A couple of weekends ago my husband and I were transported out of the city for the first time this year!
My super amazing sister-in-law and brother whisked us away to their home upstate.
You see my beloved Brian’s birthday is coming up this week so this was a celebration.
August 21, 2020
Upstate NY is bucolic with mountains, rolling hills, and picturesque farms.
Set within this menagerie is a home full of love and wonder.
My sister-in-law gets organic produce delivered and grows vegetables on her deck.
She whipped up salads full of flavor within minutes. Our niece made a surprise pop-in with a friend too.
Dear readers, we are all in good health with no reason to fear being exposed to Covid. We are moving on.
Following our lunch we were taken on a scenic drive around rural towns leading to our destination of Rhinebeck, NY which is home to the State fair. This event was cancelled this year.
Our first set of images were taken in this charming village. The community has restrictions in place. Indoor dining returned everywhere North of the city! We were able to celebrate my husband’s birthday inside a restaurant!
On our way back to the city we visited Cold Spring. This town has interesting shops with antiques, records, and sweets.
Social distancing rules are in place.
There were walking patterns too. On our visit the town of Cold Spring was not crowded.
Cold Spring was lovely. Signs of hope were everywhere.
Scenic Cold Spring, NY
Seeing family again fills you with love.
A return to downtown for the first time this year! A very warm sticky day. Lots of great people watching.
In green tee and shorts is my hubby. Another Birthday brunch with a friend.
Open Streets is a city program that closes off certain blocks to traffic for cleaner outdoor dining.
The above gallery at the top you can glimpse a selfie I took in a men’s store.
Gotta Have Park!
Although it’s late August there are still hot days ahead. The park provides great moments from sweet dogs to cool people.
My hubby and I saw my parents for the first time this year!
Johnson Avenue is an open street for eateries. At W.235th and Riverdale Avenue.
There are teeny cars and tricycles provided free of charge for families with toddlers.
Summer always goes by the quickest. Warm to hot days; far less clothes; being. The crisis is not over. We have a long way to go yet. Let us all hope the days ahead are healthier.
For this week I will leave you dear readers with a gallery of lovable poochies! After all these are the dog days…
New York City entered Phase 4 this week of recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. Outdoor dining and retail are back. I have gone out to dinner with my husband a few times already. We have seen some friends and family too!
Continuing to show my photographs of the Upper Eastside and Central Park I thought about my connection to these images.
This week I feature statues and buildings that have stimulated my lifelong sense of whimsy. A lover of fantasy since childhood I re-discovered places in the park I needed to explore.
I hope they bring back your sense of whimsy as well….
The base of the Mother Goose figure has characters like Humpty Dumpty and Little Boy Blue carved around it. A homeless man sleeps on a bench nearby. As enchanting as this statue can be there are many experiencing hard times.
This statue shows the famous author sitting on a bench reading his classic, “The Ugly Duckling”, with his top hat placed to the side. You can see the details of this work in each image including the sculptor of the work, Georg J. Jober. The architect who designed the work was Otto F. Lancmann. The statue was dedicated in 1956. The Park Conservancy works hard to preserve all of its treasures.
The centerpiece of this section is the statue of Alice. I took many images of this statue. On any given day the natural light cast many unique looks at this charming monument.
Above you see the entire statue large enough for children to climb on. You see close–ups of her Wonderland cohort: The Mad Hatter, The Rabbit who is always late, and the Cheshire Cat. If you look closely at the rear view you can find the Jabberwocky!
At the base of the steps are engraved plates displaying verse from the classic book seen below…
One of a series of stately apartment buildings towering above Central Park West, The Eldorado is famous for its Art Deco-inspired twin towers that mirror its predecessor’s, The San Remo. Constructed a year after The San Remo, The Eldorado is a product of renowned architect Emery Roth, whose buildings are visible all along this stretch of Eighth Avenue. Its location, at 300 Central Park West is located near the reservoir.
Art Deco Twin Towers Rise Above Central Park West In Pre-War Grandeur. This is my favourite building.
The commercial corridor has declined over the past year. Several stores closed. A movie theater shut down. The Barnes & Noble bookstore is moving to a different location on Third Avenue, a much smaller space.
Restaurants have built outdoor dining areas on the street. The ones who had outdoor tables to start are expanded now. All servers wear mask.
The Metropolitan museum of art announced a return date of August 29, 2020.
Walking down any avenue you cannot avoid passing people. Wearing a mask is really the only thing you can do to protect yourself. Remaining indoors is only an option during horrid spells of excessive heat. As of this writing we are having our worst heat of the season.
New York City has proceeded with caution. This enabled us to flatten the curve. Now there are over 30 states with out of control numbers of virus cases. This did not have to happen. Wearing a mask is not a partisan issue. The largest problem now is re-opening the schools.
Will New York City survive? Can we invent a new economy? Do we really need to depend so much on tourism?
The retailers in our area include H&M, Best Buy, Staples, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. Independent shops are mainly services like shoe repair and dry cleaners. A major re–think must be done. New York City is not really as interesting a place as it was in the 20th Century. The internet is a powerful tool but this tech has ravaged our urbanity. If every corner is a fast food chain what is so special about living here? It seems in the past 20 years people have raised children without imagination. Just staring down at screens is Huxley’s Brave New World come to dystopian reality!
