Archive for September, 2008

Ole Miss change

Debate Host, Too, Has a Message of Change” in The New York Times covers changing face of Ole Miss. The upcoming debate, mentioned in recent comments, is bringing media attention to the school. Press about an event at Ole Miss can be formulaic. Cover whatever the event is and mention James Meredith and the riots. This article takes a look at how things are now.

The story of Donald Cole gets me, as do words from current students. This one cuts to the quick.

“I don’t want to run from a fraternity that has rebel flags in the windows, because if I’m not there to say something about it, who is?” he said.

Read about the quoted student, Nickolaus Luckett, here at the twice blogged William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Luckett is from Drew, Archie‘s hometown. Evidently, they make some pretty tough fellows there.

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Michael M. on September 24th 2008 in General

Tom Vega

The New York Times Measure for Measure blog has this lengthy post from admired Suzanne Vega. She strings together stories about “Tom’s Diner.” It includes stories behind the verses of the song along with information about the DNA remix and much more.

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Michael M. on September 24th 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

Big Smith at Lucas Schoolhouse Friday

I blogged about seeing Big Smith at Lucas Schoolhouse last spring. It was a great show. The raucous hillbilly family rockers will return there this Friday. Better yet, my good friend is managing them this time through town. I predict another night of tearing it up. Come out!

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Michael M. on September 22nd 2008 in General, Live, Music

Trout Lodge

I am coming to the end of a long school run. In February, I finished one step in the Program In Neuroscience and began the next in clerkships at the Washington University School of Medicine. The Medical Scientist Training Program allowed me to pursue this charmed path. Both Neuroscience and the MSTP have held annual retreats at the YMCA of the Ozarks Trout Lodge for the whole time I have been here. I missed one MSTP retreat, and barring a strange turn of events, I will miss my first neuro retreat this year. It makes my Trout Lodge trip last weekend the last of my time as a WashU student.

The place draws complaints. It is far from here and from everywhere else. The food is not good. I see it as a wonderland. There is always a party. It has archery, shooting, volleyball, mini-golf, canoeing, nature walks, campfires, tennis courts, soccer fields and softball fields that I have used at one time or another and more activities that I have not done. More importantly, it offers the rural freedom I had growing up and now miss. The stars are visible. The wandering is free and careless without the concerns and vigilance urban life demands. I will miss going.

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Michael M. on September 21st 2008 in General

Vampire Pageant

I saw Vampire Weekend last week at the Pageant. I bought their CD a few months ago on my way to a fiddle festival. I have been listening to it a good bit since and learned to play my favorites. The crowd was as enthusiastic as any I have seen. The draw was wider in age than most I have seen there. Plenty of high school and college students attended, but I saw a surprising number of middle aged people unaccompanied by their children.

For the most part, they played the album. Hearing the music live was a great experience. I think they might have introduced a handful of new songs. It brings me to my one concern about the band. Their catalog is not that big. They played the album. For the encore, they played the one song on it they had not already played. Time will settle the score, though, whether as a band with one great album or with a string of great songs.

Although I knew about their rhythms and African influence already, the live performance highlighted it drums. I could not see the drummer from my seat. I could hear, however, that he does more than mark the time. The drums drive many of the songs. Much of the music I play and like is rhythmic, yet has no drumming or a drummer functioning mostly as a metronome. Vampire Weekend’s songs would be far less without those beats.

They may be coming to your town. Make an effort. I was tired and had no business being there with my schedule. I left entirely happy that I had gone, though. I hope they have more music and more tours in front of them.

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Michael M. on September 21st 2008 in General, Live, Music

Pragmatic

A Facebook friend posted this opinion piece about Barack Obama. It led me to google Obama pragmatist. However pragmatic he is, it is an interesting promotional approach. For comparison, try McCain pragmatist. Compare Obama moral and McCain moral. I also tried morality versus morality and morals versus morals. The results are more variable. Compare leadership versus leadership. For many qualities, I do not know how endorsement balances with criticism in the tallies. Nevertheless, there is some flavor of which qualities web people associate with each candidate.

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Michael M. on September 18th 2008 in General

Brighter

This post on the 52nd City blog has links related to the twice blogged Light Project. MayorSlay.com has this video, and the Saint Louis Beacon has this article. It has two more, too. Terrific.

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Michael M. on September 18th 2008 in General

I’m on ur Internets spectatin ur artz an eeting ur solar ice creems.

I was interviewed when I attended the opening of the Light Project. Now videos from it have been posted. I am in one.

Light Project Spectator/Ice Cream Eater from The Pulitzer on Vimeo.

