Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Cinch Review

“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”: A new standard?

Miley Cyrus You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You GoI’ve just noticed that in the wake of Miley Cyrus’s popular (and genuinely quite fine) cover version of Bob Dylan’s song “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” there’s been an explosion of amateur performers on YouTube who have been inspired by Miley and are clearly doing their versions of her version. It seems to be mimicking the trend where thousands of amateurs (not to mention professionals) have taken to singing Adele’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” That song has become, in effect, a modern standard, thanks to all the cover versions. It’s not as if “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” was unknown before Miley Cyrus did it, but it was not anything like a standard, not like certain other Dylan songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Although it’s a beautiful song, with a wonderful tension of sadness and exuberance, there’s a certain lyrical quirkiness to it that probably kept it out of the repertoires of most singers. And by quirkiness I’m really referring to this verse:

Situations have ended sad
Relationships have all been bad
Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud
But there’s no way I can compare
All those scenes to this affair
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go

The singer is comparing his own history of bad relationships to the two French poets, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, who had a homosexual affair which ended, more or less, when Verlaine shot Rimbaud (Rimbaud was not badly injured, but Verlaine was sentenced to two years in prison for the act). A lot of singers have probably figured that (1) nobody will know who Verlaine and Rimbaud are and (2) it’s probably better to keep it that way. Continue reading “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”: A new standard?

The Cinch Review

Congrats to Jerry Lee Lewis and bride

It’s been revealed that music great Jerry Lee Lewis was married on March 7th last, in a small ceremony in Natchez, Mississippi, to one Judith Ann Coghlan Brown. The groom is 76 years-old; the bride is 61. Traditionalist that he is, Jerry Lee has never given up on the institution of marriage. This is the seventh time he’s tied the knot. The media bottom-feeders are mostly focusing on the reported fact that Ms. Brown was once married to Jerry Lee’s cousin, Rusty. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to derive from that.

I just want to wish good luck and many more to the Killer. The clip below is of Jerry Lee Lewis circa 1983, with a fine performance of “Keep My Motor Runnin’.” Continue reading Congrats to Jerry Lee Lewis and bride

The Cinch Review

Extreme weather has been blown out of proportion (says IPCC)

A report from—of all sources—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is throwing cold water on the idea that climate change, whether man-made or natural, is responsible for any net increase in damaging global extreme weather events. From this report by Andrew Orlowski (and the full IPCC report is at this link):

“There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change,” writes the IPCC in its new Special Report on Extremes (SREX) published today.

“The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados,” the authors conclude, adding for good measure that “absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses”.

Is that perfectly clear? Well, if you read those lines three or four times I think you’ll perceive that what it is saying is that there’s nothing to say regarding any increase in damage from extreme weather due to “climate change.”

So what about all the weird weather everywhere, and all the weather-related disasters of the past decade or so? Continue reading Extreme weather has been blown out of proportion (says IPCC)

Myriam Monsenego

Mohammed Merah: a “Lone Wolf” and an Idea that Will Not Be Shamed

Myriam MonsenegoMohammed Merah was the twenty-three year-old jihadist who brutally murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, which was a follow-up to his killing of three French soldiers earlier in March. His older brother, Abdelkader, reportedly has said that he “is proud” of Mohammed’s actions.

Those actions include not only the cold-blooded human slaughter itself, but Mohammed’s filming of the acts. He had already uploaded his videos to a jihadist website, to inspire his brothers in faith, including the footage of him killing a terrified eight year-old Jewish girl. From the New York Post:

Mohammed Merah is seen yanking Myriam Monsenego by her hair — then firing a bullet into her head while he holds her.

Officials believe Merah strapped on a camera before each murder and posted the videos on jihadi Web sites, where he believed they would inspire other al Qaeda wannabes.

Mohammed was not really innovating in what he did. Al-Qaeda and other jihadist killers have long used video recordings of their bloody slaughter of helpless victims to encourage, entertain and inspirit one another. None of these jihadist perpetrators should properly be called “lone wolves.” They share a philosophy and a network, one which continues to produce additional actors all over the world.

It’s not pleasant to contemplate this kind of evil. It’s natural to want to turn one’s head away and dismiss it as aberrant and incomprehensible. I’m as guilty of that inclination as anyone.

However, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, these acts raise questions that have to be reflected upon by anyone who desires to live oriented towards reality rather than a false rosy horizon. There is violence everywhere, and there always has been, but what is it that makes so many human beings today believe—without any apparent doubt or shame—that acts of this nature are not only desirable in the moment but objectively good? Mohammed Merah truly believed as he jumped out that window with bullets flying that he was on his way to heaven, to be with God and to be rewarded by God for the actions he had taken. God, he believed, was going to reward him for grabbing the hair of eight-year old Myriam Monsenego, yanking her head towards him and firing a bullet into her skull. His brother, still living, agrees, as do his fellows watching the videos on the jihadist websites. This is the same motivation which is behind countless acts of inexpressibly horrific violence going on around the world. (Most of it, of-course, takes place not in western nations like France, where it gets so much attention, but rather in Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, often directed against fellow Muslims, or in countries with burgeoning Muslim majorities like Nigeria.)

It is a very different quality of evil which is so confidently convinced of its own objective and eternal goodness, very different to the evil of pure blood-lust or of violent greed for money and power. It cannot be characterized as being completely unprecedented; people have been killed in the name of dark distortions of Christianity and of other religions before. However, surely it is unique in its imperviousness to the judgment of time and its apparent immunity to correction through reflective leadership and reform. Islam originated with Muhammad in the seventh century and, bluntly-speaking, the idea that killing people on the basis of who they are (Jews, Christians, infidels) can be regarded as an objective good has persisted since those earliest days. Of-course, it is not a behavior practiced by the majority of Muslims, as if that even needs to be said. But the idea itself that slaughtering even the helpless, even innocent children, on the basis of their non-submission to Islam can be good, laudable and holy: that idea has not gone away. And the consequences of that idea show no signs of abating in our modern world, in this twenty-first century. Far from it, as if that even needs to be said. President Obama is in Seoul this very day at a summit regarding nuclear proliferation. He has said that the danger of terrorists setting off a nuclear bomb in an American city is “the single most important national security threat that we face.” If or when that happens, it’s almost certainly going to be just one more consequence of this same idea. Millions may be destined for violent death in this century as a direct result of it.

Again, I feel I’m probably belaboring the obvious, and perhaps coming across as being naive, but every now and then, as these events proceed on and on, it is worth stopping to ask the basic questions, if only to resist falling into total callousness. Here is such a basic question: What is being done, within Islam, to defeat and eradicate this persistent idea? It is not enough for some imams or select Islamic spokespeople to react to the acts of a Mohammed Merah by saying, yet again, “This has nothing to do with Islam.” Yes, it did have something to do with Islam. Mohammed Merah believed he was going to heaven and would be rewarded for, among other things, grabbing eight-year old Myriam Monsenego by her hair while discharging his gun into her cranium. He believed this was a good thing, that it was something to proudly film and share to encourage others. And all around the world, more and more Mohammeds are convinced daily of the same basic idea, and are acting upon it. (If they are not killing Jews or infidels, they are killing fellow Muslims who they judge to be falling short in some way.) Why is it so apparently impossible for this idea to be fought and defeated by other Muslims? Why in fact does the horrible nature of such acts not produce a wave of shame that might extinguish the fire of would-be perpetrators?

I know that there are those who can write treatises in response to such questions, and I sometimes read them too. Maybe the answers are already out there. But sometimes you just have to stop and ask the questions again.

The Cinch Review

Armed Citizens

One of the countless such stories that occur across America on a regular basis:

Tim Patterson was cooking at The Big Yellow Mobile Kitchen as he did every day when he heard a scream coming from the parking lot of a nearby Goodwill store. He rushed toward the cries for help and didn’t hesitate to draw his Kimber 1911 .45 when he saw that a man had grabbed hold of a woman and had a knife to her throat. “Drop it or I’ll shoot you!” Patterson warned. The assailant immediately released the woman, dropped the knife, raised his arms and fled. The victim, a Goodwill employee who was carrying a bank deposit in her purse at the time of the attempted robbery, was not injured. (Coeur d’Alene Press, Coeur d’Alene, ID, 11/30/11. Via The Armed Citizen.)

Continue reading Armed Citizens

The Cinch Review

Dog rescued from fourth-floor ledge (with video)

Dog newsIn Chicago, a wire-haired fox terrier named Maggie was home alone—and must have been pretty bored—when she managed to make her way out of her apartment’s fourth-floor window and onto a ledge that is reportedly only five inches wide. It’s not clear how long she was out there, but neighbors spotted her in the terrifying predicament and called the fire department.

As you can see in the amateur video clip embedded below (the key action begins at about the one-minute marker) a firefighter just pokes his head out the window and presumably calls the dog to come. However, the problem is that she is facing in the opposite direction. There seems to be a moment when she starts to try to turn her body around, but then realizes she doesn’t have the room to do so. She briefly walks forward towards the corner edge … but then, in a glorious Eureka moment, starts to gently walk backwards towards the man in the window. As soon as she is within reach he lifts her inside. It’s only a few seconds, but it’s pure heart-stopping drama. Continue reading Dog rescued from fourth-floor ledge (with video)

The Cinch Review

Bob Dylan, election night 2008, etc.

Thanks to John W. who forwards me a recent interview with Greil Marcus in a Minnesota paper. He thought this part in particular would interest me:

One of the major events in my parallel life with Bob Dylan, which any fan has if you follow his work and his ups and downs … was election night in 2008 when he played the University of Minnesota for the first time. I just thought that was a fabulous event. I loved the way he timed the show so that it would end five minutes before the election would be called, so that everybody would be out in the lobby when the TV screen went on. I just felt like that was so appropriate, so not accidental. And ending the concert with that weird comment—“I was born in the year of Pearl Harbor, and it’s been an age of darkness ever since. But now I think things are about to change.” And that’s him just saying, “I know this is a special night, and none of us knows what, if any, changes in our own lives this is going to mean, but we all hope it will mean some change.” And I think when someone as in his own world as Bob Dylan can join his audience … I can’t imagine that would have happened in Poughkeepsie, or Birmingham or Seattle.

When Dylan’s remarks on election night of 2008 were first reported in the press, it was presented as Bob basically hailing Barack Obama’s great victory, with a triumphant “Things are gonna change now!” Greil Marcus’s tone is different to that here, but still slanted in a certain way. Back in November of 2008, I wrote on Bob Dylan’s election night remarks at my old website. I wasn’t relying on any paraphrase in the press or half-heard snippets. I quoted his full remarks, and provided the audio as well. Then I reflected on what Dylan seemed to be getting at, given the full context, versus how it was being reported, and even versus how it was heard by those present, many of whom were (naturally enough) pregnant with expectations related to the election. With hindsight, I was probably too long-winded, but I certainly stand by the substance of what I wrote. Briefly put, I think that there was a deep (and intentional) irony in Dylan’s words, notwithstanding the fact that he likely knew it would be missed by most in the audience that night. I ended my reflection with a biblical quote from Psalm 118: “It is better to put trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” I thought then and continue to think that that says more about where Dylan is coming from than anything I could say. It surprises me, still, that there are people who listen to Dylan’s music for years and for decades who don’t seem to get this. Continue reading Bob Dylan, election night 2008, etc.