Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rants: Just About Had It



~ John Lennon


Rodak Remembers: Baseball Quiz #15

This one goes out to Moose, my Philly Phanatic Phriend:

Your clue is that these two Philly greats are in the same configuration here as they would have been on the field of play. The contemplative fellow on the bottom, sadly, passed away just this year. Who are they?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Riffs: The Stratfords - Ultimate Pop

I posted this on Facebook yesterday, but things get pushed to the bottom of the stack so quickly there...

This is one of my very favorite 45s from the Golden Age of Rock'n'Roll. I never understood why this wasn't a mega-hit record. It is certainly a better tune than anything that the Beatles had put out at this point in history.

It worked for me back then, and it still works for me today. Give it a listen:


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rodak's Writings: Tripping


I want

no destination

I want

a highway — climbing toward dawn — and the horizon

and you

beside me

with no map

on your lap

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflections: Pourquoi?

Why should I knock myself out working on blog posts when I can go on Facebook and/or Twitter and get myself stroked or poked without doing any work?
Just sayin'.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Reporter - Part 7: December 1, 1955


I see that it has been almost exactly one month since I posted the last in my series of backward glances at The Reporter. Skimming through this one, I’m getting the feeling that this reluctance to get on with the task represented a prescient, if subliminal, message received from somewhere beyond concerning just how little of interest was going to be found in this issue. Maybe it’s me, but I just can’t get into it. I can’t get into it with such complete indifference that I despair of ever, in this life, getting through the entire collection.

Let’s get our boy Sidney Alexander (since the whole thing is his fault) out of the way, right here at the outset. In this issue, Alexander reviews the career of Italian novelist, Alberto Moravia. I have never read anything by Alberto Moravia, and I hereby swear a solemn oath never to be tempted into doing so. Moravia was apparently hot stuff in 1955. But that knowledge in hand, I will go wholeheartedly with Alexander’s closing words: “…a decade after the fall of Fascism, we see that Moravia’s caustic view has nothing to do with politics: His people are still the indifferent ones, staring at the same brick wall.” I stand solidly with them in that indifference.

The cover story, authored by Max Ascoli, and proclaimed by the cover banner “The Hidden America” concerns a symposium of academic intellectuals held at Marquette University in Milwaukee to commemorate its 75th anniversary. My, isn’t that exciting? The article unfolds as an extremely wordy call for these same intellectuals to rally themselves and muster their peers in the service of developing ideas—vital ideas—which will serve to overcome a creeping pessimism which Ascoli sees as threatening the American Way of Global Dominance:

“Mine is a frank plea for respecting both facts and ideas, addressed to fellow intellectuals. We certainly cannot go on much longer…with, on the one hand, hallowed ideas that are getting increasingly stereotyped and uncommunicable, and, on the other, the huge, mountainous accumulation of unorganized tidbits taken from newspaper clippings or statistics or public-relations press releases, and all called facts. Things have gone well beyond the point of national safety.”

OMG! How little did he know about what “national safety” could withstand. He begins his next paragraph with:

“Mine is a plea for ideas, but not for ideologies. We do not need ideological binges in our country, or systematic attempts to force the hand of history for the sake of verifying historical predictions and reaching some perfect, immutable order of things.”

Right. Okay. Ronnie Reagan—you can stay in Hollywood: it’ll be cool, man. Barry Goldwater—run your department store, or whatever: you’re not needed. Newt Gingrich—stay on campus and conduct your own little symposia: be good to your wife. Tea-baggers—you never happened: it was all a dream.

We also have an article here titled “Saudi Arabia: Oil, Sand, and Royalties”. This one, while demonstrating the cosmic power of the phrase plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, deals with the cozy relationship between “King Saud…head of the puritanical Wahabi sect” and Aristotle Socrates Onassis, who has been charged with building up a fleet of tankers to ship Saudi oil. It’s always about oil, isn’t it?

The next article is entitled “Can Mao Collectivize Half a Billion Farmers?” That one’s a historical dead-end, eh? Where would Wal-Mart be today if…

Then we have another article about the arms race and nuclear deterrence -- been there; done that. So, we move on to an article about pre-statehood Hawaii, the final section is headed “Second Thoughts on Statehood”. The closing paragraph is:

“If mainland Democratic opposition continues—presumably on grounds of race prejudice—while Republican enthusiasm from Hawaii cools off, statehood would presumably be farther away than ever. But as far as Hawaii’s latest revolution is concerned, statehood is pretty much a side issue. The Territory’s big problem is whether it can handle its coming of age without destroying the human gentleness and warmth which, along with this matchless climate, have given Hawaii at least some of the qualities of paradise.”

In other words, will the haoles fuck-up the Garden of Eden? Hell, yes, they will. And they’ll lose Obama's birth certificate one day, too.

