Archive for May, 2009

Happy Birthday Walt

May 31, 2009

Today was Cornell’s graduation. A glorious end-of-May day here, but frankly I”m just glad to be done. A brutal year teaching for a variety of reasons, and it really wore me down. But all the grades are in, just a few committee meetings now, and I have the summer to relax, drink some good beer, and try to get some writing done.

This weekend we also celebrate Walt Whitman’s birthday. The great American poet was born May 31 1819 and in his honor, here’s a short poem:

WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Now, I’m not sure what my choice of this poem says about my state of mind right now. It’s true that graduation gives me a good feeling about what we do as teachers. Then again, I feel a bit disillusioned after some of my experiences this year. I also often feel more in line with Whitman here, wondering what it is we really  do in the face of experience itself. I suppose I have the summer to think about it, though; perhaps reading Leaves of Grass again would do me some good.

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Whatever Happened to Phil?

May 29, 2009

So it appears that Phil Spector is going to spend the rest of his life in jail–or at a minimum 19 years, but I’m guessing it will be the rest of his life.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure the jury got the right verdict on this (although I would never convict someone based on what we get in the media) and he deserves absolutely everything he will get, but that doesn’t stop me from also being a bit sad. What the hell happened to him?  This is the originator of the Wall of Sound.  This is the man who produced over 25 top 40 hits–many of them actual classics. This is the man who produced the likes of the Ronettes, Gene Pitney, Ben E. King, Ike and Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers, Leonard Cohen, and the Ramones. This is the man that, most importantly to me, produced the Beatles’ Let it Be, and followed that with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, and Imagine.  He also produced The Concert for Bangladesh and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass–one of the best albums of all time, and the epitome of what the Wall of Sound could do. I shake my head and ask again, what the hell happened to him? I know, I could make funny jokes about his crazy wigs–he took to wearing some pretty crazy wigs after an accident left him with about 300 stitches in the back of his head–or I could make comments about how Spector has changed his party affiliation as many people have done recently on blogs around the country. But I’m sad that a life like this could come to such disgusting ends.  I feel for his girlfriend’s family and friends and I wonder how I’ll  listen to All Things Must Pass any more.

Phil Spectorc. LA Times

PHIL SPECTOR: Rock Genius Sentenced to 19 Years to Life for Killing his Girlfriend

And Another Big Birthday

May 26, 2009

In my last post, I wished happy birthday to Bob Dylan.  That’s a birthday I’ve known for a long time. I had no idea that his birthday was so close to another huge musical milestone, though. Tomorrow is the birthday of jazz genius Miles Davis. Many thanks to Pete Lee on Bop Street on KFAI for letting me know this historical date.

Miles Davis(p)1988 Fantasy, Inc.

Miles was born May 26, 1926 in Illinois and died September 28, 1991 in Santa Monica California.  As with Dylan, I trust that any readers of the Street Parade know the astounding influence he had on music of all kinds and I won’t replay it all here. So the question is what do I suggest for a tribute. I love it all from his Birth of Cool to his Kind of Blue to his work with Coltrane to his electric fusion–it’s all great and you can’t go wrong.  Generally, I suggest a classic album to pay tribute to a musician, but here’s what I recommend for Miles: put on 4 discs continuous: Jack Johnson, In a Silent Way, and both discs of  Bitches Brew. Now turn it up loud and let yourself sink into a jazz meditation for several hours. If you come through the other side unchanged, well, your mind is far more twisted already than mine. Enjoy.  And, just to get you rolling, here is some classic Miles from the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. My wife who isn’t really a fan of the fusion Miles (much preferring the Birth of Cool era) watched the documentary of his Isle of Wight festival and walked away fairly glazed and dazed muttering, “oh, I get it…”

Happy Birthday Bob

May 25, 2009

The Street Parade has let its birthday watch go lately and hasn’t posted any for quite awhile.  Today’s is a biggie, though.  A happy 68th birthday to Bob Dylan, born May 24, 1941.

dylan

daniel Kramer
http://www.barbaraarcher.com/artists/kramer/exhibition.html

Usually I give a bit of bio background on anyone whose birthday I post but I trust that anyone who would be reading the Street Parade is fully aware of all the relevant Bob Dylan info. So, I’ll just wish him a happy one. The suggested listening is of course really difficult. Far too much stuff to even know where to begin. I’ve been listening to Dylan all day, a 2 hour Dylan tribute with Cousin Demetri on WWOZ this afternoon and then as much of my own catalog as I could get through. Whatever you’ve got, well listen to it. But I haven’t really listened to his 1975 Rolling Thunder bootleg in quite awhile (I believe it’s #5 in his bootleg series from a few years ago) and it was a nice surprise this afternoon. Some strange rearrangements of old classic material. So what the heck I’ll throw a recommendation in for that.  But as I say, listen to it all, listen to it loud.  And in the meantime, here is some of my favorite Dylan footage. From Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz with the Band, watch Rick Danko in the middle of this try to figure out where Dylan’s going:

Recipe Oops

May 22, 2009

A big oops in my last posting. For the sofrito to make the Paella, that’s 2-3 cloves, not 2-3 heads of garlic.  Now, it might be really good if you like some serious garlic, but that would be a lot of garlic. If anyone actually tried the recipe unknowingly, I hope you’re OK.

Vegetarian Paella

May 20, 2009

We had some good friends over for dinner on Sunday and I made up a big batch of veggie paella.  I’ve been working on this recipe and it came out really well so I thought I’d share it.  I make a big batch and really throw a lot of this together by sight, so add stuff, take stuff out, whatever you want as you start to put it all together.

First, we make some sofrito:
1 Vidalia onion thinly sliced.
1 bulb of fresh fennel, also thinly sliced.
1 can of small diced tomatoes–of course fresh if you’re able/have the time, but canned works pretty well.
2-3 cloves of garlic.
Saute the onions and fennel and garlic until translucent. Add a cup of white wine and let cook down. Then add some veggie stock, the tomatoes and a pinch of saffron. Let it simmer while you fix the rest.

For the rice:
Saute a can of quartered artichoke hearts in olive oil.
Add about 3 cups of arborio rice and cook until the rice starts to turn translucent.
Add a pinch of saffron and some white wine.
Now, slowly add sofrito to the rice and stir, adding other ingredients as you go.
I add about a cup of sofrito at a time and let the rice absorb it before adding more.
While you’re slowly cooking the rice, put 4 cubed Boca Italian sausages in another pan with some olive oil. Let them cook until they’re nice and brown–you can add them to the rice at any time once they’re done.
You’ll also add chopped black olives and some capers–as much as you want.
After the sausage, I put a bag of Qorn tenders in the same pan I did the sausage and let them get nice and brown then add them to the rice as well.
Add a bag of peas to the rice as well, asparagus too if you like (as much as you want).
After the Qorn, I use the same pan to saute a big batch of shiitake mushrooms (again, as much as you want) until they’re brown and toss them in the mix.
Keep adding sofrito until the rice is cooked–and if the rice doesn’t fully cook you can continue adding water until it’s al dente.
I know the directions sound kind of loose–but really it’s a process of slowly adding sofrito/water to the rice mix until it’s done and then keep adding whatever ingredients you want. It makes a big pot of rich goodness.  As it finishes up, the rice will get a crust to the bottom that’s really good, dont’ worry about it sticking a bit.
I like to add chopped roasted red peppers and tons of parsley as I dish it up in a big family-style bowl.

Of course, good music helps.  I know this is Spanish food, but I find some good New Orleans jazz works really well.

Finally, a crusty baguette is a must and some Spanish Rioja and/or a Belgian double or triple really work well to top it off.

I really should have taken a picture of the big bowl of paella ’cause the colors in the end are amazing, the green asparagus, the saffron yellow, and the rich red peppers really snap–as one of the chefs I used to cook with would say, “Ah, just like in the magazine.”  But alas I didn’t think about pictures until we’d eaten it up. Next time I guess.