Archive for February, 2007

How to buy Brazilian folk

I found this page for the twice blogged Missão de Pesquisas Folclóricas (Mission for Folklore Research) box set Musica Tradicional do Norte e Nordeste 1938 at Samba Store. The site seems to be a popular exporter among fans of Brazilian music. I shared my find in a comment on Root Hog or Die that was turned into this post. The price is about $60 plus shipping at $16.48. I placed my order earlier tonight.

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Michael M. on February 26th 2007 in General, Music, Recorded

Drinking the Kool Aid

I caught wind of the controversy surrounding Dr. William Kincaid, former director of the health department, some time ago. He said the N-word in a meeting. Two local politicians played big roles leading to Kincaid’s resignation. The story ballooned when Irene Smith, former alderwoman of ward 1, was on Lizz Brown‘s WGNU radio program in the Eye on the Lou segment. This archive page has this mp3 of the February 1 show. The relevant part starts about an hour and fifteen minutes into the show. That hour of the broadcast is dedicated to the controversy. Brown came back to it at 3 hours and 14 minutes and stayed with it for the remainder.

The first problem is that Smith and Brown’s version of the event was not firsthand. The bigger problem is that it was unbelievable to anybody with a little Show-Me skepticism. Would the public health director drop that word in racially mixed company out of nowhere? Would he use it in telling a joke? I immediately doubted those claims. I understand, though, that I am relatively less sensitive to these matters than others. The story, strange though it was, propagated and grew. I went back and found the KSDK story, the Fox 2 story and the Post-Dispatch story. I emailed Jake Wagman and Tina Hesman Saey to ask about the unbelievable nature of the version advanced by Irene J. Smith and Gregory Carter, alderman of ward 27, and about what really happened. Neither replied. This post on the Riverfront Times blog presents only Carter’s version of events. I commented about how the story did not add up. Author Todd Finkel agreed and relayed that Carter’s sources were health department staff at the meeting. The first round of media coverage shed little light.

What really happened? Pub Def post has two comments that provided hints. Finally, this Arch City Chronicle post led me to the article in the St. Louis American. Journalist Meliqueica Meadows wrote a thorough article. She interviewed Kincaid himself and others to provide a better picture of what happened. Kincaid was not joking; he was quoting the father of an African-American medical school friend and injudiciously failed to censor his language. Other health department employees declined to comment, but the friend, Dr. Gordon Johnson, and his father both confirmed the original incident. Kincaid admitted that he should not have used the word and said that he subsequently apologized to the people present. Meadow’s article answers many of the open questions. When Lizz Brown revisted the story later in her show, she said, “I hate using that word, and I don’t use that word unless I’m quoting someone.” Kincaid was quoting someone, more directly than he should have.

Why did it happen? Kincaid’s words seem to have been a mistake in relating an story that was actually intended, however clumsily, to counteract racist attitudes and to illustrate the ties between public health problems and racial inequity. As for the subsequent outrage, my best guess is that it was all political gaming done for show. Brown managed to bring up Mayor Francis Slay and President of the Board of Aldermen Jim Shrewsbury, who is up for re-election, into her outrage. Gregory Carter made similar links. The misdeed of Kincaid was easy pickings for striking at political rivals.

Saint Louis could benefit significantly by consistent leadership of the public health department. We have very high national rankings in several sexually transmitted diseases. Metabolic syndrome is out of control. The office that could shape policy and practice to fight these problems should be seen as more than a political pawn. We deserve public health officials who are sensitive to the community. We also deserve politicians who are compassionate, forthright and fair.

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Michael M. on February 26th 2007 in General

Down at the bottom

The Riverfront Times published a great article about the Catholic Worker Movement in Saint Louis. “Cool to be Kind” came out a few weeks ago, but I only saw it when this post on the Ecology of Absence blog mentioned it. Catholic Workers choose lives of poverty and try to assist people in need. They live in poor neighborhoods and take in the homeless. The local group centers around Karen House. I also found listings for other local houses including Carl Kabat House and Ella Dickson House.

I do not see how could undertake such a radical change myself, but I feel intrigued by the people who do. They stand apart from the usual debates about liberal and conservative approaches to social aid.

“That’s always a problem when you get a group of progressive white people together and they move to a poor neighborhood,” Stephen says. “They encounter that other side of things: The neighbors treat their children a certain way, play their music really loud. Here there’s so much more interaction. That’s what sold me on it.”

Is it bigotry or truth? It is hard to know what his version of “a certain way” means, but I think I have a fairly good idea. It is hard to express such feelings fairly. Knowing so, I lean strongly toward attributing truth to the quotation. For me, it was the pivotal one in the article. The divide between which problems activism aims to redress and which it can address openly impedes many movements. I never joined any movements, and my exposure is surely small. I have seen far more mistreatment of children than I ever wanted to. Not knowing what to do, I mind my own business when I see it. A few derogatory words might flash through my mind. The more lasting impression, though, is sadness. It is good to know that others are out there moving forward.

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Michael M. on February 26th 2007 in General

Wash away my blues

I heard a teaser for a nasal irrigation story on NPR‘s Morning Edition back before Valentine’s Day. Then the story was not played when expected. It finally aired a few days ago. The piece centered around an opera singer, but I recognized others from my research into this practice. David Rabago, one of the doctors interviewed, belongs to the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine. The nasal irrigation research project there provides information and research.

Although some controversies linger in the medical world, the Wisconsin research is believable enough to try it. Precise parameters, such frequency and salt concentration, remain open questions. There might be benefits from adding additional chemicals to the solution. The improvements reported by users were typically modest, but a modest improvement can be worthwhile. I have tried it with good results.

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Michael M. on February 26th 2007 in General

Information in the palm

This article in The New York Times about consulting electronic devices to settle disputes covers nothing new to me. My trusty smartphone has helped me answer questions that have come up among friends. I remember a friend’s quoting of a poem with “eructation” in it. I volunteered that it means “burp.” I knew the word from A Confederacy of Dunces. My friends were somewhat incredulous. Out came the phone. It might be an annoying habit, but I cannot help myself.

Along with enjoying the trivial benefits of this technology, I look forward to the uses in medicine and other fields. Handheld devices have become very common in health care, especially for researching drug information. I hope the trend continues. Someday, I might be the googliest doctor ever.

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Michael M. on February 21st 2007 in General

KFC

Barlow Farms pointed me to this article in The New York Times about Korean fried chicken. I knew I was going to be interested when the first sentence referenced personal favorite Popeyes. The Korean chicken has sauce on it, though. I have the suspicion that Korean fried chicken is better compared to wings than to real fried chicken. Nevertheless, I would like to know how Koreans fry themselves some chicken. The Korean community is Saint Louis is pretty small. My searching for a local place has turned up nothing thus far. I will keep my eyes open and my taste buds ready.

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Michael M. on February 21st 2007 in General

McComb blues

Searching for other information, I found in this post that hometown favorite Bobby Lounge will play SXSW this year. According to his own site, he will play March 17, and he is scheduled for Jazz Fest April 29. I am happy to see that he will continue performing. It had looked like his performing career might be not only late, but short. I wish he would play a show closer to me.

The same search that turned up Bobby Lounge’s SXSW lead me to this podcast of Little Freddie King. Little Freddie King is a bluesman born in McComb. His musical career seems to have centered around New Orleans. The music, however, recalls older acoustic blues similar to the Delta style. I had not heard of him before, but I hope to hear a little more of his music.

All three of us were born in the same town, Bobby Lounge about 10 years after King and me about 25 years after Lounge. I want to know where Harvey Hull was born. I also found lyrics of his that mentioned the hometown. I was looking for information about the Kate/Katy Adams/Allen/Allan, a riverboat mentioned in several old songs. In a page of old lyrics, I found “Can you tell me how long: Jackson to McComb” in Papa Harvey Hull’s “Don’t You Leave Me Here.” More searching revealed that Nathan Salsburg of recently blogged Root Hog or Die had played Harvey Hull’s “France Blues” recently on his radio show. I wrote him, and he told me that Little Harvey Hull and Papa Harvey Hull are one and the same. Very little is known of him, and only six recorded songs of his exist. Never Let the Same Bee Sting You Twice appears to have all of them along with some other great old material. I need to get my ears on it.

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Michael M. on February 15th 2007 in Live, Music, Recorded

Trying to buy Brazilian folk music

I received a reply from Larry Rohter, author of the recently blogged article on 1938 recordings of Brazilian folk music. After some searching for names in the email, I found Root Hog or Die. It has this good post on the set, and it provides some pointers to purchasing the music in this post. The set is for sale on this page. I cannot understand Portuguese, however, and I think that a Brazilian address is necessary to register on the site. I could not find it on eBay.

Rykodisc released a single CD version of the recordings as The Discoteca Collection: Missão de Pesquisas Foclóricas (The Endangered Music Project). There are rumors that the whole set may pick up a distributor. Rykodisc looks like the best candidate. I wrote earful@rykodisc.com to suggest that the company distribute the music. Nobody has replied yet. If you want to hear the music, it is worth a try.

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Michael M. on February 14th 2007 in General, Music, Recorded

CCD on News and Notes

The Carolina Chocolate Drops, whom I have mentioned several times, were featured on the Monday edition of NPR‘s News and Notes. I streamed it yesterday. It is worth a quick listen. The group is out on tour, mostly in the neighborhood of North Carolina. Check them out if they come your way.

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Michael M. on February 14th 2007 in General, Live, Music, Recorded

BJC deal halted

This post on STL Rising is where I first saw the news. The previously blogged proposal to lease a corner of Forest Park to BJC has died. STLtoday.com has this story, and there has been plenty of coverage around the web. While I do oppose the destruction of Forest Park, I mostly feel relieved that political maneuvering did not outflank public opposition. A ballot measure to restrict disposal of park land by city officials will go before the public in the next election. It had appeared that the city was trying for a rush job to push the deal through before citizen groups could act.

BJC is an important local entity. My own future depends on its success. Its expansion is probably beneficial to the corporation and the public. I just hate to see park land destroyed.

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Michael M. on February 14th 2007 in General

Jobs’ ideas

Apple Hot News published Thoughts on Music. In it, Steve Jobs called for an end to digital rights management (DRM). /. subsequently ran this story on the post and this story on responses. The responses include this editorial in The Economist and this post on So Sue Me, DVD Jon‘s blog. The post generated a fair amount of web commentary, with good reason. DRM is largely just a hassle. The analog hole is always available for circumventing DRM, and often someone invents digital means for circumventing a given DRM scheme.

If it does not prevent unauthorized duplication effectively, what is the purpose of DRM? My personal only slightly conspiratorially-minded opinion is that it exists to generate additional revenue from lawful use. Consumers have to buy a scratched DVD again because it is easier than pursuing their rights. In the future, we might have to buy music that we already have on CD to use some new gadget. Some cell phone companies already force this approach with ringtones. I expect this trend to worsen unless the public forces the government intervene to allow us consumers to use the media we have bought as we please.

Some have criticized the post as a way to curry favor because there is so little chance that music distributors will agree to dropping DRM. Is Steve Jobs is espousing a position that he will never have to follow? He probably is, but I tend to believe his message without caring about his motives. In the short term, I hope more musicians and other artists begin distributing their own material without reliance on the major media companies. This part is happening already. In the long view, I want to see those big media companies brought under control to serve artists and their patrons.

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Michael M. on February 14th 2007 in General, Music, Recorded

Independent history

This story in The New York Times about history teacher Lars Brownworth’s popular podcast 12 Byzantine Rulers brought back memories of the early web. This news release from his school has links to more stories. It reminded me about History House. The site’s history includes its own. Predecessor Bizarre Historical Trivia made Yahoo!‘s Picks of the Week of October 7, 1996. Creator Sebastian Good was a college friend. I remember seeing the picks and congratulating him on making the list. He told me that the Owlnet administrators certainly had noticed. I think that we were both in History 295/395 that semester although we mostly had physics classes together. He has kept History House going since. It has not seen any updates in a while. A history site does not need the most frequent updates, however, and plenty of good old material remains. My efforts to become a regular podcast listener have fallen flat, but I hope that Brownworth finishes his voyage through Byzantium well and then manages to keep sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm in new projects. The web makes possible some great things.

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Michael M. on February 1st 2007 in General

The City Museum is wonderful.

My last visit to the City Museum has been too long. I have mentioned it from time to time. This post on The Commonspace Blog reminded that I ought to go again soon. It made The New York Times in this article about great night spots besides the usual bars and clubs. A terrific photograph by Michael DeFilippo accompanies the story.

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Michael M. on February 1st 2007 in General

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.