A title is a frame,
A message from above,
A set of clothes.
Untitled: too lazy to do it myself? Too coy?
Like: you do the work. Like: go ahead,
I’ll hide my eyes.
Whatever you say.
Unserious. Nice Guy. Idiot Savant. Poet.
To be or not to be?
It’s enough to make me think
How entitled to be untitled.
Monday morning, Dionne Warwick contemplates chucking it all and heading home.
It’s hard to choose from all the great Burt Bacharach/Hal David/Dionne Warwick collaborations, but I always appreciated Hal David’s storyline in this one—I can’t think of any other pop song with a similar theme.
When Steve Stills sung this paean to his about-to-be-ex, Judy Collins, it was one of the most audacious and brilliant love songs from a 60s folk rock band. This cover, by Josh Turner on six string guitar, Tanner Walter on 12 string guitar and Myles Pinder on the high parts, is frighteningly good.
More at Josh Turner Guitar
With Joe Kirk as Mr. Bacciagalupe. Here’s are some fun facts: According to ever-reliable Wikipedia, Kirk’s original name was Ignazio “Nat” Curcuruto, his family was from Sicily, and… he was married to Lou Costello’s sister Marie.
Thanks to YouTuber Kovacs Corner
Woo-hoo! It’s the new monthly Arts Express Newsletter, edited by yours truly, and it’s free, free, free!
Think of it as a print extension of the conversation started on our global radio arts magazine, Arts Express, heard on WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC, WBAI.org, and Pacifica affiliates across the country, in Paris, Beijing, and Berlin.
Every month, it’s eight pages of Arts Express goodness, filled with fascinating interviews, top ten film lists, reviews, gossip, film, theatre, book recommendations and more.
Here’s a preview of what’s in our inaugural February issue:
* An extraordinary interview with Bill Wyman, the legendary guitarist for The Rolling Stones.
* Broadcast Film Critics and Women Film Critics Circle reviewer and host Prairie Miller’s Top Ten Films of 2019–and the year’s worst!
* An Arts Express Extra: Jack London’s Preface to The War of the Classes–a supplement to our recent radio performance of London’s powerful essay, “How I Became A Socialist.”
*Plus: The Guest List–our favorite recent guests; The Back Room–news and gossip about WBAI and the Arts Express crew;
*And information about exclusive giveaways and how to win an opportunity to broadcast your own work on the air.
It’s all in the new free Arts Express Newsletter.
To get your free pdf copy every month to your email address, just send an email to ArtsExpressList@gmail.com and put Subscribe in the subject line. We’ll do the rest!
Monday morning, as winter starts to creep up, “St. Thomas” with Sonny Rollins as the place to be is okay with me .
Tenor Sax : Sonny Rollins
Piano : Kenny Drew
Bass : Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen
Drums : Albert “Tootie” Heath
Thanks to YouTuber BluesBeBopper2000
Okay, so “The Tennessee Waltz” is a song I’ve hated all my life. When I would hear it on the radio or when somebody on a TV variety show would sing it, I would immediately turn it off. It seemed to me like an endless, very boring song. But…wow. This version by Reina del Cid and Toni Lindgren on guitar is just great. First time I really heard the lyrics, and Toni’s guitar playing is wonderful.
More at Reina del Cid
Their parties and their affairs. Their politics and their children and their schools. Their colleges and their internships.
Their museums and their theatres and their writers and their vacations and their marriages and their infidelities; their pets and their drunkenness and their doctors.
Their beaches and their summer homes and their nameplates and their cars and their morals and their bankers and their finances and their magazines and their dresses and their jewelry and their connections. Anything else is in agreement or opposition to them.
Their music and their institutions and their candidates and their newspapers and their stocks and their bonds and their penthouses and their department stores and their linens and their towels and their privilege, their vast vast privilege.
Their intellectuals and their painters and their dealers and their playwrights and their novelists and their poetry and their foundations and their PBS and their NPR and their film festivals and their Pulitzers, all of a piece, one big connected piece: their businesses, their Green New Deals, their social register, their churches, their synagogues, their causes, their donations, their fashion, their unmentionables, their stories, their bodies, their color, their hair, their tuxedos.
Their television shows, their late night hosts, their pundits, their news columnists. Their op-eds and their editorials and everywhere everywhere their offices, their architecture, their downtowns, their urban renewal, their zoning boards, their free-fire zones, their armies, their wars, their front pages. Their water, their vitamins, their foot massages, their masseuses, their exercise machines, their angst, their problems, their shrinks, their gurus, their meditations. Their guns and their guards and their ocean cruises and their executive class and their private helicopters and their gold plated bathrooms and their penthouses and their literary supplements and their trust funds and their restaurants and their chefs and their poodles and their desserts and their musicals, their sculpture, their police force, their mayor, their bribes, their musclemen, their crime and their punishment.
