Monday, November 27, 2023
Expanded blog post,
Tweet: Music Week: 52 albums, 8 A-list (+2 A)
Music: Current count 41262  rated (+52), 2  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
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,
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
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
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
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.
archive is closed, but not
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 , 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 , 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 , Discus Music): [bc]: B+(**)
- Paul Dunmall: Bright Light a Joyous Celebration (2022 , Discus Music): [bc]: A-
- Paul Dunmall New Quartet: World Without (2021 , 577): [dl]: B+(**)
- Peter Evans Being & Becoming: Ars Memoria (2022-23 , More Is More): [bc]: B+(***)
- Kate Gentile: Find Letter X (2021-23 , Pi): [dl]: B+(***)
- Terry Gibbs Legacy Band: The Terry Gibbs Songbook (2022 , Whaling City Sound): [sp]: B+(***)
- Frode Gjerstad With Matthew Shipp: We Speak (2022 , 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 , PX): [sp]: B+(***)
- Eirik Hegdal/Jeff Parker/Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten/Řyvind Skarbř: Superless (2022 , 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 , 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 , Řra Fonogram): [sp]: B+(***)
- Engin Ozsahin: Conversations in Chaos (2023, self-released): [sp]: B+(**)
- Robert Prester & Adriana Samargia: Quenara (2023 , 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 , Motvind): [sp]: B+(**)
- John Scofield: Uncle John's Band (2022 , ECM): [sp]: B+(**)
- Elijah Shiffer: Star Jelly (2021 , 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 , Irritable Mystic): [bc]: B+(**)
- Elias Stemeseder/Christian Lillinger: Penumbra (2021 , 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 , self-released): [sp]: B+(*)
- Johnny Griffin: Live at Ronnie Scott's (1964 , Gearbox): [sp]: B+(***)
- Alon Nechushtan: For Those Who Cross the Seas (2006 , ESP-Disk, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- Peter Evans/Joel Ross/Nick Jozwlak/Savannah Harris: Being & Becoming (2019 , More Is More): [bc]: A-
- Elijah Shiffer and the Robber Crabs: Unhinged (2017 , 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 , 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:
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Speaking of Which
I started collecting this on Tuesday, mostly because I didn't want
to let the Stevenson piece go without comment. The Mishra, which could
still use some work, was also found in the Wichita Eagle that day.
I had much more to write about the Ryu Spaeth piece, only some of
which got tacked onto the footer section. Two points would have fit
only awkwardly, but let me take a brief stab at them here:
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).
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.
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
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.
Ghada Ageel: [11-25]
While the world has abandoned Gaza, its doctors have done the opposite.
They are our heroes.
Michael Arria: [11-26]
Three Palestinian students shot in Vermont in apparent hate
Erin Banco/Nahal Toosi: [11-21]
US has sent Israel data on aid group locations to try to prevent
strikes: Which didn't exactly work, or did it?
Zack Beauchamp: [11-22]
The Israel-Hamas deal is not a real ceasefire.
Roger Cohen: [11-20]
Between Israelis and Palestinians, a lethal psychological chasm grows:
This "chasm" is real, but its symmetry is forced. One side has immensely
more power than the other to punish and/or to forgive, and as such has
responsibility for perpetuating the hostility.
Dave DeCamp: [11-22]
Biden admin worries the pause in Gaza will give journalists more access
to expose Israeli atrocities.
Richard Falk: [11-24]
When is 'a humanitarian pause' genocidal?
Abdallah Fayyad: [11-22]
Why Israel imprisons so many Palestinians: "150 Palestinian prisoners
are being released as part of Israel and Hamas's recent hostage deal. But
thousands more remain behind bars."
Joshua Frank: [11-19]
The dangers only multiply: "Could Israel's war on Gaza go
nuclear?" No surprise that at least one of Israel's more sociopathic
politicians suggested that it should, but common sense argues that
it won't: mostly because the target is too close to risk the nuclear
fallout. On the other hand, it's sobering to read this line: "Indeed,
25,000 tons of bombs had already been dropped on Gaza by early
November, the equivalent of two Hiroshima-style nukes (without the
radiation)." One thing that's not stopping Israel is scruples about
Sophia Goodfriend: [11-24]
Israel's 'thought police' law ramps up dangers for Palestinian social
media users. The amendment was first drafted a year-and-a-half
ago, but only passed in the current panic.
Jonathan Guyer: [11-22]
The Israel-Hamas hostage deal, explained: "This is a deal that
has essentially been on the table for about a month," i.e., well
before Israel's ground offensive.
Tareq S Hajjaj: [11-25]
A 'temporary ceasefire' means realizing how much we've lost.
Sam Hamad: [11-18]
Understanding Hasbara: Israel's propaganda machine.
Benjamin Hart: [11-22]
How long could the Israel-Hamas ceasefire last? Interview with
Gershon Baskin ("an Israeli peace activist who played a key role in
the freeing of Gilad Shalit" in 2006), who plainly states: "There is
no scenario where the war ends with Hamas in control of Gaza."
Ellen Ioanes: [11-24]
The controversial phrase "from the river to the sea," explained.
Amira Jarmakani: [11-20]
The ADL is leading the attack against free speech on Palestine.
Caitlin Johnstone: [11-13]
Israelis keep hurting their own PR interests by talking.
Fred Kaplan: [11-22]
One factor behind the Gaza cease-fire deal: A massive shift in the US
relationship with Israel.
Kathy Kelly: [11-24]
Tunnels for safety and tunnels for death.
Jen Kirby: [11-22]
How Qatar became a key broker in the Israel-Hamas deal.
Daniel Larison: [11-22]
The warfare of starvation: "The siege will kill Palestinian
civilians and by doing nothing, the US is supporting it."
