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October 20, 2014

Leonard P. Liggio, RIP

I have belatedly learned of the passing of a great classical liberal scholar, Leonard P. Liggio. I first met Leonard at an Institute for Humane Studies conference when I was an undergraduate at New York University. He was a remarkable and remarkably patient and gentle teacher. I was in awe of his utterly encyclopedic knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. I especially valued his work on Left and Right and The Literature of Liberty. He became a colleague and friend over the years, and was supportive of my research, especially as I worked toward the completion of my doctoral studies.

Historian Ralph Raico has written a fine obituary of this gentle man. He will be missed by all of those who value liberty.

September 11, 2014

WTC Remembrance: A Museum for the Ages - A Pictorial

My annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," turns this year to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the latter of which had not yet opened when I visited the site in 2012. It is an extraordinary experience in contrasts: ranging from sensitivity to loved ones to the barbaric savagery that snuffed out the lives of nearly 3000 people.

I invite readers to take a look at that pictorial; it can be found here.

Here is an index for those who would like easy access to the previous entries in this annual series:

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.

September 04, 2014

Song of the Day #1206

Song of the Day: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work ("Opening Theme") [YouTube link], composed by Paul Brill with Amber Rubarth, opens the 2010 documentary about the life and career of a great comedian,author, and Red Carpet fashion critic. Over the last several weeks, I feel as if celebrities have been dropping like flies: Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, Don Pardo, Richard Attenborough, and now, fellow Brooklynite, Joan Rivers, who died today at the age of 81. The music is spacey and haunting with snippets of the star's comic lines. Those lines were sometimes so over the top that only a big band could match the volume of the laughter she created. I last saw her critiquing the fashions at the VMAs and the Emmys, just last week. And ultimately, it was the melody of that laughter that endures; check out some of her greatest TV moments and an E! celebration of her work. Cultural icon, outrageous, and irreverent, she was the consummate entertainer. Few people have made me laugh harder; I will miss her. Oh, grow up!

August 30, 2014

Song of the Day #1205

Song of the Day: Jurassic Park ("T-Rex Rescue and Finale";), composed by John Williams, is one great way to celebrate Richard Attenborough, who played the film's visionary John Hammond in this classic Spielberg dinosaur flick, "unintended consequences" gone wild. Attenborough passed away at the age of 90 on August 24th; he was a fine actor who graced such films as "The Great Escape", and who showed his Oscar-winning directorial chops on the sprawling epic that was "Gandhi". Check out this tense moment in music that brought us to the film's finale [YouTube link].

August 29, 2014

Song of the Day #1204

Song of the Day: Loving You, music and lyrics by Michael Jackson, begins with the line: "Hello, August moon, where are the stars of the night?" This August, if MJ had been here, he would have seen a glorious moon at its closest approach to the earth in 2014. Now, like the cicadas who issue their lyrical calls every August in Brooklyn, New York, we are still "loving you" for the lyrical and melodic music you've left behind, MJ. In celebration of the day of his birth, here's a YouTube moment to cherish (and the demo too!), one of my favorite songs from his most recent posthumous album.

August 28, 2014

Song of the Day #1203

Song of the Day: Chicago words and music by Cory Rooney, is a sweet track on Michael Jackson's posthumously released album, "Xscape." It's a terrific feeling to hear fresh music that is so alive from an artist gone too soon. Listen to the track on YouTube, and the original demo MJ recorded as well.

August 27, 2014

Song of the Day #1202

Song of the Day: A Place with No Name features the music and lyrics of Dewey Bunnell, Dr. Freeze, and Michael Jackson. Today begins a mini-tribute to the late King of Pop, who was born on the 29th of August 1958. This song was posthumously released as part of the recent MJ album, "Xscape". The song is, in many respects, derived from "A Horse with No Name," but has an integrity of its own, making it one of the melodic highlights of the new collection. Upon hearing a snippet of the track back in 2009, Bunnell and Gerry Beckley of America expressed their gratitude to MJ: "We're honored that Michael Jackson chose to record it and we're impressed with the quality of the track. We're also hoping it will be released soon so that music listeners around the world can hear the whole song and once again experience the incomparable brilliance of Michael Jackson. . . . Michael Jackson did [the song] justice and we truly hope his fans -- and our fans -- get to hear it in its entirety." It's really poignant." And now the world can hear it, and it is both poignant and truly wonderful. With a rhythmic pulse similar to "Leave Me Alone," the song pops; check it out on YouTube. And check out the recording MJ did prior to this album's post-production.

August 19, 2014

Song of the Day #1194

Song of the Day: Saturday Night Live ("Theme") [YouTube link], composed by the legendary Howard Shore and performed by the SNL Band, opens one of the longest running comedy shows on American television. And tonight, the voice of its 96-year old announcer, TV Hall of Famer Don Pardo, who has held the job for 38 seasons, has been silenced. His sad passing doesn't take away any of the joy that he brought to one of the funniest gigs on TV. In tribute to Pardo, and kicking off my annual tribute to TV themes in anticipation of the Emmy Awards (to be broadcast on August 25th), enjoy the music!! [YouTube link].

August 13, 2014

Song of the Day #1193

Song of the Day: To Have and Have Not ("How Little We Know") features the words and music of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael, who is the pianist accompanying Lauren Bacall in her smoldering 1944 screen debut in this film, loosely based on Ernest Hemingway's famous work. (It is "Lauren" who is mentioned among the smoldering celebrities rapped about by Madonna in her terrific dance single, "Vogue" [YouTube link].) Check out Lauren's performance of this song on YouTube. Still, Bacall's most famous words in the film had little to do with music, even if it was lyrically melodic to the ears of her co-star, and future husband, Humphrey Bogart. She tells him: "You know how to whistle, don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow" [YouTube link]. It left him whistling, indeed. Sadly, the accompished actress passed away yesterday at the age of 89.

August 12, 2014

Song of the Day #1192

Song of the Day: We Are Family, music and lyrics by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers, was a Number One 1979 R&B Hit for the group Sister Sledge. But it is eternally wedded to the hilarious 1996 comedy, "The Birdcage," which starred Nathan Lane and Robin Williams, who died yesterday from an apparent suicide. The Oscar-winning Williams was one of the most manic comedic geniuses I've ever seen in stand-up or on screen, and the grace with which he shared his talent with this world will be deeply missed. I loved him in this film, one of my favorite comedies. A remake of the 1978 film, "La Cage aux Folles," it also features great comedic turns by Gene Hackman and Hank Azaria. RIP, Robin Williams. Check out the Sister Sledge single, the 1979 Extended Dance Remix, and the scene in which it is used in the 1996 film.

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 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 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.

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.

February 27, 2014

Song of the Day #1178

Song of the Day: BUtterfield 8 ("Main Title") [YouTube link], composed by Bronislau Kaper, has that lush quality that Kaper brings to anything he touches with his musical sensibility and jazz inflections (take a listen to Bill Evans and Eddie Gomez on "Invitation" or
Kaper himself [YouTube link]). This theme opens the 1960 film that brought Elizabeth Taylor her first Oscar for Best Actress. On this date, in 1932, Taylor was born.

February 19, 2014

Song of the Day #1171

Song of the Day: Valley of the Dolls ("Theme") was composed by Andre Previn and Dory Previn for the 1967 film version of the Jacqueline Susann novel (Mr. Spock in "Star Trek: The Voyage Home" clearly understood "The Greats" of the twentieth century). The original recording of the song was to be sung by Judy Garland, who had been fired from the film. It was sung by Dionne Warwick. There is a John Williams arrangement of the song in the film; his arrangements were noted by the Academy, and became the first of his 49-to-date Oscar nominations, this one for "Best Score Adaptation." And then there is the single version from Warwick's album [YouTube link]). Listen to the Dory Previn version as well [YouTube link]. For all its kitsch and camp, the film depicts tragedy, and there are so many tragedies that go beyond the film; one need only remember that Sharon Tate was one of its stars.

February 12, 2014

Song of the Day #1164

Song of the Day: The Little Colonel ("Stair Dance") [YouTube link] created a magical moment in cinematic history, pairing the great tap dancer, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and the late great Shirley Temple. In later years, she became a diplomat, and added the surname of her husband, becoming "Shirley Temple Black." But it was not the added surname "Black" that broke the color barrier; it was Shirley's joyous appearances in films like this 1935 gem that did more to mow down racial stereotypes by showcasing great and precious talent. Shirley Temple will always be remembered as that endearing little girl in so many wonderful movies from the 1930s; but it was roles like these that truly showed what a trailblazer she was (check out "The Littlest Rebel" as well). She passed away 10 February 2014 at the age of 85 ... RIP Shirley.

February 04, 2014

Song of the Day #1156

Song of the Day: Suspicion ("Main Title") [Amazon.com excerpt], music by Franz Waxman, is the first collaboration between the absolutely debonair Cary Grant and the master director, Alfred Hitchcock. This 1941 film also starred Joan Fontaine, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress. The estranged sister of Olivia de Havilland, the two of them are the only siblings to have won lead Oscar awards. Amazingly, she is also the only actor to win an Oscar under Hitchcock's direction. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 96 on 15 December 2013. She is survived by sister Olivia. The Waxman score is not the only one that the famed composer did with Hitchcock; he also composed the soundtracks to the 1940 film, "Rebecca," and the 1954 film "Rear Window."

February 03, 2014

Song of the Day #1155

Song of the Day: Capote ("Out There") [YouTube link], composed by Mychael Danna, is a simple theme that holds within it the complexity of the person at the center of the 2005 film, Truman Capote, and the complexity of the performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won a Best Actor Oscar for the role. Sadly, this 46-year old actor passed away yesterday; death need not be tragic, since it is an organic part of life, but when it comes so young to an actor with so much talent and promise, I can find few other words to describe it. RIP PSH.

February 02, 2014

Song of the Day #1154

Song of the Day: Judgment at Nuremberg ("Overture") [YouTube link], composed by Ernest Gold, offers a kaleidoscope of themes from the magnificent film starring among others the great Spencer Tracy (who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar), Burt Lancaster, and Oscar-winner Maximilian Schell, who passed away yesterday at the age of 83. The film is a morality tale about those who executed the orders of the Third Reich in perpetuating one of the greatest mass murders in human history.  Playing the attorney Hans Rolfe, Schell had the difficult task of representing the reprehensible defendants, and he does so with dignity and integrity, and won a well-deserved Academy Award. (Other shattering performances are offered by Judy Garland and Montgomery Cliff, each of whom was nominated in their supporting categories). Directed by Stanley Kramer, it is one of my all-time favorite films. RIP Maximilian Schell.

December 21, 2013

Song of the Day #1147

Song of the Day: The Lion in Winter (Main Title) [YouTube link], composed by John Barry, is from the Oscar-winning soundtrack to the brilliantly acted 1968 film featuring tour de force performances by Oscar-winner Katharine Hepburn (who tied with Barbra Streisand in "Funny Girl" for the Best Actress award, a first in Oscar history) and Best Actor Oscar-nominated Peter O'Toole. O'Toole, one of my all-time favorite actors, passed away at the age of 81 on 14 December 2013. He was nominated a total of eight times without an Oscar win, a record (though he did receive a lifetime achievement award in 2002). In this film, O'Toole revisits a role that had previously earned him another Best Oscar nomination, King Henry II of England, in the 1964 film "Becket" where he played opposite the equally brilliant and (almost) equally winless Richard Burton (seven lifetime Oscar nominations without a win). In that earlier film, O'Toole's Henry II is a heartbreaking shattered man, destroyed over his obsessiveness for Thomas Becket, his friend, played by Burton, whom he names Archbishop of Canterbury in the hope of having an ally to control an increasingly unruly church. But Becket finds his integrity to the dismay of his King and the "unnatural" love they share is doomed. Both actors earned Oscar nominations and lost. Doom underscores the plot for "Lion in Winter," but in ways that display the corrupting machinations of power. The role earned O'Toole another Oscar nod, and another Oscar loss. Today marks winter's arrival in the northern hemisphere. It is all the more appropriate to tribute this great actor on this day as we march toward the light; he was truly a lion on stage who brought a great light to the art of cinema.

December 16, 2013

Barbara Branden, Love and Friendship Eternal

How does one begin to communicate the pain of loss, especially when that loss is so deep, so personal. On 11 December 2013, I learned of the death of Barbara Branden. I've been stunted for a few days wondering what on earth I could possibly say on Notablog that would do justice to the Barbara I came to know and love, a Barbara who was generous in sharing her own scholarship and time, and who was among the most encouraging and supportive human beings I've ever had the privilege of knowing.

Barbara Branden was Ayn Rand's first biographer, in fact, the only biographer to have ever been authorized by Rand herself during Rand's lifetime to pen the essay that eventually became the title piece of the 1962 book by Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden: "Who is Ayn Rand?" Of course, later, Barbara authored the sprawling, controversial 1986 biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which until recently remained the only extant book-length biography of one of the twentieth-century's most provocative thinkers.

When the Nathaniel Branden Institute dissolved in 1968, I was 8 years old and consequently was much too young to have ever attended the many lectures produced and disseminated by NBI during its heyday. But I slowly collected and listened to many of those NBI courses, including Barbara's wonderful "Principles of Efficient Thinking." All of this was in preparation for my own book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, which contained an important biographical component, fueled by Barbara's discussion of Rand having attended a course on ancient philosophy at Petrograd University taught by the great Russian philosopher, N. O. Lossky. This fact was reported not only in Barbara's 1986 biography, but in the 1962 Rand-authorized title essay for "Who is Ayn Rand?" So much of the biographical information in that essay, and in Passion, was derived from countless hours of interviews with Rand that Barbara and Nathaniel conducted in the early 1960s. (Rand never repudiated any of the Branden works prior to their 1968 disassociation; she considered their work with her, including the biographical essay, "Who is Ayn Rand?", to be part of the Randian canon and emphasized this in the June 1968 issue of The Objectivist.)

Few non-Ayn Rand Institute-affiliated scholars have ever had access to these interviews. Given the restrictive policies of the Ayn Rand Archives, I suspect I will be long dead before those archives are truly thrown open to non-affiliated scholars (Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, provides an interesting insight into the inner workings of the archives; see a PDF of her essay here.) Whatever inaccuracies that may have crept into Barbara's biographical work, we remain immensely fortunate that she was able to use so much of that interview material for her 1986 biography due to an agreement with the Rand estate.

Given one of the theses I was developing for Russian Radical, the fairly innocuous claim that Rand was most likely influenced by her teachers, especially their penchant for developing and applying "the art of context-keeping" (aka "dialectics") in combating false alternatives, I was especially captivated by the passages about Rand's Petrograd University years discussed in Barbara's original 1962 "Who is Ayn Rand?" essay, and largely reproduced in her 1986 biography. I wrote to both Leonard Peikoff, heir to the Rand estate, and to Barbara Branden, in search of further insight into the Rand-Lossky relationship, given that Lossky was among the most dialectical philosophers of his generation.

Peikoff (correspondence dated 27 May 1992) assured me that the estate was compiling information on Rand’s life and that if anything relevant to the Lossky-Rand connection became apparent, he would so advise me. I remained skeptical, however, that anything would come of Peikoff's promise, given the fact that his Ayn Rand Institute had a penchant for noncooperation with those outside their insulated universe. Years later, after Russian Radical was published, and panned viciously by one the ARIan brotherhood (see John Ridpath's "review" here), ARI reported that it had discovered a transcript of Rand's college education. I contacted the Ayn Rand Archives and offered to analyze it with the assistance of a group of scholars who were extremely knowledgeable of the historical period in question. The Ayn Rand Archives refused to share the transcript with me, unless I signed a letter promising that I'd never write on the subject. In essence, I told them with their siege mentality to shove it (see the story here).

By contrast, Barbara was immediately generous in her desire to aid my book research. Our give and take by phone, letter, and email became ever more friendly. By the time I had sent her the first draft of my book, we had become friends. But this didn't stop her from marking up my manuscript from beginning to end, and sending an accompanying five-page letter with constructive criticism, making important suggestions about this or that point and taking me to task on this or that interpretation. As she wrote in that letter (dated 28 June 1993):

Your book is a wonderful achievement, and I hope you are very proud of it. Congratulations! As you know, I could not put the manuscript down. I lost a week of evenings into the mornings --- and I lost Sixty Minutes, David Brinkley, 20-20, Prime Time Live and Bernard Shaw, as well as a couple of friends whom I barked at when they phoned. (But lo and behold! - the world muddled through without me.)

Her letter ended with this statement:

I am delighted that you consider me a friend. I feel the same way. It's a pleasure to know you. I should be in New York sometime in the next millennium, so wear a rose in your teeth so I'll recognize you.

When we finally got together some time later, I met her at the airport ... with a rose in my teeth, as promised.

We laughed, and enjoyed ourselves immensely, taking in some of New York's treasures, and, especially, the delightful beauty of my borough of birth: Brooklyn, New York.

It would not be the last time that she'd visit me; when my life-long health problems had seemingly brought me to death's door, she flew out again just to come to my home and sit with me and my sister and my little dog Blondie, who, despite a reputation for barking up a storm against invaders (i.e., visitors), took to her like glue.

Barbara and I had our disagreements (e.g., over the Iraq war) and we certainly both enjoyed a plethora of personal flaws, but we remained dear friends to the end. [And I take special pride in being a co-editor with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, on the project that became Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, the first book in which both Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden appeared together... since their 1962 book Who is Ayn Rand?. -- ed.]

So it angered me to no end when I saw her being routinely pissed on while she was alive.

Being a film fan, I recall a scene from the 2012 Best Picture Oscar winner, "Argo." Lester Siegel, played hilariously by Alan Arkin, has some choice words for a critic [YouTube link]. It's the only appropriate response one can give to those who, now that Barbara is dead, would delight in pissing on her grave.

I choose to celebrate her life, and I will value her generosity, friendship, support, loyalty, and comfort until the day I die. Bless you, dear Barbara. Love and friendship eternal.

December 11, 2013

Song of the Day #1146

Song of the Day: The Answer is Yes [YouTube link] is a lovely composition by Jane Hall, wife of the legendary jazz guitarist, Jim Hall, who passed away Tuesday, 10 December 2013, having just turned 83 on 4 December. There are few musicians who have touched me as deeply as this stupendous guitarist. He had a deeply melodic sense; his understated solos were matched only by his brilliant capacity at interplay with the many legends with whom he performed and recorded. I feel as if I've lost a friend, one that I never met, but whose music touched my heart and soul in ways that only a truly personal relationship could. Just a cursory look at "My Favorite Songs" reveals the extent of the impact his musical legacy has made on my life. For example (and this is just a sampling of Hall recordings mentioned therein): the Jim Hall-penned "All Across the City" [YouTube link at 27:41], (from the enchanting "Intermodulation"): a duet album featuring the mesmerizing interplay of two of the greatest practitioners of the art form: Hall and the legendary pianist Bill Evans [see my entry on 4 December 2007]; "Concierto de Aranjuez" (YouTube link) is the title track from the 1975 album "Concierto," an inspired jazz interpretation of the second movement of the great Rodrigo composition with an all-star line-up, arranged by Don Sebesky. Also from that album is my absolutely all-time favorite jazz instrumental rendition of the Cole Porter gem, "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" [YouTube link], which features a seamless series of solos and utterly breathtaking interplay by Hall (on guitar), Paul Desmond (on alto saxophone), Chet Baker (on trumpet), Roland Hanna (on piano), Ron Carter (on bass) and Steve Gadd (on drums) [featured on 22 January 2005]. Back in 1997, in his liner notes to the CD re-release of "Concierto," Steve Futterman articulates what I've always felt: the improvisation on this album feels as if it is flowing from a single mind-set, expressed in different instruments. When Hall, Desmond, and Baker intertwine in contrapuntal conversation on the Porter song, for instance, "they sound like the same soloist playing three separate instruments"; "Down the Line" [YouTube link; from Hall's album "Commitment"] is a paean of sorts to Bill Evans's classic "Conversations with Myself"; on this composition, Hall overdubs his electric guitar with the acoustic guitar sounds of the handmade instrument designed by Jimmy D'Aquisto, who carried on the craft of his great teacher: John D'Angelico [see my entry of 30 January 2006]; and finally, "Scrapple from the Apple" [YouTube link] from one of the greatest live recordings ever put to vinyl: the 1975 album, "Jim Hall Live," with a trio featuring Don Thompson on bass and Terry Clarke on drums. The last time I saw Hall perform live was at a loving concert in which he participated in tribute to another legendary guitarist: Chuck Wayne. Alas, if there is a band in Heaven, I know not. But if we are to question whether that band just added one class act to its divine personnel, clearly "The Answer is Yes."

