Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A year gone to pot

By Carl

This past year has been one of so many developments in American culture that it would be hard to pick any one thing as a signal event in the course of our nation.

From the full implementation of the surprisingly effective Obamacare to the grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson, MO, with stopovers at the broad expansion of marriage equality and Ebola outbreaks both in Africa and here, there's a lot to mull over, a lot that will move forward with us into the new year and beyond.

For all the world, it looked like it would be a horrible year for President Obama, despite the success of the ACA. The 2014 mid-term elections were a disaster (sort of. More in a few.) and it looked like an earnest effort to impeach him might gain traction in the House next year, backed by a newly-minted Republican Senate. Democrats and Progressives seemed as tho their work was cut out for them.

And then Obama -- finally -- flexed a little muscle. From immigration reform to the renewal of relations with Cuba, Obama single-handedly salvaged a terrible year and turned it into one of the most successful years of any President in history. Abe Lincoln might have had a more successful year in 1865 if he hadn't been assassinated in April.

Read more »

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Mangione Brothers Sextet - "Something Different" (1960)

By Richard K. Barry

Though Chuck Mangione would become an international superstar in the 1970s with smooth jazz mega-hits like "Feels So Good," and "Chase the Clouds Away," he started out as a bebop trumpeter in the Dizzy Gillespie tradition. 

While Chuck was studying at the Eastman School, he and his brother Gap (keyboards) co-led a bop group called The Jazz Brothers, which recorded several albums for the Jazzland label. 

About this 1960 album called The Jazz Brothers, and on which this tune below appears,  Scott Yanow at AllMusic writes this was "not only the debut recording of trumpeter Chuck Mangione but is the first appearance on record by tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico and pianist Gap Mangione. Drummer Roy McCurdy; altoist Larry Combs and bassist Bill Saunders complete the group." 

Good players earlier in the process. 

I can't blame Mr. Mangione for wanting to make a good living from his music, and I'm not necessarily down on smooth jazz, it's just nice to know he can really cook when he wants to.

The group recorded two more albums, and then moved on. 

(Cross-posted at Listening to Now.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) to resign from Congress

By Richard K. Barry

Initially Rep. Grimm said he would continue to serve in the House after entering a guilty plea on felony tax evasion charges. That was until he got called into principal Skinner's office, I mean House Speaker John Boehner's office.

Truth is, this seems a strange thing to land a Republican in the dog house, given how much the GOP hate taxes. Perhaps Boehner explained to Grimm that the GOP prefers to do things the old fashioned way: use the power of the state to lower taxes for the wealthy rather than flout laws that have yet to be changed in their favour.

Grimm's impatience made him forget an essential rule of politics: it's easier to get away with theft on a grand scale than to muck about with petty larceny. Boehner must have been very disappointed.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 29, 2014

Thought Experiment

By Carl

You work for the only business of any substance in town. You make a nice income.

Your boss decides he needs to build a spite fence around a store all the way across town because it threatens his supply of some widget he needs to keep the company going, and he's afraid, terrified, if the price of that widget rises, he'll have to work harder to keep prices in check. Also, employees of another store have been seen shopping in his store, and those guys play rough. He tells you that you have to take a pay cut, because he and his friends will need to spend a lot of money building this defense and putting up a new security system around the shop, and his friends don't work cheap.

Do you agree quietly, or do you argue and protest that you need the money to put your kid through college?

Now, let's say that same boss comes to you and tells you that the janitor, George, is in deep trouble: his family can't afford food or medical care, his wife works two jobs, as does George, but they still can't make ends meet. He tells you that he needs to slice a tiny fraction of everyone's salary to help him stay at this job, because he works hard.

Do you agree quietly, or do you argue and protest that you need the money to put your kid through college?

This is 21st Century America, in a nutshell.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

Bookmark and Share