Ears Embiggening: A Roscoe Mitchell Preview

The first in a series of preview posts for Big Ears 2018. Share this widely if you please.

Last year, somebody that looks like me called Big Ears “the best festival pound-for-pound in the United States”. It was a lush feast, damn near too much for any human to absorb in a four-day stretch.1In fact, it was well more than too much for one set of ears. I caught 27 full shows in 4 days, plus another three I sampled that were not for me. By the end of it, my knee was swollen, my feet were aching. My ears were full; I drove home in seven hours of road hum silence, and did not intentionally listen to music for at least 4 days beyond that. I was done. read more

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References[+]

My Summer of Reading Dangerously

Summer of 2017 found me reading voraciously around considerations of race – whatever that might really be – and the legacy of America’s original sin. I have been increasingly fascinated by the Civil War and both its pre- and after-maths over the past ten years or so. A few years back, an up and coming blogger at The Atlantic ran a series of posts documenting his immersion, as a Black American, into the history of that period. His name: Ta-Nehisi Coates. I became a big fan. The publication of his Between the World and Me sparked an interest in James Baldwin, and I was lucky enough to catch I Am Not Your Negro in Berkeley the week it was released. That led to a near-obsessive consumption of Baldwin. read more

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Farewell, My Lovely

Keep your distance
Keep your distance
When I feel you close to me
What can I do but fall
Keep your distance
Keep your distance
With us it must be all or none at all*

First, I just need you to know. It’s not you. It’s me.

Through all this time, you never wavered. Your fine taste and ability to deliver potent delight only improved over time. From the first time I felt you on my tongue – me, a mere teenager with raging hormones and no experience in, well, anything – I was at your mercy, your slave in love. You were my constant companion, giver of comfort, shelter, delight. And perhaps most importantly: confidence. read more

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America’s Virgil

At this point, just about everyone has at least heard of Ta-Nehisi Coates. His second book, Between the World and Me, won the 2015 National Book Award. Written as a letter to his teen-aged son, BTWAM has sold 1.5 million copies in 19 languages. He won a MacArthur “genius” award. His writing drew comparison to James Baldwin from no less a voice on high than Toni Morrison. He was anointed with dreadful millstone descriptions like “voice of a generation” or, even worse, “the conscience of his race”. read more

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