In the past 2 weeks I have witnessed a solitary officer and his car guarding a statue of Columbus in Central Park and 3 police vehicles in front of the Met museum with lights on. It was not clear to me what had happened accept perhaps a kid was playing in the fountain. We have collectively lost our marbles during this stressful time.
I have theorized our police are dispatched in groups like street gangs. This can never result in positive outcomes. We need to change how our city is protected.
People are in heavy denial. Understandably the shock of this time is powerful. But I have thought from the start that nothing will come back quickly. I do my part by wearing a mask. Such a simple thing.
I have seen horrifying results of people who think they cannot wear a mask and not get sick. The sacrifice is small yet people are unwilling in so many cases.
My photography continues in the coming weeks of Covid Summer 2020. These were just thoughts I have had while being out enjoying the weather.
Stay healthy dear readers. No matter what polls say, Vote this November!
“Endless unfolding of words of ages! And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse.
“I Contain Multitudes” opens the record with a reference to another epic poet whose work, “Song Of Myself”, celebrates every living creature on the planet. The title of this track is a Whitman quote. The ‘I’ is used here inclusively. Evoking the value in all living things.
The songs speaks to the experience of life. Loving and hating in equal measure. Composing, painting, eating, drinking, and our bodies as vessels that contain a universe.
I love Mr. Dylan’s end to this track. You can accept this line as just playing recordings of the classical giants or perhaps it is an expression that his final chapter maybe spent composing classical pieces:
“I’ll play Beethoven’s sonatas, and Chopin’s preludes…”
The cover image for this record is important. Presented in a cinematic letter-box format, anonymous couples are dancing. They are people of color. A solitary figure is hunched over the juke trying to decide what to play or in anguish over lost love or any number of reasons you could imagine.
For the first time Bob Dylan’s name does not appear on the cover! We listeners are to focus only on the image of a juke joint interior. The name of the record seems to pop-up from the floor in vivid technicolor. The color scheme applied is simply the best ever used in his catalog of 42 records.
Once again he is creating a mythic eden seeded in the past but brought into our present. A secret place where people of color went to actually express their humanity. The Queer folk also went to these type of places to do the same. Evoking Whitman’s celebration of humanity and non-humanity alike within the dark spaces of the juke joint where all can be free together.
American Folklore’s Rough and RowdyWays
His choice of title reference classic folk music by way of Jimmie Rodgers. The adjectives of Rough and Rowdy are masculine in nature. Playful but potentially dangerous like people themselves. A Dylanesque wink to the underlying violence packed within the culture. Dylan loves to use folklore and tall tales for referents to his lyrics. This album is more than worthy of his best works. His mystique is intact; here now his innermost troubles are laid bare.
A 10 stanza poem that could have been a part of Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” In the sixth stanza he invokes the ‘I’ in repetition:
“I searched the world over, for the holy grail, I sing songs of love, I sing songs of betrayal. Don’t care what I drink, I don’t care what I eat, I climb the mountain of swords On my bare feet.”
Mr. Dylan is baring his soul like never before throughout this record. In the verse quoted above you here his artistic declaration of mission. He once again invokes his religious beliefs too. Willing to climb a mountain of swords in bare feet is a form of stigmata.
“My Own Version Of You”
Expressing his heart’s desire to create his own Frankenstein—like creature in his image to be able to assign it the qualities he feels are required to balance the world. The lyrics here are macabre yet have a restless play about them:
“I’ll take the Scarface Pacino and The Godfather Brando Mix it up in a tank and get a robot commando “
Using fictional toughs from the 1970s in ‘The Godfather’ and 1980s in ‘Scarface’ as his character ingredients expresses the raw masculine imagination at work. A modern American ethos is applied here.
Dylan appeals to Julius Caesar, St. Peter, Mr. Freud, and Mr. Marx. As usual for the Ancients to connect to the Moderns as the basis for a new brain. Politics, Religion, and Philosophy—these are the areas of human endeavor forever swirling around in Mr. Dylan’s grey matter too.
“I wannabring someone to life, turn back the years Do it with laughter and do it with tears“
The strongest desire of all seems to be the return of older values and ideas. The masks of comedy and tragedy must always balance the equation of reality and fiction.
“I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You“
The love poem of the album is addressed to an unknown woman (or perhaps every listener). A nice ballad delivered pretty straight and dry. In contrast to all of the other songs here this track stands out as the least grim.
“I’m giving myself to you, I am From Salt Lake City to Birmingham From East L.A. to San Antone I don’t think I can bear to live my life alone“
Mr. Dylan has had two marriages that produced 2 grown sons. His declaration here becomes clear. He wants to give up his lonely wandering.
A 5 verse poem that reinforces letting go of youthful recklessness. The doppelganger of violent intent is warned to release its grip or be hacked to pieces. The song is the simplest one here.
“Goodbye Jimmy Reed”
A 6 verse poem expressing Mr. Dylan’s goodbye to the blues. Mr. Reed is the most influential bluesman who passed back in 1976. He is the connective blood and tissue to Mr. Dylan’s other friends, Elvis and The Rolling Stones who covered Mr. Reed’s songs.
“Mother of Muses”
A poetic prayer expressed with a selfish desire to have the top muse all to himself.
Mother of Muses, wherever you are I’ve already outlived my life by far
In seeming desperation he lays his soul out for her to see. That life has now gone on too long. He needs her injection of spirit. Perhaps to fill the void if he lets go of his former life.
