Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So... what makes this ok?

Credit my friend Joe for drawing my attention to the current Administration's "expanded interpretation" of the Public Safety Exception to Miranda Rights, the guidelines of which are being kept from the public.

The Obama administration has issued new guidance on use of the Miranda warning in interrogations of terrorism suspects, potentially chipping away at the rule that bars the government from using information in court if it was gathered before a suspect was informed of his right to remain silent and to an attorney.

But the Department of Justice is refusing to publicly release the guidance, with a spokesman describing it in an interview as an "internal document." So we don't know the administration's exact interpretation of Miranda, even though it may have significantly reshaped the way terrorism interrogations are conducted.

All I'm going to add right now is: if the President's last name was Bush, a lot of the people whose opinions I share would be going nuts and raising the roof in protest. I'm wondering what sort of fervor they'll whip up now?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

More Hanukkah Miracles

Hanukkah at Maxwell's is kind of an amazing time. Kind of really amazing. This is due, of course, to the annual residency of Yo La Tengo, musicians extraordinaire, and the volunteered time of a panoply of guest musicians and comedians, in a series of shows for the benefit of various worthy recipients of their largess. That's a long-winded way of saying that in most Decembers there are 8 incredible nights of music at Maxwell's courtesy of Hoboken's own.

I've written about these events here before. This year, we were fortunate enough to catch two of those shows. The first one for us - joined for the show and a Sunday Soul Food dinner by Sherin and Megan - was on the 5th night of Hanukkah, Sunday, Dec.5th - it was a loud one, with Mission of Burma and Wyatt Cenac as the special guests. MoB also loaned the soundboard skills of Bob Weston to the band for some rad loopage during the YLT set. It was a great show, and an education for me on what I thought I knew and should have known. Unfortunately, Ira cut himself above his eye at one point late in the evening, but he brushed it off as a bit of punk rock that he was willing to spill for the sake of the International Rescue Committee and Partners in Health.

As good as that show was (and it was) the one we saw two nights later after Hanukkah latkes was, if anything, even better: Bonnie Prince Billy, eyeliner and all, brought us home to our roots; and Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler provided a lively dose of anarchic hilarity (including a spasmodic horse ride through the wilderness of children's theater and a mixed-media extravaganza called The Taintalogues that defies description). We were so excited that at the break we went and got the night's mix CD, an instrumental journey put together by Georgia.

And then, as foretold in the prophesy, Nels Cline joined the dance for a set that was beyond the beyond.

Ok. So maybe it wasn't fulfillment of prophesy. But I think that we may have conjured this conjoining. Remember Solid Sound, from back in August? Well, I know I didn't write about it much, but on that weekend, as we reveled in Nels' work with Wilco, the Nels Cline Singers, and at his effects-pedal installation up in the galleries, we commented on how earth-shatteringly-awesome it would be if he and Ira were on stage together, how the resulting dueling guitar orgasms would result in unspeakable brilliance. Or madness. Or both. Well, some deity somewhere seems to have heard our call, because there they were, working together onstage a few feet in front of us. We may not deserve actual credit for the collaboration, but I'm ecstatic that we were there to reap the rewards.

It was one of those shows that started great, and just got better as it went along. Not only that, but the crowd somehow peeled away little by little until we were almost at the lip of the stage. And after a crazy good set with none of the bloodletting of Night 5, they played some Ramones songs for the encore and brought everybody back up to close things out with some Lou Reed. And, as if that weren't enough, Cory must have made some pretty substantial eye contact with Gil (YLT's indefatigable guitar tech), because he brought Nels Cline's setlist right over to her after the show.

A-MAZ-ING night. Ira and Georgia, if you're reading this for some reason, we want to have you over for dinner.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Portishead Said...

On the subject of their album to be released this year, Portishead musician and producer Geoff Barrow has exuded the following:

“There will be NO free downloads There will be NO bonus tracks There will be NO remixes There will be NO hidden footage. There will be NO additional content There will be NO corporate partners There will be NO fashion lines There will be NO tabloid pictures. There will be NO £25 unit cost There will be NO streetteam There will be NO myspace There will be NO celeb producer There will be NO twitter There will be NO press/blogger gig There will be NO acoustic session There will be NO meet and greet There will be NO edited version. There will be NO iTunes only There will be NO press launch There will be NO asian version There will be NO radio friendly. Just music and us.”

Well. There that is.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Holly Daze

Well, I've been fairly lousy at keeping up with this particular outlet recently. I didn't even bother to celebrate (or even notice) that my last post before this one was my 500th post. And I am NOT one to miss out on an opportunity to celebrate something.

That said, I have my excuses (there are always excuses). The holidays were busy as all get out; I had out of town guests of various shapes and sizes; there were social engagements at every turn; we had to go to Paramus; we had a blizzard; I was short-listed for a Nobel Prize; it was chaos!

I'll fill in some of the blanks in the coming days, but for now, here are some headlines:

  • Yo La Hanukkah - the annual Maxwell's 8-night orgasm of music and fun. We caught two of the shows: one was great, the other was unbelievably awesome
  • Real Hanukkah - fewer latkes this year, but we still brought out the celebration for the Festival of Lights
  • Alvin Ailey - I got to go to a few shows this City Center season, including by great good fortune both opening and closing night. Both were great, although Judith Jamison's farewell show was really over the top special and wonderful
  • Julie! And her family. We had pizza and saw Lombardi. Nice.
  • Davin! In town on a mission or three
  • Wedding in Westchester
  • Holiday music and movies - in both live and recorded form, it's an annual tradition and a half. This year's highlights included: the choral group Angelica on the UES; a Renegade Cabaret performance on 14th Street; Oy to the World, volume 13; The Bishop's Wife at Chome on Christmas Eve; Christmas in Connecticut with Kelly (at the beginning of the Blizzard!)
  • True Grit in Bkln w/Dominic
  • The Big Christmas Gathering
  • Black Swan with Susan & Daniel
  • The Big Parental Visit - delayed along with several thousand of our closest friends by the same Blizzard, but still very fun
  • New Year's Eve - Ailey for the folks, Patti Smith for us (along with Sue and Steve and Beth B.) A splendid time was had by all, in spite of some in-crowd obnoxiousness (did they forget what show they were at?)

So - there that is. I'm sure I'm forgetting some really important stuff. More to come...