Tag Archives: The New Yorker

Current Events: An Email to a Friend.

Dear Ed,

For too long your numerous emails have begged a response from me. Therefore, this one will be a bit lengthy.

Firstly: I possess an 1840 edition of writings by Benjamin Franklin in 10 volumes, collected by Jared Sparks and published in Boston by Hilliard, Gray, and Company.  Attracted by their antique, leather bound look, a friend casually selected a volume and randomly opened it to a page containing a letter from Franklin to a friend in which he made a series of points, consecutively headed  “Firstly, Secondly,Thirdly, Fourthly” and so on until “Fourteenthly”. I think that’s pretty neat and it explains the Frankliness format of these responses to you.

Secondly: The New Yorker comes to my iPad every week, but it is in a somewhat reduced version. Only the major articles, the Talk of the Town and film reviews are in the audio version. There are no cartoons or satires such as your guy Borowitz, so I appreciate receiving them. (Flash: Eleanor just told me, McConnell and Boehmer have invited Netanyahu to criticize Obama’s foreign policy decisions in a speech before Congress. (If true, the State Department should refuse him a Visa.)

Thirdly:  A multitude of thanks for sending me Barry Levinson’s The Band That Wouldn’t Die. Nostalgia heaven, what a rush. I’m thinking of writing an appreciation to him. I don’t know how you found this, but it made my year!!!!!!. As you may know, I posted it on my web site as an addendum to an earlier posting about the NCAA final, final college football championship of the year. Moving on –

Fourthly: When I hear “Tea baggers” speak about the health of our republic, I have minor metabolic seizures and am tempted to overdose on my daily meds. Ingesting this recipe, I’d be dead within a day or two, but as each new blasphemy occurs, i’m beginning to believe death to be an acceptable alternative to life amongst the idiots now out screaming any reasonable vision of life in their United States.

Fifthly: I chortled while reading about the Alabama politicians who deeded their town to God. Actually, that’s perfect. If a liberal biblical scholar could be found anywhere in the Confederacy, they could shout chapter and verse before or after every new municipal Bylaw, proclaiming it in line with or contradictory to the word of God. Southern Christian seminaries might develop a course called Directing Civic Administrations with God’s Word. Of course, everyone would be expected to know which God was speaking. I don’t think that would pose a problem, at least for now.

Sixthly:  Thank you also for Borowitz on the continued accumulation of wealth by the sub atomic number of oligarchs and their complaints about not having enough. You must see the Daily Show from this past Wednesday. It may be on You Tube. His take on the State of the Union speech is priceless. The night before was also classic. John Stewart took on Mike Huckabee, Poor Schmuck.

Seventhly: Thanks also for the documentary about the Guantanamo prisoner. The rational behind political decisions is beyond me. What is it that puts enough fear, and insecurity in them to eradicate any sense of humanity or justice? A while back, during the most intense flare up over Gitmo, a small town in Michigan with an empty prison, offered to take in all the Gitmo prisoners, thus substantially boosting their town’s economy by providing jobs for locals. Obviously, they were not at all afraid of having suspected or confirmed terrorists in their midst, but their casual attitude did nothing to diminish paranoia in the nation’s capital.

Eighthly: Then I heard about the Davos economic summit and the 1,700 private jets the delegates used to avoid travel fatigue to Switzerland. Davos has been a coming out party for the oligarchs. I would never have thought to hear such honest expressions of greed and ego, on camera, from an otherwise secretive clan of monarchists. Perhaps the continuing show of strength from the Tea Party has given them a sense of security. If memory serves, all the televised Republican Party responses to the State of the Union Address were delivered by Tea Party cohorts.

Supporters of unfettered capitalism have managed,  without fear of reprisal, a public unveiling of the depth and breadth of their contempt for honest wage earners of the United States.

Perhaps our world no longer requires a middle class. Perhaps it needs only a few oligarchs to manage a global store, employing and discarding people as needs be. In Davos, James (Jamie) Dimon, current chairman, president and chief executive officer of  JPMorgan Chase, one of the four largest banks in America, looked benignly into the camera and said, “You need us”. I reject his thesis, but do not doubt his sincerity.

See: Andro Linklater: Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership, Bloomsbury, 2013, 496pp., $20

Ever hopeful, ever older. I remain



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LISTENING to the PAST, an addendum.


A relevant addition to my 4 October, 2014 article Listening to the Past, is this excerpt from The New Yorker, 10 November, 2014,:

In Better All the Time, James Surowiecki wrote about the performance revolution among athletes and chess players and compared them to modern musicians.

“The quality of classical musicians has improved dramatically as well, To the point that virtuosos are now, as The Times music critic Anthony Tommasini has observed of pianists, “a dime a dozen”.  Even as the number of jobs in classical music has declined, the number of people capable of doing those jobs has soared, as has the caliber of their playing.

James Conlon, the conductor of the Los Angeles Opera has said, “Professional standards are higher everywhare in the world compared to 20 or 40 years ago. Pieces that were once considered too difficult for any but the very best musicians are now routinely played by conservatory students and if anything, the rate of improvement in technical skill is accelerating.”

Music programs are better at identifying talented young musicians. Training methods have improved and the pressure of competition with so many talented musicians competing for so few slots, keeps pushing the standards of over all performance, higher.

That’s actually the biggest change in performance over the past few decades. It’s not so much that the best of the best are so much better as that so many people are so extraordinarilly good.”

Commenting on the increasing number of talented percussionists, Dan Hinger, the late timpanist of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, said, “there are now more people who can play lots of notes, but still, there’s only a few who can play one great note.”

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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Articles, Commentaries & Critiques


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