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Archive for January, 2012

FATHER JOHN MISTY: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:Once upon a time, many months and Lana Del Rey posts ago, we asked Aubrey Plaza what was on her iPod. The Parks and Recreation actress tipped us off to the then-unreleased “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” from J. Tillman, formerly of the Fleet Foxes, and mentioned that she’d be starring in its video. Under the moniker Father John Misty, Tillman has released the song (now titled ”Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”) as the lead single off his forthcoming debut Fear Fun (out May 1), as well as a video to match. Named for one L.A.’s oldest burial grounds, the droney psych-rock dirge is a bit of a departure from Fleet Foxes’ fey forest-folk, but one that will likely please old fans nonetheless. MORE

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BLOOD SPORT: The Crucifixion Of Lana Del Rey

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

NMA TV: Lana Del Rey’s new album Born to Die has been panned by Billboard, Spin, Pitchfork and Stereogum. Video Games, voted best song of 2011 by the Guardian, was the first we heard of Lana Del Rey, but subsequent performances, including an appearance on Saturday Night Life, have been terrible. Her performance on SNL was so bad Brian Williams wrote an email to Gawker calling her a “Brooklyn hippster [sic]” and her performance “one of the worst outings in SNL history.” Juliette Lewis also tweeted negatively about her performance. Del Rey fans say her songs are good and she simply needs more time to come into her own. Critics say she is a manufactured phenomenon with no talent. Either way, is this amount of publicity healthy for such an inexperienced artist? MORE

MTV: But the emerging pop star, whose debut album for Interscope, Born to Die, hit stores Tuesday (January 31), thinks she did a perfectly fine job on the legendary sketch show, telling Rolling Stone,“I actually felt good about it. I thought I looked beautiful and sang fine … I know some people didn’t like it, but that’s just the way I perform, and my fans know that.” Del Rey did admit to being nervous, though in a more general sense, saying live performance has never been her strong suit because she is “not a natural performer or exhibitionist” and that when she was younger she “hated the focus; it made me feel strange.” As the backlash intensified, Daniel Radcliffe, who hosted the January 14 show, came to Del Rey’s defense, telling reporters at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominations, “It was unfortunate that people seemed to turn on her so quickly. I also think people are making it about things other than the performance … if you read what people are saying about her online, it’s all about her past and her family and stuff that’s nobody else’s business. I don’t think [the performance] warranted anywhere near that reaction.” Del Rey echoed those same sentiments during her brief sit-down with Rolling Stone, chalking the of the criticism up to people’s general disdain for her public persona. “There’s backlash about everything I do. It’s nothing new,” she told the music mag. “When I walk outside, people have something to say about it. It wouldn’t have mattered if I was absolutely excellent. People don’t have anything nice to say about this project.” MORE

SLATE: A few years ago, the singer and songwriter Lizzy Grant reinvented herself online. This seems overwhelmingly unremarkable behavior in the 21st century, particularly for a would-be pop musician, but it proved scandalous. Grant, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter from upstate New York, recorded an EP and an album in the late 2000s. Some time before the summer of 2011, according to a recent Billboard story, she deleted her social-networking profiles and a site bearing her name, and withdrew her album, Lizzy Grant aka Lana Del Rey, from iTunes. Last August, she uploaded a music video to YouTube under the stage name Lana Del Rey—goodbye Grant. The clip was for “Video Games,” a beguilingly morose love song. Helped along by music blogs and BBC Radio 1, which supported the track early, the video became a hit: Today, it’s been viewed more than 22 million times.There seems to have been nothing more duplicitous in Del Rey’s jettisoning of Grant than there was in Dylan’s jettisoning of Zimmerman, but when the fact of her previous incarnation came to light, the response from online detractors was irate and impassioned: This was no diamond in the digital rough, pure and uncompromised. Grant’s debut album had, it emerged, been produced by David Kahne, an industry big with Paul McCartney and Sugar Ray on his résumé. She had, in fact, signed with the powerhouse major label Interscope a month before she’d uploaded the “Video Games” clip. A particular point of scrutiny were her lips, which appear significantly plumper today than they do in photographs from the Grant days, suggesting a surgical procedure—further fakery. In posts and comment sections on many of the same blogs that had helped Del Rey take off in the first place, listeners lashed out as though they’d been betrayed, expunging the abject corporate product they’d accepted so trustingly into their hearts. In this blood sport, the blog Hipster Runoff played the (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) head cheerleader: “She was basically a failed mainstream artist who is being ‘rebranded’ behind major label dollars,” one post sniped. MORE

