I'm baaaaack! I sort of wandered off. I was lost but now am found. I've been out there being patriotic. I've been shopping.
There's a lot of wacko's out there! I don't get off the Island much. I used to commute to what I call the Other Side. Other's, here on the Island, refer to it as the United States of America. Yesterday, we (Katie and Robby) drove through Seattle all the way to Tacoma, went to two malls, and shopped at Archie McPhee. Archie McPhee was an oasis of sanity.
You must understand that heavy traffic on Whidbey Island is when the ferry lands and disgorges it's 130 cars. It becomes a 130 car parade moving up the Island with cars peeling off a Clinton, Ken's Korner, Bayview, Freeland, and points in between. There's not much left by the time the parade gets to Freeland.
I-5 during rush hour just before Christmas is somewhat different. But we survived.
On the way back through Seattle I stopped at Magnolia Hi-Fi and bought a new stereo receiver. My old one has been on it's last legs and finally died. I had to listen to music with head phones and a boom box.
There was an overload for the 9 o'clock boat and I ended up on the ten o'clock ferry. It was almost midnight by the time I got the receiver all hooked up and had a serious listen. Hoo boy! It was all worth it. I was up until 3:30 in the morning listening to vinyl, CDs, MP3s, .wav files, and tapes. It was like listening to the music for the first time.
I feel much better now.
NPR Jazz CD Review
Trying to say something fresh about these recordings, arguably (though not very arguably) the most important set of recordings in the history of jazz, is a little like trying to make a new comment about the Mona Lisa or Bach's B Minor Mass. Miles Davis once famously said, "You can't play anything on the horn that Louis hasn't played...even modern," and these recordings bear out that statement.
Listening to these four CD's, one after another, one hears nothing less than Louis Armstrong creating the very vocabulary of all the jazz improvisation that followed and making the soloist the dominant role in jazz rather than the ensemble. For anyone who loves jazz, hearing Armstrong in the process of doing this is an astonishing experience.
As most jazz fans know, the Hot Fives and Hot Sevens were not working groups. They were, in a fashion, the first "all- star" groups assembled for recording purposes only. Among Armstrong's colleagues on these dates were clarinetist Johnny Dodds and trombonist Kid Ory, two of the greatest New Orleans players on their respective instruments; but Armstrong's rhythmic conception (he virtually invented "swing" in these sides), his endless series of melodic ideas, the golden vibrancy of his tone put him into a whole different league.
The NPR Basic Jazz Record Library
Hot Fives and Sevens [BOX SET]
This is the same set of CDs as on EMusic.com.
Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings are jazz’s Holy Grail, a venerable guide for anyone with the desire to explore the roots of this now century old art. These recordings made between 1925 and 1929 ushered out the era of acoustic recording where the soloist played into a huge cone and ushered in the electric method utilizing microphones. But these weren’t Armstrong’s first recordings. He had begun recording in 1923 as a sideman in King Oliver’s Creole Band, with Fletcher Henderson and also with the blues singer Bessy Smith.
It’s peculiar that Armstrong’s first recordings as a leader; assembled here may be the height of his revolutionary esthetic. It’s not that the next forty years were one farewell tour, it’s just that Satchmo never stood the music world on its head like he did here. For instance soloing, something we take for granted, just wasn’t done in Armstrong’s Joe Oliver days. A typical band embellished a song, but Armstrong took long solos, causing near riots of excitement. Obviously because of recording lengths at the time, no extended solos are heard here. There are plenty trumpet licks rendered to keep scholars and student busy for years. Armstrong, true to his American heritage, made himself into a cult hero. Like Babe Ruth’s Yankees, it wasn’t the Hot Fives, but Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives. He also cultivated the art of jazz singing, introducing wordless ‘scatting’ to record listeners. When he opens “West End Blues” with a trumpet solo followed by the klop-klop of cymbals and his “waa-waa-waa” scat in response to Johnny Dodds’ clarinet one can imagine listeners falling-out with excitement. Sure it’s now the 21st century, and next to nothing shocks and /or excites you, but Satchmo’s wordless scatting is as fresh as yesterday’s software start-up.
George Avakian produced some of Satchmo's most highly regarded recordings in the 1950s. But Avakian played another key role in the career of Armstrong and many other legendary performers. It was the young George Avakian who, as a student at Riverdale's Horace Mann School, came up with what was then a revolutionary idea the reissue of collections of the great music of the past.
