President Obama demonstrates his skill at reaching across the aisle and making allies in order to get his legislative agenda passed. While this may be emotionally satisfying for Obama fans, it is just plain stupid politics. Obama has no experience running anything where the entire staff is not on his side. I fear we are in for some learning-on-the-job episodes in the next few months.
One of the things I cannot stand about Obama is his constant insistence that any disagreements are just "petty partisan politics." Perhaps as he grows a little into his new role and gains some maturity, he might begin to apprehend that some disagreements are based on serious differences of opinion. It's not petty partisan politics that is leading many to look at his proposed "stimulus" and argue that it is not set up to stimulate much of anything.
What's frustrating is that I agree with Obama that there needs to be an investment in upgrading certain portions of our infrastructure. The problem, at the moment, is that the country is broke and it is intellectually dishonest to suggest that these programs will stimulate economic growth.
Thankfully, there will be no lobbyists in his Administration. Oh, except or his pick for the Number 2 slot at Defense.
So, I've been moving forward with the jazz studies and I am pleased to say that I have gotten some nice rewards from it already. I'm not actually a tremendous fan of jazz, but I really like the complex harmonic explorations and I've been enjoying learning some of the extremely creative ways that jazz composers and improvisers have spiced up simple diatonic chords over the years.
Having reached a point where I feel like I am starting to "get it" as far as improvisation and chord soloing, I decided to backfill a bit by reading a book called "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine. A lot of the early sections cover areas (scales, modes, chord construction) I've known about for years, but it's been interesting to hear the way jazz musicians took us from I-vi-ii-V to I-VI-ii-V. What has been especially entertaining, however, has been reading about the ludicrously self-righteous debates that went on over theory during the bebop era. A sample of the silliness:
Before the bebop era, most jazz musicians played the 4th of the major chord as a passing note only. Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Thelonius Monk, and other pioneers of bebop often raised the 4th...in their improvising, chord voicings, and original tunes. It's hard to believe now, but the raised 4th was a very controversial note during the 1940s. People actually wrote letters to Down Beat magazine about it, saying things like "the beboppers are ruining our music" and "jazz is dead."
That's right. People were arguing whether or not it was okay to play, for example, an F# over a Cmaj7 chord. This is the kind of preciousness that spurs three-state killing sprees.
I have now seen the intellectual grandfathers of the current crop of sanctimonious "indie-hipster-music-geeks."
In their honor, I am going to play #11 all night over every major chord.
The Misanthrope saw his older, nicer brother this weekend. Let's call him "Fill."
At any rate, Fill was in town as he was interviewing for a job in Delaware (Motto: "We Know It Seems Weird But, Yes, We WERE A Slave State") and figured that he would swing through the Big Apple. It's the 300th anniversary of our high school, so Fill also went to homecoming to pick up a medal for...um...winning the "Best Senior Athlete" trophy 25 years ago. I'm not sure what the whole thing was all about either, but my brother still takes great pleasure in knowing that John McEnroe, who was a few years ahead of my brother at the school, didn't win it.
The more exciting part of the weekend was the transfer of my old Rickenbacker 330 to Fill for transportation down to North Carolina. I am loaning this cherished piece of Moneyshot history to my 12 year old nephew. Fill has three sons and the eldest two are just at the age where they are starting to get into rock. The middle boy is already playing drums, having received a starter kit this Christmas. The oldest now has an electric guitar. I'm just waiting for the youngest to be big enough to hold the bass and they will be ready for Uncle D-Funk (their name for me) to teach them side one of 2112.