Scrape the mold off the bread: The best of Sheryl Crow

I’ll self-censor for the sake of a longer piece on the new Threads I’ll promote as soon as it goes live at the end of the week. For the moment, though, let this brief sixteen-song précis on her career suffice. I’m missing the albums between 2005-2012, but so are most of you. Please note, though, that 2017’s Be Myself, one of the least heralded good albums released by a vet in recent years, contributed a couple of tracks.

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Koch brothers influence: eye-on-the-sparrow bludgeoning

Thanks to Charles and his dead brother David, the Kochs are responsible for encouraging the pathology of anti-science. In Florida, where politicians pay lip service to Protecting the Everglades, their front organization Americans for Prosperity has opposed any regulation of the fossil fuel industry. Charles Pierce highlights a recent example:

In 2018, the city of Nashville proposed to build a $5.4 billion rapid-transit project involving high-speed rail. To pay for it, the city proposed to raise four taxes, including the sales tax. Which is about when someone lit up the Koch Signal. The Kochs hate rapid transit. It keeps people from buying cars, which run on the fuels that make the Koch family rich. They also produce the asphalt for the roads on which those cars run. Acting through a Koch-funded astroturfing operation, Americans For Prosperity, the Kochs lavishly funded the opposition and killed the plan. This kind of eye-on-the-sparrow bludgeoning is a measure of how thoroughly the Koch money has infected our politics all the way down to the local level.

Jane Mayer’s Dark Money has chapters devoted to their perfidy. Read it. An excerpt:

The Kochs continued to disperse their money, creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names, and this made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington. In 1990, Citizens for a Sound Economy created a spinoff group, Citizens for the Environment, which called acid rain and other environmental problems “myths.” When the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigated the matter, it discovered that the spinoff group had “no citizen membership of its own.”

That’s what the Kochs do or did: ratfuck democracy in the name of plutocrats. I love the idea of ballet and marrying a man whom I’d take to the ballet, but ballet would suck when I have to roll up my pants to wade into the theater.

My flawless albums

These albums boast not a single track I skip. I don’t say that I prefer them to others in their oeuvre, just that I play them end to end without cease. Dylan, the Beatles, other warhorses don’t apply. Likewise Neil Young, whose Tonight’s the Night (“Speakin’ Out”), Zuma (“Through the Sails), and Rust Never Sleeps (“Ride My Llama”) don’t qualify. Several beloved albums like Hearsay and Black on Both Sides don’t qualify. Continue reading

Ranking the #1 R&B songs of 1975

Disco made its first serious footprint on this chart in 1975. Classics like “Fly Robin Fly,” “The Hustle,” “Shame, Shame, Shame,” and a couple of Wayne Casey singles did well and crossed over pop, not to mention fellow traveler Barry White and Smokey Robinson in the here-goes-nuthin’ phase of his solo years. Ohio Players experimented with kiddie Funkadelic (Eddie Hazel co-wrote the Temptations’ “Shakey Ground”). The O’Jays confirmed the eternal verities, their biggest hit of the year conferring a name on my most frequented message board. My jam, though, is ” You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” a master class in the arrangement of strings and to my ears the greatest thing White heaved, groaned, and croaked over Continue reading

The sensuality and play of ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’

As part of its reconsideration of key films in Juliette Binoche’s career, Reverse Shot turns to The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Philip Kaufman’s adaption of Milan Kundera’s novel that, according to Mark Asch, introduced the kind of film beloved by Miramax a few years later. “The 1990s were the final, tired echo of aspirational Boomer cinephilia—a time when daily-newspaper critics were constantly on the lookout for vestigial traces of the Janus Films ’60s, that golden age of heady, glamorous foreign films, and frequently found it preceded with the Miramax logo,” Asch writes. The Unbearable Lightness of Being transcends this taxonomy because it’s more playful than the competition; it’s not light, it’s buoyant. Kaufman may straighten Kundera’s digressions, but it results in no loss of esprit. To create a film infused with a Mann-ian irony lacking in the original novel is a miracle. Continue reading