A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘popular music

[MUSIC] The JAMs, “All You Need Is Love”

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I’ve rediscovered the KLF after a decade and a half.

Why did I wait so long?

“All You Need Is Love”, indeed.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 30, 2020 at 11:59 pm

[PHOTO] “Anthem” by Cohen, in chalk and in song

The other day, I was walking along College Street in west-end Brockton Village when I saw that someone had written, in chalk on the sidewalk, the lyrics of the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem” from his 1992 album The Future. I had seen similar chalk inscriptions on nearby sidewalks, but this was much the most extensive, occupying eight panels of concrete.

Leonard Cohen, "Anthem", College between Margueretta and Brock (1) #toronto #collegewest #brocktonvillage #collegestreet #sidewalk #chalk #leonardcohen #poetry #lyrics #anthem

Leonard Cohen, "Anthem", College between Margueretta and Brock (2) #toronto #collegewest #brocktonvillage #collegestreet #sidewalk #chalk #leonardcohen #poetry #lyrics #anthem

Leonard Cohen, "Anthem", College between Margueretta and Brock (3) #toronto #collegewest #brocktonvillage #collegestreet #sidewalk #chalk #leonardcohen #poetry #lyrics #anthem

Leonard Cohen, "Anthem", College between Margueretta and Brock (4) #toronto #collegewest #brocktonvillage #collegestreet #sidewalk #chalk #leonardcohen #poetry #lyrics #anthem

A 2008 live performance of the song by Cohen is as close a we’ll have to an official video.

Four years ago, Quartz shared an explanation by Cohen of this song, a rarity.

The future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them.

This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect.

And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together: Physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.

The full lyrics, of course, are sheer poetry.

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be

Yeah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

We asked for signs
The signs were sent:
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to see

I can’t run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
A thundercloud
And they’re going to hear from me

Ring the bells that still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

You can add up the parts
You won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart
To love will come
But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Written by Randy McDonald

March 29, 2020 at 12:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the current #covid19 crisis (#coronavirustoronto)

One of the many things that has been bothering me about the COVID-19 crisis is the way that the city of Toronto around me has been shutting down. Work and those strictures have gone, of course, but so have almost all of the other events of life. Stores are shut down; neighbourhoods are almost always barren of people; the sorts of events that I normally partake in have been sensibly cancelled. (Jane’s Walk and TCAF are among the events that have been closed down, and I may never get a chance to see the Diane Arbus show at the AGO or the Winnie the Pooh exhibit at the ROM. I live in hope for the second category, and look forward to next year for the first.)

The great machineries of life of Toronto, human and mechanical, are grinding down. When will they start up again? What will be the background against which this revival will happen? What loss and suffering will there be in the background of this? More importantly, from my particular perspective, what loss and suffering will there be among the people I know, here in Toronto and around the world? I have some fears for myself, but more fears for others both known and unknown. (I am not fond of living in a situation where fatalities from a pandemic really can amount to low single-digit percentages of the global, and local, population.)

I cannot help but feel a sort of anticipatory grief at seeing my dear cosmopolis of Toronto shutting down. It is a cause of grief in itself, and it is a symbol of worse yet to come. I can also extrapolate easily enough from the specific case of Toronto to all the other great machines out there in the world, places I’ve lived in and places I’ve only visited and places I have yet to visit and the many many places I will never see. The pictures I saw earlier this week from Venice, that great first prototype of the cosmopolis, felt so wrong. One March, you have a living city; one March, you have a city clamped down on account of mass death. There are things Toronto can pick up from Venice, but I would prefer this not be one. But this isn’t really under anyone’s control, is it?

I am–I believe–keeping things in perspective. There will still be a world after this crisis is done, whenever it is done, one that will be recognizable. I just find it distressing that a proper perspective is not all that comforting. How, exactly, will things be skewed? This uncertainty is something that I do not like. Ending my 12-month Metropass, on account of the certainty that I will not be travelling much at all in April, at least, feels significant. How much more will my lived world shrink?

