Photo by Joe Carducci
Arrivederci, Romas . . .
By Carolyn Heinze
So perhaps you already know that back on July 31st Sarko gave this sensationally stirring, or at least stirred-up speech about l’immigration and how, for years, for decades even, it has contributed to la déliquance. (He didn’t actually delineate the decades, because you start counting backward here in France and you back right into the Nazis telling the Vichy collaborationist government to cool it with shipping out so many Jews.) And maybe you’ve already heard how during the entirety of August, right when all good upstanding French citizens – especially the good upstanding journalists, most of whom do most of whatever they do while sitting down – all go to the Southeast or the Southwest or the deep, direct good upstanding South to tan their questionably good upstanding French hides while laying down — well, Sarkozy started deporting les gens du voyage, the gypsies, the Romas. Booted ’em out as fast as his elevator heels would allow.
And you probably already know that he based this smooth move on verifiable, veritable solid statistics and stats centering on and sifting through and surrounding crimes by race. As in which members of which races commit which crimes, and how many of them they commit. Based on race. Over decades and even years. There was the small matter that the statistics and stats focused on Romanians only; made no difference that Romas aren’t all necessarily Romanian, either. That’s the kind of thing we count on our upstanding journalists to discover.
Of course, it was kind of funny when it came to light that the name ‘Sarkozy’ traces directly back to races with Roma roots, but as a highlight it was only in passing. Because it’s a questionably legal practice, largely frowned upon, this practice of basing stats and statistics on race, especially here in France, especially since France is part of L’Europe. (I won’t get into the nitty-gritty-semantically-hairsplitting details . . . they’re boring and kind of beside the point. Plus, you’d have to look back a few decades to see why Europeans might be a little skittish about racial profiling.) But Sarkozy did it anyway. Because he could. And because his street gang – I mean, his government – encouraged him to. And when you think about it, it’s all kinda, well, normale.
This is a country where the first black TV anchorman made his first appearance for the first time on the top network in prime-time only four years ago. (It caused quite a stir.) (At first.) (There were phone calls all around.) (Well, among my girlfriends at least.) (Mainly-mostly because he’s hot.) There was a token woman of token Arabian descent (some people think she’s hot, too) in the Sarkozy government for a while as well, but the gesture of appointing her was really just a token since she got shipped off to the European parliament pretty damn quick, to get her out of the way. There’s still a token woman of African descent (definitely hot) working in the sports ministry (they bumped her over there after a stint attending to human rights), but they’re having a hard time figuring out what to do with her because she has the irksome habit of speaking her mind. About sports and human rights. It’s more than a token problem.
France has a tradition of tokens, and token gestures, so the whole Roma thing is no more than a token surprise. Nor is Sarko necessarily racist – depending on your definition of it, of course – nor does he necessarily even give the topic of racism more than a mere token thought. What he’s more interested in is keeping his tiny French derrière in the biggest French chair in the biggest French office. What this is really about is the 2012 elections, and teasing and appeasing the extreme right, le Front National, the FN. You know, the party that made it to the second round of voting back in 2002 until everyone panicked and woke up and showed up (late) to grudgingly re-elect Chirac? The one that until recently was headed-up and run by the slogan-spewing “La France pour les français, and oh, by the way, the Holocaust was just a minor detail in history” Jean-Marie Le Pen? (The FN is now run and headed-up by Marine, his horse-headed daughter, who sounds and looks and acts like the kind of woman that would crack you over the head with a beer bottle for inadvertently making eye contact with her boyfriend in a bar.) Sarko’s right-of-center UMP ( Union pour un mouvement populaire) lost the last legislative elections to the left because the right-wing vote was too divided (this is a perpetual problem for les politiciens…France being a primary producer of wine, cheese, and a plethora of political parties, after all). Since then, as is so often the case, the left wing has done little save fight with itself, while the right restrategizes and reorganizes and regroups. Extreme right politics being très à la mode in Europe, extreme right voters are the proverbial easy target. And the targeting of the Romas? It’s a token-albeit-targeted gesture, as far as targeted token gestures go. Fish in a barrel? Sitting ducks? Gypsies round the campfire?
The Tea Party vs. The Metagaming of the System
By Joe Carducci
The best thing about the Tea Party is that its so stealthy as it makes headlines. No-one knows who they are or what they want. The experts seem so invested in this rolling consensus of theirs/ours, the one that has it that we are behind Europe in social development and that history moves in one direction toward, I suppose, Sweden pre-1989. (It went socialist like everywhere west of Kiev in 1932 but its knees buckled when the USSR collapsed and the Social Democrats lost power in 1991, they shifted into reverse, devolved, stopped drinking the Kool-aid.)
You might expect a Brit to pocket the tribute the American elite pays the old world as Gideon Rachman does in the Financial Times this week, but he really mightn’t oughtn’t phrase it so: “The Tea Party movement that is stirring up US politics means different things to different people… To many foreigners and American liberals, the Tea Party does indeed seem like a crazy mix of wild conspiracy theories… and impractical nostalgia for an era of distant and minimal government.” To “Foreigners and American liberals” says a lot right there methinks, wot?
It's something of a hangover of the postwar civil rights era. All kinds of scoundrels run to steal fire from the civil rights struggle including the entire baby boomer superstructure; they somehow remember their interest in hearing the Temptations do “Cloud Nine” on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ as them risking their just-healed fontanelles to Bull Connor’s billy-club. Blacks freed themselves in postwar America with some help from church-men and -women, not student radicals or hippies. All that smoking violence was America learning things. Even then that all was nothing compared to the violence in Europe just ended. We’re seeing now what was learned there for all that. But as the old world considers itself advanced they relished the American street-fighting and took it to mean what they enjoyed believing: Americans may be rich but they are like animals.
The real story in Europe is that they still cannot quite get along with their neighbors never mind immigrants from elsewhere. Lately in the news, some Muslim jihadis captured in Afghanistan are being referred to simply as “Germans” -- doesn’t really work does it? Europe, even roped-together in the EU, is still a collection of discrete race-nations in a way America is not. Perhaps we’re going to find out whether they can break that impulse and each-and-in-total become bastard-breed loose stock like us. Their history argues not, and respectable opinion o’er there seem to approach those who have decided they do not have it in them to be as Americans, as if indeed they were Tea Party manque.
Here, though, among English-speaking ex-colonials and the many Others, race is more like a golden oldie, hummed enthusiastically by Taylor Caldwell or Howell Raines to rescue some part of their family, or the south, or their own white-ass from some judgment day of their imagining -- maybe before the ICC in The Hague. The “idea” that the Tea Party is racist or racially-formed is a convenient conceit of those barricaded inside the public power structure, near the top of the public’s hierarchy of servants, yet still believing themselves to be committing blows against someone else’s empire. I’ve written before about this Brave New Class; Vaclav Havel has written about young American Academicians who toured the East Bloc, commiserating with political prisoners and dissidents, comparing their own American lives in the belly of the beast, with theirs in the prison nations‘ prisons. These tourists’ assumptions being something along the lines that Havel’s situation under the boot of Communism was caused by American resistance to said ineluctable future.
Everything else Marx tried to achieve failed; Socialism was too much the product of the Romantic era to ever be grounded in even a science as wobbly as economics. But the new class loved his idea of the march of time, one-way history, the inevitability of the triumph of socialism. They were never too sure about the withering away of the state but trusted that might be well after their rule. All this pertains, even as the principle metaphor of our age has been built out of the old one-way AT&T-Ma Bell, pay-the-bill or be ex-communicated phone system. Everything now is an always-on local call between one and as many others anywhere as any one likes. And Sweden was taking cues from a society that licensed typewriters.
