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Monday, November 27, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, November archive (finished).

Tweet: Music Week: 52 albums, 8 A-list (+2 A)

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): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Balimaya Project: When the Dust Settles (2023, New Soil): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Jerry Bergonzi: Extra Extra (2023, Savant): [sp]: B+(**)
  • John Butcher/Pat Thomas/Dominic Lash/Steve Noble: Fathom (2021 [2023], 577): [dl]: B+(*)
  • Gunhild Carling: Good Evening Cats (2022, Jazz Art): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Daniel Carter/Leo Genovese/William Parker/Francisco Mela: Shine Hear Vol. 1 (2021 [2023], 577): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Joan Chamorro & Friends: Jazz House Sessions With Scott Hamilton (2023, Associació Sant Andreu Jazz Band): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Yussef Dayes: Black Classical Music (2023, Brownswood/Nonesuch): [sp]: A-
  • Paul Dunmall Ensemble: It's a Matter of Fact (2022 [2023], Discus Music): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Paul Dunmall: Bright Light a Joyous Celebration (2022 [2023], Discus Music): [bc]: A-
  • Paul Dunmall New Quartet: World Without (2021 [2023], 577): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Peter Evans Being & Becoming: Ars Memoria (2022-23 [2023], More Is More): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Kate Gentile: Find Letter X (2021-23 [2023], Pi): [dl]: B+(***)
  • Terry Gibbs Legacy Band: The Terry Gibbs Songbook (2022 [2023], Whaling City Sound): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Frode Gjerstad With Matthew Shipp: We Speak (2022 [2023], Relative Pitch): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Rich Halley Quartet: Fire Within (2023, Pine Eagle): [cd]: A-
  • Matthew Halsall: An Ever Changing View (2023, Gondwana): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Scott Hamilton Quartet: At PizzaExpress Live: In London (2022 [2023], PX): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Eirik Hegdal/Jeff Parker/Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten/Řyvind Skarbř: Superless (2022 [2023], Řyvind Jazzforum): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Henry Hey: Trio: Ri-Metos (2023, self-released): [dl]: B+(***)
  • Homeboy Sandman: I Can't Sell These Either (2023, self-released): [bc]: A-
  • Jon-Erik Kellso and the EarRegulars: Live at the Ear Inn (2023, Arbors): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Snorre Kirk: Top Dog (2021 [2023], Stunt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Location Location Location [Michael Formanek/Anthony Pirog/Mike Pride]: Damaged Goods (2023, Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(*)
  • Harold López-Nussa: Timba a la Americana (2023, Blue Note): [sp]: B+(**)
  • John Paul McGee: A Gospejazzical Christmas (2023, Jazz Urbano): [cd]: B
  • Thandi Ntuli With Carlos Nińo: Rainbow Revisited (2023, International Anthem): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Řyvindland Med Eirik Hegdal & Erik Johannessen: Nonett (2021 [2023], Řra Fonogram): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Engin Ozsahin: Conversations in Chaos (2023, self-released): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Robert Prester & Adriana Samargia: Quenara (2023 [2024], Commonwealth Ave. Productions): [cd]: B+(*) [01-19]
  • Quartet San Francisco/Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band/Take Six: Raymond Scott Reimagined (2023, ViolinJazz): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Red Hot + Ra: Solar [Sun Ra in Brasil] (2023, Red Hot Org): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Red Hot + Ra: Nuclear War: A Tribute to Sun Ra Volume 1 (2023, Red Hot Org): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Ernesto Rodrigues/Joăo Madeira/Hernâni Faustino: No Strings Attached (2023, Creative Sources): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Sam Ross: Live at the Mira Room, Vol. II (2023, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Andreas Rřysum Ensemble: Mysterier (2022 [2023], Motvind): [sp]: B+(**)
  • John Scofield: Uncle John's Band (2022 [2023], ECM): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Elijah Shiffer: Star Jelly (2021 [2023], self-released): [bc]: A-
  • Elijah Shiffer: City of Birds: Volume 1 (2023, self-released): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Apostolos Sideris: Past-Presented (2023, Parallel): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Speakers Corner Quartet: Further Out Than the Edge (2023, OTIH): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Jason Stein/Damon Smith/Adam Shead: Hum (2022 [2023], Irritable Mystic): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Elias Stemeseder/Christian Lillinger: Penumbra (2021 [2022], Plaist): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 17: Lonnie Liston Smith (2023, Jazz Is Dead): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Dhafer Youssef: Street of Minarets (2023, Back Beat Edition): [sp]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Chantal Acda & Bill Frisell: Live at Jazz Middelheim (2017 [2023], self-released): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's (1964 [2023], Gearbox): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Alon Nechushtan: For Those Who Cross the Seas (2006 [2023], ESP-Disk, 2CD): [cd]: A-

