Death Penalty Wimps

C’mon people, we gotta get real about this death penalty stuff.

Let the hate-filled relatives of the victims hack this guy to death with axes if they want. But then his family gets revenge-rights, too. What a lovely situation. (I am looking forward to reading The Feud.) Sick of endless rounds of escalating violence and torture, folks? Maybe you just say you are better than revenge killing. Stop sounding like creeps.

That’s IT! — 2nd Quarter Ears Are Closed!

I’ve finally checked out all I felt I needed to check out before closing the 2nd quarter gates. The late-entry trio:

Camper Van Beethoven, El Camino Real

Like Martin Williams said about Horace Silver, ace craftsmanship should always be acknowledged and respected. That doesn’t mean you mistake it for inspired resurrection.

Amy LaVere, Runaway’s Diary

Oh, yeah. This one I jump for without conflicts about voice or persona or anything.

Eno*Hyde, High Life

I read the raves about Swans. Convinced me they were reborn as a twee-critics’ favorite. I had more admiration for than pleasure from the original incarnation. No way I’m gonna listen to a half-hour track by the newie.

Still, enough folks wrote well enough about new Eno that I overcame oceans of skepticism and grabbed it. Alert. Precise. Upbeat. Of this moment. Whacked down my defenses on the first listen. Who could imagine after all those years he spent counting the holes in lace that ol’ chrome-dome had it in him? Who could imagine that Karl Hyde had it in him at all? Ceaseless wonders.


Crate-Dig of the Year (If Not Decade)

Several tips o’ the Hatlo Hat to Tony Rounce for assembling the anthology Hard to Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding (Ace, 2012). Very impressive — I knew less than a third of these. Particular goodie: “Sister Pitiful” by Judy Clay, which confirms that, as with Aretha’s “Respect,” a sentiment that sounds defensive and even self-pitying coming from a man sounds bracingly self-assertive from a woman. Only oddity: liner notes discuss tracks in the order they were released by Redding.


Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #7

Red Garland Quartet, Solar (OJC, 1962)

On a hair-shriveling, dog-murdering, tree-brutal hot date, a sweet round of sound. Particularly, of course, the title track, which manages to emphasize the odd, tart theme and weave in Garland’s relaxed beauty so you want to play it over and over until it becomes the lapidary heat wave of today. Instead of the factual klunk furnace beating on the front door.

R.I.P. Thomas Berger — Master in Shadows

I had the great good fortune to read Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man when I was in high school (one of my prized possessions is that frail paperback, with no hint of movie about it anywhere — thought the film had a lot of power, but reduced and quite distorted the thrust of the novel … granted, the book contains multitudes). Still think Berger wrote the Great Western Novel and that I shamefully did not spend enough time promoting him during the subsequent 45 years. Killing Time was the next and a murder-mystery/philosophical conundrum that doesn’t fir in any genre. Eerie foretaste of the serial murders of ’70s and the sympathetic slaughter-meisters of our current era. Still the one I recommend after Little Big Man. Went off the trail with Berger after I tried two of the “Rinehart” series and found them sluggish and not as quietly caustic. Anyway, I’ve vowed to correct a long-standing lapse and read The Feud, which should have won him a Pulitzer Prize and the recognition he deserved and earned over and over.

Obit from the NY Times.

Well-timed essay by Jonathan Lethem that’s a tribute and a reminder about Berger.


Duke Pearson Big Band Live? Yes!

This post is for the two or three Miles to Go visitors who are hardcore Duke Pearson Big Band fans and were as clueless as I was that the one and only live recording of the outfit has been unearthed and issued on the Uptown label. The sound, for 1969, is miraculous (the drums are clear!). I agree with Stereo Jack (where I bought it) that the only, very minor, flaw is that trumpeter Donald Byrd doesn’t quite have the chops to fill his solo space. Otherwise, essential. And has to be one of the all-time unlikely releases.