RELATED: Metracritic

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NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 AIR: Once the drummer for the grunge band Nirvana, Dave Grohl formed Foo Fighters after the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in 1994.  Foo Fighters’ sixth album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, includes a song Grohl wrote for two miners who, trapped in an Australia mine collapse, asked rescuers to send down an iPod loaded with Foo Fighters songs. Grohl sent them a note, then met with one of the miners after they were rescued. Grohl is a percussionist, guitarist and songwriter — and an actor, having appeared both on Tenacious D’s debut album and in the 2006 movie Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny. MORE


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Is Special K The Miracle Cure For Depression?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

TALK OF THE NATION: Almost as soon as it was introduced in 1987, the antidepressant Prozac, which selectively targets the chemical serotonin, became a blockbuster. “Prozac just blew everything else out of the water,” Frazer says. This had less to do with the efficacy of Prozac (it is not better at treating depression than tricyclics, the earlier generation of antidepressants) than with the fact that the drug had relatively few side effects. “It was very free of side effects,” says Pedro Delgado. “And so it began to be used very widely, and there was a lot of enthusiasm for it.” That understates the case. In a very short time, Prozac became wildly popular, and again, Prozac worked on just one chemical in the brain: serotonin. And really, it is because of the popularity of Prozac that the low-serotonin story took hold, even though, Frazer argues, the scientific research has not borne that out. “I don’t think there’s any convincing body of data that anybody has ever found that depression is associated to a significant extent with a loss of serotonin,” he says. Delgado also makes this argument. In the 1990s, he carried out a study that showed that if you take a normal person and deplete them of serotonin, they will not become depressed. He says he feels this demonstrates that low serotonin doesn’t cause depression. Coyle is less absolute in his dismissal of the evidence on serotonin. His take is that while low serotonin probably doesn’t cause depression, some abnormality in the serotonin system clearly plays a role. But most researchers have moved on, he says, and are looking at more fundamental issues like identifying the genes that might put people at risk for developing depression. “What’s being looked at are processes that are much more fundamental than just serotonin levels,” he says. “We need to move beyond serotonin, and I think the field is.” MORE

TALK OF THE NATION: Traditional antidepressants like Prozac work on a group of chemical messengers in the brain called the serotonin system. Researchers once thought that a lack of serotonin was the cause of depression, and that these drugs worked simply by boosting serotonin levels. Recent research suggests a more complicated explanation. Serotonin drugs work by stimulating the birth of new neurons, which eventually form new connections in the brain. But creating new neurons takes time — a few weeks, at least — which is thought to explain the delay in responding to antidepressant medications. Ketamine, in contrast, activates a different chemical system in the brain – the system. Researcher Ron Duman at Yale thinks ketamine rapidly increases the communication among existing neurons by creating new connections. This is a quicker process than waiting for new neurons to form and accomplishes the same goal of enhancing brain circuit activity. MORE

GAWKER: K is a form of Ketamine, which is usually manufactured for street use from horse or cat tranquilizers. It usually comes in a chunky powder that is a very pale yellow. You snort it. There is a really gross aftertaste. As Wikipedia will tell you, “Like other drugs of this class such as tiletamine and phencyclidine (PCP), it induces a state referred to as ‘dissociative anesthesia’ and is used as a recreational drug.”  MORE

TALK OF THE NATION: A growing number of scientists think it won’t be long before psychiatric care is transformed. And they are particularly excited about an experimental drug that is being tried in the NeuroPsychiatric Center next to Ben Taub hospital. It’s here that drug researchers are studying a drug that’s unlike anything now used to treat depression. And they’re giving it to patients who haven’t done well on existing drugs. One of these patients is Heather Merrill, who speaks to me in a small conference room that is part of the large and very busy outpatient clinic. Merill is 41, with three kids and a nice house in the suburbs. “I’ve suffered from depression for most of my adult life,” she says. “It got to the point where I kind of felt like there wasn’t going to be anything that was going to be able to help me.” At times her depression gets so bad that she can’t take care of her family or even herself, she says. And that’s how she was feeling the day before, she says, when doctors placed an IV in her arm and began to administer a drug. Because it was part of an experiment, there were two possibilities. The drug could have been just a sedative. Or it might have been something called ketamine. Ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic. It also has become a wildly popular but illegal club drug known as “Special K.” Mental health researchers got interested in ketamine because of reports that it could make depression vanish almost instantly. In contrast, drugs like Prozac take weeks or even months. And the frustrating thing is that depression medications really haven’t changed much since Prozac arrived in the 1970s, says Sanjay Mathew from Baylor College of Medicine, who is in charge of the ketamine study at Ben Taub. MORE

GAWKER: I remember one night at a gay discotheque in Washington D.C. when I was still in college being slumped up against the DJ booth while he played a Madonna track. It seemed like the song was going on for hours, being played on repeat over and over and over again. In the span of three minutes, I thought I lived an entire evening. I thought I was dancing, and I thought Madonna was there. I thought I was dancing with Madonna. I was sure I was, flailing my limbs about as the Material Girl kept time with me, coaxing me to enjoy the party, matching me beat for beat as the lights did slow pirouettes around us. And she laughed at my jokes and told me she liked my outfit. Madge and I were friends! Everything was amazing and spectacular, but on the outside I was a drooling mess, unable to move, and embarrassing myself. When my friends finally carted me away, I started to hit them, shouting in as loud of a voice as I could muster. “Stop it. I don’t want to leave. I’m dancing with Madonna. Madonna! Madonna!” This is why K is so incredibly stupid. MORE



PSYCHIATRY ONLINE: Subjects who were maintained at therapeutic levels of lithium or valproate received an intravenous infusion of either ketamine hydrochloride (0.5 mg/kg) or placebo on two test days two weeks apart. The ketamine dose was based on the researchers’ previous study of subjects with treatment-resistant major depression, as well as several other studies. The Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) was used to rate subjects at baseline and at 40, 80, 110, and 230 minutes and on days 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, and 14 post-infusion. Within 40 minutes after receiving a placebo, subjects’ depressive symptoms lessened a little. But within 40 minutes after receiving ketamine, their depressive symptoms lessened significantly more. This improvement remained significant through day 3. The drug-difference effect size was largest on day 2. Seventy-one percent of subjects responded to ketamine, and 6 percent responded to placebo at some point during the trial. Ketamine was generally well tolerated; the most common adverse effect was the appearance of dissociative symptoms, though only at the 40-minute point on the first day. Dissociation is a common side effect of ketamine. “These findings are particularly noteworthy because a substantial proportion of study participants had been prescribed complex polypharmacy regimens in the past, with substantial treatment failures,” the researchers said in their report. “The mean number of past antidepressant trials was seven, and more than 55 percent of participants had failed to respond to electroconvulsive therapy. The toll of this protracted and refractory illness on the subjects was evident in that two-thirds of participants were on psychiatric disability, and nearly all were unemployed.” Zarate said, however, that at this point their findings do not have clinical implications. “The optimal dose of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression has not yet been established,” he said. “It is possible that lower doses of ketamine than what we used in our study would avoid the side effects.” He added that the results, “while encouraging, warrant further research in larger controlled studies to determine ketamine’s efficacy and safety profile in this population.” MORE

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SIDEWALKING: Caveman Blues

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

From Gomez + Gonzalez, Presented By Philagrafika, Galleries At Moore, Moore College Of Art & Design, Friday 7:01 PM by JONATHAN VALANIA

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ARTSY: The Afterlife Of Vivian Maier

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 MIKE WALSH In 1951, at age 25, a young woman named Vivian Maier moved from France to New York City, where she worked for some time in a sweat shop. Maier also had a camera, and she spent much of her free time walking around NYC working class neighborhoods taking photos of people, places, and buildings.

