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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Like Father, Like Daughter

Trixie Whitley becoming all the rage, so here's her dad, the great Chris Whitley, who died too young,   tell us how he's "Livin' With the Law."

Shooting Down Gun Lobby Myths

Important NYT editorial up tonight takes on the embrace by lazy lawmakers of the myths promoted by gun nuts, particularly about how the ban on assault weapons "did not help."  Of course, the ban was allowed to lapse partly due to such propaganda.  The Times provides ample evidence to the contrary.  "The false statistics comfort members of Congress who fear the gun lobby or their more conservative constituents, or both, and are blocking a new and stronger ban on assault weapons proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein." Just a sample of the facts: 
The information is there if Congress is interested. After the ban expired, 37 percent of police departments reported noticeable increases in criminals’ use of assault weapons, according to a 2010 report by the Police Executive Research Forum.
In Virginia, the number of guns with high capacity magazines seized by police dropped after they were included in the 1994 weapons ban, but then rebounded sharply after the ban expired, according to a 2011 study by The Washington Post. Maryland enacted its own more stringent ban on assault weapons ban in 1994, and a 55 percent drop in assault pistols from crime scenes was reported by the Baltimore police.

Bradley in Berkeley

Co-author of my Bradley Manning book, Truth and Consequences, and former Nation colleague Kevin Gosztola will be speaking tonight at major event in Berkeley, along with my old pal Dan Ellsberg, re: the Manning case.  Kevin writes about it here.  It's being for Democracy Now! also.  Our book here.   It will be sold at event.

Just Another Day in America

Prosecutor shot down in the street in Texas by two men in tactical vests who get away.  And another school shooting, this time in Atlanta.    School in lockdown.  A little more here.  Some sources says student seriously hurt, other injured was a teacher who suffered cuts and bruises.  Something of  an update here--appears not to be a mass shooting.  Return here for updates.

Father of the Year?

Or just story of the day?   A police detective/narc in the Miami Dade force provided his daughter with materials for her 4th grade science fair entry--namely, three drug-sniffing dogs, and an ounce of actual cocaine (street value $1300).   Take it away, Yahoo: 
Not surprisingly, she won. The first-place honor gave Emma an automatic entry into the Miami -Dade Elementary Schools Science Fair, where her drug-sniffing project earned an honorable mention.
“The purpose for this scientific investigation was to find which dog would find the cocaine fastest using it’s [sic] sense of smell,” the fourth-grader wrote in the abstract for her project, titled "Drug Sniffing Dogs."
Bartelt, according to the Miami Herald, fellow detective William Pedraja and Sgt. Samantha Machado provided the dogs (a springer spaniel named Roger; Levi, a golden retriever; and Franky, a retired chocolate labrador) and the cocaine. (Franky showed he's still got the touch, locating the illegal substance in 43 seconds.)
Emma's mother, Michelle Bartelt, said the experiment was her daughter's idea and that Emma was under constant supervision and "did not touch the cocaine."
“[Doug] handled the drugs,” she said. “He’s always very meticulous about how he handles drugs.”
John Schuster, a spokesman for the school district, issued a statement saying the project, while unusual, did not violate any of the science fair's rules—and that cocaine is not a specifically banned substance.

That'll Be Cash for That Stamp

Yes, Johnny at long last gets his own USPS stamp, coming soon.  Nice photo--a man in black.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sandy Hook Issues Call to the Nation

Riveting meeting at Newtown tonight.  There are many full accounts but this NYT one is pretty good.   Still waiting for answer to parents' question:  who needs an assault rifle in their home. 
David Wheeler, who lost his son, Benjamin, on Dec. 14, told a state legislative panel studying gun violence, mental health and school safety that his first-grade son died because an unstable suicidal individual “had access to a weapon that has no place in a home.”
At the end of his three-minute remarks, he told a panel that Thomas Jefferson said government was instituted to protect our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He said that those words and their order were no accident.
“The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine and keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life,” he said. “His life, to the right to live of all of those children and those teachers, the rights of your children, of you, of all of us. Let’s honor the founding documents and get our priorities straight.”

Judge Makes Key Rulings on Steubenville Case

The judge who will be presiding over the trial of two football players in the Steubenville rape case made three key rulings today.  He ruled against the defense attorneys' request to have the trial moved elsewhere due to alleged witness "intimidation."  He declared that it would be open to the media, not closed, as both sides requested.  And he postponed the trial about a month, to March 13.   There will be no jury.  The Atlantic reviews.

Senator Denies Sex With Prostitutes

UPDATE:   Turns out tonight that Menendez earlier this month wrote a $58,000 check to reimbusrse donor after ethics complaint.
Earlier: And this time it's a Democrat.  Gotta love this Guardian headline and subhed:  "Robert Menendez denies sex allegations after FBI raid on donor's office:  Florida senator says he did not travel to Dominican Republican on plane owned by wealthy friend to have sex with prostitutes."   One problem: He is New Jersey, not Florida.  The donor is based in Florida.
In a statement, Menendez's office confirmed he traveled three times on a plane owned by Dr Salomon Melgen, a friend and doctor, but said the trips had been "paid for and reported appropriately". The FBI searched Melgen's office in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday night and early Wednesday, but it was unclear if the raid was related to Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat.
AP has reported finding no trace of the senator reporting expenses for the trips.   The Daily Caller first reports this last November.  Menendez became chairman of the foreign affairs--err, foreign relations--committee today.

The Next Step in Animation?

The Disney short, "Paperman," now up for an Oscar, just went online.  It merges hand drawn and computer-generated animation in (we are told) a new way.

4 Shot in Arizona After Giffords Testifies

 UPDATE Friday:  A second victim of the shooting has died, a lawyer and mediation expert--who is also former reporter at the Albuquerque and Santa Fe daily papers.  The shooter, who had a dispute with a company and targeted his victims,  killed himself later, as per usual. 

Earlier:   This morning, at the Senate hearing on gun violence (still going on, see CSPAN), former Rep. Gabby Giffords provided another moving testimony, along with her husband.    Now comes word: four shot at a workplace in Phoenix, shooter on the loose.   Four taken out on stretchers.   This was just cited at the gun violence hearing.   UPDATE   This local TV report has several injured and shooter still on loose.

Girl Who Performed for Obama's Inaugural Slain in Chicago

UPDATE:  Jay Carney says Obama praying for girl's family--but not aware of the petition that he attend her funeral.  NYT with story tonight.

This should be the story of the day and, as some have suggested, the President ought to return to his home city and speak at her funeral, keeping the issue of gun violence on the front burner.  Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old sophomore at King College Prep in Chicago was shot and killed near the school at 2:30 in the afternoon and a boy seriously wounded.  She had performed at inaugural events last week in D.C. with the King College Prep band and drill team.   "Friends said the girl was a majorette and a volleyball player, a friendly and sweet presence at King, one of the top 10 CPS selective enrollment schools."

