September 22, 2018

Song of the Day #1643

Song of the Day: Let's Twist Again, words and music by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, recorded by Chubby Checker, would go on to win a Grammy for Best Rock and Roll Recording. This 1961 track brings our Third Annual Summer Dance Party to a conclusion. We've come full circle: We started with Checker and we conclude with Checker. As the opening lyric says: "Let's Twist Again, like we did last summer." And so we will . . . next summer! The Autumnal Equinox arrives at 9:54 p.m. ET, so listen to this original 1961 hit [YouTube link]---and go out dancing!

September 21, 2018

Song of the Day #1642

Song of the Day: Rock Around the Clock, words and music by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers, was not the first rock and roll record, but it became an anthem for the rebellious young generation of the mid-1950s. The best known recording of it, by Bill Haley and His Comets, would rocket to #1 on Billboard-tracked sales and radio airplay, as well as #3 on top-selling R&B singles. Check out the original rockin' single [YouTube link].

September 20, 2018

Hayek: Rejecting "Reason with a Capital R"

There was an interesting thread started by my friend Ryan Neugebauer on his own Facebook page, to which I contributed, which I reproduce here, as it points to some of the themes that will be central to the forthcoming collection, The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, which I'm co-editing with Roger E. Bissell and Edward W. Younkins. Ryan gave me permission to cut and paste our little chat:

Ryan Neugebauer: I find Hayekian arguments against "Constructivist Rationalism" to be some of the most radical out there. It puts the nail in the coffin to utopian takes of all kinds (including anarchistic ones). And it goes well with critiques of those who want to continue to increase the scope of the state system in planning aspects of our lives.
Chris Sciabarra: The worst misunderstanding of Hayek is that he was somehow a critic of reason. He was a critic of "Reason with a capital 'R'" as he put it; and it was this conception of Reason that was the premise of "constructivist" rationalism, a reason that was totally un-anchored to reality, acting as if it could literally 'construct' social systems anew, without any relationship to the conditions that exist---what my friend Troy Camplin has aptly called a "tabula rasa" view of social change, as if we could simply wipe the slate clean and start anew. This is a thoroughly utopian way of looking at social change, and one that is, for lack of a better word, completely non-dialectical. I focus on this theme in my own book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia (shameless plug)---and its important similarities to the arguments of Marx against the utopian socialists. It was on this basis that Hayek rejected the term "conservative" (even though he drew from the conservative "evolutionary" views of Burke and the classical liberal views of the Scottish Enlightenment) and embraced being "radical" (going to the root) as essential to social analysis. So, you're right, my friend, Ryan Neugebauer, it is indeed among the "most radical" of arguments---in fact, it is essential to any radical, dialectical conception of social change.
Ryan: There are so many uncomfortable discussions to be had based around all of this. Two key ones: 1. What we want hasn't existed in human history; though constituent parts have in various ways through history. 2. Many things we do like today were brought about by means that we oppose. I like to think that humans have had to do a lot of experimenting/trial & error throughout history in various contexts to figure out what works best at achieving the things desired. So, despite us not starting out from such tabula rasa, we have a much greater understanding of what produces good ends and what leads to tyranny and oppression. Therefore, we should be continually bettering our understanding of how these various things come about, while coming up with ways to, evolutionarily, move us in the direction we want to go. Just as humans had to biologically evolve, we have had to intellectually & ethically evolve.
Chris: Exactly, and that's the messy world we live in. "Thought experiments" are nice, but are basically ahistorical. Accepting that some things we do like had a sordid past is just as legitimate as rejecting some things we don't like that may have had a fairly innocuous past. I agree also that humans have engaged in a lot of "trial and error" since the beginning of time. (I've often looked at tree-bearing fruit and said to myself, "I wonder how many human beings ate of this tree and dropped dead before they found the tree whose fruit didn't make them sick!) But there is something that I learned from my mentor, Bertell Ollman, a lesson he teaches in books such as Dialectical Investigations: the virtue of studying history backwards. That is, we start from the conditions that exist, and we go backwards, step by step, to see how we got to where we are. This helps us to understand the conditions that led to the system that has evolved, but it also helps us to identify the potential conditions within that system that might propel it forwards toward the kinds of social changes that we seek. It also doesn't put us in the position of constantly "judging" the past based on current conditions, because mores do, in fact, change, sometimes over generations. So even though a whole generation of slave owners may have been among the Founders, that does not mean that the ideals they embraced were any less valid as guiding principles by which to project forward the many potential "future" courses history might take. As the Marxists are fond of saying, human beings are as much the producers of history as they are its products. We forget our "embeddedness" in that larger social and historical context at our own peril.

Indeed!!