She used a Rolleiflex camera, the type you look down into a two-inch lens to aim and focus. It used 120 mm film, a large format that, in the hands of someone like Maier, can capture incredible richness, detail, and depth of field.

In 1956, Vivian moved to Chicago where she worked for the next four decades as a nanny for numerous upper middle-class families. She continued with her photography in Chicago, taking photos obsessively. Lots of them. Tens of thousands.

Photos of wealthy women dressed in hats and furs on their way to social functions; dirty-faced children; roostering adolescents with flamboyant haircuts; a heavyset woman arguing with a cop; homes destroyed by a tornado; a salesman asleep in a car; the working class in action, and bums passed out on a sidewalk or the beach. Unusual buildings, street life, light, shadow, and clothing always drew her attention. seemed to identify most with immigrants and the dispossessed.

In most cases, the subjects were not aware they were being photographed. Some seemed surprised and scowled at her. Others posed for her. Some glare, some smile. She hardly ever took more than one photo of anything.

Maier had no formal training in photography and no network of peers. She worked by herself. And somehow she became a great artist, but she never told anyone about her photography. She simply didn’t not stop pursuing her obsession long enough to share the results.

She didn’t date. She didn’t marry. She didn’t seem to have friends. She wasn’t interested in that. She showed little interest in human contact but, instead, channeled it into her photography, which is in fact drenched in humanity.

Each time she moved to a different job and a different family, she had more boxes of negatives and prints. Some were filled with home movies and audio recordings she had made. At one employer’s house, she stored 200 boxes of materials. At some point she inherited money from relatives in France and took a trip around the world by herself, taking photos along the way.

She took many wonderfully inventive self-portraits as well, mostly reflections of her and her camera in mirrors, plate glass windows, ceiling-mounted store mirrors, and chrome hubcaps. What we see is a tall, thin, homely woman, usually in drab clothing, the type you’d expect to see on a nanny with little income. Maier has chin-length hair parted on one side, a weak chin, and a nose that angles up. Some self-portraits show only her shadow. she aged, Vivian’s financial situation got progressively worse, but she kept taking photos. She could afford to buy film but not to develop it, so she packed hundreds of rolls of undeveloped film in yet more boxes.

By 2000, Vivian was out of work and destitute. She was living on Social Security. Her negatives and other belongings were in storage, but she couldn’t pay the storage bill. By then the children she had cared for in the1950s were adults. When they found out about Vivian’s situation, they got her an apartment and paid her bills.


In 2007, a 26-year-old Chicago real estate agent named John Maloof was working on a history of his neighborhood. He heard about some old photos from an abandoned storage locker that were being auctioned. He thought the photos might be useful for his book, so he went to the auction and purchased one of the lots for $400. This purchase changed his life.

What he had purchased were some of Vivian Maier’s photographs. He soon realized that the photos would not help him with his book, but he was suddenly a lot less interested in that subject. In fact, Maloof was so inspired, he abandoned the book and took up photography.

Maloof also scanned a handful of Maier’s photos, uploaded them to Flickr, and asked people what they thought of them. Flickr users were amazed by their power and beauty and deluged Maloof with comments, questions, and suggestions. Maloof soon started a blog to publicize Maier’s work.

Maloof then tracked down those who had purchased other lots from the auction of Maier’s belongings, and he was able to buy back most (but all) of them. His collection of Maier’s work had grown to over 100,000 negatives, 2000 rolls of film, and 3000 prints, as well as home movies, audio tape interviews, and her original cameras. Maloof’s holdings represent approximately 90 percent of Maier’s work.

But Maloof still knew very little about Maier. Who was this woman? Where did she come from? Why hadn’t anyone heard of her remarkable work?

Then in 2009, he saw a small obituary in a Chicago newspaper. It was for Vivian Maier. She had died in a nursing home at age 83. By the time Maloof understood the value of what he had collected, he had lost the chance to speak with her.

Among the materials he had bought at auction, Maloof found a few names and addresses, and he was able to locate these people. They were children from the families for whom Maier had worked. One contact at a time, Maloof tracked down all of the families Maier had worked for, which included the family of TV host Phil Donohue.

They told him what they knew of Maier. Most described her as a quiet, private, but very opinionated person who did not discuss her photography with them. They said she was a socialist, a feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, and frequently wore men’s clothing and a large hat. She was also decidedly unmaterialistic. Through more digging, Maloof was able to piece together a few details of her early life as well. He was not able to find anyone who was familiar with her photography.

In the two years that followed her death, interest in Vivian Maier’s work exploded, and she is now a genuine sensation in the photography world. Maloof has worked to organize, protect, and publicize his collection of her work. He and his assistants are scanning her negatives, but it is a massive task, and many of Maier’s photographs still have not been seen by anyone. has put together several exhibits of Maier’s photography that have shown in New York, Los Angeles, London, Norway, Amsterdam, Germany, Denmark, and elsewhere. Articles about her work have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time, The Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, and other many other publications. Prints of her photos sell for thousands, and a documentary film about Maier’s life is currently being prepared for release in 2012.

But in 2010, Chicago carpenter and artist Jeffrey Goldstein acquired another collection of Maier’s work from one of the original auction buyers—the one who refused to sell to Maloof. Goldstein’s Vivian Maier collection includes 15,000 negatives, 1,000 prints, 30 homemade movies, and numerous slides.

A book of Maier’s photography, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer (Powerhouse Books, 2011), also came out recently. It contains two short essays, one by Maloof, but most importantly, over 100 pages of Maier’s beautiful black and white photos. Each one is rich in details and tells a story of American urban life in the mid 20th century.

And the attention devoted to Maier is not likely to end soon, especially since so little of her work has been made available to the public. Expect it to continue surfacing from Maloof, Goldstein, and other sources for years to come. Vivian Maier died in poverty and obscurity. She didn’t get a chance to enjoy the fame and wealth her incredible photography has recently garnered, but she probably would have preferred it that way.


Forty Photos by Vivian Maier from the Goldstein collection are on display at the Steven Kasher Gallery, 521 West 23rd Street, New York, until Feb. 25.

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THE BLACK KEYS: Howlin’ For You

Monday, January 30th, 2012

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SIDEWALKING: Horse Latitudes

Monday, January 30th, 2012

48th & Lancaster, 5 PM Sunday by JEFF FUSCO

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: The Dark Art Of Convincing White Middle Class America To Vote Against Itself

Monday, January 30th, 2012

[Click to enlarge]

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Rarely has a political party so craftily cozened a majority of its naive yet trusting adherents as has the current Republican edition with its sham economic policies. Take for example convincing their blue- (and even many white-) collar disciples that a further lessening of the already absurdly low tax burden on the wealthy — many of whom for nearly a decade have paid an unconscionably lower percentage of their income in taxes than middle-class wage earners — will assuredly result in a mutually beneficial “trickling down” of vast improvement to their already-shattered-by-the-VERY-SAME-POLICIES lives. No doubt, but watch out for falling swine excrement just in case.

But perpetuating tax inequity is only part of this grand scam. A second portion centers around the Right Wing’s and their Wall Street puppet masters’ insistence that further weakening or outright non-enforcement of already lax financial regulatory processes is the answer to economic revitalization and unprecedented prosperity for all. Yeah, and I’ve got an “underwater” condo in Florida I’d like to sell you. Jesus, should owe YOGI an apology for that one! Presumably skeptics are to be offered scholarships to study the finer points of Ponzi scheming.

