10-year rule. And I decided that it isn't really
a reissue, even though the music was previously released on two vinyl
LPs. This was their first appearance on CD, and it's not unusual for
new records to go through changes from format to format. Seemed like
the best answer for JCP, although I still have it Reissue/Historical
in my own still-evolving EOY lists
Non-Jazz). Both of
those lists grew by 2 last week, so now are 55-49. Still, none of
the new records came close to being ballot picks.
No incoming CDs last week, although I did get a couple packages this
week, including new releases from NoBusiness in Lithuania. I don't think
I've ever run the numbers before, but my impression has long been that
close to half of my top-rated albums come from European artists (22/55
this year) and/or labels (25/55) -- not that I'm sure I'm counting either
right. (Add one in both columns for Japan/Asia.)
I should also offer a link to the
EOY Aggregate file. I was
close to caught up a week ago, but since then I've fallen way behind --
lots of lists are coming out, and I've only counted a few. So I expect
quite a bit of change as I catch up.
New records rated this week:
- Albatre: The Fall of the Damned (2018, Shhpuma): [r]: B
- Anguish: Anguish (2018, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Lotte Anker/Pat Thomas/Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten/Stĺle Liavik Solberg: His Flight's at Ten (2016 , Iluso): [bc]: B+(**)
- Kadhja Bonet: Childqueen (2018, Fat Possum): [r]: B-
- Butcher Brown: Camden Session (2018, Gearbox): [r]: B+(*)
- Carla Campopiano Trio: Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections (2018, self-released): [cd]: B
- Guillermo Celano/Jachim Badenhorst/Marcos Baggiani: Lili & Marleen (2016 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Coyote Poets of the Universe: Strange Lullaby (2018, Square Shaped, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- Dystil: Dystil (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda: Mizu (2018, Long Song): [bc]: B+(***)
- The Goon Sax: We're Not Talking (2018, Wichita): [r]: A-
- Guillermo Gregorio/Rafal Mazur/Ramón López: Wandering the Sounds (2018, Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(***)
- Barry Guy: Barry Guy @ 70: Blue Horizon: Live at Ad Libitum ()2017 , Fundacja Sluchaj, 3CD): [bc]: A-
- Eric Harland: 13th Floor (2018, 13th Floor): [r]: B+(*)
- Stefon Harris + Blackout: Sonic Creed (2017 , Motéma): [r]: B-
- Ingrid Jensen/Steve Treseler: Invisible Sounds: For Kenny Wheeler (2018, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
- Jessice Lurie: Long Haul (2017, Chant): [r]: B+(**)
- Masta Ace & Marco Polo: A Breukelen Story (2018, Fat Beats): [bc]: B+(***)
- Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet: Polka (2018, Whirlwind): [r]: A-
- Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite Part One (2017, Big Dada, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite Part One (2017, Big Dada, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Onyx Collective: Lower East Suite Part Three (2018, Big Dada): [r]: B+(***)
- Chris Pitsiokos/Susana Santos Silva/Torbjörn Zetterberg: Child of Illusion (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Rosalía: El Mal Querer (2018, Sony Music): [r]: B
- Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi With Masahiko Satoh: Proton Pump (2015 , Family Vineyard): [r]: B+(***)
- Akira Sakata/Simon Nabatov/Takashi Seo/Darren Moore: Not Seeing Is a Flower (2017 , Leo): [r]: B+(**)
- Josh Sinton's Predicate Trio: Making Bones, Taking Draughts, Bearing Unstable Millstones Pridefully, Idiotically, Prosaically (2018, Iluso): [bc]: B+(**)
- Tirzah: Devotion (2018, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
- Turbamulta: Turbamulta (2018, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Chucho Valdés: Jazz Batá 2 (2018, Mack Avenue): [r]; B+(***)
- Voicehandler: Light From Another Light (2017 , Humbler): [cd]: B+(*)
- Walking Distance: Freebird by Walking Distance feat. Jason Moran (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
- Aida Bird Wolfe: Birdie (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Z-Country Paradise: Live in Lisbon (2016 , Leo): [r]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Joan Jett: Bad Reputation [Music From the Original Motion Picture] (1976-2016 , Legacy): [r]: A-
- L7: Wireless (1992 , Easy Action): [r]: B+(***)
- L7: Fast and Frightening (1990-98 , Easy Action, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
Old music rated this week:
- L7: Slap-Happy (1999, Bong Load): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: no music albums, but
let's list some recent music books:
- Robert Christgau: Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017 (paperback, 2018, Duke University Press)
- John Corbett: Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium (paperback, 2017, Duke University Press)
- Tom Smucker: Why the Beachboys Matter (paperback, 2018, University of Texas Press)
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Music: current count 30736  rated (+44), 264  unrated (-7).
Got so jammed up Monday I didn't get a word of this written on
its appointed day, but I did manage to move the records from the
scratch file and start on next week while I was falling behind.
One task was to format Robert Christgau's latest
question and answer session, which came out in the wee hours of
Tuesday morning. Another was counting ballots for the 13th Annual
Jazz Critics Poll (56 in at present, deadline Sunday, December 9,
7pm). I can't show you any of that, but I've also been counting
EOY lists for my
EOY Aggregate, which
you can track the progress of. Although lists started to appear
before Thanksgiving, there wasn't much until December 1 (or the
It occurs to me I should probably nail down my Jazz ballot now,
rather than wait for the end of the week. Of course,
my real list remains
subject to change. If the past is any guide, I'll probably find
a new A- record within 2-3 days, and something to nudge into the
ballot territory in 10-15 days.
- Joakim Milder/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Mathias Landraeus/Filip Augustson/Fredrik Rundkvist: The Music of Anders Garstedt (Moserobie)
- Peter Kuhn Trio: Intention (FMR)
- Kira Kira: Bright Force (Libra)
- Rich Halley 3: The Literature (Pine Eagle)
- Rodrigo Amado: A History of Nothing (Trost)
- James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor: Radiant Imprints (OFF) **
- Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile (Impulse!) **
- Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt . . . and More Dirt (Pi)
- Kevin Sun: Trio (Ectomorph Music)
- Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase (ECM) **
- Martin Küchen & Landaeus Trio: Vinyl (2013-14, Moserobie)
- Alexander Von Schlippenbach/Aki Takase: Live at Café Amores (1995, NoBusiness)
- Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto (1977, Widow's Taste, 3CD)
- Fred Hersch: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard (Palmetto)
- Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)
- Kevin Sun: Trio (Ectomorph Music)
- David Virelles: Igbó Alákorin (The Singer's Groove) Vol I & II (Pi)
You may notice that the Reissues/Historical list doesn't match the
EOY file. I decided to only include records that I have physical copies
of -- partly to credit the few good publicist who actually still send
me eligible records, and partly because some of the records on the
current list (like the expanded Sonny Rollins Way Out West and
the reduced Anthony Braxton Quartet (Willisau) 1991 Studio)
are items I was already pretty familiar with. Also, note that only
three Reissue/Historical albums will be counted. I went to four in
case the judge decides that the Küchen album is too recent (although
it is literally a reissue of recent vinyl releases).
[PS: I finally decided to treat Küchen/Landaeus as new and slot it
at number 10, bumping Nik Bärtsch's Ronin from the top ten. So, turns
out my blog-posted ballot didn't last 30 minutes before I had a change
Streamnotes (November 2018)
last Friday, so most of this week's batch of newly rated records got
written up there. I added one more jazz A- in the two days after
Streamnotes (Flavio Zanuttini), and I've actually added one more in
the two days between when I ended last week and as I'm writing now
(Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet's Polka). My current division of
A-lists is 53 Jazz vs. 47
Non-Jazz, so it's
tilted a bit toward jazz over the last couple weeks.
I was hoping to get a couple of technical things set up so I
could announce them this week, but didn't get around to doing the
I plan on setting up an RSS feed, like I did for Robert Christgau's
website. Same idea:
manually manage a list of new/updated files (checking against a
time-sorted list of files), and write a bit of code to format that
list as RSS 2.0. This could just include the faux blog files --
that's certainly the piece that needs RSS exposure. Shouldn't take
more than a couple hours to set up at this point.
I want to add a question-and-answer feature, like I did for
Robert Christgau with XgauSez. It will take a couple hours to set
up a special email account, add the captcha code, port the question
form and the Q&A reader, and add some links. I'd also like to
add some new features, like a keyword search.
I want to set up an email list (based on GNU Mailman) for
people who would like to offer advice (technical but also user)
on my various website projects (especially
tomhull.com, and a future music
website, to be hosted at
often found myself wishing I could tap into a pool of technical help,
as well as to get comments on user design questions, especially as I
undertake development projects, like the recent RSS feeds, and more
importantly a redesign of the Christgau website. I expect this to be
set up shortly after I post this, but it will (at least for the time
being) be a private list, so if you want to join (to participate or
maybe just to lurk) please send me
email. Most likely I will subscribe
you then, and you will receive email with an account password (which
you can change). You can use your password to change your options
(such as to elect to receive a daily digest instead of every email
message as it's sent), or to unsubscribe. You may also at any time
ask me to unsubscribe you.
So, one (mostly) down. The others shouldn't be too hard to get
working in the next week. Also managed to get a stub set up over
at Terminal Zone, so I can start hanging things there. Still, most
of this coming week will go to tabulating ballots and collecting
lists. I guess the latter qualifies as my favorite waste of time.
At some point I need to stop and get onto other work, but for now,
'tis the season for it.
New records rated this week:
- Juhani Aaltonen/Raoul Björkenheim: Awakening (2016 , Eclipse): [r]: B+(**)
- Tom Abbs & Frequency Response: Hawthorne (2018, Engine Studios): [r]: B+(***)
- Anderson .Paak: Oxnard (2018, Aftermath/12 Tone Music): [r]: A-
- Brom: Sunstroke (2017 , Trost): [bc]: B+(**)
- Peter Brötzmann/Heather Leigh: Sparrow Nights (2018, Trost): [bc]: B+(*)
- Dustin Carlson: Air Ceremony (2017 , Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
- Neneh Cherry: Broken Politics (2018, Smalltown Supersound): [r]: B+(***)
- Chicago Edge Ensemble: Insidious Anthem (2018, Trost): [bc]: B+(***)
- Lando Chill: Black Ego (2018, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(*)
- Zack Clarke: Mesophase (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Collective Order: Collective Order Vol. 3 (2018, self-released): [cd]: B
- Francesco Cusa & the Assassins Meets Duccio Bertini: Black Poker (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Drone Trio [Evelyn Davis/Fred Frith/Phillip Greenlief]: Lantskap Logic (2013 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- James Francies: Flight (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B
- Full Blast: Rio (2016 , Trost): [bc]: B+(***)
- Marquis Hill: Modern Flows Vol. 2 (2018, Black Unlimited Music Group): [r]: B
- Khruangbin: Con Todo El Mundo (2018, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(*)
- Frank Kimbrough: Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk (2017 , Sunnyside, 6CD): [r]: A-
- Roy Kinsey: Blackie: A Story by Roy Kinsey (2018, Not Normal): [bc]: B+(***)
- Simone Kopmajer: Spotlight on Jazz (2018, Lucky Mojo): [cd]: B+(**)
- Andrew Lamb Trio: The Casbah of Love (2018, Birdwatcher): [r]: B+(**)
- Low: Double Negative (2018, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(*)
- Kirk Knuffke/Steven Herring: Witness (2017 , SteepleChase): [r]: B
- Thomas Marriott: Romance Language (2017 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Joakim Milder/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Mathias Landraeus/Filip Augustson/Fredrik Rundkvist: The Music of Anders Garstedt (2016 , Moserobie): [cd]: A
- Father John Misty: God's Favorite Customer (2018, Sub Pop): [r]: B
- Fredrik Nordström: Needs (2018, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Miles Okazaki: Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonios Monk (2018, self-released, 6CD): [bc]: B+(***)
- Caterina Palazzi/Sudoku Killer: Asperger (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Charlie Porter: Charlie Porter (2018, Porter House): [r]: B+(*)
- Quoan [Brian Walsh/Daniel Rosenboom/Sam Minaie/Mark Ferber]: Fine Dining (2017 , Orenda): [r]: B+(**)
- Ernesto Rodrigues/Guilherme Rodrigues/Bruno Parrinha/Luís Lopes/Vasco Trillo: Lithos (2017 , Creative Sources): [cd]: B+(**)
- Renee Rosnes: Beloved of the Sky (2017 , Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- John Scofield: Combo 66 (2018, Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Sleep: The Sciences (2018, Third Man): [r]: B+(*)
- Marcus Strickland Twi-Life: People of the Sun (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B
- Trio Heinz Herbert: Yes (2018, Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
- The Way Ahead: Bells Ghosts and Other Saints (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Mars Williams: Mars Williams Presents an Ayler Xmas (2017, Soul What): [bc]: B+(***)
- Mars Williams: Mars Williams Presents an Ayler Xmas: Volume 2 (2018, Soul What): [bc]: B+(**)
- Yoko Yamaoka: Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii (2018, Libra, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- Flavio Zanuttini Opacipapa: Born Baby Born (2018, Clean Feed): [r]: A-
Old music rated this week:
- Boneshaker: Unusual Words (2012 , Soul What): [bc]: B+(***)
- Billie Holiday: Songs for Distingué Lovers (1957 , Verve): [r]: A-
- Terry Pollard: Terry Pollard (1955, Bethlehem): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Sam Broverman: A Jewish Boy's Christmas (Brovermusic)
- Scheen Jazzorchester/Eyolf Dale: Commuter Report (Losen)
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Any week since Trump became president, spend a day or two and you'll
come up with a fairly long list of pieces worth citing, and the sense
that you're still missing much of what is going on. For instance, my
usual sources on Israel/Palestine have yet to catch up with this:
Josef Federman: Israeli Police Recommend Indicting Netanyahu on Bribery
Charges. Seems like that should be at least as big a story as
Putin and Saudi crown prince high-five at G20 summit. But this
is all I came up with for the week.
I probably should have written standalone pieces on GWH Bush and on
Jill Lepore's These Truths, but wound up squeezing some notes
here for future reference. Under Bush, I wondered how many articles I'd
have to read -- critical as well as polite or even adulatory -- before
someone would bring up what I regard as the critical juncture in his
period as president: his invasion of Panama. I lost track, but in 20-30
pieces I looked at, none broached the topic. I had to search specifically
before I came up with this one:
Greg Grandin: How the Iraq War Began in Panama. When Bush became
president, people still talked about a "Vietnam syndrome" which inhibited
American politicians and their generals from starting foreign wars. Bush
is generally credited as having "kicked the Vietnam syndrome," with two
aggressive wars, first in Panama, then in Iraq. Bush and the media
conspired to paint those wars as glorious successes, the glow from
which enabled Clinton, Bush II, and Obama to launch many more wars:
Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), Syria, as well as
dozens of more marginal operations. Woodrow Wilson once claimed to
be fighting "a war to end all wars." Bush's legacy was more modest:
a war to kindle many more wars.
Oddly enough, the story below that links up most directly to Bush's
legacy of war is the one about the increasing rate of premature deaths
(suicides and overdoses). That's what you get from decades of nearly
continuous war since Bush invaded Panama in 1989. The other contributing
factor has been increasing income inequality, which has followed a straight
line ever since 1981, when the Reagan/Bush administration slashed taxes on
Recently, we've seen many naive people praise Bush for, basically, not
being as flat-out awful as his Republican successors. They've done this
without giving the least thought to how we got to where we are now. The
least they could do is check out Kevin Phillips' 2004 book: American
Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: President George H.W. Bush dies at 94: First line
here took me aback: "George H.W. Bush was a genuinely excellent president
responsible for historic achievements that are often overlooked because
of the arbitrary way we value presidential legacies." Indeed, my first
reaction was to look up how old Yglesias was when Bush was president: 7
when Bush was elected in 1988 and took office in 1989, 11 when Bush lost
in 1992 and left office in 1993. For comparison, I was 10-13 while John
Kennedy was president, and while I remember the 1960 election and a fair
amount from that period, most of what I know about those years I learned
later. The times were different, but I suspect a similar dynamic, as we
tend to view past presidents through the prism of their successors. Bush
had the good fortune to be followed by two much worse Republicans -- his
eldest son, and now Donald Trump. Yglesias would have us believe that Bush
was "the last of the Republican pragmatists," because his successors have
been very different: basically, ideological culture warriors -- the son
sometimes tried to hide it, which in turn has helped to rehabilitate him
relative to Trump. On the other hand, what I found most striking in Bush's
career was his role in normalizing, at every step along the way, the
right-wing descent of the Republican Party. Not that he was ever my idea
of a decent, principled Republican -- and note that there actually were
some in 1966, when he was first elected to Congress -- but two changes
he made c. 1980 are indicative: when he joined the anti-abortion forces,
and when he shelved his critique of "voodoo economics" to embrace Reagan.
Those shifts were opportunistic more than pragmatic. They were moves he
could make because he was empty inside, little more than a hack serving
the class interests of his benefactors -- much like his Senator father
had done, and as his sons would do. Jack Germond liked to call him "an
empty suit." Yglesias is pretty selective about what he mentions and
what he leaves out. (Perhaps we should have an office pool on how many
Bush articles I read before anyone mentions Panama?) He does mention
the Iraq War as some kind of internationalist success, not mentioning
any connection to the thirty years of recurring chaos and conflict that
ensued. On the other hand, he doesn't mention two generally positive
foreign policy things that happened under Bush: a fairly broad shift
to democracy (including wins by left-ish political movements) in Latin
America, and pressure on Israel to negotiate peace (leading to the Oslo
Accords, which Clinton allowed Netanyahu and Barak to undermine).
Other Bush links:
Peter Beinart: What the Tributes to George HW Bush Are Missing: "The
41st president was the last person to occupy the Oval Office whose opponents
saw him as fully legitimate." Beinart attributes that to his WASP heritage,
and to the fact that he was elected with a majority of the votes -- something
only Barack Obama has since achieved -- but it really has more to do with
the security and sensibility of the opposition. Democrats controlled Congress
when Bush was president, and saw him as someone who would work with them.
On the other hand, Republicans saw Clinton as an usurper and a threat, and
dispensed with all pretenses of bipartisanship. When Obama came in, they
simply doubled down, opting for pure obstructionism. Democrats didn't react
to Republican presidents with such venom, but both Bush and Trump entered
office after having lost the popular vote, and both pursued hard-right,
strictly partisan agendas.
Ariel Dorfman: George HW Bush thought the world belonged to his family.
How wrong he was.
Franklin Foer: The Last WASP President: Not literally true, not
figuratively either, inadvertently showing the lengths some people
have to take to come up with a hook to hang Bush on. For example:
Take his record on race. Bush comes from a Yankee tradition that prides
itself on its liberal attitudes. His father, a senator from Connecticut,
sponsored legislation desegregating schools, protecting voting rights,
and establishing an equal-employment commission. George H. W. Bush
seemed to accept this as his patrimony. At Yale, he lead a fund-raising
drive for the United Negro College Fund. When he moved to Midland, Texas,
he made a point of inviting the head of the local NAACP to his house for
dinner. As the chairman of the Harris County GOP, he put the party's
money in a black-owned bank.
Of course, the next paragraph had to bring up "the notorious Willie
Horton ad," and the following one notes:
After so accurately decrying Voodoo Economics, he joined the administration
that enshrined them. He stood by Reagan as he opposed sanctions against
South Africa's apartheid regime, and as the administration mounted a
crusade against "reverse discrimination," an effort to undo affirmative
The problem is that if the only reason you exhibit "liberal attitudes"
is for show, there's nothing to keep you from ditching them as soon as
the fashion changes. Personal aside here: I never heard of "WASP" until
I went to a college where more than half of the students were Jewish,
although I've also heard non-Jewish northeasterners use the term. It
was one of several identities I was grouped in but never thought of
myself as belonging to (including its constituent parts: white,
Anglo-Saxon, and protestant). But I picked up the term, even if it
rarely meant much to me. About the only time I've thought of it
lately was in regards to the Supreme Court. For much of American
history, the Supreme Court was exclusively a WASP club. That changed
a bit with Louis Brandeis, but remained pretty much the norm into
the 1980s. Since then Republicans have almost exclusively nominated
Catholics (including Clarence Thomas), and Democrats mostly Jews,
until at present we have six Catholics, three Jews, and no WASPS on
the Supreme Court. I suppose you could credit Bush with nominating
the last of the liberal WASP justices (David Souter) -- one of those
things that right-wing Republicans never forgave him for, even though
he clearly didn't mean to offend them. His other Supreme Court pick
Mehdi Hasan: The Ignored Legacy of George HW Bush: War Crimes, Racism,
and Obstruction of Justice: Much about Iraq, but still no mention
Laura McGann: Eight women say George HW Bush groped them. Their claims
deserve to be remembered as we assess his legacy.