BreakingSeveral shot at Phoenix office complex today as former Rep. Gabby Giffords, also from Arizona, testified before Senate on gun violence.

And in case you missed yesterday's story about Seattle police witnessing one civilian sell a surface-to-air missile launcher to another fine fellow. 

Greg Mitchell has written more than a dozen books on politics, media, nuclear threat,  and U.S. history.

Another Way 'ZDT' Justifies Torture

I thought I'd read about every reason to criticize "Zero Dark Thirty" and its handling of torture but now comes this offering from the Kings of War blog at Kings College in London (where my daughter happens to be getting her Ph.D.)   Read the whole thing, by Johannes Thimm, but here's a key excerpt.  He notes "one dramaturgical decision by the filmmakers that so far has received little attention deserves mentioning. While generally not much except Maya’s immediate surrounding is shown, terrorist attacks are part of the plot at regular intervals....
After opening with a sound montage of 9/11 itself, the movie shows an attack on a Saudi oil installation in Khobar in 2004; the London bus bombings of 7/7/2005; the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott hotel in 2008 (Maya is eating there with a colleague and barely survives); the suicide bombing that wiped out almost an entire CIA unit at the US military base Camp Chapman near the Afghan town Khost (Maya loses a close colleague); even the failed attempt to set of a car bomb on Times Square in New York in 2010. As Karen Greenberg has noted, these attacks provide a constant backdrop of fear. But they do more than that. They provide the ticking time bomb scenario that is indispensable to anyone who wants to defend the use of torture. Even advocates of torture only ever justify it as a means of stopping an imminent attack and saving the lives of innocent people. However, in the real world ticking time bomb scenarios rarely if ever happen. The many attacks shown in the film provide an effective substitute. They are not presented as separate events, carried out by local operatives and each with its own particular circumstances, but rather as a steady continuous onslaught of strikes masterminded by the leadership of Al Qaeda. By making this choice the filmmakers turn the hunt for bin Laden into a race against time.

If one wants to legitimize enhanced interrogation, claiming that torture led to bin Laden by itself is not enough. The overwhelming focus of the debate on the role of torture in locating bin Laden neglects an important point. Even in the opinions of advocates of coercion and even in the case of in Laden, bringing a terrorist to justice for acts committed in the past does not justify its use. It is also necessary to make the case that bin Laden is still a danger. If he were an old man hiding out with little communication to the outside world and without much influence on the actions of a lose network of terrorists who increasingly act independent from Al Qaedas leadership, it would be hard to argue that torturing potential informants would be anything but revenge. However, if he is still the central figure continuously plotting attacks from the Middle East to Manhattan…

The point is made explicit in a little-noticed exchange between Maya and her superior. After the failed Times Square bombing Maya presses Joseph Bradley, the CIA station chief in Pakistan, for more ressources to find bin Laden. Bradley tells her that he doesn’t care about bin Laden and that Maya should be more concerned with protecting the homeland. Maya then lectures him about how bin Laden provides the inspiration for all these attacks. She stops just short of saying that if they get him, the attacks will end. Needless to say, in this scene Maya is the one the viewer identifies with. As usual Bradley is just one more obstacle to her doing her job. And the hunt for bin Laden is one great attempt to protect the homeland against further attacks and save the lives of innocent Americans.
(h/t Barbara Bedway)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Actor Calls Out Michael Moore on 'ZDT'

A few days back, I posted the following:  Michael Moore--probably too close to the Hollywood community in this case--makes weak arguments backing Zero Dark Thirty on torture in the interview below.  All you have to know is that he calls it a work of "fiction" even though Bigelow says it's based on true events.  He claims it is actually anti-torture simply because it shows it, and doesn't care what lesson most people take from it--and says an "artist" has no responsibility to get it right.   He also claims, correctly, that torture rarely gets good info and 99 times out of 100 gets wrong info--but isn't bothered by the fact that the film does not show that.  In fact, it shows not one but several prisoners giving up something vital after, if not during, torture.

To update:  Time magazine asked Moore to write a piece defending the above.  Now David Clennon, the actor who is spearheading the Hollywood protest of the film, has now replied to that, addressing "Mike" directly.   You can see both his piece, and an expanded version of Moore's article, here.

One excerpt from Clennon: "Instead of being indicted, these torturers are presented as heroes, as brave and dedicated 'detectives.'  No one gives Maya or Dan the kind of scolding, which you envision Obama giving, off-screen.  Chastain’s Maya, is presented as especially admirable, a feminist action hero.  She not only gets her man; she also muscles CIA male chauvinists out of the way, as she pushes ahead on 'The Greatest Manhunt in History.'  And we’re supposed to empathize and cheer her on."  And:  "Do you get it, Michael?  Your heroine murdered another human being, in the course of torturing him.  And she is never called to account."  UPDATE:  New piece with fresh take on how the film justifies torture--through false "ticking time bomb" drama.

Woman Set to Die

Barring a last-minute move, a woman named Kimberly McCarthy will tonight become only the fifth female to be executed in Texas, the death penalty capital of the U.S., Texas, since 1854, and only the 13th in the country in the past four decades.  Formerly married to a Black Panther leader, she  was convicted of bludgeoning a neighbor, 71, to death, in a drug frenzy.  (For a history of the death penalty in the U.S., up to today, see my recent  ebook here.)

If He Had a Rocket Launcher (Actually, He Did)

Apologies to Bruce Cockburn, but:  Amazing, scary story of a civilian with a surface-to-air missile launcher showing up outside a gun "buy back" event in Seattle.  But there was no buy back--instead, he sold it to another civilian for $100.   In fact, police witnessed numerous private sales outside the event, as gun nuts show up to purchase weapons at low prices before they are turned in for even lower prices.   But about that missile launcher:
Seattle police have contacted Army officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma deputy chief Nick Metz said Monday.
"Once it's brought on base and investigators have a chance to look at it, they'll see what they can determine," Army spokesman Joe Kubistek said Monday. "It's too early to give any information on it until we have hands-on access to see it and take a look at it."
Police witnessed the private exchange of the military launch tube near the gun buyback event, where gun buyers tempted those standing in long lines to turn in their weapons with cash.

Murdoch Apologizes for Cartoon

With protests growing heated about a Gerald Scarfe editorial cartoon in his Sunday Times in London, owner Rupert Murdoch has issued an apology for the "grotesque" image.  It shows Bibi Netanyahu building a new wall, trapping Palestinians.  One of the problems:  It was published on Holocaust Memorial Day.  Editors point out, however, that the paper's chiefs often disagree with Scarfe. 

And columnist Anshel Pfeffer wrote on the Haaretz newspaper Web site: “Should The Sunday Times have not published the cartoon on International Holocaust Memorial Day? Only if one believes that is a day in which Israeli politicians have immunity from being caricatured.”

The PED Show

New Times in Miami making waves just now with lengthy report on local "anti-aging clinic" which supplied performance enhancing drugs to star athletes, and they have names.  It's not clear if the drugs received by some broke the rules of their sport or not, but some on list have already been suspended--Melky Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal, for example, in baseball--while others have not (Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz).  Of course, Alex "A-roid" Rodriquez is also linked to the place, as the NYT reported last week.  By the way, the owner has disappeared.

Sports Illustrated with major piece today. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Re-Living Sandy Hook

UPDATE:  Pro-gun nuts today heckled the father of a 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim at a state hearing.  "When Neil Heslin, who was holding a picture of his deceased son, Jesse Lewis, during his testimony, asked the state senate why Bushmaster-type assault rifles should be legal, several gun enthusiasts in the audience reportedly shouted him down, yelling 'The Second Amendment!'"  Somehow he kept his composure.

Earlier: In a gut-wrenching story just posted, NYT talks to seven Newtown police officers, some for the first time, about what they found after they entered the school in Sandy Hook.   And after they found two teachers and entered the classroom... It's a story that should never be repeated.  But will be if things don't change (see heckling above).

One thing to keep in mind in reading this:  The teachers and staffers, behind locked doors, refused to let the cops in, fearing they were bad guys and officers had to rip hinges off to get in some rooms.  If the teachers had been armed--would they have blasted the rescuers, who were in a frenzy,  when they started banging on the doors and yelling? 
The stories also reveal the deep stress that lingers for officers who, until Dec. 14, had focused their energies on maintaining order in a low-crime corner of suburbia. Some can barely sleep. Little things can set off tears: a television show, a child’s laughter, even the piles of gifts the Police Department received from across the country.
One detective, who was driving with his wife and two sons, passed a roadside memorial on Route 25 two weeks after the shooting, and began sobbing uncontrollably. “I just lost it right there, I couldn’t even drive,” the detective, Jason Frank, said.
Does America care?  I've tried to bring national attention to the recent murders in Albuquerque, when a kid easily took rifles from unlocked closet and killed mom and dad and three very young siblings--two of them younger than any that died at Sandy Hook.  But no one seems to care.

Barenboim and the Legacy of Said in New York

Several years ago I declared that Daniel Barenboim, the famous musician, and Edward Said, the well-known writer and academic, should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize one day for their co-founding of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra--made up mainly of talented Arab and Jewish young people.  It was peacemaking and understanding via collaboration (and countless hours of socializing).  And it has had an amazing impact--too detailed to describe here--even though both Hamas and Israel have been opposed. 

Anyway:  Said, also a musician, passed away not long ago.  Barenboim continues to draw praise for this effort and, as a conductor, recently brought the complete Beethoven symphonies to London.  Starting this Wednesday he is doing the same in New York at Carnegie Hall, and I will be there on Sunday.  But as a bonus, I somehow secured tickets to a special "club date" tomorrow night, at hip Le Poisson Rouge in the Village, where Barenboim is bringing along a few of the Divan musicians.  One of their offerings:  the debut of a clarinet compositon, "Prayer for Edward Said."  More and video here.  

Deaf Jam Coming!

Excited to reveal that I will be intimately involved as co-host and curator in a unique, year-long Beethoven festival based here in Nyack, N.Y.  (home of the well-regarded Carnegie Concert Series) but appealing to fans throughout  upstate New York, NYC, New Jersey and Connecticut.  In fact, it is titled "Journeys With Beethoven," after my new book with Kerry Candaele.  It will include dozens of concerts, film showings, a Marathon at the Mall, a massive choral sing-out, rock-and-jazz-with-Ludwig, a theater piece, events and recitals for young folks, and much, much more.

It kicks off on Feb. 4 with a free event--the first of monthly get-togethers ("meet-ups with music," we call them)  focused on Beethoven with a discussion, live performance, film excerpts and guests, at Nyack Library.  Then a co-sponsored screening in Nyack on Feb. 13 of the terrific A Late Quartet, with a panel (including well-known former members of quartets) to follow.   The first two concerts at the library in the festival are March 2 and March 23.  Later: the complete string quartets, Diabelli variations, and Choral Fantasy, all live-streamed nationally and internationally.  And throughout: full public participation, joining in with their own Beethoven music.   So stay (well) tuned!

Grand Central Turns 100

Grand Central Terminal celebrates its 100th birthday this week.  Passed through thousands of times over the years, but strongest memory: one hour there on the morning of 9/11.  One of my photos, at the morning commute. (My photo blog here.)


Gance to the Music

A few months back I brought you a couple of scenes from famed film director Abel Gance's biopic about Beethoven in the 1930s.  I mentioned that I had seen the restored version of his wildly inventive silent epic Napoleon in its celebrated run at Radio City Music Hall back in 1981.   Of course, Beethoven had his own Napoleon complex, dedicating the Eroica to him and then scratching it out when his "hero" declared himself emperor.  Below: another scene from the Gance portrait of LvB.

Media Keeping Guns Debate Alive?

Not so sure it's that simple, but a piece at Wash Post site makes case that the national debate has not faded as quickly as in previous cases because the press has kept it alive, with assist from White House and more.  I'm wondering how truly "alive" it really is but interesting piece.  However, where's the key conclusion:
But the media tend to be reactive, “indexing” their coverage according to the political debate happening within Washington. The surest way for an issue to stay in the news is for politicians to fight about it.  (It doesn’t hurt when the president mentions it in an inaugural address.) When political elites publicly push for legislation, as the Democrats are doing now, journalists take notice. But if policymakers stop publicly arguing over gun control — either because legislation appears moribund or because debates over fiscal and spending issues crowd it out — the news media are likely to stop caring about it, too.

Next We Need 'Mad Men' Version

Super Super-Nintendo version of Downton Abbey.   Baby, I'm a footman, baby you're a footman, too.

Steubenville: Open or Shut Case?

The judge (there will be no jury) in the Steubenville rape case will be making three key decisions this week, in advance of the trial's scheduled start in mid-February.   First, there's the change in venue.  Also, the defense has asked for a delay.  Finally, the rape victim's attorney would like the proceedings to be closed.  The media are fighting that.   Otherwise not a lot of major new developments in the past two weeks.  Two high school footballers face charges but no new names have been added as state attrorney general Mike Dewine keeps looking at things.

Oz: Middle East Wizardry Still Possible

New Roger Cohen column online only at NYT, a chat with Israeli novelist and famed peace backer Amos Oz, now 73, on last week's elections.
First and foremost, these elections were about internal affairs, the middle class, state and synagogue, the draft, with a silent consensus that the occupied territories do not matter that much. Israelis are no longer interested. They vote with their feet. They don’t go there, except for the settlers and right-wing extremists. This means that if Israelis can be reassured that by renouncing the West Bank they are not going to get a lousy deal — not going to be ‘fraiers’ — they are quietly ready to do it.”  ...
Among the cowards, would he include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? “Yes I think Netanyahu is a coward,” he declared. But the victory of the center in the election could alter the equation. “It means,” Oz said, “that there will be more pressure on Netanyahu from the dovish side in Israel and from the outside world, so that his cowardice may work the other way.”...
Lapid, in effect a political vessel awaiting content, is a character in search of meaning and, as such, of interest to Oz. “He is a phenomenon, a manifestation of the desire of the middle class for normalization. Israelis want to be like Holland,” Oz told me. “It is a legitimate desire even if it tends to ignore fundamental issues, like the conflict with the Arabs. I don’t know if Lapid has ideas and I’m not sure he knows. What Lapid will do is a mystery not just to me — it is probably a mystery to him!”

