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Casablanca, Thoreau, Haydn, Even Ayn Rand: A Thanksgiving Weekend LiveWire

| November 25, 2010

© Giuseppe Desideri

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Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links

Starred Comment: Norton Smitty on the “Less Fortunate”

Norton Smitty reacting to the Feed Flagler fund-raiser (to which he was a generous contributor), in a comment on Nov. 25:

darrell smith flagler beach

Darrell Smith, aka Norton Smitty (© FlaglerLive)

Good news! We all need to do what we can to help our less fortunate. Shit, no! No! That’s not the right way to put it at all! I can’t believe I just sunk to describing the folks we are helping in those condescending and hackneyed terms. Me of all people!

But then again, when we hear the term “Less Fortunate”, we have been conditioned to automatically think of a polite term for the poor, flawed losers we pass on Ridgewood or see on the news. But at it’s root, this term pretty much sums it up if you think about it. Not less fortunate because of what they do or do not own. Things like intelligence they can market or even the defects and bad habits they have come to posses, these are the only difference between them and us. Compared to you and me and our crowd, they have definitely been Less Fortunate. Brains, looks family, wealth, drive, or the ability just not to fuck their life up, they got dealt a lesser hand. At least at this moment in our lives they are not doing as well as we are. But if you have ever played Poker, you know that lady luck can bite you in the ass in a heartbeat, and this could be you and yours tomorrow

As someone who went from flying his own twin engined airplane between his Pittsburgh and DC offices to sleeping under a sheet of plywood next to the RR tracks in North Miami (and perversely feeling more free than any one of you can imagine) I have a pretty warped perspective on life.

But one thing I am willing to bet on is that you reap what you sow. The only thing you have in this life that can’t be taken from you is a tattoo and what you’ve done to help others. When you are really desperate, you can’t pawn either, but the latter seems to have a value.

So don’t let this be the end of your charity, your not getting off the hook that easy. Give a bum a ten, fix something for someone who needs it but can’t afford it, overtip a waitress that has a kid, do something to put a warm fuzzy in the Karma bank. You aren’t doing it for them.

Trust me, you never know when you’re gonna’ have to make a withdrawal.

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Thank You, FlaglerLive Readers

A little over two weeks ago, FlaglerLive launched a fund-raiser to contribute its share to Feed Flagler, the countywide dollar and food drive that underwrote Wednesday’s free Thanksgiving meals for more than 2,000 people, collected some $15,000 and many tons of non-perishable food for local food pantries. Our goal here at FlaglerLive was to raise $1,000. Thanks to your generosity, we ended up raising $1,100.01. Several of you contributed twice, including Anthony Kales, who put us over the top with his second contribution, and that extra cent. Suzanne Johnston, the tax collectors and the overall winner of this year’s fund-raising drive (she raised $3,400) called in and said she was ready to put us over the top with a personal contribution of her own, which was wonderful–and especially wonderful, because next year Suzanne will be our chief rival: we aim to outraise you, Ms. Johnston. One other very generous contributor, who asked to remain anonymous, promised that if we fell short by whatever amount, he would write a check for the rest, which not only proved unnecessary: a few contributions came in after we’d made our goal, which will have us write a second check to the county. Cheryl presented the first check on Wednesday, to county commissioners Milissa Holland and Nate McLaughlin. We thank you all from the bottom of our keyboards. Here’s our final thermometer and the final list of contributors:

  • Hollingsworth Gallery’s JJ Graham
  • David Millonig in Pensacola
  • Nancy Nally in Palm Coast
  • Darrell Smith in Flagler Beach
  • Palm Coast Bible Church ($100)
  • Inna & John Hardison
  • Anthony Mike Kales, twice
  • Kendall Clark, twice
  • Jim Guines
  • Lynn Snyder
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Ann DeLucia (thank you for pushing us over the half-way mark)
  • Anonymous ($100)
  • Phyllis Jenkins
  • Sharon Hennessey Pinard, twice
  • Charlie Ericksen
  • Mario diGirolamo
  • Neal Ecker
  • Timothy McCue
  • Kathleen Tomlinson ($100)
  • Beverly Robinson

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Rampant Cheating at UCF

From Open Culture: “There’s high drama in the classroom at the University of Central Florida. Richard Quinn, a longtime business instructor, gives 600 students their mid-term exam. Then comes the anonymous tip that cheating is rampant. Forensic analysis bears that out. Ultimatums are made. Moral lessons drawn. Soon the confessions – all 200 of them – follow. A rough day for all involved.”

