The Jazzonian
Jazz is Diversity. Jazz is Democracy.


From the demented mind of Rusty Taylor
Jester and Vocalist for jazz band
Southern Standard Time
A Monthly Newsletter
October 2018

The Jazzonian is a quirky e-newsletter published monthly unless the author is somehow incapacitated. It details the growing jazz scene in Columbus, Georgia and the surrounding Chattahoochee Valley, written exclusively by Rusty Taylor, a Mercer alumnus and the quadriplegic jester-singer for the vocal jazz band Southern Standard Time. The newsletter takes a rhetorical approach to current events from the point of view of a progressive student of Life who, for thirty-two years and counting, has been unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living.

But he can write... and sing.

Columbus Jazz Society

The Columbus Jazz Society is a (501)(3)(c) non-profit organization who, for over 30 years, have existed solely for the benefit of enjoying the expression of live jazz and to promote the education of this art form to our members and the general public. The Society is about rendering service and promoting, creating and supporting musical events.

The Columbus Jazz Society began in the 80‘s as a few musicians got together monthly to play, sing and enjoy live jazz. As more and more musicians and their friends came together they found the need to locate into a common public area to accommodate everyone. This began at hotel convention rooms, then local restaurants, and a night club (The Loft) that would host them for the joy of the music. They later established a membership fee to cover the costs of paying musicians to insure that a full set of players would be in attendance. Any money over and above our society needs is used for charity. 

For a list of area jazz events, click here .

Monthly Musician Birthdays

October 2
1951 - Sting - bass

October 3
1954 - Stevie Ray Vaughn - guitar (died August 27, 1990)

October 7
1911 - Jonathan David Samuel Jones "Papa Jo Jones" - drums (died Sept 3, 1985)

October 9
1940 - John Lennon - guitar/composer
(died December 8, 1980)

October 10
1917 - Thelonius Monk - piano (died February 17, 1982)

October 11
1919 - Art Blakey - drums (died October 16, 1990)

October 12
1962 - Chris Botti - trumpet

October 13
1909 - Art Tatum - piano (died November 5, 1956)
1926 - Ray Brown - bass (died July 2, 2002)
1941 - Paul Simon - guitar/composer

October 17
1922 - Luiz Bonfa - guitar (died January 12, 2001)

October 18
1919 - Anita O'Day - singer (died November 23, 2006)
1961 - Wynton Marsalis - trumpet
1984 - Esperanza Spalding - bass

October 20
1890 - Jelly Roll Morton - piano
(died July 10, 1941)

October 21
1917 - Dizzy Gillespie - trumpet (died January 6, 1993)

October 22
1976 - Mace Hibbard - Atlanta-based trumpeter

October 23
1956 - Dianne Reeves - singer

October 26
1911 - Mahalia Jackson - singer (died January 27, 1972)
1951 - Bootsy Collins - bass

October 27
1976 - Keri Johnsrud - Chicago-based singer

October 28
1952 - Tuck Andres s - guitar

October 30
1930 - Clifford Brown - trumpet (died June 26, 1956 at age 25)
1951 - Poncho Sanchez - congas, vocals

Happy birthday Sting, October 2
Points of Interest
in this month's issue

  • Salutations
  • Area Musician Highlight - Brandyn Taylor
  • Sexual Predation Is Profane Power
  • A Maj Obama Opus
  • The Man-Moth (a poem by Elizabeth Bishop)
  • The Musical Competition
  • Plastic Reality
  • And Another Thing
  • Word Origins
  • Glossary
  • Tweets of the Month
  • Groovy Upcoming Events
  • A Little Lunch Music
  • Searching For An Angel (From the Vault)
  • Tangible Phantasmagoria
  • NY Times Op-Ed
  • Lyrics - Sophisticated Lady
  • Valediction

Rated the number one bar by Alabama Magazine in 2014 and 2015, the bar near Auburn University is a great place to enjoy a cocktail before dinner or to have a quick bite from the bar menu. A selection of 10 craft beers on tap and wines by the glass is served at the bar. Specialty drinks and a build your own Manhattan and martini list can be customized to your favorite cocktail.

The lounge offers a comfortable, clubby environment. Leather club chairs, a cozy fireplace and comfy banquettes serve as a relaxing getaway. Enjoy a single malt scotch and relax and unwind from a hectic day or meet friends to hear live jazz every Friday and Saturday night, of non-home football game weekends

Live Jazz 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM, Fri-Sat 
on-Home Football Game Weekends

Friday Evening Jazz at The Loft
Monthly Schedule for October 2018
  • October 05 - David Banks Gospel Jazz
  • October 12 - Greg Robins and Friends
  • October 19 - Blue Root with Paulo Sequiera
  • October 26 - Trey Wright


Greetings fellow Jazzonians, and welcome to another month of chaos, sponsored by an anticipated cerulean tsunami poised to eradicate the staunch ignorance of the mindless troglodytic mindset that has chronically incapacitated pragmatic objectivity in the minds of automatous fealty devoted to a blustering saffron charlatan, an insidiously destructive and fastidious ignorance that began as a tiny leak in the pipelines of our emotional infrastructure—nearly imperceptible when Nixon’s bootlicking lackey’s planted the seeds of discord that germinated into the mighty oak of the nefarious Southern Strategy that currently directs the disgraceful moral downfall of the degenerative GOP—but this leaky pipe has transmogrified into the raging hurricane of racial cacophony poised to violently slam into the weary-weathered ennui of political disinterest that has, through nearly five decades of irrelevant elephantine party obfuscation ( irr - elephant?) an amorphous ambiguity intended to dogmatically direct the rules and habits of conduct, especially of sexual conduct a moral code that has been drastically exploited to somehow normalize racial divisiveness, anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, homophobia, misogyny, and a general sense of disingenuous elitism that stokes the breathing embers of intolerance towards unique social identities… but the hypnagogic winds of change are stirring into animation.

As writer for The Jazzonian , I give voice to a minority faction of our nation’s population that has never watched (nor had any inclination to even acknowledge the existence of) “The Apprentice,” “The Bachelor,” “American Idol,” “Seinfeld,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Honey Boo Boo” or any other kitsch entertainment that lauds speciosity over the myriad objectively discerning, ingenious diversions from the ubiquitous ennui that is the bane of a technologically savvy community of disparate interests unencumbered with the stress of survival in a hostile environment; I am the vituperative voice plangently decrying against the flashy distractions that celebrate mediocrity. I cry with increasing passion against extolling redundantly simple music that emphasizes the soporific staccato downbeat of rote, habitually hypnotic repetition while championing music with complex harmonies and syncopated rhythms. I write for the few who dig Shakespeare over propaganda, for them who are drawn to simple mathematical equations to whatever “The Empire” represents, for them who have not been induced into the face-contorting, rapturing sanction of unsupervised cultic loyalty to the habitual, ignorant cruelty and overbearing douche-baggeriness of dominant military bullying, the sycophantic loyalty to dickishness over empathy for the infirmed. Welcome, and Peace Through Music.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a huge fan of Ancient Aliens . Sure, it may be intended to shock its audience, but is a slam against exploitative religious and political dogma, an overt slap in the face of the status quo that makes me tingle with giddy satisfaction, which is puerile, although…

I’m not sure if it’s apathy or indifference, but I don’t care.

At this point the conflict within which our nation is currently engaged can be boiled down to the irrevocable moral demarcation between Adolph Hitler and Martin Luther King; it is a dichotomous decision as distinctive as the difference between off and on, positive and negative, black and white… between a slave and a plantation owner. (Is that clear enough?)

One of my personal anodynes for the social chaos—the intense skein of irrational passion that is desperate to separate objective cognition from phantasmagoric emotion—is my personal total immersion into the child-like innocence of cartoons, especially the musically influential cartoons of Bugs Bunny (that initiated my love of classical music), Tom and Jerry (that initiated my love of jazz), and the myriad other animated diversions that make me smile broadly… inwardly. When this fails to assuage my anxiety, I listen to jazz.

Fortunately I have access to a few local jazz jams that strongly encourage my need for eclectic diversity: The Columbus [GA] Jazz Society (which will resume its jazz jam sessions soon), Venkman’s lounge (Atlanta), Red Light Café (Atlanta), and Brin’s Wings (Montgomery), not to mention the groovy jazz concerts at Piccolo’s (Auburn), but my personal anodyne is the weekly jazz jam at Eighth and Rail in Opelika, Alabama.

Eighth and Rail is a really groovy, cozy venue that has a pensive yet hopeful small southern town allure—a local, genteel elegance wrapped in positive flocculent energy buttressed with the socially equable acceptance of eclectic diversity that is strongly encouraged by proprietor Mike Patterson and mixologist (and expert confabulator) Tiffany Bradley. Every Tuesday night, E and R’s clientele start trickling in with the pitter-patter of murmuring excitement, the empty, anticipatory stream-of-consciousness that one witnesses in children as their tenth birthday approaches, a buzzing contentment that is the relative calm before the chaotic squall of emotional abandonment.

The Jane Drake Band shuffles in independently, and they start setting up. The mood slowly shifts from anticipation to realization as the music starts. The entire venue is snuggled between a local art gallery and an office building in a strip mall that runs parallel to the railroad that is the raison d’ětre for the town’s very existence. It is quaint… adorable.

One walks through the front door and finds herself looking in a cooler of decadent cheesecakes that are so good, many have temporarily forfeited their sanity for the sheer indulgence of confectionary bliss. One walks around the bar and enters into the listening room with a few tables, a few deep-seating couches, a couple TVs, and a stage where the jazzonian magic happens.

E and R has a limited menu, but Mike’s specialty is suchi, and he serves micro-brews, which sounds uppity, but, somehow, in this setting, it works. The jazz enthusiasts who support the jam are diverse, ranging in age, color, and economic strata, but they all seem to enjoy the music… and what’s not to love? The Jane Drake Band is awesome. Jane Drake, an Auburn Knight alumnus, sings wonderful jazz standards accompanied by Coleman Woodson III (keys), Taylor Pierce (guitar), and Eric Buchanan (drums). Generally, vocalist Rusty Taylor (I) sings the final two songs of each set. Other incredible musicians also have open invitations to join the auricular orison any time the mood hits them: Burdette Birks (flute), Nick Johnson (sax), L’Roy Bodiford (sax), Robert Morgan (guitar), Sam Williams (sax), Chris Helms (sax), Ben Webster (drums), Patrick Bruce (guitar), Jason de Blanc (bass), Dan Mackowski (guitar), and others whose names have slipped my botanically influenced mind. Point is, however, that the Eighth and Rail jazz jam attracts incredible musicians from all across the southeast, and it is so therapeutic.

E and R’s clientele are the real reason for the jam’s success. They are truly into the music, and they are so eclectic. Young people eagerly participate in the weekly festive celebration, which adds so much palpable energy that the musicians and singers are highly motivated to focus more intently on their performances. Since the academic school year has begun in neighboring Auburn and Columbus State University, the jam has had a few students participate, which is soooo cool because jazz jams, in general, are extant as a means for musicians to develop their respective skills. Singer Karaleigh Hays has come to the last few jams, and she is fun. She’s still a bit nervous, but when she finally loses her inhibitions (a few measures into the song), she starts to relax and allow her skills to take over. I am very excited to witness her blossoming as a vocalist.

I have read that the band played on as the Titanic sank. I don’t know how true it is, but I cain’t he’p but to imagine that it assuaged shattered nerves… for a little while. Similarly, the contemporary political tension that is inundating social media is intensifying. Most everyone is waiting to see if our nation’s Democracy is strong enough to overcome the usurpation of our nation’s highest office by the #MuscoviteMarionette. Anxiety is building, but I am confident that major life-affirming changes are coming soon. Until then, I suggest that you, dear reader, find a source of positive energy to tap into when the time comes: Go to a local jazz jam. Each one I’ve been to has a different style, a different flavor, but the music is always extemporaneous… in the moment, and, as such, is the temporal auricular history of our terrestrial manifestation proffered to alleviate negative energy. If you are in the neighborhood of Eighth and Rail on Tuesday nights, come join our fun celebration of life. Jazz is diversity.

Peace Through Music
Area Musician Highlight
Brandyn Taylor
I've been a fan of Brandyn Taylor ever since I met him as an undergraduate studying music at Columbus State University (whose Jazz Studies program under Dr. Kevin Whalen is the envy of the nation... quite possibly the planet). According to an online article I pilfered from the interwebs, Brandyn is...

...the assistant director of marching band at the Wesleyan School and a saxophonist in the 116th United States Army Band. He has been an instructor of saxophone at Georgia Southern University and Georgia State University and has performed with the Atlanta Ballet, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Saxophone Quartet, Bent Frequency, Terminus Ensemble and Chamber Cartel. Taylor holds degrees in music performance from Columbus State University and Georgia State University. His primary teachers were Alexander Pershounin and Jan Berry Baker, with additional studies with Frederick Hemke, Joseph Lulloff and Mace Hibbard.

I am sure Dr. Alex Pershounin (Brandyn's CSU professor whose recording “Let's Touch Bass”—one of my favorite recordings of all time, including forever—can be found by clicking here ) is stoked.

A recent Atlanta Symphony event showcased the music of Prince (or the performer who may or may not have possibly, once or twice, adopted the appellation). This concert was reviewed by ArtsATL, a social medium that boasts: “ArtsATL ignites deeper conversations about the arts in Atlanta. We do this through our reviews, news stories, features, interviews and supplemental programming.”

ArtsATL writer Jordan Owen gave a wonderful review of the performance that you may read by clucking here . He writes,

There were, of course, moments when the glory of an impending piece mandated a solemn pause. Such was certainly the case with the first half’s showstopper, “Nothing Compares 2U,” wherein warm waves of tenor sax hovered bittersweet among an accompanying harmonic palette far more colorful than Sinéad O’Connor’s minimalist original.

If you have not adduced by now, the “tenor sax [that] hovered bittersweet among the palette far more colorful than Sinead O'Conner's minimalist original” was played by Brandon Taylor.

The Jazzonian is proud to support jazz and complex music that inspires my hometown of Columbus, GA and the surrounding areas. Interest in Jazz is slowly growing into a revolution against mundane music, and The Jazzonian loves to write about its rise toward mass adulation. Of course, having Columbus State University's Jazz Program in the cultural heart of the city helps by nurturing potential musical adroitness into the disciplined control of musical integrity that exceeds the expectations of world-class entities like the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The city boasts of its musical icons from Blind Tom Wiggins to Ma Rainey to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (which, according to its website: “[was] founded in 1855 by Mendelssohn’s student, Herman S. Saroni; the Columbus Symphony Orchestra became the second orchestra formed in the United States.”) It's clear to see that Brandyn Taylor is making the city of Columbus proud, and CSU Jazz Studies Program's founder Dr. Paul Vander Gheynst is proudly smiling from his celestial place of honor.

Peace Through Music

Sexual Predation is Profane Power

Women have been fastidiously and insidiously supplicated by patriarchal influence since the very first couple were aggressively banished from Eden, but the contemporary political schlimazel that inundates the twenty-four hour news cycle has stirred matriarchal empathy into political action (or, more exactingly, they’ve been stoked into political re-action against enraging inequitable ineptitude), and the status quo is paralyzed with sphincter-constricting anxiety that its waning authority is irrevocably destined for indifferent expurgation… soon.

The gilded façade has, for decades, coddled male dominance that effectively distracts engaged minds from comprehending the beguiling duplicity of nepotistic cupidity, and it no longer hides the nefarious intentions of the #SouthernStrategy that was initiated with Nixon and then perfected by Reagan, an earnest appeal towards a faction of society steeped in an ego-inflating acceptance of biological superiority and the quietus of dignity for people who look differently or from people whose pursuits of happiness contradict (or, more precisely, whose pursuits of happiness do not directly parallel) the status quo that is paranoid with weakened knob-kneed quaking pusillanimity, but the nurturing of ultramilitant authority does not exclusively affect the under-served; it affects every social faction.

Patriarchal authority is currently a bane against the ideal of government of the people, for the people, and by the people, but it was fundamental catalyst for the social evolution of our biological species. Homo sapiens is a social mammal. Anyone who thinks differently conveniently forgets that even the most powerful human ever born was, at birth, as vulnerable as anybody who is unable to perform even the most rudimentary activities of daily living. Genghis Kahn, Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson, David Karesh, Vladimir Putin, and Mitch McConnell (as well as Jesus; Mother Teresa; Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Jimmy Carter), all, could’ve been aborted as easily as stepping on a cockroach. They grew to be very powerful people, but their successes were not catalyzed similarly. 

When humanity realized its own mortality, a fundamental, existential realization overwhelmed the quotidian ennui that had hitherto remained shrouded in blissful ignorance. Suddenly, the realization of life’s temporal nature stimulated an effective cogitation that life could not only be lengthened through preparation, but it could be lived more leisurely if one were militant enough to quell human compassion in order to take advantage of everyone who is unable or unwilling to confront conflict, i.e. authority through power… or fear… and the individual who convinced others of her power became de facto leader. Patriarchal authority quickened.

Although the appellation patriarchal authority connotes masculinity, it is not gender specific; it simply denotes authoritarian influence… political control of a sovereign state by an individual. Historically, the male has been physically more dominate than the female. Whether or not this supplication is the result of emotional manipulation or by strictly biological datum is a topic for a future Fireside Chat. Fact is that for centuries, with a few exceptions, men have been the rulers of disparate tribes, clans, communities, etc, and this model isn’t inherently inimical if the leader is venerable. Major problems arise when the authoritarian is ignoble.

Patriarchal authority was a boon during the incipience of our species’ evolution. It enabled communities to facilitate life’s cumbrous associations; it encouraged socialism, i.e. a system in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively, and political power is exercised by the whole community (a wonderful theory until, like Capitalism, avarice usurps empathy). Again, patriarchal authority was a boon. We weaker constituents in any community need the protection of a strong hero to overcome nefarious intentions against personal injury. Problems arise when an authoritarian lacks morality, mental acuity, or empathy (our current national leader possesses none of these attributes… plus he has a smaller than average dick with an unintentionally comic, slightly larger but still miniscule mushroom head around which tiny smurf-like sprites dance with effectively scathing accuracy that enrages puffy, red-faced, bulging albescent-eyed jejune puerilism… sorry, pubescence sophistry overtook my more urbane sensibilities).

The contrast between a noble leader and a charlatan is the difference between Charlemagne and Richard III, but modern technology has transmogrified the fundamental expectations of a militant leader. Anybody, regardless of gender or physical prowess—who has the digital dexterity to manipulate the trigger of a gun or to push a big red button—has the ability to overwhelm an adversary with unimaginable militant expediency.

We are now witnessing the incipience of another social revolution that will make the sexual revolution of the 1960s seem as controversial as an epicene Amish square dance to a cappella music. American citizens who have traditionally been marginalized by patriarchal nepotism (including extended families) are now finding their voices… collectively… and they are inspired to fight against the exclusive cultic fraternity of ovine supplication to the notion that diversity is somehow ag’in’ human nature… as if miscegenation is phantasmagoric fiction that totally ignores the existence of mulattoes, quadroons, octoroons, etc, and that totally disregards gynandromorphism, i.e. a really childish belief that an omnipotent, omniscient puissance created an unacceptable human being simply to encourage legislation that, in effect, defines humanity.

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony! You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you! Oh, but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!
---Monty Python

Matriarchal influence is on the verge of exploding into existence; however, like monarchies, Communism, Capitalism, or any other political experiments, matriarchy will fail as soon as whoever assumes leadership rejects ethically endorsing that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest positive influence for the majority of any constituency instead of for temporal personal gratification, and let’s cut to the chase: Sex is great. Whether or not covenantal sex is better is a debate for higher cogitation, but its allure seems to influence insipid behavior throughout history. The Trojan War is reputed to have been initiated by one man’s coveting another man’s wife. Whether or not the Trojan War was historical is fundamentally irrelevant; the story is timeless.

Peace Through Music

A Major Obama Opus
in A Maj

The entire population of level-headed people on this planet has all too often cringed with teeth jarring, sphincter tightening intensity at DJ “Little Fingers” Trumpery and his ridiculous orations about wanting to date his daughter, about water’s being wet, about his AG’s being a dumb southerner, and Puerto Rico’s being an island surrounded by a really big ocean. 