Song of the Day #1641

Song of the Day: At the Hop, words and music by Artie Singer, John Medora, and David White, was originally called "Do the Bop," but when Dick Clark heard it, he suggested a title change, and after it premiered on his "American Bandstand," this 1957 recording by Danny and the Juniors would go on to #1 on the Hot 100 and the R&B Best Sellers list, and #3 on the Country chart. This huge rock and roll / doo-wop hit opens up the final weekend of our Summer Dance Party, where we will go back to the era that started this year's annual dance tribute. Check out the original single version as well as one of its many covers in later years, including a rendition by Sha Na Na heard at the 1969 Woodstock Festival [YouTube link] and that of Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids, who perform it on the soundtrack (as "Herby and the Heartbeats") to the 1973 George Lucas film, "American Graffiti" [YouTube film clip].

September 19, 2018

Song of the Day #1640

Song of the Day: Summertime Magic, words and music by Donald Glover and Ludwig Goransson, was recorded by Childish Gambino (actual name: Donald Glover) for his 2018 EP "Summer Pack." Check out this slow summer jam, along with several remixes by FalconDap, Raspo, and P.A.F.F. [YouTube links].

September 18, 2018

Song of the Day #1639

Song of the Day: Stranger in My House, words and music by Shep Crawford and Shae Jones, was recorded by Tamia, who took the song to the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Song chart in 2001. The song was featured on the artist's second studio album, "A Nu Day" and became a Top Ten hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B/Hip Hop Singles charts. Check out the original ballad album version, and then its titanic transformation into a dance classic with remixes by Thunderpuss, Maurice, and Hex Hector [YouTube links].

September 17, 2018

Song of the Day #1638

Song of the Day: Surviving: A Family in Crisis ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by the late, great James Horner, is heard sparingly over the opening credits and in variations throughout this painful, heartbreaking 1985 television movie on teenage suicide [YouTube link to film]. The film, which was later released in edited form on VHS as "Tragedy" (it remains unreleased on DVD), features a stellar cast that included Ellen Burstyn, Marsha Mason, Paul Sorvino, and a young River Phoenix. It centers on the tragic dual suicide of teenage characters, played by Zach Galligan and Molly Ringwald. Horner's score provides the perfect backdrop for this haunting film, which was originally shown on ABC. Tonight, television honors its best at the 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on the NBC network.

September 16, 2018

Song of the Day #1637

Song of the Day: Levels features the words and music of a host of writers, including the songwriting team known as The Monsters and the Strangerz. The 2015 song appears only on "Nick Jonas X2," the reissue of his second eponymous album, "Nick Jonas" (2014). With this song hitting #1 on the Hot Dance Club Chart, today's birthday boy Jonas actually matched Madonna in career #1 dance tracks the year this was released (2015) due in part to remixes by Alex Ghenea, Steven Redant, and Jump Smokers [YouTube links]. Check out the original funk-laden video single as well.

September 15, 2018

Song of the Day #1636

Song of the Day: Too Late, words and music by Bob Carter and Junior Giscombe, is featured on Junior's first album, "Ji", which spawned the 1982 mega-hit, "Mama Used to Say." Both of these songs were Top 10 R&B hits. This artist was one of the first British R&B singers from the U.K. to climb the U.S. charts. Check out the original 12" extended mix [YouTube links].

September 14, 2018

Song of the Day #1635

Song of the Day: My, My, My features the words and music of James Alan Ghaleb, Oscar Gorres, Brett McLaughlin, and Troye Sivan, on whose 2018 album "Bloom" this #1 Hot Dance Club song appears. Check out the single video version, and live performances on SNL, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show", and "Live with Kelly and Ryan" on September 5th. Then check out a series of dance remixes: the Throttle Remix, Hot Chip Remix, U-Go Boy Remix, and the Cliak Remix. We're taking this year's Annual Summer Dance Party right through the last day of summer, so stay tuned for the next eight days!

September 13, 2018

Total Freedom: New Kindle Edition Now Available!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that my book, Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism is finally available in a Kindle edition at Amazon.com [link to Amazon Kindle edition]. This means that it now joins the e-book universe along with the first and second books of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy": Marx, Hayek, and Utopia and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, second edition.

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If you ask me, the new e-book is a little pricey, but that should come down, as it did with Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, and it does have options for those who have previously purchased the hardcover or paperback editions through Amazon.com.

So my trilogy, which was conceived in the twentieth century and completed at the dawn of the twenty-first century, has finally entered the twenty-first century in toto.

September 11, 2018

WTC Remembrance: Anthony Schirripa, Architect

Today marks the seventeenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001, which so deeply affected our lives as New Yorkers, as well as the lives of those who were killed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and in Washington, D.C. My annual series returns this year with the recollections of architect Anthony Schirripa, who was in the South Tower of the World Trade Center when terror struck on September 11, 2001---a late summer Tuesday morning, much like today.