November 22, 2013

Song of the Day #1145

Song of the Day: I'm Leaving It Up To You, music and lyrics by Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Dewey Terry, was first recorded by them, as the Doo Wop duo Don and Dewey [YouTube link]. Their R&B-inflected version spent 2 weeks at #1 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart in 1957. Recorded also by Dale and Grace [YouTube link], it was also a selection on Linda Ronstadt's 1970 album "Silk Purse" [YouTube link here], with a lovely country lilt and a fiddle solo (most likely by Gil Guilbeau, as a nod to Don Harris who was himself a violinist). Even Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond brought the song to the top of the Adult Contemporary chart in the summer of 1974 [YouTube link here]. Technically speaking, the number one pop hit on this day in 1963 was "Deep Purple," but the Dale and Grace version of this song topped the chart on 23 November 1963, the day after one of the most infamous events in American history: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Whatever one thinks of JFK and his political legacy, the shooting in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on this day, fifty years ago, was a watershed event, a symbolic turning point, a signal of all the violence and brutality that consumed the decade to come: the Vietnam war, the urban riots, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy, and the growing discontent and distrust in government, that ultimately brought down another president in the Watergate scandal: Richard Nixon, who lost to JFK in the 1960 election and resigned the office in 1974. Check out CBS's streaming video, beginning at 1:38 p.m. today, when Walter Cronkite interrupted the soap opera "As the World Turns" with a special bulletin. I was only 3 years old that day; we were at my grandmother's house because she had fallen and was badly injured. I remember a weekend of non-stop television coverage. I remember seeing Jack Ruby shooting and killing the alleged Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald [check out the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination, television coverage of the Oswald shooting, and various breaking reports from the major networks on November 22nd]. These events, for a 3 year old, seemed totally incomprehensible, but judging from the reaction of all my elders, they were truly horrific. Now, at age 53, I still look at that day and the days that followed with a degree of incomprehensibility.

November 13, 2013

Song of the Day #1144

Song of the Day: Minor Swing, music composed by Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and legendary jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, was performed memorably by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, featuring Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli [YouTube link]. But there are also wonderful versions by David Grisman and Stephane Grappelli (also featuring monster bassist Eddie Gomez) [MySpace link] and the version adapted by Rachel Portman [YouTube link] as one of the standout themes from the Oscar-nominated score for the wonderful 2000 cinema morality tale, "Chocolat," which starred Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Today is a standout day for chocolate, or, at the very least, one of the classic chocolate-coated cookies: Mallomars are officially 100 years old today! Happy birthday to one of my favorite seasonal cookies.

October 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Walter Grinder!

I want to take this opportunity to wish my friend and colleague, Walter Grinder, all of the health and happiness he deserves on the occasion of his 75th birthday! One fine resource for understanding Walter's gifts is a birthday link at the Free Banking site.

Walter was an important mentor to me especially during my formative years, while he was associated with the Institute for Humane Studies. His personal advice and guidance, his compassion and his wisdom, were indispensable to me. From a theoretical perspective, his work with John Hagel III on libertarianism and class analysis especially had a huge impact on the formation of my own "dialectical libertarian" perspective. I will forever be indebted to him for key observations on the nature of the state and for his encyclopedic knowledge of sources guiding me in crucially important intellectual directions.

More importantly, through the years, Walter has shown huge personal compassion toward me, in my own life-long health battles, perhaps because he, himself, has had his own share of health issues. I cannot begin to express in words just how deeply I appreciate his gifts.

A long and healthy life to a wonderful human being, colleague, and friend.

September 22, 2013

Song of the Day #1141

Song of the Day: All in the Family ("Those Were The Days") [YouTube link], music and lyrics by Charles Strouse, is recognized as one of the Top Fifty Television Themes of All Time. Its iconic status in the history of TV themes is only eclipsed by the iconic status of this remarkably daring show, which simultaneously made us collapse with laughter and confront the social prejudices that are as relevant today as they were when Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin introduced this show on the CBS Television Network. Part of what made the show work was the real chemistry between its two prime players; no less than Lucy and Ricky, Alice and Ralph, Edith and Archie have become part of the culture of television excellence. And this year, it is especially poignant to end our mini-tribute to TV themes with the song that introduced the world to Lear's comedy, and to the brilliance of Emmy-winning actress, Jean Stapleton, who passed away on 31 May 2013. Tonight, when they do that Emmy Awards "In Memoriam" tribute section to people who have passed away, expect an ovation for this wonderful actress. And take a listen to that opening theme once more. So comes the end of our mini-tribute to television music.

September 17, 2013

Song of the Day #1136

Song of the Day: The Fugitive ("A New Love"),composed by Peter Rugolo, captures the alienation of the central character, Dr. Richard Kimble, played with subtle brilliance by the great David Janssen, as he searches, week after week, for the One-Armed Man who killed his wife. Dr. Kimble would have been executed had he not been "reprieved by fate" in a train wreck that freed him en route to "the death house" (as told to us with characteristic authority by the narrator William Conrad). Each week viewers saw a man torn between his struggle to survive in pursuit of the justice he deserves, while encountering characters who either need him (and the strength of character he provides) or who test his integrity. Through it all, he proves as unshakeable as Lieutenant Philip Gerard (played with relentless obsessiveness by Barry Morse), whose concern is not the justice of the verdict, but in apprehending the convicted killer and carrying out the sentence the law requires. There are so many magnificent episodes in the four-year series (which I watched over the past year on DVD), including such gems as "The Girl from Little Egypt" (season 1), "Angels Travel on Lonely Roads" (a two-parter from season 1) and "The Breaking of the Habit" (season 4) (all three episodes of which provide us with a terrific star turn by the great Oscar-winning actress Eileen Heckart), and, of course, the final two-parter episodes of the series, "The Judgment," Parts 1 and 2, in which both Kimble---and Gerard---finally confront the One-Armed Man. Those episodes remain among the most-watched finales in the history of television (a 50.7 rating and a 73.2 audience share). This show was a morality tale for sure, with an obvious debt to Hugo's "Les Miserables." Its cast and guest stars were consistently splendid and its first three seasons were as close to classic film noir for television as has ever been seen (it went "in color" in the final fourth season). Fifty years ago today, the show debuted on the ABC television network. I can agree with Stephen King who understood how the series turned everything on its head, questioning the justice of 'the system'. As he put it in the Introduction to The Fugitive Recaptured by Ed Robertson, it was "absolutely the best series done on American television." After seeing the show for the umpteenth time, I confess to "A New Love" for it and its wonderful soundtrack by the great Peter Rugolo. Happy Fiftieth!!!

September 11, 2013

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

My annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," has taken many turns through the years, covering everything from painful personal testimonies to memorial pictorials. This year, I've decided to provide a brief sketch of one of the most important people in my life: My Friend Matthew. Matt was born on September 11, 1967, thereby laying claim to that date long before some nutjobs decided to slam planes into the Twin Towers. It's a personal portrait, and it happens to be his birthday today: so happy birthday, dear friend.

For those who have not read the various entries to the series over the years, I provide this 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

Never forget.

August 11, 2013

Song of the Day #1131

Song of the Day: Blame it on the Bossa Nova, music by Barry Mann, lyrics by Cynthia Weil, was a huge Top Ten 1963 hit for the great Eydie Gorme, who passed away yesterday at the age of 84. Her discography was truly varied and wonderful and her many playful and swinging duets with husband Steve Lawrence were legendary. She will be truly missed. Listen to this song on YouTube, so reflective of a great era for pop music.

May 07, 2013

Song of the Day #1127

Song of the Day: Jason and the Argonauts ("Skeletons"), composed by Bernard Herrmann, provides the atmospheric musical motif for one of the greatest special effects achievements in the storied history of legend Ray Harryhausen, who passed away today at age 92. Check out this iconic scene from the fun 1963 fantasy film on YouTube.

April 04, 2013

Song of the Day #1124

Song of the Day: Return of the Jedi ("Return of the Jedi") [YouTube link], composed by John Williams, is from the third entry in the "Star Wars" film franchise (officially "Episode VI" of the series). Roger Ebert, who passed away today, famously defended the series on "Nightline" (clip at that link) back in 1983; he and the late Gene Siskel brought us years of entertaining film critique in their "At the Movies."

December 05, 2012

Song of the Day #1083

Song of the Day: Bossa Nova U.S.A., composed by Dave Brubeck, is the sweet lyrical title track from the composer's 1963 album featuring the great jazzman's classic quartet, with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. Brubeck, who passed away today, was one of the greatest innovators in modern jazz. Listen to this song on YouTube.

November 22, 2012

Song of the Day #1081

Song of the Day: Spice of Life features the words and music of Derek Bremble and Rod Temperton, who has had many hits with Michael Jackson. Recorded by The Manhattan Transfer, this song was a Top 40 hit on both the pop and R&B charts, from the group's 1983 album "Bodies and Souls." It features a sweet harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder. Check out the track on YouTube. Today is a day of many spices giving life to so many wonderful foods on the plates of so many family members and friends who survived Hurricane Sandy in the tri-state area. We embrace our countless blessings on this robust Thanksgiving especially, a celebration of the spice of life.

September 26, 2012

Song of the Day #1075

Song of the Day: Bad, words and music by Michael Jackson, is the title track to MJ's "Bad" album, which, on this date twenty-five years ago, debuted atop the Billboard 200 album chart. The video, directed by Martin Scorsese, features choreography that is a paean to the great musical, "West Side Story." The 25th aniversary of the album's release (officially, on 31 August 1987) is being commemorated this year by "Bad 25", a special remix 3-CD re-release package, and a Spike Lee-directed documentary, which premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. The original music video was filmed at the Brooklyn subway station at Hoyt-Schermerhorn. And the track includes a hot solo by one of my all-time favorite jazz organ players, Jimmy Smith. Check out the full music video version, the short-form music video, the Kids version, the 12" remix, the David Guetta remix, the Electro Mix by Ballistic, the new Afrojack remix, featuring Pitbull and DJ Buddha, and cover versions by country artist Ray Stevens, "Weird Al" Yankovic (a "Fat" parody), the Chipmunks, and the cast from "Glee".

September 11, 2012

WTC Remembrance: A Memorial for the Ages: A Pictorial

This year, as part of my annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," I created a pictorial of my visit to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. That pictorial can be found here.

And here is an index of all of the pieces I've written for this series:

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

Never Forget.

July 10, 2012

Song of the Day #1067

Song of the Day: McHale's Navy ("Main Theme"), composed by Axel Stordhal, is featured in the opening credits to the popular television series that ran from 1962 through 1966. The series was actually a spin-off from a one-hour episode of "ALCOA Premiere," entitled "Seven Against the Sea." I watched the hilarious series regularly in my youth. It served as my first exposure to Ernest Borgnine, who passed away at the age of 95 on 8 July 2012, a few days after the passing of another TV icon, Andy Griffith. Borgnine was one of the greatest character actors of his generation, an Oscar-winner for his role in "Marty, and a recognizable presence in such films as "From Here to Eternity," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," "Willard," "The Poseidon Adventure," and 11'09"1 September 11. Check out the opening credits to the series and tip your hat to one of the greats.

July 04, 2012

Song of the Day #1066

Song of the Day: The Andy Griffith Show ("The Fishin' Hole") features the music of Earle Hagen (who whistled the theme in the opening credits) and Herbert W. Spencer and the lyrics of Everett Sloane. Just as "The Andy Griffith Show" was a spin-off of an episode of "The Danny Thomas Show," so too did it give birth to spin-offs, including "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," "Mayberry, R.F.D.," and the TV-reunion movie, "Return to Mayberry." Andy Griffith exuded an effortless warmth in his TV performances, from his self-titled show to "Matlock." And he had terrific acting chops (check out his remarkably jarring performance in "A Face in the Crowd"). He passed away yesterday at the age of 86. This theme and the famous TV show for which it was written have become part of Americana, something all the more noteworthy on this Day of Independence. Check out the main theme on YouTube and Andy himself singing it.

June 30, 2012

Song of the Day #1065

Song of the Day: New York City Blues, words and music by Quincy Jones and Peggy Lee, first appeared on Lee's album, "Blues Cross Country." The song, with Jones' swinging arrangement, can also be found on the TV soundtrack to the short-lived series, "Pan Am." Today, one of the great NYC landmarks is celebrating its 85th birthday with 25-cent rides (though it actually opened on June 26, 1927): the rickety wooden Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island that I will never set foot on. Definitely not on my bucket list. Check out Peggy Lee's fabulous track on YouTube. Happy birthday to this Grand Roller Coaster!

June 25, 2012

Song of the Day #1064

Song of the Day: Workin' Day and Night, words and music by Michael Jackson, is a popular track from the artist's breakthrough 1979 solo album, "Off the Wall." On this date in 2009, MJ passed away. For millions of fans,the music lives on. Check out the album cut and an energetic 1992 live concert performance from Bucharest. RIP, MJ. We're still dancin' day and night to your music.

June 18, 2012

Song of the Day #1062

Song of the Day: I Saw Her Standing There features the words and music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who celebrates his 70th birthday today. The song was the opening track on "Please Please Me," the debut UK album by The Beatles. One of my all-time favorite early Beatles tunes, this one has been covered by other artists as well. Check out the grand original, and versions by The Supremes, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and Tiffany. Happy Birthday, Sir Paul!

May 27, 2012

Song of the Day #1057

Song of the Day: California Dreamin', words and music by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips, was a huge 1965-66 pop hit for The Mamas and the Papas, sporting a wonderful alto flute solo by one of my all-time favorite jazz musicians: Bud Shank, who was born on this day in 1926, and became one of the finest musicians in the West Coast jazz scene. It's not a "winter's day" in Brooklyn; we've had summer-like weather for awhile. But I'm dreamin' of a particular California attraction that celebrates its 75th anniversary today: Happy Birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge! Check out the original Mamas and Papas track, and instrumental versions by Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and, yes, Bud Shank too!

May 26, 2012

Song of the Day #1056

Song of the Day: Pieces of Dreams, words by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, music by Michel Legrand, is from the 1970 film, in which the title track is sung by Peggy Lee, who was born on this date in 1920. Check out versions by Jack Jones, Shirley Bassey, Johnny Mathis (on "The Tonight Show"), Barbra Streisand, and an excerpt from Peggy Lee.

May 25, 2012

Song of the Day #1055

Song of the Day: No More Tears (Enough is Enough), words and music by Paul Jabara and Bruce Roberts, went to #1 in 1979 on the vocal strength of Two Divas kickin' butt (and a lousy man "out that door"): Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer. How appropriate that this duet, which ends our Donna Summer Tribute, contains the longest sustained note by a female artist (Streisand, 14 seconds) of any #1 hit on the Hot 100, when the song that started the tribute ("Dim All the Lights") contains the longest sustained note by a female artist (Summer, 16 seconds) of any Top 40 hit. It's hard to measure the influence of an artist on those who have followed. To be dubbed the "Queen" (not that one, great though he was) of a genre that some have viewed with disdain is a limitation, of course, because the work of Donna Summer transcended that era. Or maybe Disco itself has lived on. People stopped using the Dreaded D-Word to describe any popular dance recordings, but the genre's influence can still be heard (in house, techno. electronica and more). And Donna was The Queen; it's clear to this fan that later dance hit-makers, from Madonna to Beyonce to Lady Gaga, owe much to Her Reign. Today, after more than a week of looking back, we have "No More Tears" moving forward. And lots of dancing left to do; check out the single version, the extended version (from Streisand's "Wet" album), and the 12" extended mix (from Summer's album, "On the Radio: Greatest Hits, Volumes I & II").

May 24, 2012

Song of the Day #1054

Song of the Day: MacArthur Park, composed by Jimmy Webb, has been performed by many artists through the years, including one by an actor who first took it, in 1968, to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart: Richard Harris (whose endearing performance as Albus Dumbledore in the first two "Harry Potter" films is captured in that tribute clip). Check out these other renditions: Waylon Jennings; Sammy Davis, Jr.; Stan Kenton; Woody Herman; Maynard Ferguson (my favorite jazz instrumental version); "Weird Al" Yankovic (spoofed as "Jurassic Park"); and Carrie Underwood on "American Idol" in 2005 (see 4:03-4:36), who famously quipped that she hadn't the faintest idea what the lyrics were all about! [YouTube links]. And then there's the seminal dance version by Donna Summer, recorded initially as part of a nearly 18-minute disco epic: "MacArthur Park Suite" [YouTube link] and released in 1978 as a stand-alone #1 Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Dance Club Play single [YouTube link]. I used to chuckle when she let out that Snoopy-like cry, which kicked off the thumping disco beat (at 01:49 here), but her version will always rock my dance floor.

May 23, 2012

Song of the Day #1053

Song of the Day: On the Radio, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Donna Summer, was recorded in 1979 by the singer for the soundtrack to the film, "Foxes." It is also featured in two versions on the singer's third consecutive #1 double-album, "On the Radio: Greatest Hits, Volumes I & II" (1979). Check out the single version, the longer "Greatest Hits" version, the extended 12" version, and a really nice compilation of the theme as it is heard throughout the 1980 film.

May 22, 2012

Song of the Day #1052

Song of the Day: Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger) features the words and music of Rod Temperton, Merria Ross, and Quincy Jones, who produced the 1982 album "Donna Summer," on which this song appears. This enjoyable funky track went Top Ten on the Pop, R&B, and Dance charts. Check out the album version, the extended 12" mix, the Discotech remix, and a nice remixed cover version by Sheena Easton [YouTube links].

May 21, 2012

Song of the Day #1051

Song of the Day: She Works Hard for the Money, words and music by Donna Summer and Michael Omartian, is the title track to Summer's eleventh studio album and her biggest hit in the 1980s. It was also a #1 R&B hit, a huge pop hit in heavy rotation at the birth of New York FM Top 40 station, WHTZ (Z-100), and in heavy music video rotation on the relatively young MTV network. Check out the famed video, the album version, and an Eddie Baez remix [YouTube links].

May 20, 2012

Song of the Day #1050

Song of the Day: Bad Girls, words and music by the Brooklyn Dreams and Donna Summer, is the title track to Summer's 1979 album, which became a #1 pop, dance, and R&B smash. Check out the single version, the extended version, the famous medley with "Hot Stuff" and a nice live cover version by Jamiroquai [YouTube links].

May 19, 2012

Song of the Day #1049

Song of the Day: Hot Stuff, words and music by Pete Bellotte, Harold Faltermeyer, and Keith Forsey, is one of the "essential" Donna Summer dance hits, a rock-disco hybrid, electrified by the guitar work of Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Summer got a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for this #1 hit from her 1979 album, "Bad Girls." Check out the single version, an extended version, and the Funky House Remix [YouTube links]. (And an honorable mention must go to the great Steve Allen, who did a hilarious reading of the lyrics to this song on a television special.)

