a new low in topical enlightenment

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Issue #50 (June 16, 2010)

Highway 130, Wyoming, Cleared

Photo by Joe Carducci

Chicago Blackhawks, Stanley Cup 2010
by Joe Carducci

Even when Chicago was by convention referred to as the Second City it was the largest coherent city that was not cobbled together like New York from its five constituent boroughs for pride of first-place against the Chicago growing from nothing in the second half of the 19th Century, or Los Angeles which annexed south for a port and north for tax base. Each “city” rumbles with secession efforts from time to time, but Chicago abides, though not without changes and despite being topographically as inadequate as it is geographically ideal -- the city was basically raised up out of the swamp onto a concrete substructure to allow for non-disease-ridden living and the construction of skyscrapers. It lost a million citizens from its early seventies three-plus million peak. As I’ve noted before, Houston has been the true Second City to Chicago in recent years if one is talking about cultural places that hang together as cities.

Hockey is to Chicago sports as Chicago is to its coastal betters. That is, under-appreciated, often forgotten and then it finds itself back in its old default status as bracketed with wrestling and roller derby. But people forget as well that basketball and football, especially in their professional leagues, were also cheap, gym-rat diversions. My dad told me that conventional sentiment among sports fans in the forties and fifties was that no-one would ever really take professional sports seriously, other than baseball. As late as the seventies professional basketball was a rather tawdry affair, especially the majority of the games between non-contending teams. Television and its money and the players’ unions fight for more of it, and the owners’ fight to find more money forged a desperate glamour from decades of tawdry locker room crud collected doing duty for b-ball, hockey, wrestling, boxing….

In the beginning the Chicago Blackhawks were founded by Major Frederic McLaughlin, a coffee magnate in the twenties known for his Manor House Coffee brand. McLaughlin bought the Portland Rosebuds of a regional league and moved them from Oregon to Chicago and named them the Blackhawks, after Chief Blackhawk who’d been the last free Indian Chief in Illinois. The current ownership, the Wirtz family came in from Detroit in the mid-thirties as they collected indoor arenas in the Midwest at Depression-era prices.

The players’ services were owned outright and they were paid little and most worked off-season jobs. Still that allowed tickets to be cheap enough that these teams survived the thirties on gate receipts. The NHL was an ongoing concern from the mid-twenties as it came together out of regional leagues in the northeast, the upper midwest, and the northwest, plus of course Canada. While the Wirtz family collected real estate and sold liquor they didn’t control their principal tenant, the Blackhawks, until 1954. They ran the team and the Stadium as if it was still the thirties. The NHL channel was running year by year Stanley Cup summaries and replaying old game telecasts and I caught Toronto vs. Chicago April 15, 1967, a semi-final Game 5 at the Stadium. For all its tawdry grubbiness it was quite refined in its presentation compared to today’s high-test melodrama borrowed mostly from professional wrestling and action movies, who got it from comic books. The Stadium ice circa 1967 had nothing on it but the red-line, the blue-lines, the face-off circles, the goal lines and two moderate-sized Blackhawk logos. The boards are white, there are no sponsors’ logos anywhere. The old scoreboard is an unreadable deco mess of clock faces. And the television production itself is likewise minimal. The announcer, probably Dan Kelly, is fine. There are rudimentary replays of goals and great saves, and even a slow motion replay that the kinescope can’t quite reproduce. The Stadium crowd doesn’t sound so different but it sounds older and more male. And the occasional flashes of the audience behind the benches reveal no logo clothing or jerseys, but suits still, and fedoras. It's no small credit to Arthur Wirtz and his son William who took over in 1983 that this austere thirties flavor was only slowly modernized and was still extant until the Stadium itself was dismantled in 1995.

My dad took my brothers and I to a game some time in this period, probably sometime before 1965. We sat back in a corner of the mezzanine well under the first balcony. We didn’t go often as my dad followed Pittsburgh teams rather than Chicago teams, but we got into the Stadium as kids to see the Blackhawks and the Bulls who were launched in 1966 as an expansion team. For basketball you could walk right down and take one of the good seats, there were so few people attending games in the years before the Dick Motta teams of the early seventies.

