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Wed May 27, 2015 at 10:39 AM PDT

Santana

by NCTim

F' it we'll do it live.

~ O'Reilly ~

Live Santana is sublime.  I still remember being awe struck the first time I saw Carlos Santana lead his band through a night of sonic magic.  

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Tue May 26, 2015 at 10:39 AM PDT

The Holmes Brothers

by NCTim

The Holmes Brothers are an American musical trio originally from Christchurch, Virginia. Mixing sounds from blues, soul, gospel, country, and rhythm & blues, they have released twelve studio albums, with three reaching the top 5 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart. They have gained a following by playing regularly at summer folk, blues, gospel, and jazz festivals. They’ve recorded with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Willie Nelson, Freddie Roulette, Rosanne Cash, Levon Helm and Joan Osborne, and have gigged all over the world—including performing for President Bill Clinton. They won the Blues Music Award from the Memphis-based Blues Foundation for Band of the Year in 2005 and for the Soul Blues Album of the Year in 2008.
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Mon May 25, 2015 at 10:39 AM PDT

Lou Rawls

by NCTim

Easing into the week with Lou Rawls.

Louis Allen "Lou" Rawls (December 1, 1933 – January 6, 2006) was an American recording artist, voice actor, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known for his singing ability: Frank Sinatra once said that Rawls had "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game".
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I teach a college course on jazz and hip hop at a Southern California university, and after listening to Fox's Bill O'Reilly bloviate last week about how hip hop and rap are to blame for declining Christianity in America, I decided to revise, or rather augment last Friday's lecture. We meet once weekly for three hours, allowing time for extended discussion. Racism is a subject essential to understanding the development of black American music, and O'Reilly's blowing on that old dog whistle provided the perfect opportunity to explore its ongoing effects.

I began by playing the O'Reilly segment. One student, young and white, actually walked out as the video started to run. He came back about fifteen minutes later saying O'Reilly made him sick and he could not stand to watch and listen to him. I asked the class what they thought about the accusation that Rap specifically and the entertainment industry generally were responsible for the decline in the number Americans who self identify as Christian. One older student commented on how tired O'Reilly's argument was, and that similar things were said about jazz and rock and roll. We recalled class source readings of critics, journalists and scholars from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, using adjectives like uncivilized, primitive, wild, barbaric, animal-like, savage and worse, to describe jazz its practitioners, including claims that the music could be held directly responsible for the moral downfall of thousands of young, presumably white women.

Racist Code

I asked why O'Reilly singled out rap, while omitting other music genres and art forms also known for controversial content, including explicitly anti-Christian themes. I suggested that his emphasis on rap in this context was code for black culture, meant to stir the fear and hatred of white racists and Evangelical Christians. There was consensus that the rap to which O'Reilly was referring was probably the angry, misogynistic, confrontational, cop hating "Gangsta Rap" of the 1990s, and the fact that hip hop culture seemed to glorify outlaws as "heroes". Even though it is doubtful he knows the difference between "old school commercial" and gangsta, or DJing from MCing, O'Reilly clearly doesn't like rap. Fair enough, a lot of people don't. But he was claiming that rap had the power to drive people away from Christianity, especially young people. That's a whole different thing.

I pointed out how conservative media personalities and elected officials use code words and phrases to tap into bias without being explicit about it. Ian Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, wrote:

"This sort of coded speech operates on two levels. It triggers racial anxiety and it allows plausible deniability by crafting language that lets the speaker deny that he's even thinking about race." Source: The Root
Following are eight common racial code words/phrases:
1.  Inner City
2.  States' Rights
3.  Forced Busing
4.  Cut Taxes
5.  Law and Order
6.  Welfare and Food Stamps
7.  Sharia Law
8.  Illegal Alien
Source: The Root
And to this list I add Rap and Hip Hop.

To drive home the point about conservative politicians using racist code words and themes, I had them read former Reagan strategist, Lee Atwater's comments on the Southern Strategy.

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” Source: The Nation
Personal Responsibility

Conservative blowhards like O'Reilly preach about personal responsibility when discussing poverty, income inequality and racial injustice, but then ironically point the finger of blame at rap music and its purveyors when it comes to the decline of Christianity. How about Christians and their leaders taking responsibility for Christianity's decline? Perhaps the anti-science, bigoted and exclusionary messages coming from some elements of the faith could be to blame.

And to O'Reilly's point that it is the youth who, being particularly weak and impressionable, are the target of this anti-Christian conspiracy: aren't then the parents responsible for the religious education/indoctrination of their children? And aren't Christian parents responsible for their children's exposure to music and other entertainment of questionable moral content? If Christian parents are not to be called out in this matter then why are African American parents shamed for not always being able to protect their children from the negative influences of poverty and inner city crime? Where are the Christian parents in this discussion?  

Art Reflects Life

So my next question to them was if they believed music and art were powerful enough to actually affect a nation's religiosity specifically, and people's behavior generally, or if they were merely a reflection of the world in which we live? Everyone seemed to agree that the arts reflected life and were a product of their environment, but the extent to which they could affect listeners, in a reverse "life reflects art" phenomenon, was the source of considerable debate. Some felt that the arts could have some impact in bringing attention to certain causes and help propel movement toward social change. It was also suggested that protest/message music could motivate a predisposed individual to take an action for good or for bad. The general consensus emerged that the arts could not significantly impact large numbers of people to do something like change or quit their religious affiliation.

At this point I suggested that O'Reilly was complaining about an artistic expression that was in a large part the result of decades, even centuries of racist public policies designed by conservatives like himself, to keep African Americans, people of color and the poor, marginalized, ghettoized and disenfranchised. So I started to briefly delineate some of those policies to my students.

Redlining and the FHA

I asked who in the class had heard of "redlining"? No one had. I explained how the National Housing Act of 1934 and the creation of the Federal Housing Authority had set up a system that established color codes to identify neighborhoods and districts within urban areas as "best", "desirable", "declining" and "hazardous". The hazardous areas were of course outlined on maps in red.

Redlining is the practice of refusing to back mortgages in neighborhoods based on racial and ethnic composition.

The FHA’s strict lending standards, contained in the FHA Underwriting Handbook, determined which kinds of properties it would approve mortgages for. In addition to physical quality standards, the FHA based its decisions on the location, and racial and ethnic composition of the neighborhood where the property existed. For example, in 1934 the FHA Underwriting Handbook incorporated “residential security maps” into their standards to determine where to mortgages could or could not be issued.2

Developed by the Home Owner’s Loan Coalition, these were color-coded maps indicating the level of security for real estate investments in 239 American cities. The maps were based on assumptions about the community, not on the ability of various households to satisfy lending criteria.

Neighborhood Classifications

HOLC appraisers divided neighborhoods by categories including occupation, income and ethnicity of inhabitants in an attempt to eliminate subjectivity of appraisers:
•A (green) were new, homogenous areas (“American Business and Professional Men), in demand as residential location in good times and bad.
•B (blue) were “still desirable” areas that had “reached their peak” but were expected to remain stable for many years.
•C (yellow) were neighborhoods that were “definitely declining.” Generally sparsely populated fringe areas that were typically bordering on all black neighborhoods.
•D (red) (hence the term “red-lining”) were areas in which “things taking place in 3 had already happened.” Black and low income neighborhoods were considered to be the worst for lending.

These maps which separated neighborhoods primarily by race paved the way for segregation and discrimination in lending. Many argue that it was the HOLC maps that set the original precedent for racial discrimination and allowed for it to be an institutional practice. Source: The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston

The effect of redlining was to deny blacks and other minorities the opportunity to accumulate wealth and climb the ladder of social and economic success, effectively locking them out of the American Dream. To make matters worse building owners would not invest in repairs and upgrades to their red zone properties leading to run down and empty buildings, urban decay which became fertile territory for despair, drugs and other criminal activity.

Below is a map of Philadelphia from 1936. Households and businesses in the red zones could not get mortgages or business loans.

The term "redlining" was not actually coined until the late 1960s by John McKnight, a sociologist and community activist. The Community Reinvestment Act was passed by Congress in 1977 to reduce these discriminatory credit practices against low-income neighborhoods, but in the late 1980s a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles by investigative-reporter Bill Dedman showed that the practice was still alive in Georgia. Banks would often lend to lower-income whites in Atlanta but not to middle- or upper-income blacks. Source: From Redlining to Reinvestment: Community Responses to Urban Disinvestment
The use of blacklists is a related mechanism also used by redliners to keep track of groups, areas, and people that the discriminating party feels should be denied business or aid or other transactions. In the academic literature, redlining falls under the broader category of credit rationing. Source: Wikipedia
Urban Planning and Segregationist Ideology:

Urban planning decisions after World War II exacerbated the problem even further.

In the Bronx, Robert Moses, the so called "Master Builder" of New York, planned and built the Cross Bronx Expressway between 1948 and 1972, which effectively divided the Bronx in half. The South Bronx became a redlined ghetto, forced home to blacks and minorities while the middle and upper-class residents fled to the north.
The “Cross Bronx,” as it is known colloquially, was the brainchild of Robert Moses. But historically it has been blamed for bisecting the Bronx roughly in half causing a migration of middle and upper class residents to the north and leaving the south portion to become an underserved slum of low-income residents. It displaced as many as 5,000 families when an alternate proposed route along Crotona Park would have only affected 1-2% of that amount. Robert Moses is accused of favoring “car culture” placing an importance on building highways instead of subways in order to grow the city. This can be seen as a segregationist ideology since it ignores the needs of the large population in NYC that can not afford a car. Also the construction of large highways like the CBE shelved greater NYC Transit projects including the Second Avenue Subway. Not only did it have these ill effects, but to this day the expressway remains a headache for commuters with stacked and entangled roadways such as the Highbridge and Bruckner Interchanges. Source: untapped cities  
The story of New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, with its forced segregation and division of the city on either side of Canal Street into uptown and downtown has undeniable parallels with the Bronx. The music that emerged from both urban settings was begat from the diaspora of the slave trade, and of West African traditions imported to the Americas which resulted in the assimilation of and conflict with European/American culture and aesthetic traditions. Blues, jazz, soul, funk and hip hop culture are the ironic flip side of segregationist ideology and racist public policies.

War and Drugs

Something many of my students were familiar with was the Reagan administration's funding of the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s through profits gleaned from the dumping of cheap crack cocaine in black neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The class had either seen or heard about the movie "Kill the Messenger", based on Gary Webb's expose for the San Jose Mercury exposing the complicity of the White House and the CIA.

Webb's reporting uncovered the story of how tons of cocaine were shipped into San Francisco by supporters of the CIA-backed Contras and then distributed down to LA to a Nicaraguan named Danilo Blandon, who sold it to a street dealer from South Central, Freeway Rick Ross.

Through this connection Freeway Rick became a crack kingpin and also used his contacts with LA's Crips and Blood street gangs to help distribute crack to many other cities across the country. Source: Huffington Post

Student's also were aware that Webb's official cause of death in 2004 as a suicide was dubious as he was shot twice in the face. The CIA has since admitted that it ruined Webb's career.
New documents released by the CIA show how the agency worked with some of the country’s largest newspapers to destroy San Jose Mercury News’ Gary Webb, a journalist who famously exposed the CIA’s connection to the cocaine trade in the “Dark Alliance” investigation. Prison Planet
The Era of Mass Incarceration
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China's extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)

The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England's rate is 151; Germany's is 88; and Japan's is 63. Source: New York Times

How the heck does this happen in the shining city on the hill?

In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” He dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. - Source: Drug Policy.org

Concurrent with the Iran Contra affair was the beginning of the increased penalties for drug offences in a ratcheting up of the War on Drugs by the Reagan Administration. These penalties focused heavily on crack rather than powder cocaine and therefore a disproportionate number of blacks were arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned than whites. At the end of 2012 of the convictions involving illegal drugs 64,800 (30.83%) were non-Hispanic white, 79,300 (37.73%) were non-Hispanic black and 41,100 (19.55%) were Hispanic. Source: Drug War Facts.org

The presidency of Ronald Reagan marked the start of a long period of skyrocketing rates of incarceration, largely thanks to his unprecedented expansion of the drug war. The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997. Source: Drug Policy.org
-
By the late 1980s, Congress and state governments enacted draconian penalties that rapidly increased the prison population. Drug hysteria was whipped up to the point that by 1989 64% of Americans polled identified drug abuse as the nation's "number one problem", up from 6% just five years earlier.
Within less than a year however, the figure plummeted to less than 10 percent, as the media lost interest. The draconian policies enacted during the hysteria remained, however, and continued to result in escalating levels of arrests and incarceration. Drugwarfacts.org
 
Not to be outshined, George W. Bush initiated the rapid escalation of the militarization of domestic drug law enforcement. By the end of Bush's term, there were about 40,000 paramilitary-style SWAT raids on Americans every year – mostly for nonviolent drug law offenses, often misdemeanors.

Conclusion

The story of African American music has nothing to do with the decline of Christianity. It is one of the great narratives of humanity, rivaling those in the bible. It is a tragic and triumphant tale of people rising above the most brutal of circumstances, in a nation that worships both god and democracy, while at the same time excluding those people from enjoying the benefits of that democracy; a nation whose constitution at once claims the equality of all "men" while designating slaves as three-fifths human.

So thank you, Bill O'Reilly. You inspired me to lay some truth on my students. I am one of those liberal academic elites you love to hate. I don't have anywhere near the audience that you do, but being one of those academics, I back up my lectures. I cite my sources. You should try it sometime. But then that would hurt your ratings.

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Sun May 24, 2015 at 07:39 AM PDT

Gospel Brunch - Otis Clay

by NCTim

Otis Clay is an American R&B and soul singer, who started in gospel music. In 2013, Clay was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame.
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Sun May 24, 2015 at 05:53 AM PDT

Sunday Morning Music

by danps

Mirror Kisses - Keep A Secret


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Reposted from What's for Dinner by Catte Nappe Editor's Note: Yes, there is music here beyond the tempting tastes of potatoes and asparagus. -- Catte Nappe

For this recipe, you will need
1 Pepe Romero
1 Neville Mariner
1 Chamber Orchestra of the Academy of St. Martin In the Fields

(If Messrs. Romero and Mariner are otherwise engaged, or if you haven't room for the orchestra in your kitchen, a recording of Mauro Giuliani's Guitar Concerto No. 1 in A Major, Opus 30 can be substituted. Fresh is always better, but we make do with what we can. Look below the fold for You Tube selections of these pieces.)