May 18, 2012

Song of the Day #1048

Song of the Day: I Feel Love was written by Giorgio Moroder, Peter Bellotte, and Donna Summer, who propelled this driving synthesized track (from her 1977 album, "I Remember Yesterday") to its exalted status in dance music history, influencing later dance styles, such as house and techno. Check out the original album version, the 12" extended mix, the famous Patrick Cowley underground 15+ minute megamix, and covers by Bronski Beat, Blondie, Madonna, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

May 17, 2012

Song of the Day #1047

Song of the Day: Dim All the Lights was written and recorded by the "Queen of Disco," Donna Summer, the five-time Grammy Award winner who died today at the age of 63. Featured on her hugely successful "Bad Girls" album, this song, produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, was a massive hit in 1979. Its classic balladic intro shifts into the disco beat for which Summer was so famous. And the gal had amazing pipes; she was raised on gospel and electrified fans with her remarkably powerful vocal gifts. This particular song, for example, contains the longest sustained note in an American Top 40 hit ever sung by a female artist. Tonight, however, we "Dim All the Lights," as they do on Broadway in mournful tribute when a star dies; it is posted in genuine sorrow over the passing of a legend, whose music I've always danced to and loved. For the next few days, I will be offering a tribute in song that celebrates the continuing influence of Donna Summer on so many of the kaleidoscopic sounds of pop music to this day. Check out this selection on YouTube: the single and the classic 12" extended mix.

May 04, 2012

Song of the Day #1046

Song of the Day: Cute, composed by Neil Hefti, is one of those familiar tracks that has been heard everywhere, thanks to the famous chart Hefti wrote for the Count Basie Orchestra, featuring the fabulous fills of drummer Sonny Payne, who was born on this date in 1926. The most memorable cinematic treatment of this tune, where one can see Music as Comedy and Comedy as Music, can be found in "Cinderfella"; watch how Jerry Lewis Does the Dishes.

April 29, 2012

Song of the Day #1045

Song of the Day: Keep On features the words and music of Hubert Eves III and James Williams of D-Train. The group scored a huge R&B and Hot Dance Club hit with this track. I highlight it today because it was the kind of groove in heavy rotation on one of my favorite urban contemporary FM stations of all-time: WRKS-FM (98.7 FM). Today is the last day that this FM station will broadcast; it merges with that other great urban contemporary FM outlet, WBLS-FM (107.5), making way for an ESPN sports station that has been broadcasting on 1050 AM (it will, for now. simulcast). KISS-FM was well known for its unforgettable Mastermixes (one of which I've already featured: "Must Be the Music"). So today, in tribute to KISS-FM, check out the classic Shep Pettibone Mastermix [YouTube link] heard on a station that I will truly miss. Keep keepin' on.

April 24, 2012

Song of the Day #1044

Song of the Day: Free Again (Non C'est Rien), music by Armand Canfora and Joss Baselli, French lyrics by Michel Jourdan, English lyrics by Robert Colby, is featured on "Je m'appelle Barbra" (1966), the eighth studio album of Barbra Streisand, who, today, turns 70. The album was arranged and conducted by the great Michel Legrand, who, on February 24th, turned 80 (a belated Happy Birthday to Le Grand Michel!). Listen to the English-language version of the song from the album, and the French-language version of the song [YouTube links], which was introduced on Streisand's third TV special, "Color Me Barbra" (which first aired on CBS on 30 March 1966). This is vintage Barbra; she remains one of my all-time favorite artists and one of the most accomplished artists of her generation. Happy Birthday, Funny Girl! Forgive me, I'm getting a little Verklempt!

April 18, 2012

Song of the Day #1043

Song of the Day: Forget Me Nots, words and music by Terri McFaddin, bassist Freddy Washington, and singer and pianist Patrice Rushen, received a Grammy nomination for "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance." This pop, R&B and dance hit from Rushen's album, "Straight from the Heart," includes a nice sax solo by Gerald Albright. The song has been covered and sampled by several artists (most famously, Will Smith for "Men in Black" [YouTube link]), but Patrice's version is tops for pure finger-poppin' pleasure. Check out her music video, the album version, the 12" dance mix, and a really jazzy live 2009 performance with guitarist Lee Ritenour at North Sea Jazz [YouTube links]. On a day when we lost "America's oldest teenager," at 82 years of age, we pause to celebrate the life of the irreplaceable Dick Clark, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who helped us embrace the promise of every new year with his New Year's Rockin' Eve specials, and who gave us countless productions and television shows, including the trailblazing "American Bandstand," on which Patrice Rushen performed this song (Season 25, Episode 29, airdate: 29 May 1982). We forget you not ... ever!

April 15, 2012

Song of the Day #1040

Song of the Day: Raise the Titanic ("Suite") [YouTube clip at that link; Nic Raine, conductor], composed by the great John Barry for the 1980 film, "Raise the Titanic," gives us a kaleidoscope of the majestic, the poignant, and the reverent. On this date, at 2:20 a.m. UTC-3 ship's time, the Titanic sunk, having struck an iceberg, en route to New York harbor. Its survivors, aboard the Carpathia, would arrive at that harbor by 18 April 1912, greeted by tens of thousands of New Yorkers (check out an interesting 1929 flick: Titanic, Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube). They may never "Raise the Titanic," but this act of "raising," of "resurrecting," is appropriately noted on a day that Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter with the phrase "Christos Anesti" ("Christ is Risen"). We raise the spirit by keeping the memory of Titanic, resurrecting its history and meaning, even in song. And so ends our 6-day tribute on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its sinking.

April 14, 2012

Song of the Day #1039

Song of the Day: Titanic: A New Musical ("In Every Age"), words and music by Maury Yeston, opened on Broadway in 1997 and went on to receive five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Check out the Broadway cast album version [YouTube link]. My favorite version of this song, however, is a jazz interpretation by guitarist Frank DiBussolo. It can be found on his really nice 1998 album, "Titanic: A New Musical" [the amazon.com link provides a small sample of the piece]. So many other Titanic music projects are available and worthy of attention: "Disasters! The Disaster Movie Music Album" and "Titanic: The Ultimate Collection," both of which offer selections from several Titanic-inspired films; the lovely Alberto Iglesias soundtrack to "La Camarera del Titanic"; and a stupendous 4-disc set, "Titanic: Collector's Anniversary Edition," featuring James Horner's magnificent Oscar-winning score to the Cameron-directed film, which includes remastered versions of the two previous "Titanic" soundtrack albums, and 2 extra discs of music from the period (not to mention great liner notes and Titanic-White Star replica luggage tickets). Tonight, ABC presents the first part of a new miniseries, "Titanic," written by Julian Fellowes, co-creator of "Downton Abbey." Another 12-part BBC miniseries is forthcoming: "Titanic: Blood and Steel." It was on this date, at 11:40 pm, UTC-3 ship's time, that Titanic struck an iceberg. In a little more than 2 hours, it would sink.

April 13, 2012

Song of the Day #1038

Song of the Day: The Unsinkable Molly Brown ("I Ain't Down Yet"), words and music by Meredith Wilson, is featured in the 1960 Broadway musical, in which the lead character was played by Tammy Grimes, who won the 1961 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress. The 1964 cinematic adaptation garnered six Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Debbie Reynolds who became the feisty Molly Brown on screen. Born Margaret, though her friends called her Maggie, she is known to history as Molly. A traveler on the Titanic, she was the quintessential strong woman and suffragist who, in Lifeboat No. 6, exhorted the crew to return to the waters of death, in search of survivors. On screen, so many have portrayed her, including: the independent, playful, and feisty Kathy Bates in the 1997 Cameron blockbuster; the ever-effervescent Thelma Ritter, who is named "Maude Young" but is clearly Molly, in the 1953 film, "Titanic"; and Cloris Leachman played her twice: as Maggie Brown in a 1950s dramatization for "Television Time" [YouTube link to that episode], and in the television movie, "S.O.S. Titanic". Molly Brown survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic. No wonder the character sings this song as a celebration of The Unsinkable. No better day to note it than on Friday the 13th, which happens to be both Good Friday for the Eastern Orthodox and Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Check out Tammy Grimes in the Broadway cast version [amazon.com sample] and, my favorite, Debbie Reynolds from the film version and (watch her inspire Titanic lifeboat survivors) [YouTube links]. You'll be singing: "Told Ya So! Told Ya So! Told Ya, Told Ya, Told Ya So!"

April 12, 2012

Song of the Day #1087

Song of the Day: Titanic ("Main Title") [YouTube clip at that link], composed by Lennie Niehaus, opens the 1996 4-hour CBS miniseries, starring Peter Gallagher, George C. Scott, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Eva Marie Saint. The theme manages to capture the grandiosity of the ship, while allowing us to reflect upon the ominous events yet to come.

April 11, 2012

Song of the Day #1086

Song of the Day: Titanic ("Main Title") [YouTube link to the film trailer], composed by Sol Kaplan (under the musical direction of Lionel Newman), is from the 1953 American film drama starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. The film won a single Oscar, for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. On April 11, 1912, one hundred years ago today, Titanic stopped in Queenstown, Ireland before embarking on its fateful voyage to America. This fine movie begins on YouTube here, and the "Main Title" is contained therein.

April 10, 2012

Song of the Day #1085

Song of the Day: A Night to Remember ("Main Title") [not that one], composed by William Alwyn, opens the very fine 1958 British film adaptation of Walter Lord's famous book of the same name (some of the film is available on YouTube). This particular cinematic take on one of the most definitive 20th century catastrophes stars Kenneth More, who, for me, is best remembered for his role as Young Jolyon in the great BBC series, "The Forsyte Saga" (1967). One hundred years ago on this date, Titanic began its journey, leaving Southampton in England and stopping in Cherbourg Harbor, France. Today begins our own six-day tribute to the fateful maiden voyage of Titanic. Among the multitude of provocative books on the subject is one written by my colleague and very dear friend, Stephen Cox, entitled The Titanic Story: Hard Choices, Dangerous Decisions (1999). So much music and so many films have also been inspired by this tragic event, starting with a 1912 newsreel [YouTube link], featuring its own poignant piano accompaniment. Cinematic presentations by filmmakers the world over have been presented throughout this past century: even the Nazis produced a movie, portraying the disaster as the inexorable result of sinister British capitalist greed (that 1943 German "Titanic" is actually pretty good as a film; some of its frames may have been used, without credit, in the 1958 British film highlighted here). As film scores go, I will never forget the great James Horner score to my favorite "Titanic" film of all time, directed by James Cameron. The 11-Oscar Award-winning "Best Picture" has now been re-released to theaters in 3D to mark the centennial occasion. Today, however, we turn to the majestic opening of "A Night to Remember" on YouTube, as we begin our own voyage into history, film, and music.

April 01, 2012

Song of the Day #1076

Song of the Day: What a Fool Believes, words and music by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, won a 1979 Grammy Award for "Record of the Year" for The Doobie Brothers. The song was featured on their album "Minute By Minute" (their original drummer, Michael Hossack, passed away last month). Michael McDonald sings lead on that recording and one of the backup singers may have been Michael Jackson [YouTube link]. One of the few #1 non-disco hits of that year, it was remixed at the time by Jim Burgess for the dance floor [YouTube link] and has been remixed several times since [YouTube links]. But check out YouTube for the Grammy-winning original, a Kenny Loggins version (released on "Nightwatch," five months prior to the Doobie Brothers' rendition), a nice 1993 live duet by its songwriters featured on "Outside: From the Redwoods" and, finally, a rendition by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin [YouTube links]. Only a fool would believe that I would only post this particular song on this particular day. But it really is one of my favorites!

March 16, 2012

Song of the Day #1060

Song of the Day: The Typewriter, composed by Leroy Anderson, is one of those twentieth-century orchestral pieces that brings a smile to one's face. Today, it's posted in honor of the birthday of a comedic genius, Jerry Lewis, who was born on this date in 1926. If part of comedy is timing, then here is Exhibit A on the wonder of exquisite timing: Jerry Lewis performing this piece, from the 1963 film "Who's Minding the Store?" and also on the Colgate Comedy Hour. Happy Birthday to one of the greats!

March 13, 2012

Song of the Day #1057

Song of the Day: Stay with Me Tonight, words and music by recently deceased Brooklyn Technical High School graduate Raymond E. Jones, was a huge R&B hit for the talented musician Jeffrey Osborne, the title track of his terrific 1983 solo album. Check out this smooth and funky track on YouTube and the extended remix as well.

March 11, 2012

Song of the Day #1055

Song of the Day: Runaway Baby, words and music by Bruno Mars and Brody Brown, is featured on "Doo-Wops and Hooligans," the debut album of the talented Bruno Mars, who has dashes of Little Richard, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson in him. This song [YouTube link] harks back to old time rock 'n roll. His performance of the song on "The X Factor" [YouTube link] and on the 2012 Grammy Awards [YouTube link] show off his James Brown moves, his infectious energy, and his indisputable charm. At the Grammy's, he also gave a shout-out tribute to Whitney Houston. And he routinely tributes Michael Jackson, another pop legend gone too soon; check out YouTube links to his performances of "I Want You Back," "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "The Way You Make Me Feel," and "Dirty Diana."

March 10, 2012

Song of the Day #1054

Song of the Day: It's Not Right But It's Okay, words and music by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, Isaac Phillips, and Toni Estes, is featured on the 1998 Whitney Houston album, "My Love Is Your Love." My all-time favorite uptempo Whitney track remains "Love Will Save the Day," especially the original album version (check out, as well, the Disconet remix, which builds on the original). And my all-time favorite Whitney ballad is "Saving All My Love for You," with "I Have Nothing" a close second. But this one is my absolute all-time favorite dance remix of any Whitney Houston song. The original track [YouTube link] is transformed into a scalding #1 Billboard dance chart hit by Thunderpuss [YouTube link], a testament to the raw power of a well-done remix, the sheer talent of a remixer, and a stellar example of the reason for having a non-classical Grammy remix category. As we close out our Whitney Houston dance music tribute, check out these various greatest hits medleys, which include some very popular songs not highlighted here over the past 10 days: the 1988 Whitney Houston Disconet Medley, another 1980s medley, the 2008 lovetoinfinitymegamix, the 2009 Ulti Megamix, the x2party megamix, the 2011 D.G. Megamix Medley, and another Megamix, Part 1 and Part 2. Excuse me now, 'cuz "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." RIP, Whitney.

March 09, 2012

Song of the Day #1053

Song of the Day: Million Dollar Bill, words and music by Alicia Keys, Kasseem "Swizz Beatz" Dean, and Norman Harris, is a song from Whitney Houston's seventh and final studio album, "I Look To You." A sample from "We're Getting Stronger" by Loleatta Holloway [YouTube link] is featured in the original mix; check out a really nice Freemasons Club Mix as well.

March 08, 2012

Song of the Day #1052

Song of the Day: Same Script, Different Cast, words and music by Stacey "Dove" Daniels, Shae Jones, Anthony "Shep" Crawford, and Montell Jordan, is a supreme Diva Duet from "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" (2000), featuring Whitney Houston and Deborah Cox [nice link where Cox reminisces about Houston]. Sporting a Fur Elise sample is the original mix [YouTube link]; also check out the Jonathan Peters Vocal Club Mix, which helped to propel the track to #4 on the Billboard Dance Chart.

March 07, 2012

Song of the Day #1051

Song of the Day: If I Told You That, words and music by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, and Toni Estes, is a duet by Whitney Houston and George Michael. The original version of this song [YouTube link] appeared on "My Love is Your Love," as a solo Whitney track. But the duet featured on "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" (2000) provided nice interplay between the two artists. This particular track never scored on the Billboard Dance Chart, but its "sleaze-beat" (a slower but still very danceable Beats-Per-Minute tempo) provides a lot of chill spaces for sexy moving. Check out the video, the smooth Johnny Douglas Mix, and Nic Mercy's Bavaro Beat Mix.

March 06, 2012

Song of the Day #1050

Song of the Day: Could I Have This Kiss Forever, words and music by Diane Warren, a duet by Whitney Houston and Enrique Iglesias, is a Latin-tinged dance track from "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" (2000). The original track never hit the Billboard Dance Chart, but it provides the kind of chill rhythmic pulse best for sensual dancing. Check out the original video version, the Tin Tin Out Mix, and the housed-up HQ Video Club Mix.

March 05, 2012

Song of the Day #1049

Song of the Day: It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be, words and music by Diane Warren and Albert Hammond, is a fun 1989 duet featuring Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin, from the latter's album, "Through the Storm." For the next few days, we turn to a few of my favorite beat-friendly duets in the Whitney canon. Check out the New Jack Swing feel of the original and the remix, and the 1999 Nic Mercy house remix.

March 04, 2012

Song of the Day #1048

Song of the Day: I Learned from the Best, words and music by Diane Warren, appeared as a ballad [YouTube link] on the artist's fourth studio album, "My Love is Your Love." But slammin' remixes by Hex Hector [YouTube link] and Junior Vasquez [YouTube link to the Disco Club Mix] (for which Houston re-recorded her vocals) propelled the track to #1 on the Billboard dance chart.

March 03, 2012

Song of the Day #1047

Song of the Day: I'm Your Baby Tonight, words, music, and production by L. A. Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, is the finger poppin' title track to Whitney Houston's third album and the artist's 8th #1 pop hit. Now, while I'm often a lover of remixes, this track's dance remix [YouTube link] just does not compare to the original album mix [YouTube link], with its slick shuffle beat.

March 02, 2012

Song of the Day #1046

Song of the Day: So Emotional, words and music by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, was a #1 dance hit from Whitney Houston's second album. Check out the official music video, the original 12" extended remix, the David Morales Club Mix, the mammoth 11+ minute David Morales Emotional Club Mix (from "Whitney: The Unreleased Mixes") and a mash-up with "Black or White," by the late Michael Jackson. This was a memorable track that I mixed and remixed at weddings, engagement parties, bar mitzvahs and class reunions, when I was a mobile DJ, or, uh, "Dr. DJ," as they used to call me. "Ain't it shocking what love can do."

March 01, 2012

Song of the Day #1045

Song of the Day: Thinking About You, words and music by Kashif and La La, was a Top Ten R&B radio hit (not released to pop radio), and the first song by Whitney Houston to score on the Billboard dance chart, peaking at #24. It was featured on the artist's self-titled debut album. Houston passed away last month, and many have paid tribute to her in the weeks since. Today begins my own 10-day tribute. These are some of my Whitney favorites, with a twist. The artist was very well known for her power ballads. But we'll be "thinking about you," Whitney (and your cast of producers and remixers), and some of the great dance music moments you gave us. Having done a lot of DJ'ing back in the day, I spun Whitney's tracks on my turntables regularly, packing many a dance floor. This particular track can be heard in its wonderfully rhythmic original album version, a Bruce Forest extended dance mix, Ricky Be's Hard House and Trance remix, and the M-phasis RMX.

February 12, 2012

Song of the Day #1027

Song of the Day: I'm Every Woman, words and music by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, was a huge hit in 1978 for Chaka Khan. A #1 R&B track, the record peaked at #21 on the pop chart. It was reprised by Whitney Houston, who performed it in the 1992 film, "The Bodyguard," in which she co-starred with Kevin Costner. The song went to #4 on the pop chart and was a #1 Dance Club Hit. The soundtrack album won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, sporting Whitney's cover of "I Will Always Love You," which went on to win "Record of the Year," while Whitney herself captured the "Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female." Check out Chaka's original version here, a terrific remix from her 1989 album, "Life is a Dance," and, finally, Whitney Houston's remake, in which she gives a shout-out to Chaka as the song fades out. Tonight, tune in and see who the new winners are at the 54th Grammy Awards. And remember multiple-Grammy Award-winning singer, Whitney Houston, who passed away yesterday at the age of 48.

