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March 29, 2019

Song of the Day #1637

Song of the Day: Time of the Season, composed by keyboard player, Rod Agent, is one of the featured tracks on the album, "Odessey and Oracle," by The Zombies, who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The song was recorded in 1967 at the Abbey Road Studios, right after the Beatles finished recording "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Argent actually used the mellotron and piano left behind by John Lennon from the "Sgt. Pepper's" session. The album and the song have an unusual history. With the word "Odessey" misspelled on the psychedelic art cover designed by Terry Quirk, the album didn't do well in its 1968 release in Great Britain. It was Al Kooper, formerly of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, who urged producer Clive Davis at Columbia Records to release the album in the U.S. on a subsidiary label. This song caught on, first with a disc jockey in Boise, Idaho, and eventually throughout the United States, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. With lyrics that include a nod to Gershwin's "Summertime" and a bass line like that of "Stand by Me," the song eventually propelled the album to plantinum status, with over two million copies sold. It has been covered by artists as diverse as the Dave Matthews Band, and jazz artists Curt Elling and Cassandra Wilson. But nothing is as definitive as the Zombies' truly classic recording [YouTube links]. Thanks to my friend John F. Welsh for sharing all this wonderful trivia with me, as I prepared to honor this year's crop of R&R Hall of Famers. We'll have a chance to see the broadcast of this year's ceremonies on HBO in about a month.

March 28, 2019

Song of the Day #1636

Song of the Day: The Thrill of it All, words and music by Bryan Ferry, opens the 1974 Roxy Music album, "Country Life"---considered a milestone in the history of British art rock, one of the reasons for their upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check out the 6+ minute album version [YouTube link]. Today is Opening Day for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and I can't think of a better phrase ("the thrill of it all") to sum up this baseball fan's enthusiasm about the upcoming season. [Ed.: Great Opening for New York: Mariano Rivera throws out ceremonial first pitch and the Yanks win at Home, 7-2 over the Orioles, and the Mets win on the road, with former Yankee Robinson Cano driving in 2 runs to give de Grom his first win, 2-0 over the Nationals!]

March 27, 2019

Song of the Day #1635

Song of the Day: Paranoid Android is credited to the English alternative rock group Radiohead. It was the lead single from the group's third studio album, "OK Computer" (1997). The 6+ minute song has four distinct sections that were drawn from three different compositions, each written by a different member of the band. What emerges from its varied rhythms and its series of minor keys, its multi-track choral vocals and a showcased Jonny Greenwood guitar solo, is a musical totality that lands squarely in the realm of progressive rock. Check out the animated video for the track [YouTube link].

March 26, 2019

Song of the Day #1634

Song of the Day: Lovesong is credited to Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Roger O'Donnell, Boris Williams, and Lol Tolhurst, known collectively as the alternative rock band, The Cure. It was the third single released from their eighth studio album, "Disintegration" (1989). Check out the single version, the music video version, and the extended mix, as well as a cover version by Adele [YouTube links].

March 25, 2019

Song of the Day #1633

Song of the Day: Stand Back was written and recorded by Stevie Nicks for her second solo studio album, "The Wild Heart" (1983). In 1998, she entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. This year, she is honored for her solo work. Check out the song's official video and its "Disco Purrfection Version" [YouTube links].

March 24, 2019

Song of the Day #1632

Song of the Day: What Have You Done for Me Lately?, words and music by Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Janet Jackson, was the lead single from Janet's 1986 album, "Control." The album certainly highlighted Janet's determined vocals and its videos became a showcase for her glittering choreography. This song's video was choreographed by Paula Abdul. Check out the video single, its 12" mix, and its super-extended mix [YouTube links]. This week, Miss Jackson finally joins her famous brothers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

March 23, 2019

Song of the Day #1631

Song of the Day: Pour Some Sugar On Me is credited to Joe Elliott, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Phil Collen, Steve Clark, and Rick Savage, and was a hit single from the 12x platinum-selling 1987 album, "Hysteria", by English hard rock band Def Leppard. Today kicks off our seven-day tribute to the seven inductees, which constitute the Class of 2019, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I'm paying special attention to this year's induction ceremony because it is taking place for the fourth time in the last five years in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Center. An HBO special of the event will air on April 27, 2019. Each day over the next week, I will devote to one of the inductees en route to the March 29th ceremony. I could think of no better song to kick off our tribute than one that's hot, sticky, and sweet. Check out the official video of the song and the extended version [YouTube links].