Rachel Withers: George HW Bush's "Willie Horton" ad will always be the
reference point for dog whistle racism. Withers also wrote:
Trump praises George HW Bush, the president whose vision he recently
mocked (hoary picture here: note how close the Clintons and Bushes
George HW Bush's state funeral arrangements: what we know.
Other Yglesias pieces this week:
Jason Ditz: UN Confirms US Airstrike in Helmand Killed 23 Civilians:
News reports focused last week on unapologetic murderers giving each other
high-fives at the G20 summit in Argentina, but week-by-week the US proves
to be the real killing machine. Also by Ditz:
US Says SW Libya Airstrike Kills 11 al-Qaeda 'Suspects';
Observatory: US Airstrikes Kill Dozens in Eastern Syria. If you're
surprised that the US is (still) bombing in Libya, learn about AFRICOM:
Nick Turse: US Military Says It Has a "Light Footprint" in Africa. These
Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases. Back to Afghanistan, consider:
Danny Sjursen: America Is Headed for Military Defeat in Afghanistan.
Marc Fisher: Trump borrows his rhetoric -- and his view of power -- from
Bernard E Harcourt: How Trump Fuels the Fascist Right: I think this
gives him credit for deliberation that he probably doesn't deserve, but
here's the argument:
Everything about Trump's discourse -- the words he uses, the things he
is willing to say, when he says them, where, how, how many times -- is
deliberate and intended for consumption by the new right. When Trump
repeatedly accuses a reporter of "racism" for questioning him about his
embrace of the term "nationalist," he is deliberately drawing from the
toxic well of white supremacist discourse and directly addressing that
base. Trump's increasing use of the term "globalist" in interviews and
press conferences -- including to describe Jewish advisers such as Gary
Cohn or Republican opponents like the Koch brothers -- is a knowing use
of an anti-Semitic slur, in the words of the Anti-Defamation League, "a
code word for Jews." Trump's self-identification as a "nationalist,"
especially in contrast to "globalists" like George Soros, extends a hand
to white nationalists across the country. His pointed use of the term
"politically correct," especially in the context of the Muslim ban,
speaks directly to followers of far-right figures such as William Lind,
author of "What is 'Political Correctness'?"
Trump is methodically engaging in verbal assaults that throw fuel on
his political program of closed borders, nativism, social exclusion, and
punitive excess. Even his cultivated silences and failures to condemn
right-wing violence, in the fatal aftermath of the Unite the Right rally
in Charlottesville, for instance, or regarding the pipe-bombing suspect
Cesar Sayoc, communicate directly to extremists. We are watching, in real
time, a new right discourse come to define the American presidency. The
term "alt-right" is too innocuous when the new political formation we
face is, in truth, neo-fascist, white-supremacist, ultranationalist, and
counterrevolutionary. Too few Americans appear to recognize how extreme
President Trump has become -- in part because it is so disturbing to
encounter the arguments of the American and European new right.
Umair Irfan: Sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, explained.
Jen Kirby: USMCA, the new trade deal between the US, Canada, and Mexico,
explained: Not all that different from NAFTA. One thing to keep in
mind is that when it comes to trade deals, the conflicts are less between
countries than between companies and people (workers, customers, and the
governments should they be tempted to challenge the companies). Also:
Paul Krugman: When MAGA Fantasy Meets Rust Belt Reality: Posits
two possible meanings of Make America Great Again: "a promise to restore
the kind of economy we had 40 or 50 years ago -- an economy that still
offered lots of manly jobs in manufacturing and mining"; and "a promise
to return to the good old days of raw racism and sexism." Krugman argues
that the former would be an impossible task even if Trump had a clue,
which he clearly does not -- most of this piece explains why. As for the
racism/sexism, Krugman does concede that "Trump is delivering on that
promise." I think he's overly generous there: sure, Trump knows how to
be racist and sexist, but are people following his lead or resisting it,
and are they making a real difference in the world? Maybe, a little bit,
but not so much as to actually satisfy Trump's supporters.
Krugman also wrote:
The Depravity of Climate-Change Denial. I agree with most of what he
says here, but take exception to: "climate change isn't just killing people;
it may well kill civilization." That's really excessive hyperbole, the sort
of thing that lets deniers present themselves as skeptics vs. alarmists --
I read a letter in the Wichita Eagle last week that used that ploy. Even
fairly large climate shifts (say on the order of +6°C/10°F), while causing
large economic dislocations (as a first guess, North Dakota becomes Kansas,
and Kansas becomes Coahuila), are things people can readily adapt to easy
enough. Maybe overall habitability is diminished a bit (you lose land to
rising sea levels, but you gain utility from arctic lands; perhaps more
ominously, tropical diseases will spread). But unless climate change
triggers cataclysmic war, that's nothing civilization cannot handle.
I've long thought that people who think about climate change tend to
exaggerate its effects and importance, so I'm not surprised to find
the level of hysteria grow as evidence mounts and parties vested in
carbon fuel continue to thwart even modest attempts to reduce the risk.
Still, I doubt the solution is to ramp the rhetoric up to apocalyptic
German Lopez: After a mall shooting, police killed the wrong person --
and the real shooter remains at large: The mall was in Alabama.
The dead bystander was black. A follow-up article explains:
PR Lockhart: The Alabama mall shooting highlights the dangers of
owning a gun while black.
Ella Nilsen: House Democrats unveil their first bill in the majority: a
sweeping anti-corruption proposal: To be introduced as House Resolution
1, no chance of passing the Republican Senate let alone of overriding a
Trump veto, but this stakes out high ground from which to investigate
and judge the most thoroughly corrupt administration in US history. Also:
Akela Lacy: In Democrats' First Bill, There's a Quiet Push to Make Public
Campaign Finance a Reality.
David Roberts: I'm an environmental journalist, but I never write about
overpopulation. Here's why.
Jennifer Rubin: Trump has done nothing for rural Americans.
Aaron Rupar: Michael Cohen's plea deal shows that Russia did have something
Other links on Cohen:
Dylan Scott: Under Trump, the number of uninsured kids is suddenly
rising. Note that the chart shows a steady decrease in number
of uninsured children from 2008 through 2016, before the rise in
Dylan Scott: Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate
election: Duly noted, by a 54-46% margin. You know why. Still,
that's a lot closer than Mississippi split since, uh, the 1870s.
For more, see:
Bob Moser: Don't Hate Mississippi:
It's never a shock to see white Mississippians cover themselves in shame.
They've been doing it reliably throughout the entire history of a place
that became known as the "lynching state" long before the inceptions of
the Confederacy, the Klan, or Jim Crow. . . . In politics, too, white
Mississippians have always put passion -- for white supremacy and black
subjugation -- above all pragmatic considerations. With clockwork
regularity, every election, they've chosen to keep their state an
economic and educational backwater, an international symbol of America's
Emily Stewart: GM is closing plants and cutting jobs. Here's what it
means for workers -- and for Trump.
Julissa Trevińo: Suicides are at the highest rate in decades, CDC report
shows: Up 33 percent since 1999, up 2000 from 2016 to 2017, something
which gets less press than the number of drug overdoses, which has surged
to even higher levels. On the latter, see:
German Lopez: Drug overdose deaths were so bad in 2017, they reduced overall
life expectancy. Also see:
Lenny Bernstein: US life expectancy declines again, a dismal trend not
seen since World War I.
Alex Ward: Russia just openly attacked Ukraine. That could mean their
war will get worse. Like virtually all western reports, this is
rather slanted, but the crisis is significant. Basic background: after
anti-Russian, pro-West political factions in Ukraine affected a coup
in 2014, removing a more/less democratically elected Russia-friendly
president, several regions of Ukraine with large Russian demographics
revolted, especially Crimea and Donbass. Russia encouraged (and perhaps
orchestrated) these revolts, including a declaration by local officials
in Crimea of their intent to be annexed by Russia. There was a vote in
Crimea to join Russia, which was boycotted by opponents, so carried by
a large margin. Crimea has been under Russian control since then, and
the ties were made literal by the construction of a 12-mile bridge over
the Kerch Strait between Russia and Crimea. Since 2014, there has been
sporadic and indecisive fighting in Donbass and along the border, and
Ukraine (and its Western allies) has refused to recognize any changes.
The Kerch Strait separates the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean, so it remains an important shipping lane for Ukraine, as
well as for Russia. With the opening of the bridge, Ukraine attempted
to reassert its rights to send naval ships through the Kerch Strait,
and Russia responded by blockading the channel, seizing the ships, and
imprisoning the sailors: that's what "openly attacked" means in the
headline above. Russia charged Ukraine with a "well-thought-out
provocation." For a counter view, see:
Ted Galen Carpenter: Ukraine Doesn't Deserve America's Blind Support.
Julian E Zelizer: Why the US Can't Solve Big Problems.
The federal government released a devastating report last week documenting
the immense economic and human cost that the U.S. will incur as a result
of climate change. It warns that the damage to roads alone will add up to
$21 billion by the end of the century. In certain parts of the Midwest,
farms will produce 75 percent less corn than today, while ocean acidification
could result in $230 billion in financial losses. More people will die from
extreme temperatures and mosquito-borne diseases. Wildfire seasons will
become more frequent and more destructive. Tens of millions of people living
near rising oceans will be forced to resettle. The findings put the country
on notice, once again, that doing nothing is a recipe for disaster.
Yet odds are that the federal government will, in fact, do nothing. It's
tempting to blame inaction on current political conditions, like having a
climate change denier in the White House or intense partisan polarization
in Washington. But the unfortunate reality is that American politicians
have never been good at dealing with big, long-term problems. Lawmakers
have tended to act only when they had no other choice.
Finally, here are some links reviewing Jill Lepore's big book
These Truths: A History of the United States (recently read by
The Wilentz piece is probably the best of the bunch -- at least I found
myself agreeing with most of the substantive criticisms. It occurs to me
that there are two basic models for writing a 700+ page history of the US
from colonial times to Donald Trump: either briefly sum up most of the
stuff most people already know, or assume that readers already know that
stuff and add little side-glances they don't know that help round out the
picture. Lepore did the latter, and included a lot of material I didn't
especially know before. She also limited her focus to the ebb and flow of
ideals, corruptions, and manipulations in politics. I was surprised, for
instance, that from the 1930s on she focused mostly on the development of
polling and campaign management, which sort of logically led to Trump --
she actually gets to Trump before 2000, Bush-Gore, and Obama. But even
earlier, she spent a good deal of time on the rise of the partisan press
c. 1800, and the shift toward non-partisan journalism from the 1880s on
(papers like the New York Times, and later the big three TV networks).
