Brilliant Songs No. 1: Tom Russell’s “The Eyes of Roberto Duran”

So many great songs and songwriters, true poets who weave the disparate shards of life happening before their eyes into something intense, insightful, and profound as that life, every life, deserves. Seeing what we see only dimly or not at all, marching up to questions we shy from and coaxing from them words and images of beauty and inspiration or dead-on-the-money, troubling truth.

So it’s time to have a little more sustained fun with all that, in the form of a series hosted here at Traversing entitled as you see in the headline slot above: “Brilliant Songs.”

I’ll aim for monthly, may slack from or increase that, who knows? (I’m old, and inclined to chafe at schedules…)

What we’ll do is give the song a You Tube play, present, admire and explore the lyrics for a bit (may probe some pure instrumentals as well), draw what we can from them and see where the whole enterprise takes us.

Yes, I’l...

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Stormy May Bring Him Down, But Ruinous Policy Is Much Worse

With President Trump spending Sunday morning tweeting about the omnibus budget bill he signed Friday rather than Stormy Daniels, we can assume two things:1) 60 Minutes, Daniels and her lawyer have a convincing and verifiable story to tell, and, 2) his attorneys have been virtually sitting on him with dire warnings to refrain from digging his legal hole any deeper than it already is by attacking her in the usual slashing, hot-headed way he goes after other targets he is seeking to discredit.

I don’t know what the ultimate outcome of the Daniels affair will be, though there is no particular reason to think his voters in Trumplandia and enablers among Republican legislators will see it as anything more than a meaningless kerfuffle.

A dalliance with a porn star while your wife is pregnant doesn’t even rise to the level of shooting a gun down New York’s Fifth Avenue, after all.

And we all know, from the...

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Will a Kids Crusade Finally Lead to Sane Gun Laws?

“At this point, we’ve seen the adults are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, which is to keep us safe. So we’re done with going to them and asking for permission. At this point we’re just going to do what we have to.”

Can there be a more calmly damning, withering critique of the failure of American political institutions and the adults who run them to come to terms with the appalling gun violence in this country than that statement last week by 16-year-old Vikiana Petit-Homme, a junior at Boston Latin Academy in Massachusetts?

And the real goal of those advocating for stronger gun laws is to destroy ‘all individual freedoms’ in a stealthy legislative coup. One wonders whether LaPierre, shrewd as he is, actually believes this nonsense, or he is just tossing red meat out to the distinct minority of NRA fanatics who do.

Petit-Homme is one of many student leaders organizing a National School...

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The World’s Best Love Song

The world’s best love song doesn’t have “love” in the title, nor does it appear on any “Best” lists that I could find of the most love-centric titles for Valentine’s Day. No “Love Me Tender,””Greatest Love of All,” “She Loves You” (“yeah, yeah, yeah!”), “Love Is Blue,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “How Deep Is Your Love.”

None of that.

Instead, the world’s best love song is titled, “Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding,” and it may just be the now departed singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester’s finest work in an illustrious, if under-appreciated career.

The silly title is both fun and deceiving, offering Winchester a playful refrain that could easily have been rendered into a clever har-de-har bit of laughter, an inconsequential breather (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) in an ouevre that sparkles with lyrical originality, accessible, compulsively singable tunes,...

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Philippe Petit’s Art of the High Wire, and the Artworks It Inspired

At root, we go to art, whatever its form, to be changed. To alter our perception, to see something new or something we have seen before in a new way, to contemplate the mysterious, the beautiful, the joyous, the awful, the searing.

The best art upends our world, shatters our assumptions, pierces our ignorance and venality. It inspires question upon question, wonder upon wonderment, and as it does so, it assaults us physically—roiling our stomachs, fluttering our hearts, goosebumping our necks, disturbing our sleep.

All art aspires to these things if it is to be worthy of its name.

In this post, I want to discuss three related works of art that in my estimation accomplish all—or at least a good deal—of the above.

1. Tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s unparalleled 138-foot traverse between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City in 1974.
2...

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