Sunday, June 12, 2011

Must Reads of the Week - A Ride into the Sun

A Ride Into the Sun
The Power of the Pentatonic Scale

Looking for another chance
for someone else to be
Looking for another place
to ride into the sun

Ride Into the Sun - Lou Reed



With just the notes found on the five black piano keys some of the most hypnotic music the world has ever known has been created. Please join JohnQ for a ride into the sun:

Here the power of the Pentatonic scale is vividly demonstrated by Bobby McFerrin:



In America, it was popularized via the traditional songs and chants sung by West African slaves and latter with their spirituals:



In Europe, it entered into popular music via the composers who started basing their compositions on world folk music. Debussy most famously used it in his work Pagodas:



Strike Up the Band

Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band - Brian Eno

The Lou Reed and John Cale experimented with the Pentatonic scale, atonal and drone styles  in their group the Velvet Underground:


One of the most remarkable collaborations in modern music came about by freak chance:



Rock Noir: Lou Reed Reckons with Andy Warhol in 'Songs for 'Drella'. - Nov 27, 1989 - Page 44

Here is the first song that they recorded together:



Later their style would reach its full blossom in the group, the Velvet Underground. Here is one of their most haunting melodies, Ride Into the Sun:



Here is a devastating take on the it by poster, MonsterBabyRecords:




Demosclerosis

Our founding fathers well understood the corrupting influence of power so they deliberately created a political system to combat this:

The American constitutional system includes a notion known as the Separation of Powers. In this system, several branches of government are created and power is shared between them. At the same time, the powers of one branch can be challenged by another branch. This is what the system of checks and balances is all about.

Constitutional Topic: Checks and Balances

David Brooks argues that this system has become overwhelmed:

It has sent the message that we have hit the moment of demosclerosis. Washington is home to a vertiginous tangle of industry associations, activist groups, think tanks and communications shops. These forces have overwhelmed the government that was originally conceived by the founders.

The Death of a Liberal

Here is an interesting article from several years back who interestingly enough became drawn to conservatism by its sceptical outlook on human nature:

David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' - Village Voice

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?"

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.



To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.


The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (1961)





Free Loading

On the subject of scepticism, here is an interesting piece from Perter Hitchens, who questions why we should feel compelled to give hand outs to free loaders:

Blessed are the Spongers? That’s not what St Paul said, Archbishop - Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail

Why is it so bad to draw a line between the deserving and the undeserving poor? I have searched the Sermon on the Mount for the words ‘Blessed are the Spongers’ and I cannot find them – or anything remotely like them.


So why does the Archbishop of Canterbury speak as if it was obvious that we should treat people who can work, but won’t, in the same way as we treat those who are truly in need?

The answers of course lies with the money being made by their advocates in and out of governement, Poverty Inc.:

The Sidewalks of San Francisco

The homelessness industry has pulled off some impressive feats of rebranding over the years—most notably, turning street vagrancy into a consequence of unaffordable housing, rather than of addiction and mental illness. But for sheer audacity, nothing tops the alchemy that homelessness advocates and their government sponsors are currently attempting in San Francisco. The sidewalks of the Haight-Ashbury district have been colonized by aggressive, migratory youths who travel up and down the West Coast panhandling for drug and booze money. Homelessness, Inc. is trying to portray these voluntary vagabonds as the latest victims of inadequate government housing programs

John Lee Hooker - Hobo Blues




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