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Slacker Friday | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Slacker Friday

Wrap-up:

We've got a new "Think Again" column called "Who's JailingJournalists?"here inwhich we wonder, aloud, why the United States has joined the alleged Axis of Evil in jailing journalists without charge.

And I did a piece for the Daily Beast on "The Death of the Neocons" here.

Slacker Friday

Charles Pierce
Newton, MA

Hey Doc--

"Couldn't stop movin' when it first took hold/It was a warm springnight at the old town hall/There was a group called The Jokers, they waslayin' it down/Doncha know I'm never gonna lose that funky sound."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click--"If You Want Me To Stay" (Big ChiefAlfred Doucette)--OK, sorry. I was gone for a couple of days--off toSaskatchewan for some surfing, if you must know--and I failed to leaveword with my staff to tell y'all how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: As the father of daughter who's in high school, Ifind this a blessed relief. As a lover of Amendments IV and V, and an observer of the current Supreme Court, I find it damned near miraculous. As a longtime observer of Clarence Thomas, I continue to  find him pretty godawfullyrevolting.

Part The Second: For all its gifts at wonkery, Josh's place also has shown a remarkable facility at good old political gossip. I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say that we still don't know thewhole story about the strange journeys of Mark Sanford, the Luis Firpo of former 2012 GOP presidential contenders.

Part The Third: If it weren't for Kevin Drum, I'd have missed thisbit of guerrilla theater over at The Corner. First, Andy McCarthy puts abird on his head. Then, Rich Lowry, who has ambitions in this world beyond being the hallmonitor at a home for public lunatics, gently suggests to Andy that he iswearing a bird for a hat. Undaunted, Andy replies that he is too wearing a hat and a lovely hat itis, even though what it is doing down the back of his neck is unpleasant and making people edge away from him. Your conservative intelligentsia, ladies and gentlemen!

Part The Fourth: Jesus H. Christ On The South Beach Diet, what arethese idiots thinking? I don'tentirely mean the two idiots on-camera, although someone is going to haveto gently remind them that, just because Chris Matthews thinks you'refunny, it doesn't mean that you are. (Hey, Dana. You couldn't get that guy from The Huffington Post drunk enough to do something this stupid. Pass it on.)  I also mean the upper-echelon  idiots at the WaPo who think this piece of sub-middle-school-theatrical was worth putting out there in public. I have given thirty years of my life to a craft that deserves better than this shabby piece of burlesque and, if my industry does go down, can't at least it go down with some dignity?

Part The Fifth: I don't know how I missed this glorious book lastyear, but I guarantee it will start more arguments in your head than any book of the past decade. Bring it to your local and prepare for flying crockery.

Part The Last: Another dispatch from hell from History's yard waste. Iswear, every time they start getting the old Legacy Machine cranked upagain, there are more tapes released and it's like Christmas in June!

I have lived through a number of political events in my life thatwere Bad Ideas. The pardon of the above-mentioned Trickster was a bad idea,so was the virtual  non-prosecution of the Iran-Contra hoodlums. The circussurrounding the death of Terri Schiavo was a very Bad Idea, indeed. Youknow what else was a really Bad Idea? The Pursuit And Impeachment Of BillClinton, that's what. And not just because it paralyzed the government,made clowns out of the elite media, and pretty much dinged up the legacy ofa brilliant politician who nonetheless wasn't smart enough to keep itzipped for the paltry eight years during which he held the job he'd wantedfrom birth. It surely was a Bad Idea for all those reasons, but those areall reasons it was bad for the country. It has proven to be even worse forthe Republican party. This was obvious from the 1998 midterms, when thecountry pretty much told the Republican majority that it had enough, andthose worthies went ahead with the kabuki anyway, fully in the knowledgethat they had no chance in hell of ever convicting Clinton in the Senateand, thereby, removing him from office. Even they're aware now that it wasa bad idea. Know how I know that?

Remember all the high-flown rhetoric that got tossed around on their side of the aisle about standing up for the law--all those quotes from A Man For All Seasons and I'll bet the estate of Robert Bolt never saw a dime--and for future generations? All those speeches about doing what was right and not what was popular? We were told that the Great Fellatio Hunt was nothing less than a watershed moment in the country's history. And yet, at the three Republican National Conventions since Clinton left office, there has been nary a mention ofthis selfless and noble moment in the party's history. (By comparison, Iseem to recall several references to Watergate at the 1976 DemocraticConvention.) Where are the videos of Henry Hyde and Young HuckleberryGraham, generic hero music swelling behind them, fighting the good fightagainst illicit nookie on our behalf? I may be wrong, but I don't know anyRepublican politician who is still promoting with pride his role in thisepic struggle. And, of course, nowadays, all the GFH has done is freeze anentire generation of young Republican hopefuls into the uncomfortableposition of being unable to have a good old American midlife crisis oftheir own. Governor Gaucho down there in South Carolina is only the mostrecent--and the most comically complex--one, but there will be more.Turns out that the Great Fellatio Hunt has led the party all the way up theol' Appalachian Trail from whose bourne no traveler returns but that heruns into the local media. And with e-mails, no less!

Name:    Terry
Hometown:  Cheyenne

I'm crazy about Madeleine Peyroux. So glad you saw her. Whatever herhybrid mix, and I do love her songwriting, amidst the places shegoes, she always puts me in mind of Billie. Great artist. Par for thecourse, over the years, re mutual musical sensibilities. Hey, Eric.

Name:   Greg Panfile
Postal:  Tuckahoe NY

Thanks to Sal for the words on the George collection... my twoessays on him (obit and songwriting style analysis/appreciation) arehopefully accessible through the page linked to my name on thisposting. Missing 'Bangla Desh' is bad, missing the live version fromthe Concert therefor is worse. We assume the live versions of'Something' and 'While My Guitar' are poor efforts at rounding outthe collection with songs whose recorded masters couldn't be useddue to their Beatle origin, and getting some real time Clapton onthere, right?

It does appear, speaking to Sal's point about the mastering of thecurrent CDs, that the Last Revelation will occur this fall when themono mixes finally come out. This issue has long been a big one inBeatleland, of Swiftian proportions about which end of the egg tocrack first. Given the impossibility of producing good stereopictures when working from four-track masters with intermediate(reduction) mixes, and the participation of the band their ownselves in the mono mixing but NOT the stereo mixing, there's atheoretical argument, and a strong one, in favor of the mono mixes.I for one spent years tracking them all down, after I had all thegood bootlegs.

But really, all you need is ears. A/B, for example, stereo versusmono for such rocking openers as Magical Mystery Tour and Taxman. Nocontest, the mono rocks, the stereo is hollow. Also, there are actualsubtle, detailed differences, as they are different mixes done bydifferent people on different days. Hopefully this will get someattention when the remasters finally appear, and 'settle' thequestion forever. The Beatles emanate from the mono tradition of single-speaker transistor radios and the production values of noted monoistsBrian Wilson and Phil Spector. When you see pictures of them at aconsole, they are doing a mono mix. Period. Exclamation point!

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