We also went to see the White Sox once, and more often the Cubs, who were always playing during the day and whose announcer, Jack Brickhouse, seemed pitched to kids. The Cubs audience sound was high pitched -- younger and more female; the Sox’s crowd was a low-pitched noise and they played at night in not-so-friendly old Comiskey Park. Brickhouse’s second was Lloyd Pettit. He wasn’t a distinctive baseball announcer but he came to be the standard for hockey. And because the Wirtzes did not televise the home games, one listened to Pettit a lot during their competitive stretch of 1969 thru 1974 when they made the finals twice, losing both times. Pettit married into the Bradley family and moved to Milwaukee where he built the Bradley Center and tried to bring an NHL franchise to town -- the Wirtzes stopped him. By the time Pettit was gone so was Bobby Hull as the WHA lured several high profile but underpaid NHL stars away to cities hungry for hockey. Free agency and expansion ended that world.

Chicago was pronounced “America’s Greatest City” in a 1985 issue of The New Republic and it seems even that late it was the traces of thirties Chicago that the author was touting. Those plus the pall of pessimism that the Slavs lent the city. There is something to that; the city is, or was, very Catholic but underneath the Irish and Italian sensibilities lies the Eastern Catholicism of Poles, Lithuanians and Croats that tilts toward the Orthodox in Ukrainian, Serbian, and Greek neighborhoods. Chicago filled up with the foreign-born and with blacks and also whites from the south. It’s amazing anyone could understand each other. The Machine was organized by Anton Cermak but the Irish came to be the political interlocutors among the other groups. Not to say the Daleys have been particularly fluent speakers of English but they are quite eloquent in speaking politics with and for these populations.

But that Slavic sensibility works its way through the Blackhawks story more-so than even the star-crossed-when-not-fully-cursed White Sox or Cubs stories. And that’s because hockey itself barely has its chin above the grown-ups’ table where the MLB, NFL, and NBA sup. The daily papers and local news and ESPN all display this lack of respect the sport gets, even though the expansion teams are now established and often Cup-winners and there’s been a parade of astonishing talent from Gretzky to Lemieux to Lindros that no-one questions. But the hammerheads on ESPN know nothing about ice hockey per se and somehow they profit by belaboring arcane football and basketball knowledge. With baseball it’s understandable I suppose, but I suspect the NFL is perfect for the sports-media rabble because the game is just once a week and that gives the local reporters six days of useless verbiage to excuse the last game and savor the prospect of the next.

Still, unless I missed something I don’t believe that even that professional Chicagoan on Saturday’s NPR program even mentioned the Stanley Cup story. Went straight to the World Cup, i.e. Soccer, you know, futbol, comprende? Professional Murdoch critics have been sniping over stray Brit turns of phrase in his Wall Street Journal, but given NPR’s Beeb-fallout I wasn’t buying it until last Friday’s and the Weekend Journal’s two day flood of articles and graphics about the World Cup, with no mention of the only trophy anyone really cares about. There is only one Stanley Cup and the winners do not keep it; they get their name etched on it and passed on to next season's winner. So what explains this? It must be some unfathomable Limey-Cheesehead issue from back in the Commonwealth days. But that doesn’t explain the Drudge Report’s soccer obsession. Is this the metric system constituency revealing itself?

But this year it’s working for Hockey. A strike-lock out ended the season only five years ago and in Chicago where the team was doing well it seemed Cubs-like in its serendipity, though Bill Wirtz was in his cranky pre-death phase and angry fans dropped their season tickets by the thousands. The minor league Chicago Wolves set up shop in 1994 the last year of the Stadium and played decent human-scale hockey in Rosemont in the northwest suburbs and built its base on disaffected fans, often featuring former Blackhawks like Al Secord, Troy Murray and Chris Chelios. But Game 6 last Wednesday in Philadelphia was the highest rated network hockey game since 1974 and the days of NBC’s Peter the Puck; still the share was barely to the level of the worst the NBA finals or Superbowl have ever done. The game I attended wasn’t dominant outside of the two cities and Canada due to the NBA and NHL both insisting on prime-time, so the Chicago show at the United Center wasn’t seen as widely. The United Center show isn’t what the old Stadium show was (see the Gulf War-era NHL All-Star Game anthem for a taste of that) but it was loud in there. They lined the top with reflectors when the original structure didn’t sound anywhere near as loud as the much smaller, solid brick Stadium had been. The ice is standard size now too. If you ask me only the food is better.

