January 21, 2021

Saturday Brunch, June 6, 2020

Good morning, my friends, and welcome to the weekend. Ready for some brunch?

The beauty of animals has always haunted and delighted us. The first artwork were cave sketches of animals. But George Wheelhouse takes a novel approach: “I started photographing animals against dark backgrounds due to my obsessive instinct to remove as much distraction as possible from my images. At times I’ve also played with the idea of how little I can show off an animal, with the rest falling to shadow. The aim of this project is to spark a connection between subject and viewer, and present animals in ways they haven’t been seen before.”

I will be interspersing his photos throughout the brunch. Let’s start with this:

Green-Winged Parrot

Let’s just get this out of the way: “Imagine” is worst song ever written. Well, maybe not the absolute worst. We do, after all, live in a world in which Muskrat Love made the Billboard Top 10 at one point. But certainly the most over-rated. And certainly, beyond-a-doubt, the worst song shallow politicians will evoke after weeks like this one. Matthew Walther gives us some of the problems with “Imagine.”

Where do you even begin? The droopy four-bar intro? The soporific nasal whine of Lennon’s voice? The mind-numbing facetiousness of ending the verses with ‘youuuuuuuu’ and then starting the chorus with the same word? The other lyrics that insult the intelligence with such ferocity that I’m pretty sure singing it violates the Geneva Convention? The part where the rock star who wrote this song in about an hour (it shows, by the way) in one of several luxury homes he owned encourages you maybe to consider having ‘no possessions,’ presumably including underwear and a toothbrush, and then passive-aggressively insists that you’re so attached to your stuff that you can’t even contemplate the idea?”

The real problem with “Imagine” is the theme, if that word can be used fairly to describe a series of nonsensical propositions delivered according to no detectable logical pattern.

Start with the word salad of Marxism, anarchism, and existentialism. Nowhere is there even the faintest hint of how any of the hypotheticals we are being asked to consider might be realized. Instead Lennon does the political equivalent of telling us that the real magic was inside us all along. A far more serious problem is that even if additional verses did somehow outline a series of discrete practical steps that tomorrow could bring about the actual world he envisions, no one would want to live in it. This is because it is fundamentally nihilistic, a vision of a reality in which “lol nothing matters” is elevated to a first-order principle. This is a problem. A world in which nothing is worth dying for is one in which exactly zero of the things from which we derive meaning and pleasure could exist. The effect is worse than purgatorial: It is an actual vision of hell.

Swaledale Sheep
Did some ancient Israelites use weed during worship? A well-preserved substance found in a 2,700-year-old temple in Tel Arad has been identified as cannabis, including its psychoactive compound THC. Researchers concluded that cannabis may have been burned in order to induce a high among worshippers. This is the first evidence of psychotropic drugs being used in early Jewish worship, Israeli media report.

The temple was first discovered in the Negev desert, about 95km (59 miles) south of Tel Aviv, in the 1960s. In the latest study, published in Tel Aviv University’s archaeological journal, archaeologists say two limestone altars had been buried within the shrine. Thanks in part to the dry climate, and to the burial, the remains of burnt offerings were preserved on top of these altars.

Frankincense was found on one altar, which was unsurprising because of its prominence in holy texts, the study’s authors told Israeli newspaper Haaretz. However, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) – all compounds found in cannabis – were found on the second altar.

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is by far the greatest museum I have visited. Its collection of Renaissance art is unmatched. This week the director of the Uffizi said that  religious art in museums should be returned to churches: “Eike Schmidt, who has led the museum since 2015, told the Art Newspaper that ‘devotional art was not born as a work of art but for a religious purpose, usually in a religious setting.’ Schmidt cited a specific example from the Uffizi’s own collection, the Rucellai Madonna painted by the Sienese artist Duccio di Buoninsegna in the Middle Ages. The gold-ground panel of the Virgin and Child enthroned, the largest painting on wood from the 13th century known to date, was removed from the church of Santa Maria Novella in 1948. Viewing such a work in the context for which it was created, says Schmidt, is not just appropriate from an historical perspective, but could also connect the viewer with its spiritual significance.”

“Devotional art was not born as a work of art but for a religious purpose, usually in a religious setting”, he told The Art Newspaper. He went on to say that, returned to the building for which it was created, it would be seen in the right historical and artistic space and the viewer would potentially be led to recognize its spiritual origins. “If we did not believe that context was important”, he said, the Italian state would not have the legal concept of the art or architectural fixture [vincolo pertinenziale], or practice contextual archaeology instead of an Indiana Jones-type scrabble for mere masterpieces”.

Hmmmm. What do you think?

Chameleon Close-Up

For the first time, the police in Hong Kong prohibited an annual vigil to honor the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Why the great anger among the black community towards the criminal justice system? The New York Times sums it up well:

For most white Americans, interactions with the police happen rarely, and they’re often respectful or even friendly. Many white people don’t know a single person who’s currently behind bars.
In many black communities — and especially for black men — the situation is entirely different. Some of the statistics can be hard to fathom:
  • Incarceration rates for black men are about twice as high as those of Hispanic men, five times higher than those of white men and at least 25 times higher than those of black women, Hispanic women or white women.
  • When the government last counted how many black men had ever spent time in state or federal prison — in 2001 — the share was 17 percent. Today, it’s likely closer to 20 percent (and this number doesn’t include people who’ve spent time in jail without being sentenced to prison). The comparable number for white men is about 3 percent.
The rise of mass incarceration over the last half-century has turned imprisonment into a dominant feature of modern life for black Americans. Large numbers of black men are missing from their communities — unable to marry, care for children or see their aging parents. Many others suffer from permanent economic or psychological damage, struggling to find work after they leave prison.
A recent study by the economists Patrick Bayer and Kerwin Kofi Charles found that 27 percent of black men in the prime working years of their lives — between the ages of 25 and 54 — didn’t report earning a single dollar of income in 2014. “That’s a massive number,” Charles, the dean of the Yale School of Management, told me. Incarceration, including the aftereffects, was a major reason.

The anger coursing through America’s streets over the past week has many causes, starting with a gruesome video showing the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But that anger has also been building up for a long time. It is, in part, anger about incarceration having become normal.

Stella's Sea Eagle On Black
I LOVE the videos from the Bible Project. Here is one describing the meaning of Jesus as the Water of Life:

N.B.A. takes Disney World. The N.B.A. is in talks to resume its pandemic-shortened season by hosting the league at Walt Disney World in Florida. Players would live in Disney hotels, and all games would be held at the nearby ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Why Disney World? Well, it doesn’t hurt that the ESPN facility is already wired to broadcast games on its network — and that Disney, its parent company, pays the N.B.A. more than $1 billion a year for the right to air them.

White-Tailed Sea Eagle

Where did the CDC go wrong? The New York Times waded through thousand of emails and conducted a hundred interviews, and they summarize the problems here:

Aging data systems left the agency with blind spots.

The C.D.C. clashed with White House aides who viewed them as the ‘deep state’.

The culture at the C.D.C. — risk-averse, perfectionist and ill suited to improvising in a quickly evolving crisis

The Director Redfield felt he was ‘on an island’ between his agency and the White House.

Confusing guidance left doctors, public officials and others to look elsewhere.

The customer is ALWAYS right. That was the mantra of this loader after the buyer of his top soil insisted that five yards of top soil would fit in his trailer. Enjoy!

I really, really, really don’t like to mention a certain politician in the brunch. But I was outraged at the way Trump used the Bible and Church as props to his verbal assault on the rioters. Even televangelist Pat Roberts criticized Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Church this week. Jimmy Fallon said, “You know we live in crazy times when we’re all agreeing with the guy who once said gay people cause hurricanes.”

A high school sports policy in Connecticut that allows transgender students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity violates federal law and could cost the state federal education funding, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has found. The students bringing the lawsuit contended that the policy gave transgender students an unfair advantage in athletic competition and in the race for public recognition that is critical to college recruiting and scholarship opportunities. The office said that, after an investigation, it had found that the policy violated Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in programs that receive federal funding. By allowing transgender students to compete on female track teams, the policy “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges and other benefits,” the office said.

Low Key Lion Portrait

Okay, we are going to end this brunch with an amazing video of Captain and Tennille singing their classic, Muskrat Love. Why? Because I don’t like you. And because no matter how bad things get in 2020, we need to remember that we no longer live in a time when this would be broadcast on network TV. (By the way, make sure you listen to at least the 2:20 mark, otherwise you will likely never hear the diarrhea setting on a keyboard again).



  1. Ha ha, the Rastafarians were right all along!

    Do religious people not like “Imagine” just because of that one line?

    The photo of Trump with that Bible would be just perfect for an icon. Just sayin’.

    • Michael Z says

      “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.” (1 Kings 8:10-11)

      Hmm… a thick cloud of smoke that caused the priests to become unproductive and stop doing their work? Yeah, that fits…

    • Robert F says

      Yeah, religious people definitely do not like that one line about no possessions.

      • David Greene says

        I can’t understand why folks are so down on Lennon’s “Imagine.” It is an icon of the early 70’s, right along side of “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” for Pete’s sake.

        • Rick Ro. says

          I personally love the song.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I think that’s because “Imagine” has been overdone as Deep Thoughts, almost to the point of SCRIPTURE(TM).

          And when you step back an look at it, it is about as lightweight a pop song as “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” (without the Coca-Cola corporate sponsorship).

          The Seventies was a down time in pop music, where the wild experimentation of the Sixties (a lot more than “Dope is Groovy!” and “Get Out Of VIETNAAAAAM!”) gave way to What Sells and Only What Sells, i.e.”Imagine” among the mystical wing of the counterculture and “Muskrat Love” and bubblegum among the “square” mainstream. Post-Vietnam angst probably factored into both.

