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Monday, November 27, 2023


Music Week

November archive (finished).

Music: Current count 41262 [41210] rated (+52), 2 [9] unrated (-7).

I posted another substantial Speaking of Which last night (5716 words, 106 links). The writing went late, and I had to cut it off with a lot of unfinished business. In particular, I was taken aback by opposition to my plan to end the war by splitting Gaza off from Israel. My intro starts to sketch out the distinction between left as teleology and as practical politics -- one that should be easy enough to keep clear, but again and again we see practical proposals that would actually do some good torpedoed by people who quite rightly want something better. I might get a better response pitching my plan as the only achievable "two-state solution" to the mainstream crowd who still entertains the possibility. (It is the only version that Israel could be persuaded to agree to, and as we should know by now, nothing is possible without Israel's consent.) But no one in that crowd reads me or cares what I think, so I find myself in this dark spiral, ever more convinced of the necessity of moving left, and of the impossibility of actual left politics.

That's already more than what I meant to say here. Other than to note that if I was serious about political writing, I'd be shopping around an essay right now on "Why I've Never Called Myself Pro-Palestinian, and Why It Doesn't Bother Me if You Do." The first part of that I've been considering for a while. The second part is a reaction to a recent conversation with a friend complaining about "the pro-Palestinian left." My core point is that the left is not your problem. Good people having occasional bad thoughts is not your problem. Your problem is quite simply on the right.


Meanwhile, we have quite a bit of business to deal with below.

I'm continuously updating my year-end lists for Jazz and Non-Jazz. Currently there are 65+1 A-list entries in jazz, 44+3 in Non-Jazz. The + numbers are albums in previous years' tracking files that I only got to this year. Other 2022 releases appear in the main lists if they weren't even in the tracking files (or were released on or after Dec. 1, 2022).

The split has increased in recent weeks, as I've focused on new jazz, and had little time to do any non-jazz prospecting.

I've made two promotions this week from A- to A (Irreversible Entanglements and Steve Lehman). These were not surprises, nor would the current number 4: James Brandon Johnson's For Mahalia, With Love.

One thing to note is that my entire 2022 demo queue has been reviewed. No new mail this past week, but I have two unopened packages today: one from Portugal, the other from France, so they are probably 2022 releases. I am sitting on a couple of 2024 releases, but I'm in no hurry for them (well, maybe for Ballister).

It's almost two weeks since the first batch of ballot invites for the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll went out. I have 24 ballots counted, naming 264 albums. (Maximum is 16 per ballot: 10 new, 3 old, 1 each vocal, debut, latin.) As new records receive votes, I add them to my tracking file and to the unheard section of my 2024 jazz list. (Note to self: I should write a program to pull up all of the albums with jazz poll votes, sorted by artist so I don't give away the standings.)

Hopefully the ballots will start rolling in soon. Deadline is December 15. I still have a bunch of notes on possible voters. I'm not done sending out invites, but I haven't had much time to vet them yet. But this is probably your last chance to make a case, for you or someone else, to vote. My approximate guidelines are that you should have listed to more than 200 new jazz records in the last year, and that you should have written about ten or more. As for "broadcast journalists," I have no idea what the criteria should be. Francis Davis invited several dozen, and a few others nominated themselves or others. They've generally been a credit to the Poll, but as someone who literally never listens to jazz radio, I'm in no position to judge.

It's impossible to tell whether we'll wind up with more than last year's 151 voters, but it is very likely that we'll see an increase in ballots from outside the US.

One thing I haven't done yet is set up an EOY aggregator, like I've did for 2022, 2021, etc. It's easy enough to do, and it's probably the only way I'll ever get a handle on non-jazz prospects. But my first glance at the AOTY Aggregate is pretty dismal (top 20, w/my grades): Lankum [**], Sufjan Stevens [*], Young Fathers [***], Julie Byrne [**], Boygenius [B], Wednesday [*], Blur [*], Lana Del Rey [**], PJ Harvey [*], Grian Chatten [**], Caroline Polachek [*], Mitski [*], Paul Simon [B], Yo La Tengo [A-], Anohni [**], Nation of Language [?], JPEGMafia & Danny Brown [*], Kelela [*], Yussef Dayes [A- this week], Overmono [*]. A/A- down in the next 25: Billy Woods & Kenny Segal (28), Robert Forster (32), Joanna Sternberg (43), Olivia Rodrigo (45). That's only 6 of 44 non-jazz A/A- records I've already found this year.

Of course, the real value of the EOY lists isn't who gets the most mentions, but what are the interesting records deep down in isolated lists. I will note that so far 7 of the top 10 new releases in our Jazz Critics Poll are A/A- in my book. That's a freakishly high share, but evens out with just 2 in the second 10, and just 1 of the second 20. Also, after 27 you get into the single-vote albums, most of which won't get more than a couple more votes, if that.

November Streamnotes archive is closed, but not indexed yet.


New records reviewed this week:

Ambrose Akinmusire: Beauty Is Enough (2023, Origami Harvest): Trumpet player, from Oakland, became a star when Blue Note picked up his second album in 2010, and remained near the top of the polls with five albums through 2020. However, this self-released solo album appeared with little fanfare, and will remain an item of minor interest. B+(*) [sp]

Balimaya Project: When the Dust Settles (2023, New Soil): West African (Mandé) group, based in London, led by djembe player Yahael Camara Onono, second album. Vocals suggest afropop, but they're playing for a jazz crowd. B+(***) [sp]

Jerry Bergonzi: Extra Extra (2023, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, steady stream of albums since 1984, With Sheryl Bailey (guitar), Harvie S (bass), Luther Gray (drums), plus Phil Grenadier (trumpet) on 3 tracks. B+(*) [sp]

John Butcher/Pat Thomas/Dominic Lash/Steve Noble: Fathom (2021 [2023], 577): English avant-saxophonist, records started appearing around 1985, more frequently after 1998. Live set from Cafe Oto, with regulars on piano, bass, and drums. B+(*) [dl]

Gunhild Carling: Good Evening Cats (2022, Jazz Art): Swedish singer, multi-instrumentalist (trombone seems to be her first choice, but double bass, banjo, flute, bagpipes, and harp are barely half of the list), started out at 10 in her family's Hot Five band. Old-fashioned swing with a touch of cabaret, not all in English but that just adds to the charm. B+(***) [sp]

Daniel Carter/Leo Genovese/William Parker/Francisco Mela: Shine Hear Vol. 1 (2021 [2023], 577): Sax, piano, bass, drums, with Carter and Parker (who also plays gralla and shakuhachi) going way back. B+(**) [dl]

Joan Chamorro & Friends: Jazz House Sessions With Scott Hamilton (2023, Associació Sant Andreu Jazz Band): Spanish bassist, sometime saxophonist, has led several bands, principally the swing-oriented Sant Andreu Jazz Band (others worth noting include Barcelona Hot Seven and the Fu Manchu Jazz Servants). He has a dozen or so albums where he "presents" guests, starting with Scott Robinson in 2011. This one collects pieces from four sessions, going back to 2013 (but no specific credits). Hamilton sounds terrific with a hard-swinging band. I'm less taken by the vocals, which sound Brazilian. B+(**) [sp]

Yussef Dayes: Black Classical Music (2023, Brownswood/Nonesuch): British drummer, first solo album although he had a group called United Vibrations, and duos with Kamaal Williams and Tom Misch. Big album (19 songs, 73:54), a dozen guest spots, I wouldn't say it's jazz, much less classical, but crosses over into a rarefied atmosphere of groove and light, an ambience you can dance in. A- [sp]

Paul Dunmall Ensemble: It's a Matter of Fact (2022 [2023], Discus Music): British saxophonist (tenor/soprano here), very polific since 1986, ensemble here with Julie Tippetts (voice), Martin Archer (alto/baritone sax), trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]

Paul Dunmall: Bright Light a Joyous Celebration (2022 [2023], Discus Music): The saxophonist leads a sextet here, with two more saxophonists (Soweto Kinch and Xhosa Cole), vibes (Corey Mwamba), bass (Dave Kane), and drums (Hamid Drake). The drummer goes without saying, but I'm really impressed by the vibes here, and the saxophones live up to the title. A- [bc]

Paul Dunmall New Quartet: World Without (2021 [2023], 577): Tenor/alto sax, backed by guitar (Steven Saunders), bass (Dave Kane), and drums (Mike Levin). Intense, for better or worse. B+(**) [dl]

Peter Evans [Being & Becoming]: Ars Memoria (2022-23 [2023], More Is More): Trumpet player, formerly of Mostly Other People Do the Killing, group name derived from a 2020 album, also with Joel Ross (vibes) and Nick Jozwlak (bass), but with a different drummer: this time it's Michael Shekwoaga Ode. B+(***) [bc]

Kate Gentile: Find Letter X (2021-23 [2023], Pi, 3CD): Drummer, based in New York, several albums since 2015, including a 6-CD 2021 box with pianist Matt Mitchell that was too much for me to handle. Mitchell returns here, with electronics as well, Kim Cass (acoustic and electric bass), and Jeremy Viner (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet). Might be remarkable, but that there's so much of it makes it hard to tell (or care). B+(***) [dl]

Terry Gibbs Legacy Band: The Terry Gibbs Songbook (2022 [2023], Whaling City Sound): Vibraphonist, birth name Julius Gubenko, recorded for Savoy in 1951, kicking off a very long career, leading his Dream Band, up to a fine 2017 record called 92 Years Young. At 98, he's even credited with a bit of "2-fingered piano" here (also the amuising "vocals on track 4"). The sextet features singer Danny Bacher and tenor saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen, with son Gerry Gibbs on drums. B+(***) [sp]

Frode Gjerstad With Matthew Shipp: We Speak (2022 [2023], Relative Pitch): Norwegian alto saxophonist, started in the early 1980s with Detail, then Circulasione Totale Orchestra. Also plays clarinet here, in duets with piano. Hard to think of anyone better in that role than Shipp. B+(**) [sp]

Rich Halley Quartet: Fire Within (2023, Pine Eagle): Tenor saxophonist from Portland, Oregon, has turned his retirement project into a remarkable career. (Checking myself, I find that he had a few albums as far back as 1986 before I first noticed him in 2005 with Mountains and Plains, and that he was only 58 then, but the model stuck in my head, partly because I have other examples, like Fred Anderson and Mort Weiss.) I can't say that he's getting better, but he's been remarkably inspired for two decades, aided here by his best rhythm section ever: Matthew Shipp (piano), Michael Bisio (bass), and Newman Taylor Baker (drums). A- [cd] [12-01]

Matthew Halsall: An Ever Changing View (2023, Gondwana): British trumpet player, 11th album since 2008, also plays keyboards and many percussion instruments, and is credited with several field recordings. He likens this to landscape painting, which gives you the idea. B+(**) [sp]

Scott Hamilton Quartet: At PizzaExpress Live: In London (2022 [2023], PX): Tenor saxophonist, has been "a good wind" blowing retro-swing since 1978, here with his long-running quartet of John Pearce (piano), Dave Green (bass), and Steve Brown (drums), playing standards with consummate ease and grace. B+(***) [sp]

Eirik Hegdal/Jeff Parker/Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten/Řyvind Skarbř: Superless (2022 [2023], Řyvind Jazzforum): Norwegian saxophonist (here: C melody, sopranino, bass clarinet, synth), probably best known for his Team Hegdal, although he's played in the larger Angles configurations, in Gard Nilssen's Supersonic Orchestra, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, and else where. With guitar, bass, and drums, in an eponymous group album where he wrote five (of 8) compositions. B+(***) [sp]

Henry Hey: Trio: Ri-Metos (2023, self-released): Pianist, has another Trio album from 2003, but many side credits since 1994, including Rod Stewart and David Bowie, also the fusion band Forq. Drummer Jochen Rüeckert returns from his previous trio, with Joe Martin on bass. All contribute songs, plus a standard and two from Vince Mendoza. B+(***) [dl]

Homeboy Sandman: I Can't Sell These Either (2023, self-released): New York rapper Angelo del Villar II, has dropped short albums/long EPs several times a year since 2007, the best in recent years a compilation of stray tracks called I Can't Sell These, hence the title of this 20-track, 59:07 monster. I suspect the commercial lapses have more to do with uncleared samples than any weakness in the material, which certainly isn't obvious. A- [bc]

Jon-Erik Kellso and the EarRegulars: Live at the Ear Inn (2023, Arbors): Trad jazz trumpet player, from Detroit, based in New York, where he's led this band on Sunday nights since 2007. This draws on two dates, so there are some personnel shifts, but most tracks feature Scott Robinson (sax), John Allred (trombone), Matt Munisteri (guitar), and Neal Miner (bass). Catherine Russell sings the closer, "Back O' Town Blues." B+(***) [sp]

Snorre Kirk: Top Dog (2021 [2023], Stunt): Drummer, from Denmark, fifth album since 2012, playing original pieces that aim to swing like Ellington and Basie. Quintet, the saxophone divided between Stephen Riley and Michael Blicher, backed by piano, guitar, and bass. Very nice. B+(***) [sp]

Location Location Location [Michael Formanek/Anthony Pirog/Mike Pride]: Damaged Goods (2023, Cuneiform): Bass, guitar, drums, jointly credited, but still mostly the guitarist's record, which is to say fractured fusion. Group name derives from recording this piecemeal, from different places, then splicing it together. B+(*) [dl]

Harold López-Nussa: Timba a la Americana (2023, Blue Note): Cuban pianist, ten or so albums since 2007. Several albums since 2007, this one a quintet with Gregoire Maret plus lots of rhythm. B+(**) [sp]

John Paul McGee: A Gospejazzical Christmas (2023, Jazz Urbano): Pianist, from Baltimore, teaches at Berklee, coined "gospejazzical" in his dissertation on "A Sound for Distressed Souls" -- the "ical" is the tail end of "classical." Probably weighs out to a third of each, stealthily sneaking up on Xmas standards (with one original). B [cd]

Thandi Ntuli With Carlos Nińo: Rainbow Revisited (2019 [2023], International Anthem): Pianist, from South Africa, also sings, title refers back to a song from her 2019 album. Duo with the percussionist, recorded on his turf in Los Angeles. B+(**) [sp]

Řyvindland Med Eirik Hegdal & Erik Johannessen: Nonett (2021 [2023], Řra Fonogram): Leader, and composer, here is Norwegian trumpet player Řyvind Frřberg Mathisen, who has one previous album under his own name. Featured guests play C melody sax/bass clarinet and trombone, and they're counted in the nonet, along with Karl Hjalmar Nyberg (clarinet/tenor sax), guitar, piano, bass, and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Engin Ozsahin: Conversations in Chaos (2023, self-released): Turkish pianist, studied at New England Conservatory but returned to Istanbul. Second album, sextet, not a lot of details, but sounds like very fancy postbop. B+(**) [sp]

Robert Prester & Adriana Samargia: Quenara (2023 [2024], Commonwealth Ave. Productions): Piano and voice, normally the singer would get top billing. He has, uh, a previous album from 2013, on this same label. She doesn't, but has a very distinctive voice and delivery on standards as well worn as "You Go to My Head," "Lover Man," "Body and Soul," and "Sophisticated Lady." Not one I especially like, but one she deserves credit for. He wrote the title song, which I've already forgotten. B+(*) [cd] [01-19]

Quartet San Francisco/Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band/Take Six: Raymond Scott Reimagined (2023, ViolinJazz): String quartet led by violinist Jeremy Cohen, trained in classical but prefers "non-traditional and eclectic," a definition that could have been coined for Scott. This is clearly their project, with the other well-established artists, a big band and a vocal group, brought in for scale and depth. With interview snippets from Scott. B+(***) [sp]

Red Hot + Ra: Solar [Sun Ra in Brasil] (2023, Red Hot Org): New York-based 50(c)(3) non-profit, raises money for "organizations on the front lines of global health epidemics, epidemics, and health crises," notably by organizing star-studded benefit albums, starting with Red Hot + Blue in 1990, taking aim at AIDS. Twenty-some albums later, this is neither their first venture into Brazil nor their first to focus on Sun Ra. Eight tracks by as many groups, with Brazilian rhythms where you might expect swing, and some rap mixed in the vocals. B+(***) [sp]

Red Hot + Ra: Nuclear War: A Tribute to Sun Ra: Volume 1 (2023, Red Hot Org): Only four artists here, all very specifically in tune with Sun Ra: Georgia Anne Muldrow (3:39), Angel Bat David (30:25), Malcolm Jiyane Tree-o (12:09), and Irreversible Entanglements (18:22). B+(**) [sp]

Ernesto Rodrigues/Joăo Madeira/Hernâni Faustino: No Strings Attached (2023, Creative Sources): Portuguese avant-string trio, Rodrigues plays violin, the other two double bass, at least for the 8-part "Expecting String Expression" (30:56). This is followed by a 32:00 live set, with Rodrigues on viola. B+(**) [bc]

Sam Ross: Live at the Mira Room, Vol. II (2023, self-released): Pianist, also plays rhodes here (mostly), in a trio with Simba Distis (upright and electric bass) and Dr. Mimi Murid (drums), following up on a similar 2021 album. Also credit the crowd, which is boisterous enough to deserve a credit, and maybe even steal the show. Short: 5 tracks, 29:51. B+(**) [cd]

Andreas Rřysum Ensemble: Mysterier (2022 [2023], Motvind): Norwegian clarinetist, third group album, twelve-piece group of considerable power, plus vocals that don't help much. B+(**) [sp]

John Scofield: Uncle John's Band (2022 [2023], ECM, 2CD): Guitarist, trio with Vicente Archer (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums). Fourteen songs (86:41), half originals, closes with the Grateful Dead song, opens with "Mr. Tambourine Man." B+(**) [sp]

Elijah Shiffer: Star Jelly (2021 [2023], self-released): Alto saxophonist, based in New York, describes this as a "sax-heavy version of a Nwe Orleans-style 'brass' band" -- three or four saxes (the extra is bass sax on 5 of 8 tracks), trumpet, trombone, a revolving cast of stringed instruments, and drums. The trad jazz angle is a sweet spot for me, but the arrangements are very slippery, leaving me with wonder whether what seems exceedingly clever at first will hold up for the long haul. A- [bc]

Elijah Shiffer: City of Birds: Volume 1 (2023, self-released): Ten songs, each named for a bird sighted in New York City. Third album, alto sax, plus Kevin Sun on tenor sax, Dmitry Ishenko (bass), and Colin Hinton (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Apostolos Sideris: Past-Presented (2023, Parallel): Bassist, from Greece, seems to be in Paris now, after Istanbul and New York, with a previous album on a Spanish label. Sextet, with piano (Leo Genovese), ney, violin, bass, drums, extra percussion, with some background vocals. B+(*) [bc]

Speakers Corner Quartet: Further Out Than the Edge (2023, OTIH): Originally the house band for "the infamous hip-hop/spoken-word open-mic night Speakers' Corner in Brixton, London." Slotted as jazz, but sounds more like trip-hop, with different guests for each song, names (but not voices) I mostly recognize. B+(**) [sp]

Jason Stein/Damon Smith/Adam Shead: Hum (2022 [2023], Irritable Mystic): Bass clarinetist, has a number of albums since 2007, some quite impressive; backed here by bass and drums, for two 21-minute improv pieces. B+(**) [bc]

Elias Stemeseder/Christian Lillinger: Penumbra (2021 [2022], Plaist): Austrian pianist, German drummer, both with sides in synthesizers and other electronics. Agreeably choppy. B+(**) [sp]

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 17: Lonnie Liston Smith (2023, Jazz Is Dead): Funk-fusion keyboard player, led the Cosmic Echoes 1973-85, first new record since 1998. B+(*) [sp]

Dhafer Youssef: Street of Minarets (2023, Back Beat Edition): Tunisian singer-songwriter, plays oud, has lived in Europe since 1990, mostly playing with jazz musicians: here including Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Herbie Hancock (keybs), Nguyęn Lę (guitar), Dave Holland or Marcus Miller (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri), and Adriano Dos Santos (percussion). B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Chantal Acda & Bill Frisell: Live at Jazz Middelheim (2017 [2023], self-released): Dutch/Belgian singer-songwriter, has records going back to 1999, backed here by the famed guitarist. Originally released by Glitterhouse in 2018. B+(*) [sp]

Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's (1964 [2023], Gearbox): Tenor saxophonist, an unabashed be-bopper, first records 1956, including a particularly notable appearance with Thelonious Monk. Quartet here, with a local band: Stan Tracey (piano), Malcolm Cecil (bass), and Jackie Dougan (drums), on three side-long pieces (53:54). Not to be confused with a 2008 same-title (In+Out). B+(***) [sp]

Alon Nechushtan: For Those Who Cross the Seas (2006 [2023], ESP-Disk, 2CD): Israeli pianist, based in New York, has a half-dozen albums, mostly 2011-14. Two live sets here, the first disc called "Astral Voyages," the second "Cosmic Canticles." Band names also appear on front cover, offset just enough to spare me listing them all on the slugline, but worth mentioning here: Roy Campbell (flute/trumpet), Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen (saxophones/clarinet), William Parker (bass), and Federico Ughi (drums). A- [cd]

Old music:

Peter Evans/Joel Ross/Nick Jozwlak/Savannah Harris: Being & Becoming (2019 [2020], More Is More): Billed as a new group, but since the names are on the cover, handy to just credit them: trumpet, vibes, bass, drums. Ross has gotten a lot of praise for his Blue Notes, but this is much trickier, and he's really superb. [was: U++] A- [bc]

Elijah Shiffer and the Robber Crabs: Unhinged (2017 [2018], self-released): Alto saxophonist, first album, group with Andrew Shillito (guitars and banjo), electric bass, and drums, with Jay Rattman on two cuts (bass saxophone and slide whistle). He has a unique sound, drawing on trad jazz but with impossibly funky rhythms. A- [bc]


Limited Sampling: Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

Kate Gentile/International Contemporary Ensemble: B i o m e i.i (2022 [2023], Obliquity): + [yt]


Grade (or other) changes:

Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light (2023, Impulse!): [was: A-] A

Steve Lehman/Orchestre National de Jazz: Ex Machina (2023, Pi): [was: A-] A


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

None.

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Saturday, November 25, 2023


Speaking of Which

I started collecting this on Tuesday, mostly because I didn't want to let the Stevenson piece go without comment. The Mishra, which could still use some work, was also found in the Wichita Eagle that day. I had much more to write about the Ryu Spaeth piece, only some of which got tacked onto the footer section. Two points would have fit only awkwardly, but let me take a brief stab at them here:

  1. Most leftists are informed and defined by a core philosophical principle -- that all people are fundamentally equal, and justice demands that they be respected as such -- but the left isn't some sort of religion or cult; it is a political tendency, effectively a party, aiming to incrementally improving justice by recognizing our fundamental equality. People who embrace this core principle will join the left, but you don't have to adopt the right thinking to align with the left. All you need is to find that your interests would be better served by the advance of the left. That happens a lot, especially with oppressed minorities. A bunch of things follow from this (which I'd rather not have to spell out at the moment -- one of which is that Jews in America, where there is risk of oppression, gravitate left, whereas in Israel, where they have attained the power to oppress others, they trend to the right).

  2. Most leftists in America have come to embrace nonviolence, partly because we have come to realize that violence corrodes the spirit and compounds the difficulties of furthering justice, but also because it's more promising in our political system, which in principle allows for popular reform -- even though the system is heavily stacked against it. It is therefore tempting to raise nonviolence as a moral absolute, to condemn all exceptions, and to purge the left political movement of those who fall short of our ideals. I am pretty close to being an absolute pacifist, but even I have to admit that this would be self-defeating.

    Several reasons: violence, especially in self-defense, is a universal human instinct, one we may disapprove of and often regret, but cannot totally deny, because in some circumstances it seems like the only option for saving our humanity; throughout most history, at least since the left became a distinct political force, the only way change toward greater equality and justice could be achieved was through violence (e.g., the great revolutions from 1776 to 1917); even where reforms have been achieved, they were often conceded to hold back the threat of revolutionary violence. Of course, we now more fully realize that our violence has a dark side. But aren't there still situations where nonviolent change is so completely closed off that only through violence can people assert their humanity?

I don't think that we, in neurotic but still fundamentally liberal America, can with certainty assert that people barely surviving in Gaza have any real, viable options. Sure, one may still hope that nonviolent means, like BDS, might persuade Israel to lessen its stifling grip over its Palestinian subjects, but it may be that all the nonviolent protest has achieved -- and it has been tried at least as often as violence -- has been to reaffirm the faith of right-wing Israelis that overwhelming force will always prevail. Even before the rise of Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, but accelerating at an alarming rate after they joined the Netanyahu government, West Bank settlers had moved beyond their initial goal of staking claim to land to terrorizing Palestinians, hoping to drive them into exile. Israel's support for Azerbaijan's "ethnic cleansing" of Nagorno-Karabakh sure looked like a dress rehearsal for Israel driving Palestinians out of the West Bank.

While I personally believed that the revolt of Oct. 7 was ill-considered, politically reckless, and morally hazardous, their political and moral struggle was not mine to dictate or to judge. So I saw no point in condemning what appeared to be an act of desperation. Certainly not to make myself feel more righteous in comparison. Even less so as it would lend comfort to those who would take this act of violence and use as excuse to strike back even harder. And that part took no imagination on my part, as by the time I had heard the news, many Israelis were already clamoring for massive revenge -- as could have been expected, given that Israel's whole system of governing is based on their capacity for inflicting overwhelming violence.

