Open Thread for Thursday, August 26, 2021

Screenshot 2021-08-25 at 10.17.38 AM

I initially typed, in the headline, “August 25, 2921.” That would have been… revelatory. But then, who would care what we say about it, eight centuries from now?

(And then, since I didn’t get it posted last night, I had to change the day as well.)

  1. Hawaii governor says ‘now is not the time’ for tourists to visit — Every once in a while you see a headline that emphasizes dramatically how different this moment in history is from every other. And that’s what this headline does. Let’s just say Burl and I didn’t hear anything like that back when we were both living on Oahu 50 years ago. Now I’m waiting to hear something similar from Henry McMaster — something that shows he is aware of the difference between now and other times. I expect to be waiting a long, long time…
  2. Charlie Watts was a gentleman in the world’s most dangerous band — I kind of enjoyed this as a a second-day take on our loss of this guy. So I pass it on.
  3. Stop Politicizing the Misery in Afghanistan — Amen, Frank Bruni. It’s a good piece, and I’d take it a bit farther: We need to stop doing this with every fricking thing in the world, not just Afghanistan. Back in the days when our nation’s politics were functional, and often even rational, I was dismissive of people who complained about “politics” intruding upon this or that. I would say, “Politics” is simply our term for how we, in a free society, discuss and deal with issues that affect us all in the public sphere. The term describes something that is not only not bad, but essential. But that has changed in recent years. For a couple of decades, the mindless competition between the two parties got more and more poisonous. And then came Trump, and everything got exponentially worse, and disconnected from reality. It’s one reason I blog less than I used to — there is less opportunity to discuss anything in a way that leads to any sort of practical consensus on anything. This is worth a separate post, if I can get to it.
  4. Inconclusive review of virus origins prompts calls for more probes: ‘We have to get to the bottom of this’ — No, we don’t. This is an example of what I’m on about with the previous item. Again, this is stupid, Trump-era politics. Supposedly, we’re supposed to respond to it in one of two stupid ways: Either we see it as essential to get to the bottom of how “Ji-na” inflicted the “Kung-Flu” on us, or to somehow demonstrate the opposite, conclusively. Which is not only impossible (I mean the “conclusively” part, in such a complex situation), but in no way essential at this moment in history. We don’t “have to get to the bottom of this” right now. What we “have to” do is beat the virus, and save as many lives as possible. And that’s enough. As for how it started, I can’t see how that’s immediately relevant, unless we’re looking to identify someone to prosecute, or seeking a premise for war. I suppose it’s also good, looking ahead, to have tips on how to avoid such pandemics in the future. But it’s nowhere near the most essential aspect right now.
  5. A naked baby helped Nirvana sell millions of records. Now 30, he’s suing the band for ‘child pornography.’ — Of course, it’s not just politics that displays the fact that, as our lawyer friend Bryan often says, this is a stupid time to be alive. You really don’t have to read beyond the headline to get that point, I think.
  6. The viral Milk Crate Challenge has left people injured. Doctors are begging them to stop. — I just included this in case the other posts didn’t convince you about the rampant stupidity thing that is sort of this post’s theme.

I didn’t really mean to embark on such a riff. But actually, it’s an important reason why I don’t post as much as I used to. Everywhere I look, I find it hard to take the foolishness…

56 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, August 26, 2021

    1. Bob Amundson

      Bill may disagree that Watts was stone mortar; as are most drummers …

      Off tangent is ok today. Poet – don’t know it.

        1. Bob Amundson

          Nice. An admitted “Deadhead” visited my resort last week. Over a beer he bought for me, he said “The Vibe here is cool.” Good music, good vibe.

                1. Bob Amundson

                  Thank you Bill; I’m sure you know I am cisgender. How many on this blog know what that is without looking it up?

                  😉 I love her voice.

                  1. Bart

                    I know the definition of cisgender although I have no clue as to why the two genders need another definition.

