24 November 2016

This Is My Thanksgiving

In the immortal words of Don Henley...
And I don't mind saying that I still love it all
I wallowed in the springtime
Now I'm welcoming the fall
For every moment of joy
Every hour of fear
For every winding road that brought me here
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my Thanksgiving

20 November 2016

Missing the Magnetic Je Ne Sais Quoi

I’ll forever know 2016 as The Year of Silenced Voices. The  year we lost Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, not to mention all manner of actors, writers, is broadcasters, will be the year we lost Miss Sharon Jones.

I know the whole Daptone Records thing is sometimes seen as retro at best and white hipster appropriation at worst. I heard the some of the same criticisms of the so-called “Young Lions” of jazz back in the ’80s, who made music that Miles called “warmed-over turkey.” But I always appreciated the Daptone vibe and the aesthetic, and Sharon Jones will always be at the forefront of that in my mind.

I watched – more importantly, heard – that vibe in action in 2011, when Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings came to my neck of the woods. And after the show, I got to exchange words with Sharon and some of the other members of the band. I got to see firsthand what a true artistic collective looks like; how a group can make a single member’s voice shine and how that single member highlights the rest of the group. Sharon herself, of course, is one of the best examples I’ll ever encounter of someone who succeeds by fighting to do what she does, whether it’s ANR people’s perceptions or cancer. That, to me, was her magnetic je ne sais quoi.


Today's playlist: the whole SJDK catalog. Probably for the rest of the week too, I think.

15 November 2016

A Voice Missed

In this age of media distrust and echo chambering, the loss of Gwen Ifill’s voice in the news landscape saddens me.

I’m a regular PBS Newshour viewer, going back to when Jim Lehrer was still running the show. I remember noticing near the end of his tenure, the growing prominence of Ifill, Judy Woodruff, and a few others. From my perspective, it was done quietly, almost subversively. I remember thinking for sure it’d be Margaret Warner at the desk after Lehrer left, but seeing Ifill and Woodruff center stage gave me real hope for the future of good reporting. Reporting that really sought to deliver us the news from as many different perspectives as possible.

People point to institutions (every institution, really) all the time with justified criticism, but most folks can point to individuals in those institutions who represent the ideal. The ones about whom even reasonable detractors can say, “If everyone in that instituion had the professional skills and personal integrity as X, I’d have no problem.”

Gwen Ifill was one of those folks. I’ll miss her presence and her voice, especially during these trying times.