Zoe sent me a little traditional Christmas carol to share with all of you. It's Mr. Garrison singing Merry Fucking Christmas! (It's a 2.82MB MP3 file.)
Every TestingTesting is different. (TT is a webcast done from my living room). One of the fun parts of doing this show is coming across musicians that I haven't head before. That can be bad or it can be good. It usually is good.
I was familiar with Linda but Susan is new to the Island and I hadn't heard her yet. She has done lots of bluegrass and has a wonderful voice. Plays guitar and fiddle. What was great was that she plays well with others. She could backup Derek and Steve on their numbers. At the end of the show Steve did his traditional Rudolph the Red Nosed Reeindeer as a blues number. Steve had only played a few notes and Susan jumped in with a great blues violin. A TestingTesting moment.
words and symbols
So much of today's problems are allowed to continue because those in power are controlling the use of words and symbols.
Joseph Duemer, at reading & writing, had this to say about words:
One of the perhaps unanticipated results of the War on Terrorism is the proliferation of the rhetoric of anti-terrorism. It begins with the US declaration of a war against "evil" & has been picked up by Ariel Sharon, who is using it as cover for a policy of state-assassination; the Hindu Nationalist Party in India has also chimed in with its own use of the terminology of terrorism & now the Chinese. At this rate it won't be long before the Potsdam Police Department here in rural New York will be referring to drunken college students as "terrorists" & demanding that they be allowed to take appropriate measures. The problem--at least if you care about clarity--is that the same blanket of language gets laid over many disparet situations & we lose our ability to think about them coherently. Language is a sneaky bastard & you have to watch it every second.
A good example is how Israel characterises any Palestinian action. It is always refered to as a terrorist action. A child throws a rock. It is a terrorist action. An Israeli Defense Force soldier kills him. That is called self-defense.
There is a related issue and that is the misuse of symbols. People start confusing the symbol with the thing it stands for. A good example is the flag. It is a symbol of the US and what it stands for. But people would destroy the things the flag stands for, such as the freedom of speech, in order to protect the flag.
abuddhas memes linked to a piece that goes into this in more detail.
How we confuse symbols and things
One of the things that I have always found puzzling is how Hitler and his henchmen were able to do what they did. After the war many Germans said they didn't know what was going on. I always thought that response was self-serving and rang pretty hollow. Now I'm not so sure.
How could we, in America, with a "free" press and "free" speech not know what is happening in our name? The Germans had a government that was very good at manipulating words and symbols to control them. So, apparently, do we.
WHAT'S NOT IN THE NEWS
TomPaine.com: What did you find that you had not seen reported in the U.S. press?
Benjamin: Well, I didn't know that massive numbers of people were not getting food aid because the U.S. was blocking an international force from coming in to open up the roads so that aid could get in. And I also had no idea to the extent of innocent victims, who were killed by U.S. bombs, until I realized that everywhere we went, we found people who had stories to tell of loved ones who were killed in the bombing. And then, in terms if women, I realized the issue was not the burqa, but the issue was jobs and education, which meant that their question was, how much money is the international community going to invest in rebuilding Afghanistan, rather than destroying it?
TomPaine.com: I'm sure you saw American reporters there, and I'm sure you got to talk to some of them. Did any tell you about their priorities for coverage, particularly about these issues you just mentioned -- innocent victims, and what kind of aid might actually be there for women.
Benjamin: Well, many of the press people we met on the ground were extremely frustrated, because they wanted to do stories about these issues, like the innocent victims, like their colleagues were doing in Europe and in the Arab and other press, but found that the stories were not wanted back in the U.S. Either they would do them and they'd never make it to the air or in print, or they were just plain out told, we don't want those stories.
TomPaine.com: Upon hearing these kinds of reports from the reporters, what conclusions did you draw? What did it make you think?
