Friday, March 12, 2010

What to listen to while copy-editing

More from the WUMB list.

#99 Jonathan Edwards. Have a Good Time for Me (1973; re-issued 2005). Edwards singing the work of other songwriters. The amazing Wikipedia tells me that Jonathan Edwards was living in Western Massachusetts when he made this album. So far as I know, no relation to the other well-known Jonathan Edwards who spent time in Stockbridge.

#97 Paul Brady. on Andy Irvine/Paul Brady with Donal Lunny and Kevin Burke (1981)
Perfect when you’re in the mood for Irish songs and fiddling. I won’t say how often this mood strikes me.

#95 Jimmy LaFave. The only thing I was able to find in Carnegie Library was his song “I Ain’t Got No Home” on Ribbon Highway--Endless Skyway, A Concert in the Spirit of Woody Guthrie (1993).

#94 Eva Cassidy. The CD I found in the CLP system was her Somewhere (2008), one of a number of posthumous releases. I learned from Wikipedia that she died at the age of 33 in 1996 just as her career was taking off. I had never heard of her but apparently she has become quite well known in the last 15 years. A remarkable voice and a wide range on this album: jazz, blues, folk, country/swing, r&b, etc.

#93 The Band. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (1990)
“Recorded Live in Concert!” “Original Artists!” “Original Recordings!” “richly mesmerizing” “redefining American music” “resonate[s] powerfully through our consciousness” Ok, ok. Always enjoyable to listen to these guys but an awful lot of exclamation points and hyperbole here--I thought Canadians didn’t go in for that sort of thing. But they are very popular, as the scratched-up CD from the Moon Township Public Library attests.

#92 Doc Watson Family. The Watson Family from Smithsonian Folkways, 1990. (Recordings originally released in 1963 and 1976.)
“Classic examples of the Anglo-American folk tradition” (according to Jeff Place in the liner notes). Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that classics are always mediated by their transmission and reception history.

#91 Norah Jones. Come Away with Me (2002). This was the debut album of someone who is now a pretty big star (they sell her albums in Starbucks, I think). I have to confess that while the name sounded familiar, I didn’t really know who she was until I started going through the WUMB list, and I know that says something about me. (Ravi Shankar’s daughter? who knew? probably everyone) Pleasant listening while I did some copy-editing yesterday afternoon.

Coffee is yofi, but liquor is quicker.

(apologies to Ogden Nash and the Hebrew language)

Of course, I am speaking about lectures on the role of these libations in early modern and modern Jewish culture.

Your choice:


Thursday, April 22, 4:00 pm
Jewish Societies and Cultures Seminar, The Harvard Center for the Humanities,
and The Harvard University Center for Jewish Studies present:
"Jews Encounter Coffee in Early Modern Europe"
Robert Liberles, Gerard Weinstock Visiting Professor of Jewish History,
Department of History, Harvard University
Professor of Modern Jewish History at Ben Gurion University, Beersheva, Israel
Harvard University
Harvard Hall, Room 103
Harvard Yard (Near the Johnston Gate)
Cambridge, MA
For the Lecture Poster:


The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research cordially invites you to the next
Ruth Gay Seminar in Jewish Studies
Tuesday March 23, 2010 ..... Meet the Faculty: 6:00 PM......Seminar
begins: 6:30 PM
Address: Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY,
Kovno Room. Refreshments and Meet the Faculty at 6 PM. Seminar at 6:30
PM. ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Call 212-294-6143 or email
Presenter: GLENN DYNNER, Professor of Judaic Studies, Sarah Lawrence
College; author of 'Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish
Society' (Oxford University Press, 2006).
Moderator and Respondent: MOSHE ROSMAN, Professor of Jewish History,
Bar Ilan University; Horace Goldsmith Visiting Professor of Jewish
Studies, Yale University.
By the end of the 18th century, Jews comprised the vast majority of
tavernkeepers in Poland-Lithuania, leasing taverns and distilleries from
the nobility. According to most historians, Polish Jews were driven out
of the liquor trade over the course of the next century. Yet 19th
century archival sources, including an invaluable collection of personal
petitions (kvitlakh) sent to R. Eliyahu Guttmacher, housed in the YIVO
Archives, provide evidence of the continued existence of Polish Jewish
liquor traders, both open and surreptitious. The continued involvement
of Jews in this sector of the Polish economy points to the fact that
traces of the feudal economic system survived amidst a period of rapid
industrialization and modernization.
While Jewish tavernkeeping was vigorously opposed by powerful groups in
Polish society, one crucial group continued to provide them with cover:
the very local Christians they were accused of victimizing. This talk
analyzes the robust but technically illegal Polish Jewish liquor trade
during the 19th century.
This seminar series is named in honor of the historian and scholar Ruth
Gay (1922-2006) and was made possible thanks to a major gift from the
family of Ruth Gay.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update on my addiction to print media

This talk show exchange really captures another aspect of the problem.

