Worldly Wednesday: “Traveller,” Baaba Maal

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Oh man – when the song fully kicks in at 1:55, I just can’t help myself.  I wish I knew Pulaar so I could sing along.  Maal, who is a genius musician and composer from Senegal, writes some of my favorite west African music of all time.  This is one of my favorite tracks of his.  This is guaranteed to turn any day into a good one.

Maal worked on this album with Winston Marshall, of Mumford & Sons, and Johan Hugo, of The Very Best.  Appropriately, this is what Maal said is the main message of the album:  “Life is travel. You are born, you come to the world, and you are traveling until the end. You never know what you’re going to get. When you travel you see that the world is quite interesting—all the different faces, all the different cultures, all the different food, all the different types of music. But it’s all human beings, and it’s all connected.”

A sentiment to remember, surely.

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Termagant Tuesday: “Jumpin’ At The Woodside,” Count Basie vs. Oscar Peterson

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Welp, last night was the Iowa Caucuses.  Or, as we say in our household, “Involuntary Nap Night.”  Honest to God – we had at least 10 browsers open full of different polling data, plus NPR on the radio.  We were on it.  Tracking.  …Until I fell asleep in the leather chair.  And by 11pm I couldn’t hit the refresh button any more so I went to sleep.

But today is a new day, Tune-Up Nation, and I for one want to see another kind of battle than the one between Clinton and Cruz, or Clinton and Sanders, or Trump and the collective knowledge of mankind.  So behold the glory of Count Basie and Oscar Peterson doubling up on that old swing classic, “Jumpin’ At The Woodside.”  They’ve got my vote.

Sacred Sunday: “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” The Fairfield Four

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One of the hardest things to reconcile is your own infinitesimal  insignificance in the grand scheme of the world with the pretty significant impact you can have on a group of people depending on how you choose to spend your time.  The flash-to-bang ratio of the thought process that goes from “Ooh that’s a nice sweater” to “Here, have $45” can also benefit someone else.

The water in Flint, Michigan, is now so contaminated with lead that, according to the EPA, it can be classified as toxic waste.  The water in Troy, Michigan, a town 45 minutes away, has lead levels of 1.1 parts per billion (ppb).  That’s pretty OK.  Flint’s water is up to at least 27 ppb; in some homes levels are as high as 5,000 ppb.  The highest discovered by a team from Virginia Tech was 13,000 ppb.  The water that pours out of fire hydrants and kitchen faucets is as brown as tea and smells to high heaven.  The effects of lead poisoning are irreversible.  Some children have started losing their hair.

Here is a link to Flint’s public schools: http://www.flintschools.org/  A pack of 35 water bottles on Amazon costs $20.  That’s a pretty cheap impulse buy.  This is where the impulse part of the brain kicks in: you know that there is a horrible happening to people in your country, and you realize that, if you were in their situation, how much you would want a bottle of water, and then it hits you that you can actually send that water yourself.  So I sent a school in Flint a box of water.

Doing something, just the simple act of standing up and showing up, is how any change happens.  As Dr. King said,”The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

 

 

Salubrious Saturday: “S.O.B.,” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

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Your fearless heroine had a, shall we say, “wet” December.  The gauntlet that shoots one from Thanksgiving to New Years turned into a slip-n-slide of festive parties.  The moon rose on events and the sun rose on headaches.  It was a lot of fun.  Until it stopped being fun and started being kind of stupid.  There came a moment, around December 31st, when I woke up just felt generally unpleasant, like a washcloth that had been used too many times before being cleaned out.  So Mr. Yankette and I decided that we would have a “dry” January.  This means I haven’t had a single one of these drinks at all this month:

I also haven’t had any of these, which are of course in the liquor shelf in our kitchen:

  • Tanqueray 10
  • Green Hat
  • Green Hook
  • Oban Little Bay
  • Aultmore 12
  • Espolon
  • Santa Teresa
  • John Myer rye
  • Becherovka
  • Tito’s

I’m not here to preach the gospel of dryness.  Of course I feel great.  Obviously I feel great.  I am as clean and unblemished as a brand new window pane.  I’m squeaky and practically translucent.  And, this feeling is certainly nice enough to skip over what people who attempt this generally do after their dry month, which is plunge head first into a booze pool in February.  I’ll go back to my pre-holiday moderation, no problem.

But.  As a working professional in a busy, high-maintenance city, where networking happens around happy hours and drinks lubricate the awkward few minutes of conversation,  I hadn’t fully grasped the extent to which drinking punctuates daily life.  It’s the lingua franca of collegial complaints (“what a terrible meeting – is 11am too early to drink?”), and the liquid that forms the social cement (“We should get drinks sometime!”).  Substitute almost anything else in that sentence and you sound batty: “We should play tennis sometime!”  “We should paint landscapes sometime!”  “We should take a walk sometime!”  (That last one sounds suspiciously like a date.)     What to do?

Well the obvious answer, the best answer, is, order ginger ale at the bar when you meet your friends.  It’s not rocket science.  But that won’t protect you from good-natured ribbing, which is a curious phenomenon.  There is something of a wall between my friends and me that I didn’t notice until this month, and it’s entirely unexpected.  Friends feel very slightly awkward drinking around me.  They ask if I mind (I don’t).  They ask why I’m doing it (I say I felt gross and needed a break).  They consider this.  Time lumbers on.  It’s weird.  So I can’t deny that, once February comes around, I’ll feel a little more connected.

I also can’t deny that, while watching the GOP debate last night, I didn’t long for a dirty martini (or a hammer to the head, whichever is fastest).  A fun new parlor game is considering what my first drink will be on February 1st.  But a habit can turn into an identity, if left unchecked, and I’d much rather be more deliberative about drinking.  So my New Year’s Resolution is to only drink exquisitely delicious things, and to take my time about it, and savor it.  Chin-chin, y’all.

Throwback Thursday: “Piano Concerto No 22 in E-flat major, K 482, 3rd mvmt” W.A. Mozart

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I’ve been getting a lot of whining from certain people about how my musical tastes aren’t “melodic,” how I”m “obsessed” with “rhythm,” how “I” should “get out” more.  I don’t appreciate your tone, and I find your statements outlandish, calumnious, and ill-informed.  To prove it, I give you this Mozart thing.  Here, you unwashed rabble.  Have some damn melody (which, by the way, is supposed to start at 22:36, in case the YouTube video fails).  But before you go, I will subject you to my favorite knock-knock joke.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Knock-knock.

Who’s there.

Philip Glass.