January 21, 2013 - January 14, 2013
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I almost forgot...
The Other Sinatra
SINATRA. So sue me. The greatest album of love songs ever recorded
was Nat "King" Cole's The VeryThought of You. He
started as a piano player, but then someone discovered he could sing.
And, boy, could he sing. If
you love her and want to prove it to her, play this for her. I don't
care how young you both are. I don't care how many tattooes she has or
how many bolts sticking out of her, she wants to hear this about how
The saddest thing to me about the youngsters is that they have lost
their sense of romance. The romance of life. And worse, the romance of
I'll tell you a secret. I listen to these songs when the missus isn't
even here. Because I miss her every moment she isn't.
She prefers Neil Diamond. And because she does, so do I.
She tells me she has no more idea what this song is about than I do.
She just likes it. Why men love women. Women don't need a reason. We
always think we do. Wrong.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
AGO. Ordinarily, I don't have much use for HotAir's daily
Day." The only attributions are by hyperlink, and the only
editorial contribution is a snarky caption on the main page. CSI Miami style. You know.
Too cute by half and far too self-involved to pay attention to. Today,
though, I was struck by it. Obama is in trouble. Not just politically
(read the whole thing):
“The reports are not good, disturbing
even. I have heard basically the same story four times in the last 10
days, and the people doing the talking are in New York and Washington
and are spread across the political spectrum.
“The gist is this: President Obama has become a lone wolf, a stranger
to his own government. He talks mostly, and sometimes only, to friend
and adviser Valerie Jarrett and to David Axelrod, his political
“Everybody else, including members of his Cabinet, have little face
time with him except for brief meetings that serve as photo ops.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim
Geithner both have complained, according to people who have talked to
them, that they are shut out of important decisions.
“The president’s workdays are said to end early, often at 4 p.m. He
usually has dinner in the family residence with his wife and daughters,
then retreats to a private office. One person said he takes a stack of
briefing books. Others aren’t sure what he does.”
So I was on the phone with the missus and I said, "This has to be a
post but I don't know what to say." And she said, "Well, that's hardly
surprising. You said it all already. For four years." Then I think she
yawned. But it's the phone, so who knows for sure?
And I said, "But... but... but..."
"Well, you'll think of something," she said and hung up. I think it's
pizza day at the ultra-secret facility where she works.
Talk about a build-up. What can I do to meet this level of expectation?
The idea of a president alone is not in itself disturbing. We all tend
to think of Lincoln that way, contemplating the weight of issues only
he had the wisdom to penetrate. And for whom is this not the favorite photograph of John
F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Alone isn't the problem. Alone is better than some images. Richard Nixon roaming the White House halls talking to presidential portraits with a glass of scotch in his hand. And who hasn't heard the
pitiful stories of Jimmy Carter holed up in the Oval Office managing the schedule of the White
House tennis court while the whole country was circling the drain?
That's a picture I'd rather not have in my head.
So what is it about the image of Obama creeping into his private study
with briefing books he may or may not be reading that strikes me as so
It's the unexpectedness. Which represents a disconnect between the mass
media illusion and the facts of the matter. That's what's unsettling.
To some extent, we're used to being gulled
by MSM idolatry of the saintly Obamas. (Yeah, we know he smokes and she
has Cheetos in that great big purse. Who cares?) But if there's one
thing we think we
know for sure, it's that our president never ever stops talking to his
inferiors. Today he's a
lecturing Harvard snob sneering at the cameras. Tonight he's a black
preacher dropping g's in a Wisconsin union hall or wherever. Doesn't
matter. The man is ALWAYS on TV. I don't think I've ever turned on Fox
News in the middle of the day without seeing him either lecturing or
preaching at me about the evils of making money in a sick economy. How
does he have time to go to the bathroom by himself, let alone quit
early and find a teleprompter-less room of his own in which to hide?
The missus was right that I
always knew he wasn't up to the job. But
she forgot about the part where we get these sad and even tragic images
of his loneliness even as he
insists on being the most omnipresent image on TV since Kermit the Frog
and Barney the Dinosaur.
Here's the worst part. I don't believe that private study doesn't have
a teleprompter. I think he's in there making speeches to himself and
watching his banal rhetorical brilliance on a 60-inch widescreen
high-def TV. I'm thinking Sunset
Boulevard Pennsylvania Avenue style.
Why, probably, the missus hung up on me. She thinks I go down imaginary
corridors no one should explore. She's right about that.
