Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 15th, 2022

A Tribute to Terry Teachout (1956-2022)

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Terry Teachout, whose writing I admire a lot, was a student at St. John’s College (Annapolis MD) for just one semester. He was a musician at the time, and he said that the curriculum just did not allow him enough time to practice. I was director of admissions there, and I recall that he wrote a brilliant application for admission. (The admissions applicatioin form, beyond the usual name and address information, consisted of questions to which essay-type answers were required.) He was also an exceptional student, and I wish he could have stayed because I think he would have contributed a lot in the discussions through which classes and seminars were taught.

He did in fact contribute much to all of us over the course of his life. Ted Gioia writes:

I’d like to tell you how I first met Terry Teachout—who left us yesterday at age 65. He was one of our finest and most erudite critics, and also a successful dramatist, but Terry was much more than that. He touched many people’s lives, and in ways that were often hidden from view.

Let me share my story.

Not long after I left grad school, I began hatching plans for my dream vocation as a jazz writer. But I had no idea how to do this.

I was living in the thick of Silicon Valley, far away from any literary community—I didn’t even know a single jazz writer. My entire output as a music critic consisted of reviews for my college newspaper, supplemented by a few contributions to local periodicals.

At that juncture in my life, most of my time was consumed with a range of demanding projects for the Boston Consulting Group, then located on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park. In my few spare hours, I was working on a secret project, my jazz book—but it was a very strange book.

I had started writing it the day after I’d finished my philosophy exams at Oxford, scribbling furiously while seated in the Bodleian Library, my brain still on overdrive from two years of immersion in the Anglo-American analytic tradition. As a result, the manuscript was teeming with the most bizarre ingredients. Everything from Wittgenstein to Fellini showed up in its pages—I was searching for large life-changing meanings in the music, even what you might call wisdom. But as I read through my various drafts, I knew I had violated almost every rule of music writing.

That was soon confirmed for me, when my roommate decided to show a chapter of my manuscript to his old fraternity buddy from Dartmouth, now working at Knopf. My mind reeled at the very name Knopf—they had just published Toni Morrison’s Beloved, for heaven’s sake. And their litany of authors included some of the greatest authors of the century. With some trepidation, I handed my roommate a typewritten chapter of the book that eventually became The Imperfect Art: Reflections on Jazz and Modern Culture.

It took a while before the verdict came back from New York. The old fraternity buddy had passed my chapter around the office, and had some people who knew about jazz take a look at it. His response was sharp and unforgiving, but only two sentences long. “We looked at this, but it isn’t real jazz writing. Your roommate should learn from what the other music writers are doing.”

I was crestfallen, but I can’t say I was surprised. I already knew that I was an odd duck. I had no illusions I was following in the path of other jazz journalists. Even so, I had been hoping for some words of encouragement.

That’s when I encountered Terry Teachout.

I had never met him. I didn’t even know his name. But on a lark, I sent a chapter of my crazy book—unsolicited and wrapped in a plain brown envelope—to the general office of Harper’s Magazine, one of the oldest of the old school smart journals, making pronouncements on society and culture since 1850.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t really think that my article would be accepted, or that I’d even get a response—at this point, I was just willing to play the lottery of cold submissions to unknown editors. Many of you know the drill.

But in this instance, I got a lovely letter back, filled with words of encouragement. It came from a man named Terry Teachout, who was doing editorial work at Harper’s at the time. Mr. Teachout told me that the strange essay I submitted was absolutely unsuitable for the magazine, but he was very impressed by the quality of my ideas and writing. He wanted to commission me to write a feature article for Harper’s Magazine—because he knew I had the talent to do something special.

I was blown away. A New York editor had taken notice of me. This had never happened before. And he wanted to commission me to write an article, just based on my potential?

Terry also wanted to speak with me on the phone. I’ll admit, I was nervous talking to a New York editor. But the call was inspiring, almost as much a pep talk as anything else.

I can’t emphasize how much this came from Terry’s generosity of spirit—I was a nobody, who would never have any occasion to return the favor or help him in any manner. He simply wanted to reach out to me, because he believed in me, and wanted to play a role in nurturing my development.

As it turned out, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2022 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Jazz, Music

Tagged with ,

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Immortal Game vs Kyren Wilson | 2018 Champion of Champions

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Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2022 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Games, Snooker

Fox News makes money from poisoning society

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Is it a good thing that Fox News profits from creating a toxic political environment? Not for the public, nor for the functioning of our society and government, but quite good for Rupert Murdoch and his family and shareholders. 

Read this post by Kevin Drum.