Old music:

  • Peter Evans/Joel Ross/Nick Jozwlak/Savannah Harris: Being & Becoming (2019 [2020], More Is More): [bc]: A-
  • Elijah Shiffer and the Robber Crabs: Unhinged (2017 [2018], self-released): [bc]: A-


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


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

None.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

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.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Daily Log

Responding to a comment about dwindling promo CDs, I took a quick look at my tracking files. What I found was:

  1. 295
  2. 310
  3. 287
  4. 245
  5. 311
  6. 338
  7. 419
  8. 478
  9. 504
  10. 493

Monday, November 20, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, November archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 50 albums, 8 A-list

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): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Susan Alcorn/Septeto Del Sur: Canto (2023, Relative Pitch)
  • Maria Baptist Quintet: Essays on Jazz (2023, self-released): [sp]: B+(***)
  • John Bishop: Antwerp (2023, Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Kings Highway (2023, Stoner Hill): [sp]: B+(*)
  • BlankFor.Ms/Jason Moran/Marcus Gilmore: Refract (2023, Red Hook): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: Playing With Fire (2023, True North/Linus Entertainment): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Emmet Cohen: Master Legacy Series Volume 5: Featuring Houston Person (2023, Bandstand): [sp]: A-
  • Sylvie Courvoisier: Chimaera (2022 [2023], Intakt): [sp]: A-
  • Dry Thrust: The Less You Sleep (2020 [2023], Trost): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Antoine Drye With Strings: Retreat to Beauty (Oblation Vol. 3: Providence!) (2021 [2023], Cellar Music): [sp]: B+(*)
  • George Freeman: The Good Life (2022 [2023], HighNote): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Eric Friedlander: She Sees (2023, Skipstone): [sp]: B+(*)
  • George Gee Swing Orchestra: Winter Wonderland (2023, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Grupo Frontera: El Comienzo (2023, VHR Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Gabriel Guerrero & Quantum: Equilibrio (2019 [2023], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • David Ian: Vintage Christmas Trio Melody (2023, Prescott): [cd]: B
  • I.P.A.: Grimsta (2022 [2023], Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Val Jeanty/Candice Hoyes/Mimi Jones: Nite Bjuti (2022 [2023], Whirlwind): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hannah Marks: Outsider, Outlier (2022 [2023], Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Sarah McKenzie: Without You (2023, Normandy Lane Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Hedvig Mollestad Weejuns: Weejuns (2022 [2023], Rune Grammofon): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych I (2022, SMP): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych II (2022, SMP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Tryptych III (2022, SMP): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Jason Roebke: Four Spheres (2022 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Dave Sewelson/Stephen Moses/Jochem van Dijk/Steve Holtje: Orca Uprising (2023, MechaBenzaiten): [bc]: B
  • Russ Spiegel: Caribbean Blue (2023, Ruzztone Music): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Trio Grande: Urban Myth (2023, Whirlwind): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Trio San: Hibiki (2022 [2023], Jazzdor): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Anna Webber/Matt Mitchell: Capacious Aeration (2023, Tzadik): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Mars Williams/Vasco Trilla: Critical Mass (2021 [2023], Not Two): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Joe Wittman: Trio Works (2023, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Joe Wittman/Vito Dieterle/Jesse Breheney/Josh Davis: Night Out (2022 [2023], self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Miguel Zenón/Dan Tepfer: Internal Melodies (2023, Main Door Music): [sp]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Fred Anderson: The Milwaukee Tapes, Vol. 2 (1980 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Graham Collier: Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days '69 (1969 [2023], My Only Desire): [sp]: A-
  • Eric Ghost: Secret Sauce (1975 [2022], Jazz Room): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Milford Graves With Arthur Doyle & Hugh Glover: Children of the Forest (1976 [2023], Black Editions Archive): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Roy Hargrove: The Love Suite: In Mahogany (1993 [2023], Blue Engine): [sp]: A
  • Ahmad Jamal: Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse 1966-1968 (1966/68 [2023], Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [11-24]
  • Paul Lytton/Erhard Hirt: Borne on a Whim: Duets, 1981 (1981 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Les McCann: Never a Dull Moment! Live From Coast to Coast 1966-1967 (1963-67 [2023], Resonance, 2CD): [cd]: A- [12-01]
  • Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly Trio: Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings (1965 [2023], Resonance, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [12-01]
  • Michel Petrucciani: The Montreux Years (1990-98 [2023], BMG/Montreux): [sp]: A-
  • Cal Tjader: Catch the Groove: Live at the Penthouse 1963-1967 (1963-67 [2023], Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): [cd]: A- [11-24]

Old music:

  • Dexter Gordon Quartet: Bouncin' With Dex (1975 [1976], SteepleChase): [r]: A-
  • Dexter Gordon Quartet: Stable Mabel (1975, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dexter Gordon Quartet: Cheese Cake (1964 [1979], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dexter Gordon Quartet: I Want More (1964 [1980], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)


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]

 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

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).