Worth reading, but not for many clear lessons. A much more pointed book
on founders and ideals is Ganesh Sitaraman's The Crisis of the
Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our
Republic. But then I suppose she'd reply that history is always
messy, never cut and dried.
One more point to make: These Truths differs from most US
history books in that Lepore makes a conscious effort to recognize
and treat fairly everyone -- not just the dominant white males that
traditionally get all the pages. She balances off natives against
colonizers, slaves against slaveholders, women against men, and (to
a lesser extent) laborers against captains of industry. She writes
as much about Jane Franklin as her brother Ben, and as much about
Harry Washington as his one-time owner George. She writes way too
much about Phyllis Schlafly (but also Donald Trump, who probably
wouldn't have garnered a mention had she finished the book three
Friday, November 30, 2018
Streamnotes (November 2018)
Pick up text
Thinking again about ripping out and replacing the floor drain in the
Prices for tool rental at Home Depot (per day):
- Makita HM0870C 11 LB Demolition Hammer, 11 lbs: $53. Retail $449.
- Makita HM1203C 20 LB Demolition Hammer, 20.3 lbs: $60.
- Makita HM1214C 27 LB Demolition Hammer, 27.1 lbs: $66. Retail $884.37.
- Makita HM1307CB Small Breaker (35 LB): $69. Retail: $882.84
- Makita HM1810 Breaker (70 LB), 71.3 lbs: $86. Retail $1499.
- Hilti 3495262 PRO Breaker, 66 lbs: $102.
- Makita 4114 Electric Concrete Saw 14": $53. Retail $649.99.
Some alternative hammers/breakers:
- XtremepowerUS Heavy Duty Electric 2200 Watt Demolition Jac Hammer: $122.95
The guy in the store suggested using a 16lb sledge hammer. Home Depot
has a Husky 16lb in stock for $44.98. Others can be ordered up to $68.39
(Nupla). Home Depot also has a 10lb Husy for $32.98. Amazon has 16lb
sledge hammers from $40.99 (Jacson) to $64.63 (Urrea).
I've also been interested in a small circular saw. These mostly work
with 4.5-inch blades:
- Worx Worksaw 4.5" Compact Circular Saw WX429L: $53.82.
- Rockwell RK3440K Versacut 4.0 Amp w/laser guide, 3-blade kit: $92.41.
- Rockwell RK3441K 4.5" 5.0 Amps: $79.00.
- Genesis GC5545SC 5.8 Amp 4.5" w/24T Carbide-Tipped Blade: $49.99.
- Makita SH02R1 12V cordless 3.375" circular saw: $129.99.
- Rotorazer Platinum Compact Circular Saw Set: $179.00.
There are similar saws intended for masonry work, which can probably
cut concrete (but not very deep):
- DeWalt DWC860W 4.375-inch Wet/Dry Masonry Saw: $136.87.
- Alpha AWS-125 5" Stone Cutter: $223.02.
- Skilsaw SPT79-00 15-Amp MEDUSAW Worm Drive Saw for Concrete, 7':
$339.95. There's also a "walk behind" version for $535.97.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Stumbled across a
link to a PDF of an early draft of my Recorded Jazz in the 20th
Century, hosted by Zapdoc. I didn't put it there. Author is listed
as Clementine Jones.
Monday, November 26, 2018
Music: current count 30692  rated (+57), 271  unrated (-22).
Cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my nephew, his girlfriend, and a few
scattered friends who didn't have other engagements. Figured I'd pick
off a few French recipes I had missed on my birthday. I figured the
roast bird could simply be a chicken, especially since I hadn't done
any chicken on birthday. I repeated the potatoes (gratin dauphinois)
and chopped chicken liver (but none of the other spreads). For new
dishes, I had carrots (cooked with ginger and cardamom), green beans
(with pancetta), tian (zucchini and tomato slices roasted on top of
onion), and a salad (frisee aux lardons -- I had a nice-sized chunk
of slab bacon left over, and mixed a little liver into the vinaigrette).
For dessert, I made three pies: sweet potato, chocolate pecan, and key
lime. Probably should have offered ice cream, but just whipped some
cream. (In fact, had so much cream left over, I probably should have
made ice cream.) Had a couple bake-it-yourself baguettes. Figured I
needed them for the liver and croutons for the frisee, but turned out
that butter on bread was popular. Had I realized that, I could have
mixed up an herbed/spiced butter spread.
Thanksgiving probably cost me two days of listening, but I started
the week strong, and finished it stronger. Still, that should have
yielded something like 40 records. However, when I ran the numbers,
the increase was less than the list, so I made a pass through the
unrated albums list and a dozen more I had missed. And by the time
I straightened that out, I had rated some more. In the end it seemed
easier to get current than to respect yesterday's cutoff.
I've started collecting
EOY lists. Thus far there's not a lot to go on: some long lists
from UK record stores, UK pubs like
Uncut, a couple of metal-oriented lists, and
Paste -- closer to what I expect from major US lists, although
still pretty shy of hip-hop. I've retained some data from mid-year
lists, which helps balance out the early skews. At the moment, the
top five are Janelle Monáe, Courtney Barnett, Rolling Blackouts CF,
Kamasi Washington, and Cardi B. Without the mid-year boost, Barnett
would be leading Monáe, and Cardi B wouldn't be in the top 100.
I'm also tabulating Jazz Critics Poll ballots. Can't share any
of that with you yet, but I have about 20 ballots counted at this
point. That info is pushing me to check out lots of albums, although
my priority this and next week will be to catch up with my own CD
Meanwhile, I've done a preliminary sort on my own Best of 2018
lists, split for
Non-Jazz I'll keep
adding to these well into the future.
Also, expect a Streamnotes by the end of the month. I guess that's
like Friday. I have a pretty decent-sized draft file already.
New records rated this week:
- Ambrose Akinmusire: Origami Harvest (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Big Bold Back Bone: Emerge (2015 , Wide Ear): [cd]: B+(*)
- Francesco Cafiso: We Play for Tips (2017 , EFLAT/Incipit): [r]: B+(**)
- The Chills: Snow Bound (2018, Fire): [r]: B+(**)
- Eric Church: Desperate Man (2018, EMI Nashville): [r]: A-
- Roxy Coss: The Future Is Female (2018, Posi-Tone): [r]: B
- Mário Costa: Oxy Patina (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Kaja Draksler/Petter Eldh/Christian Lillinger: Punkt. Vrt. Plastik (2016 , Intakt): [cd]: A-
- Open Mike Eagle: What Happens When I Try to Relax (2018, Auto Reverse, EP): [r]: B+(***)
- The Gil Evans Orchestra: Hidden Treasures Monday Nights: Volume One (2016-17 , Bopper Spock Suns Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Marianne Faithfull: Negative Capability (2018, BMG): [r]: B+(***)
- Alan Ferber Big Band: Jigsaw (2016 , Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Birgitta Flick Quartet: Color Studies (2018, Double Moon): [r]: B+(**)
- Gabriela Friedli Trio: Areas (2015 , Leo): [r]: B+(**)
- David Friesen: My Faith, My Life (2017-18 , Origin, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Claus Hřjensgĺrd/Emanuele Mariscalco/Nelide Bendello: Hřbama (2017 , Gotta Let It Out): [cd]: B+(*)
- Rocco John Iacovone/Jack DeSalvo/Mark Hagan/Phil Sirois/Tom Cabrera: Connoisseurs of Chaos IV (2018, Woodshedd): [bc]: B+(***)
- Jentsch Group No Net: Topics in American History (2016 , Blue Schist): [cd]: B+(**)
- Ingrid Laubrock: Contemporary Chaos Practices: Two Works for Orchestra With Soloists (2017 , Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
- Robbie Lee & Mary Halvorson: Seed Triangular (2018, New Amsterdam): [r]: B+(**)
- Ravyn Lenae: Crush (2018, Atlantic, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- LFU: Lisbon Freedom Unit: Praise of Our Folly (2015 , Clean Feed): [cd]: A-
- Carol Liebowitz/Birgitta Flick: Malita-Malika (2017 , Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Maisha: There Is a Place (2018, Brownswood): [r]: B+(*)
- Christian McBride: Christian McBride's New Jawn (2017 , Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(**)
- Jorge Nila: Tenor Time (Tribute to the Tenor Masters) (2018 , Ninjazz): [cd]: B+(***)
- Evan Parker/Eddie Prevost: Tools of Imagination (2017 , Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(*)
- William Parker: Flower in a Stained-Glass Window/The Blinking of the Ear (2018, Centering/AUM Fidelity, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Hanna Paulsberg Concept & Magnus Broo: Daughter of the Sun (2018, Odin): [r]: B+(**)
- The Ken Peplowski Big Band: Sunrise (2017 , Arbors): [r]: B
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Mark Feldman/Jason Hwang: Strings 1 (2018, Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Hank Roberts/Ned Rothenberg: Strings 2 (2018, Leo): [cd]: B+(**)
- Rich Rosenthal/Jack DeSalvo/Tom Cabrera: Connoisseurs of Chaos (2018, Woodshedd): [bc]: B+(**)
- Dave Sewelson: Music for a Free World (2017 , FMR): [cd]: A-
- Julian Siegel Quartet: Vista (2018, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
- Jay Thomas With the Oliver Groenewald Newnet: I Always Knew (2018, Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(*)
- The David Ullman Group: Sometime (2018, Little Sky): [cd]: B
- Piet Verbist: Suite Réunion (2018, Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
- David Virelles: Igbó Alákorin (The Singer's Groove) Vol I & II (2017 , Pi): [cd]: A-
- Trevor Watts & RGG: RAFA (2018, Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Fred Hersch: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard (1997 , Palmetto): [cd]: A-
- Jazz at the Philharmonic [Oscar Peterson/Illinois Jacquet/Herb Ellis]: Blues in Chicago 1955 (Verve): [r]: A-
- The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966 (1966 , Dot Time Legends): [r]: B+(*)
- Thelonioous Monk: Mřnk (1963 , Gearbox): [r]: A-
Old music rated this week:
- Louis Prima/Keely Smith With Sam Butera and the Witnesses: The Wildest Shoe at Tahoe (1957, Capitol): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Kaja Draksler/Petter Eldh/Christian Lillinger: Punkt. Vrt. Plastik (Intakt)
- Jentsch Group No Net: Topics in American History (Blue Schist): November 30
- Ingrid Laubrock: Contemporary Chaos Practices: Two Works for Orchestra With Soloists (Intakt)
- Roberto Magris: World Gardens (JMood): December 1
- Dave Sewelson: Music for a Free World (FMR)
- Trio Heinz Herbert: Yes (Intakt)
- Voicehandler: Light From Another Light (Humbler)
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Seems like it's been a slow news week, probably because the holiday
both cut into the political world's capacity for misdeeds and my (and
others') attention span. I'm also preoccupied with music poll matters.
