July 23, 2014

Song of the Day #1191

Song of the Day: The Great Escape ("Main Title") [YouTube link], composed by Elmer Bernstein, is one of my all-time favorite themes from one of my all-time favorite POW adventures. And this 1963 film is full of adventure and suspense, with an all-star cast that included Steve McQueen in a sizzling iconic cinematic moment on a motorcycle trying to escape the Nazis. The film also featured the always affable, down-to-earth gentlemanly actor, James Garner, who passed away on 19 July 2014.

July 16, 2014

Song of the Day #1190

Song of the Day: I Will Say Goodbye, music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, is a gloriously melodic, if sad, song from the Legrand-Bergman songbook. My favorite instrumental version of the song is by jazz pianist Bill Evans [YouTube link], with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund (and it actually won a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo in 1981). Among the fine vocal interpretations are renditions by Sarah Vaughan, Jack Jones, Lena Horne (from that classic Monsanto-sponsored Legrand special), and Carmen McRae with the Shirley Horn Trio. Last night was about "Goodbye" in many ways; Derek Jeter, baseball icon, played in his final All-Star Game, and went 2 for 2, shining just as brightly on the field. He is pure class, and this Jeter fan has had teary eyes ever since he announced that this will be his last year as a professional baseball player. It's going to be tough saying goodbye at the end of the season. Check out this sweet Jordan commercial tribute [YouTube link].

July 04, 2014

Song of the Day #1189

Song of the Day: Always, words and music by Irving Berlin, is a 1925 gem that Berlin wrote as a wedding gift for his wife. The song has been recorded so many times by artists from Frank Sinatra to Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, who gives it a swing feel [YouTube links]. But its most memorable spin, for me, can be heard in the greatest sports film of all time, in my view, the 1942 Lou Gehrig biopic, "The Pride of the Yankees." Check out one scene from the film [YouTube link], featuring singer Bettye Avery, with Gary Cooper playing the immortal Gehrig and Teresa Wright, his wife Eleanor (Cooper and Wright received Best Actor and Actress nominations, respectively; only Wright walked away with the gold statuette, but for her Best Supporting Actress role in the Best Picture of that year, "Mrs. Miniver"). Seventy-five years ago today, Gehrig gave one of the most remarkable speeches in all of Americana, saying goodbye to 60,000+ Yankee faithful in attendance at a 1939 Indepedence Day ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Check out the speech as given by Gehrig, as emulated by Major League Baseball, and also as immortalized in celluloid history by the wonderful Cooper [YouTube links] (and that's the real Babe Ruth appearing in the film). Gehrig later passed away from ALS, a disease known to many as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." Gehrig was one of the Yankees' most memorable team captains; today's Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, in his final career season, recently tied Gehrig's franchise record for lifetime doubles. For Yankees fans, for fans of America's game, Gehrig will always be the Iron Horse; on this Independence Day, we say Happy Birthday, America, and we celebrate Gehrig and the national passtime with a song written by one of America's most celebrated songwriters.

June 29, 2014

Song of the Day #1188

Song of the Day: I Know A Place, words and music by Tony Hatch, was one of those perennial favorites requested by the regular clientele of the Stonewall Inn. On the weekend of 28-29 June 1969, the site became Ground Zero for a drag queen-led riot against police harassment of gay and lesbian establishments. It is among the events that gave birth to the modern American movement to protect the individual rights of gays and lesbians, and it is in honor of that event that I post this song on this date. The song was recorded most famously by Petula Clark, but has also been recorded by Sammy Davis, Jr., with the Buddy Rich Band [YouTube links], and Vi Velasco, whose rendition features jazz guitarist Carl Barry, my Bro.

June 26, 2014

Song of the Day #1187

Song of the Day: Rock the Boat, words and music by Waldo Holmes, was a #1 Billboard Hot 100 single, that was bubbling in the Top Ten on this very date in 1974, when Derek Jeter was born. On this date, on the occasion of his fortieth birthday, I think we can safely say that Derek has "rocked the boat" for fans of the game throughout his stellar career. Having announced that this will be his final year as a professional baseball player, Derek leaves us with many rockin' moments to remember throughout a stellar career. Check here [YouTube link] for the original Hues Corporation single and Celebrate Jeter, Captain of the Yankees, and of my pinstripe heart, now and forever.

June 17, 2014

JARS: Exciting July 2014 Issue!

The July 2014 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Volume 14, Number 1) will be in the hands of subscribers shortly, and it is filled with a host of provocative essays by Rand scholars, many of them new to our pages.

NEW JULY 2014 JARS

The issue features the following essays (see abstracts here and contributor biographies here).

