Memorial Day…2017

It’s Memorial Day here in the States. The day set aside to pause and remember those brave men and women who gave their lives in service to this country. A lot of people get it confused with Veterans’ Day, which goes to show how shabby the U. S. education system is, among other things…but that’s another topic for another time.

Today, I pause to remember my uncle Kermit, who died in the Vietnam War well before I was born. For the longest time I didn’t even know his name. I plan on going to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D. C. to take a rubbing of his name – but, if the “traveling memorial wall” comes through the Pacific Northwest again before that time, I will take one from that to frame until I’m able to visit the real thing.

To Kermit, and to all who made the ultimate sacrifice, thank you. There aren’t enough words to express the gratitude I feel, so I’ll say it with a few pictures and a poignant song.

Tribute: J. Geils

John Warren Geils Jr.: 20 February 1946 – 11 April 2017

Wow – I happened to hear this announced on one of the radio stations that I was listening to when I was out and about earlier today. From CNN:

John Warren Geils Jr., the guitarist and founder of the eponymous J. Geils Band, has died, police in Groton, Massachusetts, said.

Police came to Geils’ home for a well-being check, police Chief Donald Palma said. The 71-year-old was found unresponsive and was declared dead at the scene…The J. Geils Band was one of the most popular American touring bands of the 1970s. It did not achieve commercial fame until the 1980s, when they released radio mainstays such as “Centerfold,” “Love Stinks” and “Freeze-Frame.”

Born in New York in 1946 and raised in New Jersey, Geils’ first love was cars — a passion he inherited from his father along with his ear for jazz, he told Autoweek in 2012. He met band mates Danny Klein and “Magic Dick” Salwitz at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he was studying mechanical engineering. They formed the J. Geils Band in 1967 with lead singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd.

“That was the end of engineering school for all three of us,” he told the magazine.

The group released a string of albums in the 1970s but would not achieve commercial success until the 1980s, starting with the release of “Love Stinks,” its first platinum-selling record, according to Rolling Stone. Their 12th album, “Freeze-Frame,” featured its popular title track as well as chart-topper “Centerfold,” which spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982.”

The J. Geils band was one of my favourites to listen to in high school and afterwards, and I had a number of their albums. You could hear the songs “Centerfold” or “Freeze-Frame” played nearly every day on the radio, and MTV was more than generous with playing those hits, as well as the awesome song “Love Stinks.” From Rolling Stone:

Formed in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1967, the J. Geils Band became fast local favorites and released their self-titled debut in 1970. They broke through on the Billboard 200 in 1973 with their record Bloodshot, and over the course of the next decade honed a sound that blended blues rock, R&B, soul and pop. During the Seventies, the J. Geils Band would release eight studio albums and two live records while touring relentlessly – but they wouldn’t hit their commercial peak until the beginning of the next decade.

In 1980, the J. Geils Band released Love Stinks, their first platinum-selling record, while the following year they notched a Number One with their 12th album Freeze-Frame. That album featured the group’s only chart-topping hit, “Centerfold,” while its title track also reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

However, the band began to fall apart in the aftermath of its success. Wolf did not appear on the J. Geils Band’s final album, 1984’s You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd. The J. Geils Band officially split in 1985, but began to play the occasional reunion show in 1999. In 2012, however, Geils officially quit the group and sued his bandmates for conspiring to go on tour without him and unlawfully using the band’s trademarked name.

Outside of the J. Geils Band, Geils remained busy as a musician. In the mid-Nineties, he released two albums with his band Bluestime and during the 2000s, he returned to his jazz roots with three solo records.”

I often played their lesser-known songs on the radio when I was a DJ, and would get compliments on the song and band trivia that I’d toss in here and there. “No Anchovies, Please” was one that I memorized and would recite to friends at slumber parties – only on request, of course! Many fond memories always come to mind whenever I hear a song from the J. Geils Band, and always listen to them with a smile. I chose five rarely-heard ones to close out this tribute to a musical genius. Rest easy, Mr. Geils – you won’t be forgotten.

Ah, Chuck…

Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry: 18 October 1926 – 18 March 2017

Damn…I was doing some gaming and listening to the 70s station on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and heard of the passing of one of the REAL kings of Rock & Roll, the notable, legendary, musical genius known as Chuck Berry. He passed away today at the age of 90; it isn’t lost on me that he was born on the 18th of October, and left this world on the 18th of March.