Still, figured I should at least briefly go through the motions, if
only to keep the record reasonably intact.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: House Democrats don't need a leader, they need someone
to represent them on TV: I see two basic knocks on Pelosi as Speaker:
one is the sense of failure with the 2010 and subsequent losses; another
is that in many parts of the country Republicans have been able to use
her (so-called radical agenda) to scare voters. (This was painfully clear
in my own district, which voted solidly Republican, despite an exceptional
Democratic candidate.) As far as I can tell, Pelosi is moderate-left by
national standards, but her district in San Francisco could easily support
someone further left. I suspect that most Democrats would prefer for her
to step aside and let someone else (younger and more charismatic) take
over, but as it is the only challengers are coming from the right -- not
because the caucus wants to move right but because some winners in close
districts pledged to vote against her. Yglesias finds a third knock against
her: that she's not very effective on TV either representing her party or
parrying against Trump. He suggests designating someone else to take the
publicity role, limiting her to in-house strategizing (which she's arguably
good at). I'm reminded here that in Britain they have an interesting system
where the opposition party designates a "shadow cabinet" -- one member for
each cabinet position, so there's always a recognized point person for
whatever issues crop up. A big advantage there is that it would open up
more prominent roles for more people. Might even be . . . more democratic.
Other Yglesias pieces:
There's nothing "America First" about Trump's Saudi policy: Worth
including not just the links but the linked-to titles in this quote:
President Donald Trump must be giving thanks this morning for press
coverage of his extraordinarily inappropriate statement on the murder
of dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Zack Beauchamp: Trump's Khashoggi statement is a green light for
Trump has secretive sources of income and murky financial ties to
America deserves to know how much money Trump is getting from the Saudi
government], and keeps touting entirely bogus statistics about the
jobs impact of arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs.
That's not true.]. Nevertheless, much of the coverage of his statement
simply takes at face value his assertions that his handling of this issue
is driven by American interests -- rather than by his own self-interest or
the interests of his donors in the defense contracting industry.
Yglesias argues that "America has a strong interest in curtailing
murder." I agree that America should have such an interest, but can't
think of many examples of pre-Trump US governments doing anything like
that. The US continued to support Pinochet when his agents gunned down
a Chilean dissenter in the streets of Washington -- probably the most
similar incident, but far from unique. The US has long and lavishly
supported Israel's targeted assassination programs -- the model for
America's even more extensive "drone warfare" program. More generally,
the US supported "death squads" in Latin America and elsewhere, as
well as providing intelligence, training, and weapons to "security
forces" -- Indonesia's slaughter of 500,000 "communists" is one of
the more striking examples. Then there are arms sales in support of
aggressive wars, such as the one Saudi Arabia is waging in Yemen.
Or you can point to the US refusal to support the International
Criminal Court. You can argue that Trump is even worse than past
US presidents in this regard -- both for his tasteless embrace of
flagrant killers like Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and
for his slavish devotion to "allies" like Saudi Arabia and Israel --
but he's mostly just following past practices (even if he seems to
be enjoying them too much).
The more interesting question is why has the murder of Khashoggi
different? I don't have time to trot my theories out there, but even
if anti-Islam bigotry is part of the equation, the basic realization
that governments shouldn't go around killing their dissidents is one
more people should embrace more consistently.
The time Nancy Pelosi saved Social Security: Credits Pelosi with
blocking the privatization scheme GW Bush claimed as his mandate after
winning the 2004 election. I never thought the scheme had a chance,
because I knew they could never afford to bridge the gap between
pay-as-you-go and funded schemes (even a far-from-adequately funded
one). But sure, give Pelosi credit for her blanket rejection of all
Republican schemes. A big problem that Democrats had all through the
Reagan-Bush-Bush years has been their callow willingness to accept
(and legitimize) conservative talking points, so it's good to point
to examples where they didn't, and saved themselves. Also on Pelosi:
Ella Nilsen: Why House progressives have Nancy Pelosi's back.
The 2016 election really was dominated by a controversy over emails.
Does a good job of summing up the view that media and ultimately voter
perception of the 2016 election was decisively dominated by the "email
scandal" -- the Gallup Daily Tracking word cloud shows this graphically,
but there are many other telling details. Why is a question that remains
unanswered. Is it really just as simple as the endless repetition -- by
the partisan right-wing media, echoed by mainstream media that covered
propaganda as news -- or was there such underlying dislike and distrust
of Clinton that let such a trivial mistake (at worst) signify some kind
of deeply disturbing character flaw? And if so, why didn't Trump's own
obvious character flaws disqualify him? One thing well established by
polling is that both candidates were viewed negatively by most people,
yet when forced to choose, a decisive number of Americans opted to rid
themselves of Clinton to tip the election to the equally (or more, but
not more deeply) disliked Trump.
The Beto O'Rourke 2020 buzz, explained: "hey, losing a high-profile
Senate race was good enough for Abraham Lincoln.".
Arthur C Brooks: How Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart: Head of
American Enterprise Institute, pushing a Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) book,
Them: Why We Hate Each Other, blaming America's numerous woes
on cultural factors. I think that may have some superficial validity,
but only after taking a hard look at inequality, powerlessness, and
Matthew Choi: Trump hits back at Chief Justice Roberts, escalating an
extraordinary exchange: Roberts is no hero for a judicial system
and sense of justice that transcends party and respects all people, but
he reminds us that many conservatives (and, by the way, most liberals)
at least go through the motions of wanting to be seen in that light.
Trump clearly sees no point in looking beyond political tags -- in
part, no doubt, because his grasp of actual issues is so shallow, but
but mostly because he's convinced that naked, blatant partisanship
gives him an out from any charges of malfeasance (just blame "fake
news" and your fans will rally behind you). Trump took the same tack in
attacking Admiral Bill McRaven after McRaven had the temerity to
note that Trump's ravings about the "fake news" media constitute a
threat to American democracy. Trump's first thought was that he could
dismiss McRaven by calling him a "Hillary supporter." Clearly, he
relishes another presidential campaign against Clinton -- probably
figuring she's the only Democrat he can still whip.
Aaron Gell: The Unbearable Rightness of Seth Abramson: On a
blogger who has deeply investigated the whole Trump-Russia thing,
publishing the book: Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed
William D Hartung: America's Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost $5.9 Trillion:
"Not to mention 240,000 civilian deaths and 21 million displaced. And
yet a congressional commission is urging yet more money for a bloated
Murtaza Hussain: It's Time for America to Reckon With the Staggering
Death Toll of the Post-9/11 Wars, which puts the death toll twice
as high ("at least 480,000 people").
Rebecca Jennings: The death of small businesses in big cities, explained:
Interview with Jeremiah Moss.
Jen Kirby: Theresa May and the EU have a Brexit deal. What's next?
Andrew Kragie: Trump's New Kavanaugh for the US Court of Appeals:
Meet Neomi Rao.
Mark Landler: In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis
Despite Khashoggi Killing. Also:
Karoun Demirjian: More Republicans challenge Trump on defense of Saudi
Dara Lind: Trump's reportedly cutting a deal to force asylum seekers to
wait in Mexico.
Bill McKibben: How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet. Also:
Robinson Meyer: A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday; and
David Sirota: Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats
must choose a side.
Anna North: How Trump helped inspire a wave of strict new abortion
Daniel Politi: US Agents Fire Tear Gas at Migrants Approaching the Border
Robert Reich: Break up Facebook (and while we're at it, Google, Apple
and Amazon): The sheer size of these four companies, each built to
dominate major niches on the internet, certainly suggests some sort of
antitrust remedy. (I'm less concerned here with physical products --
still most of what Apple produces, but tightly interwoven with their
network products, even more so for Google, Amazon, and we might as well
include Microsoft in this list.) On the other hand, given how important
network effects are to each of these businesses, they're more than a
little like natural monopolies, which occur in markets that are never
able to support healthy competition. The difference is that utilities
and such are most efficient with common infrastructure shared by all
customers, the winning vendor for services like Facebook (and Amazon)
is inevitably the first one with the widest network. The problem with
such monopolies is less the usual problem of restricting competition
than abuse of power. Moreover, where product monopolies tend to abuse
power by extorting high prices and/or delivering poor service, services
like Facebook and Google make their profits by exploiting their user
base (by capturing and reselling private information). It may not have
been obvious before Facebook that there was a public interest in social
media, and indeed one might never have developed had customers directly
had to bear the full development costs, but by now it's pretty clear
that: a) people want social media; b) that the market will be captured
by a single vendor; and c) that the profit motive will lead that vendor
to take advantage of and harm users. There is an obvious solution to
problems like this, and it isn't antitrust (not that there aren't cases
here for antitrust and/or other forms of regulation). The solution is
to build publicly funded non-profit utilities to provide web services
that are not subject to profit-seeking exploitation.
Dylan Scott: Bernie Sanders's new plan to bring down drug prices, briefly
explained: Better than nothing, I suppose, but this still assumes the
necessity of patents to incentivize profit-seeking companies to develop
new drugs. The main thing it does is to provide some limits on how much
drug companies can extort from customers and their insurers, and even
then depends on generics based on patent licensing to introduce a bit of
competition. A more immediately effective scheme would allow importation
of drugs from a much wider range of countries, ideally including ones
not beholden to US patent laws. (A compromise might be to allow a fixed
import tax to be claimed by the patent holder.) Better still would be to
eliminate patents altogether, and do research and development through
publicly-funded "open source" institutions around the world.