In truth some of that is pure etiquette, a kind of misdirection play whereby this meritocratic elite assumes egalitarian coloration when outside the family -- probably something like an old Soviet academician might have pulled as he bowed and scraped before ex-peasant commissars. But who are these Tea Partyers?! That they do not know. Further they do not want to know because rather than signaling the formation of the long-rumored third party of some elitist’s dreams, they signal an attempt to pull the Republican Party back from its participation in this march of history. Sean Wilentz, fresh from Dylanizing like a foreigner or a Democrat, roots around Glen Beck’s bookshelf in The New Yorker this week and then goes off on a wild goose chase through John Birch Society history as if that’s relevant. Along the way Wilentz absolves not just Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson but also Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush of any taints of extremisms anyone might want to make, all in the exercise of demonstrating to the readers of the NYer that they needn’t check into any of this revisionism. Go back to sleep, fair liberal and foreigner.
In fact I’d suggest perhaps keeping one’s eye off the ball for a bit in the next few months to see what the Libertarian Party makes of winning an argument in the down-and-dirty of real-existing-democracy. In some ways it’s the Democratic Party that has won a number of these discrete arguments but they and their partisans in the news media wouldn’t quite know what face to make if they thought they won an argument, and its all about the reaction-shot. They prefer to act as if they won in the face of withering racist reactionary resistance, as in pulling off an in-your-face victory -- so satisfying, so self-defeating in the long run, this cult of the progressive outrider misunderstood in his own time and country and media.
Matt Bai in The New York Times posits that the larger and larger independent voter is simply swinging back and forth against the sitting Party. This may be the third unseating in a row of the President’s Party two years into a first term, which Bai writes, is “a sequence that has never happened before in the country’s tumultuous political history. This suggests that however much the issues of the moment may seem to be defining these elections, there are some deeper forces at work, too.” Deeper, meaning shallower -- nothing to do with taking another look at the beginnings of the welfare state under the Roosevelts or Wilson, despite its sustainability being under sustained attack from inside -- the claimants, the rent-seekers, litigants, pensioners, all of those and us who want the state to invest in us or pay us off, and from fascist math itself simply refusing to add up or multiply the bread.
Alan Brinkley in the NYT Book Review goes at some of the new books seeking to maintain the Tea Party’s stealth-shield, and again there seems to be an ideo-historical backstop at the size of government now -- this is simply the ground zero for next year’s enlarged and improved government; it fails more so it grows more to do a better job failing. Brinkley assures us all that “The reality of the creation of the Constitution is a far cry from the idea that it instituted immutable limits to what government could do.” He the Historian at Columbia then dismisses stated concerns since they just showed up. He the Historian ought to understand that things move first through this or that attempt at doing, or this or that witnessing attempts of others. Learning occurs and some may continue defending Jimmy Carter or Woodrow Wilson but the non-Historian electorate is fine with dropping Hoover, Nixon, or Bush. And if you can only do one thing you’ll only get one term. Brinkley fancies himself as part of this new meritocratic royalty; naturally it resists this American constitution which was put it in place to halt every first impulse of such royal prerogative.
It seems to me that the Tea Party has committed to the Republican Party, but only if they can rehab it now. Otherwise they’d have filed to run as third parties; instead it is sitting Republicans beaten in their own primaries that are left to run as independents. The Tea Partyers want the Republican Party to stop competing with the Democratic Party on spending, to stop gaming the system to win elections. Such promises of spending are the sales-pitch of the Democrats since Wilson and only their own conflicted foreignized souls and Americans’ sense that the economy is more than a cookie-jar for the state kept Republicans in the game, for they could never outbid the Dems; perhaps only Nixon and DeLay ever even tried. But the competition for ministering to voters through spending devolved into an overarching strategic game of locking federal spending into endless out-years of commitments of future revenues to favored expenditures -- social spending for Dems vs. military spending for Repubs. This metagaming of the system was the stealth final straw. Those invested in it can not look up to see it, they might lose an edge and a long night of fascism or communism, national socialism or international socialism commence.
