Snapshot Chronicles: 6/15/16

Posted: June 15th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations, Snapshot Chronicles | 2 Comments »

History“Wristband” Paul Simon. Simon, 74, is a dinosaur. Not so long ago, he wondered aloud whether the record album (a collection of songs presented on vinyl or CD) was a thing of the past in the digital download age? He grew up with 45s, an age of doo wop singles. Would he resign himself to a return there, after fashioning some of The Great Albums, especially “Rhythm of the Saints?”

No is the answer. He’s back with a quite resonant, “Stranger to Stranger,” with the usual mixed to the forefront rhythm tracks, and canny observations of the what’s happenin’ now. As he once explored Third World percussion and harmonies, he here ventures into a bit of atonality, citing the work of Harry Partch.

He’s still elementally a sentimentalist, which suits his effective but less than stellar vocal chops.

He not surprisingly considers death, “The Werewolf.” And such as schizophrenia, “The Parade.” And the ugliness of today’s cultural interaction, using the speed of a Negro Baseball star as metaphor in “Cool Papa Bell.”

He proves yet again that he can astutely observe the human dynamic, and express it with cunning creativity. In “Wristband,” he uses that nightlife delineator of status to comment on societal strata.

The riots started slowly with the homeless and the lowly/ Then they spread into the heartland towns that never get a wristband/ Kids that can’t afford the cool brand whose anger is a short-hand/ For you’ll never get a wristband and if you don’t have a wristband then you can’t get through the door/ No you can’t get through the door

Sign at Payne & Spring. Spotted outside Willinger’s Tavern, where the good ol’ boyz gather daily on their stools outside by the entrance, to observe the passing scene and argue about all that matters, this chalkboard message: “Beer As Cold As Your Ex’s Heart.”

“Love & Friendship” (Whitt Stillman, director). Jane Austen, Comedy Writer. Who knew? This film, a turn on a novella by the famous novelist of 17th C British manners, starring Kate Beckinsale, and featuring the relatively unknown Tom Bennett, brilliant as an addled suitor, is the funniest movie I’ve seen in awhile. You can hear my podcasted review here. Go see it.

Sign on Frankfort Avenue. In front of Bourbon Barrel Foods, the chalkboard read: “America’s Only Micro-Brewed Soy Sauce.” Who dares not acknowledge that this isn’t a foodie town?

Father’s Day, 2016. Even though he did his best, played pitch and catch, boxed in the living room after dinner, didn’t mess around on mother, and dazzled with his knowledge, knowing all the answers on Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life,” I, like many, still had issues with my dad long after his passing.

Poet Dick Lourie posited our conundrum the best: If we forgive our fathers, what else is there?

“America’s Tune” Allen Toussaint. My favorite musician’s latest and unfortunately last record album has been released. Posthumously. Produced by Joe Henry, the New Orleanian’s go to collaborator in the last decade, it is mostly Toussaint on the piano by himself. Though there are some sweet contributions by others, what resonates are the noodlings of Toussaint, morphed into elegant unique interpretations of Crescent City classics.

When I first heard on my car radio his take on a Professor Longhair tune, the extrapolation of which he titled, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” I was so touched, I had to pull over to the curb to gather myself. I’ve never been anything but smitten with Toussaint.

My favorite here is Earl King’s “Big Chief,” a mainstay of Longhair’s repertoire. Funky, with yet another paying of respects to Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the 19th C classical composer, who infused his works with the sounds he heard from Congo Square and the streets of the Vieux Carré.

— c d kaplan

2 Comments on “Snapshot Chronicles: 6/15/16”

  1. 1 Marty said at 12:28 pm on June 15th, 2016:

    Glad to see you posting about music & arts again.

  2. 2 gnash001 said at 8:57 pm on June 20th, 2016:

    I like beer that’s colder than my Mother-in-law’s love.

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