Surprisingly few rockers can be described as ‘exuberant.’ But every so often a musician comes along who just loves playing music so much that he just exudes joy with every performance. I have always been drawn to this type of artist because I, myself, find the act of creating music to be profoundly joyful.
These acts tend to sneak up on me. But once they do, they stick in my mind forever. For instance, I remember crowding around a friend’s TV set on another dull Saturday night at Gordon College to watch SNL. When they introduced the musical act, Andrew W.K., I was ready for a white R&B singer to take the stage. What happened next was something completely different – and it stunned at least a dozen college students into awed silence for the duration of the performance.
Waiting for They Might Be Giants to perform at Avalon in Boston, the audience was serenaded by a no-less-compelling oddball sporting an accordion and accenting his choruses with a tiny splash cymbal he operated with a foot pedal. He went by the name of Corn Mo and he made this inspired speech which made me love him, even if I wasn’t completely sold on his music.
Nevermind the World Cup or General Petraeus, for me the big news of the day is the release of the iPhone 4. Though some lucky people received their prize yesterday, the rest of us (early adopters? Fanboys?) are forced to wait expectantly for the elusive FedEx or UPS truck to roll down the street. Anyway, that’s the story here in Jersey City where there’s nothing to do (actually, there’s always a ton of things to do) but wait.
In the meantime, this gadget-lust and obsessive need to upgrade got me thinking about a piece I wrote a while back for our sister-magazine The Curator. Here’s an excerpt, and a link to the rest below:
I think upgrading is great. I upgrade as often as possible: phone software, websites, computer hardware, anything. But I’m very much aware that something important is lost in all of this frenzied upgrading – namely, permanence.
For instance: consider that website you visit frequently. Imagine that the design has changed, but you really liked the way it looked before. Too bad – it’s gone now. This certainly has been evident in the many new iterations of Facebook that have been released in the last few years. Every time that social networking site updates their look or the way certain features work, a group (the existence of which was, of course, an added feature to their previous platform) is created decrying the new look and feel.
We, as humans, long for change, for the chance to better ourselves and our surroundings and yet, almost as vehemently, we mourn the loss of what we had. Take for example, the graphic designer who decided to print out 437 “featured” Wikipedia articles, producing a book 5,000 pages long and 19 inches thick, to “make a comment on how everyone goes to the internet these days for information, yet it is very unreliable compared to what it has replaced.” No one, not even this “artist,” is even sure what is being replaced, but we’re sure we’ll miss it – that is, if we take the time to think about it long enough.
Read the rest here.
Last night my wife and I had the distinct privilege of attending the preview night of this year’s Shakespeare in the Park presentation of The Merchant of Venice. This is the second time we’ve had the opportunity to attend the event and in both instances we have been blown away by the cast performances, lighting and stage design, and artful rendering of Shakespeare’s masterpieces.
Last year’s Twelfth Night was mirthful and quirky, the directors and cast obviously having fun with the gender-bending roles. One of my favorite features of The Public Theater’s (the company that puts on Shakespeare in the Park) staging of the plays is the way they manage to make Shakespeare’s antiquated language sound, to the casual listener, as if the cast were speaking in contemporary parlance. In this way, what may be difficult to understand and follow for the uninitiated becomes more accessible.
The Merchant of Venice is no exception. The Public set the play in the 19th century, and still many of the lines are so casually recited that the listener might wonder, did Shakespeare write that line, or was it added? But Merchant provides another opportunity – or challenge, depending on how you look at it – for the director and cast. That is, when viewed through the eyes of contemporary culture it can easily be seen as a very racist play. Much has been written about the portrayal of Shylock, “The Jew,” but his character, though the most prominent, is not the only stereotype that lives and breathes and walks across Shakespeare’s stage. Each of the princes that tries for Portia’s hand in marriage, the ones you see on stage like the Moroccan and the aging prince from Aragon, in addition to those that are merely described, are walking caricatures.
In many ways, the story of the 2010 World Cup has been less about great plays and more about blown calls – starting with Theirry Henry’s handball that cost Ireland a place in the tournament and continuing with the United States being robbed of an historic comeback by a foul that the referee refused to explain both during and after the match.
Dave Eggers writes in Slate that soccer was long thought of as the sport of communists. He writes in the past tense, though plenty of evidence suggests many still think of it this way. But to me, the football pitch seems more like the Wild West than the Soviet Union. It’s a vast expanse populated by ambitious, self-interested, dangerous men and it’s patrolled by one lonely sheriff, who cannot possibly watch over the entire area by himself and must rely on his own dubious judgment in unclear situations in an attempt to maintain some sort of law and order.
