June 2, 2012 archive

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The Stars Hollow Gazette

Open Thread: What We Now Know

Chris  Hayes and his panel guests discuss what they have learned this week, In the following segment, Chris was joined by Joshua Treviño (@jstrevino), former speechwriter for Pres. George W. Bush and former First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army; Col. Jack Jacobs (@coljackjacobs), MSNBC military analyst, U.S. Army (Ret.), Vietnam veteran, recipient of three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor; Jeremy Scahill (@jeremyscahill), national security correspondent for The Nation and author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army; and Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project.

What have you learned this week?

Open Thread: Fuzzy Love

On This Day In History June 2

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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June 2 is the 153rd day of the year (154th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 212 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1962, Ray Charles takes country music to the top of the pop charts.

Ray Charles was one of the founding fathers of soul music-a style he helped create and popularize with a string of early 1950s hits on Atlantic Records like “I Got A Woman” and “What’d I Say.” This fact is well known to almost anyone who has ever heard of the man they called “the Genius,” but what is less well known-to younger fans especially-is the pivotal role that Charles played in shaping the course of a seemingly very different genre of popular music. In the words of his good friend and sometime collaborator, Willie Nelson, speaking before Charles’ death in 2004, Ray Charles the R&B legend “did more for country music than any other living human being.” The landmark album that earned Ray Charles that praise was Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which gave him his third #1 hit in “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” which topped the U.S. pop charts on this day in 1962

Executives at ABC Records-the label that wooed Ray Charles from Atlantic with one of the richest deals of the era-were adamantly opposed to the idea that Charles brought to them in 1962: to re-record some of the best country songs of the previous 20 years in new arrangements that suited his style. As Charles told Rolling Stone magazine a decade later, ABC executives said, “You can’t do no country-western things….You’re gonna lose all your fans!” But Charles recognized the quality of songs like “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Don Gibson and “You Don’t Know Me,” by Eddy Arnold and Cindy Walker, and the fact that his version of both of those country songs landed in the Top 5 on both the pop and R&B charts was vindication of Charles’s long-held belief that “There’s only two kinds of music as far as I’m concerned: good and bad.”

Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records. He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums. While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business.”

Rolling Stone ranked Charles number 10 on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in 2004, and number two on their November 2008 list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. In honoring Charles, Billy Joel noted: “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley. I don’t know if Ray was the architect of rock & roll, but he was certainly the first guy to do a lot of things . . . Who the hell ever put so many styles together and made it work?”

Late Night Karaoke

Unmasking Barney Frank

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Writing for naked capitalism Matt Stoller sheds some light on the myth of retiring Massachusetts Rep. Barney Franks’s true politics, and it’s not as liberal as you would think. Despite the press touting Mr. Frank as a “top” and “passionate” liberal in reality, Mr. Stoller points out, that in reality he has been a career Reaganite

The career of Barney Frank casts a large shadow upon the Democratic approach to financial matters, as he perfectly epitomizes how they behaved throughout this time period.  Frank was elected in 1981, as a quintessential Reagan-era Democrat.  He is frequently misunderstood, and cast as a liberal.  In another era, he would have been such.  But he was first and foremost interested in cutting deals, and to that end, his ideology ended up as that of a Reagan-lite.  It’s unfortunate, because by the time he had real power in 2008, he had no firm basis upon which to make decisions for the broad public, and ended up consolidating wealth into the hands of a smaller and smaller number of people. [..]

He’s a bank-friendly Democrat who is believes in neoliberal ideas, but wants to ensure that there is some housing for the poor.  Let’s take this comment, which cuts to the core of how Frank sees the economy.

   “These days in developed countries, everybody says you need a private sector to create wealth, you need a public sector to create rules by which wealth is created. Sensible people understand that.”

