Thursday, March 30, 2017

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Which Joe Turner? The Times Chuck Berry feature now has a photograph that is unmistakably of Big Joe Turner.

“A few sacks of peas”

Arriving at the Front:

Hans Herbert Grimm, Schlump. 1928. Trans. Jamie Bullock (New York: New York Review Books, 2016).

Also from this novel
Food fight : “Headed for the Front”

[Dugout: “an area in the side of a trench for quarters, storage, or protection” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).]

John Shimkus and S.J.Res.34

Here, from The Verge, is a list of the members of Congress, all Republicans, who voted in favor of S.J.Res.34, along with the total contributions they received from the telecommunications industry in their most recent electoral campaigns. I am surprised to see my House representative, John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15), doing so well. In his most recent (2016) campaign, he received $104,425 in telecommunications contributions. Only twelve senators and three representatives received more money from telecommunications in their most recent campaigns. Shimkus had no opponent in the general election, only a Republican primary challenger. To paraphrase an old song: they’ve got an awful lot of money in east-central Illinois.

No doubt many Democratic members of Congress received contributions from the telecommunications industry as well. This list has only the names of those members of Congress who voted for S.J.Res.34. Two Republican senators did not vote. Fifteen House Republicans voted no; six House Republicans and three House Democrats did not vote.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Which Joe Turner?

This photograph from an excellent New York Times feature caught my eye:

[From “Before and After Chuck Berry,” New York Times, March 23, 2017. Click for a larger view.]

I called the Times today to suggest a correction. Though I can’t be certain, I’m virtually certain that the photograph above is of the pianist Joe Turner, not the singer Big Joe Turner. Notice especially the shape of the hairline, eyebrow, and mouth. Big Joe Turner, or Joe Turner?

[Big Joe Turner and Joe Turner. Click either image for a larger view.]

I differ with the Times in omitting the quotation marks from “Big Joe.” Big Joe Turner was big, not “big.” I sat next to him once in a bar where he was performing. Trust me.

If the Times makes a correction, I suspect that Orange Crate Art readers will be among the first to know.

[That the Times photograph is from Getty Images doesn’t mean that it’s correctly captioned. At least one other photograph from Getty misidentifies Joe Turner as Big Joe Turner.]


March 30: The Times replied and let me know that “Before and After Chuck Berry” now has a photograph that is unmistakably of Big Joe Turner. Hurrah!

[Click for a larger view.]

Big Joe Turner is one of my earliest musical memories. I highly recommend The Boss of the Blues, a 1956 album with a stellar cast (Lawrence Brown, Pete Brown, Pete Johnson, et al.) and a memorable catalogue number: Atlantic 1234. “What makes grandma love old grandpa so? He can still do the boogie like he did forty years ago.”

Still teaching

I am standing in an enormous classroom, a room that resembles a storefront or pizza parlor, with a plate-glass window looking out to the street. Two students are in the room, and I say to them that I always make a point of saying “Good morning” when I come to class. I say “Good morning” to them, and one replies. I am carrying butter and chocolate, which I take to a nearby room to place in the refrigerator. The refrigerator is a wooden cabinet that the music teacher is using as a lectern as she leads a chorus. The music teacher looks like Jean Stapleton. I can’t put the butter and chocolate away without interfering with her conducting.

I go back to my room, now filled with forty or fifty students. “To build on what we were doing before our lost weekend,” I say — and I go on to explain that we’re going to look at basic punctuation. I explain that words can be put together to form phrases or clauses, and that a clause is a group of words that can stand on its own as a complete sentence. I realize that I’ve already botched my explanation, so I backtrack to explain the difference between independent and dependent clauses.

And now that everyone is here, I say “Good morning” all over again. I look for a blackboard and see only a corkboard with an honors-class presentation and a cracked slate blackboard with a grid of names and grades in ancient handwriting. I realize that I should not erase those names and grades. I notice a table with four hunters. They’re sitting against the far right wall. They grin at me. I ask them, “Are you guys even paying attention? How do you expect to get a foot in the door after you leave here?” No answer, just grins.

And then I go back to thinking about what I can write on. “Does anyone have a whiteboard?” I ask. Someone has one, but it doesn’t erase well. As I’m trying to erase, Jess Mariano from Gilmore Girls brings up a spiral notebook. “I think you dropped your notebook,” he says. He’s trying to be helpful, but it’s not my notebook, and I tell him so. “I think you dropped your notebook,” he says. “Believe me,” I say, “I’d recognize my own notebook.” And then I woke up.

This is the tenth teaching-related dream I’ve had since retiring. None of them have gone well. The others: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

[Possible sources: A Fresh Air interview about for-profit colleges (with a brief reference to Trump U.). The importance of chocolate in Hans Herbert Grimm’s war novel Schlump. A New York Times piece about eating radishes with salt and butter. Seeing Jean Stapleton in the film Something Wild. Seeing militia members in the documentary The Other Side. Gilmore Girls, obviously.]

Arthur Blythe (1940–2017)

The alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe has died at the age of seventy-six. The San Diego Union-Tribune has an obituary.

Arthur Blythe’s sound on alto is immediately recognizable, a calling card printed in a bold cursive, so to speak. Here are five of my favorite Blythe recordings:

Bush Baby : God Has Smiled on Me : In a Sentimental Mood : Lenox Avenue Breakdown : Miss Nancy

[Full disclosure: “God Has Smiled on Me” is one of my favorite recordings by anyone, ever.]

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Time and time again”

The picture of troops forever headed for the Front came back to me when I read this passage in Mark Shields’s most recent column:

When some gasbag self-proclaimed patriot on a talk show or at a congressional hearing demands that we send “more troops” (or worse, “more boots”), does he not realize that we are sending — time and time again — the very same troops who were just there a few months ago?

”Headed for the Front”

Hans Herbert Grimm, Schlump. 1928. Trans. Jamie Bullock (New York: New York Review Books, 2016).

Also from this novel
Food fight

“Even more cynical than
the for-profit colleges”

From a Fresh Air interview with Tressie McMillan Cottom about her book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (New Press, 2017). Terry Gross has asked Cottom whether Trump University fits the description of a for-profit college:

No, no, no. In many ways, Trump University is even more cynical than the for-profit colleges that I talk about and write about. And this is what I mean by that: Trump University didn’t even pretend to set up an actual school. What Trump University really did was it traded on the public’s faith in the word university and used the word university as part of its brand. But there was no campus, for example; they never pursued any license to actually operate as a school. One of the best ways actually to think about Trump University is that it was a lot like a time-share sales organization than it was an actual school.

But what I think that Trump University does tell us about this administration is sort of how cynical they are about higher education. It tells us something, I think, about their position on public higher education. I think that they have signaled pretty strongly that they are not interested in defending public higher education as important to democracy and the public good. And I think this president’s experience with sort of using the word university, trading so cynically on the public’s faith in the word university, kind of gives us an indication of how he views higher education.
[My transcription and paragraphing.]

Monday, March 27, 2017

Spoiler alert, spoiler alert

Re: National Velvet (dir. Clarence Brown, 1944):

“National Velvet” is not a horse. She is a girl named Velvet Brown, played by Elizabeth Taylor. She rides a horse in the Grand National. Thus “National Velvet.”

Both members of our household had assumed, without seeing the film, that “National Velvet” is a horse. But as I have said, “National Velvet” is not a horse. She is a girl named Velvet Brown, played by Elizabeth Taylor. She rides a horse in the Grand National. Thus “National Velvet.”

We saw only the last few minutes of National Velvet. Still enough to think of Turner Classic Movies as The Learning Channel.

[The horse’s name: The Pie. The Pie.]