Introduction: Life, Death, Renewal - Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Barbara Branden’s Bibliography - Roger E. Bissell

Why James Taggart Is No Prince Charming: Ayn Rand and Fairy Tales - Caroline Breashears

The Problem with Selfishness - Marsha Familaro Enright

Preference Formation, Choice Sets, and the Creative Destruction of Preferences - Russell S. Sobel and J. R. Clark

REVIEWS

Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies (reviews of Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue: Studies in Ayn Rand's Normative Theory and Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge: Reflections on Objectivist Epistemology (edited by Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox) - Fred Seddon

DISCUSSION

Symposium on Robert L. Campbell’s essay, "An End to Over and Against" (published in the July 2013 issue):

Reply to Robert L. Campbell: Thoughts for the Future - Jennifer Burns

Reply to Robert L. Campbell: The Mainstreaming of Ayn Rand - Mimi Reisel Gladstein

Reply to Robert L. Campbell: Landscapes Overlooked - Anne Conover Heller

Rejoinder to Jennifer Burns, Anne Conover Heller, and Mimi Reisel Gladstein: Psychology, Jewishness, and Noting and Working Around - Robert L. Campbell

This symposium is certainly a highlight of the issue. Imagine this: a writer reviews two recently published biographical-historical studies of Ayn Rand, and receives written replies from the authors of these books, as well as another scholar in Rand studies, and the reviewer writes a rejoinder. It may sound like a novel concept for a periodical dealing with Rand studies (though it is, or should be, business-as-usual for journals claiming to be "scholarly"). But through the years, Rand-oriented periodicals have been notoriously sectarian, their editors never dreaming to allow authors to reply to their critics for fear of sanctioning something vaguely or explicitly "evil" (thankfully, that trend is changing, as Fred Seddon notes in his review of the recent Ayn Rand Society publications, which feature essays and replies, and "Author Meets Critics" formats). In JARS, however, it is, indeed, business as usual, and we are extraordinarily proud to present such a civilized and illuminating exchange in this exciting issue.

The issue begins, however, by noting the passing of two figures important to Ayn Rand studies: Allan Gotthelf and Barbara Branden. As the author of the introduction, "Life, Death, Renewal," I had personal dealings with both of these individuals. I write:

