Only Republicans Can Save America Now

The temptation is to look away, if just for a while. After all we have been through—fire and flood, pestilence, wars gone wrong, the savage persistence of hunger and homelessness, the slaughter of children in school hallways, the huddled masses repelled at our border, the daily ravings of a would-be dictator who is neither gone nor forgotten—we can be excused for wanting to lose ourselves in the sudden turning of the season and its poems, the music of the heavens, the antics of children and kittens and clouds.

The quotidian as succor, relief, our very salvation.

But peril lies that way. The pernicious forces of evil that begat an insurrection with its *“foul spirit”* of extremism mere months ago still bestride our land, endlessly recounting a settled election, creating barriers to future voting, empowering partisan state legislatures to overturn elections at their pleasure.

These gathering clouds are n...

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Bobby McFerrin May Be the Richest Man in the World

I have no idea about Bobby McFerrin’s net worth. A quickie Google search tosses out an estimate of $4 million as of 2019. That means he probably won’t have to be busking on street corners to feed himself in his old age, but if even close to accurate, it is certainly no great shakes in the firmament of the uber rich, even within his own rarefied world of popular singers and entertainers. (Bruce Springsteen: $500 million, Jay-Z: $1.4 billion, Tom Hanks: $400 million).

But capital comes in many forms, and to survey McFerrin’s life and body of work is to behold wealth of such staggering proportions as to make a lie of any list proclaiming “The World’s Richest People” that does not include his name.

There we were, bouncing around the kitchen, caught up in McFerrin’s infectiously playful spirit that is unafraid to bend music to his utterly unique sensibilities of vocal play.

Freed from material want and able to ...

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Six Magical Sundays: Ahmir Questlove Thompson’s “Summer of Soul”

Pretty much from its first moment to last, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s “Summer of Soul,” a film chronicling six magical Sundays of stirring soul music holding forth as the “Harlem Cultural Festival” at Mount Morris (now Marcus Garvey) Park in 1969, shows why it’s been a summer-long rage since its July debut streaming on Hulu and in theaters nationwide.

Thompson distilled some 40 hours of meticulously crafted footage shot by a four-camera crew led by the late Hal Tulchin into a 117-minute documentary that includes a laundry list of the greatest soul and gospel acts of the era. It all kicks off with 19-year-old Stevie Wonder playing drums and singing under a light rain in the film’s opening minutes as crew members follow him around the stage with an umbrella. (Did you know Stevie Wonder played drums? I didn’t…)

Things never stop moving from there as the Chambers Brothers, Sly & the Fami...

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Battling the Apocalypse Blues

On the very night that my beloved daughter was taking a red eye flight into New York City to attend a wedding this weekend, residents of that city were drowning in their basement apartments, being evacuated from flooded subways, and getting rescued from car rooftops by emergency responders boating through the streets.

All a result of yet more unprecedented extreme weather activity that was dumping more than 3 inches of rain per hour over the city at the storm’s peak.

The New York Times reports these additional

(Fortunately, my daughter was fine and enjoyed sunny, welcoming weather by the time she crossed the Brooklyn Bridge en route to her hotel.)

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In Texas, a recently approved law essentially outlawed ab...

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Brilliant Songs #24: Henryk Górecki’s “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”

As our 20-year nation-building project draws to a catastrophic close in Afghanistan, what do we have to show for it? It’s a painful question made all the more so by the lives of U.S. soldiers and civilians freshly lost in the terrible bombings on Thursday, not to mention the far greater number of Afghans who have paid, and will continue to do so long after our exit, with their lives and freedom for the brief window of semi-democracy both nations worked with such tenacity and treasure to provide for that beleaguered land.

All of it turning now, with near dizzying speed, to ash.

Questions, doubts and recriminations about both our long-running presence and chaotic exit from Afghanistan dominate our national conversation today, at least temporarily pushing the re-emerging horrors of the Covid pandemic out of the spotlight.

The entire symphony is a treasure, a voyage through sorrow and lyricism whose beauty par...

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