A hospital might profit from contaminating a town’s water supply. I don’t think we would want that, nor would we allow it. I do know about freedom of the press, but the press for which that freedom was guaranteed is not at all like the “press” we experience today.

I’m not sure what the right remedy would be, but doing nothing risks the breakdown of social trust and productive amity. 

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2022 at 1:35 pm

Russia’s Mystic Destiny

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David Troy’s current situation report in Medium:

The Hunt for Casus Belli

What’s Happening Now

Some academic Kremlinologists tend to dismiss Dugin’s influence in the Kremlin, a message that also seems to be echoed in some Kremlin propaganda. However, as Putin’s domestic fortunes become increasingly precarious, Kremlin actions and messaging seem to be converging with Duginist themes — namely the “mystic destiny” of the Rus people represented in the reunification of Russia and Ukraine.

This piece from the Center for European Policy Analysis also cites Dugin’s recent rhetoric:

According to Dugin: “The moment has come for Moscow to announce the renaming of the CIS into the Eurasian Union, including all the political units of the post-Soviet space.”

Dugin advocates a Russian land grab in Ukraine. This would involve the occupation of so-called Left-Bank Ukraine — that is, the land between the current international border and the River Dniepr — presumably including eastern Kyiv, making the Ukrainian capital a divided city and placing much of its hinterland under Russian rule. He also argued that Russia should push right up to the borders of the Baltic states, which would likely mean sending troops through Belarus, and issue an ultimatum to the thee NATO members: neutrality or war. He was echoed by the head of the RT TV channel Margarita Simonyan, who wrote on Twitter that if Russia itself could produce the goods that it buys in the United States, it could “liberate Donbas right now, and not leave out Odesa either.”

The convergence of that rhetoric with that of Margarita Simonyan, who is very close to Putin and the Kremlin, represents a new high water mark for Dugin’s apparent grip on Putin’s imagination. Russia also has been contemplating false-flag attacks that would provide a casus belli to justify an invasion.

The next few weeks will be critical. It seems likely that if there is an invasion it will be in the next couple of weeks. If for some reason Russia loses its nerve, possibly this episode will pass, but that seems increasingly less likely.

It was a busy week in imaginary money land. One of the more insane projects to surface this week is a project called “Cryptoland,” a Disneyland-style crypto theme park island fully divorced from reality. It was unveiled in a 20 minute infomercial video that features Pixar-style animation, and an apparently pirated John Williams soundtrack. It truly must be seen to be believed.

It’s so insanely ludicrous as to stretch the imagination, and raise questions whether it might in fact be some sort of intelligence operation. But the evidence so far just points to sheer lunacy. The Financial Times has more [behind a paywall – LG].

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman has started to see the substantial ties between the MAGA and crypto worlds. :

But let’s leave market predictions aside and ask what’s with the deepening alliance between Bitcoin and MAGA?

The answer, I’d argue, is that Bitcoin was supposed to create a monetary system that functions without trust — and the modern right is all about fostering distrust. Covid is a hoax; the election was stolen; California’s forest fires had nothing to do with climate change, and they were started by Rothschild-controlled space lasers.

In this context it’s perfectly natural for MAGAesque politicians to demand an end to a monetary system that runs through banks — we know who controls them, right? — and rests on a currency that’s managed by government-appointed officials. There’s no evidence of widespread monetary abuse, but that doesn’t matter on the extreme right.

A couple of weeks ago . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2022 at 1:28 pm

Fine start to a weekend: foggy day, great shave, comforting tea

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I noticed that today’s brush — another Phoenix Artisan synthetic, the knot the same size as yesterday’s (24mm x 55mm) — did require some additional water to load well, and then it occurred to me that of course the soap today is not the same soap as yesterday: Eufros yesterday, Dr. Selby 3X Concentrated Shaving Cream today. Although called “shaving cream,” it seems more like a hard soap, and it makes a wonderfully generous and thick lavender-scented lather.

So I am reminded: a shave is an ensemble event, and changing one of the cast can affect the whole production. In this case, all I had to do was to used a little more water.

The razor is Phoenix Artisan’s Ascension in aluminum, and it is a stunningly good razor, IMO. Of course, its peerless performance today is built on the pre-shave, soap, and lather already applied. The result was a delightfully easy shave that nevertheless removed every trace of stubble and roughness.

Three passes, a splash of the EDT with a couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel mixed in, and the day begins — with tsunami warnings because of the Tonga volcano eruptions. (Monterey saw a 6-foot swell, and on Facebook I saw a video of some flooding in Santa Cruz.)

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 10.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2022 at 11:27 am

Posted in Shaving

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