Sub-Top 10 Third Quarter 2014 List

A desperate attempt to get more hits before the end of the month. Whaddaya want from Halloween night after-party listing? Comments may or may not be forthcoming.

1. Aphex Twin, Syro

2. Captain Planet, Esperanto Slang

3. Chanchcha via Circuito, Amasara

4. Cocek! Brass Band, Here Comes Shlomo

5. Goat, Commune

6. Half Japanese, Overjoyed

7. Tom Harrell, Trip

8. Orlando Julius with the Heliocentrics, Jaiyede Afro

9. Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories

10. Lo’Jo 310 Lunes

11. Dean Magraw/Eric Kamau Gravatt, Fire on the Nile

12. Gary McFarland, This Is Gary McFarland

13. Robert Plant, lullaby and …THE  CEASELESS ROAR

14. Bobby Previte, Terminals

15. Sebestien, L’Aventura

16. Various, dalava

17. Various, Thompson — Family

18. David Virelles, Mboko

19. Girma Yifrashewa, Love & Peace



R.I.P. Mayor Tom Menino

Charlie Pierce is not only a Boston-area native, he’s forgotten more about state politics than I ever knew, so I’ll let him write the obit for Mayor Menino. I will concur on one major point: Boston is a more welcoming and inclusive place than when I first came here. Back then, identifying with outsiders was a sure way to remain one yourself, so I felt compelled to regularly remind everybody that my grandfather was from mid-MA, came from a venerable line of preachers and soldiers that included Gen. Nelson Miles, my Dad went to Amherst, etc. etc. (And yeah, I found the weird importance attached to such connections very tedious — mentioning I grew up in Montana was the equivalent of noting I’d been raised by wolves.) Sure does feel like more than a university town nowadays. Thanks, Mumbles.

The Queen Comes Clean(er)

This is an interesting development. (I don’t know when in the hell I’m gonna have time to read all the tomes already stacked up next to the bed … shorsh!) Ritz is about my favorite music-bio writer and indeed From These Roots has a rep for being notoriously sanitized. And likewise, for as long as I can recall, Aretha’s true-facts life was supposed to be sordid as hell and her personality reputed to make Bessie Smith look like a sweetie. I can testify that none of that matters a whit when she’s melting your entire body with her voice from the stage. But Ritz also makes the spot-on argument that if she didn’t go for a more honest authorized rendition, there would be a major demolition job when she was unliving enough to do anything about it. Besides, I think everybody already knew you don’t get to be the Queen in her line of work unless yer tough as thorns.

Fear Eats the Soul and the Body Politic

This Reed Richardson essay is an ace expansion of the notion I mentioned in the “So the Hippies WEREN’T Crazy” post. I’m beyond sick of this fear atmosphere. I certainly agree that one saving glimmer in the waves of previous rampant hysteria was that grownup journalism was a rational voice. If mere truthiness/reasonableness becomes the universal standard, I fear for tomorrow.

R.I.P. Galway Kinnell

Saw Galway Kinnel read a couple times in the early-mid ’70s and he was a knockout. The NY times just did a piece on Dylan Thomas that highlighted the widespread effect his style of reading poems had. Kinnel (whose name is up there with Dylan Thomas as perfect for a poet) certainly benefited. Here he is reading the poem that floored my English profs and writing teachers at both Montana State and University of Montana: “The Bear”

He gushed charisma and spoke maybe two sentences to a sniveling undergrad like me after he shook my hand. His most powerful poems are highlighted in this obit. For a long time I was saddened by his near-silence in the ’70s and thought he should have stomped on the gas instead. But now I feel he knew he’d planted his voice in the landscape forever and spent his middle age and afterward in peace and reflection. Poets were not the media figures and, hell, warriors they had once been.

And finally, Kinnel was one idol who made me feel better about the compulsion to write poetry fading away inside me. I would never get further than a hole at the base of his mountain.

I recommend individual collections rather than anthologies. Start with Body Rags, move on to What a Kingdom It Was (I have not read the combined edition of this book and his second, Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock, which may be a superior package, but he did some revising of poems, a practice that I usually find does not help the art) and then pick up The Book of Nightmares. After that, follow your impulses.