Saturday Night Tunes: Free Jazz, a Collective Improvisation

With Ornette Coleman’s passing on Thursday at the age of 85, it seemed appropriate to revisit his work this week. I won’t add any more to what I’ve already written about free jazz or Coleman’s impact on it, particularly since this is kind of somber occasion and we should get to the music, but a few words about this album, recorded in 1960 and one of Coleman’s real masterpieces, must be said. This is an album that benefits not just from the fantastic performances by the musicians on it, but also from the way in which those musicians were selected and then recorded; the full group is technically an octet, but Coleman divided them into two quartets, one with Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Charlie Haden (bass), and Ed Blackwell (drums), and the other with Coleman, Don Cherry (pocket trumpet), Scott LaFaro (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums). Then he had each quartet recorded into a different channel, so you’ll hear, for example, Coleman coming out of one stereo speaker and Dolphy coming out of the other. The effect is most striking when both quartets are playing together, and you get dueling basses and drummers. The entire ~37 minute album plays as one long suite, featuring extended periods of collective improvisation that are simply astonishing.

Free Jazz is rightly acknowledged as a musical triumph and a must hear if you have any appreciation for the movement to which it gave its name (yes, the album gave its name to the movement, not the other way around). Please enjoy:

You get a cookie, part 11 of ???: Dov Charney, former CEO of American Apparel

Between spending most of last week feeling like I was dying of the Spanish Flu, playing host to our neighbor’s dog all weekend (which I of course treated like we were a five-star dog resort in danger of getting a bad review on dog Yelp instead of just letting the dog do its own thing), and trying to somehow figure out how to get some steady work in this town, I’m afraid I’m mostly tapped out in the brain region right now. So I’m outsourcing most of this to Wonkette’s sister site, Happy Nice Time People:

American Apparel canned founder Dov Charney just because he loved to shove his wang in his employees’ faces, like that is even wrong. Now Dov Charney gonna sue for the damage to his spotless reputation. Oh, and also: they only offered him a million a year to stay on “in a creative capacity.” OUTRAGE.

You know, at this point, for a million dollars (and just the one time, not annually) I’m pretty sure I’d let Dov Charney shove his wang in my face (OK, that’s a joke borne out of my ever-mounting frustration and terror over not being able to land a regular-type job or at least expand my freelance writing gig, and in no way intended to diminish the experience of people who have actually had unwanted wangs shoved in their faces, which is a terrible thing and something that Dov apparently likes to do on the regular), so if I wasn’t already inclined to dislike this Charney guy, this would have done the trick.

“By presenting Mr. Charney with this absurd and unreasonable demand [to take the $1 million/year low-profile gig or get fired], the Company acted in a manner that was not merely unconscionable but illegal,” [lawyer Patricia] Glaser claims in her letter to the board.

Yes, offering somebody $1 million/year to do nothing is totally unconscionable and should probably be punishable by disemboweling or something. Hey, you know what else is unconscionable and, presumably, illegal? Repeatedly sexually harassing your employees, am I right? And yet, here we are anyway. Also, the thing where you kept masturbating in front of the reporter who was writing about you doesn’t appear to have been illegal, but was probably unconscionable. So maybe American Apparel isn’t really the one being absurd here, you know?

“Hey, like, where’s the rule that says you can’t wave your junk around at everybody whenever? Oh, really, an actual law? Huh, how about that?”

Mr. Charney, I’m sorry you were unconscionably punished with the offer of a million dollar a year job just because you like to wave both your actual and figurative dicks around in everybody’s face whether they ask you to or not. Since you gave up one fortune because Insulting, I got you a fortune cookie to make up for it. Let’s see what the fortune says:

Wow, it’s like the cookie knew just what you needed to hear. Hope this helps!

EDITED TO ADD: Frankly, Chelsea Clinton can also have a cookie here, not for the sexual harassment stuff but for the “very rich people turning their noses up at money” thing.

You get a cookie, part 10 of ???: Bill Simmons, editor-in-chief of Grantland

Normally when I do one of these I try to stuff it full of my own lame attempt at humor, even when I’m talking about something serious, but no jokes here. A person committed suicide in part because of a Grantland investigative report into a freaking golf putter, and that’s not funny. For those who don’t know the background, this Autostraddle summary is a good start. A writer at Grantland, Caleb Hannan, decided to write a piece about the inventor of a new putter, the Oracle (made by a company called Yar Golf), after seeing a YouTube video in which a pro golfer praised the putter and its innovative design. What really made the story interesting is that said inventor, Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt (“Dr. V”) had no golf background whatsoever; she claimed that her background was in aerospace physics, with a degree from MIT and years of experience working on top secret defense projects.

Although Hannan had stipulated that his story would focus on the putter rather than on Dr. V (it’s clear that she wouldn’t have agreed to cooperate with him if he hadn’t), several months of investigation into Dr. V’s background led him to conclude that almost everything about her story was at best unverifiable and at worst fraudulent (though it should be said that, for someone who was supposedly lying about her background to fleece investors, Dr. V seems to have done a remarkable job of creating a putter that really does seem to work); she had no degree from MIT that he could find, and there was no evidence that she’d ever worked for the DOD. Instead, she was a former auto mechanic who had changed her name because she was transgender (so she wasn’t a Vanderbilt either).

Continue reading

You get a cookie! Part 9 of ???: Lafourche Parish, Louisiana Council Chair Lindel Toups

Lafourche Parish Council Chair Lionel Toups (FULL DISCLOSURE: I tinkered with this image. There was a stain on Toups' dunce hat that I airbrushed out.)

Lafourche Parish Council Chair Lionel Toups (FULL DISCLOSURE: I tinkered with this image. There was a stain on Toups’ dunce hat that I airbrushed out.)

Oh, Louisiana, will you never stop amusing the rest of the nation with your ridiculous politics? When you’re not electing KKK Grand Wizard David Duke to your State House or electing a United States Senator who pays hookers to put him in diapers, you’re electing parish council members who push to defund public libraries (via) because, “[t]hey’re teaching Mexicans how to speak English.”

Library funding in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, may be diverted to a new jail thanks to a legislator who doesn’t approve of the library’s programs. Jail proponent and chair of the Lafourche Parish Council Lindel Toups supports a ballot measure that would take funding away from libraries.

“They’re teaching Mexicans how to speak English,” Toups told the local Tri-Parish Times, referencing Biblioteca Hispana, a Spanish-language section of one of the nine branch libraries. “Let that son of a bitch go back to Mexico. There’s just so many things they’re doing that I don’t agree with. … Them junkies and hippies and food stamps [recipients] and all, they use the library to look at drugs and food stamps [on the Internet]. I see them do it.”

This doesn’t even make any sense, does it? I mean, if a junky goes to the library to “look at drugs” on the internet, by which I guess he means pictures of drugs, wouldn’t a food stamp recipient want to look at pictures of food on the internet rather than pictures of food stamps (he doesn’t say what the hippies are there to look at, maybe pictures of peace signs or some other Commie bullshit)? Unless Councilman Toups thinks that food stamp recipients actually eat the stamps themselves? Besides, I don’t quite know how to say this gently, Councilman, but they’re using the library to look at porn. All of them.

Surely we can all agree that the threat of uncontrolled hordes of English-speaking Mexicans roaming the countryside is worth shutting down our libraries, if not just burning all our books outright. I mean, if Mexicans learn how to speak English, what’s to stop them from taking low-skill jobs away from our slower-witted fellow Americans, like, hypothetically-speaking, the job of Lafourche Parish Council Chair? Anyway, Councilman Toups has a great alternative use for that library money; in order to keep teach the junkies who use the public library to look at drugs a lesson, he’s pushing for that money to be diverted into…the county jail system. Where Toups’ son and grandson were once housed, for drug possession. At least they weren’t looking at drugs on the library computer.

And it’s not like the Lafourche Parish libraries, which are rolling in it as you might imagine, actually do anything for the community that would justify this lucre:

Lafourche Parish is in the southern part of Louisiana, to the west of New Orleans. About 43% of its households do not have Internet access at home, while the library provides free Internet access with 186 computers. More than half of the Parish’s residents, 53%, hold library cards, and in 2013, the library system has served more than 280,000 visitors.

