I’ve got a new Think Again column called "Conservative? Bad? How About Both?" about the shocking decline in the quality of the Washington Post op-ed page here .
For my Nation column, I tried to put the Wieseltier/Sullivan mishigas in a larger context in a column called "Semites and ‘Anti-Semites.’" That’s not a reference to Sartre though, and I almost called it "The Manchurian Magazine" instead, which I think is a clever-er title, but not one that most people would get, so…
I’ve seen four shows in eight days this week. Dave Alvin, reviewed here last week; Nellie McCay doing her tribute to Doris Day at the Allen Room on Wednesday; Clapton and Beck at the Garden Friday; and the new Weir/Lesh concoction called "Furthur" at Radio City on Tuesday. My favorite is still Dave. Clapton and Beck was a total washout and the ticket prices made one feel cynically used. (I paid almost two hundred bucks and was about half an arena away. And I bought the things in the early minutes of the Amex presale.) Anyway, it was an extremely lazy evening for Eric. He did a nice "I Shot the Sheriff" and I enjoyed their duet on "Moon River" but otherwise it was an exercise in lethargy and audience contempt, not as bad as The Washington Post op-ed page, but a universe away from the Clapton/Winwood shows of last year (or whenever…). The "Furthur" show, however was pretty great. This DSO guy on guitar is not only quite good, he sings a bit like Jerry and looks a bit like a young Jerry and has just the right lilt in his performance to lighten up the band and make it the playful thing it once was but long ago ceased to be. Radio City was completely full with happy people of all ages; a very different vibe than the Dead show I saw at the Meadowlands last year that had everybody bummed out. Wonderful Help/Slip/Frank, by the way, which is how I judge these things.
As for Ms. McCay, well, I love her new album, Normal as Blueberry Pie on Verve. It’s Doris Day plus just what Doris needed, a little more sex and a little more humor. I think Nellie loves her because they are both animal rights activists of a pretty obsessive nature. This show had an apparently unrehearsed band and, I can’t believe I’m writing this, a very nervous Nellie. She mentioned breaking up with her boyfriend that day because he went back to his wife for her health insurance. I dunno if this was a joke. But she was kinda all over the place and I think everybody, as a result, had a hard time relaxing and enjoying the excellent musicians in the beautiful setting the Allen Room provides. Still, I’d get the record, were I you and had my taste.