May 2013 archive

Angry Buddhist Mobs Kill Muslims and Ravage Their Communities in Myanmar

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

The news item is just one of many reports of a far off land that holds some meaning for me.

A fellow Vietnam veteran never quite left Vietnam behind.  It’s been years now but I would see him regularly over time at flea markets and antique shows with his primitive artifacts mainly from Myanmar mixed in with the usual commercial trash – er, merchandise from exotic far off lands in Asia.

Sonny gathered his artifacts primarily from the rebel-held areas of Myanmar.  I used to josh Sonny saying I expected some day to see his shrunken head on a stick at some flea market. Some of those artifacts were were family heirlooms pressed into Sonny’s hands by desperate people expecting themselves and their entire families to be killed by the government.  Their idea was that the family would continue to live symbolically in those pitiful remnants sold in flea markets in America.

Militant Buddhists killing peaceful Muslims?  

Isn’t that turning things upside down?  

Some Buddhists are even atheists.  I have no idea how that can be but I scoff at those proclaiming themselves atheists and then claiming they have no religion.  What do they think atheism is then?  Do they not know the greatest mass murderers of all time proclaimed themselves atheists, specifically Stalin and Mao Tse Tung killed non-believers just as ruthlessly as any other religious leaders?

My daughter’s wedding to a professed pagan – Wiccan – was presided over by a non-denominational preacher, whatever that is supposed to be.

I liked the preacher, Joker, very much BTW but he was no Unitarian by a long shot.  He really seemed to believe the Christian mythology – er, Christian truths.

In a discussion without the slightest sign of rancor, Joker said to me, “You must be an agnostic.”

Heavens no, I told him, I have no religion. Agnostics insist they don’t know and neither do you.

Agnostics can be every bit as frightening as the Gnostic Christian heretics of the first centuries who carried Christianity to its ultimate extreme.  Saving the spiritual souls from the corrupt bodies could be accomplished by such measures as poisoning the town water well.

Joker told me that there were militant and non-militant aganostics, “hard” and “soft” agnostics in his words.  Seemed the soft variety didn’t care whether you believed or not.

I told Joker I must be a third kind – don’t know and don’t care.

Religion can be a lot of fun.  I loved the Cao Dai temple in Vietnam with its open lattice work and decorative serpents crawling through some of the open spaces.  In the entry way the three great prophets of the religion are pictured above an open doorway: Jesus Christ, Buddha and Victor Hugo.  The Pope and his 7 women cardinals would proclaim their religion completely pacifist while reviewing a military parade of a fierce fighting force that had proven itself more than capable of keeping the peace no matter how many they had to kill.

On leaving we were asked for a donation to the missions.

I asked where these missions might be.

When Los Angeles was named, I quickly made my last donation to any religion over half a century ago.

Los Angeles may be the only place on earth that could use some religion.

Best,  Terry

Late Night Karaoke

Why I don’t claim to be a progressive

(crossposted at Voices on the Square)

Back in 2009 I wrote a diary over at Kos: Fundamental flaws in progressive ideology. The point was to show how the idea of being a “progressive” contained the idea of selling out within it. The actual record of “progressives” in this era speaks for itself — forty years of decreasing global growth, neoliberal economic policy, and so on.  We’re not really progressing toward anything — unless you count the future described by Gopal Balakrishnan:

We are entering into a period of inconclusive struggles between a weakened capitalism and dispersed agencies of opposition, within delegitimated and insolvent political orders. The end of history could be thought to begin when no project of global scope is left standing, and a new kind of ‘worldlessness’ and drift begins.

Against this background, progressivism appears as a sort of holdover from a previous era.

In the midst of all of this, in progressive blogs you have recognitions such as: Twilight of an Empire: More Than Just Bridges Are Crumbling In America. Eric Stetson recognizes that austerity planning is already hurting America, and will get worse in the future.  Here is his lament:

Schools, libraries, parks, advanced weather forecasting, and other features of great modern civilizations? Forget about it! All being cut to the bone.

So few jobs being created that labor force participation is the lowest since 1979 and food stamp eligibility is the highest ever?

Who cares! It sure isn’t the government’s responsibility to do anything

about unemployment, right? — the reaction from America’s politicians

on this score is as deafening as John Cage’s infamous symphony of silence.

Even spending money on disaster relief for American cities destroyed by a hurricane or a tornado is no longer

an automatic thing, but instead a political football. Our politicians

are so tight, the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge would be proud.

Eric Stetson, however, simply does not imagine more in his conclusion than that America should “demand more of its leaders.” What makes Stetson think that America’s leaders are at any point going to pay attention to such a call to action?

Meanwhile, at the Atlantic, the complaint is now that we have Presidents who routinely break the law, and nobody really cares. Or rather, I suppose, nobody with a shred of power really cares. Our most progressive journalists are telling us: we can expose it, at least for now, but we can’t do anything about it.

And then you have climate change.  Climate change is going to be dreadful if we stick with capitalism, as there will be crop failures and famine, and it’s not going to be mitigated by any climate change bill written by the fossil fuel industries, nor will just a bill for a bill’s sake do.  While the progressives were applauding the EPA’s assertion of its right to regulate “carbon emissions,” what was strictly necessary, as James Hansen was telling us we had to get back to 350 parts per million in atmospheric content, was that we have some sort of phase-out of fossil fuel production so we can keep the grease in the ground.  While radical transformation is necessary, the progressives at DailyKos.com are arguing that “fixing the economy first is not the best way to pass a climate bill.”  How is a phase-out of fossil fuels not “fixing the economy”?

Let’s move, now, to FDL. Michelle Chen, a name I don’t see a lot at Firedoglake, tells us that we have “a budget that tightens belts by emptying stomachs.” Chen ends her lament about proposed cuts to the food stamp program with a pointed criticism of “free markets”:

So that’s the theme of this year’s budget debate: that millions of people can’t afford to eat is not a cause for alarm for politicians so much as a burdensome line item. And erasing public benefits make it easier to make the poor invisible in the public mind. After all, food stamps symbolize not only the failure of “free markets” but the power of social policy to reduce endemic human suffering.

Well, OK, social policy to reduce suffering is good. Is that what the progressives have gotten for us?

Well, not a whole lot of it, unless you’re counting a watered-down and inadequate stimulus (now being erased through sequester) or a Heritage Foundation-inspired health insurance bill. Generally speaking, what progressives do every election year is to retreat on all of their presumed off-season goals and to declare themselves firmly in favor of the Democrat and against the Republican, without any serious consideration of what the Democrat actually supports. This is how the progressive vote was delivered for Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama and for numerous lower-ups in Congress, and this is how said vote will be delivered for the next neoliberal austerians who plan to run for Federal-level offices in 2016.

Even worse is the conceptual schemes progressives have had to invent in order to defend their political choices. The Democrats are better than the Republicans, stop whining and start working, you can’t have everything you want, and so on.  The result is stuff like this: we didn’t like it under Bush, but now we’ve changed our minds, say many progressives.

Now, the idea of calling liberals “progressives,” if I recall correctly, started out in the late 1980s as a result of the senior Bush’s campaign against “the L word.”  The idea, then, was to identify liberals with the promoters of what was once called the “Progressive movement” during what was once called the “Progressive Era” (fundamentally, from 1890 to 1920).

In general, the progressive critique of American society’s political dysfunction cannot bring itself to name, correctly, the design flaw operating in both politics and the economy.  The name of this design flaw is “capitalism,” and understanding it as an operating principle of the capitalist world-system is quite necessary to understanding why progressives may have had success in the Progressive Era, but cannot seem to find much of it (outside of legislation protecting gay rights, and a few initiatives here and there to legalize marijuana) today.

Progressives in the Progressive Era confronted a young, expanding capitalism that had not yet experienced two world wars, nor had it fully established the consumer economy of the golden age of capitalism (1948-1971).  This explains, more or less, their success in getting reforms enacted in that earlier era.  Their success was just beginning!

