Friday, May 27, 2016

Barack Obama at Hiroshima

I woke up this morning at my normal time to come to work and turned on WAMC a little before 5am, when the BBC Witness segment is usually airing, but I heard Barack Obama in the middle of his remarks at Hiroshima, as the first sitting President to visit the site of the first atomic bombing. As I listened, I couldn't help thinking once again how much we will miss him -- how much the world will miss him -- when his successor takes her (or, shudder, his) seat in the Oval Office next January.

My own nation’s story began with simple words: All men are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens. But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for, an ideal that extends across continents and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family — that is the story that we all must tell.
That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love. The first smile from our children in the morning. The gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table. The comforting embrace of a parent. We can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here, 71 years ago.
Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.
The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.
--Barack Obama, Hiroshima, 27 May 2016

Maybe I shouldn't speak for the whole world, but I will miss him. I'm 60 years old and he is, without question, the best president of my lifetime.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday to Miles Davis

The following video from 1959 speaks for itself:

If we're going to have a national conversation about what "Makes America Great" in this surrealistic political year, then let's put the two guys who celebrated birthdays this week, Bob Dylan and Miles Davis, at the center of that conversation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Happy 75th Bob!

The distraction engine known as Twitter too easily lures me in to comment on the latest idiocies coming from the small mouth of the man who lives on top of the big brassy Fifth Avenue tower bearing his name. Today I won't type that name. Today the @trueblueliberal Twitter page is all about offering 75th birthday greetings to an artist who will be remembered long after all the Presidents and would-be Presidents he has lived under.

Here's Bob Dylan at the Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Morley Safer (November 8, 1931 – May 19, 2016)

Morley Safer retired from 60 Minutes last week and today he passed away. More than his many years on CBS's popular Sunday-night magazine show, he will be remembered for this, one of the most honest and important reports from Vietnam in 1965 when the US war there was still relatively young. LBJ wanted CBS to fire Safer for this unvarnished look at American troops calmly burning the village of Cam Ne. You wonder how many young antiwar activists were created watching this episode of CBS News with their parents in living rooms around America that evening.

They moved into the village and they systematically began torching every house — every house as far as I could see, getting people out in some cases, using flame throwers in others. No Vietnamese speakers, by the way, were among the group with the flame thrower. The trooper with the flame thrower was ordered to zap a particular house, and our cameraman, who's Vietnamese — Ha Thuc Can, this wonderful man — put his camera down and said, "Don't do it! Don't do it!" And he walked to the house and then I went with him, and a sergeant came on up. We heard people crying.

Reporters were freer to travel and report in 1965, long before the concept of "embedding" in our 21st-century desert wars made television news readers into more predictable flag wavers.

Rest in Peace Morley.

Monday, May 16, 2016

'Blonde on Blonde' turns 50 today

Released on May 16, 1966, this 50-year-old double album from Bob Dylan still sounds fresh and full of mystery.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Happy 86th Birthday to Jasper Johns

This 1999 print was made by Robert Rauschenberg from a 1955 photo of his partner Jasper Johns (nicknamed Jap) with an iconic painting in its studio.

Robert Rauschenberg, Jap (Ruminations series, 1999)

President Obama at Rutgers Today

America's All-Trump-All-The-Time mass media won't show you this great speech, but it was streaming live in a couple of places and now it's available on YouTube if you're interested in today's address at my old school:

I couldn't be more proud to be a Rutgers alumnus or an American after watching President Obama's address. It's hard to believe that anyone who's running for President in 2016 will be anything other than a step down from our current President.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Trump-Marceaux 2016! A Perfect Trump Running Mate!

Not only would he be 1,000,000% behind the idea of a Great Mexican Wall paid for by Mexicans, but who other than Basil Marceaux is brave enough to stand up against the scourge of gold-fringed flags?

He even has a slogan to challenge to the power, originality, and memorability of the Make America Great Again gem that Trump stole from Reagan:
"I can do my issues and make youse all more freer than you was yesterday." --Basil Marceaux, 2010

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

46 Years Ago Today.

The music behind this video of Kent State still photos is Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's 45rpm single of Neil Young's 'Ohio,' which hit the stores in June 1970 backed by Stephen Stills' 'Find the Cost of Freedom' in this printed lyric sleeve:
Fair use,
I don't know if people who grew up with digital music can imagine how fast that recording and distribution seemed to us at the time; this was all over the radio and many of us went out to buy this to listen to it on our turntables. It definitely played a part in expanding the antiwar movement beyond the major cities and college campuses.

Another Typical Television Day of All Trump All The Time

At this rate of overexposure we'll be sick of him before he and Melania even begin to upgrade all the drapes and upholstery in the White House with solid gold threads.
The Twitter feed of @realDonaldTrump on the morning after the Indiana primary, May 4, 2016.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Happy Gregorian Birthday to William Shakespeare!

A little over a week ago, the world celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (and 452nd anniversary of his traditional birthday) on April 23.

This morning I found myself on the train reading this from Bill Bryson's short Shakespeare: The World as Stage (2007):
There's no reason we can't continue to celebrate the traditional Julian date of April 23, but according to our current Gregorian calendar today is Shakespeare's real double birth/death anniversary, so what the fuck am I doing at work on what should be a major holiday throughout the English-speaking world?

Monday, May 02, 2016

Your Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina Veepstakes Anagram of the Day

During the 2012 election, this blog ran a number of Veepstakes anagrams tying Mitt Romney to various potential running mates (Christie, Pawlenty, Santorum, and others) until he picked Paul Ryan and we ended up with "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan = My Ultimate Ayn Rand Porn."

This year we have the strange situation of an obvious GOP loser picking another obvious GOP loser as his running mate long before the GOP convention has a chance to declare them the official losers, so here's our one chance to honor Ted and Carly with an Veepstakes anagram of their own.
Congratulations. May your Crazy Rancid Life Tour run forever.