it’s hell of a way to get re-introduced to the music of Horace Silver

Last night was a bit of a mess at the bookstore. I’d been looking forward to an off-site event at the local library for a booksigning by Kwame Alexander. He’s not my kinda thing for my reading, but I’d glanced through his book and his biography to find a hell of a lot to admire. I’d even borrowed the book with the intent to read it, but then Christmas wrecked those plans. I’m no indie bookseller. I’m a chain retail dog soldier who is always on the edge of catastrophe. Remembering future plans is nigh impossible most of the time. We’d been doing the same business in a single day that we normally do in a week with only one extra person on a shift at best for a few weeks.

It turns out the book signing was last night. While I was expected to be at the library, no one was scheduled to manage the bookstore, which isn’t something I have control of regardless. When someone from the library called to find out where I was with 15 minutes notice, I couldn’t leave without abandoning my normal duties and risking disaster. There was no one to call in and no one not working to send, especially not with 15 minutes to get there. Fortunately my barista last night was smart, adaptable, and bold enough to participate in the event off-site with minimal instructions1 and resources. We barely limped through the shift at the bookstore while she reported about 200 people showed up for the reading and signing at the library.

The protagonist in Alexander’s book is nicknamed Filthy McNasty. I swore as soon as i woke up this morning, i’d crank up some Horace Silver in honor of him and that barista.

  1. sort of. Cell phone & texting was a godsend. []

the pampered youth of noted eugenicist Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins always struck me as an asshole. The whole New Atheism movement reeked of smug privilege. When friends and acquaintances cited him and his allies, the action grated. I’ve been a life-long agnostic who gets his jollies on absurd blasphemy, but their words on theism of every color felt as if they came from a different place. Someone on Facebook linked a New Republic review of the first volume of Richard Dawkins’ memoirs and excerpted this key paragraph:

Born in 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya, and growing up in Nyasaland, now Malawi, Dawkins writes of life in the colonies in glowingly idyllic terms: “We always had a cook, a gardener and several other servants. … Tea was served on the lawn, with beautiful silver teapot and hot-water jug, and a milk jug under a dainty muslin cover weighted down with periwinkle shells sewn around the edges.” He remembers with special fondness the head servant, Ali, who “loyally accompanied” the family in its travels, and later became Dawkins’s “constant companion and friend.” Unlike the best of the colonial administrators, some of whom were deeply versed in the languages and histories of the peoples they ruled, Dawkins displays no interest in the cultures of the African countries where he lived as a boy. It is the obedient devotion of those who served his family that has remained in his memory.

She makes the connection that Dawkins comes from the same white settler community in Africa that spawned fellow shitheel Niall Ferguson.

Yep. It all makes more sense.

But does this mean that more people are experiencing success?

It’s not quite new that the American middle class is shrinking. We’ve all heard it reported this week. What struck me as representative of another problem was how it was reported on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday.

KOCHHAR: Right. So if we have fewer people in the middle, the question is, where are they moving to? And we find they’re moved both to the low end of the income distribution and to the high end of the income distribution. But when we take a deeper look within the lower end, we find that they are moving to the lowest end of the income distribution. And then when we take a deeper look at the upper end, we find that they’re moving to the very top end of the income distribution. So the movement out of the middle is not just to the margins but to the farthest edges of the income distribution. In other words, there’s a deeper polarization underway in the American economy.

CORNISH: But does this mean that more people are experiencing success?

KOCHHAR: Yes. Some indeed are, and specifically people who have experienced greater gains include older adults, people 65 and older, people who are married and people who have a college education.

If one was listening to the piece, one could hear that bit I italicized has an oddly triumphant tone. “So, the system works?!” Never mind the people slipping through the cracks into poverty. There are more rich people, so it’s cool in the end. Carry on.

Fuck NPR. It’s absurd so many people believe that it’s a bastion of liberalism.

Is this a goddamned Onion piece?

Just let the Republicans win: Maybe things need to get really bad before America wakes up.”

I looked up this Shane Ryan character. He seems to be a (relative) kid who doesn’t know a thing about the 2000 Florida recount. That’s ancient history now.

We’ve heard his argument before, through November and December of 2000. It was a lame argument then and it’s an unfunny joke now. It brought us 9/11, the Iraq War, and a host of other fucked up things. I hate Hillary Clinton more than most people, more than many Republicans who hate her because my reasons are real, not invented. However, we absolutely cannot let a single one of the hucksters, lunatics, and idiots running for the Republican nomination become president.

For the next few weeks, I hope I can rally some friends to get some support for Bernie Sanders in Louisiana for the primary, but I refuse to throw everything away if the candidate I prefer loses…. even if I know Louisiana is pretty much a lost cause in the general election.

Scott Weiland?

Against odds, I have a soft spot for Stone Temple Pilots. They were the corporate, mega-selling also-rans spawned from the morass of Los Angeles. I politely ignored them when they were forced upon me for a few years. However, when Tiny Music… came out, my cooler friend Damien lit up in delight, saying that these guys were obviously fans of Badfinger.

Hell, i love this song. It’s hard to express what a relief bright, guitar-based glammish power pop was when most other mainstream (ha. alt-rock. no.) rock bands were going for the dourness they distilled from Nirvana, then infusing with brooding masculinity.

When Weiland went on to mimic Bowie doing his cabaret-influenced material, that earned some fondness from me too.

It felt like he died years ago. I just told the news to Kat and we both recall him being on the verge of death back in 1998.