Lauren Leatherby: [11-25]
Gaza civilians, under Israeli barrage, are being killed at historic
pace: "In less than two months, more than twice as many women and
children have been reported killed in Gaza than in Ukraine after two
years of war." Also see the Corey Robin tweets,
John Mueller: [11-21]
What if Israel didn't set out to 'destroy Hamas'? "The case for a
limited response after the October 7 attacks."
Orly Noy: [11-23]
What Israelis won't be asking about the Palestinians released for
hostages: "The list of Palestinians slated to be exchanged for
Israelis should provoke reflection over the role of mass imprisonment
in the occupation."
Taha Ozhan: [11-25]
The West will pay a heavy price for expending its credibility on
Matthew Petti: [11-20]
Media amplified US, Israeli narrative on Palestinian deaths:
"Following senior officials' lead, many prominent Western news
outlets started linking Hamas to hospitals in Gaza."
Mitchell Plitnick: [11-24]
Israel wants to pull the U.S. into a regional confrontation, but
Biden remains reluctant.
Mouin Rabbani: Two pieces that Norman Finkelstein
Thoughts on the truce; and
Israel has lost the plot: This provides a cogent explanation of
why "the elimination of Hamas is unattainable" -- not exactly the one
I was thinking of, but good enough for all practical purposes. Given
that the root-and-branch elimination of Hamas is doomed to failure,
serious thought should be given to how to turn Hamas into a force for
reform: basically, how to domesticate it. Israel has long complained
about not having a "partner for peace," but Israel never wanted one
(else they would have made an effort). Also see this [11-07] discussion
between Rabbani and Finkelstein:
Gaza one month later.
Mohannad Sabry: [11-22]
Israel's killing of journalists and denial can't hide the horrific
toll in Gaza.
Tom Suarez: [11-26]
The masterful propaganda of 'deadliest day for Jews since the
Holocaust': "Israel and its supporters are engaging in Holocaust
revisionism to justify its genocidal attack on Gaza."
Jeffrey St Clair:
Struan Stevenson: [11-20]
Iran's 'axis of resistance' to Israel begins to crack. Author
is a former member of the European Parliament (from Scotland), and
a former chairman of a group called Friends of a Free Iran. This
piece, like his previous [10-17]
Iran's tyrannical mullahs created the Hamas monster, is vivid
and vitriolic propaganda aimed at pinning the Oct. 7 Gaza revolt
on Iran, for reasons known only to the diabolical mullahs. Much of
what Stevenson writes is patently false, and much more is simply
hard to believe. Iran didn't invent Hamas, and had essentially no
interest in the Palestinian struggle until the 1990s, when Israel
turned on Iran, figuring that Iraq could no longer be painted as
an existential threat, and that Iran would play better with the
Americans, who still nursed a grudge over the 1980 hostage thing.
Even so, there's no credible accounting of how much support Iran
has ever provided to Hamas. Stevenson's claim that "the mullahs
have provided hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Hamas"
is especially mind-boggling. (That's more like the levels of arms
the US supplies to Ukraine and Israel.) Even if Iran is using its
"proxies" just to stir up trouble, it would be much easier and
cheaper to negotiate some kind of détente, or better still a
normalization of relations, which would allow them (and others)
the opportunity to enjoy peace, instead of just beating them
with sticks like like Mojahedin-e Khalq (the Israel-supported
terrorist group Stevenson is allied with).
Philip Weiss: [11-26]
Weekly Briefing: The Israeli perspective -- on genocide -- dominates
Oren Ziv/Yotam Ronen: [11-22]
Carrying the pain of loss on October 7, these families are pleading
for peace: That the families of hostages have been the loudest
and most visible opponents of the war against Gaza reflects, I think,
two deeper truths. One is that sympathy gives them a forum to speak
publicly where most Israelis (and all Palestinians) are intimidated
into silence. The other is that they realize that Israel will gain
nothing by prosecuting the war, while they stand to lose their
families for no good reason.
Trump, and other Republicans:
Thomas B Edsall: [11-22]
The roots of Trump's rage.
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.
Peter Wade: [11-26]
Christie blames Trump for increasing antisemitism and Islamophobia:
To quote him: "Intolerance toward anyone encourages intolerance toward
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.
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
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:
Around the world:
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
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
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
Larry Fink (82, Mar. 11, 1941-Nov. 25). For some images, start
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
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
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
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
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
Responding to a comment about dwindling promo CDs, I took a quick
look at my tracking files. What I found was:
Monday, November 20, 2023
Expanded blog post,
Tweet: Music Week: 50 albums, 8 A-list
Music: Current count 41210  rated (+50), 9  unrated (-13).
