Probably only a few remember that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote a poem called "Retribution." But that's the one I'm reminded of when I recall the final outcome of this decades-long tragedy. The story of Medgar Evers resonates tellingly in 2018 as we mark a Black History Month shrouded with the deaths of too many African-Americans at the hands of white police officers, There is this thing, you see, called karma, which Longfellow clearly understood.
Though the mills of God grind slowly;
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience he stands waiting,
With exactness grinds he all.
Who knew as early as January 16th that 1938 would see Hitler invade Austria, Japan declare war on China, or General Franco declare victory in the Spanish Civil War? There was nothing in the stars to indicate the arrival later that year of Superman, Bugs Bunny, and the first use of a seeing-eye dog. Nor perhaps did anyone realize the Fair Labor Standards Act would get rid of child labor that year and make the 40-hour work week the national standard throughout the United States.
Those were all history-making events. But so was Benny Goodman's appearance at Carnegie Hall on January 16th of that year. Already famous as the "King of Swing," even he had not conquered the legendary hall, which was then home to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of the renowned Arturo Toscanini. When the idea was first brought to him several months earlier, Goodman laughed out loud. It was unthinkable that the august venue of classical music might also find an audience for jazz. Although often referred to as "America's classical music," jazz was nevertheless seen as low brow and undignified.
When he succeeded in bringing jazz to Carnegie Hall that year, Goodman broke down the barrier between the classes - and also between the races - for a while at least.
The concert was a raging, history-making success. Goodman's orchestra included Gene Krupa, Count Basie, Lester Young, Harry James, Johnny Hodges, and Lionel Hampton. Many of them are easily identifiable in the video clip below, which serves up the exceptional Goodman hit, "Sing, Sing, Sing," inter-cut with still images that reveal the life of the time. It all seems archaic now, but the music in this clip steps outside of time to become something memorable. It may be jazz, but it's undeniably classic. Which is why it's worth revisiting 80 years later.
For more on this check out this story from NPR's "All Things Considered: How Benny Goodman Orchestrated the Most Important Concert in Jazz History. Be sure to follow the links within the story to learn more.
A Coincidence of Strange: Is There Synchronicity in the Recent Alignment of Luther Strange, Doctor Strange, Dr. Strangelove & Taking a Knee?
Synchronicity is the word Carl Jung coined to describe meaningful coincidence. In his lexicon, coincidence was meaningful when contents from your unconscious mind (dreams) lined up in an unmissable and non-causal way with events in your waking life. Bottom line: When this happens, you should pay attention. The Universe may be trying to tell you something.
Perhaps you already know that a new edition of Lawrence Otis Graham’s provocative 2009 bestseller, Our Kind of People, was published not too long ago. The book deals with class distinctions among African-Americans and the issue of “passing for white.” I learned about the updated edition from my daily Delancey Place newsletter, but I remember the original book well. It resonated with me. And still does. Not only because I grew up hearing the term passant blanc (passing for white, passer pour le blanc) from my New Orleans relatives, but also because I lived in Atlanta when segregation obscured the fact that black communities were often divided along class lines.
It was the frame. Of course. He could see that now. Had it been painted some other color, there'd have been no effect at all. But this was a gilt frame. When the sun caught its golden edge at a particular time of day, the movie poster within its periphery looked lit from within. Like a theater-lobby marquee. The phenomenon was so real, Sloane could practically smell hot-buttered popcorn when it occurred.
The whole thing was a bit eerie, but now that he had it figured out, he felt uplifted by it. As if the spectacle, though mere physics, carried some message of reassurance intended only for him. And possibly for Syl, too. After all, the reproduction hung on her bedroom wall, where you couldn’t help but see it first thing in the morning or whenever your head lay lazily upon the pillows. During the illusion's brief spell, the poster seemed dreamy, almost hypnotic. But that didn't stop Sloane from seeing the slant of light as a positive thing--a counterargument to what was clearly improper and unacceptable. Taboo even.
That was not a word either of them would have used, of course. But other people, whoever they were. Well.
Do Stories about Past Evil Keep Hate Alive? Or Can a Priest's Crisis of Faith Illuminate the Post-Truth World of Election 2016?
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