“Crossing The Rubicon”
Reinforcing his connection with the Ancients via Julius Caesar again, here to express a dedication to a new and risky course. This is a 9 verse poem that Dylanologists will love parsing among themselves. The densest work in this collection. Great poetic phrasing with just the right dose of abstraction.
“Key West (Pirate Philosopher)”
4 Verses of philosophy; 4 choruses describe Key West. This is the second longest track here. It serves as Prelude to Disc 2’s opus, “Murder Most Foul”.
In such simple verse Mr. Dylan crystallizes his ways. Key West is flat land where he can keep his feet planted firmly and listen closely to a pirate radio signal for inspiration and peace.
My favorite lines make up Chorus 4:
“Key West is the place to be If you’re looking for immortality Key West is paradise divine Key West is fine and fair If you lost your mind, you’ll find it there Key West is on the horizon line”
Throughout his years writing songs Bob Dylan embraces places real and imagined as Eden–like. Key West is now his present flashpoint in life. It represents his cohorts: Ginsberg, Corso, and Kerouac; his greatest influencers: Louis, Jimmy, and Buddy.
This song closes out Disc 1. Key West is defined by Dylan as a tonic for life. The epic track on Disc 2 acts as counterpoint to the divine.
“Murder Most Foul” is a nation’s fall from grace as well as an individual’s reckoning.
Due to the length and depths of that track I gave an entire blog entry over to it.
Bob Dylan is that rare artist who continues to be inspired by the myriad roads travelled and the places he has seen. At once worldly and still forever in deep love with his own country, he is able to imbue his work with just the right amount of ambiguity and self—worth. He has become a true Renaissance man. I am a grateful listener.
American Elegy—Our Nobel Laureate Publishes Another Masterpiece
In a career now spanning six decades Bob Dylan has been through numerous phases in a life that has itself become the stuff of living legend.
Now revealed that this song is the third side on his upcoming, Rough and Rowdy Ways, he continues to inspire and write brilliantly about history.
His ability to connect our ‘modern times’ with the ancient culture that brought it about, specifically the Romans, enabled his new life as a Nobel Prize recipient.
Murder Most Foul is Mr. Dylan’s longest song. if you take the time to listen to this track you will learn a lot about this wonderful country and its brutal past and present.
You will also discover an underlying feeling of hope in the soft accompaniment with its piano, light timpani, and strings.
Dylanologists are going to have another great track to explore for many years to come. There are a ton of deliberate references to all kinds of cultural arcana in this track. Too many in fact for a single blog entry.
But herein I will discuss some of my takes on this peerless work. The closest thing to a spoken word song or a revival of the beat poet in the vast Dylan catalog.
It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63 A day that will live on in infamy President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?” “Of course we do, we know who you are!” Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car Shot down like a dog in broad daylight Was a matter of timing and the timing was right You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face We’ve already got someone here to take your place The day they blew out the brains of the king Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise Right there in front of everyone’s eyes Greatest magic trick ever under the sun Perfectly executed, skillfully done Wolfman, oh Wolfman, oh Wolfman, howl Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul
Here in the beginning of the poem we are explicitly told how Mr. Dylan feels about the day President John F. Kennedy was murdered.
Using a phrase as his title, he frames the dreadful event as a Murder Most Foul. As the track continues there will be an evolution or rather a de-volution through the following decades as America’s culture and politics slowly decays.
The great hope of a young, handsome, and brilliant leader is cruelly blown off the face of the Earth. The promise of a new frontier delayed by his killing.
Mr. Dylan further frames the President’s murder as that of a lynching. Mr. Kennedy was white on the surface, but he was also the nation’s first Catholic elected to the Presidency. In Bob Dylan’s view he was ‘led like a lamb to the sacrificial slaughter’.
The first verses also make clear how this crime was such an American scene. Committed in broad daylight in front of the world; ‘greatest magic trick ever under the sun’.
The Second Section
Hush, little children, you’ll understand The Beatles are comin’, they’re gonna hold your hand Slide down the banister, go get your coat Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and go for the throat There’s three bums comin’ all dressed in rags Pick up the pieces and lower the flags I’m goin’ to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian Age Then I’ll go over to Altamont and sit near the stage Put your head out the window, let the good times roll There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll Stack up the bricks, pour the cement Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas Try to make it to the triple underpass Blackface singer, whiteface clown Better not show your faces after the sun goes down Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat Living in a nightmare on Elm Street When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe Don’t ask what your country can do for you Cash on the barrelhead, money to burn Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn I’m going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride The place where faith, hope, and charity died Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can See if you can shoot the invisible man Goodbye, Charlie! Goodbye, Uncle Sam Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a damn What is the truth, and where did it go? Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know “Shut your mouth,” said a wise old owl Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul
The last lines of these first 2 sections of verse connect to reinforce this crime as foul cold-blooded murder. ‘Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s murder most foul; Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul’.
The actual neighborhood near the crime scene of Kennedy’s death is referenced following the pop culture explosion of The Beatles who became a salve for the real pain young people felt at the time. Deep Ellum, the arts and entertainment hub of Dallas, TX had a rise in crime too.
Referenced in the song’s second section above: ‘When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money on your shoe’.
‘Don’t ask what your country can do for you’, the famous Kennedy line to demand public service of youth is juxtaposed to remind people now trapped in poor communities not to expect any government assistance. The social contract was murdered too.
Explicitly calling out Woodstock and Altamont and the Age of Aquarius with the mythology of free love and the violence of Altamont. America has always created myths to soothe the wounds of very real crimes.
The reality of the made up summer of love is the real slaughter of men, women, and children in Vietnam. The daily death toll were surely murders most foul.
Mr. Dylan performs a conjuring trick as well raising the original sin of race hatred in a line that also references his hit “Hurricane”. Blackface singer, whiteface clown Better not show your faces after the sun goes down Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
Also quite cleverly references a Wes Craven horror film released in the decade that followed his hit song about boxer Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter.
The name covers Dallas’ real murder of a President and the fictional murders of teenagers in a genre called the slasher film. The cruelty on display in Dallas would continue to resonate for the decades that followed.
The Third Section
Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen I’m riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine Ridin’ in the back seat next to my wife Headed straight on in to the afterlife I’m leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give We’re right down the street, from the street where you live They mutilated his body and they took out his brain What more could they do? They piled on the pain But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by Wake up, little Susie, let’s go for a drive Cross the Trinity River, let’s keep hope alive Turn the radio on, don’t touch the dials Parkland Hospital, only six more miles You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline Never shot anyone from in front or behind I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier Zapruder’s film I seen night before Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean Ugliest thing that you ever have seen They killed him once and they killed him twice Killed him like a human sacrifice The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son The age of the Antichrist has just only begun” Air Force One comin’ in through the gate Johnson sworn in at 2:38 Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul
I set the third section above in big bold type since at this point forward the song becomes full and explicit. Brimming with anger at President Kennedy’s demise, whom Mr. Dylan likens to a King as the Kennedy White House became Camelot, then in a blink ‘his eyes, nose, and ears were filled with blood.’
The Zapruder film in some way becomes America’s first slasher film, only it’s real.
Mr Dylan describes the piece which he claims to have seen over 30 times, as ‘vile and deceitful’.
That first piece of social media created an infinity of conspiracy theories. I see it as a reflection on his own youth. In his youth the repetition is easily performed. Now, at 79 Mr. Dylan only needs a single reading.
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
This is my favorite line in the poem/song. Using Whitmanesque phrasing to connect Lincoln with Kennedy. Both men were after all the great hope of a wounded nation. Slavery in Lincoln’s era and Vietnam/Racism in Kennedy’s time. Both men were victims of murder most foul.
Mr. Dylan has undergone phases of life where he composed Christian influenced records. He has deep personal beliefs that crop up nicely here.
Declaring, ‘the Age of the Antichrist’ has just begun following the Kennedy assassination the nation saw a steep rise in cult activity, the crimes of Charles Manson, and satanic music also came into being in American culture.
Echoing the conventional wisdom that the nation had lost its soul are Mr. Dylan’s lyrics describing the Kennedy post mortem: ‘No soul was found where it should be.’
The Fourth Section
What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say? I said the soul of a nation been torn away And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay And that it’s thirty-six hours past Judgment Day Wolfman Jack, he’s speaking in tongues He’s going on and on at the top of his lungs Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack Play it for me in my long Cadillac Play me that “Only the Good Die Young” Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James If you want to remember, you better write down the names Play Etta James, too, play “I’d Rather Go Blind” Play it for the man with the telepathic mind Play John Lee Hooker, play “Scratch My Back” Play it for that strip club owner named Jack Guitar Slim going down slow Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe
It’s Mr. Wolfman Jack to you. Bob Dylan has reached a point in his career that he can compose a poem that includes 1970’s icon Wolfman Jack.
This is a reference to the alter—ego creation that he underwent in the 1960’s, Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan; Robert Weston Smith became Wolfman Jack.
Also in the new age of the antichrist men were literally becoming beasts. It’s in this section that Mr. Dylan begins to recommend recordings using the word ‘play’ as a command.
It references his 2 years as a D.J. himself on satellite radio. Using famous titles/lyrics from the era’s violent refelctions include “Only The Good Die Young”, published in 1977, the year of the Son of Sam killings in New York.
Bob Dylan makes his listeners do a lot of history homework. I strongly believe this is why his work ranks so high.
Playing up the description of President Kennedy’s car of choice, ‘a long black Cadillac’, itself a coffin on wheels.
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James If you want to remember, you better write down the names
For my take these 3 lines set up why Bob Dylan has become such a master at connecting seemingly disparate ideas.
You see the ‘place where Tom Dooley was hung’ is in North Carolina, where the Wolfman took his last breath.
Being white, Wolfman Jack died of a heart attack not a lynching. Tom Dooley became the subject of many folk songs, a genre that gave artistic birth to Bob Dylan.
Tom Dooley is part of a sad American tradition known as Appalachian Murder Ballads. A murder most foul.
St. James Infirmary references blues music. An alternate title for the song was “The Young Man Cut Down in His Prime”) about a soldier who uses his money on prostitutes and then dies of venereal disease. The theme ties in with Kennedy’s death.
Then closing the section with a simple notation of why the name checking will continue unabated for the rest of the piece—to remember with clarity write down the names.
Only an artist of Bob Dylan’s caliber tells the listener his intent in writing this or any other song/poem is to preserve it for the ages to come beyond his mortal years.