This is absurd.  The government creates enormous amounts of wealth, from the telecommunications industry to the computer to the internet, to infrastructure like the national highway system.  If you’re driving across any number of bridges or traveling over airports, that’s wealth.  That’s value.  And it’s government-created.  The Reconstruction Finance Corporation lent out a total of $55 billion in the 1930s and 1940s, it was a government-bank that financed infrastructure all over the country.  Liberals govern like wealth can be created in both the public and private sector, and destroyed in both areas as well.  Neoliberals like Frank put their faith in the private sector.

Nor is Barney a friend to activists as Matt sites this statement that was made just recently about the Gay Pride movement:

    And I believe very strongly people on the left are too prone to do things that are emotionally satisfying and not politically useful. I have a rule, and it’s true of Occupy, it’s true of the gay-rights movement: If you care deeply about a cause, and you are engaged in an activity on behalf of that cause that is great fun and makes you feel good and warm and enthusiastic, you’re probably not helping, because you’re out there with your friends and political work is much tougher and harder. I’m going to write about the history of the LGBT movement, partly to make the point that, in America at least, it’s the way you do progressive causes….

   Pride Weekend was very important early on, because people didn’t know who we were, the hiddenness was a problem. Today, Pride has no political role. It’s a fun thing for people.

Wow! If it weren’t for the activists of OWS and Gay Pride there would be no change in public attitude about LGBT rights and no turn in conversation about the corruption of Wall St. and the causes for the income disparity that is holding back the economic recovery from the Great Recession.

Like President Obama, Barney Frank likes bipartisanship and compromise. The problem with that is it has been the downfall of the Democratic Party and widening of income disparity for the 99%. It well past time Barney Frank retired. Let the voters of Massachusetts replace him with a representative that will stand for the principles of the Democratic Party, the majority of Americans and not the banks and Wall St.

Happy retirement, Mr. Frank, and congratulations on your up coming nuptials which might not be happening if it weren’t for the Gay Pride movement.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120601: More Moodies – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

Last time we discussed A Question of Balance, and tonight we discuss their next album.  Released on 19710723, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour was the seventh album by The Moody Blues, and the sixth one with the Edge, Hayward, Lodge, Pinder, and Thomas lineup.  As we shall see next time, by then they had pretty much determined that the original lineup were really quite a different band than the one that was created when Hayward and Lodge joined.

Although not my favorite album by them, it has some really high parts (punintentional).  It charted at #1 in the UK and at #2 in the US, not a trivial accomplishment considering the great music of the period.  Once again Tony Clarke produced it and Phil Travers supplied the cover art for the record.

The album is unusual in several respects.  First of all, the title itself, according to Wikipedia, is a mnemonic memory aide for the treble clef:  E, G, B, D, F.  Secondly, the cut “Emily’s Song” was written by Lodge for his new daughter.  Finally, it is contains the only work written by all five band members.

Ancient and Worldwide

If one were to track the commentary on articles which focus on a transperson in singular or transpeople as a group, one would nearly universally discover someone stuck in opposition to our existence because transgender is “new” and/or a western/American phenomenon.

But it is neither new, nor western in origin.

The only thing that is relatively new is the fact that there are now medical procedures to treat the transgender condition.  And the word itself, I guess.  Etymology online dates it to 1988, although it dates the word “transsexual” to 1957.  The derogatory “she-male”, on the other hand, dates to the 19th Century.

Not surprisingly, it’s an English term…which is what probably spurs the thought that it is a Western phenomenon.  But the words for the phenomenon in non-western cultures are ancient.  In ancient Rome some of us were the Gallae, the castrated followers of the goddess Cybele.

Cybele’s religion was a bloody cult that required its priests and priestesses as well as followers to cut themselves during some rituals.  The cult was a mystery religion, which meant that it’s inner secrets and practices were revealed to initiates only.  The priests castrated themselves at their initiation; there was wild music, chanting, and frenzied dancing.  Cybele’s retinue included many priestesses, including Amazonian, transgendered female priests as well as traditional masculine functionaries such as the dendrophori (tree-bearer) and cannophori (reed-bearer), and transgendered males known as the Gallae.

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