He was due to release an album later this year, according to his official website. What a man! What a musician! What a legend! Sheer genius, and that is never a term I toss about lightly. Some people overuse words such as “passion,” “genius,” or “eclectic,” but they really don’t know the true meaning of those words. Not trying to insult those folks; I just feel that they grabbed onto a “clickbait” word in order to drive traffic to their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress sites.

My son just sent me a text about Chuck’s death. That’s one way I know that I have imparted some true knowledge and genuine love of music to at least one Millennial! Most people in his age group say, “Chuck Berry? Should I know who that is?” – but they will mention Justin Beiber, Lady GooGooGaGa, or Nikki Minaj in the same breath, as if those scumwads were worthy of the status of Chuck Berry, David Bowie, B.B. King, Prince, or Jimi Hendrix.

If you know the “Duck-Walk,” then you know Chuck Berry. He made that move famous, just as Michael Jackson was the master of the “Moon-walk.” Chuck’s music was often played on the radio, and “My Ding-A-Ling” was the first one that I recall hearing. He had so many epic, timeless, awesome songs! I don’t think that I can say anything that would truly give due credit to this truly talented man, so I give you my favourite seven hits of his for your enjoyment.

10 Tribute Songs: David Bowie

David Bowie (b. David Robert Jones): 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

Today marks the birth anniversary of the late, great David Bowie, who was taken far too soon on 10 January 2016. He was one of few celebrities that I respected, admired, and hoped to meet in person, just once. His music was epic, and I never tired of hearing his songs being played – whether they were new songs or familiar, favourite tunes.

In a little tribute to him, I decided to post 10 excellent Bowie songs that I always enjoy whenever they come on the radio. The station “Deep Tracks,” on Sirius XM, is also going to do a “head-trip” special dedicated to him. I’m looking forward to hearing some songs that I may not have heard before, as that station is known for playing some of the more obscure hits that never got over-played on standard radio stations.

Enjoy…and have a pleasant Sunday.

Godspeed, John Glenn…Tribute Post

John Herschel Glenn Jr.: 18 July 1921 – 8 December 2016

Ah, John…I knew that your time was drawing near. You’ve gone places that I’ve only dreamed of; you have walked where I hope to tread, someday. You were the first American to orbit the earth, and your near-death experience at that time was still talked about with awe when I was in grade school. From the official NASA website:

On February 20, 1962, NASA launched one of the most important flights in American history. The mission? Send a man to orbit Earth, observe his reactions and return him home safely. The pilot of this historic flight, John Glenn, became a national hero and a symbol of American ambition. In 1958, John Glenn participated in a series of tests designed to select the first group of astronauts for the newly formed NASA Manned Space Program. Each astronaut candidate, from an original pool of 508, had to meet seven criteria.

They had to be test pilot school graduates in excellent physical shape, less than 40 years old, shorter than 5 feet 11 inches, qualified jet pilots, and they had to have at least 1,500 hours flying time and bachelors’ degrees in engineering. Glenn met all the requirements. He also had a reputation as one of the best test pilots in the country. In July 1957, he had set a transcontinental speed record by flying from Los Angeles to New York in 3 hours and 23 minutes. It was the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed…After three years of training, John Glenn rocketed into space aboard the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. He became the third American in space and the first to orbit Earth. The historical flight was no easy feat. At the end of his first orbit, a yaw attitude jet clogged, forcing Glenn to abandon the automatic control system and use the manual electrical fly-by-wire system. In 4 hours and 56 minutes, John Glenn circled the globe three times, reaching speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour. The successful mission concluded with a splashdown and recovery in the Atlantic Ocean, 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.”

You inspired so many, myself included, to shatter bonds and reach for impossible dreams. From the official John & Annie Glenn Museum website:

John H. Glenn, Jr., was born in Cambridge, Ohio, on July 18, 1921, the son of John Herschel and Clara Sproat Glenn. At age two, young John moved with his parents to New Concord, where his father opened a plumbing business. After relocating to New Concord, the Glenns built a home that doubled as a rooming house for students from nearby Muskingum College.

Glenn would write many years later of his childhood, “A boy could not have had a more idyllic early childhood than I did.” Surrounded by older students, encouraged by a father who liked to travel, and tutored by a devoted mother, John developed an early interest in science, a fascination with flying, and a sense of patriotism that would define his adult life.