Similarly, I can hardly condemn Israelis for defending themselves once the revolt broke out of Gaza. I would only point out that the defense was complete, and should have ended, once the attackers were rebuffed, and the border secured -- which happened within 24 hours of the initial attacks. The war since then, including some 40,000 tons of bombs Israel has dropped on Gaza, cannot be considered self-defense. This bombardment is no less than an act of systematic destruction and slaughter, an act that can only be summed up in the word "genocide."

Israelis have disputed that word, but with independence in 1948 they established a formal caste system with distinct legal status for Jews and Arabs, driving some 700,000 of the latter into exile, expropriating their property, and forbidding their return. They've also, building on the British model, regularly practiced collective punishment, including indiscriminate killing. Those are two of the three essential constituents of genocide. The third is the loss of inhibition against killing, which has been happening continuously since the 2000 Intifada and the 2006 loss of Gaza to Hamas, such that the Oct. 7 revolt merely tipped the impulse into action, with public statements to match. It is still possible that Israel's leaders will come to second thoughts and rein their killing in, but until they do, shying away from the term only encourages them to proceed.

Much more I could write on this, but time to post on schedule is running out.


Top story threads:

Israel: If you are at all unclear on how we got to the revolt on Oct. 7 and the subsequent intensification of the Israeli war against Gaza, start with this timeline: Countdown to genocide: the year before October 7.

Trump, and other Republicans:

  • Thomas B Edsall: [11-22] The roots of Trump's rage.

  • Margaret Hartmann:

  • Eric Levitz: [11-24] Trump as a plan for massively increasing inflation. Clever to note that while Republicans hammer away at Biden for inflation -- when he wasn't threatening to beat up Teamsters, Markwayne Mullin was lying about diesel prices (see [11-22] GOP Senator swiftly fact-checked after whining about gas prices for his massive truck) -- aren't solutions, and in many ways only make the problem worse. Still I'm not convinced that Trump's 10% across-the-board tariff idea is such a bad one: true it will raise consumer prices, and it may not stimulate much new domestic production, but it should reduce the trade deficit (which I've long taken to be a bad thing, although economists tend to argue otherwise). I also doubt that another round of Trump tax cuts will have much effect on consumer price inflation -- although it will undoubtedly lead to inflated asset values (something economists refuse to count as inflation). On the other hand, no mention here of antitrust (which Trump will presumably cripple, unless he can use it vindictively to attack his political enemies), which if enforced should push prices down, and if neglected will allow companies to become more predatory. Or of more deregulation, which helps unscrupulous companies increas profits both through higher prices and by passing costs on to the public (pollution, which includes the effects of global warming, is the most famous of these externalities). Still, Republicans do have one effective tool to quell inflation: recession. That's cure much worse than the disease it claims to treat. It's also the end-state of the last three Republican presidencies. Whereas this and the last two Democratic presidents (but not Carter) ended up with sustained economic growth, and (more modest) wage growth. Maybe a little inflation isn't such a bad thing.

  • Zachary Petrizzo: [11-16] Trumpworld is already at war over staffing a new Trump White House.

  • Roger Sollenberger:

  • Peter Wade: [11-26] Christie blames Trump for increasing antisemitism and Islamophobia: To quote him: "Intolerance toward anyone encourages intolerance toward everyone."

Biden and/or the Democrats:

  • Branko Marcetic: [11-22] Voters are leaving Joe Biden in droves over his support for Israel.

  • Harold Meyerson: [11-20] Can Biden and the Democrats survive their divisions on Israel-Palestine? He offers some suggestions, mostly referring back to the 1968 rift over the Vietnam war, which isn't terribly relevant. Johnson's big liability in 1968 was that he and his administration had repeatedly lied about the war, falling way short of their promises, inspiring no confidence in their future, in a war that had enormous personal impact on millions of Americans. Consequently, Johnson/Humphrey were opposed by prominent Democrats. On the other hand, no major Democrat is going to stand up against Biden, especially not for showing excessive fealty to Israel. Maybe there's an enthusiasm slump as the gap between the Democratic Party leadership and base expands, but party regulars are almost certain to rally against Trump. The volatile center, on the other hand, may not be able to articulate the problem with Biden's wars in Ukraine, Gaza, and (heaven forbid) Taiwan, but the bad vibes could sink him.

  • Steven Shepard: [11-25] The polls keep getting worse for Biden.

Tweet from Daniel Denvir on points above:

If Democrats are suddenly worried that Biden will lose to Trump -- as they should be -- the rational thing to do would be to 1) make another, more popular Dem the nominee and 2) move the party away from its pro-genocide position. Blaming the left for saying genocide is bad won't work

Also from Nathan J Robinson:

I'm interested in the theory of how Biden is supposed to turn his numbers around, given that:
(1) The main issue is his age and he gets older every day, and
(2) Humanitarian crisis in Gaza will worsen as disease and starvation set in, and it is causing young Dems to hate him

Legal matters and other crimes:

Economic matters:

Ukraine War:

Around the world:


Other stories:

Ryan Cooper:

Eileen Crist/Judith Lipton/David Barash: [11-24] End the insanity: For nuclear disarmament and global demilitarization.

Tom Engelhardt: [11-26] A slow-motion Gaza: But isn't it a little soon to turn "Gaza" into a metaphor for the "hell on Earth" that global warming is inching towards?

James Fallows: [11-23] Why Charlie Peters matters: The founder and editor-in-chief of Washington Monthly for 30 years (1969-2000) has died, at 96. I subscribed to the journal for several years early on, possibly from its inception, and found it to be seriously informative and generally sensible about policy workings in Washington. I was rather dismayed later on to find that Peters had coined the "neoliberal" term, though there may be an argument that what Peters had in mind differed significantly from the disparaging use of the term lately -- see Paul Glastris: [01-08] Need a new economic vision? Gotcha covered. Last thing I recall reading by Peters was a sad lament about his home state of West Virginia flipping Republican.

Eric Levitz: [11-22] OpenAI was never going to save us from the robot apocalypse.

Robert Lipsyte: [11-21] Farewell to the New York Times sports department: "Or should it be good riddance?"

Pankaj Mishra: [11-18] The west never had a chance at winning over the world: Talks about the phrase "the global south," and how it's come to the fore since Russia's invasion of Ukraine tightened the bond between the US and Europe, while estranging both from the rest of the world (now known as, the Global South). It surely can't be a surprise that the renewed and militant union of Europe and the US (aka, the West) would be viewed suspiciously by the Global South? Mishra notes that "the Biden administration failed to enlist any major country of the Global South in its cause," i.e., economic war against Russia, ostensibly to defend Ukraine. He adds: "Even worse, the conflict in Gaza may now have mortally damaged Western power and credibility in the Global South."

Olivia Nuzzi: [11-22] The mind-bending politics of RFK Jr.'s spoiler campaign. He's having a moment as a free agent presidential candidate, partly because he might appeal to scattered, disaffected groups that otherwise are stuck in the two-party straitjacket; possibly also on the 60th anniversary of the assassination that turned his family into a cult memory project. Most of his appeal will probably blow over, because the one group he has no appeal for is moderate-tempered centrists. That leaves extremists who hate both parties, and who don't care who wins. How many of them are there really?

However, note that a recent a recent Harvard/Harris Poll, which shows Trump over Biden by 6% in a two-way matchup, gives Kennedy 21% of the vote in a three-way, increasing Biden's deficit to 8%. In a five-way with West (3%) and Stein (2%), Trump loses 1%, Biden loses 2%, Kennedy 3%. St Clair (link above) comments: "If your Lesser Evil countenances the bombing of hospitals and the slaughter of nearly 6000 children in a few weeks, don't you know that you can count me out."

Andrew O'Hehir: [11-26] My mother, the debutante Communist: An American family story of love, loss and J. Edgar Hoover.

Nathan J Robinson: [11-21] Can the left reclaim "security"? A review of Astra Taylor's new book, The Age of Insecurity.

Douglas Rushkoff: [11-25] 'We will coup whoever we want!': The unbearable hubris of Musk and the billionaire tech bros. Reviews some books, starting with Walter Isaacson's Musk.

Anya Schiffrin: [10-13] Fixing disinformation online: "What will it take to regulate the abuses of Big Tech without undermining free speech?"

Katharine Q Seelye: [11-19] Rosalyn Carter, first lady and a political partner, dies at 96: I don't really have anything to say about her, good or bad, but thought I should note her passing in the plainest way possible. While trawling through the NY Times obituaries, I also noticed:

I was surprised not to find an obituary there for the late photographer Larry Fink (82, Mar. 11, 1941-Nov. 25). For some images, start here.

Ryu Spaeth: [11-20] Israel, Gaza, and the fracturing of the intellectual left. Title makes this seem like a big deal, but it's really just comes down to a couple pieces in Dissent between Joshua Leifer and Gabriel Winant, with side glances to a couple more journals (n+1, Jewish Currents). This sort of thing happens every now and then, usually when someone who has long identified with the left freaks out and turns on his former comrades. Back in 1967, I used to read a journal called The Minority of One, which was very strongly opposed to the American war in Vietnam . . . until June 1967, when the editor flipped to support Israel in its Six-Day War, and forgot about everything else. Something similar happened with Paul Berman after 9/11. There have been other cases of leftists turning hard right, but these two (presumably Leifer, too) insisted that they were being consistent, and others in the left had gone haywire. They created some noise, but had little if any impact on the left, which always recovered with a principled examination of the facts.

This article quotes Arielle Angel (Jewish Currents): "What we are watching is a full reactionary moment among many Jews, even some left-wing Jews, because they feel there was no space on the left for their grief." That doesn't seem like too much to ask. The left is fueled by indignity over injustice, and injustice is often first experienced as grief. But few on the left would grant anyone, even Jews (whose suffering has left an indelible mark on most Euroamerican leftists), an exclusive right to grieve, let alone a license to channel that grief into a force that strikes out at and inflicts grief on others.

Most of us realized immediately that's exactly what Israel's leaders had in mind. They saw the Oct. 7 revolt not as a tragic human loss but as an affront to their power, and they immediately moved to reassert their power, with scarcely any regard for more human losses (even on their own side). Over six weeks later, as threats of genocide were turned into practice, we need hardly debate that point.

Glenn Thrush/Serge F Kovaleski: [11-25] Stabbing of Derek Chauvin raises questions about inmate safety. Weren't there already questions? If not, why do police interrogators brag about how treacherous life in prison will be?

Jen Wieczner: [11-22] Behold the utter destruction of crypto's biggest names.


Here are a series of tweets from Corey Robin (I'm copying them down because the original format is so annoying; the chart matches the Leatherby piece above, so that is probably the uncited source here):

1/ "Israel's assault is different. Experts say that even a conservative reading of the casualty figures reported from Gaza show that the pace of death during Israel's campaign has few precedents in this century.

2/ "Conflict-casualty experts have been taken aback at just how many people have been reported killed in Gaza -- most of them women and children -- and how rapidly. It is not just the unrelenting scale of the strikes . . . It is also the nature of the weaponry itself.

3/"'It's beyond anything that I've seen in my career,' said Marc Garlasco, a former senior intelligence analyst at the Pentagon. To find a historical comparison for so many large bombs in such a small area, he said, we may 'have to go back to Vietnam, or the Second World War.'

4/ "Modern international laws of war were developed largely in response to the atrocities of World War II."

The comments range from stupid to facetious ("It is morally appalling that Hamas decided to start a war with a country that can mount such a powerful air assault, . . . All those tunnels & not one bomb shelter").

Corey also offered a tweet on the Ryu Spaeth article I wrote too much (but not enough) about above:

Everyone's pissed about this piece but I think it has two virtues. 1) It gives a fair, full hearing to the anti-Zionist side. 2) It reveals, inadvertently, the extent to which Zionist progressives depend on debates from 100 years ago. I'll take the win.

One more point I might as well make here, as I didn't consider it appropriate above, is that this article is only of interest to those on the left who are in close proximity to people with a deep psychic identity connection to the very old Zionist left (the romance of the kibbutzim) and/or the trauma of the Holocaust. The Oct. 7 attack hit these people so hard that they suspended their critical facilities, losing track of the context, and therefore unable to foresee the consequences.

Most of us immediately recognized the context that led to the revolt, and understood that the response of Israel's leaders would be genocidal. Hence, no matter how much we may or may not have grieved for the immediate victims of the revolt, we understood that their deaths would soon be dwarfed by Israel's vindictive reassertion of their overwhelming power.

It's worth noting that while such reactions are unusual on the American left, they are very common in Israel. The best example is the long-running Peace Now bloc, which formed after the 1982 war on Lebanon went sour. Ever since then, they have never failed to support initial Israeli military outbursts (e.g., 2006 in Gaza and Lebanon, and the many subsequent Operations in Gaza), although they've almost always come to regret those wars. Israelis, even ones with liberal and/or socialist temperaments, are conditioned to rally under crisis to support the state's warriors, and the national security state pulls their triggers whenever they want to strike out. It's practically an involuntary reflex, even among people who must know better.

It's great credit to Jewish Voice for Peace that they didn't fall for this triggering.


Regarding Larry Fink, I posted the following comment on Facebook:

I met Larry several times. Longest talk we had was mostly about jazz, in the car on the way to a memorial "meeting" for his mother. He took a lot of notable photographs of jazz musicians. Liz had one framed, of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald sitting together in a table in a club somewhere. On 9/11, he called Liz, and told her he was thinking about rounding up some fowl for a "chickens come home to roost" photo, echoing the famous Malcolm X quote. He was living on a farm in PA at the time, but I don't recall whether he had his own chickens, or whether he ever took that photo. But of the myriad reactions to 9/11, his was one of the smartest. (Or maybe I thought so because I was already thinking about the same quote.)

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, November 20, 2023


Music Week

November archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 41210 [41160] rated (+50), 9 [22] unrated (-13).

Another Speaking of Which last night. I didn't have much time to work to search out stories, even less to annotate them, but did manage a couple hours for yet another iteration of my appropriately, I would say, simple-minded solution to the Israel's war on Gaza. It's just that simple: stop it. If you don't, you'll ultimately wind up inflicting so much self-damage you won't care how much hurt you inflicted on others.

Little chance of this being recognized by the people in power, who are so smitten by the notion that all their problems can be solved by force. They're wrong. But they are capable of doing immense harm in their flailing and thrashing.


On Wednesday, I sent out an initial round of 205 invitations to cast ballots in the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll. I've sent 15-20 more invitations out since then, and will send out a few more over the next week or two. Deadline is December 15. I'm pleased with the results so far, including 14 ballots submitted, and another 60 commitments to vote.

One of the perks of running the Poll is that I get tips on lots of new albums I hadn't heard (or in many cases even heard of). I add these to my tracking file (currently 1046 jazz albums, 1255 non-jazz). You can see a number of them already below, and I suspect that new ones will be most of what I listen to in the coming month. So far 182 records have received votes. I've added the ones I haven't heard (59 music albums + 10 old, so 38% of total) to my EOY Jazz List (scroll down to the 2% note).

Of course, there's also an EOY Non-Jazz List. I've done virtually no recent prospecting for non-jazz records, as I'm trying hard to finish off my 2023 promo queue, as well as keep up with jazz ballot picks. Consequently, it's lagged more than usual (especially more than last year). That will probably change if/when I start collecting EOY lists. At the moment, that seems like a really insane thing to contemplate, but I've described it as "my favorite waste of time," so if some time opens up, I'm more likely to waste it than I am to write some magnum opus on why US foreign policy is totally bankrupt. Let alone one on 2024 elections, as I've fallen into the 20% of Democrats who no longer smile on Biden. (If you doubt why, you obviously haven't been reading lately. Go back to yesterday's link to Biden's op-ed, which most likely his aides told him is today's match for JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.)


Two new books under the "Recent Reading" widget. I enjoyed Christopher Clark's Revolutionary Spring so much I decided to read a bit more about 1848, something a bit more about the revolutions that didn't happen, hence China Miéville's book on The Communist Manifesto. It turned out to be more on the text, and less on the history, than I wanted, but still left me with warm and fuzzy feelings for my own flirtation with the red side. It also reminded me that not so long ago, no one could conceive of radical change -- something a great many saw urgent need for -- coming about without violence.

After Viet Thanh Nguyen got banned from the 92nd St. Y for signing a petition calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, I saw an interview with him, and got interested in his new memoir. Then I noticed Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, and figured I should read that one first. Just started it, and I'm already finding things I'd like to share. I've written quite a bit about his subject -- not specifically on Vietnam, but you need only check my birth certificate to see that as the pivotal event in my life.

I ordered two more books. One, mentioned at the end of yesterday's post, is Norman Finkelstein's Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, which seems almost quaint now, given how much more devastating Israel's war against Gaza is now than the periodic assaults since 2006. However, as Nguyen should be among the first to point out, the extreme severity of the current genocide depends for its justification on forgetting everything that Israel did previously, lest the Oct. 7 revolt be viewed as anything other than unprovoked murderous frenzy.

The other book is the paperback reprint of Carlos Lozada's What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era: a book of book reports, that looks like it might be a useful reference.


New records reviewed this week:

Jason Adasiewicz: Roscoe Village: The Music of Roscoe Mitchell (2023, Corbett vs. Dempsey): Vibraphonist, Chicago's go-to guy for the instrument since the early 2000s. He notes that "tuned metal percussion figures prominently in the sound universe of Roscoe Mitchell," so decided to give it a try with a solo album. Nice, but I don't quite get it. Nice piece of art on the album cover, too. B+(**) [bc]

Susan Alcorn/Septeto Del Sur: Canto (2023, Relative Pitch): Pedal steel guitarist, from Baltimore, debut 2000, Discogs credits her with 30 albums. She's joined here by a Chilean folk group, playing and improvising on her compositions, and singing a Victor Jara song to close. B+(**) [cd]

Maria Baptist Quintet: Essays on Jazz (2023, self-released, 2CD): German pianist, several albums since 2002, quintet with two saxophonists (Jan Von Klewitz and Richard Maegraith), bass, and drums, a rather rousing postbop group. Long: 108 minutes. B+(***) [sp]

John Bishop: Antwerp (2023, Origin): Drummer, from Seattle, runs this mainstream label, which did much to put Seattle in the jazz map, and has since branched out, especially to Chicago, Denver, and wherever UNT alumni gather, and here to Belgium, for a trio with Bram Weiters (piano) and Piet Verbist (bass) -- familiar names, especially if you've been on the label's mailing list. B+(**) [cd]

Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Kings Highway (2023, Stoner Hill): Drummer, called his 1998 Blue Note debut album Fellowship, which could be taken as the band name, one he's stuck with ever since. With original members Jon Cowherd (keyboards), Myron Walden (alto sax), Melvin Butler (tenor/soprano sax), and Christopher Thomas (bass), the only change Kurt Rosenwinkel taking over guitar (from Jeff Parker). B+(*) [sp]

BlankFor.Ms/Jason Moran/Marcus Gilmore: Refract (2022 [2023], Red Hook): Electronica producer Tyler Gilmore, has a couple previous albums, joined here by two well known jazz musicians, on piano and drums. The electronics help out, and the pianist is formidable, though it all slows down on the backstretch. B+(***) [sp]

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: Playing With Fire (2023, True North/Linus Entertainment): Canadian soprano saxophonist, formed a bond with Cuban music early in her career (1992, Spirits of Havana), fourth album with this Cuban-Canadian group. I don't doubt the authenticity of the percussion, but I have trouble hearing the vocals as even jazz-adjacent. B+(*) [sp]

Emmet Cohen: Master Legacy Series Volume 5: Featuring Houston Person (2023, Bandstand): Pianist, has a few volumes from 2011 on featuring his own estimable work, along side this series, which started with Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, and Tootie Heath before moving on to the saxophonists, adding Benny Golson to the Heath volume, followed by George Coleman, and now Person -- who, by the way, sounds fabulous right out of the gate. With Yasushi Nakamura (bass) and Kyle Poole (drums). A- [sp]

Sylvie Courvoisier: Chimaera (2022 [2023], Intakt, 2CD): Swiss pianist, many albums since 1997, leads a sextet through a series of extended compositions, inspired by painter Odilon Redon ("a universe of symbolism, dreams and fantasy"). Group includes two trumpets (Wadada Leo Smith and Nate Wooley), Christian Fennesz (guitar/electronics), Drew Gress (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums/vibes). This would sit nicely in one of Smith's recent boxes. A- [sp]

Dry Thrust: The Less You Sleep (2020 [2023], Trost): Trio of Georg Graewe (organ), Martin Siewert (guitar, electronics), and Didi Kern (drums). Graewe is well known as an avant-pianist. The other have been kicking around the fringe since the late 1990s, with Kern's background mostly in noise-rock (but lately he's popped up with Gustafsson and Vandermark). Interesting but scattered: your basic organ trio improvising not on soul-groove but on no-wave noise. B+(*) [sp]

Antoine Drye With Strings: Retreat to Beauty (Oblation Vol. 3: Providence!) (2021 [2023], Cellar Music): Trumpet player, 2003 debut titled Oblation, so this has been slow coming. Strings just add some sweetener, setting up the voice at the end. B+(*) [sp]

George Freeman: The Good Life (2022 [2023], HighNote): Guitarist from Chicago, at 96 still the younger brother of saxophonist Von Freeman. Two sessions here, one with organ (Joey DeFrancesco, a couple months before he died) and drums (Lewis Nash), the other with bass (Christian McBride) and drums (Carl Allen). B+(**) [sp]

Eric Friedlander: She Sees (2023, Skipstone): Cellist, reconvenes his 2020 Sentinel band -- hard-edged guitarist Ava Mendoza and percussionist Diego Espinosa -- and adds electric bassist Stomu Takeishi. B+(*) [sp]

George Gee Swing Orchestra: Winter Wonderland (2023, self-released): Bandleader, formed his swing band in 1980, and a later 10-piece group called Jump, Jive & Wailers (after the Louis Prima song), but I'm not finding albums for either. (I have a 2007 release in my database.) Xmas music always brings out the bah humbug in me, and this did at first, but the brass section softened me up, then I loved their take on the merely Xmas-adjacent "Baby It's Cold Outside" (criss-crossing vocals by Hilary Gardner and John Dokes, not quite Armstrong and Fitzgerald but really great). I even found myself enjoying "The Christmas Song" after that (if not "O Tannenbaum" and "Jingle Bells"). B+(**) [cd]

Grupo Frontera: El Comienzo (2023, VHR Music): Mexican-American group from Edinburg, in the southern tip of Texas. First album. B+(**) [sp]

Gabriel Guerrero & Quantum: Equilibrio (2019 [2023], Origin): Pianist, born in Colombia, based in New York, website shows this as third album as leader vs. one side credit, Discogs has the split 0-5. Group here is mostly quartet, with sax (Seth Trachy), bass, and drums, with strings on one track and percussion on another, playing complex originals. B+(**) [cd]

David Ian: Vintage Christmas Trio Melody (2023, Prescott): Pianist, can't find him on Discogs but AAJ shows four previous albums: three Vintage Christmas titles, plus one for Valentine's Day. Trio with bass and drums. Best I can say for it is that mid-way I forgot that I was listening to Xmas music, but looking at the song list doesn't suggest why. B [cd]

I.P.A.: Grimsta (2022 [2023], Cuneiform): Norwegian group, fifth album since 2009: Atle Nymo (tenor sax/contrabass clarinet), Magnus Broo (trumpet), Mattias Stĺhl (vibes/soprano sax), Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten (bass), and Hĺkon Mjäset Johansen (drums). B+(**) [dl]

Val Jeanty/Candice Hoyes/Mimi Jones: Nite Bjuti (2021 [2023], Whirlwind): Most often title is given as group name, but the individuals (drums/electronics, vocals, bass) also appear on the cover. Jeanty is Haitian, mostly shows up adding electronic mojo to jazz artists (Kris Davis, Wallace Roney, Terri Lyne Carrington). Nice balance against the bass. Vocals could show up on trip-hop. B+(**) [sp]

Hannah Marks: Outsider, Outlier (2022 [2023], Out of Your Head): Bassist (electric & double), from Brooklyn, out on a jazz label but initially sounds more punk (Sarah Rossy singing), then arty, then Nathan Reising inserts a nice alto sax solo, then, well, I don't know. B+(*) [cd]

Sarah McKenzie: Without You (2023, Normandy Lane Music): Australian jazz singer, pianist, sixth album since 2011, wrote four songs here, the rest Brazilian standards, mostly Jobim. Done expertly, notably because the guitarist is Romero Lubambo. B+(*) [cd]

Hedvig Mollestad Weejuns: Weejuns (2022 [2023], Rune Grammofon): Norwegian guitarist, double live-album debut with new trio: Stĺle Storlřken (organ) and Ole Mofjell (drums). B+(***) [r]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych I (2022, SMP): Tenor sax and piano duo, relationship goes back at least to 1996, amounts to well over a dozen duo albums, and another dozen-plus trios. First of three more, all released on the same day. B+(***) [bc]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych II (2022, SMP): Original idea here was to put these duets together in a single "CD-LP-Cassette-Box-Set [which] was specifically recorded for three types of formats." My guess is that the 12-track, 55:42 Tryptych I was the CD, and that this 2-track 36:27 is the LP. Impossible for me to tell whether the music is the same or different, but it's easily equivalent. B+(**) [bc]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych III (2022, SMP): Reading the fine print more closely, I find that this ("Side A" and "Side B," 30:58) is the cassette version, "a contemplative set with a dramatic ambience." B+(***) [bc]

Jason Roebke: Four Spheres (2022 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Bassist, has played in many Chicago avant groups since 2000. Quartet here with Edward Wilkerson Jr. (tenor sax, alto clarinet), Mabel Kwan (piano), and Marcus Evans (drums), all (curiously enough) also credited with metronomes. B+(**) [bc]