With this issue, the journal wishes to acknowledge the passing of two individuals who made a significant impact on the development of Ayn Rand studies: Allan Gotthelf, an Aristotelian and Randian scholar; and Barbara Branden, Ayn Rand's first authorized biographer, who later went on to write The Passion of Ayn Rand, until recently, the only available full-length biography of Rand.
Gotthelf (Brooklyn-born, 30 December 1942) received his master's degree in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University, and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University. His doctoral dissertation, "Aristotle's Conception of Final Causality," won first prize in the Dissertation Essay Competition of The Review of Metaphysics, where it was published in December 1976 (vol. 30, no. 2, 226-54). Gotthelf subsequently edited a number of works in Aristotle studies, including a Festschrift in honor of David M. Balme, entitled Aristotle on Nature and Living Things: Philosophical and Historical Studies (Mathesis, 1985), and a coedited volume with James G. Lennox, Philosophical Issues in Aristotle's Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1987). A collection of sixteen essays on Aristotle by Gotthelf was published by Oxford University Press in 2012, entitled Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology, as part of the Oxford Aristotle Studies series.
Gotthelf also authored and edited a number of works on Ayn Rand. His primer on Rand for the Wadsworth Philosophers Series, On Ayn Rand (2000), was reviewed in these pages by Aeon Skoble (The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 2, no. 1, Fall 2000, 131-35). He also coedited, with James G. Lennox, the first two books collecting lectures given before the Ayn Rand Society, where he served as secretary from 1990 until his death in 2013. These books, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press---Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue: Studies in Ayn Rand's Normative Theory (2011) and Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge: Reflections on Objectivist Epistemology (2013)---are reviewed in the current issue by Fred Seddon.
For several years, Allan Gotthelf and I exchanged correspondence, both before and after the 1995 publication of the first edition of my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. I acknowledged his criticisms of my work in my book---indeed, it was he who provided the precise wording with which he felt most comfortable. But when the book was finally published, he felt obliged to tell me that he would do "scholarly battle against" my work and its "obfuscation" of the ideas of Ayn Rand (correspondence, 26 May 1996).
That battle sometimes took on a bit of partisan ugliness. When our journal was first published, we worked diligently to get it included in indexing and abstracting services across disciplines and geographic boundaries. Our efforts paid off considerably; we are now indexed and abstracted by nearly two dozen services in the humanities and social sciences. But getting JARS into The Philosopher’s Index was something that Allan Gotthelf opposed strongly. At a meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in December 1999, he took exception to the very idea of including The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in The Philosopher’s Index. He could not outright oppose the inclusion of Rand scholarship per se in an index aimed at reaching academia, for he was a cofounder of The Ayn Rand Society, itself affiliated with the Eastern Division of the APA. But he made it very clear that, in his view, JARS was not a legitimate scholarly undertaking---despite the fact that several members of its founding advisory board had been officers of, and presenters to, the very society that he chaired. Nevertheless, as required, we submitted the first three issues of our journal to the Philosopher’s Information Center, and JARS was added to the Index immediately thereafter.
Not enough has been said about Barbara Branden's scholarship and the importance of the early contributions she made to the articulation of the content of Objectivism and to the biography of its founder. She was born Barbara Weidman in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (14 May 1929). She and her future husband, Nathaniel Branden (born Nathan Blumenthal), met Rand in 1950. Barbara received a master's degree in philosophy from New York University, where her thesis on free will was developed under the direction of Sidney Hook. Barbara and Nathaniel conducted a profoundly important series of biographical interviews with Rand in 1960-1961 that formed the basis of Barbara's biographical essay, "Who is Is Ayn Rand?" the title essay of a book coauthored with Nathaniel (Random House, 1962). It was the only authorized biography published in Ayn Rand's lifetime---one that Rand considered part of the Objectivist canon even after her bitter break with the Brandens in 1968. But those recorded interviews also served as the basis for Barbara's sprawling biography of Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand (Doubleday, 1986). It was Barbara Branden who developed a comprehensive course on the "Principles of Efficient Thinking," taught during the operative years of the Nathaniel Branden Institute, which disseminated Rand's philosophy worldwide, with live and audio-recorded lectures. Barbara's course was based on Rand's epistemology. And it was Barbara Branden who first brought the field of "psycho-epistemology" to the attention of Rand.
I should mention that my own personal dealings with Barbara began, like my dealings with Gotthelf, out of the work I was doing in preparation of the first edition of Russian Radical. But my contact with Barbara was of an entirely different nature; what she offered me was generous amounts of unambiguously constructive criticism and, over time, the depth of her friendship and love. I also worked closely with her a few years after the publication of Russian Radical, as she prepared the lead essay for a collection that Mimi Reisel Gladstein and I coedited, entitled Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, part of the Penn State Press series "Re-reading the Canon," which now includes thirty-five volumes, focusing on thinkers as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Arendt, and Daly. It was an honor to bring her and Nathaniel together in publication for the first time since their 1962 book. Each provided a contribution to the book. "Ayn Rand: The Reluctant Feminist," by Barbara, told a tale of a woman philosopher who denounced feminism, but who nonetheless influenced a generation of thinkers in the emergence of an alternative radical individualist form of feminism, which can be found in the writings of authors such as Camille Paglia and Joan Kennedy Taylor.
It was therefore with great sadness that I learned of Barbara's passing on 11 December 2013. It is my hope that the annotated bibliography that follows, compiled by Roger E. Bissell, will, at the very least, bring to light Barbara Branden's significant contributions to the Objectivist literature, so important to the ever-expanding world of Ayn Rand studies.
It is also apropos that in the current issue we feature a symposium on Robert L. Campbell's recent JARS review of biographical and historical work published by Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, and Anne C. Heller, author of Ayn Rand and the World She Made. The exchange includes replies from Burns, Mimi Gladstein, and Heller, and a rejoinder from Campbell. Much of this discussion is enriched because of the crucial early biographical work that Barbara Branden provided for future scholars, in the extensive interviews she conducted with Rand and her contemporaries, and in the material she published in her lifetime.

Notes and references appear in the published article.

That's just an introduction to what is going to be one of the most talked about issues of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies ever published.

Check out subscription information here.

June 16, 2014

Song of the Day #1186

Song of the Day: The Love You Save, music and lyrics by The Corporation, Motown's Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonzo Mizell, and Deke Richards, went to Number One, the third of four straight number one singles released by the Jackson 5, which held that position on the Billboard chart for two weeks, 27 June through 4 July 1970. But Casey Kasem, who passed away yesterday, was always one week ahead of the curve, giving us a weekend countdown that reflected the chart of the following week's Tuesday release of Billboard. So the song had actually dropped to the number two position on the 4th of July debut show of Kasem's classic, "American Top 40 (AT40)." I can't help but credit Kasem with stoking my love of pop music as I grew up listening to his show on the radio, whether it was in the dead of winter or on the hot sands of Manhattan Beach through Brooklyn's steamiest summers. This song was one of my favorite early Jackson 5 songs, made all the more poignant because its lead singer is no longer with us either. Check out the original single here, and while you're listening, save a little love too for screen and stage actress Ruby Dee, who passed away on June 11th, the great and endearing Don Zimmer, who passed away on June 4th, and the ultimate gentle man of baseball, Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres Hall of Famer, who sadly passed away today, at the young age of 54. All of them gone too soon.