He graduated from New Concord High School and attended Muskingum College. Shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Glenn enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program and became a Marine pilot. He flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II. When the Korean conflict began, Glenn asked for combat duty and flew 63 missions. For his total of 149 missions during the two wars, he received many decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross six times.

After the Korean conflict, Glenn attended test pilot school and then joined the Naval Air Test Center’s staff of expert flyers. He served as a test pilot for Naval and Marine aircraft, including the FJ3, the F7U Cutlass, and the F8U Crusader. One of Glenn’s most notable accomplishments during this period was the 1957 speed record he set flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes. “Project Bullet” secured Glenn’s reputation as one of the country’s top test pilots and provided a stepping stone for his participation in the emerging space exploration program.

Glenn’s experience and skill made him a logical candidate for the astronaut corps being formed during 1958. He entered the space program as a participant in the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics’ “G” force tests. When NASA put out a call for pilots to participate in its suborbital and orbital program, Glenn volunteered without hesitation. In 1959, NASA selected him as one of the first seven astronauts in the U.S. space program. On February 20, 1962, atop an Atlas rocket, he rode into space and piloted the Friendship 7 spacecraft around the globe three times, becoming the first American to orbit the earth.

Glenn’s ride into space, a great technical accomplishment, held even greater significance for the country. Having lagged behind the Soviet Union in the “Space Race,” Americans saw the event as a political as well as scientific milestone. Across the country, they welcomed Glenn as a hero who had conquered the bounds of earth and given new wings to America’s spirit.”

I’ve been almost obsessed with space since I was a child, and every article about outer space that I’ve ever read has always included this amazing man. It isn’t lost on me that people who looked like me were excluded from the “Space Race,” but that never stopped me from being fascinated with what lies beyond the stratosphere. John Glenn has always been synonymous with outer space for my entire life, and his passing does not end it for me – he will always be the original “Rocket Man.” That song is the first of three that I play, here, to send him to the stars. Enjoy.

Happy Birthday, Jim…

James Douglas “Jim” Morrison: 8 December 1943 – 3 July 1971

Today marks the birth anniversary of the late, great, former frontman for the rock band The Doors – Jim Morrison, the self-described “Lizard King.” He was a singer, songwriter, poet, and a fiery Sagittarius. He was incredibly talented, but plagued by alcoholism and drug addiction. Those addictions most certainly contributed to his untimely death at the age of 27 in Paris, France. He is interred at at Père Lachaise Cemetery in eastern Paris. From Wikipedia:

James Douglas Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, the son of Clara Virginia (née Clarke) and Rear Admiral George Stephen Morrison, USN,[11] who commanded US naval forces during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which provided the pretext for the US invasion of South Vietnam in 1965. Morrison had a sister, Anne Robin, who was born in 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and a brother, Andrew Lee Morrison, who was born in 1948 in Los Altos, California.

His ancestors were Scottish, Irish, and English.[12][13] In 1947, Morrison, then four years old, allegedly witnessed a car accident in the desert, in which a family of Native Americans were injured and possibly killed. He referred to this incident in the Doors’ song “Peace Frog” on the 1970 album Morrison Hotel, as well as in the spoken word performances “Dawn’s Highway” and “Ghost Song” on the posthumous 1978 album An American Prayer. Morrison believed this incident to be the most formative event of his life,[14] and made repeated references to it in the imagery in his songs, poems, and interviews.

His family does not recall this incident happening in the way he told it. According to the Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, Morrison’s family did drive past a car accident on an Indian reservation when he was a child, and he was very upset by it. The book The Doors, written by the remaining members of the Doors, explains how different Morrison’s account of the incident was from that of his father. This book quotes his father as saying, “We went by several Indians. It did make an impression on him [the young James]. He always thought about that crying Indian.” This is contrasted sharply with Morrison’s tale of “Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death.” In the same book, his sister is quoted as saying, “He enjoyed telling that story and exaggerating it. He said he saw a dead Indian by the side of the road, and I don’t even know if that’s true.”[15]

Raised a military brat, Morrison’s family moved often. He spent part of his childhood in San Diego. He completed third grade at a Fairfax County Elementary School Fairfax County, Virginia. His father was stationed at NAS Kingsville in 1952, he attended Charles H. Flato Elementary School in Kingsville, Texas. He continued at St. John’s Methodist School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then Longfellow School Sixth Grade Graduation Program from San Diego, California.[16] In 1957, Morrison attended Alameda High School in Alameda, California.[17] He graduated from George Washington High School, now George Washington Middle School, in Alexandria, Virginia in June 1961.[16] Cass Elliot also attended high school there, that same year.[18] Morrison read widely and voraciously—being particularly inspired by the writings of philosophers and poets. He was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, whose views on aesthetics, morality, and the Apollonian and Dionysian duality would appear in his conversation, poetry and songs. He read Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans”. He read the works of the French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose style would later influence the form of Morrison’s short prose poems. He was also influenced by William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Baudelaire, Molière, Franz Kafka, Honoré de Balzac and Jean Cocteau, along with most of the French existentialist philosophers.[15][19][20] His senior-year English teacher said, “Jim read as much and probably more than any student in class, but everything he read was so offbeat I had another teacher (who was going to the Library of Congress) check to see if the books Jim was reporting on actually existed. I suspected he was making them up, as they were English books on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century demonology. I’d never heard of them, but they existed, and I’m convinced from the paper he wrote that he read them, and the Library of Congress would’ve been the only source.”[21] Morrison went to live with his paternal grandparents in Clearwater, Florida, where he attended classes at St. Petersburg College (then known as a junior college). In 1962, he transferred to Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, where he appeared in a school recruitment film.[22] While attending FSU, Morrison was arrested for a prank following a home football game.”

I was introduced to the music of The Doors in junior high school, when I first began doing volunteer work at the local radio station. The first song that I played on the air was “Light My Fire,” which finally gained me some favour amongst my classmates from then on. It was nice to be liked for my eclectic musical tastes for once in my life – but my tastes will always make others uncomfortable! I’m beyond caring about things like that, these days. I like what I like; always have, and always will. I chose these three Doors songs as my little tribute to Mr. Mojo Risin’ – enjoy them or don’t; I know that I do!

Ah, Sharon…

Sharon Lafaye Jones: 4 May 1956 – 18 November 2016

I had a couple of posts ready to publish, including a blogging award nomination…but then, I saw this headline. So, in lieu of what I was planning on posting, here’s my little tribute to the late, great Sharon Jones, lead singer of the soul and funk band which had her name at the head of its title: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. She battled pancreatic cancer for a number of years, finally succumbing to the disease today at the age of 60. From the New York Times:

Sharon Jones, the soul singer and powerful voice of the band the Dap-Kings, died on Friday of pancreatic cancer that had been in remission but returned last year. She was 60.

Ms. Jones’s death was confirmed by Judy Miller Silverman, her publicist. She said Ms. Jones was surrounded by members of the Dap-Kings and other loved ones when she died.

She continued performing throughout the summer, even while undergoing chemotherapy that she said caused neuropathy in her feet and legs and restricted her movements onstage. But Ms. Jones remained undeterred.

“Getting out on that stage, that’s my therapy,” Ms. Jones said in a New York Times interview published in July. “You have to look at life the way it is. No one knows how long I have. But I have the strength now, and I want to continue.”

The summer tour promoted “I’m Still Here,” a single with the Dap-Kings that detailed Ms. Jones’s birth in a brutally segregated South, a childhood in the burned-out Bronx, and a career hampered by record executives who considered her “too short, too fat, too black and too old.”

Ms. Jones was that rare music star who found fame in middle age, when she was in her 40s.

In addition to working as a correction officer at Rikers Island and an armed guard for Wells Fargo, Ms. Jones, who had grown up singing gospel in church choirs, initially dabbled in professional music as a session singer and the vocalist in a wedding band, Good N Plenty.

After meeting Gabriel Roth, the producer and songwriter also known as Bosco Mann, Ms. Jones made the leap from backup singer to main attraction. Desco Records released her debut 7-inch vinyl single, “Damn It’s Hot,” in 1996. She was 40.

With the encouragement and songwriting of Mr. Roth, who co-founded the Brooklyn soul and funk revival label Daptone Records and serves as the bandleader of the Dap-Kings, Ms. Jones’s full-length debut, “Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings,” came out in 2002. She would go on to release four more studio albums and two compilations on the small label, a point of pride for the fiercely independent Ms. Jones.

“A major label’s going to do what?” she said to Billboard last year. “I sing one or two songs, they give me a few million dollars, which they’re going to want back, and then the next thing you know, the next record don’t sell, and then they’re kicking me to the curb. With us, this is our label, this is our project.”

