Relevant Quote #1

"Art is coming face to face with yourself"
-- Jackson Pollock

Seminal Image #8

Artists in Action #4

Have You Noticed That . . .

. . . the older Paul McCartney gets, the more he looks like Angela Lansbury?

Seminal Image #7

Orpheus in Action #1

Orpheus Sings

The Artist's Dilemma

What do I think of next?

Seminal Image #6

Philip Roth's 'Plot'

Of all the living, currently active American novelists, Philip Roth has been the most consistently brilliant. He's certainly my favorite ("The Great American Novel" is the only book I've read more than twice . . . more than that, actually), and since "The Counterlife" (1989), it would seem that the man can't write anything but masterpieces (even before that, his lesser works . . . and those were decades ago . . . had a touch of genius about them). So it goes somewhat without saying that when I saw his latest novel, "The Plot Against America", pop up on, it was only a matter of counting the weeks and days till I could get my hands on the thing. This is nearly a mathematical process: Philip Roth + New Novel = I'm there (the only other present-day novelist who produces this Pavlovian response in me is Tom Wolfe).

So now, having finally read "The Plot Against America", I'm somewhat dismayed that all I can say (coherently) about it is that it's the single most depressing book Philip Roth has written (and I've read them all). Not that it's a literary disappointment or that it isn't on par with the rest of his output. It is. It's just that I found his scenario of a fictional Presidency of Charles A. Lindbergh in 1940 and its traumatic impact on his own, non-fictional family during that period to be disturbing in a way I'm at a loss to fully comprehend. It certainly disturbed me more than that other 'America-slips-into-Fascism' nightmare novel, Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here" (1936), which seems almost cartoonish in comparison to Roth's vision.

Roth paints his portrait of an America slowly embracing a kind of tacit (but no less insidious) national Anti-Semitism within such an accurate historical frame (few works of the imagination are this well researched) that it was like encountering some lost chapter of our history that had been deliberately forgotten until he, Philip Roth, decided to revive it. As the story of Lindbergh's ascension to the White House and all that it portends for American Jews unfolded, I kept thinking that this could, very easily, have happened exactly as Roth details it. Add to this the step-by-step disintegration of Roth's family in the aftermath and the novel doesn't exactly make for a breezy reading experience.

Perhaps the times we're living in has something to do with why I was so unnerved by this book. This godforsaken election, I mean. While I don't think George W. Bush has either the ability or the inclination to usher in the sort of cultural and religious hatred that someone such as Lindbergh could have inspired among the populace, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't look at the prospect of another four years of his serving as our President with a certain degree of real dread. But that isn't even an inadequate explanation for my reaction, is it? I suppose what I'm saying is that while I recommend "The Plot Against America", I don't think I can yet say that I'm glad I read it.

Observation on the World Series

It's strange. Here we have a moment that more than a few people . . . including a good many who are no longer with us . . . have been waiting and waiting 86 long years for: The Red Sox have finally won the World Series. There it is.

And yet the moment seems so . . . anti-climactic for some reason. It's as though we all expected it to be somehow more dramatic; more like this season's ALCS than the brutal, almost mechanistic four-game thrashing they just delivered unto the Cardinals.

Still . . . victory is victory, huh

Artists in Action #3

Something that happens

Yes. This is Something That Happens

The following is from the Associated Press:

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Curse? What curse? Johnny Damon homered, Trot Nixon hit a two-run double and the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 for a four-game sweep and their first World Series title since 1918.

Damon sent Jason Marquis' fourth pitch of the game over the right-field wall and into the Cardinals' bullpen, becoming the 17th player to lead off the first inning of a World Series game with a home run.

Nixon added a bases-loaded double in the third to back Derek Lowe, who allowed just three hits and a walk in seven innings of work.

Boston won the first three games 11-9, 6-2 and 4-1 and never trailed against the NL champions. The Red Sox became the first team in World Series history to lead after the first inning of the first four games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Lowe, who won Game 7 of the AL championship series for the Red Sox, allowed a single by Tony Womack leading off the first. Larry Walker followed with his first sacrifice bunt since May 4, 1991, and Albert Pujols' grounder advanced Womack to third. But Scott Rolen grounded back to Lowe and he ran to first and tagged out Rolen, who dived to avoid the tag.

Lowe retired 13 straight batters before Edgar Renteria doubled with one out in the fifth and advanced on a wild pitch. John Mabry struck out, arguing unsuccessfully with plate umpire Chuck Meriwether that he had tipped the pitch into the dirt, and Yadier Molina grounded out.
Lowe also gave up a single to Renteria in the seventh.

What's now known as The Curse of the Bambino, began on Jan. 3, 1920, when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 and a $350,000 loan. The Red Sox had won five of the first 15 World Series before the trade, the last one in 1918.

Boston squandered a good chance to put the game away in the eighth. Mueller singled to right field to open the inning and Nixon followed with his third double of the night.