March 22, 2019

Getting Old, Ageism, and The Alternative

Yesterday, Paul Jacob had an absolutely classic piece on his Common Sense site, an essay called "Trans-philosophical." Apparently, The Journal of Medical Ethics published a piece by Joona Rasanen, a bioethicist, who argues that individuals who feel that their legal age does not correspond to their "experienced" age should be allowed to legally change their age. And this was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Well, having recently turned 59, I have been reminded that, yes, I'm getting old, or at least older.

But today, I read in the New York Daily News that Jimmy Carter, now 94 years and 172 days old, has become the longest-living President in the history of the United States. While not a fan of Carter when he was President, I do have to applaud one thing he said in 1998:

What could possibly be good about growing old? The most obvious answer, of course, is to consider the alternative to aging. . . . But there are plenty of other good answers --- many based on our personal experiences and observations.

Or as another President, John Adams (who also made it to 90) once said: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

And the fact is, biologically and temporally, you are what you are. And in the end, does it really matter? We are all headed in the same direction anyway. What matters most is not your biological age, but how youthful you are in spirit.

And on that score, Trans-Ageists be damned! I'm still a kid with all the wondrous spirit of a 2 year old!

Being Dialectical About Dialectics or Finding Courage Through Criticism

My friend Nick Manley posted this on Facebook:

I still think there is nothing wrong with being cowardly or if there is: you can remind yourself that nobody's perfect or without "sin", but I do really wonder what I could do for left-wing market anarchism were I more courageous and fearless on taking action on behalf of it.
If Chris Matthew Sciabarra could endure what he did in terms of both scholarly and personal critiques to bring the world the notion of dialectical methodology being useful for free market libertarians: why can't I? It isn't like I haven't tested the potentially hostile waters before and came out still alive so to speak.
I didn't get involved in libertarian anarchism to be part of some exclusive social club or cult. I got involved to change the world for the better.

I replied on Facebook, and wanted to share my reply with Notablog readers; I wrote:

Nick Manley, my friend, it saddens me that you put yourself through so much self-torture, worrying about what others might say or think about what you say or think (though with all due respect, you're not inside their minds, and you never really know what other people may be thinking or why they say the things they do).

Understand this: I went through about 35-40 years of criticisms from left and right over "dialectical libertarianism"... but I didn't tie my self-concept to whether I was right or wrong. Instead, I answered the criticisms to the best of my ability, did more reading, and by the time I got to the final book of my trilogy, I tried to address every criticism that was raised with regard to the concept of dialectics that I had endorsed ("the art of context-keeping") and the need to tie that method to the defense of a free society.

Did I succeed? I have no clue. I only know that I welcomed the criticism, even those criticisms that were, for lack of a better phrase, completely idiotic---because they attempted to tie me to certain notions of dialectical method that I had clearly not endorsed. So I spent half of Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism literally re-writing and reconstructing the history of dialectics as a concept---in the first three chapters, followed by a whole chapter that developed a definition of dialectics and to unpacking that definition and its implications for social inquiry.

And guess what? I was still criticized, and will be criticized long after I am gone, despite hundreds of footnotes and citations to this or that source. It comes with the territory. I'm still learning. I practically live for the dialogue (after all, the dialectical method was born, in its first manifestations, from the very notion of dialogue---looking at things from different perspectives and on different levels of generality, and not reifying a single one-sided perspective as if it were the whole).

