Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Speakers

For some reason, I have been living without decent computer speakers. I have good headphones for my IPod, but I only use them when I'm out in public and don't mind appearing anti-social.  It seems silly to put them on when I'm in my own house, not to mention I dislike being tethered to my computer.

I've just been listening to the most godawful tinny quality of sound for years without realizing how much I was missing.  The other day my girlfriend insisted I buy a pair of nice little Bose speakers.  I plugged them in and it was like listening to all my favorite artists for the first time.

I've been on a binge re-familiarizing myself with my own ITunes Library, especially the songs of Gillian Welch.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Free Tilly

Looking good for a centenarian, isn't she?

My happiest childhood memories were formed when my dad took us out to the San Juan Islands on our little pink cabin cruiser.  We trolled for salmon, back then so abundant that they were easily caught in view of the downtown landscape.  Sometimes we were lucky enough to sight orcas.  Once -- to my mother's mortal terror -- one of those orcas swam so close to our boat that I was able to reach out and stroke its back. 

A typical Seattle native growing up in the sixties, I took these casual interactions with the natural world for granted.  The orca, like the salmon, are still our totem animals, and we hold them in reverence, and feel that they somehow "belong" to us.

Of course, the Pacific Northwest has changed a lot in my lifetime.  The middle aged "natives" grump about these changes endlessly, and are always taking stands on what and what is not a "permissible" development, as though our disapproval made one iota of difference in stemming the relentless tide of "progress."  How pathetic and self-righteous we can be!

For example, as a typical Seattle native, there are some places I never will go.  One of them is the EMP (Experience Music Project), Paul Allen's architectural monstrosity controversial contribution to the Seattle Center.  I still haven't visited the museum, but last night I did go to a concert there to raise money for the Orca Lab.

If you have been following the aftermath of Blackfish, you probably are aware that a number of big-name acts pulled out of performing at the Florida Sea World last summer in protest of its captivity and exhibition of orcas (killer whales) and other marine mammals.  And several of these acts got together to put on a show last night.

I was happy to fork over $200+ to take my place in the standing room only crowd.  For three hours we rocked out to Country Joe McDonald, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Heart, and others.  I was most looking forward to Joan Jett, and she didn't disappoint,* but surprisingly it was Graham Nash who made the biggest impact.  It had been a long time since I heard those Crosby Stills and Nash classics, rendered so sublimely fresh and sweet with harmonies provided by Ann and Nancy Wilson and Jami Sieber's cello accompaniment.

Paul Spong, director of the Orca Lab, spoke about his lifetime commitment to studying orcas in the wild, recording their language and music, analyzing their complex culture and family structures.  He talked about the rehabilitation of Keiko ("Free Willy"), a project that proved orcas can be successfully returned to the wild.  (Although Keiko was not able to rejoin his family of origin because they were not identified during his capture, he was able to swim free for five years after his release before succumbing to pneumonia.)

It's perhaps too late for Tillicum, the whale featured in "Blackfish" who has killed three humans over the course of his imprisonment, and now spends his time in isolation, listlessly floating, staring at the wall of his tank for hours at a time.  But it's not too late for Lolita and others.  Lolita, who has been circling a concrete tank the size of a hotel pool for 44 years, is considered healthy enough to be released.  Her mother is still alive, and there is every reason to believe her pod will recognize her and welcome her back when she is repatriated to her home waters.

Sea World lies and lies and lies.  It lies, for example, when it claims orcas in captivity outlive free orcas.  Granny, the matriarch of J2, is 100 and is still the leader of her pack.

It was easy to summon the spirit of the 1840s abolitionists last night.  The capture, enslavement and exploitation of animals that rival us in intelligence and social complexity is clearly indefensible to anyone whose heart is not made of stone.  It must stop, and it will stop... The only question is, How long will we allow these creatures to suffer in order to fatten the shareholders of Sea World? 

What can we do?  For starters, refuse to go to Sea World or take kids to any aquariums that feature performing marine mammals.  Challenge the message these corporations are sending children about our rightful relationship with nature.  Resist the temptation to "swim with the dolphins" on vacation (so much fun for us, not so much for the dolphins who have no choice to interact with us in those environments).

Come to Washington State during whale watching seasons.  There are several local charters that will take visitors out to observe killer whales from a respectful distance.  If you're a regular reader, shoot me an e-mail and I may even accompany you to the top of the Space Needle (I have to go some time, I guess). 

* OK, I was a teeny bit disappointed she didn't play "Androgynous," so I'll just play it right now:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Heavier Than Heaven

The fact that I can still vividly remember where-I-was-and-what-I-was-doing the first time I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (and also where-I-was-and-what-I-was-doing when I learned of Kurt Cobain's suicide) is a measure of how powerfully the music of Nirvana moved me.  I may be a "baby boomer," but I've always identified, culturally at least, with the Generation Xers.

I've been observing the twentieth anniversary of Cobain's death by reading Charles Cross's "definitive" 2001 biography of Cobain, Heavier Than Heaven.  And trust me, this book is "heavy" in every sense of the word. 

There are no great revelations here:  Cobain was a sweet, sensitive child with artistic inclinations who grew into an incorrigible, depressed adolescent who was a complete pain in the ass to everyone who cared about him.  What ultimately (and narrowly) saved him from becoming a professional homeless person was his commitment to his music.  Cobain was, in fact, extraordinarily ambitious and driven.  He was cunning, manipulative, conflict-avoidant, self-mythologizing, and had no qualms about taking advantage of anyone who lent him a hand. 

None of which diminishes his musical legacy of course, or even makes this reader dislike him personally.  In fact, I am in admiration of his monomaniacal quest to achieve popular success.  The fact that this success did not, in the end, make him happy is the most tragic aspect of his life ("answered prayers" and all that).

Part of the reason I am finding the book an interesting, albeit predictable, read is that I have spent a lot of time in the places Cross describes.  In the early nineties, I even considered moving to Aberdeen -- probably because the rents were so incredibly cheap there and I briefly fancied the romance of living in a modern ruin.

Anyway, I'm developing a lesson built around Nirvana for one of my classes next week.  One of the perks of being a teacher is that I get to inflict my musical and literary tastes on my students (most of whom have never heard of Cobain, but all of whom will recognize the opening bars of "Smells Like Teen Spirit").

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vienna Teng

I can't think of the last time I heard and watched something as lovely as this video by Vienna Teng.  She was in Seattle last month and I'm kicking myself cuz I missed the show.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Daw Da Hiya

I love Iggy Pop.  And I loved Ofra Haza.  I had no idea, until a commenter informed me tonight, that they had done a duet together.  Ofra Haza was an Israeli singer of Yemeni birth who enjoyed enormous professional success but had a rather sad personal life.  She contracted HIV from her husband and died of AIDS-related pneumonia within a couple of years of her marriage.  The disclosure of the cause of her death shocked the Israeli public, for whom she had been an icon of chastity and purity.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Iggy Pop: A Man I Love

Yeah, something tells me Iggy has never felt insecure about his masculinity, either.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Danielle Messia

I'm a cemetery freak, and any trip to Europe will have to include visits to Highgate in London and Pere Lachaise in Paris.  

Today I was watching the documentary "Forever," about people who visit Pere Lachaise, and was introduced to one of its residents, a singer I had never heard:  Danielle Messia.  Of course I immediately bought one of her CDs and have been listening to it all afternoon.  Although my French is pretty bad, I do love me a good chanson, and this one is damn fine: sad and brave and heart-breakingly defiant.

Seattle's First Singing MRA

May I introduce Uncle Fran?  He was a fixture on a popular local comedy show Almost Live, and quite possibly the first MRA folk singer.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Aspiring PUAs Watch Out

Garfunkel and Oates have got your number (and the bimbos they lust after).  Could these girls be cuter?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

You Say You Want A Revolution...

If you're as old as I am, you can probably remember where you were the day John Lennon was shot.  I was alone, in a bathtub in Genoa.  I started to cry so uncontrollably that I aspirated water, and wound up performing a self-administered Heimlich maneuver by hauling my sobbing, dripping carcass over the edge of the tub.  Not pretty!   

Anyway, sometimes when I read these manosphere guys I find myself thinking about John Lennon, and about his personal evolution, tragically cut short, from self-confessed wife-beater to a kind of proud Uber Beta Man, and of the following song in particular.  Note that this version, which is laid-back-to-the-point-of-lethargic, is an early "out-take."

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah...

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right