Benjamin: Well, it made me think that our press is in lockstep with the government, and that we're not hearing what the rest of the world is hearing, and it makes us so much less able to understand why there are so many people around the world that hate us. If we can't cover the results of the U.S. bombing campaign, if we can't hear that the United States is stopping food aid from getting to people who are starving and cold, then we're not getting the real story and the U.S. people will continue to think that the United States have liberated the people of Afghanistan and they're all overjoyed with us.
thanks to BookNotes
I have a TV. I don't have TV reception and, given the choice of affording DSL or cable TV, I chose DSL. I have been spared what passes for news on TV. I see it occasionally. It's depressing. I get my news from the web. From newspapers and web logs. I see what other other countries are seeing. Most of the people around me don't.
If the American people knew what was being done in their name I am sure that they would put an end to it. Just like they did with Vietnam. But our government isn't going to make that mistake again. The mistake of letting the American public see the atrocities committed in their name.
This does raise the question Do people not want to know? They say ignorance is bliss. Maybe it's an unconcious decision to not be too inquisitive. No sense asking the question if we don't want to hear the answer. The answers provided are more comfortable. No need to think.
I exchanged emails with an Israeli about the issues there. She believes that Israel is at war. It is a war they didn't start. When 5 Palestinian children were killed by an Israeli booby trap she calls it a tragedy but that Israel is being forced to defend itself. She feels that the military is doing everything it can to limit it's response. She feels that the PA, by encouraging and carrying out terrorist attacks, has made killing Jews a strategic policy. She believes that the suicide bombers are given high status, which encourages people to seek out death. She also believes that they are brainwashing their children with endless TV programs to become matyrs. She believes that the Palestinians have made child sacrifice a strategic policy.
This is not a rabid right winger we are talking about. This is an intelligent mother of four trying to raise a family. She is doing her best. I asked her once if she knew any Palestinians. She said that she had pickup up a Palestinian hitchhiker once, mistaking him for an Israeli. It ended well. They ended up meeting each others families and even exchanged presents. I didn't get the sense that her first hand knowledge of Palestinans went beyond that one incident.
The following two articles paint a very different world. They are long pieces. They are worth the time.
A Gaza Diary
Sunday afternoon, June 17, the dunes
I sit in the shade of a palm-roofed hut on the edge of the dunes, momentarily defeated by the heat, the grit, the jostling crowds, the stench of the open sewers and rotting garbage. A friend of Azmi's brings me, on a tray, a cold glass of tart, red carcade juice.
Barefoot boys, clutching kites made out of scraps of paper and ragged soccer balls, squat a few feet away under scrub trees. Men in flowing white or gray galabias—homespun robes—smoke cigarettes in the shade of slim eaves. Two emaciated donkeys, their ribs protruding, are tethered to wooden carts with rubber wheels.
It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker.
"Come on, dogs," the voice booms in Arabic. "Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!"
I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: "Son of a bitch!" "Son of a whore!" "Your mother's cunt!"
The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.
A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children's slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.
Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.
We approach a Palestinian police post behind a sand hill. The police, in green uniforms, are making tea. They say that they have given up on trying to hold the children back.
"When we tell the boys not to go to the dunes they taunt us as collaborators," Lt. Ayman Ghanm says. "When we approach the fence with our weapons to try and clear the area the Israelis fire on us. We just sit here now and wait for the war."
thanks to BookNotes
A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Special Report
More than two months after the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, the situation of the civilian population has become deeply troubling. The trap in which the Palestinian people are caught, the violence of the confrontation, the emergence of a Palestinian military resistance and the disproportionate measures being employed by the Israeli forces throughout the Palestinian Territories are all taking a heavy toll on the civilians. The military means employed against civilians are those generally used in situations of conventional war.
The economic blockade imposed by Israel on the Palestinian territories is further undermining an already precarious social structure, and underlines the state of dependence in which Palestinian families are forced to live.
The daily living conditions of these families continue to deteriorate. Palestinians live in permanent fear of reprisals by the Israeli army and the Jewish settlers. They are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Palestinian Authority. The income of Palestinian families is dwindling. Palestinians employed in Israel can no longer get to work, and the movement of people and goods is regularly blocked so that families have less and less income on which to live. Palestinian houses located close to Jewish settlements or roads used by settlers have been razed to the ground or requisitioned with full impunity, with the justification that these acts prevent terrorism. Families are forced to flee their homes because their villages regularly come under fire. Intimidation and humiliation are routine occurrences.