Dave Sewelson/Stephen Moses/Jochem van Dijk/Steve Holtje: Orca Uprising (2023, MechaBenzaiten): Baritone saxophonist, long-time member of Microscopic Septet, with drums, electric bass, and keyboard. B [bc]

Russ Spiegel: Caribbean Blue (2023, Ruzztone Music): Guitarist, albums go back to 1985, has an organ-drums trio here, plus picks up some guests, including Brian Lynch (trumpet 4 of 10 tracks), Tim Armacost (tenor sax on 6, flute on 1), and Hendrik Meurkens (chromatic harmonica on 3). B+(**) [cd]

Trio Grande: Urban Myth (2023, Whirlwind): Will Vinson (alto sax, wurlitzer, synths), Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Nate Wood (drums, bass) -- the first two writing three and four pieces, with two covers (Roy Hargrove, Nik Kershaw). First cut points to some funk-fusion, but they're way too multi-faceted to stay there, especially when Vinson returns to his first calling. B+(**) [cd]

Trio San: Hibiki (2022 [2023], Jazzdor): Trio of Satoko Fujii (piano), Taiko Saito (vibes), and Yuko Oshima (drums), first for the trio, a live set from a festival in Berlin. Takes a bit to get going, and moves uneasily when it does, but impressive slow and somber, more so vibrant. B+(***) [cd]

Anna Webber/Matt Mitchell: Capacious Aeration (2023, Tzadik): Duo, tenor sax/flute and piano. High level, but sketchy. B+(**) [sp]

Mars Williams/Vasco Trilla: Critical Mass (2021 [2023], Not Two): Duo, reeds and toy instruments for Williams -- a Hal Russell disciple, Vandermark Five founder, acid jazz renegade, and author of several An Ayler Xmas volumes -- drums and percussion for Trilla. Some noise, some drone, some inspired jazz. B+(***) [sp]

Joe Wittman: Trio Works (2023, self-released): Guitarist, from New York, has a previous album, this one a trio with Daniel Duke (bass) and Keith Balla (drums), playing six originals and two covers ("Sweet Lorraine" and "Born to Be Blue"). Mainstream guitar groove, nicely done. B+(**) [cd]

Joe Wittman/Vito Dieterle/Jesse Breheney/Josh Davis: Night Out (2022 [2023], self-released): Guitarist's first album, out a few months before Trio Works, with tenor sax, bass, and drums. B+(*) [bc]

Miguel Zenón/Dan Tepfer: Internal Melodies (2023, Main Door Music): Alto sax and piano duo, the pianist from France, with an astrophysics degree, has a Goldberg Variations and a Twelve Free Improvisations in Twelve Keys, but is best known for his duos with Lee Konitz. No Latin Jazz for Zenón here. He's just very adroitly tuned into what the pianist is doing. B+(***) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Fred Anderson: The Milwaukee Tapes, Vol. 2 (1980 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Tenor saxophonist, born in Louisiana, moved to Chicago, helped found AACM, recorded a bit in the 1970s but mostly got by as the owner of a club, restarting his career when he turned 65 in 1994, most often working with his nephew, drummer Hamid Drake. John Corbett released the first volume of these tapes in 2000 as part of Atavistic's Unheard Music Series (virtually everything there is worth checking out), only now coming out with a second set. Quartet with Billie Brimfield (trumpet), Larry Hayrod (bass), and Drake (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Graham Collier: Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days '69 (1969 [2023], My Only Desire): Bassist (1937-2011), one of the major figures in British jazz to emerge in the late 1960s, leading a sextet here: Hary Beckett (trumpet/flugelhorn), Nick Evans (trombone), Stan Sulzmann (tenor/alto sax), Karl Jenkins (oboe/piano), and John Marshall (drums). This live set expands on five (of six) songs from his third album, Down Another Road. Remarkable compositions and performances. Clearly someone I need to research further. A- [sp]

Eric Ghost: Secret Sauce (1975 [2022], Jazz Room): Jazz flutist Eric Barth Sanders, released two albums 1974-75, had his career interupted by a jail sentence for manufacturing LSD, so his claim to "psychedelic" has some credence. With piano, bass, and free-ranging percussion. B+(***) [sp]

Milford Graves With Arthur Doyle & Hugh Glover: Children of the Forest (1976 [2023], Black Editions Archive): Previously unissued tapes from the percussionist's archive: a trio date with Doyle (tenor sax, flute) and Glover ("klaxon, percussion, vaccine"), a duo with Glover (tenor sax), and a bit of solo (3:13) to close. Graves is fascinating to focus on throughout. Whether you can largely depends on your tolerance for noise: Doyle has always been a screecher, and often little more, although he brings exceptional energy to his part here. Glover has similar intent, but is much less imposing. B+(***) [sp]

Roy Hargrove: The Love Suite: In Mahogany (1993 [2023], Blue Engine): Trumpet player (1969-2018), 1990 debut album was called Diamond in the Rough, led to him winning DownBeat's "rising star" 1991-93, and eventually (2021) entering their hall of fame. Jazz at Lincoln Center commissioned him to do this major piece in 1993, then sat on the tape 30 years? With Jesse Davis (alto sax), Ron Blake (tenor sax), Andre Hayward (trombone), Marc Cary (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass), and Gregory Hutchinson (drums). Live, sounds great, even with the unconventional climax of scat vocal, long drum solo, and outro credits. Only explanation I can imagine why this was held back so long is that the boss man was jealous. A [sp]

Ahmad Jamal: Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse 1966-1968 (1966-68 [2023], Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): A third 2-CD set for the late pianist and his trio, with Jamil Nasser on bass and Frank Grant on drums. Dependably superb, as you'd expect. B+(***) [cd] [11-24]

Paul Lytton/Erhard Hirt: Borne on a Whim: Duets, 1981 (1981 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Duets, drums and live electronics for the famed British drummer, electric guitars and dobro for the German guitarist -- not someone I recalled, but Discogs credits him with 20 albums, and I recognize a couple. B+(**) [bc]

Les McCann: Never a Dull Moment! Live From Coast to Coast 1966-1967 (1963-67 [2023], Resonance, 3CD): Pianist, from Kentucky, never seemed to get much respect for his distinctive mix of soul jazz and boogie-woogie, but did get an actual hit record in 1969, with Eddie Harris on Swiss Movement (2.5 stars in Penguin Guide, but in my 1K list). This collects five live dates from Seattle (Penthouse) and one from New York (Village Vanguard), where he does his thing, and keeps doing it until he gets really good at it. (Looks like one cut from 1963 belies the subtitle.) A- [cd] [12-01]

Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly Trio: Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings (1965 [2023], Resonance, 2CD): For many years, it seemed like every American jazz guitarist took Wes Montgomery as their model -- a spell even more total than Charlie Parker and (later) John Coltrane held for saxophonists. I've long been skeptical (really for all three), but when Pat Metheny called Smokin' at the Half Note "the greatest jazz guitar album ever made," I had to check it out. I found it, "complete," in a 2-CD compilation, Impressions: The Verve Jazz Sides (probably where I got the Metheny quote), and have since collected CD reissues, the older one giving Wynton Kelly Trio top billing, a later one headlining Montgomery. Metheny's not right, but he's not far off base either: there is some truly remarkable guitar there -- Kelly and the rhythm section (Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb) are pretty great, too. What's offered here aren't outtakes from the same session, but snippets from other live shots from the same year and venue, with spoken intros and a revolving cast of bassists (Chambers, Ron Carter, Larry Ridley, Herman Wright, and Ridley again). There are, for sure, short stretches where Montgomery is on top of his game, and those are sublime. And there's a nice booklet, with a Bill Milkowski essays, and some appreciations from other musicians. This fits into Montgomery's discography rather like the Royal Roost broadcasts do for Parker. How indispensable they are is up to you. B+(***) [cd] [12-01]

Michel Petrucciani: The Montreux Years (1990-98 [2023], BMG/Montreux): The big jazz festival in Switzerland has been an annual affair since 1967. Dozens of artists have released tapes of their performances there, so it's unsurprising that the Foundation itself would want to get into the act. This draws on four performances by the diminuitive French pianist -- who died in 1999, at 37, of a congenital ailment that is impossible to detect in his masterful playing. Selections include duos with bassist Miroslav Vitous, a quartet with synthesizer, a quintet with Steve Grossman on sax, and a sextet with Stefano Di Battista. This winds up being an excellent sampler. A- [sp]

Cal Tjader: Catch the Groove: Live at the Penthouse 1963-1967 (1963-67 [2023], Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): Vibraphonist (1925-82), parents were "Swedish American vaudevillians," moved to Bay Area when he was two, learned to play piano and drums, and tap dance, started out in Dixieland bands, was playing drums in Dave Brubeck's group when he got interested in vibes. There are many testimonials in the booklet here, including one by Terry Gibbs on this story, and how Gibbs "showed him some things," although his knack for "Latin kick" came elsewhere. Tjader's groups from 1953 on were widely recorded. At one point, I tried figuring out who had the most jazz albums among artists I had none from, and Tjader was the easy winner. I picked up a record with Stan Getz after that, but Tjader remains a gaping hole in my expertise. So unlike most recent live archival trawls, I have little to compare this with, giving it an air of fresh discovery. This collects six sets, all quintets with piano, bass, drums, and Latin percussion (especially congas), and it's quite delightful. A- [cd]

Old music:

Dexter Gordon Quartet: Bouncin' With Dex (1975 [1976], SteepleChase): One of many albums the tenor saxophonist recorded during his years in Copenhagen. First side starts with "Billie's Bounce" and ends with a Gordon original called "Benji's Bounce," with "Easy Living" in between, another Gordon piece and "Four" on the other side. Quartet is the cream of Copenhagen: Tele Montoliu (piano), NHŘP (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums). A- [r]

Dexter Gordon Quartet: Stable Mabel (1975, SteepleChase): With Horace Parlan (piano), NHŘP (bass), and Tony Inzalaco (drums), six standards, ranging from "In a Sentimental Mood" to "Red Cross," most stretched out to 8-9 minutes. B+(***) [r]

Dexter Gordon Quartet: Cheese Cake (1964 [1979], SteepleChase): A live radio shot from his early days in Copenhagen, with Tele Montoliu (piano), NHŘP (bass), and Alex Riel (drums). Short and sweet. B+(**) [r]

Dexter Gordon Quartet: I Want More (1964 [1980], SteepleChase): Another live radio shot from Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen, again with Montoliu and NHŘP, this time with Rune Carlsson on drums. This was a prime period for him, and nearly everything sounds great. B+(***) [r]


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Andy Pratt: Trio (Thrift Girl) [01-12]
  • Sam Ross: Live at the Mira Room, Vol. II (self-released) [11-03]

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Sunday, November 19, 2023


Speaking of Which

I'm mostly working on the Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll this week, and probably every week until the first of January, so this weekly exercise is being demoted to a part-time, background project, making it even more cryptic and scattered than usual.

Still, let me say a few words up top -- or reiterate, as I've said pretty much the same thing in recent weeks. The main story is, again, Israel's war, which is no longer just against Gaza, but has extended to the West Bank and the border with Lebanon. Israel's leaders have always understood themselves to be at war with the Palestinian people and the broader Arab neighborhood, the purpose of which is to utterly dominate the region, reducing Palestinians to an "utterly defeated people," out of sight and out of mind, effectively dead. You can date their war back to 1948, or earlier. You can find seeds in Herzl's 1896 The Jewish State, which started growing in 1920 when Britain set up its "Jewish homeland," playing its typical divide-and-conquer game. But the idea is older still: at least since 1492, Europeans have moved to new lands and immediately started plotting to subjugate, or better still eliminate, the people they found there. So this first point, that the war did not start on October 7, should be too obvious to have to dwell on. Still, we may treat it as a new phase or level, as the shock of the Oct. 7 revolt gave Israel an excuse to implement the genocide that Zionism always implied.

The second point is that the Oct. 7 revolt, and the subsequent retaliation and escalation by Israel, was not necessary, and could easily have been prevented, at least by Israel's current and recent leaders. (Most obviously Netanyahu, but it's hard to discern any fundamental differences going back to, well, Ben-Gurion, with only Sharett and Rabin offering vague and conflicted gestures that might have pointed toward some form of peaceful co-existence.)

Israel -- by which I mean its political leaders, a group that could have fit within a meeting room and/or a conference call, and not the whole nation -- could simply have decided to contain the damage of Oct. 7, and not to compound the damage by retaliating. They didn't do so because they've locked themselves into a logic that tries to solve all problems by asserting their power. They may argue that their policies have worked well enough so far, so will work well enough in the future, but they are wrong: they've only appeared to have worked because they've never seriously assayed the costs.

The revolt itself could have been prevented in either of two ways. The specific people who organized and led the revolt -- for lack of more precise names, we might as well follow everyone else and call them Hamas, but we're talking about a small and isolated subset of people affiliated with Hamas, and quite probably others not in any way part of Hamas -- presumably had enough free will (but do we really know this?) to have decided not to act. That they did revolt suggests not malice so much as desperation, and mere luck in the outcome.

The other way to prevent revolt is to create conditions where Palestinians would have no compelling reason to revolt. There are lots of things that can be done in this regard (and Israel has even, on rare occasions, tried some, which worked as well as they could, as long as they were in place). Almost all internal conflicts end, or simply fade into oblivion, with some kind of accommodation. Israel is peculiarly, but not inevitably, resistant to the idea, but it's the only real path out of their quandry.

Given these percepts, I've laid out a fairly simple way to end the war in Gaza, which gives Israel a free hand to implement when they are ready, which is favorable enough to Israeli interests they should be happy to accept, and which accords Palestinians in Gaza a fair hope for respect and recovery. It does not attempt to solve any issues beyond the Gaza front, so does not require Israel to address its abuses of Palestinians within Israel and its other occupied territories, or its border issues with other countries. Very briefly, the steps are:

  1. Israel withdraws its forces from Gaza, and ceases fire on Gaza, except for reserving the right to retaliate within a limited period of time (say, 12 hours) for any subsequent attack launched from Gaza. The sooner the better, but no one can/will force Israel to withdraw, so they can destroy as much as they can stomach, until they tire and/or become too embarrassed to continue.

  2. Israel cedes its claim to Gaza, its air space, and adjacent sea, to the United Nations. The UN accepts, and sets up a temporary governing authority. (Israel may continue to conduct air and sea recognizance and interception until other arrangements are in place.) The UN authority will control the dispensation of aid, which will be allowed in only if all hostages are released and no resistance is offered.

  3. There will be blanket amnesty for all Gazans, for all Israelis engaged with Gaza, and for the government of Israel, for all acts up to the cease fire date. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and any other armed groups within Gaza, will cease to exist as organizations, and be banned from reforming. Individual members of those groups will be covered by the blanket amnesty. It is not necessary to disarm people, but a buy back program for arms and munitions would be a good idea.

  4. The UN will issue passports for Gaza, which will allow residents to leave and return at any later date.

  5. The UN will organize several levels of advisory councils, and operate subject to their agreement. The easiest way to organize these councils would be to select members at random, allowing anyone thus selected to select another person in their place. This will lead to elections in a year or two. In the meantime the UN will organize competent administration, police, and courts, primarily employing locals.

  6. After a couple years, Gaza will be recognized as an independent country, with normal full sovereignty, and will be able to renegotiate its relations with the UN, and with any other countries. It should be understood that its borders are permanently defined, and that it cannot call itself Palestine (as that might imply extraterritorial ambitions).

Note that nothing here requires Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime elsewhere, nor does it protect Israel from war crime and human rights charges (except for Gaza up to the hand off). Nothing here keeps world from showing its reservations over Israel, especially through BDS programs. Israel will remain, for the time anyway, racist and militarist. It just won't have Gaza to kick around any more. Given how much kicking they've done, especially since 2006, that in itself should reduce the conflict, and make other aspects of it easier to deal with, but that ultimately depends on Israelis growing up and becoming responsible citizens of the world, as opposed to their current preference as tyrants over one small patch of it.

I'm pretty certain that, given the chance, a democratic Gaza will not tolerate any attacks on Israel. Some Gazans may still decide to join ISIS or other extremist groups, but they will have to go into exile to do so, and will no longer be Gaza's responsibility. Plus, there will be far fewer of them once Israel stops "mowing the grass."

Other topics could be added to this, but why complicate things? I believe that there should be a right to exile, which would allow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to leave the country. That would be a better solution than simply trading hostages/prisoners.

My guiding rule for negotiations is to try to get to the right answer, one that works for all sides, with a minimum of impacts, and measure to increase trust and transparency. That may not always be possible, in which case you should look for other ways to compensate for perceived losses. (Gaza, in particular, is going to need a lot of aid.)

Let's put this part in bold:

Once you get to peace and justice, lots of things become possible. But it all starts with an Israeli cease-fire. That's all it takes to stop the killing, to halt the destruction. And that will at least slow down Israel's presently inexorable moral decay of into genocide -- and that of America, seeing as our leaders are currently in lockstep with Israel. So demand it! For once, it's obvious what's best for everyone!


Top story threads:

Israel:

Trump, and other Republicans:

Biden and/or the Democrats:

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Economic matters:

Ukraine War and American Geopolitics: While the Ukraine quagmire only deepens, other stories pop up that fit into the broader domain of America's arms racket and imperial ambitions.

Around the world:


Other stories:

Liza Featherstone: [11-17] Rich people in the US have been allowed to get way too rich.

Paul Rosenberg: [11-19] When a liberal president goes to war: Lessons of the LBJ era are relevant today.

Jeffrey St Clair: [11-17] Roaming Charges: Politics of the lesser exterminators.

Legacy: [11-19] Gerald "Jerry" Paske: Obituary. I'm saddened to note the death of my first philosophy professor, at 90. He taught the 101 intro course at Wichita State University, a big lecture class, and immediately turned us to reading Charles Sanders Peirce, the most interesting of the American pragmatists, and a perhaps unknowing gateway into the Marburg Neokantians. He always seemed like a decent, sensible guy, but the event that most impressed me was when, immediately after the Attica massacre, he put aside his prepared text and talked extemporaneously about the contempt for humanity that stoked the slaughter. After we returned to Wichita, he had retired, but every now and then he would write letters to the Eagle, always insightful, reliably decent. I found out then that he had written a short book, Why the Fundamentalist Right Is So Fundamentally Wrong. I tried to get in touch with him after my nephew Mike Hull finished his movie, Betrayal at Attica, but I never heard back.

[PS: In looking Paske up, I also found out that another of my WSU philosophy professors, Anthony Genova, died in 2010. I took his course on logic, which was mostly symbolic, but the opening section on informal fallacies was eye-opening. There are dozens of examples in the pieces I cite every week.]

I also see that Jonathan David Mott, the author of the blog Zandar Versus the Stupid, has passed away, at 48. I can't say as I've ever read him, but got the tip from No More Mister Nice Blog, who wrote: "He was always one of the most perceptive bloggers out there, and I will miss hearing from him as the world goes to hell."


I'm reminded that Norman G. Finkelstein published a book in 2018 called Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, which seems a bit premature at the moment, but no more so than it would have been to write a book on how alarming you found Nazi anti-semitism after Kristallnacht in 1938 (or after the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, when the die was cast, but still cloaked under the guise of law). Still, the book goes into great detail on Operation Cast Lead, the Goldstone Report, the Mavi Marmara, and Operation Protective Edge. The preface opens:

This book is not about Gaza. It is about what has been done to Gaza. It is fashionable nowadays to speak of a victim's agency. But one must be realistic about the constraints imposed on such agency by objective circumstance. Frederick Douglass could reclaim his manhood by striking back at a slave master who viciously abused him. Nelson Mandela could retain his dignity in jail despite conditions calibrated to humiliate and degrade him. Still, these were exceptional individuals and exceptional circumstances, and anyhow, even if he acquits himself with honor, the elemental decisions affecting the daily life of a man held in bondage and the power to effect these decisions remain outside his control. Gaza, as former British prime minister David Cameron observed, is an "open-air prison." The Israeli warden is in charge.

It's unfortunate that we keep resorting to Nazi Germany, Apartheid South Africa, the Slave Power in the United States, to provide some historical context for what Israel has done to Gaza, but those are by far the most relevant examples we are mostly aware of. But that's pretty much Israel's peer group. And I suppose those examples do offer one small bit of hope: they offer a range of possible endings to the still unfinished story of Israel and Gaza. In South Africa, reason and decency dismantled Apartheid. The other two regimes were destroyed in war, but not before the Nazis killed 6 million Jews, and lost 12 million of their own. The slave states lost their war as badly, but recovered to create a new system of oppression, which took another 100 years to dismantle (and could still use some work).

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Monday, November 13, 2023


Music Week

November archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 41160 [41108] rated (+52), 22 [28] unrated (-6).

Spent way too much time the last few days knocking together another Speaking of Which. To little or no avail, I suspect, but that's what we do around here.

What I should have been doing was getting the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll rolling. I've been saying all along that I'd get the ballots sent out by November 15, which this week is known as Wednesday. I do have the website set up, but have a lot more writing I want to get done -- both to explain the nitty gritty details to users, voters, and myself. The voting itself will be exactly as it was last year, and many years before that. The big problem is deciding who gets to vote, contacting them, and making sure they're on board. We dropped from 156 to 151 voters last year, and I fear that was mostly due to email failures. My fears in that regard got much worse early this year when I discovered that lots of mail from my server wasn't getting delivered. Fixing that was never clear nor simple, so I'm starting from an expectation that this is going to be a tough slog.

It would be nice if all my voters read this blog, or some blog I could communicate via, or at least followed me on X, but that's certainly not the case. What I do have to communicate with are two mailing lists. One is kept in my mailer, which I can then run through a "mail merge" extension to generate individualized messages. I have a shortened invite file, which I intend to run through that grinder later this week. Those I consider the official invites. (For late invites, I'll just use that as boilerplate for private messages.) The other is a GNU Mailman list on my server, which more or less has the same addresses (but maintained separately, ugh!). I'm going to send them a "heads up" message before I send out the invites. Then I'll use that list for subsequent updates: probably 2-3 reminders to vote, a deadline notice, an updates or two on publication dates, including a done. Neither of these work as well as I'd like, but they make it possible to keep most people fairly well informed along the way.

I thought I'd get started on expanding the voter list more than a month ago, and indeed I did (barely) get started, but once again I'm up against a crunch deadline. I have a few new names ready to add now, and a system set up to find more, but I'm still looking for helpful suggestions. One thing I have discovered so far is that the talent pool isn't lacking. I sent out 200 invites last year, to get 151 ballots back. I'm hoping for maybe 250 invites this year. I doubt it will make much difference to the standings, but 50 more voters will probably add 150 more albums to the overall list, and that, I think, would be a big plus. One thing I do with my tracking file is include any year-old album (2022) that I've only noticed in 2023 (i.e., that wasn't in the 2022 tracking file -- one that included everything that got a vote last year) and I have about 75 such records so far this year. By the way, in this year's file the current jazz count is 952 (603 heard by me).

I managed to make a first pass on my EOY files for Jazz and Non-Jazz, currently with 60 and 42 A-list new releases, respectively. We still have a fair ways to go, but that's well below 2022's 75 jazz and way below 2022's 83 non-jazz. For B+(***) albums, new jazz has 145 (vs. 195 in 2022), new non-jazz has 77 (vs. 122 in 2022)

The overall rated number is 1085 in 2023 (604 jazz), vs. 1669 in 2022 (898 jazz), so I'm down 34.9% in rated records this year, down 32.7% in jazz, more in non-jazz. HM/A-list jazz is down 26.2%, while non-jazz is down much more, 44.3%. In some sense, I'm not surprised: The 2022 totals were ridiculously high, so I knew I was going to slip, and through the health scares and what not I figured that to be a good thing. I can't keep racking up those numbers, and having passed 41,000, I don't really want to anymore.

Those numbers will even out a bit over the next couple months, but the drop from 83 to 42 is pretty extreme. One odd thing is that the last two Christgau Consumer Guides have failed to land a single A- on my list (after 4 in September). I didn't think much of that in October, which still has several albums I haven't found, but only Hemlocke Springs in November inspired so much as a second play. But thus far only 14 of my 42 A-list non-jazz albums got an A/A- from Christgau (2 of which I bumped on re-listens after his reviews). Probably says more about me than him, but I know not what.

Lots of records, hastily considered, below. Dave Bayles was actually a post-break listen today (so not in the 52 count), but I figured I might as well report it now. Ortiz, by the way, was a previous Monday listen, so a long stretch where very little blew me away.

Naked Lunch, by the way, was in response to a question, but I haven't gotten around to writing it up in answer form yet.

One more note: I added some code to the RSS generator to split the feed to just provide Music Week or Speaking of Which files: see the left nav menu, under Networking. I never got much feedback on how the RSS stuff is working (and rarely look at it myself, although my mailer dutifully collects the entries). But I regularly look at No More Mister Nice Blog, and I'd like to get back on his blog roll, so it seemed like a good idea. I also found that the Christgau RSS feed has been broken for months, which nobody pointed out. All that took was a "&" instead of "&" in the content, and kerblooey!