Which suggests I should provide some assistance in getting rid of that
last unfortunate image. Contest! What song best describes our
beleaguered president's mental condition? For inspiration, here's
Wiki's list of the most
Have at it.
Also, read Jonah
Goldberg. (I'm pretty sure I should always say that....)
WE MIGHT HAVE A
WINNER! At least, I was pretty impressed by Helk's nomination.
Who'd'a thunk Helk knew a piece of music more than ten weeks old?
By all means, keep trying. But this is the new bar you have to surpass.
Friday, October 07, 2011
Steyn has a marvelous essay about how difficult this song was and how adroitly Sinatra arranged and
performed it. Alas, Mr. Steyn has concealed it behind the Internet wall. He wants
you to buy his American
Songbook. Do so.
YOUTH WILL BE YOUNG. So I'm old and much of my message to the
younger ones isn't
about being a Roman candle but a survivor. The world is definitely
going to kick the shit out of you. The measure of mettle is how well
you come back after the shit-kicking. I know I spend too much time
hyping a rock band from the U.K of 50 years standing., but before there
were rolling stones, there was another act that lasted fifty years. A
solo act. I saw him in his seventies, thinking I would be witnessing an
artifact of history. But he was still there. A giant.
For a long time, he lagged in the YouTube race. All you could find were
a few videos of "My Way" and "New York, New York," a kind of parody of
his career. But build it and they will come. The history is slowly
filling itslf in. He started as a band singer, a crooner with a
peculiarly enticing voice who began the modern tradition of screaming
female fans who couldn't possibly hear the object of their idolatry as
he was performing.
skies. He started with the Tommy Dorsey band. He was an instant
over the rainbow.
He became known as The Voice. He married a bunch of people and so forth.
ol man river.
Then it was over. My mother always said it was this song and this video
that did him in.
did you evah?
He disappeared for a few years. Of course there have been rumors about
how he engineered his comeback.The one unavoidable fact is that when he
returned, he knew a lot more sbout singing, phrasing, and performing.
And here's a link
from Mark Steyn to drive it home.
Frank Sinatra celebrated his 30th
birthday, and Zeke Zarchy, the lead trumpeter on Frank’s radio show,
went over to the singer’s pad for dinner. “There were half a dozen
people,” he told Will Friedwald, “and we all walked into his den where
he had his hi-fi set up. He played us some things from Carousel, which
had just come out. We heard the big ‘Soliloquy’ that the main character
sings, and we were all impressed with it. Frank said, ‘These are the
kinds of things that I want to do.’”
That was tougher than it sounds back then. A brisk “Soliloquy” clocks
in at eight minutes. Even broken in two, as Columbia did with it in
1946, it’s a tight fit on both sides of a 78. But Sinatra recognized
the uniqueness of the piece, from anticipation of all the fun the guy’s
gonna have with “my boy Bill” to the slowly dawning terror of
responsibility. Halfway through, on that line “What if he’s a …girl?”,
Frank, a recent father of one of each, sings with a kind of bewildered
disgust. But the sentiment leads into some of the most lyrical passages
Rodgers ever wrote and Sinatra ever sang...
Frank stayed with the “Soliloquy” for the next half-century. In the
Fifties, he was supposed to do the film of Carousel, but walked off the
set when they told him he’d have to do every scene twice, once for the
regular cameras, another for the new CinemaScope system...
But he and the arrangement grew together, and into the early Nineties
you could still see him on stage in Atlantic City or London or Tokyo
pushing himself through a punishing full-scale recreation of Billy
Bigelow – the role he should have played on film condensed into ten
minutes a night in recital halls and sports arena around the world
decade after decade. Round about that last time we met, I saw some guy
sing the “Soliloquy” in the Royal National Theatre revival of Carousel:
great voice - if you think a voice is about hitting notes and holding
them for the requisite length. But the fellow had nothing to say.
Sinatra, a couple of years shy of 80, could still make you believe he
was a cocky punk, scraping a living along the Maine coast,
contemplating the birth of his first child.
Then his career went on. He got older. Showed his bruises and hurts.
Because life, if you live long enough, is always about loss.
the train. But
it's still about hope, with the sad knowledge that hope can be denied.
Which makes love something an
old man knows more about than kid rock stars.
lady day. Even
when you're tragically disappointed.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because it isn't real. What
happens in life is the slow rubbing away of our sharpest, surest edges.
Sometimes the rubbing scrubs away our humanity. Sometimes it buffs us
to a patina still capable of a certain glow. Something the Sex Pistols
never got to find out.