Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Who blacklisted whom?



One of the political Left's favorite bedtime stories is about the Hollywood Blacklist. Kudos to Allan Ryskind in his new book, "Hollywood Traitors," for finally blowing that tired old myth out of the water.
For those who still doubt, the book includes the Communist Party card numbers of every one of the late, lamented Hollywood Ten and records in great detail their efforts to steer films Joe Stalin's way.
For further proof, try to find a copy of their greatest hit, the 1943 Warner Brothers film, "Mission to Moscow," which ends with an avuncular Comrade Stalin talking about all the Soviet Union's great accomplishments under his leadership. There's even a delightful scene at the Moscow show trials where the defendant calmly points the finger at himself and the hero of the film, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Davies, praises the trials for meeting the norms of international law. It would be almost comic if you were unaware of the millions of dead that lay strewn in Stalin's wake.
As you can well imagine, Warner Brothers celebrates that film about as much as the New York Times recalls Walter Duranty's Pulitzer for looking the other way when Stalin was busily at work.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Avoiding the rush to war


Kudos to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for this clear-eyed analysis of America's increasing rush to war in his new memoirs:

"... In recent decades, presidents confronted with tough problems abroad have too often been too quick to reach for a gun. Our foreign and national security policy has become too militarized, the use of force too easy for presidents.

"Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the first option rather than a last resort. On the left, we hear about the 'responsibility to protect' civilians to justify military intervention in Libya, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere. On the right, the failure to strike Syria or Iran is deemed an abdication of U.S. leadership. And so the rest of the world sees the U.S. as a militaristic country quick to launch planes, cruise missiles and drones deep into sovereign countries or ungoverned spaces. There are limits to what even the strongest and greatest nation on Earth can do—and not every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or crisis should elicit a U.S. military response."

Amen.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Heavy Stones night


On the turntable this evening:

The Rolling Stones Now!

No Stone Unturned

Between the Buttons (UK)

Ruby Tuesday b/w Let's Spend the Night Together

We Love You b/w Dandelion

We Love You (John and Paul vocal backing track)

Steel Wheels

The Rolling Stones Songbook by the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra (to come down to earth)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dry martini, anyone?

With warm weather finally upon us, Paul Desmond's glorious "From the Hot Afternoon" album is the perfect soundtrack. Desmond who made his chops playing alto saxophone with Dave Brubeck dropped this bossa nova gem on an unsuspecting public in 1969.

Desmond explained his gorgeous sax tone to an interviewer this way: "I had the vague idea that I wanted to sound like a dry martini."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Keep The Summer Alive

I feel good about being an American this summer, and my summer soundtrack is going to be the new Beach Boys' album, "That's Why God Made the Radio." Yeah, it's been decades since Brian and Mike made a record together, and they're all pushing 70. But as someone wiser than me said 30-plus years ago, keep the summer alive. And keep on dancin'.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Soft Sound

I think of it as the World Soft Championships, to steal a phrase from Warner Brothers ' legendary liner notes writer Stan Cornyn. That's how he described the brand new album "Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim" in 1967. The same phrase comes to mind with the release of Paul McCartney's new album "Kisses on the Bottom."

Both Sinatra and McCartney are singing without a safety net, unless you count the airtight backing ensembles they have setting the mood. Neither man was ever more vulnerable in the recording studio. This is the real Let It Be Naked.

The albums are impeccably performed and recorded, with Jobim and, in McCartney's case, Diana Krall as co-conspirators throughout. The singers are nuanced and right on the note. Even the packaging works.

Highlights? Sinatra's bossa take on Cole Porter's "I Concentrate On You" is inspired, and he's positively poetic on Jobim's "Quiet Night of Quiet Stars." McCartney delivers a heartbreaking take on Irving Berlin's "Always," then turns around to lightly groove on Fats Waller's "My Very Good Friend The Milkman." But both albums are seamless.

Let the Soft Championships begin.




Friday, November 4, 2011