October 28, 2011

Song of the Day #1008

Song of the Day: The Lady is a Tramp, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, made its debut in the 1937 Broadway smash, "Babes in Arms," which featured the choreography of George Balanchine. This famous Rodgers and Hart song, performed in the original musical by Mitzi Green, spoofs New York high society. The song can be found in several films as well: as background music in the 1939 film version, performed by Lena Horne in the 1948 film "Words and Music" (YouTube clip) and by Frank Sinatra in the 1957 film, "Pal Joey," singing to Rita Hayworth (YouTube clip). Check out these other clips: Tommy Dorsey (with singer Edythe Wright), Sophie Tucker, Ol' Blue Eyes again, swingin' at Caesar's Palace in 1978 and with Ella Fitzgerald, and, most recently, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, featured on "Duets II," the highest debuting #1 Billboard album by the oldest living artist. Bennett may have turned 85 in August, but on this date, 125 years ago, the Statue of Liberty opened in New York Harbor. "This chick is a champ" with a lamp, which is why she's getting a Fireworks Celebration Tonight! Happy 125th birthday, Lady Liberty!

October 15, 2011

Song of the Day #1005

Song of the Day: I Fall to Pieces, words and music by Garland Perry "Hank" Cochran and Harlan Perry Howard, was the first #1 Country Hit by the immortal Patsy Cline. It was released on 30 January 1961, three days after Dr. Franklin Edward Kameny submitted a petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court to review his case, Kameny v. Brucker, which protested the U.S. Army's unjust dismissal of him in 1957 from his position as an astronomer in the Army Map Service for being gay. He lost the case, but not the cause. Frank was an indefatigable warrior, a great trailblazer, on behalf of individual rights. I corresponded with him a few times over the years; he may have been known for his thunderous style, but I was always warmed by his gentility. So it's no wonder that many of us fall to pieces over his passing at the age of 86 on 11 October 2011. Check out Patsy Cline on YouTube.

September 11, 2011

WTC Remembrance: Ten Years Later

This year, my annual September 11 remembrance continues: "Ten Years Later."

On the 10th anniversary of that day, I revisit those individuals whom I interviewed over the past decade. As I write:

Ten years ago on this day, the city of my birth, the place that I still call home, was attacked in a way that has left the kinds of emotional scars none of us ever imagined even remotely possible in twenty-first century New York.
There had been Nostradamus-type warnings of disaster at the turn of the century, but when Times Square greeted 1 January 2000 with no Y2K apocalypse apparent, there was a sense that we were on the precipice of something epic. The end of the twentieth century, the bloodiest in human history, brought signs of real change, after all. When my 70s' high school classmates signed my yearbook with comments like "Love you, till the Berlin Wall falls!," there was such a sense of permanency in the inscription that nobody even thought to question its relative transience. The Berlin Wall did fall, the USSR dissolved, the Cold War ended. What could possibly go wrong for those of us who awoke on September 11, 2001 to a beautiful, cloudless, sky-blue, late summer morning?
When human ash rained down on my Brooklyn street, when the acrid smell of death stayed with us for what seemed like months, we knew that something epic had, indeed, happened.
Now, ten years later, a new "permanency" is emergent. A generation of kids has grown up with war as a natural part of their global landscape. It wouldn't surprise me if some of these kids—those who started kindergarten, first or second grade in September 2001—will soon be signing their high school yearbooks with the inscription: "Love you, till the War on Terror ends!"
But if the twentieth century taught us anything, it is that permanency is overrated.
And yet, there is something achingly permanent about these scars. Each individual, or at least each individual who experienced that day, and who has lived in the metaphorical and literal shadow of Ground Zero, bears spiritual (and, for some, physical) scars. Time may be a Mederma of the spirit, but the scars have never truly disappeared. They are now a natural part of each individual's own personal landscape.


The essay continues here.

Though the newest installment includes links to all the previous installments, I provide this index for ease of reference:

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

Never Forget.

August 29, 2011

Song of the Day #999

Song of the Day: All of Me, words and music by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons, was featured in many renditions on the radio show of Danny Stiles, "The King of Nostalgia," "The Vicar of Vintage Vinyl," who passed away back on March 11, 2011. Today, we remember the stylish Stiles, who gave all of himself to the cause of preserving great American standards. Check out these performances: Ruth Etting, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington live "Jazz on a Summer's Day," Lester Young and Teddy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, the very Sassy Sarah Vaughan, Willie Nelson, John Pizzarelli, Tal Farlow and Red Norvo, Frank Sinatra swingin' at Caesar's Palace, and the one and only Pops with Chops: Louis Armstrong (all YouTube clips).

August 26, 2011

Song of the Day #996

Song of the Day: Found a Cure, a #1 dance track from 1979, was written by Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. It appears on the Ashford & Simpson album, "Stay Free." Ashford passed away on 22 August 2011. But he left behind a musical legacy that still provides the cure; listen to the energetic, soulful 12" remix on YouTube.

August 22, 2011

Song of the Day #993

Song of the Day: It's a Man's Man's Man's World features the words and music of Betty Jean Newsome and the one and only James Brown, whose recording of the song was a huge hit on both the R&B and pop charts. Listen to two versions by Brown: the original, a jazz-influenced reworking from "Soul on Top" with the swingin' Louis Bellson Orchestra (both YouTube links), and two versions that invert the imagery: one finely orchestrated, grinding rendition by Cher (YouTube link), and a totally deconstructed powerhouse live performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards by Christina Aguilera (YouTube link). Aguilera is a Staten Island native, which is all the more appropriate today, as the NYC borough marks the 350th anniversary of its founding in 1661. Happy Birthday, Staten Island!

August 18, 2011

Song of the Day #991

Song of the Day: There Must Be a Way, music by David Saxon, lyrics by Robert Cook and Sammy Gallop, was a big 1967 hit for Jimmy Roselli, who passed away on June 30, 2011. Check out the original Roselli 45 on YouTube, and also versions by Joni James, Louis Armstrong, and the Great One, Jackie Gleason.

July 06, 2011

Song of the Day #989

Song of the Day: WNEW (Theme Song), composed by Larry Green, is one of the most famous station-identification themes in radio history. I note it today in tribute to the late William B. Williams, on whose show one heard this theme music frequently. In 1958, Williams took over hosting duties for the "Make Believe Ballroom," a radio show created in 1935 by Martin Block for WNEW-AM, 1130 in New York. For his incredible work in radio, Williams was recently inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. He was the man who nicknamed Francis Albert Sinatra, "The Chairman of The Board" (links to a two-part Williams interview of Sinatra). Growing up, I regularly heard Williams' wonderful, soothing voice introducing the Great American songbook to his listeners, day after day. And this theme song, which was even recorded in 1964 by Stan Getz and Bill Evans) was omnipresent. Go to YouTube to listen to the original radio version and its countless variations, including this one and that one, and those inspired by holidays and seasons (Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer), and those done in the styles of Ray Anthony, Charlie Barnet, Count Basie, Les Baxter, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, Ray Conniff, Martin Denny, Les and Larry Elgart, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Neil Hefti, Al Hirt, Jazz Piano, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Spike Jones, Stan Kenton, Guy Lombardo, Henry Mancini, Billy May, Glenn Miller, Gerry Mulligan, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Nat Pierce, Perez Prado, Andre Previn, Nelson Riddle, Pete Rugolo, Lalo Schifrin, George Shearing, Felix Slatkin, Bob Thompson, and Kai Winding, and then check out our host with Nat King Cole and this specially-worded tribute to William B. Williams.

June 30, 2011

John Hospers, RIP

Philosopher John Hospers passed away on June 12, 2011. John was known for his work on libertarianism, and for being the first Presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party (and the only LP candidate to date, to receive, in 1972, with his running mate Tonie Nathan, an electoral vote from a rogue elector, Roger McBride, who, himself, went on to be an LP Presidential candidate 4 years later).

To me, John was a gentle man, a friend, and a colleague. He gave me much encouragement and support when I was writing my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and he was among the founding Advisory Board members of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

June 29, 2011

Song of the Day #986

Song of the Day: The Day the Earth Stood Still ("Prelude") [YouTube clip of opening credits at that link] was composed by the immortal New York-born Bernard Herrmann, the centenary of whose birth we celebrate today. The score for this classic science fiction film was remarkable for its revolutionary use of the theremin. Viva Herrmann!

June 28, 2011

Song of the Day #985

Song of the Day: I Can't Get Next to You, words and music by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, recorded by The Temptations, was one of the choice #1 Motown hits featured in the 1969 Stonewall Inn jukebox, when it was raided by police on the 28th of June. Now, with gay marriage having been approved in New York State, the events of that night seem as if they happened in an almost alien culture. But I still salute the bravery of those who fought back in that Greenwich Village bar 32 years ago. Listen to this classic song on YouTube.

June 27, 2011

Song of the Day #984

Song of the Day: Perry Mason ("Park Avenue Beat") [YouTube clip at that link] was composed by Fred Steiner, who passed away on 23 June 2011. This was the iconic theme song for the famous television series, featuring Raymond Burr in the title role.

June 26, 2011

Song of the Day #983

Song of the Day: Pocketful of Miracles ("Title Song"), music by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn, received a "Best Original Song" Academy Award nomination in 1961. The song was featured in the utterly hilarious 1961 film, starring the great Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, and the magnificent Peter Falk (who received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his hyper-comedic turn as Joy Boy). Whatever role he played (including the classic Lieutenant Columbo), Falk entertained as if it were "Christmas Every Day." Sadly, he passed away on 23 June 2011. Take a look at the opening credits choral version of this song (YouTube video at that link) and one by Francis Albert Sinatra (another YouTube link), who, it is said, was originally slated to play Dave the Dude, prior to the casting of Glenn Ford.

June 25, 2011

Song of the Day #982

Song of the Day: Get On the Floor features the words and music of Louis Johnson (of The Brothers Johnson) and Michael Jackson, who passed away two years ago on this date.  A sweet disco track from the trailblazing album, "Off the Wall," it is given a YouTube tribute here.

May 01, 2011

Song of the Day #981

Song of the Day: I'm Glad There Is You, words and music by Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Madeira (aka Paul Mertz). is a perfect song to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Empire State Building, my favorite of all NYC skyscrapers. Extraordinary you are, the King Kong of all buildings: I'm Glad There is You, still You, always ... You. Happy Birthday! And listen to Old Blue Eyes on YouTube.

March 25, 2011

Song of the Day #980

Song of the Day: Love Sensation, written by Dan Hartman, was sung by roof-raising Disco Diva Loleatta Holloway, who passed away at the age of 64 on 21 March 2011. This 1980 #1 Billboard Dance Single is one of the most sampled tracks in dance music history. Its trademark sounds can be heard on recordings such as "Ride on Time" by Black Box and "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark (Wahlberg) and the Funky Bunch (YouTube clips at those links). Check out the classic Shep Pettibone Mix on YouTube.

March 23, 2011

Song of the Day #979

Song of the Day: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ("Main Title") [YouTube clip at that link], composed by the great Alex North, opens the 1966 film featuring tour de force performances from each of its actors: Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner), and Elizabeth Taylor, who won a much-deserved Best Actress Oscar, and who passed away today at the age of 79.

March 02, 2011

Song of the Day #978

Song of the Day: Baker Street features the words, lyrics, and performance of Gerry Rafferty, who passed away on 4 January 2011. Spotlighting the saxophone of Raphael Ravenscroft, it's a late 70s pop gem. Check out the full Rafferty version on YouTube and, among the many covers of this song, one by the Foo Fighters.

February 20, 2011

Song of the Day #976

Song of the Day: Spartacus ("Hopeful Preparations"/"Vesuvius Camp") [audio clip at that link] is featured in the Alex North soundtrack masterpiece from the inspiring and thrilling 1960 film, starring Kirk Douglas in the title role. This particular track is part of a new and absolutely stupendous deluxe CD soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande, in centenary celebration of North (who was born on 4 December 1910). The deluxe set also includes a poignant CD featuring timeless interpretations of the classic love theme, with artists as diverse as Bill Evans and Carlos Santana.

February 18, 2011

Song of the Day #975

Song of the Day: Ride 'Em Cowboy ("I'll Remember April"), music by Gene de Paul, lyrics by Patricia Johnston and Don Raye, was first heard in the hilarious 1942 Abbott and Costello film, "Ride 'Em Cowboy," where it was performed by Dick Foran (YouTube film clip at that link). Other classic renditions have been performed by the very Sassy Swinging Scatting Sarah Vaughan (YouTube link) and the late, great pianist George Shearing (YouTube link), who just passed away on Valentine's Day. (And while I could have posted this in, uh, April, this great song makes my list in Movie Music February, with temperatures reaching the very April-ish 60s in snow-weary New York City!)

February 01, 2011

Song of the Day #965

Song of the Day #965: Thunderball ("Main Title"), words by Don Black, music by five-time Oscar winner John Barry, is the title track to one of the classic James Bond films. In honor of the late, great John Barry, check out YouTube, featuring the powerful vocals of Tom Jones. No better time to kick off our Our Annual Movie Music Tribute Series than to feature this Barry gem.

January 14, 2011

Song of the Day #964

Song of the Day: Square Biz was written by Allen McGrier and R&B singer Teena Marie, the "ivory queen of soul," who passed away on 26 December 2010. Check out this funky gem on YouTube.

January 13, 2011

Song of the Day #963

Song of the Day: That Old Black Magic, music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer has been performed so many times by so many artists, including Glenn Miller (with vocalist Skip Nelson), Frank Sinatra (who swings it too), Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Marilyn Monroe (in the film "Bus Stop"), Louis Prima and Keely Smith, and, in a Delirious Disco Spin, Sammy Davis, Jr. (YouTube moments at each of those links). It was also a 1942 hit for the recently deceased Margaret Whiting and the Freddie Slack Orchestra (YouTube link).

September 11, 2010

WTC Remembrance: Tim Drinan, Student

This year, as we mark the 9th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, I have posted the newest installment of my annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center": "Tim Drinan, Student."

It focuses on Tim Drinan, who, on 9/11/01, was a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School, which was close to the site of the Twin Towers.

For those who would like to read previous installments in the series, here is an 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

July 18, 2010

Song of the Day #955

Song of the Day: Time Remembered [YouTube clip at that link] is a magnificent composition written and performed by the timeless jazz pianist Bill Evans. It is posted in remembrance, today, of two members of the New York Yankees family who passed away last week: "The Voice of God" Bob Sheppard and the Boss, George Steinbrenner.

June 29, 2010

Song of the Day #954

Song of the Day: Baby It's Cold Outside features the words and music of the great Frank Loesser, who was born 100 years ago today. This Academy Award winner was heard in the film, "Neptune's Daughter," but it always makes me think of the Christmas season. It has been recorded by many artists.  Take a look on YouTube at versions by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, Dean Martin, and Natalie Cole and James Taylor.

January 28, 2010

Song of the Day #947

Song of the Day: Improvisation #2 features the immortal gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, the centennial of whose birth (on 23 January 1910) we celebrate. Though well known for his work with the great jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli in the magnificent swing ensemble, Quintette du Hot Club de France, this particular track shows off the master stylist in a solo setting. Check out a YouTube excerpt, even if the video cuts the last part of the original recording. Long live Django! And a belated Happy New Year to All!

December 04, 2009

Song of the Day #945

Song of the Day: Inventions (full version at that link) is a composition by the band Maserati. A stand-out from the band's album, Inventions for the New Season, the track has also been creatively remixed. Take a look at two YouTube moments: this clip of a live version from the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia, and this clip from San Antonio, Texas, recorded on 18 October 2009. The latter clip is all the more poignant to watch because it was recorded by the ensemble just weeks before the tragic untimely passing on 8 November 2009 of Brooklyn-based drummer extraordinaire Jerry Fuchs. Fuchs had worked prolifically with such bands as LCD Soundsystem, !!! (pronounced "chk, chk, chk"), and The Juan Maclean. I never met him, but I had heard wonderful things about him from those who knew him. His passionate devotion to his craft is evident in the remarkable musical legacy he has left behind.

November 18, 2009

Song of the Day #944

Song of the Day: And the Angels Sing features the music of trumpeter Ziggy Elman and the lyrics of Johnny Mercer, who was born 100 years ago today. The most famous version of this song was recorded by the Benny Goodman Big Band, featuring the sweet vocals of Martha Tilton and a rousing trumpet solo by Elman. In celebration of the centennial of the birth of the Great Mercer, take a look at this YouTube moment of this terrific song.

September 11, 2009

WTC Remembrance - Lenny: Losses and Loves

This year, as we mark the 8th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, I have posted the newest installment of my annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center": "Lenny: Losses and Loves."

It focuses on Lenny Trerotola and tells the story of the losses he endured, and the loves that have sustained him.

For those who would like to read previous installments in the series, here is an 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

August 29, 2009

Song of the Day #942

Song of the Day: Blame it on the Boogie, words and music by Mick Jackson, David Jackson, and Elmar Krohn, was recorded in 1978 by both Mick Jackson and The Jacksons (no relation between them). The Jacksons' version, my favorite, sported an infectious and happy disco beat, and a sweet R&B-laced vocal by its extraordinarily talented lead singer, who, today, would have been 51 years old. In remembrance of Michael Jackson's birthday, Spike Lee is sponsoring a day-long festival in Brooklyn's Prospect Park today. From the Jacksons' album, "Destiny," take a YouTube trip down memory lane. (And check out Mick Jackson's original version on YouTube as well!)

August 13, 2009

Song of the Day #941

Song of the Day: How High the Moon, music by Morgan Lewis, lyrics by Nancy Hamilton, is one of those great jazz standards that has been recorded by so many musicians through the years. One of my favorite versions is by the master jazz violinists Stephane Grappelli and Stuff Smith (audio clip at that link). Benny Goodman and Helen
Forest
recorded a terrific rendition (YouTube clip at that link) and Ella Fitzgerald recorded it several times as well (check out an audio clip from "Ella in Berlin"). But the song went to #1 on the Billboard chart in a classic version by Mary Ford and Les Paul. Les passed away today; he was a wonderfully talented musician and a titanic innovator in the art and science of modern recording. Check out Les and Mary on YouTube.

July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite, RIP

This summer is getting a bit ridiculous: Ed, Farrah, Michael, Karl Malden, and now... Uncle Walter.

Walter Cronkite, respected CBS anchor for many years, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. I watched so much Cronkite as a kid, especially during all those space launches, which so inspired me.

I actually met this gentleman at a Broadway play some years ago; he was, in fact, a great fan of New York theatre. It was during intermission... when several hundred people descend on the restrooms simultaneously, and Mr. Cronkite and I both exited the restroom at the same time, and practically walked into one another. When I realized who it was, I simply extended my hand, told him what a fan I was, and he was most gracious.

June 25, 2009

Ed, Farrah, and Michael... RIP

This has been a tough week for those of us boomers who grew up and came into our own in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. First, it was reported that Ed McMahon passed away. His presence on late night TV with Johnny Carson and on annual MDA Telethons was always a source of joy.

Then, word came early today that Farrah Fawcett had lost her battle with cancer. From "Charlie's Angels" to "The Burning Bed," Fawcett showed versatility, and acting chops. And even I bought that famous poster and Playboy issue.

This morning, I repeated to a friend of mine one of those old adages: "They say that famous people die in threes. Ed, Farrah... jeez... guess we should expect another one."

Late this afternoon, I found out that Michael Jackson passed away.

I can't even begin to communicate how stunned and saddened I was to hear this. We were roughly the same age, and I grew up on his music, from his early Motown years with the Jackson Five to his remarkable solo career; I danced to his beats, marvelled at his raw talent, and was fortunate enough to see him three times in concert: once on the Victory Tour, in the wake of his unbelievably successful album, Thriller (one of my favorite albums of all time); a second time on the Bad World Tour; and finally, on the Dangerous World Tour. Soft spoken in interviews, the man became a moonwalking lion on stage. I've never seen anyone like him in live performance ... before or since.

