Ordinary Sunday Brunch: Culture Quick Links


When you’re glad to be alive, good ideas come. The reason good ideas don’t come today is because we’re all bottled up with greed and anger. We’re mad.
– Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors

Music Links

[Mu1] Madonna, at 60, has apparently reached the “get of my lawn” stage of her career.

[Mu2] Weezer and Toto have been a viral sensation covering each other’s hits, so how did this cross-generation love fest start? The comparison is below, to judge for yourself.

[Mu3] It’s been 50 years since The Band recorded Music from Big Pink in a basement in Woodstock, NY, and Robbie Robertson is reflecting on it.

[Mu4] Among the many shows Amazon is producing, this one by AR Rahman on Indian music might be one of the more unique.

Art Links

[Ar1] Original comic art is proving to be a very high dollar item.

[Ar2] Maritime art is a personal favorite, but this exhibition of Dutch maritime art is missing some of the more unpleasant aspects of naval history and people are noticing.

[Ar3] The trade war with China is apparently going to affect Chinese art as well.

[Ar4] “How to build a rust belt art boom”

History Links

[Hi1] The Battle of Thermopylae has gotten plenty of treatment both in print and film, but geology had as much to do with the proceeding as anything.

[Hi2] Tis the season…so here are the 5 most destructive hurricanes in Florida history.

[Hi3] Video: History of the Boeing 747. Though now retired from passenger service, specialty and cargo roles will keep the airframe busy for many years to come yet.

[Hi4] With the 10 millionth Mustang rolling off the line, Ford can rightly proclaim the pony car as a piece of automotive history.

[Hi5] Israel, Cyprus, and a Personal Journey Through the Crusades By Nathaniel W Horadam

Food Links

[Fo1] Turns out “eat a variety of foods” was meant to offset poor quality with quantity, so lean more towards the former, according to this study.

[Fo2] Always fun…the top craziest state fair foods, by state of course. Wisconsin coming on strong here with the deep fried turducken on a stick…

[Fo3] A truly legendary chef, Joel Robuchon passed away this week, and in this profile he attributes his success to, among other things, a mastery of mashed potatoes. His Vegas property at the MGM Grand might be one of the fanciest restaurant I’ve ever eaten in, and was worth every penny.

[Fo4] From a Twitter conversation some of us was having, the question rose along the lines how somewhere with lots of hunting, fishing, and other natural resources like West Virginia be considered a “food desert”. This article does a good job breaking it down, and explaining how it is a complex question with few good answers.

Architecture Links

[Ac1] Blurring the line between art and architecture in public spaces.

[Ac2] Fighting colonial influences by designing…really wild churches? This town in India is doing just that.

[Ac3] “Design like you give a damn,” gets tested when debating the merits of “Jenga,” as in the game, architecture.

[Ac4] Seems to me that these things are a natural cycle, but there is a swing to a revival of classicalism. Again.

Video – Skrillex and the surviving members of The Doors. My favorite part is Ray Manzarek going all watch-this-kid by telling him to go back to square one, then improvising what would become the main riff of the song, followed by the subtle advice to “pump the living S#$% out of it, man.”

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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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21 thoughts on “Ordinary Sunday Brunch: Culture Quick Links

  1. As a fan of Toto’s Africa (I can’t find the essay where I linked to six covers of it, though!), I approve of Weezer covering it.

    I do think that their cover lacks a certain je ne sais quois. It feels like an ironic cover. But, hey. It’s better than *NOT* having Weezer cover the song.

    Weird Al joined with them on the stage the other day and it worked.

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    • I do think that their cover lacks a certain je ne sais quois.

      That was my impression as well… maybe splitting hairs on the definition of “cover” it strikes me as an “homage,” not a cover… if we can define cover as doing a song in the style of the band covering the song… just playing the song straight – which is what Weezer seems to be doing here – I’d call an homage. I can’t tell whether it is ironic or not from just the clip.

      I suppose if one were at a live Weezer event and they played Africa straight-up it might have some meaning or effect… but if I’m rummaging through Spotify looking for interesting takes on the song Africa… it gets about 20sec before moving on.

      As I look back on my misspent youth, it occurs to me that most of the songs I thought great were really just fealty to the “idea of the band;” the one or two actually good songs… I like to see if they’ve been improved by other musicians. Making good songs is harder than playing good songs better.

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  2. I like the song “Africa”. I especially like the keyboard solo. The line “As sure as Kilmanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti” kind of makes me wince, though.

    Mt. Olympus is 2917 meters high, and rightly got the attention of the Greeks, who built myths around it.

    Mt. Kilmanjaro is 5895 meters high, and there are lots of stories, myths and folklore about it. It just kind of seems to me that the comparison maybe should be the other way.

    I’m not here to trash the song, I like it. I think people seek out exotic, faraway places. I think I know why Africa has seemed like such a place to us. I’m sure I’ve used the “mythic Africa” trope myself many, many times. I’m here to learn, not to judge.

    I read the blog Logarithmic History. This week there was a post about the genetic divergence between Sub-Saharan homo sapiens and Eurasian. (There’s nothing in the post or the blog that references the differences as denoting one or the other side as inferior, but it is a delicate subject).

    Which made Africa and Africans that far-away impossible exotic place where everything is different. Not that different from Faerie, but Faerie doesn’t borrow someone else’s very mundane home and life for the purpose of metaphor and artistic distance.

    We need to figure out how to do this different, better.

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      • At the risk of being way too earnest, which I know is a failing of mine:

        I don’t really buy this. I mean, yeah, musicians are always viewed as a bit suspect morally. My grandfather was a musician and a club owner, and he fits the mold.

        At the same time, a lot of it is just the “new” stuff being rejected by people who don’t like change. It’s dressed up as a morality play, though. The tritone (flatted fifth) was known as “the devil’s interval” and forbidden from church music for centuries. You can’t listen to gospel without hearing it. Britten’s War Requiem (which I have had the privilege of playing cymbals and triangle for) uses the tritone as a central auditory cue. In that work, it isn’t something that creates tension to resolve to some other, more resonant harmony. It’s the sound that the work resolves to. It’s the final note of the piece, which is as spiritual as it gets.

        What gospel and the War Requiem have in common is that the embrace human suffering. They don’t seek to escape it, they dive into it headfirst. This, to my mind, is the Lord’s work.

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  3. Fo1: “Greater dietary variety was also linked to a higher overall calorie intake and weight gain. ”

    OF COURSE. Every stupid diet I’ve been on my life restricted food choices enough that I got really bored by the small number of things I “could” eat, and so I didn’t eat as much. (I hope this “study” doesn’t lead to some calling for all of us to go on some version of Nutriloaf, though, on the grounds of “Well, if it’s nutritional enough, you don’t NEED variety.” Even if I have opined at times when I was very busy that I wished there was something like Purina People Chow, that didn’t require a lot of prep-work or thought to make it edible. (I also wondered if monkey chow would work, seeing as monkeys are our closest relatives for which Purina makes a Chow.)

    And I am even someone who likes to cook, and tends to avoid processed foods….but I can totally see the restriction thing working; when I’ve tried to lose weight by “eat mostly vegetables,” it got so tedious that I just kind of pushed my plate away, even before I was full. There’s only so much spinach a person can take…

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  4. Mu3 Not much reflecting going on in this interview. So I listened to Big Pink today anyway with complicated reactions. The sound is as interesting and distinctive as ever. Also brought back a lot of that era memories from walking from my house in Skunk’s Hollow up the hill (part of the escarpment from the end of the Appalachian Plateau to the Great Lakes Plain) to the lawyer’s kid’s house who gave my guitar lessons and taught me I Shall Be Released; to the nights before high school debate tournaments when the coach (a bit of an alcoholic, so didn’t worry much about promoting underage drinking) and I drank beer in a motel room and played I Shall Be Released and other Dylan Songs, increasingly imitating BD’s breathless, nasal delivery as the night went on (the girls ie the rest of the team in the room next door); to my first off campus house across from the Union Forging Company (aka “boom boom”) when the forge finally stopped shaking the house for the day and we put I Shall Be Released on Eddie’s killer stereo as loud as we could stand. (The Big Pink version doesn’t seem to be on YT, so hum along on your own).

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  5. Fo2: Most of the the fair food looks grotesque. The desert items seem palatable and tasty but the savory items are just too much in a bad way. Besides the butt fries and the turducken sandwich, they really don’t seem that appetizing.

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