Sharon Lafaye Jones was born on May 4, 1956, in Augusta, Ga., though her family lived just across the border in North Augusta, S.C. In “Miss Sharon Jones!” the singer recalled that her mother had needed a cesarean section, but because of segregation in the Jim Crow south, she was not allowed in the hospital’s main unit and was instead relegated to a storage room.

After her parents separated, Ms. Jones, the youngest of six children, moved with her mother to New York and was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. “But New York in 1960, no peace to be found,” she sang on “I’m Still Here.” “Segregation, drugs and violence was all around.”

She went on to attend Brooklyn College and acted in “Sister Salvation,” an Off-Broadway play, before turning her focus to music.

With her late start, Ms. Jones recorded and performed at an unrelenting pace, and in the last year and a half of her life she made two albums, opened two national tours for Hall & Oates, was featured in a television commercial for Lincoln (performing the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider”) and starred in “Miss Sharon Jones!,” a documentary about her life.

The film traced her life from the diagnosis of Stage 2 pancreatic cancer in 2013 through her triumphant return to the stage in 2015. Ms. Jones is survived by four siblings, seven nieces and three nephews.

I saw her on The Colbert Report when she was promoting her album titled “I Learned the Hard Way,” and immediately bought it on CD. I absolutely loved her old-school style of recording and the sound evoked on her album, and the energy that she poured into her songs and on-stage performance were infectious. She idolized James Brown, and was called the female version of him due to her “roaring voice, frenetic energy, and gregarious personality.” She used music as a form of therapy for her cancer diagnosis, which was eventually classified as Stage 4 and metastasized to her lungs, liver, and lymph nodes – the pancreas is one of the lymphatic organs, from what I recall of med school and related biology and physiology courses.

Rest easy now, Sharon…you shall be missed. You join the pantheon of the greats – you deserve to be in their company, as you certainly earned it. Jimi, David, Prince, and many others await your presence…and give James a big-ass hug!

I’ll close with the three songs that I enjoyed the most, from the first album of hers that I bought. I’m definitely going to purchase the others before the month is over.

R.I.P., Gwen Ifill…

Gwendolyn L. Ifill: 29 September 1955 – 14 November 2016

Ah, me…the last person who inspired me to study journalism passed away today. Gwen Ifill, award-winning newscaster, political reporter, and author, succumbed to complications of uterine cancer at the age of 61. From the New York Times:

Gwen Ifill, a groundbreaking journalist who covered the White House, Congress and national campaigns during three decades for The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC and, most prominently, PBS, died on Monday at a hospice in Washington. She was 61.

The cause was complications of uterine cancer, her brother Roberto said.

In a distinguished career, Ms. Ifill was in the forefront of a journalism vanguard as a black woman in a field dominated by white men.

She achieved her highest visibility most recently, as the moderator and managing editor of the public affairs program “Washington Week” on PBS and the co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of “NewsHour,” competing with the major broadcast and cable networks for the nightly news viewership. They were the first all-female anchor team on network nightly news.

Last spring, she and Ms. Woodruff were the moderators of a Democratic primary debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, reprising a role that Ms. Ifill had performed solo between sparring vice-presidential candidates in the 2004 and 2008 general election campaigns.”

She was a huge inspiration for me in junior high and high school, especially after I began volunteering at, and then working for, the local radio station in the little community that I lived in at the time. She, along with Walter Cronkite and Paul Harvey, were the people that I looked to for facts, honesty, and humour in the news and daily life. Looking to them, I learned that facts are always important, even if the truth is ugly and difficult to digest. Ms. Ifill, however, filled me with a sense of confidence and pride. Seeing someone that I could relate to gave me hope that I could achieve similar goals. She was someone who taught me steadfast resilience, and gave me the courage in refusing to let others dictate what I could accomplish. She exemplified many qualities that I strive for on a daily basis, including exceeding other peoples’ low expectations. She spoke of this, and other things in this excellent interview in Mother Jones:

For a decade, Gwen Ifill’s been a fixture on PBS’s Washington Week and The NewsHour, the mild-mannered staples of capital-S serious TV news. “You may not see me tweeting soon,” she confesses, but she says she’s happy to see bloggers burst the Beltway bubble. Mother Jones caught up with Ifill during a schedule packed with nightly shows and a national tour for her new book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Ifill shared her thoughts on moderating Sarah Palin, being spoofed by Queen Latifah, and checking the rabid fervor of Obamamanics: “Calm down, people…Prepare to be disappointed—that’s almost inevitable.”

Mother Jones: In your book you describe politics as like sandpaper, moments of friction that rub up against one another and then we reach a smooth new place. Is that politics in general or specific to racial progress?

Gwen Ifill: I think it speaks to politics in general; the degree to which it’s unique or specific to racial politics is that race is itself the ultimate sandpaper in our culture. So if you take the conflicts we are used to dealing with, race over the years in America, and you combine that with the desire or aspiration to political power or taking power from other people, which is what politics is all about, you end up with a lot more friction than you would normally see with just straight-ahead politics. It’s a very complicated and ever-changing evolution, race and politics in this country, because of the history of the nation as well as the nature of politics.

MJ: What’s it like being in more than 3 million homes each night? Do you take particular care to reach a broad audience?

GI: I think I would do that no matter what I was doing. Even though I am in television now, I spent my career trying to speak to the broadest possible audience whether it’s in print or whether it’s in television. Because I would never work for a niche publication or a niche program on television and because I am a journalist and not an opinion person, my job is to try to see how many different points of view I can represent or how. It’s not even a question of who you don’t offend because you are always going to offend somebody. The question is how can you get people to listen to the information you have to present. You don’t do that by telling them, My way or the highway; this is what I think. And you don’t do it by saying, Let me just talk about this one slice. Barack Obama didn’t get elected president, would never have been elected president, had he decided to run as a black candidate. In order to reach the broadest number of people you have to speak to their interests as broadly as you can.

MJ: And yet cable news at least is full of pundits, and from Rush to Rachel, there’s a definite personality worship going on. Is opinion taking over, and what does that say about the role of the media?

GI: I don’t think it takes over, but it’s different; they do a different job than I do. I don’t think if you ask Rachel Maddow if she’s a journalist she would say she is. Jon Stewart doesn’t say he’s a journalist. Sean Hannity, I don’t know what he’d say, maybe he goes back and forth. But to me it is really incumbent on us to be as clear in our definition as possible of what we mean when we say media. Because media could be anything. I think it’s great to have a vibrant and lively public debate out there about points of view, as long as you’re willing to listen to the other side, too. I don’t see myself as a pundit and I take great pains not to be one because I always want to consider that the other guy might have a point, too. Otherwise, I couldn’t do my job. So I don’t think it’s taking over. I just think we as consumers of information media must be very clear what it is we are consuming. Whether we are choosing to get our information by listening to people fight about it. Or whether we’re choosing to get it by listening to the facts or watching the facts as they’re laid out and then reaching our own conclusions. It’s very different ways of info gathering, but it’s not all journalism.

MJ: Have Americans come to rely more on punditry versus reportage?

GI: I hope not. I don’t think so. I think that, for instance, and this isn’t punditry per se, but people who laugh at Jon Stewart. I have a lot of college students say to me, That’s all I watch. I guess I am supposed to be dismayed by that, but I’m not, because in order to laugh at Jon Stewart you have to understand the underpinnings of the joke. You have to know who Nancy Pelosi is; you have to have your basic information. That’s true for a lot of people who watch shout shows. They are also getting their information from someplace, their basic information. Some of it is flawed, some of it is not. But at least they’re taking it in, which for, you know, pre-cable I went to college at a time when people weren’t even reading the paper. So I want them to be getting some sort of engagement, even though it might not be the kind of engagement I would choose to give.

MJ: Shout shows?

GI: Shout shows. People who sit in different boxes and yell at each other. I call it more heat than light.

MJ: Do people just want to be told how to interpret events as they happen?

GI: Some people just want someone to agree with the conclusions they have already reached. I don’t think people are looking to make up their minds on these shows. I think they’ve already made up their minds. If you’re watching Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow, you have probably already made up your mind what you think, and you want someone to say, Doggone right—that’s what I thought. [Laughs.] You know, we praise people who agree with us. But that means they formed their opinions somewhere else. There’s nothing wrong with having reached your conclusions about your opinions; it’s just not what I do. And I don’t think everyone, I don’t think most people are that hard and fast. Rather, there’s that sponge-like quality. They want to know more.

MJ: The PBS ombudsman said of The NewsHour that he finds it “sometimes too polite, too balanced when issues are not really balanced.” What do you think he means by “too balanced”?

GI: In the media universe we’re in, where there are people screaming on one end, there is no problem at all with having a little bit of extra politeness. At the NewsHour, our goal is not necessarily to be polite but to be respectful, of various points of view. Now, what we struggle with sometimes is the notion of false equivalency, which I guess is what he’s alluding to, the idea that you have engaged an evenhanded debate when there is a clear point of view that is unchallenged. I can’t think of an example, but that is one of those endless inside journalism debates we all have.

But at The NewsHour we really think our role is to vet as many points of view as possible, put as much information on the table as possible, and assume, I think correctly, that the people at home are willing to take that information and make up their own minds. We’re never going to say, This is the truth, or, This is the end, this is the way you should believe. We like to think that maybe, just possibly, conceivably, people are smart enough to make up their minds for themselves. I have time after time after time found that to be true. That people are engaged in, that people want to be engaged in getting the information but they don’t necessarily always want to be told what the conclusion ought to be. And The NewsHour is very—we are very careful with our prize, which is an hour of commercial-free time every night, to go as deeply as we can into subjects, to lay out as many, sometimes five points of view about a single thing and try to just lay it all out there for viewers to make their own conclusions. And our viewers are really smart. They really do figure it out on their own; we don’t have to lecture them.

MJ: Alternately, The NewsHour has been criticized for catering to the right and center more than to the left. What is your response?

GI: The joy of The NewsHour is that we’ve been criticized for catering to everybody. The right is as unhappy with us as the left; the middle is as unhappy with us as either the right or the left. And after a while you don’t spend a whole lot of time pulse checking for who’s been criticizing you today and do the best job you can on a certain day, and one day you will displease one side and another day you’ll displease the other side, and hopefully you’ll displease them all at once on occasion.

MJ: I guess that means you’re doing your job then.

GI: Yeah, that’s my thinking.”

Rest in peace, good lady – you were a huge inspiration and a shining star in my life. You will be sorely missed during the next few years…your intellect, fairness, and sense of justice is needed more than ever, these days.

Tuesday Tidbits… *UPDATED*

Just a few things rattling around in my brain this morning:

1. I’m glad that the World Series is finally here! My Mariners didn’t make the cut, yet again, but I still root for the American League team in the Series, just like I do during the All-Star Game – so, my money is on Cleveland…or, it would be if I bet on sporting events, LOL

2. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner…I’m going to do a gaming fan-fiction novel. I will do my best not to mention the names of lands or cities, so as to avoid any copyright infringement on / from the creators of The Elder Scrolls – I want no trouble in paying tribute to my favourite MMORPG!

3. I just heard of the deaths of Bobby Vee, 60s singer, and Pete Burns, lead singer of the 80s group Dead or Alive. Here are the articles about their passings, from the BBC:

Bobby Vee: 30 April 1943 – 24 October 2016

Bobby Vee, best known for hits including Rubber Ball, Take Good Care of My Baby and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, has died at the age of 73.

Vee released more than 25 albums during his career, retiring in 2011 after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Vee’s son Jeff Velline said the singer died peacefully surrounded by family on Monday.

It was “the end of a long hard road”, Mr Velline said.

He described his father as “a person who brought joy all over the world”, adding: “That was his job.”

Vee’s big break came about in 1959 at the age of 15 when he filled in for Buddy Holly after the singer’s death in a plane crash.

Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were also killed in the accident in Iowa, along with the pilot, Roger Peterson.

A call went out for local acts to replace Holly at his scheduled show at the Moorhead National Guard Armory. Vee and his band, which had only formed two weeks previously, volunteered.”

Peter Jozzeppi “Pete” Burns: 5 August 1959 – 23 October 2016

Dead or Alive singer Pete Burns has died aged 57 after suffering a cardiac arrest, his management has said.

A statement on Twitter said it was with “greatest sadness” that it had to break the news that Burns died suddenly on Sunday.

Burns had a hit with You Spin Me Round in 1985 and appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006.

The management statement said: “All of his family and friends are devastated by the loss of our special star.”

It continued: “He was a true visionary, a beautiful talented soul, and he will be missed by all who loved and appreciated everything he was and all of the wonderful memories he has left us with.”

Burns appeared on reality television shows Celebrity Wife Swap and The Body Shocking Show in recent years.

Politician George Galloway, who was on Celebrity Big Brother with Burns, tweeted: “Sad to hear of the demise of Pete Burns. He was a cross between Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker. You don’t get more brilliant than that. RIP”.”

I’m probably one of few people who thinks that he looked much better before all of the surgery…just my opinion.

Anyway, as a tribute to those two, here are their number-one songs, respectively.

* UPDATED PORTION *

4. I will be getting a brand-new computer before the end of the month – hopefully by the end of the week, if things go well! Turns out that the computer techs are completely baffled as to what is afflicting my computer, and seem to be just throwing darts at a diagram of same and just pulling things out of their respective arseholes! The new, supposed reason given for the troubles is the LAN / WAN card. Um, if there was an issue with the Ethernet cable then I wouldn’t be able to get online at all, no? I don’t use the WAN and have it disabled, so that only the hard-wired, LAN is used…so, I’m just laughing to myself at this point. Getting annoyed now solves nothing – and hey! I’ll actually get the computer I want, finally! Only a cool $810 for a very nice machine. It’s my Samhain gift, I’d say…

5. Last but not least, I got my ballot in the mail – so I’m voting today! I decided to list, below, the presidential / vice-presidential candidates as they appear on my ballot. I chose to list them alphabetically by party.

(NOTE: There is also a write-in option at the end of each list of candidates for public office: federal, state, county, and judicial offices.)

Constitution Party: Darrell L. Castle / Scott N. Bradley

Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton / Tim Kaine

Green Party: Jill Stein / Ajamu Baraka

Libertarian Party: Gary Johnson / Bill Weld

Republican Party: Donald J. Trump / Michael R. Pence

Socialism & Liberation Party: Gloria Estela La Riva / Eugene Puryear

Socialist Workers Party: Alyson Kennedy / Osborne Hart

Those are who Washingtonians get to choose for this General Election of 2016. If you think that there is only a two-party system in this country, then you are woefully uninformed on the subject of politics in this country. That’s simply my not-so-humble opinion on the matter, so no need to get your knickers in a knot!

😎

Ah…October!!!

October is here…this year is flying by! It’s pouring rain today; it appears as if the “rainy season” has begun here in my neck of the woods. There will be fewer clear days now, which is fine with me – cloud-cover keeps it moderate during the fall and winter months, and who knows? We might get snow here this year…I love how the beach looks with a blanket of snow.

Today marks the beginning of Navratri, which lasts through Sunday, 9 October. I found a link of some beautiful photos of the celebration honoring Maa Durga, from the Indian Express website – they are wonderful! It looks like a fantastic festival to attend…so many colours and dancing!

I hate citing Wikipedia, but it is the only site that didn’t pop up a billion ads and videos. From Wikipedia:

Durga is the form of Mother goddess in Shaktism. There are many incarnations of Goddess Durga: Kali, Renu (or) Renuka, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Jaya, Rajeswari and has nine appellations: Skandamata, Kushmanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta and Siddhidatri.[1] A list of 108 names that is used to describe her is very popularly in use by eastern Hindus and is called Ashtottara Shatanamavali of Goddess Durga.[2]”

I was catching up on blog-reading yesterday, and found out that Stanley Dural Jr., best known as “Buckwheat Zydeco,” passed away on 24 September. From Rolling Stone:

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., the accordionist and ambassador of zydeco music who performed under the stage name Buckwheat Zydeco, died Saturday following a battle with lung cancer. He was 68.

“It is with deep sadness that I have to announce that our great, beloved leader Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural, Jr. has passed away. He died at 1:32 AM Louisiana time, keeping musician’s hours right to the bitter end,” Dural’s manager Ted Fox wrote on Facebook.

“I am grieving for my best friend and colleague of more than 30 years. But, as this great road warrior once said: ‘Life is a tour, and it’s all about how you decide to get where you’re going…I don’t want to ignore the bad things in life, but I want to emphasize the good things.’ Buck made everything and everyone he touched better and happier. RIP my dear friend, my brother.”

Family friend Dustin Cravins added to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “It’s a tough one for us and the entire Zydeco community and the greater music community. Words like legend and icon are tossed around so much these days that it almost sounds watered down, but he was the true definition of it.

Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural, Jr.: 14 November 1947 – 24 September 2016

Yes, I love zydeco! That might surprise some…but, those who REALLY look at and REALLY listen to the music that I post won’t be surprised at all. So, I’ll close this post with my three favourite Buckwheat Zydeco songs. He’s jamming with Jimi, David, Prince, and so many others…make that accordion sing!

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