Friday, May 13, 2016

Music To My Ears

Monday, May 9, 2016
A jury of our peers?

Do you suffer from "word aversion"?  That doesn't mean being repelled by hearing the name of a certain presidential candidate, rather, a negative reaction basically to the phonics, the actual sound of a word.  According to research, "moist" although "not a taboo word, it’s not profanity, but it [typically] elicits this very visceral disgust reaction.”

The effort here is to distinguish the sound of a word from its meaning, the more conventional source of antagonism. See

I'll try to develop a "do not speak in my presence" list, but I don't think that I can easily separate sound and fury.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
We have another example of American bravery in the face of adversity.  A flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse, two American cities with very foreign names, was delayed while an Italian economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania was questioned about possible links to terrorism.  His seat mate, a vigilant patriot, observed this dark-complected man with an accent scribbling strange notes and summoned help from the airline crew.  Read it for yourself.
Wednesday, May 11, 2106
A funny thing happened on the way to Jamestown.  George Carlin's daughter is donating a large trove of the late comedian's memorabilia to the not-yet-open National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York.  This site,   several hundred miles northwest of New York City, is looking to follow in the footsteps of Cooperstown in establishing a destination where little existed before.  

Jamestown does not, however, start entirely from scratch.  It was Lucille Ball's birthplace and now is home to the Lucy Desi Museum & Center for Comedy.  An annual comedy festival is scheduled for the first week of August, including Lewis Black who is worth traveling serveral Thruway exits to see.

I went to midtown today for my Spring shearing and, even though I lived in the neighborhood for 23 years, I was still surprised by the crowded streets at lunchtime.  There are more high-rise office buildings and apartment houses in the area than ever before, but that growth has fostered a raft of of fast(ish) food joints.  There are countless pizza, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, hamburger, salad, Japanese, Indian and Irish (pub) places packed into a few square blocks.    

I went into Food of Vietnam, 708 Third Avenue, a ten-foot wide space serving a large volume of takeout orders at a fast clip.  I ordered a smoked duck banh mi (the Vietnamese baguette sandwich), dressed with mayo, cucumber, cilantro and daikon radish ($9 including tax).  The bread was fresh, about 10" long; the duck was somewhat overcome by the other strong flavors, especially one very hot pepper.  Other choices were chicken meatballs, BBQ pork, grilled beef.  Rice bowls, salad bowls and noodle bowls had many of the same ingredients as the sandwiches at the same price.  I stood by a small ledge, the only person to remain on the premises with his food as dozens of office workers marched in and out. 

Friday, May 13, 2016
Even if one were superstitious, today must be considered a very lucky day.  It is Stanley Feingold's 90th birthday.   Feingold, as the admiring but irreverent crowd I belong to identifies him, graduated CCNY in 1946 and then taught American government there for several decades.  I for one took five undergraduate courses with him, constituting the bulk of my major.  However, unlike many who sat at the feet of a Leo Strauss or a Herbert Marcuse, I came away with a greater appreciation of the questions, not the answers.  That legacy unites a large cohort mostly of academics and lawyers (commerce was rarely the goal of my generation) who periodically gather to loudly wrestle with the same issues of public policy that agitated us half a century ago.  Oy, Feingold, you did so much for us.  Today, at least, don't be humble.  Take a deep bow.

Allow me to mention some others on my honor roll today: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Errol Garner, Thelonious Monk, Red Garland, Mary Lou Williams, Bud Powell, John Lewis, Nina Simone, Fats Domino, Andre Watts, Scott Joplin.  I cite them in response to the head of the National Association for Music Education, who resigned this week after he said that his organization was not ethnically diverse partly because “blacks and Latinos lack the keyboard skills needed for this field.”

I have to make this stupid point in 2016.  What is wrong with us?

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