OK, last week was a bad week for the USA. A very bad week. So what am I going to about it? Cry and bitch and moan? Yes, I’ll do that, some.
But then I’ll focus on November 6th and fight back against “the Slave Power.” (That’s what they used to call it, in pre-Civil War days, the corrupt oligarchy that sought to rule—and almost ruin—our nation. Not much has changed.)
I’m going to phone-bank into districts where a Democrat can unseat a Republican.
The Democrats need only 23 seats to take back the House in 2018.
And I’m also going to live my micro-life, proudly and happily. I’m not going to let Trump and the entire GOP pollute my life.
I’m going to listen to music and watch post-season baseball and read my books.
I’m going to listen to a lot of Montserrat Caballe who died this week. “La Superba.” I never saw the great Spanish soprano sing, but she comes up regularly on my opera stream. I love beautiful voices, and there were few more beautiful than Caballe’s. Critics mined their thesauruses: “limpid,” “liquid,” “shimmering,” “quicksilver,” “celestial,” “unearthly,” “velvety,” “voluptuous,” “lustrous,” “ravishing." Stereo Review summed it up in 1992, “She possesses one of the most beautiful voices ever to issue from a human throat."
She achieved some notoriety with duets with Freddie Mercury and, of course, she was famous as the queen of cancellations. The standard joke was that at the beginning of the year her agent would announce that ‘Mme. Caballé is available for only a limited number of cancellations this season.'” True diva temperament.
Sometimes the beauty of her voice – especially her exquisite, unearthly pianissimo – got in the way of her characterizations, and she wasn’t the greatest actress or cut the most attractive figure onstage or had much of a trill, but that’s OK with me. I’ll settle for one of the most beautiful voices ever to issue from a human throat.
“Com’e bello” from “Lucrezia Borgia” by Donizetti – Carnegie Hall, 4/20/65 – Substituting for an indisposed Marilyn Horne, Caballe stuns the musical world. Hear her magical “star is born” moment. (The main melody starts around 3:30.)
“Depuis le jour” from LOUISE by Charpentier – Live and just ravishing
“Io Son L’umile Ancella” from ADRIANA LECOUVREUR by Giordano– live, 1972
“Tu che le vanita” from DON CARLO by Verdi – live, 1972 – She triumphed in the role of Elisabetta in the 1970 Giulini recording with Placido Domingo in the title role. This weekend, he dedicated the last performance of this run of that great work at the LA Opera to her. (Of course, now he’s singing the baritone role of Posa, not the tenor.)
I spent a lot of the weekend watching as much of the live stream from the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco as I could. So much great music!! I watched big chunks of sets by favorites Steve Earle, Los Lobos (twice!), Mavis Staples, David Bromberg, the Flatlanders, Booker T. Jones’ Stax Review, and even one of my old stand-bys, Tracy Nelson.
I loved seeing my new enthusiasms Hurray for the Riff Raff, Alynda Segarra’s group, and I’m With Her, the acoustic supergroup with Sarah Jarosz, Sarah Watkins, and Aolfe O’Donovan. Graham Nash pleasantly surprised me with his set. Brilliant work by his guitarist Shayne Fontayne (Lone Justice/Sting/Springsteen’s “impostor” band). And it was good to see Nick Lowe with the Los Straitjackets. He sang a lovely, slow version of “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding” that fit the day perfectly.
I saw some acts that were new to me: The War and Treaty … Robert Finley … and will sample more when I have the time. Some of my real favorites like Emmylou Harris (the festival’s traditional closing act) and Alison Krauss chose not to stream, but there was plenty of great music.
All of this music is online – right now!!! And they keep the archives up from HSBG festivals going back to 2002.
I’m going to catch acts I missed: Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore with the Guilty Ones and Rodney Crowell and Justin Townes Earle and the Wailing Jennys….
I’ve also been in baseball heaven the past few days. On Friday, I watched big chunks of four games, a few over the weekend, three on Monday, and I’ve loved it all (except when the Dodgers lost, which they shouldn’t have.) I’ve been Tivoing and erasing, Tivoing and erasing.
Most of the games have been extremely exciting. The pitching has been superb: the teams that get into the post-season are there because they have great pitching. There have already been amazing outings by Gerrit Cole of the dangerous champion Houston Astros (12 strike-outs and no walks) and Clayton Kershaw, and not-so-amazing outings by David Price of the dangerous Boston Red Sox (only lasting 1-2/3 innings) and Alex Wood. And what happened to the Colorado Rockies??
The Dodgers look good (except for Sunday night), and they might be peaking at the right time. The Brewers look very tough. In this up-and-down season, I can’t believe that the Dodgers have a real shot at the Series again.
The older I get, the more I love baseball.
I couldn’t have a better distraction at this horrible time for our country than these great games. When they are over, I’ll go back to phone banking. I’m not going to call back to a New York congressional district when the Yankees are playing.
The last play of every World Series for the last 25 years
Baseball’s most ridiculous catches – Guaranteed to make you smile.
I’ve been dipping into some books before I work up the courage to start THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. I look around my end table and my desk and see EMPIRE OF LIBERTY by Gordon S. Wood (a great book), SHAKESPEARE AFTER ALL by Marjorie Garber, LAND OF THE FIREBIRD by Suzanne Massie, LAUREL CANYON by Michael Walker, a book of Van Gogh’s letters to Theo, THE WESTERN CANON by Harold Bloom, R. CRUMB’S SEX OBSESSIONS, and 50 PHOTO ICONS. And my Kindle.
The more books, the better.
Anything to hold down this anger.
Mitch McConnell may have won this battle, but history will write his name in excrement.
My advice, to others and myself: do something … or stop complaining.