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Michael M. on September 11th 2008 in General

I Got Your Ice Cold NuGrape

“I Got Your Ice Cold NuGrape” is a wonderful song. Get it here from the Internet Archive. I got it on the 2006 music issue sampler CD of the Oxford American. I liked it, but forgot about it. Then I checked out Times Ain’t Like They Used to Be from the library. I am back on the hook.

It is difficult to say quite why it is so good. Advertising usually leads to less appealing art, and this song is all about NuGrape. The song leaves listeners wondering what, if anything, NuGrape cannot do for its consumers. The recording group is the NuGrape Twins, further erasing the already absent doubt that they are shills. Their identity hinged on this carbonated wonder beverage so deeply that I found little information about them, not even something as simple as their real names. Their relationship to one another and to NuGrape is their enduring identity.

The harmony is a big part of its appeal. Reportedly, the two singers really were brothers. Family groups often have that special tightness. In each verse, the high singer delivers a syllable or two before the low singer joins. In two part harmony, the high part often carries the melody against a realtively simpler low part, and it largely holds true for the verses of this song. Then in the refrains, both parts are good enough to stand on their own as melodies. The jaggedness of the verses adds to the song. Some lines are a little long for the meter. They work them over the melody without breaking the continuity. The piano break in the middle is something special, too. It is just enough different from verses. I worked out a reasonable approximation on guitar. As a respite from listening to the song over and over and over, I play it over and over and over.

I am not the only one so smitten. One fellow wrote that he wanted to post about it for two years. His transcription of the lyrics is good considering the difficulty of understanding old 78s.

Listen if you dare. You might get a craving for grape soda. I could not find NuGrape in my Schnucks. I got Fitz’s.

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Michael M. on September 7th 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

Light

The Light Project opened Thursday at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. A couple of friends work at the Pulitzer, and one let me know about the event. Then I heard about it on KWMU that morning. It is an expansion on Dan Flavin: Constructed Light.

Four pieces make up the exhibition. Crystal World is a video piece projected on the back of the Pulitzer. I rarely enjoy video art, but some scenes are striking and appealing to me, someone interested in visual processing. Sunset makes edible art. The artist made a color study of the Saint Louis sunset. The piece consists of solar panels, a battery bank and a soft serve ice cream machine. The ice cream is dyed to match his colors. My art tasted good. One untitled piece next to the Bruno David Gallery, whose Memory and Refraction exhibition fits well with the light theme, consists of 3 gallon buckets used to form a snaking sculpture that is lit from within. When I walked to get a closer look, I saw a couple of people walking around inside the scaffolding. I highly suggest having a look from the inside out.

Chorus is the best. The church at 620 Spring Avenue burned only months before I moved to Saint Louis. It last housed the National Memorial Church of God in Christ. Its website is still up. When going to the symphony and other events in Grand Center, the starkness always grabbed me. So much of the area has regrown in my time here, but it remained frozen in decay. Plans to use it as a sculpture garden never progressed. Now it has a new purpose. The artists had lampshades collected from the people of Saint Louis. A few friends donated. The artists hung them where the rafters used to be and used multiple colors of LEDs to illuminate them. It looks great.

From my other friend there, I heard that there will be a panel discussion on art and visual perception October 4. Jeff Zacks will be on the panel along with other local scholars. I hope I somehow manage to squeeze it into my schedule although the outlook is not good now. I hope to post more soon.

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Michael M. on September 7th 2008 in General

BBQ Princess

My previously mentioned friend Leslie Roark Scott’s blog is Mississippi Barbecue Princess. The title is also her lifestyle. She and her father have Ubon’s. Now she got herself and her Daddy on The Story, a public radio show (mp3). Have a listen. They are sweet and funny. I am sorry that I have not seen Leslie in person in past way too long, but we keep up a little bit electronically. You will be able to tell that she is a good person to know, especially if you are close enough to taste some of her food.

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Michael M. on September 6th 2008 in General

Wiring Kaufman

Twice blogged Charlie Kaufman leads my list of favorite movie makers. Thanks to Waxy Links, I found out that some folks at Wired like him, too. Going after his own style, they have decided to publish correspondence behind an upcoming story on him as a blog called Storyboard. I will be following it.

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Michael M. on September 3rd 2008 in Movies

Delta trip

This post on Highway 61 Radio points to this article in the Los Angeles Times about touring the Mississippi Delta. I am a Mississippian, but not a Delta person. I would enjoy the trip, though. Some of the destinations are places I have heard about for years. Doe’s and Lusco’s are famous in Mississippi. Others, such as Mama’s Dream World, are new to me.

I especially want to visit the sites about previously mentioned Fannie Lou Hamer. I know her from the favorite Eyes on the Prize. Her appearance at the 1964 Democratic National Convention was discussed on several times on NPR. She is an enduring presence in the American consciousness. Recognition of her, however late, is something special.

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Michael M. on September 3rd 2008 in General

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