June 13, 2014

Song of the Day #1185

Song of the Day: Friday the 13th ("Opening Theme") [YouTube link], composed by jazzman Henry Manfredini, clearly exhibits the composer's Bernard Herrmann "Psycho" lineage. What better way to mark a rare full-moon Friday the 13th on a rainy and grim New York June day. ("I love New York in June, How About You?"... but this one's been too rainy and it feels like March!). Nevertheless, a few thunderstorms will add to the atmosphere of watching this film. Manfredini actually composed for the whole "Friday the 13th" franchise, but the original 1980 Jason was the best (especially in that famed Hockey mask, so appropriate on a weekend in which the New York Rangers are struggling for the Stanley Cup, right now having won only 1 frightening game to the LA Kings, who are one game away from winning that horror series). The first two John Carpenter produced-"Halloween" films are, in my view, better examples of the post-1960s evil slasher genre, all of which owes its spirit to Hitchcock's utterly brilliant "Psycho." In any event, Friday the 13ths have been typically "good luck" days for me, having signed contracts for books on those days, in fact, but it's always fun revisiting a horror film from the vault.

June 12, 2014

Song of the Day #1184

Song of the Day: Love Never Felt So Good features the music and lyrics of Paul Anka and the late great King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Is there any doubt that this lifelong fan of MJ would not have fallen in love with this new release from a posthumous collection of previously unreleased MJ tracks ("Xscape," an album critic Jim Farber gave Four Stars)? It's even better because the single features a duet with the very much alive Justin Timberlake, who has long credited MJ as being one of his greatest influences. JT gave an utterly amazing concert at the mint-condition Barclays Center in my home town of Brooklyn last year that I had the privilege of seeing; he is a remarkable, multi-talented (okay, and adorable) performer, and MJ would have been proud of the ways in which JT integrated MJ influences, including a cover of "Human Nature" in a medley with his own "What Goes Around" [YouTube clip here]. Check out the official video of this song, which is a true paean to MJ in and of itself. There's also an extended dance mix. And check out the original cover of this tune by Johnny Mathis, who released it in 1984. I'm moved to tears for all that was lost with MJ's passing, but in the sadness there are tears of joy for all that he's left behind.

June 11, 2014

Song of the Day #1183

Song of the Day: Wicked ("For Good"), music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, is from one of the finest Broadway musicals I've ever seen. If ever there were a musical showing us a kind of "transvaluation of values" in such an entertaining way, I don't know of one. But it was terrific, precisely because of its clever inversions, twists and turns, fabulous music, and stirring performances (in the original run that I saw ten years ago, with standouts, Tony-nominated Kristin Chenowith and Adele Dazeem). Oops, I mean, Idina Menzel, who won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. The show endures. And so does Dazeem! This past week, the 68th Annual Tony Awards celebrated the tenth anniversary year of this charming musical, which actually opened on Broadway in October of 2003, with a performance of this song, one of the best. Check it out in its Chenowith-Menzel incarnation on YouTube.

May 06, 2014

Song of the Day #1182

Song of the Day: That's Jazz [YouTube link], an impromptu tune put together by Mel Torme and Ella Fitzgerald at the Grammy Awards, broadcast in February 1976. Sadly, Mel and Ella are no longer with us; but we are living in an era where jazz is almost never mentioned (or featured) as a category during the Grammy broadcast, so seeing something like this is like the discovery of a rare gem from some sort of paleolithic era in television history. Enjoy!

April 17, 2014

L. Jay Oliva, RIP

It is with great sadness that I report the passing today of L. Jay Oliva, who served as the 14th President of New York University, from 1991 through 2002, and whose tenure overlapped my years as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Politics. But I knew Oliva for many years as author and editor of numerous works on Russian and European History. I had received my B.A. in economics, politics, and history with honors, and had many occasions to interact with him as I completed my undergraduate honors thesis in the Department of History. As a perennial student of the University, a recipient of an NYU BA (in the triple major), MA (in politics) and Ph.D. in political theory, philosophy, and methodology, I like Oliva simply bled violet, and he knew this. He was especially enthusiastic about the work I had planned and commenced in my post-doctoral years on Ayn Rand's early education during one of the most tumultuous times in Russian history, and expressed serious interest in the book that eventually became Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, whose first edition I inscribed to him as a gift. He had already given me gifts of support and encouragement that were incalculable. I knew him as a man with a remarkable sense of humor and a humane, hugely benvolent sense of life. I deeply mourn his passing.

