Bill Clinton had a number of cowardly moments, but one that really stuck in my craw was the whole “didn’t inhale” garbage. The first POTUS to admit he was going to let the powerless rot in jail for ages because of a harmless “crime” he had committed himself. That’s a new level of hypocrisy and indifference to the weak.
I fell short when I forgot that there was a confessed tyrannical agenda behind these irrational “wars.” And I see how it worked. Operating in total ignorance, my parents thought maryjuana was Satan incarnated in a plant.
For me, the two most pioneering works were his biography of Bessie Smith, which brought her back from utter obscurity in 1959 and made the case for her as a blues master, at a time when only [male] solo country performers were thought to be the “real thing.”(I did not know the book was not originally his idea. Oh well.) The other was his book Savannah Syncopators, which founded the discussion of links between African and African-American musics. I haven’t picked it up in a very long time and I’m sure it’s dated (not least because we know so much more about African musics now), but like I say, pioneering.
When I heard this album my response was also WTF — then I realized it had been overhyped with scarcely a claim that the performances were outstanding (and Dion barely mails them in). Instead, fabulous producer on hot streak and exciting times for music and Dion has made killer records. Fooey.
Checked out Debussy done by Les Siecles, directed by Francois-Xavier Roth. Because I wanted to hear something else by the ensemble that worked on Versus. Turns out much like the more familiar numbers on the Francesco Tristano piano-duets album: smart and lots of fun, but I can live without. With the added limitation that I don’t hear anything more in Versus after hearing this. Just (“just”) a sprightly modern classical ensemble.
“America has horrid sclotches of bigotry and oppression in its history — King Donald is more American than you want to admit.” This is of course another “normalizer” notion, but even as a critique of this country it’s lazy and outright evil. “We never live up to our ideals so let’s just wallow in the dark side.” Not unlike claiming that because Germany gave in to Nazis they are Nazis today.
This Michael Eric Dyson essay is essential reading. I remember coming across the LBJ quote when it was recent and thinking “So THAT explains it.” Why in the hell was I not hearing that in my classroom rather than “Mumble, mumble, slavery was wrong and evil but it was a long time ago and if we aren’t having race riots in town here you don’t have to worry about it.” Unfortunate traces of that “lesson” explains why I was so shocked at the blatant bigotry I encountered in Boston: the metropolitans were supposed to be more sophisticated, not more bestial.