Friday, February 17, 2017

Run The Jewels

"At some point in the future they are going to try and label us a political rap group, and that we are not, we do not care what political party you belong to, we don't care who you supported, we don't care what you are doing tomorrow politically, we care that socially every one of you know; you are absolutely born free and nothing has a right to interrupt that freedom. We love you." - Killer Mike

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Super Bowl 51

For the first time, a Super Bowl needed overtime, and for the fifth time, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions.

This time, it took the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history to do it, rallying from a 25-point deficit and defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 at NRG Stadium in Houston in Super Bowl LI.

Tom Brady became the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl titles. He was named Super Bowl MVP for the fourth time, the most all time.

"It was a hell of a football game," Brady said.

Atlanta had a 28-3 lead midway through the third quarter. But a costly Atlanta fumble by quarterback Matt Ryan midway through the fourth quarter helped set up the Patriots to come all the way back to tie it at 28.

In overtime, Patriots running back James White rushed in from two yards for the game-winning touchdown. He finished with 139 total yards and three touchdowns. Brady threw for 466 yards -- a Super Bowl record -- and two touchdowns.

"I saw a crease," White said on the final play of the game. "You have to find a way to make a play for your team at that point in the game -- at the 3-yard line, 2-yard line, you just have to find a way in."

All five of those Patriots' titles have come with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, but this one had some slightly different circumstances. Brady missed the first four games of the regular season, serving his Deflategate suspension that was imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Ultimately, Brady's absence didn't negatively impact the Patriots, who went on to a 14-2 record and the top spot in the AFC.

New England had returned to the Super Bowl for the ninth time, an NFL record, with Belichick and Brady leading seven of those appearances.

In addition to winning the most championships as a quarterback, Brady matched Charles Haley for the most Super Bowl titles by a player. Belichick now has the most Super Bowl wins by a head coach, surpassing Chuck Noll. Belichick and Brady also now have the most Super Bowl appearances as a head coach and as a player.

"Chuck Noll is a tremendous coach, with a tremendous legacy," Belichick said. "I coached against Chuck in his final game. I always admired Chuck and his style and the way that his teams played. It's an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Noll, but tonight's really about our team. It's not about some record. ... It's about what our team accomplished."

This was just Atlanta's second appearance in its 51-season history. The team first came in the 1998 season, when the Falcons lost Super Bowl XXXIII 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

"It's hard tonight for the lessons," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said. "What I can tell you is you can't truly be relentless until it's right there, and you've got to take it away or you didn't get it. A loss like tonight, although it's difficult, I would like to think that this group, we're putting our stamp and we're just getting started to be what we can be."

Monday, February 6, 2017

Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land"

Washington Post:
Though many consider the song to be an unblinkingly patriotic anthem — the American flag set-to-music — it was originally conceived as a sarcastic protest song by legendary folk singer and labor agitator Woody Guthrie.

By the 1940s, Guthrie was sick of hearing Kate Smith singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” (ironically, the song Lady Gaga opened her set on before slipping in a couplet from “This Land is Your Land.”) While holed up in a fleabag hotel in New York City during a marathon writing session in 1940 during which he penned “Hangknot Slipknot,” “The Government Road” and “Dirty Overalls,” Guthrie kept hearing the Kate Smith hit on the radio.
In an irritated fit, he wrote the words for a response song he sarcastically titled, “God Blessed America for Me,” according to NPR. Each verse also ended with this line.

It wasn’t seemingly meant as a love song to his country. As noted pop critic David Cantwell wrote in Slate:
Guthrie had battled his way through the Depression-torn 1930s, boots on the ground, from Texas to Los Angeles and all around the American West. What he’d seen during his hard travelin’ — prejudice and hatred and violence, crowded labor camps, empty stomachs and hungry eyes — led him to conclude that heavenly endorsement was the last thing America had coming.
Eventually, he scratched this title off the lyric sheet, replacing it with “This Land is Your Land.” He also replaced the closing line of each verse.

After borrowing the melody from a 1930 gospel recording, “When the World’s on Fire,” to strum on his guitar, which was famously adorned with a sticker reading “This Machine Kills Fascists,” he was ready to perform the new tune.

In 1944, he recorded it with Moses Asch, but that version mostly disappeared. It wasn’t published until 1997. Had it been, Americans may have viewed the tune in a different light.
As Robert Santelli wrote in “This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folk Song,”
The version of “This Land is Your Land” that most Americans claim familiarity with does not contain the lyrics that doubt America’s integrity or questions the country’s commitment to essential freedoms.

Those lyrics in the fourth and sixth verses of the song often have been washed away or simply ignored, which is why “This Land Is Your Land” has been able to stand side by side with the other great patriotic paeans to America.
The Asch recording contained one of these two verses. The official recording, released years later, contained neither. Gaga did not sing them either during the halftime performance.

The forgotten fourth verse, included in the 1944 recording, feels particularly prescient in the infancy of a new administration led by a president who has imposed a travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. Consider that President Trump signed executive actions to build a border wall with Mexico, and it sounds downright prophetic.
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’
But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.
The meaning is as blunt as the sign he sings about. America claims to be for everyone, but it isn’t.
Meanwhile, the sixth verse, which was scribbled on that original lyrics sheet but doesn’t appear in the 1944 recording, is even more politically charged. This lyrical quartet is sharply critical of America, hinting at an unfulfilled promise that the government would take care of its citizens.
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple,
by the relief office I saw my people.
As they stood hungry,
I stood there wondering if God blessed America for me.
Guthrie’s daughter Nora said she wasn’t sure why this verse wasn’t included in the recording, nor did she know why the 1944 recording was never released. But she suspected it has to do with the government’s strong-armed reaction to such divisive art during that time period.

“This is the early ’50s, and [U.S. Sen. Joseph] McCarthy’s out there, and it was considered dangerous in many ways to record this kind of material,” Nora told NPR.

Still, as NPR noted, the original version “was sung at rallies, around campfires and in progressive schools. It was these populist lyrics that had appealed to the political Left in America.”

But much like with our national anthem, the verses that don’t quite fit a patriotic narrative have been, intentionally or not, edited out of the sociocultural consciousness. Now, outside of certain circles, they’ve been all but forgotten.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Gandhi May Be The King of Misattributed Quotes

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win," says the quote, which Trump attributes to Mahatma Gandhi, India's legendary activist who eschewed all violence.

The quote is certainly legendary. A quick Google image search of the phrase "then they laugh at you" produced a flood of memes crediting Gandhi. We stopped count at 100. We found it on Bernie Sanders' Twitter feed. Sarah Palin posted it on Facebook Feb. 24 in front of a photo of Trump. Our colleagues at found an instance where Hillary Clinton used it during a 2004 fundraiser. And last year, Billionaire Magazine cited it in a Tweet to celebrate enormous wealth, without a hint of irony.

Inspiring? Yes.

Accurate? No.

We reached out to the Trump campaign in hopes that they had an original source for the quote. They didn't respond.

But there's no evidence that Gandhi ever said it.

"I know of no source by Gandhi where this quotation occurs," said Dennis Dalton, professor emeritus at Columbia University's Barnard College, who has spent 55 years researching and writing on Gandhi's life.

It's been thought to be false for quite some time, prompting the Christian Science Monitor to list it five years ago as one of "The 10 most famous things never actually said," although the Monitor reported no effort to find its origin.

Some authors have suspected it's derived from a May 15, 1918, speech during a biennial convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America in which Nicholas Klein of Cincinnati, talking about that union, said, "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And they they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. And this is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America."

Barry Popik, a contributor to the Yale Book of Quotations and the Oxford English Dictionary, found a more recent variant in a 1968 article in Women's Wear Daily. Referring to French artist, writer, designer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, the article says, "Cocteau expressed it best. ‘First, they ignore you. Then, they abuse you. Then, they heap you with honors. Or make you into a statue. Stone. Dead.’ "

Popik said the first reference he has found giving Gandhi credit for that type of quote comes from an out-of-print book — the 1982 proceedings of an event held by the Workshop in Nonviolence Institute.

On page 9 of volume 18 are the words, "Gandhi once observed that every movement goes through four stages: First they ignore you; then they abuse you; then they crack down on you and then you win." Note that the catchphrase itself is not in quotes. It appears the author was paraphrasing.

"We have 1918 (in labor unions) and 1982 (in an antiwar group), and just about nothing in between. It's a real puzzle," said Popik.

Dalton, the Gandhi historian, said a lot of quotes attributed to the nonviolent activist aren't real. "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind," is a variant of a phrase written for the 1982 Richard Attenborough movie Gandhi.

The catchphrase "You must be the change you want to see in the world," was also never spoken by him, he said.

"The point is that a study of his life and work do tell us that he could have spoken or written such words, because they capture the spirit of what he did," said Dalton. "That's perhaps the best answer that I can give."

In the end, it's comparable to people thinking that Sarah Palin said, "I can see Russia from my house" (Tina Fey said it while impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live), that Humphrey Bogart uttered the phrase, "Play it again, Sam," in Casablanca, or that Sherlock Holmes said "Elementary, my dear Watson," during any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. A lot of people believe it, even though it's not true.

More information:
» Salon: "19 of history’s most famous misquotes"
» WikiQuote: "List of misquotations"

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Trump 2017: The Funnies

Melissa McCarthy made a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live as Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary best known for tanking his credibility on Day One and then also every day thereafter.

Rosie O’Donnell, a comedian and long-time Trump foe, tweeted out that she would be “ready” if asked to play the part of Steve Bannon, who is currently played by an actor in a skeleton costume.

On Wednesday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced they have placed the clock at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight due to an increase in threats to humanity, such as nuclear warfare and climate change.

Explaining the decision to put the clock as close to midnight as it has been since 1953 (when hydrogen bomb testings in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. put it at two minutes to midnight), the group’s Science and Security Board said: “Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change.”

The board also criticized Donald Trump for making comments about using and proliferating nuclear weapons, which they say adds to an already-threatening world situation: “Even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.”