Thursday Thoughts

a miscellany:

1. Got coffee this morning at a Dunkin Donuts near my house. Apparently their policy is to call customers "guests." I was tempted to feign shock that they were charging a "guest" for his coffee. Paging Miss Manners and George Orwell to the conference room.

2. While drinking said coffee, I read the March 15, 2010 issue of The Nation. Jon Wiener's cover story "Big Tobacco and the Historicans: A Tale of Seduction and Intimidation" proved to be more about intimidation than seduction. Like everything in The Nation these days, unbelievable (and not in a good way). (Check out the article after that one: Greg Kaufmann, "Friedmanism at the Fed.")
We live in Chelm, folks.

3. Last week on a plane trip, I read through the first issue of The Jewish Review of Books Have you ever read a magazine in which every single article was interesting? Actually, I can't really say this about the first JRB but I would say that I found 20 out of 22 pieces fascinating--which is a pretty high percentage for me. (I won't say which 2 were uninteresting to me--you'll have to guess.)

4. I summoned my strength this morning to rip up an offer from the Wall Street Journal to subscribe for 10 dollars a month. I am trying to fight my addiction to subscribing to print periodicals.

Currently arriving at the house and the office (not including journals that come with memberships in professional organizations, alumni magazines, or house organs of museums, public TV stations, synagogues, and the like):

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7 days a week) (since 2002)
New York Times (Saturday and Sunday) (since I don't know, forever)
Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle (since 2002)
The New Republic (since mid-1990s; dropped for a while but resumed circa 2003)
The Jewish Quarterly Review (since mid-2000s)
The Atlantic (late 90s; and again since circa 2007)
Cook's Illustrated (2000-2003?; and again since ca. 2008)
The Nation (since ca. 2007)
Mother Jones (since 2008)
The Progressive (since ca. 2008)
The New Yorker (since late 2009)
The New York Review of Books (since beginning of 2010)
The Jewish Review of Books (brand-new)

I'm probably forgetting something. If you look at the dates, you will note a disturbing trend (or heartening if you work in journalism).

We did have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal for a while under a really cheap rate but I let it lapse after Murdoch bought it. (Imagine the junk mail you get if you subscribe to the WSJ and the Nation.) I'm letting The Progressive lapse not over politics per se but just because it is extremely boring, not to mention predictable. And I'll probably take a hiatus from Cook's Illustrated for a while since I make one of their recipes about once every two years. I enjoy reading about how many tries it takes to make the perfect pot roast but there has to be a limit.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

WUMB #105, 104, 102, 100

Quick comments on:

#105 Kingston Trio, Greatest Hits.
It's fun to hear the “beginnings” of the folk movement of the 60s (in the 50s). I listened to this with the kids (well some of this--didn't feel like explaining "The Long Black Veil") and polled them: They prefer the Peter, Paul, & Mary version of “Lemon Tree” (as do I) but they preferred the Kingston Trio’s version of "This Land is my Land." (I prefer Woody Guthrie). We all found their "Charley and the MTA" hard to sing along with although. Yes, we know that they popularized it with their recording of it. But that song has long passed from song-frequently-recorded status to true folk status, in my view. Their "Early Morning Rain" is fantastic.
Again, why are the Kingston Trio not cracking the top 100?

#104 Kate Campbell, "Blues and Lamentations," 2005.
Pretty music but none of it made much of an impression.

#102 Tim O’Brien, "Fiddler’s Green, 2005.
Nice arrangements of traditional songs and ballads, e.g. “Fair Flowers of the Valley”
I also liked his “Early Morning Rain.” Maybe I just like that song.

#100 Mary Black, "Babes in the Woods," 1991.
Includes a very pretty version of Joni Mitchell’s “The Urge for Going.”

Get your Grafton fix...


I was recently reminded that Anthony Grafton writes occasional columns in the Daily Princetonian. Although focused on Princeton (naturally), he often has interesting comments there on the state of higher education with relevance to other research universities as well.