  2. Muskrats? I raise you this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFacWGBJ_cs

  3. Oh, and as regards the Uffizi: it isn’t just visual art. A church I used to be a member of took to reclaiming Bach Cantatas by putting them back into the context of an evening service…

  4. senecagriggs says

    MEGAN MCARDLE: Thanks to the protests, social distancing is over.

    In a few weeks, one of two things will have happened. Either covid-19 cases will abruptly reverse their decline in some of America’s largest cities, and we will know that they were seeded by the days of rage we are living through .?.?. or they won’t. Either way, social distancing is over.

    In the happy scenario, the protests will have performed an enormous public service, even beyond agitating for justice. They are basically running a natural experiment that scientists could never have ethically undertaken: Do massive outside gatherings — including singing, chanting, screaming and coughing — spread covid-19, or not? Along with evidence from the Memorial Day weekend parties at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, they may well demonstrate, once and for all, that the risk of spreading covid-19 outdoors is negligible. At which point, throw open the bar patios and backyard barbecues! Bring on the beach-blanket bingo! Move church pews into the parking lot and sing away!

    • Robert F says

      Social distancing isn’t over for me, my wife, our church, the people in our orbit, my county. You won’t get me in a movie theater or restaurant — including outdoor restaurants — until there’s a vaccine. And there are a lot of people I know who intend to proceed the same way. There’s no such thing as a “natural experiment”; too many uncontrolled variables.

      • senecagriggs says

        It would be wonderful if a viable vaccine became available in the next few months. I hope it does.

        • Don’t hold your breath…

          • Robert F says

            This week Fauci seemed to say they were going to deploy lots of doses of a vaccine before the end of the year, even if they weren’t sure of the vaccine’s efficacy!! Say what? Has he been spending too much time around the POTUS? He needs some fresh air.

            • If people know there are vaccines, even if not fully tested, they will clamor for them.

              • anonymous says

                that could be a disaster

                • The first 2 of the 3 stages of a trial make sure it doesn’t kill you or otherwise wreak your life. It is the 3 stage of the typical 3 stage process where they see if it works. Normally they give it to volunteers who are at high risk in a double blind study and see how people get infected. Or not.

                  What they are proposing is to make the last step much broader. So in theory it will be safe. But maybe not all that effective.

                  So in general you would not be any worse off than no vaccine.

                  PS: They COULD test it by purposely trying to infect people who have gotten the vaccine but that has a few ethical issues that might raise a few eyebrows.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Packed crowds increase the chance of spread.
      Outdoors and open spaces decrease the chance (as the outside air dilutes the virus-bearing droplets more quickly).
      Masks also decrease the chance (not so much protecting those wearing the masks as everyone else).
      Vitamin D levels may also play a role.

  5. senecagriggs says

    Wisdom from the Talmud

    A person’s soul desires and craves theft and forbidden sexual relations.
    You will never find a community that does not have some people who are promiscuous regarding forbidden relationships and prohibited sexual conduct.
    Moreover, our Sages said:
    Most people trespass with regard to theft; a minority with regard to forbidden sexual conduct, and all with regard to the shade of undesirable gossip.

    • So, we’re all a bunch of gossipy thieves who from time to time are captivated by porn.

      • senecagriggs says

        In a nutshell – laughing

        Blame the Talmud

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Total Depravity, remember.

        “Man sees a cute little baby — God Sees An Utterly Depraved SINNER!”
        — Seventies radio preacher

        • anonymous says

          a monster ‘Gawd’ from the gothic fundamentalist South

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I only remember that one line from that preacher. And his voice — similar accent to J Vernon Magee but SCREAMED EVERY WORD. (“And stop screaming. Nobody likes a religion with people screaming.” — the original Internet Monk)

            Now the funny thing was I heard that exact same voice and delivery once on Sunday services at a Boy Scout Summer Camp in the very late Sixties. Guest preacher, looked very old (though I was 12-14 at the time, so that’s relative). Same voice, same BOLDFACE CAPS LOCK volume. I remember the sermon because the subject was so head-scratching strange. All about Christ’s Resurrection body being “FLESH AND BONE! NOT FLESH AND BLOOD!” Fifty years later, I still wonder WHY that was So Important.

  6. senecagriggs says

    “Half of what you’ll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half–so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own.”

    – dr. david sackett

    “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as editor of The New England Journal of Medicine”

    – dr. marcia angell

    • Robert F says

      I notice they didn’t suggest using the Magic 8-Ball or Ouija Board instead of admittedly imperfect scientific research efforts. Maybe they use the I Ching?

      • senecagriggs says

        Ah, I’d forgotten the I Ching Thing. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        There’s always The Bible Code.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Or its simpler predecessor “Bibliomancy” or “Bible Dipping”, a form of folk-magic divination.

        Open a Bible to a random page (just let it fall open), put your finger on a verse with your eyes closed, then read it off. Sometimes (I think in Appalachian folk tradition, or maybe PA Dutch “Pow-Wow”) do it three times.

        Problem is, you can get this combination:
        “Judas went and hanged himself.”
        “Go and do likewise.”
        “What thou doest, doest quickly.”

  7. Robert F says

    But I was outraged at the way Trump used the Bible and Church as props to his verbal assault on the rioters.

    After a few days of thinking about it, I realize that I don’t really care about how Trump used the Bible or a church building as political props. Politicians have been doing things like that forever; Christians have invited that kind of thing forever, and they’ve gotten what they deserved. But I do care that he had peaceful protestors exercising their right to protest dispersed violently by police and military using gas and explosives so that he could have his photo taken with the church and the Bible. If some Christians are too stupid or malicious to see or care how such a photo op is nothing more than a cynical exploitation of Christianity and them, that’s their problem — they were not the victims of Trump’s attack; but what was done to the protestors — they were not rioters, and they were the victims of his attack– was an outrage the like of which happens in banana republics, and not even in all of them.

    • Yes. The whole sequence should be looked at as one frightening event.

      I still appreciate the research and opinions that continue to come out on why certain people (perhaps all of us to some degree) grasp on to tribalism so tight, and refuse to acknowledge what is clearly happening.

    • Michael Z says

      If someone is a Christian, the Bible and their faith are key parts of the story of their life and how they make moral decisions. If a Christian is also a politician, they therefore have the right to quote Scripture to explain how they see the world – even if part of their motivation in quoting Scripture is also political.

      But for a politician who does not even have a rudimentary understanding of Christianity or Scripture and who lives a notoriously amoral life to think he can win the approval of his followers by waving a Bible around – that shows a tremendous amount of contempt for his followers, demeans their intelligence, and insults their faith. That’s why so many people – even conservative evangelicals – were upset by this stunt.

    • And the forcible removal included removing people from the church property (the patio area) who had permission to be there. One could say that Trump was saying “I have taken possession of the Church” when he stood in front of a church his forces had seized temporary control of and held up a Bible. And from my non-Christian viewpoint he certainly has taken control of a large chunk of American Christianity.

      BTW at least some of the local protestors to me are protesting and practicing social distancing. Lining the streets while standing a distance apart (unless in household groups).

      • Robert F says

        Parks Police keep changing their story about whether or not they used tear gas. It was gas that caused choking, respiratory distress, vomiting — screw the semantics. Stop lying. It was a near atrocity, and certainly a human and civil rights violation.

        • I think it is because there are two definitions of tear gas. The first which the Park Police are (were?) using is for a specific riot control agent (as the CDC defines those); the second is for riot control agents in general (the CDC has it as a synonym for riot control agents). The police or someone certainly used a riot control agent https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/riotcontrol/factsheet.asp

  8. Robert F says

    No matter what anyone says, or that I don’t like its message, or how politicians use it for political purposes,I still like “Imagine”. I just do. Anyway, in a few more years than the rest of us, John Lennon and all his songs will be pretty much forgotten, not culturally significant to the people alive at that point, and even the song “Imagine” will disappear from the cultural landscape. So you “Imagine” haters can take comfort in that.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I remember all the Sixties/Seventies far-future SF novels where the Beatles had become their Classical Music.

      Don’t know if the authors were serious or not.

      P.S. Of the former Fab Four, the one most likely to show staying power (and the best composer) is Paul McCartney. Who actually DID Classical with his “Liverpool Oratorio” and said the hardest part was learning the rigid Classical composition rules (McCartney being self-taught when it came to composing).

  9. The animal pics are striking.

    Good brunch Daniel. Thanks.

  10. Muskrat Love? Must be a terrible children’s song…

  11. senecagriggs says

    The Captain, Daryl Dragon, sadly died last year.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      That was his real name?
      Sounds like a fantasy character.

    • Brianthegrandad says

      Toni Tennille was from Montgomery, near my home. Went to college at my alma mater. Local radio jocks still talk about her and some of the now aged listeners will call in and talk about seeing her or knowing her family. Her mom did local tv too. But even the locals are dubious when it comes to muskrat love.

    • Rick Ro. says

      My mom and dad were good friends with someone related to Daryl Dragon.

  12. Robert F says

    predawn haze
    broken by rumble of semis
    and the rising sun

    • anonymous says

      portends of storm and thunder

    • Norma Cenva says

      Robert, you have a talent for painting imagery with words.
      Have you ever considered publishing?

