Yearly Archives 2024

Brilliant Cover Songs #1: Josh Turner & Carson McKee’s “Under the Boardwalk”

Borrowed a friend’s car last week and the Sirius radio channel was on a classic rock station. I liked classic rock plenty back when it wasn’t classic yet, and can still feel that warm pulsing of nostalgia when a Millennial or Gen X wedding DJ finally sees fit to placate the Grayhairs in attendance by playing something dance-able from that era. (I make a habit of imploring them to play Motown; they always nod agreeably but then don’t…)

So I listened along a while as the heavily algorithmed playlist churned out standard ’60s-’70s fare from the likes of the Bee Gees, Buffalo Springfield, Simon & Garfunkel, et al.

And after a few more, I came to a sudden, definitive realization that shocked me at the time, but which I could then and there boil down to one dismaying word: Boring.

Not all of it, by any means, and not because it was bad music...

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“Mommy!” A Poetic Homage to the Most Important Person in the Emergency Room


               By Andrew Hidas

The tiniest shortfall of a tiny hand,
merrily reaching for safety poolside—
and missing.

Fateful collision of lip and cement,
the gash gushing precious blood
staining red the waterwings designed
to forestall catastrophe.

Flurry of activity, lifeguards rushing,
the ice they bring serving as balm
for body and soul, halfway to the ER
his babble already resuming the
incessant joyful grrrrr of
trucks and dinosaurs.

Five hours later, exhausted and
asleep on his mother’s chest,
darkness abiding, the team finally assembles,
doctor, nurses, interns, respiratory therapist,
eight persons forming a semi-circle
of solemn duty.

The shake and tug to coax him awake,
grasped by multiple hands descending,
his sudden panic beyond all soothing,
needle in the right leg, needle in the left,
“MOMMY!” comes the deep desperate
wail to she who is dear...

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Letting the Turmoil Be: Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things”

The world will be what it will be for human beings—never static, always a hot churning mixture of hope and despair, beauty and carnage, good works and evil deeds. Some eras, though, seem perched on a particularly thin knife’s edge, the odds of falling into a hellish pit rather than a featherbed being higher than normal. Signs seem pretty strong we are in such an era today.

Given the deep and angry divisions currently confronting not only our country but the larger world,, we’d be fools not to worry for its future. We’d also, of course, be fools to worry all the time, to let that worry diminish us, see us give in to disconsolation and despair.

But that is its own fine point at a knife’s edge, isn’t it? Finding room in ourselves to be both sober and carefree, attentive and dreamy, worried and hopeful. Burying our head into neither the warm sands of boundless optimism nor the cold dungeons of eternal gloom.

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Joe Biden Must Step Aside

It comes down to this: Joe Biden—his feelings, his hopes, his accomplishments, his legacy—is not bigger than his country. And right now, that country he wants to lead again through the next four years is in mortal danger from the menace that is Donald Trump.

That makes it imperative, a moral duty, that Biden thinks only of his country, and not himself, in making way for someone younger and more nimble to prosecute the case against Trump. That was the only task Biden had two nights ago, and he failed miserably.

That stiff, slack-jawed and mentally meandering 81-year-old man who stood haplessly on stage, unable to respond in any meaningful way to the usual fire hose of lies spewing from the mouth of his opponent, will not be improving with age.

Yes, he had a cold, he’s a lifelong stutterer, and his staff should be prosecuted on grounds of political malfeasance for obviously stuffing his head with statist...

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Jon Batiste Learns to Breathe in Monumental “American Symphony”

There’s a scene some 40 minutes into Netflix’s stirring documentary on musician/composer Jon Batiste when his adult self is back on the piano bench with his long ago teacher from Juilliard School of Music, working on Beethoven’s “Appassionata” sonata. Batiste starts in and his teacher brings him up short within seconds, even grabbing his hand off the piano as he sternly implores, “You have to breathe; you are not breathing!”

The teacher demonstrates, Batiste tries again, the teacher stops him again and says, “If you don’t breathe, it’s like a computer, it doesn’t express anything. You want life. Breathe!”

In some ways, the whole plot of “American Symphony” can be seen as Batiste working very, very hard, both out of virtuous striving for excellence and an absolute, desperate quest for emotional survival, to learn how to breathe. (The “wanting life” part has always seemed well in hand.)

Batiste is plainly on...

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