But one really good thing happened. After nearly four decades of being the voice of one crying in the wilderness (and we all know what happened to the last guy who had that voice of one crying in the wilderness), I have now coedited with two colleagues (Roger Bissell and Ed Younkins) a forthcoming volume (The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom) with contributions from 19 scholars (including myself) who are not afraid to utter the words "dialectics" and "liberty" in the same sentence.

But guess what? I don't even agree with what every scholar in the book has done with the notion of a 'dialectical libertarianism'---and I suspect that the contributors to the volume would disagree with one another on the various dialectical applications that each of them has made in their respective essays. But this is a good thing. It shows that the very notion of a dialectical libertarianism includes vigorous differences even among those who adhere to its core premises, which makes it a living research program for future scholarship, going in directions that none of us might be able to predict, given that it will be applied in various contexts and innumerable ways as circumstances change over time.

Welcome the differences! Work on not tying your self-worth to a cause, but on developing your self-worth as an unfolding project of its own. It may or may not include that cause, but be open to the possibility that that cause itself will also unfold and evolve over time.

I know, I know, all this is easier said than done. There will be days that you'll read a criticism of your work in a book or on social media and want to pick up your laptop and throw it against a wall. The real courage that you need to develop is the courage to accept your self-doubt, the courage to question yourself, and the courage to accept the fact that you are growing and will never stop expanding the boundaries of your knowledge. And in order to do that, you need critics---some will be friendly, some will be hostile; some will say worthwhile things, some won't. But none of it is a reflection of who you are, and to me, you've been a kind, supportive, gentle soul who doesn't give himself enough credit for what he knows already.

Mucho love from Brooklyn. Hang in there.

March 14, 2019

The Mafia in NYC: Dead and Alive

Just the other day, it was reported that longtime Colombo family boss, Carmine Persico, died at the age of 85. It prompted a discussion among a couple of friends as to whether the Mafia was really a force in organized crime anymore. Seemingly crushed in the 1980s by a series of then-federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani's indictments and convictions of "Five Family" major Mafia figures, the Italian-American contingent of organized crime was rocked to its core. We remembered back in the 1970s and early 1980s, how often we'd watch our local WABC's "Eyewitness News," with report after report [YouTube links] by famed journalist Milton Lewis ("Now listen to this") about the comings and literal goings of Mafia chieftains.

So it came as an almost creepy surprise this morning when we awoke to hear a report by John Montone on the "all news all the time" AM radio station, 1010 WINS, that Gambino-family crime boss Frank "Franky Boy" Cali was gunned down outside his Todt Hill house in Staten Island last night, the first Mafia rub-out in New York City since the Paul Castellano hit in 1985, ordered by Dapper Don John Gotti! (Jeez, did he have to have the last name, Cali, which is the first name of my cat, who has no ties to organized crime?)

Montone ended his report with a bit of his classic, stinging sarcasm, saying that there was no gun found at the scene, and no cannolis either [YouTube "Godfather" link]!

March 04, 2019

Song of the Day #1630

Song of the Day: Beverly Hills 90210 ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by John E. Davis, opened up the coming-of-age television teen drama during its ten-year run on Fox. It was a guilty pleasure, I admit, but I watched all ten seasons, and at least one of its various spin-offs ("Melrose Place"). As in all teen-age soap operas, the series had one brooding young male character, and in '90210', it was Dylan McKay, played by Luke Perry, who died today at the age of 52, due to complications from a massive stroke. The only person I ever actually visited from that zip code was Nathaniel Branden, back in 1999. Today, however, is a date seared into my own memory---for my own father died on March 4, 1972, at the age of 55 from a massive coronary. As you get older, it's only natural that you are reminded of your own mortality, but at the age of 59, you tend to think that this happens to folks older than you. At some point, of course, the mathematics tend to outweigh the thoughts. Still, at 52, Perry is another person gone too soon. RIP, Luke. RIP, Dad.