New records reviewed this week:

Lina Allemano/Axel Dörner: Aphelia (2019 [2023], Relative Pitch): Two trumpet duets, oscillating between ambient and drone with occasional farts. B+(*) [sp]

JD Allen: This (2023, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, introduced himself in 1998, mostly works in trios, but this is the first to employ electronics (Alex Bonney) in place of bass, with Gwilym Jones on drums. The electronics works well enough, but it still comes down to the man with the horn. B+(***) [sp]

Atlantic Road Trip: One (2023, Calligram): Quintet, recorded in Chicago, so it was probably Scottish alto saxophonist Paul Towndrow tripping, meeting up with trumpet player Chad McCullough, backed with vibes, bass, and drums. B+(**) [cd]

Dave Bayles Trio: Live at the Uptowner (2023, Calligram): Drummer, based in Milwaukee, first album, joined by bassist Clay Schaub (who wrote 5 of 9 songs), and trumpet player Russ Johnson (who wrote 3, and arranged the Monk cover). Very nice showcase for Johnson, who has long impressed. A- [cd]

Bombino: Sahel (2023, Partisan): Tuareg guitarist and songwriter from Agadez, Niger, Omara Moctar, fifth studio album since 2011, all pretty much equal. B+(***) [sp]

Boygenius: The Rest (2023, Interscope, EP): Four songs, 12:06, could easily have fit on The Record, but sucker-priced at $12 for CD, $20 for vinyl. No reason to trust me on them, but I do keep trying, and it's not much of a burden. B [sp]

Zach Bryan: Summertime Blues (2022, Warner, EP): Country singer-songwriter, has produced a lot since his 2019 debut, releasing this 9-song, 28:07 "EP" less than two months after his double album American Heartbreak (34 songs, 121:21). B+(**) [sp]

Zach Bryan: Boys of Faith (2023, Warner, EP): Five songs, 15:59, title track shared with Bon Iver, another with Noah Kahan. B+(**) [sp]

Calcanhar: Jump (2023, Clean Feed): Portuguese duo, Joăo Mortágua (alto/soprano sax) and Carlos Azevedo (piano), both have previous albums, but not many. B+(*) [bc]

Chief Adjuah: Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning (2023, Ropeadope): Or Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, anything but Christian Scott, who's not only lost his name but his trumpet too, here playing n'goni, other African-inspired instruments, and singing, although the latter often draws on the chiefs of New Orleans Indians. B+(***) [sp]

CMAT: Crazymad, for Me (2023, AWAL): Irish singer-songwriter, initials for Ciara Mary Alice Thompson, second album, impressive range with some pop hooks, has some serious props, but doesn't quite sit right with me. B+(***) [sp]

Mike DiRubbo: Inner Light (2023, Truth Revolution): Alto saxophonist, tenth release as leader, backed by a organ (Brian Charette), guitar (Andrew Renfroe), drums (Jongkuk Kim) trio, soul jazz but in the church of Coltrane. B+(***) [cd] [11-17]

Mia Dyberg Trio: Timestretch (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Danish alto saxophonist, several albums since 2016, free jazz trio with bass (Asger Thomsen) and drums (Simon Forchhammer). B+(*) [sp]

Nataniel Edelman Trio: Un Ruido De Agua (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Pianist, from Argentina, second album, a trio with featured names on the cover: Michael Formanek (bass), and Michaël Attias (alto sax). Quite nice. B+(***) [bc]

Phillip Greenlief/Scott Amendola: Stay With It (2017 [2023], Clean Feed): Saxophonist (alto/tenor, also clarinet), new to me but he released a duo with Amendola (drums) way back in 1995, and has racked up another 54 credits (per Discogs) since then, some of which I've certainly heard. Starts impressively free, loses a bit on the change of pace. B+(***) [sp]

Fritz Hauser & Pedro Carneiro: Pas De Deux (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Swiss drummer, his Solodrumming from 1985 is highly regarded. Joined here by Carneiro, on marimba. Pretty minimal. B [bc]

Scott Hesse Trio: Intention (2023, Calligram): Guitarist, has a self-released album from 1998, a previous trio on Origin from 2015. Based in Chicago, backed by bass (Clark Sommers) and drums (Dana Hall), plays three originals, covers of Coltrane, Shorter, Coleman, and Kern. B+(**) [cd]

The Hives: The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons (2023, Disques Hives): Swedish rock band, released four albums 1997-2007, one in 2012, now this sixth one. I'm unclear on the back story, but some of the sharpest garage rock I've heard in a long time. B+(***) [sp]

Horse Lords: Live in Leipzig (2022 [2023], RVNG Intl., EP): Post-rock group from Baltimore, debut 2012, instrumental (sax, bass, guitar, drums, incorporating electronics. Four songs, 21:46. B+(*) [sp]

Mikko Innanen/Stefan Pasborg/Cedric Piromalli: Can You Hear It? (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Sax (sopranino/alto/baritone, oboe), drums, organ, with Lori Freedman voice (two tracks). B+(**) [bc]

Guillermo Klein Quinteto: Telmo's Tune (2023, Sunnyside): Pianist, from Argentina, studied at Berklee, based in New York, albums since 1998, most with larger groups. Quintet here with Chris Cheek (tenor/soprano sax), Leo Genovese (piano), Matt Pavolka (bass), and Allan Mednard (drums). B+(**) [sp]

L'Rain: I Killed Your Dog (2023, Mexican Summer): Singer-songwriter Taja Cheek, although her songs are more likely to be instrumental vamps with vocals for shading. B+(**) [sp]

Liquid Mike: S/T [Self-Titled] (2023, Kitschy Spirit, EP): Indie group from Marquette, Michigan, with guitar (Mike Maple), synth (Monica Nelson), bass, and drums, the first two singing (but mainly him). Fourth album, everyone uses S/T as the title but cover reads self-titled (twice; format suggests they just unwrapped the cassette artwork). Eleven songs clocking in at 18:06 without feeling rushed. Sound immediately reminded me of Dead Milkmen, but not that funny, and much more into layering. B+(***) [sp]

Liquid Mike: Stuntman (2021, Lost Dog): First album, 14 songs, 30:39. They sort of got their sound together. Now, content maybe? B [sp]

Liquid Mike: You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (2021, Sweet Chin Music, EP): Seven songs, 17:22. B [sp]

Liquid Mike: A Beer Can and a Bouquet (2022, self-released, EP): Having found three different labels for their three other releases, I had to punt here. They're all on the same Bandcamp, along with a couple of singles, and no branding to be found there. Nine songs, 22:36, enough to pass for an album these days. B+(**) [sp]

Nellie McKay: Hey Guys, Watch This (2023, Hungry Mouse): Started out as a singer-songwriter in 2004, with show biz roots and ambitions, developed as an interpretive singer with her 2009 Doris Day tribute. This is billed as her first album of original material in 13 years. It was recorded in West Virginia with a group called the Carpenter Ants. I'm finding this very confusing, perhaps because it starts off bland and demure, then gets wilder and wierder (including, if I'm following this correctly, plaudits for Hiroshima and Jeremy Dahmer). Highly subject to revision, if I ever have a reason to play this again. B+(**) [sp]

Mercury [Nicolas Caloia & Lori Freedman]: Skin (2023, Clean Feed): Montreal duo, double bass and clarinets. A little sketchy, especially with so much focus on the bass. B+(**) [bc]

Allison Miller: Rivers in Our Veins (2023, Royal Potato Family): Drummer, debut 2004, original pieces, makes impressive use of a very talented group: Jenny Scheinman (violin), Jason Palmer (trumpet), Ben Goldberg (clarinet/contra-alto clarinet), Carmen Staaf (piano/rhodes/accordion), and Todd Sickafoose (bass), plus some tap dancers. I'm finding it a bit slick and scattered, but perhaps just can't get to the big picture. B+(***) [sp]

Steve Million: Perfectly Spaced (2023, Calligram): Pianist, based in Chicago, albums since 1995, quartet here with Mark Feldman (violin), Eric Hochberg (bass), and Bob Rummage (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Simon Nabatov 3+2: Verbs (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Russian pianist, long-based in Germany, the "3" his trio with Stefan Schönegg (bass) and Dominik Mahnig (drums), the "2" adding Leonhard Huhn (alto sax/clarinet) and Philip Zoubek (synthesizers). B+(**) [bc]

Simon Nabatov: Extensions (2022 [2023], Unbroken Sounds): Pianist-led sextet, with Sebastian Gille (saxophones) and Shannon Barnett (trombone), plus two bassists and a drummer. B+(***) [sp]

Aruán Ortiz: Pastor's Paradox (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Cuban pianist, based in Brooklyn, has a large and varied body of work. Three more names on the cover: Don Byron (clarinet), Lester St. Louis (cello), and Pheeroan Aklaff (drums), but Yves Dhar takes over cello on two tracks, and Mtume Gant offers spoken word on three, drawing on phrases from Martin Luther King. A- [cd]

Ethan Philion Quartet: Gnosis (2023, Sunnyside): Bassist, based in Chicago, debut album in 2022 Meditations on Mingus, offers more meditations with a smaller group: Russ Johnson (trumpet), Greg Ward (alto sax), and Dana Hall (drums). B+(***) [sp]

R. Ring: War Poems, We Rested (2023, Don Giovanni): Kelley Deal (Breeders) and Mike Montgomery. B+(*) [sp]

Ned Rothenberg: Crossings Four (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Reeds player (bass clarinet, alto sax, clarinet), debut 1981, finds himself in stealthy company here with Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Mary Halvorson (guitar), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Jerome Sabbagh: Vintage (2020 [2023], Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, from France, based in Brooklyn, has a steady stream of mainstream releases since 2004. This one employs Kenny Barron (piano), perhaps looking to renew his lease on Stan Getz. B+(**) [sp]

A. Savage: Several Songs About Fire (2023, Rough Trade): Parquet Quarts co-frontman, second solo album, with band work between the first (2017) and now. Music and words evince skill and thought, but only so much one can do with his voice, especially at this tempo. B+(**) [sp]

Troye Sivan: Something to Give Each Other (2023, Capitol): Australian pop singer-songwriter, third album. B+(**) [sp]

Hemlocke Springs: Going . . . Going . . . Gone! (2023, Good Luck Have Fun, EP): Isimeme "Naomi" Udu, b. 1998 in North Carolina, of Nigerian immigrant parents, expands two freak electropop singles into a 7-track, 21:24 EP. Two great songs, two close enough, three more than ok. B+(***) [sp]

Yuhan Su: Liberated Gesture (2023, Sunnyside): Vibraphonist, from Taiwan, studied at Berklee, based in New York, fourth album. With Caroline Davis (alto sax), Matt Mitchell (piano), Marty Kenney (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums). B+(***) [cd]

Kevin Sun: The Depths of Memory (2021-22 [2023], Endectomorph Music, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, I've been very impressed by everything he's done since his 2018 debut, but his effort here to create extended works is less striking. Three pieces here, totalling 82:28, intricately arranged with basic piano-bass-drums, adding trumpet (Adam O'Farrill) on the last two. B+(***) [cd]

Grzegorz Tarwid Trio: Flowers (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Polish pianist, has one previous album and several side-credits. Trio here with bass (Max Mucha) and drums (Albert Karch). The rhythm-heavy opening got my attention. B+(***) [bc]

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers: I Love You (2023, Domestic La La): Australian girl band, lead singer Anna Ryan, slotted punk but I'm thinking more like Go-Go's, first album after an EP. B+(**) [sp]

Trespass Trio Feat. Susana Santos Silva: Live in Oslo (2018 [2023], Clean Feed): One of Swedish saxophonist Martin Küchen's groups -- he plays baritone and sopranino here, with Per Zanussi on bass and Raymond Strid on drums -- with four 2009-17 albums, joined here by the Portuguese trumpet player. B+(**) [bc]

Daniel Villarreal: Lados B (2020 [2023], International Anthem): Drummer, from Panama, based in Chicago, second album, a trio with Jeff Parker (guitar) and Anna Butterss (double & electric bass). Seductive groove music. A- [sp]

Jennifer Wharton's Bonegasm: Grit & Grace (2023, Sunnyside): Bass trombonist, leads a section here with John Fedchock, Nate Mayland, and Alan Ferber, backed by piano, bass, drums, and percussion. Third group album. Fedchock produced. Ends on an up note, with a vocal about Louisiana hot sauce. B+(***) [cd]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Jouk Minor/Josef Traindl/Jean Querlier/Christian Lété/Dominique Regef: Enfin La Mer (1978 [2023], NoBusiness): Free jazz group, with two pieces dubbed suites (33:50 + 16:43), playing baritone sax/contrabass clarinet, trombone, alto sax, drums, and hurdy gurdy -- most with spotty discographies (Regef has the most side-credits, but nothing as leader). Still, often impressive. B+(***) [cd]

Old music:

The Hives: Barely Legal (1997, Burning Heart): First album for the Swedish punk band, five years before their Veni Vidi Vicious breakthrough. As coarse as it ought to be. Fourteen songs in 27:21. B+(*) [sp]

The Hives: The Black and White Album (2007, A&M/Octone): Fourth album, fourteen songs again, but 47:57. B+(*) [sp]

Howard Shore/Ornette Coleman/London Philharmonic Orchestra: Naked Lunch [The Complete Original Soundtrack Remastered] (1991 [2014], Howe): Soundtrack to the David Cronenberg film of the William S. Burroughs novel, mostly (and most forgettably) composed by Shore, who has some eighty soundtracks 1979-2022, including lots of big budget deals (Lord of the Rings seems to be the one he's most famous for). Coleman composed five tracks (plus two in the six-track bonus section), although he plays (and it really couldn't be anyone else) on the Shore-credited "Interzone Suite," and possibly elsewhere, interesting but not enough to sustain the album. I saw the film, but don't remember much of it, nor do I recall much of the book, which I poked around with in my late teens, treating it more as concrete poetry than as any sort of story. B+(*) [sp]


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Rich Halley Quartet: Fire Within (Pine Eagle) [12-01]
  • Hannah Marks: Outsider, Outlier (Out of Your Head) [10-23]
  • Trio San: Hibiki (Jazzdor) [11-10]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Sunday, November 12, 2023


Speaking of Which

I started this mid-week, way too early for what I rarely intend as anything more than casual note-taking, but with elections on Tuesday and the "kiddie-table debate" on Wednesday (credit the quote to SNL's Trump personifier), the stories piled up fast. Most of the early ones just got links, but some inevitably provoked one-liners, and soon enough longer disquisitions ensued. But some of the most important pieces are barely noted, like the Savage and Shafer pieces on Trump's second-term ambitions. (Sure, they're not exactly new news, but the new articles are more detailed and comprehensive.)

Still, mostly Israel this week, mostly rehashing points that were obvious from the start of October 7. The story there is, as it's always been, about power and resistance. As noted last week, Gabriel Winant described Israel as "a machine for the conversion of grief into power." That grief brings with it a great deal of anger and righteousness, which goes a long ways to explaining why Israeli power has been remarkably successful for so long. But the problem is that power never quite works the way you want it to. Every effort to exercise power, to impose your will on other people, meets the resistance of what we might as well call the human spirit. And that resistance takes a toll, both physical and psychic, as despite the hubris of the powerful, they too have human spirits.

So while the "Israel-Hamas War" since October 7, starting with one spectacular day of rebellion followed by a month-and-counting of relentless, methodical slaughter, has been an object lesson in the massive superiority of Israeli military power, it doesn't feel like a victory, least of all to the Israelis. For one thing, the revolt punctured Israel's long-held belief that power makes them invulnerable. For another, they're slowly coming to realize that they can't kill and destroy enough to stamp out resistance, which will return and flourish in their ruins. And finally, they're beginning to suspect that any victory they can claim will prove hollow. In this understanding, the world is moving way ahead of its leaders, perhaps because the human spirit is concentrated among the powerless, among those whose minds aren't corrupted by their pursuit and cultivation of power.

Given this, calling for an immediate cease-fire should be the easiest political decision ever. Even if your sympathies and/or identity is fully with Israel, an immediate halt is the only way to stop adding to the cumulative damage, not just to Palestinian lives but to Israel's tarnished humanity. Because, and we should be absolutely clear on this, what Israel has been doing for more than a month now isn't self-defense, isn't deterrence, isn't even retaliation: it is genocide. That is the intent, and that is the effect of their tools and tactics. Genocide is a practice that the whole world should, and eventually will, condemn. And while the roots of the impulse run deep in Israel's political history, down to the very core tenets of Zionism, we should understand that the actions were conscious decisions of specific political leaders, aided by key people who followed their orders, abetted by political parties that bought into their mindset. While it is very unlikely that even those leaders will ever be adequately punished -- as if such a thing is even possible -- unwinding their support will start to make amends.

It feels like I should keep going with this argument, but I'm dead tired, and rather sick of the whole thing, so will leave it at that.


I tossed this tweet out on Thursday:

Re Biden's polls, this "wag the dog" effect doesn't seem to be working. Rather than rallying behind the leader, it seems like he's getting blamed for all wars, even when few object to his policy. Have folks begun to realize all wars are preventable? So each reveals failure!


Top story threads:

Israel: The ground war, ostensibly against Hamas, as well as the air war, really against all of Gaza, continues as it has since the Oct. 7 prison break. This section quickly gets filled up with opinion pieces, largely due to our vantage point far from the action, partly due to our intimate involvement with the long-running conflict, and the dire need to insist on a cease fire to put a stop to the mounting destruction, and allow for some measure of recovery to begin. So the actual day-to-day details tend to escape my interest. To obtain some sense of that, I thought I'd just list the headlines in the New York Times "updates" file(s):

November 12:

  • More patients die at major Gaza hospital amid fuel delivery dispute
  • Crisis heightens at Gaza's main hospital amid dispute over desperately needed fuel.
  • The U.S. carried out another round of airstrikes in Syria on Iran-linked targets.
  • Netanyahu says he sees no role for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, for now.
  • Al-Quds Hospital halts operation as it runs out of fuel and power, the Red Crescent says.
  • The U.S. warns Israel to avoid fighting in hospitals.
  • Over 100,000 march in France against antisemitism.
  • A U.N. residential compound in southern Gaza came under fire, officials say.
  • Demands grow for a pause in fighting as the humanitarian situation worsens.
  • Chris Christie is the first Republican presidential candidate to visit Israel since Oct. 7.
  • Calls grow for Israel to pause fighting
  • Demands grow for a pause in fighting as the humanitarian situation worsens.

November 11:

  • Gaza's main hospital struggles to keep patients alive
  • Gaza's main hospital is without power and at a breaking point as fighting closes in.
  • Thousands of protesters in Tel Aviv called on Israel to prioritize rescuing the hostages.
  • Hezbollah's leader says his fighters will keep up pressure on Israel.
  • Across Europe, thousands call for cease-fire in Gaza. [Photos of demonstrations in Edinburgh, Barcelona, London, and Brussels.]
  • Surrounded by Israeli troops, Palestinians evacuate a cluster of hospitals in northern Gaza.
  • Iran and Saudi Arabia, regional rivals, call for Gaza cease-fire at summit.
  • Here's a map of the Gaza City hospitals Israel has been closing in on.
  • Life in Gaza City: Privation, rationing and desperate fear.
  • The W.H.O. chief says more than 250 attacks on Gaza and West Bank health care facilities have been verified.

November 10:

  • Israel lowers Oct. 7 death toll estimate to 1,200
  • Israel has struggled to distinguish the remains of Oct. 7 victims from those of attackers.
  • 'These babies, these ladies, these old people': Macron mourns civilian deaths and urges an Israeli cease-fire.
  • Concerns grow for hospital patients and sheltering civilians.
  • The W.H.O. chief says more than 250 attacks on Gaza and West Bank health care facilities have been verified.
  • Al-Shifa Hospital is increasingly a flashpoint in the war.
  • Israel steps up airstrikes inside Lebanon following Hezbollah drone and missile attacks.
  • Israel is on high alert as regional threats from Iran-backed militants grow.
  • Israel's public defenders refuse to represent Oct. 7 attackers.
  • America's top diplomat says 'far too many Palestinians have been killed.'
  • Israel is considering a deal for Hamas to release all civilian hostages in Gaza, officials say.
  • Antisemitic hate crimes soared in New York City last month. [E.g., "police are searching . . . vandals who scrawled 'Hamas' and antisemitic graffiti on several Upper East Side apartment buildings last month."]
  • The war has led to the deadliest month for journalists in at least three decades.
  • U.N. human rights chief says Israel should end bombardment with heavy munitions.
  • Intense protests again shut down Midtown Manhattan streets.
  • The Israeli police detained Arab Israeli politicians preparing a vigil against Gaza srikes, civic groups say.

November 9:

  • Israel expands daily combat pauses to let civilians flee, White House says
  • Israel has agreed to put in place regular daily four-hour pauses for civilians to flee, the White House said.
  • A day of fierce combat and diplomatic talks ends with a deal to try to help Gazans reach safety.
  • Islamic Jihad releases a video of two Israeli hostages in Gaza.
  • The war has taken a staggering toll on the Palestinian economy.
  • Israeli police detained five Arab Israeli politicians who planned a vigil against Gaza strikes, civic groups say.
  • The C.I.A. director and the Israeli intelligence chief met with Qatari officials to discuss a possible Hamas hostage deal.
  • Intense protests again shut down Midtown Manhattan streets.
  • Video offer glimpses of battle in Gaza.
  • Casualties in Gaza may be 'even higher' than previously thought, a U.S. official told Congress.
  • Palestinian officials say 18 are killed in the West Bank as violence spikes.
  • Chickenpox, scabies and other diseases surge in Gaza, the W.H.O. says.
  • Macron convenes an aid conference on worsening conditions in Gaza.
  • Archaeologists look for traces of the missing in the ashes of Hamas's attack.

Also see Maps: Tracking the Attacks in Israel and Gaza: Sections there:

  • [11-09] Strikes hit hospitals, schools and other shelters for displaced people in the Gaza Strip
  • [11-07] A third of buildings in northern Gaza are damaged or destroyed, analysis estimates
  • [11-05] Frequent fighting along the Israel-Lebanon border continues as tensions mount
  • [11-03] Where Israel's invasion has cut Gaza in two
  • [11-02] Where Israeli forces are advancing toward Gaza City
  • [10-31] At least a quarter of buildings in northern Gaza are damaged, analysis estimates
  • [10-30] Where Israeli troops are encircling Gaza City
  • [10-29] A more detailed look at Israel's advance into northern Gaza
  • [10-28] Where Israeli military videos show ground forces entering Gaza
  • [10-26] A new look at where Israel has hit Gaza
  • [10-23] Deadliest period for Palestinians in the West Bank in 15 years

The file goes on, including several entries on the Oct. 18 blast at Ahli Arab Hospital, declaring the cause and death toll to be unclear. In addition to maps, there is a lot of aerial photography of destruction.

Some more news articles, mostly from the New York Times:

If you want something that reads less like Israeli Pravda, Mondoweiss has a daily summary:

Here are this week's batch of articles:

Tuesday's elections: Democrats came away with some bragging rights, but none of these results were resounding wins:

  • Kentucky governor: Andy Beshear (D) 52.5%, Daniel Cameron 47.5%
  • Mississippi governor: Tate Reeves (R) 51.5%, Brandon Presley (D) 47.1%
  • Virginia State Senate: 21 Democrats, 19 Republicans; State House: 51 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 1 undecided (R leading +228 votes)
  • Ohio: reproductive rights amendment: 56.6% yes, 43.4% no; legalize recreational marijuana: 57.0% yes, 43.0% no.

We had two signs up in front of our house. Our mayoral favorite lost to the Koch money machine, but our school board pick won.

  • Andrew Prokop: [11-08] 3 winners and 1 loser from Election Day 2023: "Democrats had a good night. So did abortion rights. Glenn Youngkin, not so much."

  • Jamelle Bouie: [11-10] The GOP's culture war shtick is wearing thin with voters.

  • Sarah Jones: [11-08] The anti-trans backlash failed last night.

  • Ed Kilgore: [11-09] Are Democrats the party of low-turnout elections now? Too many wrong takes here to work through, but the idea that low voter turnout favored Republicans was largely established in 2010, when marginal Democrats who had landslided for Obama in 2008 stayed home, giving Republicans what seemed like an amazing rebound. Few people noticed that the 2010 turnout was almost exactly the same as 2006, which had been a huge Democratic wave, as Bush tanked post-Katrina, even pre-recession. Since 2010, Democrats have tried hard to increase voter turnout, and Republicans have worked even harder to suppress it. The West Coast, with high voter turnout mostly due to mail order, seemed to support the Democrats.

    In general, people who don't feel they have much stake in the system are the ones who don't vote, or don't vote regularly. Most of these people should align better economically with Democrats, but they often can't see that, and Democrats haven't worked very hard at winning them back -- at least since the 1980s, the focus has mainly been on raising money. Trump threw a monkey wrench into this: a lot of low-info, low-concern people like him for what we'll call aesthetic reasons, and that's boosted his vote totals, to where in 2016 and 2020 he ran about three points better than the "likely voter" polls, which got him way closer than he should have been, and helped Republicans overperform elsewhere. But I believe the underlying dynamic is a gradual shift from R-to-D, at least among regular voters (and young voters who are increasingly seeing voting as worth their time). This is being masked because Democrats still aren't very good at getting people to vote economic interests (although under Biden they've started to pay off), and Republicans are still very effective at lying to people and scheming behind their backs, and the media is way too generous to Republicans. On the other hand, Republican voter suppression often backfires. Philosophically, Democrats believe in high turnout, because they believe in democracy, where Republicans only believe in winning. So in most ways, the issue is probably a wash.

  • Dion Lefler: [11-08] The $630,000 mayor: Can Lily Wu keep her boldest promises? While Democrats were enjoying wins elsewhere, here in Kansas we lost our mayor to a Koch-financed Republican dressed up as a Libertarian, checking off a lot of diversity boxes no one has come forward to brag about (female, non-white, immigrant from Guatemala, but also non-hispanic). Although the elections were technically non-partisan, Republicans claimed three seats -- with Wu, a majority -- on the Wichita City Council. Curiously enough, the School Board seats shifted to Democrats, including one at-large seat won by Melody McCrae-Miller.

  • Charles P Pierce: [11-08] Ohio Republicans are already beefing with the will of the voters on abortion and weed: One thing you'll never hear a Republican say after a loss: "the people have spoken, and we have to heed their decision."

  • Bill Scher: [11-08] Glenn Youngkin's big fat 15-week abortion ban belly flop.

  • Li Zhou: [11-07] Andy Beshear offers Democrats some lessons for how to win in Trump country: "Here's how a Democrat won reelection in Kentucky."

The "third Republican presidential debate": We might as well split this out from the general morass of Republicanism, even though it did little more than exemplify it. I didn't watch, but my wife did, so I overheard a segment on foreign policy that was several orders of magnitude beyond bonkers.

  • Andrew Prokop: [11-08] 0 winners and 5 losers from the third Republican presidential debate: "All the candidates failed, but they failed in different ways."

  • Zack Beauchamp: [11-08] The Republican debate is fake.

  • Jim Geraghty: [11-09] A sober GOP debate for serious times. Just as well Trump wasn't there. By far the silliest take on the debate.

  • Ed Kilgore: [11-09] Republican debaters want to go to war with everyone (except Trump):

    Egged on by moderator Hugh Hewitt, a Navy-obsessed conservative pundit, all five candidates called for a lot more defense spending even as they railed against debts and deficits. To the extent they disagreed on foreign policy, it was mostly about whether defending or defunding Ukraine was the best tack for combating China. (Haley and Christie took the former position, while DeSantis and Ramaswamy took the latter.)

    Getting closer to home, there was total unanimity among the debaters on the need to ignore climate change and frantically resume uninhibited exploitation of fossil fuels. Haley called DeSantis a "liberal on the environment," forcing him to defend his determination to frack and drill until the icecaps fully melt.

    Ramaswamy played his anti-neocon card by dubbing Haley as "Dick Cheney in three-inch heels," then adding "we have two of them on stage," lest DeSantis feel left out, but Ramaswamy was an eager for war against China as any of them.

  • Natalie Allison: [11-12] Tim Scott suspends his presidential campaign.

I generally hate it when people try to make a case by pointing out how a person looks, but I've been having a lot of trouble in following clips of Ramaswamy, not just because he's so nonsensical but because he doesn't seem to have a face behind the mouth that spouts such nonsense. Perhaps this is just something that happens with age, but it's not a problem I see with the other candidates (DeSantis has a face, although it's turned into a self-caricature, a different problem), or most other people. I'm looking at Salon as I write this, and even Ivanka (7 pictures) has some kind of face-in-progress. Her father (8 pictures) has a face, even if it's mostly buried in bronzer. Even Brian Kilmeade, staring as blankly as his brain, has a face. But Ramaswamy doesn't.

Trump, and other Republicans:

Biden and/or the Democrats:

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Economic matters:

Ukraine War:

Around the world:


Other stories:

Charles Hirschkind: [11-08] Exterminate the brutes: "Beneath the veneer of a celebrated concern for human rights, the racism that defined 19th century colonialism continues to provide the dominant lens through which the West exercises the subordination of non-Western populations." Another piece about Israel, but I thought I should give it a little distance.

Matthew Hoh: [11-10] Armistice Day and the empire: A name change and the catastrophe that followed. It's now Veterans Day, November 11, signifying not the arrival of peace (after WWI) but the endless waste of war.

Yarden Katz: [11-09] Are Israelis Jews? Returning to Jewish minority life: Argues that "Israel has erased the Jewish people and destroyed the possibilities for Jews to live in Palestine as non-colonizers. 'Israeli' is a colonial identity we should renounce, because it harms both Palestinians and Jews." Interesting attempt to drive a wedge between identities Jewish and Israeli, then flip them over. Nothing is quite that simple.

Jeremy Kuzmarov: [11-10] How Bill Clinton set the groundwork for today's foreign policy disasters. Co-author, with John Marciano, of a book I should have noted when it appeared in 2018: The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce; also Obama's Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (2019); and forthcoming: Warmonger: How Clinton's Malign Foreign Policy Launched the US Trajectory From Bush II to Biden.

Keren Landman: [11-09] It's getting increasingly dangerous to be a newborn in the US. A big part of this seems to be: Alice Miranda Ollstein: [11-07] Congenital syphilis jumped tenfold over the last decade.[

Michaelangelo Matos: [11-05] Documentary review: 'The War on Disco': I accidentally saw a bit of this show, but didn't stick around long enough to evaluate Matos on the subject (although I know him to be one of the best dance-oriented critics around). I always thought the anti-disco rants in the 1970s were more stupid than racist (although what finally shut them up were disco hits by Blondie and New Order, so go figure).

Nathan J Robinson: [09-19] Is Thomas Sowell a legendary "maverick" intellectual or a pseudo-scholarly propagandist? Asking the question practically answers itself. One more in a long series of profiles in right-wing mind-rot.

Aja Romano: [11-10] What the Hasan Minhaj controversy says about the trouble with storytelling.

Robert Sherrill: [1988-06-11] William F. Buckley lived off evil as mold lives off garbage: An archive piece, by one of my favorite journalists fifty years ago, a review of John B Judis: William F Buckley, Jr: Patron Saint of the Conservatives. Sherrill's title bears structural resemblance to his book, Military Justice Is to Justice as Military Music Is to Music.

Alissa Wilkinson: [11-09] The long, long Hollywood strikes have ended.

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023


Music Week

November archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 41108 [41078] rated (+30), 28 [32] unrated (-4).

I had a bunch of things I wanted to get done before this update, and I have damn little to show for it. A bunch of things happened, or didn't happen, last week, but if I try to go into that, it'll be days more before I post anything. Maybe next week I can explain.

Meanwhile. I did write another long Speaking of Which, which didn't come out until Monday, pushing Music Week back a day. Rather than wrote more on that here, let me recommend a book about a different time and world that strikes me as especially relevant here: Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke, a chronicle of the prehistory of WWII told through contemporary newspaper clippings: written by the last people who had to figure out the Nazis without having the benefit of knowing how the story ends.

One of my distractions last week was figuring out a sequel for my Oct. 27 birthday dinner. I had shopped for a lot of tapas dishes that I didn't have time to make, so we had a second setting a week later (so Nov. 3). I promised last week to write up my notes on the birthday dinner. I finally did this in the notebook. I also looked up some previous Spanish-themed dinners, and came up with a couple of old pics.

I also finished the indexing on October Streamnotes.

One thing I made very little progress on was setting up the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Poll. I hoped to be able to say more about that here, but that will have to wait until next week. It is still a go, and I hope to send ballot invites out by Nov. 15 (hopefully not much later). Big issue right now is trying to figure out who to invite. I'm surprised as how frazzled I already feel.

Another thing I didn't get done was setting up my EOY files, broken out between jazz and non-jazz (as in previous years -- oops, already have links there to my useless stubs).

The distractions took time away from listening, but the extra day got the rating count up to 30, including five A-list items from my demo queue (a lot more than usual). Would have had six had I gotten to Aruán Ortiz in time.


New records reviewed this week:

Rodrigo Amado/The Bridge: Beyond the Margins (2022 [2023], Trost): Portuguese tenor saxophonist, easily one of the top half-dozen in the world since 2000, which should suffice here, but pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach is a special treat here, and the interaction is so masterful Gerry Hemingway and Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten got in on the action. Beware: it does get a little rowdy. A [cd]

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Dynamic Maximum Tension (2023, Nonesuch): Canadian big band composer/arranger, studied under Bob Brookmeyer, fourth album since 2009, an extra large one (111 minutes). Not something I'm inclined to get excited about, but fine soloists, some very nice segments, works as background but gets better when you tune in. B+(***) [sp]

Bruce Barth Trio: Dedication (2021 [2022], Origin): Pianist, from Pasadena, first records (c. 1985) were with George Russell, then Orange Then Blue. Trio with bass (Vicente Archer) and drums (Montez Coleman). B+(**) [sp]

Rob Brown: Oceanic (2021 [2023], RogueArt): Alto saxophonist, records since 1989, I associate him mostly with William Parker's groups. Solo here. B+(***) [cdr]

Rob Brown Quartet: Oblongata (2022 [2023], RogueArt): Alto saxophonist (also plays some flute), joined by Steve Swell (trombone), Chris Lightcap (bass, and Chad Taylor (drums), in a superb free set. A- [cdr]

Buck 65: Punk Rock B-Boy (2023, self-released): Venerable rapper from Nova Scotia, dropped this 19-track limited edition cassette (all ten unique copies sold out) by surprise, with a line about the Texas Rangers suggesting he cut that track the day before this dropped. After a layoff, he popped back last year with the superb King of Drums -- so superb I was happy enough when this year's Super Dope sounded just like it. But this one is better still, with the words popping at a pace that justifies his "autodidactic polymath" boast. The beats too, until a change of pace called "Terminal Illiness" seals the deal. A [bc]

DJ Shadow: Action Adventure (2023, Mass Appeal): Electronics producer Josh Davis, early records Endtroducing (1996) and, especially, The Private Press (2002), are favorites, with nothing else -- only four studio albums before this one -- close. Synth beats recognizable, but he's lost the ability to hook a vocal sample, like "what you gonna do now?" B+(*) [sp]

Kurt Elling: SuperBlue: The London Sessions (2022, Edition, EP): Live rehash of his "Grammy-nominated" 2021 SuperBlue, five tracks (28:12), with Charlie Hunter (hybrid guitar) bringing the funk. He cuts the shit, revealing what could pass for soul (e.g., "Lonely Avenue"). B+(*) [bc]

Kurt Elling/Charlie Hunter/Neal Smith: SuperBlue: Guilty Pleasures (2022 [2023], Edition, EP): Vocals, hybrid guitar, drums: Bandcamp page parses this differently (Smith is a "feat."; "Superblue" vanishes), but title and all three names on the cover, as well as a "3" I don't know what to do with. Pretty flash rhythm work recasts the singer as funk, despite the scat. Six songs, 22:08. B+(*) [bc]

Kurt Elling/Charlie Hunter: SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree (2023, Edition): A skilled jazz singer, started out around 1998, highly regarded by most critics but one I can only rarely stand. The partnership with Hunter gives him an agreeable groove to work from, and reins in his worst effects. So more tolerable. Big deal. B [sp]

Robert Finley: Black Bayou (2023, Easy Eye Sound): Bluesman from Louisiana, got a late start with a debut at 1962, called it Age Don't Mean a Thing, but in his genre age brings gravitas, which is what it's all about. Seven years later, turns out that even he sees age means something after all. B+(**) [sp]

Sue Foley: Live in Austin Vol. 1 (2023, Stony Plain): Blues singer-songwriter from Ottawa, moved to Vancouver and then to Austin, releasing Young Girl Blues in 1992. I always liked her, and much of this is familiar, most likely drawing on her better albums. B+(**) [sp]

Lafayette Gilchrist: Undaunted (2022 [2023], Morphius): Pianist, started out in David Murray's quartet, a dozen-plus albums since 1999. Sextet here, with Brian Settles (tenor sax), Christian Hizon (trombone), bass, drums, and percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Hermanos Gutiérrez: El Bueno Y El Malo (2022, Easy Eye Sound): Duo based in Switzerland, brothers Estevan and Alejandro, father Swiss, mother from Ecuador, fifth album, produced in Nashville by Dan Auerbach. Very tasteful instrumental music, mostly guitar, not in any niche. A- [sp]

William Hooker: Flesh and Bones (2023, Org Music): Avant-drummer, has a long career of going his own way. Drives a sextet here with Ras Moshe (tenor sax/flute), Charles Burnham (violin), On Davis (guitar), and two bassists (Hilliard Greene and Luke Stewart). B+(**) [sp]

Russell Kranes/Alex Levine/Sam Weber/Jay Sawyer: Anchor Points (2022 [2023], OA2): Piano, guitar, bass, and drums; half trio (reference to the Nat King Cole Trio), and half with drums. The trio emphasizes the guitar, while the drums gets the pianist going. First album for Kranes, possibly the rest. B+(**) [cd]

Lil Wayne: Tha Fix Before Tha VI (2023, Young Money): Mixtape, a distinction I've never understood, but number 29 for those who keep track of such things. Sounded sharp at first, but kept hitting the same point again and again, until it no longer even resembled a point. B [sp]

Myra Melford's Fire and Water Quintet: Hear the Light Singing (2022 [2023], RogueArt): Pianist, a major figure since 1990, with Mary Halvorson (guitar), Ingrid Laubrock (tenor and soprano sax), Tomeka Reid (cello), and Lesley Mok (drums). Second group album, a rhythmic tour de force. A- [cd]

Joshua Moshe: Inner Search (2023, La Sape): Saxophonist (soprano/alto/tenor, bass clarinet, synth, piano) from Australia, formerly Joshua Kelly, led the "nu jazz" JK Group), so not a debut. Chasing spirits, often over jazztronica beats. Interesting enough until the ululating. B+(**) [sp]

David Murray/Questlove/Ray Angry: Plumb (2022 [2023], JMI/Outside In Music): Tenor sax/bass clarinet giant, jamming with the drummer and keyboard player from the Roots. Product status is iffy: runs 14 songs, 136 minutes, which can be streamed now, with a 4-LP box is promised for sometime 2024 ($150, "ships in about six months," which sounds more like a reverse twist on loansharking). The Roots guys aren't much more than fit for purpose here, but Murray is once again a tower of strength. A- [sp]

Remembrance Quintet: Do You Remember? (2023, Sonboy): DC-based quintet I filed under bassist Luke Stewart's name, with two reedists (Daniel Carter and Jamal Moore), trumpet (Chris Williams), and drums (Tcheser Holmes), opens their "dig deep into humanity's ancestral stream" with spoken word, asking the title question, answering with unsettled horns and rhythm. B+(***) [sp]

Sampha: Lahai (2023, Young): British singer-songwriter, parents from Sierra Leone, last name Sisay, plays keyboards, second album, falsetto adds to the r&b effect. B+(*) [sp]

Jeff Sanford's Cartoon Jazz Orchestra: Playland at the Beach (2023, Little Village): Bay Area saxophone/clarinet player, originally from New York, leads a nonet with a couple previous albums, traces his interest in cartoon jazz to Raymond Scott and Carl Stalling (who else?). B+(**) [sp]

Jeremy Udden: Wishing Flower (2023, Sunnyside): Alto saxophonist, debut 2006, played with Either/Orchestra before that, also plays Lyricron wind synthesizer here, with Ben Monder (guitar), Jorge Roeder (bass), and Ziv Ravitz (drums). B+(*) [sp]

Miki Yamanaka: Shades of Rainbow (2023, Cellar Music): Japanese pianist, based in New York since 2012, fifth album, with Mark Turner (tenor sax), Tyrone Allen (bass), and Jimmy McBride (drums). Turner feels exceptionally relaxed here. B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Barry Altschul/David Izenson/Perry Robinson: Stop Time: Live at Prince Street, 1978 (1978 [2023] NoBusiness): Drums, bass, clarinet, joint improv, listed alphabetically, although the drummer is probably the best known these days. Not the greatest sound, but remarkable music. A- [cd]

Peter Brötzmann/Sabu Toyozumi: Triangle: Live at Ohm, 1987 (1987 [2023], NoBusiness): Live set from Tokyo, with the German avant-saxophonist in fine form, and a local drummer who's up to the task. B+(***) [cd]

Roy Campbell/William Parker/Zen Matsuura: Visitation of Spirits: The Pyramid Trio Live, 1985 (1985 [2023], NoBusiness): Trumpet player (1952-2014), played in various William Parker projects, including Other Dimensions in Music, and later had the Nu Band, with Mark Whitecage. This was an early version of his trio, which did three 1994-2001 studio albums. A bit spotty at first, but terrific when they get going. A- [cd]

Kim Dae Hwan/Choi Sun Bae: Korean Fantasy (1999 [2023], NoBusiness): Korean duo, drummer (1933-2003), very much in the center here, with trumpet floating around. B+(***) [cd]

Old music:

None.


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Rodrigo Amado/The Bridge: Beyond the Margins (Trost) [10-20]
  • Les McCann: Never a Dull Moment! Live From Coast to Coast 1966-1967 (Resonance, 2CD) [12-01]
  • John Paul McGee: A Gospejazzical Christmas (Jazz Urbano) [11-16]
  • Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly Trio: Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings (Resonance, 2CD)
  • Dave Stryker: Groove Street (Strikezone) [01-24]
  • Trio Grande: Urban Myth (Whirlwind) [11-03]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, November 6, 2023


Speaking of Which

Again, I swore off working on this during the week, which turned out to pose more than a few problems. Finally opened the file up on Saturday evening. I figured I'd just collect links, and not bother with any serious writing. The supply of inputs seemed endless, and it got late Sunday before I considered tidying up and posting. But I couldn't, due to a computer problem which took several hours to diagnose and about a minute to fix once I recognized it (DHCP tripped me up). By then it was too late, so my posts are shifted back a day once more.

Starting up today, I didn't go back to website I had previously visited, but I did have a few more to look up. I also remembered the Gabriel Winant piece at the bottom, so I dug it up, and wasted a couple hours thinking about those quotes, before I scrapped what little I had written.


Top story threads:

Israel: With more patience, these could have been grouped into a half-dozen (maybe 8-10) subcategories, of which genocide (both actual and imagined) looms large, with significant growth in cease-fire advocacy and repression of anyone favoring cease-fire. The short category is actual military news: Israel has conducted ground operations in northern Gaza for a week, but what they've achieved (or for that matter attempted) isn't at all clear, while Palestinian casualties are continuing to increase, but I haven't made much sense out of the numbers.

It does appear that I underestimated the ability of Hamas to continue fighting after their initial suicidal attack was beaten back. Not by a lot, mind you, but they've continued to shoot occasional rockets (nothing you could describe as a "flood," and Israel regularly boasts of shooting 80-90% of them down, so the effect is likely near-zero), and they're offering some degree of ground resistance. Still, a unilateral Israeli cease-fire would almost certainly halt the war, the killing, the destruction. Given that continued punishment just generates future violence, Israel's unwillingness to call a halt to this genocide -- and that's still the operative term, even if Netanyahu hasn't convened his Wannsee Conference yet -- signals only the intent to fight to some kind of Endlösung ("final solution"). I might be tempted to ditch the Nazi references, but they are ones that Israelis understand clearly -- and, one hopes, uncomfortably.

Some of the more purely partisan digs wound up in the sections on Republicans and Democrats. Given that the entire American political establishment is totally in thrall to Israel and their right-wing donor cabal, there's little (if any) substance in these pieces, just a lot of chattering nonsense.

  • Yuval Abraham: [10-30] Expel all Palestinians from Gaza, recommends Israeli gov't ministry.

  • Ray Acheson: [10-17] We must end violence to end violence.

  • Paula Andres: [11-04] Israel bombs ambulance convoy near Gaza's largest hospital.

  • Jeremy Appel: [11-03] Israel rabbi describes settler rampages across West Bank.

  • Michael Arria: [11-05] The largest Palestine protest in US history shut down the streets of DC: "An estimated 300,000 demonstrators in the largest Palestine protest in United States history, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the genocide in Gaza." Also note:

  • James Bamford: [11-02] Why Israel slept: I don't care much for the metaphor here. There will be recriminations for Israel's security lapses on Oct. 7, because it's easy to pick on exposed flaws, but Israel's containment of Gaza has been vigilant and remarkably effective for many years, and their response to the breach was swift and decisive, and the damage, while far above what they were accustomed to, was really fairly minor. They could just as well be congratulating themselves, but would rather channel the outrage into a far greater assault. But this article is actually about something else: "Netanyahu's war inside the United States." More specifically, "Netanyahu's move to counter the protesters with lots of money to buy political power in Washington to create laws making it a crime to boycott Israel." It may seem paradoxical that as Israel has been steadily losing public support in America and Europe, they've been able to lock political elites into even more subservient roles. Bamford takes the obvious tack here: follow the money.

  • Ramzy Baroud: [11-03] 'Turning Gaza into ashes': Israeli hasbara vs the world.

  • Nicolas Camut: [11-05] Israel minister suspended after calling nuking Gaza an option: "Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu's statements 'are not based in reality,' Prime Minister Netanyahu says."

  • Christian Caryl/Damir Marusic: [11-02] Should Israel agree to a ceasefire? Commentators weigh in. Starts with Yossi Beilin, who was the only successful negotiator in the Oslo Peace Process, disappoints with "a humanitarian pause, but no more." He never negotiated with Hamas, and never will, which may be why the deals he came "so close to" never materialized. If you refuse to negotiate with your fiercest enemies, you'll never settle anything.

    James Jeffrey says no, insisting that Israel is fighting an "existential war" with Hamas, placing it "within a larger struggle involving its enemy Iran instigating conflicts in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen as well as Gaza -- a world war scenario he sees as like Pearl Harbor.

    Yaakov Katz insists "a cease-fire would be a victory for Hamas." That's hard to see, even if the ceasefire took place immediately after Israel repelled the attacks and resealed the breach: Hamas depleted most of their missile supply, and lost 1,000 or more of their best fighters (about 2.5% of the highest estimate I've seen of their force), in a surprise attack that will be many times harder to repeat in the future. And that was before Israel killed another 10,000 Palestinians in fit of collective punishment, suggesting their real intent is genocide.

    Lawrence Freedman and Matt Duss have more doubts about what Israel can do, and more worries for Israel's reputation, and a better grasp of the larger picture. Palestinians Ahmed Alnaouq and Laila El-Haddad are the only ones who actually sense the human dimensions of the slaughter.

  • Isaac Chotiner: [11-01] The Gaza-ification of the West Bank: Interview with Hagai El-Ad, of B'Tselem.

  • Fabiola Cineas: [10-31] "History repeating itself": How the Israel-Hamas war is fueling hate against Muslims and Jews: "There's a surge in reports of assaults, vandalism, harassment, and intimidation." Two points that should be stressed more: one is that Zionism has always been predicated on, and fed by, antisemitism, and as such, Israel has often worked to incite antisemitism to motivate Jews to immigrate (the pre-Israel Zionist International negotiated with antisemites, especially in England, to sponsor "a Jewish homeland," and with Nazi Germany to relieve them of their Jews; after independence, Mossad ran various operations in Arab countries to panic Jews into emigrating); in constantly blaming any and all criticism of Israel on antisemitism, Israel is taunting its critics into false generalizations. Author has a section called "Antisemitism was already on the rise." This combines two different things: the classic European prejudice (whether Christian or racist), which became more public with Trump's election; and naive reaction against Israel's inhumanity to Arabs (Jewish and/or leftist critics of Israel are usually careful not to generalize Israelis or Zionists with non-Israeli Jews). Neither is excusable. But it's much easier to educate the naifs than to deprogram the Nazis. Also note that most classic antisemites are enthusiastic supporters of Israel.

  • Steve Coll: [10-30] The plight of the hostages and the rapidly escalating crisis in Gaza: "Never before has Israel sought to rescue so many hostages from a territory where it is also waging an unbridled aerial war." Hostage negotiations are always fraught with overtones, but a big factor here is that Israel's leaders are much more into the air (and now ground) war, which they control, than the hostages, which require some measure of empathy, tact and compromise (characteristics they pride themselves in not showing, especially when geared up for war). A hostage family member asks: "Why this offensive? There is no rush. Hamas wasn't going anywhere." But any pause to the war risks derailing it, letting the fever cool, and the madness be reflected upon. They can't quite admit it, but Israel's leaders would be happier if Hamas just killed all the hostages. That they could spin into more war.

  • Jonathan Cook: [11-03] Mounting evidence suggests Israel may be ready to 'cleanse' Gaza. The "Greater Gaza" plan has been kicking around for a while, at least since 2014, and the "Jordan is Palestine" idea goes way back.

  • Ryan Cooper: [11-03] A one-state solution could work in Israel: "But the end of South African apartheid demonstrates it would take an Israeli commitment to peace that is nowhere in evidence." Could work, sure, but any chance is long off, and receding as the right-wing has become more obviously genocidal. One problem is numbers: shedding Gaza would help there, a single-state for the rest is probably where you'd wind up, but it is a long ways toward equal rights. The bigger problem is that Israel is not just a garden-variety white (racist) settler state. It has a lot of trauma-and-hubris-induced psychological baggage that will take ages to overcome.

  • Alex De Waal: [11-03] How the Israel-Hamas war is destabilizing the Horn of Africa.

  • Rajaa Elidrissi: [11-01] The Gaza Strip blockade, explained.

  • Richard Falk: [11-03] Israel-Palestine war: Israel's endgame is much more sinister than restoring 'security'.

  • Lynn Feinerman: [11-03] The left as Israel's sacrificial lamb: "One of the tragic ironies of this is the vast majority of the casualties were kibbutzim and the people at this outdoor concert. And people who live in kibbutzim and people who go to raves tend to be the more left-wing, secular Israelis who oppose Netanyahu." But the dead are now martyrs for the far right, which isn't just ironic. Socialism built Israel into a strong, cohesive community, but the doctrine of "Hebrew Labor" was the rotten kernel at their heart, which grew the apartheid war-state of today.

  • Gabriella Ferrigine: [11-01] Graham declares "no limit" of Palestinian deaths would make him question Israel.

  • Laura Flanders: [10-30] "Why I resigned from the State Department": Interview with Josh Paul, who had worked in the section that oversees transfers of military equipment and support. [I cited another interview with Paul last week, from Politico. The title bears repeating: 'There are options for Israel that do not involve killing thousands of civilians'.

  • Robert Givens: [11-02] Block to block in Gaza: What will an Israeli invasion look like?

  • Michelle Goldberg: [11-04] When it comes to Israel, who decides what you can and can't say?

  • Jonathan Guyer: [11-04] Will an Israel-Hamas ceasefire happen? The reasons and roadblocks, explained.

  • Benjamin Hart: [11-04] Egypt's puzzling role in the Israel-Hamas war: "The country that used to control the Gaza Strip is helping Palestinians -- but only up to a point." Interview with Steven Cook, a Foreign Policy columnist.

  • Amira Hass: [11-01] Amid the mourning, Israel's settlement enterprise celebrates a great victory: "The soldiers are accompanying the settlers on their raids -- or even finishing the job for them."

  • Michael Horton: [10-30] Houthi missile launches at Israel risk reigniting war in Yemen.

  • Scott Horton/Connor Freeman: [10-31] Netanyahu's support for Hamas has backfired: Nah! He's got Hamas right where he wants them. If your goal is to destroy every last vestige of Palestine, the first thing you have to do is to make Palestinians unsympathetic. Israel never feared Palestinian violence, because that they could meet in kind, plus an order of magnitude. Israel's great fear was (and is) Palestinian civility.

  • Ellen Ioanes: [11-04] Iran could determine how far the Israel-Hamas war spreads. I rather doubt this. Since the revolution in 1979, Iran has attempted to increase its political influence among Shiite factions in Arab countries, with some success in Lebanon and Yemen, but not in Saudi Arabia or the Persian Gulf states, nor in Iraq until the US busted the country in 2003. But at least up to 1990, Iran maintained a cozy relationship with Israel, having never shown any particular interest in Palestinian groups (which were either too secular, or in Hamas, too Sunni). It was Israel that pivoted to being anti-Iran, most likely playing on American prejudices going back to the hostage crisis. Since then, Iran has been a convenient whipping boy for Israel, but despite all the nuclear talk, they never have been a serious threat to each other. As for Hezbollah, Iran does support them, but there's no reason to think Iran calls the shots. Even if they did, attacking Israel makes little sense. The upshot of the 2006 war was that Israel can do serious air damage to Lebanon, well beyond Hezbollah's stronghold in the south, but Hezbollah can still fend off a ground invasion. And Israel has better things to do than that. Of course, if such a war was a serious consideration, the simplest solution would be for the US to normalize relations with Iran. But who in Washington can get Israel's permission to do that? Also on Hezbollah:

    • Nicole Narea: [11-03] Hezbollah's role in the Israel-Hamas war, explained. Key point is that while Hezbollah was formed to fight Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon (1982-2000), it has since become a mainstream political party, with a stake in the government of Lebanon. While part of their credibility is their ability to defend against Israel, it would be silly to risk that by having to fight again. The option of moving into mainstream politics has made Hezbollah less of a terror threat. Hamas was denied that option: when they ran for office, and won, they were denied recognition, so in Gaza they fought back and took control, only to be blockaded. The result is that the only way Hamas could act was by force, hence the military wing took charge. And Israel did that deliberately, because they don't fear Hamas militarily, but they do fear Hamas politically. They want Palestinian "leaders" who will do their bidding, who will keep their charges in line, and line their own pockets, and let Israel do whatever Israelis want to do.

    • Ali Rizk: [10-31] Why Hezbollah doesn't want a full-scale war. Yet.

    • Ellen Ioanes: [11-05] Israel hits civilian infrastructure as ceasefire calls grow.

  • Arnold Isaacs: [11-02] War in a post-fact world. Or: "War, crimes, truth, and denial: unthinkable thoughts and false memories."

  • David D Kirkpatrick/Adam Rasgon: [10-30] The Hamas propaganda war: "Across the Arab world, the group is successfully selling its narrative of resistance." Hard for me to gauge, as Hamas has no respect or legitimacy here -- even though a narrative of devout patriots fighting back against overwhelmingly powerful alien oppressors would strike chords many Americans would sympathize with. (One might think of Red Dawn, or maybe just Star Wars.) But elsewhere, the story is bound to resonate, especially among people (and not just Arabs or Muslims) who have directly felt the heavy hand of imperialism. Even if Israel is amazingly successful in their campaign to obliterate Gaza, the most likely future scenario is a return to 1970s-style terrorist disruption (the desperation of a not-quite "utterly defeated people" and a few others who romanticize their struggle).

  • Keren Landman: [11-01] The death toll from Gaza, explained: Not very well, I'm afraid. The link to Btselem's database says "Data updated until October 5." The number of Palestinians killed is similar to the number killed since Oct. 7. The number of Israelis killed is rather less than the 1,400 on or shortly after Oct. 7. I still haven't been able to find a day-by-day accounting -- Wikipedia offers some totals to whenever the file was updated, and some detail, especially on foreign nationals on the Israeli side. Given that fighting outside Gaza ended by the second day -- Israel claimed to have killed all of the Palestinian attackers (counting over 1,000), and the breach was resealed -- virtually all subsequent deaths have been due to Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

  • Chris Lehman: [11-02] American evangelicals await the final battle in Gaza.

  • Louisa Loveluck/Susannah George/Michael Birnbaum: [11-05] As Gaza death toll soars, secrecy shrouds Israel's targeting process.

  • Branko Marcetic: [11-03] A tidal wave of state and private repression is targeting pro-Palestinian voices. Probably enough on this for a whole section, but a cluster of pieces landed here together:

  • Aaron Maté: [11-02] In Gaza, Biden is an equal partner in Israel's mass murder.

  • Harold Meyerson: [11-02] The co-dependency of Bibi and Hamas: Some false equivalency here, followed by a plea for ye olde two-state solution that is certain to fall on deaf ears. Sure, Netanyahu and Hamas are ideal enemies for each other, especially relative to other factions in their constituencies. But there is a big difference: Israel is winning, at least within the narrow confines of war, while Hamas is losing -- and Israel hopes, bad enough to sink all Palestinians.

  • Fintan O'Toole: [10-31] No endgame in Gaza: "After weeks of bombardment and thousands of deaths, what are Netanyahu's political and ethical limits?" I'll be surprised if Netanyahu has any.

  • Paul R Pillar: [11-01] With world's focus on Gaza, West Bank conflict brews: "Settlers there appear freer than ever to commit violence against Palestinians, risking a new intifada -- which was already a possibility before Hamas's Oct. 7 attack."

  • Nathan J Robinson: [11-03] What every American should know about Gaza: "We are complicit in the bombing of Palestinian civilians and have an obligation to pressure our government to push for a cease-fire."

  • Natasha Roth-Rowland: [10-28] When 'never again' becomes a war cry: "In an Israeli war that has been retrofitted onto a Holocaust template, it is obscene that a plea to stop further killing is now read as moral failure."

  • Sigal Samuel: [11-01] Israel's crackdown on dissent will only hurt it: "Silencing criticism makes it harder for Israel's leaders to think clearly." Note that most of the examples of repression are in America. "America would have benefited from listening to dissenters after 9/11; instead, it silenced them."

  • Dahlia Scheindlin: [11-03] Here's the least bad option for Gaza after the war ends: "Reoccupation by Israel? Putting the Palestinian Authority in charge? A Kosovo-style international intervention would be less bad than both of those." This is similar to the scheme I wrote up last week, except mine offered a cleaner break from Israel -- which would, I think, be better both for Gaza and for Israel, whereas Kosovo is still saddled with Serbia's claim on the territory. (The same problem of competing claims affects other de facto breakaway territories, especially in the former Soviet Union.) The UN has (well, most plausibly) the legitimacy and the skills to organize an interim government in Gaza, assuming no significant party opposes them. Israel would initially have to agree to this, and honor that (although I allowed them to retaliate for any post-truce strikes, since they think they're entitled to do that anyway; my guess is that if Israel is out of the picture, that scenario ends). Then the "militants" in Gaza would have to agree to let the UN come in and take over. I expect they would do that because: (a) doing so would allow aid to flow in; (b) they couldn't be prosecuted for anything they did before the truce; and (c) the intent would be for the UN-established government to hold and honor democratic elections in short order. There are more possible angles to this, but one advantage Gaza has over Kosovo is that there is no internal ethnic or religious conflict to settle. So, once Israel is willing to relinquish its claims and interests -- and let's face it, Israel has no good ideas of its own here -- this sort of thing might not be so hard to do.

  • Tali Shapiro/Jonathan Ofir: [11-05] Israeli doctors urge the bombing of Gaza hostpirals.

  • Richard Silverstein:

  • Oliver Stuenkel: [] The West can't defend international law while also supporting genocide: I wasn't aware that the US took any interest in international law any more.

  • Liz Theoharis: [11-05] A cycle of escalating violence.

  • Nahal Toosi: [11-04] The U N is in disarray over the Israel-Hamas war.

  • Zeynep Tufecki: [10-31] Past lies about war in the Middle East are getting in the way of the truth today. Colin Powell is the poster boy here. Old news but worth repeating:

    But if the U.S. response after Sept. 11 is a model, it is as a model of what not to do.

    After the attacks, the United States received deep global sympathy. Many Muslims around the world were furious about this blemish upon Islam, even if they opposed U.S. policies: Citizens held vigils, politicians condemned the attacks and clerics repudiated them in mosque sermons. (The idea that Muslims widely celebrated the attacks has been repeatedly shown to be false or traces back to a few instances of dubious clarity.)

    But, instead of mobilizing that widespread global sympathy to try to isolate the extremists, the United States chose to wage a reckless and destructive war in Iraq, driven by an impulsive desire for vengeance and justified by falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction.

  • Edward Wong/Patrick Kingsley: [11-05] U.S. officials fear American guns ordered by Israel could fuel West Bank violence.

  • Oren Ziv: [10-31] Risking arrest and assault, Israelis begin protesting Gaza war.

  • Mairav Zonszwin: [11-01] Israel and Palestine's existential war: Given that "genocide" is so actively bandied about, the existential risks for Palestinians are obvious. For Israel, the threat is harder to gauge. Israel could have done essentially nothing after the first day's repairs, and would still be as secure as ever behind their "iron walls." What Hamas hurt was their ego, their sense of power. But since they can kill and destroy with impunity, that's reason enough for them. Nothing existential to it, unless you think maybe they have a soul to lose?

Trump, and other Republicans:

Biden and/or the Democrats:

Legal matters and other crimes:

Ukraine War:


Other stories:

Dean Baker:

David Dayen: [10-18] The NIH's 'how to become a billionaire' program: "An obscure company affiliated with a former NIH employee is offered an exclusive license for a government-funded cancer drug."

Ethan Iverson: [10-30] Louis Armstrong's last word.

Paul Krugman: [10-31] The military-industrial-complex: He has a chart arguing that as a share of GDP, military spending is down since Eisenhower's speech, a long-term trend with bumps for Vietnam, Reagan, and Iraq, as well as blips when spending held steady while the economy crashed (2008, 2020). For a counterpoint, see William Hartung: [11-03] What Paul Krugman gets wrong about the military industrial complex. It seems to me that Eisenhower's concern wasn't the money per se, but the evolution of arms industries from mere suppliers to a political force that would make wars more (not less) likely.

Damon Linker: [11-04] Get to know the influential conservative intellectuals who help explain GOP extremism: Well, you don't really want to know them, but let's drop a few names you can try to avoid: Costin Alamariu ("Bronze Age Pervert"), Michael Anton (The Flight 93 Election; The Stakes), Patrick Deneen (Why Liberalism Failed; Regime Change), Rod Dreher (Crunchy Cons; Live Not by Lies), John Eastman (indicted Trump lawyer), Stephen Wolfe (The Case for Christian Nationalism), Curtis Yarvin ("Dark Enlightenment"). Also mentioned in passing: Tyler Cowen, Richard Hanania, Sean Hannity, Thomas Klingenstein (Claremont funder), Matthew Peterson, Christopher Rufo, Tucker Carlson.

Patrick Ruffini: [11-04] The emerging working-class Republican majority: "The coalition that elected Donald Trump in 2016 was no one-off." No point filing this in the top section on Republicans because no real Republicans were involved in the spinning of this fantasy -- adapted from the author's new book, Party of the People: Inside the Multiracial Populist Coalition Remaking the GOP. Interesting that he takes Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? as a pivot, arguing that twenty years later "the villain of the story has switched sides." But his evidence is thin, and doesn't remotely approach policy: what's changed since Kansas is that the gullible GOP base are demanding more blood in their red meat -- the diet of bigotry and fear-mongering the Party tempts them with -- but on a practical level, Republicans are still every bit as dedicated to serving oligarchy by rendering government incompetent and corrupt. It's worth noting that in his later books, Frank turned on Democratic supplicants to the rich -- especially in 2016's Listen, Liberal!, which was harsh on the Clintons (but also Obama, Cuomo, Deval Patrick, etc.) -- but many (most?) Democrats shifted their policy priorities to actually help and expand the middle class. Sure, Trump railed against the corrosive jobs effect of trade deals, but Biden came up with policies to build jobs, and to give workers the leverage to get better pay. Trump talked infrastructure, but Biden is building it. There is still much more to be done, not least because Republicans -- no matter how populist they claim to be -- are obstacles wherever they have any leverage. The Republicans' only response is to ramp up the demagoguery and bullshit.

Jeffrey St Clair: [11-03] Roaming Charges: Shrinkwrapped, how sham psychology fueled the Texas death machine.

Hadas Thier: [11-04] Sam Bankman-Fried was guilty, and not even Michael Lewis could save him. As someone who regards all of crypto as criminal conspiracy, I was a bit surprised at how quickly and definitively this trial turned, but here it is. Also:

Sean Wilentz: [10-23] The revolution within the American Revolution: "Supported and largely led by slaveholders, the American Revolution was also, paradoxically, a profound antislavery event."

Gabriel Winant: [10-13] On mourning and statehood: A response to Joshua Leifer: "How to grieve, what meaning to give those tears, is cruelly a political question whether we like it or not." Leifer's original piece was Toward a humane left, and he later wrote A reply to Gabriel Winant. I'm not here to argue with Leifer (nor with Eric Levitz, whose similar position elicited much more of my thinking in recent weeks), other than to note again that morality is a luxury most enjoyed from a distance, and can easily be used as a cudgel against people who circumstance has deprived of such options. But sure, no complaints here about making the left even more humane (and not just the left, needless to say). But I do want to quote some things Winant said, because I've had similar thoughts but haven't quite found the words:

One way of understanding Israel that I think should not be controversial is to say that it is a machine for the conversion of grief into power. The Zionist dream, born initially from the flames of pogroms and the romantic nationalist aspirations so common to the nineteenth century, became real in the ashes of the Shoah, under the sign "never again." Commemoration of horrific violence done to Jews, as we all know, is central to what Israel means and the legitimacy that the state holds -- the sword and shield in the hands of the Jewish people against reoccurrence. Anyone who has spent time in synagogues anywhere in the world, much less been in Israel for Yom HaShoah or visited Yad Vashem, can recognize this tight linkage between mourning and statehood.

This, on reflection, is a hideous fact. For what it means is that it is not possible to publicly grieve an Israeli Jewish life lost to violence without tithing ideologically to the IDF -- whether you like it or not. . . . The state will do -- already is doing -- what it does with Jewish grief: transmute it into violence. For the perpetrator, the immediate psychic satisfactions of this maneuver are easy enough to understand, although the long-term costs prove somewhat more complex.

It is this context -- the already-political grief at the core of the Zionist adventure -- that makes so many on the left so reticent to perform a public shedding of tears over Hamas's victims. They are, we might darkly say, "pre-grieved": that is, an apparatus is already in place to take their deaths and give them not just any meaning, but specifically the meaning that they find in the bombs falling on Gaza. . . . Its power, in turn, is such that the most ringing dissents calling instead for peace and humane mourning for all -- like Eric Levitz's and Joshua Leifer's -- nevertheless resonate only as whimpers of sentiment. Whatever the noble and admirable content of such humane efforts, their form is already molded. They are participating, presumably without intent, in a new Red Scare being prepared not against stray callous advocates of Hamas, but against all who defend the right of Palestinians to live, and to live as equals.

Also:

The Israeli government doesn't care if you, a principled person, perform your equal grief for all victims: it will gobble up your grief for Jews and use it to make more victims of Palestinians, while your balancing grief for Palestinians will be washed away in the resulting din of violence and repression. The impulse, repeatedly called "humane" over the past week, to find peace by acknowledging equally the losses on all sides rests on a fantasy that mourning can be depoliticized. If only it were so -- but this would be the end of Zionism, after all. More tragically, the sentiment of those who want peace and justice for all and express this by chastising those in the West whom they see to be reacting with insufficient grief and excessive politics have only given amplification to the propaganda machine that is now openly calling for the blood of the innocent and the silence of doubters.

No time for me to start unpacking this, let alone building on it, but much more could be said.

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Music Week

October archive (final).

Music: Current count 41078 [41047] rated (+31), 32 [31] unrated (+1).

I spent most of last week thinking about, shopping for, and finally cooking up this year's birthday dinner. I've made it to 73, which is +3 from my grandfather, and -4 from my father, so it's starting to weigh heavy on my mind. Dinner was served on Friday, as several guests had schedule conflicts for Wednesday. Menu was Spanish:

  • Mariscada in almond sauce (aka "green sauce").
  • Crisp potatoes.
  • Green beans with chorizo.
  • Mushrooms in garlic sauce.
  • Escalivada y garum on toasts.
  • Olive oil tortas with cheese and Spanish ham and sausages.

I also opened up a couple cans and jars: octopus, sardines, artichoke hearts. I had bought much more for possible tapas, but ran out of time to get them prepared, or in some cases simply organized. I mixed up a batch of sangria to drink, and had my traditional coconut cake for dessert, with vanilla ice cream. (I know, reminds you of the "white cake" in Tarrantino's Django Unchained. Sometimes we can't help being who we are.)

I meant to write up notes, and will after this post. They should show up in a future notebook entry (which I've already stubbed out, so the link will work, and eventually get you the information). Facebook entry, including a plate pic, is here. A "memory" entry, with a recycled picture of last year's cake, is here. The actual cake was even uglier, and not just because it was less blindingly white. No complaints, except for the guy who was so phobic about seafood he didn't eat anything until the cake was served.


Saturday, I woke up with my vision for how the so-called Israel-Hamas War ends, so I quickly wrote it up as the "First Introduction" to my Speaking of Which. I'm reluctant to call it a proposal, because it is not remotely close to people genuinely concerned with justice for all wanted or hoped for. (I know, for sure, that my wife hates it, and nearly all of my research into the conflict owes to her passionate interest.) And I suppose my plea for someone else to pick up these ideas and run with them is partly due to my reluctance to sign my name to it.

I have, ever since my late teens, devoted myself to conjuring up utopian solutions to practical problems. Because, well, I've never pretended to be an activist. I'm just a thinker, so why constrain myself to things that other people consider possible? But I've also developed a good deal of pessimism, and that creeps in whenever I consider what's possible, as engineers must.

Instantly, when I heard the news of Oct. 7, I understood that Israel's leaders would want to destroy everything and to kill everyone in Gaza, leaving at most an escape hatch through Egypt. I knew that America's leaders would back them to the hilt, as they've long given up any capacity for independent thought, and they're every bit as committed to force as the Israelis. And I expected Israelis to take advantage of this to step up their attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere. And all of that has happened, just as expected. Hence, my first reaction was to warn that this would be nothing less than genocide.

That, too, has been born out, though the point of using the word was to make people conscious of the full danger (and I was far from the only one to raise this alarm). I also intuited how things would play out over time. I can't really explain this, but through all my reading, and a fair number of conversations, I've developed this really complex psychological model of most of the people involved. I intuited that a great many Palestinians would stick in Gaza, even daring Israel to kill them. I doubted that Egypt would have welcomed them anyway, or could have dealt with them (as Israel imagined they could).

I also suspected that a great many Israelis, even ones who have clearly demonstrated their racism and militarism, would grow weary of the killing, and embarrassed by their own inhumanity. (One book I kept thinking back to was Richard Rhodes' Masters of Death, where he explained that the Nazis, who are our archetypal example of cold-blooded killers, designed their death camp processes out of concern that killing Jews in the field was traumatizing German soldiers. While Nazis made no secret of their hatred for Jews, the enormity of the Holocaust was only possible through stealth, under cover of war.) As the killing continued, as the rubble grew, some sense of need to limit the war would grow, and Israel's leaders, even as blinded as they are, will eventually need some escape from their own handiwork.

What's become more and more clear is that Israel can't hide their slaughter in Gaza. The world can, and will, see it, and will not react kindly to the people responsible. And sure, Hamas will get some share of the blame -- they were uniquely responsible for one day, out of more than three weeks now -- but the fact that the slaughter continues, that it has turned into genocide, is solely the dictate of Netanyahu and his mob, not that you should spare those who have aided, abetted, propagandized, and even championed the massacre (which from where I stand mostly look like Americans).

My "vision" is just a way to clean up a particularly sore part of a larger, deeper, and still potentially deadly mess. There are lots of things that should happen afterwards. But what makes it practical now is that the people who are immediately responsible don't have to change character. All they have to do is back off, and let others tend to the wounds. Is that really too much to ask?


Apologies to those of you who just want the latest music dope, but you must know how to scroll past my rants by now. I had damn near nothing, other than the Clifford Ocheltree picks down in the Old Music section, before I started writing Speaking of Which on Saturday. But I worked through a steady stream of records once I started writing, so with the extra day came up with a semi-normal week. Among the high B+, National and Angelica Sanchez tempted me to replays, but they didn't quite manage to move the needle.

This coming week, I will put up a website for the 18th Annual Francis Davis Critics Poll, and I will start communicating with a few possible voters, trying to gauge interest and identify others who should vote with us. The voters from last year are listed here. They will all be invited back, but please let me know if there are any others you read and find useful. I'd like to see more international critics, although those are particularly hard for me to judge. I'm also tempted to slip in a few more jazz-knowledgeable rock critics -- where I figure the minimal qualification is listen to 200+ jazz albums per year (used to be expensive, but easy enough with streaming) and write about at least 5-10 (or more if you, like me, write real short). I'd welcome suggestions from publicists and musicians, but probably not for yourself or each other. (Not an absolute rule, as we've had the odd exception from time to time.)

I'm also toying with the idea of forming an advisory board, if you really want to get deep into the weeds. There's a fair chance I won't be doing this beyond this year, so this might be a chance to eventually step up.

End of October, so I still need to do the indexing on the archive file. It's also time to reorganize my 2023 list into separate jazz and non-jazz lists. I've already started expanding my tracking file so I'll be ready to look up jazz albums when ballots start to flow in. And I will probably set up my usual EOY aggregate files, as they build on the tracking file, and have long been one of my favorite wastes of time.