Unfortunately, in later years, so much of this magnificent talent was overshadowed by tabloid stories, sordid scandals, trials, and tribulations. None of it erased, in my mind, the talent of this entertainer, or the happiness his music, groundbreaking videos, and electrifying performances brought me.

Ed, Farrah, and Michael. All gone too soon.

May 30, 2009

Song of the Day #938

Song of the Day: Don't Be That Way was written by Edgar Sampson, Mitchell Parish, and Benny Goodman, for whose band this was a huge hit. It was the tune that opened Goodman's famed 1938 Carnegie Hall concert (audio clip at that link). Today, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the King of Swing, I feature this wonderful tune from his remarkable discography. Take a look at a 1980 Goodman YouTube clip and for a vocal version, check out Ella Fitzgerald on YouTube.

March 31, 2009

Maurice Jarre, RIP

One of the all-time great film score composers, Maurice Jarre, passed away on Saturday, March 28, 2009. His memorable scoring (most notably, for me, his magnificent work on "Lawrence of Arabia") lives on.

December 26, 2008

Song of the Day #925

Song of the Day: Santa Baby, music and lyrics by Joan Javits, Philip Springer, and Tony Springer, was a huge hit for Eartha Kitt, who passed away yesterday at the age of 81. Check out a few YouTube moments with Kylie Minogue, Madonna, and Eartha Kitt herself!

November 10, 2008

Song of the Day #921

Song of the Day: Pata Pata features the words and music of Jerry Ragovoy and Miriam Makeba, who passed away today at the age of 76. This joyful track by "Mama Africa," as she was also known, is easily my favorite Makeba recording. Check out a live YouTube clip of Makeba as well as the original recording.

October 30, 2008

In Memory of A Friend: Larry J. Sechrest

This evening, I spoke to Molly Sechrest, who informed me that her beloved husband, Larry, passed away this morning, October 30, 2008. A brief obituary appears at the site of the Mises Institute.

I had known Larry for over 15 years. He and I developed a deep respect and admiration for one another, and we loved one another as brothers. Larry was, quite simply, family. He was one of my closest personal friends and confidantes, an intellectual of the first rank, a superb thinker and writer, with a keen sense of humor. We shared so much over the years, including war stories of our various health battles. He'd had his ups and downs over the last several months in particular. But this shattering loss has come as a great shock to all of us who loved and honored him.

I hope to have more to say about Larry in the coming days and weeks... but for now, I just wanted to note his passing here at Notablog.

I will miss you, my dear, dear friend.

My love, always,
Chris

October 18, 2008

Song of the Day #920

Song of the Day: Li'l Darlin', composed by the late, great Neal Hefti (who passed away on October 11, 2008), was a huge hit for the Count Basie Band. Hefti arranged this luscious tune and others on what has become known as the "Atomic Basie" album. Take a look at a Basie-Hefti YouTube moment, and at this all-too-brief clip of the great jazz guitarist Joe Pass.

September 28, 2008

Paul Newman, RIP

Paul Newman, an iconic American actor, and humanitarian, passed away on Friday, September 26, 2008. I loved many of his films, and list two of them---"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Verdict"---among my all-time favorite movies. His performance in the latter film especially is one of my all-time favorites by an actor. Newman's spoken words, and sighs, were brilliantly delivered, but what he said with his tired blue eyes and even bluer facial expressions spoke volumes. It was a terrific performance, in my view... probably the finest of his career.

Thank goodness for film, which will keep him eternally alive for all of us to see.

September 11, 2008

A Judge Who Bore Witness

Father Mychal F. Judge is officially listed as Victim 0001 of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Judge was a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest who, in 1992, was appointed Chaplain of the Fire Department of New York. On that terrible morning in 2001, Judge arrived on the scene, comforting those who were working heroically in the rescue efforts. He administered last rites to many of the victims. But when the South Tower collapsed, and the debris filled the lobby of the North Tower, Judge became one of those victims.

Many remember that photo of the departed Father Judge, whose body was recovered from the Pit. A lifeless pose that resembled a modern American Pieta.

On Tuesday, I posted the newest installment of my annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," a portrait of firefighter Eddie Mecner. Today, I'd like to remember the efforts of Father Judge.

Last week, the New York Daily News published an excerpt from a new book about Father Judge, written by News correspondent Michael Daly. The book is entitled The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge. Daly reminds us that, before his death, Judge bore witness to some of the most horrific images in our city's history. Daly writes:

He and the firefighters around him were witnessing an elemental law of nature by which a falling object accelerates at 32 feet per second minus the particular air resistance, be the object a lead weight dropped by Galileo from the Tower of Pisa or a human being leaping from the upper floors of One World Trade Center.
Male or female, young or old, healthy or ill, urban or suburban, black or white or Hispanic or Asian, married or single, parent or childless, straight or gay, rich or poor, generous or miserly, kind or cruel, fierce or meek, virtuous or sinful, dreamy or practical, toned or flabby, Christian or Jew or Muslim or Hindu, all fell at the same ever increasing rate. The only variations were density and surface area. Mundane business papers wafted gently down, but even the most decent person was soon plummeting at nearly 150 miles per hour.
Those who leapt from the topmost floors of the North Tower fell for as long as nine seconds. The people on the floors closest to where the plane actually hit had maybe seven seconds, still time to think of loved ones and pray to their particular notion of the Almighty. A Roman Catholic, for example, would have been able to say a Hail Mary, but not an entire Act of Contrition.
Everybody had time to utter "Oh, God!" or "God, no!" or some another plea even nonbelievers cry at the onrush of death. All likely remained as keenly conscious as skydivers.
Some jumped together, holding hands. Most leapt one at a time, often tumbling as they fell. At least one man stayed feet first, his red and blue tie streaming above him. But most were on their backs as they reached the lower floors, facing the heavens if not necessarily heaven. Their last sight was of the perfect baby blue sky as they struck the pavement with a velocity that instantly turned a living person into a bright red splatter. The sound was jarring, loud, a body becoming a bomb.

As has been observed before, it is hard to fathom the awful conditions faced by those in the Towers, such that jumping was the better alternative.

There is so much politics that surrounds this date: The politics of the Middle East. The politics of US foreign policy. The context that these colliding forces provided as the backdrop for the events that were to transpire. And the tragic human consequences that have followed in its wake. Notablog readers know well my own views on many of these issues.

For those of us who lost friends and neighbors on this horrific date, however, there will always be the act of remembrance. It is a defiant act insofar as it compels us to comprehend causes and consequences. But it is also an act of honor toward Father Judge, and those like him, who went to their deaths seven years ago on this date.

September 09, 2008

WTC Remembrance - Eddie Mecner, Firefighter

This year, as we mark the 7th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, I have posted the newest installment of my annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center": "Eddie Mecner, Firefighter."

It tells the story of Eddie Mecner, one of those firefighters who braved the nightmarish conditions of that terrible day.

For those who would like to read previous installments in the series, here is an 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

Mentioned at L&P.

August 13, 2008

Song of the Day #903

Song of the Day: Shaft ("Theme from") features the music and lyrics of Isaac Hayes, who passed away on August 10, 2008. Written for the 1971 film of the same name, the song won an Oscar for Hayes, a soul music pioneer. One of the most hilarious moments in Oscar history, was seeing, or not seeing, Isaac Hayes, during a 2000 Academy Awards performance, in which the dry ice effect covered him in smoke. Host Billy Crystal quipped: "How do you lose Isaac Hayes?" Check out a YouTube "Shaft" video clip, and additional audio clips from this classic soundtrack album.

August 08, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, RIP

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize winner in literature, passed away on Sunday, August 3, 2008, at the age of 89. Solzhenitsyn was certainly no great defender of the West, but I shall always remember his brave attacks on the Soviet system of oppression. Before I read any Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises or F.A. Hayek or Murray Rothbard, I read Solzhenitsyn. In fact, I read virtually all of Solzhenitsyn's books, from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to Cancer Ward, as a junior high and high school student.

But no book of his had a bigger impact on my early intellectual development than the first volume of his multi-volume work, The Gulag Archipelago, which came out in 1973. Solzhenitsyn wrote in his prefatory note:

I dedicate this to all those who did not live to tell it. And may they please forgive me for not having seen it all nor remembered it all, for not having divined all of it.
For years I have with reluctant heart withheld from publication this already completed book: my obligation to those still living outweighed my obligation to the dead. But now that State Security has seized the book anyway, I have no alternative but to publish it immediately.

The following passage, which opens Chapter 3, "The Interrogation," left an indelible mark on my consciousness. Intellectual and theoretical critiques of communism notwithstanding, it was this description of the sheer physical brutality of the Soviet regime that has remained among the strongest indictments of that system:

If the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings; that a human being would be lowered into an acid bath; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by ants and bedbugs; that a ramrod heated over a primus stove would be thrust up their anal canal (the "secret brand"); that a man's genitals would be slowly crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that, in the luckiest possible circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov's plays would have gotten to its end because all the heroes would have gone off to insane asylums. (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, I-II. Translated from the Russian by Thomas P. Whitney. New York: Harper & Row, 1973, pp. 93)

Whatever one's views of Solzhenitsyn's works or his wider intellectual impact or influence, I honor his courageous commitment to revealing the truth about one of the most horrific regimes in modern history.

Noted at L&P (under comments).

July 17, 2008

Song of the Day #902

Song of the Day: Teach Me Tonight features the music of Gene de Paul and the lyrics of Sammy Cahn. Listen to a trio of audio clips by Count Basie ... with Joe Williams, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughan (Sassy also did a version with Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass). Then, check out clips by Al Jarreau, Amy Winehouse, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, and Chaka Khan. And, finally, listen to an audio clip of the 1954 chart hit by Jo Stafford, who, sadly, passed away yesterday at the age of 90.

July 13, 2008

Bobby Murcer, RIP

I was very deeply saddened by the loss of Bobby Murcer, a long-time Yankees player and broadcaster, and all-around-good-guy. Murcer had been battling cancer for quite a while, and his fans, and I count myself among them, were rooting for his return to the broadcast booth. He'd made a brief return after cancer treatments, but he eventually had to leave the YES network; Yankees fans had hoped to see him back at the stadium in time for this week's All-Star Game, which is the last All-Star Game to be played in the old Yankee Stadium. Next year, the new Yankee Stadium opens across the street; after this season, the House that Ruth Built will be no more.

Alas, now Bobby has joined the field of dreams of baseball eternity.

In the New York Daily News, Bill Madden had this to say, reminiscing about how Murcer, who had been traded from the Yanks late in his baseball career, made his way back to the Bronx:

It wasn't until late June of 1979 that [Yankees owner, George] Steinbrenner reunited the 33-year-old Murcer with the Yankees, as the Cubs, who were just looking to dump his $320,000 contract, sent him back to the Bronx for a non-prospect minor-league pitcher named Paul Semall. At the time of the deal, the Yankees, who had lost their closer, [Rich "Goose"] Gossage, to a thumb injury (the result of a shower room fight with teammate Cliff Johnson) were already falling out of the AL East pennant race. Then, on Aug. 2, an off-day, the Yankees and the rest of baseball were shocked by the news that [Yankees catcher and team captain, Thurman] Munson had been killed in the crash of his single-engine private jet as he was practicing landings at the Canton, Ohio, airport.
No one in baseball was closer to Munson than Murcer, who, only the night before, had watched from his car at the end of the runway of a small Chicago airport as Munson took off on his solo flight home to Canton. Four days later, after delivering the eulogy at the Munson funeral in Canton, Murcer, despite having gotten no sleep, implored Yankee manager Billy Martin to let him play in the game that night at the Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles. It would be his finest hour as a Yankee as he honored Munson's memory by driving in all five runs, with a three-run homer and two-run single, in their emotional 5-4 win.
"He loved the game, his fans, his friends, and most of all his family," Murcer had said in the eulogy for Munson. "He is lost, but not gone. He will be missed, but not forgotten."
Now they are both lost.

Mike Lupica tells us of this "prince of the city": "There will be a moment of silence for him Tuesday night, at the All-Star Game. Then one last time they will cheer Bobby Murcer big at Yankee Stadium, the biggest place the kid from Oklahoma ever saw, this time to the heavens."

July 04, 2008

Bozo the Clown, RIP

Aeon Skoble just let me know that Larry Harmon, the gent who played and franchised Bozo the Clown for decades, passed away at the age of 83. Having watched Bozo as a kid when it was produced by Larry Harmon Pictures Inc. (and played here locally by Bill Britten on WPIX, and then Gordon Ramsey on WOR), I have nothing but fond memories of the character.

June 30, 2008

George Carlin, RIP

Last week's passing of George Carlin has led many to reminisce about his gift for comedic social commentary. Check out Jerry Seinfeld's discussion .

Growing up, I remember Carlin's capacity for irreverence. When discussing the nature of both organized religion and organized politics, he remarked: "I'm completely in favor of the separation of church and state. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."

Vincent Miller, RIP

International Society for Individual Liberty founder and president, Vincent Miller, passed away late last week. I never met Vince, but we emailed each other on occasion and spoke a few times on the phone. He was always in good humor, and worked very hard to build ISIL. My condolences to his family and close friends.

Further details are available at Classically Liberal.

June 07, 2008

No Brown Crown, No Jim McKay

I guess we were spoiled back in the 1970s; in 1973, I saw Secretariat, the greatest of them all, in my opinion, take the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. Seattle Slew followed in 1977, and Affirmed beat out Alydar in three successive thrilling races to take the Crown in 1978.

But Da' Tara beat Big Brown in his bid to be the first horse to take the Triple Crown in 30 years. Having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, Big Brown came up short at New York's Belmont.

I sometimes wonder if we'll ever see another Triple Crown winner!

On a much sadder note, it is perhaps ironic that on this day, another great voice of sports broadcasting was silenced: Jim McKay, who passed away at the age of 86. I will always remember his stints at the "Wide World of Sports" and his remarkable reporting from the tragic Munich Olympics. He will be missed by sports fans the world over.

June 04, 2008

Sudha Shenoy, RIP

There is something about aging that must lend itself to looking back; of recent, I've been doing lots of "looking back" on this blog, noting the passings of many people, some of whom have been famous, some of whom I've known personally, all of whom have touched my life in various ways. (I suppose one knows that one is getting a little older when for the first time in one's life, one is older than one of the major party candidates for President of the United States.)

Still, though this blog is much more than songs and obituaries, there have been too many passings to note in recent months. And today is no exception.

I have just learned that Sudha Shenoy passed away after a long bout with cancer. Sudha was a colleague of mine on the Liberty and Power Group Blog, and a sometimes commentator on my work. I am so sad to hear of her passing, and I will always remember her as one of the great, and gentle, voices of the Austrian economics revival.

My condolences to her family and friends.

May 30, 2008

Martin, Pollack, Korman: RIP

What a week for passings. Among them: Dick Martin of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," which made me laugh when I was a kid; director Sydney Pollack, whose films, such as "Tootsie," I so enjoyed; and now, Harvey Korman, whose stint on "The Carol Burnett Show" was legendary.

May 29, 2008

Song of the Day #894

Song of the Day: The Andy Griffith Show ("The Fishin' Hole") (audio clip at that link) was composed by the late great Earle Hagen, who passed away at the age of 88 on May 26, 2008. It's a charming TV theme written by a guy who gave us such great tunes as "Harlem Nocturne." Listen also to an audio clip featuring Andy Griffith himself!

May 24, 2008

Happy 125th Birthday, Brooklyn Bridge!

Today marks the 125th birthday of one of my favorite spots in all of New York City: the Brooklyn Bridge. I was there in 1983 when New York put on one amazing fireworks spectacular to commemorate the centennial; this year's Grucci display was lovely but didn't have the scope of the centennial (which featured cascading waterfalls of fireworks and rockets launching from the top of the cathedral towers). Still it was a sweet tribute to a grand span.

The city is celebrating this magnificent structure all weekend with concerts, walking, bike and water taxi tours, and a sparkling lights display from 9 pm to 11 pm every night through Memorial Day. If you're around this town, come join the party. More information is available here.

May 15, 2008

Louis M. Spadaro, RIP

I learned today that Louis Michael Spadaro, who was the founding dean of the Fordham University Graduate School of Business Administration, died on Saturday, May 3, 2008 at the age of 94. I met the warm-hearted Professor Spadaro many years ago at New York University at one of the weekly Austrian colloquia, and thanked him for having edited (and written the introduction to) a collection of essays that genuinely excited me as an undergraduate: New Directions in Austrian Economics. The book included thought-provoking essays by Israel Kirzner, Ludwig Lachmann, Mario Rizzo, Gerald O'Driscoll, Roger Garrison, and others... most of whom I ended up studying with at NYU.

My condolences to Professor Spadaro's family and friends.

May 14, 2008

Song of the Day #893

Song of the Day: Secret Love, music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Paul-Francis Webster, was a #1 Oscar-winning Best Song from the 1953 novie "Calamity Jane," in which it was performed by Doris Day (audio clip at that link). Listen also to audio clips from renditions by Connie Francis, Tommy Edwards, Nancy Wilson, Billy Stewart, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, pianists Brad Mehldau and Dave McKenna, Mel Martin and the Benny Carter Quintet, and the Jack Cortner New York Big Band with a super Marvin Stramm on trumpet. Finally, check out an audio clip of Frank Sinatra with Nelson Riddle (and a YouTube video too); Sinatra passed away ten years ago on this date. My love of Francis Albert is not so secret: he was and still is the Chairman of the Board.

April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston, RIP

This morning I learned that legendary actor Charlton Heston passed away on Saturday, April 5, 2008, at the age of 84, in his Beverly Hills home. The cause of death has not yet been announced, but after a bout with prostate cancer, Heston had publicly acknowledged the onset of Alzheimer's disease in 2002.

Heston was well-known for such larger-than-life epic roles as Moses, El Cid, and Michelangelo, and for his Oscar-winning nod in the 1959 masterpiece, "Ben-Hur," which is still my favorite movie. Heston's passing saddens me personally; from the time of my childhood, I was inspired by his heroic screen portraits. So enamored was I of his performance as Judah Ben-Hur that I went to see him in-person when I was 10 years old when he made an appearance at my local movie house, the Highway Theatre. His film, "The Hawaiians," had just opened there and he'd shown up to promote it to a huge Brooklyn audience. I couldn't believe how red his hair was and was ecstatic that he'd mentioned "Ben-Hur" in his little talk.

Of course, much has been made of Heston's conservative politics, especially his Second Amendment "absolutism," as president of the National Rifle Association. He famously held a rifle over his head and challenged Democratic presidential nominee, Al Gore, to pry it "from my cold, dead hands." But, like his conservative pal Ronald Reagan, his own political positions were varied over a long activist career, as he traveled from the Democratic Party to the GOP. Like Reagan, he served as head of the Screen Actors Guild. And there is some irony in the fact that he passed away a day after the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination; Heston was a vocal opponent of racism and walked with King in the historic 1963 civil rights March on Washington. He was also opposed to the Vietnam War.

Regardless of his politics, it is Heston's film career that I remember today. Some critics have derided him as both stiff and over-the-top. But I think he hit many more nuanced notes than critics have acknowledged in the creation of his own cinematic symphony. Yes, he'll be remembered as the only one who could truly fill the sandals of Moses, who could stand on an extravagant Cecil B. DeMille set, and hold a staff above the waters to part the Red Sea (in what is still one of the most eye-popping special effects in Hollywood history). He portrayed presidents, cowboys, and even John the Baptist. He embodied the driven artist as Michelangelo in "The Agony and the Ecstasy." He starred in classic film noirs ("Touch of Evil") and sci-fi classics too (as the cynical George Taylor in "Planet of the Apes" and "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," or opposite Edward G. Robinson in "Soylent Green," or as "The Omega Man"). But even his understated roles offered something of poignance ("Will Penny") and principle (on the small screen, in the short-lived "Dynasty" spinoff, "The Colbys").