There are many obstacles preventing Palestinian access to health care. It has become difficult to move around freely without suffering through long and humiliating controls. This means that for some families, it is becoming impossible to reach Palestinian medical facilities or gain access to a doctor. For some people, the fear of seeing their house requisitioned or destroyed during their absence is so great that they do not dare leave to seek medical attention. People's access to health care is subject to a number of unpredictable factors. At the same time, the violence exercised against Palestinian families and the climate of terror in which they live are causing very severe feelings of stress and fear which require constant care.
thanks to BookNotes
There are crazies on both sides. However, it is the good people in the middle that let these situations continue. Good people that live in their own comfortable world and don't see the nightmare world that is being created to support that comfort. It happened in Germany. It is happening now in America and Israel.
The web site is set up for tonight's TestingTesting. It's a webcast we do from my living room. Tonight we will have an evening of fiddles and guitars for our holiday show. Click on in for some living room music.
Now to clean the house, set up the sound board and mics, and generally get ready for the show. Not much blogging until tomorrow.
It's been a windy past couple of days. It can be a problem when you live where there are a lot of trees. The wind comes up and the trees go down. Usually on power lines. Last night I was ready to post twice to this web log when the power went out. I went to bed in the dark. I woke with the lights on.
Bumper sticker: If I had known how much fun grandkids would be, I would have had them first.
I babysat Mike (2 in October) and Robyn (3 in January) Saturday night. Zoe and I had a great time playing with them. They spent the night and Jenny and Katie picked them up Sunday morning. There are not many things more special than making a child laugh.
THE IRAQ HAWKS
Generals and admirals have been among the most outspoken critics of Chalabi's proposals. In his years of planning at CENTCOM, General Zinni concluded, according to a Clinton Administration official, that a prudent and successful invasion of Iraq would involve the commitment of two corps—at least six combat divisions, or approximately a hundred and fifty thousand soldiers—as well as the ability to fly bombing missions from nearby airfields. In an essay published last year in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Zinni, who was on the eve of retirement, wrote about what it would take to "drive a stake" through the heart of someone like Saddam:
"You must have the political will—and that means the will of the administration, the Congress, and the American people. All must be united in a desire for action. Instead, however, we try to get results on the cheap. There are congressmen today who want to fund the Iraqi Liberation Act, and let some silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London gin up an expedition. We'll equip a thousand fighters and arm them with ninety-seven million dollars' worth of AK-47s and insert them into Iraq. And what will we have? A Bay of Goats, most likely."
Ha'aretz is an Israeli paper that seems to have some touch with reality about the war against the Palestinians. Reccomended reading. The next three links are to Ha'aretz articles.
In a step that harkened back to the first intifada, years before the first formal contacts between Israel and Yasser Arafar's PLO, Jerusalem police Monday briefly detained moderate Sari Nusseibeh, Palestinian officialdom's cultured, controversial point man in the holy city, after banning a holiday reception Nusseibeh was to hold for diplomats and local clerics and dignitaries.
The detentions came less than a day after Arafat broadcast to Palestinians a closely-watched appeal for a halt to suicide bombings, mortar and other attacks on Israelis.
But it was violence as usual scant hours later, as IDF troops in the West Bank killed a senior Hamas commander in Hebron and shot dead a Palestinian naval policeman in Nablus, Palestinian mortar squads shelled Gaza Strip settlements, and in a foretaste of further violence, Islamic militants openly rejected the PA chairman's dramatic truce call.
When the occupation moves right into your living room
Around 15 soldiers stayed in the house, Barghouti estimates. Three or four kept guard, while the rest slept well. "Of course it's comfortable," she said, "instead of sleeping in tents outside, they have a ready-made, comfortable apartment. We, on the other hand, couldn't sleep all night. But our experience is just one part of everything else that's going on here. And the question is not food, or the personal discomfort. This is just one example of the fact that the army can come into any Palestinian house at any time and hold it as its own. Our right of ownership is not recognized under occupation."
On Friday morning, the IDF allowed Fadwa Barghouti to come out of her apartment and be interviewed by Ha'aretz. A visit to the apartment was not allowed. Barghouti was given a special promise that she would be permitted to return to her home, thus confirming her version of events that the family members were forbidden from leaving the house if they had any intention of coming back when the IDF took over. "We allowed them to leave the apartment," one soldier told Ha'aretz, "but not to return," Barghouti said, completing the soldier's sentence.