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
Of course, there's also an
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
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 , Intakt): [sp]: A-
- Dry Thrust: The Less You Sleep (2020 , Trost): [sp]: B+(*)
- Antoine Drye With Strings: Retreat to Beauty (Oblation Vol. 3: Providence!) (2021 , Cellar Music): [sp]: B+(*)
- George Freeman: The Good Life (2022 , 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 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- David Ian: Vintage Christmas Trio Melody (2023, Prescott): [cd]: B
- I.P.A.: Grimsta (2022 , Cuneiform): [dl]: B+(**)
- Val Jeanty/Candice Hoyes/Mimi Jones: Nite Bjuti (2022 , Whirlwind): [sp]: B+(**)
- Hannah Marks: Outsider, Outlier (2022 , Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(*)
- Sarah McKenzie: Without You (2023, Normandy Lane Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Hedvig Mollestad Weejuns: Weejuns (2022 , 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 , 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 , Jazzdor): [cd]: B+(***)
- Anna Webber/Matt Mitchell: Capacious Aeration (2023, Tzadik): [sp]: B+(**)
- Mars Williams/Vasco Trilla: Critical Mass (2021 , Not Two): [sp]: B+(***)
- Joe Wittman: Trio Works (2023, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
- Joe Wittman/Vito Dieterle/Jesse Breheney/Josh Davis: Night Out (2022 , 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 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
- Graham Collier: Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days '69 (1969 , My Only Desire): [sp]: A-
- Eric Ghost: Secret Sauce (1975 , Jazz Room): [sp]: B+(***)
- Milford Graves With Arthur Doyle & Hugh Glover: Children of the Forest (1976 , Black Editions Archive): [sp]: B+(***)
- Roy Hargrove: The Love Suite: In Mahogany (1993 , Blue Engine): [sp]: A
- Ahmad Jamal: Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse 1966-1968 (1966/68 , Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [11-24]
- Paul Lytton/Erhard Hirt: Borne on a Whim: Duets, 1981 (1981 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(**)
- Les McCann: Never a Dull Moment! Live From Coast to Coast 1966-1967 (1963-67 , Resonance, 2CD): [cd]: A- [12-01]
- Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly Trio: Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings (1965 , Resonance, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [12-01]
- Michel Petrucciani: The Montreux Years (1990-98 , BMG/Montreux): [sp]: A-
- Cal Tjader: Catch the Groove: Live at the Penthouse 1963-1967 (1963-67 , Jazz Detective/Elemental, 2CD): [cd]: A- [11-24]
- Dexter Gordon Quartet: Bouncin' With Dex (1975 , SteepleChase): [r]: A-
- Dexter Gordon Quartet: Stable Mabel (1975, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Dexter Gordon Quartet: Cheese Cake (1964 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Dexter Gordon Quartet: I Want More (1964 , 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
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:
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.
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
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.
The UN will issue passports for Gaza, which will allow residents
to leave and return at any later date.
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
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
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
Top story threads:
Mondoweiss: I'm not up to dredging through the daily
New York Times reports on the war, but this heroic website gives you
a better accounting of the tragic consequences of senseless war, and
a lot less propaganda spin.
Spencer Ackerman: [11-17]
Gaza shows the difference between international law and the "rules-based
international order": "Adherence to US hegemony determines who does --
and does not -- get to violate the architecture restraining state
Hugo Albuquerque: [11-17]
Israeli Communist leader: The Netanyahu government has no answers:
Interview with Eli Gozansky.
Michael Arria: [11-16]
March for Israel: "Thousands gathered in Washington this week
to support Israel. The Israeli Consulate announced 290,000 people
attended, while estimates show they were off by about 265,000. Still,
support for Israel from elected officials was clear." Is there anything
less meaningful than organizing a public showing of support for the
powers that be?
M Reza Benham: [11-15]
The catastrophic roots of Zionism in Palestine: History back to
Herzl, plus a suggestion that "it is time for the Arab world to use
its formidable oil weapon to end the carnage." I don't see that
happening: the "weapon" is less formidable now than in the 1970s,
the political will is lacking (maybe the "Arab street" identifies
with Palestinians, but the sheiks don't), and it's only been used
of late to prop up sagging prices.
Nader Durgham: [11-16]
Do you want to understand the Gaza war? Look at the Beirut siege
Malay Firoz: [11-17]
The unforgivable hypocrisy of the American liberal.
Lev Grinberg: [11-15]
For all its military might, Israel succumbed to its most fatal weakness:
"The illusion that Israel could control Gaza endlessly is rooted in a
dysfunctional political system that is incapable of imagining an
Jonathan Guyer: [11-18]
Most of Israel's weapons imports come from the US. Now Biden is rushing
even more arms.
Yoav Haifawi: [11-18]
First Tel Aviv anti-war demonstration reveals the limits on protest
in today's Israel.
Tareq S Hajjaj: [11-16]
Rainfall on a destroyed Gaza could spell disaster.
Jeet Heer: [11-17]
Israel's ludicrous propaganda wins over the only audience that
counts: "Why make an effort to be credible if you're going to be
uncritically echoed by the White House and the Western press?"
Marc Owen Jones: [11-15]
Israel's comically bad disinfo proves they're losing the PR war.
Rashid Khalidi: [11-18]
A paradigm shift in the hundred years' war on Palestine?
Talia Lavin: [11-17]
These evangelicals are cheering the Gaza war as the end of the
world: "Some far-right Christian leaders believe the bloodshed
portends the second coming of Christ."
Eric Levitz: [11-16]
Sam Harris's fairy-tale account of the Israel-Hamas conflict:
Harris first gained attention as a rare guy who was evangelical
about atheism, which seemed like a refreshing twist, but turned
out to be just another bigoted bore. So no surprise that "on
questions of foreign policy, Harris's thinking can become nearly
as dogmatic and blinkered as that of the religious zealots he's
dedicated himself to discrediting."
Ruth Michaelson/Kaamil Ahmed: [11-19]
'It's basically hell on earth': Gaza City left totally bereft of
Mahmoud Mushtaha: [11-14]
Palestinians fear 'slow death' as hunger and thirst spread in Gaza.
Nicole Narea/Sigal Samuel: [11-13]
How to think through allegations of genocide in Gaza: This is a
long trawl through arguments I've dealt with extensively in recent
weeks. I don't have time to rehash them here, but my considered take
is pretty straightforward: the intent of Israel's leaders is clearly
genocidal; Israel's actions (bombing, armed incursions, blockades)
are indiscriminate, effectively aimed at the whole population; until
Israel halts those operations, they merit the charge of genocide;
if/when Israel ceases fire, withdraws, and allows third parties to
provide aid, we might consider reducing the charge, as only such a
end to hostilities can counter the charge. And, needless to say,
the longer they take, the less credible their excuses.
Jonathan Ofir/Yonathan Shapira/Ofer Neiman: [11-09]
Do not dismiss the Gaza genocide allegations: Starts by noting
an article by Eitay Mack in Harretz which tries to do just that.
Gareth Porter: [11-17]
Israeli deceit and the battle of Shifa Hospital: Also links to
updates, including: [11-16]
Israel searches for traces of Hamas in read of key Gaza hospital,
finding "no command centre, hostages, Hamas fighters."
Ali Rizk: [11-17]
How US, Hezbollah interests align amid Gaza war: "Both worry
about being dragged into a wider regional conflict." But both have
funny ways of showing that, because Israel is locked into warring
on Hezbollah, and the US is locked into blind support of Israel.
Aidan Simardone: [11-17]
Israeli weapons are common to the displacement in Nagorno-Karabakh
Reis Thebault: [11-18]
Palestinian Americans face fear, violence amid Israel's war in
Philip Weiss: [11-19]
Washington's approval of unending massacre is a 'stain upon our
souls'. I haven't been citing Weiss's "Weekly Briefing" posts,
but also see:
Robert Wright: [11-17]
The truth about Hamas: This pretty much matches my understanding,
at least from 2006. Israelis often complain about "not having a
partner for peace," but there's little evidence that they ever
wanted peace, and there's frequent evidence that they've pushed
Palestinians into more radical stands so they'd have an excuse
not to negotiate with them.
Li Zhou: [11-15]
The dire medical crisis in Gaza, explained.
Trump, and other Republicans:
Biden and/or the Democrats:
Joe Biden: [11-18]
The U.S. won't back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas:
But will the U.S. even recognize the challenge of Netanyahu and
Zelensky? Like the proverbial hammer seeing everything else as a
nail, the most heavily armed nation in the world hardly requires
conscious thought to "stand up and fight."
Kyle Anzalone: [11-16]
Biden has 'productive discussion' with Xi, then slams Chinese leader as
'dictator'. Speaking "truth to power" may be overrated, given that
power is rarely open to truth, but going behind power's back just makes
you look petty.
Mark Murray: [11-19]
Poll: Biden's standing hits new lows amid Israel-Hamas war:
Washington loves a good war. The American people, not so much so.
Andrew O'Hehir: [11-18]
Joe Biden at history's crossroads: Is backing Bibi's Gaza war a fatal
Nathan J Robinson: [11-15]
Does democracy mainly mean voting for Democrats?: "Heather Cox
Richardson's narrative of Good Democrats and Bad Republicans lets
liberals off the hook for their political failures." I've read two
of her books on the Republican Party, and a few of her Substack
columns, all of which are well researched and sensibly written,
and I've put a lot of thought into writing a book exactly along
those lines, so I was a pretty good prospect to pick up her new
book, Democracy Awakening. But one thing that stopped me
cold was a column (or maybe just a tweet) praising Biden's great
accomplishments in foreign policy. I was surprised to find myself
being pleasantly surprised by many aspects of the Biden presidency,
but foreign policy has not been one of them.
Alexander Sammon: [11-15]
The Squad is about to fight for its political life: "AIPAC wants
to show progressives that 'no one is safe from their wrath.'"
Jeremy Scahill: [11-14]
Biden's legacy should be forever haunted by the names of Gaza's dead
children: "Biden's support for the terror bombing of Gaza continues
his long history as a steadfast supporter of Israel's greatest crimes."
Legal matters and other crimes:
Climate and environment:
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:
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
Jeffrey St Clair: [11-17]
Roaming Charges: Politics of the lesser exterminators.
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
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
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
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
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
Oh, and this is not something I want to put any time and effort to.
This is just reaction.
Monday, November 13, 2023
Expanded blog post,
Tweet: Music Week: 52 albums, 3 A-list
Music: Current count 41160  rated (+52), 22  unrated (-6).
Spent way too much time the last few days knocking together another
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
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,
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
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
New records reviewed this week:
- Lina Allemano/Axel Dörner: Aphelia (2019 , 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 , Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(*)
- Nataniel Edelman Trio: Un Ruido De Agua (2022 , Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
- Phillip Greenlief/Scott Amendola: Stay With It (2017 , Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
- Fritz Hauser & Pedro Carneiro: Pas De Deux (2022 , 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 , RVNG Intl): [sp]: B+(*)
- Mikko Innanen/Stefan Pasborg/Cedric Piromalli: Can You Hear It? (2022 , 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 , Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
- Simon Nabatov: Extensions (2022 , Unbroken Sounds): [sp]: B+(**)
- Aruán Ortiz: Pastor's Paradox (2022 , 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 , Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
- Jerome Sabbagh: Vintage (2020 , 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 , Endectomorph Music, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Grzegorz Tarwid Trio: Flowers (2022 , 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 , Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
- Daniel Villarreal: Lados B (2020 , 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 , NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
- 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 , 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
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
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):
- More patients die at major Gaza hospital amid fuel delivery
- 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
- 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,
- Demands grow for a pause in fighting as the humanitarian
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Here's a map of the Gaza City hospitals Israel has been closing
- 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.
- 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
- Israel's public defenders refuse to represent Oct. 7 attackers.
- America's top diplomat says 'far too many Palestinians have been
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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,
- [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
- [10-28] Where Israeli military videos show ground forces entering
- [10-26] A new look at where Israel has hit Gaza
- [10-23] Deadliest period for Palestinians in the West Bank in
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
Some more news articles, mostly from the New York Times:
If you want something that reads less like Israeli Pravda,
Mondoweiss has a daily
Here are this week's batch of articles:
Paula Aceves: [11-07]
The corporate and cultural fallout from the Israel-Hamas war:
Updated, though with new outrages every day, they're falling behind.
Geoffrey Aronson: [11-09]
The ghost of Ariel Sharon hovers over the Gaza Strip.
Michael Arria: [11-10]
Columbia University suspends Students for Justice in Palestine and
Jewish Voice for Peace.
Bill Astore: [11-11]
When collateral damage is the strategy: "Buildings destroyed,
civilians killed, millions made refugees: mission accomplished."
Omer Bartov: [11-10]
What I believe as a historian of genocide: Author is "a professor
of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University," a job description
which suggests viewpoint as much as expertise, or if it doesn't to you,
just read his quibbles and hair-splitting.
The Holocaust was the ne plus
ultra of genocides. Nothing else comes remotely close in either the scale,
the speed, or the single-mindedness of the killing, but the impulse, the
intent, was hardly unique to Nazi Germany. That's why the generic term
was coined: not to describe specifically what Nazi Germany did -- Shoah
and Holocaust suffice for that -- but to identify comparable forces of
which Nazi Germany is one obvious example.
Bartov makes this clear when
he cites the UN definition of genocide: "the intent to destroy, in whole
or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such."
Immediately after Oct. 7, many prominent Israelis, including the Prime
Minister, were very explicit about their intent to commit genocide. The
subsequent bombing killed indiscriminately, and created conditions to
kill further. The scale of the destruction easily satisfies "in part."
And the destruction is continuing, with no end in sight. That sure
sounds like genocide to me.
Do we really have to wait until the last
Palestinian is killed? No one has tried to argue that since some Jews
survived in Auschwitz, the Nazis fell short of "the crime of crimes."
By the way, the line Bartov draws between "ethnic cleansing" (which
he defines as "aims to remove a population from a territory") and
real genocide is spurious -- the intent and practical effect is the
same, and the term itself is fraught (it was originally a Serbian
euphemism for mass killing, bound to notions of racial and/or ethnic
purity). I think it's caught on because older terms like "removal,"
"transfer," and "exile" seemed too sanitary, but they are all
instances of the same hideous mindset.
Of course, if Israel ceases its assault on Gaza, and behaves decently
in the aftermath (which minimally includes arresting the pogroms in the
West Bank), we might reduce the charge, granting that they weren't fully
intent on genocide. But right now is not the time to make excuses for
what they are doing. Also see:
Zack Beauchamp: [11-09]
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers are on an anti-Palestinian rampage:
"Since October 7, settler radicals have been attacking Palestinians at
an unprecedented rate -- uprooting entire communities and threatening
a wider war."
Jason Burke: [11-06]
'I could never dream such a nightmare': Gaza in grip of humanitarian
Isaac Chotiner: [11-11]
The extreme ambitions of West Bank settlers: Interview with Daniella
Weiss, a longtime leader of the settler movement and an ally of Bezalel
Smotrich ("the extremist minister of finance, who has said that the
Palestinian people do not exist and that Palestinian communities need
to be erased").
Sandhya Dirks: [10-23]
Palestinian Americans on the Israel-Hamas war: 'We're not even allowed
Thomas L Friedman: [11-09]
I have never been to this Israel before: For many decades, Israel's
number one fanboy, but lately he's been disturbed by the Netanyahu
government's far-right turn, especially the decision to restack the
courts against democracy, and he's even shown signs of sobriety in
the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks. However, with his return to Tel Aviv,
he's back in the fold, reprogrammed to parrot Israel's existential
fears, even if the "I love Bibi" module hasn't kicked in yet. He
outlines "three key reasons" why Israel is in "more danger than at
any other time since its War of Independence in 1948".
The first is an array of daunting enemies ("modern armies with
brigades, battalions, cybercapabilities, long-range rockets, drones
and technical support" -- mostly Iran-backed, "and now even the
openly Hamas-embracing Vladimir Putin"; "all of them seemed to
surface together like dragons during this conflict").
The second danger is that Israel's ability "to fight such a
difficult war with so many enemies" is critically dependant on
"unwavering partners abroad, led by the United States," including
"a coalition of U.S., European and moderate Arab partners," which
is tricky as long as Netanyahu's basic pitch is "help us defeat
Hamas in Gaza while we work to expand settlements, annex the West
Bank and build a Jewish supremacist state there" -- i.e., exactly
what Israel has been doing since the June 1967 war. So the third
danger is really just Netanyahu himself: "the worst leader in
[Israel's] history -- maybe in all of Jewish history -- who has
no will or ability to produce such an initiative."
Let's get real here. This is probably the worst case of threat
inflation since the run up to the 1967 war, where a government
that had absolute confidence in its ability to defeat its combined
enemies (which it did decisively in six days, and those enemies
really did have planes, tanks, and battalions) yet spent several
months scaring the daylights out of its own citizens to justify
its aggression. None of today's "enemies" have the wherewithal to
do any serious damage to Israel, let alone the desire to expose
themselves to retaliation that could include nuclear weapons. (Ok,
Hamas had the desire, but that was only because they were desperate
enough to mount what was effectively a suicide raid, but even that
threat is now spent.)
As for the alliance, while Israel always welcomes American arms
and money (and, as Moshe Dayan explained, ignores the advice that
comes with it), Israel needs no help containing Hamas, intimidating
Hezbollah, or beating up on Palestinians. And they could flip "the
Iran threat" in an instant if they just told Biden to make up with
Iran and let them buy some Boeing airliners. Israel's problem is
not that they need help fighting. It's that they need help calling
off the fight, which is the only thing they know how to do, the only
thing they've prepared for, but against such a weakened enemy looks
more and more like genocide, making them out to be monsters. Sure,
Biden hasn't turned on them yet, but all around the world it's
getting harder and harder to ignore that this war is Israel's true
self, fashioned over a century of continuous conflict.
Here's a quick rundown of Friedman's columns, showing how quickly
his initial caution gave way to the company line. One common thread
throughout is that there's never the slightest inkling of sympathy
for any Palestinians:
Inside the Israeli crackdown on speech.
How to maintain hope in an age of catastrophe: Interview with
Robert Jay Lifton. Gessen quotes from Lifton's book about Hiroshima,
Death in Life, which I read shortly after it came out in 1968:
"We are all survivors of Hiroshima, and, in our imaginations, of
future nuclear holocaust." Ever since then, I've been touched by
that same imagination, the ability to see oneself both as victim
and survivor, of the worst human tragedies, also the most mundane.
Farrah Hassen: [11-10]
Americans want a ceasefire; it's our politicians who are out of
touch. It's our politicians who are owned, with many of them
trapped in a belief system that sees war as a noble activity.
Yoav Haifawi: [11-11]
From the river to the sea: There is one Israeli dictatorship:
"How repression is deepening inside the Israeli dictatorship."
Ellen Ioanes: [11-11]
Israel's humanitarian pauses in Gaza, explained: Well, it's pretty
simple: Israel wants to drive Palestinains out of northern Gaza, so
they can complete its demolition while lessening the staggering number
of casualties they're inflicting. They also hope the southward tide
of refugees will empty out into Egypt, never to return. A cease fire
wouldn't help, as it would just encourage people to stay in or close
to their homes. But as long as more bombing is coming, people are
motivated to flee for their lives. That's basically how the Nakba
worked in 1948-49. The legal term for it today is genocide. Israeli
apologists may tell you it's just "ethnic cleansing," but that phrase
has never been anything but a euphemism. "Humanitarian" isn't even
Sarah Jones: [11-10]
Listen to dissenters on Israel.
Nicki Kattoura/Geo Maher: [11-09]
Why must Palestinians condemn themselves for daring to fight back?
Karim Khan: [11-10]
We are witnessing a pandemic of inhumanity: to halt the spread, we
must cling to the law: Author is chief prosecutor at ICC.
Jen Kirby: [11-11]
The Israel-Gaza war is exposing Europe's divisions.
Nicholas Kristof: [11-11]
'We cannot kill our way out of this endeavor'. He's never been
someone I look to for insight, but sometimes the simpleton is right.
Since I've listed Thomas Friedman's op-eds above, here are his (do
you suppose his job at the Times is to make up for Friedman's empathy
Eric Levitz: [11-09]
The two-state solution is still our only (distant) hope. Curiously,
there's no section here explaining what the much vaunted "two-state
solution" might look like these days. That hardly matters, because the
real stickler for Israelis is "solution": they've never wanted one,
and now that they have a clear war path, they sure don't want one now.
If they did, I have no doubt they could make something work. All it
really takes is some system that allows Palestinians to live where
they are now in some measure of peace and dignity. They could be
citizens of Israel ("one-state") or of some other entity ("two states"
or some kind of confederation or bination) or some combination of the
two. The problem is that no one can force them to allow peace/dignity,
and they've become too twisted to see that would be better for them
as well. Indeed, that's been a given for so long that the main selling
point behind "two states" was that it would allow Israel to exclude
most Palestinians from their apartheid state. Still, even that promise
wasn't good enough for Israel's leaders. They insisted not only on
separation but on distinct systems of law and order to maintain their
superiority and to punish and control the unchosen.
Louisa Loveluck: [11-09]
Settler violence is erasing Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
Which leads to Yasmeen Abutaleb: [11-10]
White House urges Israel to curtail settler violence in West Bank.
Which leads to, well, nothing.
Ruth Margalit: [11-11]
The long wait of the hostages' families. This shouldn't be a hard
problem. The way to save the hostages is to stop destroying Gaza. Given
that Israel has nothing to gain, and good will to lose, from further
destruction of Gaza, a long-term cease-fire the obvious first step.
After that, release of the hostages will depend more on whether the
people holding them can trust Israel not to break its cease-fire
than on any negotiated swaps.
Israel's own bad faith in this was shown by their immediate
efforts to scoop up hundreds or thousands of Palestinians, making
them hostages as well -- though our press simply calls them "prisoners."
Hostage negotiations are always nasty business, fraught with overtones
of extortion, feeding into the fear that each successful negotiation
will incentivize more hostage-taking. The real challenge is to find
the right thing to do regardless. That's often difficult, but here
it's remarkably easy: stop the genocide.
James North: [11-09]
"Hostages?" How the U.S. media is distorting the news from Palestine.
Orly Noy: [11-10]
The Israeli public has embraced the Smotrich doctrine: "The
internalization of the far-right minister's 'Decisive Plan' is evident
in the popular support for a new ultimatum for Gaza: emigration or
Yumna Patel: [11-09]
'Thought police': Israel passes law criminalizing 'consumption of
terrorist materials': By "materials" they mostly mean publications.
Samah Salaime: [11-06]
For Israeli leaders, every Palestinian citizen has a seat on the bus to
Sarah Salem: [11-09]
Palestinians in the U.S. are under attack.
Alex Shams: [11-10]
'They don't want people to know we exist': "Palestinians across the
West Bank describe what life has been like since October 7."
Jeffrey St Clair: [11-04]
An infinite distance [The scourging of Gaza: Diary of a genocidal war]:
Behind the paywall, a long list of bullet points like his "Roaming
Nahal Toosi: [11-06]
U.S. diplomats slam Israel policy in leaked memo.
Li Zhou: [11-09]
The House censure of Rashida Tlaib, explained. One of the charges
was her use of a slogan, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will
be free." For more on this terminology, see Jewish Currents editor
What does "From the river to the sea" really mean?, which
includes a reprint of a 2021 article by Yousef Munayyer. Also:
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
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:
Michelle Cottle: [11-08]
What voters want that Trump seems to have: She beats around the
bush a bit, but the ultimate point is that Republicans hate the other
half of America, and they realize that the most effective way to express
their hate is to restore Trump, given their understanding of how much
their targets fear and loathe Trump. Trump's entire campaign so far is
nothing but persecution complaints and revenge fantasies. No other
Republican candidate, no matter how evil, comes close to challenging
Trump in that regard.
PS: Ok, I just jumped on the idea of Cottle's piece. Dean Baker
read it and takes exception to the details: [11-08]
Michelle Cottle makes up facts to push the Trump case: "I guess
that New York Times columnists get to be condescending, out-of-touch
jerks when they want to make their case. If they insist that people
think the economy is awful, we can't let what people say get in the
SV Date: [11-11]
If progressives don't like Biden's Gaza position, wait till they learn
David Freedlander: [11-10]
Live with Rudy: "Indicted, isolated, and broke, Giuliani has one
comfort left: the sound of his own voice."
Marisa Iati/Isaac Arnsdorf: [11-11]
Trump's rivals seize on opportunities to challenge his acuity.
Laura Jedeed: [11-10]
Inside Mike Johnson's ties to a far-right movement to gut the
Ed Kilgore: [11-10]
Speaker Johnson has one weird plan for avoiding a shutdown.
Paul Krugman: [11-06]
Why does the right hate America? Fair question, one that occurred
to Krugman after reading Damon Linker's recent [11-04]
Get to know the influential conservative intellectuals who help explain
GOP extremism (which I cited last week, but mostly just took names).
A glib but not inaccurate answer is: "because they hate our freedom" --
which seemed silly as an explanation for Islamic terrorism, but with
these guys, their fear and loathing bleeds from every line. Sure, we
on the left are more conscious of the freedom we're still denied, but
any fair review of American history will remind us that everything in
our history that we take pride in, at least as far back as "all men
are created equal," came from the left, and was resisted by the right,
same as today.
Kelly McClure: [11-11]
Ted Cruz blames extreme left for rise in antisemitism: Cruz was
plugging his new book: Unwoke: How to Defeat Cultural Marxism in
America. Quite an accomplishment. It's really hard to put that
much stupid into such a short title.
Charlie Savage/Maggie Haberman/Jonathan Swan: [11-11]
Sweeping raids, giant camps and mass deportations: Inside Trump's 2025
Jack Shafer: [11-07]
Trump's recipe for a shockingly raw power grab. Starts with "plans
on the first day of his new administration to invoke the Insurrection
Act so he can dispatch the military to counter any demonstrations that
might resist his policies." (See:
Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second
Steven Shepard: [11-11]
The power grabs that will determine control of Congress: "Partisan
gerrymandering isn't new, but what's happening right now is far from
Michael Tomasky: [11-12]
It's official: With "vermin," Trump is now using straight-up Nazi talk.
Biden and/or the Democrats:
Jonathan Guyer: [11-09]
More than 500 Biden campaign alumni want a Gaza ceasefire.
Eric Levitz: [11-08]
Do Democrats need to get less 'globalist'? Fairly long piece
occasioned by the new John Judis/Ruy Teixeira book, Where Have
All the Democrats Gone? Probably worth some thought, but the
focus here is on trade (good for capitalists, not so much for
workers) and migration (one way workers try to catch up), while
skipping other aspects of international policy, such as war and
climate. For more on this book:
Carlos Lozada: [11-11]
A Trump-Biden rematch is the election we need.
Andrew Marantz: [11-02]
How Israel is splitting the Democrats. Isn't it basically between
the politicians, who are virtually all on the take, and the base, who
once again have every reason to suspect their leaders?
Andrew Prokop: [11-09]
Joe Manchin retires, making Democrats' brutal 2024 Senate map even
more brutal. On the other hand, Manchin is still a possible
presidential election spoiler, for which see Ed Kilgore: [11-09]
Joe Manchin announces end of Senate career, new 2024 threat.
Molly Redden: [11-09]
'The phone doesn't stop': Overwhelming demands for a cease-fire catch
Democrats off guard.
Legal matters and other crimes:
Climate and environment:
Alex Harris/Ashley Miznazi: [11-05]
King tide floods offer glimpse of Miami's soggy, salty future.
I saw this in the Wichita Eagle today, which led me to more pieces:
Nathan J Robinson: [11-10]
The climate crisis is slipping from the news right when it needs our
attention most. This is the kind of idea that gets in the way of
thinking, and for that matter communicating. It's not like climate
crisis hasn't gotten any ink this year. Various storm and fire disasters
have been front page a couple times each month, and statistical effects
have been written up -- I don't think we've had a single month this
year that wasn't among the hottest in history (usually number one),
plus there's all the melting ice caps, the record high tides, etc.
Sure, not enough is being done about it, and nowhere near fast enough,
but that's a bigger political and economic quagmire, one that needs
not just attention but a serious rethink. But how the hell's that
going to happen when we can't even think our way out of a stupid,
pointless, and extremely cruel war like Israel's?
Around the world:
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
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
Expanded blog post,
Tweet: Music Week: 30 albums, 8 A-list
Music: Current count 41108  rated (+30), 28  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
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
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 , Trost): [cd]: A
- Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Dynamic Maximum Tension (2023, Nonesuch): [sp]: B+(***)
- Bruce Barth Trio: Dedication (2021 , Origin): [sp]: B+(**)
- Rob Brown: Oceanic (2021 , RogueArt): [cdr]: B+(***)
- Rob Brown: Oblongata (2022 , 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 , 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 , 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 , RogueArt): [cd]: A-
- Joshua Moshe: Inner Search (2022 , La Sape): [sp]: B+(**)
- David Murray/Questlove/Ray Angry: Plumb (2022 , 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 , NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
- Peter Brötzmann/Sabu Toyozumi: Triangle: Live at Ohm, 1987 (1987 , NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
- Roy Campbell/William Parker/Zen Matsuura: Visitation of Spirits: The Pyramid Trio Live, 1985 (1985 , NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
- Kim Dae Hwan/Choi Sun Bae: Korean Fantasy (1999 , NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
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
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
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
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
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
Isaac Chotiner: [11-01]
The Gaza-ification of the West Bank: Interview with Hagai El-Ad,
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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:
Lauren Aratani: [11-04]
Trump family on trial: five takeaways from a week in the New York
Isaac Arnsdorf/Josh Dawsey/Devlin Barrett: [11-05]
Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second
term: "Advisers have also discussed deploying the military to quell
potential unrest on Inauguration Day."
