Phil Ochs, There But for Fortune
April 08, 2011
Thirty-five years ago this Saturday, Phil Ochs, the earnest singing polemicist of the 1960s, hanged himself. He suffered from depression and other emotional problems, as his father had, and he drank too much. I was thinking of Ochs earlier this week, when I was with a group of legal scholars at a conference on “Bob Dylan and the Law” at the Fordham University Law School.
Remembering the Forgettable Nick Hathaway
April 01, 2011
Jameson “Nick” Hathaway, the Tin Pan Alley tunesmith who died this week at age 96, is most memorable for his forgetability. Among song composers of the pre-rock era, Hathaway was such a marginal figure, even in his time, that his name long ago drifted off the margins, off the desktop, out of the room, and took a drive to a place populated only by minor academics, nostalgaists, and other people like me.
Happy Birthday, Sam Cooke
January 21, 2011
Rock stars of the 1960s have begun turning 70, and the aging of a generation that defined its culture by its youth has prompted the sucking of veiny thumbs. I did mine last October, right here, on the seventieth anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. Earlier this month, Joan Baez turned 70; Neil Diamond will do the same on January 24; Bob Dylan will have his seventieth birthday in May, followed by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, along with the likes of David Crosby, George Clinton, and Paul Anka.
The Ballads of Steven Slater
August 20, 2010
Among the more rational propositions blurted forth by John Lennon in the early 1970s was a notion to release his new songs on cardboard 45-RPM singles. Lennon had just relocated from London to New York, and he seemed to be following the tracks of Bob Dylan's bootheels from Dylan's first days in the city a decade earlier, when he had fashioned himself after Woody Guthrie as a leftie newshound with an acoustic guitar.
Obama Lied, People Died
May 11, 2010
Pete Wehner has uncovered a new Obama Lie: In his commencement address, Obama insists he doesn’t know how to work an iPod. But here’s an item that appeared on the Huffington Post on June 25, 2008: WASHINGTON — Bob Dylan. Yo-Yo Ma. Sheryl Crow. Jay-Z. These aren’t musical acts in a summer concert series: They’re artists featured on Barack Obama’s iPod. “I have pretty eclectic tastes,” the Democratic presidential contender said in an interview to be published in Friday’s issue of Rolling Stone. Is that distant sound we hear the Truth Meter going off again? Stop the lies, Mr.
The catastrophe that befell the Jewish people under the Nazis was not the end of the story. Renewal came to Jewry in the creation of the State of Israel, a society rooted in the tradition, at once spiritual and rational, but also intimately tied to the modern sensibility of science and human development. The six million Jews who live as citizens of the United States are also an historic milestone: This is the first cohort of Jews since the Second Commonwealth who live—and live richly—under laws of both equality and justice. The third phenomenon may at first glance seem almost trivial.
April 28, 2010
Last week, the tech blog Gizmodo scored a major scoop by publishing images and video of the brand new iPhone 4G, blasting the website's traffic into the stratosphere, embarassing the notoriously secretive Apple company, and prompting a police raid on Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's house. How did Gizmodo find the phone? A careless Apple engineer left the prototype in a bar. The story has dominated media conversations ever since, so we thought we'd put together some other tales of infamous items lost, stolen, or simply misplaced. Item: The U.S.
They Aren't the World
March 05, 2010
Having survived the past 25 years without ever having written the words "we," "are," "the," and "world" in that sequence in a sentence, I am bringing up the oppressively overhyped Haiti-earthquake version of that anthem of superstar piety only because it connects to some of the issues I've started to discuss here over the past few weeks. There is not much to say that's worth saying about the recent video, which brings Quincy Jones together with a digitally generated avatar of Michael Jackson and a surgically generated facsimile of Lionel Richie.
Dylan at the White House
February 18, 2010
There was hardly time to shake the image of a gnomish Pete Townshend whirling his game old right arm around on the Super Bowl stage when another batch of tottery Boomer music stars showed up on YouTube, this time in clips from the fifth concert in the Obamas' White House Music Series.
Another Story About Ron Artest and Hasidic Jews
September 22, 2009
David Roth is a writer living in New York. They cruise through cities, klezmer pumping from the speakers of RVs emblazoned with the image of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. They approach even vaguely Semitic-seeming pedestrians with the question, "Are you Jewish?" and are known for their expansionist approach to growing their congregations.