Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dengue Fever - "Cannibal Courtship"

AV Club:
Dengue Fever’s enduring love for an extinct period of Cambodian psychedelic surf-rock never weighs down its fourth album, Cannibal Courtship, but the band’s eccentric lyrical style sometimes does. “Cement Slippers” has a chorus with a New Pornographers-style keyboard hook—one of several welcome power-pop jolts on the album—hampered by verses that repeatedly fall flat as Chhom Nimol and a slop-voiced Zac Holtzman trade dull jokes about a couple having a shitty time together. The chorus of “Thank You Goodbye” (“you’re just another stamp in my passport”) can’t help but sound like a clumsy attempt to make another jet-setting love song like “Tiger Phone Card,” from 2008’s Venus On Earth. But when Nimol sings in her native Khmer and spreads her voice through the slow, eerie “Uku” and “Sister In The Radio,” Dengue Fever’s tiny corner of world music becomes deliriously entrancing again. The images of high-tech missiles on “Family Business” are just black-humored enough to complement the sinister cool of Holtzman’s guitar riff—they can pull off funny here and there—and Nimol’s vocal on the title track conjures Blondie as much as campy seduction. Cannibal Courtship once again proves that Dengue Fever is far more than tacky exotica, even when it can’t shake a few irritating personality tics.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spotlight: Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

New Yorker:
At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.

Cohen first released what is perhaps his most well-loved song, “Hallelujah,” on his seventh studio album, 1984’s Various Positions. The song has since been performed by nearly 200 different artists in numerous languages, a testament to the incredibly long shadow Cohen has cast over the world of music. Cohen’s star only continued to rise throughout the 1990s, his music reaching a larger and younger audience even as it gravitated towards darkness and social conflict. He was ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk in 1996, taking the Dharma name Jikan, or “Silence.” After five years of seclusion, he returned to writing, recording and touring, releasing two albums in the 2000s and embarking on a 2008-2010 world tour. Cohen’s masterful songwriting continued even into his 14th album, the recently released and unsurprisingly excellent You Want It Darker.

“If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often,” Cohen once said. We have no doubt he is there now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Those Who Stand For Nothing, Fall For Anything"

Quote Investigator:
An interesting precursor for the saying appeared in a Methodist church announcement in an Iowa newspaper from 1926. The word order and meaning were distinct, but the keywords were the same. In 1927 the same precursor was printed as a “Sermonogram” in an Ohio newspaper:
It is easier to fall for anything than to stand for something.
Thanks to Andrew Steinberg for locating and sharing these nascent citations.

The earliest evidence of close match known to QI was published in the January 1945 issue of a journal called “Mental Hygiene”. At the time of publication World War II was still being fought. The adage appeared in an article by the medical doctor Gordon A. Eadie titled “The Over-All Mental-Health Needs of the Industrial Plant, with Special Reference to War Veterans”. Boldface has been added to excerpts:
We are trying to show him not only what we are fighting against, but what we are fighting for. So many of these boys have only a very hazy idea of the real issues of the war. About all they see is “going back to the good old days.” This is a dangerous state. If they don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything. They need to realize that we are fighting two wars—the war of arms and the war of ideas—that other war of which the war of arms is one phase.
The important reference work “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs” from Yale University Press has an entry for this adage and points to the same journal and year for its earliest citation.
Although the saying was employed by Gordon A. Eadie it is not clear whether he crafted it. A few months later the adage was spoken by the popular film actress Irene Dunne during a radio broadcast as indicated below. QI believes that it is reasonable to categorize this expression as an anonymous modern proverb.

The common attribution to the eighteenth-century statesman Alexander Hamilton was probably based on a mistaken understanding of a relatively modern citation. A different man named Alex Hamilton who was a British broadcaster used the saying in 1978. Details are given further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In May 1945 the movie star Irene Dunne participated in a radio program called “Town Meeting of the Air” according to “Radio Life Weekly” magazine, and she spoke a version of the saying:
Before three thousand interested spectators, Irene Dunne, Eddie Cantor, Will Durant and Rev. J. Herbert Smith brought the “Town Meeting of the Air” to Los Angeles with a bang—or should we say a clang…. Miss Dunne capably summed up the affirmative by stating that “If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.”
In July 1945 the mass-circulation “Reader’s Digest” published the saying as a short freestanding item and credited the words to Dunne. “Reader’s Digest” functioned as an important locus for the popularization of quotations:
If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.
— Irene Dunne on America’s Town Meeting of the Air
In November 1945 a newspaper in Canton, New York printed a short announcement about a church service. The expression was used as the title of a sermon by Theodore DeVries:
The Presbyterian Church. Rev. Theodore DeVries minister. Church service at 10:30. Sermon topic. “If We Don’t Stand For Something, We Fall For Anything”. Church School at 11:40.
Also in November another pastor named A.J. Whitney used an instance of the saying as a sermon title as recorded in a Cooperstown, New York newspaper:
Pastor, Rev. A.J. Whitney “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll be sure to fall for anything.”
Wednesday, November 28: Weekly prayer meeting at the parsonage at 8 p.m.
In 1946 an Albany, New York newspaper reported on a meeting of the National Woman’s Party with about 50 attendees. An instance of the adage was mentioned:
Miss Grace Reavy suggested as a slogan for the group, “Unless you stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
At the start of legislative sessions in the U.S. Senate a daily prayer is typically offered by the Senate Chaplain. On April 18, 1947 Chaplain Peter Marshall spoke the following words:
Our Father, we yearn for a better understanding of spiritual things, that we may know surely what Thy will is for us and for our Nation. Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for—because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.
The above valuable citation was listed in the landmark reference “Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service”, and today the saying is sometimes ascribed to Peter Marshall; however, the 1945 citations reveal that the expression was already in circulation before 1947.

In 1948 “The Rotarian” magazine printed an excerpt from a speech given at a Rotary club that referred to the statement by the Senate Chaplain though the phrasing presented differed from the original prayer:
It is something like the present chaplain of the Senate said recently in one of his moving prayers at the recent special session, “Lord, help us to stand for something, because a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”—From a Rotary Club address.
In 1968 Evan Esar’s massive compendium “20,000 Quips and Quotes” presented two variants of the statement:
(1) Some people stand for nothing because they fall for everything.
(2) The people who fall for everything probably stand for nothing.
In 1973 “Time” magazine printed the remarks of peace activist and clergyman William Sloane Coffin Jr. who recounted the advice that he gave to an undergraduate:
My line to him as to so many students in the 1950s was: ‘You’re a nice guy but not yet a good man. If you don’t stand for something, you’re apt to fall for nothing!’
A version of the saying was included in the “Oxford Essential Quotations” database of the “Oxford Reference Online” system. The words were credited to a British writer and broadcaster named Alex Hamilton whose birth date was specified as 1936:
Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.
‘Born Old’ (radio broadcast), in Listener 9 November 1978
The 1978 citation date highlighted the distinction between Alex Hamilton and the U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, but confusion has persisted and incorrect attributions have been frequent.
In 1990 a letter was printed in “SPIN” magazine from Bill Finley who worked for another magazine called “In These Times”:
To paraphrase Gil Scot-Heron’s grandmother’s words: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
In conclusion, QI believes this saying is a modern proverb with unknown authorship. A precursor was in circulation by 1926, and the earliest known close match occurred in an article by Gordon A. Eadie in 1945. Hence, some may wish to credit Eadie. Yet, antedatings are possible in the future. Actress Irene Dunne helped to popularize the expression with her radio appearance and the reprinted quotation in “Reader’s Digest”.

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.”