I almost cried when Barack Obama reentered the public arena and spoke. The following is Obama’s masterful speech from last month. Unlike the 24-hour news anchors who speak with such incessant tautological rhythm and with a drone of monotone dynamics, altering in neither cadence nor volume, Obama’s speech has ebb and flow, varying dynamics, timbre, passion, wit, wisdom… and it has a message of Hope; although, the message of hope is preceded by an earnest plea for citizens to vote as if their Democracy depends upon it… which it does. Obama’s speech has inspired creativity, but I’m not qualified to do what I want, so I would like to make the following suggestion to my musical friends: 

Compose an jazzonian opus by arranging music around Obama’s speech (that can be recited or song). The beauty of this suggestion is that the possibilities are nearly illimitable; a group of composers can compose music for a big band, symphony, small combo, whatever! Individual composers can create shorter pieces. Regardless, setting the speech to music would be magical. Fortunately, the speech itself is timeless… 

Here's Obama's speech... with the best words...

It is good to be home. It’s good to see corn, beans. I was trying to explain to somebody as we were flying in, that’s corn. That’s beans. They were very impressed at my agricultural knowledge. Please give it up for Amari, once again, for that outstanding introduction.

I have a bunch of good friends here today, including somebody who I served with who is one of the finest senators in the country, and we’re lucky to have your senator, Dick Durbin, is here. I also noticed, by the way, former governor Edgar here, who I haven’t seen in a long time, and somehow he has not aged and it was great to see him.

I want to thank everybody at the U of I system for making it possible for me to be here today. I am deeply honored at the Paul Douglas award that is being given to me.

He is somebody who set the path for so much outstanding public service here in Illinois. Now, I want to start by addressing the elephant in the room. I know people are still wondering why I didn’t speak at the 2017 commencement. The student body president sent a very thoughtful invitation. Students made a spiffy video, and when I declined, I hear there was speculation that I was boycotting campus until Antonio’s pizza reopened. So I want to be clear. I did not take sides in that late-night food debate.

The truth is, after eight years in the white house, I needed to spend some time one on one with Michelle if I wanted to stay married. And she says hello, by the way. I also wanted to spend some quality time with my daughters, who were suddenly young women on their way out the door. And I should add, by the way, now that I have a daughter in college, I can tell all the students here, your parents, they cry privately. It is brutal. So please call. Send a text. We need to hear from you. Just a little something.

Truth was, I was also intent on following a wise American tradition of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage and making room for new voices and new ideas.

We have our first president, George Washington, to thank for setting that example. After he led the colonies to victory as General Washington, there were no constraints on him, really. He was practically a god to those who had followed him into battle. There was no constitution. There were no democratic norms that guided what he should or could do. And he could have made himself all-powerful, could have made himself potentially president for life.

Instead, he resigned as commander in chief and moved back to his country estate. Six years later, he was elected president. But after two terms, he resigned again and rode off into the sunset.

The point Washington made, the point that is essential to American democracy, is that in a government of and by and for the people, there should be no permanent ruling class. There are only citizens, who through their elected and temporary representatives, determine our course and determine our character.

I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who it is that we are. Just what it is that we stand for. And as a fellow citizen — not as an ex-president, but as a fellow citizen — I’m here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.

Now, some of you may think I’m exaggerating when I say this November’s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime. I know politicians say that all the time. I have been guilty of saying it a few times, particularly when I was on the ballot. But just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.

And it’s not as if we haven’t had big elections before or big choices to make in our history. Fact is, democracy has never been easy, and our founding fathers argued about everything. We waged a civil war. We overcame depression. We’ve lurched from eras of great progressive change to periods of retrenchment. Still, most Americans alive today, certainly the students who are here, have operated under some common assumptions about who we are and what we stand for.

Out of the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression, America adapted a new economy, a 20th century economy, guiding our free market with regulations to protect health and safety and fair competition, empowering workers with union movements, investing in science and infrastructure and educational institutions like U of I, strengthening our system of primary and secondary education, and stitching together a social safety net. All of this led to unrivaled prosperity and the rise of a broad and deep middle class and the sense that if you worked hard, you could climb the ladder of success.

Not everyone was included in this prosperity. There was a lot more work to do. And so in response to the stain of slavery and segregation and the reality of racial discrimination, the civil rights movement not only opened new doors for African-Americans but also opened up the floodgates of opportunity for women and Americans with disabilities and LGBT Americans and others to make their own claims to full and equal citizenship.

And although discrimination remained a pernicious force in our society and continues to this day, and although there are controversies about how to best ensure genuine equality of opportunity, there’s been at least rough agreement among the overwhelming majority of Americans that our country is strongest when everybody’s treated fairly, when people are judged on the merits and the content of their character and not the color of their skin or the way in which they worship God or their last names. And that consensus then extended beyond our borders.

And from the wreckage of world War II, we built a post-war architecture, system of alliances and institutions to underwrite freedom and oppose Soviet totalitarianism and to help poorer countries develop. American leadership across the globe wasn’t perfect. We made mistakes. At times we lost sight of our ideals. We had fierce arguments about Vietnam and we had fierce arguments about Iraq. But thanks to our leadership, a bipartisan leadership, and the efforts of diplomats and peace corps volunteers, and most of all thanks to the constant sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, we not only reduced the prospects of war between the world’s great powers, we not only won the Cold War, we helped spread a commitment to certain values and principles like the rule of law and human rights and democracy and the notion of the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.

And even those countries that didn’t abide by those principles were still subject to shame and still had to at least give lip service to the idea, and that provided a lever to continually improve the prospects for people around the world. That’s the story of America. A story of progress, fitful progress, incomplete progress, but progress. And that progress wasn’t achieved by just a handful of famous leaders making speeches. It was won because of countless acts of quiet heroism and dedication by citizens, by ordinary people, many of them not much older than you. It was won because rather than be bystanders to history, ordinary people fought and marched and mobilized and built, and yes, voted to make history.

Of course, there’s always been another darker aspect to America’s story. Progress doesn’t just move in a straight line. There’s a reason why progress hasn’t been easy and why throughout our history every two steps forward seems to sometimes produce one step back. Each time we painstakingly pull ourselves closer to our founding ideals, that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, the ideals that say every child should have opportunity and every man and woman in this country who’s willing to work hard should be able to find a job and support a family and pursue their small peace of the American dream, ideals that say we have a collective responsibility to care for the sick and the and we have a responsibility to conserve the amazing bounty, the natural resources of this country and of this planet for future generations — each time we’ve gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back.

The status quo pushes back. Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change. More often it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege. And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments.

It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that’s rooted in our past but it’s also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.

By the way, it is brief. When I heard Amari was 11 when I got elected and now he’s like started a company — that was yesterday!

But think about it. You’ve come of age in a smaller, more connected world where demographic shifts and the wind of change have scrambled not only traditional economic arrangements but our social arrangements and our religious commitments and our civic institutions. Most of you don’t remember a time before 9/11, when you didn’t have to take off your shoes at an airport. Most of you don’t remember a time when America wasn’t at war or when money and images and information could travel instantly around the globe. Or when the climate wasn’t changing faster than our efforts to address it.