These past few days, I have been thinking of the classic song “Sous le ciel de Paris”, a hymn of love to that metropolis written and performed just a few years after Paris risked destruction in the Second World War. Has a similar song been written for Toronto?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 22, 2020 at 1:25 pm

[NEWS] Seven Christmas links: Bowie and Bing, horror, ghosts, holidays, xenophobia, Elf on the Shelf

  • Dangerous Minds shares the story of the remarkable duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at the 1980 horror film To All A Goodnight.
  • Strange Company shares a strange story, of a ghostly choir reportedly heard in 1944, here.
  • Caitlin Kelly at the Broadside Blog writes about why she and her husband each take Christmas seriously.
  • Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the xenophobia behind the idea of a War on Christmas, going back to the anti-Semitism of Henry Ford.
  • JSTOR Daily carries suggestions that the idea of the Grinch, from Dr. Seuss, has anti-Semitic origins.
  • VICE makes the case for the creepiness of the Elf on the Shelf in the context of a surveillance society, here.

[NEWS] Fourteen links

  • By at least one metric, New Brunswick now lags economically behind a more dynamic Prince Edward Island. CBC reports.
  • NOW Toronto looks at toxic fandoms. (“Stanning” sounds really creepy to me.)
  • This CityLab article looks at how the particular characteristics of Japan, including its high population density, helps keep alive there retail chains that have failed in the US.
  • MacLean’s looks at Kent Monkman, enjoying a new level of success with his diptych Mistikôsiwak at the Met in NYC.
  • Can there be something that can be said for the idea of an Internet more strongly pillarized? Wired argues.
  • I reject utterly the idea of meaningful similarities between Drake and Leonard Cohen. CBC did it.
  • Toronto Life looks at the life of a Hamilton woman hurt badly by the cancellation of the basic income pilot, here.
  • Inspired by the death of Gord Downie, Ontario now has the office of poet-laureate. CBC reports.
  • Is Canada at risk, like Ireland, of experiencing two-tier health care? CBC considers.
  • A French immigrant couple has brought the art of artisanal vinegar to ile d’Orléans. CBC reports.
  • Shore erosion is complicating the lives of people along Lake Erie. CBC reports.
  • MacLean’s notes how Via Rail making it difficult for people without credit cards to buy anything on their trains, hurting many.
  • Michelle Legro notes at Gen that the 2010s is the decade where conspiracy culture became mainstream.
  • This essay by Robert Greene at his blog talking about what history, and historians, can do in our era is thought-provoking.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Charlie Stross at Antipope shares an essay he recently presented on artificial intelligence and its challenges for us.
  • P. Kerim Friedman writes at {anthro}dendum about the birth of the tea ceremony in the Taiwan of the 1970s.
  • Anthropology net reports on a cave painting nearly 44 thousand years old in Indonesia depicting a hunting story.
  • Architectuul looks at some temporary community gardens in London.
  • Bad Astronomy reports on the weird history of asteroid Ryugu.
  • The Buzz talks about the most popular titles borrowed from the Toronto Public Library in 2019.
  • Caitlin Kelly talks at the Broadside Blog about her particular love of radio.
  • Centauri Dreams talks about the role of amateur astronomers in searching for exoplanets, starting with LHS 1140 b.
  • John Quiggin at Crooked Timber looks at what is behind the rhetoric of “virtue signalling”.
  • Dangerous Minds shares concert performance from Nirvana filmed the night before the release of Nevermind.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes new evidence that, even before the Chixculub impact, the late Cretaceous Earth was staggering under environmental pressures.
  • Myron Strong at the Everyday Sociology Blog writes about how people of African descent in the US deal with the legacies of slavery in higher education.
  • Far Outliers reports on the plans in 1945 for an invasion of Japan by the US.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing gathers together a collection of the author’s best writings there.
  • Gizmodo notes the immensity of the supermassive black hole, some 40 billion solar masses, at the heart of galaxy Holm 15A 700 million light-years away.
  • Russell Arben Fox at In Media Res writes about the issue of how Wichita is to organize its civic politics.
  • io9 argues that the 2010s were a decade where the culture of the spoiler became key.
  • The Island Review points readers to the podcast Mother’s Blood, Sister’s Songs, an exploration of the links between Ireland and Iceland.
  • Joe. My. God. reports on the claim of the lawyer of the killer of a mob boss that the QAnon conspiracy inspired his actions. This strikes me as terribly dangerous.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at a study examining scholarly retractions.
  • Language Hat shares an amusing cartoon illustrating the relationships of the dialects of Arabic.
  • Language Log lists ten top new words in the Japanese language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the dissipation of American diplomacy by Trump.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the many problems in Sparta, Greece, with accommodating refugees, for everyone concerned.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting the decline of the one-child policy in China has diminished child trafficking, among other crimes.
  • Sean Marshall, looking at transit in Brampton, argues that transit users need more protection from road traffic.
  • Russell Darnley shares excerpts from essays he wrote about the involvement of Australia in the Vietnam War.
  • Peter Watts talks about his recent visit to a con in Sofia, Bulgaria, and about the apocalypse, here.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the corporatization of the funeral industry, here.
  • Diane Duane writes, from her own personal history with Star Trek, about how one can be a writer who ends up writing for a media franchise.
  • Jim Belshaw at Personal Reflections considers the job of tasting, and rating, different cuts of lamb.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at a nondescript observatory in the Mojave desert of California that maps the asteroids of the solar system.
  • Roads and Kingdoms interviews Eduardo Chavarin about, among other things, Tijuana.
  • Drew Rowsome loves the SpongeBob musical.
  • Peter Rukavina announces that Charlottetown has its first public fast charger for electric vehicles.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog considers the impact of space medicine, here.
  • The Signal reports on how the Library of Congress is making its internet archives more readily available, here.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers how the incredibly isolated galaxy MCG+01-02-015 will decay almost to nothing over almost uncountable eons.
  • Strange Company reports on the trial and execution of Christopher Slaughterford for murder. Was there even a crime?
  • Strange Maps shares a Coudenhove-Kalergi map imagining the division of the world into five superstates.
  • Understanding Society considers entertainment as a valuable thing, here.
  • Denis Colombi at Une heure de peine announces his new book, Où va l’argent des pauvres?
  • John Scalzi at Whatever looks at how some mailed bread triggered a security alert, here.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on the massive amount of remittances sent to Tajikistan by migrant workers, here.
  • Arnold Zwicky notes a bizarre no-penguins sign for sale on Amazon.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Architectuul looks at the winners of an architecture prize based in Piran, here.
  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes the wind emitted from one distant galaxy’s supermassive black hole is intense enough to trigger star formation in other galaxies.
  • Maria Farrell at Crooked Timber pays tribute to Jack Merritt, a young victim of the London Bridge attack who was committed to the cause of prisoner rehabilitation.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at the history of French pop group Les Rita Mitsouko.
  • Bruce Dorminey reports on the European Space Agency’s belief Earth-observing spacecraft are needed to track ocean acidification.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the consensus of the Russian scientific community against human genetic engineering.
  • Far Outliers reports on the first ambassador sent from the Barbary States to the United States.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the life of pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas.
  • Language Log shares images of a bottle of Tibetan water, bought in Hong Kong, labeled in Tibetan script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money rightly assigns responsibility for the terrible measles outbreak in Samoa to anti-vaxxers.
  • The LRB Blog notes how tree planting is not apolitical, might even not be a good thing to do sometimes.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on a paper suggesting that food tends to be better in restaurants located on streets in Manhattan, better than in restaurants located on avenues.
  • Justin Petrone at north! shares an account of a trip across Estonia.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the photography of Michael Jang.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw continues to report from Armidale, in Australia, shrouded in smoke from wildfires.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the early days of the Planetary Society, four decades ago.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at how centenarians in Sweden and in Denmark experience different trends in longevity.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel reports on the accidental discovery of the microwave background left by the Big Bang in 1964.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little looks at the increasingly poor treatment of workers by employers such as Amazon through the lens of primitive accumulation.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the small differences separating the Kazakhs from the Kyrgyz.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares a dance routine, shown on television in France, against homophobia.