For Richard or Poorer

Had a good laugh this morning, when my wife points out NYT flub in yesterday's paper: On page 8 of the Metropolitan section, in a Calendar of events, it touts upcoming show by Paquito D'Rivera, jazz musician, in Englewood, N.J.   Unfortunately, the photo they ran (left) running with this item is of...one of my longtime faves,  singer/guitarist Richard Thompson!

Playing "Checkers"

Yes, there's a swell new piece by Thomas Mallon on Nixon's infamous "Checkers" speech, titled "Wag the Dog."   If you somehow have missed it, here is Part I of the speech below (you can then click for Part II).   Below that see brief fun version (h/t @samknight1). Who can forget Pat's "respectable Republican cloth coat." As I've noted before, this marked the first crucial use of TV to save a candidacy.   Should Romney have tried this? Well, he sure couldn't use HIS dog as a prop.  And can't imagine him saying, "And Ann has a respectable Republican Cadillac and...she's gonna keep it." 

Also see my book on his dirty tricks Senate race two years earlier vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas, Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady.   And play about the Checkers speech debuted in New York last fall with Anthony LaPaglia as Nixon.

The Man

Bob Costas tribute to Stan "The Man" Musial at this funeral getting wide play.  Let's play, too:

Dirty Picture

My new piece at The Nation on The Dirty War, featuring Jeremy Scahill and directed by Richard Rowley, winning a top prize at Sundance, plus interview with them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Newspapers: The New Reality?

When I was the editor of Editor & Publisher for most of the previous decade, we certainly charted hard times hitting the newspaper industry, so little could surprise me now.  Still.  Dozens of papers across the country competing to take part in a...TV reality show?  Really?  NYT has the "news"
NBC executives say they’ve been inundated with all types of pitches, from newspaper editors talking about how they are struggling to survive to newspaper staffs eager to show off their talents, sometimes well beyond their coverage of school meetings.
The Pilot, based in Southern Pines, N.C., sent a video of its staff performing a “Call Me Maybe” parody, later updated to feature “Gangnam Style” moves. David Woronoff, The Pilot’s owner and publisher, said that while he had let his younger employees produce the videos last year as “a good morale builder for the staff,” he sent the link to NBC executives because “we thought they would want to see what we look like and what our office looks like.”
NBC executives said they were intrigued by how quirky and diverse some newspapers were — from the Kodiak Daily Mirror in Kodiak, Alaska, to the Hungry Horse News, which is run out of a log building near an entrance to Glacier National Park in Montana.

Obama As Media Critic

From his new Q & A with the New Republic, a few quotes:
[O]ne of the biggest problems we’ve got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity.  And so the default position for reporting is to say, 'A plague on both their houses.' On almost every issue, it’s, 'Well, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree'—as opposed to looking at why is it that they can’t agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?

One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.
The same dynamic happens on the Democratic side.  I think the difference is just that the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word. And I think at least leaders like myself—and I include Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in this—are willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.
And I want to be very clear here that Democrats, we've got a lot of warts, and some of the bad habits here in Washington when it comes to lobbyists and money and access really goes to the political system generally. It's not unique to one party. But when it comes to certain positions on issues, when it comes to trying to do what's best for the country, when it comes to really trying to make decisions based on fact as opposed to ideology, when it comes to being willing to compromise, the Democrats, not just here in this White House, but I would say in Congress also, have shown themselves consistently to be willing to do tough things even when it's not convenient, because it's the right thing to do. And we haven't seen that same kind of attitude on the other side.
Some of [the institutional barriers] have to do with our media and what gets attention. Nobody gets on TV saying, 'I agree with my colleague from the other party.' People get on TV for calling each other names and saying the most outlandish things.

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

We usually don't take the church part seriously here,  in this weekly feature, but can't resist this unusual vid of part of Beethoven's Mass in C Major, performed in a church in Westchester County, NY, with the only accompaniment by Anthony Newman--the famous Bach interpreter--on organ.  Added note:  I was there and the back of my head shows up in videos (the entire Mass is on YouTube).

Guns R Us (for Kids)

Big NYT story tonight on sick gun industry making sure its future remains bright--by stepping up marketing of guns to kids (sometimes giving them away).  Giving Bushmasters to kids for Christmas--why not.   "The industry’s strategies include giving firearms, ammunition and cash to youth groups; weakening state restrictions on hunting by young children; marketing an affordable military-style rifle for “junior shooters” and sponsoring semiautomatic-handgun competitions for youths; and developing a target-shooting video game that promotes brand-name weapons, with links to the Web sites of their makers."
The pages of Junior Shooters, an industry-supported magazine that seeks to get children involved in the recreational use of firearms, once featured a smiling 15-year-old girl clutching a semiautomatic rifle. At the end of an accompanying article that extolled target shooting with a Bushmaster AR-15 — an advertisement elsewhere in the magazine directed readers to a coupon for buying one — the author encouraged youngsters to share the article with a parent.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Big Sundance Winners

Dramatic prize topper at Sundance goes to Frutivale about the final day of Oscar Grant, 22,slain on a BART train by security guards in 2009 (and immortalized by activists  in Oakland who renamed main city area Oscar Grant Plaza).  It stars Michael B. Jordan of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood fame.  Writer-director is Ryan Coogler.   Jill Soloway wins directing prize for Afternoon Delight, about woman who takes stripper into her home. Also: documentary winners and more.  The Richard Rowley film about Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, took the top cinematography prize.  Even a film on Pussy Riot got an award.

Here's interview with Coogler and clips:

Saturday Night Dance Music

My kind of dance, anyway, with Michael Doucet of Beausoleil and the great  "La Danse De La Vie."

Birthday Girl

As noted earlier, Lucinda Williams turned 60 today, so here's another pick, where she sings middle verse for Steve Earle in his "You're Still Standing There."

The 'Essence' of Lucinda

Our girl, Lucinda Williams, turns 60 today and I am happy to say that I've been a fan for, oh, 20 years or so, back in her obscure era.  Here's one of her sexy/dirty songs, "Essence"(though F-word bleeped).

'Pops' Music: Most Influential?