Friday, November 17, 2023

Daily Log

I got this letter from Duck Baker, declining to vote in FDJCP:

Thanks for reaching out. I don't feel I can participate in the poll as it is constructed now, for the simple reason that it gives readers a warped impression about the best releases of the year. Listing the 10 best new releases but only 3 that include all "historical/rara avis" tilts things in a way that cannot help people find out what the best releases are. If it were 3 reissues and 5, or even 3, previously unreleased, I could live with it. But I can't in conscience participate in a poll that gives such a distorted idea of what the BEST records are as this one does. My current/upciming reviews include important releases of previously unissued music by Johnny Griffith, Wes Montgomery and Archie Shepp at the height of their powers and the reissue of Montgomery's incredible Full House date with additional unissued material. We are supposed to pretend there were 10 new records of greater interest to jazz fans than whatever the least interesting of those titles? Why?? And that's just records I am reviewing; I could expand the list to 8 or 10 titles if I include excellent reissues for which I didn't place reviews this year, all of which include previously unreleased bonus material. As for straight reissues, we see dozens of beautifully remastered audiophile versions of classic titles every year. I'm kind of amazed that a lot of other writers don't see this as a problem, to be honest.

I wrote back:

You realize that you're quite free to express this opinion while still voting in the Poll, don't you?

We've had voters in the past who only voted in the Historical category, listing three records there, and none under New Releases or the other categories. It's always been optional to not vote in categories you don't want to vote in. We appreciate their interest, even if it don't tick all our boxes.

Secondly, I have a slot below each voter's ballot where I can add notes. Usually, I use this space to note where ballots violate the rules, but if you have a note that you want included, and keep it brief (one or two lines, please), I'd be happy to include it. It doesn't factor into the overall standings, but anyone who sees your ballot will see the note.

Third, I want to encourage people to write up their own lists, with reviews and/or comments if they like, and to publish them through whatever outlets they normally use. Lots of people do this. If I'm aware that they've published such a piece, I'll add a link to it in the note field.

Nobody's going to twist your arm, but those are all options within the Poll. If you choose to vote, we'd welcome your ballot, and I'll do whatever I can, within the rules, to indulge you.

If not, that's your choice. It would also be your choice if you'd like to run a different poll, focused on your interest in reissued and archival music. If you do so, you might consider asking me to vote, I could probably do that.

I also wrote the following, which I cut before sending:

I realize that the Poll rules aren't to everyone's taste. Francis set them in the early years, revising them only when he instituted the 10-year divide for previously unissued archival material. There were several reasons for this, but the biggest one is that it became a headache trying to get 100+ critics to agree on what's what. That problem cut both ways, with some voters always going for newly-discovered pieces by long-dead legends, and others never wanting to consider them as anything but historical. The 10-year-divide isn't perfect, but it mostly does keep the apples and oranges separate.

As for the 10-to-3 list length decision, Francis made that, and I've never seen much reason to quarrel with it. It wouldn't be hard to increase it to 5 (as JazzTimes does), but already at 3 we have many more voters stopping short than we have stopping short of 10 for New Releases. It's also the case that votes are much more concentrated in Historical than in New Releases, which is probably because that there are significantly fewer Historical than New releases to choose from.

I'm sure I could dig up numbers from my own lists that would confirm these points. For instance, in my jazz list for this year, I list (have heard and reviewed) 546 new releases, vs. 58 old/vault/reissues (same rule as we use in the Poll, a ratio of more than 9-to-1. Limited to A/A- records, the split drops to 62 vs. 13, so almost 5-to-1, but still more than the 3.3-to-1 of available ballot slots. And I used to write a reissues column called "Recycled Goods," so I'm not one of those critics with no interest in the past.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Daily Log

Robert Christgau forwarded me the request for papers/panels/etc. for PopCon 2024 (or whatever it's called), where the theme is "Legacy! Legacy! Music, Collections and Archives." Proposals due November 15 (i.e., tomorrow). They offered a long list of "guiding concepts," which included passing mention of copyright.

I wrote the following back to Christgau:

Way too fucking late for me, but if I did do something, it would be an absolutely blistering assault on copyright law. I don't think I understood how upset this makes me until this moment, thinking about it in terms of legacy. We habitually think of copyright as incentive to produce new work, which gives it an aura of plausibility, while burying the whole question of how it warps our understanding of everything that has happened before, which is really all we can understand.

