MY FAVORITE POEM (Not Quite Random Favorites….In No Particular Order)

I won’t get any prizes for being original in my taste or thinking, but I’m kind of proud of having latched on to my favorite poem almost the moment I grew to be a man and left childish things behind.

It was published in 1921. It’s theme is so prescient hat, a century later, when history fails to produce a Rough Beast(a Hitler, Stalin, Mao), we invent one in our imagination (as we’re doing with Donald Trump now–on both sides), even if we call him something else.

More about that later, some day when I’m up to it. For now, just know that, as a Scottish realist, I have no problem admitting that the mystic Irishman saw all:

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

 William Butler Yeats (1921)

And ya’ll know Eddie’s rewrite don’t you?

WAIT, THERE WAS AN ELECTION?

I didn’t miss it. Not really.

I didn’t comment on the lon-n-n-n-n-g lead-up because I had no better idea of what would happen than anyone else.

My only personal interested was voting against Andrew Gillum, the man who, as Mayor of Tallahassee, turned Leon County into the crime capital of Florida four years running. For those who don’t know much about my lovely home state, that’s a rough equivalent of making a docudrama where somebody turns Mayberry into the crime capital of North Carolina (and, apparently in an attempt to practice what he preaches, drawing FBI investigators like mosquitoes in August). And for those who think being Mayor of Tallahassee shouldn’t make you responsible for what happens in all of Leon County, let me tell you what Leon County, where I’ve lived and/or worked for most of my adult life, is.

It’s Tallahassee and a bunch of trees.

I didn’t care who Gillum ran against. I don’t even know who it was. I think it might have been Luciferus Satanicus of Sebastian Inlet. Didn’t matter. Gillum lost, so my night was made. (As with Trump in 2016, I called it hours before CNN did.)

If Gillum hadn’t been running, I probably wouldn’t have voted at all. The ballyhooed Senate race was Worm-Versus-Waxwork. I left it blank.

As for the rest of the beleaguered nation, it turned out the polls and pundits had it about right.

The Senate moved significantly Pro-Trump (call it to the Right it it makes you feel better), and the House moved almost as significantly Anti-Trump (Left and ditto).

Since the House, mired in decades of uselessness, is almost powerless to do anything on its own except conduct investigations which are unlikely to lead anywhere, and pass budgets everyone ignores, I think the Pro-Trump forces emerged slightly stronger in the short run and, due to the ability to move judges onto the Federal bench more quickly and efficiently, quite a bit stronger in the long run. The lifetime appointments can now proceed apace.

Except for their ability to shift courts one direction or the other, and rubber stamp executive orders, legislatures matter little now. If you think the Kavanaugh hearing was a circus full of clowns, wait until it’s Amy Coney Barrett taking over for RBG.

That’s just one more feature of exhausted Empire–government by fiat and decree.

I’m guessing Donald Trump won’t be one to waste that sort of opportunity.

I also don’t think it matters much.

Trump might turn the economy around, shift the emphasis from Wall Street back to Main Street for a while. By some metrics (unemployment, restoring the manufacturing base, hitting “free trade” in the head) he’s already done it.

But he can’t restore the culture or revive the American Narrative.

It’s all headwinds now.

The only people who aren’t getting worked up are me and Eddie.

Must have something to do with being life-long Floridians.

 

THANK GOD WE’RE ALL RATIONAL HERE….

….And confining all efforts directed at statue removal and defacement to those Confederates, like the ones found on Mount Rushmore…

And in amongst George Washington’s officer corps….

…In hotbeds of Reactionary Secession like South Dakota and Ohio.

Must say I’m really relieved. I thought for a minute there things might get out of hand!

Take it Gene….

and, since YouTube keeps insisting, take it Eddie…

DIAMONDS IN THE SHADE (Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose Up)

“Don’t Ever Be Lonely (A Poor Little Fool Like Me)”
Cornelius Brothers & Sister  Rose (1972)
Billboard: #23
Billboard R&B: #28
Billboard Adult Contemporary: #27
Recommended source: Classic Masters

corneliusbrothers2

If you want to speak of artists who get little respect, speak of Supper Club Soul, a typically lilting, often ballad-oriented, variation on what came to be called “Beach Music” after the dance music preferred by Carolina shaggers in the sixties and seventies. Even at its most insistent (say, The Chairmen of the Board’s “Give Me Just A Little More Time”) the sound tended to be lighter and brighter than the main streams of Southern and Urban Soul that dominated both the charts and the critical discussion (such as it was) of what black people were up to in the period.

As little real understanding as the crit-illuminati evince of Stax and Motown, Supper Club Soul remains barely noticed at all. Its geniuses–Dionne Warwick, The 5th Dimension, Lionel Richie–collectively await a single nomination on those Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballots that, year after year, find room for artists (mostly white and male) from other genres who are, shall we say, less than genius.

I don’t know if Eddie Cornelius, the lead singer and songwriter for Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose, was a minor genius who just didn’t get the right opportunity to fulfill his entire destiny, or a superb craftsman who happened to be in the right place at the right time. I’m continually fascinated by those who walk up to the very edge of fame and then recede from our view, having left behind a few beautiful memories, but I don’t profess to understand why one voice goes on and another falls by the wayside.

I do know that Eddie’s vocal on this record is a great, forgotten moment in seventies soul–his characteristic dry, distinctive baritone on the verses gently pierced on the chorus by one of the loveliest falsettos this side of heaven, mounting to transcendence as it repeats.

It was the follow-up to “Treat Her Like a Lady” and “Too Late to Turn Back Now,” two monster hits (which he also wrote) that, in nearly half a century, have never left the radio. And it was every bit as good. Whether its air of melancholy–common to Eddie’s vocals but accentuated here into something that reaches just an inch or two further–was the cause of its slightly less impressive chart showing, or simply a cosmic indicator of the group’s subsequent rapid fade (which occurred despite a sting of fine releases which are collected on the comp recommended above), is impossible to say. But, sometimes, time is the best revenge. That might be worth remembering in the days ahead: