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Ornette Coleman, RIP

[ 54 ] June 11, 2015 |

Ornette Coleman, one of the greatest jazz musicians to ever live and quite possibly the greatest jazz musician living in 2015, has died at the age of 85.

I guess I’d now give that greatest living jazz musician title to either Cecil Taylor or William Parker. Probably the latter.

….Also of course Sonny Rollins, who actually probably does take that title.

[SL]: The Coleman show I saw in 2008 was easily one of the 5 best musical experiences of my life. This a huge loss — he was a true giant of American art.

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Fast Food Nation

[ 156 ] June 10, 2015 |

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I find it fascinating that as the lower end fast food chains find their sales slipping, a solution is to create the most ridiculous and/or disgusting food possible. Such is the new Pizza Hut hot dog pizza. I never thought I would object to mustard on anything, but I guess I am wrong.

Disunion

[ 64 ] June 10, 2015 |

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Sadly, the New York Times Disunion series has come to an end. I was hoping it would continue into Reconstruction, as the union was not exactly reunited immediately when the war ended and in many ways Reconstruction is as important as the Civil War for understanding modern America.

Of course, the series was really at its peak in late 2010 and early 2011 as the paper chronicled the daily events of the union falling apart. Naturally enough, there weren’t enough stories and authors to really keep up at that pace for the next four years, but consistently solid articles continued to be published, many of which I have linked to here.

Pelosi and the TPP

[ 21 ] June 10, 2015 |

It’s becoming increasingly clear that fast track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is going to pass and it’s going to include the Trade Adjustment Assistance as a sop to American workers. That Nancy Pelosi is working hard to round up Democratic votes in the House to support Obama’s agenda here provides more evidence for this outcome.

The Historical Roots of McKinney

[ 79 ] June 9, 2015 |

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A scene from the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, which started when whites stoned a young black man to death for swimming in white-only waters in Lake Michigan

Historian Victoria Wolcott:

“When pools have been opened on a nonsegregated basis,” noted one legal scholar in 1954, “either under legal compulsion or by voluntary action, disturbances have resulted more frequently than in any other instances of desegregation.” Whites threw nails at the bottom of pools, poured bleach on black bathers, or simply beat them up. In the late 1940s there were major swimming pool riots in St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

And despite civil rights statutes in many states the law did not come to African Americans’ aid. In Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, the chairman of the Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission in 1960 admitted that “all people have a right under law to use all public facilitates including swimming pools.” But he went on to point out that “of all public facilities, swimming pools put the tolerance of the white people to the test.” His conclusion was predictable: “Public order is more important than rights of Negroes to use public facilities and any admission of Negroes must be within the bounds of the willingness of white people to observe order or the ability of police to enforce it.” In practice black swimmers were not admitted to pools if the managers felt “disorder will result.” Disorder and order defined accessibility, not the law.

Only after decades of persistent activism did these barriers begin to fall. But instead of whites and blacks swimming and playing together recreational facilities in American cities have been defunded and apartheid continues to mark the recreational landscape. By the 1970s the virulent racism so common earlier in the century had been replaced by a colorblind discourse suggesting that choices about where to live, work, and play were individual decisions separate from the legacy of racism. But there are moments when one hears the direct echo of those earlier struggles. In 2009, for example, the owner of a private swim club in Philadelphia excluded black children attending a Philadelphia day care center, saying they would change the “complexion” of the club. And now in a wealthy subdivision outside of Dallas police target black teenagers and some in the surrounding community make it clear they – the black children – are not welcome.

Pools have long been fraught with racial tension, as have other swimming sites such as lakes and rivers, which led to the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Why access to water specifically creates such anxiety over race, I’m not really sure.

This is Hell

[ 0 ] June 9, 2015 |

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I was on This is Hell! with Chuck Mertz on Saturday discussing Out of Sight. You can listen to it here. The interview was a solid 40 minutes which gave us time to talk about a lot of different issues.

Republican Lunch

[ 29 ] June 9, 2015 |

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Above: How Jim Risch transports his Rocky Mountain oysters

What do Republican senators eat for lunch? Have you been dying to know this question? Well, lucky for you, the New York Times is on it! Does Dan Coats like pie? Oh yes! Does Jim Risch like to serve bull testicles to Susan Collins? You know he does and that it’s a really funny joke among Republican staffers!

Sad to say that this is actually improvement on the paper wondering if Hillary is going to appeal to the right kind of real American voters.

GOP Brilliance

[ 50 ] June 9, 2015 |

Boy, I wonder where these health care subsidies come from? Republican Jesus no doubt.

Idiocy Upon Idiocy

[ 103 ] June 8, 2015 |

Of course Ron Fournier would weigh in on the New York Times “the proper way for Democrats to win the presidency is to appeal to conservative white voters in Arkansas and West Virginia” article by not only saying that it was a good article but by saying that there’s a “right” way to win and a “wrong” way to win and of course appealing to your base, i.e., people who aren’t white, is the “wrong” way to win. He writes, “My problem with this approach is that it works only until Election Day, when a polarizing, opportunistic candidate assumes the presidency with no standing to convert campaign promises into results.”

Right, because if Hillary can somehow appeal to those Arkansas voters and 1996 comes back into existence in 2016, the Republicans will totally lower their guard. We all know how accommodating those Republicans were to Bill Clinton in his 2nd term after all. I mean really, what impeachment? I don’t remember that. I only remember a bipartisan love fest that would make David Broder hard from the grave.

What Should My Next TV Show Be?

[ 373 ] June 8, 2015 |

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Above: The greatest television character in the medium’s history

I have a conundrum. I need a new TV show to watch. Now, I’m pretty behind on the TV revolution. Because of my commitment to film, I tend to go through TV shows slowly. Basically, I’ve watched the entire series or am caught up currently on Mad Men, Deadwood, The Wire, Better Call Saul, and Breaking Bad. I watched the first season of The Sopranos (finally) last summer and then set it aside to finish Breaking Bad and rewatch Deadwood, i.e., the greatest show in television history. I just finished Deadwood. So what to do next?

I ask because I am really torn on trying to watch Game of Thrones. Here’s the thing–I have an inherent dislike for anything revolving around fantasy or science fiction. Those genres of storytelling I find usually pretty uninteresting since I find the present and past more than interesting enough and generally more plausible in terms of storytelling. Even the science fiction I do like–Tarkovsky’s Solaris for instance, is not exactly the norm for the genre.

So I was initially inclined against it. But on the other hand, I like anything that is really well done. So I could watch Game of Thrones if it’s really that good. And I was leaning in that direction, despite not caring for the genre. But reading what people are saying about this season, it’s like there’s an abusive relationship between the show and its fans, with a lot of people recoiling in horror but continuing to watch (or not). I don’t mind violence on the screen. I do have a very limited, like pretty close to zero, tolerance to depictions of sexual violence. Especially if they are more than a one-time event.

So given all this, should I watch Game of Thrones, if for nothing else so I can understand what everyone is talking about? Or should I go back and finish The Sopranos? Or finally check out Boardwalk Empire, Treme, or another of the HBO dramas I haven’t seen? Or Orange is the New Black? I was really inclined toward Justified, but it’s not on Netflix and it’s hard to justify subscribing to yet another service.

I’m teaching as this comes up. I hope for 200 comments by the time I get home at 10.

….I also watched True Detective, which I thought was pretty good.

….Given that we are basically a Game of Thrones blog, I find it interesting that no one has really given a full-throated defense of the show telling me I must watch.

Minimum Wage in California

[ 23 ] June 8, 2015 |

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Really glad to see California move toward a $13 hour minimum wage tied to inflation. It’s not nearly high enough, especially for a state as expensive as California. The minimum wage should be around $20. But it certainly beats the $9 that it is now. The California House seems more conservative than the Senate and it’s not yet clear if Jerry Brown supports this, although I have trouble thinking he won’t if it passes the House.

If I Reference Hiroshima in an E-Mail to a Student, It’s Because I Want to Nuke Their House

[ 71 ] June 8, 2015 |

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Above: A clearly relevant threat to 21st century higher education administrators.

The administration war on faculty has reached a new low at Oakton Community College in Illinois.

Oakton Community College (OCC) is insisting that a one-sentence “May Day” email referencing the Haymarket Riot sent by a faculty member to several colleagues constituted a “true threat” to the college president.

Lawyers for the Chicago-area college argue that the email, which noted that May Day (May 1) is a traditional time for workers to remember the riot, threatened violence. Last month, OCC demanded that the now former faculty member “cease and desist” from similar communications in the future or face potential legal action.

May Day is celebrated every year on May 1 by the international labor movement to commemorate the fight for workers’ rights. The celebration is historically associated with the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago.

“Merely noting to one’s colleagues that May Day is a time when workers ‘remember’ the Haymarket Riot does not constitute a ‘true threat,’” said Ari Cohn, a Senior Program Officer and lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “The United States Department of the Interior has designated the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument a National Historic Landmark. If remembering the Haymarket Riot is a ‘true threat,’ the monument itself would be illegal.”

On May 1, Chester Kulis sent an email to OCC colleagues that read, “Have a happy MAY DAY when workers across the world celebrate their struggle for union rights and remember the Haymarket riot in Chicago.” The email, titled “May Day – The Antidote to the Peg Lee Gala,” was written in response to a reception hosted by OCC in celebration of the retirement of college president Margaret B. Lee.

This makes right-wing claims that I was calling for Wayne LaPierre’s assassination seem relatively cogent. How a mention of a labor action over a century ago is an actual call for violence against a person today is completely unknowable because it’s not. If he had said, “I would like to bomb the administration building like the anarchists threw that bomb at the police in 1886 and kill them all” I guess you’d have a case. This is just stupidity. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s part of the larger academic crackdown on left-leaning professors protesting the corporate university. University presidents and boards of trustees see themselves as corporate heads and want the ability to dispose of any employee for any reason, including talking back to power.

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