As a preface to this year’s installment, I wanted to state, first, that I have never used this series as a place to discuss the historical, political, cultural, or economic preconditions and effects of the causal chain of events that led to the attacks on September 11, 2001. I have spent much room elsewhere on Notablog discussing these issues (see here, for example) and pointing to the provocative work of others on this subject (such as my friends and colleagues Roderick T. Long and Irfan Khawaja.) Ultimately, however, any end to the longest war in U.S. history cannot be disconnected from the profound significance of memory. As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk once wrote: "The beginning of the end of war lies in Remembrance."

For eighteen years now, this series has been an exercise in remembrance. And as long as I am here, I will continue to add installments to this series to keep alive the memories of those individuals whose lives were forever altered by the events of this tragic day.

One aspect of this exercise in remembrance was reflected in remarks I made on a recent Facebook thread, prompted by a 2015 book review essay by Robert Kirchner, "A Paradise Built in Hell" that my pal, Ryan Neugebauer, shared on FB. The article highlights the role of mutual aid as a response in times of crisis. I testified to the importance of such mutual aid on that horrible day in my home town: "Nothing proves this point more than what I saw and experienced in the city of my birth on 9/11. So much for 'rude New Yorkers.' Nothing could be further from the truth." I expanded on my point:

... I do have to say that as a native and life-long resident of New York City, who was here on September 11, 2001, the "communal disaster reflex" never truly diminished, certainly not in relationship to those who continue to feel the effects of the nightmarish events they experienced. Let's not forget that over 1,400 first-responders have died from all sorts of weird cancers and diseases in the wake of their voluntary work at a toxic Ground Zero, and the community outreach and assistance that has been provided to survivors remains strong.
This will be the seventeenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, which I will mark with my own annual essay on 9/11. But this Tuesday, thousands will gather at Ground Zero, at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and participate in the annual reading of the names of those who were murdered in 2001.
I think that since that day, I have seen a change in the culture of this city. It's a palpable response to anything that even hints at another terrorist attack, whether it's a water main break or some nutjob riding an SUV down the bike path of the West Side Highway. Let nobody doubt the resiliency of this town, where people of remarkably diverse backgrounds, still "have each other's backs" in crisis. That has been the one "silver lining" that remained from the clouds that darkened our skies on that horrible day.

This year's installment in my annual WTC Remembrance series tells the story of Anthony Schirripa and gives us a glimpse of the nature of that mutual aid in action. I want to thank Tony, as he is known to his friends, for giving of his time to my project.

For those who have not read previous entries in the series, here is a convenient index:

2001: As It Happened . . .

2002: New York, New York

2003: Remembering the World Trade Center: A Tribute

2004: My Friend Ray

2005: Patrick Burke, Educator

2006: Cousin Scott

2007: Charlie: To Build and Rebuild

2008: Eddie Mecner, Firefighter

2009: Lenny: Losses and Loves

2010: Tim Drinan, Student

2011: Ten Years Later

2012: A Memorial for the Ages: A Pictorial

2013: My Friend Matthew: A 9/11 Baby of a Different Stripe

2014: A Museum for the Ages: A Pictorial

2015: A New One World Trade Center Rises From the Ashes: A Pictorial (This essay has been translated into Portuguese by Artur Weber and Adelina Domingos.)

2016: Fifteen Years Ago: Through the Looking Glass of a Video Time Machine (This essay has been translated into Portuguese by Artur Weber and Adelina Domingos.)

2017: Sue Mayham: Not Business as Usual (This essay has been translated into Portuguese by Artur Weber and Adelina Domingos. It has also been translated into Russian by Timur Kadirov.)

2018: Anthony Schirripa, Architect

Never forget.

September 09, 2018

WTC Remembrance: A Personal Photo

We are nearing the seventeenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On that day, I will post another installment to my annual series of remembrance.

Looking through some old photos, however, I have always had a special fondness, for obvious reasons, for this pic from 1999.

It was actually in March of 1999, with some pretty fierce March winds, and I was 40 stories up, on top of the roof of 22 Cortlandt Street, when photographer Don Hamerman took this photo for a story on Rand scholarship for The Chronicle of Higher Education, which focused attention on my work and the work of others in academia. It is a photo framed by Twin Towers that I will always cherish.

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Check out the photos here and here as well.

September 08, 2018

Song of the Day #1634

Song of the Day: I'm Not Gonna Let You, words and music by Marston Freeman and Colonel Abrams, was a #1 1986 Dance Club hit, from a #1 Dance Club album, which was the artist's self-titled debut recording that included yesterday's "Trapped" as well. Check out the original 12" extended mix [YouTube link].

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