This change has happened fast, faster than any time in human history. And it created a new economy that has unleashed incredible prosperity, but it’s also upended people’s lives in profound ways. For those with unique skills or access to technology and capital, a global market has meant unprecedented wealth. For those not so lucky, for the factory worker, for the office worker, or even middle managers, those same forces may have wiped out your job or at least put you in no position to ask for a raise, and as wages slowed and inequality accelerated, those at the top of the economic pyramid have been able to influence government to skew things even more in their direction.

Cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans, unwinding regulations and weakening worker protections, shrinking the safety net. So you have come of age during a time of growing inequality, a fracturing of economic opportunity. And that growing economic divide compounded other divisions in our country. Regional, racial, religious, cultural. And made it harder to build consensus on issues. It made politicians less willing to compromise, which increased gridlock, which made people even more cynical about politics. And then the reckless behavior of financial elites triggered a massive financial crisis.

Ten years ago this week a crisis that resulted in the worst recession in any of our lifetimes and caused years of hardship for the American people. For many of your parents, for many of your families. Most of you weren’t old enough to fully focus on what was going on at the time, but when I came into office in 2009, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. 800,000. Millions of people were losing their homes. Many were worried we were entering into a second great depression.

So we worked hard to end that crisis but also to break some of these longer term trends. The actions we took during that crisis returned the economy to healthy growth and initiated the longest streak of job creation on record. And we covered another 20 million Americans with health insurance and cut our deficits by more than half, partly by making sure that people like me who have been given such amazing opportunities by this country pay our fair share of taxes to help folks coming up behind me.

And by the time I left office, household income was near its all-time high, and the uninsured rate hit an all-time low, poverty rates were falling. I mention this just so when you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started. I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that’s been going on, when the job numbers come out, monthly job numbers and suddenly Republicans are saying it’s a miracle, I have to kind of remind them, actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016 and -- anyway. I digress.

So we made progress, but -- and this is the truth -- my administration couldn’t reverse 40-year trends in only eight especially once Republicans took over the house of representatives in 2010 and decided to block everything we did. Even things they used to support.

So we pulled the economy out of crisis, but to this day, too many people who once felt solidly middle class still feel very real and very personal economic insecurity. Even though we took out bin Laden and wound down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, got Iran to halt its nuclear program, the world’s still full of threats and disorder that come streaming through people’s televisions every single day. And these challenges get people worried and it frays our civic trust and it makes a lot of people feel like the fix is in and the game is rigged and nobody’s looking out for them.

Especially those communities outside our big urban centers. And even though your generation is the most diverse in history with a greater acceptance and celebration of our differences than ever before, those are the kinds of conditions that are ripe for exploitation by politicians who have no compunction and no shame about tapping into America’s dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division. Appealing to tribe, appealing to fear, pitting one group against another, telling people that order and security will be restored if it weren’t for those who don’t look like us or don’t sound like us or don’t pray like we do, that’s an old playbook. It’s as old as time.

And in a healthy democracy, it doesn’t work. Our antibodies kick in, and people of goodwill from across the political spectrum call out the bigots and the fear mongers and work to compromise and get things done and promote the better angels of our nature.

But when there’s a vacuum in our democracy, when we don’t vote, when we take our basic rights and freedoms for granted, when we turn away and stop paying attention and stop engaging and stop believing and look for the newest diversion, the electronic versions of bread and circuses, then other voices fill the void.

A politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment takes hold and demagogues promise simple fixes to complex problems. No promise to fight for the little guy, even as they cater to the wealthiest and most powerful. No promise to clean up corruption and then plunder away. They start undermining norms that ensure accountability and try to change the rules to entrench their power further. They appeal to racial nationalism that’s barely veiled, if veiled at all. Sound familiar?

I understand this is not just a matter of Democrats versus Republicans or liberals versus conservatives. At various times in our history, this kind of politics has infected both parties. Southern Democrats were the bigger defenders of slavery. It took a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, to end it. Although it was a Democratic president and a majority Democrat Congress spurred on by young marchers and protesters that got the civil rights act and the voting rights act over the finish line, those historic laws also got passed because of the leadership of Republicans like Illinois’s own Everett Dirksen. So neither party has had a monopoly on wisdom.

Neither party has been exclusively responsible for us going backwards instead of forwards. But I have to say this because sometimes we hear a plague on both your houses. Over the past few decades, it wasn’t true when Jim Edgar was governor here in Illinois.

But over the past few decades, the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party. This Congress has championed the unwinding of campaign finance laws to give billionaires outside influence over our politics. Systematically attacked voting rights to make it harder for young people and minorities and the poor to vote. Handed out tax cuts without regard to deficits. Slashed the safety net wherever it could, cast dozens of votes to take away health insurance from ordinary Americans, embraced wild conspiracy theories like those surrounding Benghazi or my birth certificate, rejected science, rejected facts on things like climate change, embraced a rising absolutism from a willingness to default on America’s debt by not paying our bills to a refusal to even meet much less consider a qualified nominee for the supreme court because he happened to be nominated by a Democratic president.

None of this is conservative. I don’t mean to pretend I’m channeling Abraham Lincoln now, but that’s not what he had in mind, I think, when he helped form the Republican party. It’s not conservative. It sure isn’t normal. It’s radical. It’s a vision that says the protection of our power and those who back us is all that matters even when it hurts the country. It’s a vision that says the few who can afford high-price lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions set the agenda, and over the past two years, this vision is now nearing its logical conclusion.

So with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, without any checks or balances whatsoever, they’ve provided another $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to people like me who I promise don’t need it and don’t even pretend to pay for them. It’s supposed to be the party supposedly of fiscal conservatism. Suddenly deficits do not matter. Even though just two years ago when the deficit was lower, they said I couldn’t afford to help working families or seniors on medicare because the deficit was in existential crisis. What changed? What changed?

They’re subsidizing corporate polluters with taxpayer dollars, allowing dishonest lenders to take advantage of veterans and consumers and students again. They’ve made it so that the only nation on Earth to pull out of the global climate agreement, it’s not North Korea, it’s not Syria, it’s not Russia or Saudi Arabia, it’s us. The only country. There are a lot of countries in the world. We’re the only ones.

They’re undermining our alliances, cozying up to Russia. What happened to the Republican party? Its central organizing principle in foreign policy was the fight against communism, and now they’re cozying up to the former head of the KGB.

Actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections from Russian attack. What happened? Their sabotage of the affordable care act has already cost more than 3 million Americans their health insurance, and if they’re still in power next fall, you better believe they’re coming at it again. They’ve said so. In a healthy democracy, there’s some checks and balances on this kind of behavior, this kind of inconsistency, but right now there’s nothing. Republicans who know better in Congress, and they’re there, they’re quoted saying, yeah, we know this is kind of crazy, are still bending over backwards to shield this behavior from scrutiny or accountability or consequence, seem utterly unwilling to find the backbone to safeguard the institutions that make our democracy work.

And by the way, the claim that everything will turn out okay because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren’t following the president’s orders, that is not a check. I’m being serious here. That’s not how our democracy’s supposed to work. These people aren’t elected. They’re not accountable. They’re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90% of the crazy stuff that’s coming out of this white house, and then saying, don’t worry, we’re preventing the other 10%.

