Monday, February 14, 2011

The Great Communicator Taught Us: "Trees Cause More Pollution Than Automobiles."

Foto by tgw, New York City, February 2011
Say Goodbye to:
George Shearing died yesterday of a heart attack. Wikipedia calls him a British-born American jazz pianist. I wouldn't give him that kind of distinction (he did become a naturalized American in 1956), though I did enjoy the Shearing Quintets and Quartets in the 1950s. I always admired old George for using vibraphonist (also vibraharpist, per Red Norvo) Margie Hyams (that's her in the above photo--along with Chuck Wayne on guitar, Denzil Best on drums, and John Levy on bass)...and once when I saw him live in Albuquerque, he had Gary Burton on vibes. Plus, George wrote "Lullaby of Birdland," so he gets an A in that effort. Plus, George was blind. Blind pianists live in their own worlds--just think. Great blind pianists: Blind Tom, Whistling Alex Moore, Art Tatum, Lennie Tristano, Ray Charles. So, so long to George Shearing. Sir George Shearing, 91, British-born American jazz pianist, heart failure (from Wikipedia Deaths 2011).
Gino Cimoli, the great old Brooklyn Dodger ballplayer. Gino Cimoli, 81, American baseball player (Brooklyn Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates).

Chuck Tanner. This one caught me by surprise; seems like Chuck was just managing recently--he wasn't much of a player, but he gained his greatest fame as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Chuck Tanner, 82, American baseball manager (Athletics, Braves, Pirates, White Sox) and player (Braves, Dodgers), after long illness.

Betty Garrett. I go way back with Betty Garrett. I first remember her working with Jack Oakie in a Shirley Temple film. She also played the wife-swapping wife/carpenter/plumber on All in the Family. Her biggest role was probably On the Town. Betty Garrett, 91, American actress (On the Town, All in the Family, Laverne & Shirley), aortic aneurysm.

Bad News Brown. Though I've never in my life heard of this dude, he deserves a tribute in The Daily Growler as a potential The Daily Growler Hall of Famer. Seems the bad news caught up with Bad News--see how he died. Oh the hell of being a Canadian rapper and harmonica player. Bad News Brown, 33, Canadian rapper and harmonica player, beaten and shot.

The Great Communicator Speaks

"I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself."

"Facts are stupid things." [The idiot thought he was quoting John Adams who said, "Facts are stubborn."]

The Great Communicator when asked what kind of governor he was going to be replied, "I don't know. I never played a governor before."

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles."

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk."

"Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources."

From a More Brilliant Mind: C. Wright Mills (a fellow Texan, I might add):

"...certainly the enormous size of the modern corporation cannot be explained as due to increased efficiency; many specialists regard the size now typical of the giants as already in excess of the requirements of efficiency. In truth, the relationship of corporate size to efficiency is quite unknown; moreover, the scale of the modern corporation is usually due more to financial and managerial amalgamations than to technical efficiency. But inevitable or not, the fact is that today the great American corporations seem more like states within states than simply private businesses. The economy of America has been largely incorporated, and within their incorporation the corporate chiefs have captured the technological innovation, accumulated the existing great fortunes as well as much lesser, scattered wealth, and capitalized the future. Within the financial and political boundaries of the corporation, the industrial revolution itself has been concentrated. Corporations command raw materials, and the patents on inventions with which to turn them into finished products. They command the most expensive, and therefore what must be the finest, legal minds in the world, to invent and to refine their defenses and their strategies. They employ man as producer and they make that which he buys as consumer. They clothe him and feed him and invest his money. They make that with which he fights the wars and they finance the ballyhoo of advertisement and the obscurantist bunk of public relations that surround him during the wars and between them.

"Their private decisions, responsibly made in the interests of the feudal-like world of private property and income, determine the size and shape of the national economy, the level of employment, the purchasing power of the consumer, the prices that are advertised, the investments that are channeled. Not 'Wall Street financiers' or bankers, but large owners and executives in their self-financing corporations hold the keys of economic power. Not the politicians of the visible government, but the chief executives who sit in the political directorate ... hold the power and the means of defending the privileges of their corporate world. If they do not reign, they do govern at many of the vital points of everyday life in America, and no powers effectively and consistently countervail against them, nor have they as corporate-made men developed any effectively restraining conscience." From: C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, "The Chief Executives," 1956.

How 'Bout Those Grammies!
What was Mick Jagger doing there? It's the American Academy of Music Awards. Oh, I forgot, Brits are considered American musicians aren't they. Hey, I've admitted I met Jagger one time and he wasn't a bad sort; he, like all Brit rockers, was eager to prove to American dudes he was hip and cool. On the other hand, he can be quite embarrassing, which he was Sunday night on the Grammies when he did a tribute to Solomon Burke by covering "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." And Mick, like all Brit musicians, came out trying to put big-man depth in his nerdy imitative voice, trying to sing Black, and, to me, he made a mockery of Burke's works. EXCEPT, I must admit, Jagger put on the best show in terms of getting the audience stirred up and focused back on where all those Brit boys stole their fame and fortune from by mocking American Black musicians, and getting filthy rich doing it while the artists they claimed to admire mostly died in poverty. I don't know if Solomon Burke died in poverty, he was having a very successful come-back tour in Europe when he dropped dead in a Netherlands airport, but I'll bet you anything, he didn't die as rich as Mick Jagger's going to be when he dies--and as skinny and anemic as old Mick now looks, I'd say he'll be buying the farm--shall we say "soon."

I didn't watch many of the other touted celebrity acts, like Lady Antebellum--god what a god-awful singer she is. I did watch Dylan's big moment. I never liked Dylan's music--I considered him as copycatting Woody Guthrie--Arlo can imitate Bob better than Bob can imitate Arlo's father, in other words. Even when he confiscated the Canadians and Lee Von Helm and made them The Band and made "Like a Rolling Stone," I still heard Woody--even Bob's lyrics followed the same rhythmic patterns and vocal embellishments as Woody's. But, recently, I've come to dig Bob as a individual since I saw that Frances Ford Coppola docu on Folksy Bob. I liked Bob's attitude in that puff piece. I liked his attitude toward the music he heard when he was a kid; the same music I heard when I was a kid--and Bob and I are related in age and the small-town growing-up environment--I chose a piano as my instrument and jazz and blues as my genres, which meant rather than hit Highway 51, I had to stay embedded with my instrument and learn it further than picking out some chords and sticking to them (again a la Woody's guitar style)--plus, I had to learn much more complicated melodies and polytonal and atonal lines--as Jaki Byard taught his students, I tried to accomplish a little technique in all styles of jazz and blues. Bob instead hit the road and realized he had to get to New York City...whereas, I stayed in Texas--and, yes, I withered on the vine where Bob went on to fame and fortune and a place in American music celebrity and history that earned him a documentary by Frances Ford Coppola. The closest I've ever been to Frances Ford Coppola was about 20 feet--he happened to be in his restaurant, Coppola's on Third Avenue, while my wife and I were eating there and not enjoying the rather bland Italian food that we were served by a snotty actor-waiter--actually the woman manager came over and apologized for this asshole's bad attitude--I should have demanded F.F. himself come over and apologize by picking up the check. As a result, I've never again entered a Coppola's restaurant--in fact, I don't even think there are any Coppola restaurants left in NYC. If there are, I could care less. I wouldn't drink his fucking celebrity wine either--all these Hollywood phonies (all actors are phonies) going into the wine business. I'm not a wine snob. I find a nice bottle of Gallo Hearty Burgundy just as savory and inebriating as a bottle of $500 French Burgundy that the Japanese used to buy up every year overpaying for it. In fact, I have no idea what wines are what these days--I'm still marveling at the rise of Shiraz wines--especially those from Australia. All of this 'round Bob's barn to say, yes, I dug Bob's coming out and singing "Maggie's Farm." Plus I love the star way old Bob treated his youthful and adorational back-up bands, two brothers's bands I've never heard of, both of whom sounded like a reemerging of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Of course these young men were brilliant technicians and they did their best to swing their folksy pseudo-bluegrass picking--bouncing straight up and down pogo style like good little obedient White boys. Bob blew 'em all out of the holy waters even if his voice is shot and his demeanor is other world, he's still paid so many dues, you gotta love the guy even if you hate him.

for The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

We've had some real geniuses in the White House in my lifetime. I had happily forgotten how asinine Raygun's comments were. Oh the joys of remembering!