Councilman Toups, for fighting the brave fight against general literacy and internet access, I want you to have this plate of cookies. If you could get the libraries to shred the books they have now and replace them with these “books,” pretty soon the collection would be eaten and you could shut those damn places up for good. Then where will the junkies and hippies and poors go to look at pictures of things on the computer, hmmmm?

book cookies

Oh, and Councilman? Fuck you for equating food stamp recipients with drug addicts.

you get a cookie! part 8 of ???: prince al-waleed bin talal

Being tied for 26th place on Forbes‘ “World Billionaires List” seems like not such a bad thing to me. Maybe it’s the “not knowing where my next paycheck is coming from” talking, but seems to me you could live pretty comfortably even being the guy who doesn’t quite make the cut into the top 100 world billionaires, meaning you’ve got to make do with something less than $10.6 billion. It would be hard, I mean a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to, but still I think it would probably be OK? But tied for 26th place puts you at a nice, tidy $20 billion net worth, which, yeah, that would just about do.

"My thick, rich chest hair is worth another $10 billion all by itself."

“My thick, rich chest hair is worth another $10 billion all by itself.”

But this is why I am me and not Saudi professional rich person Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, News Corp’s largest shareholder not named “Murdoch” and apparently kind of a dick. See, the prince is very angry at Forbes for grossly underestimating his holdings, to the tune of an additional $9.6 billion, which would put him all alone at 10th place on the billionaire’s list, which I confess I’m having trouble believing is a Thing That Exists, let alone the fact that being in last place on said list still means you’re sitting on $10.6 billion. Anyway, Prince al-Waleed is suing Forbes for defamation, or libel, or something, because somehow they’ve materially harmed his ability to, I don’t know, brag about his wealth at the Billionaires’ Club, or impress the ladies, or something. It’s not important, because he’s suing Forbes in the UK, where they famously don’t care if what’s been printed is “actually the truth” or has “caused the plaintiff any real harm to anything other than his apparently china doll-fragile ego,” so there’s a strong likelihood that he’ll win or at least make Forbes move him up the money list in a settlement. This would raise all sorts of interesting questions about the Forbes Billionaires List, like will they just take your word for it? Because I am absolutely worth well over $100 billion and I’ll sue anybody who says otherwise, and also those other billionaires on that list should probably just give me all their money because I already have so much of it that I obviously deserve more. AMEND YOUR FALSE AND DEFAMATORY LIST, FORBES! My preschool-aged child team of high-powered attorneys is awaiting your next move.

But I digress. We’re here to help the helpless and befriend the friendless, and Prince al-Waleed, I just want you to know that I understand. Here, have these lovely cookies. Take enough of them and maybe Forbes will have to rethink that list after all.

dollar cookies

you get a cookie! part 7 of ???: michael o’hanlon

Full confession: this was going to be about Howie Kurtz and his courageous effort not to let being completely wrong about a story detract from the truthiness of the story itself, but then the Daily Beast, in a rare and tantalizing hint that somebody there has a clue, up and canned his ass. Not much room to go anywhere with that escapade after that.

Behold the impressive plumage of the famed North American Chickenhawk, seen here in his natural habitat: coming up with bullshit reasons to send other people off to die in combat.

Behold the impressive plumage of the famed North American Chickenhawk, seen here in his natural habitat: coming up with bullshit reasons to send other people off to die in combat.

Michael O’Hanlon, I learned just now, has a very carefully manicured Wikipedia entry. Regarding his thoughts on the coming Iraq War, his Wikipedia page contends that he “wrote in the Washington Post in late 2001 that any invasion of Iraq would be difficult and demanding and require large numbers of troops,” and “also predicted in early 2003 in an article in the journal Orbis that an invasion of Iraq could lead to as many as several thousand American fatalities, a prediction also unfortunately confirmed by later developments.” The citation for the first claim takes you to an article O’Hanlon co-wrote for the Washington Post in 2001, wherein he does, indeed, caution that the war could be sort of costly, though he definitely didn’t want to “exaggerate” those costs. It also includes this gem of a paragraph, warning of the Serious Risk:

Once we announced our goal as regime change, moreover, Saddam would have little reason not to use chemical or biological agents against invading U.S. forces. We would still win, but casualties would increase as a result. With his back against the wall, Saddam might also use his missiles and weapons of mass destruction against civilian targets in places such as Israel, Kuwait, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. As we deployed forces into the region, he could also try to sneak Iraqi agents armed with biological materials onto American or European territory. Even if some were caught, he could still credibly threaten reprisal in the event we actually began the invasion.