Over at dreaded Facebook many have been taking their quiz/contest on how many of the purported "100 Most Influential Albums" they own.  I haven't joined in, although I probably own 90%--of albums before 1980.  After that: More spotty for sure.   But, in reality, the most influential music of the past century, all released as singles (no albums then), was created by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Fives and Sevens (and other groupings)  in the mid- to late-1920 .  It not only sparked modern jazz and popular music, but did it in the three key spheres:  instrumental, vocal, AND first prime use of guitar (Lonnie Johnson) instead of banjo.

All captured here in what is virtually the recording of the century, aptly titled "Hotter Than That."  That being all music created before.  Tip: now go on to "Tight Like This."  And top it off with "St. Louis Blues" and "West End Blues."

Friday, January 25, 2013

'Broken' Film

Just saw astounding, acclaimed doc 5 Broken Cameras which just made it to Netflix this week.  If you want to see (and you should) the evil of the Israeli settlements and Army attacks on resisters--including deaths caught on camera--just watch. 

What IS He Building In There?

In age of gun massacres, militias, survivalists and weapons hoarding, Tom Waits' classic "What's He Building In There?" never more relevant.  I posted the vid tonight and a few minutes later heard from  @occasionalities via Twitter about the remarkable new presentation at Sundance festival featuring the song.  Don't miss below the original.

Coen Head

As I noted earlier, in posting trailer, the Coen brothers' upcoming flick is based more or less on the early days of folk singer  Dave Van Ronk, so here's Dave himself doing one of the great American songs.

Que Sarah, Sarah

Our favorite former half-term governor/beauty queen from Alaska, Sarah Palin, apparently was too ditzy for even Fox to abide.  Comes news today that she is gone, you betcha.  They won't quite say that but she was trying to negotiate a new contract, so you be the judge.  Well, she lasted longer there than she did as governor.  Now, as she fades into the sunset, David Frum  tweets: "The Palin business will be v hard to explain to future generations, like Boulangerism in France."

Perhaps she could co-host a show with Olbermann on Al Jazeera America.  I'd pay for the cable just to watch that.

Friday Cat Blogging

Bowing to requests of so many since the other night (despite my protests), here's another shot of our shelter cat, Zoe, age 2, in a different (but common) setting.

Coen Brothers: It Takes a Village

Last August, I posted here that I was surprised to read in the NYT fall movie preview that the Coen brothers (not my favorite directors) were coming out with a film called  Inside Llewyn Davis focusing on one of my favorite subjects: the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s.  It stars Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, with Adam Driver and John Goodman, and Oscar Isaac in the title role.  The title character is not exactly Bob Dylan but the film apparently opens in 1961, the year Bob came to the Village, and features a young folkie sleeping on couches and scheming to make it big, but without Bob's drive. (Actually, it is said to be based  partly on the memoir of somewhat older folkie Dave Van Ronk.) Part of it was indeed shot in the East Village.

There was no trailer out then but here's a full review of some early edition of the script, complaining about weak plot (but when has that stopped the Coens before?).  "The script delivers on all the beloved Coen beats: fascinating and bizarre characters, clever dialogue, well-crafted scenes, people surnamed Grossman, etc."  They've got a lot of nerve to say they are its friend?   Well, just out this week, is the first trailer, with Dylan's very early "Farewell" running through it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A 'Parks & Rec' Media Moment

It went by in a flash but, as a media maven,  I had to crack up at one point in tonight's Parks and Recreation episode.   The Rob Lowe (city manager) character is now sort of dating a local Pawnee newspaper reporter but doesn't know where he stands with her.  When she covers a story that touches on his work, she tells him she will print a disclaimer at the bottom of her story revealing their "status." But he doesn't know what that really is. 

When he asks her she says, You'll have to wait quite awhile--for tomorrow morning's paper, in print.  He then looks into the camera and asks, Why did I have to get involved with someone from the "old media"?  Short but...knowing.

Why Teen Who Killed 5 Had Access to Dad's Guns

Photo of the week, from Albuquerque Journal:  That's your basic memorial that friends constructed outside scene of the five murders in Albuquerque.  Note the "Protected by Smith & Wesson Security" sign.  That helped family a lot, slain by their own kid with dad's guns from a closet.

I've followed the New Mexico mass murders since last weekend, and then wrote posts here and at The Nation wondering why the national media have barely bothered.  Kid, 15,  kills mom, dad, three younger siblings, and plans to slaughter more at a WalMart, and it's all very....ho-hum.  So you may have missed close relatives of the boy spinning that he is really not a "demon" but a good kid.  And also perhaps offering an answer to the question of why he had access to his father's arsenal (assault rifle, two shotguns and a .22).   Claims the boy's uncle, who is a former state senator:  "It's because my brother was gone and he really believed that Nehemiah, as the eldest there, needed to protect the family."

Barenboim's 'Divan' Concerts on the Way

Fine, lengthy piece at The Guardian awhile back on Daniel Barenboim prepping to play all 9 symphonies at The Proms in London this summer, with his famous Israeli-Arab "Divan" orchestra.  We have a good deal on Barenboim, his views on LvB and work with Edward Said, in our new Beethoven book.  He will bring the orchestra to Carnegie also doing the complete Ludwig next week, and I will, of course, be there for the 2nd and 9th symphonies. Trailer below:

Benedict Cumberbatch IS Julian Assange

UPDATE:  First photo (left) of Benedict Cumberbatch as a creepy looking Julian Assange in upcoming Bill Condon film.  That's an actor playing friend/rival Daniel Domscheit-Berg.  Here's my new Nation piece on it--and Assange's denunciation yesterday.

Earlier:  Democracy Now! today carried a lengthy segment, from Sundance, on the upcoming film on WikiLeaks  (and Julian Assange and Bradley Manning) by award-winning director Alex Gibney, We Steal Secrets--and a critical response by Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson. 

Beethoven Returns!

Last week, when my book with Kerry Candaele, Journeys With Beethoven, was published, I launched a new blog, "Roll Over Beethoven," and kept it going for quite awhile--with daily posts and videos.  But last summer, it started to fade, although I continued my "Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven" feature here every week.  But now I am about to help host a unique year-long local Beethoven festival, featuring dozens of concerts, films, talks and even a (hoped for) Guinness Record marathon.   So the blog is back.  Check it out here.

Good-bye New Gun Laws, Hello Keystone XL?

Top story on NYT this morning:  As per usual, Dem senators may very well prevent any real progress on gun control.  Some, of course, up for re-election next year and running, or is that gunning, scared.  Good ole Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who dared utter the heresy that, hey, maybe we should do a little something about assault rifles and ammo, now backing off.  Sad, predictable.