The Fifth Section (Conclusion)
Play “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling any good Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey Take it to the limit and let it go by Play it for Carl Wilson, too Looking far, far away down Gower Avenue Play “Tragedy”, play “Twilight Time” Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime Play another one and “Another One Bites the Dust” Play “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In God We Trust” Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road Stand there and wait for his head to explode Play “Mystery Train” for Mr. Mystery The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree Play it for the reverend, play it for the pastor Play it for the dog that got no master Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz Play “Blue Sky,” play Dickey Betts Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk Charlie Parker and all that junk All that junk and “All That Jazz” Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd Play the numbers, play the odds Play “Cry Me a River” for the Lord of the gods Play Number nine, play Number six Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks Play Nat King Cole, play “Nature Boy” Play “Down in the Boondocks” for Terry Malloy Play “It Happened One Night” and “One Night of Sin” There’s twelve million souls that are listening in Play “Merchant of Venice”, play “Merchants of Death” Play “Stella by Starlight” for Lady Macbeth Don’t worry, Mr. President, help’s on the way Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell? Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well Love Field is where his plane touched down But it never did get back up off the ground Was a hard act to follow, second to none They killed him on the altar of the rising sun Play “Misty” for me and “That Old Devil Moon” Play “Anything Goes” and “Memphis in June” Play “Lonely at the Top” and “Lonely Are the Brave” Play it for Houdini spinning around in his grave Play Jelly Roll Morton, play “Lucille” Play “Deep in a Dream”, and play “Driving Wheel” Play “Moonlight Sonata” in F-sharp And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums” Play darkness and death will come when it comes Play “Love Me or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell Play “The Blood-Stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”
In this final section of this elegiac piece Mr. Dylan reminds us of the worst scene of racial violence in the nation’s history.
The Tulsa race massacre (also called the Tulsa race riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre) of 1921 took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” The attack, carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district—at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as “Black Wall Street”.
This awful history was dramatized on the Premiere of HBO’s ‘Watchmen’. Here the line takes us back to the scene of the original crime.
He connects it to the currents of hate/racism that from 1921 became a tsunami that killed another American President.
Then swirling through the American history of Jazz music and its iconic progenitors he adds crime figures like Bugsy Siegel who builds Las Vegas and on and on in a dizzying meter of names that arrives at “Love Me or Leave Me” by Bud Powell.
This is Dylan’s response to the hateful crowds that state, America love it or leave it.
The final line is perhaps the most stinging reminder of how far America needs to go to overcome its bloody past and present: Play The Blood Stained Banner , Play Murder Most Foul.
‘The Blood Stained Banner’ was a Confederate anthem and a version of the Confederate Flag presented in 1865. Bob Dylan is telling the nation to never forget this happened.
And to kindly play the song just ended, his American Elegy, Murder Most Foul.
A trinity of a sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”. The framing device applied here is the drafting of a record. One of the Aunts is writing about the Republic of Gilead at her present. She hopes it will be discovered by a future generation. Supposedly after the fall of this decaying state.
You will not be following OfGlen anymore. Fifteen years have passed since the events of the previous book.
There are two transcripts simply labeled Transcript of Witness Testimony 369A and 369B. ‘A’ is the memory of a woman who lived in Gilead; ‘B’ is the memory of a woman who lived outside in Toronto, Canada. These are their “Testaments”.
The organization known as Mayday has been aiding women who have escaped the theocratic Republic of Gilead via the Underground Femaleroad.
The Pearl Girls are the missionaries of Gilead. Traveling in pairs they hand out brochures to would be subjects. They visit the Clothes Hound, a used clothing shop in Canada. The business is a suspected Mayday front.
The novel does a great job of balancing the witness testimony. The Aunts are the holder of Gilead’s secrets. The keys to the kingdom are guarded by their ability to vet new candidates to their order.
The latest political upheaval concerning the Republic is the removal of Baby Nicole. Her escape is considered the ultimate act of resistance to the new order.
Protest marches in Canada against Gilead are happening. The rituals of the Republic continue to trap more women. There are mass executions. The state of the republic is seen in the early goings to be solid.
Old tech is employed to smuggle out the awful happenings of Gilead to Canada. It is called Microdot. The following explains how it works:
“Documents are photographed with a miniature camera that reduces them to microscopic size. Then they are printed on minute plastic dots, which can be applied to almost any surface and read by the recipient with a custom viewer small enough to be concealed in, for instance, a pen…not for nothing we at Ardua Hall say ‘Pen Is Envy.'”
The theocratic regime’s obsession with this escaped female baby becomes their achilles heel. Fanatics become blind to the contradiction of their deep held beliefs; murder is a tool to cement their foundation.
After the escape, Gilead closed down routes in Upstate New York. Mayday intends to send the now grown-up baby Nicole into the Republic; make public the secrets underpinning their system.
Founder Aunt Lydia is the vessel holding the regime’s best kept secrets. Her testament will undo their slave-like society. How she became indoctrinated is part of her testimony.
The Republic of Gilead was founded by four women selected by male commanders—Lydia, Elizabeth, Vidala, and Helena. In their former lives they were lawyers, judges, and real estate agents.
The geo politics are explained to Baby Nicole. The Republic of Texas went to war with Gilead resulting in a draw. The neutrality meant there would be no hostilities expressed in the future.
Their ability to keep order, secrets, and deliver punishment made them ideal candidates. They chose Aunthood to escape the certainty of death by firing squad.
Aunt Lydia’s statue sits in front of Ardua Hall, the residency of their order. Their status allows them to read and write. They have full access to the ‘Genealogical Bloodline Archives’.
Aunt Lydia spares Nicole’s life; the order of the Aunts becomes her calling. We learn of their indoctrination. There is a rulebook; chores; prayers.
To be matchmakers for the Republic they must know by blood the best possible outcomes. Unknown to the outside, suicide was becoming a crisis for Gilead. A young girl called Becka attempts to end her life rather than marry Commander Kyle.
Another would be bride, Agnes opposes Commander Judd, a Son of Jacob. Aunt Lydia becomes their lifeline. However, the other Aunt founders are not happy with this situation. The challenge to Lydia’s authority is part of the decay within Gilead.
Aunt Lydia’s admiration for Nicole is best summed up by her opinion—“The ability to concoct plausible lies is a talent not to be underestimated.”
While this happens on the inside, Baby Nicole will be escorted back inside; now to be known as Jade. She has undergone training by Mayday to become accepted by the Pearl Girls. The final touch of sin is a tattoo.
Once inside she insinuates herself into the order. The training will take years to complete. Both Jade and Becka become ‘supplicants’; newly named: Victoria and Immortelle.
The rituals of Gilead grind slowly forth. The wheels of righteousness sometimes roll over the foot of a true believer. There are chess like moves being made all the time.
Within the walls of Ardua Hall Aunts in training will share the secrets of their former lives. This adds another layer to the story. New knowledge; a crack in the edifice of faith.
“Once I had passed my six-month exam and had been accepted as a Supplicant, I was allowed into the Hildegard Library. It’s hard to describe the feeling this gave me. The first time I passed through its doors, I felt as if a golden key had been given to me—a key that would unlock one secret door after another, revealing to me the riches that lay within.”
The devil is in the details. Gilead is based upon lies; untruths. There have been betrayals in the ranks. Commanders have violated the rules time and again. What would Jade, now Aunt Victoria, do with this new information?
Throughout the book the perverse culture of Gilead is spoken about for readers who may have skipped “The Handmaid’s Tale”. A smart writer pens a sequel that can stand on its own. This story does just that without being too simple.
The speculative nature of this fiction is reinforced with an imagined ‘Thirteenth Symposium’ following the conclusion. An academic gathering 70 plus years later; history is only as accurate as it is recorded.
Just speculating, but this may not be the final word on Gilead or The Handmaids.
The above comes from the Merriam—Webster dictionary definition of Weird. For myself this was the word that always popped into my head when I thought about Frank Zappa. Not surprising that a single word could then be translated in many colorful ways. Much like the sonic experiments Mr. Zappa created, his listeners would receive a bounty that would never get exhausted.
This entry is happening now because on Friday May 31, 2019 for the first time on vinyl since 1976 comes a re-issue of “Zappa In New York” on 3 Lps. Recorded during a 4 show stint at The Palladium in New York City. Originally a double LP, the third record is a bonus!
Before I delve into my thoughts about the work, how did it come to be?
In 1964 Frank Zappa took over leadership of the American band The Soul Giants. He renamed the band The Mothers, referring to the jazz compliment of mother for a great musician. However, their record company, Verve Records , objected to the insinuation (i.e., “motherfuckers”) and by necessity Zappa had to change the name, creating (and defining) The Mothers Of Invention.
Necessity is the mother of invention” is an English-language proverb. It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need.
Mr. Zappa’s need drove him to create music that would provide new pathways for musicians and listeners.
As a music lover I am relieved that my appreciation of his work comes after my obsessions with mainstream groups. Music is exploratory by nature. As a listener I need to be challenged. Following the former years of passive media consumption I want to be more actively engaged. Music does this for me. But like many of my fellow countrymen I listened to what was put before me, not what I actually made an effort to get. In an age where over produced pop is drowning us in simplicity I need complexity.
Now, in this age of information, the legacy of his vast body of work can be understood as a rigorous expression of subjects Mr. Zappa cared deeply about. Nothing to do with easy access or top 40 popularity. This music is label free. Fusion is the word used to describe what is the core of his output. He puts styles together to form a new sound.
Remaining outside the mainstream culture of mass consumer popularity Mr. Zappa is being reached for the first time by people like myself who remained in a fractured mindset. Applying self-made restrictions on what to hear or think about prevented finding this revolutionary sound.
Tellingly, Mr. Zappa spoke openly about the damaging effects of television that enable a crippling passivity. People become narrow and confused, bogged down in just one form of expression. Taught to consume without much thought. Creativity becomes necessity in such a culture. In his lifetime he released 60 albums of original work. The Zappa Family Trust, since his death in 1993, has put out 62 more works.
For a complete list of the 112 studio albums and 40 tribute albums use this link:
Even back in the late 1960s the idea of free thought was constrained by profit. His albums beginning with the debut, “Freak Out!”, sought to obliterate this filter. Without a filter he put out a record titled, “We’re Only In It For The Money”, with cover art that mocked the lionized “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. The rock era is filled to overflowing with artists that sought nothing more than commercial acceptance. Nothing wrong with it. There is more to art than just profit.
I admit that my first impression of him was typical of a kid too young to understand anything more than top 40 drivel. Here was a guy with looks I found peculiar playing music that had sounds I could not readily decipher or pigeonhole. My prejudices were taught. Today there are more people with Zappa’s looks of otherness. I think this is encouraging. He brought humor into forms considered serious like jazz and blues.
Way-out experiments are not the commercial fruit bearing endeavors record companies want from their talent. Frank Zappa did it because there was within him a strong need to invent sounds that could not exist otherwise. He sought out musicians that could play this no boundaries music.
On YouTube there are several hours worth of interviews from different countries and years. His opinions were direct, smart, and well thought out. Knowing full well that America’s self-deception was the thing hurting the nation from era to era, Zappa spoke about our deep backwardness regarding sexuality and free expression.
“The American dream is to always be young, always be rich, and always be cute”— Frank Zappa
Sexuality was the pressing issue. He felt strongly that sex is as natural a function as going to the bathroom. In American culture many are taught to repress sexual expression. Look at what the result of this has been. Zappa did not believe in pornography or dirty words. Filters like religion and television have done damage in dictating that there is something wrong with sex. Notice how absent most expressions of sexuality are from our media. He recognized most license holders in television are right-wing.
I admire his tenacity when expressing these things. I agree with a lot of it. To fix the economy he stated that churches should be taxed. Then legalize prostitution and drugs. Both should be highly taxed and regulated. Make sure our politicians get what they need, especially sex.
Everyone in the country would have better jobs because America would be manufacturing goods. The economy would then be quite strong. And stop overfunding the military. I think this is why so many wanted him to run for President during the 1980s. Boldly put, do you really want sexually repressed people in places of power?
Speaking of power nobody was more aware of television’s deliberate consumer mission: to sell products. His 1978 appearance on Saturday Night Live was my first exposure to his music and personality. “Dancin’ Fool” was the catchy number I remember most. Re-watching it I discovered how relevant the other two pieces were in presenting his ideas. Click here to see it: https://youtu.be/PGWE7t3qO1I
Actually, after seeing it again now as an adult I think of Frank Zappa on the simple level of a George Carlin type with musical talent. Intellectual, probing, and skeptical of what we as a society think culture should be.
Mr. Zappa was a champion of First Amendment rights. In the 1980s when the Parent’s Music Resource Center, a group made up of politician’s wifes including Tipper Gore tried to censor rock music, Mr. Zappa testified before Congress. He defended the rights of all. He knew an attack on any form of music was an attack on him as well.
I think he would find the current state of things typical. We are still fighting over race, sexuality, gender, censorship, and inequality. The continuing legalization of marijuana would be progress, slow, but a forward step he might have been happy to see. Just imagine the Zappa response to ‘reality’ TV and ‘social’ media that do the opposite of what they pretend to be. Zappa was quite real and social. A real mother.
Details of the 40th Anniversary release of Zappa In New York set (seen above) are here:
Getting back to how I started this entry. Can we define Zappa? I think we cannot. Fluidity is the main thing in art. Zappa the musician. That’s enough for me.
I have started listening from the beginning with the first 4 albums by The Mothers Of Invention. The first two solo albums were added too.
There may be more entries about Frank Zappa in the future. Although I still need to write about the albums and artists that were at the core of my love of music, the boundaries are ever expanding. The gate is always open.
All the retailers that carry the Pop! collectibles offer specific items that are only sold by each outlet. There is currently a George R.R. Martin pop at Barnes & Noble only. This is a B & N exclusive. There is a sticker on the front of the Pop box to indicate this status.
Retailers began exclusive packaging on things like Blu-rays a while back. To increase traffic they started to offer items you could not get online. The treasure hunt aspect of finding a desired item enabled retailers to get some folks away from just clicking their mouse at home.
The demand for certain releases across the collectibles landscape has been quite eye-opening. Last month Amazon offered pre-orders for the new Queen Pops. Now they are only offering third party sellers for them. And the prices can become insane.
If you are lucky to live in a place where there are lots of choice you can usually still find them at a reasonable price.
For exclusives you should check online to see what items are being released. When visiting retailers you can browse through to find their exclusives. Always look for the sticker that says Exclusive.
My local B & N had a Hermione Granger Pop that was an Exclusive from a Funko Pop Convention! The price was $14.95. Cool item.
FYE will have an exclusive Freddie Mercury Pop! A diamond glitter pop styled after the rock icon’s stage wear on Queen’s Rock N America Tour in the summer of 1982 in support of Hot Space. This turned out to be his final US appearances.
Hot Topic carried an exclusive Bellatrix Lestrange pop, a villain in the Harry Potter series.
Store to store; region to region. These factors decide what figures you will find in your local shops. My closest B & N loves Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and the video game Fortnite. These are heavily carried.
Check out your local places first. Then branch out to see what you can find elsewhere.
Following 13 entries I decided to create this formal welcome. For everyone who has ever felt like a misfit. Perhaps you are living in a part of the country that puts you in the political minority; you dress differently than what is proscribed; you love music that hardly ever touches the mainstream; you read a lot; history is not your story.
I was born in Manhattan in the 1960’s. My parents are college educated lifelong New Yorkers. They are still married. All four of their children including myself were never left wanting. We are all adults now. We were middle class. Our parents were never out of work. We never went hungry. Each kid was made to feel loved every day. I have 2 older brothers and one younger sister. Raised in The Bronx. The neighborhood was quite suburban as it was the northernmost part of the city bordered by one of the largest parks.
We had our struggles. Politics, music, books, art, and history were all a part of life. This was not an elite way of life. A big city has many more resources at its disposal to educate people. Of course when you are a kid you cannot fully appreciate what it all means. Then you grow up. Every day you have more joy than sorrow because you have critical thinking skills that will see you through.
Today we have technology. If you can write and think critically about a variety of topics and ideas you can blog.
My education was not easy. Kindergarten through grade 12 in public schools that became increasingly too crowded did not help. Early exposure to college was great. I moved away from home for the first time. I was eighteen when I entered college. My graduation did not happen until decades later. The politics of the times was not to my liking so I dropped out. When I did graduate college I was an adult. My degree was in media studies. This is my credential for writing about topics ranging from our current media age problems to our political turmoil. My undying passion for heavy music stems from my dislike of the system.
I am a misfit. Being gay does not put you into the mainstream. Things are way better today. But multitudes of people sacrificed a lot to make it happen. People who do not fit neatly into the schemes of others are championed here.
Heavy metal music, LGBTQ life, mutlicultural politics, banned books, art, and critiques of our all too powerful media companies are all a part of this blog. I love discussing these things. This is my outlet for protest and greater understanding.
I hope you will enjoy reading and responding here! We may be misfits to the outside but here we all fit together.
This tale makes very clear the cruel and barbaric nature of slavery. Told in flashback we know our protagonist is now a Freeman. He relates the following:
“I was wielding a hoe at the age of two, and weeding, and collecting fodder for the cows, and scooping manure into cane holes with my hands. In my ninth year I was gifted a straw hat and a shovel that I could scarcely lift, and I had felt proud to be counted a man.”
Our man-child also did not know his origin. Different stories were told. This will get sorted out by journey’s end. His name was given by his new master. Christened Washington Black as a term of ridicule. The master, Erasmus Wilde, had thoughts of ‘a warrior-president and a land of sweetness and freedom.’ Washington’s face was also burned badly. Home is a sugar cane plantation called Faith on Barbados in the West Indies. This slave name is shortened to Wash by his friends.
Big Kit, a witch woman, is described as fierce and large in size casts spells to punish and protect. She keeps Wash safe. You see the new master begun his reign by hiring a squad of rough men and maiming every slave, even young children, to enact a code of understanding—no one will escape his wrath. That is until his brother Christopher, an inventor and their father’s favorite son arrives. He will liberate Wash by choosing him to be his assistant with experiments.
This book prefaces our hero’s journey in slavery because he will face uncertain situations with grace and a never say die spirit bourne of this struggle. Slavery takes away your origin story; Your master owns your life and death. When Wash meets Christopher, Titch as he is known for the rest of the story, he will bring a nail to impale if his new master attempts any violence.
For the slave is always on guard for a master’s punishment. Titch sets him at ease and gives him a comfortable place to sleep and work. From now on he will be a house slave. Eventually becoming an illustrator of new specimens for Titch’s scientific journal. We learn that Titch is an abolitionist sent to his brother’s plantation to catalog the sins of slavery. And this is where the adventure literally takes flight. Titch is secretly building a ‘Cloud-Cutter’. A contraption in which he and Wash will escape faith for science; slavery for freedom.
The rest of the novel concerns itself with the nature of being a fugitive slave. Wash and Titch meet people and have great times. The writing is never less than exceptional throughout. People close to Wash will vanish, sometimes die. Young Wash will never seek revenge for the crimes committed against him. He is a reminder that his station does not dictate that he become a savage master. On the contrary, he will become a man. A stark reminder is also imbued that he will never be seen as human in his lifetime. Easy answers are not forthcoming. Ending slavery was just a prelude for the violence to follow. In an age where any slight, perceived or otherwise could lead a man to the gallows.
If you want to become better rounded regarding the nation’s original sin look no further. For adventure and redemption await all who open the pages of this extraordinary book.
In conjunction with the British library this new exhibition celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. Connecting the lavish fantasy world of Harry with the very real world of magic is the mission here. I declare the curators have succeeded. With the show split up into all of the different subjects in the fictional Hogwart’s curriculum young and old alike will learn the history behind the objects featured in the books.
Around 160 artifacts are featured. On display outside the exhibition space are costumes and props from the “Cursed Child” play . A signed copy of Half-Blood Prince was shipped via Queen Mary in a giant steamer strunk which is also seen with accompanying video of its journey from England to America. This signifies quite well the odyssey this series is still experiencing.
Fans will love the Potter ephemera here, especially factoids about the books. My favorite explains how the British publisher Bloomsbury published only 500 copies of the first book as per their policy with children’s books. As we all know now the Harry Potter series is now the biggest selling children’s lit series in history. This fact alone merits an exhibit of this kind.
For the little wizards in your family this experience is not hands-on save for one or two touch screen items and a replica statue of a griffin.
Among the artifacts are a fabulous scroll instructing how to create the sorcerer’s stone in seven steps, a real witch’s cauldron and broomstick. Alchemy, Dark Arts, Astronomy, Herbology, etc. are all represented with their own section.
Mary Dupre’s original art for all of the novels are displayed to great effect. As well as Jim McKay’s new illustrations for the recently published storybook editions. Original art, manuscripts, and letters from J.K. Rowling are quite impressive too. You will see how she mapped out every character to create this entirely new realm of the fantastic.
This leads to the last section that promotes the new film, “Fantastic Beats and the Curse of Grimwald” along with items from the current play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”.
Parents be forewarned: you exit through the gift shop after passing all the international editions of the books. Beyond the $21 ticket price are separate programs related to Harry Potter including readings, meet-ups, and classes.
You are strongly advised to purchase timed tickets on the museum’s website. The link is provided here: http://www.nyhistory.org.