Do you want to hear about an article concerning Lyndon Johnson as a senator from Texas? No? Then how about a biography of James Joyce’s brother, Stanislaus? (Stanislaus? What kind of name is that for frickin’ mick?)

Fuggedaboutit. In the immortal words of Roberto Duran: No mas!


Riffs: Sunday Morning Music

Not at The Village Vanguard; not with Scott LaFaro on bass; but Bill Evans, nonetheless:


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Riffs: Sweet Thing


A Facebook friend posted this old favorite for the world's pre-dawn delight, and it seems appropriate to the day. You know who you are:

Thank you, Van the Man.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rodak's Writings: Featherweight


I should not have responded.
I should have let
the fresh-poured concrete set
without extending a finger
to smear my initials there.
I’ve got no game.
I’m at zero valence.
I’ve been sucked out
and spit into a bucket
like the contents
of a delinquent womb.
I sometimes forget
that life is at best
an attempt to positively value
the warm jewels of wet
soaking into leg hair
then trickling like little amber tongues
between the toes of bare feet:
a perpetual pissing into the wind.
The cat avoiding my gaze
is Feather.
She has a story
xxxx(--and you can see it coming--)
The cynic physician
handing back my empty wallet
with a prescription
for the standard panacea:
Just go out and get yourself a little pussy:
Voilà, Feather.
xxxx(--pause for groans--)
It’s Feather’s world.
I’m just here to fill the bowl.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rodak Remembers: Baseball Quiz #14


Watching bp today from a better place. The Major. May he Rest In Peace:

How did he earn his nickname?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rodak Remembers: Baseball Quiz #13

It would be no hoax if I were to tell you that the man on the left below was always on the right side of the subject of our last Baseball Quiz, and that the man on the right was also his good friend:

You've had your clues--so, who are they?

Rants: The Shirley Sherrod Incident

The way this thing appears to be shaking down is that a malicious, racist landmine was set by a crypto-fascist disinformation operative, and the NAACP carelessly stepped on it, carrying the feckless Vilsap under one arm and chickenshit Barry Obama under the other. What a fucking mess. I'm howling with rage and convulsed with shame that this Breitbart scumbag was able to so easily pull off the same kind of shit that was pulled off in the demise of ACORN again, and so soon. What a nation of bleating merinos we are!

Never trust an American political conservative: they lack a fundamentally moral perspective.
Update: Kudos to Tom Vilsac who has made a no-nonsense, straightforward apology to Shirley Sherrod and has offered her a new job. No "non-apology apology" here. This was good as gold. I can't ask for more--other than much better due diligence in the future.

Now: where the fuck is the White House? I'm waiting, Barry.

I. Can't. Hear. You....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Riffs: If Only



Riffs: Passing Out Wolf Tickets

A Facebook friend has posted the message: [Name] is passing out wolf tickets, queue up!

Uber-hip though I am, this was a new one on me. I had to search the rest of the comments for a straight translation:

"Another one I like is wolf tickets, which means bad news, as in someone who is bad news or generally insubordinate. In a sentence, you'd say, "Don't fuck with me, I'm passing out wolf tickets." Think it's either Baltimore Negro or turn-of-the-century railroad use." (Source: "Tom Waits 20 questions". Playboy magazine)

Dig it. I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your prose away, dude!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rodak Remembers: Baseball Quiz #12

Okay, sports fans--the All-Star break is over. Your clue to this handsome lad's identity is that Graham Womak had nice things to say about him in a recent article:

So, who is he?


Reportage: Restoring the Economy

Due to hugely successful promotional campaigns on the part of such left-liberal organizations as Planned Parenthood and ACORN, coupled with the decades-long efforts of Marxist-Leninist community organizers from Saul D. Alinsky to B. Hussein Obama, the economic comeback of this great Republic is being fueled in large part by a vital and resurgent Abortion Industry. As the economy slowly begins to grow and families once more have a bit of disposable income, they want to spend it. And what they most want to spend it on, economists tell us, is abortions.

Whereas only a generation ago, resourceful young girls in their formative “tween” years put away a portion of their allowances to save for the purchase of a horse, or to help finance their future college educations, today’s young girls are saving in eager anticipation of paying cold hard cash for their first abortion.

And they are getting them, too! In these uncertain times, Wall Street analysts assure us that abortion futures are among the investments most highly favored by today’s savvy market speculators.

“Nancy Pelosi and President Obama make it all sound so wonderful!” gushes 12-year-old Cindy Lou Hoover, of Independence, Missouri. “I only wish I were old enough to get pregnant right now, so I could have my first one!” Cindy Lou has been saving those nickels, dimes and quarters given to her by her grandfather, or by the friendly widower down the street (“He looks just like that nice Harry Reid!”) “ever since I was in the third grade.” Adding that, “It was those awesome ‘toons in ‘The Weekly Reader’—the ones with Sunni McBunny, Nurse Curette, and Dr. Dilation” that first fired her enthusiasm to “abort an innocent little baby, a.s.a.p.”