Turns out Saddam had one tiny reason not to use chemical or biological agents: HE DIDN’T HAVE ANY. But otherwise this is a very smrt take. The Orbis piece, where O’Hanlon is supposed to have warned that thousands of troops would die, is a long piece about how casualty estimates of the Gulf War were too high so we’ll use the casualties incurred in Panama (!) as a smrter approximation, from which he figures between 600-2000 American KIA, depending on how much of the Iraqi army genuinely resisted. Yeah, not so much. The key thing about both pieces is that in neither is O’Hanlon in any way critical of the planned war itself; he’s just the Sober Realist who recognizes that plenty of People Who Are Not Michael O’Hanlon will probably die in this war, but, you know, oops. Moreover, in both articles he makes his casualty projections by assuming a days-long conflict, with no consideration for the possibility that things could stretch on much, much longer, say for years, as they actually did. Overall excellent and prescient analysis.

In reality, O’Hanlon was a significant voice on the “(supposed-)Liberal Hawk” side that was heavily in favor of the Iraq War. He then spent the next four years simultaneously writing piece after piece about how wonderfully the whole Iraq project was going while also claiming to be a “harsh critic” of the Bush Administration (like all seasoned chickenhawks, he ran with the “Bush screwed it all up” defense rather than admit that the whole thing had been a horrible idea from the start). Amazingly, O’Hanlon was still flogging the “Iraq is turning a corner!” dead horse in 2007, a solid four years after his war had begun and long after anyone could reasonably have continued trying to claim that it had been a good idea. Then in 2008, he tried to rewrite (seriously, read that ThinkProgress piece, it’s shocking) his pre- and early-war prognostications so that he could, with a straight face, award himself a “7 out of 10” for accuracy despite being gob-smackingly wrong about pretty much everything.

Why does this matter? Because, and this comes as a great surprise to nobody, Michael O’Hanlon is a big proponent of the idea of sending US troops to Syria to end the Syrian Civil War.

Continue reading

you get a cookie! part 6 of ???: tim brando

Earlier today, NBA center Jason Collins became the first male athlete in any of the four major North American sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL, which is somehow included in this list despite the fact that, and I say this as a huge hockey fan, you know). Most of the reaction was positive and encouraging, minus the usual grunting and carnival barking, but none of the negative reactions could compare to the saga of Tim Brando, who I’m sure we all know as “who?” Tim is an analyst or broadcaster or janitor for the CBS Sports Network, which is a channel better known to us sports aficionados as “CBS has a what now?” I can only assume that Tim, pictured below either broadcasting a game or having seized a microphone after biting the actual broadcaster’s nose off, is only using this CBS gig to bring in some steady cash flow while he pursues his real career as a person who explains to other people what words ought to mean.

This is clearly a man who knows words, and their meanings.

This is clearly a man who knows Words, and their Meanings.

Tim needed to say this about that:

Tim is well-positioned to explain to us all what the word “hero” should, nay, must, mean to each of us, because he uses the word only in the most appropriate of ways, like to refer to other broadcasters, or “Hootie”* from “Hootie and the Blowfish,” or a golfer one time. Heroes all, and you can take that to the bank.

But explain at us some more, largely unknown TV sport guy!

No, that’s not history, that’s everything I ever ate in my entire life, which I just threw up on the floor on account of you making me think about a Tim Brando SEX tape. Tim was willing to concede that what Collins did took bravery, but THAT DOES NOT MAKE HIM A HERO BECAUSE WORDS AND SHUT UP.

YEAH! IT DOESN’T TRANSLATE TO HEROISM AND IT IS A–wait, what the hell? “It’s a choice?” Tim, you’re not saying that–

Oh, OK, the TIMING is a choice! Well, heh, that is true, I mean…wait, I’m sorry, there was earlier stuff you twitted at people?

Hm, no, sorry. Tim was definitely talking about teh ghey when he twitted “it’s a choice.” Twitter kind of blew up at him over that, so Tim, who, despite being the sole human repository of what heroism is, is a coward as well as a liar, tried to back his way out of there. Unfortunately, Tim, twitting is forever, dude.

So here, have a cookie and hope nobody at your little network thingy reads Twitter or cares about their employees twitting really stupid stuff on it. I offer you your choice; you may consume whichever cookie does it for you:
penis cookies



Your call.

UPDATE: I don’t know how I left out this sad little whine:

This is clearly a man who knows who The Real Heroes are. AND, he’s got admirers!