David Brooks asks a good question, “Why are important projects now unaffordable?” Assuming agreement on what is important, “Many of us would be happy to live with a bigger version of 1950s government: one that ran surpluses and was dexterous enough to tackle long-term problems as they arose. But we don’t have that government. We have an immobile government that is desperately overcommitted in all the wrong ways.” But what is the failure, guns or butter? The Tea Party is saying both. They have changed their mind on what they call the Neo-con War on Terror but the left won’t accept this as their victory; they keep seeing gun-nuts in the woods or the desert. On this and other issues, they just prefer to fight a class war.
Only the most unexpected angles allows the kind of straights who write for major metropolitan dailies to offer a fresh insight into an outgroup. Lee Siegel, also in the NYTBR contrives somehow for whatever reason to compare the Tea Party to the Beats. It’s the recent film, Howl (2010), that triggers it, and especially the filmmakers’ Hollywood-like impositions on what is known to be true about this formerly underground subject:
“Hollywood loves self-righteously to portray now-unchallenged liberal causes under siege, even though in this case the cause of free speech was vindicated when the presiding judge ruled that ‘Howl’ [the poem] was a work of ‘redeeming social importance’ and that Ferlinghetti [the publisher] was innocent. What the movie should have spun out into its own subplot was the fact — never mentioned in the film — that the judge, W. J. Clayton Horn, was a conservative jurist locally renowned for his Sunday-school Bible classes. Horn might well have been as much an outsider in San Francisco’s sophisticated social circles as Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg were in the eyes of the law. It takes an outsider to know an outsider.
Or perhaps Horn had a glimpse of the future. The eventual assimilation of Beat hedonism ensured that by the end of the millennium, white middle-class Christians like him would themselves be marginalized — at least by the dominant culture — as the ‘silent majority.’ …When the Tea Party came along, however, the silent majority started to get its voice back. Liberals could well be drawn nostalgically to the Beats nowadays because all the countercultural energy belongs to the other side. ‘When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?’ Ginsberg asked his fellow Americans in his poem ‘America.’ The Tea Party has an answer to that rhetorical question….
Then again, the Beats were as much at odds with the liberals of their time as the Tea Partiers are with the liberals of today. The same liberal air of elite-seeming abstraction that provokes the Tea Partiers drove the Beats around the bend. For the Beats, liberals were part of the power structure: they spoke loftily about conscience and social obligation yet lived comfortably within the plush boundaries of universities, law firms and financial institutions. Worst of all, they accepted the government’s role in organizing their lives.”
Not bad for something in the NYT in an election year where so much is at stake again...
In the end the thinnest strand of bohemian conservatism is sustained by the individual points at which some few culturati come to understand that they love American culture for its peculiarly but duly constituted Author. And so they depart the rush to Europeanize them both. As for all this fear alleged, only two years ago the “coup” was on the other foot, and America was to be taken back or else a move to Europe. Unfortunately for them they won and stayed.
Anthus Cervinus, by James Fotopoulos
From the Midwest Desk of Joe Carducci…
Peter Wood at chronicle.com, "From Diversity to Sustainability: How Campus Ideology Is Born".
“Diversity and sustainability are the two most characteristic ideas of the modern academy. Diversity asks us to focus on group identity and personal affiliation, and it puts race at the center of the discussion. Sustainability asks us to focus on humanity's use of natural resources, and it puts climate at the center of discussion. Outwardly, diversity and sustainability belong to separate narratives. They deal with different topics and might, in principle, have no more friction between them than typically exists between English departments and physics labs. Or between polar bears and tropical fish. But in fact, diversity and sustainability have a complicated, decades-old rivalry.”
James Kirchick in the WSJ, "Europe the Intolerant."
“‘The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.’ So said Tom Wolfe in 1965, and so it is today. Various commentators have argued recently that opposition by many Americans to a proposed Islamic center two blocks from the ruins of the World Trade Center represents deep-seated religious bigotry and paranoia. But if any place is plagued by increasing bigotry, it's not America but Europe, the continent whose welfare states and pacifism are so admired by American liberals.”
Phillip Longman at bigquestionsonline.com, "Demography and Economic Destiny".