Progressives in this era, on the other hand, are being asked to defend a doctrine of incremental change leading to a better world, when nowadays declining rates of economic growth clash with increasing demands for corporate profit.  As the resultant neoliberal political economy facilitates the theft of everything that isn’t nailed down for the sake of meeting this demand for corporate profit, progressivism is increasingly being forced into either of two directions: 1) the general apparatus of apologetics with which the Democratic and Republican Parties (and other parties, elsewhere) defend reactionary legislation designed to privatize and deregulate the economy and subject it to fiscal austerity while the whole of society is militarized in anticipation of public dissent against the abolition of the middle class, or 2) a general sense of distressed spectatorship as the worlld gets worse, accompanied by a growing sense that something fantastic has to be proposed to cure the disease (such as what one sees in a recent diary of One Pissed Off Liberal).

An interesting discussion of the original Progressive Era in this light can be found in Cecelia Tichi’s collection of biographical sketches titled Civic Passions: Seven who Launched Progressive America (and What They Teach Us). In this regard, Tichi views the Progressive movement of 1890-1920 as a reaction to the “Gilded Age” of the 19th century, and regards our era as a new Gilded Age, one of corporate hegemony and political corruption. Tichi can find corruption in both eras, as well as muckrakers.

Reading history can be comforting, and engrossing, as Tichi’s book amply demonstrates.  The reformers Tichi depicts were able to “get the ball rolling” on concrete efforts to change living conditions for American society’s worst-off individuals, and to instill some humanity into America’s emerging consumer society.  In reading Tichi’s biographical sketches, one can’t help but want to duplicate their successes in today’s society.  One would, for instance, like to campaign much as Alice Hamilton did against unsafe conditions in lead mines, or as Florence Kelley did in organizing against child labor.  One would like to conduct the sort of worker-empowering social science that John R. Commons conducted in Pittsburgh, or pursue the same sort of pioneering efforts for social justice for Black people that Tichi depicts in her biographical sketch of Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

Some of the activist strength Tichi extols may still be useful today — but we are no longer in the Progressive Era, and that the efforts of the original Progressive Era activists earned their successes through an emergent, felt need for a class compromise that circulated in the halls of the wealthy and powerful in that, adolescent, emergent stage of the expanding capitalist world-system.  The problems of child labor, horrific work conditions, and excessive poverty merited fresh efforts at reform in light of the increasing prosperity of the capitalist system at that time.  We are no longer in that era, and so if progressive efforts are to continue to have success, they need to be underwritten by some other way of thinking than progressive ideology.  In saying this, I am in solidarity with writers such as Aaron Schutz, whose book “Social Class, Social Action, and Education: The Failure of Progressive Democracy” described progressivism as a “middle class utopia,” (28) and Shelton Stromquist’s Reinventing “The People,” in which progressive reformers are said to pursue “an ideal of social harmony in which the interests of labor and capital would be reconciled.”  (23)  I also agree to a certain extent with Chris Hedges, whose Death of the Liberal Class complains of the resistance progressives no longer offer corporate elites.  Mild reformism was, without doubt, both effective and beneficial in an era in which the capitalist system required a “middle class utopia” if the crises which it generated were not to overwhelm the system as a whole.  Our era, on the other hand, is an era of a declining middle class, of deepening poverty for the multitudes, and increasing poverty amidst record profits for the super-rich.  The reconciliation of class interests is off the table. The consumer society no longer serves as the pretext for profits among the wealthiest when the wealthiest can just compel the government to print money for their enrichment.  The dire poverty of urban immigrant populations at the turn of the 20th century may not be part of our landscape today, but this fact itself forms a pretext for keeping present-day poverty off of legislative agendas, to the detriment of all of us.  What we need today are more movements such as the Zapatistas, or the various movements for ecological justice, or the MST.

In this environment “progressivism” appears as a sales-pitch for the Third Way.  Progressives are now people who tell you to vote for the Democrat because she/ he is better than the Republican — it might still ring true, but it becomes less and less important with each passing election, with each issue that becomes vitally important everywhere but in Washington DC.  Once progressivism was robust; today it has reached a cul-de-sac.  If anything, today’s world needs a class struggle more than ever, and a vision of civilization free of capitalism and the crises it promotes with increasing frequency (see e.g. Greece, Spain, global warming, pollution in China, war in Africa) today.  When the capitalists, with their governments in tow, are forcibly undoing all of the good done by the progressives and social democrats around the world, while at the same time bringing Earth’s ecosystems into increasing crises, another compromise is not going to restore the world to stability.

***********

Indeed a recent Gallup poll tells us that the number of liberal Americans is growing.  But this poll result is itself the product of an impoverished political discourse both with the Gallup pollsters and with America as a whole.  So, for instance one can also read of polls that say that “young people are more likely to favor socialism than capitalism” as well.  What I’d like to suggest, here, is that an opposition to the 7% at the top (as their fortunes improve) will have to be made up not just of progressives, nor even (perhaps) mainly of progressives, but of people with a diversity of political beliefs (socialists, anarchists, post-capitalists and so on) outside of progressivism.  These people exist already — the leap forward is not that a non-progressive Left needs to be created from nothing, but rather from the mere discussion of theory to an engagement with the world.  Bhaskar Sunkara:

After all, the problem with the Left isn’t that it’s too austere and serious; it’s that it doesn’t take itself seriously enough to make the changes necessary for political practice. We can be rigorous and ideological – without being afraid of being heard outside our own circles. Mass exposure wouldn’t spell the end of a vibrant socialist critique.

The future of resistance is in the diversity of non-progressive Left approaches, and in making that diversity actionable, not in progressivism or liberalism.  Being a “progressive” or a “liberal” is easy, but obsolete.  I’d like to think I can do better, so at this point I don’t claim to be a progressive.

Where in the World Was John McCain?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This weekend the perennial war hawk of the Senate, John McCain (R-AZ), was conspicuously absent from his usual place on the Sunday talk shows. We now know why, he was in Syria meeting with the rebel opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogan had the exclusive story:

McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasingly active in Syria.

The visit comes in the midst of Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to get the warring parties to negotiations at an international conference in Geneva this June. The Senate has been pushing the White House to better arm the rebels, the administration has been more cautious. The White House said that they were aware of Sen. McCain’s trip and looking “forward to speaking with Senator McCain upon his return to learn more about the trip.”

While Sen McCain visited with Gen. Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, the meeting was arranged by an American nonprofit organization that works in support of the Syrian opposition, the Syrian Emergency Task Force whose founder has supported Al Qaeda. The organization was founded by a former Senate staffer, Moustafa Mouaz. According to Justin Raimondo ar Anti-War.com, the organization “doesn’t have to register as an agent of a foreign power – since the Foreign Agents Registration Act is only selectively enforced.”:

Mouaz is a former aide to Senator Blanche Lincoln and Rep. Vic Synder, both liberal to centrist Democrats. Here he is cheering on acquistare vardenafil Genova al-Nusra – the official al-Qaeda franchise in Syria – on Twitter. (See also here and here.) The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the “educational” branch of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, lists him on their web site as one of their trusted “experts”: he recently addressed a WINEP conference. [..]

(..) the same Moustafa Mouaz who is now serving as the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force formerly held the same position for – you guessed it! – the Libyan Emergency Task Force. And we know how well that worked out for us. [..]

Where does the money come from? Who is providing the media connections, the organizational heft, and the cold hard cash it takes to make a major push for US intervention in Syria?

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to US involvement in Syria but there is little opposition in congress. Tea Party, sometimes Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was one of the few voices that criticized the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for supporting Al Qaeda:

This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.

Al Jazeera reported in April that the Al-Nusra Front vowed to “obey al-Qaeda.”

“The sons of Al-Nusra Front pledge allegiance to Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri,” the man who identified himself as Abu Mohammed al Julani said in an audio clip posted on YouTube that went public on Wednesday.

Zawahiri is known to be the chief commander of al-Qaeda.

Julani, who is recognised as the head of the group Jabat al Nusra, or Al-Nusra Front, said in the video that his fighters had declared from the start of the uprising that Islamic law needs to be enforced across Syria, but did not want to announce the group’s affiliation to al-Qaeda prematurely.

Fellow war hawk, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), upon learning of his cohort’s clandestine adventure, ironically tweeted:

Jason Raimando noted that these rebels are dangerous and not a joke:

Leave it to Sen. Graham, who has been agitating along with McCain for the US to send weapons to the rebels, to joke about the untrustworthiness of the very people he wants to arm. But the rebels’ savagery is no joke: we are, after all, talking about people who eat the lungs of their enemies.

The European Union has ended its arms embargo to the Syrian Rebels and the United Nations Human Rights Council has called for the end of fighting around the strategic town of Qusayr and condemned “the intervention of foreign combatants on the government’s side in the Syrian civil war.”. Russia denounced the resolution calling it “odious and one-sided,” and “untimely, counterproductive and likely to complicate the launch of the peace process in Syria.”

All indications are that the Syrian rebels are Islamic militants. This is a civil war as was Libya and we see how well that has turned out. What ever happened to the “war on terrorism” and destroying Al Qaeda? Apparently it goes to the back burner when it interferes with America’s regime changing foreign policy.

The Case for Investing in the Infrastructure

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Journalist David Cay Johnston, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and MSNBC host Ed Schultz all agree that now is the time, and in some cases past time, to invest in the collapsing and crumbling bridges, road, rails and public buildings.

Pay to Fix America’s Crumbling Infrastructure Now, or Pay More Later

by David Cay Johnston

The I-5 disaster in Seattle reflects the dire state of our bridges and highways. But it may never be cheaper to replace these aging arteries than it is now.

“We cannot hope to have an A+ economy with a C-level infrastructure,” said James Chae, president of the (American Society of Civil) engineering society’s Seattle section. [..]

State and local governments spent $156 billion on highways in 2010, roughly a penny out of each dollar of America’s gross domestic product.

Right now, governments can borrow at the lowest interest rates in 700 years. Roughly 25 million people are involuntarily forced into part-time work, are looking for work, or have given up because they cannot find a job.

We must either update our infrastructure or face a future that is both more dangerous and poorer, as more bridges collapse, pipelines leak and explode, and the movement of goods and people becomes less efficient. We could increase our spending and reap big dividends in jobs and the taxes they generate, improved safety, and a more efficient economy.

Why put off until tomorrow what is cheaper to do today?

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, host of “The Ed Show,” discussed the problem of cutting spending on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure with Sen. Brown.

Around the Blogosphere

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

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This is an go to site Open Thread.

There are those who just can’t handle it. In the case of New York City, it’s technology. I’m not kidding:

The every wistful eyed, perpetually incorrect Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-WI), who tossed her hat in the ring two weeks ago, decided eight is enough. At Dependable Renegade, lasix 40 mg twolf called it “an end the her jihad on sanity.” I’ll spare you the eight minute video that ‘splains her reason.

Pres. Obama announced his choice to replace FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and it’s not Lisa O. Monaco, the White House’s top counterterrorism adviser. It’s another Republican from the Bush/Cheney regime, James Comey, a former hedge fund executive and a former senior Justice Department official. He does have one redeeming quality:

As deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, Mr. Comey was a critical player in 2004 in the dramatic hospital room episode in which the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., tried to persuade Attorney General John Ashcroft – who was ill and disoriented – to reauthorize a warrantless eavesdropping program.

Mr. Comey, who was serving as the acting attorney general and had been tipped off that Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card were trying to go around him, rushed to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital room to thwart them. With Mr. Comey in the room, Mr. Ashcroft refused to reauthorize the program. After the episode, Mr. Bush agreed to make changes in the program, and Mr. Comey was widely praised for putting the law over politics.