That’s not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal. These are extraordinary times. And they’re dangerous times.

But here’s the good news. In two months we have the chance, not the certainty, but the chance to restore some semblance of sanity to our politics. Because there is actually only one real check on bad policy and abuse of power. That’s you. You and your vote. Look, Americans will always have disagreements on policy. This is a big country. It is a raucous country.

I happen to be a Democrat. I believe our policies are better and we have a bigger, bolder vision of equality and justice and inclusive democracy. We know there are a lot of jobs young people aren’t getting a chance to occupy or aren’t getting paid enough or aren’t getting benefits like insurance. It’s harder for young people to save for a rainy day let alone retirement.

So Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage, they’re running on good new ideas like medicare for all, giving workers seats on corporate boards, reversing the most egregious corporate tax cuts to make sure college students graduate.

We know that people are tired of toxic corruption and that democracy depends on transparency and accountability, so Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns, but on good new ideas like barring lobbyists from getting paid by foreign governments.

We know that climate change isn’t just coming. It’s here. So Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like increasing gas mileage in our cars, which I did and which Republicans are trying to reverse, but on good new ideas like putting a price on carbon pollution.

We know in a smaller, more connected world, we can’t just put technology back in a box. We can’t just put walls up all around America. Walls don’t keep out threats like terrorism or disease. And that’s why we propose leading our alliances and helping other countries develop and pushing back against tyrants.

Democrats talk about reforming our immigration system so, yes, it is orderly and it is fair and it is legal, but it continues to welcome strivers and dreamers from all around the world. That’s why I’m a Democrat. That’s a set of ideas that I believe in. But I am here to tell you that even if you don’t agree with me or Democrats on policy, even if you believe in more libertarian economic theories, even if you are an evangelical and our position on certain social issues is a bridge too far, even if you think my assessment of immigration is mistaken and the Democrats aren’t serious enough about immigration enforcement, I’m here to tell you that you should still be concerned with our current course and should still want to see a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government.

It should not be Democratic or Republican. It should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents. Or to explicitly call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up. I’m not making that up. That’s not hypothetical.

It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people. It shouldn’t be democratic or Republican to say we don’t target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray.

We are Americans. We’re supposed to stand up to bullies. Not follow them. We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I get into arguments with progressive friends about what the current political movement requires. There are well-meaning folks passionate about social justice who think things have gotten so bad, the lines have been so starkly drawn, that we have to fight fire with fire. We have to do the same things to the Republicans that they do to adopt their tactics. Say whatever works. Make up stuff about the other.

I don’t agree with that. It’s not because I’m soft. It’s not because I’m interested in promoting an empty bipartisanship. I don’t agree with it because eroding our civic institutions and our civic trust and making people angrier and yelling at each other and making people cynical about government, that always works better for those who don’t believe in the power of collective action.

You don’t need an effective government or a robust press or reasoned debate to work when all you’re concerned about is maintaining power. In fact, the more cynical people are about government, the angrier and more dispirited they are about the prospects for change, the more likely the powerful are able to maintain their power.

But we believe that in order to move this country forward, to actually solve problems and make people’s lives better, we need a well-functioning government. We need our civic institutions to work. We need cooperation among people of different political persuasions. And to make that work, we have to restore our faith in democracy. We have to bring people together, not tear them apart. We need majorities in Congress and state legislatures who are serious about governing and want to bring about real change and improvements in people’s lives. And we won’t win people over by calling them names or dismissing entire chunks of the country as racist or sexist or homophobic.

When I say bring people together, I mean all of our people.

This whole notion that has sprung up recently about Democrats needing to choose between trying to appeal to white working class voters or voters of color and women and LGBT Americans, that’s nonsense. I don’t buy that. I got votes from every demographic. We won by reaching out to everybody and competing everywhere and by fighting for every vote. And that’s what we’ve got to do in this election and every election after that. And we can’t do that if we immediately disregard what others have to say from the start because they’re not like us, because they’re white or they’re black or they’re man or a woman or they’re gay or they’re straight.

If we think that somehow there’s no way they can understand how I’m feeling and therefore don’t have any standing to speak on certain matters because we’re only defined by certain characteristics, that doesn’t work if you want a healthy we can’t do that if we traffic in absolute when it comes to make democracy work, we have to be able to get inside the reality of people who are different, have different experiences, come from different backgrounds. We have to engage them even when it is frustrating. We have to listen to them, even when we don’t like what they have to say.

We have to hope that we can change their minds, and we have to remain open to them changing ours. And that doesn’t mean, by the way, abandoning our principles or caving to bad policy in the interests of maintaining some phony version of civility. That seems to be, by the way, the definition of civility offered by too many congressional Republicans right now. We will be polite so long as we get 100% of what we want and you don’t call us out on the various ways we’re sticking it to people. And we’ll click our tongues and issue vague statements of disappointment when the president does something outrageous, but we won’t actually do anything about it. That’s not civility. That’s abdicating your responsibilities. But again, I digress. Making democracy work means holding on to our principles, having clarity about our principles, and then having the confidence to get in the arena and have a serious debate. It also means appreciating progress does not happen all at once but when you put your shoulder to the wheel, if you’re willing to fight for it, things do get better. And let me tell you something, particularly young people here.

Better is good. I used to have to tell my young staff this all the time in the white house. Better is good. That’s the history of progress in this country. Not perfect, better. The civil rights act didn’t end racism, but it made things better. Social security didn’t eliminate all poverty for seniors, but it made things better for millions of people. Do not let people tell you the fight’s not worth it because you won’t get everything that you want. The idea that, well, you know, there’s racism in America, so I’m not going to bother voting, no point, that makes no sense. You can make it better. Better is always worth fighting for. That’s how our founders expected this system of self-government to work. Through the testing of ideas and the application of reason and evidence and proof, we could sort through our differences, and nobody would get exactly what they wanted, but it would be possible to find a basis for common ground. And that common ground exists.

Maybe it’s not fashionable to say that right now. It’s hard to see it with all the nonsense in Washington. It’s hard to hear it with all the noise. But common ground exists. I have seen it. I have lived it. I know there are white people who care deeply about black people being treated unfairly. I have talked to them and loved them, and I know there are black people who care deeply about the struggles of white rural I’m one of them. And I have a track record to prove it. I know there are evangelicals who are deeply committed to doing something about climate change. I’ve seen them do the work.

I know there are conservatives who think there’s nothing compassionate about separating immigrant children from their mothers. I know there are Republicans who believe government should only perform a few minimal functions but that one of those functions should be making sure nearly 3,000 Americans don’t die in a hurricane and its aftermath.

Common ground is out there. I see it every day. It’s just how people interact, how people treat each other. You see it on the ball field. You see it at work. You see it in places of worship. But to say that common ground exists doesn’t mean it will inevitably win out.