Dan Froomkin: [10-26]
As Republicans embrace theocratic authoritarianism, the political
media is tongue-tied.
Greg Grandin: [11-01]
The Republicans who want to invade Mexico.
Sarah Jones: [11-02]
Republicans for war crimes.
Cameron Joseph: [11-03]
Is Tommy Tuberville the most ignorant man in DC?
Daniel Larison: [10-31]
Ron DeSantis's foreign policy speech was a real dud: "He wants to
invoke a weariness of war and anti-neocon sentiment, but ends up
promoting the policies of both." This sounds like garden-variety
Republican gibberish: Democrats weak and feckless, me tough, China
bad, but will cower when faced with real American resolve, and even
more ridiculous "defense" spending.
Michael E Mann: [11-05]
Trump 2.0: The climate cannot survive another Trump term.
Heather Digby Parton:
Robert Reich: [10-27]
No Labels is a front group for Donald Trump: I rarely bother with
Reich, but this title hit my extremely literal brain head on. Suppose
that's exactly what it is: a backup plan to put Trump on the ballot if
he doesn't get the Republican nomination. How else can Trump manage to
get on enough state ballots late in the cycle? The result would be a
bloodbath split with the official Republican nominee, much like 1912
between Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, but Trump would see that
as a totally justifiable price if the Republicans betrayed him, and
could use it as a threat to keep it from happening.
Joseph Solis-Mullen: [10-23]
Republican solutions would destabilize Central America, not fix
Adriene Mahsa Varkiani: [11-03]
House Republicans introduce bill to expel Palestinians from the
Li Zhou: [11-02]
The House Israel aid bill is a reminder that Trump-aligned Republicans
are now in charge: "Now they've passed an aid package tailored to
their goals." For more on those goals, and more on their author:
Biden and/or the Democrats:
Nick French: [09-01]
If Democrats want to win elections, they should bring back the Covid
welfare state: "By many measures, Bidenomics is working great --
but most Americans are still down on the economy. That's in large
part because the U.S. government let its temporarily generous social
safety net unravel."
Melvin Goodman: [11-03]
Biden endorses the "indispensable nation" notion: Sorry, couldn't
help but edit that title a bit (for clarity, you understand). Biden's
words were: "American leadership is what holds the world together.
American alliances are what keep us, America, safe." Then he worked
in "beacon to the world" and explicitly cited "my friend Madeleine
Robert Kuttner: [11-01]
Biden's Nakba: "The catastrophic effects of the president's
indulgence of Netanyahu." This seems like a fair description of
Netanyahu's proposition (and its odds):
Netanyahu's notion that first Hamas can be destroyed at acceptable
cost, and then someone else can be found to govern Gaza, and then
some kind of regional settlement can be achieved is lunacy. This
has become Biden's war. Now it has to be Biden's peace, starting
with much tougher constraints on Israel.
Ahmed Moor: [11-01]
I can no longer justify voting for Joe Biden in 2024.
Holly Otterbein: [11-05]
Dem fears mount amid Biden's polling slump and Israel backlash:
I tried to ignore the chatter about Sunday's
New York Times/Sienna College Poll (which they've since played
updates and analysis, with more by
Nate Cohn), but I figured I could (and should) kick him again
over Israel. Also, while it's easy enough to explain this poll away,
some skeptics are using it to question the wisdom of "staying the
Now do you believe me?).
Pamela Paul: [11-02]
The Democrats are their own worst enemies: Lots of ways one can
play that title -- I'm tempted to quote a country song, "if you don't
stand for something, you'll fall for anything at all" -- but I don't
have time to sink here. Suffice it to note that this is a review of
the new John B Judis/Ruy Teixeira book, Where Have All the Democrats
Gone? You probably don't remember their 2002 book, The Emerging
Democratic Majority, which Paul initially remembers as "hugely
influential" then dismisses as "failed prophecy."
Legal matters and other crimes:
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:
Thomas Klingenstein (Claremont funder),
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
Jeffrey St Clair: [11-03]
Roaming Charges: Shrinkwrapped, how sham psychology fueled the Texas
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Critics I've sent something like this to:
- Katherine (Katchie) Cartwright: AAJ
Wednesday, November 01, 2023
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
- 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
- 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
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,
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
- 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
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
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.
For 13, including Jan and Lou Jean:
mariscada in almond sauce;
salt cod with potatoes, tomatoes and peppers;
red bean stew;
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;
eretz israel cake (marzipan, candied oranges, dates);
coconut cake (for Jan).
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;
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.
"Fixed dinner for six Friday night to celebrate the unveiling of the
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.
Passing mention of "cooking a very nice Spanish dinner (mariscada
in almond sauce)."
Back from Independence, where Jan and Lou Jean were visiting,
after cooking paella valenciana there. (Also a coconut cake
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;
"a fairly simple dinner on Tuesday -- a big pot of paella plus
something for dessert [unspecified]."
Pandemic lockdown Christmas takeout dinner (some but mostly not
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);
herb pie (onion, kale, chard, arugula, herbs, cheeses, wrapped in filo
mast va khiar (cucumber, yogurt, scallions, sultanas, black walnuts, mint).
Plus many desserts:
oatmeal stout cake;
chocolate sheet cake;
macadamia nut-white chocolate cookeis;
Moroccan mixed fruit.
First time since pandemic started we had a guest for dinner.
paella valenciana (with chicken wings, kielbasa, Chinese sausage, shrimp,
mushrooms in garlic sauce;
cabbage and green bell pepper slaw;
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.