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JULY 2004 - AUGUST 2004




SEPTEMBER 30, 2004

Song of the Day (#31):   Let the Music Play, the Chris Barbosa-Ed Chisolm '80s dance nugget, sung by Shannon, brings back memories of the days when I was a mobile DJ playing college parties, weddings, retirements, and Bar Mitzvahs.  It's influential freestyle beat and post-production by Mark Liggett, Barbosa, and company, kept dancefloors packed for years to come.

29 September 2004

Lindsay Perigo announces the forthcoming Free Radical (and see follow-up comments), which features an essay by me on a Mario Lanza biography.  That article will be posted on SOLO HQ in another week or so.

Song of the Day (#30):   You Go to My Head, a Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots standard, has been recorded by so many artists; I especially like a jazz-influenced rendition by the wonderful Dinah Washington.  With lyrics like "you intoxicate my soul with your eyes" ... wow.

28 September 2004

Song of the Day (#29):   Things Just Ain't the Same, composed by A. Antoine, N. Harris, and A. Evans, has an R&B/dance edge that helps you cope with its heartbreaking lyrics.  Strong vocals by one of My Friend Ray's favorite vocalists (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RAY!): Deborah Cox (I'm a big fan too!).  Cox stepped into the title role of "Aida" on Broadway on my birthday, earlier in 2004.

27 September 2004

Still have extremely limited access to the web (and almost no access to email) ... but there's always the ...

Song of the Day (#28):   All in Love is Fair, words and music by the great Stevie WonderStreisand has a fine rendition of this, but Stevie's version makes me cry.

26 September 2004

Song of the Day (#27):   Invitation, music by Bronislau Kaper and lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, derives from Kaper's haunting 1950s film scores for A Life of Her Own and Invitation.  For me, the most heartfelt version is an instrumental one by Bill Evans (two free audio clips are available here). 

25 September 2004

I've posted a comment focused on the issue of Iran and social change to Arthur Silber's LOR essay, "A Lesson We Desperately Need to Learn,"

I am currently out of town and will have very limited accessibility to the web until the first week of October.  But I will update here daily with a note or two.

Because so many of my readers are now in the Spring of their year, this song, which mentions that season, comes to mind ...

Song of the Day (#26)I Get Along Without You Very Well, words and music by Jane Brown Thompson and Hoagy Carmichael, has been performed in melancholy vocal version by Billie Holiday.

24 September 2004

I comment at L&P on James Otteson's post about the show "Rescue Me":  "The Best Show on Television (Possibly)."

Continuing with the autumnal theme ...

Song of the Day (#25)Early Autumn was done in a poignant, moving instrumental version by the band of its musical composer Woody Herman; it's the song that featured tenor sax player Stan Getz in a 1948 breakout performance. But Johnny Mercer gave it lyrics, which Ella Fitzgerald sang with divine grace.

23 September 2004

Here, I congratulate Arthur Silber on 2+ years of blogging.

My research projects continue apace; I also have a few articles forthcoming.  In the meanwhile, the list of My Favorite Songs continues to grow, with yet another tribute to Autumn:

Song of the Day (#24)Autumn in New York, words and music by Vernon Duke, from the 1934 musical revue, "Thumbs Up," was sung ever-so-sweetly by Frank Sinatra.

22 September 2004

Arthur Silber revisits "The American Taliban" and my own thoughts on the Janet Jackson "Nipplegate" controversy, in light of today's FCC fines against CBS.  Boy, CBS is really gettin' clobbered, huh?

The Autumnal Equinox arrives at 12:30 p.m. today, ET, for New Yorkers, while all you readers Down Under are celebrating the Rites of Spring.  For me, this is the ...

Song of the Day (#23)Autumn Leaves, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer, original French lyrics by Jacques Prevert, music by Joseph Kosma, is truly apropos for the arrival of Fall.  It's been sung by Nat King Cole and so many others; I also love my sister-in-law Joanne Barry's jazzy version.

21 September 2004

Song of the Day (#22)My Foolish Heart, another classic Ned Washington and Victor Young composition, has been recorded by the great Mel Torme.  Its lush romantic melody has inspired deeply moving jazz instrumentalist interpretations as well, most notably several recordings by pianist Bill Evans.  It also happens to be the wedding song of my brother Carl and sister-in-law Joanne.  Happy Anniversary! 

20 September 2004

Congratulations to "Angels in America" for its 21 nominations and 11 Emmy Awards; for a superb discussion of the HBO production, revisit Arthur Silber's essay, "A Hymn to Life," in part one and part two.

As we move into the waning days of summer, I pick this ...

Song of the Day (#21)The Summer Knows, music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, is heard throughout the 1971 film, Summer of '42.  It is bathed in minor chords and has been recorded by such vocalists as the incomparable Sarah Vaughan (a recording whose orchestrations were nominated for a Grammy award, only to lose out to Legrand's "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" from the same album!).  Fine instrumental performances, orchestrated by Legrand, have also been recorded, including those by Phil Woods (featured on the album "Images") and by Stephane Grappelli.  "One last caress, it's time to dress ... for fall."

19 September 2004

I left a brief post at Light of Reason, commenting on George Lucas and Steven Spielberg in response to Arthur Silber's essay, "The 'Stupid' Public:  It's Their Fault."

After yesterday, I'm on a Victor Young kick...

Song of the Day (#20)Stella By Starlight, written by Ned Washington and Victor Young, was heard in the fine 1944 ghost tale The Uninvited, and has become one of the great jazz standards.

18 September 2004

Having been a part of discussions about homosexuality and the relationship between Objectivism and homosexuality for years, even those long predating the ones on SOLO HQ, and having authored a monograph entitled Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation, I think this subject has been exhausted.  That's what I argue in today's SOLO HQ article:  "It's Time to Move On:  A Personal Statement," which includes a discussion section and a brief follow-up from me.  Be sure to read Lindsay Perigo's  prelude too, "Moving On," its discussion section, and comments here, here, and here.

Song of the Day (#19)Love Letters, by the great film score composer Victor Young, has been recorded by such singers as Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Elton John & Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Presley, and Diana Krall.  Young received an Oscar nomination (shared with Edward Heyman) for the song and for his score from the 1945 film of the same title. (The film, one of my favorites, is as romantic as the song; its screenplay was written by Ayn Rand.)

17 September 2004

Song of the Day (#18)The Nearness of You is a Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington composition, which has been recorded by everybody from Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra to Rod Stewart and Norah Jones.  But one of the most touching versions I've ever heard was recorded live as an instrumental in 1971 by the great jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

16 September 2004

Song of the Day (#17)Body and Soul, music and lyrics by Johnny Greene, Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, and Frank Eyton, defines what is meant by a "Great American Standard."   On Amateur Night at the Apollo in 1942, Sarah Vaughan won first prize for singing this song, and her recorded versions remain among the finest.  Of instrumental versions, my favorites are the classic Coleman Hawkins 1939 tenor saxophone rendition and a superb version by jazz violinist Joe Venuti, recorded for his album "Fiddle on Fire," on the Grand Award Record label.

15 September 2004

At L&P, I post some brief reflections on the HBO film, "Nine Innings from Ground Zero," about the role of baseball in healing a city after the 9/11 tragedy.

I am currently working on the forthcoming issue of The Free Radical, for which I serve as Assistant Editor, and have no additional posts to the L&P or SOLO HQ discussions, but they do continue.  At L&P, Skoble's "War Issues" thread has expanded to include exchanges on "humanitarian" wars.  Check it out here.  And at SOLO HQ, discussions on Objectivism and homosexuality continue here, here, and here, and in a Lindsay Perigo thread on "'Romance and Rationalism, Revisited and Revised"; see here and here.

Song of the Day (#16)Stardust, a 1920s-era gem, lyrics by Mitchell Parish, music by Hoagy Carmichael, is one of the most recorded songs in music history.  Even a 1940 film took its title.  Written at a time when introductions to songs were as melodic and inspiring as the songs themselves, this one charted for decades in many terrific versions.  But I still have a soft spot in my heart for a 1957 take by Billy Ward and The Dominoes.

14 September 2004

Discussion on "Unintended Consequences Not Unforeseeable" continues here.  Aeon Skoble has also posted a "Long Reply to Critics on War Issues," which has elicited some good comments here (including several replies from me).

The SOLO HQ discussions continue (follow the links below in the September 13th entry).

Song of the Day (#15)You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, a classic Cole Porter song, has been sung by so many great singers, from Bobby Darin to Nina Simone to Frank Sinatra (who sings the rare intro!).  With two movies devoted to Cole Porter's life—the largely fictional 1946 Cary Grant film, "Night and Day," and the more recent 2004 Kevin Kline film, "De-Lovely"—Porter's music lives on.  This particular song, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1943 (from the film Something to Shout About), has been a staple of jazz instrumentalists as well.  My favorite instrumental version appears on a phenomenal album called "Concierto."  Jim Hall, the great jazz guitarist, is the featured player, and he is joined by the late Chet Baker on trumpet, the late Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, the late Roland Hanna on piano, and the very much alive Ron Carter on bass and Steve Gadd on drums.  This group is the epitome of cool, and a testament to superb ensemble playing.  ("Concierto" refers to a terrific jazz rendition of the great Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez," the main track on the album.)

13 September 2004

There are a few exchanges inspired by my L&P post, "Unintended Consequences Not Unforeseeable."  I have a brief reply to points made by Andre Zantonavich, Jonathan Dresner, and Jason Pappas.

The SOLO HQ discussions on sexuality and Objectivism continue.  Check here for continued exchanges on Regi Firehammer's reply to my review of his book.  Check here for exchanges on Barbara Branden's reply to Regi.  And start here for exchanges provoked by my rejoinder to Regi.  I, myself, respond to various points about the connections between the metaphysical and the moral here.

I've just learned that, on Saturday, September 11th, lyricist Fred Ebb passed away. It is so ironic that one of my "Songs of the Day" on that very day was the Kander and Ebb classic, "New York, New York."  So, in honor of Fred Ebb, here's today's pick:

Song of the Day (#14)Cabaret was one of the best musicals on Broadway that I've ever seen.  The revival was an entertainment tour de force, powerful and deeply effective in its exploration of universal themes.  The songs, written by John Kander and (now, the late) Fred Ebb, are boisterous, melodic, witty, and clever.  So here's to the title song ... 'cause life is a cabaret ...

12 September 2004

I've written a new L&P post on Iraq and US foreign policy:  "Unintended Consequences Not Unforeseeable."

A heart-wrenching day in NYC yesterday, with readings of the names of the victims on the third anniversary of the terror attacks on the Twin Towers.  The day featured many more tributes.  In my neighborhood, a block party celebrating life took place, and at night, a walk along the candle-lit Brooklyn Heights Promenade gave us a magnificent view of the two Towers of Light.  And at 9:11 p.m., the Empire State Building dimmed its lights in tribute.  Today, a moment of silence will be observed at Bide-A-Wee Pet Memorial Park for another victim of 9/11:  Sirius, the Port Authority dog who perished in the WTC tragedy.

The SOLO HQ discussion rages here and here over the Firehammer essay.  Barbara Branden publishes a full-scale essay, "Response to Regi Firehammer's Response to Chris Sciabarra's 'In Praise of Hijacking'."

As if that weren't enough, SOLO HQ publishes "Homo Hijackers (2): Sciabarra's Rejoinder to Firehammer" (previously published in The Free Radical).  A dialogue has just begun under that thread too.  Start here, and see a very brief comment of mine here.  A PDF is available here.

In the meanwhile, let's change the mood...

Song of the Day (#13)Can't Buy Me Love, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  This classic Beatles track is still one of my all-time favorite kickin' rock 'n roll songs.

Oh, and finally:  The New York Jets start their NFL season today.  Go Chad PenningtonGo Jets!

11 September 2004

The Atlasphere reprints my essay, "9/11 Tribute: My Friend Ray" (which also appears, with additional pictures, here).

In reply to Aeon Skoble's post "Not Borders, nor Wilkinson, nor pacifists," I add my voice at L&P to a thread entitled "Freedom above all?"

SOLO HQ publishes Reginald Firehammer's essay, "Homo Hijackers? (1):  Response to Chris Sciabarra's 'In Praise of Hijacking'," a reply to my critique of his book, The Hijacking of a Philosophy.  Tomorrow, SOLO HQ will publish my rejoinder.  Both of these essays first appeared in The Free Radical (June-July 2004).  (Lindsay Perigo addresses the issue of dialogue and dissent at SOLO HQ here.)

I've got two "songs of the day" today; the first to honor my dear friend Matthew, who celebrates his birthday today; the second to honor another dear friend ...

Song of the Day (a) (#11)It's Not Easy Being Green, of Muppets fame.  Kermit could be such a philosopher, even if he does get a little help from lyricist Joe Rapposo.  It's one of my favorite songs and one of my friend Matthew's too.  Happy birthday, Pal!

Song of the Day (b) (#12)New York, New York, by John Kander and Fred Ebb.  So much more apropos, in the post-9/11 era, to be reminded that "if I could make here, I'll make it anywhere."  It's become an unofficial theme song of the New York Yankees too; typically, when they lose home games, they play the Liza Minnelli version from the 1977 movie of the same name.  But when they win, it's none other than Ol' Blue Eyes whose voice reverberates throughout the Cathedral of Baseball.

10 September 2004

Song of the Day (#10)All the Things You Are, the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II masterpiece, is one of the most beautifully crafted songs ever written.  I mentioned Mario Lanza's version in my essay, "Celebrating the Great American Songbook."  But it has been recorded by everybody from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson to Ella Fitzgerald.  It is also one of the great standards of jazz improvisation; I really love pianist Bill Evans' playfully reworked version, which he renamed "Are You All the Things?"  It is featured on his brilliant album Intuition, with Eddie Gomez on bass.

9 September 2004

I added another comment to the SOLO HQ thread on my 9/11 Tribute.

Song of the Day (#9)There But for the Grace of God Go I by the band Machine has one of the most oft-sampled riffs in dance music history.  This 1979 dance floor-jamming classic may challenge those who think "disco" is a dirty word and that it was all cowbells and whistles with no socially conscious lyrics.

8 September 2004

In the "Seeing is Believing" category, I post an L&P link to a story about "Tasteless 9/11 Toy #1."  Comments follow.

I added a comment to the SOLO HQ discussion developing around my 9/11 Tribute.

Song of the Day (#8)If I Love Again, a song I mentioned in an article "Celebrating the Great American Songbook," with music by Ben Oakland and lyrics by J. P. Murray (from the 1933 Broadway show, "Hold Your Horses"). Many recordings of this song have graced us, from a rendition by the Paul Whiteman Band to a Barbra Streisand rendition in "Funny Lady," the sequel to "Funny Girl."  But, for me, the most memorable version was recorded by Tony Bennett in 1962.

7 September 2004

My annual 9/11 Tribute continues this year with a portrait of "My Friend Ray," a "Not a Blog" exclusive.  Newcomers to my series can look back at installments from 2001, 2002, and 2003.  (I have also posted announcements on this new entry at SOLO HQ and L&P.)

Fred Seddon's essay, "The Three Stooges Meet Bissell," elicits a reply from moi.

Song of the Day (#7)Nice To Be Around, lyrics by Paul Williams, music by John Williams, from the 1973 film, "Cinderella Liberty."  My sister-in-law, vocalist Joanne Barry, does a fine version of this song live in concert, but there are some good recordings of it as well, including one by Maureen McGovern.

6 September 2004

Lindsay Perigo at SOLO HQ tells us "When Men Become Nem" and, overwhelmed, I thank him.

Song of the Day (#6)Love is Stronger Far Than We, originally a French song "Plus Fort Que Nous," comes to mind today because my sister-in-law, vocalist Joanne Barry, whose birthday was yesterday, has a fabulous recording of this poignant song on her album, the recently re-released, Holding On.  The CD features much original music and a superb band, with my brother Carl Barry on guitar, former Bill Evans-drummer Eliot Zigmund, and fine bassist Steve La Spina.

5 September 2004

At L&P, I post some "Musings on McCain and Chechnya."

Song of the Day (#5)Embraceable You, a classic George and Ira Gershwin song, has been recorded by so many people in so many fine renditions.  But my favorite version remains a quiet, jazz duo interpretation, the title track to a recent album of guitarist Carl Barry (my brother) and vocalist Joanne Barry (my sister-in-law).  And that's my dog Blondie with Joanne on the cover of the album.  Since it is Joanne's birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), I thought it apropos to add this gem to my list.  Click here for an audio sample (it sounds much better on the CD).  Ironically, today, the NY Daily News publishes a little piece on George Gershwin in their "Big Town Songbook."

4 September 2004

Song of the Day (#4)It Was a Very Good Year by the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.  The Ervin Drake music and lyrics to this song benefit from a superb Gordon Jenkins 1966 Grammy-winning arrangement, featured on the "September of My Years" album, bathed in strings and minor key changes. Sinatra is a consummate storyteller here:  it's as if he's lived every age he sings about.  And he did...

3 September 2004

I posted a brief comment at Light of Reason, about the world of ideas and material remuneration, under the thread:  "Trashing, and Burying, Ayn Rand."

At L&P, I reflect on an alleged "return" of libertarian conservatism to the GOP:  "'Libertarian Conservatism'?  Hardly."

Also at L&P, I provide a brief comment about "Meaningful Conventions," a thread inspired by Aeon Skoble's essay, "Rats on the West Side, Bedbugs Uptown."

In his acceptance speech last night, the President said:  "People will look to the resurrection of New York City, and they will say:  'Here buildings fell.  Here a nation rose'."  Well, there's no doubt that the City has been very much alive this past week:  the Yankees and the Mets were both playing at home, the U.S. Open was open for business in Flushing Meadows (Go Andy Roddick!) and the Republicans staged their convention at The Garden, with thousands of delegates in the hall, and hundreds of thousands of protestors in the streets.

Song of the Day (#3):  The Shadow of Your Smile:  This love theme from the film, "The Sandpiper," with haunting music by the great Johnny Mandel and expressive lyrics by P. F. Webster, also has a melodic intro not featured on the soundtrack album.  It is sung, beautifully, by Tony Bennett.  The film score is pure brilliance:  an exercise in melodic voicings and endless permutations of the central theme.  Mandel was inspired by the jazz colorings of the great Gil Evans-Miles Davis collaboration, "Sketches of Spain."  (A bit of trivia:  Mandel arranged for, and played in, the Henry Jerome Orchestra, "where he shared the stand with saxophonists/future Washington power-brokers Alan Greenspan and Leonard Garment—'Lenny was pretty good; Alan is a wonderful guy, but probably the best thing he did in that band was the payroll!'," Mandel once said.)

2 September 2004

The discussion at SOLO HQ continues here and here.  I have a new post on the complex issues entailed in the notion of "nation-building."

Song of the Day (#2)Why Did I Choose You?, a Leonard and Martin song, which is one of my favorites, but also one of my sister's favorites, particularly Barbra Streisand's version from "My Name Is Barbra."  Anyway, it's my sister Elizabeth's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), so I figured this is a good song to highlight!

1 September 2004

I see that SOLO HQ has resurrected a 1999 Free Radical column of mine, entitled "A New New York," because of some discussion here and here of the legacy of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who spoke before the GOP convention on Monday, August 30th.  A discussion thread follows, where I post as well.

I posted a brief comment on Matthew Humphreys' SOLO HQ essay, "Objectivists, Libertarians, and the Political Right."  Check the follow-up comments, including another post from me.

Those Yanks got the worst beating in their storied history, as Cleveland won 22-0.  (Was that the Cleveland Browns or the Cleveland Indians???)  Anyway, the Bosox have closed to within 3 1/2 games.  September is likely to give us another thrilling finish to the regular baseball season. 

"Caught Up in The Rapture," recently republished at The Autonomist, has just been republished again at Free Republic, which also features a discussion thread.  This "smarmy author" is happy to see the piece making the Internet rounds...

You're looking for July and August entries to "Not a Blog"? They can now be found in the July and August Archives!

Meanwhile, September 2004 is here, and many students and teachers are returning to school.  I am actually beginning a major research project.  Though I will continue blogging here and elsewhere, I will be cutting back considerably on daily email replies.  As a Visiting Scholar to the New York University Department of Politics, I am still reachable at my NYU email address (you can find that address on the home page).  Just don't be surprised if my responses are a little slower than usual.  The good news is that I do answer virtually every personal email I receive, but with 150+ emails a day, it is impossible to answer daily and still have time enough for research and writing.  I am, in fact, completing several essays currently, including my annual 9/11 tribute, which should debut next week.  Another of my forthcoming essays is a review of Armando Cesari's book, Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy, which will be published in the next Free Radical (a 5-star mini-book review can be accessed at here).

Today, I thought I'd share with my readers a new feature for "Not a Blog" and a new page on my site.  I have been promising readers to inaugurate additional "My Favorite Things" pages, pointing to such things as favorite books, favorite albums, and even favorite songs.  Why my personal aesthetic views are so interesting is beyond me... but the Favorite Things page is consistently one of the most popular pages on my "Dialectics and Liberty" website.  Perhaps it is due to the fact that I provide lots of entertaining links on such pages for your enjoyment. 

So, I'm starting a new page today:  My Favorite Songs.  Rather than come up with a full list on a single day, I'll make it a regular (daily?) feature here at "Not a Blog."  (The songs will also be added to the "Favorite Songs" list, alphabetically, with date of addition in [brackets].) 

There isn't a waking hour of any day where I don't have a song on my mind.  (I suspect there are quite a few songs playing in my mind during non-waking hours as well!)  Music is such an integral part of my life, that I could not for a moment imagine life without it.  And the songs I love come from a variety of genres, as readers will soon find out. 

To inaugurate the list, here's the Song of the Day (#1)What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?:  Music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.  Classic renditions by Barbra Streisand and Sarah Vaughan, especially. (Legrand got a 1973 Grammy award for "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist" on the Sarah Vaughan recording of this song.) Honorable mention also to a live version by Carmen McRae, featuring the accompaniment of jazz guitar great Joe Pass.  And check out an audio clip for a Chris Botti-Sting version as well.  Just one of the most romantic songs ever written.