4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 large cloves of crushed garlic to taste (substitute ¼ teaspoon garlic powder per clove)
1 teaspoon mustard seed, crushed
1 Tablespoon rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons paprika
1 Tablespoon dill
1 large yellow onion
6 to 8 cups diced red potatoes
1 half-pound Baby Portobello Mushrooms (substitute your favorite variety but don't use canned - they will overcook!)
1 pound fresh asparagus spears
Crumbled feta or bleu cheese (garnish)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350°F
When the orchestra strikes up the Allegro maestoso, combine the olive oil, crushed garlic,mustard seed, rosemary, thyme, sage, paprika and dill in a large mixing bowl.

As Mr. Romero's fingers sketch out the landscape on the canvas the orchestra has prepared, peel the onion and cut it into coarse chunks, separate the layers and place them in the bowl. If perhaps your tears fall on the onions, go ahead and weep, but save a few drops for the Andantino.
You must be gentle as you wash the mushrooms. Let your touch be as soft as Anna Wiesenberger's as she caressed Mauro's face in Vienna's long autumn shadows. Carefully trim the stems and quarter them into the bowl.
Scrub and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, leaving the skins on as you add them to the bowl. The the tender, earnest, passion of the movimento siciliano will be reflected on the moistened red surface of the tubers. And you thought fiber was dowdy and dull!

As the Polonaise begins, joyfully toss the potatoes with the other ingredients to thoroughly coat them with oil and seasonings. Set the bowl aside to let the flavors mingle a bit as you rinse the asparagus spears and pat them dry with a paper towel. With a slotted spoon, distribute the contents of the mixing bowl evenly in large (4 to 5 quart) glass baking dish. Gently toss the asparagus spears in the residue of olive oil and seasonings left in the bowl. Add a few drops of oil if necessary. Place the asparagus spears in a single layer on top of the potatoes and drizzle any remaining oil over all.

How long do we bake this dish? The asparagus and mushrooms will give up quite a bit of liquid early on and we want most of that water to evaporate. A full hour will leave the asparagus very soft. If you prefer it a bit firmer, blanch the asparagus, plunge it in cold water and drain it while you roast the potatoes for 30 minutes. This should leave you time to toss the spears in oil before you remove the dish from the oven. Turn the potatoes, then place the asparagus on top and return the dish to the oven for another 20 to30 minutes. Yes it's a bit of extra fuss, but our friend Pepe is worth it.

You might prevail on Senor Romero to fill any remaining prep/cleanup time with Giuliani's Gran Sonata Eroica in A Major and a glass of Telmo Rodriguez Basa White, 2013.
If it's a CD, what the hell, have a bottle of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale while you set the table.

Serve with a salad and sprinkle each serving with crumbled feta or bleu cheese. If this is a vegetarian main dish, you will have enough for four servings. The '13 Basa White would be pretty good with it. If you prefer a beer, the Bell's Two-Hearted is a nice choice, but drink whatever pleases you. if you will be serving this as a side dish with meat, you can get six servings out of it. If that's your choice, let the meat guide you choice of beverages.

As always, Strauss goes well with dessert. Perhaps a pair of crepes with a hot plum sauce and a poof of confectioner's sugar?
Here's a poem to go with it:

Twigs of Pear and Apple
Cool orchard morning soaked your feet.
The dry marsh hay beyond the fence whispered and hissed.
White blossoms and the scent of your hair filled my head.
How could I not kiss you there, in the glory of May?

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Sat May 23, 2015 at 07:39 AM PDT

Saturday Shuffle Mix

by NCTim

Easy breezy.

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Sat May 23, 2015 at 05:35 AM PDT

Saturday morning music

by danps

Reposted from danps by danps

Don Cavalli - New Hollywood Babylon


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Fri May 22, 2015 at 10:39 AM PDT

Funk Friday - Groove Merchant

by NCTim

Groovy

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Thu May 21, 2015 at 03:28 PM PDT

Stalking Songs

by Karen Hedwig Backman

Reposted from Karen Hedwig Backman by Catte Nappe

Jaysus Kerist! Sting!

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

Every single day
And every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you

Oh, can't you see
You belong to me
Now my poor heart aches
With every step you take

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I'll be watching you

Equally sickening, Doris Day in 1952, below:
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Thu May 21, 2015 at 10:39 AM PDT

Jazz - Jean Luc Ponty

by NCTim

Jean-Luc Ponty (born 29 September 1942) is a French virtuoso violinist and jazz composer.
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