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Confessions of a first time vegetable gardener

The task of planting a vegetable garden has now fallen to me. As a city boy I was not raised to grow my own food. I never wondered how produce made its way into the food distribution system. I knew only that it was available usually frozen, occasionally fresh, in the supermarket. My only experience with food in its natural state was when as a boy we used to sneak apples from a neighbor’s apple trees. The elderly woman who owned them caught us one day and made a deal with us. We could pick as many as we wanted

On Lying

My 2.5. year old granddaughter is learning language (two languages actually) and has just learned that what you say can get you what you want. She is also learning to lie. Oh she’s not good at it yet, but she has learned that denying you have pooped can get you continued play even when there is olfactory and visual evidence to the contrary. That got me thinking about the how young we learn that lying can get us what we want.  There are all kinds of lies: the bold faced lie when we say something we know to be untrue,

Notes from the Montreal Jazz Festival 2 of 2

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Displaying more energy and a better voice than people half her age, Ms. Bridgewater brought the house down with her set. An accomplished jazz singer, Grammy winner and NEH Jazz Master, she has taken a self described “detour” into the Memphis soul music of her teenage years. Lucky us. She has released a new album called “Yes I’m Ready” and performed some of the album’s songs for her set. They ranged from an obscure Gladys Knight song to Elvis and B.B. King with stops in Memphis Stax-Volt along the way. Although in her sixties her voices is undiminished

Notes from the Montreal Jazz Festival 1 of 2

In the next couple of blog entries I am going to write about what for me were the highlights of the Montreal Jazz Festival I attended.

John Medeski/Marc Ribot trio.

Medeski and Ribot are matched well. They both can move from deep in the pocket to way outside in a New York minute. Communication between them was instant, as one picked up what the other was doing to repeat it, elaborate on it, or respond to it.  This despite the fact that they sometimes had to rely on hand signals and nods to indicate they were handing off the soloing duties to

Ugly Truths

A friend asked for my thoughts on a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The Ugly Truth about being a black professor”. It is written by George Yancy, a professor at Emory University and it is here if you want to read it. In it the author recounts hate mail and death threats he received after writing an op-ed piece for the New York Times in 2015. Another version of his response to the backlash is here. The op ed piece is here if you want to read it. He is writing a book about the reaction

Re-Creating

A scholar I know has just written an article bashing a jazz group for re-creating Miles Davis’s classic “Kind of Blue”album note for note including the solos’ of the musicians. She makes the point that this is a Western way of seeing music as property rather than the African American one of what Henry Louis Gates calls signifying. Gates defines signifying as “repetition with a difference” which is at the center of black art and culture. This Western way was fetishizing the form of the music rather than the experience of the music. A long time ago I read something by C.S.

What Trump Doesn’t Understand About Immigration

Donald Trump doesn’t understand a lot of things, but right now we are concentrating on what he doesn’t understand about immigration. Historically most immigrants have come from “shithole” countries although which countries these were has changed over time. Even his beloved Norway was once a shithole and although I haven’t checked the stats I would hazard a guess that there was more Norwegian immigration then than there is now. Most of the 19th and 20 century immigration was from what were then “shithole” places. If you think about it people are more likely to leave their homes if the economy

Yelling at my TV

From time to time there are things on the news that make me yell at my television because they are so outrageous or because the media have so spun the wrong narrative that it is brainwashing the public. Cases in point:

In a photo op I watched on CBS news Trump was  handing out sandwiches or something to hurricane victims when a middle aged white man contrasted Trump’s behavior in coming out to help with Obama’s who was golfing during the last hurricane. This of course is keeping with the internet memes which show a picture of Trump helping compared with

Faith and Epistemology

Out of the blue my friend asked me “What do you think of faith and epistemology?” He was an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a few years and we were having a pleasant lunch together. In his youth he had earned a master’s degree in philosophy before turning to a 35 year career as a middle and high school teacher. We were both seeking to exercise our intellectual chops as we hadn’t done so for a while. By faith he meant belief system and by epistemology he meant an investigation of our knowledge of what is true or false.

MLK Day 2017

To be honest I have always been ambivalent about Martin Luther King Day. It’s not because I didn’t think he was a great man. If anyone in my lifetime deserves an American holiday it is surely this man. There are two things though that bother me about the holiday. First, it reduces the civil rights movement to the actions of one man when it really wasn’t. This is of course in line with the American myth that it is only great people who move American history. The civil rights struggle, as probably every other event in American history, was very