The parade sound wafting from the sidewalk Monday morning is Sidney Bechet on soprano sax playing “Maple Leaf Rag.” Click on the video above to hear.
For Sidney Bechet
by Philip Larkin
Like New Orleans reflected on the water,
And in all ears appropriate falsehood wakes,
Building for some a legendary Quarter
Of balconies, flower-baskets and quadrilles,
Everyone making love and going shares—
Oh, play that thing! Mute glorious Storyvilles
Others may license, grouping around their chairs
Sporting-house girls like circus tigers (priced
Far above rubies) to pretend their fads,
While scholars manqués nod around unnoticed
Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids.
On me your voice falls as they say love should,
Like an enormous yes. My Crescent City
Is where your speech alone is understood,
And greeted as the natural noise of good,
Scattering long-haired grief and scored pity.
Monty Python in a great sketch done live in 1982 at the Hollywood Bowl. I particularly like John Cleese’s understated Lenin portrayal.
Fun fact: John Cleese’s father’s original last name was Cheese, but his father changed it as a young man. Somehow that explains a lot to me. Cleese is correctly pronounced to rhyme with Cheese.
Thanks to YouTuber Haunting Europe
Some people say that Nat King Cole was arguably the greatest 20th century American male singer. When I listen to a performance such as in the video above, I have a hard time disagreeing…
This recording was number one on the American charts in 1951.
Gadzooks, it’s Magic and Marxism.
I had an opportunity last Saturday to speak about and perform magic at this year’s Left Forum, an annual gathering of political leftists, with hundreds of lectures and panels throughout a hectic weekend. The theme of the panel for which I was performing was the neurotic pitfalls of doing political work. My tenuous contribution to the other panelists’ fascinating talks was a magic performance that emphasized the vulnerability of all of us—even Marxists!—of falling victim to deception and self-deception.
You can see a video of the performance by clicking on the video above.
Thanks to panel organizer Mitchel Cohen, and panelists Irene Javors, Ann Snitow, Debbie DeSpina Sophia Stamos and Margaret Stevens.
I had planned on posting a video from a magic performance I presented at the Left Forum yesterday, but I’m having technical difficulty, so until I’m able to post the video I’d like to share with you something said at the plenary session by one of the participants, the popular musician and revolutionary, Immortal Technique.
His remark was in the context of addressing the possibility of forming a truly viable leftist party in the United States, given that so many recent efforts seemed to have been failures with little impact.
His reply was this: “The reason that I’ve achieved the position that I have is because I have failed. Failed over and over. More importantly, I’ve failed many more times in my art than most people have even tried to take a chance. There has to be space for failure.”
There’s almost no way for an artist to be good without first being bad. Artists need the space and permission (from themselves!) to be bad. Each painful lousy performance or draft is one step closer to getting it where it wants to be.
As Samuel Beckett said, “Try again, Fail again. Fail Better.”
Singer/songwriter Nick Lowe wrote a number of pop rock songs like “Cruel To Be Kind,” and “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?” that were big pop hits for other artists, such as Elvis Costello.
Lowe has continued writing and recording his own songs through the years, and “People Change,” from 2007 is one of my favorites. It’s a great combination of pungent lyric, catchy melody, and simple, but affecting performance.
Click on the video to play.
I was reminded today, as I stood in front of my students with my aching back, the funniest and most profound statement I had ever heard about the profession of teaching, words uttered by a veteran high school teacher I once knew:
“The amazing thing about teaching,” he said, “is this: each year, you get older, but the students stay the same age.”
While you, Mr. Magician, are YouTubing coin rolls and card flourishes, the really cool high school students are watching videos featuring finger tutting. So, Meyer Yedid, eat your heart out, It’s Finger Fantasies: The Next Generation.
Click on the video above to view the impressively impassive finger tutter, Pnut.
Thanks to YouTuber StatusSilver
The short-lived original 1998 Broadway production of The Capeman had a beautiful score by Paul Simon and Derek Walcott. And it was sung superbly by two icons, Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades.
The video above was uploaded last month to YouTube by Blades himself. In this song, Ruben Blades plays the older Salvador Agron, the so-called Capeman murderer, looking back and trying to reach his younger, 16-year-old incarcerated self, played by Marc Anthony.
I hope that someday more video surfaces, as that show really needs to be re-evaluated. It was performed for a few times in the summer at Central Park’s outdoor Delacorte Theatre in 2012, but was not picked up for a longer run. If anyone is interested, I’ll tell a funny story concerning my viewing of that production.
Some extraordinary examples of street art illusion—the drawings are seemingly three dimensional, but in fact they are all done on a flat street surface with paint and chalk. The illusions depend on the perspective that the camera vantage point enforces, and the projective geometry of anamorphosis.
The realistic nature of the drawings allows passersby to interact with the drawings by posing with them, further reinforcing the three-dimensional illusion.
Thanks to YouTuber Mind Blowing