Dylan Scott: The Mississippi Senate runoff, Dems' last chance for one
more 2018 upset, explained: "Mike Espy could become the first
black senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction." We, and for
that matter, the long-suffering people of Mississippi, should be
so lucky. Cindy Hyde-Smith tweet: "Did you know extremists like Cory
Booker are campaigning for Mike Espy here in MS?" Isn't Booker the
guy with all the big bank money behind him? Who's the real extremist
Somini Sengupta: The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?
Emily Stewart: Ivanka Trump's personal email excuse shows she only wants
to seem competent some of the time: "She violated the rule by using
a personal email but wants you to believe she didn't know better."
Kaitlyn Tiffany: Wouldn't it be better if self-checkout just died?
A personal pet peeve. I, for one, pretty much never use the systems,
for lots of reasons, which start with I don't like machines lecturing
me. But then I guess I've never been good with authority figures, let
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Music: current count 30635  rated (+44), 293  unrated (-7).
at a decent (for me) hour Sunday evening, figuring I'd knock this out
on time too. However, the end-of-the-year crunch hit me hard over the
weekend, so I have quite a bit of material to cover here. I'll try to
be brief (and will probably postpone whatever I can).
First thing is that Francis Davis will be running his annual Jazz
Critics Poll again this year, with NPR picking up the tab (such as it
is) and bragging rights. I've been
hosting the ballots and providing complete results since 2009,
and will do that again. But the difference this year is that I'll be
doing the ongoing tabulation, so I need to get set up early this year
(like right now) instead of waiting for Francis to dump everything
in my lap a day or two after the voting deadline (December 9). Francis
always urges early submission of ballots, and I have three waiting in
my mailbox at the moment. Sometime over the next couple days I'll set
up my framework and start counting ballots. Good news for me is that
it will spread the work out, but ultimately that will add up to quite
a bit more work. It certainly ruins any hopes I had of driving off
to see family in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
At this point I have very little idea of the contenders -- not even
much sense of my own list. But at least I've cobbled together two very
tentative lists: as has been my custom, one for
Jazz and one for
Non-Jazz. First thing
I must say is that I was very surprised to see that both lists have
the exact same number of new A-list records: 46. Usually what happens
is that when I first put these lists together (Nov. 16 in 2017, Nov.
19 this year) I get about a 60-40 split in favor of jazz (ratio, but
I usually have about 100 A-list records at this point, so close to
literally). Then as I get a chance to look at non-jazz EOY lists, I
catch up on the non-jazz side so the split usually winds up close to
50-50 (in 2014: 69-76; in 2015: 81-83; in 2016: 75-67 -- a slight
trend line toward more jazz, which seemed to finally tilt in 2017:
84-61). So while I was expecting that trend to hold, I was also
thinking the split might be even more extreme this year, as (my
impression at least) I've actually been streaming more jazz than
non-jazz this year. So coming up 46-46 is a big surprise to me.
Actually, my perception isn't that far off base. Jazz has a
13-4 A-list edge in Reissues/Historic, which I mention because
it's hard to factor those records out of the following grade
break-downs (obtained by subtracting
Music Tracking: Jazz
|A ||3 ||1 ||2 ||33.3%|
|A- ||102 ||55 ||47 ||53.9%|
|*** ||154 ||118 ||44 ||71.4%|
|** ||215 ||160 ||55 ||74.4%|
|* ||176 ||118 ||58 ||67.8%|
|B ||83 ||54 ||29 ||65.0%|
|B- ||18 ||11 ||7 ||61.1%|
|C+ ||5 ||4 ||1 ||80.0%|
|C ||2 ||2 ||0 ||100.0%|
|C- ||1 ||1 ||0 ||100.0%|
|D+ ||1 ||1 ||0 ||100.0%|
|Total ||760 ||517 ||243 ||68.0%|
|U ||31 ||31 ||0 ||100.0%|
So, basically, I'm listening to twice as many jazz as non-jazz records,
but I'm a lot pickier about the non-jazz I play. I figure that the jazz
percentage (currently 68%) will drop a bit before the year is over, more
like last year's 62%. I should also note that the total number of rated
records is down this year, from 1185 in 2017 to 760 now (assuming 10 weeks
left, a pace that would reach 940 albums).
The jazz grade curve above looks pretty reasonable to me, although
compared to past years it looks like A- is down and B+(***) up. I'm
on a pace to hit 57 A-list jazz records this year, vs. 81-75-84 over
the last three years: the A-list share of all rated records is 6.0%
this year, vs. 7.0% last year (or three). I can't explain that. Maybe
I'm less patient, or crankier.
As for non-jazz, my most reliable scout this year remains Robert
Christgau (although I suspect that statistical analysis might show
he's been less reliable this year than before). It's now pretty easy
to check up on
for 2018 releases. Adding in
last week's picks (Homeboy Sandman & Edan, Open Mike Eagle),
he has 60 A/A- records among 2018 releases (excluding a dozen-plus
belated grades for 2017 releases). I've heard 58 of those (playing
Open Mike Eagle now; can't find Chicago Farmer), and my grades break
as follows: A: 1, A-: 24, B+(***): 16, B+(**): 8, B+(*): 7, B: 2.
That's pretty good correlation: more than half (52.1%) of my non-jazz
A-list were rated A/A- by Christgau. (Christgau has two jazz albums
on his list: John Hassell [my A-] and MAST [my ***].)
I did an update of the CG database last week -- my first since
mid-January. I hadn't been able to work on it for several months,
thanks to a major server meltdown, which forced me to rebuild my
local copy of the website based on the public copy. That shouldn't
have been too hard, but my new machine was running later software
revisions, and the public server was also out of sync with my old
server. I had more than a hundred files that I needed to revise,
and actually still don't have all of that work done. I've been
getting by with partial updates, but hadn't been able to change
the database until I resolved a character set incompatibility.
I made a breakthrough on that a week ago, and it took me until
Thursday to catch up and prepare a database update.
I also settled down and wrote up a script to provide a
RSS 2.0 feed.
If you use a RSS feed reader (most browsers have one built in),
you can add this feed to the list you're monitoring, and get
notices when new files (or major edits) appear on the website.
The current one has titles, links, and dates, but doesn't have
article descriptions yet. I'll add those as we go forward. I
don't have much experience with RSS, so there are details that
I'm unsure of. For instance, should we add links to external
websites, given that most of Christgau's new writings appear
elsewhere (e.g., Noisey), exclusively for an initial period.
(While the embargo is in effect, the RSS will link you to a
stub article which includes a link to the current article, so
the inconvenience is an extra click.)
I'll promise here to get the rest of the programming changes
done by the end of the year. Beyond that, I'm planning on doing
a fairly major website redesign next year. The current website
was launched in 2001, and we've been hearing complaints about
its "antique" design at least since 2004. Most never bothered
us, but we keep getting bit by software changes, especially by
the now nearly universal adoption of UTF-8. We need to adopt
UTF-8, and bring the older pages up to HTML5. We need to add
a viewport declaration to work better with phones (and I need
to learn what else "phone-first design" entails). We don't use
good things, I've always thought, but I'm starting to wonder.
I'm not particularly keen on moving all the articles to the
database, but the directory organization has morphed into a
sprawling, nonsensical mess -- such that I have little idea
where to put many new files. It may be a good idea to come up
with a different browsing scheme. There are also maintenance
issues, especially as we've seen that the current webmaster
can be pretty lax about his duties.
Back in 2001 when I built the site, I had figured that I'd
have to rebuild it around 2004-05. In fact, there are dozens
of pages scattered around the site with ideas for development --
few that have actually been revisited since 2005. At some point
in the next few weeks I'm going to set up a mail exchange and
invite interested (and hopefully expert) people to act as a
consulting forum on this and similar projects. (My own "ocston"
website dates back to 1999, surviving an effort back in 2002
at a major rewrite, so I can be even more lax on my own work.)
Maybe we can also provide a sounding board for others who want
to work on similar or related projects. (E.g., Chuck Eddy one
suggested reviving "Pazz N Jop Product Report," so I wrote a
very preliminary spec
here, then never did
anything about it.) I was thinking I'd announce the forum this
week, but didn't get that done. Soon, I promise.
I also hoped to get the RSS feed code backported to my site.
(Back when I was using Serendipity for my blog, I had people who
publicized my links from its RSS feed -- I know this because I've
seen broken links from a year ago.) Also I plan on adding a Q&A
feature similar to Christgau's
Xgau Sez (a
new batch of which came out today). I solved one technical issue
last week, and hoped to announce that today, but "real soon now"
is the best I can do.
Another thing I didn't get set up this week is the 2018 EOY
Aggregate file. Actually all I need to do there is to clean up
this file, which I had set up for mid-year lists (based on
last year's EOY Aggregate framework). I think what I will do
there is to turn all of the mid-year list mentions into 1-point
miscellaneous references (so that Janelle Monae drops from 52
to 22 points), then replace those as actual lists appear. EOY
lists usually start appearing around Thanksgiving. In fact,
here is the top 75 from
As for this week's music, before I got swamped I was variously intrigued
and outraged by Downbeat's Readers Poll. I made an effort to track
down the top-ranked albums I hadn't heard of. I also spent the better part
of a day trying to check out the late guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who came
in second (for the second straight year) in reader Hall of Fame voting.
(He lost to Wynton Marsalis last year, and to Ray Charles this year.) I
knew the name, and had several of his records listed (but not heard) in
my database, filed under rock. After sampling eight (of not much more
than a dozen) albums, I have to say I have no idea what fans hear in
his guitar. I suppose I could have dug deeper -- he did early work with
pianist Gordon Beck, whose Experiments With Pops was a star-making
turn for John McLaughlin, and he appeared on two 1975-76 Tony Williams
albums I don't know -- but I was pretty sure his 12-CD box set (The
Man Who Changed Guitar Forever) was de trop, especially since most
of it was also redundant.
Midweek I mostly played Christgau picks. I think I get the appeal
of Rich Krueger, but something about his sound turns me off (I called
his previous album, Life Ain't That Long, the one Christgau
prefers, "Springsteenian.") I wound up reviewing Lithics based on an
"abridged version" on Napster and Bandcamp. I usually don't bother
with partials (6/12 cuts), but figured that was the only chance I'd
get. When I do, I usually hedge, but this seemed like the sort of
thing they could keep doing for hours (recommended if you not only
like Wire but need more). A couple B+(***) records tempted me for
extra plays in case they got better. The one that came closest was
by Carol Liebowitz. Several albums this week were recommended by
Alfred Soto in an
"we're almost there" pre-EOY list. Eric Church's Desperate
Man is the only one I'd call a find, but that was after the
cutoff (so next week).
One bit of good news at Napster is that the HighNote/Savant back
catalogue is now available. I checked out a new archival Frank Morgan
release, then found a couple of old ones I had missed. I previously
pegged A Night in the Life: Live at the Jazz Standard Vol. 3
at B+(***), so it's not a big surprise that Vol. 1 and Vol.
2 edge it. The other gem in Morgan's catalog is Twogether,
a duo with John Hicks, released in 2010 after both died.
New records rated this week:
- Ethan Ardelli: The Island of Form (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Mandy Barnett: Strange Conversation (2018, Dame Productions/Thirty Tigers): [r]: A-
- Pat Bianchi: In the Moment (2018, Savant): [r]: B
- Magnus Broo Trio: Rules (2017 , Moserobie): [cd]: B+(**)
- Bobby Broom & the Organi-sation: Soul Fingers (2018, MRi): [cd]: B
- Rosanne Cash: She Remembers Everything (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Annie Chen Octet: Secret Treetop (2018, Shanghai Audio & Video): [cd]: B
- Randy Halberstadt: Open Heart (2018, Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Clay Harper: Bleak Beauty (2018, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
- Christopher Hollyday: Telepathy (2018, Jazzbeat Productions): [cd]: B+(***)
- Homeboy Sandman & Edan: Humble Pi (2018, Stones Throw, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Adam Hopkins: Crickets (2018, Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jason Kao Hwang Burning Bridge: Blood (2018, True Sound): [cd]: A-
- Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis: Una Noche Con Rubén Blades (2014 , Blue Engine): [cd]: B+(**)
- Rich Krueger: NOWThen (2018, Rockin'K Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Lawful Citizen: Internal Combustion (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Carol Liebowitz/Birgitta Flick: Malita-Malika (2017 , Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Lithics: Mating Surfaces (2018, Kill Rock Stars): [bc]: B+(***)
- Roc Marciano: RR2: The Bitter Dose (2018, Marci): [r]: B+(***)
- Rhett Miller: The Messenger (2018, ATO): [r]: B+(**)
- Mr. Fingers: Cerebral Hemispheres (2018, Aleviated): [r]: B+(**)
- Old Man Saxon: The Pursuit (2018, Pusher, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Chris Pasin: Ornettiquette (2018, Planet Arts): [cd]: B+(**)
- Lucas Pino's No Net Nonet: That's a Computer (2018, Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Paul Simon: In the Blue Light (2018, Legacy): [r]: B
- Vince Staples: FM! (2018, Def Jam, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- David S. Ware Trio: The Balance (Vision Festival XV+) (2009-10 , AUM Fidelity): [r]: B+(***)
- Way North: Fearless and Kind (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
- Kenny Werner: The Space (2016 , Pirouet): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Frank Morgan/George Cables: Montreal Memories (1989 , High Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s (1971-79 , Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe Strummer: 001 (1981-2002, Ignition, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Ben Webster: Valentine's Day 1964 Live! (1964 , Dot Time): [r]: B+(***)
Old music rated this week:
- Mandy Barnett: The Original Nashville Cast Recordings of "Always . . . Patsy Cline": Live at the Ryman Auditorium (1995, Decca): [r]: B+(*)
- Allan Holdsworth: I.O.U. (1982 , Enigma): [r]: B
- Allan Holdsworth With I.O.U.: Metal Fatigue (1985, Enigma): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth: Atavachron (1986, Enigma): [r]: C+
- Allan Holdsworth: Sand (1987, Relativity): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth: Secrets (1989, Intima): [r]: C+
- Allan Holdsworth: Wardenclyffe Tower (1992, Restless): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth: The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000, Gnarly Geezer): [r]: B-
- Allan Holdsworth/Alan Pasqua/Jimmy Haslip/Chad Wackerman: Blues for Tony (2007 , Moonjune, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
- Frank Morgan: City Nights: Live at the Jazz Standard (2003 , High Note): [r]: A-
- Frank Morgan: Raising the Standard: Live at the Jazz Standard Vol. 2 (2003 , High Note): [r]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Carla Campopiano Trio: Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections (self-released): December 7
- Dustin Carlson: Air Ceremony (Out of Your Head)
- Fred Hersch: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard (Palmetto): December 7
- Simone Kopmajer: Spotlight on Jazz (Lucy Mojo)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Mark Feldman/Jason Hwang: Strings 1 (Leo)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Hank Roberts/Ned Rothenberg: Strings 2 (Leo)
- Yoko Yamaoka: Diary 2005-2015: Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii (Libra, 2CD)
Miscellaneous Album Notes:
- Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s (1971-79
, Legacy, 2CD):
Sunday, November 18, 2018
No intro this week. A few updates but really not much on the elections,
let alone political futures for 2020. I barely managed to work in notice
of Israel's latest round of punitive bombings in Gaza. I'm sure there's
much more to it, but most of the links I did notice have to do with cease
fire negotiations (not going well, I gather) as opposed to why it happened
when. (I will note that this isn't the first time Israel launched a wave of
terror right after an American election.) I think there was also a story
about how last week was the first time the US defended Israel's occupation
of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 war. Another thing I
wanted to write about was the NY Times piece claiming that North Korea has
"snookered" Trump and is still developing missiles. I gather this has been
debunked in various places -- my wife is on top of this and other stories
I haven't had time for -- but I didn't land on a link that made sense of
it all. Also, I have no real opinions on possible leadership contests for
the Democrats in the new Congress. I've been pretty critical of both Nancy
Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the past, and no doubt will again in the future.
(Whenever I think of Schumer I'm reminded of a story about how he greeted
our friend Liz Fink on the street with his customary "how am I doing?" --
to which she answered, "you're evil, man.") Still, politics is a dirty
business, and no one can afford to get too bent out of shape over it.
Whoever wins, we'll support them when we can, and oppose them when we
must. That much never changes.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias pieces this week:
HQ2 is a perfect opportunity to massively upgrade the DC area's commuter
What the Amazon tax breaks really mean.
New Pew poll: the public prefers congressional Democrats to Trump on most
issues: Oddly enough, the two questions Trump leads are "Jobs and econ
growth" (44-33) and "Trade policy" (40-38), with "Taxes" near even (38-39).
Strongest Democratic advantages: "The environment" (55-19), "Ethics in
government" (48-22), "Medicare" (51-26), "Health care" (51-28), and "Social
Trump's latest interview shows a president who's in way over his
head: "but what else is new?"
In some ways, the friendliest Donald Trump interviews are the most
revealing. Given the opportunity to ramble and free-associate without
any pushback whatsoever, you can see what channels his mind naturally
His latest interview with the Daily Caller shows a president who's
fundamentally out to sea. The sycophantic interviewers can't get Trump
to answer a policy question of any kind, no matter how much of a softball
they lob at him. The only subjects he is actually interested in talking
about are his deranged belief in his incredible popularity and how that
popularity is not reflected in actual vote totals because he's the victim
of a vast voter fraud conspiracy.
Actually a fairly long piece with a lot of excerpts backing up the
Trump's incompetence and authoritarianism are both scary: Takes
exception to a David Brooks tweet about Trump ("It's the incompetence,
not the authoritarianism we should be worried about"), nothing that
"autocrats are often incompetent." Indeed, you could argue that
authoritarianism is Trump's crutch against his own incompetence,
much like how people who cannot speak in the listener's language
think that more volume will do the trick. Brooks' tweet refers to
Jonathan V Last: The Vaporware Presidency, which sums Trump's
approach as: "Step 1: Propose something ridiculous. Step 2: Cause
chaos but don't deliver it. Lather, rinse, repeat." Yglesias offers
the example of promoting Thomas Homan to replace Kirstjen Nielsen
(Secretary of Homeland Security):
This is both stupid and authoritarian at the same time and for the
Trump's primary interest is in putting people in place who will
aggressively support Trump rather than people who know what they
are doing. Consequently, he'd rather have a DHS head who suggests
arresting local politicians for disagreeing with Trump than a DHS
head who advises Trump to avoid doing illegal stuff.
This is simultaneously a recipe for vaporware and for autocracy.
Homan, at the end of the day, probably won't actually go around
arresting liberal mayors -- it's just something that sounded good
to say. But when you fill your Cabinet with people who make these
kinds of suggestions and make it clear that's what you want to hear
from your top lieutenants, sooner or later, someone goes and does it.
Even more inevitable is that those who don't follow through with
their stupid/authoritarian sound bites will be taunted for failure,
giving rise to ever more shameless opportunists.
What the 2018 results tell us about 2020: "Realistically, not
much." Actually, the main difference between presidential elections
and "mid-terms" (a term I've always hated) is turnout: about 60% vs.
40%. The big change in 2018 was that turnout jumped to almost 50%.
While Republicans have been very effective at getting their base out
to vote, that bump (relative to past "mid-terms") skewed Democratic.
In fact, at this point both parties have come to believe that their
fates will mostly be decided by voter turnout (hence the R's efforts
at voter suppression). The election also revealed two regional trends.
The Southwest from Texas to California has shifted toward the Democrats,
flipping Senate seats in Arizona and Nevada. You can chalk that up to
demography, further polarized by Trump's anti-immigrant policies. Also,
Trump's gains in the belt from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin and Iowa have
mostly evaporated. There's no reason to think that either of those
shifts will reverse in 2020. I can think of a half-dozen more points
to add in moving from 2018 to 2020, but should hold them back for a
longer essay. My point is that a lot happened in 2018 that bodes well
for Democrats looking forward, and there's very little on the other
side of the ledger. Of course, Democrats could blow it by nominating
another candidate with massive credibility issues.
For another piece on shifting political grounds, see:
Stanley B Greenberg: Trump Is Beginning to Lose His Grip.
Jim Acosta vs. the Trump White House, explained:
This particular weird incident with Acosta and the staffer might be
no more remembered than a dozen other bizarre moments from that press
conference. (Trump openly mocked losing House Republican candidates,
misstated the tipping point states in the Electoral College, threatened
politically motivated investigations of House Democrats, blamed "Obama's
regime" for Russian annexation of Crimea, claimed to be unable to
understand foreign journalists' accents, wildly mischaracterized both
DACA and the Affordable Care Act, and said some stuff about China that
was so incoherent, it's hard to even call it lying.)