At the same time: A similar breakdown forming in the Senate, as nine Dems join 44 Repubs to urge President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline ASAP.    Dems led by usual problem-maker, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, with Manchin on board again.  Supposedly this new route involving Nebraska is a "winner." The Wash Post urges Obama to change course and back the damn thing, even as protests mount.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Before The Beatles: Carl Sandburg's "Revolver"

A researcher has found a previously unknown poem by Carl Sandburg, whose work on Lincoln getting fresh attention again.  The poem, titled "A Revolver," certainly has resonance in the current gun debate.  Here's much of it:
Here is a revolver.
It has an amazing language all its own.
It delivers unmistakable ultimatums.
It is the last word.
A simple, little human forefinger can tell a terrible story with it.
Hunger, fear, revenge, robbery hide behind it.
It is the claw of the jungle made quick and powerful.
It is the club of the savage turned to magnificent precision.
It is more rapid than any judge or court of law.
It is less subtle and treacherous than any one lawyer or ten.

Nate Silver: No Gold For Obama But Not Bad

Fun, typically lengthy and wonkish (but with more history than usual) Nate Silver posting on where Obama may end up ranking among all of our presidents.  Well, there are no stats, like in his old field baseball, right?  Wrong, we can separate those who got 2nd terms and share of electoral vote, right down to those who were not even nominated for another go.  (Love his reference to a now famous baseball geek stat known as Wins Over Replacement.)

Anyway, he says much left to know but as of now he projects that Ohama ought to end up about 17th best--mind you, Reagan is placed 10th by one survey of historians and Truman 6th--which grades as average to good.  But he now has just under four years to go for the top 10.

Salon Going 9/11 Truther?

New piece contrasts wacko Sandy Hook trutherism with 9/11 theories and complains that the latter get mocked too often, painted with the same brush (even tough Alex Jones pushing both).   Also claims JFK conspiracy claims have been vindicated.  Really?  One excerpt:
What concerns me about the repudiation of the Hookers is that the 9/11 Truthers are being tarred with the same “crackpot” brush. Yes, many of the September Eleventh conspiracy theories are implausible, and too often veer, as conspiracy theories unfortunately tend to do, toward the anti-Semitic. But unlike with Sandy Hook, 9/11 conspiracy theories flow from a scientific fact: whatever the 9/11 Commission Report might claim, fire generated by burning jet fuel is not hot enough to melt steel.

Mount Hillary Erupts

You may have heard about it, but here's Madame Secretary dishing back after assualt from Sen. Johnson.  A few minutes later, Sen. Rand Paul said she should have been fired over Benghazi.

Media Ignore Latest Mass Slaying in New Mexico

UPDATE Wednesday  Sort of proving my point down below, NYT today carries a lengthy original story on a shooting at a Houston community college which lightly injured four--and has still not carried, in print or online, a staff-written piece on the New Mexico slaughter. 

Not much in the way of fresh news on the incident.  Still nothing further on possible plan to kill girlfriend's parents and her role in maybe keeping him from following his plan to shoot up a Walmart.  The boy's extended family released a statement complaining that he is being misread as a "monster"--hey, he played drums and basketball and had friends, they say.  They say something mental must have snapped.  They also ask that he not be used to further "political" goals.  This is all part of general response out there from gun advocates--the only problem is people with mental issues, not such people easily able to grab four weapons out of an unlocked closet.

UPDATE #2:  And more:  Father got some of guns through "private sales."  Legal, illegal?  He was former felon: gang member turned pastor.  Taught son to shoot.

UPDATE #1  The sheriff speaks a little more. Reports Griego saying that after shooting mother and brother, age 9, he "lost his conscience" and then shot two other siblings and dad and then headed for Walmart to kill many more.  Turns out he spend a good deal of time with girlfriend (after he sent her photo of dead mother) while trying to decide how to proceed.

More here:  "During Tuesday’s press conference, Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said Griego possibly started planning the fatal attack a week in advance and may have also plotted to kill his 12-year-old girlfriend’s parents.  Investigators believe Griego told his girlfriend about his plans. That young girl is now under investigation and could be facing charges."

Also:  Griego may have planned the murders--and attack on local WalMart--possibly for weeks.  Could have killed dozens.  Police also confirm he took four weapons in all from dad's unlocked gun closet: two shotguns, the assault rifle and a .22.  And:  "Griego reportedly gushed to police about his love for violent video games during the interrogation, Houston said." 

Earlier:  I've followed, perhaps more closely (from the beginning) than anyone on the national media level, the latest mass laying by firearms out in New Mexico (go here).  No important updates since late yesterday, but a press conference is  scheduled for today.  But I will note:  This tragedy--and object lesson--getting very little national attention.  The NYT, for example, carrying nothing more than weak AP story.   This shows how common these events have become.  You now need dozens shot in a theater, or a U.S. congressman nearly killed, or 20 school kids murdered, to cause much of a ripple.   Young Griego needed to carry out his plan of slaughtering dozens at WalMart--which he nearly did.  

Yes this incident reflects so (sadly) perfectly the current gun control debate, including the easy access to weapons including an assault weapon--his father buying them, and then son taking them from unlocked closet, and using them.  And amid the debate over guns in schools--here's a kid who was home-schooled, and then killed three of his siblings, ages 2, 5, and 9.   And his father was a "good guy with a gun"--which was used against him.  Finally, why was the kid obsessed with violence for much of his life, as the stories suggest?

More evidence of how little this story has spread: Salon with a major piece today on how so many recent "killing sprees" started with slaying or targeting  a woman --and it doesn't even mention Griego shooting his mom.

Zero Dark Kerry

John McCain jokes about needing to waterboard John Kerry at confirmation hearings for his new Secy of State job.  Ha ha.  Paging Jessica Chastain.

Bibi, It's a Bitch, Man

So Netanyahu has his "comeuppance" with a weak election result in Israel, meaning he can still govern but must drift to center after embracing far-right and offering no new ideas.  As Roger Cohen writes in NYT column, this proves again you can't fool all the people all the time, even in modern day Israel.  And Obama and other world leader now can manage a little "smile."  More: 
The Israel that emerged from the vote is not the rightward-drifting, annexationist-tending, religious-lurching nation it has become fashionable to portray. The Jewish state, far from moving right, turned toward the center. It is tired of the old guard, embracing new political parties. It is impatient with the free-loading ultra-Orthodox who do not serve in the army but do soak up welfare. It has sufficient lingering interest in a two-state peace to split roughly down the middle on the issue.

Bigelow 'Extended' on Colbert Show

Kathryn Bigelow dared to sit down with Stephen tonight, probably wondering if she was going to hear a complaint that she didn't have enough torture in Zero Dark Thirty.   Perhaps hoping for another Colbert bump, since he calls ZDT "fantastic."  He opens by asking her why her film has provoked "liberals" so much (he's glad it's got their "cojones" in a twist).

She opens by calling torture "reprehensible."  Then: This movie is only "first rough-cut of history."   Compressed ten years into a two hour film but still it could be asa "accurate"as a movie can.  Colbert says people don't read books so movies are how people will remember history.  She claims key piece of info in getting Osama was stuck in file for years--suggesting falsely that this is main point in movie and deflecting attention from the torture value.   Colbert then completely misses the point in suggesting there's controversy over the movie because it shows torture.  She's surely happy with this claim and says, yeah, did not "whitewash history." And she says, by the way,  many other things led to getting Osama.

Closes:  "I stand by the movie.  I wouldn't change a thing in the movie.  It's certainly based on an honest version of the story as we know it."  Just in case you thought she might have second thoughts.

Not Stephen's best moment either.   UPDATE: Here's the full "extended" interview.  Stephen much tougher in questions that were cut.  In the extended interview (see below) he asks if wasn't it true that movie shows interrogation working? She continues to rely that she was only going on "first hand accounts," but dodges query on if she got it straight from CIA.   He pushes a bit more on that and she says upcoming hearings, and possible release of report, might release new information and she "welcomes that."

But he asks key question: Do you think CIA misled you, gave you false information to make it seem like torture was worthwhile?  She dodges, obnoxiously, with: "Are you trying to say people in Washington spin"?  She laughs.  Colbert:  Sure you weren't "duped"?  Bigelow: The movie is a "fair assessment" of what's known.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nico Wavers

John Cale did three concerts in New York in the past week, including playing all of his classic Paris 1919, plus a tribute concert for fellow original Velvet, Nico.  Reminds me of one of the revelations, for me, in the recent Leonard Cohen bio--how that lady's man was rejected over and over by Nico in the late 1960s, when she chose the frighteningly young (about 18) Jackson Browne over him.  Jackson later gave her his song "These Days," which enjoyed a revival after it was in The Royal Tanenbaums.

Seizing the 'Super Bowl Megaphone'

Interesting piece at NYT site tonight on Brendon Ayanbadejo, the linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, who made waves last year for taking a strong stand for gay marriage (only one other NFLer joined him fully) and is now headed to New Orleans for the Super Duper Bowl.  And already he has grown determined to take this opportunity to really go wide on this issue.  But:
On the phone Tuesday he made clear that not all his teammates support same-sex marriage. Some have religious objections. He said that discussions about their differences of opinion had an unlikely trigger: chicken sandwiches. On one or two occasions, he said, he turned down food from the chain Chick-fil-A, whose owner is a social conservative against gay marriage.
“I’ll say, ‘I’m protesting’,” Ayanbadejo recalled. “No Chick-fil-A for me.” And a few of his teammates, he said, would respond by saying that they actually agreed with the chicken chain’s owner.

Shooting at Houston Campus

Here's bulletin below via NYT.  Elsewhere reports of at least three injuries.  Campus evacuated--or at least that was the call.  Note: Gun nuts call for allowing kids and teachers to carry weapons on campus.  Well, in good old lax Texas, reportedly two involved in this shooting--showing what can happen when argument gets out of hand and people are packing.
A college in Houston on Tuesday moved to evacuate its campus after reports of a shooting and some injuries.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said it was responding to a report of shooting at the north Harris County campus of Lone Star College in Houston. The campus, at 2700 West W. Thorne Drive, near George Bush International Airport, is about 20 miles north of downtown Houston.

The college posted an alert on its Web site at 12:47 p.m. local time asking students and faculty to “take immediate shelter where you are.” Live video from the scene showed emergency responders at the campus. At 1:08, the college posted this alert: “LSC-North Harris campus evacuation is in progress. A couple of armed suspects reported.; injuries reported."

It was not immediately clear how many people may have been injured or whether a gunman was in custody.

Husband Kills Wife, Self--At Daughter's Sweet 16 Party

Sadly, I could be spend all day, every day, just documenting outrageous shootings in the USA.  Here's just one.   I guess I will skip 16-year-old girl killed at side of road by guy in car, who later killed himself. 
Police in Texas say a husband shot and killed his estranged wife before killing himself at his daughter's sweet 16 birthday party.

An argument turned the celebration into a tragedy as Kelly Suckla, 43, allegedly killed Kristi Suckla, 44, near the front door of her parents' home in Grapevine on Saturday night, WFAA reported.
My latest on the mass slaying in New Mexico by boy, 15. 

A Gun Nut Paradise

Talking Points Memo with a lengthy, original piece today on the newly-infamous The Citadel, a planned community in Idaho for all the "preppers" and "survivalists" and other paranoid gun freaks out there (it even comes with an arms factory). 
The Citadel, as envisioned and advertised by its creators, is to be a walled community of 3,500 to 7,000 “patriotic American families” who are ready for when The Shit Hits The Fan (TSHTF), i.e. the myriad potential society-collapsing disasters, either natural or man made, anticipated by preppers, survivalists, along with other fringe and breakaway strands of -ers and -ists. The Citadel is to be a place for people who want to be “removed and protected from peril in order to preserve ourselves, our posterity, and Liberty in the event of a national economic implosion.” And in whatever time is to be had before grid-down, economic collapse, The Citadel will provide a place to live “a free/freer life in Idaho (or elsewhere in the American Redoubt) amongst the current strong, self-reliant and Liberty-loving residents of the region.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

5 Shot After Parade Honoring...MLK, Jr.

Breaking from WGNO in New Orleans: "NOPD officers are investigating a report of five people shot near Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and Lasalle Street moments after the parade honoring Martin Luther King Jr. had passed. WGNO News is at the scene and will have more information as it becomes available."  Times-Picayune updates:  five were shot out of passing car in front of grocery store  half an our after parade passed.  Five take to hospital but no injures life-threatening.  Car fled down...Martin Luther King Blvd.  Classic quote by police commissioner:  "It's the state of affairs in our nation that young men do not heed the words of Martin Luther King Jr. "

Also:  See my many shocking updates on that shooting in New Mexico yesterday:  Kid, 15, kills parents and three young siblings--with rifles taken from dad's unlocked closet--and then planned to slaughter more at local WalMart.  Probably would have, but made a fateful phone call. 

UPDATES: Teenage Gunman Slays 5 in New Mexico

UPDATE #9  Tuesday  No important updates since late yesterday, but a press conference scheduled for today.  But I will note:  This tragedy--and object lesson--getting very little national attention.  The NYT, for example, carrying nothing more than weak AP story.   This shows how common these events have become.  You now need dozens shot in a theater, or a U.S. congressman nearly killed, or 20 school kids murdered, to cause much of a ripple.   Young Griego needed to carry out his plan of slaughtering dozens at WalMart--which he nearly did.  

Yes this incident reflects so (sadly) perfectly the current gun control debate, including the easy access to weapons including an assault weapon--his father buying them, and then son taking them from unlocked closet, and using them.  And amid the debate over guns in schools--here's a kid who was home-schooled, and then killed three of his siblings, ages 2, 5, and 9.   And his father was a "good guy with a gun"--which was used against him.  Finally, why was the kid obsessed with violence for much of his life, as the stories suggest?

More evidence of how little this story has spread: Salon with a major piece today on how so many recent "killing sprees" started with slaying or targeting  a woman --and it doesn't even mention Griego shooting his mom.

