Mary Don’t You Weep

With the litany of production credits that trails at the end of the “new” Aretha Franklin film Amazing Grace, it is an astonishing miracle that the film exists as it does, completely unadulterated. There is a brief text crawl that introduces the film, explaining why this rare and exceptional performance occurred, and then you are allowed to simply watch. There are no self-aggrandizing interviews, such as in The Last Waltz, for example. Nobody talks about what’s happening or attempts to shine light on the events. You just get to watch. And that is wonderful.

Franklin is brilliant as expected, but you’re also treated to one of the finest call-and-response partners there is, James Cleveland; not to mention the Southern California Community Choir. As Mr. Cleveland points out to the audience at one point, the project could have just been another studio effort by Franklin, but that the point of recording at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church is to get audience reaction on the record, as well.

And hey. Mick Jagger and his friend Charlie Watts are in the audience as well. Because of course they are.

The film, captured on 16 mm film by filmmaker Sydney Pollack, could not originally be released because of a technical screw-up that prevented audio synchronization. Later techniques fixed this problem, but, I was sad to learn, Franklin sued to keep it from being screened. That’s a shame because it’s a film that shows her as a mighty powerful presence.

Amazing Grace is a joy for a music nerd like me. The only problems I had with it are that it made me want so badly to be in the room and that made this non-believer want to find a black Baptist church and sign up. Have you ever been to one of those services? I have. One of those might make Bob Ingersoll a believer.

Seriously, though: Amazing Grace is one of those things you will regret not having seen in the theater. It is a beautiful document, treated carefully and honorably by its caretakers. What a wonderful thing to get to experience.


“As a Republican, I just marvel how Democrats trip over their own shoelaces on this. We have President Trump tweet that the communist economy of North Korea, under the dynamic leadership of its dictatorial leader could achieve unprecedented economic growth; the president routinely picks favorites among companies; he is erecting tariffs walls, which are taxes on American exporters, and Democrats can’t figure out how to defend a market economy with social insurance programs? And let this guy claim the mantel of being the champion of free enterprise? Really?” (David Frum on Face the Nation today)

Now, the Real Shit

Since I’ve now covered that ground, it’s time to deal with the real shit: The 2020 race has begun, good people. And I have to say, and this might surprise some folks who know me pretty well–it is entirely possible that, in 2020, I may be feeling the Bern’.

Understand, please, that I was a real Hillary girl in 2016, and that to a large extent, this was somewhat to the genuine annoyance of some close to me, I’m sure. My go-to line was “Have I mentioned yet that I cannot wait to vote for Hillary Clinton?”

There was a point to all that. You know, when it came to Hillary, people talked about an “enthusiasm gap.” They’d talk about going to vote for her wit’ holding their noses. I can’t see voting for her, I heard–she just has too much baggage.

And this was all from Democrats.

My point, was that one could insist on fueling the “enthusiasm gap,” or one could choose get get excited about voting for a mightily-qualified, glass-ceiling shattering, first-time Planned Parenthood endorsed candidate. The “enthusiasm gap” isn’t a thing. It’s you.

And I am one who thinks that the Sanders campaign contributed to the Trump victory in 2016, that he stayed in the race far after he was mathematically cooked, and that he spent his time and effort shit-talking the process itself, doing everything he could to undermine the presumptive nominee’s credibility until he finally, and I think begrudgingly, endorsed her in July. I absolutely think that Sanders played a role in our current regime under our own little President Baltar, and I think anyone who dismisses this out-of-hand hasn’t really done the math.

Not that I defend the Clinton camp like Tuukka Rask stops hockey pucks. I can’t. Mistakes were made. Hubris did ensue. The candidate leaned too hard on “look at this braying jackass” rather than so much on “I am a really great broad.” She chose a horrible running mate who added no energy to the campaign (can’t even remember his name, can you?)

But stopping short at “she didn’t win because she was a shitty candidate” just doesn’t do it. Not when she actually won by more than 3 million votes. Not when the FBI chief dropped a flaming bag of poop on the door on Oct. 28. Not when Vladimir Putin was literally feeding people the weirdest talking points about our girl ever and actively organizing within the American electoral process.

Or, as FiveThirtyEight put it:

Campaigns probably don’t have that much impact in presidential elections. Clinton’s campaign made some tactical errors but these likely weren’t enough to cost her the electoral college, especially given that she lost states such as Pennsylvania and Florida where she had campaigned extensively.