But, will he stand up to Obama and Holder?

From enter Robyn and http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=miglior-sito-per-comprare-viagra-generico-50-mg-a-Milano Jaye Raye, at Voices on the Square:

From levitra 3 free John Aravosis at Americablog, who knew this could happen:

Over at Beat the Press, http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=siti-sicuri-per-comprare-vardenafil-contrassegno-in-italia Dean Baker once again shakes his “common sense pen” at the New York Times op-ed columnist, Thomas Friedman for making baseless claims about the job market based on his daughter’s college roommate and a way to end the tax games that corporations play.

From the folks at CounterPunch:

At naked capitalism, Yves Smith gives Gaius PubliusAmericablog article on the US Middle East foreign policy:

At Grist:

At FDL’s Dissenter:

We may be losing one of our favorite right wing loons, but have no fear, Charles P. Pierce at Esquire’s Politics Blog has found her replacement, Vicky Hartzler (R- MO) who believes that the Chinese are spying on us through our toasters and that the government should not be tolerant of “fringe religions.”

Vesna Svyashchennaya

Perhaps better known as Le Sacre du Printemps or The Rite of Spring it celebrates it’s 100th anniversary today.

At the risk of spoilers, the story revolves around pagan celebrations of the coming of spring with the most memorable part being the choice of a sacrificial victim who dances herself to death.

Yeah, like opera there are no happy endings in ballet.

But what was really controversial was Stravinsky’s Avant Guarde music which has, ironically, turned out to be one of the most influential works of the 20th century as well as one of the most recorded (though I would hold Petrushka or Firebird as being a better introduction to Stravinsky’s work and much more accessible for the average listener).

On the evening of the 29 May the theatre was packed: Gustav Linor reported, “Never…has the hall been so full, or so resplendent; the stairways and the corridors were crowded with spectators eager to see and to hear”. The evening began with Les Sylphides, in which Nijinsky and Karsavina danced the main roles. The Rite followed; there is general agreement among eyewitnesses and commentators that the disturbances in the audience began during the Introduction, and grew into a crescendo when the curtain rose on the stamping dancers in “Augurs of Spring”. Marie Rambert, who was working as an assistant to Nijinsky, recalled later that it was soon impossible to hear the music on the stage. In his autobiography, Stravinsky writes that the derisive laughter that greeted the first bars of the Introduction disgusted him, and that he left the auditorium to watch the rest of the performance from the stage wings. The demonstrations, he says, grew into “a terrific uproar” which, along with the on-stage noises, drowned out the voice of Nijinsky who was shouting the step numbers to the dancers. The journalist and photographer Carl Van Vechten recorded that the person behind him got carried away with excitement, and “began to beat rhythmically on top of my head”, though Van Vechten failed to notice this at first, his own emotion being so great.

Monteux believed that the trouble began when the two factions in the audience began attacking each other, but their mutual anger was soon diverted towards the orchestra: “Everything available was tossed in our direction, but we continued to play on”. Around forty of the worst offenders were ejected-possibly with the intervention of the police, although this is uncorroborated. Through all the disturbances the performance continued without interruption. Things grew noticeably quieter during Part II, and by some accounts Maria Piltz’s rendering of the final “Sacrificial Dance” was watched in reasonable silence. At the end there were several curtain calls for the dancers, for Monteux and the orchestra, and for Stravinsky and Nijinsky before the evening’s programme continued.

This performance is by the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra and Ballet, Valery Gergiev – conductor.  Rodion Tolmachev is the featured bassoonist.

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On This Day In History May 29

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

May 29 is the 149th day of the year (150th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 216 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1913, Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps makes its infamous world premiere

Some of those in attendance to see the Ballets Russes at the Théâtre des Champs-élysées on May 29, 1913, would already have been familiar with the young Russian composer Igor Stravinsky through his 1910 ballet L’Oiseau de feu (The Firebird). But if they expected his newest work to proceed in the same familiar and pleasing vein as his first, they were in for a surprise. From the moment the premiere performance of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) began on this night in 1913, it was clear that even an audience of sophisticated Parisians was totally unprepared for something so avant-garde.