Here's more on Oliva from Martin Lipton, Chair of the NYU Board of Trustees and John Sexton, current President of the University, in a memorandum sent to the friends and fellow members of the NYU community this evening:

We share with you this evening the sad news that L. Jay Oliva -- who served NYU for 42 years as faculty member, dean, vice president, chancellor, and president -- has died.
The NYU we know today -- the NYU that attracts the finest students from all over the world, that can go head-to-head to recruit scholars at the top of their fields, that sends more students to study abroad than any other, that is a member of the University Athletic Association -- would not have been possible without Jay Oliva. He was a key engineer of the transformation of NYU.
Jay sometimes referred to himself as the person who lowered the NYU flag for the last time at the University Heights campus in the Bronx. But where others would have seen only reason for discouragement, he saw opportunity. From that difficult and humbling moment, he emerged as one of the leaders of the generation of faculty, trustees, and administrators who charted a steady upward trajectory for NYU.
He knew our future lay in joining the top ranks of national research universities. Under his leadership, NYU began recruiting top scholars and building areas of academic strength. He oversaw the expansion of student housing that allowed us to welcome students from across the country and throughout the world. He parlayed the seemingly unlikely gift of an estate in Florence into the foundation of a new approach to global learning. He knew that NYU’s vision must be matched by resources, and during his presidency, NYU completed the first $1 billion fundraising campaign in higher education. He believed that athletics had an important role in a university setting, but that the ideal of the true student-athlete was too often not embraced; so he, along with a group of like-minded presidents intent on keeping academic life front and center, formed the University Athletic Association conference.
In short, he sensed when NYU's moment had arrived, and did everything possible to achieve and sustain that success. All the while, he made everyone -- students, faculty members, administrators, and staff -- feel a part of it.
With the reflexes and instincts of the long-time classroom teacher he was, he had a strong focus on students: he believed in high academic standards, and emphasized adhering to those standards in the students we admitted and graduated. Recognizing the diversity of ways in which NYU students succeed, he also cheered on our athletes -- he was a frequent presence at sporting events -- our performing artists -- in whose company he was an occasional presence on stage -- and our student community service volunteers -- with whom he worked on service projects.
Since retiring from the presidency, he has helped keep downtown a vibrant hub for culture through his leadership of the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, which has hosted not only NYU productions but performing artists from throughout the world.
He was a wise man, a good friend to both of us, a wonderful colleague, and, in many ways, our community’s first citizen. He spent his entire professional life at NYU, part of a generation that saw the University through some of its most profound challenges and went on to take it to unprecedented heights. NYU owes Jay Oliva a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid.
His death came too soon and too suddenly. We grieve with his family today, and on behalf of the NYU community, offer them our deepest sympathies. He helped build a great institution, and he did so with love, devotion, and energy. It is hard to think of a way a life could be better spent. The greatest way to honor him is to carry on his work -- to strive each and every day to sustain the academic momentum he did so much to help initiate.

Amen.

March 02, 2014

Song of the Day #1181

Song of the Day: Despicable Me 2 ("Happy"), words and music by Pharrell Williams, is one of 2013's Oscar-nominated songs in the "Best Original Song" category. It's a #1 Billboard Hot 100 song that channels some wonderful R&B influences, from Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway to Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Check out the official music video and one that uses "Despicable Me" characters to showcase the lyrics. Watch the Oscar telecast tonight to see if it wins its category. Dare I say it: This song really makes me feel happy. And that's the way I'd like to conclude this year's tribute to film music.

March 01, 2014

Song of the Day #1180

Song of the Day: The Third Man (Theme) [YouTube link] is a famous theme composed by Anton Karas through extensive use of the zither, a 40-string Middle European cousin to the guitar. This 1949 film noir classic, directed by Carol Reed, stars Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten (of "Love Letters" fame, a 1945 film whose screenplay was written by Ayn Rand), and Alida Valli (of "We the Living" fame, the Italian 1942 film version of the Rand novel, later restored by Duncan Scott and re-released with English subtitles in 1986).

July 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Contact

Welcome to Notablog.net:  The Blog of Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Information on email notification, comments policy, and the meaning of "Notablog" or write to me at: chris DOT sciabarra AT nyu DOT edu

Recent Comments

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2