UPDATE #8  This story suggests that this horrid shooting may spark new debate in state legislature over gun restrictions.   But quotes suggest that's not going to happen.  Instead we see same claim that only problem is "criminals" and maybe "crazy" people.  When that does not apply at all to this massacre.  The kid took weapons, including AR-15, from unlocked closet.   But state will offer no new laws to restrict such weapons, or mandates locks or--anything. 

UPDATE #7  More shocking details:  Kid shot mother in head, then emailed photo of her dead to girlfriend (no account of what girl did).  Brother, 9, cried so he shot him in head.  Then brothers age 2 and 5, so they were shot, too, all with a .22, which he got from dad's unlocked closet.   Then got out the assault rifle to shoot dad when he came home.  As reported earlier (see below), he started to drive to WalMart to kill "random" folks and then, he hoped, get shot by cops.  

UPDATE #6  Police release mugshot of alleged killer, 15 (see upper left). 

UPDATE #5 Monday   Albuquerque Journal in shocker reports that police now believe the kid had loaded more weapons in a van and planned to drive to nearby Walmart and gun down many more people and then shoot himself--but called a friend first who talked him into stopping by church first, where security called police.

Story also with details on shooting mother and young siblings  in their beds, then waiting for hours to kill his dad.  And this:  "Authorities believe Nehemiah’s parents owned the guns. The weapons had been stored in a closet, not in a gun safe. They also believe Nehemiah may have had violent fantasies including killing and murder-suicide scenarios for much of his life."  But neighbors claim he was not allowed to watch violent video games.

Mass slayings now so common in USA, the NYT does not have a single word on this incident right now.  Also:  Kid fits profile of all of the recent mass-slayers:  young, white.

UPDATE #4 Still no details on motive but a little more on the shooter, age 15, including photos (that's him at left in his usual camouflage outfit, with small child behind him), fact he was home-schooled, and more.  Still no word on who owned the AR-15 and other weapons, but I am guessing will turn out to be the dad. The whole sad episode makes a sick joke out of NRA's guns-in-school and good-guys-with-guns idea.  Here's a kid who didn't even go to a regular school and likely took family weapons and turned them on "good guy" who had guns but could not defend himself and family.

UPDATE #3  Police finally release all names and ages of victims:  Greg Griego, his wife Sara Greigo, and the children: 9-year-old Zephania Griego, 5-year-old Jael Griego, and 2-year-old Angelina Griego.

Details still sketchy on the shootings but here's video and more on the father and his Christian community.   Confirming  the three deceased kids very young.  Very middle-class family. CNN covers here.   Shooter apparently had no criminal record.

Much more here from Christianity Today--the church is quite prominent and controversial-- including blog post from friend who says the father was former gang member who then led rich life and would allegedly forgive his son for what he did. 

UPDATE #2 Albuquerque Journal daily newspaper confirms that neighbors say that indeed the five dead all members of the Griego family (the deceased parents had 10 children in all, according to his bio on the church web site).  Then there's this:  "The suspect, Nehemiah Griego, 15, was not well known among those living within a block or so of the family’s home on Long Lane in the South Valley.  However, neighbor Peter Gomez said he saw the boy walk with siblings and his parents through the neighborhood regularly, and he 'wore nothing but camouflage stuff.""

UPDATE  #1 Yes, police confirm, the kid used an AR-15.   He has been IDed as Nehemiah Griego.  One press report says victims were kid's father--a pastor or former pastor--and others in family.   Local TV station now says friends of the dead man say it is indeed pastor Greg Griego (left).   He was spiritual counselor to the Albuquerque Fire Department.  A local TV site says the three deads kids were all of "elementary school age."  MeetOne page for a Nehemiah Griego of Albuquerque, not necessarily him.

Earlier:  All we have from AP now below.  But local TV reports boy is 15, and assault rifle (and other weapons) found nearby.  On on KOB-TV home page, the #2 story below that has headline: "Gun Advocates Rally at State Capitol."  Another local station, KOAT, reports all of the victims were shot several times and more than one weapon may have been used.  AP: 
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Authorities in New Mexico say a teenage boy has fatally shot two adults and three children inside an Albuquerque home. The boy has been booked on murder and other charges.

Williamson says investigators who received a report of the shooting Saturday night are trying to determine whether the victims were related.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

One of LvB's most underrated sonatas, here from Daniel Barenboim (who I'll be seeing two weeks from today doing The Ninth with West-East Divan at Carnegie).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stan "The (Harp) Man" Musial Dies at 92

One of the truly, deeply, great baseball players ever, Stan Musial, died today at age 92.  He's one reason I recently expressed no sympathy whatsoever for cheaters who are being kept out of the Hall of Fame, for now.  Hell, he hit .330 when he was 41 without juicing.  But then again--he hit .330 for his entire career. My favorite stat:  696 strikeouts in 22 seasons...34 a season.   Also he was lifetime Democrat, and was known as a mean harmonica player.

One of my favorite fun facts about Stan was that he was member of one of the stat-fanatic "sabermetric" groups and on his application under the question "interest/expertise" he wrote: "Hitting a baseball."

In fact, he might have wanted to be remembered just as much for playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," as here.  Below that: his final at bat.  Yes, got a hit off tough pitcher Jim Maloney.  The hot grounder went past a rookie second baseman name Pete Rose.

Gun Nuts Rally

Buzzfeed has helpfully put in one place 20 photos from gun rallies around the USA today on Gun Appreciation Day, where several folks were wounded at gun shows, see here.  The photos may not surprise you, may not scare you, or on the other hand, perhaps they will.   But I have to draw the line about guy in photo (from Reuters) in Albany at left--stealing a line from Woody Guthrie!  Who was referring to his...guitar.

Several Shot at Gun Shows on 'Appreciation Day'

Utterly classic.  First: Two shot and taken to hospital at this gun show as they marked today's Gun Appreciation Day. The gun show was then shot down.  And two other shootings at gun shows in Midwest.  UPDATE:  And even more incidents across the country.  No "good guys with guns" around to stop this from happening, I reckon.  NBC covers here.  No doubt other shootings not reported, will update on Sunday. Just one example:
A man brought the 12-gauge shotgun to the show at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds and was attempting to remove it from its case when the weapon went off shortly after 1 p.m., police said.
Linwood Hester, 54, of Durham, was struck in the left hand by birdshot, according to Joel Keith, police chief with the state Department of Agriculture. The birdshot also struck a woman identified as Janet Hoover, 54, of Benson, and Jake Alderman, a retired sheriff’s deputy from Wake Forest who was working at the event.
Alderman was treated and released at WakeMed North Healthplex for a minor injury, Keith said. Hester and Hoover were taken to WakeMed. Details on their conditions were not immediately available. 

In Memoriam, Live

Aaron Swartz memorial tribute right now, live, from Cooper Union, NYC.

Watch live streaming video from democracynow at livestream.com

Saturday Night Music Pick

Back from the days before Ryan Adams really started to annoy you and everyone.  Early Whiskeytown: