Saturday, September 30, 2023
Sunday, September 10, 2023
Saturday, September 02, 2023
Pierre Bonnard. In 2009 I saw an exhibition of his paintings and drawings at the Met, "Late Interiors," and posted about it here. The photo at left, which comes from another post about "Late Interiors" in Carol Gillott's "Paris Breakfasts" blog, shows Bonnard at work, using his unconventional technique of painting while his canvas is fastened to a wall,
Bonnard died in 1947. His wife predeceased him and they had no children. According to the Times story, his most proximate heirs were "three estranged nieces-in-law." Daniel found another relative with a colorable claim, bought his inheritance rights for $1 million, and funded a lengthy lawsuit on his behalf that led to a settlement in which Daniel acquired 500 paintings and the nieces got 25, though "Daniel promised them more to avoid further litigation." The Times story tells how Dumont Beghi and an appraiser went to the Geneva Free Port to examine the Bonnards kept there by Daniel. She found there paintings by an artist "known above all for his radiant use of color" that were "locked behind an armored door" in a "gloomy bunker."
The video above is of my favorite of his songs, "A Pirate Looks at Forty," a wistful mid-life take on what he'd seen and done and what he wished for. I liked his melange of country and calypso, and his commitment to the environment. Fair winds, Jimmy.
Wednesday, August 02, 2023
The Mets will be a better than .500 team for the rest of the season; this despite what appears to be a daunting schedule. It won't be enough to make the playoffs, but may at least lift them to third in the Eastern Division.
Why? Because of something I suggested in a post seven years ago. They will no longer be burdened by expectations. I've seen them display this sort of resilience in the past when, say, a key player suffered an injury, and the rest of the team responded with better play.
Sunday, July 30, 2023
Sunday, July 23, 2023
Perhaps the best summing up of Tony Bennett's personality is this passage from his New York Times obituary, linked above, that quotes Simon Hattenstone in the Guardian:
“He mythologizes himself, name-drops every time he opens his mouth, directs you to his altruism, is self-congratulatory to the point of indecency. He should be intolerable, but he’s one of the sweetest, most humble men I’ve ever met.”
Thursday, July 13, 2023
The All Star Break is a traditional time to assess a team's performance and its prospects for the rest of the season. On May 21 I expressed optimism based on the Mets' seeming to have recovered from a deep slump that, in typical fashion, followed a hot start. That optimism was quickly proved unfounded as the Mets went into a vertiginous tailspin that included a three game sweep by their divisional archrivals, the Braves.
"David Brooks’ recent essay on 'The Character Factory' would have us believe that 'nearly every parent on earth operates on the assumption that character matters a lot to the life outcomes of their children' while 'nearly every government anti-poverty program operates on the assumption that it doesn’t.'”
At 77, I think I have a fair chance of living long enough to see another Mets championship. If I do, it's likely to come about in a way that can be described by the adjective used by their first manager, Casey Stengel, to describe a first season expansion team that set new records for futility, "Amazin'."
Wednesday, July 05, 2023
Alan Arkin, who died last Thursday at 89, was blessed with many talents. Before his career as an actor began in earnest he played guitar and sang as part of a folk group called the Tarriers, who were formed from a group of musicians who would gather in Washington Square Park in the mid 1950s to play and to share songs. You can read more about the Tarriers and about my encounter with Erik Darling, who had been a member of the group, here
A big break came for the Tarriers when Art D'Lugoff, music promoter and owner of the Village Gate cabaret, asked them to back Vince Martin on "Cindy, Oh Cindy." (You can read about my duet with Vince, which came courtesy of Rick Danko, here.) The song was co-written by Robert Nemiroff and D'Lugoff's brother, Burt, under the pseudonyms Robert Barron and Burt Long. The record was released in 1956 and reached the top ten in the pop chart that year. It was quickly covered by Eddie Fisher, whose version also charted. In my memory, I associate the song with Boy Scout camp in the summer of 1957. Here's the Martin/Tarriers version, with Arkin on guitar and harmony vocals:
The Tarriers followed "Cindy" on their own in early 1957 with "The Banana Boat Song" which made it to number four on the pop chart. Almost contemporaneously, Harry Belafonte released "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)" which charted at number five, but is better remembered than the Tarriers' version today. Here's the Tarriers' version:
Note that the record label lists the authors of the song as "Arkin-Carey-Darling." Bob Carey, who along with Arkin and Darling made up the Tarriers, was Black. I had assumed that he was the lead vocalist on "Banana Boat," but in this interview he said it was Arkin.
Carey also said that the Tarriers, with the lineup of himself, Arkin, and Darling, did a version of "Tom Dooley" that predated the hit version by the Kingston Trio. On this, Carey had the lead vocal
Alan Arkin left the Tarriers in 1958 to pursue his acting career. I have little to add to all that has been written about that, other than to mention that I especially enjoyed his portrayal of the anti-hero Yossarian in Catch-22 (1970), directed by Mike Nichols.and based on the 1961 novel by Joseph Heller.
Monday, June 19, 2023
Former President Trump's motive for taking classified documents isn't clear. Bill Barr, his own Attorney General, attributes it to Trump's narcissism. Mark Esper, who served as Trump's Secretary of Defense, said that Trump's action not only endangered national security but put service members' lives at risk.
"This cynical attitude has become pervasive in our society. Proper skepticism toward our institutions has turned into endemic distrust, a jaundiced cynicism that says: I’m onto the game; it’s corruption all the way down."
Ellsberg responded to this concern when he was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour three months ago:
"I.F. Stone, the journalist, used to say, 'All governments lie, and nothing they say is to be believed.' That doesn’t mean that everything they say is a lie. It does mean that anything they say could be a lie, and it’s not the last word. You have to look for other sources of information and check it against your common sense."
If the National Weather Service tells me a hurricane is headed my way, "common sense" tells me to take precautions without looking "for other sources of information." Still, I think Ellsberg's advice is generally correct. We should be skeptical without being cynical.
Friday, May 26, 2023
“I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me -- that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”
Anne Lamott, Plan B -- Further Thoughts on Faith
Addendum: Here's the original version of "Let the Mystery Be" by Iris DeMent, with accompanying musicians.
Thursday, May 25, 2023
I'm not sure when I first heard Ike and Tina Turner. It may have been 1960, when "A Fool in Love" made it to number two on the pop chart, and I could have heard it on WDAE in Tampa. I know I heard "River Deep, Mountain High", probably on Boston's WRKO during my first year of law school. She was not a bel canto singer; her voice had a rasp that conveyed struggle and the grit to overcome. "River Deep" gave her more melodic structure and a chance to broaden her vocal ability.
After she separated from and divorced Ike, she went through several years of struggle. Her big break came in 1984, with the release of her album Private Dancer, which includes "What's Love Got to Do with It?" (clip above), her first song to go to number one on the pop chart. Although the song was co-written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, it seems almost autobiographical. Much recording and touring success followed Private Dancer, She also appeared in two movies, including a leading role as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
“My beloved queen,” Beyoncé's post reads. “I love you endlessly. I’m so grateful for your inspiration, and all the ways you have paved the way. You are strength and resilience. You are the epitome of power and passion. We are all so fortunate to have witnessed your kindness and beautiful spirit that will remain forever.”
Sunday, May 21, 2023
I think Fairport's cover of "Reno Nevada" is excellent. One thing I especially like about this video is that it shows Judy Dyble, with whom I enjoyed a lively trans-Atlantic electronic friendship for about seven years, until her death from lung cancer three years ago, doing what I had read she often did on stage during long instrumental breaks: knitting.
They're now sitting on a scorching three game winning streak. The first two were over the Rays, who now hold the best record in the Majors. On May 17 Kodai Senga held the Rays to one run while striking out 1welve. Unfortunately, and characteristically for most of this season, the Mets' batters gave him no support. so he left the mound at the end of the sixth with the score 1-0 Rays. It then became a question of which bullpen would do the least damage. Four Mets releivers gave up six runs, but the Rays' pen yielded eight. the last being a walk off homer in the bottom of the tenth by Alonso, so the Mets won 8-7.
Sunday, May 14, 2023
The photo above shows Anne Hagman McDermott as I most remember her, in the company of a group of friends. I'm at the right, in my Mets cap (Annie was a Mets fan); she is behind me and to my left in the photo, with a hand on Jeanine Flaherty's shoulder. Her husband, Joe McDermott, is to her left. Others in the photo are, left to right photo-wise, Jack Deacy, Barry Murphy, and Ethan Eldon. The occasion was a gathering of Lion's Head alums several years ago at the White Horse Tavern, a Greenwich Village fixture known in its heyday, like the Head, for attracting writers and artists.
Saturday, May 06, 2023
Some thoughts on English and Portuguese history, an admirable woman, and two boroughs of New York City
As a Brooklynite I hate to say this, but, Queens, you got the better of the two royals.
Wednesday, May 03, 2023
The video is of Lightfoot doing my favorite of his songs, "Seven Islands Suite", at Massey Hall, Toronto, in 1974.
Sunday, April 30, 2023
There is some controversy over whether "Day-O", an adaptation, on which Burgie collaborated with Belafonte, of a Jamaican folk song, or "Jamaica Farewell", written by Burgie but considered part of a Jamaican folk tradition called mento, should be considered "calypso", a musical style that originated in Trinidad and Tobago. According to MasterClass, calypso "spread throughout the West Indies." MasterClass includes Belafonte in its list of "5 Notable Calypso Musicians" and calls "Day-O" calypso, no doubt because it shares calypso's call-and-response format and rhythmic structure. "Jamaica Farewell" lacks the call-and-response, but MasterClass calls mento a "subgenre" of calypso. "Origins of Mento", on jamaicanmusic.com, disputes this, arguing that while the two styles "share many similarities, they are separate and distinct musical forms."
One thing that cannot be disputed is that Harry Belafonte had a profound and lasting effect on American popular music, as well as that of other nations. His talent was not limited to singing. He also saw success as an actor, having met his close friend Sidney Poitier while they were both in an acting class, and as a television host. He is the only person to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Academy Award. The last was in a noncompetitive category; he was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his work to advance civil rights in the U.S. -- he became a close friend of and co-worker with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. -- and in South Africa, and for his efforts to provide relief for victims of famine and other disasters worldwide.
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Monday, April 10, 2023
Sunday, April 09, 2023
"When all these holidays come together it's a time of unity ... [t]o see how we complement one another to see how we can work together to make the world a better place."Holiday blessings to my Christian, Jewish, and Muslim friends; to all others, enjoy a glorious spring.
Sunday, April 02, 2023
Saturday, April 01, 2023
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Sunday, March 19, 2023
Saturday, March 18, 2023
Edwin Diaz, arguably the best closer in Major League Baseball last season, has been lost for the entire 2023 season because of a knee injury he incurred in the celebration of Puerto Rico's victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. This comes shortly after starting left handed pitcher Jose Quintana, whom the Mets acquired off free agency during the off season, was sidelined until at least July by a rib lesion. This leaves the Mets likely with an entirely right handed starting lineup until Quintana's return. Since the injury to Diaz, centerfielder and lefty slugger Brandon Nimmo has been put on the DL with an ankle injury and is considered unlikely for the start of the season.
Despite all, I'm sticking with the old saw, "Ya gotta believe!"
Edwin Diaz photo: D. Benjamin Miller, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons