Archive | July, 2016

July Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

27 Jul



These times hark back to RFK’s commitment to racial justice. His advocacy of ending racism reminds us that his message is worth considering now, more than ever. While on the campaign trail, he revealed to the crowd that Dr Martin Luther King, Jr had just been killed, saying: “What we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness but is love, and wisdom and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”



Liberté. Égalité. Fraternité … That is what Bastille Day should be all about, commemorating the storming of the Bastille, the prison that represented the despicable Bourbon monarchy, and sowed the beginnings of the French Revolution in 1789 … Growing up I remember going to the parade on the Champs-Élysées with my Parisian father, a crowded and humbling event to witness. And in our home, he proudly raised this flag, honoring La Fete Nationale.


Then day turned to night, fireworks to gunfire, celebration to tragedy, when a truck mowed down scores of people on the Promenade des Anglais in the beautiful southern city of Nice and Bastille Day celebration was no more. “The horror, the horror has once again, hit France,” said President Holland. But she is strong … Vive la France!



Peace. Atonement. Human Dignity … That was Elie Wiesel’s mission, his message to all of humanity. This from someone who survived the worst of humanity, not even humanity, it was nonhumanity … President Obama eulogized him, “We give thanks that Elie never gave up on humanity and on the progress that is possible when we treat one another with dignity and respect.”



His paintings are like music. They have rhythm. Just look at Swing Landscape (1938) by Stuart Davis. The Gloucester, MA waterfront is shown in bright colors and rhythmic patterns, realistic yet abstract, a modern rendering in American pop culture terms … “For me jazz was the only thing that corresponded to an authentic art in America. I think all my paintings, at least in part, come from this influence.”



The Royal Mail issued a set of stamps to celebrate 50 years of Pink Floyd. The album covers made into stamps include The Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Endless River. Another four stamps show the band performing on tour, including one photo from a concert at London’s UFO Club in 1966!



Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s timely exhibit, Louder Than Words: Rock, Power & Politics, explores the power of rock to change attitudes about patriotism, peace, equality, and freedom. Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello: “I’d say that 100 percent of music is political, that music either supports the status quo or challenges the status quo, so every artist is political.”


Have you watched Endeavor, the latest version of PBS’s longtime Inspector Morse series that also includes Inspector Lewis? It is the story of how Morse became Morse … As all three, Morse, Lewis, and Endeavor, take place in the university environs of Oxford, the Humanities take center stage. Philosophers and historians abound. Everybody here is smart. Most of all, Morse … Even the music is smart. Composed by the great Pheloung Barrington, the music uses Morse code to give us hints of whodunit in the score … And M-O-R-S-E is spelled out in Morse code in the opening notes of the theme melody. Barrington says, “It was just a little in-joke. I put his name at the beginning and then it recurred all the way through. Although a note to The Guardian pointed out that it actually spells T-O-R-S-E, as I’d slightly lengthened the dots on the ‘M’. I mean, honestly, some artistic license please, just because I asked the violinists to play a little more legato!”



Remember that Billy Crystal line? An essential prescription for life, Keepin’ the Funk Alive, is also the name of Kool and the Gang’s tour. No JT, but original members, brothers Ronald and Robert “Kool” Bell, George Brown, and Dennis Thomas still celebrating. Also on the tour are Bootsy Collins, Morris Day and the Time, and Doug E. Fresh.

On Celebration: “We woke up one morning and they were playing Celebration on the space shuttle! We were scientists of sound!…[From] Scripture where the creator’s gonna create this human thing and the angels were celebrating him for doing so…There was never a song about a cel-e-bra-tion. Everyone around the world, come on, there’s a celebration every second of our lives. Somewhere, someone is always celebrating something.”


Thanks to May Pang for grabbing this pic of the coda of an incredibly heartfelt and celebratory service in honor of our great friend, Jon Marcus, longtime executive director of the New York office of the Recording Academy, the Grammy office. We were his happy minions, all enthusiastic members, ready to help whenever he called. A beautiful service, it ended with Charlie Feldman singing Satisfaction with Carlos Alomar on guitar, Jon looking upon his beautiful bride, Deb Whitfield, and all of us, his gathered friends, jumping up and singing, too. A wonderful life to celebrate.


So my Brother from Another Mother and Father (as we long ago called ourselves), Joe Perry, gave us a scare. Performing with Hollywood Vampires, his band with Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp, he collapsed and was hospitalized during their show in Brooklyn. Two weeks later he was back on stage on tour with the band. Celebrating his recovery is a good thing.


Twyla Tharp’s return to the Joyce Theater included early works, Brahms Paganini and Country Dances, both with her signature hip rolls and big brash attitude. Employing classical, jazz, and pop music while blending ballet and modern dance, her artistry celebrates humanity, joy, and life!



In Shelter Dogs, photographer Traer Scott’s compassionate portraits of dogs living in shelters make a passionate and compelling appeal to dog lovers. By revealing their expressive emotions, Scott raises awareness of animal rescue causes and the need for more adoptive homes for abandoned dogs … Photographer Nancy LeVine traveled the country, taking pictures of senior dogs along her way. Senior Dogs Across America, a compilation of photos and stories, is dedicated to “anyone who has ever loved a dog, young or old.” … Garry Gross’s photography in Beautiful Old Dogs is a heartfelt tribute that may inspire you to get involved in senior dog rescue and adoption.



Stand Up For Heroes, the partnership between the New York Comedy Festival and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, is a clearinghouse for organizations supporting wounded warriors dealing with physical wounds to long-term PTSD. Make a donation in honor of Jon Marcus to help them continue to help veterans get better and get jobs.

Soundtrack to this Issue


Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’
The Tracks of My Tears

The Library of Congress is honoring Smokey Robinson with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. His 1965 classic, The Tracks of My Tears, was added to the National Recording Registry in 2007 as a “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant sound recording.”

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

People say I’m the life of the party
Because I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I’m blue

So take a good look at my face
You know my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

Who rescued whom?
At the New York Tartan Day Parade.
So grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l
“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”


RFK quote: Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon by Larry Tye (Random House 2016)
Elie Wiesel quote: Boston Globe
Stuart Davis quote: Indiana University Art Museum
Pheloung Barrington quote:
Kool and the Gang’s Bell brothers quote: Rolling Stone, June 29, 2015
Jon Marcus memorial service pic: May Pang
We Can Help pic: Bob Woodruff Foundation
The Tracks of My Tears lyrics: Marvin Tarplin, Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore, William Robinson, Jr. ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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