                    Roberta Flack took an old classic, “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”, and made it hers and hers alone. The versions by other artists are bland and void of emotion. Mary Travers did a version and I tried to listen but had to end it quickly and she is one of my all time favorites.

                    With Flack’s version, one can almost feel the pure emotion emoting from her as she gives a totally new approach to her voice and piano arrangement.

                    Sammy Davis, Jr. took the song, “Mr. Bojangles” and made it his but a different style than the one by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Davis actually did the dancing as the song described and did it very well.

                    1. Bill

                      To be clear;Jerry Jeff Walker wrote the song,then Nitty Gritty got a hit with the cover,and Sammy turned the song into a caricature of itself…and induces sensory overload.
                      Go see Jason Isbell @Columbia Speedway,THURSDAY!

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I hate to be negative, but I was never much of a fan of “Mr. Bojangles.” Probably a matter of overexposure.

                      Back in the 60s, it seems like every variety or talk show I looked at had Sammy Davis Jr. on as a guest, and I tended to assume that this guy only knew one song: “Mr. Bojangles.” I more than got my fill of it.

                      There was a generational thing going on, too. Sammy always worked hard at projecting the alleged “cool” of the Rat Pack. And I tended to see those guys as pretty much UNcool and out of date. The more they acted in accord with their notion of cool, the more off-putting they were to me.

                      I occasionally enjoyed Dean Martin, possibly because he had such self-mocking air to all he did. The Chairman I could hardly bear, although as I grew up I came to appreciate some of his music, such as the amazing “Summer Wind.”

                      But I never got into Sammy, or “Mr. Bojangles”…

                    3. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Actually, I enjoyed “Swingers,” which was all about guys trying to evoke that style of “cool” from back before they were born.

                      But I think that’s because it was presented ironically, in a comical context…

                    4. Bart


                      Thanks for the information about the song. I am not into music the way you apparently are and enjoy the different genres you post. I only know what I enjoy and that is enough for me.

                      As for Sammy Davis, Jr., he was a good entertainer in his day and adopted the song in his waning days as his theme. I guess entertainers have to grasp for relevance as they age and their popularity diminishes as new ones emerge to take the stage.

                      Frankly, a lot of the music that is popular, I don’t get it but that is fine with me. I still thoroughly enjoy the music I like and will readily admit, my list is not a long one but is diverse and one I enjoy immensely.

                      Again, thanks for posting your videos.

                    5. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Well, as I’ve said before, we are making a painful trek across a desert of bad pop music.

                      And no, kiddies, it’s not just the old guy grumping about how things were better when he was young.

                      These things have cycles.

                      Pop music was mostly fairly lame in the 1950s, although you had the brilliant, shining star of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. (If you doubt me, go back and look at the charts).

                      Then, the ’60s were astounding. There’s not been a better time for popular music in the English-speaking world. But then, the same was true of all types of popular culture. The dynamics of that moment in the postwar economic expansion created conditions we haven’t seen at any other time.

                      Then, things got fairly lame in the ’70s, possibly because of all the ‘ludes. Oh, sure, just as in the ’50s, there was fantastic stuff. Elvis Costello, for instance. And I love James Taylor and very much like a lot of Led Zeppelin and so forth. But there was a lot of awful drivel.

                      Then, in the ’80s, music videos kicked off a revolution that rivalled, but did not quite match, the ’60s. A lot of awesome stuff across a wide range of styles.

                      That continued into the early ’90s, and then, suddenly, just dried up. Sure, there’s still an occasional great pop song or a new performer over the last quarter century who brings something special (Adele, Radiohead, LMFAO, maybe Weezer on a good day), but since about 1993, it’s mostly just depressing. We might as well be back in the days of, I don’t know, Fabian or something…

                    6. Bob Amundson

                      Yeah, one of my favorites. Bored in a college class I once wrote “Solving the world’s problems, but wasting the day. Why do I spent time contemplating this way?” I’d rather Dream All Day.