The third aspect of the hoax involves the Republican party’s contention that big government is the root of all evil and that getting it out of our lives will lead to a heretofore unimaginable rebirth of entrepreneurship which in turn will deliver us unabated to a promised land of milk, honey, and a third car in every garage (and in keeping with inherent Republican honesty, an attribution to the politically heroic action of their most preeminent critic is no doubt to be found at the bottom of the page). Know what? I’m betting there are at least a few retirement-robbed victims nee true believers of theirs who experienced the Great Depression and know firsthand what it’s like when Big Business, NOT Big Government, is allowed to run amok who now strongly disagree.


DEJA VU: Inquirer/Daily News Up For Sale AGAIN?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

INQUIRER: A minority shareholder of the parent company of The Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News is looking to sell its 30 percent stake, according to a story in the New York Post Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund that holds interests in several newspapers, was one of 32 investors that acquired the two daily newspapers and for $139 million in October 2010. Now the owners of Philadelphia Media Network Inc. are “in the middle of an auction” to sell the company for roughly $100 million, according to the Post story, which cited a source close to the situation. The same unidentified source told the Post that “several suitors” were meeting with company management and those groups “would be asked to make binding offers in a few weeks.” […] Ken Doctor, media analyst for the Newsonomics website, said in an interview that acquisition activity has picked up in the newspaper industry recently. […] But what all have in common is that the prices for and valuations of newspaper properties are low. Real estate often accounts for nearly half of the value of newspaper companies.MORE

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Monday, January 30th, 2012

DAILY BEAST: Thirty-two murders that have taken place in Philadelphia since the start of 2012. This recent rash of homicides comes quickly on the heels of a year when Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey were touting a steep reduction in violent crime, with homicides down 22 percent, robberies down 23 percent, and overall violent crime down 16 percent in 2011 from their 2007 highs.  The Mayor blames the homicide spike on a steady flow of illegal handguns into the city as groups like the NRA stymie his attempts to pass local gun-control laws. Richard Berk, a statistician who studies crime at the University of Pennsylvania, says the uptick could also be within the bounds of the “natural variation” of crime rates. Others have hypothesized that the unusually warm winter brought the annual springtime murder-rate jump a few months early. Whatever the cause, the mayor wants to snuff out the brushfire, and has released a new anti-crime plan that promises to put 100 more cops on the streets over time, targeting neighborhood hot spots where guns and drugs are most concentrated. The district attorney’s office promises to seek maximum penalties against defendants accused of carrying illegal guns. And the mayor is increasing to $20,000 rewards for tips that lead to the convictions of murder suspects, and will allow residents to anonymously text those tips in.“I just put a bounty on your head,” the mayor said at a press conference at a North Philadelphia High School, speaking to city’s perpetrators of violence. “We are coming for you.” MORE

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EARLY WORD: Dave The Goliath

Monday, January 30th, 2012 ZIVIT SHLANK Composer/pianist Dave Burrell is an American original. He first made his mark at the inception of the avant-garde and free music movements in the 1960s. Over 30 years, 115 recordings and counting, numerous television and radio appearances, countless performances worldwide, Burrell shows no signs of slowing down. January features Burrell in two very different settings. Artist-in-residence with the Rosenbach Museum and Library since 2007, his latest task was to create music for an elaborate five-part research project on the Civil War. Part 2 entitled Civilians During War Time, made its world premiere on January 18, with two encore performances on Saturday at the Rosenbach. Thanks to Mark Christman of Ars Nova Workshop, Burrell will also be performing a rare duo show with Dutch instrumentalist and fellow avant-garde madman Han Bennink tonight at the Art Alliance. Phawker recently sat down with Dave in his private studio in Center City.

PHAWKER: The 60s were a transitional time for jazz. It became a free form search for something honest and spiritually satisfying.  A lot of musicians, present company included, ventured over to Europe, where the music was met with a more appreciative reaction. What was it like being a musician during that time?