Ben Bentley, once the PA announcer at the Stadium and former boxing promoter and all around thirties-type gym rat, said once in the decades-long dog days of Chicago sports, “If you could only win in this town.” Bentley knew that all those Chicagoans walking around their bungalows in an east european fog would near jump out of their skin if their identification-investment in the local teams actually paid off in a championship. A big part of the Blackhawks diehards are from the first ring of working class suburbs within Cook County. The last year of the Stadium’s existence, 1994-5, was the year Lightbourne moved back to Chicago. My brothers and I had season tickets but I bought two in the second balcony so Dave could get a last look at the place. Up there it was all young adults from Berwyn, Cicero, Maywood and the like. Couples in groups sneaking a smoke reveling in the glory of their tawdry low-rung sport -- their secret: the Blackhawks at the Chicago Stadium. You can see today’s version of these Bohunk girls running after the busses at the Victory Parade last Friday in the Trib’s Alex Garcia’s video. Patrick Kane could lose a limb to one of these girls if he’s not careful.

The city is quite changed from Bentley’s day. That lost million make for large chunks of Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas and other places. I used to go to see the L.A. Kings in the early eighties and most of the original six visiting teams had their cheering sections but the Blackhawks fans turning out in Los Angeles could be quite present, almost like what you hear in St. Louis or Milwaukee baseball stadiums when the Cubs visit. I saw those games on Rick Van Santen’s or Kelley Thornton’s tickets. They’d have Richard Meltzer or Raymond Pettibon or Mike Watt or others to the Lakers or Kings games. We weren’t on the floor by Jack Nicholson or Dyan Cannon but there’s no doubt we were the coolest bunch in the Forum. The camera never settled on Mike Watt, no but it’s on Flea all the time. Rick’s uncle was Ralph Backstrom, a Cup-winner for Montreal and an ex-Blackhawk and then current University of Denver hockey coach. The Blackhawks could barely stay with the Edmondon Oilers in those years, but who could? They managed to get into the finals in 1991 but were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. When my dad would be relishing another Steelers championship or Pirates World Series, I’d remind him of how good the Penguins were and he’d smile and say “That’s right, the mighty Penguins!” We were in Sarnano, Italy visiting the town where he was born during the finals so just one brother got to use our tickets and witness the nightmare.

My brother Mark lives near Las Vegas and he found us tickets that somehow came from a stash Tony Esposito had (that made it less painful to pay $800 apiece). Mark then flew back home Saturday and writes, “I went to the Hard Rock Sunday with my Hawks jersey on and couldn't get far without unending high-fives, fists, and lots of yelling ‘Hawks’...sent chills up my spine, and I still can't believe all the years watching culminating in the Cup win and over 2 million at the parade after expecting 350,000 per the press. My sports life aspirations are fulfilled!” One of Mark’s quirks is his conviction that one shouldn’t shout when everyone else is shouting, but should pick a moment when the arena is quiet, and then yell! In the old days he might wait a whole period for a quiet spot to yell out “Koharski you suck!" and it worked, he’d get a good chunk of the crowd laughing in assent and you knew that referee Koharski heard it too. This time Mark’s son heard his dad’s voice in the background on television when he shouted from one aisle over at the announcers doing a pre-game report. We thought at first that couldn’t be until we remembered that poor TV crew.

If the Blackhawks' youthful core can be kept together under the pressure of the salary cap, we’ll see if any of them actually needs to win the way Michael Jordan needed to win. Even if not quite so they have a good chance to win a couple more in the forseeable future. Certainly Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita can caution them how they’d expected their 1961 Cup win to be repeated given how good the team was and how young they’d been. Jeremy Roenick was emotional on NBC’s post-game wrap because he’d been a Blackhawk and a fan favorite and never got his name on the Cup; Bobby Hull was emotional because he never got back on it and in the end regretted leaving the city. Wirtz retired Hull’s jersey in 1983 and that seemed an watershed moment that you can watch here in two parts, but Hull was not invited back until William, “Dollar” Bill Wirtz had passed from the scene. Rocky Wirtz now has the place crawling with ex-Blackhawks and the good feelings are everywhere in Chicago and chunks of Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The thirties were hard-core.

[Illustrations: Hockey Metaphysics Jerseys; Blackhawks logo (1955-64); William Wirtz; Chicago Stadium, 1928; Chicago Stadium, scoreboard; Chicago Stadium Last Flush, 1995 (photo Matt Carducci); Chicago Stadium coming down, 1995 (photo Joe Carducci)]


John Kass in the Tribune on former Blackhawks team doctors.

“Now 80 and retired, [Dr. Randall] McNally remembers Magnuson literally fighting to get back on the ice. Magnuson‘s jaw had been broken in two places. The trainer, Skip Thayer, had Magnuson flat on his back on one of the training tables. ‘His (jaw) bone was exposed through the skin, and he had a bad laceration,’ said McNally. ‘I looked to Magnuson and said, ‘You‘re done, Keith.’ Magnuson hated how that sounded. He wanted to play. ‘Magnuson got up and started trading punches with Skip because he wanted to return immediately,’ McNally said. ‘They were really going at it. To his credit, Skip did not punch him in the face, just the body.’”


It seems quite common for teams that reach the finals to be made up of pieces put together by some GM or coach who has recently been fired. Professional sports are a pitiless business but somehow players must be able to lead themselves on as if they fully identify with their new team and new city as if they meant everything to them. They must call up more energy than human nature normally can allow. And then they must play generously and intelligently as a team; something easier to do in college or high school where the bonds and loyalties are more personal. In an NBA final feature on Phil Jackson and what he learned as a Knick they played a clip of Red Holzman saying, “You can’t replace team-play with ability or anything else.”

For the Blackhawks it was Dale Tallon who was fired earlier this season. A player with the club, then the color man paired with play-by-play announcer Pat Foley, then GM, after a thirty year affiliation he had to watch his signees win the Cup from his current job as GM of the Florida Panthers. Dale tells Adam Jahns in the CST that he took many calls from the team throughout the night of the victory. Rocky Wirtz replaced the insider Tallon for the hockey know-nothing John McDonough simply to try to steal some marketing magic from the Chicago Cubs where McDonough had been team president. But the Cubs don’t really contend, and the marketing magic has been Wrigley Field which perhaps the new owner can be trusted to protect, but the old owner, the Tribune Company, wanted to replace. If the Cubs ever do that then they will really require marketing genius to fill whatever might replace it. I like this Dale Tallon grace-note from October 7, 2007 as he memorializes the just-passed William Wirtz on the United Center scoreboard over the boos of the fans. I thought Rocky might give some indication of his conflicted emotions over seemingly showing up his dad so quickly but he didn’t let on. Rocky’s grandfather Arthur had run things and won the earlier championships, Bill ran the club only from 1983 until his death in 2007.


Driving into greater Chicagoland Saturday morning, the day before Game 5, I was listening to Herb Kent, the Cool Gent, on Chicago’s WVAZ, and he was playing great tunes I’d never heard before but rather than back-announce them he took a call from I’d guess a middle-aged black woman and in the small talk that preceded whatever she was calling about Herb asked her what she’d be doing on the weekend and she answered, “Oh you know, just getting ready for the big game.” And Herb Kent, the King of the Dusties, audibly double-takes asking, “You doin’ the Blackhawks?!” She sure was and I bet Pronger and Hartnell were hated with style at her place. CST columnist Richard Roeper wrote a rather routine provocation-of-a-column noting the pallor of the Blackhawks audience. He got what he wanted, a second column filled with Blackhawk testimonials-of-color. He quotes Kendra Dinkins: “There may be few of us, but not as few as you think… I think there are far more minorities cheering at home, in the bars, decorating their office spaces, and talking trash to their Philly friends than you think! GO HAWKS!!!”