“One day in 1999, I went to visit the billionaire financier Peter G. Peterson in his office high above Park Avenue. In those days, Peterson surveyed a city booming with leveraged deals and paper profits that hourly added to his wealth. Yet he was worried about the future. He warned of a world going gray and predicted that the aging population of the industrial world, particularly in Europe, would tank the era of prosperity then being called ‘the long boom.’
As I quoted him back then in a cover story for U.S. News and World Report: ‘The scenario I see is that one or more developed countries . . . is going to decide that the political cost of reforming their pension systems is just too high.’ When that happens, Peterson continued, ‘they will try running high deficits — much higher than the limits set by the European Union’s monetary authorities — in an attempt to finance their way out of the problem. When the financial markets wake up to this news, there will be a broad realization that we have a global aging crisis that is going to be unrelenting in its economic consequences.’
At first, the global recession that began in 2008 seemed to have nothing to do with changing demographics. Economists and politicians pointed instead to the excesses of unregulated capitalism. Many thought that the prophesied demographic-driven entitlements crisis was still years away. But today it is becoming more apparent that Peterson was right: Europe’s demographic problems are not only forcing startling cutbacks in the welfare state but also are damaging the Continent’s prospects for sustained growth and economic recovery. Worse, Europe's today is the rest of the world's tomorrow.”
Gene Epstein in Barron’s, "Job Losses: No Private Affair."
“The long-term trends tell the real story. The number of private-sector nonfarm payroll jobs in September totaled 107.97 million. Despite recent gains, the total is still down 7.6 million from its December 2007 peak, a decline of 6.6%….
Nothing so devastating has occurred on the government level. Since December '07, federal employment as of September 2010 is up about 3.2%. The decline in state employment has been relatively small—a loss of 63,000 jobs since the August 2008 peak, or 1.2%. Only local government, by far the largest public-sector employer, has felt a real pinch. At 14.25 million jobs in September, local government's overall loss has run about 350,000 since its August '08 peak, a fall of 2.4%, with a little over half the decline accounted for by school employment.”
Thomas Donlan in Barron’s, "More Trillions Owed."
“About 84% of state and local government employees are covered by defined-benefit pension plans—the traditional pensions in which all the promised benefits are supposed to be funded in advance in a trust. Private industry and even the federal government realized decades ago that they were unwilling and unable to assume such open-ended responsibility. A series of private pension-plan disasters—in mining, metals and manufacturing--underscored the danger. Now about 17% of private-sector workers are in defined-benefit plans, down from 41% in 1980.
State and local governments have tried to evade their responsibilities without ending their dangerous defined-benefit plans. At the latest count, 47 states were saving less than they should for their workers.”
Leigh Phillips at euobserver.com, Israel: ‘Fix Kosovo first before telling us what to do’.
“‘Solve your own problems in Europe before you come to us with complaints. Maybe then I will be open to accepting your suggestions,’ he told France's Bernard Kouchner and Spain's Miguel Angel Moratinos at a dinner on Sunday evening (10 October) in Jerusalem. Mr Lieberman said that after Europe had solved conflicts in the Caucasus as well as the ongoing disputes over Cyprus and Kosovo, then the Jewish state ‘will listen to your advice.’”
Edward Wong in the NYT, "Chinese Civilian Boats Roil Disputed Waters."
“The Chinese Navy could not be reached for comment.”
Lawrence Lessig in The New Republic, "Sorkin vs. Suckerberg."
