Monday, January 31, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Don Kirshner's Rock Concert
Rest in peace, Don.
The Brill Building age of pop, named after the Manhattan building where many of its songwriters labored, lasted from the mid-1950s to the mid-’60s and is celebrated for the people behind its innocently aching music: producers like Phil Spector, writing teams like Carole King and Gerry Goffin (“The Loco-Motion”).
But the guiding force behind many of those people was Mr. Kirshner, whose hustle, hit-trained ear and good timing helped shape pop in the days when Tin Pan Alley’s song-craft traditions were being mingled with the rhythms of rock.
As a pioneering musical matchmaker, Mr. Kirshner discovered many of the era’s best songwriters, prodded them for hits and shopped the results to top artists. Later in the 1960s he married bubblegum to television with two manufactured, semifictitious bands: the Monkees and the cartoon Archies.
“He had a great sense of commerciality and song, the ability to hear a song and know it’s a hit,” said Charles Koppelman, a veteran music executive who began his career in Mr. Kirshner’s company, Aldon.
Yet to music fans who came of age in the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Kirshner is best known as the leisure-suited, monotonous host of the syndicated “Rock Concert,” which from 1973 to 1982 presented live performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Ted Nugent, among many others.
Unlike “American Bandstand” and other early TV rock shows, on which performers lip-synched their music or played a song or two in a sterile studio, “Rock Concert” featured full, loud performances in an arena or club setting. In his spoken introductions, however, Mr. Kirshner often seemed strangely out of place, as if he barely knew the acts he was introducing — which was sometimes the case.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Walking in the footsteps of Jesus
QASR EL-YAHUD, West Bank – Just months before the official opening of one of Christianity's holiest sites to visitors, the area where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus remains surrounded by thousands of land mines.
Israel says the sites visited by pilgrims and tourists in an area known as Qasr el-Yahud will be safe, but advocacy groups warn that crowds could be in danger.
On Tuesday, some 15,000 Christian pilgrims marched between two fenced-in mine fields to reach the Epiphany ceremony led by the Greek Orthodox patriarch on the Jordan River, 5 miles (8 kilometers) east of the oasis town of Jericho at the edge of the West Bank.
The mines are leftovers from the 1967 war and are on the border with Jordan. Seems Jordan cleared the mine fields on their side of the border, the Israeli government not so much.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Labels: Paul Butterfield
Civility versus honesty
James Fallows has solicited suggestions on how we can have a more civil political dialog in the wake of the Tucson shootings. Fallows’ project has merit, and as a consistently civil and reasonable person, he’s the right guy to take it on. But if I had a choice between a more civil discourse and a more honest one, I’d pick honesty every time.
The reason that hundreds of angry people came to town hall meetings in my Congressional district in 2009, and the reason that police had to be present where they had never been before, wasn’t because someone was “uncivil”. It was because their media heroes and party leaders told them a pack of lies about death panels, federal funding for abortions, Medicare being taken away and free insurance for illegal immigrants. The questions that my Congressman took at those hate-filled meetings weren’t reasonable queries about limited government, deficits and healthcare outcomes. They were questions about why he wanted to kill grandma, let the government pay to abort babies, and take away Medicare.
Meanwhile, he notes that the media (or, as Sarah Palin puts it, "'the media'") is complicit in that it is more newsworthy to show angry mobs than to analyze what the mob is angry about and explain that it is all bullshit.
I think this is important. It is easy to lose the point President Obama was trying to make regarding "a more honest and civil" politics, and forget that the former is easily as important than the latter and much more easy to call attention to.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Palin's use of the blood of Christian children
But blood libel?
I hope those accused of accusing Palin of "blood libel," "the media," will use this as an opportunity to identify how these wingnut memes proliferate. A Republican consultant tweets, Instapundit, repeats in the WSJ, then Palin, encouraged by Beck, and finally Breitbart.
These are not particularly intelligent people.