On Being An Educated Philistine

I’m an uncultured bumpkin with little taste for the finer things in life. My list of failures is long and undistinguished. I do not like opera: God knows, I’ve tried; I’ve attended a few performances–thanks to some free tickets sent my way by discerning friends and culture consumers–but no dice, it didn’t catch. I cannotContinue reading “On Being An Educated Philistine”

Subway Buskers And Life’s Soundtrack

This morning, as I alighted at a subway station, I was greeted by music and song and melody. A subway station busker–one of New York City’s most familiar residents and features–was holding forth with instrument and vocal chord; his chords and notes and full-throated voice floated up and around and over me as I madeContinue reading “Subway Buskers And Life’s Soundtrack”

Rediscovering Songs With Children: The Case Of White Rabbit

We like some songs more than others; we play them more often than we do others, wearing out vinyl, styluses, and cassette tapes till we hit the digital. Some songs grow stale; we find them overly familiar; but every once in a while, we return to them, and discover them anew. Sometimes it is becauseContinue reading “Rediscovering Songs With Children: The Case Of White Rabbit”

The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’

Legend has it that Mohandas Gandhi adored Abide With Me, “a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk‘s…’Eventide‘.” I learned of this particular proclivity of the Mahatma long after I had first heard the hymn’s notes as a child attending or watching the Beating RetreatContinue reading “The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’”

‘Straight Outta Compton’ And Ambivalence

A couple of weeks ago, I finally watched F. Gary Gray‘s Straight Outta Compton, the cinematic biography of N.W. A. (More accurately, I saw the ‘Unrated Director’s Cut,’ which features an additional twenty minutes not found in the theatrical release.) Since then, many tracks from the N. W. A, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and EazyContinue reading “‘Straight Outta Compton’ And Ambivalence”

On Not Participating In A Collective Mourning

It’s an odd business to not be participating in a collective¬†mourning. By ‘collective,’ of course, I mean ‘seemingly widespread and ubiquitous within my social space.’ In this case, I’m referring to the mourning following the death of Prince last week. There are: musical tributes, personal testimonials, remembrances, markers in public spaces–all the manifestations of aContinue reading “On Not Participating In A Collective Mourning”

Peter Gay On Bourgeois Insecurities (And Mine)

In Pleasure Wars:¬†The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud, (WW Norton, New York, 1998) Peter Gay writes: Only the most determined could gather up the leisure and the energy after a hard week’s toil, or for that matter the money, to haunt museums, or follow compositions in the concert hall with a score, let alone travelContinue reading “Peter Gay On Bourgeois Insecurities (And Mine)”

Why It’s Okay To Mourn, To Cry For, The Passing Of Strangers

Many silly things are written when celebrities die. One is that you cannot speak ill of the dead. Another is that you cannot mourn for those whom you did not know personally. A variant of this is that visible expressions of grief for those you did not have personal acquaintance with are ersatz, inauthentic, aContinue reading “Why It’s Okay To Mourn, To Cry For, The Passing Of Strangers”

A Well-Misunderstood Lyric

Misunderstanding the lyrics of songs is not a sign of cognitive deficiency; rather it is an entirely honorable–and creative–activity that for years has provided listeners with considerable pleasure, allowing them to experience, if only for a deluded moment or two, the satisfaction of being a songwriter of sorts. Consider, for instance, the genius who firstContinue reading “A Well-Misunderstood Lyric”

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, And Ours

There are many ways of coming to realize you are turning into a sentimental fool in your old age. One of them is to find tears in your eyes when you listen to a ‘sappy song’ on a cinematic quasi-bildungsroman‘s soundtrack. Which was indeed my experience last night as I finally watched Richard Linklater‘s twelve-years-in-the-makingContinue reading “Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, And Ours”