Throughout the NHL playoffs the statue of Michael Jordan in front of the United Center was wearing a Blackhawks jersey. There was probably something on the Picasso and the Lions out front of the Art Institute. So it wasn’t a big surprise when to the sound of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” over the PA Jordan himself in a Hawks jersey stepped out to the front of his center ice first balcony skybox and waved to the crowd during Game 5. His image was up on the scoreboard suddenly and one had to scan around to find exactly where he was in the building. The audience first cheered at the video image but once they located his actuality in the building waving to the full house the cheers became fuller and warmer. I thought all those Berwyn-Maywood diehards were really grateful to share their secret and have it consecrated by the biggest winner this loser city ever got handed. According to the papers Jordan dined at Gibson’s after the game with Charles Barkley and Chris Chelios.

Possibly in a related development, here’s a photo of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson hoisting the Stanley Cup.

[Image: Game 5 Program with Jeremy Roenick Autograph]


The Daily Herald reports on the Cup tour continuing at Wrigley at the Crosstown Classic Sunday night, featuring a nice photo of all three teams together around the Stanley Cup on the pitcher’s mound. I assume that Jay Leno did his best to end Cup fever on Monday night when the Blackhawks showed up with it. But still to come, the hoisting of the Cup by President Barack Obama.


Quote of the Finals.

Chris Pronger: “I’m day to day with hurt feelings.”

Sunset and Normandie, Hollywood

5x7" print on Ilford MGIV RC paper through #4 contrast filter, from Pentax Spotmatic II camera using Sears 28mm f/2.8 lens with Kodak Tri-X (400TX) 35mm film assiduously developed in Agfa Rodinal 1:50 mixture (13 min @ 20°C) by Chris Collins

Drawing by James Fotopoulos

From the desk of Joe Carducci...

Benjamin Markovits, author of the book, Playing Days, in the FT on being an American with a semi-pro basketball jones in Europe.


Rob Morrison at WCBStv.com on Rabbi David Nesenoff’s inbox after his ecumenical Helen Thomas jiu-jitsu takedown.


William Dalrymple in the National Interest on Rush Hour for the Gods of India.

“The country is already on the verge of overtaking Japan to become the third-largest economy in the world, and, according to CIA estimates, the Indian economy is expected to overtake that of the United States by roughly 2050. Much has now been written about the way that India is moving forward to return the subcontinent to its traditional place at the heart of global trade, but so far little has been said about the way these huge earthquakes have affected the diverse religious traditions of South Asia. For they, much like India, are rapidly changing as the region reinvents itself. While the West often likes to imagine the religions of the East as deep wells of ancient, unchanging wisdom, in reality, much of India’s religious identity is closely tied to specific social groups, caste practices and father-to-son lineages, all of which are coming under threat as Indian society transforms beyond recognition.”


Jefferson Gray in Military History Quarterly on the Assassins.

“Today, 750 years after the Mongols crushed them, the Assassins’ pioneering use of suicide terrorism, of murdering systematically though at times indiscriminately to achieve political ends, finds chilling echoes in the tactics of terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda. But for Hasan-I Sabbah, acts of terror were a legitimate means of self-defense precisely because they focused on high-ranking enemy military, political, and religious leaders who had taken hostile actions against the Ismaili community. There is little doubt he would have viewed the tactics employed by modern Middle Eastern terrorist groups -- particularly their targeting of unarmed civilians -- with incomprehension and disdain.”


Asutosha Acharya at the South Asian Terrorism Portal on the Tamil diaspora’s drive to revive the war.


Stephanie Doetzer at Qantara.de on the media Freedom-from Flotilla’s disconnects.

“The more pro-Palestinian a channel, the more it tends to report on the world-wide protests against the Israeli blockade of Gaza. But even in Western media, there seems to be an unusually high level of interest in the demonstrations in Paris, Vienna or London.”


Jonathan Chait on Andrew Sullivan on Jonathan Chait on the Israelis on the Palestinians on the Israelis in the New Republic.

Off the top of my head I’d say the problem here is that such characters see themselves as players who, rather than waking up each day ready to resume reading, learning and thinking, must instead wake up and read to find ammunition to defend positions they have taken in the past. Rather than thinking, they merely adopt ideas. These are discrete if not inert but that makes them easier to throw at people, which is what the politically engaged end up seeking. It may be true as well that in the economy of publishing every writer understands that it serves the professional aspect of the job to become a first-person caricature.


