Friday, November 17, 2017

An Existentialist View of the Book of Revelation

"Our world does not need lukewarm souls, it needs hot hearts." - Albert Camus

Jack Good

Rock ’n’ roll, if it is anything, is pure joy in sound.

Except as represented in Hollywood dross, there really is no singular rock and roll type.  Rockers come from all over the country, all over the world.  I've known rockers who read Rimbaud between performances, and others who were...well, I believe the scientific term is "pre-verbal".  I've known those who made their way to the stage through blues bands, jazz bands, garage bands, country bands, and church choirs.  I've known, and built a guitar for, a rockabilly singer from Australia, a metal head from Brazil, and a ye-ye girl from France.

They have different body types, different accents, different styles.  Some have been married forever; other have a more open regard for the institution.  Some will never, ever be able to turn down a drink, a syringe, or some pills [often all at the same time], others will not even permit a beer in their studio.  I once sat backstage with the bassist of a group for whom we were opening and discussed Beat poetry while his drummer sat in a dark corner and injected himself with heroin.

So, it really should not be a surprise that the fellow who brought the psychedelic world of rock to American living rooms was a middle-aged, bespectacled, umbrella-wielding Oxbridge Englishman in a proper suit.

Jack Good was born in London in 1931.  He graduated from Balliol College of Oxford University where he participated in the theatre community.  This lead to his being hired by the BBC where, by 1957, he had become a producer and was given an extraordinary responsibility.  While the practice in the early days of BBC television was to suspend broadcasting from 6pm to 7pm, ostensibly so that parents could settle their children for the evening, Good thought it an apt time to offer a youth-oriented music show.

Good had been to the States and had seen Dick Clark's American Bandstand and, although he enjoyed the music, found the production too staid and controlled given the style of the music.  Seeking to avoid that in the BBC's version, he found a disk jockey more frenetic than Clark, cleared the sound stage of any sets or props, and filled it with the bands, the audience, and the dancers.

At 6:05pm on February 16, 1957, with the words, "It's time to jive on the old six five with our band, Don Lang and the Frantic Five", the Six Five Special had its debut.  It was nothing like American Bandstand as it was live, largely un-rehearsed, and filled with a mad energy.  That really could have been a description of Good, too.

While intended to fill the broadcasting schedule for a month or so, the Six Five Special was popular enough to be given an open-ended contract, eventually staying on the air for a year-and-a-half.  It probably would have stayed on indefinitely, but the BBC managed to alienate Good by altering his vision of the show and reducing the amount of music.  They also added an educational portion and the football [that is, soccer] scores.  Without Good's vision, the show began to fail and surrendered by the end of 1958.

By that time he had left the BBC for its rival, ITV.  His new bosses noted the possibilities of the Six Five Special and wanted to Good to re-create it for their schedule, and in accordance with his un-diluted vision.  On September 13, 1958, Oh, Boy! premiered with all of the recognizable Good features: open sets, popular music, something resembling dancing, and the adrenaline that comes from an absence of rehearsal.

In turn, Oh, Boy! was succeeded by Good's Boy Meets Girls, another incarnation of the same idea.  By this time, Good's style was being copied by both the BBC and European television studios.  Realizing that the United States was a vast market waiting for something more vivid than Dick Clark's bland product, using his own money, Good produced a pilot episode of an Americanized version of the shows he had been producing in the United Kingdom.  It was rejected by everyone to whom he brought it.  With that, Good returned to England to work on stage production and as an actor in a couple of films.

For the 1964-65 season, ABC-TV was hungry for something that would appeal to the growing youth market and began to review some of the rejected pilots.  When they came across Good's, they offered to purchase his pilot but staff it with their own producer.  When Good promised to have The Beatles on the first broadcast if he were given the role of producer and carte blanch to shape the show, the deal was finalized.

On September 16, 1964, Shindig! was aired. For those at least my age, the show altered our understanding of popular music and captured, as did nothing else at that time, the raw energy of the music.  Shindig! was frenetically filled with performances, dancers, an appreciative audience and occasional, and blissfully brief, interviews with the artists.  Consider this opening medley and the range of music styles represented:


With Shindig!, the so-called British Invasion began, through which Jack Good served as an able curator. Among all of the "one hit wonders" who claimed their fifteen minutes on ABC's stage, there were also groups that not only rose to stardom and fame, but, at least in one spectacular case, are still performing.

Good knew, as few did in the U.S., that it was the blues musicians of the American south who most inspired the music of the British rockers. This was why, against the objections of a few at ABC, he demanded that black musicians appear on the show.  With this willingness to de-segregate pop music on television, and the promise that their idol would appear with them, The Rolling Stones appeared on Shindig! with Howlin' Wolf, the obscure bluesman whom they idolized and who, at the age of 55 and after four decades of performance, became an "overnight" sensation.


As with the BBC, the executives at ABC couldn't help but continually interfere in what was a successful product, and Good, again, left the production. As with the Six Five Special, without Good it ultimately failed. Shindig! was replaced by Batman in the fall of 1966.

Without question, it is Good's vision that determined the look, the sound, and the influences of rock music; an impact that would continue for the remainder of the decade, if not the century. This is why his name should be as well known by those of us who enjoyed the music of the era as are the names of the successful musicians.  Certainly, if for only presenting as many black artists as white, he should be as well-known as Dick Clark.

Good would return to the U.K. and produce musical theatre, occasional documentaries, and even act from time to time. Eventually, he converted to the Church of Rome and spent the remainder of his life in Oxford, selling his religious-themed paintings and recounting the great stories of his days with the rockers to anyone willing to sit with him. He would die at the age of 86 just a couple of months ago.

Upon his death, Good's assistant producer, among the other memories he shared, such as Good pinning "I Love Shindig!" buttons to the cardboard cut-outs of Lawrence Welk that adorned the ABC studio lobby, said that he was hopeful that his former boss had achieved his singular realization of the eternal: “His idea of heaven was Jerry Lee or Cliff Richard or Elvis giving it 100 percent.”

Yeah, he's not the only one.  Thanks, Jack; and thanks for making Howlin' Wolf known, too.  Oh, and those Stones guys.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ah, Australia

Man charged after alleged boomerang assault - Sydney City

I should note that this didn't happen in The Outback, but in the middle of downtown Sydney in the shadow of two cathedrals, a number of department stores and shops, the Westin and Marriot hotels, and what was my residence.

Here's a street view:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Good News for My Sister

WSJ: Google, Shmoogle. Reference Librarians Are Busier Than Ever

Codicil: Only If They Plan on Working for NBC News

NBC News: Science proves kids are bad for Earth. Morality suggests we stop having them.

"Morality".  Good one.

The Episcopal Church Started Doing This Over a Quarter Century Ago, So I'm Glad the People Who Make Our Laws are Getting With the Program

New Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Training for Congress as Lawmakers Accuse Colleagues

Now's a Good Time to Clean House, NYT; Even If It is a Member of Your Politcal Party

Washington Post: What are we going to do about Creepy Uncle Joe Biden?

U.K. Telegraph:  'Creepy Veep' Joe Biden 'nuzzles' wife of colleague and claims he is friends with lots of Somali cab drivers

Washington Examiner:  Joe Biden's woman-touching habit

TPM: Why Does Creepy Uncle Joe Biden Get A Pass?

The New York Times reaction?  This:
The Washington Post, et al, is now "fake news" when they simply show photos of reality?  C'mon, NYT.  If you're really invested in the political party you support in your pages, you will realize that enabling this school of behavior just to get or keep your party in power is no longer operable.  If the DNC, of which The Episcopal Church is an apparent extension, is serious about improving the lives of women in the workplace, this can no longer be ignored or considered "cute".

Of course, I've heard nary a word from any of my ordained colleagues about the behavior of Democrats and party fund-raisers ["bundlers", in the ugly term that's now in vogue] in this regard, even in light of the staggering change in our societal perspective in the last few weeks.  In fact, all I recall from feminist theologians about such behavior a couple of decades ago was some tortured defense of Bill Clinton's "issues".

It's safe to be brave, now, colleagues.  Go be heroes.

Oh, yeah.  Here they go.

NYT: I Believe Juanita

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Yeah, Lucky

It's Convention Weekend, So We'll Hear Myriad Versions of This

Scholars: ‘Love Your Enemies’ Does Not Include People You Disagree With Politically

The Post-Christian Age Sure Has a Lot of Secular Moral Leaders; Pity They're Usually Full of It

Arianna Huffington Ignored Sexual Misconduct at The Huffington Post

Tales from the Age of Intolerance

Augusta ed tech says school department discriminated against her for telling colleague ‘I will pray for you’

One Christian supporting another with a common expression while in the midst of a private conversation is an act worthy of administrative discipline?  This must be a school with no other problems whatsoever.

"Suddenly Seems?" It was Always Morally Indefensible.

My Generation Has a Lot for Which to Answer

It makes me glad that I'm merely a microbe in the great parade of history, rather than one of the "elites".
The ruling generation in Hollywood is out of creative ideas mostly because it invested in political melodrama rather than human tragedy. It cannot make a Western, not just because Santa Monica’s young men long ago lost the ability to sound or act like Texans in 1880, but because its politics have no patience with the real world of noble people who are often doomed, or flawed individuals who are nevertheless defined by their best rather than worst traits, or well-meaning souls who can cause havoc, or courageous men who fight for bad causes. 

Archaeological News

Found: A Rare Carved Stone That Could Rewrite Art History

I Confess to Confusion

The unwritten rules have changed so fast in recent weeks that I'm not sure what's considered virtuous and correct and what isn't.  So, commentators, allow me to ask a couple of questions:

1.  Are we no longer tearing down statues?  I mean, an Episcopal parish in Virginia has gotten into it by taking away their George Washington plaque and, by the time the Episcopal Church thinks something is groovy, the trend has passed, so that's it for now, right?

2.  Have coffee-making machines now become politicized?  Really?  By the way, here's mine.  It was made from leftover copper tubing, so I guess it's Libertarian:

It cost about fifteen bucks and, maybe, an hour's labor.  You can buy it from Etsy for 65 bucks, if you want.

3.  So, a few months back, Vice President Pence was mocked, called a "sexist", etc. for meeting with women either in a place of business or, if in a restaurant, with his wife present.  What was particularly rich is that he was being mocked by Episcopal clergy who are supposed to do the same thing as part of their "safe church" training, but what the heck?

Anyway, given the sordid behavior of our self-appointed moral superiors of Hollywood and Washington D.C., are those who criticized Pence still so mocking, or do they think he may be on to something?  [Asked another way, would you rather your daughter work for a Hollywood producer or Pence?]

I'm Not Sure How Much It Matters, Given That Few of Them Can Actually Sing

‘Whisperpop’: why stars are choosing breathy intensity over vocal paint-stripping

Ah, Australia

Meter reader scared off by brown snake

Golf, Improved

Mongoose, cobra fight it out during golf tournament

Monday, November 13, 2017

I Appreciate That It's Trendy to Despair of the Current Administration,..

...but this former officer is all class and we're lucky to have him in the Defense Department:

Army Veteran Saw a 'Lone Man' at Arlington on Veterans Day — Who It Was Defines What It Means to Serve America

As muses an admiral in John Michener's The Bridges of Toko Ri, “Where do we get such men?"

Alternative Math | Short Film

A Pleasant Travelogue


More Tales of the Post-Christian Age

Also known as the "Age of Atomic Nihilism" or the "Neo-Marxist Age".

1. Flipping Off the President Doesn’t Make You a Hero

When you remove "respect the dignity of every human being" [it's in the Baptismal Covenant] from your repertoire of behavior, especially in such a public manner, all you do is help to make society less civil.

2. No-Shave November is Supposed to Be About Charity, Not Hipster Mustaches

Yes, confusing virtue-signalling actions with charitable giving has a checkered history.  Actually, it largely fails.  It's a much better use of one's charitable giving to donate to one's congregation.  That way, not only are you fully informed as to how the money is to be used, but you have some say in and control over it.

3. Really, when it comes to the ghastly interpersonal escapades of those in the power structure of Hollywood and Washington D.C., I could link to several pages of articles.  If I went back to the Clinton administration, that would take a whole weblog.

So, allow me to observe two things:
1. We may be seeing why human sexuality is enshrined in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, with promises shared and in full view of a congregation of supporters, and
2.  It's a good thing for Hollywood no longer to serve as our moral and ethical superiors.  That was a tawdry attitude, anyway, and one that was un-deserved and self-assigned.

Here's Where Boomers Can Help

 Undoing the Dis-Education of Millennials
I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don’t know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

This is Worth Reading

Washington Post: Mass shootings in gun-free nations

This Fellow Talks to People While Walking; He Published a Peer-Reviewed and Accepted Paper About It

This is in preparation of a doctoral degree, by the way.

Personally, I Have No Issue With This

Against Princeton
The tax on super-sized endowments is a good idea, and the rate of taxation should be significantly higher than the modest one proposed in the current tax bill. Cultural power has become concentrated in a narrower and narrower class of people, and the institutions that serve (and perpetuate) them have become arrogant and detached.
They're also generally anti-Christian, to boot.