Toots Thielemans, 1922 — 2016

August 24, 2016

Musician and composer Toots Thielemans, who brought the chromatic harmonica into the realm of jazz, died Monday in his native Belgium. He was 94.

Active in Europe as a jazz guitarist, Mr. Thielemans moved to the U.S. in 1952. While playing guitar in the George Shearing Quintet he began introducing occasional harmonica and whistling numbers (the whistling recording of his composition “Bluesette” became a hit in 1962). From 1959 on he was in demand as a harmonica player for recording sessions, soundtrack work for films, and television theme songs. He played on many pop records but his first love was always jazz.

Often a soloist with big bands, we feel his best work was with small jazz combos, where the intimate tone of his chosen instrument is most striking. Jean-Baptiste “Toots” Thielemans was named a Baron by King Albert II of Belgium in 2001 and honored with an NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship in 2009.

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GOP Finds the 24 Hispanics Who Back Trump

August 23, 2016

GOP Finds the 24 Hispanics Who Back Trump
After some extreme vetting, the Republican Party found two dozen Spanish-surnamed Americans who support the GOP presidential candidate. Four are rogue Evangelical pastors and the rest are long-time GOP party hacks, including one from Puerto Rico, where American citizens can’t even vote for President. Donald Trump has less support among Hispanic voters than any Republican candidate since 1996.

Mr. Trump met with his “Hispanic Advisory Council” atop the border wall Trump Tower on Saturday. Participants said the candidate suggested that he wants to figure out a “humane and efficient” manner to deal with undocumented immigrants. They took this to mean some kind of a path to legal status rather than a vaguely sinister reference to ethnic cleansing.

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Lochte Wins Olympic Gold In Frat Boy Moves

August 22, 2016

Lochte Wins Olympic Gold In Frat Boy Moves

Ryan Lochte, champion Olympic swimmer and America’s Sexiest Douchbag, is in the news, but not for winning his 12th Olympic medal in Rio. He went to a party at Rio’s Casa França with swim team pals Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger and they got drunk. On their way back to the Olympic Village in the wee hours of August 14th, they had their cab driver stop at a gas station in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca neighborhood so they could take a pee. The restroom door was locked, but boys will be boys and nature abhors a full bladder, so they broke down the door and trashed a soap holder, a mirror, and a “Please Do Not Enter” sign. Two impatient athletes peed against a wall. In other words, just another boys night out for privileged American jocks.

But this didn’t go over so well in upscale Barra da Tijuca. An armed security guard appeared, and the drunken bros paid about $51 toward the damages before their taxi was allowed to pull away.

Ryan Lochte (“So Sexy, So Dumb“) had a short-lived reality TV show called What Would Ryan Lochte Do? In this case what he did was lie, as any spoiled frat boy would. When the teammates got back to the Olympic Village, they claimed they were robbed of $400 at gunpoint by crooks masquerading as police, and Ryan Lochte even told that lie to his mother.

This all fell apart when security video surfaced showing that the four had their wallets when they passed through metal detectors on their return to the athletes village. Surveillance footage from the gas station even showed them breaking down that door.

Swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were pulled off a US-bound plane in Rio on August 17th and questioned by police. Teammate Jimmy Feigen was forced to pay $11,000 to a Brazilian charity before he was allowed to leave the country. And Ryan Lochte, in the true spirit of “I’m-a-celebrity-get-me-outta-here,” left Rio on August 16th, before any of that happened.

So after the 2016 Olympic Games observed their closing ceremonies, the people of Rio remember how America’s spoiled millionaire athletes trashed their city and its reputation and taxed its already overburdened justice system. And total bro Ryan Lochte went back to his 130 pairs of shoeship-hop-tropical-frat-boy wardrobe, and a T-shirt that says “I am Ryan Lochte. Google Me.” Only now when you Google “Ryan Lochte,” you’ll get the word “liar.” That’s one Lochte Olympic record that will never be broken.

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Time After Time

August 21, 2016

“Time After Time,” written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne in 1946, is now a jazz standard, recorded in 1958 by John Coltrane (tenor sax), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Arthur Taylor (drums).

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Funky Broadway, Parts 1 & 2

August 21, 2016

“Funky Broadway, Parts 1 & 2,” written by Arlester Christian and recorded by him with his group Dyke and the Blazers in 1966. It was a big hit for Wilson Pickett the following year.

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Cruel to Be Kind

August 21, 2016

“Cruel to Be Kind,” written by Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm, performed by Mr. Lowe. The video, shot at the Tropicana Motel in West Hollywood, contains actual footage of Nick Lowe’s 1979 wedding to Carlene Carter, with Dave Edmunds as their limo driver.

Nick Lowe website

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You Better Come Home

August 21, 2016

“You Better Come Home,” written by Bert Russell Berns, performed by Varetta Dillard, who breathes life into this indifferent tune (the arrangement helps). Bert Berns made a habit of this latin-ish chord progression (he wrote “Twist and Shout”).

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Snake Farm

August 21, 2016

“Snake Farm”: The inimitable Ray Wylie Hubbard sings about finding romance at a Texas  roadside attraction on Interstate 35 in New Braunfels. Recorded live in 2010 at Threadgill’s in Austin.

Ray Wylie Hubbard website

Tourism note: Snake Farm (founded 1967) is now called Animal World and Snake Farm.

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The Drone Film Festival

August 21, 2016

Highlight montage from the 2016 New York Drone Film Festival. 174 seconds of UAV videos.

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You’ll Lose A Good Thing

August 20, 2016

“You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” written and performed by Barbara Lynn. The song was a hit record for her in 1962.

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