Premiere

After undergoing revisions almost up until the very day of its first performance, it was premiered on Thursday, May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and was conducted by Pierre Monteux under the Ballets Russes.

The premiere involved one of the most famous classical music riots in history. The intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario shocked audiences more accustomed to the demure conventions of classical ballet. Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreography was a radical departure from classical ballet. Stravinsky would later write in his autobiography of the process of working with Nijinsky on the choreography, stating that “the poor boy knew nothing of music” and that Nijinsky “had been saddled with a task beyond his capacity.” While Stravinsky praised Nijinsky’s amazing dance talent, he was frustrated working with him on choreography.

This frustration was reciprocated by Nijinsky with regard to Stravinsky’s patronizing attitude: “…so much time is wasted as Stravinsky thinks he is the only one who knows anything about music. In working with me he explains the value of the black notes, the white notes, of quavers and semiquavers, as though I had never studied music at all… I wish he would talk more about his music for Sacre, and not give a lecture on the beginning theory of music.”

The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd. At the start, the audience began to boo loudly. There were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance. Fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns famously stormed out of the premiére allegedly infuriated over the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet’s opening bars (though Stravinsky later said “I do not know who invented the story that he was present at, but soon walked out of, the premiere.”) .

Stravinsky ran backstage, where Diaghilev was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience. Nijinsky stood on a chair, leaned out (far enough that Stravinsky had to grab his coat-tail), and shouted counts to the dancers, who were unable to hear the orchestra (this was challenging because Russian numbers above ten are polysyllabic, such as eighteen: vosemnadsat vs. seventeen: semnadsat).

After the premiere, Diaghilev is reported to have commented to Nijinsky and Stravinsky at dinner that the scandal was “exactly what I wanted.”

Cartnoon

Fun with Bands

Well the big Stars Hollow parade is over.  We used to have two, one for the Fireman’s Carnival until they took the muddy ditch they used to stick it in across from the 3 Barbers I use to get my hair cut when Lydia, Emily’s stylist, is off watching her son compete in the Little League World Series and turned it into Condos that totally block the view of our only ‘Clear Channel’ billboard that masks the sight, headed South, of the Citgo Station and what used to be the the office of the best lawyer I know (best because he is the biggest asshole, my two other lawyers are RayRay who’s only flaw is he thinks he’s perfect and Jerry who never does any work himself but knows people).

Where was I?

Oh, the parade.

So anyway I marched since I was a wee Ojibway Indian Guide with hardly any feathers until I was a Euphonium toting second liner (first, they like to put the low brass up front for sonic punch and second, the 76 Trombones lead the big parade so the slides don’t knock you in the back- keep step and walk around the Horse shit).

I could talk about the gal who made the Connecticut Hurricane’s audition and had to race back to the start so she could play with them too (she convinced me my future was not Trumpet but a less stressful and competitive instrument, Leonard Falcone Himself pronouced me hopeless), but instead I’d like to focus your attention on a little prank I like to play.

I am in possesion of a number of Acme Thunderers, artifacts of a youth misspent lifeguarding (which is basically telling people they’re having too much fun and they should stop that).

However they are also used to order Chinese bayonet charges and call rolloff, which is the signal for the drummers to inform the band to get ready to play.  1, 2, 3, 4.

If you want to try this at home I suggest some simple scouting to decode the code.  It’s easy now that you know what to listen for.  Then you race to the block or two before your street and start the show (they have to do the roll off).

To me, in addition to being basically harmless, this has the added benefit of bringing the action home.  Since I live a mere 2 blocks from the reviewing stand the band was always huffing and puffing past my position.  Not anymore.

I wonder if my neighbors even realize.  The Drum Major is constantly surprised, but it’s a new one every year.

Public service in action.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


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