Lewis Gropp at Qantara.de on Leopold Weiss’ memoir, The Road to Mecca. Weiss was a Murnau screenwriter, son of a Rabbi, Sunni convert, Middle East correspondent, suppressed Islamic intellectual, and finally a re-ex-pat-back-to-Europe.


Magda Luthay interviews Egyptian novelist Gamal al-Ghitany, again at Qantara.de.

“There is no censorship, on the contrary: reports that criticise political and social structures are part of Egypt's journalistic culture, in fact they are even welcome. But nevertheless, I would warn against only airing criticism, that fails to convince after a while. If the discussion is to be moved on, you must always offer constructive ideas for a solution. Meanwhile the Internet also plays a significant role, particularly with the young generation. No, the government does not hamper the work of artists, the problems come from society itself.”


Indigenous Sharia in Bolivia at mercopress.com.

“Meanwhile it was reported in La Paz press that a Bolivian Indian community once again applied the principle of ‘native justice’ by killing an accused murderer in the southwestern province of Potosi, where two weeks ago four policemen met the same fate…. The Indians of Uncia say lynching is part of the indigenous justice system that was recognized in the constitution enacted last year at the urging of President Evo Morales, but the government rejects that argument. Officials say the recognition of traditional justice is not a license for vigilantism. The government also points to Bolivia’s constitutional ban on capital punishment.”


Jonathan Kirshner in the Boston Review on Keynes.

“‘Keynes is back.’ It is a familiar cliché, but also an enigma. Enigmatic, first, because Keynes, the most influential economist of the twentieth century, never really left. Like it or not, we live in a macroeconomic world elucidated by Keynes and those who followed in his footsteps. Even Robert Lucas, who won a Nobel Prize for his criticisms of conventional Keynesianism, said in response to the financial crisis: ‘I guess everyone is a Keynesian in a foxhole.’ But enigmatic also because Keynes himself was never with us. From his vast writings, a few ideas were quickly distilled into analytical tools and policy prescriptions that became known as ‘Keynesianism.’ This produced some stark differences between Keynes’s ideas and those that bore his name. Once, after a wartime meeting with American economists, Keynes observed, ‘I was the only non-Keynesian in the room.’ Following his death in 1946, the divergence only grew.”


This was the week that strange intellectual dead zone, Manhattan feminism, decided to balk at what they have wrought, and see if they might blame Christian patriarchy for it. In the NYTmag it’s Peggy Orenstein objecting to this pre-pube mother-love dance-culture outrage, only she objects on a contortionist’s terms that these little girls once grown won’t be able to connect the dots between booty-shaking and eros. Yes that might be tragic, or maybe farcical. What is this world these feminists never made coming to? Maureen Dowd last week in her NYT column cannot believe, imagine, or tolerate what young men might just make of Do-me Feminism in an era of universal birth-control. Her summary demand, after confirming that the elite school does impart as much modern day cant as any newsroom personnel sensitivity-training specialist, is:

“Young men everywhere must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey.”

Yes definitely, beyond platitudes, righteo! And every one-night-stand a nurturing fulfilling one! This from another of those faux-Darwinian anti-prudes full of ridicule for the various religious child-raising cultures of America as they battle with uncensored pop culture only to be told parents are the greatest influence on children even as the social engineers dominate the educational mission of these schools. What do they think they’re engineering? In the NBA its called “No harm. No foul.”

In the May-June Miller-McCune there is somewhat less intellectual rot as two academics make a strained case for Birth-control/Peace vs. Testosterone/Bloodshed. They are quite direct in their biological summary of the roots of war, but that’s the easy part because even their list of neo-Rousseauians (Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Ashley Montagu) didn’t really believe in anything but displaying politi-cultural superiority -- that is, they were running their war-monger cold-war anti-communist enemies out of the human race as they re-defined it. The hard part is their freighting birth-control as a solution for the third world and various Islamic societies. As they recount it, Arafat ended Black September terror which jeopardized his UN strategy by endowing their marriages which presumable yielded children, not childless professional power-couple alliances.


On the WSJ editorial page last Wednesday.