“Gosh, who wouldn’t want to?” Cindy Lou asks. “It’s, like, the patriotic thing to do!”

Who indeed?! As a renewable resource—and one that will never be outsourced, so long as Obama-Care and the rest of the socialist/liberal/humanist agenda remains in full force—abortion is, and should continue to be, the fastest growing industry in the private sector.

With abortion clinics popping up along Main Street like proverbial fungi, filling storefronts abandoned by Blockbuster Video and other failed franchise operations, property values and tax bases are being restored and maintained, even as thousands of new, high-paying jobs are being created on a daily basis.

Whereas former President George W. Bush unsuccessfully urged Americans faced with an economic downturn to go out to the mall and spend, the current occupant of the White House has saved the day by counseling American females to spend their disposable income on the abortion services that his life-long socialist agitation has done so much to make freely available to them. “It’s like we used to say about voting back in Chicago,” he grins. “Do it early and do it often!”

And Wall Street is saying “Amen to that!”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Riffs: Rodak Rockin' Rural

Wail on, bro'...


Reflections: A Challenge to Dual

Of the person who first uttered the proverb, “Too soon old, too late smart,” you might surmise — given the source from which you probably first heard it — that he was a Jew. The odds there are good. But on one thing you can bet your silver samovar: whoever said it first was old.

The truth conveyed by those six little words tells you everything you need to know about life on the material plane. It encapsulates everything said at much greater length by Ecclesiastes. Beneath the agonizing weight of it, you may come to realize that the putative old Jew who first had the honesty to express this thought was, ipso facto, a (gasp!) Dualist. His tardy realization is that he was fucked from the git-go because his realization was tardy. Unless we choose to single-mindedly pursue the path of sainthood our physical plant breaks down before our spiritual growth can be completed. Unless we early-on see the adversary in the materia we almost certainly will not do so.

Concerning those who take an anti-Dualist approach in their contemplation of human existence we can say that each is either a credulous naïf or that he is lying to himself. It was Jesus Christ who identified Satan as “the prince of this world.” Therefore, don’t listen uncritically to those who say “It’s all good”—do your own math.

The anti-Dualists can’t give you a satisfactory explanation of the Problem of Evil for one simple reason: one needs to have become a Dualist before one can even begin to contemplate the problem honestly.

To be in the world is a universal given. To be of the world is an individual choice.

Is the material world not beautiful? You betcha! And was not Lucifer also the most beautiful of God’s angels? (*BIG FRIGGIN' WINK*) Ah! there’s the snare.

For all the verbiage expended to insulate one from the obvious, the issue really isn’t that complicated. And for you, it may not yet be too late.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Riffs: Fatwa Lifted

Although this clip is inferior in terms of both son et lumière, I offer it up as the best I that I could find in the time I wanted to devote to the search. I love both the singer and the song. The 10,000 Maniacs cover of Cat Stevens’ great tune, “Peace Train” first appeared on the 1987 album, In My Tribe. But when Stevens disclosed that he had become a Muslim and later, in a fit of the kind of excess zeal that often afflicts converts, endorsed the fatwa issued against author Salman Rushdie over the content of his novel The Satanic Verses, the tune was removed. By the time I purchased the CD (in great part because of my love for the band’s treatment of that song) it was—to my disappointment—gone.

I have always felt that this censorship, although well-meant, was a mistake. The song has a vital and valid message. Moreover, the truth from the lips of Satan himself remains the truth. It’s not where it comes from, but how you use it:

If anyone can supply a link to a better clip, please send it along and I'll gratefully replace this one with that one.

(The 10,000 Maniacs' cover of "Peace Train" is again available, btw, on the retrospective compilation, Campfire Songs.)

R.I.P. - Tuli Kupferberg



I can hear the vacuous Gen-Xers cackle with soft, demonic glee as the icons of the Final Bohemian Underground drop off the tree, one by one. Two words: Fug you.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quote du Jour: Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

In her memoir And a Voice to Sing With, Joan Baez succinctily sums up the residuals of her affair with Bob Dylan and of that period known as "the 'Sixties:

Even now, in the the 1980s, "Farewell, Angelina," a beautiful little love song laced with cockeyed imagery, is enough to transport a festival audience of forty thousand people in France back to the meaningful days of the sixties, and to give them a sense of empowerment, because for a few minutes they can become a part of a dream from the years when "everything was happening," life seemed to have a purpose, and everyone made a difference. And that, dear Bob, is not fuckin' bad.

We thought we could sit forever and fun, but our chances really was a million to one.
xxxxx~ "Bob Dylan's Dream"
Update: check out how beautiful Joan is here, in a live clip that unfortunately truncates the song.

Riffs: Just Call Me "Sonny"

Considering that I love popular music, that I have a rather large collection--on vinyl, tape and CD--of popular music, going back to the very beginnings of recording in the last century; and considering that I have been listening to popular music, first on radio--when Perry Como and Patti Page were big stars--considering all of that, I've been quite neglectful of sharing some of the music that I love here. I've been doing better this past week. Tonight, I'm putting up a song by another of my favorite singer-songwriters. Enjoy:


Monday, July 12, 2010

Riffs: da Futcha

I think there are a couple of pithy lines missing here, but it still kicks ass:

UPDATE: wrt to the "missing pithy lines" referred to above, I believe that Cohen (most likely for the benefit of kiddies watching Canadian tv) here substitutes "give me speed and careless sex" for the original "give me crack and anal sex."


Relationships: The Rewards of Linkage


I often doubt that value of social-networking gizmos such as Facebook. I sometimes even wonder why I bother to blog. But every once in awhile something comes my way via Facebook, or descends upon me out of the blogosphere, that makes it all worthwhile.

Example: today I read this excellent short story by Donald Hall, a link to which was posted by Pentimento on her outstanding blog. In conjunction with that, yesterday I started reading the 1987 memoir And a Voice to Sing With by Joan Baez. I had purchased the book years ago at a public library used book sale, but had never gotten around to reading it. It took a conversation about the ‘sixties, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez that I had with Pentimento via Facebook to prod me into finding the book. I haven’t been disappointed. As it happens, I was privileged to briefly meet both Donald Hall and Joan Baez in Ann Arbor, back in the day (circa 1968), so the conjunction of these cyber-social interactions and the readings they’ve inspired constitute the kind of synchronicity of which I’ve written before.

Below is a passage from Hall’s short story that I found to be a particularly insightful comment on the human condition. I urge you to follow the link above and read the whole story. The passage is the reminiscence of an aging woman, who as a child had to cope with her discovery of her mother’s infidelity and the resultant changes in the dynamics of her family:

Surely I was changed forever. Life at the farm was calm, but I lived elsewhere in my fancy. I absented myself by reading stories, imagining myself a reckless heroine or a pathetic victim. Outside the house of fiction I was chronically restless. Nothing in life, I knew, was what it appeared to be. When I read a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, I recognized the minister and his pious congregation who met at midnight in the woods to celebrate mass for the devil. I knew that by universal conspiracy we agreed to deny the secret wickedness of every human being. We needed, every hour, to understand that the fabric of routine covered unseen deceptions and enormities. We also needed to remember that the cloth must show no rips or tears, and that this covering was as real as anything. I admired the fabrics my father and mother wove, whatever might throb or coil underneath the cloth. [italic emphasis added]

Oh, what tangled webs we weave…
The graphic is a self-portrait of Joan Baez as a young girl, lifted from her memoir.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Riffs: A Nice Jewish Boy

As long as I'm on a music kick, here is another of my favorite artists, doing my favorite of his recent tunes:

That is some septuagenarian soul, baby.
Update: In truth my favorite song on that album is Boogie Street, but I couldn't find a video that matched my enthusiasm for the song. Play it anyway.

Riffs: It's Better To Burn Out

For several hours I've been communicating with Pentimento via Facebook on the topic of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. This, then, is the appropriate sound track to that series of exchanges:

This song, so drenched in New York City images, has personal resonance. It is almost physically painful for me to listen to it now.

Speaking strictly for me, we both could've died then and there.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reflections: Beauty

It may not not be classic, but it does the trick for me.


Riffs: I Love This One



Readings: Don't Play that Song

In the section “Swann in Love” from the novel Swann’s Way, Proust depicts the protagonist Swann as he is stricken to the heart by a “little phrase from Vinteuil’s sonata”. Swann hears--as he wanders among the guests at a society gathering, mooning over the absent Odette--a “little phrase that spoke to him of the vanity of his sufferings”:

Its destiny was linked, for the future, with that of the human soul, of which it was one of the special, the most distinctive ornaments. Perhaps it is not-being that is the true state, and all our dream of life is without existence; but, if so, we feel that it must be that these phrases of music, these conceptions which exist in relation to our dream, are nothing either. We shall perish, but we have for our hostages these divine captives who shall follow and share our fate. And death in their company is something less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps even less certain.
xxxxxxxx~ Swann's Way, Marcel Proust; tr. C. K. Scott Moncrieff

I don’t know how he can bear to listen. There are songs I can’t play. Boxes I can’t open. Letters I dare not read, ever again--or dispose of either. Ergo: Don't Play that Song

Friday, July 2, 2010

...and the correct answer is: