Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Streamnotes (February 2017)
Pick up text
Monday, February 27, 2017
Music: Current count 27834  rated (+20), 391  unrated (+5).
Rated count slipped severely last week, and would have been much
worse had I not dove down a hole trying to find a better Brian Lynch
album than I was already aware of -- I have his 2006 collaboration
with Eddie Palmieri, Simpático, at A-, and Unsung Heroes
(2011) as well as last year's Madera Latino at B+(***). I
found lots of pretty good records, but nothing better than those.
Excuses, excuses: I took Tuesday off to cook birthday dinner for
my wife: a half-dozen Japanese dishes including salmon teriyaki and
a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Lost Monday evening shopping,
and queued up three "good ol' good 'uns" while I was cooking -- Ronnie
Lane's One for the Road, The Very Best of the Drifters,
and Louis Jordan's Five Guys Named Moe: Vol. 2 -- and enjoyed
them so much I repeated them, twice. Even now, I have Jordan songs
rattling around my head. Also took some time on Sunday for an encore
dinner: leftovers (mostly extra produce as opposed to reheating, but
I turned the excess dashi into miso soup) plus chicken wings coated
in a sticky teriyaki glaze. Alas, no new dessert.
Other things that slowed me down: my two new A- jazz records got
a lot of exposure -- the Satoko Fujii double got three plays, and
MOPDTK probably got six, maybe more. Not so hard to make up my mind,
but I kept putting off the writing. Two non-jazz records also got
three spins each: the Jens Lekman that got a
Christgau A (and is currently rated 11th at
Metacritic, down from 2nd when I first noticed it) and the Jesca
Hoop record I actually prefer (currently 5th at Metacritic -- note that
the current 2 [Tinariwen] and 3 [XX] albums are already on my fledgling
2017 A-list, although I'm not much
impressed by top-rated Sampha, nor by the 6 [Loyle Carner] and 7 [William
Basinski] records I checked out this week). Mark Masters and Billy Mintz
also got more plays than should have been necessary.
As that rundown suggests, I spent more time looking at 2017 than
2016 releases last week, for the first time this year. As it is, I've
heard 91 of the top 100 new records in my
2016 EOY Aggregate -- up
from 71 as recently as 2014 (at least that's what a post I found said;
I probably listened to a few more after that). I didn't add any new
lists to the Aggregate last week, although I plugged in a couple new
grades (from Christgau and myself).
I did spend quite a bit of time last week collecting reviews from my
Streamnotes columns. I'm currently up
to October 2015, so I still have about 17 months to sort through (this
month's column should be up later this week, probably about the time I
catch up). Reviews for 20th century albums go straight into the draft
file, which is currently at 415 pages (225k words). Later reviews go
into a sorted text file which I'll later use to fill up the 21st century
book (currently Jazz CG only: 145 pages, 52k words; the text file has
1064k words, of which perhaps as much as one-third are redundant entries,
so maybe 750k words, which in the current format would mean about 1300
I think the next step after Streamnotes will be to go through the
database files and add stubs for all of the rated but unreviewed albums.
That should push the 20th century guide up a bit over 500 pages, but
will add very little to the 21st century. I don't think I have enough
material for a valid 20th century guide, but I do have more than I
expected when I started gathering this writing. I've also skipped over
a shitload of non-jazz reviews (I mean thousands), which could be used
to seed other projects: my database ratings for country, blues, and
pre-1980 rock are pretty encyclopedic, but I doubt if I have reviews
for more than 20% of any of them.
Another time sink last week was watching the Oscars and several
nominated films on demand (and La La Land in the theater).
I've started a book file where I'm collecting political blog posts
(I'm still back in 2002, so this has just started). I've been running
across a lot of movie reviews from back then, and have squirreled them
away in an appendix. Reminds me how much more I saw then than now.
Still, I thought I'd look back at the
list and at least jot down some grades as best I remember them.
- Hail, Caesar!: B
- Finding Dory: Animation. B
- The Secret Life of Pets: Animation. B+
- Hell or High Water: B+
- Snowden: A-
- Moonlight: B+
- Loving: A-
- Arrival: B+
- Manchester by the Sea: B+
- La La Land: A-
Not much here, and seems even less given that I saw fewer than half
in the local monopoly's theaters. Probably the fewest movies I've seen
in any year since the mid-1980s. Aside from the snub to Snowden,
I don't begrudge the Oscar picks -- Moonlight seems better in
memory than it did at the time; Manchester too. Still, far from
a banner year.
Oh, we also saw a mockumentary Jason Bailey produced -- not on the
Wikipedia list, and not really released yet so I can't look up the
title, but I enjoyed it more than anything listed above.
More movies I kinda wished we had seen (well, had some small interest
in, sometimes very small):
Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater),
Elvis & Nixon,
Florence Foster Jenkins,
Café Society (Woody Allen),
Me Before You,
Our Kind of Traitor,
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie,
The Magnificent Seven,
Queen of Katwe (Mira Nair),
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Tim Burton),
The Girl on the Train,
The Birth of a Nation,
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,
Hidden Figures. Laura saw Zootopia and hated it.
New records rated this week:
- William Basinski: A Shadow in Time (2017, Temporary Residence): [r]: B
- Loyle Carner: Yesterday's Gone (2017, AMF): [r]: B
- Allison Crutchfield: Tourist in This Town (2017, Merge): [r]: B+(**)
- Satoko Fujii: Invisible Hand (2016 , Cortez Sound, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- Jean-Brice Godet: Lignes De Crêtes (2016 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
- Jesca Hoop: Memories Are Now (2017, Sub Pop): [r]: A-
- Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now (2017, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B+(***)
- Brian Lynch: Madera Latino (2012 , Hollistic MusicWorks, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Mark Masters Ensemble: Blue Skylight (2015-16 , Capri): [cd]: B+(**)
- Billy Mintz: Ugly Beautiful (2015 , Thirteenth Note, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Loafer's Hollow (2016 , Hot Cup): [cd]: A-
- The Sadies: Northern Passages (2017, Yep Roc): [r]: B+(*)
Old music rated this week:
- Jens Lekman: When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog (2004, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B+(*)
- Brian Lynch Sextet: Peer Pressure (1986 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Brian Lynch Quintet: Back Room Blues (1989 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Brian Lynch: Spheres of Influence (1997, Sharp Nine): [r]: B+(*)
- Brian Lynch Latin Jazz Sextet: ConClave (2004 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Brian Lynch: Unsung Heroes Vol. 2 (2008-09 , Hollistic MusicWorks): [r]: B+(**)
- Brian Lynch and Spheres of Influence: ConClave Vol. 2 (2010 , Criss Cross): B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Bill Brovold & Jamie Saft: Serenity Knolls (Rare Noise): advance: March 31
- David Feldman: Horizonte (self-released): March 10
- Jü: Summa (Rare Noise): advance, March 31
- Robert McCarther: Stranger in Town (Psalms 149 Music)
- Bill O'Connell: Monk's Cha Cha: Live at the Carnegie-Farian Room (Savant)
- Miles Okazaki: Trickster (Pi): March 24
- Rocco John: Peace and Love (Unseen Rain): March 3
- University of Toronto 12Tet: Trillium Falls (UofT Jazz): March 10
- University of Toronto Jazz Orcherstra: Sweet Ruby Suite (UofT Jazz): March 10
- Jim Yanda Trio: Regional Cookin' (1987, Corner Store Jazz)
- Jim Yanda Trio: Home Road (Corner Store Jazz, 2CD)
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Another week, so here we go again.
Some scattered links this week in the Trumpiverse:
Kevin Carey: Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era
Tom Engelhardt: A Trumpian Snapshot of America: The list of things
gone wrong in America is trenchant as usual, but his nutshell conclusion
leaves something to be desired:
We're living, that is, in an ever more chaotic and aberrant land run
(to the extent it's run at all) by billionaires and retired generals,
and overseen by a distinctly aberrant president at war with aberrant
parts of the national security state. That, in a nutshell, is the
America created in the post-9/11 years. Put another way, the U.S. may
have failed dismally in its efforts to invade, occupy, and remake Iraq
in its own image, but it seems to have invaded, occupied, and remade
itself with remarkable success.
Not sure what the last part even means, but the state we're in is
clearly due to two inadequately checked notions: one is the fact that
we've allowed the rich in America (and throughout much of the world)
to become utterly shameless in their pursuit of ever greater wealth;
the other is that we've allowed the US and its "allies" to engage in
perpetual war. Unfortunately, it's not just the Republicans who have
invested in those notions. A large segment of the Democratic Party has
too -- notably Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and new DNC Chairman Tom
Julie Hirschfield Davis/Michael M Grynbaum: Trump Intensifies His Attacks
on Journalists and Condemns FBI 'Leakers'
Max Paul Friedman: Trump's Refugee Ban Is Even Crueler Than You Think.
Michelle Goldberg: It's Bad: "The first month of the Trump presidency
has been more cruel and destructive than the majority of Americans feared.
The worst is yet to come." More (although I would have picked a totally
different laundry list, emphasizing how mainstream Republicans loom as
the real threat to most people):
Every day there's a new Trumpian outrage that in an ordinary presidency
would be a multiday scandal: an ostensibly light-hearted threat to invade
Mexico, a casual dismissal of a potential Palestinian state, a feud with
a reporter or an actor or a department store. Trump lies so much it's as
if he's intentionally mocking the impotence of truth. He shamelessly
profits off his office, reveling in our powerlessness to stop him. His
closest aide is an unkempt racist who has described Nazi propagandist
Leni Riefenstahl as a role model. A senior adviser uses her administration
perch to hawk the president's daughter's line of polyester-blend workwear
in a blatant violation of ethics rules. Trump himself is either enmeshed
in a subversive relationship with Vladimir Putin, or he's willing to appear
to be. He and his coterie make a fetish of patriotism yet take a perverse
antinomian pleasure in defiling the presidency.
I count Goldberg among those left-leaning liberals who actually thought
Hillary Clinton promised good progressive policy, as opposed to those of
us who saw her as a marginal (but clear) alternative to the vicious slime
that other party was offering. Scapegoating Putin and Russia is ridiculous
on its face, and wrapped up with the sort of imperialist and belligerent
jargon Democrats should know better than spouting, but evidently Clinton's
most dead-end supporters still find that preferable to admitting her faults
and starting to correct for them.
Glenn Greenwald: The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a
Long-Standing US Playbook. Also see:
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Neo-McCarthyite furor around Russia is
Nicholas Kulish/et al: Immigration Agents Discover New Freedom to Deport
Under Trump. Another example:
Australian children's author Mem Fox detained by US border control.
Josh Marshall: Tourism Industry Hit by Trumpism Bigly, also
Anne Kim: The Long-Term Economic Wreckage of Trump's Travel Ban.
Oliver Milman: Scott Pruitt vows to slash climate and water pollution
regulations at CPAC: Pruitt is Trump's new EPA head -- one of the
very worst imaginable people for the job, and likely to be one of the
most destructive forces in our near future.
Sarah Posner: CPAC's Flirtation With the Alt-Right Is Turning Awkward.
Steven Simon/Daniel Benjamin: The Islamophobic Huckster in the White
House: Specifically, Sebastian Gorka, "an itinerant instructor in
the doctrine of irregular warfare and former national security editor
at Breitbart," which is, of course, the rock Steve Bannon found him
lurking under. Also see:
Jacky Fortin: Who Is Sebastian Gorka? A Trump Adviser Comes Out of the
Shadows. If you're keeping track of such things, note that Gorka
is an immigrant (born in the UK of Hungarian parents, although he is
now a US citizen) and was recently arrested (for carrying a gun into
an airport, but the charge was later dropped).
Jessica Valenti: Milo Yiannopoulos isn't the only bigot Republicans
are cozy with.
Olathe shooting: Friend and widow on US shooting: Surprised not
to see any coverage of this in the Wichita Eagle, but BBC is all
over it. Olathe is near Kansas City. The shooter targeted several
people of Indian descent, first asking if they were "in the United
States illegally, questioning where he'd come from." Of course,
White House: 'Absurd' to Suggest KS Shooting Linked to Trump's
Jamelle Bouie: A Deafening Silence.
Paul Woodward collected this and similar links, including other events
following the same pattern.
The Eagle did have a lot of coverage of the one-year
anniversary of a mass shooting in Hesston, northwest of Wichita.
One tidbit there was that the shooter explained he did meth rather
than marijuana because his company (the scene of the shooting)
drug-tested employees and meth was harder to detect.
Also a few links less directly tied to the ephemeral in America's
bout of political insanity:
Andrew Bacevich: At the Altar of American Greatness: There's a line
deep into this piece about how "it's the politics that's gotten smaller,"
and indeed this piece is a good deal smaller than at first advertised --
see the subtitle: "David Brooks on Making America Great Again." Brooks
is normally an easy target, but Bacevich stumbles, declaring "among
contemporary journalists, he is our Walter Lippmann, the closest thing
we have to an establishment-approved public intellectual." Lippmann
retired in 1967, so for me was a famous name that signified little --
even today most of what I know about him I had gleaned from Walter
Karp's The Politics of War, which featured him as a prominent
hawk behind the so-called Great War, but while he often catered to
political power, the main thing he's remembered for was his cynicism
about the ignorance and gullibility of the American people. Brooks,
on the other hand, is little more than a partisan hack with a bit of
cosmopolitan make up to pass muster with New York/Washington elites.
Still, it's interesting that Bacevich digs up a Brooks column from
1997 prefiguring Donald Trump (cue Marx's joke about tragedy/farce),
titled "A Return to National Greatness" -- a title Brooks reiterated
in 2017. Especially precious is the line: "The things Americans do
are not for themselves only, but for all mankind." He should pinch
himself to recall that he's talking about a country which positively
worships the ideal of individuals pursuing their self-interest -- as
witnessed by the fact that we just elected as president a guy who has
done nothing but for more than fifty years.
Under the circumstances, it's easy to forget that, back in 2003, he
and other members of the Church of America the Redeemer devoutly
supported the invasion of Iraq. They welcomed war. They urged it.
They did so not because Saddam Hussein was uniquely evil -- although
he was evil enough -- but because they saw in such a war the means
for the United States to accomplish its salvific mission. Toppling
Saddam and transforming Iraq would provide the mechanism for affirming
and renewing America's "national greatness."
Anyone daring to disagree with that proposition they denounced as
craven or cowardly. Writing at the time, Brooks disparaged those
opposing the war as mere "marchers." They were effete, pretentious,
ineffective, and absurd. [ . . . ]
In refusing to reckon with the results of the war he once so
ardently endorsed, Brooks is hardly alone. Members of the Church of
America the Redeemer, Democrats and Republicans alike, are demonstrably
incapable of rendering an honest accounting of what their missionary
efforts have yielded.
Brooks belongs, or once did, to the Church's neoconservative branch.
But liberals such as Bill Clinton, along with his secretary of state
Madeleine Albright, were congregants in good standing, as were Barack
Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton. So, too, are putative
conservatives like Senators John McCain, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, all
of them subscribing to the belief in the singularity and indispensability
of the United States as the chief engine of history, now and forever.
[ . . . ]
That Donald Trump inhabits a universe of his own devising, constructed
of carefully arranged alt-facts, is no doubt the case. Yet, in truth,
much the same can be said of David Brooks and others sharing his view of
a country providentially charged to serve as the "successor to Jerusalem,
Athens, and Rome." In fact, this conception of America's purpose expresses
not the intent of providence, which is inherently ambiguous, but their own
arrogance and conceit. Out of that conceit comes much mischief. And in the
wake of mischief come charlatans like Donald Trump.
Srecko Horvat: Tom Hardy's Taboo goes to the heart of our new imperialist
darkness: Not sure the series is that coherent, but the asides like how
"colonialism doesn't cause misery only in poorer countries, it boomerangs
back to rich countries with their rising inequality" are spot on. Also he
notes how today private companies, much like the "honourable" British East
India Company two centuries ago, have become far-from-benign forces all
around the world (and he didn't even cite Exxon Mobil as an example).
Robin McKie: Biologists say half of all species could be extinct by end
of century: Not really a new story: I read a lot about mass extinction
back in the 1990s and maybe earlier, when the Alvarez theory of the K-T
extinction event became popular and Carl Sagan came up with the notion of
"nuclear winter." So, no surprise that it's gotten worse. Still, I'm struck
by how the threat has receded in our consciousness as our politicians keep
coming up with more urgent short-term crises. Thinking about the end of
the century has started to look like a luxury.
John Nichols: Tom Perez Narrowly Defeats Keith Ellison for DNC Chair:
Margin over Keith Ellison was 35 votes. It's tempting to regard Perez
as a corporate stooge, but
Esme Cribb has him saying some useful things, like: "I heard from rural
America that the Democratic Party hasn't been there for us recently"; "We
also have to redefine our mission"; and "Our unity is our greatest strength,
and frankly our unity is Donald Trump's greatest nightmare." Underscoring
that unity, he named Ellison "deputy chair" (see
Trump Claims DNC Chair Race Was 'Totally Rigged,' Offers No Evidence.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Fixed birthday dinner for Laura yesterday. She originally didn't want
anything but I pitched a couple favorites (salmon teriyaki and flourless
chocolate cake) and she eventually conceded. Had three guests (Janice
Bradley, Mike Poage, Gretchen Eick). I make those keystone dishes somewhat
regularly, but I've never put the teriyaki into the context of Japanese
cuisine -- I usually just do it with some potatoes or fried rice and
stir-fried lima beans (a Chinese recipe from Irene Kuo that I use with
all sorts of main courses, mostly because I keep the freezer stocked
and don't regularly have a lot of vegetable options). In fact, I haven't
done a whole Japanese meal in decades, although the very first dinner I
fixed for Laura was Japanese (mostly sushi), so it seemed appropriate
for this occasion.
I shopped on Monday for everything but the salmon, which I figured I'd
pick up fresh on the day at Seafood Shop, which usually has exceptionally
nice salmon: I wound up buying the tail end of a slab of Shetland Island
Salmon after the customer ahead of me bought two strips cut out from the
thickest part; came to about 2.5 pounds, and was still sloped up to more
than an inch thick. I didn't plan out a menu before shopping, but jotted
down some likely ingredients and options. I did decide on a noodle dish,
yakisoba, and had found a
that looked promising, and had a few other ideas mostly garnered from
Lesley Downer/Minoru Yoneda's Step-by-Step Japanese Cooking. I
went to Wichita's top Vietnamese grocer, Thai Binh, then on to Dillons
(eventually two) plus a couple other shops. One stop was to look for
a julienne tool, since I was anticipating a lot of carrots and daikon.
(I have a couple of expensive mandolines, but they've never worked well
for me. Indeed, nothing but a chef's knife seems to work right.)
One thing that kept driving me to all those shops was that I couldn't
find the right noodles for the yakisoba. Maybe if I had looked closer at
Thai Binh, but I was getting frustrated by the time I got to the noodle
aisle(s), and it really wasn't proving to be a good place for Japanese.
(I never found "aonori" seaweed, nor "chuno sauce" -- both called for in
the yakisoba recipe, although I picked up some wakame and oyster sauce.)
From various stores I picked up a wide variety of possible substitute
noodles: soba, both dried and pre-cooked udon, Chinese egg noodles; I
even considered buccatini and gluten-free spaghetti. I wound up going
with two packages of pre-cooked udon.
Tuesday's shopping turned out to be more of an ordeal than I expected.
I had forgotten to buy ginger (of all things) and mirin, so I stopped at
Sprout's before going to Seafood Shop for the salmon. I picked up some
more noodle candidates, but then I lost a set of keys -- not discovering
that until I got home, so I had to retrace my steps, eventually finding
them at Sprout's. So it was close to 3pm when I got back and started
cooking, with dinner guests due at 6:30. I did what I could in that
brief time, and didn't put the fish in to broil until everyone arrived.
Indeed, final cooking on several other dishes didn't start until then,
and that segment got very crazy (and messy), but at least my prep was
Monday night I made dashi and the cake. The flourless cake recipe is
from Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Cookbook. It calls for melting 8 oz.
bittersweet chocolate in two sticks of butter, adding six eggs and 1.5
cups sugar, then whisking in one cup of cocoa. Pour it into a springform
pan and bake 35-40 minutes at 350F. Very straightforward, but I ran into
a problem right away: I figured the pantry was well stocked with chocolate,
but couldn't find any bittersweet. I had lots of unsweetened and semi-sweet,
so looked up substitutes and went with the semi-sweet (add 1/4 tsp cocoa
per ounce, which struck me as preferable to adding sugar to unsweetened).
Also worth noting that I used Hersey's special dark cocoa. Came out pretty
damn close to perfect. I served it with Edy's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, which
is lighter than premiums like Haagen-Dasz but still richly vanilla.
As for the stock, the recipes called for making Dashi I and Dashi II,
in sequence: the former is made by bringing water with a piece of kombu
(dried kelp) to a boil, reserve the kelp, then add katsuobushi (dried
bonito flakes) and let it steep. The latter starts with the leftover
kelp and bonito from Dashi I, and boils them in more water (7.5 cups vs.
4.5 for Dashi I) for 20 minutes, to get a stronger, more reduced stock.
You then add more bonito and let it steep, then strain. Dashi II is used
for miso soup, but more importantly is needed for pretty much every sauce
the Japanese use. So I wound up Monday night with two pots of dashi, for
good measure letting II sit overnight before straining. That was all the
prep I needed to do the night before.
On Tuesday, I got up around noon, went out and did my shopping, and
chased down those keys. By then I had my eye on a set of relatively easy
- Yakisoba: stir-fried noodles (I decided to use the pre-cooked udon,
so they were round but thicker than called for), with some vegetables,
sauce, and garnishes.
- Agedashi: deep-fried tofu with dashi-based sauce and garnish.
- Cucumber salad with wakame (seaweed)
- French-cut green beans with peanut sauce
- Eggplant simmered in miso
- Eggdrop soup with slivered snow peas (this used up my Dashi I).
- With the salmon teriyaki as the main dish.
Here's roughly what I did to cook all of this (in, as I said, less
than four hours). I took a half-dozen dried black mushrooms and covered
them with hot water to soak. Also soaked a couple tablespoons of dried
wakame (it expands to much more than I needed). Mixed up the teriyaki
marinade (1/2 cup each: sugar, sake, soy sauce). Cut the fish, put it
and the marinade in a freezer bag, and put it into the refrigerator,
turning it over several times during the afternoon. (I think the recipe
calls for 30 minutes, but since there's no vinegar it didn't hurt to
marinate longer -- in my case about three hours.)
The green bean recipe called for "French cut"; in the past I've used
frozen, but wasn't able to find any, so bought some fresh green beans
and tried to cut them into inch-long pieces on a diagonal (although
they didn't come out as shredded as normal "French cut"). I boiled them
in salted water for 12 minutes (actually, a bit too long). I cut the
snow peas on a diagonal slant and blanched them for about 90 seconds.
I cut the vegetables for the noodles: about 1/2 cup julienned carrot;
1/2 onion sliced; four or five baby bok choy (about half of the package):
I trimmed the root end, then sliced across until I got up to the leaves, and
discarded the rest; four or five scallions, cut into two-inch lengths.
The recipe called for "two cabbage leaves" but I thought the bok choy
would substitute nicely, and I'd say that worked.
I cut another half-dozen scallions into thin rounds for garnishes,
and grated sizable chunks of ginger and daikon. Nearly every dish
would have some sort of garnish, mostly from these three piles and/or
the bag of katsuobushi.
I had three small Japanese cucumbers. I peeled them, cut in half,
scooped out the seeds, and cut into thin half-rounds. Salted them and
let them sit for a while, then rinsed them off. I mixed up the dressing:
3T rice wine vinegar, 2T Dashi II, 2T soy sauce, 1T sugar, 1/4t salt,
2T mirin. Put the cucumbers and a handful of wakame into a bowl, poured
the dressing over, and refrigerated. Before serving I garnished with
ginger. First dish (almost) done.
For the green beans, I ground (actually chopped finely) 1/4 cup of
roasted peanuts, added 1.5T sugar, 2T soy sauce, and 1T Dashi II. I
realized I hadn't ground the peanuts up sufficiently, so I added a
tablespoon (or two) of peanut butter, which did the trick (although
the sauce was a good deal thicken than the picture). Second dish
ready -- to be garnished with katsuobushi before serving.
For the agedashi, I started with a pound of medium firm tofu. I
cut this into three slices (not as evenly as I would have liked),
and cut each slice into nine pieces. I pressed these for a while to
drive out excess liquid (recipe calls for soft tofu, which would
have made this stage more important). I took a medium saucepan,
poured into it about one-inch of peanut oil, and heated it up. I
took the tofu squares, dredged them in potato starch, and fried
them, draining on paper towels as they started to brown, and lined
them up in a large quiche pan. I mixed up the sauce: 1 cup Dashi II,
3T soy sauce, 3T mirin. I garnished the tofu with daikon and scallion,
and spooned about half of the sauce over them, offering the rest of
the sauce on the side. (I wound up dumping some leftover ginger into
For the eggplant, I took two long Japanese eggplants (about one
pound) and sliced them diagonally into rounds, about 3/8-inch thick.
I mixed up the sauce: 1/2 cup Dashi II, 3T red miso, 3T sugar. I fried
the eggplant in leftover oil from the tofu, and when it was partly
browned I added the sauce. I covered it, let it simmer for five minutes,
uncovered it and let it bubble and thicken. Looking back at the recipe,
I see I didn't follow it very well: the recipe calls for simmering in
the dashi, then adding the miso and sugar, so two separate stages, and
includes adding a scallion, which I forgot -- although I garnished
with scallion later. Also, I went back and forth between covering
and uncovering, and never cut the heat back to simmering level. And
I should have gotten the oil hotter before adding the eggplant, as
it got soaked up fast so I had to add more. I should also note that
the recipe seems to be calling for western eggplant, not Japanese
(although it would be sad notd using Japanese for this recipe).
Despite all these screw-ups, this turned into the outstanding dish
of the meal -- the overcooked green beans came damn close, those two
being the only dishes had had no leftovers.
The yakisoba recipe called for "chuno sauce," which I couldn't
find anywhere, but I did find a "make your own" recipe on the net,
so did: 1/2 cup ketchup plus 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce. I only
needed 3T, so cut that in half. I wound up using pretty much all
of it, plus 1/2T oyster sauce. I started cooking the noodle dish
about the same time as the eggplant. Heated some oil (again, from
the tofu pot), and started with the carrots. After a minute or so,
added the onions, then a couple minutes later the bok choy and
scallions, then the pre-cooked udon noodles (two bags, four packets --
I should have separated them first since they were pretty badly
clumped together. I added the "chuno sauce" and oyster sauce, and
covered for a while. I had a guest slice up the black mushrooms
and added them (not in the recipe, but I figured they'd come in
handy somewhere, and this wound up being the place). I scooped the
noodles out into a serving bowl, garnished with katsuobushi, wakame
(recipe calls for aonori, but still seaweed), and beni shoga (a bright
form of picked ginger cut into matchsticks -- worked very well for
By this time I had put the salmon under the broiler. I pulled it
out midway, noted that one piece in the back was exceptionally brown
so I rotated the pan, and gave everything a fresh brush of marinade.
A few minutes later, I checked again and found everything well browned
on top, but the thickest filets were nicely done, so I turned the oven
off and moved the fish to a serving tray. Last thing was to finish the
soup. I had been heating up the Dashi I, so added the pea pods, let
them cook for a minute or two, then dropped the heat low and whisked
in two beaten eggs. I ladled the soup out into bowls and served it.
I should have checked the soup seasoning. It turned out to be the only
dish I was disappointed in, although the texture was good, the eggs nice
and wispy: a little salt (or soy sauce) and pepper (maybe Szechuan),
and maybe some scallion, maybe even a whiff of sesame oil, would have
helped a lot.
I thought the mix and range and contrast of the dishes was exemplary.
I had bought a bunch of extra ingredients -- mostly vegetables including
broccoli, brussels sprouts, and mushrooms, that I could have used. One
additional dish I would have made had time permitted was a salad of raw
carrot and daikon ("red and white"), both cut into matchsticks with the
usual dashi-based dressing (plus some kombu and citrus). I also cut back
in some quantities -- e.g., only cooked about half of my green beans, only
used about half of my baby bok choy. Still, plenty of food for five --
would have had enough for a couple more, but we didn't wind up with a
ridiculous amount of leftovers.
As I said, I hadn't cooked a full Japanese meal in decades -- during
which time I've cooked dozens each of Chinese, Indian, Turkish, Spanish,
Italian, and Moroccan, and smaller numbers of other cuisines -- so I had
pretty much lost my sense of how Japanese meals work together. (When we
do go to Japanese restaurants, we invariably order sushi, so that further
limits what I know -- Laura does like to order agedashi, so that was an
exception, albeit one she usually orders in a favorite Thai restaurant).
Heated up the leftover noodles last night. Have enough Dashi II left
to make a couple cups of miso soup, enough green beans for a replay, and
various other odds and ends: made an omelet today with leftover mushrooms
and scallions. Also have five or six packages of noodles, which I need
to experiment with. Guess I can add Japanese to my cuisine repertoire.
Also seems to be possible to get "sushi-quality fish" in a couple of
stores here, and Thai Binh has the barbecued eel, so those are options.
I've made tempura in the past, and fried dishes like tonkatsu. I haven't
tried the fancier noodle soups like sukiyaki or yosenabe -- things I
used to order before I got into sushi. Also, thumbing through the book,
the steak teriyaki looks especially promising. So many things one can
Monday, February 20, 2017
Music: Current count 27814  rated (+35), 386  unrated (-7).
Still mostly 2016 releases below, including a couple A-list finds
(the current A-lists are
74 jazz and
67 non-jazz), but the share is dropping as I dip more often into
my 2017 new jazz queue. Also checked out the new Tinariwen, which even
with its American guests is very similar to old Tinariwen, still enough
for my second 2017 non-jazz A- (after Run the Jewels 3).
Still added a few more 2017 lists to the
EOY Aggregate file (a couple
are mentioned in "recommended links" below). The new lists resulted in
several changes to the top-twenty rank order, mostly in line with longer
term trends: A Tribe Called Quest climbed into 5th, ahead of Solange;
Chance the Rapper is up to 7th, barely edging Kanye West and dropping
Nick Cave to 9th; Anderson .Paak took 11th from Bon Iver; Leonard Cohen
took 13th from Car Seat Headrest; Mitski took 18th from Kaytranada.
I'd say most of these cases favor the better record (aside from the
Not sure I'm done, but the rate of additions slowed down quite a bit
midweek, as the weather warmed up enough to do some yardwork (well,
actually we've been breaking records), and I finally resumed collecting
reviews for the Jazz Guide(s). The latter got to be much more fun after
I finished the 2001-09 notebooks (I'm assuming anything after that is
redundant with the column files) and moved into Rhapsody Streamnotes,
and the latter got to be more fun once I hit 2014, when I consolidated
Jazz Prospecting and Recycled Goods into Streamnotes (finally, everything
I run into is new for the books). Currently up to May 2014, and the
20th Century compilation is up to 374 pages. Good chance I'll
finish Streamnotes this coming week.
The first two entries under "old music" were picked up while looking
for newer albums. I was pleased to find Bandcamp sites for Anzic Records
(looking for Daniel Freedman) and for ROVA, but both turned out to be
less than ideal: Anzic had a couple albums complete, but others didn't
have enough tracks to review (Anat Cohen was one important artist I
wasn't able to fill in).
The reason I looked up Bob Wilber was a Facebook post by Chris Drumm
inquiring about worthwhile Arbors Records releases. I've long been a
fan of Wilber's and was pleased to find one album I've heard a lot about
(Fletcher Henderson's Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman,
a PG 4-star and a Gary Giddins favorite). The Henderson record
lived up to its billing, but nothing else I had missed turned out to be
essential. And still, my own Wilber favorite is 1989's Dancing on a
I should probably remind readers that I occasionally write little
140-character nuggets as
@tomhull747. My "follower"
count recently hit 250. Mostly notices of new blog posts, but sometimes
something else. Total tweets to date 1714, average rate down since I
stopped trying to review records on the fly, so I'm not going to swamp
your feed -- just occasionally remind you of something interesting.
Recommended music links:
New records rated this week:
- Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (2016 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
- CP Unit: Before the Heat Death (2016 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
- Tim Daisy: October Music Vol. 2: 7 Compositions for Duet (2016, Relay): [bc]: B+(**)
- Bill Evans/Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Beauty & the Beast (2011 , Spartacus): [cd]: B+(**)
- Factory Floor: 25 25 (2016, DFA): [r]: A-
- Daniel Freedman: Imagine That (2016, Anzic): [bc]: B+(***)
- Joana Gama/Luís Fernandes/Richardo Jacinto: Harmonies (2016 , Shhpuma): [cd]: B+(***)
- Josh Green & the Cyborg Orchestra: Telepathy & Bop (2016 , self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Rich Halley/Carson Halley: The Wild (2015 , Pine Eagle): [cd]: A-
- Kayo Dot: Plastic House on Base of Sky (2016, The Flenser): [r]: B
- Amirtha Kidambi/Elder Ones: Holy Science (2016, Northern Spy): [r]: B+(*)
- Dave King Trucking Company: Surrounded by the Night (2016, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Daniel Levin Quartet: Live at Firehouse 12 (2016 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
- Martha: Blisters in the Pit of My Heart (2016, Dirtnap): [r]: A-
- Donny Most: Mostly Swinging (2016 , Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- The MUH Trio [Roberto Magris/Frantisek Uhlir/Jaromir Helesic]: Prague After Dark (2016 , JMood): [cdr]: B+(***)
- Tisziji Muñoz: Tathagata Guitar: Whisperings of Peace (2016, Anami Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Tisziji Muñoz: Heart Ground (2016, Anami Music): [r]: B+(*)
- Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack: The Harry Warren Songbook (2016 , GotMusic): [cd]: B+(***)
- Oui' 3: Occupy Your Mind (2016 , ITI): [cd]: B
- Jason Palmer: Beauty 'N' Numbers: The Sudoku Suite (2015 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Luke Sellick: Alchemist (2016 , Cellar Live): [cd]: B+(**)
- Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra: Effervescence (2016 , Spartacus): [cd]: B+(**)
- Snakehips: Forever (Pt. II) EP (2015, Sony Music, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Snakehips: All My Friends EP (2016, Sony Music, EP): [r]: B+(***)
- Tinariwen: Elwan (2017, Anti-): [r]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Anna Homler and Steve Moshier: Breadwoman & Other Tales (1985-93 , RVNG Intl): [r]: B+(**)
- Sky Girl (1961-91 , Efficient Space): [r]: B+(*)
Old music rated this week:
- Avishai Cohen's Triveni: Dark Nights (2014, Anzic): [bc]: B+(**)
- Rova: Long on Logic: Compositions by Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, and Rova (1989 , Sound Aspects): [bc]: B+(**)
- Bob Wilber: Horn's-a-Plenty (1994, Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
- The Bob Wilber/Dany Doriz Quintet: Memories of You: Lionel and Benny (1995 , Black and Blue): [r]: B+(**)
- Bob Wilber: Nostalgia (1996, Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
- Bob Wilber/Dick Hayman: A Perfect Match: In Tribute to Johnny Hodges and Wild Bill Davis (1997 , Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
- Bob Wilber and the International March of Jazz All Stars: Everywhere You Go There's Jazz (1998 , Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
- Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Fletcher Henderson's Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman (2000, Arbors): [r]: A-
- Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Rampage! (2011, Arbors): [r]: B
- American Honey [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1974-2015 , UME): [cdr]: [was B+(***)]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Bill Hart: Touch of Blue (Blue Canoe)
- Doug MacDonald: Jazz Marathon 2 (BluJazz, 2CD)
- The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra: Welcome to Swingsville! (BluJazz)
- Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures: Glare of the Tiger (M.O.D. Technologies): March 10
- American Honey [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
(1974-2015 , UME):
- Sky Girl (1961-91 , Efficient Space):
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Trump's crazy, disjointed press conference had me thinking: I doubt
that Donald Trump has ever read David Ogilvy, but he's done a bang-up
job of following Ogilvy's main piece of advice on living one's life:
Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you
get old, people won't think you're going gaga.
Trump's biography is chock full of such peculiarities, and indeed
that's given him a certain protection against anything he does now --
a way of making excuses, rationalizing his tirades and outrages.
Still, I think the most important lesson from last week is the
extent to which Trump has chosen to vilify the media. Admittedly,
that's a tactic that has served him well in the past, but there is
a fundamental difference between attacking the system from outside
and defending the system he's gained control of. The media has
always been eager to kowtow to power, but that's partly because
they expect some stroking in return. Trump's characterization of
everything they say as "fake news" is an affront (and a challenge)
to their self-image.
On the other hand, Trump's emergence as crazy-in-chief has thus
far worked out nicely for the Republican party regulars, both in
Congress and increasingly in the administration (and eventually in
the courts). As any con artist knows, the key is to get the marks
to pay attention elsewhere while they pull off their manipulations
unseen, and Trump is a marvelous distraction. Isn't it interesting
that Trump's own staunchest campaign supporters have failed to get
job offers in the new regime: Rudy Giulliani, Chris Christie, Newt
Gingrich? Even Kris Kobach, the only Republican in Kansas to endorse
Trump before the caucuses here, was passed over despite a couple of
high-profile photo ops with Trump. The only exception I can think
of is former Senator, new Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump has
managed to keep a couple pet advisers like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne
Conway in non-policy positions, but that's about it. He's well on
his way to becoming the loneliest and most expendable man in his
administration. I can't say as I'm surprised.
Some scattered links this week in the Trumpiverse:
Zoë Carpenter/George Zornick: Everything Trump Did in His 4th Week That
Actually Matters: e.g., "it was a bad week for clean water."
- Fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
- Signed a bill to allow coal-mining operations to put more pollution
- Allowed oil companies to hide bribes to foreign governments.
- Pulled back a defense of an Obama-era transgender protection
- Nominated a new secretary of labor. Alex Acosta, after
Andrew Puzder withdrew.
- Issued a new Obamacare rule that makes getting coverage more
- Stepped up immigration raids.
Trump's Mar-a-Lago insecure Situation Room where club members and staff
can eavesdrop freely: Actually, I thought it somewhat charming that a
president can operate in such a public setting, until I remembered that
the other guests had to pay Trump $200K to join his club -- "pay for
access" at a level the Clintons can only dream of.
Albert Burneko: Donald Trump Stunned to Learn Presidency Is an Actual
Job, his First
Zach Cartwright: Here's the stunning number of White House staffers who
quit or got fired this week: Michael Flynn, of course, but he merely
heads the list.
Stephen F Cohen: Kremlin-Baiting President Trump (Without Facts) Must
Stop: This is a little weird in that Cohen, who's been one of the
saner "Russia experts" of the last couple decades, refers to himself
in the third person. He provides a six-point debunking of various
charges leveled about Trump's (and Flynn's) relationship to Russia,
and I reckon he's mostly right there -- even where he seems to excuse
Trump. What he doesn't do is explain why such misinformation "must
stop": it may seem easy to score points against Trump by playing on
decades of Cold War myth -- basically the old McCarthyite red-baiting
smear tactic, but even less specific about the evil Putin putatively
represents -- but it should be embarrassing for Democrats to fall
back on clichés that were then and still are meant to undermine world
peace. (Isn't a peaceful world subject to international law and order
and norms of justice something Democrats still believe in?) It also
belies any notion that Democrats are the "reality-based" party --
they're so hepped up on the jargon of American exceptionalism they
can't begin to see how America and the world have changed. Moreover,
they've fallen behind the American people, who no longer appreciate
such sabre-rattling against "evil empires": not that Trump himself
has turned realist -- he still sees plenty of evil to vanquish, but
his reluctance to demonize Russia is at least one step in the right
Tom Boggioni: Michael Flynn's Replacement Turned Down the Job After
Watching Trump's 'Unhinged' Press Conference: Admiral (and
Lockheed-Martin executive) Robert Harward was next in line for the
job. Fred Kaplan also wrote about this:
Robert Harward Just Gave Cover to Every Competent Professional Who Wants
to Turn Down Trump. On Flynn, see
Nicholas Schmidle: Michael Flynn, General Chaos.
John Feffer: Steven Bannon's Real Vision Isn't America First. It's America
Alone. Isn't that always the problem with nationalists? Their appeal
is limited to one favored country, and sooner or later -- and any measure
of success means sooner -- they repel all other countries. The US built
its world-straddling pre-eminence less by dealing harshly with enemies
than by cultivating allies, sometimes playing on fear of other powers but
more often by offering generous rewards (like free trade for export-minded
Asian countries, and cheap defense for war-weary Europe). Take the carrots
away, or worse still demand tribute from your former allies, and they'll
eventually turn away, or even retaliate. America Alone is likely to turn
into a much poorer place. Feffer also wrote
Killer Presidents, on the current political popularity of tough guys
like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, or indeed Trump himself. It's
no accident that Trump ordered a botched Seal Team 6 raid in his first
weeks. He want to show the world he's eager to kill too -- indeed, it
seems like a rite of passage for all American presidents. For another
take on the self-limits of nationalism, see (hard to believe I'm
Max Boot: Trump's Big Mouth Has Already Weakened America:
After detailing many examples, he admits:
In fairness to Trump, it's true that Rome wasn't
destroyed in a day, and it will take him more than three weeks to
undo 70 years of American foreign policy and trade relations.
[ . . . ]
But for the time being the 54 percent of Americans who didn't
vote for Trump -- and the roughly 95 percent of the world that was
horrified by his campaign -- should be breathing a sigh of relief
that his actions are not turning out to be quite as radical as his
rhetoric. [ . . . ]
[Why?] Because his words are so immoderate. He continues to engage
in fraudulent rhetoric and unhinged personal attacks -- he especially
loves to tweet in UPPERCASE LETTERS! -- that create an unsettled
environment of crisis, uncertainty, and concern. His own babble and
bluster does more than any critic to discredit him.
Larry Fink: The Faces of the Women's March on Washington
Thomas Frank: How Steve Bannon captured America's spirit of revolt
Olivia Golden: The Trump Agenda Poses a Major Threat to America's
Jacob Heilbrunn: The Most Dangerous Man in Trump World? Profile of
Peter Navarro, nominally head of Trump's National Trade Council -- like
so many Trump officials, he was given a job he doesn't believe in just
so he can wreck it -- and a long-time crackpot anti-China hawk.
Allegra Kirkland: The 8 Craziest Moments of Trump's Impromptu Press
Esme Cribb: Reporter: I've 'Never' Seen Anything Like Trump's Press
Conference in 20 Years.
David Ferguson: Trump's Constant Lies and 'Endless Self-Pity' Are Unlike
Any Other American President: So says Steve Schmidt, who ran McCain's
Kali Holloway: 21 Facts That Explain Exactly Who Stephen Miller Is:
A "White House adviser," recently emerged as a Trump spokesman.
Richard Lardner: Trump's Plan for Spike in Defense Spending Faces Big
Hurdles: I'm especially struck by this:
Senior U.S. commanders have flatly warned that the spending caps set
by the Budget Control Act are squeezing the armed forces so hard that
the number of ready-to-fight units is dwindling. That means beating
powers such as Russia or China is tougher than it used to be as aging
equipment stacks up, waiting to be repaired, and troops don't get
Uh, someone actually thinks the US can "beat" Russia or China in
a war? Or that that should be a goal of the US "Defense" Department?
Nancy LeTourneau: Trump Is Proving to Be the Embodiment of Everything
Republicans Have Stood For:
To expect anything different from Trump than the worst Republicans
have put forward over the last few decades is a fool's errand. They
share a world view that just so happens to be antithetical to what
most of us mean when we refer to democracy.
Amanda Marcotte: Michael Flynn, right-wing hero: Will conservatives
embrace him the way they did Ollie North: I doubt it, mostly
because I doubt Flynn has ever been coherent enough to develop the
sort of consistency that attracts believers. Nor can Flynn claim
to be a martyr to the cause -- North and G. Gordon Liddy (Marcotte's
other example) both did jail time, and Marcotte notes "These two men
are beloved by conservatives because of their criminal histories,
not despite them." Flynn just seems to be political roadkill, and
while there were plenty of good reasons for getting rid of him, the
one that worked wasn't one of them. (Unfortunately, this only helps
reinforce the Democrats' notion that the best way to counter Trump
is to play up the "soft on Russia" card, as opposed to hammering
him on any of dozens or hundreds of policies that really do harm
to working Americans.)
Heather Digby Parton: Donald Trump's disastrous reality show: Master
trash-talker turned flailing president searches for a new villain
Matt Taibbi: Trump's Repeal of Bipartisan Anti-Corruption Measure Proves
He's a Fake; also
The End of Facts in the Trump Era.
Sophia Tesfaye: Republicans rush to confirm Trump's EPA nominee Scott
Pruitt after federal judge orders release of fossil fuel emails:
one of Trump's worse nominees, having spent most of his career trying
to keep the EPA from doing its job. One Republican voted against, two
Democrats for. "After Friday's vote, the Republican chair of the Senate
Committee on Environment and Public Works -- John Barrasso, R-Wyoming --
attend a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by energy lobbyists at a Capitol
Along the way, I wandered across a lot of liberal links critical
of Trump but obsessed with Russia, including posts by John Cassidy,
Paul Krugman, George Packer, and David Remnick. In particular,
Packer complains about "the heads of key House and Senate committees
who are doing as little as possible to expose corruption and possible
treason in the White House." The word that sticks in my craw there is
"treason." I can't overstate how sick and tired I am of that word --
not least because it implies that we're obligated to be loyal to some
hidden, unknowable, and unquestionable power. Packer goes on to describe
"an authoritarian and erratic leader" -- I mean, which is it? Doesn't
the latter subvert the former? He also names John McCain and Lindsey
Graham as among "the few critical Republican voices" -- the only thing
they've been critical of is that Trump hasn't started any new wars yet
(and the word for that isn't "critical" -- it's "impatient").
Also a few links less directly tied to the ephemeral in America's
bout of political insanity:
Dean Baker: The Job Cremators: "If folks are worried about automation
killing jobs, why don't they care about the Federal Reserve Board killing
jobs?" Basically, a quarter-point rate hike costs us "0.1 to 0.2 percentage
points off the economy's growth rate over the course of 2017. That would
likely mean 100,000 to 200,000 fewer jobs than would otherwise be
Michael Kimmelman: Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis:
It's a city of nearly nine million people built on a dried lake bed 7300
feet above sea level, every aspect of which put strain on the city's
viability -- and global warming is no exception, just not in the same
way that it threatens coastal cities. Also see
Ioan Grillo: Climate change is making Mexico City unbreathable.
Alex Pareene: I Don't Want to Hear Another Fucking Word About John McCain
Unless He Dies or Actually Does Something Useful for Once: Ever the
gentleman, Pareene: I would have flipped the last two clauses and changed
the conjunction to "and." But Pareene does note that the only Trump nominee
McCain objected to was the budget director who supported defense budget
cuts: for some time now, the only thing McCain has really believed in is
Paul Rosenberg: Beyond fact-checking: After the catastrophic media failure
of 2016, the press must master "crucial evidence": Mostly an interview
with William Berkson, who's specialty is philosophy of science. The history
of science offers many examples where "crucial evidence" led scientists to
radically revise their views -- Thomas Kuhn called them "paradigm shifts."
I'm skeptical that you can do the same thing for news, because we have no
real common framework for evaluating policies. Still, you can certainly do
better than the present system, where competing political interests have
taken over the news and turned journalism into propaganda operations. A
start might be to work out broadly agreeable criteria for judging whether
various policies are working as intended.
James Traub: Marine Le Pen Is Donald Trump Without the Crazy:
a portrait of the leader of France's ultra-nationalist party, who
is gaining ground for reasons similar to Trump's triumph. Traub
The Death of the Most Generous Nation on Earth, about Sweden's
problems integrating an exceptionally large number of refugees --
the issue that is fueling the rise of Le Pen and other nationalists
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Don't know whether Donald Trump ever read David Ogilvy, but he's lived
out Ogilvy's prime advice on living your life:
Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you
get old, people won't think you're going gaga.
Of course, that assumes you retain some memory of those cultavted
eccentricities. If not, if you're just encountering 70-year-old Trump
for the first time, you'll probably think he's moved well beyond gaga
to batshit crazy. His
press conference today certainly bears that out.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Music: Current count 27779  rated (+39), 393  unrated (+10).
Having a hard time letting go of 2016, possibly because I get the
feeling I have so little to look forward to in 2017.
Queue continues to grow as I pick up 2016 list items -- seems like
a lot of these came from
Jason Gubbels, although Élage Diouf came from an Afropop list I
found on ILXOR, and the Meridian Brothers reissue first appeared in
the fine print under metal-crazed
Uncle Fester's Lucky 13 (or is it psyched-out -- whatever the
fuck psych is). Most interesting HMs are by Autolux, Fantastic
Negrito, and Dele Sosimi (2015 releases keep sneaking in). Best jazz
this week is the new Throttle Elevator Jazz Retrorespective.
Martha sounds good for next week, but needs another spin. Sampha
strikes me as super-overrated (Metacritic score 86 on 24 reviews, which
will most likely make it a top-20 album a year from now, somewhere
between Kaytranada and Anderson Paak this year -- Tinariwen's Elwan
and Jens Lekman's Life Will See You Now have 87 scores but only
8-10 reviews, so their scores are less significant).
Started reading Ira Katznelson's Fear Itself: The New Deal and the
Origins of Our Time, which is proving uncomfortable and more than a
little annoying. Thus far (120 pages in) the main subject is the notion
that liberal democracy was looking doomed in the early 1930s with fascism
and bolshevism ascendant -- e.g., he cites Walter Lippman arguing for a
beneficient dictatorship. Then as now the driving force behind fascism
was fear, but as I read this I keep thinking, hey, don't we know better
this time? Granted, the news is full of proof way too many of us don't
know shit, and sensible minds are in short supply.
New records rated this week:
- Africans With Mainframes: K.M.T. (2016, Soul Jazz): [r]: A-
- A$AP Ferg: Always Strive and Prosper (2016, Polo Grounds/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Autolux: Pussy's Dead (2016, 30th Century/Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
- Heather Bambrick: You'll Never Know (2016 , self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
- Bentcousin: Bentcousin (2016, Team Love): [r]: B+(**)
- Dierks Bentley: Black (2016, Capitol Nashville): [r]: B
- Laura Cannell: Simultaneous Flight Movement (2016, Brawl): [r]: B+(*)
- City Yelps: Half Hour (2016, Odd Box): [r]: B+(*)
- Chook Race: Around the House (2016, Trouble in Mind): [r]: B+(*)
- Kweku Collins: Nat Love (2016, Closed Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
- Jon De Lucia Group: As the River Sings (2014 , Fresh Sound New Talent): [cdr]: B+(***)
- Élage Diouf: Melokáane (2016, Pump Up the World): [r]: A-
- DJ Diamond: Footwork or Die (2016, Duck N' Cover): [r]: B-
- Mark Ernestus' Ndagga Rhythm Force: Yermande (2016, Ndagga): [r]: B+(**)
- Fantastic Negrito: The Last Days of Oakland (2016, Blackball Universe): [r]: B+(***)
- Nick Finzer: Hear & Now (2016 , Outside In Music): [r]: B+(*)
- Injury Reserve: Live From the Dentist Office (2015, Las Fuegas): [sc]: B+(**)
- Leyla McCalla: A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey (2016, Jazz Village): [r]: B+(**)
- Cass McCombs: Mangy Love (2016, Anti-): [r]: B
- Merso: Red World (2016, Good to Die): [r]: B+(**)
- Moksha: The Beauty of an Arbitrary Moment (2016, Jazzland): [r]: B+(*)
- Hannah Peel: Awake but Always Dreaming (2016, My Own Pleasure): [r]: B
- Florian Pellissier Quintet: Cap De Bonne Esperance (2016, Heavenly Sweetness): [r]: B+(**)
- Luis Perdomo: Spirits and Warriors (2016, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Renegades of Jazz: Moyo Wangu (2016, Agogo): [r]: B+(***)
- Carrie Rodriguez: Lola (2016, Luz): [r]: B+(*)
- Sampha: Process (2017, Young Turks): [r]: B+(*)
- Scarcity of Tanks: Ringleader Lies (2016, Total Life Society): [r]: B+(**)
- Sneaks: It's a Myth (2016, Merge, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Dele Sosimi: You No Fit Touch Am (2015, Wah Wah 45s): [r]: B+(***)
- Dele Sosimi Meets Prince Fatty & Nostalgia 77: You No Fit Touch Am in Dub (2016, Wah Wah 45s): [r]: B+(**)
- Throttle Elevator Music: IV (2014-16 , Wide Hive): [r]: B+(**)
- Throttle Elevator Music: Retrorespective (2016 , Wide Hive): [r]: B+(***)
- Trouble Kaze: June (2016 , Circum-Disc): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- J Dilla: The Diary (2001-02 , Mass Appeal/Pay Jay): [r]: B+(*)
- Doing It in Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980's Nigeria (1979-84 , Soundway, 2CD): [r]: B
- Arthur Lipner: Two Hands One Heart: Best of Arthur Lipner (1990-2014 , Malletworks Media, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- Meridian Brothers V: El Advenimiento del Castillo Mujer (2005 , Discrepant): [r]: A-
- Joe Newman Sextet: The Happy Cats (1956 , Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Greg Abate/Tim Ray Trio: Road to Forever (Whaling City Sound): February 24
- Jason Anick & Jason Yeager: United (Inner Circle Music): March 10
- Ballrogg: Abaft the Beam (Clean Feed)
- Carlos Bica & Azul: More Than This (Clean Feed)
- Akua Dixon: Akua's Dance (Akua's Music)
- Gerry Gibbs & Thrasher People: Weather or Not (Whaling City Sound): February 24, should be 2CD but only one arrived
- Gorilla Mask: Iron Lung (Clean Feed)
- Jill Jack and the American SongBook Band: Pure Imagination (UpHill Productions)
- Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra: Common Ground (Addo): February 24
- Ben Markley Big Band: Clockwise: The Music of Cedar Walton (OA2): February 17
- Lisa Mezzacappa: Avant Noir (Clean Feed)
- Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE): May 5
- Velkro: Too Lazy to Panic (Clean Feed)
- Michael Zilber: Originals for the Originals (Origin): February 17
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Running the image again. I doubt I'll really keep that up for four years,
but for now it inspires me to dig up this shit.
Still need to write up something about Matt Taibbi's Insane Clown
President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus -- recently read, although
it recycles a lot that I had previously read, including a sizable chunk
of Taibbi's 2009 book The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story
of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire --
an excavation so profound that Maureen Dowd snarfed up a keyword for her
own regurgitation of campaign columns, The Year of Voting Dangerously:
The Derangement of American Politics (a title which makes me wonder
how she would have faired in Taibbi's 2004 Wimblehack -- see Spanking
the Donkey: Dispatches From the Dumb Season).
Still, I suspect that the weakness of both Taibbi and Dowd books is
their focus on the more obvious story: how ridiculous the Republicans
were (a subject that served Taibbi best in 2008 when he compiled his
brief Smells Like Dead Elephants before taking the time to craft
The Great Deformation). In retrospect, the real story wasn't
how Trump won, but how Hillary Clinton lost. Looking ahead, books by
Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's
Doomed Campaign, out April 18) and/or Doug Wead (Game of Thorns:
The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton's Failed Campaign and Donald Trump's
Winning Strategy, February 28) promise some insight (or at least
insider dope). Still, I doubt anyone is going to write something that
satisfactorily explains the whole election for some time.
One thing that keeps eating at me about the election is that while
Trump's polls oscillated repeatedly, falling whenever voters got a
chance to compare him side-by-side (as in the debates, or even more
strongly comparing the two conventions), then bouncing back on the
rare weeks when he didn't say something scandalous, Clinton's polls
never came close to topping 50%. She was, in short, always vulnerable,
and all Trump needed to get close was a couple weeks where he seemed
relatively sane (on top of all that Koch money organizing down ballot,
especially in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and the Midwest).
I doubt if any other Republican could have beat Clinton: Trump's ace
in the hole was his antithesis to Washington insider-dom, which gave
him credibility she couldn't buy (despite massive evidence that he was
the crooked one). But just as importantly, Trump suckered her into
campaigning on high-minded centrism (including support from nearly
everyone in the permanent defense/foreign affairs eatablishment),
which weakened her support among traditional Democrats. Any other
Republican would have forced her to run as a Democrat, and she would
have been better off for that.
Again, it's not that working people rationally thought they'd be
better off with Trump. It's just that too many didn't feel any affinity
for or solidarity with her. Of course, those who discovered their own
reasons for voting against the Republicans -- which includes the
left, blacks, Latinos, immigrants, single women, and others the
Democrats bank on but don't invest in -- voted for her anyway. But
others needed to be reminded of the differences between the parties,
and Clinton didn't do a good job at that (nor did Obama give her much
to build on, as he almost never blamed Republicans for undermining his
Meanwhile, Trump's net favorability polling is down to -15.
Some links on the Trump world this week:
Also a few links not so directly tied to America's bout of political
TomDispatch this week:
Tom Engelhardt: Crimes of the Trump Era (a Preview);
Rajan Menon: Is President Trump Headed for a War with China?.
Menon, by the way, has a book called The Conceit of Humanitarian
Intervention (2016). Regarding China, I'm reminded of a scenario
sketched out by the late Chalmers Johnson: suppose a country launched
a dumptruck-load of gravel into earth orbit (something well within
China's capability); it would in short order destroy every satellite
(including China's, but most are American or owned by corporations).
Without killing any people, the economic effects would be devastating,
and it would cripple America's ability to spy on friend and foe, or
indeed to direct foreign wars. I'd argue that this capability all by
itself makes China too big to attack (Russia, of course, could do the
same, at more cost to itself; moreover, the technology isn't far out
for emerging rocket builders, notably Iran and North Korea). Given
these realities, the US would be well advised to work on cooperation
instead of intimidation. Still, that's not Trump's style, nor is it
China's: "Xi Jinping, like Trump, presents himself as a tough guy,
sure to trounce his enemies at home and abroad. Retaining that image
requirse that he not bend when it comes to defending China's land
and honor." Neocon Robert Kagan has his own alarming scenario:
Backint Into World War III. But then he's arguing to march
forward into conflict, rather than back into it -- which, by the
way, he sees Trump doing in his "further accommodation of Russia"
(as opposed to his "tough" stance against China).
Stan Finger: Police seek answers, reversal as aggravated assaults surge:
Could a 50% increase in aggravated assault cases since the 2013 passage
of Kansas' "open carry" gun law have anything to do with that law? Minds
boggle, especially as the delayed opening up of open gun carry on college
campuses is looming. One complaint is new gun toters haven't been "properly
trained," but wasn't a big part of the 2013 law the elimination of training
Also in the Eagle today:
Dion Lefler/Stan Finger: Race to replace Pompeo in Congress is down to
three candidates: Republicans nominated Brownback crony Ron Estes,
while the Democrats are backing civil rights attorney James Thompson,
who will hopefully turn the election to replace CIA Director Mike Pompeo
into a referendum on the Trump and Brownback administrations. (Salon
has a piece by
Rosana Hegeman on Thompson.) Also:
Dion Lefler: 1,500 Sanders tickets sold so far, leading to move to a
bigger venue, who will be speaking in Topeka on February 25.
Sayed Kashua: Preparing My Kids for the New America: One thing I've
long noted is how much the right-wing, traditionally the last bastion of
anti-semitism, has grown to admire Israel. So as they consolidate their
power, it shouldn't be surprising that they're starting to make America
look more like Israel, or that the first to notice would be Palestinians
who lived in (and fled from) Israel.
John McQuaid: Coastal cities in danger: Florida has seen bad effects
from Trump-like climate gag orders: North Carolina, too. Also,
John Upton: Coastal Cities Could Flood Three Times a Week by 2045.
Daniel Oppenheimer: Not Yet Falling Apart: "Two thinkers on the left
offer a guide to navigating the stormy seas of modernity." Quasi-review of
Mark Lilla's The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction, trying
to contrast it with Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism
From Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin (due for a new edition, with Trump
eclipsing Palin, as indeed it does get worse, not to mention dumber).
Oppenheimer make much of Lilla reviewing (and panning) Robin's book,
then not including the review in his short collection (like Robin,
the book stakes out the terrain of a broad, systematic study but
falls short by recycling old book reviews -- in this case "thinkers"
such as Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Strauss, Eric Vogelin, and Michel
Monday, February 06, 2017
Music: Current count 27740  rated (+32), 383  unrated (+20).
Failed to get this posted on Monday (or Tuesday before I finally
went to bed) for the first time since I can't remember. The immediate
cause on Monday was that I got distracted researching possible fixes
for a faulty ice maker. Yesterday I wound up ordering a part which
may not be the total fix but is at least necessary. I agree with the
proposition of a movie called The Mosquito Coast that "ice is
civilization," so this is a matter of some import. (That movie, by
the way, was the first place I really noticed Helen Mirren.)
Then I wound up wasting much of Tuesday adding
Metacritic's Top Ten Lists to my
EOY Aggregate. Thought
I was done with that, and indeed I had moved on to resume work on
my Jazz Guides (finally getting through the 2001-09 notebooks and
into Rhapsody Streamnotes). But I kept thinking it would be nice to
hit the bottom before posting, and it didn't happen until early
Wednesday evening. Then I found
ILXOR's thread, so I've started scanning through it. I don't
expect these additions to change positions much -- although there
are some close ones: Solange leads Tribe for 5th by 5 (437-432),
Chance passed Nick Cave for 7th (395-378), Bon Iver's hold on 11th
has been slipping to Anderson Paak (318-314), Car Seat Headrest
has grabbed 14th from Anohni (276-264), Rihanna edged into 16th
ahead of Danny Brown (230-225), Kaytranada barely holds 18th over
Below you'll find a typical long list of records: a little bit of
2017 jazz and a lot of interesting-looking 2016 EOY list items, few
of which panned out. I had a lot of trouble with the XX album too --
Michael Tatum likes it, and hopefully will write about it soon. Took
me a lot of plays, but I found my favorite song from the album rattling
around in my head several days later. You might note that two albums
(Injury Reserve, The Hamilton Mixtape) from last week's
Expert Witness fell just short (after 2-3 plays), while I previously
graded two of Bob's HMs at A- (Atmosphere, Ka; I had Noname and J Cole
at **). I've since caught up with two other albums (Kool A.D. and the
older Injury Reserve, having to go to Bandcamp and Soundcloud respectively),
but I couldn't find the politically timely Battle Hymns.
One thing you'll note below is seven SteepleChase releases. The
Danish label, notorious for never sending out promos, has recently
appeared on Napster, so after noticing that I've been looking through
their recent release lists. Chris Byars is an artist I've wanted to
catch up on -- his Photos in Black, White and Gray was a JCG
Pick Hit in 2007, and after he moved to SteepleChase the one record
I did get a chance to hear, 2011's Lucky Strikes Again, is
a terrific Lucky Thompson tribute. Still most of his catalog isn't
on Napster. Hopefully they'll eventually get the whole back catalog
up: Nils Winther founded the label in 1972, starting out with expat
Americans like Dexter Gordon and Duke Jordan, and wound up being a
refuge for dozens of important mainstream jazz players (like Byars).
I count 17 A/A- records in my database, but there are surely dozens
more I haven't heard.
Lot of incoming mail last week, much of it promising. I got
another package from Clean Feed today (not listed below). Despite
my tardiness, this week's list was cut off Sunday night. Been
listening to more of the same the last couple days.
New records rated this week:
- Oren Ambarchi: Hubris (2016, Editions Mego): [r]: A-
- Ballister: Slag (2015 , Aerophonic): [bc]: B+(*)
- Joe Bourne: Upbeat and Sweet (2016 , Summit): [cd]: C
- Chris Byars: Two Fives (2014 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Chris Byars: The Music of Frank Strozier (2015 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- The CCM Jazz Orchestra as James Bond: Nobody Does It Better (2013 , Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Carla dal Forno: You Know What It's Like (2016, Blackest Ever Black): [r]: B+(*)
- Death Grips: Bottomless Pit (2016, Third Worlds/Harvest): [r]: B+(*)
- Olegario Diaz: Aleph in Chromatic (2015 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Dvsn: Sept. 5th (2016, OVO Sound/Warner Brothers): [r]: B+(*)
- The Flat Five: It's a World of Love and Hate (2016, Bloodshot): [r]: B-
- Injury Reserve: Floss (2016, Las Fuegas): [r]: B+(***)
- Kirk Knuffke/Jesse Stacken: Satie (2015 , SteepleChase): [r]: B
- Kool AD: Official (2016, self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
- Michel Lambert: Alom Mola (2016 , Jazz From Rant): [cd]: B+(***)
- Jihye Lee Orchestra: April (2016 , self-released): [cd]: B-
- Okkyung Lee & Christian Marclay: Amalgam (2014 , Northern Spy): [r]: B
- James Brandon Lewis Trio: No Filter (2016, BNS Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School: The Twilight Fall (2016 , Browntasaurus): [cd]: B+(*)
- Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe: Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs) (2016 , Colloquy): [cd]: B+(*)
- Awa Poulo: Poulo Warali (2016 , Awesome Tapes From Africa): [r]: B+(**)
- Primal Scream: Chaosmosis (2016, First International/Ignition): [r]: B+(**)
- Stephen Riley & Peter Zak: Haunted Heart (2014 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Stephen Riley/Peter Zak: Deuce (2014 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Roosevelt: Roosevelt (2016, City Slang): [r]: B+(*)
- Sao Paulo Underground: Cantos Invisiveis (2016, Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(**)
- Skee Mask: Shred (2016, Ilian Tape): [r]: B+(**)
- Baron Tymas: Montréal (2015 , Tymasmusic): [cd]: B+(*)
- The XX: I See You (2017, Young Turks): [r]: A-
- Peter Zak: Standards (2014 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- The Hamilton Mixtape (2016, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- New York Noise: Dance Music From the New York Underground 1977-1982 (1977-82 , Soul Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
Old music rated this week:
- Anthony Braxton: Quintet (London) 2004: Live at the Royal Festival Hall (2004 , Leo): [r]: B+(**)
- Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Moscow) 2008 (2008, Leo): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Sebastien Ammann: Color Wheel (Skirl)
- AMP Trio: Three (self-released)
- Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed)
- Gianni Bianchini: Type I (self-released): February 21
- Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows (self-released, 2CD): advance
- CP Unit: Before the Heat Death (Clean Feed)
- Bill Evans/Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: Beauty & the Beast (Spartacus)
- Satoko Fujii: Invisible Hound (Cortez Sound): February 10
- Joana Gama/Luís Fernandes/Richardo Jacinto: Harmonies (Clean Feed)
- Jean-Brice Godet: Lignes De Crêtes (Clean Feed)
- Rich Halley/Carson Halley: The Wild (Pine Eagle)
- Daniel Levin Quartet: Live at Firehouse 12 (Clean Feed)
- Mark Masters Ensemble: Blue Skylight (Capri): February 17
- Billy Mintz: Ugly Beautiful (Thirteenth Note): March 7
- Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Loafer's Hollow (Hot Cup): February 24
- The MUH Trio [Roberto Magris/Frantisek Uhlir/Jaromir Helesic]: Prague After Dark (JMood)
- Eivind Opsvik: Overseas V (Loyal Label)
- Keith Oxman: East of the Village (Capri)
- Noah Preminger: Meditations on Freedom (self-released)
- The Reunion Project: Veranda (Tapestry)
- Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra: Effervescence (Spartacus): February 24
- Hiromi Suda: Nagi (BluJazz)
- Trouble Kaze: June (Circum-Disc): March 3
Sunday, February 05, 2017
Picked up this image off Twitter. Looks like we've found our Weekend
Roundup motto, for the next four years anyways. More links than usual
because so much shit's been happening. Less commentary than in the
old days because it's all so straightforwardly obvious.
I had meant to write about Matt Taibbi's book Insane Clown President:
Dispatches From the 2016 Circus, but should hold off and do that later.
I will say that the big problems with the book are due to the concept: it
mostly a compilation of previously published pieces, so tends to preserve
the moment's misconceptions in amber rather than taking the time to rethink
the story from its conclusion in a way that might make more sense of it all.
On the other hand, it didn't make sense, and still doesn't make sense, and
as the consequences of the election unfold becomes more and more surreal.
In Taibbi's defense, he probably had a better grasp both of Trump's appeal
and of Clinton's repulsion than any journalist I can think of. Also does
a heroic job of not mincing words, and remains exceptionally conscious of
how presidential campaigns warp the media space around them. Still, he
can't quite believe how it turned out, and neither can I.
A short bit from a New York Times "By the Book" interview with Viet
Tranh Nguyen (wrote a novel, The Sympathizer, which my wife read
I've been reading news and opinion pieces on Facebook and
Twitter. They're utterly terrifying and depressing, since my social
circle basically thinks that a Trump presidency spells the end of the
world. To get out of the echo chamber, I read Donald Trump's Twitter
feed. It's utterly terrifying and depressing, and I run back into the
I take comfort in the children's literature that I read to my
3-year-old son. He will tolerate the tales of Beatrix Potter, which I
find soothing, but mostly he wants to hear about Batman, Superman,
Ghostbusters and Star Wars. The moral clarity is comforting not just
for a 3-year-old, but also for many adults. This is why they are
relevant to our divided age, where most people identify with the
rebels but so many in fact are complicit with the Empire.
The links below, of course, come from the left-liberal echo
chamber (well, plus some anti-war paleo-conservatives). They're
the ones paying attention (in some cases a welcome change after
sleepwalking through the Obama years).
I picked this up off Twitter, but I also saw the video clip (OK, on
Saturday Night Live, but it sure looked authentic. Comes from
Bill O'Reilly interviewing Trump:
O'REILLY: But he's a killer though. Putin's a killer.
TRUMP: There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers.
What do you think -- our country's so innocent?
There are a lot of things one can say about this. For one thing it's
true, which isn't often the case with Trump. But it's hardly a revelation.
It's just something that no politician would say -- least of all someone
like Obama or the Clintons who have personally signed off on execution
orders then gone on to gloat about their killings in public. So you can
chalk Trump's admission up to his anti-PC ethic: his willingness to call
out truths in blunt language. But more specifically, he's denying O'Reilly
resort to a PC cliché. He's saying you can't dismiss working with Putin
out of hand because he's a killer. We're all killers here -- Trump joined
the club last week in ordering a Seal Team 6 assault in Yemen -- so that
hardly disqualifies Putin. The disturbing part is that being a killer is
probably something Trump admires in Putin. Back during the campaign, Trump
not only vowed to kill ostensible enemies like ISIS, he talked on several
occasions about shooting random people on Fifth Avenue, like the ability
to do that and not be held accountable would be the pinnacle of freedom.
Being elected president doesn't quite afford him that latitude, but it
does offer plenty of opportunities to indulge his blood lust. Worse still,
Trump's championing of killers helps establish murder as a political and
social norm. Sure, assassination has been sanctioned as expedient politics
by US presidents at least as far back as Kennedy, but Trump threatens to
make it a uniquely new bragging point.
As this and similar stories play out, all sorts of nonsense is likely
to ensue. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at
Adam Gopnik: Trump's Radical Anti-Americanism. The truth is that
America has a long history of split-personality disorder, at once
touting lofty progressive intentions while having committed a long
series of inexcusable atrocities. So will the real America stand up?
At least with the exceptionalist cant you knew they'd try to put on
a kind and honorable face. But with Trump and his more bloodthirsty
followers, you're liable to get something else: a celebration of the
underside of American history, a legacy that celebrates brutal and
Some scattered links this week:
Zoë Carpenter/George Zornick: Everything Donald Trump Did in His Second
Week as President
Dean Baker: A Trade War Everyone Can Win: Argues a way Mexico can
respond to Trump's tariff threats: "announce that it would no longer
enforce U.S. patents and copyrights on its soil." He gives some examples
where this would save Mexico tons of money, but doesn't go back over
some key history. First, the US refused to recognize foreign patents
while we were developing our own industrial economy. Second, a major
aim of US trade policy for decades now has been our willingness to
sacrifice domestic jobs in exchange for more patent/copyright rents.
Since jobs mostly affect working people and rents accrue to the already
rich, US trade policy has contributed mightily to increasing inequality
in America. Also see Baker's
End Patent and Copyright Requirements in NAFTA.
Stephen Burd: How the GOP Became For-Profit College Abuse Deniers:
As the piece points out, "for-profit" schools have been plagued with
fraud as far back as the GI Bill in the 1950s, despite periodic efforts
at regulation. Republicans hate it when regulation gets in the way of
profit-making, even when profits are fueled mostly by fraud -- cf. many
other examples from many other industries -- and education has become
something many conservatives feel we need less of, so they can hardly
object to it not being done well.
Ira Chernus: Now Who's the Enemy?: "The terror inside Trump's White
Susanne Craig/Eric Lipton: Trust Records Show Trump Is Still Closely Tied
to His Empire
Yasmeen El Khoudary: Israel: An Inspiration for Trump: "Israel has
set a great example of racist bans and walls for Trump to follow." I've
said for some time now neocons suffer from an acute case of Israel Envy:
all they want is to see America flaunt its power as capriciously and
unilaterally as Israel does. The alt-right may be just as envious, but
Israel's apartheid policies will be harder for Americans to swallow --
indeed, it's not something many Israelis like to talk about. Also, see
William Parry: Donald Trump is wrong about Israel's 'security'
James P Rooney: What Trump Doesn't Understand About Immigration From
Jonathan Freedland: First on the White House agenda -- the collapse of the
global order. Next, war? Trying to predict where Trump is going by
following Steve Bannon: "Bannon is not destroying the old, clunky post-1945
order for the sake of a fairer, more equal, more interdependent world. He
seems instead to dream of a bloody, fiery war that will kill millions --
out of which will be forged a new, cleansed and even more dominant America."
Greg Grandin: About That Kissinger Quote Neil Gorsuch Likes . . . :
About Trump's Supreme Court nominee, highly touted as a devotee of Antonin
Scalia's mystical "originalism" doctrine. The Kissinger quote, which
Gorsuch picked to go with his Columbia yearbook photo: "The illegal we
do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer." Also see:
David S Cohen: Meet Trump's Supreme Court Nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
Of course, I've also seen
Neal K Katyal: Why Liberals Should Back Neil Gorsuch: suggests to
me that it could have been worse, but I'm not sure how you square the
nominee's "commitment to judicial independence" with the guy who wrote
the Hobby Lobby decision.
William Hartung: Trump's 5th Bankruptcy: Budget-Busting Trillions to US
Department of War Originally from
TomDispatch, but Juan Cole's title
is more apt. Also:
Nick Turse: Will Trump Really Be Isolationist? Or Will He March Us to
Fred Kaplan: What Happened Behind the Scenes Before the Yemen Raid? I
referred to this assault above.
Anne Kim: The Long-Term Economic Wreckage of Trump's Travel Ban.
Mike Konczal: Trump Picks Wall Street Over Main Street: Trump's first
executive order on finance starts to unravel the Dodd-Frank reforms --
any campaign suggestions that he would be tough on banks to the contrary.
No big surprise, given that he's already handed the Treasury Department
over to Goldman-Sachs. Konczal also wrote:
Trump Is Capitalizing on the Anxiety Caused by the End of Steady
Paul A Kramer: Now Who We Are: "Our xenophobic impulses and loftiest
ideals have been in conflict since the founding." And behind the magic
word, unsurprisingly, is Frank Luntz.
Nancy LeTourneau: How Can We Believe Anything This Administration Says?
Kellyanne Conway, the "Bowling Green massacre," and other "alternative
Daniel Larison: Elliott Abrams Will Be Deputy Secretary of State:
Most of Trump's nominees are merely terrible, but sometimes he manages
to pick the worst person imaginable. This is one of those cases. Also:
Eric Alterman: An Actual American War Criminal May Become Our Second-Ranking
Martin Longman: This Situation Is More Dire Than I Want to Admit and,
a day later, his more detailed
The 12 Early Warning Signs of Fascism. Not sure I'd call it Fascism,
but the sign reads like the GOP platform (not just Trump's agenda).
Simon Maloy: Trump's "amazing" ignorance: The president's Black History
Month celebration was embarrassing.
Jim Newell: The GOP Has No Obamacare Bill. It Does Have a New Buzzword:
"Repeal and replace is out. Repair is in.
Sarah Posner: Leaked Draft of Trump's Religious Freedom Order Reveals
Sweeping Plans to Legalize Discrimination. Also:
Adele Stan: Trump Leads the Religious Right to the Promised Land:
"Evangelicals' alignment with Trump shows their affinity for power over
Bernie Sanders; Trump 'Is a Fraud' Sending Nation in 'Authoritarian
Richard Silverstein: Steve Bannon's Romance with Hollywood Islamophobia,
Steve Bannon, the Church Militant and Global War Against Islam.
Mark Joseph Stern: Why Judge Robart Blocked the Muslim Ban: "There's
no constitutional way to implement an unconstitutional order."
Matt Taibbi: Extreme Vetting, but Not for Banks, as well as
The Anti-Refugee Movement Is America at Its Most Ignorant.
Ben Walsh: A Citigroup Lawyer Helped Trump Pick Bank Regulators, Then
Returned to Work at the Bank: See, it isn't all Goldman-Sachs.
Stephen M Walt: America's New President Is Not a Rational Actor, and
Trump Has Already Blown It. Before inauguration Walt also wrote:
Trump Doesn't Know What He Doesn't Know About Foreign Policy, where
he noted "The president-elect sometimes says the right things, but always
does the wrong ones." On the other hand, Walt's been hard to please, as
is clear from his final word on Trump's predecessor:
Barack Obama Was a Foreign-Policy Failure.
One of the most alarming things Trump has done so far has been
his campaign to impose sanctions on Iran amidst much sabre-rattling.
Phyllis Bennis: The Trump Administration Is Recklessly Escalting Tensions
Juan Cole: Here We Go Again: Trump Admin Threatens Iran;
Dan De Luce/Paul McCleary: Yemen Is the First Battleground in Trump's
Confrontation With Iran;
Ben Norton: Trump and the Saudi king discuss major pact to confront Iran;
Patrick Cockburn: Trump's Comments Toward Iran Could Deepen Conflict in
Trita Parsi: What Flynn Could Learn From Kerry About Iran;
Daniel Larison: The Trump Administration's Lies About Iran;
Muhammad Sahimi: Do Iran's Missile Tests Violate the Nuclear Agreement?
(short answer: no).
Also a few links not so directly tied to America's bout of political