DAVE: I went to Paris, recorded with many of my colleagues from Berkeley and New York and we were allowed to do whatever we wanted. Most of the musicians I played with were older than me were also teaching me. Guys like Archie Shepp, Grachan Moncur III, Marion Brown and Pharoah Sanders, among others. That was not happening on the avant-garde scene in New York. So we thought Paris was the most wonderful place in the world until we realized we signed these contracts in French and that we weren’t going to get any royalties.  I was fighting for Civil Rights, for Women’s rights and fighting for a voice as a composer trying to figure out “Well, what was I going to write?” I really liked Puccini and rearranged one of his operas, La Boheme. I also liked West Side Story and Oscar Peterson’s Jazz version of it. I wanted to do an avant-garde version and a producer named Alan Douglas picked up the idea. He had recorded Jimi Hendrix, Malcolm X speeches and Lenny Bruce stand-up.  I had played with Lennie Bruce the couple times he performed in Hawaii. Alan recorded me along with Richie Havens. I was in this company that was very progressive, with a very hip producer and was being bounced around off these different ideas, back and to New York and Europe in the late 60s, early 70s. I went to Japan and played with some of the best improvisers there. I traveled to many places like to Algers for the Pan-African festival and had this underground following. I went into stations like WKCR with my grant-funded projects of all sorts of odd ensembles that had cello, trombone and piccolo. I don’t why I was doing that, but I could never just do the standard piano, bass and drums. I got funded to do a jazz opera called Windward Passages and put it on at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Some people were saying “change this, change that” while others said “this is a great opera for children” which it was not, and it was surprisingly successful. Suddenly what had been appreciated in Europe for decades, finally caught on here. After a while, I realized that it’s just one big, international scene. A lot of things were done and not done, said or not said. When you’ve enjoyed the longevity that I’ve had, you get to play with the greatest of every country, explore and evolve.


150 Killed In Syria Over The Weekend; Govt. Troops Reclaim Suburbs Of Damascus From Insurgents

Monday, January 30th, 2012

THE GUARDIAN: Troops seized back eastern suburbs of Damascus from rebels late on Sunday after an unprecedented operation that saw around 2,000 troops, at least 50 tanks and armoured vehicles flood the area, according to activists. An activist named Kamal, in the eastern al-Ghouta area on the edge of the capital, told Reuters:

The Free Syrian Army has made a tactical withdrawal. Regime forces have re-occupied the suburbs and started making house-to-house arrests.

Maher al-Naimi, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army of defectors fighting Assad’s forces, appeared to confirm that account:

Tanks have gone in but they do not know where the Free Syrian Army is. We are still operating close to Damascus.

The Guardian’s Luke Harding writes:

The unprecedented operation appears an attempt to regain the initiative from the rebels, who have grown increasingly bold in weeks. The BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Jeremy Bowen, discovered the FSA openly manning roadblocks in Damascus last week, just 30 minutes away from Bashar Al-Assad’s presidential palace. The insurgency, which is still raging in towns and cities across Syria – with further protests in Aleppo on Sunday — has now definitively reached the capital. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: The Assad regime “is looking weaker than at any point during the past 10 months”, according to analysts. Assad still holds the loyalties of the security forces, particularly the officer corps drawn mostly from his own Alawite sect. Diplomats in Damascus suspect, however, that defections among the rank and file are accelerating faster than had previously been thought, as soldiers deployed without leave on low pay for nearly a year find themselves drawn to the revolt. A cease-fire agreement under which security forces were forced to withdraw from the town of Zabadani, 20 miles west of Damascus, leaving it in the hands of the Free Syrian Army, came about in large part because the government feared soldiers would defect in large numbers if they were forced to keep attacking the city, according to activists in the town and diplomats.  MORE

THE GUARIDAN: Activists said that more than 60 people were killed on Sunday, many of them in the Damascus suburbs. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 27 civilians were killed Sunday, most of them in fighting in the Damascus suburbs and in the central city of Homs, a hotbed of anti-regime protests. Twenty-six soldiers and nine defectors were also killed, it said. The soldiers were killed in ambushes that targeted military vehicles near the capital and in the northern province of Idlib. The Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC) said 64 people were killed nationwide, including 16 in Damascus suburbs (it does not include army deaths). Saturday was even bloodier, according to the LCC, which reported 98 deaths. MORE

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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