The ‘deputies’ who patrol the sidelines are basically the equivalents of a neighborhood watch. They’ll wave their little flags if they see something they don’t like, but they’ll leave the dirty work to the man in the middle.
Then there are those who try to exploit these limited resources. Whether you call it flopping, diving or ‘simulation,’ it’s one of the aspects of professional soccer that casual fans find most unappealing. Eggers describes it bileously, “Flopping is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix.”
The year-old Anglican Church of North America, which has broken away from the Episcopal Church, has formed a New England Anglican diocese that is seated in my new town of Amesbury, Massachusetts. The split was most notably precipitated by the controversy surrounding Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. Others argue that the split is about more than just homosexuality; it’s about fundamental theological differences between the more theologically liberal Episcopalians and the more conservative Anglicans.
More likely, the split has been caused by an explosive combination of differing opinions on Biblical interpretation, the importance of the historical Christian tradition, and the debate surrounding the ordination of Gene Robinson. Beneath these theological debates, however, fester issues of class and post-colonialism.
Believe me, I’ve jumped on the “we hate corporations” bandwagon just as much as anyone else. They drove our economy into the ground, they’re fighting our wars for us, and now they are determining our elections. But really, I’d like to throw my hat in on the Nathan Martin side of this little Patrol Magazine debate (even contra some of my most respected friends’ rebuttals). I’m tiring of the daily “how else can we make BP pay for this? How much farther can we shove the rod up their you-know-whats?” comments. I really do feel like we are unleashing our pent-up collective anger on this one corporation. This isn’t about BP. It’s not about the environment. It’s about the empowerment of the common man. We want to feel like our frustrations can give rise to action at the highest levels of power. And we’ve chosen BP as our catharsis, it seems.
Honestly (I know I’m going to get so much crap for this), since day one, I’ve actually been shocked at the honesty, responsibility, and yes, even humility that BP and its executives have displayed. Granted, this is humility relative to the brazenness of other corporate executives we’ve watched as of late: the Wall Street executives with their flagrant displays of arrogance and disdain for the customers who made them as wealthy as they are.
First, let’s talk post-spill…
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Day 58 – The Strife Aquatic|
Check out this clip from Wednesday night’s episode of “The Daily Show” in which Jon Stewart analyzes (in his own way, of course) Obama’s Tuesday night Gulf Speech. Of particular interest, I think, is the fourth minute when he begins to look at the President’s use of religious language. Sure, Stewart interprets Obama’s assurance that there is a hand guiding us as “May God have mercy on our souls” and “freaky talk,” but keep watching.
It gets really interesting when he shows clips of Fox News in which Gretchen Carlson says that “some people” might think that calling out to God in this situation is “disingenuous coming from a president who doesn’t go to church on a regular basis.” To this, Stewart responds, “You must really hate this guy.”
And now for a bit of shameless Patrol self-promotion. One of our regular bloggers, Kevin Gosa, who you know mostly from his absurdist rants against any and all things that offend his impeccable, though occasionally low-brow, tastes, is also an extremely talented musician and master (literally) of the saxophone.
He has teamed up with his good friend, the uber-talented singer/songwriter, folk/bluegrass, string-wrangler extraordinaire Jake Armeding to form the power duo The Fretful Porcupine. The group has just released their first EP, entitled “Cellar Sessions.” A reviewer at our sister-site The Curator commented that “The music began, and I’d never heard anything like it,” and once you give a listen, I think you’ll agree.
Their sound is a mix of Jake’s folk and bluegrass influence and Kevin’s jazz and classical stylings. In short, the tunes reflect each of the player’s love for the music they play. Even if Kevin wasn’t a Patrol blogger, fellow Jersey City resident and buddy of mine, I’d recommend The Fretful Porcupine, but since he is all of those things, I doubly recommend it.
Check out the duo tomorrow night in a live webcast from a rooftop in Jersey City where the Manhattan skyline will provide the backdrop to their unique brand of blue-grass-jazzery.
When did American leaders forget the meaning of friendship?
Over the last 198 years, the United Kingdom’s faithfulness as an ally has proved invaluable, but as the Obama administration spins street-tough rhetoric — turning the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe into a BP blame game — the British people are asking themselves just what friendship with the United States is actually worth.
Lost in the talk of dripping pelicans and destroyed businesses looms another devastating tragedy, threatening the livelihood and future of the working class in the U.K., and the deepest of diplomatic ties. While President Obama may not be able to singlehandly stop the oil spill, his reckless words and cowboy-like rhetoric have undermined the financial security of, not evil corporations, but millions of British (and American middle-class workers) and their hopes for avoiding bankruptcy in their old age.
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