The homicide of Philando Castile has wrecked me

In the roster of black men killed by police and available on video, the brutal, and totally unnecessary death of Philando Castile, and the acquital of the police officer who shot him, has hit me the hardest. As Trevor Noah said on the Daily Show, “I won’t lie to you, when I watched this video, it broke me.”

In case you can’t keep up with WHICH miscarriage of American justice this was:

“After Officer [Jeronimo] Yanez politely informs Castile that he’s been pulled over for a broken taillight and asks for Castile’s license and insurance, Castile calmly discloses that he has a firearm (Castile had a permit to carry the gun). Then the situation rapidly devolves. Yanez places his hand on his holster and tells Castile not to reach for the gun; within a few seconds, Yanez is yelling ‘Don’t pull it out!’ as Castile and his girlfriend try to assure Yanez that no one is grabbing for it. Then Yanez fires seven times into the car.”

Yes, watching videos of police brutality can traumatize you, especially if you’re black. “Research suggests that repeated viewing of terrorism news coverage can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Though Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, had previously streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live, the moment of the shooting itself was not made available to the public until this week.”

And then it gets surreal.

Moments after Yanez shot Castile, [Diamond Reynold’s] 4-year-old [daughter] climbed out of the back seat of the car in which Castile was shot…

Diamond Reynolds and her daughter were in the back of a squad car for “45 minutes until an officer drove them to a nearby police station for questioning…” While handcuffed there, “Reynolds shouted an expletive, and the girl said, ‘Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.'” The girl also wished they lived in a safer place.

I’m watching this with my teenaged daughter, and she’s crying, and I’m crying. We show it to my wife and watch it yet again, and she’s crying too.

And where’s the National Rifle Association in this? The NRA has shunned a Second Amendment martyr. “Philando Castile died because he exercised his right to bear arms.” Even the very conservative Hot Air thinks so.

“Part of the irony of this verdict, Noah explained, is that it comes after years of people saying that the solution to unwarranted police shootings is to require police to wear body cameras, to eliminate any doubt about what had happened. ‘Black people have already taken that initiative, all right?’ Thanks to cellphones, every black person has a body cam now’ — and for Castile, neither a dashcam nor a cellphone mattered.

“Even worse, Noah went on with palpable horror, is that the jury of Castile’s fellow citizens did see this footage, and concluded that Officer Yanez had reason to claim self-defense. ‘Forget race,’ Noah said. ‘Are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed an officer’s instructions to the letter of the law and was killed regardless? People watched that video, and then voted to acquit?'”

The story hasn’t made me mad as hell. It has brought out a level of despair that even I, as melancholy as I can be, have not felt in a very long time.

I know all your secrets

This happened AGAIN when I went to use the computers at one of the branches of the Albany Public Library in May 2017. I went to gmail, and I got the message that it had “closed unexpectedly”, undoubtedly because the hour allotment of the previous user had expired. Did I want to “restore”? OK, let’s do that.

There was the gmail of a total stranger, totally accessible to me. At the end of each day, APL scrubs the records, but not always from user to user on the same day. I’ve gotten into people’s Facebook that way on public computers, and not just on APL’s, which is why, when I get that five-minute warning, I close down gmail and Facebook, then other items I might have open.

Per usual, I wrote her an email from “herself” explaining how and where I got into her system. I did not specifically explain that, had I been less of a swell guy, I could a wreaked real havoc in her life, trusting that she has figured this out.

So what did I learn from this woman? I never went past the first page, but I assume she’s looking for a job. But this really boggled my mind: she had about 9,300 emails, and around 8,500 of them were UNOPENED. How does one even operate with so many emails unread? She might have missed an employment opportunity, or six.

Now I’ve had even more emails than this woman, even a month ago, but I purged over 6000 of them in fairly short order, and they were all read. Some were things I was going to blog about – random ideas, news stories – but they got too old. Others were reminders of events to come that have since passed. And a lot were links to Facebook conversations – which I can never find by merely searching – that I decided just weren’t all that interesting, in retrospect.

Based on a blogpost I wrote a few years ago, the co-author of the Public Wi-Fi: How to Stay Safe and Secure Your Data infographic recommended it to me, and I do the same for you.

Happiness is Ask Roger Anything

Charles Schultz came up with one of the iconic comments in comic strip history in Peanuts. And do you know which character originally said, “Happiness is a warm puppy”? I will give you a hint: she was usually considered crabby.

“Some of the most simple joys in life are free. People tend to forget this and try to fill their lives with material objects that may give them temporary happiness but these things aren’t exactly fulfilling. Try to find something simple and pure that give you joy.”

Do you know what gives ME joy? Writing this blog. And I hope that it gives you a modicum of pleasure once in a while.

Having time to write it is very nice. God bless three-day weekends!

You can add to my joy, gentle reader, and Lucy Van Pelt’s, I am sure, by doing the Ask Roger Anything… whatever it is, when you may ask truly anything. I promise to respond, generally within a month. I’d rather answer those than post my emergency pieces that only see the light of day if I get no questions, which happened last time.

I will, as always, answer your questions to the best of my ability, which waxes and wanes over time. Obfuscation on my part, though, is always an option, though, truth to tell, I have not used it as much as I had expected.

You can leave your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter; for the latter, my name is ersie. If you prefer to remain anonymous, that’s fine; you should e-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB (make sure it’s THIS Roger Green, the one with the Vezina duck) and note that you want to remain unmentioned; otherwise, I’ll assume you want to be cited.

X is for excellence: the Kennedy Center Honors

As anyone who has read this blog often enough knows, I watch the Kennedy Center Honors, a designation of excellence, every December just after Christmas.

It is “an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture (though recipients do not need to be U.S. citizens). The Honors have been presented annually since 1978, culminating each December in a star-studded gala celebrating the Honorees in the Kennedy Center Opera House.”

I’m wondering who will host this year. Stephen Colbert has done so since 2014, but given the unkind things the comedian has said about the current White House regime, I can’t imagine that would continue. “The first host was Leonard Bernstein in 1978, followed by Eric Sevareid in 1979 and Beverly Sills in 1980. Walter Cronkite hosted from 1981 to 2002 and Caroline Kennedy hosted from 2003 until 2012. Glenn Close was host in 2013.”

At the gala, the Honors find performers who highlight the work of the recipients, with the recipients, and usually the President and First Lady looking on.

Some particular performances stick in my mind:

2007: Brian Wilson
Libera, boys choir from London, singing Love and Mercy, the debut song from his first solo album
Listen here at 6:20 or here at 13:04

2008 The Who (Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey)
Betty Lavette singing Love Reign O’er Me, from the band’s Quadrophenia album, practically a religious experience
Listen here or here

2012: Led Zeppelin (John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, pictured L-R)
Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson perform Stairway to Heaven, from LZ’s fourth album, with the late John Bonham’s son Jason playing the drums
Listen here or here at 13:50

2013: Billy Joel
Garth Brooks and friends singing Goodnight Saigon, from Joel’s Nylon Curtain album
Listen here at 12:33 or here at 12:34

2015: Carole King
Aretha Franklin sings the Goffin-King classic (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and Carole is SO excited!
Listen here or here

June rambling #2: Sheila E. and Lynn Mabry

Rebecca Jade, Sheila E., Lynn Mabry

Three new discoveries in a month rock our African origins

THE ARCTIC DOOMSDAY SEED VAULT FLOODED. THANKS, GLOBAL WARMING

Left-lean faith leaders are hungry to break the right’s grip on setting the nation’s moral agenda

Amy Biancolli: I yam what I yam by the grace of God

Social Capital and Inequality

Time for equal media treatment of ‘political correctness’

The toddler defense

American Ex-Pats Explain Why They Quit America

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Brexit II

Dustbury has discovered not everyone he’s likely to meet is prepared to deal with someone who walks only with a bunch of equipment

The Short, Sad Tale of Allyn King of Albany

Arthur is 15 Years a Kiwi citizen

Baby boomers are downsizing — and the kids won’t take the family heirlooms

The Negro Motorist Green Book, which I wrote about here. Check out
the 1949 edition

The art of writing an obituary

An Interview With Author Kelly Sedinger

She returned from Iraq to a broken family. Then writing changed her life

Anne Lamott: 12 truths I learned from life and writing

Anita Pallenberg Passes Away at Age 73

In appreciation of an old-school journalist, the late Dan Lynch

HEATHER FAZIO: I spent two days with Dennis Rodman

The Tony Awards — rehearsals

Documentary producer Robert Weide interviewed Woody Allen live on Facebook

Gary Burghoff explains Radar

Bill Messner-Loebs and Jack Kirby to Receive 2017 Bill Finger Award

Night Court was the black sheep of NBC’s sitcom dynasty

Pete and Harry, two rabbits in commercials for Carnation Milk. I DO NOT remember this

Too Many People Still Think Chocolate Milk Comes from Brown Cows

Now I Know: Fighting North Korea in a Flash and The Counterfeit Money Which is Intentionally Worthless and The Green Versus the Eardrums and Why Mattresses Come With Warning Tags and There’s No Place Like 0,0

Adam West, star of the ‘Batman’ TV series, dies at 88. Here’s his Idaho phone listing. Some insights from Mark Evanier and reflections by Chuck Miller, plus Eddie’s elegy and Rob Hoffman calling him one of “most accomplished and revered ‘B’ level actors of all time”

MUSIC

The Absolute Authenticity of REBECCA JADE (niece #1) and CD REVIEW – PETER SPRAGUE & REBECCA JADE: Planet Cole Porter, available here. Recently, Rebecca has sung at least twice with percussionist Sheila E. and singer Lynn Mabry. Lynn, among many other things, sang backup on the Stop Making Sense tour, which I saw at SPAC in 1984

Coverville: Sgt.Pepper 50th anniversary plus Gregg Allman tribute and All 213 Beatles Songs, Ranked From Worst to Bestand The Final Beatles Concert

What is Life – Weird Al

K-Chuck Radio: The Mystery of Blueberry Hill

Bohemian Rhapsody – Vika Yermolyeva

Pieces about Bobby Vee and Brian Hyland, both apparently inspired by me

Wap Bap, the most hated song on YouTube

Song of the Volga Boatmen sung by the Red Army Chorus

Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens

Billy Joel on Self-Doubt and Finally Becoming Cool

Dad and his three kids on Father’s Day

My sister Marcia posted a picture on Facebook. It was all pinkish, and I couldn’t even see her in the photo. So I asked Arthur the AmeriNZ guy, who must be related to Annie Sullivan, because he’s a miracle worker, if he might have a go at it.

He noted, “The original photo appears to be a low-resolution scan of the photo, and that means there’s not much to work with. If it was a higher-resolution version, I’d have more to work with.

“The pinkish cast to the photo is because of natural deterioration in photos from the 1940s through the 1960s and 70s. The dyes used turned out not to be stable, and photos taking on a reddish hue is common.” Yes, I do have a few of those in photo albums.

I suspect the original negative from 1958 is long gone, and a higher-resolution scan seems to be beyond the capacity of my sister’s machine.

He actually did three versions, one “with the colours lightly corrected”, another with “a little more intense colour correction, with the focus on making the skin tones a little more natural (which makes the background even worse)”, and the one I chose, “a black and white version, with some of the dust and defects caused by the low-resolution cleaned up. This version, because the colours in the background aren’t weird, is a little less distracting.”

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. As Paul Simon, in his corrected lyrics, once said, “Everything looks better in black-and-white.”

I have only a vague recollection of this photo. I’m sure I saw it at the time, but that was long ago. I assume my mother took the picture, and based on the baby’s size, probably on June 15, 1958. This is the only one I recall with just these four people, Dad, Roger, Leslie and Marcia.

Happy Father’s Day to you, and to me.

Music Throwback Saturday: A World Without Love

As I waded through The Billboard of Number One Hits, I noticed that A World Without Love by Peter and Gordon (#1 on June 27, 1964) was immediately followed by I Get Around by the Beach Boys (#1 for two weeks starting July 4, 1964). They appear in reverse order on an album I bought from the Capitol Record Club way back in 1965 or 1966 called Big Hits of from ENGLAND AND USA.

The story of A World Without Love is probably familiar to fans of a certain group Continue reading

Talking about the LGBTQ rights journey

During the first Sunday in June’s adult education class at church, a couple folks led a discussion on the journey we have taken individually in our understanding of issues involving LGBTQ rights. There were no right or wrong answers, just a safe place to share.

I talked about one guy, Vito Mastrogiovanni, who was “out” when I was in high school, although there were more gay men that I knew personally who were not out at the time.

There was the gay fellow in college, my next door neighbor in the dorm, who was openly hostile to me, seemingly for no reason. I later concluded that perhaps it wasn’t exactly my race but rather how especially judgmental black people, especially in the church, could be. And I was a nominal Christian at that point.

I mentioned being in Boys in the Band, and how transformative that was.

Others shared their stories. More than one told of same-gender couples who they knew. Though those pairings weren’t publicly couples in those days, most people knew.

One older gay man talked about acceptance, and sometimes lack thereof, from his family. In the 1970s, his mother couldn’t understand his sudden distaste for orange juice. I too mentioned boycotting it, over the fact that Anita Bryant was the spokesperson for Florida oranges.

One man was curious about the term “gay” when it used to mean happy. Some of the gay folks explained that it was almost like code, where it would mean different things to different audiences. The Wikipedia article discusses its evolution. A reference to the Kinks song ‘David Watts’: “The lines ‘he is so gay and fancy free’ attest to the ambiguity of the word’s meaning at that time, with the second meaning evident only for those in the know.”

Some in the group also mentioned how the term homosexual had become distasteful and anachronistic, rather like “colored” or “Negro” for black people. Moreover, homosexual, in a shortened form was a slur, and the word was a term that had been associated with a people who the psychiatric community had once called diseased.

It was, I must say, a very brave conversation, and I’m glad I was able to participate, only because the Gay Men’s Chorus was singing during the church service, which meant the chancel choir didn’t need to rehearse.

American releases of The Beatles albums

Cultural Sonar had this article Stop Knocking the American Releases of The Beatles, Already. The premise that Dave Dexter Jr “understood the American record market.

“He knew that the UK Beatles albums, with their subtle, artsy cover photos and astute liner notes would not grab the attention of American teenagers. He replaced them with splashy photo collages and BIG, BOLD TYPE, USUALLY IN ALL CAPS… He also tweaked the music itself… to make The Beatles positively jump out of American transistor radios, car stereos, and phonographs.”

The biggest contention about the US albums is this: “Dex took even greater liberties with the track listings. In Britain, Beatles albums contained 14 songs each [except A Hard Day’s Night, which had 13], and never included singles… But in America, anything above 11 songs on an LP meant higher royalty payments to the artist, and singles were used to drive album sales. So while EMI in Britain released seven Beatles albums and thirteen singles between 1962 and 1966, it only took Dex half as long (from 1964 to ‘66) to carve all that material into ten Beatles LPs for Capitol!”

Meh. I will concede that Meet the Beatles, Capitol Records’ initial foray into Beatlemania – totally acting as though the VeeJay album Introducing the Beatles album did not exist – was/is a fine album.

I’ll allow for the value of the American version of Rubber Soul, which, to this day, my friend Fred Hembeck prefers. This quote got my attention, especially since both Brian Wilson (June 20) and Paul McCartney (June 18) are celebrating their 75th birthdays this month. “When… Wilson says that Rubber Soul inspired him to make Pet Sounds, he’s referring to the folkier, acoustic-heavy American version that Dex assembled.”

I’ll even make the case for the Help soundtrack, with the seven songs from Side 1 of the UK Help album plus five instrumentals.

But these three albums have something in common: they have 12 songs, rather than the 11 that the other albums before Sgt. Pepper contain. So Side 2 of the other albums seemed inadequate to me much of the time, just a bit too short.

Moreover, for reasons too complicated to go into here, the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack on United Artist and the misleading title Something New, the third Capitol album, have several tracks in common, which bugged me. Yet certain songs were never on a Capitol album in the 1960s.

Notably, From Me To You was an early, pivotal UK single that could have been on The Beatles Second Album or The Early Beatles (Capitol’s variation on Introducing…); Misery and There’s A Place; and I’m Down, the B-side of the Help single that should have been on Yesterday and Today, between Act Naturally and Day Tripper, which are in the same key.

Other songs never on a Capitol/Apple album before the group broke up: the Love Me Do single version; A Hard Day’s Night; Sie Liebt Dich, a German-language version of She Loves You; The Inner Light, the B-side of Lady Madonna; and the single version of Get Back.

So I’ll still listen to those American releases, but mostly, I have been won over by the original UK versions.

Real respect for the American flag

americanflagclothingAfter the election last year, my friend Steve noted: “I’ve only got one thing to say about the American flag:
We’ve been ‘burning’ it as a culture for decades via commercialized use of the image on everything —and I mean everything.” I totally agree, and have mentioned it on these pages before.

He pointed to section 176 of the U.S. Flag Code:

§176. Respect for flag

…(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. Continue reading