“You will see this movie, and you should. As a film, visually and rhythmically, and as a story, dramatically, the work earns its place in the history of the field. But as a story about Facebook, it is deeply, deeply flawed. As I watched the film, and considered what it missed, it struck me that there was more than a hint of self-congratulatory contempt in the motives behind how this story was told. Imagine a jester from King George III’s court, charged in 1790 with writing a comedy about the new American Republic. That comedy would show the new Republic through the eyes of the old.…
In Sorkin’s world—which is to say Hollywood, where lawyers attempt to control every last scrap of culture—this framing [between lawsuits] makes sense. But as I watched this film, as a law professor, and someone who has tried as best I can to understand the new world now living in Silicon Valley, the only people that I felt embarrassed for were the lawyers. The total and absolute absurdity of the world where the engines of a federal lawsuit get cranked up to adjudicate the hurt feelings (because “our idea was stolen!”) of entitled Harvard undergraduates is completely missed by Sorkin…. Did Zuckerberg breach his contract? Maybe, for which the damages are more like $650, not $65 million. Did he steal a trade secret? Absolutely not. Did he steal any other “property”? Absolutely not—the code for Facebook was his, and the “idea” of a social network is not a patent. It wasn’t justice that gave the twins $65 million; it was the fear of a random and inefficient system of law. That system is a tax on innovation and creativity. That tax is the real villain here, not the innovator it burdened.
The case for Zuckerberg’s former partner is stronger, and more sensible and sad. But here again, the villains are not even named. Sorkin makes the autodidact Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster, the evil one. (No copyright-industry bad blood there.) I know Parker. This is not him.”
Jim Fusilli in the WSJ, "Scoring ‘The Social Network’".
“Still, for all the score's icy abrasiveness and reflected aggression, the repeated piano motif suggests a trace of sympathy for Mark. ‘I don't know the real Mark Zuckerberg,’ Mr. Reznor said, ‘but I understand that character. The act of creation at any cost, I can relate to. The pursuit of my vision of Nine Inch Nails caused betrayals and cost me friendships. But the goal was No. 1. Now as an adult I think I would've done those things differently.’”
Holland Cotter in the NYT, "When the Artists Voted For the Politics of Order".
“Not all artists were so clear in their loyalties. Giorgio de Chirico was hard to pin down. His 1920s paintings of Roman gladiators, with bodies like kneaded dough, are so bizarre that it’s hard to imagine anyone taking them seriously. In tone they’re just a step away from the distinctly mocking, anti-fascist work of the German Dada artist Hannah Hoch, who, in a 1925 painting called ‘Roma,’ gives the macho Mussolini the petite body of a female swimmer.
In Germany the time would soon come to an end when a painting like Hoch’s could be safely made. But during the postwar Weimar era, artists still had options. The same year Hoch painted ‘Roma’ the art critic Gustav Hartlaub published an authoritative list dividing German modernists into two opposing, evenly populated categories: right-winger classicists and left-winger realists. Within a few years such distinctions would be meaningless. They meant less than nothing to a new man in power, Hitler, who hated modernism, period.”
Peter Aspden in the FT adds another two-cents worth of Dylan-worship to the dying recycling whirligig of newsprint, touting the Man’s killing of the pop song. He’s referencing the Witmark demos which got Dylan a publishing deal, though he quotes Dylan to the effect that he put an end to Tin Pan Alley. “Pop song”, “Tin Pan Alley”, these aren’t the same thing. And Aspden seems to act as if TPA depended on the LP, and if a Dylan could write his own songs by the album-full all the songwriters and song publishers were doomed. The LP was too new as a significant part of the record business in the early 60s for that to be true. It was still a singles market back then and the songwriting credit and the B-side was the primary grease for the system. A disc-jockey or singer could get a credit and thus a piece of the hit’s publishing monies when their involvement could be expected to cause it to be a hit. And a label could do a favor for or repay one to publisher, writer and artist by choosing to record some lesser tune for the B-side of a single. It too might sell a million, carried by the A-side.
Dylan didn’t kill that, though rock and roll, black and white, did make it look pretty square. When ASCAP tried to double its royalty rates collected from radio, that industry formed BMI and started contracting blues and country songs. When ASCAP pulled its music off of radio in 1941 the sounds of rural America finally got into the air to fill the void of live dance orchestras playing the finest compositions of Tin Pan Alley. Very stupid of ASCAP, but that didn’t kill TPA or the pop song or the fake songwriting credit either.