Oh, and this is not something I want to put any time and effort to. This is just reaction.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, November archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 52 albums, 3 A-list

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): [sp]: B+(*)
  • JD Allen: This (2023, Savant): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Atlantic Road Trip: One (2023, Calligram): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Dave Bayles Trio: Live at the Uptowner (2023, Calligram): [cd]: A-
  • Bombino: Sahel (2023, Partisan): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Boygenius: The Rest (2023, Interscope, EP): [sp]: B
  • Zach Bryan: Summertime Blues (2022, Warner, EP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Zach Bryan: Boys of Faith (2023, Warner, EP) **
  • Calcanhar: Jump (2023, Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Chief Adjuah: Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning (2023, Ropeadope): [sp]: B+(***)
  • CMAT: Crazymad, for Me (2023, CMATBaby/AWAL): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Mike DiRubbo: Inner Light (2023, Truth Revolution): [cd]: B+(***) [11-17]
  • Mia Dyberg Trio: Timestretch (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Nataniel Edelman Trio: Un Ruido De Agua (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Phillip Greenlief/Scott Amendola: Stay With It (2017 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Fritz Hauser & Pedro Carneiro: Pas De Deux (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B
  • Scott Hesse Trio: Intention (2023, Calligram): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The Hives: The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons (2023, Disques Hives): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Horse Lords: Live in Leipzig (2022 [2023], RVNG Intl): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Mikko Innanen/Stefan Pasborg/Cedric Piromalli: Can You Hear It? (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Guillermo Klein Quinteto: Telmo's Tune (2023, Sunnyside): [sp]: B+(**)
  • L'Rain: I Killed Your Dog (2023, Mexican Summer): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Liquid Mike: S/T [Self-Titled] (2023, Kitschy Spirit, EP): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Liquid Mike: Stuntman (2021, Lost Dog): [sp]: B
  • Liquid Mike: You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (2021, Sweet Chin Music, EP): [sp]: B [sp]
  • Liquid Mike: A Beer Can and a Bouquet (2022, self-released, EP): [sp]: B+(**)

  • Nellie McKay: Hey Guys, Watch This (2023, Hungry Mouse): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Mercury [Nicolas Caloia & Lori Freedman]: Skin (2023, Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Allison Miller: Rivers in Our Veins (2023, Royal Potato Family): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Steve Million: Perfectly Spaced (2023, Calligram): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Simon Nabatov 3+2: Verbs (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Simon Nabatov: Extensions (2022 [2023], Unbroken Sounds): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Aruán Ortiz: Pastor's Paradox (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [cd]: A-
  • Ethan Philion Quartet: Gnosis (2023, Sunnyside): [sp]: B+(***)
  • R. Ring: War Poems, We Rested (2023, Don Giovanni): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ned Rothenberg: Crossings Four (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Jerome Sabbagh: Vintage (2020 [2023], Sunnyside): [sp]: B+(**)
  • A. Savage: Several Songs About Fire (2023, Rough Trade): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Troye Sivan: Something to Give Each Other (2023, Capitol): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hemlocke Springs: Going . . . Going . . . Gone! (2023, Good Luck Have Fun, EP): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Yuhan Su: Liberated Gesture (2023, Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Kevin Sun: The Depths of Memory (2021-22 [2023], Endectomorph Music, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Grzegorz Tarwid Trio: Flowers (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers: I Love You (2023, Domestic La La): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Trespass Trio Feat. Susana Santos Silva: Live in Oslo (2018 [2023], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Villarreal: Lados B (2020 [2023], International Anthem): [sp]: A-
  • Jennifer Wharton's Bonegasm: Grit & Grace (2023, Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Jouk Minor/Josef Traindl/Jean Querlier/Christian Lété/Dominique Regef: Enfin La Mer (1978 [2023], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • The Hives: Barely Legal (1997, Burning Heart): [sp]: B+(*)
  • The Hives: The Black and White Album (2007, A&M/Octone): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Howard Shore/Ornette Coleman/London Philharmonic Orchestra: Naked Lunch [The Complete Original Soundtrack Remastered] (1991 [2014], Howe): [sp]: B+(*)


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]

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

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.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Music Week

Expanded blog post, November archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 30 albums, 8 A-list