“The liberals' fury at the President is almost as astounding as their outrage over the discovery that oil companies and their regulators might have grown too cozy. In economic literature, this behavior is known as ‘regulatory capture,’ and the current political irony is that this is a long-time conservative critique of the regulatory state.

The Nobel economist George Stigler of the University of Chicago was one of the concept's main developers, and it is a seminal plank of the "public choice" school of economics for which James Buchanan won the economics Nobel in 1986. Ronald Reagan warned about this in different words in one of his farewell speeches.

In the better economic textbooks, regulatory capture is described as a ‘government failure,’ as opposed to a market failure. It refers to the fact that individuals or companies with the highest interest or stake in a policy outcome will be able to focus their energies on politicians and bureaucracies to get the outcome they prefer.”


Vaughan Bell at Slate.com on Milton Rokeach’s book, The Three Christs of Ypsilanti.

“Frustrated by psychology's focus on what he considered to be peripheral beliefs, like political opinions and social attitudes, Rokeach wanted to probe the limits of identity. He had been intrigued by stories of Secret Service agents who felt they had lost contact with their original identities, and wondered if a man's sense of self might be challenged in a controlled setting. Unusually for a psychologist, he found his answer in the Bible. There is only one Son of God, says the good book, so anyone who believed himself to be Jesus would suffer a psychological affront by the very existence of another like him. This was the revelation that led Rokeach to orchestrate his meeting of the Messiahs and document their encounter in the extraordinary (and out-of-print) book from 1964, The Three Christs of Ypsilanti.”


John Walsh in the Independent on Rude Britannia.


John McWhorter on Sammy Davis Jr., in City Journal.

“Davis was born in Harlem in 1925 but grew up on the road during the waning days of black vaudeville. His mother, caught up in seeking her own fortune as a chorus girl, barely knew him. This left him available to shore up the hoofing routine of his father, Sammy Davis, Sr., and small-time producer Will Mastin. The Will Mastin Trio was one of hundreds of now-anonymous race acts in the thirties and forties….

Davis’s ill-fated television variety show in the mid-sixties was a case in point. A competent example of the genre of the period, the show had a hole in its middle, and it was Sammy himself. He had no individual essence to anchor the proceedings the way Dean Martin, with much less talent, could on his own variety show by just meandering out with a cigarette, a drink, and a grin.”


Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in the FT on Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s attempt to revive the seventies audiophile error. Apple-imitating fortune-hunters hiding behind aesthetics, like these clowns are seriously concerned about the deterioration of popular music. Maybe they can get Roger Waters involved; like Sean Combs, he might say he is honored to be involved -- you could practically take that alone to the bank, even in these days of late capitalism. Once the road is paved the car that drives it can be cheapened out -- that might be good. Those who paved over the music are, wouldn’t you know it, peddling musique concrète -- and that has been proven to be a real come-down.


Unbeknownst to me the Laramie Boomerang has recently add video clips to its website. One can scroll down a bit and find great footage of the clearing of the mountain pass on Hwy 130 from three weeks ago, then see the cleared drive as it looks last week, followed by recent snowing and the resultant flooding in West Laramie along the Laramie River, fed as it is and will be for months by the snowmelt.


The David Lightbourne Memorial Concert will take place in Portland, Oregon where he was involved in some of the town’s biggest club draws from the mid-seventies to the late eighties when he sat in with Steve Weber’s west coast Holy Modal Rounders, and later in his own bands, The Stumptown Slickers, and The Metropolitan Jug Band.

The lineup of performers is not fully set but confirmed are Al Rivers, Birgit Burke & Ben Slater, Trip Henderson, Michael Lightbourne, Arthur Krim, David Reisch & Roger North, and Baby Gramps. The musicians are likely to tell a few tales about David and play a few songs that meant something to him and them. More to be announced. There will also be some special programs on KBOO, which is streamed for those not in town then.

• David Lightbourne Memorial
Saturday, August 7
White Eagle Saloon

836 North Russell Street, Portland, Oregon


Phil Rosenthal in the CT on Tom Petty’s sell-out to the man who fired the Last DJ.


Thanks to Roger Trilling, Jan Leonhardt

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• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Joe, for the great piece on Blackhawk Stanley Cup-arama. Hilarious, thought provoking, and insightful, as expected.