    • Robert F says

      predawn haze —
      semis rumble,
      sun rises

    • Michael Bell says

      Reminds me of Cockburn’s Santiago Dawn

      Something moves in the still dark hours
      Sunday in a shanty town
      Eyelids open two by two
      But not a single light goes on

      Tension builds as the only sound
      Is the quiet clash of metal and boots
      And now and then an order barked
      At the bullies in the drab green suits

      Military thugs with their dogs and clubs
      Spreading through the poblacion
      Hunting whoever still has a voice
      Sure that everyone will run

      They come in strong but it’s not that long
      Before they know it’s not so easy to leave
      To keep a million homeless down takes more
      Than a strong arm up your sleeve

      At the crack of dawn the first door goes down
      Snapped off a makeshift frame
      In a matter of minutes the first rock flies
      Barricades burst into flame

      First mass rings through smoke and gas
      Day flowers out of the night
      Creatures of the dark in disarray
      Fall before the morning light

      Bells of rage, bells of hope
      As the ten-year night wears down
      Sisters and brothers are coming home
      To see the Santiago dawn

      Santiago sunrise
      See them marching home
      See them rising like grass through cement
      In the Santiago dawn

      I got a dream and I’m not alone
      Darkness dead and gone
      All the people marching home
      Kissing the rush of dawn

      Santiago sunrise
      See them marching home
      See them rising like grass through cement
      In the Santiago dawn

  13. The African-American community and the police: I often explain white privilege as when a policeman calls me “Sir,” he almost means it.

  14. I am unclear on how irrational White House aides constitutes the CDC “going wrong.” I suppose the argument might be that the CDC should have managed those irrational White House aides better, but at the very least this argument needs to include suggestions on how that might have been done, and how the CDC could have anticipated the strategy. But really, this is like discussions of how it is a subordinate’s responsibility to manage a terrible boss so that the terrible boss succeeds despite being terrible. It is true that subordinates can sometimes devise strategies to ameliorate the conditions the terrible boss creates, and succeed despite him. But to declare this to be the subordinate’s responsibility is to shift the blame for the terrible boss’s failures to his subordinates: The Buck Stops Anywhere But Here.

    • Robert F says

      I agree. The problems listed are not with the CDC specifically, but with the governing leadership they report to, and the limited resources and respect they’ve been allotted by those leaders.

    • Brianthegrandad says

      They should have called me and my coworkers in. We were why an inept, Abusive, Narcissistic-Personality-Disorder- suffering a**hole succeeded, making a name (facade) for himself statewide in our industry by focusing our efforts on figuring out how to make him believe that doing the right thing or best thing were his idea to begin with. He’s gone now, and we can focus on Just doing the right and best thing because it’s the right and best thing for our customers and community.

  15. Robert F says

    Why the great anger among the black community towards the criminal justice system?

    Have you been paying attention to the level of police brutality being caught on video in the last week? Against rioters and peaceful protestors alike, against people standing on the porches of their own homes in residential neighborhoods, against reporters. Video after video after video. Police brutality appears to be commonplace and common practice across the U.S. in poor black neighborhoods. It appears to be part of police culture that the police see no problem with. That’s what black people have been telling white Americans for decades. The evidence is all in — if white Americans don’t believe it, it’s because they don’t want to and choose not to.

  16. “Imagine”: I am a classical music guy. I didn’t listen to the Beatles until my twenties, about a decade after they had broken up. I have no nostalgic connection to their music. But… There is a principle in classical music that time is the test to separate the good from the merely adequate. If a piece is still being played and listened to long after its contemporaries are forgotten, then there is something there. “Imagine” is musically simple. Simplicity often is insipid, but not always. The time test suggests that it is not, in this instance. But more importantly, I am bemused by the dismissal of ideals as unrealizable. Christianity is all about unrealizable ideals, at least this side of the second coming. Do we dismiss Christianity because it is unrealistic to ask people to love their neighbors as themselves? And many (not all) of the ideals expressed in the song are very Christian. Cue my standard observation that the earliest Christian church was communist. Acts 2:44 gives practically the dictionary definition. The chapters that follow are an examination of how fallen humanity fails to live up to this ideal. This has not changed, as we see in modern history. But this does not change that this is the ideal.

    • Back in the sixties I’d play Beethoven and the Beatles back to back. Liked it all. Per your comment about music having stood the test of time, I recall a review of the second Led Zeppelin album when it came out in ’69, the one with Whole Lotta Love. It was in a Pop Music magazine, Hit Parader, I think. He said it was hard to believe their kind of music would last for very long. Little did either of us know that 50 years later their music would still endure. Been listening to chamber orchestra versions of some of their work recently.

  17. Robert F says

    Do churches have the resources to store and preserve art the way that a good gallery or museum does? Most don’t; they can hardly afford to pay staff. The historic churches themselves, the great cathedrals in Europe, survive partly by marketing themselves as tourist art and architectural attractions (the other part is state support — without both the state support they could not survive). In many ways, for many people, those historic sacred spaces are a kind of gallery or museum, not places of worship. In that sense, I don’t think the original settings for the art exist anymore, since the purposes of the sacred spaces have changed, which means that I don’t think Schmidt’s observations hold water.

  18. Burro (Mule) says

    1976, the year of the Bicentennial, was easily the most dismal year musically I can remember. The creative riot of the 60s had been over for years, progressive rock’s best and most productive years were behind it. Disco and its variants were all over the radio. Elton John, who for me will always be the aural version of Lassie reruns, was pumping out hit after forgettable hit.

    There were a few squibs left in the progressive arsenal, like Genesis’ A Trick Of The Tail and Television’s Marquee Moon portended better things to come, but yeah, all in all, “Muskrat Love” fit right in with all the rest of that dreck.

    • Norma Cenva says

      And yet Steely Dan’s Aja was one of the best albums to come out of that era.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Steely Dan and “Aja”! Yes!!! Not my favorite song, but I love that album!

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Not all of the records released in 1975 and 1976 were utter horrors

        Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby
        David Bowie – Young Americans, Station To Station
        Roxy Music – Siren
        Brian Eno – Another Green World
        King Crimson – Red

        …are still among my favorites, but you never heard them on the radio; except maybe “Fame” once in a while. But by the time Aja was released you could tell things were getting better; Costello had a disc out, so did the Ramones, as did Nick Lowe. Early New Wave, Power Pop, and reggae were percolating onto the charts.
        The 70s were monster for R&B – Parliament, Al Green, Brothers Johnson, the Commodores, Rufus, Minnie Ripperton,, but yeah, Aja was special, like Boz Scaggs if Boz Scaggs knew how to write songs.

        • Robert F says

          Marquee Moon certainly didn’t get much airplay, except left of the dial in the college radio station ghetto. But you would have found Lou Reed and Roxy Music and David there, too.

        • Rick Ro. says

          Oh my gosh… Mule…

          David Bowie – Young Americans, Station To Station
          Roxy Music – Siren
          Brian Eno – Another Green World
          King Crimson – Red

          I had no idea. I’m a huge Roxy Music/Brian Eno/Bryan Ferry/Bowie fan. I was mild on King Crimson, but appreciated some of their musicianship (Adrian Belew, for one).

        • Clay Crouch says

          Let’s not forget Big Star.

  19. Looking at Trump’a standard operating procedures it seems pretty obvious why he pulled the stunt he did. A day or two before he had to be brought into the underground bunker because of those protesters. He had to counter that by showing he wasn’t a scaredy cat. He also had to assure us of his machismo by letting us know that the bunker visit had NOTHING to do with the threat outside. He just happened to be checking out the bunker. A little inspection. Perhaps a change of of decor was in order. “What? There were protesters outside? Didn’t realize that.” Blundering sixth grade machismo.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Again, sounds like the Transactional Analysis mind game of “Tough Guy”, where a small and/or weak man has to PROVE to everyone how He’s Really TOUGH. “REALLY! I AM! SEE? SEE? SEE?”

      The usual way in the description was hanging our with and/or fanboying REAL Tough Guys (like Gangsters and Street Thugs — or Duterte, Putin, etc.).

  20. Michael Z says

    Thousands of aging right-wing conspiracy theorists, marching (armed) for the right to get a haircut: “Look at how big our protest is! We are a political force to be reckoned with!”

    *Hundreds* of thousands of (unarmed) young and diverse folks opposing police brutality: “You call *that* a protest?”

  21. Robert F says

    Fifty-seven cops resign from the special unit they were in to protest the actions taken to discipline two cops who knocked a senior citizen down during a street protest. Not only did they knock him down, about twenty of them walk by him as he lay unconscious on the ground bleeding profusely from the head! If you watch the video, you’ll see that the first people to actually kneel down and help the guy were national guardsmen, not police. The police in this country are out of control. Why are black people so angry? Why wouldn’t they be?

    • Robert F says

      Fifty-seven resigned? Good. If they don’t want to be held accountable, they don’t belong in a special unit, or even on the police force.

    • Michael Z says

      Fundamentally, what makes a police officer unique is that they are authorized by the state to use violence against civilians. But in 99% of cases where the US deploys police officers, we’d be better off instead deploying someone trained in nonviolent peacekeeping, de-escalation, and social work.

      Whether the job that needs to be done is directing traffic or doing behavior management in schools or addressing issues of addiction or mental health or writing traffic tickets or keeping protests from getting out of hand or even dealing with petty crime, the simple fact is that police and prisons are the wrong solution. We need to re-imagine what “officers of the peace” should be, and as a result there may no longer be a place for officers who thought that it meant being the “big man with a gun.”

    • Christiane says

      That poor old man. By now everyone has seen the incident on television unless you only watch certain media. I think he was trying to talk to the ‘special’ unit, but TWO of them in the front shoved him, one particularly hard, and he fell. And he lay there and bled. A lot.


      is it thus that ‘the enemies of the State must perish’? An old man, frail, and unarmed? What was his crime? The reports say he was a person who advocated for peace. Well, I guess that did it, now all the drum is that we are preparing to go to war if need be to wag the dog before November so great leader will not lose power.

      Such a fearsome enemy: this old man, laying there unconscious, blood pouring from his ear. What a symbol of the worst of us: someone who wants peace. Imagine that.

      Imagine that.

  22. Pastor Roger says

    This is a question I’m wondering about in regards to the new York times article about the anger in the black community. Why are so many African Americans behind bars? The article mentions the facts but they don’t say why that’s true?

    • To put it simplistically… Either they are committing crimes out of proportion to their percentage of the population (the conservative view), or they are more likely to be arrested and imprisoned due to their skin color (the progressive view). Find a way to determine which of those two hypotheses are true, and you will have your answer.

      • Eeyore, good point, there is plenty of statistics , reports and facts available about crimes. Black on black, white on white, domestic, violent , non violent etc. Do your own research , look at the real world situation and form your own answer as it is hard to get away from propaganda from all sides.

      • Michael Z says

        One major reason is that black people are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, and more likely to be imprisoned for exactly the same crimes. For example, in the decade from 1995 to 2005, 13% of drug users in the US were black, but 36% of arrests and 46% of convictions were of black people:


        Other studies have found similar rates, with black people being anywhere from 2.5 times to 4 times more likely to end up in prison compared to a white person who commits the same crime. Essentially, the justice system has become our modern version of the Jim Crow system – a state-sanctioned means to disrupt and disenfranchise black people.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Find a way to determine which of those two hypotheses are true, and you will have your answer.

        Don’t forget BOTH hypotheses may be true and (more likely) the result is a blend of both.

        And remember White Evangelicals WILL consider the “conservative explanation” as Inerrant SCRIPTURE(TM). Just hold up a Bible and they Bend the Knee and Take the Mark.

    • I know one answer to your question; blacks are much more likely to be arrested and charged for minor crimes than are whites. Illegal drug possession is much more serious for a black teenager than a white teenager.

      • Robert F says

        We have Bill Clinton to thank for the harshness with which nonviolent black drug offenders are treated by the courts. What was it, three strikes your out? Thanks, Bill.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Wasn’t he called “The First Black President”?

          Though I remember a radio talk show opening up the phone lines for call-ins during Monicagate. Two call-ins were especially memorable:

          1) Beavis & Butthead voice “YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS OF CLINTON ‘CAUSE HE SCOOOORED!!!”

          2) Slight “black” accent “Why are you so surprised? He’s po’ white trash, and he acts like po’ white trash.”

        • Yes, BC has much to be blamed for in this area, but he wasn’t the start of it. Nixon coined the phrases “war on drugs” and “war on crime” rhetoric, but it was Reagan who actually made it war. Nixon’s purpose was to sway Southern conservative Dems into the Republican party with the racial dog whistling (“everybody knows that blacks are druggies and criminals”). Regan made it happen. Dems realized that if they were to take the White House they needed to be perceived as centrist, thus BC’s hard on crime stance.

          The reality is that the “war on drugs/crime” kristalnacht has been a war on the US public–and especially so for POC.

          • Clay Crouch says

            Johnson declared war of Poverty. That’s turned into a war on the Impoverished.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            And the biggest fanboys of The War On Drugs (outside the DEA itself) are Donald Trump and The Christians.

  23. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIUSL4zjmVw

    The white liberal is explaining to the black woman why she is oppressed and the poor black women does not know it.
    The young lady who is an immigrant knows she is in the best country in the world.

    • Immigrants already know they have a tough row to hoe. They don’t have the “benefit” of having grown up here and being told they have equal opportunity when they actually do not.

    • Robert F says

      The young lady who is an immigrant knows she is in the best country in the world.

      No doubt she’s had a lot of opportunity to travel the world and see that for herself, huh, Dan?

    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “The young lady who is an immigrant knows she is in the best country in the world.”

      I’m pretty sure the young immigrant lady is NOT here because it is the best country in the world, but because her options up to this point have pretty much SUCKED. Call it more “a best option at the moment.”

    • anonymous says

      “The young lady who is an immigrant knows she is in the best country in the world.”

      please . . . . .


  24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fij8TP0FE00

    Another young black lady that needs to be re educated as she is not saying the right things.

  25. Worst song? Not while anyone remembers “MacArthur Park” sung by Richard Harris (of all people). This may officially be the worst song ever written, according to a poll taken by Dave Barry twenty or thirty years ago. This is a musical root canal.

    • I actually liked MacArthur Park–but I was an 8th grader at the time…

      • anonymous says

        . . . Someone left the cake out in the rain
        I don’t think that I can take it
        ‘Cause it took so long to bake it
        And I’ll never have that recipe again . . .

    • From the same time period, perhaps the worst of all time;

      Inna Goda Da Vida

      • Rick Ro. says

        Oh, C’mon… who doesn’t like a good 25-minute drum solo!?!?!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “Inna Gadda Da Vida” played a part in an early Simpsons episode (the one where “Bart Sells His Soul”), setting up the main story (where Bart “sold his soul” — a paper with “Bart Simpson’s Soul” written on it) to his geeky friend Milhous on a bet.) Opening scene went like this:

        Sunday morning, Springfield Community Church, congregation piling in. Bart Simpson and his pals handing out the hymnals at the door. (Which should have been the first red-flag warning.)

        Sure enough, hymnals have been “doctored”. (A type of doctoring called “Evil-Izing the Book”.)

        Reverend Lovejoy announces the opening him on Page whatever of the hymnals: “‘In the Garden of Eden’ by I. Ron Butterfly.”


        This being The Simpsons they’re most of the way through the “hymn” before they realize they’ve been had.

        Next scene: Reverend Lovejoy’s office, doors locked. Inside (locked in) are Bart and his pals, on the receiving end of a private Hellfire and Damnation sermon, Rev Lovejoy describing the Torments of Eternal Hell in exquisite detail for those who don’t squeal on the ringleader. And at some point Milhous cracks and fingers Bart.

  26. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fij8TP0FE00

    another woman who does not understand why the looting is neccessary.

  27. David Cornwell says

    I love the animal photographs. Such beauty.

  28. senecagriggs says

    Writing at the Washington Post, author Alyssa Rosenberg has a unique solution for the problems with our policing: Cancel all the cop shows on television.

    Aren’t westerns basically cop shows?

    • And cop shows are basically westerns.

      • Rick Ro. says

        This. And this why some police have problems — they think they’re in a Western.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I think it’s actually called “The John Wayne Syndrome”.
          (Or at least that’s what it was called circa 1970.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Why didn’t Alyssa Rosenberg say this in 1975-76, when EVERY show on all three networks was a Cop Show?
      Sexy white women cops, sexy black woman cops, black cops, brown cops, Inuit cop, Priest cop, even an ex-convict cop, EVERY prime-time show on TV was a Cop Show!

  29. senecagriggs says

    Doing the math:

    Biden: ’10 to 15% of the People Out There Are Just Not Very Good People’

    In other words 40 to 50 million people in the U.S. are just not very good people.

    Cynic that I am, Joe may have underestimated.

    We’ll call him “Joe the Uniter.”

  30. Dana Ames says

    Roughly chronological list of non-classical musicians/acts I’ve paid to see live in concert:

    Taj Mahal
    Randy Newman
    Manhattan Transfer (while I was a student in Germany)
    Pointer Sisters (their brother taught at my alma mater and they did the concert as a favor for him)
    Captain & Tenille
    Dallas Holm
    Second Chapter of Acts
    Pam Mark Hall
    Kate Wolf with Nina Gerber
    Noel Paul Stookey, with his band of the 1980s
    Moody Blues
    Bruce Cockburn
    Alex DeGrassi (lives in my county)

    It’s a short list for a 64-year-old, but I’ve lived in rural areas most of my life, far from the usual concert venues. Yours?


    • Rush
      Eddie From Ohio
      Huey Louis and the News
      The London String Quartet
      Enter the Haggis

      Yep, pretty eclectic, but I’m an eclectic guy.

      • Lewis. Die, autocorrect, die.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Eddie from Ohio… I think I have “Looking out the Fishbowl” somewhere, but why I have it/got it, I can’t remember!!! Maybe a gift?

      • Robert F says

        Rush was the first concert I ever saw. “2112” tour date at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. Wow. That was one of the great rock venues on the East Coast for 20 years or so. It no longer exists. But you can still find a lot of really fine video footage of great rock band/artist performances on Youtube that were recorded at the Capitol; it had a great in-house video system.

    • I don’t go to many non-classical concerts. Off the top of my head, I recall going to They Might Be Giants, the Indigo Girls, and Allison Krauss. There are others that don’t come immediately to mind.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      The Who
      MC5 with Dick Wagner and the Frost
      King Crimson (incredible musicianship)
      The Kinks
      The Rolling Stones (Some Girls tour)
      U2 (May 3, 1981 – Boy album)
      Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare
      The Cars

      Roberto Carlos/Daniela Mercury
      Backstreet Boys (with my daughter)
      Porcupine Tree

    • Rick Ro. says

      Let’s see…

      Earth, Wind and Fire
      ZZ Top
      Jeff Beck
      Tangerine Dream
      Thomas Dolby
      U2 (several times)
      The Police
      Prince (worst concert experience ever… the Tacoma Dome loaded with 13 year old girls screaming their heads off was NOT pleasant)
      Paul McCartney
      Crowded House
      The Shins
      Spinal Tap (yep, the guys actually toured!)
      Indigo Girls
      Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith
      2nd Chapter of Acts
      Many other Christian bands/acts at Winter Jam and such

  31. senecagriggs says

    Not many concerts [ despite living in SoCal ] but most notable the Mamas and the Papas at the Hollywood Bowl

    HOWEVER, the opening act was a guitarist I had never heard of

    Jimmy Hendrix.

    I had no idea what a electric guitar could do up until that time.

    He was freakin’ amazing.

    • And playing it upside down and backwards.

      He was left handed on a guitar made for right handed folks.

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