Thursday, July 2, 2015

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Last night I watched an amazing documentary on Netflix streaming video: "What Happened, Miss Simone?"  I have always been a huge fan of Nina Simone, having been introduced to her by my good friend Michael Lally when I was about 21 or so.  He had the original 1959 album on the Bethlehem label, which featured Mood Indigo, He Needs Me, Little Girl Blue, My Baby Just Cares For Me, Plain Gold Ring, and of course I Loves You Porgy.  It was a hard album to find in those days but I finally tracked one down, bought it, and nearly wore it out in the ensuing years.  I also saw her live at the Berkeley Community Theater, probably somewhere around 1967 or 1968.

I thought I knew a fair amount about her, but after watching last night's film I realized there was a whole lot I didn't know.  I'm not going to spoil it for you but suffice it to say that the film has an almost perfect balance of Nina performing over the years and exposition by way of interviews of her and others, and many excerpts from her private diaries. There has been some criticism based on allowing her abusive ex-husband to give his side when she is now dead, but there is plenty from her side in her interviews and especially in her diaries.  Husband shrinks to a pathetic guy in the face of all that, so don''t worry about Nina not "giving her side of the story."

  Take my word, if you are a Nina fan you will die for this film, and if you are new to her you owe it to yourself to see it.  If you don't have Netflix, find a friend who does and bum a watch.  If you don't have a Netflix buddy, join Netflix.  It's only about ten bucks a month and you will be getting a huge bang out of those bucks.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The President's amazing eulogy in Charleston

I watched the live broadcast of the President's eulogy given in Charleston last Friday.  My humble words can never convey or explain how moving and amazing the whole thing was.  I was welling up with tears throughout.  I am so proud of him.  Since then, I have watched it twice more, marveling over it even more.  Thus, I feel it is my duty to make it available to those of you who have not seen it yet.  Check it out by clicking right here.

My grandfather was an evangelical preacher and my mother was a child evangelist for a time and I went to church every Sunday until about 5th grade.  Thus, I am well familiar with services featuring "call and response" between preacher and congregation. The call and response between the President and the mourners was 100% real, heartfelt, and believable.  He was home and in his element.  He could have played it safe worrying about what the rest of America was going to think, but he threw caution to the winds.  Again, it was amazing, right down to "Amazing Grace."  If you have not seen it, you really, really should.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Health care saved!

I'm heaving a big sigh of relief upon learning of the Supreme Court's upholding Obama Care by a 6-3 vote.  Oh, and to Justice Scalia: Neener, neener, neener!! (Boy is he ever pissed off).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm diggin' the Pope

I'm not a big fan of organized religions, but I have to admit that Pope Francis is a wise and uncompromising human being, as evidenced by this article by E. J. Dionne in today's WaPo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pandora leads to discovery of old treasures

One of the bonus benefits of music streaming services is that you hear cool things that you never heard before, or in some cases that you have heard before yet never "heard" before.  This is particularly the case with some "old" tracks that you dismissed in those old years for one reason or another.  In my case the dismissal was usually based solely on the artist's being too main-stream or in the wrong genre for my taste or my friends say it's crap, etc.

So, yesterday I was listening to Pandora on the "U2" channel I had created when a really cool tune came on, which I did not recognize, but which pretty much blew me away (headphones on and turned way up).  I rushed back to my computer to see who the group was and the name of the track.  What?? Duran Duran!  "Come Undone" recorded in 1993.  Just goes to show....

I could try to explain, but it would be simpler if I just let you hear it yourself.  Even if it turns out not to be your cup of tea, just listen to the structure, musicianship, and production quality and I think you will have to admit that it is really a terrific pop-rock tune that deserves some kudos, even if they are delayed by 23 years.  So without further ado, check it out right here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Especially interesting vintage photos

A few posts ago I steered you all toward a great vintage photo site that provides new offerings daily.  If you are at all interested in seeing what some famous artists and writers of the late eighteen hundreds looked like, by all means check out these fantastic photos from the aforementioned vintage photo site.  All are amazing, but striking my fancy were Liszt, Sara Bernhardt, Baudelaire, Rodin, Dumas, Monet, and Manet.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ronnie Gilbert R.I.P.

Just read of the passing of Ronnie Gilbert.  She was one of the great ladies of the folk music world in the 40's, 50's and 60's, mostly singing as one of the Weavers.  The Weavers were comprised of Ronnie, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman and Pete Seeger.  You can read about them right here.  Dig especially their clashes with Joe McCarthy and HUAC -- good people, the Weavers.

There are quite a few videos of the Weavers in performance but I found one that is really cool.  It is described by its contributor as follows:
Published on Sep 13, 2014My father was a chairman at "Nordens Smalfilmsförbund" in the 70's. (Nordic Narrow Film Association). After his death in 2005, we digged into all the 16 mm and 8 mm film reel of film he left behind. Some were with music like this one. I'm uploading this to YouTube thinking that it might just put a smile on someones face. Maybe someone out there remember this. And if that someone is just one person... well... then this upload has fullfilled it's purpose.Enjoy! :)
Here is his upload.  Enjoy the Weavers.