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): [cd]: A
  • Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Dynamic Maximum Tension (2023, Nonesuch): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Bruce Barth Trio: Dedication (2021 [2022], Origin): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Rob Brown: Oceanic (2021 [2023], RogueArt): [cdr]: B+(***)
  • Rob Brown: Oblongata (2022 [2023], RogueArt): [cdr]: A-
  • Buck 65: Punk Rock B-Boy (2023, self-released): [bc]: A
  • DJ Shadow: Action Adventure (2023, Mass Appeal): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Kurt Elling: SuperBlue: The London Sessions (2022, Edition, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Kurt Elling/Charlie Hunter/Neal Smith: SuperBlue: Guilty Pleasures (Edition, EP) **
  • Kurt Elling/Charlie Hunter: SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree (2023, Edition): [sp]: B
  • Robert Finley: Black Bayou (2023, Easy Eye Sound): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Sue Foley: Live in Austin Vol. 1 (2023, Stony Plain): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Lafayette Gilchrist: Undaunted (2022 [2023], Morphius): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hermanos Gutiérrez: El Bueno Y El Malo (2022, Easy Eye Sound): [sp]: A-
  • William Hooker: Flesh and Bones (2023, Org Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Russell Kranes/Alex Levine/Sam Weber/Jay Sawyer: Anchor Points (2022 [2023], OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Lil Wayne: Tha Fix Before Tha VI (2023, Young Money): [sp]: B
  • Myra Melford's Fire and Water Quintet: Hear the Light Singing (2022 [2023], RogueArt): [cd]: A-
  • Joshua Moshe: Inner Search (2022 [2023], La Sape): [sp]: B+(**)
  • David Murray/Questlove/Ray Angry: Plumb (2022 [2023], Outside In Music): [sp]: A-
  • Remembrance Quintet: Do You Remember? (2023, Sonboy): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Sampha: Lahai (2023, Young): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Jeff Sanford's Cartoon Jazz Orchestra: Playland at the Beach (2023, Little Village): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Jeremy Udden: Wishing Flower (2023, Sunnyside): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Miki Yamanaka: Shades of Rainbow (2023, Cellar Music): [sp]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Barry Altschul/David Izenson/Perry Robinson: Stop Time: Live at Prince Street, 1978 (1978 [2023], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • Peter Brötzmann/Sabu Toyozumi: Triangle: Live at Ohm, 1987 (1987 [2023], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Roy Campbell/William Parker/Zen Matsuura: Visitation of Spirits: The Pyramid Trio Live, 1985 (1985 [2023], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • Kim Dae Hwan/Choi Sun Bae: Korean Fantasy (1999 [2023], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)

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]

Monday, November 06, 2023

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

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.

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Daily Log

Boilerplate for an invite query:

My name is Tom Hull. I'm conducting the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll (started by Davis at Village Voice, most recently at ArtsFuse). We typically have about 150 notable critics and broadcast journalists submit top-10 lists. I've noticed and am duly impressed by your work, which has me wondering whether you'd welcome an invitation to vote in our poll. You can reach me at thull2@cox.net. Thanks.

Critics I've sent something like this to:

  • Katherine (Katchie) Cartwright: AAJ

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Daily Log

Some belated notes on October 27's belated birthday dinner. Theme was Spanish, although my plans to come up with a nice platter of tapas (appetizers) fell flat. We had 11 people, which was too much for the space. More on that later.

I had thought about making the mariscada several weeks earlier, when my niece, Rachel, came to visit, but scratched it after I took ill and didn't feel up to the shopping. (I wound up making pad thai instead, which is the easiest one-pot thing I do that's still really good.) But I had the shopping list started, and it still sounded good. I figured I could do that for one fancy dish, then spread some tapas around. I don't recall ever doing Spanish for Birthday Dinner, but I've made paella a lot, and a number of other Spanish dishes. Mariscada in Green Sauce was simply the dish I'd always end up ordering in New York restaurants, like the one on 25th and 2nd Ave a short walk from out Waterside Apartment. But I never had a proper recipe for it, so always had to improvise.

One big question has always been the seafood mix: whether I could find clams, and whether I would add lobster. I also wanted to get some uniquely Spanish ingredients, especially sausage, ham, and cheeses. So I decided I'd work up a shopping list with a wider range of tapas than I'd likely be able to get done, and pick up extra things that caught my fancy. Dinner as designed:

  • Clams with almond sauce: with extra seafood (mussels, shrimp, sea scallops, lobster, snow crab).
  • Crisp potatoes
  • Green beans with cured ham: I substituded bacon and chorizo.
  • Mushrooms in garlic sauce
  • Escalivada y garum: on toasted baguette
  • Olive oil tortas
  • Sangria
  • Coconut cake, with vanilla ice cream

I would also have assorted tapas. I jotted the following down as options, and figured I'd adjust the list after shopping:

  • Crema de cabrales: a blue cheese spread
  • Red pepper, cheese, garlic spread
  • Fresh cheese in green mojito
  • Pickled cucumbers
  • Smoked fish salad
  • Chorizo-filled dates in bacon

Dinner was on Friday, so I'd do my main shopping on Thursday, but I made a preliminary shopping trip on Tuesday to figure out what was available, and another on Wednesday. The shopping was a big part of the work:

  • Tuesday: World Market: I picked up several packages of shrink-wrapped "tapas" (charcuterie), some loose sausage (chorizo, saucisson), tins (octopus, sardines, mackerel), jars (artichoke hearts, peppers, anchovies). Seafood Shoppe: Found out they have mussels and littleneck clams. I bought a trout spread and a $45 jar of salmon caviar, with no planned use for either. Liquor store (don't recall the name, but on Greenwich Ave, near Medi's): Spanish red wine, fino sherry. Whole Foods: Found out they also have mussels and littleneck clams. Picked up some odds and ends, including smoked sable, manchego cheese, and a shelled coconut that I wound up not using (but should have). Trader Joe's: picked up smoked trout, more cheese.
  • Wednesday: Thai Binh: was closed. Dillons (21/Amidon): picked up most of my vegetable/fruit list. They had small lobster tails for $6/each, so I bought five. Also got frozen shrimp, and a few odds and ends, like ice cream.
  • Thursday: Dillons (Central/Rock): Rest of vegetables except mushrooms (didn't find any I wanted). Scallops, shrimp, two more lobster tails (sale was off, so $10 each). Two breads (one baguette, one ciabatta). Clam juice. I still didn't have the mushrooms, so I tried Natural Grocers: I bought two packages of sliced shiitakes, and three packets of dried: chanterelles, porcini, something else I don't remember and don't seem to be able to find. That did it, except for late that night, when I discovered I needed milk for the cake, and had to make an extra trip.

Not on my original menu, but I picked up a sweet olive oil torta at Whole Foods (after skipping whole packages, both of sweet and savory, at World Market). I didn't care for the sugar, but liked the texture, and decided to make my own Wednesday night (omitting the sugar, dusting them with crushed fennel seeds and zataar). At that point, I was ahead of schedule, and was still in good shape after shopping on Thursday. Then, well, I fucked up.

My minimal goal for Thursday night was: make escalivada y garum, bake the cake, and make some kind of fish stock (with some prep for the mariscada dish). At least that's the way I remember it, probably because that's all I got done. What I was hoping for was getting 3-5 appetizers out of the way, and maybe some extra prep, at least sorted out.

The first started with roasting the eggplant, bell pepper, and tomato, then peel and chop. The garum is a paste made in the food processor, with oil-cured black olives, anchovies, and capers. I have a cherry pitter I use on olives, but couldn't find it, so I wound up having to pick the pits out with a knife. While I was working on that, I decided to go ahead and mix the escalivada, but working from memory, I dumped it into the food processor, and it instantly became unusable soup. I had to throw the whole dish away, and scratch it from the menu.

However, when I started working on the cake (one that I've made dozens of times), I discovered that I hadn't bothered to check the ingredients on my shopping list. The unanticipated ingredients were shortening (which I had) and milk (which I didn't). I decided then that I had to go to the grocery store (we're talking 10 pm). I did, and picked up an eggplant and peppers, and roasted them again, along with another tomato. They came out fine, as did the cake, but I had lost 2-3 hours.

The fish stock worked out better. First thing I did was boil the lobster tails. Then in the same water, I boiled the crab. I chopped off the tail ends and some of the less promising crab bits, and returned them to the pot. I added the shrimp shells. I mixed up a velvet marinade, and poured half of it over the shelled shrimp, the other half over the sea scallops (each cut in 2 or 4 pieces), and refrigerated them. I added a handful of katsuobishi (bonito flakes) to the stock pot, and brought it to a simmer. Later I added a couple scallions and some parsley. I don't recall whether I added any spices. I had clam juice, but didn't use it (it was about that color). I left it in the pot overnight, then reheated it and strained it the next day.

Nothing else I could do Thursday night.

I got up around noon Friday. I boiled the potatoes, peeled and quartered them, added some olive oil. I stringed the green beans, and boiled them. I soaked the dried mushrooms. I sliced the two breads (one baguette, one ciabatta), dabbed them with olive oil and garlic, and toasted them.

I mixed up the sangria. I was worried about having a big enough pitcher, but I really could have used a second bottle of wine. I cut up the fruit, added the wine, orange juice, Grand Marnier, a bit of sugar, and put it in the refrigerator, adding the club soda just before serving. I wound up having to ration one cup each to the guests. They said it was good.

I made the cake icing. I got the syrup up to 242°F, and it whipped up nicely, but seemed a little on the thin side. I iced the cake, and sprinkled coconut on top and sides. It looked good, but the coconut started to yellow by the time it was served. (I was using frozen, left over from last year, even though I had fresh in the refrigerator.)

I velveted the shrimp and scallops in water, about one minute each, as they would finish cooking in the mariscada.

I mixed up the mariscada sauce in the food processor, using roughly 3-4 times the recipe ingredients: garlic (about 25 cloves), bread crumbs (10 baguette slices), 1/2 cup almond flour, one bunch of flat parsley plus a bit more. I heated up some olive oil, added the mix, and stock in several additions (probably 2.5 cups in all), and let it simmer for a while, until I was ready to add the seafood. By then, I had the potatoes in the oven, the mushrooms in their garlic sauce, the green beans in a skillet with bacon and chorizo.

Since I didn't get around to anything else, I just had those four dishes to finish. I added the clams and mussels to the mariscada pot, and steamed them for about five minutes. I chopped up the lobster tails, and tried to cut the crab into pieces the meat could be extracted from. Then I folded the rest of the seafood in, so it would be ready with everything else.

As guests arrived, I put a couple to work throwing together what we could for the tapas platter. Janice assembled the toasts with garum and escalivada. I opened cans of octopus and saradines, and a jar of artichoke hearts. We cut up some cheese and chorizo, and layed out some jamon iberico and sausage slices. There was a lot more left over that didn't get served, but we had quite a bit. The only problem with a dish was the potatoes, which I let dry out in the oven.

We had eleven total, which was excessive for the dining room: Janice and Tim, Max and Beth, Mike and Gretchen, Russ and Zhana, Rannfrid, Laura and me. Plate photo post on Facebook. I commented later:

Not a lot of leftovers. Laura finished the garum, even without any escalivada. The cake had already started looking strange by dinner time -- the long-frozen coconut yellowed, prompting someone to ask if I had toasted it -- and got weirder over the next two days. The icing thinned, but the cake if anything became more moist. I finished it yesterday, then had torta and charcuterie after, which balanced off the lingering sugar. Still some mariscada left, so I'll return to that today. And then there's all the stuff I bought but didn't manage to serve. Maybe we should reconvene and just graze our way through the refrigerator and pantry?

I did wind up making a leftover tapas dinner, but not until the following Friday, and just for Gretchen and Mike (more on that below). Max took some pictures, and posted them on Facebook. He noted: "Tom Hull's almost birthday this evening with a cast of extremely interesting characters. There were no Republicans present!" I added a comment to this:

Perhaps more significantly, no one got canceled for advocating a cease fire. Two guests had actually visited Israel/Gaza. One grew up in Russia (or was it Kazakhstan?). One in Japan (although she's Norwegian). One grew up in Oklahoma. One was an exchange student in Africa. One was the child of missionaries, and another was a minister. Two are Jewish. And then there's me. And Janice, who has pretty much the same life history as me, including the same church and racist high school (I dropped out; she protested, which is why their teams are no longer called the Colonels), some years in Boston and New York, then back to Wichita. She's the activist (as is Laura), whereas I'm just a critic. All this in the belly button of Red America. I'm honored to have had the chance to cook for them.

I suppose I could have qualified that the two Jews were not the two who had visited Israel/Gaza (and by Israel I'm including the West Bank; I'm less certain about the land in between).


I finally worked my way through the tapas leftover menu a week later, on a Friday. Mike and Gretchen came over, and did us the favor of being late enough I almost got everything done, with Gretchen helping with the last stragglers. I posted a plate at Facebook. Key requirement here was no new shopping, but I did add several dishes not planned for the Birthday Dinner. I might as well order the menu from the plate photo:

  • Cantaloupe with jamon iberico, with a spritz of lime
  • Mushroom caviar: Russian recipe, but I didn't want to repeat the Spanish one. I had one package of sliced shiitakes. Sauteed with onion, added some mayo, lemon juice, and dill.
  • Cabbage salad with raisins: I make this all the time, with carrot, bell pepper, and vinaigrette.
  • Potato salad with smoked salmon, olives, and capers: Russian recipe, with red onion, dill, and vinaigrette.
  • Calf liver in almond sauce: I used a half pound from the freezer; the parsley's just a garnish.
  • Chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon.
  • Manchego with roasted red pepper.
  • Mozzarella pearls in green mojito.
  • Semi-pickled cucumbers, with onion and spices (they could have used more time).
  • Smoked fish salad: sable, trout, a little bit of salmon, with mayo.
  • Chorizo cooked in sherry.
  • Gorgonzola with apple, raisins, walnuts and pine nuts: Recipe called for cabrales.

The only actual leftover (not pictured) was the surprisingly still fresh olive oil tortas, which worked instead of bread. The cheese and fish spreads, dates, and pickles were in the original menu, plus I picked up the cantaloupe for possibly this use. I had leftover potatoes and mushrooms, but didn't want to do the same recipes. While there are lots of Spanish potato salad tapas, I had extra smoked salmon, olives, and dill, so this was an easy choice. Same for the mushrooms, and I liked this presentation. The liver is a personal favorite, but I didn't consider it for the main dinner because I was already doing another almond sauce. However, here it worked as a main meat dish, although the portions were tiny (1/2 pound for four people).

The cake was gone, and I didn't want to bake anything new, or make flan. But we had a quart of Ben & Jerry's Vanilla left, so I proposed sundaes. I toasted pecans and filberts, chopped them, and whipped some cream. I had a little bit of Hershey's dark chocolate sauce, so I divided it up, and added a caramel sauce option. When I ran out of ice cream, I added a scoop of Edy's. (Mine was all Edy's, with just caramel.) Pretty decent dessert for no cooking.

Still have some cheese and sausage left over, as well as tins of fish, and olives -- I could have done a whole olive thing. But all things considered, the two meals pretty much balanced off the shopping.


Looking through my Notebook, I've found several references to past Spanish dinners:

  • 2001-05-22: Kathy's birthday. Made: clams in almond sauce (plus shrimp, sea scallops, lobster); red bean stew; oven roasted potatoes; orange salad with onion, almonds, and raisins; orange yogurt cake.

  • 2004-07-18: For 13, including Jan and Lou Jean: mariscada in almond sauce; salt cod with potatoes, tomatoes and peppers; red bean stew; marinated quail; escalivada and garum with garlic bread; asparagus wrapped in prosciuto with fontina; sauteed frog legs; gorgonzola/chevre cheese dip; marinated quail eggs; cracked green olives; pickled eggplant; eretz israel cake (marzipan, candied oranges, dates); coconut cake (for Jan).

  • 2007-10-25: Birthday dinner: clams in almond sauce (plus shrimp, scallops, lobster); saffron rice with pine nuts; asparagus in almond sauce (red, not green); mushrooms in sherry sauce; escalivada and garum on garlic toasts; garlic shrimp; piquillo pepper salad with raisins and pine nuts; cheese pate with walnuts and peppers (chevre, gorgonzola); sliced Spanish chorizo and manchego cheese; orange yogurt cake.

  • 2009-06-22: "Fixed dinner for six Friday night to celebrate the unveiling of the new kitchen": mariscada in almond sauce; asparagus in more almond sauce; roasted potato slices; sauteed mushrooms with prosciutto; salt cod salad; sweet yogurt cream on mixed berries on almond cupcakes.

  • 2012-03-19: Passing mention of "cooking a very nice Spanish dinner (mariscada in almond sauce)."

  • 2012-03-24: Back from Independence, where Jan and Lou Jean were visiting, after cooking paella valenciana there. (Also a coconut cake for Jan.)

  • 2017-12-26: Made paella valenciana (with lobster, shrimp, and scallops, but no clams). Also "some tapas": potatoes with tuna and egg; white bean salad; pisto (onions, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes); sauteed mushrooms in garlic sauce; olives; garlic bread; date pudding.

  • 2019-11-18: "a fairly simple dinner on Tuesday -- a big pot of paella plus something for dessert [unspecified]."

  • 2020-12-28: Pandemic lockdown Christmas takeout dinner (some but mostly not Spanish): paella, with kielbasa, shrimp, and scallops (but no chicken or clams); garlic chicken wings; Tuscan spare ribs; Tunisian fish (cod, with preserved lemons and olives); green bean ragout (with potatoes); cauliflower gratin; herb pie (onion, kale, chard, arugula, herbs, cheeses, wrapped in filo and baked); hotiatiki salad; mast va khiar (cucumber, yogurt, scallions, sultanas, black walnuts, mint). Plus many desserts: date pudding; tiramisu; oatmeal stout cake; chocolate sheet cake; macadamia nut-white chocolate cookeis; Moroccan mixed fruit.

  • 2021-05-10: First time since pandemic started we had a guest for dinner. paella valenciana (with chicken wings, kielbasa, Chinese sausage, shrimp, lobster tail); white beans; mushrooms in garlic sauce; cabbage and green bell pepper slaw; tuna-egg-tomato salad; roasted pepper salad; deviled eggs stuffed with salmon; strawberry shortcake, and key lime pie (whipped cream on both).

I recall making a duck paella early after we got to Wichita, but it doesn't appear in the notebook. I've done several of the dishes listed above on their own (especially the salt cod and the red bean stew). I've also made roasted chicken with samfaina, which is a glorious dish. I also recall a calf liver in almond sauce that was very good.


Oct 2023