Also note this:
But more broadly, to cast the press as the real "opposition party" in
America -- as Trump has -- offers some meaningful tactical advantages.
Trump, in an unusual way, won the 2016 presidential election without
being popular. Not only did he win fewer votes than Hillary Clinton on
Election Day, but his favorability rating was lower than that of the
losing candidates from the 2012, 2008, 2004, and 2000 presidential
The nonpartisan press can (and does) report facts that are unflattering
to Trump. But a lack of unflattering facts or a failure by the public to
appreciate their existence has never been the foundation of Trump's
political success. And the press isn't going to do the work of an actual
opposition party, which is to formulate a political alternative that an
adequate number of people find to be sufficiently inspiring to go out and
That's the job of the Democratic Party, an institution that's had
considerable trouble attracting press attention to its own message and
ideas ever since Trump exploded on the scene. And keeping the media
focused on a self-referential feud between Trump and the media is a
way to maintain his preferred approach of trying to suck up all the
oxygen in the room.
Meanwhile, what matters to Trump isn't any actual crushing of the
media but simply driving the narrative in his core followers' heads
that the media is at war with him. With that pretense in place, critical
coverage and unflattering facts can be dismissed even as Trump selectively
courts the press to inject his own preferred ideas into the mainstream.
Aaron Rupar: Trump-appointed judge orders White House to temporarily
restore Acosta's credentials. "Even Fox News released a statement
siding with CNN."
Republicans just lost a Senate seat in Arizona because Trump is an
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Amazon's imminent arrival in Queens.
For a further critique, see:
Alexia Fernández Campbell: The US economy doesn't need more Amazon jobs.
It needs higher wages.
One chart that shows racism has everything and nothing to do with Republican
election wins: The chart shows a fairly strong correlation between
denial of racism and voting Republican. It's long been hard to get an
accurate survey of racism in America because much of what amounts to
racial prejudice is subconscious (or rarely conscious), and very few
people admit to being racists, even those who often act and/or talk
Michelle Alexander: The Newest Jim Crow: "Recent criminal justice
reforms contain the seeds of a frightening system of 'e-carceration.'"
Zack Beauchamp: What's going on with Brexit, explained in under 500
words: Or, in under 30 words: Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated
a "soft Brexit" deal that would retain UK access to Europe's common
market and an "open border" in Ireland. Nobody likes it. Also see:
John Cassidy: The Brexit Fantasy Goes Down in Tears; and
Jane Mayer: New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica's
Role in Brexit.
Tom Engelhardt: The Donald and the Fake News Media.
Kathy Gannon: After 17 years, many Afghans blame US for unending war.
Jeff Goodell: The President's Coal Warrior: All about EPA head
(and former coal industry lobbyist) Andrew Wheeler, and his "highly
effective campaign to sacrifice public health in favor of the
Glenn Greenwald: As the Obama DOJ Concluded, Prosecution of Julian Assange
for Publishing Documents Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom.
Michael Grunwald: How Everything Became the Culture War: I guess this
is an important subject, but this could be treated better. One problem is
the meticulously balanced centrism:
At a time when Blue and Red America have split into two warring tribes
inhabiting two separate realities, and "debate" has been redefined to
evoke split-screen cable-news screamfests, this ferocious politicization
of everything might seem obvious and unavoidable. . . . Democrats and
Republicans are increasingly self-segregated and mutually disdainful,
each camp deploying the furious language of victimhood to justify its
fear and loathing of the gullible deplorables in the other.
This is followed by a list of caricatures, evenly sorted between two
camps, except that a strange asymmetry sets in: the terminology, not to
mention the ominous overtones, comes almost exclusively from the right.
For instance, there is nothing remotely like a Church of Global Warming
Leftists. It's not that leftists cannot play culture war games, but the
right uses them as proxies for policies never get aired out (like the
promise to "repeal and replace" ACA with something "better and cheaper").
The reason culture war has increasingly swamped political discourse is
that conservatives have little chance of convincing most Americans of
the merits of their program, so they try to manipulate what they hope
is a viable target base with appeals to their identity, and big lies
and massive shots of fear and loathing. It's gotten much worse in the
last couple years, but isn't that just Trump? I don't know whether he
tries to turn everything into culture war because he has some shrewd
insight into mass psychology or because he has no grasp of policy
whatsoever -- he certainly never manages to say anything intelligible
on whatever he's up to.
I think it's safe to say Obama was never like that, even as he was
subjected to repeated attempts to impugn his patriotism, his religion,
his honesty, his dignity. It's true that not every Republican took that
tack, but many did (not least Trump himself). I just ran across a meme
in my Facebook feed today that is possibly the most offensive one I've
seen: "The Obamas continue to linger, like the stench of human waste
that fouls the air and assaults the nostrils." The comments just build
Umair Irfan: Why the wildfire in Northern California was so severe:
"Heat, wind, and drought -- and long-term climate trends -- conspired
to create the deadly Camp Fire." Also:
Brian Resnick: Northern California now has the worst air quality in the
world, thanks to wildfire smoke; and
Gabriel Thompson: As Toxic Smoke Blankets California, Who Has the
Ability to Escape? Subhed ("while the wealthy can flee toward cleaner
air, the poorest have no choice but to stay put") isn't exactly true on
any count, not that the wealthy don't have more options. But the wealthy
also need to note that they're the ones who own most of the property
threatened by climate-driven disaster. Beachfront houses aren't owned
by poor people, nor are most of the houses destroyed in California towns
like Paradise and Malibu. Moreover, that "bad air" map covers a lot of
wealthy towns, and air is about the only thing rich and poor still share
alike. Maybe some ultra-rich folk hopped in their jets and went elsewhere,
but most middling property owners are as stuck as everyone else.
Paul Krugman: Why Was Trump's Tax Cut a Fizzle? No surprises here.
Just a review of the things Republicans say to get special favors for
their donors, and how quickly they are forgotten.
Last week's blue wave means that Donald Trump will go into the 2020
election with only one major legislative achievement: a big tax cut
for corporations and the wealthy. Still, that tax cut was supposed
to accomplish big things. Republicans thought it would give them a
big electoral boost, and they predicted dramatic economic gains. What
they got instead, however, was a big fizzle.
The political payoff, of course, never arrived. And the economic
results have been disappointing. True, we've had two quarters of
fairly fast economic growth, but such growth spurts are fairly common --
there was a substantially bigger spurt in 2014, and hardly anyone
noticed. And this growth was driven largely by consumer spending
and, surprise, government spending, which wasn't what the tax cutters
Meanwhile, there's no sign of the vast investment boom the law's
backers promised. Corporations have used the tax cut's proceeds largely
to buy back their own stock rather than to add jobs and expand capacity.
Also by Krugman:
The Tax Cut and the Balance of Payments (Wonkish). Also:
Jim Tankersley/Matt Phillips: Trump's Tax Cut Was Supposed to Change
Corporate Behavior. Here's What Happened.
Caroline Orr: US joins Russia, North Korea in refusing to sign cybersecurity
pact: This may not be the right deal -- one major plank is to protect
"intellectual property" which often is meant to force an arbitrary division
of the world into owners and renters -- but some sort of effort like this
should be negotiated, and it needs to include Russia and the US, simply
because those (along with China and Israel) are the nations with the worst
track record of waging cyberwar. Take away the idea of cyberwar, and you
could even start to crack down on everyday nuisance hacking, which would
make all of our lives easier.
Sarah Smarsh: A Blue Wave in Kansas? Don't Be So Surprised: The
only state which has elected three female governors, all Democrats
(also a female three-term Senator, Republican Nancy Kassebaum).
Michael Robbins: Looking Busy: The Rise of Pointless Work: A review
of David Graeber's latest book, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.
Matt Taibbi: Trump's Defense Spending Is Out of Control, and Poised to
Sabrina Tavernise: These Americans Are Done With Politics: "The
Exhausted Majority needs a break."
A deep new study of the American electorate, "Hidden Tribes," concludes
that two out of three Americans are far more practical than that narrative
suggests. Most do not see their lives through a political lens, and when
they have political views the views are far less rigid than those of the
highly politically engaged, ideologically orthodox tribes.
The study, an effort to understand the forces that drive political
polarization, surveyed a representative group of 8,000 Americans. The
nonpartisan organization that did it, More in Common, paints a picture
of a society that is far more disengaged -- and despairing over divisions --
than it is divided. At its heart is a vast and often overlooked political
middle that feels forgotten in the vitriol, as if the country has gone on
without it. It calls that group the Exhausted Majority, a group that
represented two-thirds of the survey.
"It feels very lonely out here," said Jamie McDaniel, a 36-year-old
home health care worker in Topeka, Kan., one of several people in the
study who was interviewed for this article. "Everybody is so right or
left, and you're just kind of standing there in the middle saying,
Rachel Withers: CIA reportedly concludes that Jamal Khashoggi was killed
on the Saudi crown prince's orders. Also:
Alex Ward: Trump doesn't want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His
new sanctions prove it. I don't doubt Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's
culpability here, even with the CIA attesting to it, but I also don't think
the US should be unilaterally sanctioning Saudi Arabia or its citizens,
except perhaps through an international process, perhaps based on the World
Court or the International Criminal Court. On the other hand, the US does
need to rethink its relationship to Saudi Arabia. The US should cut off
all arms sales and support as long as Saudi Arabia is engaged in its war
of aggression against Yemen. The US should also stop catering to Saudi
hostility against Iran and seek to negotiate deals that would allow Iran
to enjoy normal, mutually beneficial relationships with the US and its
various neighbors. But the idea that the US should act as judge and jury
in deciding to punish other states and people is arrogant and unfair, a
force of injustice and destabilization which ultimately does more harm
Speaking of Saudi Arabia and the mischief MBS is up to:
David Hearst: Bin Salman 'tried to persuade Netanyahu to go to war in
Gaza' say sources. Note that Israel in fact launched a series of
attacks on Gaza
starting on November 11; also see
Alex Ward: Israel and Gaza just saw their worst violence in years. It
could get worse.
Rachel Withers: Weekend midterms update: Democrats concede Florida and
Georgia but complete their Orange County sweep: "Plus, where the
rest of the outstanding races stand." For an earlier rundown, see:
All the House seats Democrats have flipped in the 2018 elections.
Withers also wrote:
Trump skipped Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day because he was "extremely
Trump attacks retired Navy SEAL Admiral Bill McRaven, suggests he
should have gotten bin Laden sooner.