Archive for media

Rakim, minus Eric B., of course, but not all by himself

Posted in Journalism, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2018 by macmystery

https://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=622595890&mediaId=622597776

While procrastinating late Monday night, as I so often do when I have a viable writing topic, I found myself listening to music.

It’s not an uncommon activity in my life. A large percentage of my disposable income (and a lot that should have never been disposable) has been spent on music, not to mention my time, both disposable and indisposable, as well. Concerts, records, tapes, CDs, road trips.

But I’ll admit that over the last few years of my marriage, which LEGALLY ended in 2016, aside from time spent in the car, music had all but disappeared from my life. And maybe that should have been a sign. But that’s another story for another day.

Anyway, as I said, I was listening to music, something I do again, typically late at night. A strange mix … Dierks Bentley, the Cowboy Junkies, Henry Mancini, Metallica and Dave Brubeck. (I’ll admit, there was 10 minutes of George Carlin mixed in there, as well.)

I was listening to this strange mix as I put off writing something more substantial than my Facebook post from earlier Monday evening about former two-time National League Most Valuable Player and longtime Atlanta Braves standout Dale Murphy. Ironically, I’m still going to write that post, but it’ll be another day now, at least.

That’s because, while perusing Facebook, I came upon the New York Times story (How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media) about the relationship between its reporter Ali Watkins and a man who handled security for many years for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So, of course I was going to write about that. Being a former journalist — being a former journalist is like being a former Marine … there’s no such thing — the story presents some interesting and frustrating dilemmas during a time when the press is badly needed, as well as badly maligned.

And then Rakim happened.

Someone I know from high school, a lifetime ago, had shared the latest installment of National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert. Featured for June 25, 2018 was Rakim, initially, at least, of Eric B. & Rakim fame.

I’ll admit it. Aside from straight up classical music, the least represented major genre in my music collection is rap. Or hip-hop, if you will. Old school Run D.M.C., some Sir Mix-A-Lot, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar … but not much else. A lot of it doesn’t interest me. A lot of it I respect but simply don’t enjoy.

I have read a lot about Rakim. But I haven’t listened a lot to Rakim.

But I did Monday night.

And I was treated to 9 minutes and 37 seconds of brilliance that maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for 30 years ago, when Eric B. and Rakim were on top of their game. Kind of the same way I have a different appreciation for jazz now than I did as a young man.

And in a lot of ways, comparatively, Rakim’s style is jazz, at least vocally. His lyrics and voice are his instrument, and while aggressive, he is not necessarily loud and not in a hurry. Much as Willie Nelson brought jazz phrasing and guitar to his otherwise solid country gold lyrics, Rakim in some ways does the same thing.

It’s evident with the live band, rather than a DJ, backing him in the small NPR studio. The musicians are tight and work infectious grooves through three songs, allowing Rakim’s lyrics to shine as his instrument.

I was impressed. I had a moment, really. Usually, though, it’s when I hear something new that blows me away. I am admittedly not used to, at this point in my life, hearing songs more than two decades old, performed by the original artists, that pique my interest so completely.

My son, Dylan, possibly in the wrong place at the wrong time, can attest. He walked in the room in a moment of boredom after his computer crashed, expecting to wander in and wander out.

Instead he was detained by me and forced to surrender 9:37 of his evening, too, to sit and watch this Tiny Desk Concert. Not surprisingly, to me, he found himself, like I did, enjoying the video, foot tapping and hands popping.

The final two songs of Rakim’s three-song set, were “Paid In Full” and “Know The Ledge,” … classics and songs I will now seek out. But they followed “King’s Paradise,” a song released a few days ago and featured in Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix.

“King’s Paradise” is Rakim’s first new release in a decade. Suddenly, seemingly, I’m hoping it’s not his last.

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Sarah Palin: Still just a moron or downright evil?

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2011 by macmystery

Sarah Palin isn’t to blame for the Arizona shooting spree that killed six — including a 9-year-old girl and a Federal judge — and seriously wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

And anyone writing or saying as much is wrong.

But most of those same critics, who include some journalists, members of the media, Democratic politicians and a lot of people with common sense, are right about one thing. The political rhetoric in this country has gone too far, and Sarah Palin’s use of targets on a map with specific representatives in crosshairs crossed the line.

No, Palin can’t control what a crazy man with a gun will draw from anything she says or does. And she’s not the only one to use images of guns and violence in her speeches and campaigns. Everyone from football coaches to President Barack Obama have done so.

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need to be responsible for her words and actions.

She’s right: No one is responsible for the shooter’s actions except the shooter. So she should own up for her actions. If she doesn’t want to draw such heat from the media and Democrats and whoever else is breathing and has working brain cells, MAYBE SHE SHOULDN’T PUT OUT MAPS WITH PEOPLE AS TARGETS.

On the same day the President gave a moving speech at the memorial for the victims of the Arizona massacre, Palin released an early-morning video firing back at her critics. Tone down the talk?

No way.

Palin’s videotaped, carefully written and obviously read statement only exacerbated the problem (like most things that come out of Palin’s mouth).

When criticizing the media and journalists (not the same thing) for rightly calling her out for her words and actions and wrongly blaming her for the shooting, she accused them of “blood libel.”

For those who don’t know, blood libel is a specific term with a specific history. It has been used throughout history and refers to the accusations that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood for religious ceremonies. It has been used for years, and as recently in public discourse as 2005 in Russia, by those who would promote anti-Semitism.

Sarah Palin can’t be that evil to try and evoke those images, can she? No, it’s just a mistake, right? She didn’t know the meaning of the phrase and is sounded good?

Maybe.

But Gabrielle Giffords is Jewish.

Poor choice of words? Poor timing? Or something more sinister, cold and calculated?

You be the judge. Intentional or not, Palin once again comes off as slow, at best. If she meant to use a phrase with this kind of meaning, she’s despicable. If she used it because it sounded good without bothering to find out what it meant, she’s a rube.

Prior evidence should tell us she’s at least a rube. I hope in this case that’s all she is.