What I will remember of Heston's portrayal of "Ben-Hur," however, is not just the square-jawed ruggedness of his character. It was the humanity that he brought to the role, an ability to rise above the magnificent spectacle of ferocious naval battles, epic chariot races, and Passion plays, and to provide a deep personal sense of the character's nearly fatal inner conflicts. Beyond the words he speaks, he says more about pain, loss, and anger-driven hate, faith, hope, and redemptive love, through his eyes and his facial expressions. It was a performance for which he well deserved his Best Actor Oscar.

Heston died; but he will continue to "row well, and live" in the extraordinary films he has left behind.

March 22, 2008

Paul Scofield, RIP

I just learned that actor Paul Scofield passed away on Wednesday, March 19, 2008.

I loved his performance in "A Man for All Seasons," one of my favorite films.

March 17, 2008

Kenneth R. Gregg, RIP

I have heard this morning that libertarian historian Kenneth R. Gregg, who posted on occasion here at Notablog, and who wrote the CLASSical Liberalism blog, passed away on the morning of March 14, 2008. He was also a contributor to Liberty and Power Group blog. Ken had dealt with much tragedy in his own life. Through it all, he managed to be kind and gentle. He was "Just Ken," as he'd frequently sign his posts ... and I will miss him very much.

February 11, 2008

Roy Scheider, RIP

A very sad passing: Roy Scheider, 75, died yesterday after many years of illness.

"Jaws" remains one of my favorite movies of all time, and a lot of that had to do with Roy Scheider's performance. One of his lines from that movie, "You're gonna need a bigger boat," was voted #35 in the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Quotes," surveying some of the best movie lines of all time.

I loved Scheider in so many other movies too, including "All that Jazz."

RIP

February 05, 2008

The Philosophy of TV Noir, The Fugitive, and Barry Morse

A sad note to report this morning: Barry Morse, who played the obsessive Lt. Philip Gerard in the classic 60s television show, The Fugitive, passed away on Saturday, February 2, at the age of 89 (hat tip to my pal, Aeon Skoble). I loved Morse in the series; his portrayal of the character could have been one-dimensional, but it evolved wonderfully over the course of that remarkable television show. (And will somebody please tell me why the character was renamed Sam Gerard in the action-packed film version?)

I should note for the benefit of fans of the original television series, starring David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, the DVD releases continue. Season 1, Volume 1 was released in August of 2007; Volume 2 is due out on February 26. I loved everything about this series... from its acting and morality-play plots to its classic score, it is one of the finest television series ever made.

While I'm on the topic of The Fugitive, you can read about that series and other great examples of "TV Noir" in an absolutely spectacular new anthology, edited by Steven M. Sanders and Aeon J. Skoble, entitled The Philosophy of TV Noir.

The Philosophy of TV Noir

The book is part of the University Press of Kentucky's "Philosophy of Popular Culture" series. I provided a blurb for it (which appears on the back book jacket), so I might as well reproduce that here, because it sums up my thoughts precisely:

Given the centrality of television as an organ of popular culture, this book is profoundly important to understanding the legacy of film noir. This anthology is a natural, necessary, and brilliant addition to the series.

The book includes chapters on Dragnet, The Naked City, Secret Agent, Miami Vice, 24, The Sopranos, CSI, The X-Files, The Prisoner, Twin Peaks, and, my favorite chapter, the one written by Aeon himself: "Action and Integrity in The Fugitive" (disclaimer: yeah, he gives me an acknowledgment in his notes, but this is no 'quid quo pro'... the essay is terrific!).

Pick up this book! Get the DVDs!

And remember Barry Morse...

Noted at L&P.

January 25, 2008

Song of the Day #864

Song of the Day: Meditation features the Portuguese lyrics of Newton Mendonca, the English lyrics of Norman Gimbel, and the luscious music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, who was born on this date in 1927. This is one of my all-time favorite melodies from one of my all-time favorite composers. Listen to audio clips from Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto, guitarist Charlie Byrd, Nancy Ames (with guitarist Laurindo Almeida), Frank Sinatra with Jobim, and Jobim himself.

January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger, 1979-2008

Shocking news from New York City today: The young actor, Heath Ledger, was found dead in his SoHo apartment in Manhattan, in an apparent prescription drug overdose.

He's due to be seen as the Joker in the upcoming Batman flick, "The Dark Knight," a film I was really looking forward to seeing. A resident of Brooklyn for a while with Michelle Williams and their baby daughter, Ledger is perhaps best remembered for his Oscar-nominated heartbreaking role in "Brokeback Mountain."

Ledger was only 28 years old. How very sad.

December 25, 2007

Song of the Day #855 (RIP, Oscar Peterson)

Song of the Day: A Child is Born, words and music by Alec Wilder and Thad Jones, is a song that has come to be identified with this day, but it has also become a jazz standard. Listen to audio clips of renditions by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Diane Reeves, Bill Evans, Bill Evans and Tony Bennett, and, finally, Oscar Peterson, who passed away on Sunday, December 23, 2007. A sad loss for lovers of music to contemplate on this Christmas Day. Rest in peace.

December 06, 2007

Song of the Day #836

Song of the Day: Stayin' Alive, written by Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, was a huge #1 hit for them, as the Bee Gees. It was the opening theme of a movie that encapsulated so much about the disco era: "Saturday Night Fever." When I first saw the film on the big screen in 1977, I found it a bit depressing in its depiction of the tragic lives of so many of its characters. The film and even its Broadway incarnation provided more than a few moments of both reflection ... and entertainment. And while I've mentioned other cuts from the famous soundtrack, including "Open Sesame," "Night on Disco Mountain," and "A Fifth of Beethoven," none is more identified with the film than this one. It even shows up again in the film's sequel of the same title. And it has been spoofed countless times ("Now you can tell by the way I wear my pants / that I'm a man / Can't take no chance"...). Today begins a 9-day tribute to the soundtrack of "Saturday Night Fever," still one of the biggest-selling, and most influential, albums of all time. The film celebrates the 30th anniversary of its debut on December 14, 2007. Many covers of this song have been recorded, but it's always best to begin at the beginning. Listen to an audio clip of this track by the Bee Gees.

October 31, 2007

Robert Goulet, RIP

Robert Goulet has shown up a number of times in my "Song of the Day" entries, including "If Ever I Would Leave You" and "Call Me Irresponsible."

Goulet passed away yesterday, awaiting a lung transplant, at the age of 73. My condolences to his family.

October 19, 2007

Passings

Changes happening... some permanent... let me note a few:

o Deborah Kerr, whom I loved in such movies as "The King and I," "An Affair to Remember," and "Quo Vadis," passed away on Tuesday, October 16, 2007.

o Joey Bishop, whose humor made me chuckle in the 1960s and 1970s, passed away on Wednesday, October 17, 2007; he was the last surviving member of Hollywood's famed "Rat Pack."

o Laissez Faire Books is closing its doors after 36 years in business. I will always be enormously thankful to LFB for carrying my various books and monographs through the years. My very best wishes to everybody connected to LFB for providing liberty lovers with one of the most important sources of libertarian literature in the world.

o And, finally, I note the passing of the Joe Torre Era of Yankees Baseball. I still think that the Yankees greatest weakness is their starting pitching (and their long relief), not their manager. It's the pitching (or lack thereof) that has led to early exits from the postseason for several years running now. The organization is going a long way toward correcting its pitching weakness by re-investing in a long-depleted farm system. The rebuilding may take a few years, but I'm confident it will be for the best. Losing Manager Joe Torre, however, is not for the best, and I will miss his steady hand and stabilizing influence. Thanks, Joe, for a great run!

October 02, 2007

Miss Moneypenny, RIP

My goodness! Lois Maxwell, the actress who played "Miss Moneypenny" in 14 James Bond flicks, has passed away at the age of 80. She was a staple in those films... and I always enjoyed her open flirting with 007.

September 11, 2007

WTC Remembrance - Charlie: To Build and Rebuild

This year, as part of my ongoing annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," I have posted the newest installment, a Notablog exclusive: "Charlie: To Build and Rebuild."

It tells the story of Charlie Pomaro, who, as a young man, helped to build the Twin Towers, and who, in 2001, helped to pick up the shattered pieces.

Remembering the World Trade Center

For those who would like to read previous installments of my series, I provide this 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

Cross-posted at L&P.

September 06, 2007

Song of the Day #819 (Pavarotti, RIP)

Song of the Day: O Sole Mio, music by Eduardo di Capua, lyrics by Giovanni Capurro, is one of the most famous Neapolitan songs ever written. I post it in honor of Luciano Pavarotti, the great Italian tenor, who passed away today. Listen to audio clips of renditions by Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, Placido Domingo, and, of course, Luciano himself. Rest in peace.

August 14, 2007

Merv and The Scooter

Over the past two days, two of the most memorable personalities of my youth passed away. Yesterday, I found out about the passing of Merv Griffin, who is known best today as the producer of long-running game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune and, my favorite, Jeopardy. But my fondest memory of the affable Griffin is as the syndicated television talk show host who always gave us great entertainment, like that night back in the late 1970s when Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme scatted their way through "Lady Be Good" and other jazz standards.

This afternoon, I heard about the loss of the great Hall of Fame Yankee shortstop, Phil Rizzuto. I wasn't around when Rizzuto played shortstop for the Yankees, but his voice was a staple on radio and television for those of us who followed the Yankees from the 1960s through the 1990s. Nothing was more hilarious than listening to his color commentary during a game. His classic stories, his shout-out "happy birthday" wishes to various fans, his love of the cannoli provided us with a diet of gut-busting riotous moments on any given summer night (check out the book, O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto, for some of Rizzuto's 'poetry').

I'll miss Merv and the Scooter. Rest in peace.

July 08, 2007

Song of the Day #817

Song of the Day: I'd Rather Be Blue Over You (Than Happy with Somebody Else), words and music by Fred Fisher and Billy Rose, was introduced by Fanny Brice in the 1928 film "My Man." Of course, Brice first became famous in the Ziegfeld Follies. Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Ziegfeld Follies (hat tip to David Hinckley). Marking the centennial, "The Big Broadcast" is featured on New York's Fordham University radio station WFUV (90.7 FM) tonight, 8 p.m. to midnight! Listen to this recording of Fanny Brice (with the rarely heard introduction) and also an audio clip from the 1968 movie version of "Funny Girl," with Barbra Streisand.

July 04, 2007

Beverly Sills, RIP

On July 2, 2007, another musical voice was silenced: Beverly Sills died at the age of 78.

Just as wonderful as her voice was her humor and down-to-earth personality. She was a Brooklyn girl, after all.

June 29, 2007

Joel Siegel, RIP

Beloved film critic, Joel Siegel, passed away today at the age of 63, after a battle with colon and lung cancer. I remember him as one of the members of the WABC-TV "Eyewitness News" team. He went on to regular appearances on "Good Morning America" and always gave us a thrill with his pre-Oscar telecasts.

I will truly miss his presence on television; he made me laugh and often touched me with his insight.

June 01, 2007

Song of the Day #811

Song of the Day: With a Little Help From My Friends, words and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which turns 40 today. A classic, this Beatles song has been recorded by many other artists as well, including Joe Cocker and Brasil 66 (audio clips at those links).

April 18, 2007

Miklos Rozsa: A Centennial Celebration

On April 18, 1907, composer Miklos Rozsa was born in Budapest, Hungary. Today, April 18, 2007, I celebrate the Centennial of the maestro's birth.

As readers may know, I have often featured Rozsa's music in my "Song of the Day" entries. But I officially kicked off the Centennial Celebration back in April 2006 with this entry. I concluded my tribute over the past week, beginning here and ending here (though, for sure, there will be many more Rozsa entries to come in my music diary).

Rozsa was not only the composer of nearly 100 film scores; he was also the composer of truly wonderful concert works. For those who have not explored the maestro's corpus, let me recommend a few links and books. First, readers should acquaint themselves with the work of the Miklos Rozsa Society, whose founder and director John Fitzpatrick has done a great job throughout the years, exploring and extending our appreciation of Rozsa's life and music.

Second, let me recommend two books and an article: The first book is Rozsa's own Double Life (New York, Wynwood Press, 1982; 1989), which is truly "a Spellbinding Autobiography of Success and Survival in the Golden Age of Hollywood." The book includes a foreword by Antal Dorati, and a preface by Andre Previn. It is out of print now, but can be found in many used book venues.

The second book is Jeffrey Dane's new one: A Composer's Notes: Remembering Miklos Rozsa, which includes a foreword by Leonard Pennario. It is published by iUniverse (Lincoln, Nebraska: 2006).

There is also my introductory article, first published in The Free Radical. It is available online, and also as a PDF.

And, of course, let me recommend that readers listen to Rozsa's soundtracks and concert works, which are available on CD.

Finally, let me remind readers that Turner Classic Movies begins a wonderful centennial tribute to the composer tonight, at 8 pm, Eastern time. The "special event" showcases four films that Rozsa scored. It starts with a showing of "The Killers" (1946), and continues with "Brute Force" (1947), "Ben-Hur" (1959), and "The Lost Weekend" (1945).

Rozsa was nominated 17 times for Oscars, and was a three-time winner. From his film noir scoring contributions to his scores for grand epics to his wonderful concert works, he remains, in my view, one of the finest composers of the twentieth century.

Cited at Liberty and Power Group Blog and at The Rozsa Forum.

Song of the Day #808

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur ("The Battle") (audio clip at that link) is one of the most rousing cinematic achievements in the Miklos Rozsa film score canon. No tribute would be complete without a nod to my all-time favorite film score. Rozsa's music for the naval battle, an action-packed highlight of the 1959 William Wyler-directed "Ben-Hur", remains one of his great Academy-Award winning cinematic moments. And so we conclude our Centennial Celebration of the music of Miklos Rozsa on the occasion, today, of his 100th birthday. Tune in to Turner Classic Movies to see a tribute to Rozsa-scored films throughout the day.

April 17, 2007

Song of the Day #807

Song of the Day: The Killers ("Main Title") is from the 1946 movie, which boasted one of Miklos Rozsa's classic film noir scores. It actually introduced the "dum-de-dum-dum" theme, which (along with Rozsa's score for "The Naked City") inspired the opening notes for the television series, "Dragnet" (audio clip at that link). Listen to an audio clip of the "Main Title" here.

April 16, 2007

Song of the Day #806

Song of the Day: Sodom and Gomorrah ("Intermezzo") (audio clip at that link) is a bold cinematic theme written by Miklos Rozsa. Check out the new 100th anniversary special 2-CD edition of this soundtrack!

April 15, 2007

Song of the Day #805

Song of the Day: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (Opus 32) was composed by Miklos Rozsa at the request of cellist Janos Starker. Listen to audio clips from three renditions: one recorded by cellist Lynn Harrell with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; another recorded by cellist Raphael Wallfisch with the BBC Concert Orchestra; and yet another recorded by cellist Brinton Smith with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

April 14, 2007

Song of the Day #804

Song of the Day: Concerto for Viola (Opus 37) (audio clips at that link, featuring viola soloist Paul Silverthorne) is a richly textured four-movement work that is one of composer Miklos Rozsa's orchestral triumphs.

April 13, 2007

Song of the Day #803

Song of the Day: The Vintner's Daughter (12 variations on a French folk song) (audio clips at that link), composed by Miklos Rozsa, is based on a poem by Juste Olivier, which was set to a French folk-song. It has an element of impressionism, which is captured as well by pianist Sara Davis Buecher (audio clips at that link).

April 12, 2007

Song of the Day #802

Song of the Day: Hungarian Nocturne (Opus 28, Notturno Ungherese] is composer Miklos Rozsa's "attempt to recapture the rare beauty of the nights" he remembered in rural Hungary. For me, it evokes the rare beauty of Rozsa's melodic sensibility. Listen to an audio clip here, performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Sedares. Today begins my one-week tribute to the great Miklos Rozsa, which will culminate on April 18th, to mark the centennial of the maestro's birth (check out my other Rozsa tributes as well). (Noted too at the Miklos Rozsa Society's Rozsa Forum.)

February 07, 2007

Song of the Day #786 (Frankie Laine, RIP)

Song of the Day: That's My Desire, music by Helmy Kresa, lyrics by Carroll Loveday, was a huge hit for Frankie Laine, who passed away yesterday at the age of 93. His voice was one of those heard in the household of my youth; I will never forget some of his famous recordings. Listen to audio clips of this classic here and here.

January 15, 2007

Michael Brecker, RIP

I first heard him when he played with his brother Randy as part of the Brecker Brothers. Whether he was heard on pop tracks, like "Same Old Lang Syne" or playing a haunting saxophone synthesizer on "In a Sentimental Mood," Michael Brecker was a consummate jazz musician.

After a long bout with leukemia, Brecker passed away on Saturday, January 13, 2007. Influenced by John Coltrane (and Coltrane's widow, Alice, passed away this weekend too) and the fusion sounds of the 1970s and 80s, Brecker actually completed his final album two weeks ago.

My condolences to his friends and family.

January 11, 2007

Yvonne De Carlo, RIP

Remembered as Moses's wife in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille classic, "The Ten Commandments," and as Lily Munster on "The Munsters," Yvonne De Carlo passed away earlier this week at the age of 84. Her career spanned both B-movies and Broadway (where she starred in the Stephen Sondheim Tony-winning musical, "Follies"). But it's as the matriarch of 1313 Mockingbird Lane that I will most remember her, fondly.

Condolences to her friends and family.

December 26, 2006

Song of the Day #774 (James Brown, RIP)

Song of the Day: I Got You (I Feel Good), words and music by James Brown, reworks a Brown song entitled "I Found You" (audio clip at that link), recorded by Yvonne Fair. This track is my personal Brown favorite; it was a mega-hit and a signature tune for the "Godfather of Soul," who passed away yesterday, on Christmas Day 2006. Brown was one of the most important artists of the past forty years, influencing everything from R&B to hip hop, and everyone from the Rolling Stones and Public Enemy to Prince and Michael Jackson (and check out a rare You Tube clip featuring Brown, Jackson, and Prince). Listen to an audio clip of this classic track here.

December 19, 2006

Joseph Barbera and Chris Hayward, RIP

I grew up on a steady diet of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, among other favorites, including "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons," "Yogi Bear," "Jonny Quest," and "Huckleberry Hound."

So when I found out about the passing of Joseph Barbera, I paused for a moment to recall all the joy his wonderful animation brought me.

And this passing comes after the recent passing of Chris Hayward, a writer responsible for many of the characters on "Rocky and Bullwinkle," among other timeless TV shows (hat tip to David Beito).

Cross-posted to L&P.

November 25, 2006

Song of the Day #757

Song of the Day: New York, New York, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, is a highlight from both the Broadway musical "On the Town" and its 1949 film version. A great song dedicated to my hometown, this one is selected today to honor the memory of Betty Comden, who passed away on Thanksgiving Day, 2006. Listen here to an audio clip from the original Broadway show.

November 24, 2006

Song of the Day #756

Song of the Day: Them There Eyes, words and music by Maceo Pinkard, William Tracy, and Doris Tauber, is a song that has been recorded many times over since its debut in the 1930s. Today, however, I spotlight an audio clip here of a rendition sung by one of my all-time favorite jazz singers, Anita O'Day, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87.

November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman, RIP

Milton Friedman, Chicago-school economist, has passed away, tragically, at the age of 94. For me, reading his Capitalism and Freedom at a young age was a truly remarkable experience; it remains one of the seminal works of liberty. My deepest condolences to his family. A sad day for liberty, indeed.

September 11, 2006

Remember

Click Here to Read Sciabarra's Various Tributes to the World Trade Center

September 05, 2006

Remembering the World Trade Center, Sixth Installment

Back on September 12, 2001, in the hours after the greatest tragedy to ever befall my hometown, I wrote:

The only near-fatality of an extended family member of which I am aware is my sister-in-law's cousin. He was on the 89th floor of the first tower that was struck; that strike apparently occurred on the 96th floor, but the devastation quickly spread to the floors above and below. He was able to get all of his workers to safety, except for two who were killed. He is now in [the] hospital, recovering from smoke and ash inhalation, but we expect a full recovery.

In the confusion that marked those hours, not all the facts that I reported were completely accurate. And that brief paragraph most certainly did not tell the whole story.

It has been five years since I wrote those words. Today, I am honored to add the testimony of my sister-in-law's cousin to my annual tribute page, "Remembering the World Trade Center":

"Cousin Scott"

As I mentioned here

This year's installment is particularly important; it comes on the fifth anniversary of that awful tragedy and it marks the first time that I will take readers inside the WTC. My interview subject was on the 89th floor of the North Tower when the first plane struck. That he survived to tell this harrowing story is a blessing to those of us who will never forget September 11, 2001. This was the most difficult interview I have ever conducted, but I trust that readers will agree with me that it is among the most important contributions to my annual series.

For those who would like to read previous installments of my series, I provide this 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

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

September 01, 2006

Happy Anniversary Songs

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the inauguration of my "Song of the Day" feature.

I was reminded of this the other night when I was watching the "58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards," which, during the broadcast, showed a romantic commercial for "Journey Diamond Jewelry," telling us that "a diamond is forever." The song used for that commercial? "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," which just so happens to have been my very first "Song of the Day." In truth, I thought it was a lovely commercial; but then again, it is a lovely song. Like the diamond, it will last forever, at least "forever" in my own consciousness. Indeed, though it would be very difficult for me to pick my favorite song of all time, that Legrand-Bergman tune would certainly qualify.

Two years ago today, I wrote:

Today, I thought I'd share with my readers a new feature for "Not a Blog" and a new page on my site. I have been promising readers to inaugurate additional "My Favorite Things" pages, pointing to such things as favorite books, favorite albums, and even favorite songs. Why my personal aesthetic views are so interesting is beyond me... but the Favorite Things page is consistently one of the most popular pages on my "Dialectics and Liberty" website. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I provide lots of entertaining links on such pages for your enjoyment.
So, I'm starting a new page today: My Favorite Songs. Rather than come up with a full list on a single day, I'll make it a regular (daily?) feature here at "Not a Blog." (The songs will also be added to the "Favorite Songs" list, alphabetically, with date of addition in [brackets].)
There isn't a waking hour of any day where I don't have a song on my mind. (I suspect there are quite a few songs playing in my mind during non-waking hours as well!) Music is such an integral part of my life, that I could not for a moment imagine life without it. And the songs I love come from a variety of genres, as readers will soon find out.

I can only echo those observations today. And while the "Song of the Day" hasn't actually been posted daily for two straight years (there have been more than a few interruptions), I'm happy that it remains a popular feature at Notablog. And I'm even happier that it has evolved to include both vocal and instrumental compositions. Obviously, my use of the word "song" is, uh, rather loose. But that's been part of the fun... running the gamut from cartoons to the concert hall.

Thanks again to Notablog readers for all your recent public comments on the songs, and thanks also to the hundreds of people who have emailed me their own private comments over the last two years. I've heard from music fans and even from some of the artists and composers whom I've highlghted. It's been a great run, and I look forward to continuing the feature in the future, though it will become less frequent sometime this fall, as my work schedule intensifies.

Comments welcome.

August 29, 2006

Back to Bourbon Street

There's not much that I can say about the one-year anniversary of Katrina that hasn't already been said. I do find it ironic, however, that some NYC politicians have been up in arms over recent comments by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who tried to defend his own sorry political record by taking a swipe at the fact that, five years later, there's still a "hole in the ground" at Ground Zero. Well, it is true that infrastructure is being laid at that hole in the ground, but let's face it: The WTC's Ground Zero has become a textbook illustration of internecine interest-group warfare, leading to interminable delays in construction... indeed, even in the planning for construction!

All this said, let us put aside the politics for a day, and remember New Orleans and its culture, which has had a past, and which will have a future.

This brings to mind a new CD that I'm listening to, put out by the Side Street Strutters, entitled "Back to Bourbon Street." From the poignant sounds of "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?" to the swinging tempos of "There'll Be Some Changes Made," "King Porter Stomp," and "Royal Garden Blues," this is a wonderful album.

And, heck, it also features the terrific trombone work of one of my favorite trombone players in the whole wide world, my pal, Roger Bissell!

As Andy Waterman writes in the liner notes, "Back to Bourbon Street seems to be an appropriate place to musically congregate in this post-Katrina universe." The album reminds us of the vivacious, life-affirming culture that is New Orleans.

Comments welcome.

August 25, 2006

Maynard Ferguson, RIP

There were few sounds that could go higher (or, rather, that could be heard by humans) than the soaring notes played by Maynard Ferguson in one of his classic trumpet solos. And the Ferguson Big Band, exploring jazz and fusion, could easily act as a demolition crew, anytime it exhibited its characteristic vigor (I reference two Ferguson recordings here and here).

I learned early this morning that Maynard Ferguson passed away on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at the age of 78.

He'll be missed.

Comments welcome.

August 09, 2006

This and That

After a month on summer hiatus, Notablog returns.

I have no clue what shape the blog will take at this point. While I am truly inspired by those who have the time to blog daily, and to blog with substance on such a regular basis, I have found that due to my own very personal circumstances and to my own professional commitments and responsibilities, it is virtually impossible to keep up with regular blogging or to post daily on the significant developments in the world today. Suffice it to say, while Notablog returns, and while I will resume my "Song of the Day" feature this weekend (and don't be surprised if this becomes a "Song of the Week" feature in time), I am still working diligently on many projects that demand my attention.

I should note that the Summer of 2006, which is a little more than half over, has been a productive one thus far. Aside from enjoying the sun and the sea and the lighting of the Coney Island Parachute Jump (Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower), I've been hard at work. I've completed three entries for the International Encyclopedia of Political Science and another entry for the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (more information on these entries will follow in the coming months). In addition to continuing my editing of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, I've also completed a piece for the forthcoming Ed Younkins-edited anthology, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which will be published next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication. My contribution is entitled: "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism."

On the subject of Ayn Rand, I have written a brief essay for the September 2006 issue of Liberty magazine. It's part of a special feature entitled "Ten Great Books of Liberty." My entry focuses on Rand's novel, The Fountainhead.

While I've been on hiatus, it came to my attention that I was memed by Nick Manley. The meme has considerable overlap with a blog entry I wrote on those works that had a significant effect on my intellectual development.

Much of that development has been influenced by dialectics, the art of context-keeping. But dialectics has taken various forms tnroughout intellectual history, and the Marxian dialectic is, of course, one of them. A new film, entitled "Half Nelson," apparently delves into the subject. I may not see the movie until it reaches DVD status, but it looks like it might be entertaining.

Marxian dialectics has interested me for many years, going back to my dissertation and to the publication of my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia. Author Kevin M. Brien has published a second edition of his fine work, Marx, Reason, and the Art of Freedom, which addresses criticisms I made of his first edition back in the Fall 1988 issue of Critical Review. I hope to discuss Brien's rejoinder in the coming weeks.

In the next few weeks, I will also publish an exclusive Notablog installment of my annual feature, "Remembering the World Trade Center." This year's installment is particularly important; it comes on the fifth anniversary of that awful tragedy and it marks the first time that I will take readers inside the WTC. My interview subject was on the 89th floor of the North Tower when the first plane struck. That he survived to tell this harrowing story is a blessing to those of us who will never forget September 11, 2001. This was the most difficult interview I have ever conducted, but I trust that readers will agree with me that it is among the most important contributions to my annual series.

So stay tuned to Notablog. The music starts up again this weekend, and will include a 12-day tribute to Tony Bennett (who turned 80 on August 3rd), the return of my annual tribute to TV themes, and a September spotlight on The Four Seasons (loved "Jersey Boys").

Comments are open. Welcome back.

June 24, 2006

Aaron Spelling, RIP

Over the years, I've watched more than a few Aaron Spelling productions. I learned late last night that Spelling, 83, passed away.

I know, I know, some of you will say: Mindless Entertainment. But from the Eighties Excess of "Dynasty" to the Nineties Nightime Soap "Beverly Hills 90210," his productions provided me with many entertaining hours.

He was a major force in television for many years, and also played an important role in bringing quality productions, such as "And the Band Played On," to the small screen.

May 22, 2006

Journal of Ayn Rand Studies' Spring 2006 Issue

It gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The issue features a dialogue on Ayn Rand's ethics, with contributions from Tibor R. Machan, Frank Bubb, Eric Mack, Douglas B. Rasmussen, Robert H. Bass, Chris Cathcart, and Robert L. Campbell. In addition, there are articles covering topics in epistemology (Merlin Jetton) and literature (Kurt Keefner and Peter Saint-Andre). Other contributors include Sheldon Richman on Thomas Szasz and Ayn Rand; Max Hocutt on postmodernism; Steven Yates on capitalism and commerce; and David M. Brown on the new Ayn Rand Q&A book.

The issue opens with my own tribute to R. W. Bradford, without whom The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies would never have been founded. This Spring 2006 issue is dedicated to the memory of Bradford, Joan Kennedy Taylor, and Chris Tame. A PDF of my tribute piece is available here.

For subscription information, see here.

Cross-posted to L&P. See also the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog.

April 18, 2006

Jason Dixon Interviews Me

Today, I publish a Notablog exclusive: An interview of me conducted by Jason Dixon. The interview was conducted in late 2005-early 2006, but is finally seeing the light of day here at Notablog.

Check it out:

An Interview Conducted by Jason Dixon

Comments welcome. Also noted at L&P.

March 20, 2006

Chris Tame, RIP

I just received a phone call from Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance. Sean tells me that my pal, Chris Tame, passed away at 3:37 pm, London time. Having battled cancer these many months, Chris's passing was, as Sean describes it, peaceful.

I'm very sad to hear this news, and I extend my deepest condolences to his friends and family. I was fortunate enough to speak with Chris last week; it was a "goodbye" phone call, as he knew the end was near. I will miss his almost daily "Ayn Rand Watch" postings, his warped sense of humor, and, most of all, the intellectual engagement. But I know that his legacy will live on.

A press release will follow from Sean very soon.

Update #1 (21 March 2006): I received the following from Sean Gabb:

It is with the deepest regret that I must announce the death of Dr. Chris R. Tame, Founder and President of the Libertarian Alliance. Chris founded the Libertarian Alliance in the early 1970s. During the next 30 years, he worked tirelessly to recover the British libertarian tradition as a seamless heritage of freedom. He took issue with those Conservatives who saw freedom in terms purely of pounds and penceand often not even as that. He took issue also with those who demanded freedom in all matters but those involving the getting and spending of money. He believed that freedom should be defined in the traditional English sense, as the rights to life, liberty and justly acquired property.

In July 2005, Chris was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of bone cancer. Though only 55 at the time, and though he had avoided all those vices commonly believed to be dangerous, he took this diagnosis with great calmness. During the next eight months, he faced his approaching end with a fortitude and good humour that was an inspiration to those around him.

To the very end, he retained a keen interest in public affairs and in the welfare of his friends and loved ones. On his last day, he made sure to check his e-mails.

Chris died peacefully in his sleep at 3:37pm GMT on Monday the 20th March 2006. He was never alone during his last six days. Mrs. Helen Evans and Dr. Sean Gabb were by his side at the end.

Chris was married and divorced twice. He left no children.

Dr. Gabb will make a further announcement in the next few days of the funeral arrangments. In the meantime, all further correspondence should be directed to him. [Write to Sean here.]

Chris leaves the Libertarian Alliance in the hands of Dr. Timothy Evans and Dr. Sean Gabb, who as President and Director, hope to carry on its work through the first decades of the 21st century.

Update #2 (23 March 2006): Sean Gabb has published an Obituary for Chris Tame here and here.

Update #3 (28 March 2006): This is another update from Sean Gabb, with regard to funeral services for Chris Tame:

The funeral of Dr. Chris R. Tame will take place on Saturday the 1st April 2006 at 11:00am at the Chichester Crematorium in Sussex.

The service will be open to allthough for those unable to make this Saturday, there will be a memorial service at the National Liberal Club in London this coming November.

The Address of the Crematorium is:

The Crematorium Company
Westhampnett Road
Chichester
West Sussex PO19 4UH
Tel 01243 787755 Fax 01243 536267

One chapel with seating for 65

Facilities for disabled: Ramps, Toilet, Wheelchair
Manager: Nigel Emberson

See the pdf map here.

Those who wish to send flowers are advised to do so via The Posy Bowl on 01730 812 077.

Regards,
Sean Gabb

Chris Tame: 1949-2006

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

Bill Beutel, RIP

Like Peter Jennings, Bill Beutel was a daily fixture in the Sciabarra household. In fact, as co-anchor of the 6 pm "Eyewitness News," Beutel was the perfect "class act" prelude to Jennings' broadcast at 6:30 pm. And he stayed at the local newsdesk as WABC-TV anchor for 35 years; when he retired a few years back, his presence was sorely missed.

Beutel died over the weekend. He was 75.

Comments welcome.

February 08, 2006

Bradford Tribute in Liberty

As readers of Notablog know, Bill Bradford passed away on December 8, 2005.

In the March 2006 issue of Liberty, there is a lovely tribute to the man, with contributions from Stephen Cox, Ross Overbeek, Doug Casey, Jo Ann Skousen, Mark Skousen, Wendy McElroy, Patrick Quealy, Brian Doherty, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, Robert Higgs, Paul Rako, Andrew Ferguson, Timothy Sandefur, Jane S. Shaw, Randal O'Toole, and Tim Slagle.

My own piece, "Ayn Rand and Coney Island," also appears therein. I will publish that piece on my blog in its slightly altered version when it appears in the forthcoming Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, of which Bill Bradford was a founding co-editor.

Take a look here at some of the current pieces of remembrance in Liberty.

Comments welcome.

February 02, 2006

The Kings of Nonviolent Resistance

It is no longer news that Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., passed away this week. She was 78.

An advocate and practitioner of nonviolent resistance, Martin Luther King Jr. once uttered a classic statement: "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

While a lot of discussion has ensued over the nature of the "love thine enemy" philosophy that seems to underlie King's statement, I think there is a truth therein, which was made even more apparent by King's wife. Coretta Scott King often repeated her husband's maxim: "Hate is too great a burden to bear." But she added: "It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."

I've talked about the effects of hating in other posts dealing with everything from Yoda to my articulation of "The Rose Petal Assumption," so I won't repeat my reasoning here. Suffice it to say, there is an internal relationship between hatred, fear, anger, and suffering, and, often, the transcendence of one brings forth the transcendence of all.

I think what the Kings focused on was not "loving one's enemy" per se, but the practice of a positive alternative in one's opposition to evil. Nonviolent resistance is not equivalent to pacifism. It is not the renunciation of the retaliatory use of force; it entails, instead, the practice of a wide variety of strategiesfrom boycotts to strikes, which remove all sanctions of one's own victimization. One refuses to be a part of a cycle that replaces one "boss" with another. One repudiates real-world monsters, while not becoming one in the process. For as Nietzsche once said: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

Nonviolence is not a social panacea, and sometimes it is absolutely necessary to use violence in one's response to aggression. But much can be learned about how to topple tyranny from the lessons provided by the theoreticians and practitioners of nonviolent resistance.

It's fitting that today I've marked Ayn Rand's birthday, for Atlas Shrugged is one of the grandest dramatizations in fiction of the effectiveness of fighting tyranny through nonviolent resistance. It is no coincidence that, while writing her magnum opus, Rand's working title for Atlas was "The Strike." Of course, Rand was no theorist of nonviolence, but her novel is instructive.

For further reading on the subject of nonviolence, let me suggest first and foremost the books of Gene Sharp, founder of the Albert Einstein Institution. See especially Sharp's books, The Politics of Nonviolent Action and Social Power and Political Freedom.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

January 12, 2006

Blondie: 1989-2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 2006

I'm heartbroken.

Update, January 16, 2006: In the comments section, here, I have responded at length to the many lovely public and private condolences that I've received since Blondie's death. My deepest appreciation and gratitude to each of you for your support.

Update, January 19, 2006: I have responded to additional comments posted by Notablog readers here.

January 06, 2006

Song of the Day #511

Song of the Day: Dead End Street features the words and music of D. Axelrod and B. Raleigh, with a gritty monologue by Lou Rawls, who performs the tune to soul perfection. When this Classic 45 came out, I took an instant liking to it because Lou Rawls referred to the wind as "The Hawk," a phrase my family had used for years. Rawls won the 1967 Grammy Award for "Best Rhythm and Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Male" for this recording. Sadly, the three-time Grammy winner passed away today. Listen to audio clips of the monologue and song here.

December 21, 2005

Steven Malcolm Anderson, RIP

I have just been told by a friend that Steven Malcolm Anderson passed away on November 27, 2005 from heart failure. Steven and I were infrequent correspondents, but I genuinely enjoyed hearing from him, as we discussed everything from politics to culture. I always loved how he concluded his notes to me, with the phrase "Blessed Be."

I had no idea that Steven died, and I am just very sorry to hear of this. It's not been a good last quarter of 2005, I'm afraid, with the passing of Joan Kennedy Taylor and Bill Bradford.

Blessed be, Steven. Farewell.

Comments welcome.

December 09, 2005

Bill Bradford, RIP

I am very deeply saddened to report that my dear friend Bill Bradford passed away on Thursday, December 8, 2005 at the age of 58. He was the founder of Liberty magazine and a founding co-editor and publisher of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. He died at his home in Port Townsend, Washington, surrounded by family and friends, after many months of battling cancer.

Stephen Cox, the new senior editor of Liberty, has announced that "an upcoming issue [of the magazine] will feature a commemoration of Bills life. His work will continue."

I can only echo Stephen's words with regard to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Bill's workour workwill continue. I hope to contribute to the Liberty commemoration, and I will certainly write a remembrance for the Spring 2006 issue of JARS.

This is a profoundly painful personal loss for me and for all those who were touched by Bill's life. I send my love and support to Bill's wife Kathy and to the family.

Rest in peace, friend.

Update: The Seattle Times published an obituary here. See also Ari Armstrong; Jesse Walker at "Hit and Run" (where I left a comment); and Brian Doherty too. Additional posts of interest: Eric Garris; Anthony Gregory; Rational Review; and The Webzine (written by Wirkman Virkkala).

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

December 08, 2005

Song of the Day #481

Song of the Day (b): Come Together, words and music by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, was the first Beatles single to go to #1 (in November 1969) as part of a two-sided number one single (with "Something"). It appears on "Abbey Road," the final recorded Beatles album. As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's murder, listen to audio clips of this song recorded by Ike and Tina Turner (who took it to #57 in 1970), Aerosmith (who took it to #23 in 1978), and Michael Jackson (who has performed it in concert as well).

November 16, 2005

A Belated Happy Birthday

... to Harriet the Turtle, who turned 175 years old yesterday.

What's your secret, sweetheart?

Comments welcome.

November 02, 2005

Rosa Parks, RIP

Today, Rosa Parks is laid to rest, after her body lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

I will someday write a bit more about the importance of nonviolent resistance to the forces of oppression. For now, I just wanted to note the passing and funeral of one very courageous woman.

Rest in peace.

Comments welcome.

Song of the Day #444

Song of the Day: Manhattan, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, is a wonderful paean to the City of New York. It was featured in the unproduced 1922 musical "Winkle Town" and in the 1925 production "The Garrick Gaieties." I highlight this song today in honor of conductor Skitch Henderson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Skitch was the first "Tonight Show" bandleader and the founder of the New York Pops. Listen here to an audio clip of Skitch with the New York Pops.

October 30, 2005

Joan Kennedy Taylor, RIP

I have heard from several friends and colleagues, including David M. Brown and Iris Bell, who report that Joan Kennedy Taylor passed away on the morning of October 29, 2005. This was confirmed by a visit, this morning, to Wendy McElroy's new forum, where Wendy has posted a brief notice.

The tentative plan is for calling hours at the Frank Campbell Funeral Home on 82nd Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan on Wednesday, November 2, 2005, followed by calling hours in Lee, Massachusetts on Thursday, and a funeral and burial on Friday, November 4th in Stockbridge.

I had the honor and privilege of working very closely with Joan, who was a tireless defender of individual liberty; she contributed a fine essay to a volume I co-edited with Mimi Reisel Gladstein entitled Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand. I enjoyed her work on individualism and feminism, including her book Reclaiming the Mainstream: Individualist Feminism Rediscovered. And I greatly valued her counsel and friendship.

Some time ago, during one of my own health setbacks, Joan took the subway out here to Brooklyn to visit me. We had a wonderful afternoon together. She was suffering from the illness that eventually took her life, but her spirit soared. Being with her was an inspiration.

I will miss her very, very much.

Rest in peace, friend.

Update #1: David M. Brown has posted an update on information concerning Joan Kennedy Taylor, which includes a statement by my friend and colleague Duncan Scott. Read that update here.

Update #2: David has posted additional reflections on Joan by my friend and colleague Jeff Riggenbach. Read those reflections here and at the "Friends of Joan" blog. See also reflections by Walter Olson.

Comments welcome.

October 25, 2005

2000

A benchmark of sorts has been reached in the War in Iraq: 2000 American military deaths.

For this brief post, I have nothing to say about U.S. foreign policy that I have not already said, umpteen times in the past.

For this brief post, I only offer my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their loved ones.

For this brief post, I offer too a special salute to the living who are grappling with the tragedy of warfare on a daily basis: the 15,000+ visibly wounded and the thousands upon thousands of soldiers still suffering from scars invisible to the naked eye.

For this brief post, no comments are necessary.

RIP

Patrick Giles, RIP

Patrick Giles was a writer. His articles appeared in the NY Times, Newsday, Interview, and so many other periodicals. I first met Patrick online on one of those contentious e-forums. We had a few things in common: We were both born in Brooklyn, and we were passionate about our love of music (he was an opera fan) and baseball.

I posted my condolences to a memory book in his honor. In it, I wrote:

I never met Patrick; we participated on an e-list or two together, and over time, I discovered that he shared the same passion for Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees that I did. We eventually spoke on the phone and hoped to get together to catch a game in the Bronx. It never worked out. But Patrick was kind enough to send me his 'unauthorized biography' of Jeter: Derek Jeter: Pride of the Yankees. It's still among the most entertaining biographical introductions to the great Yankee shortstop.
Patrick's passion was infectious. It will live on.

If any of you knew Patrick, and would like to add your thoughts to the memory book, feel free to contact me and I'll direct you to the appropriate link.

Rest in Peace, Patrick.

Comments welcome.

Happy Birthday, S.I. Ferry

I took my first ride on the Staten Island Ferry on a hot summer night when I was a kid. It has always provided the most breathtaking view of New York harbor.

And it's still the cheapest and the best boat ride in New York City.

Today, the Staten Island Ferry celebrates its Centennial!

Happy Birthday!

Comments welcome.

October 24, 2005

Song of the Day #434

Song of the Day: But Beautiful, music by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke, was first sung by Bing Crosby (audio clip at that link) in the 1947 film "Road to Rio." Today, however, I remember this lovely American standard as interpreted by the late vocalist-pianist Shirley Horn, who died on October 20, 2005. Listen to an audio clip of one of her tender renditions here.

October 01, 2005

The Great Ones

David Bianculli of the NY Daily News has a wonderful column today on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of two shows: "The Honeymooners" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." It was 50 years ago today that Jackie Gleason's TV sitcom, "The Honeymooners," made its debut for its only season of stand-alone shows, the so-called "classic 39" episodes, now out on DVD. (Imagine that! A TV season that went 39 weeks!!!) Yes, Ralph Kramden's adventures began years before in the "Cavalcade of Stars," and continued thereafter on Gleason's own variety show. But the "classic 39" are, in my view, still the very best.

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," which premiered 50 years ago on the same TV network as Gleason's wonderful series: CBS. It too was a classic in its own right, and included many episodes directed by the Master himself.

Bianculli's retrospective is worth a good read: "Golden Oldies Hit 50th: Let's Salute Gleason & Hitchcock."

Comments welcome.

September 27, 2005

Maxwell Smart, Over and Out

Don Adams, star of the TV show, "Get Smart," passed away on Sunday, September 25th.

I remarked to my pal Aeon Skoble that I am starting to feel a little old: All the TV stars of my youth are dropping like flies!

Adams, as Agent 86, and Barbara Feldon, as Agent 99, were quite a couple on that classic TV show. When I was young, I just thought it was so cool that a guy could have a shoe phone! I guess you could call it the Cell Phone Precursor.

Maxwell Smart, Over and Out. RIP

Comments welcome.

September 22, 2005

Tribute to Zacherle

My pal and colleague David Hinckley published a piece in today's New York Daily News that took me down memory lane. "Blood on the Charts: Zacherle's Greatest Hits" tells the story of John Zacherle, who graced New York television for a number of years with his twice-a-week "Shock Theater." It was actually today, in 1958, that Zacherle made his debut on Channel 7, WABC-TV. He later switched to WOR-TV (Channel 9 in NYC). I grew up in the 1960s watching his fun-filled horror spoof.

For those who watched Zacherle (also spelled "Zacherley"), Hinckley's piece should bring back a lot of memories.

Comments welcome.

September 20, 2005

The Bugs of Summer

A few summers back, I was going through a particularly difficult period. Everything seemed to be going wrong on so many levels. The weather was miserable. My health wasn't too great. Friends and family were in distress over other life problems.

On one hot, humid, sticky, and terribly cloudy day that summer, I walked down my block, a bit disheartened by this state of affairs. For one brief moment, I looked up at the sky and saw the most elegant Monarch butterfly. And for that one moment, a feeling of total relaxation came over me. A world with that kind of beauty, I reasoned, will allow for all these difficulties to pass.

And in that instant ... I kid you not ... a bird flew by, grabbed the Monarch in its beak, and flew off.

I looked up at the sky again. Shook my head in disbelief. And couldn't help but chuckle. It was as if the gods had sent me a message: "Life really is that dismal, Chris, and you'll get no relief today!"

But it all came to pass. And several consecutive summers with lousy weather have given way to one of the most glorious summers in New York City that we've had in recent years.

I love the summer.

Now, in its waning days, I have a slight sense of melancholy, which is tempered only by the still-warm temperatures in the still-Baking Apple. They'll reach 84 degrees today, and the 80s throughout the rest of this week.

One of the things I'll most miss about summer, however, are the bugs. The insects. Flying. Crawling. Creeping. They are a perennial sign of life. And this summer in the city was like the classic summers of old. Bugs that were not too plentiful in recent years seem to have come back in droves. Maybe it was the weather.

June into early July started out with the biggest burst of fireflies ("lightning bugs") that I've ever seen in my entire life while living here in Brooklyn. So sparkling was the nightly display that the front lawns and backyards of my neighborhood looked as if it were Christmas in July. Mating insects never seemed so sexy.

The fireflies eventually went away ... only to be replaced by hordes of various kinds of butterflies. There were even more Monarch butterflies this summer. One afternoon, two Monarchs were fluttering around one another in a spiral; I followed their dance for almost the length of my entire block, my dog Blondie in tow. I'm sure they found romance beyond my field of vision. At least there were no birds descending this time 'round!

I've had a Beetle land in my hair, a Ladybug land on my hand, a Jurassic-sized Dragonfly (or "Dining Needle") land bingo on my beach blanket. I've marveled at athletic grasshoppers and diligent ants. In fact, as my aging dog's diet has changed, I had all this leftover Fit and Trim. I chopped it into a fine substance, and dumped it on the borders of sand and grass at Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. When I came back the following week, I saw that the ants had made a hotel out of it ... the kind of hotel that you could eat if you got tired of living there!

As July literally melted into the "Dog Days of August," the Cicadas arrived like clockwork for their annual appearance. In unison, they sing, though their melody sounds more like a sprawling sprinkler system, reverberating for miles around, reassuring us that they'll hold off the Fall for as long as they can.

September is here. Their sounds are almost gone.

And I confess that I'll miss the sounds and sights of the Bugs of Summer.

But there are Sounds and Sights of Autumn too.

Soon the Boys of Summer will be gearing up for the Fall Classic. For me, the crack of the October bat is as musical as the nightly chorus of crickets still serenading us (they'll stick around for quite a while yet...).

Do not ask me about the Yankees' chances; I'm having periodic nervous breakdowns with this team all season! But that's part of the summer too! At least these Damn Yankees (who have adopted the phrase "Grind It" as their mantra) are giving us a fun run in the final weeks of the regular season (Bubba Crosby's walk-off home run last night was terrific).

So here's to the Summer of 2005 ... you and your bugs were nice to be around.

Comments welcome.

September 15, 2005

Robert Wise, RIP

Aeon Skoble not only scooped me... but I was floored: I didn't watch the news yesterday or this morning, and just found out that director Robert Wise passed away. Many of his movies are listed in the film section of "My Favorite Things" list, including "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music," "The Sand Pebbles," and, of course, "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

Klaatu Barada Nikto.

Rest in peace.

Comments welcome.

September 12, 2005

The Beams of Renewal

September 11, 2005 began at Ground Zero with a reading of the names of those who were killed four years ago in the terrorist attacks on New York City. This year, siblings read the names.

Watching this annual tribute unfold on television, where all the local channels preempted national programming, we recognized the faces of friends and colleagues, both among those who recited the names, and among those who were killed.

Four years have come and gone, and the sadness of that day never truly dissipates.

In the evening, like last year, we marked the anniversary by going to see the Twin Towers of Light. I'd seen these up close in Manhattan, birds looking like sparkles flying within the glowing light. But there is something almost ghostly about these beams when one views them from afar.

This time, we viewed the tribute not from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, as we did in 2004, but from the 69th Street Pier, which has been renamed the Veteran's Memorial Pier. Every night, since its debut in May 2005, a 25-foot tall bronze sculpture called "Beacon" has shone a similar beaming light from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. On this night, the beam reached to the heavens, as if to meet the two beams from Manhattan Island. And the pier was illuminated further by the glowing candles held by those who had come to remember. It was, after all, from this pier that so many Brooklyn neighbors saw the horror of that day unfold ... while the Lady in the Harbor stood within their field of vision, holding her torch as if in defiance.

Last night, the tribute on the pier featured a color guard, military-gun salute, and a number of speeches, including one by the daughter of one of those killed on 9/11, who spoke tearfully of her mother's last moments.

Like last year, at 9:11 p.m., the Empire State Building dimmed its lights.

Coming together with other New Yorkers on this night, once a year, allows for a certain poignant solidarity. Looking into each person's eyes, there is a bond of shared tragedy. But there is also a common strength.

We left the pier feeling a sense of renewal.

The beams shone all night; I walked my dog Blondie at 4:15 this morning, and still saw them comforting the north sky. I threw a kiss to them. Till next year.

Comments welcome.

September 08, 2005

WTC Remembrance: Patrick Burke, Educator

Starting in 2001, I began an annual series that I entitled: "Remembering the World Trade Center." I subsequently posted my comments "As It Happened," and I have revisited the subject each year: in 2002, a tribute to "New York, New York"; in 2003, a tribute to the World Trade Center; in 2004, reflections on the tragedy by "My Friend Ray."

I will be posting these remembrances for as long as I can. "Never Forget" is no cliche here. It is a matter of life and death.

This year, as we near the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, I publish the fifth, and newest, installment of my series:

"Patrick Burke, Educator"

Patrick was previously interviewed, briefly, by The Advocate for that magazine's October 23, 2001 issue. He was the principal of the public high school closest to Ground Zero. I am honored that he agreed to have this discussion. It is an important one.

Update: I've heard from Patrick, who tells me that a 20-minute documentary film was recently made that depicts the therapeutic art project (referenced in the interview) conducted by St. Vincent's Hospital at the High School of Economics & Finance on the anniversaries of 9/11. That film will have its premier at the Museum of the City of New York (Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street) at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, 2005. The program will begin with a musical segment followed by the film at 3:00 p.m. and then a Q & A session. The event should conclude by around 3:30 p.m. It is open to the general public. The film will also be shown at a number of locations across the country.

Comments welcome. Noted also at L&P and the Ayn Rand Meta Blog.

August 13, 2005

Bearing Witness

Every year since 2001, around the time of the September 11th anniversary, I put up another article, another testament to the tragedy and horror of that day. I've got quite a few articles planned for my annual series, and this year's essay should be of interest to those who have read previous installments (start here).

In the meantime, I must confess that I've been deeply moved by the materials I have found today at the NY Times website, the result of a court order that led to the release of "a digital avalanche of oral histories, dispatchers' tapes and phone logs so vast that they took up 23 compact discs."

Readers should check out pages here, here, and here, especially. I was reminded of the people I knew who died on that day, and of the people who survived... to bear witness.

My next 9/11 tribute should be up at Notablog around September 8th, a few days before the Sunday commemoration.

Comments welcome.

August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings, RIP

This is not going to be a post about media liberal bias, or the waning days of the Network News Anchor. This is not going to be a post about the changing nature of news in the cyber-age.

It's just a note to mark the passing of ABC newsman Peter Jennings, 67, who headed the anchor desk for two decades.

And for those two decades, I was a regular watcher of Jennings. I remember his Millennium coverage with special poignancy. Whether I agreed or disagreed with him, I liked his graceful and classy manner.

Jennings died of lung cancer; having lost my own mother to that horrific disease, I can only send my condolences to the Jennings family.

Comments welcome.

July 03, 2005

Song of the Day #319

Song of the Day: Searching, words and music by Mauro Malavasi and Paul Slade, was performed by Change, with lead vocals by the late, great Luther Vandross. Our tribute to Luther continues today. Listen to an audio clip of this soulful dance classic here.

July 02, 2005

Song of the Day #318

Song of the Day: Never Too Much was composed and performed by the late, great Luther Vandross, who passed away yesterday (1 July 2005). A wonderful crooner, with a silky smooth voice, Luther also knew how to mix it up with some of the hottest R&B dance beats. I'm very sad to see him go, but eternally grateful to Luther for leaving such wonderful music behind. Rest in peace. Listen to an audio clip of this classic track from his debut solo album here. And listen to an audio clip of Mary J. Blige, from an all-star Luther tribute.

June 28, 2005

Paul Winchell, R.I.P.

Ventriloquist Paul Winchell passed away the other day (June 24th). He was known as the voice of Tigger in "Winnie the Pooh," but I remember him best as the voice of Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, two TV "puppets" who brought enchantment to my childhood, along with Lamb Chop and Company (Shari Lewis) and the Great Farfel (who sang "N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles makes the very best, CHOC-laaaate!," courtesy of his master, Jimmy Nelson; hat tip to Lowell V. Noel).

Memories.

Comments welcome.

Update I: Aeon Skoble also notes the passing of the Voice of Piglet: John Fiedler. RIP.

Update II: I just discovered one classic Farfel commercial online at Vent Haven Museum. Watch it in lo-fi or hi-fi.

Update III: I was also a big fan of "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie."

June 08, 2005

Anne Bancroft, R.I.P.

Actress Anne Bancroft passed away this week. She was 73.

Whatever I saw her in, be it her-Oscar winning turn as Annie Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker" (reprising her Tony-winning stage role) or as Harvey Fierstein's Ma in "Torch Song Trilogy," she was wonderful.

I liked the NY Times obituary, despite its sword swipe at "Demetrius and the Gladiators," in which Anne Bancroft starred in a minor role. I took notice of her in that role too. That's how memorable she was.

Her husband Mel Brooks survives her; she will be missed.

Comments welcome.

April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II Dies

My condolences to those mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. Whatever one's thoughts on organized religion, Catholicism, or the Pope's applications of Catholic doctrine, I think it can be said that this was a gentle man with guts, one who lent his support to such movements as Solidarity during an historical period that saw the collapse of Communism.

R.I.P.

Update: At SOLO HQ, I reflected on the Pope's passing, and in reply to Lindsay Perigo's own homily, "The Pope, Objectivism ... and 'The Best Within'." I reproduce those comments below for readers of Notablog. Also note SOLO HQ follow-up here, here, here, and here.

Comments welcome, though you might also wish to join the discussion at SOLO HQ.

Continue reading "Pope John Paul II Dies" »

March 23, 2005

Song of the Day #210

Song of the Day: Spring is Here, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, is from the 1938 Broadway show, "I Married An Angel." A season of hope gives way to such despair in song. Check out audio clips from the cast recording, and heartbreaking renditions as well from Frank Sinatra and Carly Simon. And listen to this audio clip featuring cabaret performer Bobby Short, who passed away the other day, with the arrival of Spring.

January 27, 2005

On the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

At L&P, I recall Ayn Rand's words from 1946: "On the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz." See follow-up discussion here and here.

January 25, 2005

Song of the Day #153

Song of the Day: I'll Be Seeing You, music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Irving Kahal, was written for the 1938 Broadway flop, "Right This Way." This gorgeous standard was the favorite song of the late, great Johnny Carson. And it's one of mine too. Listen to this audio clip by Tony Bennett, who was among the guests on Carson's first "Tonight Show" broadcast.

January 11, 2005

Obituary: Robert Heilbroner

I posted an obituary notice at the Mises Economics Blog: "Obituary: Robert Heilbroner."

January 07, 2005

Remembering Murray Rothbard

It was ten years ago today that Murray N. Rothbard passed away. I note this anniversary at L&P: "Remembering Murray Rothbard." See follow-up discussion here.

January 01, 2005

Song of the Day #129

Song of the Day (b): Begin the Beguine, words and music by Cole Porter, was one of the biggest hits in the career of the late, great Artie Shaw (listen to an audio clip here). And there are vocal versions of this great song too, sung by artists as varied as Ella Fitzgerald (audio clip here) and Mario Lanza (audio clip here). But this remains a Shaw signature tune. Viva Shaw!

October 31, 2004

Robert Merrill, RIP

Just a note to mark the passing, this past week, of the great baritone Opera singer, Robert Merrill, who, in addition to performing regularly at the Met, sang the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium for three decades. He died, apparently, while watching the first game of the World Series; life-long Yankee fan that he was, I sincerely doubt it had anything to do with the Red Sox being in the Fall Classic, as some have suggested.

He will be long remembered.

October 11, 2004

Song of the Day #43

Song of the Day (b): Somewhere in Time, a poignant John Barry-penned theme (with lyrics), from the film of the same name. I add this extra song in memory of "Superman" Christopher Reeve, who starred in the film with Jane Seymour, and who passed away yesterday at the age of 52.

October 06, 2004

Rodney Dangerfield

Rodney Dangerfield, he of the classic one-liners, has passed away.

I met Dangerfield many years ago when my sister-in-law, Joanne Barry, headlined at his famous nightclub in Manhattan. She appeared there many times, but the one time all of us remember was the first. Dressed in an elegant gown, she ran into Dangerfield on the stairs to her dressing room, and he said to her: "Where did you work tonight?" "Here, in your club," she answered. It became a running joke between them everytime she went back to the club to perform.

He'll be missed.