The Passionate Life

Wofford College president Ben Dunlap tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who taught him about passionate living and lifelong learning. Watch:

Henry David Thoreau: The Journals

From Thoughtcast: “Henry David Thoreau is justly famous for his book Walden, which tells the story of the two years he spent living by the pond, in the Concord woods. But he also wrote a journal, which he started at age 20 in 1837, and kept up until 1861, shortly before he died. This diary of Thoreau’s daily thoughts and experiences has just been published by New York Review Books Classics, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this autumn. Edwin Frank, the editor of the series, speaks with ThoughtCast at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

The Myth of the Hero Entrepreneur

Esther Dyson, from Project Syndicate: “All over the world, little boys study math and science in the hope of becoming the next Bill Gates. But having your own local Gates is much more compelling. I’ll always remember what a Russian friend said to me back in 1991 at a conference I organized in Hungary: “Of course we all know about Bill Gates in Russia. But he’s not relevant to us: he lives in the US; he went to Harvard. But seeing what the Hungarians have done – that means something to us. It lets us dream of what we could do ourselves.” Yet sometimes I think this hero-entrepreneur myth is dangerous. In an economy such as the United States, where start-ups are revered, people who would make perfectly good project supervisors or salespeople establish their own companies, starving the ecosystem of middle managers. Thousands of perfectly smart and highly useful people feel inadequate because they are not heroes. Many make the wrong career choices in search of glory. […] So, rather than focusing on the supposed shortage of entrepreneurs, consider for a moment the very real shortage of qualified people willing to work for them. For every Bill Gates or Steve Jobs who founds a company, a healthy economy needs tens, hundreds, and ultimately thousands of such troops. […] Countries that want to be successful overall, rather than merely to play host to a couple of billionaire entrepreneurs who eventually will decamp to a tax haven, must focus on building a strong educational system for all their citizens. That is where the notion of the entrepreneur as hero can be helpful – by inducing more young people to study math and science, which will help them in many ways even if they pursue a non-technical career.” The full column.

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Play It Again, Casablanca

At Thanksgiving most people like to watch movies like “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (for good reason) and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But is there really a greater movie, any time of year, than Casablanca? It premiered on Nov. 26, 1942, in New York City, on Thanksgiving day–about a half year earlier than originally scheduled. The Allies had just landed in North Africa. They needed a good propaganda boost back home. Bogart, Bergman and Claude Rains obliged, along with the great Dooley Wilson, whose “As Time Goes By” rivals some of Bach’s great chorales (Bach was a Casablanca fan too).

Roger Ebert: “From a modern perspective, the film reveals interesting assumptions. Ilsa Lund’s role is basically that of a lover and helpmate to a great man; the movie’s real question is, which great man should she be sleeping with? There is actually no reason why Laszlo cannot get on the plane alone, leaving Ilsa in Casablanca with Rick, and indeed that is one of the endings that was briefly considered. But that would be all wrong; the “happy” ending would be tarnished by self-interest, while the ending we have allows Rick to be larger, to approach nobility (“it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”). And it allows us, vicariously experiencing all of these things in the theater, to warm in the glow of his heroism. […] Seeing the film over and over again, year after year, I find it never grows over-familiar. It plays like a favorite musical album; the more I know it, the more I like it. The black-and-white cinematography has not aged as color would. The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned. Much of the emotional effect of “Casablanca” is achieved by indirection; as we leave the theater, we are absolutely convinced that the only thing keeping the world from going crazy is that the problems of three little people do after all amount to more than a hill of beans.”

Here’s one of the great scenes (culminating with that shock of all lines):

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

And Here’s Dooley Wilson playing it again:

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Joseph Haydn as Rodney Dangerfield

David Schroeder in Logos: “Two hundred years after his death in May 1809, Joseph Haydn remains one of the least acclaimed of the great classical composers. Of course he faces stiff competition for recognition, especially from his immediate contemporaries. His friend twenty-four years his junior, Mozart, continues to engage us, and not only because of a fascination with extraordinary genius. His works, and especially the operas, remain at the heart of the repertory; he makes his characters come alive through music, and the dramatic issues they face seem remarkably close to our own. Haydn’s pupil in Vienna in the early to mid-1790s, Beethoven, has in the minds of some excelled all other composers because his works exemplify the highest aspirations of humanity, relegating composers before him to the status of mere precursors. To make matters worse for Haydn, Beethoven complained about his teaching, and we have been much too prepared to accept only his side of the story. Can we even talk about a great Viennese triumvirate that includes Haydn, who was something of a late bloomer in comparison to his two illustrious contemporaries, from a peasant background, bogged down in the mosquito infested swamps of Eszterháza in the service of an aristocratic patron, unlike Mozart and Beethoven, who broke those bonds? They clearly appeal more to our democratic sensibilities, while Haydn appears on the surface to be stuck in an ancient regime time warp well after most of Europe and America had moved forward. […] Haydn has not become a household name in the way that his celebrated cohorts have, but we do need to pose the question if there could even have been a Mozart or a Beethoven without Haydn.” The full essay.

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Markowitz Special: Nat Adderley

Cornettist Nat Adderley, brother of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, was born in Tampa on Nov. 25, 1931, and died at a hospice in Lakeland, Fla., on Jan. 2, 2000, from diabetes complications. From the Times obituary: “Mr. Adderley was born in Tampa, Fla., and began his career playing with bands in Florida. In 1950 he changed from trumpet to cornet, and during the early 50’s he played with a military band in the Army. In 1954 he joined Lionel Hampton’s group, and in 1956 he became part of the Adderley Brothers quintet started by his brother.

That group disbanded in 1957 and the brothers reunited in the Cannonball Adderley Quintet before the end of the decade. With Cannonball Adderley’s buoyant, linear style and Nat Adderley’s more dynamic sound, the quintet became one of the longest-running groups in postwar jazz, remaining active until Cannonball Adderley died in 1975 and making a series of hard-hitting records. Three of the most popular songs in its repertory, which all became standards, were written by Nat Adderley: ”The Work Song,” ”Jive Samba” and ”Hummin’.”

Mr. Adderley, who had also appeared as a sideman on other records by musicians including Kenny Clarke, Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Heath, started his own band shortly after his brother’s death, modeled on the music they played together. The alto saxophonist Vincent Herring often played the Cannonball Adderley role in the band. The group recorded for Enja, Landmark and other labels, and performed widely for about 20 years, until Mr. Adderley lost a leg because of diabetes in 1997.

Nat Adderley’s band was one of the more stable groups in jazz: the bassist Walter Booker remained with him for most of two decades and the pianist Rob Bargad played with him through the 1990’s. Outside his group, Mr. Adderley also collaborated with his brother on a musical about the folk hero John Henry. It was released as an album, performed as a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1976, and then as a full theatrical production called ”Shout Up a Morning” at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington and the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 1986.”

Here he is playing “I Married an Angel”:

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Rearranging the World

“What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on? The result would be this disconcerting, disorienting map. […] Canada, the world’s second-largest country, would be transformed into an Arctic, or at least quite chilly version of India, the country with the world’s second-largest population. The country would no longer be a thinly populated northern afterthought of the US. The billion Indians north of the Great Lakes would make Canada a very distinct, very powerful global player. Strangely enough, the US itself would not have to swap its population with another country. With 310 million inhabitants, it is the third most populous nation in the world. And with an area of just over 3.7 million mi² (slightly more than 9.6 million km²), it is also the world’s third largest country.

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Ayn Rand on her Atheism

These days America’s right-wingers are nuts for Ayna Rand. They prefer to not listen to Rand’s ideas on religion: she is an uncompromising atheist (as anyone would be if ever faced with an ass as sanctimonious as Phil Donahue could be). Watch:

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Mockingbird Rewind: Richard Pryor Repents

Richard Pryor changes his mind on using the word “nigger”:

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A Few Good Links

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1 Response for “Casablanca, Thoreau, Haydn, Even Ayn Rand: A Thanksgiving Weekend LiveWire”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    Re: The Adderley brothers: Yea, Nat was great. A lot of people don’t know that Cannonball was the music teacher at Central High School in Miami after the first band disbanded but he kept trying to get a better band together and finally did. One of the catalysts for him to do this was this crazy Czechoslovakian keyboard player that kept following him around jamming with him and insisting he had to do it.. He listened to one of his albums someone smuggled in a thousand times in Prague and when he escaped and made his way to America, looked him up and convinced him that one of the best tenor saxes in the world didn’t belong teaching school. I think he married one of Cannonballs cousins.

    His name was Joe Zawinul. Turned out he wasn’t bad either. He went on to found Weather Report and wrote a song for the band that went on to be a hit for a lot of other people, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. It and he should be included in the list. Here’s my favorite version: It’s off the album recorded at a fundraiser in Chicago in the late ’60s for Jesse Jackson and Operation Push. I have it on vinyl.

    Anyhow, I was stunned to read your article anh hope you don’t take my quibbling as anything but a footnote to your post. It’s great to see there’s other Jazz lovers in town. If you read any of my other posts, you must know that it gives me hope that we are not all Philistines in this swamp. I may not be so ornery for a minute or two.

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