December 2012


Frank Sinatra photographed by Bill Gottlieb, 1947, at a recording session

When I was an adolescent, I was obsessed with being cool and hip. An older friend once got quite upset with me when he asked me what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’ and I replied, “I just want to be cool.”

I love the way Wynton Marsalis defines ‘cool’, in the documentary Bill Gottlieb: Riffs

“I always have loved this picture of Frank Sinatra. Just the whole thing, is like the essence of cool. He’s looking off; kind of got a harshness.

“The essence of cool is always harsh, because cool is always the denial of something. So the warmth of cool is very deep. The actual essence of hipness is denial; and that’s what makes you hip – is that you’re able to push things away from you.”

Bill Gottlieb was a jazz aficionado, critic, and photographer. He was one of the first and best photographers to properly document jazz musicians in the ‘golden age’ of modern jazz.

Using a big Speed Graphic press camera which had a very limited film capacity – two negatives per cartridge, which needed to be separately loaded – his rapport with the musicians and his sense of the perfect moment were crucial to these most iconic of jazz photos.

Many of his photos were taken in the short span of two years, 1946-1947.  Bill Gottlieb: Riffs is a documentary about his photographs and the musicians, with many colorful and telling anecdotes. If you like biographies, photography and/or jazz, you will love this documentary.

Another great photographer of note was Francis Wolff. He co-founded Blue Note Records with Alfred Lion. It was one of the preeminent jazz labels, known for supporting new artists and new ideas in jazz. They were taste-makers and visionaries, always on the cutting edge. Another good documentary that tells their story is: Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz.



Smedly Butler on cannon fodder


This post is a reprint by one of my favorite author/journalists, Jake Adelstein, from his blog on Goodreads. It is in reference to the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21st, 2012 – supposed by some to be the date of the end of the known universe. For years, we heard about ‘the end of the world’ in 2012!

It’s hilarious! And I highly recommend Goodreads to all you literati. I’ve posted some short reviews of  books that I recommend there, under my nom de plume, AmyEighttrack. Enjoy!


The End Of The World And This Blog & Final Chances. Sayonara!

“This post has been scheduled to post before midnight GMT of LA time, which as we know, was the official time zone of the once thriving Mayan culture, that predicted the world would end today. And please ignore any factual refutation of that based on science or common sense. Did Mitt Romney get elected President of the United States? No. We rest our case.

It’s already the 21st in Japan but that doesn’t count because the Mayans barely knew Japan and only visited the country once in their spaceships.

“The moon shall swallow the sun, and the universe swallow the earth.” This is an actual photo of what is not happening right now in accordance with Mayan prophecy.

Mayan prophecy moves on Mayan time. Even an 8 year old boy knows this. And an 8 year old boy also knows that not even the end of the world* should get in the way of making a little more money. So here’s the deal, we’re offering any of our loyal readers. You bet the Japan Subculture Research Center $100 that world will end today, just to be nice, we’ll bet it won’t end, and if we’re wrong, we’ll pay you double! That’s right double your money. You may lose the world but you’ll gain $200. That’s more than 10,000 yen!

Why are we making this generous wager? Because it’s all about reciprocity. We wanted to thank you for all the years we’ve had together. It’s all about giri 義理 (duty, honor) – paying one’s debts or paying one’s dues, or paying huge franchise fees. Well, giri has many meanings. Pick whichever meaning makes this sound like a good deal.

We started this blog in 2007, hardly aware that we were doomed to end by December 21st, 2012. By the end of this day, it’ll all be over. But you still have a chance to end your life on this earth, a winner. Just go to that Paypal button on the front page. As of today, this is the final, final, final entry.* Sayonara!

See you on the other side!

*End of the world, is defined under these terms, as the ceasing of all human, animal  and plant life, on planet earth. “Today” means with 25 hours of this posting.

*In the oft chance, the world does not end, then this will not be the final entry and we’ll swiftly delete that last line and hope no one notices. All bets made in advance should be considered payment for investment advice not bets in a gambling sense and are non-refundabele in physical or metaphysical world. Peace out!.”