For Fadwa Barghouti, this interview was her first chance to stretch her legs outside her house. She sat on a rock, opposite the soldiers. "Even if they arrested Marwan, or assassinated him, what would they achieve? What have they achieved with all their assassinations and bombings? Only escalation [in violence]," she said.
She points at the soldiers guarding her house and asks rhetorically, "Why do they think that Barghouti has become what they call `the leader of the intifada?' After years of doing everything to convince his people that Oslo was the only way to independence and a state? Because he was left with nothing to convince them with, not even himself, with all the settlement building, the division of the territories into areas A, B and C, the withdrawals that never came and an army that remained all over the place.
"Marwan was elected, not appointed," she continued, "but even if he tells the people who elected him to stop the struggle, they will not listen to him. They will only listen if he can promise that something will come out of it: a plan for a full pullback to the 1967 lines."
Some current developments are being interpreted in Israel in an exaggerated and mistaken manner - namely the criticism of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for continuing Palestinian terrorist actions, and the understanding Washington is showing for the responses of the Israel Defense Forces.
Politicians and most media commentators enthusiastically express satisfaction over what they see as a golden opportunity for Israel to operate with near total freedom in the conflict with the Palestinians.
This is simply not true, despite many media reports suggesting operational coordination between Israel and the United States in attempts to remove Arafat from the political stage. What is true, however, is that Washington does believe Arafat is deliberately misleading not only Israel but everyone else who demands that he fight terrorism. It also believes he is jeopardizing the stability of the Middle East.
However, there are also those in Washington who suggest that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has no political plan to lead Israel and the Palestinians toward a peace treaty - neither a comprehensive, nor even a partial one.
We, as Americans, should be ashamed of ourselves for being partners in a state policy that forces an entire population to exist as a diaspora -- a stateless people scattered about as if they are nothing.
The United States should have nothing to do with this policy of human dispossession. It is against everything we believe in, including the written tenets of our Constitution.
Let me try a little raw truth in discussing this mess. I was in Israel in 1999 when Ehud Barak defeated Benjamin Netanyahu in the election for prime minister. Shortly before the election, Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Ha'aretz newspaper, asked Barak what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian.
Barak's response, the most honest one he could give, angered most Israeli Jews. I was among journalists at the press conference when Barak said: "I would have joined a terrorist organization."
Remember, Barak is not a lover of Arabs. He is one of Israel's most decorated generals, a man who killed Arabs as a duty.
But even Barak knows the score: You cannot dispossess a people and then attempt to govern them by occupying their land, by forcing them to subsist in refugee camps, by blocking roadways to their jobs, by refusing to let them get medical attention, by cutting them off from their universities, by discounting their humanity.
The united chorus and brainwashing campaign that has imposed the full brunt of the responsibility for what has happened on the shoulders of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority has worked wonders. Most Israelis have, in fact, been convinced that the tragedy that has transpired was unavoidable. But another explanation of the events, another truth, could yet come to the fore. Unwittingly, the patriotic public relations campaign could help reveal it.
The last wave of terror attacks, the most horrifying sequence of all, came after two relatively quiet months in which no mass strikes were perpetrated. The month before those sixty days was also quiet, marred only by one large-scale shooting attack. Then came Mahmoud Abu Hanoud's assassination, which was preceded by a number of other targeted killings of Palestinians.
The Abu Hanoud assassination came after the period of relative quiet; and its horrific, destructive aftermath was not long in following. Hamas declared that it would take revenge, just as it announced after the 1996 assassination in Gaza of the "engineer," Yihye Ayash. And acts of vengeance did indeed follow soon after the Abu Hanoud killing. Just like the murder of former tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi came in response to the killing of Abu Ali Mustafa, so too did a wave of suicide strikes follow the Abu Hanoud assassination.
The customary assumption - terror acts belong to them; acts of self-defense belong to us - no longer stands up to the test of reality. The balance of bloodshed and casualties puts Palestinian losses three times higher than those suffered by Israel. Beyond this, the character of several operations carried out by Israel severely strains our assumption of moral probity. Five children killed by a mine laid by our soldiers are not just regrettable victims of an accident; they are victims of terror. Similarly, the trail of destruction that Israel is now leaving through the West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot escape classification as terror.