Monday, November 28, 2005

You're Kidding Me

Nonesuch Records has just released a CD, Our New Orleans, as a benefit album for the victims of Katrina. It's a collection of new recordings made specially for this album by many of the best and best known New Orleans musicians, including Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, the Preservation Hall Band, Beausoleil, Eddie Bo, with a special appearance by Randy Newman who, while he was not born in New Orleans, spent a lot of time there when he was growing up. All proceeds from the sales are being donated to Habitat for Humanity to help ease the single most desperate problem facing the city, housing. The parent company, Warner Bros. Records, is even pitching in and donating the production costs. This is all good, very good, and I encourage you to check out the Nonesuch Records website and consider buying it. You'll help out, and get some great music too.


The Dirty Dozen Brass Band has been around for thirty years, and have been pioneers in adding the most modern elements of jazz, R&B, and New Orleans street funk to the brass band style. They made the final break with the older tradition, which was still recognizably derived from military marching bands, and their performances are anything but regimented. They're all over the stage, in fact.

For years one of their most popular songs was an upbeat, uptempo, highly rhythmic song called "Feets don' fail me now." If that title and those lyrics hearken back to the days of blackface minstrelsy, that's deliberate, as it's part of the long tradition of pulling the teeth of racist bigotry by mocking its own conventions.

So it was with no little amount of surprise that I looked at the song list for Our New Orleans and found:

-- Dirty Dozen Brass Band: "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now"

Oh, puh-LEEEEZE, dears! "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now"????? How about a few choruses of "I Have It Badly and That Is Not Good," followed by a rousing version of "It Does Not Mean A Thing If It Does Not Have That Swing," hmmm?


Monday, November 21, 2005

The Late, Great UFO

Here is a delightful short article from Tech Central Station about the UFO phenomenon; as in, where'd it go?? I think the author, Douglas Kern, is certainly right that it seems to be gone, or at least banished back to the fringes. It's hard to imagine The X Files being as big a hit today as it was ten years ago, though of course it will never really disappear, not as long as cable TV is with us.

Kern's theory is that what the Internet might have given, it instead has taken away. There was a point, as the Internet was developing, that UFO enthusiasts were rubbing their hands with glee, certain that the net, with its power to route around censorship as though it was damage, would finally let them break through the sinister conspiracy of silence the The Gummint has been foisting on us since 1947. Instead . . . nothing.

Consider this: the golden age of UFO photos was the 1950s and 60s, and the most famous of them, grainy and blurry as they are, date from this period. At that time, nobody but professional photographers carried cameras around with them all the time. Many people had cameras for vacations or snapshots of the kids growing up, but when they'd shot a roll they had it developed by somebody else. Very few had advanced darkroom skills, and so very few were qualified to evaluate the authenticity of an image. People were easy to fool.

Nowadays, millions of people around the world constantly carry cell phones capable of taking a picture in an instant and sending it to everyone they know. Just about every computer sold comes packaged with image processing software that would make the CIA's best photographic analysis labs of 1960 look like an elementary school science project. So where are the photos? It was an article of faith among the true believers that if we could just get enough people out there with cameras on the lookout, sooner or later they'd have their proof. Well, the cameras are out there right now, everywhere, and the proof is conspicuously failing to appear.

Also, we've learned to be much more careful now. Every blogger knows that if you quote someone or something in order to comment on it, if you don't include a link to the original so your readers can check on whether you're playing fair or not, well, pretty soon you won't have any readers. Even without the link, any suspicious reader can use Google to get to your source, and if you've pulled a fast one you will hear about it in your comments section.

The Internet has both made us more suspicious and given us the tools to check things out, follow up on our suspicions. The UFOs didn't stand a chance.

Read the article. And note that Kern, in true blogger style, has peppered his article with links to info on such things as the Mantell Incident and the Majestic 12 documents. Following those down is a lot of fun.

BTW, I'm going to make sure my Dad sees that article. It will vindicate everything he's been trying to pound into my head for nearly a half century.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Good 'un

My partner A just winged off one of the most delightful responses to a wrong number I've ever heard.

The phone rang, he picked it up, and a man said, "I'd like to speak with June McElway."

A replied, "Well, then by all means, call her!"

And hung up.