BDS and Brooklyn College

Andy Bachman, rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn, nails the BDS-Brooklyn College Controversy with what it deserves, a little humor:

Part of me wants to actually delve into why Alice Walker and Roger Waters care so much about Israel and not, for instance, Mali or Syria.  But most of me just doesn’t care.  And I loved the Color Purple; and I certainly remember hearing the Wall on the radio tons.  And as for Judith Butler, like I said, whatever she’s talking about I’m sure means something, I’m just not sure what, so, in essence, I defer to the Democratic Ungapatchka Meandering Bovians of the American Society of Semioticians (DUMBASS)….

While Israelis and Palestinians struggle mightily to come to an understanding and a just peace for both peoples, worse and more dangerous problems plague the city, the nation, and the world.  In a perfect world, most sane people would understand that.  But some don’t.  So the dramas continue.  But in reality, most people are not really listening.  Because they know that life is much more complex than a spectacle on a college campus somewhere.  And there’s rent to make this month.


A new book from Paul Buhle and David Berger:

Wanted for the work of the world

“‘…reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage: there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware that these things are wanted for the work of the world.’ Does this refer to our financial and political elites? Nope. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, on the Belgians in the Congo.” – via Francisco Goldman

Tito’s Monuments

These structures were commissioned by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinja?a), or where concentration camps stood (like Jasenovac and Niš). They were designed by different sculptors (Dušan Džamonja, Vojin Baki?, Miodrag Živkovi?, Jordan and Iskra Grabul, to name a few) and architects (Bogdan Bogdanovi?, Gradimir Medakovi?…), conveying powerful visual impact to show the confidence and strength of the Socialist Republic. In the 1980s, these monuments attracted millions of visitors per year, especially young pioneers for their “patriotic education.” After the Republic dissolved in early 1990s, they were completely abandoned, and their symbolic meanings were forever lost.

More here.

The Return of Les Soixante-Huitards?

The prologue to Bernard Henri Levi’s book “Left in Dark Times” recounts the author’s frequent conversations with French candidate for President Nikolas Sarkozy as he tries to solicit support from the philosopher and figure of the (interventionist) left (he supported Segolene Royal, if I remember correctly). That had me thinking this morning about how connected BHL might have been to Sarkozy’s leading role in the recent and continuing actions in Libya. Coupled with the return to prominence of Samantha Power within the Obama administration, a fortunate return in my view, had me pondering the shift in Western attitudes toward human rights intervention in the post-Bush era. And what do I see this afternoon? The following interview with B.H.L. from the LA Times:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy shocked the world by leading the push for a United Nations resolution to use force against Moammar Kadafi in his battle with rebels, and then unleashing French jets to launch the first airstrikes against the Libyan leader’s forces.

Perhaps more shocking, a celebrity French philosopher has been given much of the credit for sparking the chain of events.

A dandied-up French slant on Hemingway, in his bold activism, literary prolificacy and habit of baring a tan chest in unbuttoned white shirts, Bernard-Henri Levy never goes unnoticed.

Levy (universally known here as B.H.L.) is famous for his go-it-alone activism, about which he writes furiously. But the astonishing story of him marching across bombed Libyan cities (in a suit) to meet rebel leaders and, in short, making history on behalf of the French government (without the knowledge of its Foreign Ministry) has many especially fascinated and infuriated here.

At a posh hotel in Paris, he sat down to discuss his role. But first he had to take a call on his cellphone. « It’s Sarkozy, » he said, before excusing himself.

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The Sneaky “P” Popper

Music producer Bobby Oswinski on what to look for in this video of Sinatra in 1965 singing Ervin Drake’s “It Was A Very Good Year“:

There’s a lot to like in this video. Check out:

  • the small size of the audio console considering how large the orchestra…
  • there was not a headphone in sight.
  • the good humor that Frank is in. None of his legendary surliness here.
  • the fact that he’s playing to a small audience of friends. When was the last time you saw that during a session?
  • Walter Cronkite doing the voice-over. That’s two legends on the same tape.
  • the fact that this is a live record. No overdubs here. It’s over when Frank is satisfied, which happens relatively quickly as the man was known for few takes.
  • how many people are dressed formally with jackets and ties.
  • Recording sure has change in the last 46 years. I’m not sure it’s gotten any better though.

Video after the jump….

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Actual Proof

I was listening to this bootleg of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters yesterday. And today, coincidentally, the great pianist and organist Mike LeDonne commented on it on a FB link: “Herbie’s funk recordings were to that genre what his jazz recordings were to jazz. Deep into the real thing. I can’t think of any other jazz musician that came off that real when they crossed over to the funk side.” True. Something’s in the air, so here it is. Please pardon the bad quality. Headhunters, Live in Denton, Texas, 1974, playing “Actual Proof”:

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Blues and Roots

My latest piece, on Omer Avital, is up at Tablet. You can read it here.

John McNeil’s Backbone

All About Jazz has published my 2009 piece on John McNeil, originally seen at A Hundred Tacks. Doug Ramsey at Rifftides adds some info.

The US Israel Relationship

Worth watching. Dennis Ross, Bernard Avishai, Daniel Levy, and Roger Cohen.

Dennis Ross addresses J Street’s Conference, Followed by Panel Reaction from J Street Education Fund on Vimeo.