History shows the power of fear and the closer that we get to Election Day, the more those invested in the politics of fear and division will work -- will do anything to hang on to their recent gains. Fortunately, I am hopeful because out of this political darkness, I am seeing a great awakening of citizenship all across the country. I cannot tell you how encouraged I’ve been by watching so many people get involved for the first time or the first time in a long time. They’re marching and they’re organizing and they’re registering people to vote and they’re running for office themselves.

Look at this crop of Democratic candidates running for Congress and governor, running for the state legislature, running for district attorney, running for school board. It is a movement of citizens who happen to be younger and more diverse and more female than ever before, and that’s really useful. We need more women in charge. But we have first-time candidates. We have veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Record numbers of women. Americans who have previously maybe didn’t have an interest in politics as a career but laced up their shoes and rolled up their sleeves and grabbed a clipboard because they, too, believe this time’s different. This moment’s too important to sit out.

And if you listen to what these candidates are talking about in individual races across the country, you’ll find they’re not just running against something, they’re running for something. They’re running to expand opportunity and running to restore the honor to public service. And speaking as a Democrat, that’s when the Democratic party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people. When we led with conviction and principle and bold new ideas. The antidote to a government controlled by a powerful few, a government that divides is a government by the organized, energized, inclusive many. That’s what this moment’s about. That has to be the answer.

You cannot sit back and wait for a savior. You can’t opt out because you don’t feel sufficiently inspired by this or that particular candidate. This is not a rock concert. This is not Coachella. We don’t need a messiah. All we need are decent, honest, hard-working people who are accountable and who have America’s best interests at heart. And they’ll step up and they’ll join our government, and they will make things better if they have support.
One election will not fix everything that needs to be fixed. But it will be a start. And you have to start it. What’s going to fix our democracy is you.

People ask me, what are you going to do for the election? No, the question is what are you going to do? You’re the antidote. Your participation and your spirit and your determination, not just in this election, but in every subsequent election and in the days between elections. Because in the end, the threat to our democracy doesn’t just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in Congress or the Koch brothers and their lobbyists or too much compromise from Democrats or Russian hacking. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism.

Cynicism led too many people to turn away from politics and stay home on Election Day. To all the young people who are here today, there are now more eligible voters in your generation than in any other, which means your generation now has more power than anybody to change things. If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk. If you actually care about it, you have the power to make sure what we see is a brighter future. But to exercise that clout, to exercise that power, you have to show up. In the last midterm elections in 2014, fewer than one in five young people voted.

One in five. Not two in five or three. One in five. Is it any wonder this Congress doesn’t reflect your values and your priorities? Are you surprised by that? This whole project of self-government only works if everybody’s doing their part. Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t matter. I’ve won states in the presidential election because of 5, 10, 20 votes per precinct. And if you thought elections don’t matter, I hope these last two years have corrected that impression.

So if you don’t like what’s going on right now, and you shouldn’t, do not complain, don’t hashtag, don’t get anxious, don’t retreat, don’t binge on whatever it is you’re bingeing on, don’t lose yourself in ironic detachment, don’t put your head in the sand, don’t boo. Vote. Vote. If you are really concerned about how the criminal justice system treats African-Americans, the best way to protest is to vote. Not just for senators and representatives but for mayors and sheriffs and state legislators.

Do what they just did in Philadelphia and Boston and elect states attorneys and district attorneys who are looking at issues in a new light, who realize that the vast majority of law enforcement do the right thing in a really hard job, and we just need to make sure all of them do. If you’re tired of politicians who offer nothing but thoughts and prayers after a mass shooting, you’ve got to do what the parkland kids are doing. Some of them aren’t even eligible to vote yet. They’re out there working to change minds and registering people. And they’re not giving up until we have a Congress that sees your lives as more important than a campaign check from the you’ve got to vote.

If you support the #metoo movement, you’re outraged by stories of sexual harassment and assault, inspired by the women who have shared them, you’ve got to do more than retweet a hashtag. You’ve got to vote. Part of the reason women are more vulnerable in the workplace is because not enough women are bosses in the workplace. Which is why we need to strengthen and enforce laws that protect women in the workplace, not just from harassment, but from discrimination in hiring and promotion and not getting paid the same amount for doing the same work. That requires laws, laws get passed by legislators.

You’ve got to vote. When you vote, you’ve got the power to make it easier to afford college and harder to shoot up a school. When you vote, you’ve got the power to make sure a family keeps its health insurance. You could save somebody’s life. When you vote, you’ve got the power to make sure white nationalists don’t feel emboldened to March with their hoods off or their hoods on in Charlottesville in the middle of the day. 30 minutes. 30 minutes of your time. Is democracy worth that?

We have been through much darker times than these. And somehow each generation of Americans carried us through to the other side. Not by sitting around and waiting for something to happen, not by leaving it to others to do something, but by leading that movement for change themselves. And if you do that, if you get involved and you get engaged and you knock on some doors and you talk with your friends and you argue with your family members and you change some minds and you vote, something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. Not perfection, not every bit of cruelty and sadness and poverty and disease suddenly stricken from the Earth. There will still be problems, but with each new candidate that surprises you with a victory that you supported, a spark of hope happens.

With each new law that helps a kid read or helps a homeless family find shelter or helps a veteran get the support he or she has earned, each time that happens hope happens. With each new step we take in the direction of fairness and justice and equality and opportunity, hope spreads. And that can be the legacy of your generation.

You can be the generation that at a critical moment stood up and reminded us just how precious this experiment in democracy really is, just how powerful it can be when we fight for it, when we believe in it. I believe in you. I believe you will help lead us in the right direction, and I will be right there with you every step of the way. Thank you, Illinois. God bless you. God bless this country we love.

Thank you.

The Man-Moth
by Elizabeth Bishop
Man-Moth: Newspaper misprint for “mammoth.”

Here, above,
cracks in the buildings are filled with battered moonlight.
The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat.
It lies at his feet like a circle for a doll to stand on,
and he makes an inverted pin, the point magnetized to the moon.
He does not see the moon; he observes only her vast properties,
feeling the queer light on his hands, neither warm nor cold,
of a temperature impossible to record in thermometers.

           But when the Man-Moth
pays his rare, although occasional, visits to the surface,
the moon looks rather different to him. He emerges
from an opening under the edge of one of the sidewalks
and nervously begins to scale the faces of the buildings.
He thinks the moon is a small hole at the top of the sky,
proving the sky quite useless for protection.
He trembles, but must investigate as high as he can climb.

           Up the façades,
his shadow dragging like a photographer’s cloth behind him
he climbs fearfully, thinking that this time he will manage
to push his small head through that round clean opening
and be forced through, as from a tube, in black scrolls on the light.
(Man, standing below him, has no such illusions.)
But what the Man-Moth fears most he must do, although
he fails, of course, and falls back scared but quite unhurt.

           Then he returns
to the pale subways of cement he calls his home. He flits,
he flutters, and cannot get aboard the silent trains
fast enough to suit him. The doors close swiftly.
The Man-Moth always seats himself facing the wrong way
and the train starts at once at its full, terrible speed,
without a shift in gears or a gradation of any sort.
He cannot tell the rate at which he travels backwards.

