My Two-Cents Worth

Happy New Year, one and all. Have you made your resolutions? I’ve got so many that I had to make lists of my lists. Mostly I resolved to allocate my time more wisely, eschew distractions so as to focus on my writing, and return to a consistent blogging schedule. My desires, coupled with the current state of the world, require that I make some more money and spend less of it.

I took some time this morning to clip coupons. I never used to do this with any regularity, and while the world’s economic downturn has motivated all of us to tighten our proverbial belts, I admit that my clipping fancy has more than a little to do with preventing the conglomerates from taking extra advantage of me than it does with saving 40 cents on my next four cans of soup. Coupons, and grocery club cards, are proof of the over-inflated prices on all of the products we buy. On top of the cost of making goods, manufacturers add in the cash-back values along with the advertising expenses, kitchen sink, and profit margin before settling on a retail price. If we take the time to clip, and remember to carry the coupons and club cards to the store, then we save a few cents, or even several dollars, and they still get their profits; if we forget, then they get their profits plus a cherry on top. Why should I anoint their sundaes when I can bake my own cherry pie?

And do they really believe that the availability of coupons actually alters our shopping selection? I’ve been told that I am not a typical consumer, but I wonder. The coupons never affect my taste preferences nor shake my brand loyalties that were mostly forged in childhood. Just because I can get cents off a box of Fiber One doesn’t mean I’ll buy it instead of Raisin Bran; and the only time I ever buy go-gurt is when the grand-kids are visiting. Furthermore, while I now have a large stash of coupons for products I do buy, sorted by the month in which they expire, I am not likely to buy those items right now, unless I need them right now. If a coupon expires before a need arises, too bad — no sale.

Okay, so this counts as a double check-mark on my lists: a blog post + saving cents.

Takin’ It Back With Barack, Jack!

James Moody hipped Jimmy Heath to this YouTube clip and Jimmy sent it to me.
Watch, enjoy, and don’t forget to vote. (No matter what your viewpoint, it’s your right and your responsibility to make your voice heard)

Here are the lyrics:

Hate to see the nation being run by a hack
Dig the situation that he dug in Iraq
Half the population wants to give him the sack
And now he’s lookin’ round for somebody else to attack
We need somebody great to get us back on the track

So we’re takin’ it back with Barack, Jack!

Choo Choo, Change to believe in
Woo woo, we can achieve it
Choo Choo, Change to believe in
Takin’ it back with Barack, Jack!

Now that global warming is a matter of fact
The only real question is just how to react
The new administration needs the guts to enact
Drastic legislation, leave the planet intact
We can’t be foolin’ round with some Republican Mac

So we’re takin’ it back with Barack, Jack!

Choo Choo….

He only gets his money from your regular macs
Doesn’t take a penny from some whackity PAC’s
For bringin’ folk together he’s the man with the knack
And he’ll supply the hope and inspiration we lack
Cause he’s the best we got and did I ….mention he’s black?

So we’re takin’ it back with Barack, Jack!

Welcome SloaneViewers

If you are new to DevraDoWrite, welcome! I hope you’ll stay awhile and scroll around a lot. Some of you may have found me by way of Sloaneview as my most gracious friend and songstress supreme, Carol Sloane, recently commented on the sad state of jazz and linked to a piece on my blog. If you’re looking for that particular post, click here.

You’ll find that the subjects I talk most about are writing (narrative nonfiction and biography, especially) and jazz. Lately, politics has been creeping in a bit as well, and, of course, being a blog, lots of my opinions about this and that and the other.

Hope you enjoy, and come back often.

It’ll never happen to me…oops.

I used to back up my files regularly. When I started blogging I even saved text files of my posts, separate from the database in which the blog software stores my text. Then I got lax, or lazy, and stopped backing up files and seldom saved blog notes. Oops. Now something happened to my data and my last post has disappeared without a trace. I can’t even remember what I wrote. I know it was about another blog titled Jazz My Two Cents Worth and I know I recommended it to you because it’s on my blogroll. I remember perusing some of the earlier two-cents musings and quoting a snippet, and of course highly recommending the interview posted with my favorite Nightingale, Carol Sloane. And I wished her a happy birthday, too. Hopefully my original post was more finely crafted than this hasty recap. (Bob, if by any chance you happened to have saved the text of my original post, please send it to me and I will re-post.)

Media Matters

In a Rifftides post last week (Other Matters: Freedom of the Prez) the Prez in question referred not to Lester Young but to the Press, i.e. journalists, and to SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) president Christine Tatum’s blog titled Freedom of the Prez.

Having just seen a repeat of Bill Moyers’ conversation with constitutional scholar Bruce Fein (conservative) and Washington correspondent for The Nation John Nichols (liberal), I thought the blog-post title was well-suited to Prez Bush. Our current president has taken for himself great freedoms — freedom from interference of congress, freedom from the rule of law….freedom to do whatever he pleases.

Opinions of Bush, Cheney, et al not withstanding, Nichols also holds the press responsible:

JOHN NICHOLS: Let me mention the unspoken branch of government, which is the fourth estate: The media. The fact of the matter is the founders anticipated that presidents would overreach. And they anticipated that at times politics would cause Congress to be a weaker player or a dysfunctional player. But they always assumed that the press would alert the people, that the press would tell the people. And the fact of the matter is I think that our media in the last few years has done an absolutely miserable job of highlighting the constitutional issues that are in play. You know, you can’t have torture and extraordinary rendition. You cannot have spying. You cannot have a– lying to Congress. You cannot have what happened to Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, you know?

BILL MOYERS: When she was outed and they tried to punish–

JOHN NICHOLS: Plotted out of the vice-president’s office without question. Notations of the vice-president on news articles saying, “Let’s go get this guy.” Right? You know, you can’t have that and not have a media going and saying to the president at press conferences, you know, “Aren’t– isn’t what you’re doing a violation of the Constitution?” Now, just imagine if the– if the members of the White House Press Corps on a regular basis were saying to Tony Snow, “But hasn’t what the president’s done here violated the Constitution?” The whole national dialogue would shift. And Congress itself would suddenly become a better player. So I’m not absolving Congress. I’m certainly not absolving Bush and Cheney. But I am saying that we have a media problem here as well.

Having watched the program, I realized how little I know about the Constitution, the intentions of those who wrote it, and the predictions they made. I was fascinated by the discussion, and heartened that it took the subject of impeachment out of the realm of Bush bashing, or even partisan politics, and placed it in a solidly historical, impersonal perspective

Read the full transcript of “Impeachment: The Conversation Continues” and then check out the comments sent in by viewers.

Aimez-vous silly?

I wish I could remember who sent me this very silly video titled Everybody Loves to Dance. There is some really silly stuff on YouTube and other places, some of it truly ridiculous and much not worth watching, but this arrived via email and I find myself watching it more oftwn than I’d care to admit…maybe I’m just desperate for a giggle, or perhaps that should be a gaggle of laughs. It helps if you like animals…. click here to watch

When Worlds Collide

As I may have mentioned, in an effort to generate a little more income to sustain me while I work on three books, two of which are artistshare projects at SnapSizzleBop, I have been spending some time designing websites for clients who happen to be in the psychoanalytic field. So here I am, immersed in Freud and issues of ego identity, transference and such, missing my jazz, feeling guilty about time not spent at SnapSizzleBop, when the worlds suddenly collide in a delightul and unexpected way.

I just received notice that soprano saxophonist/composer Jane Ira Bloom‘s musical composition based on Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams has garnered her a Guggenheim Fellowship. Actually, I don’t know if that composition directly resulted in the award, but the press release mentioned it. These awards are given “to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions and irrespective of race, color, or creed.”

Jane, who has already won many awards and been distinguished by having an asteroid named in her honor by the International Astronomical Union (asteroid 6083), is also receiving a 2007 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award for lifetime service to jazz. And guess what. She’s got an ArtistShare project too.
Here’s my favorite quote from her web site:

“Sometimes I throw sound around the band like paint and other times I play and feel as if I was carving silence like a sculptor.”

Testing Update

So now I’ve figured out how to create a little banner ad that floats at the top of the page instead of inside a blog posting, and it is also a link. If I created several of them they would rotate with each time someone visits the site. A pretty cool tool, and while I promise not to abuse it, I do think that I’ll leave that top banner up for awhile.

Why? Because I spent a lot of time over the last few days revamping the SnapSizzleBop website. It was confusing to visitors who were not sure what was there or how to go about finding stuff. I think–I hope–that it is clearer now, and on the home page I’ve included samples from each of the projects. I hope you’ll take a look.

Testing

I have been designing a lot of web sites these last couple of months – some are blogs, others are complex content managemet systems built with Joomla, and others are simpler html-based sites. Now a client is asking about advertising on a blog and rather than experiment with that site, I thought it might bebetter to experiment on my own blog site…just in case.

I just created two “ads” – one for each of my two ArtistShare projects. After this paragraph you should see one of them, followed by the last paragrph of my post. I think that every time someone comes to DevraDoWrite it will alternate.


At the Feet of a Jazz Master - a new online project
with jazz bassist-turned-talent manager, John Levy.

Rest assured that I have no plans to sell ads on DevraDoWrite, but depending on how this works, I might continue to place inside a blog post an occassional announcement about my own projects. Or maybe I’ll try a thin banner at the top of the page. We’ll see…

Let Me Off Uptown

Tomorrow’s edition of “Jazz From the Archives” on WBGO radio features jazz vocalist Anita O’Day. You’ll hear tracks from O’Day’s 1952-62 work (thought by some to be her best recording years) on the Clef and Verve labels, with such arrangers as Russell Garcia, Jimmy Giuffre, Bill Holman, Quincy Jones, Johnny Mandel, Billy May, and Gary McFarland, plus small groups led by Gene Harris, Roy Kral, Oscar Peterson, and Cal Tjader.

Way back when, in my NYC hanging days (that would be about 30 years ago) I got to hear Ms. O’Day quite a bit in person at Michael’s Pub, an upscale room on East 55th street. Norman Simmons was her pianist then and I loved every minute of it. In those days I also used to go over to Jimmy Ryans club where Roy Eldridge ‘s group was in residence (Dick Katz on piano, Major Holley on bass, Eddie Locke on drums) and the standard repertoire always included Roy’s imitation of Anita singing “Let Me Off Uptown.” (here’s the original version)

“Jazz From the Archives” featuring Anita O’Day airs tomorrow, Sunday, March 18, from 11 p.m. to midnight, Eastern Daylight Time.