Their shock jocks and their PR people and their advance men and their drug dealers and their psychiatric hospitals and their doormen. Their elevator operators and their operas. Their Christmases and their bonuses. Their playgrounds and their baby carriages. Their smoothies and their lattes. Their Siri and their Echo. Their maids and their housekeepers, their butlers and their caterers, their golf courses and their tennis courts. Their charities, their bequests, their billionaires, their philanthropies, their checks and their balances. Their lawyers and their judges, their pastors and their rabbis, their endowed chair professors and their university presidents. Their fall guys and their stooges. Their saints and their sinners. Their cocktail hours and their cigarettes. Their appetizers and their entrees, their champagne and their caviar, their perks and their lighting. Their make-up and their make-up artists, their voices and their songs.
Their money money money all over the place in every conversation, in every action, in every thought, in every deed, from getting up in the morning to puking up at night, to the sheets and the covers and the beds. Their deaths and their inheritances.
Their lives, their world.
This month we celebrate the birthday of author Jack London, born January 12, 1876. London wrote the great nature novels Call of the Wild and White Fang, but he was also a committed socialist who wrote two volumes of essays about socialism called The War of the Classes and Revolution and other essays.
I performed a reading of London’s “How I Became A Socialist” for the Arts Express radio program. Click on the triangle above to hear it as broadcast today on WBAI 99.5 FM radio and Pacifica affiliates cross the country.
Twas the end of the year, and I noticed the clock,
The months had passed by, it was time to take stock
Of our magical friends and the pleasures they’d brought
A harkening back to some memories, I thought.
In my mind there’s a party of magical folk
Right here on my doorstep, but as I awoke
The doorbell was chiming, is this just a dream?
In front of my house, a whole magic team:
Chief Geniis are here, both Richard and Liz
The number one names of the magic news biz.
Hi Dustin, Hi Chloe, they seemed to prefer
No small talk, but writing up ten thousand words
The party began, with effortless ease,
The boundless good will of Juan Tamariz.
And here’s another great Spaniard, ah please!
Not Buddha, but better, Dani DaOrtiz
In walked juggler Penn, with his close partner Teller
Assuring us all, Ray’s back was much well-er
Harrison Greenbaum and Max Maven, too
Came with menorahs, ‘cause they both are Jews.
Next was a couple with talent and looks:
Dorothy Dietrich and partner Dick Brookz.
The next four, indeed, were also a thrill,
Regal and Mancha and Vincent and Spill.
The company’s magic just couldn’t be grander
Without the flotations of Mr. Losander
And candy and ice cream—you wouldn’t believe!
Came tumbling out of dear Rocco’s big sleeve.
Lucy Darling, (Carisa is really her name)
Hilarious magic, she plays a tough dame.
And who says a lawyer can’t be a charmer?
Her fellow Canadian, “Bammo” Bob Farmer.
The English chap Hollingsworth, in tails and in tie,
Did some cool sleight of hand, he’s a heck of a Guy.
Mark Lewis walked by, with some jokes and some jollies
Then immediately sold me a deck of Svengalis.
Pop Haydn, Todd Robbins, they put the log on,
And threw us some hype, ye masters of con.
Then cards flew about and changed at his whim:
The marvelous fingers of Master Shin Lim.
What’s this that we see upon the white drapes?
A bear and a dragon and other strange shapes.
The shadows appeared midst the bottles and cans
Sigh of relief—‘twas Raymond Crowe’s hands.
The bubbly’s flowing it’s time to converse
While Jerry Deutsch shows us some magic perverse.
And here comes Greg Chapman, fresh off of Four F;
Masks off to McBride, you know him as Jeff.
The blowout was awesome, the guests all a treat
To see all those folks on my little street!
Pit Hartling, Yann Frisch, and cool David Blaine,
The greatest legends of legerdemain.
And you were there, too, I remember it well,
Your name is too secret for us to re-tell
You showed us a trick in the house where I dwell
It was there that we all fell beneath your deep spell.
But all of a sudden, without a portent
The house was devoid of a lady or gent.
My head got too dizzy, was feeling all weird
For poof, gone and vanished; it all disappeared!
My eyes they were hurting, both bleary and groggy
I lurched around drunk, too high and egg-noggy.
I shook off the feeling, I got myself sober
But one thing was clear, it now all was over.
The people were gone, the food and the drink
The fantasy popped, but you know what I think?
Don’t look at me strangely, don’t think me insane
While the dream is a whisper, the magic remains.
And so as you enter the coming New Year
Be kind to your neighbors and wish them good cheer
For more than our cards, either red-backed or blue
The magic is in what we say and we do.
This story was brief, but I had a ball.
Happy holidays, my friends, and Peace to you all!
Welcome to Hell World: Dispatches From The American Dystopia, published by OR Books, is the name of a new collection of startling essays of current American life by Luke O’Neil. Rather than do a conventional review, I thought you might best get the flavor of the book and its distinctive voice by my reading of the book’s first essay entitled, “I Would Want To Drink Their Blood.”
Click on the triangle above to hear the reading as broadcast today on Arts Express on radio station WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.
I read the news today, oh boy.
Simon Aronson died this past week.
He was one of the most brilliant and clever creator of card magic effects of the past 50 years. His methods were… shall we say?…memorable. The house of magic is large, as Eugene Burger was fond of saying, and Simon’s creations fit a particular room. His magic was brainy, intellectual, and absolutely fooling. There are magicians who are great at fooling laypeople; there are magicians who are devious enough to fool other magicians; but the amazing thing about Simon’s card magic is that if you were doing it, it would fool even yourself. To this day, there are probably legions of magicians who perform his “Shuffle-Bored” or “Prior Commitment” who still have absolutely no idea why they work. What they know is that they do work, and they blow the minds of people who see them. If the performers themselves can’t figure them out, you can imagine, then, that the spectators have got zero chance. (If you like, we can discuss in the comments about your personal favorite effects of his.)
But make no mistake, Simon’s tricks impressed non-magicians as well. There’s a funny story that magician John Bannon tells in his introduction to one of Aronson’s books. He shows the secretary of Simon’s law firm a card trick, hoping to impress her, and she only smiles pleasantly. Then she says with wide open eyes, “But have you seen Simon’s card magic?”
Speaking of Aronson’s books, I doubt there has ever been a more meticulous, detailed magic writer than he was. His books—Bound To Please, The Aronson Approach, Simply Simon, Try The Impossible, and Art Decko—are masterpieces of explanation of intricate methods. While Simon was not above using sleights and gaffs in his magic (and he delighted in upsetting fellow magicians’ expectations of what his bag of methods might include) his claim to fame really rests on thinking very hard about a few tools which required mostly sleight of mind. As he would say, just as you have to plan things so that your sleight of hand doesn’t show, you also have to plan effects so that your sleight of mind doesn’t show either. In Simon’s books, he takes you through all his thinking point by point, thoroughly exploring variations and improvements, telling you what versions he threw out as weak or too revealing, giving you his scripting, and moreover, unlocking the reasons why his methods work. Simon’s training as a lawyer shows—his books are not just explanations, but thorough briefs with points and subpoints. In magic circles people like to debate, with near religious ferocity, whether it’s better to learn magic from books or DVDs. Of course both sides have valid views, but for the book-lovers, their strongest argument is two words: Simon Aronson.
No one would call Simon an extraordinary performer, but on occasion he would step away from the card table to do another kind of magic: his mentalism act that he created with his college sweetheart and wife of many years, Ginny. (There’s a great photo of college-aged Simon and Ginny on the Jerx website that speaks volumes about them. And Bill Mullins on the Genii Forum posted a wonderful remembrance from Simon about his father who was very active in the 60s Civil Rights movement). They did a classic two-person mindreading act, and fortunately it was captured on video as an extra on one of his videos. It’s something that neither he nor Ginny have ever revealed, and while clearly there must be some code going on, I have resigned myself to the fact that if Simon created it, I’m never going to be able to figure it out. You can see their act for yourself in the L&L video I posted above.
At the first run of mentalist Derren Brown’s Secret here in NYC, Derren pointed to a man in the audience to volunteer for the next effect. It was dark in the theater so I couldn’t see that well, but I thought the man looked familiar; when he said his name was Simon and the woman sitting next to him was Ginny…
I made sure to “accidentally” bump into him as the theater was emptying, and nervously introduced myself to him. He was so nice—he said he knew my name from this blog, and then proceeded to describe the photo I have on the title page of it! I got to talk with him a little longer as we walked together in the rainy weather, and found them a cab back to their hotel. Really couldn’t be nicer people. I treasured that comment from him, as one of the very first essays I wrote on this blog was inspired by an essay of his.
Simon Aronson was a full-out, full-deck memorable mensch, and I’m sorry to hear about his passing. From the Jack of Spades to the Nine of Diamonds, he will not be forgotten.