                    7. Bob Amundson

                      Brad, your reply just makes me think of one of my new favs, THE STRANGEST TIMES, by Big Big Train. How about a new genre? Try symphonic metal (very Nordic – I like the Finnish Band “Nightwish”).

                      As I said in an earlier post, it is an adventure finding decent new music. But make new friends; keep the old.

                    8. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Making new friends is how I ended up putting LMFAO on the list.

                      Since them, though — and that was several years ago — we’ve had a dry spell. And to tell the truth, when I say LMFAO, I really just mean “Party Rock Anthem,” which was pretty great.

                      I’ve found myself listening lately to samba music on my Astrud Gilberto channel on Pandora, which sort of indirectly led me to Diana Krall, who is great. None of that’s new, though. Krall is new to ME, but I’ve loved samba music since my Dad brought some records back from a trip to Rio in the mid-60s.

                      Lately, I’ve been listening a lot to this. And no, it’s not that I’m consciously trying to be part of the sea-shanty craze that erupted during 2020. I’ve just been reading about some of those songs in my favorite historical novels, and I wanted to know more about them.

                      Interesting thing about that: Spotify has stopped assuming I’m some middle-of-the-road, cliche boomer who just wants to hear the Beach Boys and Crosby, Stills and Nash, and has started suggesting more esoteric music such as the following:


                      … which is interesting.

                      But of course part of me is like, “Dude! Where’s my Simon and Garfunkel?”

                    9. Bob Amundson

                      When I’m feeling nasty (I do at times) I play 5 Finger Death Punch’s cover of Bad Company. Watch the video; perhaps some non-military will understand why “Call us bad company (until the day I die).”

                    10. Bob Amundson

                      Love the song – I sing “before they raise the f***ing rent.” It is alright now. And of course the deeper meaning is maybe death is freedom.

                    11. Brad Warthen Post author

                      As for the REALLY big pop acts in recent years? It’s just hard to get into.

                      I mean, let’s take a really big Taylor Swift song. Several years ago, I found myself listening to “Shake it Off,” and thinking it was a pretty catchy pop song. But I meant the way someone like the Archies occasionally produced a catchy bubblegum song. Or maybe I’ll go as far as the Jackson Five on a slow day. But not much deeper than that, really…

                    12. Bob Amundson

                      Outlander is an interesting series on STARZ; the Scottish Highland music fascinates me. Historical fiction with some SYFY thrown in.

                    13. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I’d heard good things about it, but I started to watch it once, but didn’t make it through the first episode. The time travel, or whatever, hadn’t even started yet…

                    14. Bob Amundson

                      Bart, the amount of music available is just unbelievable. There is so much good new music – it is an adventure at times finding it! Lots of garbage – still – Bubble Gum!!!!!

                    15. Bart


                      I realize there is a lot of new music available out there but I guess my choices are still limited due to time available to explore and the fact that I find a lot of it sounds the same and without any “soul” if that is the proper term to use.

                      I am a fan of Sissel and her versions or styling of many of the old favorites along with an amazing Greek singer whose voice is astounding, Nana Mouskouri. Sissel’s version of “Summertime” is simply great and when she goes into the second part of the song, her voice resonates and touches me.

                      Mouskouri’s version of the ABBA song, “I Have A Dream”, is as good if not better than ABBA’s.

                      I realize my preferences are with the old standards and will remain so but at the same time, the options and choices in music genres are constantly changing as it should be. But, I find comfort with what I treasure.

                    16. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Lack of soul is a good way to put it.

                      I’ve read a number of things in recent years about how pop music is now largely composed, or at least guided, by artificial intelligence. There was a particularly good piece I read in The Wall Street Journal about that, as I recall, but I can’t find it at the moment.

                      Anyway, I nodded when I read it. Because that’s what most pop has sounded like in recent years. Vapid, empty, mechanical…

                    17. Bob Amundson

                      “Lack of soul?” I like connecting with the local music scene; I love the freshness of the young musicians I am trying to promote. I think what some are saying is exactly what our elders told us. Beware of what I call “Old Fart Syndrome.”