But I am a voter who tends to reset. I tend to whoosh the slate clean, as I did in 2012 to support Clinton, who I despised after 2008, after she fought and hung on, seemingly threatening a big D win and a vital one at that. (The truth is, Hillary had a far more valid argument for staying in than Bernie did–the math in that race was actually darned close, and it was not out of the realm of possibility considering the potential pull of unpledged delegates.)

I believe in starting over. And, my friends, you cannot deny the fundraising numbers. Bernie Sanders does not apparently suffer an “enthusiasm gap.”

There is, in fact, only one candidate so far I wish would walk the plank. The way I see it, Barry, this is the time to let these people woo me. And Bernie comes at this from a more powerful position than before. So I might be woo’d, indeed. However, I think that Kamala Harris broad has some pretty good skills as well.

We’ll just see how this goes.

Aren’t you glad this one wasn’t about shitting?

What Is Wrong With People

So, this is a post about shitting. Specifically, about me shitting. So, if you don’t want to read about me shitting or about shitting generally, you may just move on.

I usually shit every day at 4:30 right after my day at work. It’s just when it happens, and getting it done before my admittedly short drive home just makes the drive a happier experience. I could wait because my home is literally less than a mile away from where I work. But that’s a longer distance if you’ve gone eight hours without shitting. Plus, it makes it possible to run errands on the way home, which I would not want to attempt without shitting before leaving the work-job. I generally despise shitting in a public restroom, but this just seems to be better strategic move and better logistically. Plus that time seems to be a fairly low-volume time for the men’s in the front. So: I leave my stuff at my desk, I clock out, I go shit, I wash my hands, then I go get my stuff and leave. It works. Usually.

Except today, I had to shit at lunchtime, which is usually about 2 p.m. I mean, you know. HAD to.

So I clocked out and made my way to the front head. I was in luck. It was completely empty. I made my way to my favorite stall (the one where rolling out the TP sounds like a TARDIS engine), prepped, and sat. Now this was going to be a particularly farty shit. There is no denying this. I knew it. I even gave an initial courtesy flush during the initial run. And bear in mind my position: The handicapped stall is to my right and there are at least four other stalls to my left. I am literally the only shitter in the room.

So I’m executing this ladylike shit of mine, and a guy walks in. And he doesn’t hesitate. His gait has no pause, no pondering, no decisions in it, no weighing out values and societal norms. He hears the farting shitting mess in my stall and decides yeah man. I wanna sit in the stall next to that. And, he does. He enters the stall right next to me, despite his embarrassing wealth of choices farther way, and he preps up, sits down, and proceeds to blow his nose.

I’m appalled. I’m taken aback, and I’m certainly feeling shy. What the living fuck? Dude had a fat luxury of many stalls away from me, and his choice is to have a poop buddy? I thought about introducing myself, maybe going for daps under the wall, hey man, how’s it hangin, that kind of thing. Instead, I decided…you wanted to sit next to this? You got it, pal.

I gave it everything I had. No courtesy flushing. No shyness. I just exhausted every bit of supply I had, as quickly, as noisily, and as mercilessly as I possibly could. Then I finished my ablutions and went my merry way.

But. Seriously people. There are rules. I think it’s in the Constitution somewhere.

On The Basis of Sects

“Well, if that’s how you think you want to spend your time.” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s initial response to her nephew Daniel Stiepleman when he pitched her the idea of making a movie based on the first case she ever argued with her late husband Marty)

So, Sunday my Uncle Hat and I saw a movie. He is here for family business and also for a bit of fun here in Rochester New York. And there are some movies he ain’t seen. So we have been going to some movies.

Today we saw On The Basis Of Sex, the new biopic of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Enjoyed it well. I am glad to note that RBG herself finds the portrayal to be mostly accurate, largely because she was profoundly involved in the project. And it is a fine film, though I did find myself going over the laundry list that most biopics seem obligated to tick off. This film does everything you anticipate it to do. Here’s her first day at Harvard, where the professor calls on two men before being placed into a force to call on Ginsburg, whose answer is far superior. Here’s her fighting with the chauvinistic dean. Here’s how she found her landmark case. Blah blah blah. Check, check, check.

Fortunately, this movie does it well. Really well. No Oscar love for this thing–not even Original Screenplay, Academy? Really? Oh, well. Perhaps there’s too much RBG power in the nominations with the two nominations of the documentary of that particular honorific. But it is a fine film. A little rote, but well done.

Anyways, since I’m writing movies today, let’s for my own reference most of all list all the Oscar-nominated films I’ve seen…and, go: A Star Is Born, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Vice.

Wow. I’ve really got some work to do.

Mostly Cloudy Day

Upcoming Album Releases
Jan. 18 Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared by Deerhunter
Mint by Alice Merton
The Unseen In Between by Steve Gunn
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten (Atlantic review)
Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie Rogers (NPR feature)
Assume Form by James Blake
Jan. 25 Feral Roots by Rival Sons
Feb. 1 Gallipoli by Beirut
Encore by The Specials
Feb. 15 Triage by Methyl Ethel
March 8 There Will Be No Intermission by Amanda Palmer
April 26 In The End by The Cranberries (Rolling Stone article)

Jan. 17 Grey’s Anatomy

Other Upcoming Events
Feb. 7 Michael Cohen to testify before Congressional committee.

Time to Answer Back

Dear editors everywhere: The letter “a” with an acute accent has an ALT code of 0225. This means if you go to your keyboard and press the “ALT” button and then press “0-2-2-5,” the symbol “á” will appear.

This is going to become important because Julián Castro has just announced that he is running for president.

Now, that leads to an obvious question: Why in the wide wide world of sports does the name Julián require the accent? Well, let’s see. His name ends in the letter “n.” This means that by regular rules of pronunciation in Spanish, the emphasis would be on the second to last syllable. So, without the accent, the man’s name is Ju-LEE-an. And that just doesn’t sound right.

I for one am glad that the name Julián Castro requires an accent because it’s not potentially bothersome enough to Trump voters for me that his last name is “Castro.”

I mean I say that tongue-in-cheek, but at the same time, I am struck by an overwhelming feeling that it’s important for the Democratic party to nominate a brown person and/or a female person in 2020.

Because I think that all of this needs to be answered.

All of this. You know, don’t you, that Trump’s first major platform plank was an attack on our neighbors south of Tejas, right? I mean, first he presented his erection about the crowd’s size. Then, he rattled through ISIS, China, and Japan. And then he laid the cornerstone:

When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

The first thing Trump attacked was our neighbors to the south. And he continued to be his Donald Trump self, bludgeoning people of color, people who speak Spanish, both, and women. He insulted Carly Fiorina’s appearance. He associated anchor Megyn Kelly with blood. He has repeatedly chased down Sen. Elizabeth Warren with an insult club called “Pocahontas.” He has separated children from their families and still maintains concentrations camps for those children, based solely on those peoples’ legitimate quest for asylum in the United States and because they are brown people. He said that a judge ruled against him due to the judge’s Mexican heritage. He referenced some nations as “shithole countries.” He pardoned Joe Arpaio. He made a major issue of American citizens, also known as “football players,” for legitimately protesting the state of race relations in the United States. He asked reporter April Ryan to establish a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus for him because she was a black woman who asked him about the Congressional Black Caucus.

And then there was Charlottesville. Remember Charlottesville? “On both sides?” Really?

As I think of the Democratic primary process and as talented, smart people begin to toss their hats in, I have to think at this point that we have a chance to answer all of this, a chance to clap back, a chance to raise a fist and to declare ENOUGH!

Yes, Julián Castro’s name requires an accent. So, I believe, does the Democratic nomination process.

After All

Did you ever get the feeling that music has gotten away from you? How many SNL musical guests have you watched and wondered when music became so irrelevant, so much flash, so much backing tape? Have yinz crazed a new record that isn’t Cardi B but that isn’t country music talked over snaps either?

Hi. Rob Baird here. I gotcha.

Seriously. Baird’s new album, After All, released today, is real music. Highly recommended.

Upcoming Album Releases
Jan. 18 Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared by Deerhunter
Mint by Alice Merton
The Unseen In Between by Steve Gunn
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten
Jan. 25 Feral Roots by Rival Sons
Feb. 1 Gallipoli by Beirut
March 8 There Will Be No Intermission Amanda Palmer

Jan. 17 Grey’s Anatomy

Other Upcoming Events
Feb. 7 Michael Cohen to testify before Congressional committee.