New records reviewed this week:

Affinity Trio [Eric Jacobson/Pamela York/Clay Schaub]: Hindsight (2022 [2023], Origin): Trumpet, piano, bass; all three write pieces, joined by covers from Cedar Walton (title piece), Charlie Parker (two), "Tin Tin Deo," and "The End of a Love Affair." B+(***) [cd]

Constantine Alexander: Firetet (2023, self-released): Trumpet/flugelhorn player, from Chicago, parents Greek, first album (at least first I can find), basically a hard bop quintet, in which the trumpet stands out. B+(**) [cd]

Bark: Loud (2023, Dial Back Sound): Husband-wife duo, Tim Lee (bass iv guitar) and Susan Bauer Lee (drums), a subset of the Tim Lee 3, both write and sing, several albums, get some help here. B+(**) [bc]

Corook: Serious Person (Part 2) (2023, Atlantic, EP): Singer-songwriter Corinne Savage, apologies for misspelling their name in previous reviews (identity "queer and non-binary," per Wikipedia). Five songs, 14:20. Second sounds like the Moldy Peaches merged into a single person. First and fourth trace the growth of "a pretty cool person." A- [sp]

Paul Dunmall/Olie Brice: The Laughing Stone (2021 [2023], Confront): Duo, saxophone (tenor, alto, clarinet, flute, tenor again) and bass. Nicely balanced. B+(***) [bc]

The Front Bottoms: You Are Who You Hang Out With (2023, Fueled by Ramen): Hooky indie rock band from New Jersey, formed in 2007 by Brian Sella (guitar/vocals) and Mathew Uychich (drums) with various "touring members" coming and going. Eighth album. B+(*) [sp]

Grrrl Gang: Spunky! (2023, Big Romantic): Punkish pop trio from Indonesia, the only female singer Angeeta Sentana, third album, sung in English. Short (10 songs, 24:53), or you could say snappy. B+(*) [sp]

Darius Jones: Fluxkit Vancouver (Its Suite but Sacred) (2022 [2023], We Jazz): Alto saxophonist, established his credentials as an Ayler heir in 2009, had a tendency to go overboard, but keeps that in control here, working with four Vancouver-based strings -- Jesse and Josh Zubot on violin, Peggy Lee on cello, James Meger on bass -- with Gerald Cleaver on drums. Preferred typography for the title is "fLuXkit," and they're doing something unreproducible to "its" -- just some of the many things I don't quite get here, but I can dig the long bass solo just fine, and even more so what comes out of it. A- [sp]

Sunny Kim/Vardan Ovsepian/Ben Monder: Liminal Silence (2023, Earshift Music): South Korean vocalist, debut 2004 (or 2012), appeared on a 2008 Roswell Rudd album which I wasn't wild about. Here backed with piano and guitar. Slow, arch, music has some points, but I find this sort of classical diva thing hard to take. C+ [cd] [11-10]

Frank Kohl: Pacific (2022 [2023], OA2): Guitarist, Discogs has very little but a couple side-credits from 1969, and picture is not at odds with that. I have one previous album in my database. This is solo, not as fancy as the guitarists name-checked in the hype sheet, but really hit the spot on a cold and miserable Sunday morning. B+(***) [cd]

Sofia Kourtesis: Madres (2023, Ninja Tune): DJ/producer from Peru, based in Berlin, first album but active since 2014 (maybe 2001). B+(**) [sp]

Chien Chien Lu: Built in System: Live in New York (2023, Giant Step Arts): Vibraphonist, from Taiwan, has a previous (self-released) album, quartet here with Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Richie Goods (bass), and Allan Mednard (drums). Very nice. B+(***) [sp]

Vic Mensa: Victor (2023, Roc Nation): Chicago rapper Victor Kwesi Mensah, father from Ghana, officially his second studio album, has a bunch of EPs (one in 2010, rest from 2016). Much of this seems pretty sharp, but too many odd moments that flow sideways, if at all. B+(*) [sp]

The National: Laugh Track (2023, 4AD): Indie band led by singer-songwriter Matt Berninger, with most of the music from brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, with two more brothers (Scott and Bryan Devendorf) on bass and drums. Tenth album, second this year. A very steady group I can't quite put my finger on. B+(***) [sp]

No-No Boy: Empire Electric (2023, Smithsonian Folkways): Julian Saporiti, singer-songwriter from Nashville, parents Vietnamese, Ph.D in American Studies, based in Portland, alias taken from a 1957 novel about a Japanese-American going home to Seattle after two years in an internment camp. Previous albums 1942 and 1975, both remarkable. His music is subtle and nuanced -- even more so than the otherwise similar Sufjan Stevens -- so the stories are critical, and for now a bit beyond my grasp. B+(***) [sp]

Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy: O Yinne! (2023, Philophon): Frafra gospel group from northern Ghana, the leader flanked by a chorus of two women and backed by an old-fashioned highlife band, the gospel in another language, but the joy is universal. B+(***) [sp]

Graham Parker & the Goldtops: Last Chance to Learn the Twist (2023, Big Stir): British pub rock breakout star in 1976, first two records were really great, but my interest waned after 1979's Squeezing Out Sparks (another good one), with a 2-CD comp on Rhino (1993) confirming he had lost it from 1980 on. But he never stopped, with only two breaks of more than three years (1996-2001, 2018-or-2019-2023). I rather doubt that I missed much, but he's in good voice and surprisingly light on his feet here. B+(**) [sp]

Ratboys: The Window (2023, Topshelf): Indie band from Chicago, fifth album since 2015, principally Julia Steiner (vocals/guitar) and Dave Sagan (guitar). B+(***) [sp]

Mike Reed: The Separatist Party (2023, We Jazz/Astral Spirits): Drummer, born in Germany but long based on Chicago, with a remarkable series of albums since 2006. Marvin Tate's spoken word is arresting, and the music -- Ben LaMar Gay (cornet), Rob Frye (tenor sax/flute), Coper Crain (guitar), Dan Quinlivan (synth) -- loops sinuously, sometimes gravely. A- [sp]

The Rolling Stones: Hackney Diamonds (2023, Polydor): British group, big in the 1960s, still big in the 1970s, even now they can still cut a fine blues riff, and the singer has lost little of his commanding presence. Still, they're so used to playing arenas that they've recreated that sound in the studio, perhaps because they don't trust the new songs to sell themselves. They don't. But sound is the bigger problem. What you get from them in the arena is spectacle -- plus rehashes of once-great songs. But with their arena-in-the-studio shtick, all you really get is loud. B [sp]

The Angelica Sanchez Nonet: Nighttime Creatures (2021 [2023], Pyroclastic): Pianist, from Phoenix, more than a dozen albums since 2003, many with free jazz saxophonists like Tony Malaby, Ellery Eskelin, Paul Dunmall, Ivo Perelman. Large group here, with an interesting mix of unconventional reeds (Michaël Attias, Ben Goldberg, Chris Speed), brass (Thomas Heberer, Kenny Warren), guitar (Omar Tamez), bass (John Hébert), and drums (Sam Ospovat). B+(***) [cd]

Joe Santa Maria: Echo Deep (2023, Orenda): Alto saxophonist, plays four weights here plus flutes, clarinet, and keyboards; based in Los Angeles, several previous albums. Fusion riffs, with guitar, brass and strings. B- [cd] [11-03]

Slow Pulp: Yard (2023, Anti-): Indie band from Madison, added singer Emily Massey and moved to Chicago, second album. B+(**) [sp]

Steep Canyon Rangers: Morning Shift (2023, Yep Roc): Bluegrass group from North Carolina, debut 2001, have backed banjo-picking comedian Steve Martin on three albums. B+(*) [sp]

Dan Tyminski: God Fearing Heathen (2023, 8 Track Entertainment): Bluegrass singer-songwriter, plays guitar in Alison Krauss's band, did an album in 1985, had a bit part in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, has a couple more albums. Finishes strong with a song about Occam's Razor and an ode to Jimmy Martin. A- [sp]

Pabllo Vittar: Noitada (2023, Sony Music): Brazilian drag queen Phabullo Rodrigues da Silva, reportedly the most popular one in the world. Fifth album, nine songs (plus a 0:39 "Intro"), clocks in short at 21:55. Dance pop, beats choppy like hip-hop but rather oblique, six co-credits. B+(**) [sp]

Pabllo Vittar: After (2023, Sony Music): Remix album, repeating nine titles from Noitada and adding one, most tracks significantly longer (total 36:51), with featured guests. B+(*) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

None.

Old music:

Big Bill Broonzy: Big Bill's Blues (1937-41 [1969], Epic): First-draft compilation, not of the blues songster's early work (for that, see Yazoo's The Young Big Bill Broonzy and/or Do That Guitar Rag) but moving along. Robert Santelli pegged this at 61 in his top-100 blues album list -- behind the Legacy CD Good Time Tonight (1930-40 [1990], years overlap, but no duplicate songs, with some of his most famous appearing here). Title repeats a 1958 album, and has been used for other compilations. A- [sp]

Big Bill Broonzy/Washboard Sam: Big Bill Broonzy With Washboard Sam (1953 [1962], Chess): First LP attributed to either, though Broonzy (Lee Bradley) has many records from 1927 on, and Sam (Robert Brown) played regularly at least back to 1932, crossing paths often enough I've seen reference to them as "half-brothers" (both have disputed birth dates and locales). Not one of Broonzy's more elegant efforts, but keeps digging down, getting that much harder. A- [sp]

The Golden Era of Rock & Roll 1954-1963 (1954-63 [2004], Hip-O, 3CD): A sequel to the label's essential The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll 1946-1954, this kicks off with "Rock Around the Clock" and "Gee," hits its stride with "Maybellene" and "Ain't That a Shame" and "Tutti Frutti" and "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" and "Peggy Sue," winding up with "Duke of Earl" and "He's So Fine" and "Surfin' U.S.A." So, a good 80% is totally obvious, and the rest is welcome in context, including a couple originals I know better for covers ("Stranded in the Jungle" and "Susie Q"). A [cd]

Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy: Mam Yinne Wa (2019, Philophon): Their debut album, a trio of gospel singers from the far north of Ghana, discovered by German producer Max Weissenfeldt, rooted in highlife, and exuberantly joyful. B+(***) [sp]


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Susan Alcorn/Septeto Del Sur: Canto (Relative Pitch) [11-10]
  • Ballister: Smash and Grab (Aerophonic) [01-16]
  • John Bishop: Antwerp (Origin) [11-17]
  • Gabriel Guerrero & Quantum: Equilibrio (Origin) [11-17]
  • Chien Chien Lu: Built in System: Live in New York (Giant Step Arts) [10-06]
  • Sarah McKenzie: Without You (Normandy Lane Music) [10-27]
  • Alon Nechushtan: For Those Who Cross the Seas (ESP-Disk, 2CD) [10-27]
  • Robert Prester & Adriana Samargia: Quenara (Commonwealth Ave. Productions) [01-19]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, October 30, 2023


Speaking of Which

Postscript Introduction

Note: It got too late Sunday night before I completed my rounds, much less checked spelling and formatting and did the other bits of housekeeping I need to do before posting, so let this sit overnight. I changed the date to Monday, but didn't make another round. I did add the bits from Twitter, and one more link on the UAW strike, since that not only really matters but wraps up the trifecta. Music Week will be delayed until Tuesday. The extra day has so far been good for two more A- records (surprises at that).

By the way, if anyone wants to try reformulating the introduction plan into an op-ed or a more serious proposal, please go ahead and do so (no citation required, but if you want to talk about it, feel free to reach out). I have no standing in mainstream media (or for that matter in solidly left-wing and/or antiwar media), and I have no appetite for throwing myself at their feet.

And yes, I understand why the plan as sketched out will be hard for lots of well-meaning folks to swallow. I'm sorry that in politics people hardly ever pay for their crimes. I was 18 when Richard Nixon was elected president, and no one in my lifetime ever deserved to pay more. (Well, maybe Winston Churchill, but he died when I was 14, or Joseph Stalin, who died when I was 2.) But that almost never happens, and even when some measure of justice is meted out, it's never enough. Nixon was granted a pardon, and retired not even to obscurity, but at least out of harm's way.

The proposed scheme simply splits off one part of the conflict and arranges it so the sides stop hurting each other. It's urgent to do so because it's turned into a self-destruction pact, as sore to Israel as it is fatal to Gaza. It leaves the rest of the conflict in place, in hopes that Israel will, in good time, recognize that they cannot forever deny Palestinians their dignity. I'm not very optimistic that they will come to their senses, but the odds are better than now, in the fevered heat of war.

The key points here are these: you cannot force Israel to do anything they're unwilling to do; you have to give Israel an option that they can choose that doesn't require that they change their fundamental political beliefs; you cannot appeal to the conscience of Israel's leaders, because they don't have a functioning one; you don't have to solve any problem but the immediate one in Gaza; you don't have to deal with Palestine's leaders, because none of them are legitimate; you do have to provide a path where the people of Gaza can live normal lives, in peace and dignity, where they have no practical need to lash out at Israel or anyone else. It is in the interest of the whole world to end this conflict, so it is worthwhile to put some effort into making it work. But for now the only piece you have to solve is Gaza, because that's the one that's spun out of control.


First Introduction

From early grade school, my favorite subject was "social studies," with geography and history key dimensions. But I also had aptitude for science, at least until an especially boorish teacher turned me off completely. I dropped out of high school, but not finding myself with any other competency, I tested my way into college, where my main studies were in sociology and philosophy. I turned my back on academic studies, but never stopped adding to my store of knowledge -- if anything, I redoubled my efforts after 2000.

When microcomputers started appearing around 1979, I bought one, and taught myself to program. Then I discovered that my real skill was engineering -- the practical application of my mindset.

Politics turned out to be mostly rhetoric: people were measure by how good they sounded, not by anything they actually did. Sure, social scientists measured things, but mostly their own prejudiced assumptions. But engineers didn't waste their time railing about the injustices of gravity and entropy. Engineers fixed things. And better than that, engineers designed and built things to not break -- or, at least, to serve a useful life before they wore out.

So, when I encounter a political problem, I tend to think about it as an engineer would (or should), in terms of function and the forces working against it. I can't be value-neutral in this, nor can anyone, though I'm better at most at recognizing my own prejudices, and at suspending judgment on those of others. A big part of my kit is what Robert Wright calls "cognitive empathy": the ability to imagine someone else's view. This is a skill that is sorely needed, and way too often lacking, in diplomats. (You're most likely to find it in sales, where one is measured on deals made, rather than on political rhetoric that precludes agreement.)

So when I encounter a political problem, my instinct is to come up with a solution: an approach that will reduce the conflict in a way that will lead to prolonged stability. It's always tempting to come up with a universal solution based on first principles, but history offers few examples of conflicted sides finding such common ground. That means for most acute conflicts we have to come up with short-range, partial fixes.

Over the last twenty years, I've come up with a lot of partial and a few comprehensive solutions to the Israel/Palestine conflict. They've never been taken seriously, by either side, or even by potentially influential third parties. The basic reason is that politically powerful Israelis are unwilling to grant concessions to Palestinians, even a small territory they have no settlement interest in (Gaza), basic human rights, and/or any real measure of economic freedom. There are various reasons and/or excuses for this, but the most important one is that no outside nation nor any possible internal force (nonviolent or not) has anything close to enough power to persuade Israel to change course. So the first rule is you have to give Israel something they would prefer to the course they have charted, which is to lay waste to Gaza, making it uninhabitable to the people who manage to survive their assault.

The first lesson Israeli leaders should draw from their war is that while it's easy to kill enough Palestinians to make you look monstrous, it's really hard to kill enough to make any real demographic difference. As long as Palestinians survive and hang onto what's left of their land, they remain to challenge and defy Israeli colonialism, sacrificing their bodies and appealing to international conscience. And while people of good will, many sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, were quick to condemn the violent outbreak, its main effect was to shock Israel into showing their true colors: that domination is based on overwhelming power, and the willingness to use it savagely when provoked.

Hence, Israel's response to the uprising -- the deadliest single day in Israel's history -- was first to threaten the total demolition of Gaza and the deaths of everyone who lived there (offering a mass exodus through Egypt as the only path to safety), then a systematic military campaign, starting with massive bombardment and leading to a ground invasion. With over two million people in Gaza, that could amount to the largest genocide since WWII. Israel's one-sided war on Gaza has slogged on for three weeks, with some of the heaviest bombing in recent history, destroying infrastructure, driving more than a million people from their homes, and theatening starvation. The longer this continues, the more world opinion will shift against Israel's brutality, until what little good will remains dissipates in disgust.

At some point, Israeli leaders are bound to realize three things: that continuing the killing hurts them more than it helps; that large numbers of Palestinians will stay in Gaza no matter what; and that as long as there are Palestinians in Gaza, the land is of no practical use to Israel. The only viable solution to this is for Israel to cut Gaza loose. The simplest way to do this is to return the mandate to the UN. This doesn't require any negotiations with Palestinians, so it doesn't resolve any issues with Palestinians within Israel, the occupied territories, or refugees elsewhere. Israel simply sets its conditions for the transfer. If the UN accepts, Israel withdraws its troops, and ceases all engagement with Gaza. Given the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding, the UN will have little choice, but everyone would be best served with some minimal understandings. I think the following would be reasonable:

  1. Israel removes any ground forces it has in Gaza, and seals the border. Israel unilaterally ceases fire, except in retaliation for attacks (e.g., rockets) from Gaza. Israel reserves the right to retaliate for each attack, one munition (shell, bomb, rocket, etc., but probably larger) for each munition used against Israel, but only within 24 hours of the incident.

  2. Israel is responsible for its land border with Gaza. Israel retains the right to continue patrolling the airspace and sea front until other arrangements are negotiated with the UN and/or future Gaza government. If Israel abuses these rights, there should be some court or referee to nonviolently resolve these disputes (but it's pretty unlikely Israel will agree to that).

  3. The UN will organize a provisional, representative government in Gaza, and will eventually organize elections (e.g., within one year of handover). The UN may dictate a constitution and a basic legal framework, which may be democratically amended or rewritten after a fixed period of time (e.g., 5 years). The UN will organize donors to provide aid in reconstruction, and may attach conditions to its aid (e.g., a court to police against corruption). The UN will issue passports to residents/citizens of Gaza, allowing them to leave if they wish, and to return at any future point they may desire.

  4. Israel and Gaza will be granted amnesty against possible charges under international law up to the date of ceasefire and transfer, and not limited to interactions between Israel and Gaza. All individuals within Gaza will also receive amnesty for their role in the revolt or other incidents that occurred up to the date of transfer. All political organizations in Gaza will be banned, and their property will be expropriated. New organizations may be formed from scratch, but none may reused the names of banned parties. Past membership in a banned political party will not be penalized.

  5. UNHCR-registered refugees in Gaza will enjoy full rights as citizens of Gaza, and will no longer be considered refugees from Israel. This doesn't affect the rights of refugees resident elsewhere. As a condition of its independence, Gaza may not call itself Palestine, and may not make any claims to land and/or people not presently contained in Gaza.

Other items not specified are subject to negotiation, which I imagine will be easier once the break is made, peace is established, and some degree of normalcy returns. Two things I haven't stressed are the desire to disarm Gaza, and the question of inspecting imports to keep weapons from entering Gaza. These things should be implemented voluntarily by Gaza itself. More weapons invites retaliation, which is inevitably collective punishment. As long as Israel retains that right, weapons shouldn't matter to them.

Another thing I didn't bother with is the hostage situation. I assume that the hostages will be released, even without negotiation, before amnesty kicks in. Of course, if Hamas is as bloodthirsty as Israel wants you to believe, they could also be executed before amnesty, in which case maybe some negotiation and exchange should take place first. I didn't want to make it more complicated than it had to be. As for the hostages Israel has taken prisoner, that call is up to Israel. Some sort of mass release, especially of prisoners who could be repatriated to Gaza, would be a welcome gesture, but need not be immediate: I hardly think Gaza really needs an influx of radicalized militants, which is the main produce of Israeli jails.

Israel gets several major wins here: they gain viable long-term security from threats emanating from Gaza; they give up responsibility for the welfare of Gaza, which they've shown no serious interest in or aptitude for; they get an internationally-recognized clean slate, immediately after committing an especially egregious crime against humanity (they're still liable for future acts against Palestinians, but they get a chance to reset that relationship); they break the link between Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and they tilt the demographic balance in the area Israel controls back to a strong Jewish majority; they get a partial solution to the refugee; and they will have already shown the world how hard they strike back, without having to go complete "final solution."

But the biggest concession to Israel is that they get to control the timing, simply because no one can let alone will move to stop them. They can bomb until they run out, which isn't very likely given that the US is already resupplying them. They can kill, maim, destroy, until they run out of targets or simply wear themselves out. Or until they develop a conscience and/or a sense of shame over how world opinion and history will view them. Or until their friends take pity and urge restraint. Or until they start losing more soldiers than they're willing to risk -- the least likely of all, given that nobody is rushing to resupply Gaza with the arms they desperately need to defend themselves (as the US and Europe did for Ukraine).

The point -- probably but not certainly short of extermination -- is that eventually Israel will tire of the killing, but still need to dispose of the rubble and the corpses. That's when this framework comes into play. Sooner would be better for everyone, but later is the dominant mindset in Israel today, and one that is unfortunately reinforced by America.

What Israel gives up is an endless series of wars and other depredations which make them look like arrogant warmongers, and make them seem malign to most of the people in most of the countries in the world. (Even in the US, even with virtually every politician of both parties in their pockets, their reputation is currently in free fall.)

Few Palestinian politicians will welcome this proposal, especially as it isn't even up to them. It's hard to argue that they've served their people well over the years, even if one recognizes that they've been dealt an especially weak hand in face of Israeli ruthlessness. But for the people of Gaza, this offers survival, freedom, and a measure of dignity. And for the world, and especially for the UN, this offers a chance to actually fix something that got broke on the UN's watch 75 years ago and has been an open sore ever since.

But sure, this leaves many more problems to be worked on. There are border issues with Lebanon and Syria. There is apartheid, loss of rights, harassment, even pogroms within Israel -- all of which offer reasons to continue BDS campaigns. At some point, Israel could decide to cut off more land to reduce its Palestinian population, but they could also reduce tensions by moving toward equal rights, secure in the expectation of a strong Jewish majority. That might spell the end of the extreme right-wing parties, at least the leverage they've recently held over Netanyahu, and for that matter the end of Netanyahu, who's done nothing but drive Israel over the brink.

Meanwhile, all we can really do is to campaign for an immediate ceasefire, both to arrest the genocidal destruction of Gaza and to salvage Israelis from the ultimate shame of their political revenge. The time for both-sidesing this is past. There is little point in even mentioning Hamas any more. This isn't a war. This is a cold, calculate massacre. History will not be kind to the people who laid the foundations of this conflict, and will judge even more harshly those who are carrying it to its ultimate ends.

I'll end this intro with something I wrote back on October 9, a mere two days into this "war" (which I initially described as a "prison break and crime spree," before moving on to a comparison to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1944 -- it's not exactly ironic how often Palestinian suffering echoes calamities in Jewish history):

Anyone who condemns Hamas for the violence without also condemning Israel for its violence, and indeed for the violence and injustice it has inflicted on Palestinians for many decades now, is not only an enemy of peace and social justice, but under the circumstances is promoting genocide.

Bold in the original, and still valid here. And three weeks later, you know who you are.


Top story threads:

Israel: See introduction above. Just scattered links below, one that caught my interest and/or pissed me off. For more newsy stuff, see the "live updates" from Vox; Guardian; Washington Post. There are also "daily reports" at Mondoweiss.

  • Ellen Ioanes/Jonathan Guyer/Zack Beauchamp: [10-28] Israeli troops are in Gaza: 7 big questions about the war, answered. This is a fairly generic intro. I don't put much stock into arguments that the reason Hamas attacked when they did had much to do with topical or even strategic concerns like the Saudi Arabia alliance or the latest Al-Aqsa Mosque outrages. Rather, as Israel keeps lurching to the right, and as America becomes more servile to the Israeli right, the sense of desperation has increased. In such times, violence at least seems like the one free thing one can do, a way to spread the pain and get the world's attention. I've often pointed out that the attraction of rockets is that the walls can't stop them. They're the one way people in Gaza have of making their presence felt to their tormentors, of reminding the world of their suffering. Of course, every time they do that, Israel strikes back, massively, reminding the world that their hold over Gaza is based on murderous force -- that that's the kind of people Palestinians are struggling to free themselves from. It doesn't work, in America at least, because we're so conditioned to love Israel and hate its enemies.

  • Rania Abouzeid: [10-21] The simmering Lebanese front in Israel's war.

  • Paula Aceves: [10-27] The corporate and cultural fallout from the Israel-Hamas war. I don't have time to sift through this long list just to feel outraged, but will remind you that the first casualties of every war are anyone who doubts the necessity of the war and the virtues of the warriors (the ones who presume to represent you; the others, of course, are evil inhuman ogres, and anyone who can't see that is a naďve simp or far worse). I'll also note that one of the fired was pursed for sharing a link to an Onion title, "Dying Gazans Criticized For Not Using Last Words To Condemn Hamas." I missed that piece, but did take note of two other Onion headlines: U.S. warns a Gaza ceasefire would only benefit humanity; and Biden Expresses Doubts That Enough Palestinians Have Died.

  • Michael Arria: [10-28] We are witnessing the largest U.S. anti-war protests in 20 years. Not just the US: See Philip Weiss: [10-29] The world is seeing, and rising.

  • Ronen Bergman/Mark Mazzetti/Maria Abi-Habib: [10-29] How years of Israeli failures on Hamas led to a devastating attack: "Israeli officials completely underestimated the magnitude of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, shattering the country's once invincible sense of security."

  • Paola Caridi: [10-26] Does the US really know the Arab world at all? You would think that for all those years of risking American lives, they would have developed some expertise, but both the political and military career paths mostly favored the advancement of facilitators of established prejudice, and certainly not critics, or even people with cognitive empathy. Author has a recent book: Hamas: From Resistance to Regime. I have zero confidence that anyone else I've read in recent months has any real insight into Hamas.

  • Isaac Chotiner: [10-25] Is this the end of the Netanyahu era? Interview with Netanyahu biographer Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist at Haaretz.

  • Jessica Corbet: [10-29] 30 Israeli groups urge global community to help stop surging West Bank settler violence: "Unfortunately, the Israeli government is supportive of these attacks and does nothing to stop the violence."

  • Connor Echols:

  • Richard Falk: [10-24] The West's refusal to call for a ceasefire is a green light to Israel's ethnic cleansing.

  • Thomas Friedman: [10-29] The Israeli officials I speak with tell me they know two things for sure. Friedman's such a reliable mouthpiece for those "Israeli officials" that he's rarely worth reading, but his counsel today, that sometimes it's better to do nothing when provoked, is sound, and compared to the hysteria of most of his cohort, refreshing. An earlier version of this op-ed took the last line as a title: "Please, Israel, don't get lost in those tunnels." That sums up his concern: he couldn't care less what happens to Palestinians, but he realizes that what Netanyahu's gang is doing is ultimately very bad for the Israeli people he so treasures.

  • Neta Golan: [10-28] Israeli attacks on Gaza's healthcare sector are a form of genocide.

  • Melvin Goodman: Israeli state terrorism over the years.

  • Ryan Grim: The lights are off. Here's what we know about life and death inside Gaza: Interview with Maram Al-Dada. Also: Inside a Gaza village: "All of us will die, but we don't know when".

  • Jonathan Guyer: [10-27] The Biden administration needs to update its old thinking on Israel-Palestine: "A viral essay by Biden's foreign policy adviser shows why Israel is more of a liability to the US than anyone's ready to admit." The official is national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and the piece is classic self-delusion, something shockingly common among Washington think-tankers, with their blind faith in throwing their power around, with little care for whoever gets hurt in the process. Guyer contrasts Sullivan's piece(s) with a recent one by Obama advisor:

  • Ben Rhodes: [10-18] Gaza: The cost of escalation. Behind a paywall, so let's at least quote a bit:

    The immediate comparisons to the September 11 attacks felt apt to me not only because of the shock of violence on such a scale but also because of the emotional response that followed. . . .

    But imagine if you were told on September 12, 2001, about the unintended consequences of our fearful and vengeful reaction. That we would launch an illogical war in Iraq that would kill hundreds of thousands of people, fuel sectarian hatred in the Middle East, empower Iran, and discredit American leadership and democracy itself. That we would find ourselves facing an ever-shifting threat from new iterations of al-Qaeda and from groups, like ISIS, that on September 11 did not yet exist. That we would squander our moment of global predominance fighting a war on terror rather than focusing on the climate's tipping point, a revanchist Russia under Vladimir Putin, or the destabilizing effects of rampant inequality and unregulated technologies. That our commitment to global norms and international law would be cast aside in ways that would be expropriated by all manner of autocrats who claimed that they, too, were fighting terror. That a war in Afghanistan, which seemed so justified at the outset, would end in the chaotic evacuation of desperate Afghans, including women and girls who believed the story we told them about securing their future.

    This accounting does not begin to encompass the effects of America's renewed militarized nationalism, jingoism, and xenophobia on our own society after September 11, which ultimately turned inward. While it is far from the only factor, the US response to September 11 bears a large share of the blame for the dismal and divisive state of our politics, and the collapse of Americans' confidence in our own institutions and one another. If someone painted that picture for you on September 12, wouldn't you have thought twice about what we were about to do?

    I can't look up exactly what I was thinking on 9/11/2001 because I was in Brooklyn, away from the computer where I had started keeping my pre-blog online notebook, but my memory is pretty clear. I knew in an instant that the crashed planes were blowback from past imperial misadventures, that the political caste in Washington would take them not as tragic crimes but as an insult to American hyperpowerdom, that their arrogance would strike back arrogantly, that the consequences would be impossible to predict, but would certainly create more enemies than they could possibly vanquish. I probably could have figured out that the war madness would poison our domestic politics, much as the Cold War played such a large role in crippling our labor unions. Even before 9/11, Netanyahu and Barak and Sharon had conspired to wreck the Oslo Accords and trigger an Intifada they would use to permanently disable the Palestinian Authority, figuring they'd rather fight with Hamas than negotiate with Arafat.

  • Benjamin Hart: [10-26] Why Ehud Barak thinks Israel must invade Gaza: He's a big part of the problem in Israel over the last 30 years, even as he's tried to position himself as the smarter/tougher alternative to Netanyahu. I mean, he is, but not much, especially not much of an alternative, but he is much clearer and much less of a liar, so you can learn things listening to him.

  • David Hearst: [10-23] Israel-Palestine war: Starmer's Gaza betrayal shows he is failing as a leader: UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who saved the party for neoliberalism by ousting actual leftist Jeremy Corbyn, and who is likely to become Prime Minister next time voters get a chance to choose one. "This is the first time Britain has been complicit in a direct Israeli military action since the Suez Crisis in 1956."

  • Ellen Ioanes: [10-24] Israelis feel abandoned by Netanyahu after October 7.

  • Jake Johnson: [10-26] Eight progressives vote against House Israel Resolution that ignores Palestinian suffering. This was the first act of the House after electing Mike Johnson speaker. The vote was 412-10, with one Republican and one non-CPC Democrat dissenting, six Democrats registering as "present." The Senate passed a similar resolution unanimously -- despite More than 300 former Sanders staffers urge him to lead cease-fire resolution in Senate.

  • Jimmy Johnson: [10-28] Genocide has been catching up to Israelis ever since Zionism's inception. "Israelis now perpetrate small-scale pogroms like the one Issacharoff reported on such a regular basis that they are barely considered newsworthy."

  • Fred Kaplan: [10-24] How George W. Bush helped Hamas come to power. The history is basically accurate, but I have a different take on it. Israel never wanted a "partner for peace," so they never wanted a Palestinian leadership that enjoyed strong popular support. In Arafat, and later in Abbas, they thought they had a pawn they could manipulate, but they never wanted either to be popular, so they never really offered them much, ultimately sabotaging their authority and sending the Palestinians searching for an alternative who would stand up for them. That could have been Hamas, but Israel sabotaged them too -- with America's support, as it was easy to convince Bush that Hamas were hopeless terrorists. So the title rings true, but what really happened was that in denying Fatah any chance to serve Palestinians, they created a vacuum that Hamas tried to fill, then kept them from any effective power, driving them back to terrorism.

  • Isabel Kershner: [10-29] Netanyahu finds himself at war in Gaza and at home: "Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, apologized for accusing military and security officials of lapses that led to the Hamas massacre but declined to accept responsibility himself."

  • Whizzy Kim: [10-28] The boycott movement against Israel, explained: It's often said that nobody gives up power without a fight, but it's hard to fight injustice without complicating it. Hence the search for nonviolent resistance and pressure, which have had modest successes, especially in countries where public opinion holds some sway, both locally and among higher powers. BDS played a large role in convincing South Africa to abolish apartheid, so it seemed like an ideal strategy for pressuring Israel into ending its own system of apartheid. We're still in the stage where Israel is pulling out all the stops to keep people in America and Europe from even discussing the prospect. Gag laws, of course, have been tried before, most notoriously in the US to prevent abolitionists from petitioning Congress about slavery. We should understand that had BDS been more successful, Israel may not have blundered its way into the present war.

  • Menachem Klein: [10-26] Israel's war cabinet has learned nothing from its failures: "The leaders who oversaw Israel's Gaza policy for 15 years are incapable of abandoning the erroneous ideas that collapsed on Oct. 7."

  • Will Leitch: [10-27] Banning Palestinian flags is just the beginning.

  • Eric Levitz: [10-27] The suppression of Israel's critics bolsters the case for free speech: Someone get this guy a thesaurus. Bolster: "support or strengthen; prop up." I think I get what he's saying, but I can't figure out a way to rephrase his title. The weak link is "the case," as no way suppression of anything "bolsters free speech." "The case" turns a real argument about who's allowed to say what into an abstract right, where liberals have to defend the rights of assholes to spew hate and lies in order to justify their own right to say something sensible and helpful.

  • Richard Luscombe: [10-27] Ron DeSantis's claim he sent military equipment to Israel unravels. Well, it's the thought that counts. On the other hand, Edward Helmore: [10-29] Ron DeSantis defends call to ban pro-Palestinian groups from Florida colleges is totally on-brand.

  • Ian S Lustick: [10-13] Vengeance is not a policy: "Emotionally driven reactions from Washington won't prevent future violence. Dismantling the Gaza prison could."

  • Eldar Mamedov: [10-25] EU's vaunted unity is disintegrating over Gaza crisis.

  • Neil MacFarquhar: [10-23] Developing world sees double standard in West's actions in Gaza and Ukraine.

  • Ruth Margalit: [10-19] The devastation of Be'eri: "In one day, Hamas militants massacred, tortured, and abducted residents of a kibbutz, leaving their homes charred and their community in ruins." This doesn't excuse that, or is excused by any of the chain of outrages that came before, as far back as Deir Yassin (1948) or Qibya (1953) or, in Gaza itself, in Khan Yunis and Rafah (1956). But one shouldn't look away, because, regardless of the perpetrators and victims, this is what it looks like.

  • Stephen Mihm: [10-26] Many evangelicals see Israel-Hamas war as part of a prophecy: If you weren't brought up on "Revelations," this seems like lunacy, but if you were, you have damn little incentive to try to allay the threat of war in the region.

  • Mahmoud Mushtaha: [10-24] If we survive the bombs, what will remain of our lives?

  • Nicole Narea: [10-28] Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group, explained: "Why would Hezbollah enter the fight against Israel?" People forget that in 2006 Israel was attacking Gaza before Hezbollah started firing rockets into North Israel, triggering the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. They succeeded in relieving Gaza, but Israel did an enormous amount of bombing damage to Lebanon, then attempted a ground incursion to rout out Hezbollah, and got beat back pretty bad. Since then, they've had occasional skirmishes, especially over the disputed Bekaa Farms, but neither side has wanted to reopen a full-scale war. Israel has, however, bombed Hezbollah and/or Iranian troops in Syria quite a few times, without reprisals from Lebanon or Iran, so there's an itch they'd like to scratch.

  • AW Ohlheiser: [10-29] Why some Palestinians believe social media companies are suppressing their posts. I don't know much about this, but I do know that my wife was threatened with a Facebook ban and responded by "algospeak" (not her term). Hard for me to tell, as I rarely post anything but links to my pieces, and occasional pictures of food, but I've seen little evidence that my pieces are even read, much less by people who hate them and try to ban me. But algorithms? That's possible.

  • Wendy Pearlman: [10-30] Collective punishment in Gaza will not bring Israel security: "Scholarship suggests the overwhelming violence unleashed on the strip is not just a violation of international law -- it is militarily ineffective."

  • Vijay Prashad: [10-26] The everyday violence of life in occupied Palestine. Prashad also wrote, with Zoe Alexandra: [10-27] When the journalists are gone, the stories will disappear.

  • Adam Rasgon/David D Kirkpatrick: [10-20] Another hospital in Gaza is bleeding: Speaking with Dr Omar Al-Najjar: "Gaza is the place we were born and raised. However much they try to frighten and scare us, I agree with my family that I can't ever leave Gaza."

  • David Remnick: [10-28] In the cities of killing: Long report on the ground, with history, but Not as much "what comes after" as advertised.

  • Richard E Rubenstein: [10-27] Conflict resultion and the war in Gaza: Beyond the "bad actor" perspective.

  • Sigal Samuel: [10-27] Palestinians fear they're being displaced permanently. Here's why that's logical. He doesn't mention the Peel Commission (1937), but they recommended partition of Palestine with forced transfer, a policy which David Ben-Gurion applauded -- publicly for the first time, although his adoption of the "Hebrew labor" doctrine made it clear that an emerging Israel would do everything it could to drive Palestinians away. That's what they did on a massive scale in 1948-50, but after that it got more difficult. Ben-Gurion advised against war in 1967 because he recognized that Palestinians wouldn't flee any more: they would stay in place, and Israel would be stuck with them, sinking the Jewish majority he had engineered by 1950. But the dream and desire to expel was always there, with the settler movement on the front lines, becoming ever more aggressive as they increased political leverage.

  • Benzion Sanders: [10-28] I fought for the I.D.F. in Gaza. It made me fight for peace. "When my Israeli infantry unit arrived at the first village in Gaza, in July 2014, we cleared houses by sending grenades through windows, blowing doors open and firing bullets into rooms to avoid ambush and booby traps." And: "All our casualties and the suffering brought on Palestinians in Gaza accomplished nothing since our leaders refused to work on creating a political reality in which more violence would not be inevitable." Also see: Ariel Bernstein: [09-29] I fought house to house in Gaza . . . I know force alone won't bring peace.

  • Jon Schwarz: Hamas attack provides "rare opportunity" to cleanse Gaza, Israeli think tank says.

  • Adam Shatz: [11-02] Vengeful pathologies. This well-crafted essay stops short of considering the pros and cons of genocide, which would push the conflict into uncharted territory, but draws on the long history of colonial conflict as well as recent Israel/Palestine, where "its political class lacks the imagination and creativity -- not to mention the sense of justice, of other people's dignity -- required to pursue a lasting agreement." A couple quotes:

    One is reminded of Frantz Fanon's observation that 'the colonised person is a persecuted person who constantly dreams of becoming the persecutor.' On 7 October, this dream was realised for those who crossed over into southern Israel: finally, the Israelis would feel the helplessness and terror they had known all their lives. The spectacle of Palestinian jubilation -- and the later denials that the killing of civilians had occurred -- was troubling but hardly surprising. In colonial wars, Fanon writes, 'good is quite simply what hurts them most.'

    What hurt the Israelis nearly as much as the attack itself was the fact that no one had seen it coming.

    Shatz notes that "many analogies have been proposed for Al-Aqsa Flood," then argues for the 1955 Philippeville uprising where:

    Peasants armed with grenades, knives, clubs, axes and pitchforks killed -- and in many cases disembowelled -- 123 people, mostly Europeans but also a number of Muslims. To the French, the violence seemed unprovoked, but the perpetrators believed they were avenging the killing of tens of thousands of Muslims by the French army, assisted by settler militias, after the independence riots of 1945. In response to Philippeville, France's liberal governor-general, Jacques Soustelle, whom the European community considered an untrustworthy 'Arab lover', carried out a campaign of repression in which more than ten thousand Algerians were killed. By over-reacting, Soustelle fell into the FLN's trap: the army's brutality drove Algerians into the arms of the rebels, just as Israel's ferocious response is likely to strengthen Hamas at least temporarily, even among Palestinians in Gaza who resent its authoritarian rule.

    Already, the 10/7 attacks, unprecedented in scale as they were, have been dwarfed by Israel's overreaction. And while demographics and modern war technology won't allow a repeat of Algeria, Israel still has a lot to lose in its quest for vengeance.

  • Raja Shehadeh: [10-26] The uprooting of life in Gaza and the West Bank: A friendly reminder that "Palestinians are determined not to be displace."

  • Kevin Sieff/Noga Tarnopolsky/Miriam Berger/William Booth/David Ovalle: [10-24] In Israel, Macron proposes using anti-ISIS coalition against Hamas. It's really mind-boggling that the leader of a country which made such a complete and utter disaster of its colonialist adventure in Algeria could want to come back for more. But even if this isn't just some deep-seated muscle memory from the golden age of European imperialism, even if it's just sheer opportunism on Macron's part, how smart is it to want to be remembered for aiding and abetting genocide? Lots of western politicians have embarrassed themselves fawning over Israel lately, but this takes the cake.

  • Richard Silverstein:

  • Norman Solomon: [10-30] Biden is a genocide denier and the 'enabler in chief' for Israel's ongoing war crimes. It kind of looks like that, doesn't it?

  • Ishaan Tharoor:

    • [10-29] Israel's Gaza offensive stirs a wave of global protest: This is the only really heartening thing to come out of this month. For many years, Palestinians have been divided between factions (like Hamas) set on fighting for their rights, and others appealing to nonviolent change: to decent public opinion, international law, and the subtle pressure of BDS. Israel has done everything possible to fight both, especially by turning them against each other, and they've done a pretty good job of locking up political elites in the US and Europe with their campaign against "terrorism." But large numbers of people, even in media markets saturated with Israeli talking points, still see through that. And once their eyes open up, further genocide will only further estrange Israel from what we'd like to think of as the civilized world.

    • [10-25] Israel says Hamas 'is ISIS.' But it's not.

    • [10-27] The brutal logic of tying colorful pieces of string around children's wrists in Gaza.

  • Nick Turse: [10-24] Secret U.S. war in Lebanon is tinder for escalation of Israel-Gaza conflict: "Billions in security aid to Lebanon, along with off-the-books commandos, could embroil the U.S. in a regional conflagration."

  • Kelley Beaucar Vlahos: [10-27] 'Tit-for-tat' after US retaliates against Iranian targets: "F-16s struck what Pentagon said were IRGC-backed militias on Friday."

  • Bret Wilkins: [10-25] 40 faith leaders lead Gaza pray-in at House Minority Leader Jeffries' DC office. I'd nominate this for Seth Meyers' "The Kind of Stories We Need Now" segment. Wilkins also wrote:

  • Li Zhou: [10-25] What unites the global protests for Palestinian rights: Given the near unanimity of the US political caste in its fealty to Israel (e.g., the Senate voted 97-0 to denounce a ceasefire), you may be surprised by how many people all around the world demonstrating for Palestinian rights, the most basic of which is not to be slaughtered by Israeli bombers and left to starve in the rubble. The messages and emphases vary, but the most basic one in the US, where Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now have been especially active, is to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Also on X (Twitter):

  • Peter Beinart: [Response to Yair Wallach: Last night, settlers invaded the village of Susya (South Hebron hills) and ordered its residents to leave within 24 hours -- otherwise they would all be killed.] All year we've been screaming that this would happen. No establishment American Jewish leader said a word. As far as I know, they still haven't. [Link to Beinart's article: [04-13] Could Israel carry out another Nakba? "Expulsionist sentiment is common in Israeli society and politics. To ignore the warning sign is to abdicate responsibility."]

  • Ryan Grim: Holy shit -- it looks like the Western media mistranslated a doctor's guess that there were more than 500 killed or wounded by the hospital bombing, and just went with killed.

    Then the press found that fewer than 500 were killed and the president of the United States told the world the numbers from the health ministry can't be trusted.

    Astounding combination of arrogance and ignorance all in the service of unchecked slaughter.

    [Continuing in comment] The error flowed, I think, from the Western media's lack of interest in Palestinians as people. If one dies, we put them in a spreadsheet, because we know on some level it's bad when civilians are killed.

    But if one is only wounded -- a leg blown off, a concussion, what have you -- that's not interesting to us, and you very rarely see stats for killed and wounded in the Western press -- only killed. Or "died," usually.

    But people in Gaza, such as this doctor in question, do care about the wounded as well as the killed. So he mentioned both, and we simply didn't hear him, because it doesn't matter to us if a Palestinian civilian is only hurt but not killed in a bombing.

  • Katie Halper: Jews pretending to be "afraid" of "antisemitic" protests: They're protests against Israeli genocide. It's you genocidal fascists who put us Jews in danger by conflating Jewishness & zionism & perpetuating the antisemitic myth that all Jews support Israel. You don't speak for us.

  • Tony Karon: Some mealy-mouthed efforts by the Biden Administration to distance itself from Israel's war crimes in Gaza do nothing to alter its culpability. The only credible way to prevent further mass slaughter of civilians is to force a cease-fire. [Link to: US says Israel must distinguish between Hamas targets and civilians. Israel will just say Hamas is using "human shields," as if that's all the excuse they need. They don't distinguish between targets and civilians because they don't make the distinction.]

  • Tony Karon: Contra to @JoeBiden's ham-handed efforts to equate Hamas with Russia, it is Israel that is following Putin's playbook. In the second Chechnya war, he supervised Russian forces flattening Grozny, and killing 18,000 people in the first weeks of his assault.

  • Tony Karon: Colonialism is deeply embedded in the BBC's DNA, which is why every report on horrors being inflicted by Israel's 'pacification' violence must be qualified by the colonizer's own spin. Clearly, @BBC bosses believe the Israeli version. They would, though, wouldn't they? [Robert Wright commented: Or it could be that, like many people, whoever wrote this doesn't know the difference between "refute" and "rebut".] Karon continued: Not really, because it's a pattern -- literally every report on the horrors unfolding in Gaza on their web site is accompanied by a disclaimer worthy of Walter Isaacson's 2001 instruction to his CNN staff to downplay and spin civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

  • Arsen Ostrovsky: [Over aerial video of a massive protest in London] This isn't a pro-Palestinian rally in London now, it's a pro-Hamas rally.

    Churchill is probably rolling in his grave.

    Jon "Pumpkinhead" Schwarz commented: Churchill probably would be upset about these demonstrations, given that he referred to Palestinians as animals ("the dog in the manger") who had no right to be upset by being replaced by "a higher grade race"

  • Nathan J Robinson: This is an important point. If the British had responded to IRA attacks on civilians by launching relentless air strikes on Irish civilian neighborhoods, it would have appeared obviously psychopathic and deranged. Yet in Gaza this is considered a reasonable response to terror.

  • David Sheen: Israeli TV running a counter of fatalities in Gaza -- most of whom are civilians and many of whom are children --under the heading "terrorists we eliminated". And for those too lazy to drive to Sderot to watch the genocide, they've got you covered with a livestream of the bombing.

    Tikun Olam commented: Language betrays the immorality and genocide. Here are a few other statistics: 8,000 Gaza dead -- 3,000 children. 45% of homes destroyed. 1.5-million refugees. 10 of 35 hospitals shut down due to lack of supplies & power.

  • Rabbi Alissa Wise: This is Netanyahu telling the world he plans genocide. So even if 8000 dead and cutting off connection to the rest of the world and access to food & water didnt convince you, now you know. ACT NOW! [Refers to Netanyahu quote, video included: "You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible"]

    Elsewhere, Barnett R. Rubin explains Netanyahu's bible quote: For those unfamiliar with the reference, here it is: I Samuel 15: 3-4: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

    Tony Karon adds: Here, @POTUS, is your deranged partner in war crime pledging to commit Biblically-inspired genocide. That Palestinian death toll you don't want to hear about? Is that because you know you could have prevented it?

Trump, and other Republicans: Big news this week, aside from Trumps trials and fulminations, was the election of Mike Johnson (R-LA) as Speaker of the House. So he's getting some press, raising the question of why anyone who thought Jim Jordan was too toxic could imagine that he'd be any more tolerable.

Biden and/or the Democrats:

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Ukraine War:

Around the world:

  • Lautaro Grinspan: [10-23] How young Argentines might put a far-right libertarian into power: Javier Milei, who if elected would probably become the very worst national president in the world today. He was the surprise leader in the primary round, but fell to second place in last Sunday's first-round election. (It's kind of a screwy system.)


Other stories:

Kelly Denton-Borhaug: [10-29] The dehumanization of war (please don't kill the children): Always two titles at this site, so I figured use both, for this "meditation for Veterans Day," which I could have filed under Israel or Ukraine or possibly elsewhere, but thought I'd let it stand alone. Starts in Hiroshima, 1945 with what Stalin would have called a "statistic," then focuses in on a 10-year-old girl, whose mother was reduced to "an unrecognizable block of ash," with only a single gold tooth to identify her. The author has a book about American soldiers but the theme is universal: And Then Your Soul Is Gone: Moral Injury and U.S. War-Culture.

Lloyd Green: [10-29] Romney: A Reckoning review: must-read on Mitt and the rise of Trump: "McKay Coppins and his subject do not hold back in a biography with much to say about the collapse of Republican values." Also on the Romney book:

John Herrman: [10-27] What happens when ads generate themselves? I wish this was the most important article of the week. This is a subject I could really drill down hard on, not least because I think advertising is one of the most intrinsically evil artifacts of our world. And because "artificial intelligence" is a pretty sick oxymoron.

Bruce E Levine: [10-27] Why failed psychiatry lives on: Seems like someone I would have gained much from reading fifty years ago (although R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz, Paul Goodman, and Neil Postman worked for me).

Sophie Lloyd: [10-28] Disney's 8 biggest mistakes in company's history: I wouldn't normally bother with a piece like this, but as mistakes go, these are pretty gross. I mean, after their treatment of slavery and Indians, and their mistreatment of lemmings, number eight was an omnibus "A long history of sexism."

James C Nelson: [10-27] Just another day in NRA paradise: I suppose I have to note that another crazy person with an assault rifle killed 18 and injured 13 more in Lewiston, Maine, last week. This article is as good a marker as any. You know the drill. If you want an update: Kelly McClure: [10-27] Suspect in Maine mass shootings found dead.

Will Oremus/Elizabeth Dwoskin/Sarah Ellison/Jeremy B Merrill: [10-27] A year later, Musk's X is tilting right. And sinking.

Nathan J Robinson: I could have split these up all over today's post, but want to point out the common source of so much insight:

  • [10-27] They're all "extremists": "The Republican Party has long been pushing us toward an apocalyptic dystopian future. The differences between individual Republicans are far less important than their similarities." My only question is why the quotes? "Extremists" is plainly descriptive, and hardly controversial.

  • [10-26] How the occupation of Palestine shapes everyday life -- and what happens now: Interview with Nathan Thrall, former director of the Arab-Israeli Project at the International Crisis Group, and author of The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine, and most recently A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy. Thrall lives in Jerusalem, but has recently been trying to promote his book in the UK, noting:

    I have never seen this degree of intolerance for any sort of nuance in the discussion of Israel-Palestine, for any discussion of root causes, even just expression of sympathy for Palestinians living under occupation. We've seen events canceled in the UK and the US, hotels refusing to host long planned Palestinian conferences. A concert in London was shut down, and my own book event was shut down in London by the UK police. And of course, what made headlines was the prize in Germany that was going to be given to a Palestinian author. And you saw that the UK Home Secretary had said -- the police, of course, are not going to follow through on this -- but she recommended to the police to arrest anyone, or to consider arresting anyone, with a Palestinian flag. We saw in France that they were banning Palestinian protests. It's really a very difficult moment to speak with any kind of intelligence or nuance about this issue.

    I've occasionally noted instances of repression emanating from political and cultural elites in the US and Europe, clearly aimed at shutting down any discussion, much less protest, against all the violence in and around Gaza, but I haven't seriously tracked it, because this assault on free speech and democracy seems like the less urgent tragedy. But it's happening. And it reminds me of 9/11: not the shocking initial event, but the chilling efforts to keep anyone but the warmongers from speaking, allowing them the illusion of cheering applause as they went ahead with their ill-considered and ultimately self-destructive program.

  • [10-25] "Libs of Tiktok" is Orwell's "two minutes hate": "The right-wing social media account is viciopus and dehumanizing. Its revolting toxicity shows us why empathy and solidarity are so important."

  • [10-23] The wisdom of Edward Said has never been more relevant. Article includes extensive quotes.

Jeffrey St Clair: [10-27] Roaming Charges: That oceanic feeling. Lead section on climate change (remember that?) and environment. I didn't realize that small planes still burn leaded gasoline. Then the dirt on Mike Johnson. Then a much longer list of criminal injustices. Plus other things, like a Nikki Haley quote ("I'm tired of talking about a Department of Defense. I want a Department of Offense.")

Evaggelos Vallianatos: [10-27] Slauighter of the American buffalo: Article occasioned by the Ken Burns documentary, which may be an eye-opener if you don't know the story, and adds details if you do. It is a classic case of how insatiable world markets suck the life out of nature, and how the infinite appetites of financiers, who've reduced everything to the question of how much more money their money can make.

Richard D Wolff: [10-27] Why capitalism cannot finally repress socialism. This assumes that some measure of sanity must prevail. And yes, I know that's a tautology, as socialism is the sanity that keeps capitalism from tearing itself apart and dissolving into chaos.


Nothing from The New Republic this week, as they decided I'm "out of free articles," even though I'm pretty sure we have a valid subscription. Not much there that isn't elsewhere, although I clicked on close to ten articles that looked interesting, before giving up, including one called Kyrsten Sinema's Delusional Exit Interview. AlterNet has a similar article: Carl Gibson: [10-30] 'I don't care': Kyrsten Sinema plans to cash in on Senate infamy if she loses reelection in 2024.

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