All posts by jupiterj

thinking about now


Image result for america r crumb

It turns out that way back in 1970 Albert Murray who died in 2013 said some very important things that shed light on what’s happening in the USA now. In his book, Omni-Americans: Black Experience and Black Culture, he says “American culture even in its most patently segregated precincts is patently and irrevocably composite.”

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It is this fact that will ultimately defeat this terrible moment when we have a government in disarray. When we attack people who have come here from other lands (entering legally or illegally) we attack ourselves. We attack what makes our culture: the composite.

Image result for american culture yankee backwoodsman indian negro

We are composed historically of three unique strains, Murray quotes  ideas from Constance Rourke drawing presumably on her two books, American Humor: A Study of the National Character and The Roots of American Culture: “The American is a composite that is part Yankee, part backwoodsman and Indian, and part Negro.”  Quoting her directly: “… something in the nature of each [of these] induced an irresistible response. Each had a been a wanderer over the lands, the Negro a forced and unwilling wanderer. Each in a fashion of his own had broken bonds, the Yankee in the initial revolt against the parent civilization, the backwoodsman in revolt against all civilization, the Negro in a revolt which was cryptic and submerged but which nonetheless made a perceptible outline… [all three interwoven figures in our culture] were the embodiment of a deep seated mood of dis-severance, carrying the popular fancy further and further from any fixed heritage. Their comedy, their irreverent wisdom, their sudden changes and adroit adaptations provided emblems for a pioneer people who required resilience as a prime trait.”

Image result for american culture yankee backwoodsman indian negro

Further, in clarifying how American culture works, Rourke points out (via Murray) “… such is the process by which Americans are made that immigrants, for instance, need trace their roots no further back in either time or space than Ellis island. By the very act of arrival, they emerge from the bottomless depths and enter the same stream of American tradition as those who landed at Plymouth. In the very act of making their way through customs, they begin the process of becoming , as Constance Rourke would put it, part Yankee, part backwoodsman and Indian—and part Negro.”

This helps me understand my own personal attraction to eclecticism as represented in American culture. For a musician such as myself, I find it necessary to understand the streams of genius flowing from the tragic history of slavery into the 21st century. In fact I am attracted and identify with all three strains of Rourke’s understanding of who we are.

When you remember this, our current turmoil, although unique, rings hollow. Of course it is a matter of deep concern that we are in uncharted territory. Which brings me to my next point which I ran across this morning listening to Ezra Klein interview Elizabeth Drew, the author of The Watergate Journal.

I’m embedding it here because I didn’t see a clear way to link this episode. Here’s a link to Klein’s podcast page.

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Drew kept a diary throughout the Watergate experience beginning with the fall of Nixon’s VP, Spiro Agnew. Although Klein wants to draw parallels between then and now, she adroitly avoids this pitfall. But she does have insights into the Trump phenomenon.

First of all, she reminds us that Trump is not fit to be our president. He doesn’t understand the job, the government or (in my opinion anyway) the country. She also thinks that he will not make four years, but again she says no one knows at this point. It’s important to pay attention.

When Klein talks about the hysteria and worst case scenario mind set she comes up with three important things to remember.

Drew’s three things to remember about Trump

1. He’s incompetent. Nixon knew where the levers of government were and how to use them. Trump hasn’t a clue and has surrounded himself by neophytes.

2. He has eroded his own credibility. In other words, as he continues to lie, his ability to convince and lead diminishes.

3. He has few allies in a large and complex government including the Republicans.

These ideas are no panacea by any means and Drew doesn’t present them as such. But they all strike me as accurate and worth of keeping in mind as we monitor closely this White House administrations, its actions and the response of the government and the people.

34 Books by Women of Color to Read This Year

I love lists. I usually check to see if I recognize much on book lists. I didn’t on this list so I bookmarked for future reference. thank you to daughter Elizabeth for faceboogering this.

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto & Shrimp Recipe – EatingWell

 Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal | BBC Good Food

A couple of good looking recipes from my vegetarian daughters.

Millions in South Sudan in Urgent Need of Food, U.N. Warns – The New York Times

This is from a couple days ago.  There was nothing in yesterday NYT. I haven’t look at today’s paper yet.

A worthy response to Republican idiocy.

Racial Justice Advocate – The New York Times

Interesting letter from the subject of a recent report by the NYT. The original story is linked in the letter. The point is that the NYT made things worse and committed the very errors the guy was fighting against. At least they printed his letter, I guess.


coasting through wednesday


I did manage to goof off yesterday afternoon. I even skipped reading the NYT so I’m a day or two behind in that. Instead I did other reading.  I’m feeling a pleasant sense that nothing is so important that I can’t stay relaxed throughout my work. Probably delusional, but I’ll take it.

I think that I am mostly a lover, a good audience of poetry, music, stories, and ideas, emphasis on love. I am a bit of a maker, but mostly a lover. I have been returning to the first volume of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavichord. There is a difference between the two volumes. I have read where people think that the second volume is more profound and there might be something to that. However, returning to the first volume I find it immensely satisfying as well.

I’m hoping to coast through today.Image result for coasting gif bicycle


I’m thinking I need to add a couple of anthems to the choir schedule list. After all, Lent starts next Wednesday. I have most of the Easter season to plan and a couple holes in Lent and Holy Week. I like my idea of scattering interesting high art kind of anthems between easier more accessible but still rewarding ones. I’m planning to do my setting of Psalm 121 when it comes up in Lent. I wrote this setting and dedicated it to my maternal grandparents, since I seem to recall this psalm was used at both of their funerals. At any rate, I can still hear in my inner ear my grandmother Midkiff (Grandmommy she insisted on being called) recite this psalm in the King James and nice W. Virginia accent.

Thelma 1979

 A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates – The New York Times

Russia Will Accept Passports Issued by East Ukraine Separatists – The New York Times

I’m grouping links today. I have been trying to understand what’s happening in these countries near Russia. Richard Haas’s book,  World in Disarray is helping. I looked at a map as well. it’s good to remember that six or more of these countries depending upon how you count were Yugoslavia until Tito’s death in the 90s. 

The world is so much more complicated than what is presented in our media both journalistic and social.

Dysfunction and Deadlock at the Federal Election Commission – The New York Times


In these two articles, the second is written by the subject of the first. I love that kind of reporting then commenting from the principles.

Why the World Needs a Trump Doctrine – The New York Times

This is written by ” Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Carter’s national security adviser from 1977 to 1981,” and is currently “a trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where Paul Wasserman” the other author “is a research associate.”

I think the article is a bit pathetic in ascribing possibly competence to President Trump. But I do agree that President Trump is president and find the “Not My President” protests irrelevant expressions of what feels like denial. You have to admit he’s president to effectively monitor and resist bad stuff he does, right?