                    18. Bob Amundson

                      Yes; and part of owning a resort is entertainment. In so many ways I am a promoter – right now I am promoting my home town.

                      I am helping the area “freshen up” the music scene. Open Mike last night; our young talent need a place to show their stuff. Sure, Brad, maybe on You Tube. I just like interacting with these kids; helps keep me at least thinking I am young.

                    19. Brad Warthen Post author

                      As for the Alter Cocker Syndrome — I believe I addressed that back here.

                      It’s not about age. It’s about pop music going through cycles. Sometimes it’s great; sometimes it’s lame. There was a lot of bad stuff (and some really good stuff) in the 50s and 70s. Then things got awesome in the 80s — when I was well past the age when kids are super-into music. Then things really suddenly dried up in the early-to-mid-90s. One minute there was Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M. and Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam and Radiohead and Green Day — all when I was about 40 and my older kids were in high school — and the next minute I was like, “Where did all the rock bands go?”

                      You know what I blame? The end of the music-video period. The early 90s was when M-TV and VH-1 stopped showing nonstop videos, and started airing all that crap like “Real World.” That was the beginning of the worst genre in TV history, and the end of rock ‘n’ roll…

                    20. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Well, I don’t. But the Archies are from back in the era when, if you listened to radio, you heard everything that was on the charts. If you wanted to hear the stuff you liked, you also had to hear the junk…

                    21. Bob Amundson

                      Bart, you are not an “Old Fart.” You and I are so much alike; I just was lucky to be on what I call “the bleeding edge” of technology. I am a bit younger, which gave me that unbelievable opportunity.

                      My “resort” is in the most very northern section of the Appalachians (the Alleghenies); the northern most hillbillies live in the southern tier of NY. I use Amish craftsman, and the live/work space I am designing has a great deal of reclaimed barn wood. I am a proud Hillbilly; but many think I am a “New York City” whatever.

                      Young reporters nail it – minimal, retro, with high tech thrown in. Our youth demand that high tech, and I am so glad I can supply “5 Bars” and great WiFi to my guests.

                      Bart, there is so much new music, and so much of it is old music. Bill is a great resource on this blog; his musical tastes seem broader than mine (a bit rare). I wish Phillip had more time to write on the blog – absolutely brilliant pianist (IMHO).

                      I am so glad you are writing again. As I have told Brad, up to this point mostly privately, I write when I hurt. Or play/listen to music. One Nightwish song I like says “I want my tears back NOW!”

                      I’m good all y’all (you guys here in rural NY). Enjoy our long weekend!

  1. clark surratt

    Problem is, after Bruni made that statement he delivered another big helping of pure, partisan, political bashing.

    1. Bob Amundson

      This means so much to me; I was recently elected President of the Columbia Luncheon Club – Brad is most likely aware of the CLC because it is now part of the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council. As is tradition, the current President (Dr. Alissa Armstrong, professor at U of SC) is “non white.”

      I have a very strong military bias, but please, only as a very last resort. We are brothers and sisters, and we share so much. I am tired of people finding “things” to divide us (politicians?).

      Peace and humanhood A Tout Le Monde (which is also a song by Megadeth).

        1. Bob Amundson

          Alissa (Dr. Armstrong; post doc John Hopkins) and I are going to initiate change. Younger (Alissa is 30 “something”), more organized, most importantly, more ACTIVIST.

          I have a 19 year old son in prison. He is Black; he would not be in prison if he were White.

        1. Bob Amundson

          Sweet. I recognize the fungi, too. Micro dosing KGB and “little smoke” keep me somewhat normal (sober, I guess) to enjoy MUSIC! Thanks friend. I had a rough night comforting a Vietnam Vet and a woman Afghanistan Vet. Lots of pain to share.

            1. Bob Amundson

              Interesting. The newest data is quite clear that most any MAT (medically assisted treatment) is better than “sobriety.” We humans been lookin’ to get high for a while! I wish I had more time to forage and study native pharmacopeia.

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