Closer Jason Isringhausen came in and walked Bellhorn to load the bases with no outs. He then struck out Kevin Millar, pinch hitting for Lowe, for the first out. Damon followed with a grounder that forced Mueller at the plate and wiffed Cabrera to end the threat.

Reggie Sanders walked with one out and stole second in the Cardinals eighth. Alan Embree struck out Hector Luna and Walker popped out to end the inning.

Marquis, struggling with his control, became the first Cardinals pitcher in this Series to last through the fifth inning, allowing three runs and six hits in six innings before he was pinch hit for. He walked five and threw just 58 of 121 pitches for strikes.

Marquis escaped a second-and-third, two-outs jam in the second after Nixon doubled with one out, Mark Bellhorn walked and Lowe sacrificed. Damon then grounded to first.

But Boston came right back in the third, when Manny Ramirez singled with one out and David Ortiz doubled to right.

Jason Varitek grounded to Pujols at first, and he threw home in time for Molina to tag out Ramirez. A walk to Bill Mueller loaded the bases for Nixon, who doubled to deep right-center.

Bellhorn then was intentionally walked to load the bases for Lowe, who struck out.

Damon tripled with two outs in the sixth, but Orlando Cabrera flied out. Walker walked with two outs in the bottom, but Pujols popped out on a 3-2 pitch.

God bless us, everyone

Artists in Action #2

Seminal Image #5

A Look Back at What Once Was

The Boston Red Sox of 1918

Okay. The Sox Are Up By Two . . . So Now What?

I don't wanna jinx anything, so I'm gonna keep my mouth shut till the appropriate time.

I'm sure you'll understand.

Artists in Action #1

Seminal Image #3

This Blogger's Lament

The trouble with finding a suitable format for this blog is that the easiest route to pursue seems to be the one I should avoid the most: The Daily Journal.

Sure, I could do this thing up as a diary if I wanted to, I suppose, but my everyday life is so uneventful that I can't imagine anyone . . . including (maybe especially) me . . . having the slightest interest in reading about it.

Way I look at it, I'd be best advised to continue with this random crap I've been posting when the spirit has moved me. I'm only one day into this as it is. I'll find the right groove eventually.

Just gotta keep my fingers crossed, is all.

Seminal Image #2

The Wondrous E.K. Ellington (Observation #2)

For someone with such an unerring ear for hiring the right musicians, Ellington was comparatively tone deaf when it came to hiring singers.

With the possible . . . and I mean possible . . . exception of Ivie Anderson, every vocalist who sang with the Ellington Orchestra (this is not counting those occasions when he and the band accompanied an established singer like, say, Ella Fitzgerald) was unfathomably lame.

Puzzling, ain't it.

You hadda be there (at least that's what I'm told).

Frank Sinatra Sez . . .

. . . and we're lost out here in the stars.

Seminal Image #4

Quick Observation #1

Right now, I'm in the middle of watching this Paint-By-Numbers, Liberal vs. Conservative (yawwwwn) debate from Amherst College on C-SPAN 2 and, in all my days (there've been a few of them), I doubt if I've ever witnessed a more thoroughly obnoxious, so-called thinker mired hip-deep in the public discourse than Ann Coulter.

But dammit . . . I still think she's hot.

Seminal Image #1

The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter; 1903)

The Wondrous E.K. Ellington (Observation #1)

The more I listen to Duke Ellington recordings, the more amazed I am. Not just by the quality of almost everything the man and his orchestra recorded, but that he was able to bring it all together so consistently.

Think about it with me for a second, children . . .

Here you had what was by all accounts the most undisciplined band of musicians in the business. It doesn't matter which lineup or what period we're talking about; they were a world class gaggle of wineheads, junkies, habitual latecomers and recidivist prima donnas.

And yet . . . night after night, recording session after recording session; whether in some smoke-filled, sleazy Elks Club out in Kallispell, Montana or the Mount Olympus of Carnegie Hall, Ellington could somehow transform this bunch into the most finely tuned instrument in all of American music.

Can this be said about Stan Kenton?

No wonder . . . is it? . . . that he had those bags under his eyes Posted by Hello

Demoralized (A Little Bit)

You know, surfing around and looking at some of the other blogs . . . I have to admit I'm a little bit demoralized. A lot of them are so informative, so . . . sincere. I'm not sure how mine'll stack up against the others when it comes to deserving your attentions.

Well, in for a penny, etc.

Opening Salvo (The Title Shot)

"If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats"

Or words to that effect. That's what I was actually going to use as the title for this, my one and only newly-minted blog. Problem was, the thing's too damn long to bear publication. Which is a crying shame since, as far as blogs go, it's not a bad title, even if it's not original.

Oh . . . you didn't know that?

Yeah, it's not something I dreamed up. I'm not that clever. You (and I) have the late Charles Mingus to thank for that bit of poetry.

For all you experienced bloggers out there, let me know if this title works or not.

You see, I'm new to this racket. But I'll try and keep you entertained (or at least diverted).

And feel free to ask me anything. Anything atall.

The King Sez . . .

Do I look like Charlie Parker to you, pilgrim?