Edward Hopper and the Illusion of Emptiness

People bring up his paintings again and again. I consider them a premier realism-about-an-unrealism, esp;. the ones from the ’40s and ’50s. The top pick is “Nighthawks at the Diner” but my fave is “Office in a Small City.” There’s nobody out there. It’s real quiet. Nothing is going to change. The main threat of tomorrow is Endless Peace.

Yeah, right. I don’t think the paintings prophecy this, but they incarnate why upheaval was inevitable.

R.I.P.: Alvin Lucier

Must lead with the work that changed how I listened to music and thought about sound — I Am Sitting in a Room (my copy is the third recording, vinyl, on the Lovely Music label). Here’s what the piece is and its history:


Now, in the abstract, it sounds like this has to be some eccentric stunt. Probably too tedious to play even as a novelty. But listening to the actual recording is like having a spell cast on you. The way words, language, and even vocal sounds drift away from what you are hearing is hypnotic and irresistible. (I always have to play the record from start to finish.) You come to understand the metabolism of sonics in a way you did not before.

I also highly recommend Vespers and Other Early Works (New World Records). Any serious music collection, however, must include I Am Sitting in a Room.

Old Cartoons With Ongoing Rotten Race Themes

Depressing to read through the definitive Charles Addams collection of cartoons The World of Charles Addams and note the sprinkling of horrid ones about “Africans” (and a few with Asians) being monsters, subhumanss, utter savages. Slows down and stops after the early 1950s (I’m also enjoying the new TV series “Them”), but it reminds me it persisted into the work of Robert Crumb and while the hefty World of Crumb I got a couple years ago includes a lengthy (not very convincing) defense of Angelfood McSpade-type characters, it features none of them in the reprints. I’m in the school that you show the images and let people decides for themselves.

Best of Jazz 2020

Yeh, I’ve been listening to it for 8 months, but decided it holds up well enough to share with the world:


  1. Nubya Garcia, “Pace”
  2. Sonny Rollins, “Sonnymoom For Two” (1st disc)
  3. Emilio Sola Tango Jazz Orchestra, “So La, al Sol”
  4. Eric Revis, “Baby Renfro”
  5. J.D. Allen, “Die Dreaming”
  6. Kenny Barron/Dave Holland Trio, “Pass It On”
  7. Kassa Overall, “Visible Walls”
  8. Lafayette Gilchrist, “Assume the Position”


  1. Junk Magic, “Compass Confusion/Little love Gods”
  2. Bobby Watson/Vincent Herring/Gary Bartz, “Klactoveedsedstene”
  3. Thelonious Monk, “Blue Monk”
  4. Thumbscrew, “Composition No. 52”
  5. Redman/Mehldau/McBride/Blade, “Right Back Round Again”
  6. Mariah Schneider Orchestra, “A World Lost”
  7. Fred Hersch, “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”