On April Fools Day in 1986 ASCAP awarded Bob Dylan a Lifetime Achievement Award. They didn’t think he killed TPA either. Dylan in all the fake humility he could cough up said, “We never claimed to be as good as Johnny Mercer.” Yeah… Okay.
In any case BMI’s big switcheroo in 1941 lit a fire under Nashville, Tennessee as we all know. Before that the WLS Barn Dance was a bigger deal than the Grand Ole Opry, and Jimmie Rodgers and Gene Autry recorded for New York labels. But after that Nashville has been like a purified folk version of Tin Pan Alley. Dylan knows that; he's been there.
Dave Hoekstra in the CST, "Carl Bonafede".
“During the late 1950s, Bonafede promoted rock ’n’ roll while driving around the North Side in a 1955 Oldsmobile ’88 with red fenders and a white top. ‘I put sound columns on top of the car roof,’ he chirps while standing between an aisle of vinyl. ‘They used that in the Blues Brothers. I had posters on my car. WJJD was the only rock ’n’ roll station in 1955. I went to Lane Tech, Von Steuben high schools, gave out free records from the distributors on South Michigan Avenue and advertised my dances. I had a midget with me. His name was Cesar and he had a parrot that spoke fluent Italian. Cesar was a sword swallower and fire eater. I found him working at a car wash. I’d put a throw rug on top of my hood and Cesar would climb up and perform between the sound columns. All the teachers at Lane Tech wondered, ‘Who is this guy and why is he giving out all this free music?’ Back in those days, there were no noise ordinances. There weren’t policemen at the schools.’
Legendary WLS-FM personality Dick Biondi says, ‘Carl is an extremely colorful guy. He was always promoting. If he wanted to get a record played, he would bend your ear until you either gave in or called the cops.’”
Obituaries of the Week.
•Solomon Burke, Chicago Sun-Times (1940 - 2010)
“During the 1960s and '70s Mr. Burke never performed without a cape and a crown. This bothered James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. ‘I was booked for a concert with James in Chicago,’ Mr. Burke told me during a three-hour dinner in 1988 at a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles. ‘'Got To Get You Off of My Mind' was out. People were yelling for Solomon Burke, and James said, 'I'll teach you who's the king.' It came time for me to go on and the guys told me to stand at the stage. I was all ready in the crown and robe, and I heard, 'Now, here's the man you've all been waiting for.' I thought, 'Really nice. They're giving me a nice buildup.' 'The man who's had such hits as ...' and I thought he was going to say 'Cry to Me' but he goes, ' "Please, Please, Please" ... Mr. James Brown!' And Mr. Brown walks out and says, 'I'm James Brown, I'm the king.' He looks to me and says, 'I'm paying you, so you can give me that crown and robe.' I put the robe on him onstage. If he wanted to be king, he could be king. It was a great gig. I made five grand.’
In recent years Mr. Burke appeared in concert on a throne due to his regal image and health problems. He also liked to use a church pulpit while recording in the studio.”
•William Barry Sr. (1920 - 2010)
“When Mr. Barry’s group caught word of nearby theaters looking to get rid of their organs, CATOE reached out and tried to help find the instruments a new home. Such was the case when Mr. Barry was part of a team that moved a pipe organ from the Ohio Theatre in Lima, Ohio, to the auditorium in Downers Grove North High School in the late 1960s….
Mr. Barry also helped restore and maintain organs at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove, the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge. He even bought a pipe organ from the Kenosha Theatre in Wisconsin and installed it in his basement over the course of 10 years, according to Prezell….
Mr. Barry explained the fascination with theater pipe organs in a film CATOE made in the early 1970s about the organ at Downers Grove North. ‘Each individual has his own reasons, however, for the most part the reason is probably nostalgic. To some the organ represents a tie to the era of the silent film, the atmosphere and fantasy of the movie palace,’ he said in the film, which is on YouTube. ‘Members want to preserve the excitement they feel when they hear the sounds of the theater pipe organ so that others may experience it also.’”
Naperville Riverwalk, Illinois
Photo by Joe Carducci
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