Doonesbury Follow-Up

Have pecked around the 40th Anniversary “Doonesbury” collection (and strips after) and have some followup thoughts.

Turns out the daily strip has been running classics since March of last year not because Trudeau wanted to blow away the a-historical fog (though it has the advantage of doing that), but because he wanted to take time off to write for the political sitcom “Alpha House.” Still does new Sunday strips. That, however, is one process used to retired strips in the past, so makes you wonder …

I missed the strip that makes the connection between Mr. Butts and “Zap” comix (that is, R. Crumb), but glad to find it was acknowledged.

A more troubled homage/swipe, of course, was Duke and Hunter S. Thompson. I knew Thompson was plenty pissed about Duke, but did not how intense and long-term the resentment was (sending Trudeau a letter full of used toilet paper — whew!). Trudeau notes: “Like most people, I never met Hunter S. Thompson. It’s just as well.” I did meet him, once, and as I noted elsewhere, it seemed to me he had been taken over by his persona. So I have a half-baked theory about the Duke thing. Trudeau goes on: “”In his view, I had appropriated his greatest asset — his wild-man image — and simultaneously devalued it through ridicule (even though Duke had inarguably contributed to his fame). The loss of control seemed to unhinge him.” But if you’ve been absorbed by your persona, it’s all you got — it’s your whole self, and so messing with it is a more extreme violation than it is with somebody for whom it’s only an act, however heartfelt. Trudeau hit about the right note by saluting Thompson after he offed himself and then having Duke continue on, no longer tethered at all to his inspiration.

Last, I have long puzzled why I could not get a bead on Nguyen Van Phred. Humanize the Viet Cong, sure, but I was not around for his earliest encounters in Nam with B.D. and he always seemed cartoon-y in the not-good way. Sure enough, Trudeau now thinks Phred was misconceived at the start. “The war I’d conjured up [in 1972] was a young man’s magical thinking, a hippie fantasia where everyone would get along if just given half a chance. The GIs in the field reading the strip in Stars and Stripes knew better, but many of them told me later they were just glad someone was paying attention to them.” More than getting B.D. and Phred back together on the killing fields of their youth during a reunion in Viet Nam, Trudeau made up for his early lapse by ensuring he never overlooked what has been called “the hue of war” during the strip’s lifetime. Trudeau explained why he sent B.D. to Iraq: “Whether you think we belong in Iraq or not, we can’t tune it out; we have to remain mindful of the terrible losses that individual soldiers are suffering in our name.” Hence the permanent injuries to both B.D. and Toggle. I’m pleased that the one newspaper strip I ever sent away for and framed features Alex Doonesbury and Leo “Toggle” DeLuca (and, offscreen, his madcap Mom).

PS: For those wondering if I keep up, yes, I think Treudeau has real hoof-in-mouth diseases with this one and has not through trough the issues enough.

The Same Old Sullen Soul

Me, who sat in dark rooms with a few others listening to VU and New York Dolls and Dr. Buzzard and P-Funk instead of going to all the fun shows and meet-cool-babes dances. Same old sullen soul who has a lot of skepticism about the EMP Music Conference and Record Store Day. Just feels the same to me, more than 40 years on. Grouch City, you know.

1st Quarter 2015: Jazz

Two vocalist, 10 instrumental.

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, Roadsides (Arogole, 2014)

“Israeli, Canada-based vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb attempts in her fourth solo album to portray a possible peaceful vision of the Middle-East through a wise arrangement of Israeli and Palestinian poetry. These poems, all sung in Hebrew (and all translated to English) suggest that behind the conflict, contrasting historical, political and even cultural narratives live people who share like-minded passions, dreams and loves, often in relation to the same shared natural scenery. Gottlieb composed these poems over a long time, few were work-in-progress in her repertoire for 15 years …” EYAL HAREUVENI, All About Jazz.

This came to me very, very late as a promo and it is indeed elusive and quicksilver in style changes, but does come down as world-jazz to my ear. And her voice carries you past words you don’t understand.

Cassandra Wilson, Coming Forth by Day (Sony Legacy)

I predict this will be one of the overlooked/underrated albums of the year due to sheer exhaustion with the Billie Holiday centennial hooplah. But it would be a fascinating meditation on the singer no matter when it appeared.

1. Jack DeJohnette, Made in Chicago (ECM)

Windy City Wild Bunch keep the faith.

2. Drkwav, The Purge (Royal Potato Family)

John Medeski returns to the weird.

3. Aaron Goldberg, The Now (Sunnyside)

4. Milford Graves & Bill Laswell, Space/Time*Redemption (TUM)

5. Hypercolor, S/T (Tzadik)

6. Mikko Innanen with William Parker and Andrew Cyrille, Song for a New Decade (TUM)

7. Vijay Iyer Trio, Break Stuff (ECM)

As invigorating live as I hoped it would be.

8. Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bird Calls (ACT)

Additions and innovations grow on you.

9. Charles McPherson, The Journey (Capri)

10. Wolff & Clark Expedition, Expedition 2 (Fully Alerted)

Watch the Face

So Aaron Hernandez is convicted of being a monster. I think the most useful spinoff of this is the many very graphic close-ups of his face. You see anybody who has this no-person/non-expression/nothing-man look stay far, far, far away in every regard. Of course, the regular-person mask flashes into place when needed. But anybody who looks this particular type of vacant when he or she thinks it’s okay is damned dangerous. Psychopath.