           Each night he must
be carried through artificial tunnels and dream recurrent dreams.
Just as the ties recur beneath his train, these underlie
his rushing brain. He does not dare look out the window,
for the third rail, the unbroken draught of poison,
runs there beside him. He regards it as a disease
he has inherited the susceptibility to. He has to keep
his hands in his pockets, as others must wear mufflers.

           If you catch him,
hold up a flashlight to his eye. It’s all dark pupil,
an entire night itself, whose haired horizon tightens
as he stares back, and closes up the eye. Then from the lids
one tear, his only possession, like the bee’s sting, slips.
Slyly he palms it, and if you’re not paying attention
he’ll swallow it. However, if you watch, he’ll hand it over,
cool as from underground springs and pure enough to drink.

Elizabeth Bishop, “The Man-Moth” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.
Source: The Complete Poems 1926-1979 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1983)
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Monday, October 25
10 a.m.
The Musical Competition

I’ve never been a fan of the myriad music competitions that’ve been dominating the entertainment industry for too long; they, to me, celebrate speciosity; they focus primarily on rewarding showmanship (showomanship?) instead of showcasing musical integrity. However, I have an idea for a musical competition that rewards serious musicians:

The competition is open to all bands regardless of genre. It’s a tournament in which we have, let’s say, 32 bands, a tournament that takes place over a few weeks. Like the NCAA Basketball Tournament, two bands compete against each other, the loser is eliminated; the winner advances. Ultimately, two bands battle for the championship. Here’s the rub: Each round of competition will be between two bands wherein each band chooses a song they believe demonstrates their skills, and the opposing band is allowed a predetermined amount of time (say, a week) to learn the song. (The song can be original or a cover, doesn’t matter). The battle begins with the two bands’ playing both songs. The winner is the band that plays the songs more impressively as judged by musicians who are educated in music, not a judgeship colonized by excessively celebrated plastic superfluity.

A few years back, I tried out for “The Voice,” and it was a mad house. The bitter disappointment, for me, was that when I got up to sing, the judge did not even acknowledge my presence. It was obvious from the start that the he was looking for a specific optic; he was looking for a style to exploit; he wasn’t looking for musicianship. It was so embarrassingly kitsch.

The music competition I’m proposing will favor musicians over show-people. I think that it would be beyond funny to listen to a Country Music singer attempt to sing a chromatically challenging tune like “Lush Life,” “ ‘Round Midnight,” “Sophisticated Lady,” etc. It would also be fun to listen to the musicians for a cover band play a challenging song like Chick Corea’s “Spain” or any other song that employs syncopated rhythms and a complex chordal structure. I’m not saying that musicians of popular music can’t hang, but therein lies the challenge.

Bringing this competition to fruition is another momentous challenge and must be meticulously planned by organizers much more mentally acute than I, but it seems plausible. Ultimately, we can have regional competitions, the winners of which will compete on a national level. Local venues for jazz jams can host the events, venues like Venkman’s (Atlanta), Red Light Café (Atlanta), The Loft (Columbus, GA), Brin’s Wings (Montgomery), and, my favorite, Eighth and Rail (Opelika).

I’m not sure if it’s a chronic physiological anomaly or if it is, simply, fatigue, but I am, personally, sick and tired of celebrating mediocrity. Seems like shiny, plastic pulchritude is lauded as singularly unique and worthy of encomiastic indulgence simply because a vocalist sings with affecting angst that dissembles her sad lack of understanding rudimentary musical theory. I am tired of witnessing mass adulation for simplicity (say, like the mega-super rock group Kiss) while musicians with advanced degrees in music must supplement their ideological musical endeavors with the quotidian dictates of pragmatic necessity such as teaching for a livable salary or obtaining employment in the soul-scorching world of corporate indifference. It’s time we start rewarding musical acuity.

Peace Through Music
Plastic Reality
As I sit at my desk mentally preparing to perform the simple bailiwick of writing in my inimitable style (i.e. defying imitation only in the sense that my sophistic style is hardly worthy of anybody else’s emulation), I am buzzing with anticipation—or anxiety—that I am about to pen the most amazing prose that any human has composed in the history of… well, let’s just go with the history of the Universe. 

Yes, as I sit here daydreaming before a lifeless word processor, I may be on the verge of immortality, or… I may be on the verge of writing the most embarrassing essay ever written by anybody claiming to be an adult and a stable genius… well, the second most embarrassing; I don’t think it is possible to out-stupid the #MuscoviteMarionette; I’ll have to settle for the title of Penultimate Idiot. 

Again, I am buzzing on emotion—or botanical pharmaceuticals—and my mind keeps meandering on a wide range of topics: The piano has 88 keys. Why? Is the reason stoically calculated or serendipitously whimsical? And why are the black and white keys in the order that they are in? Sadly, some of you readers may know the answers to these very important and salient questions, but I am too bashful to expose my ignorance, so I probably won’t ask; although… I would pursue the answers myself if it weren’t for the fact that I recently learned that discarded plastic straws are having a devastating effect on our planet’s oceans.

What? That had to have been the most awkward segue ever. 

The solution to the plastic straw dilemma is easy. Simply ban plastic straws. Actually, a few local governments and corporations are, in fact, disallowing the use of plastic straws within the confines of their respective boundaries. That was easy, but wait…

I am a quadriplegic. Plastic straws have been helping me hydrate for decades. I know. Having someone bring a cup of refreshing liquid to my trembling lips with the very probable possibility of dripping all over my nebulously expanding abdominal dome is a minor inconvenience when considering all the plastic washing up on shores throughout the world, but still… dribbling liquids down my face and shirt is embarrassing. However, my brother recently gave me an aluminum straw. No kidding. This straw will last beyond my lifetime, but I drink coffee. I drink tea. I warm up V-8 in the microwave. 

Have you ever drunk hot liquids through an aluminum straw? My lips swelled so badly that they could be seen from the International Space Station. No one could distinguish my physiognomy… just lips. People who saw me from a distance yelled their distraught disbelief that Mick Jagger was in a wheelchair. 

Additionally, the aluminum straw clanks against the glass-drinking vessel, so I have to be careful. Plus, I have no balance, so when I bend over the cup to drink, I must make sure that I have my chest strap secure and take other precautions to avoid losing my balance and falling face first into the straw, possibly poking out my eye or lacerating my delicate (and exaggeratedly pulchritudinous) face. Think about the possibility of poking out both my eyes. As a quadriplegic spinal cord injury, I have no use or tactile sensation in my fingers; I’d have to read Braille text by using the haptic sensory perceptions in my nose. Can you imagine the calluses after reading War and Peace?

These are minor inconveniences but things that I must consider simply because, like Popeye, I am what I am… and I never, ever, never do a thing about the weather ‘cause the weather never, ever does a thing for me.

Peace Through Music 

And Another Thing
It still amuses me that anybody takes my writing seriously. I am a hemp-inspired jester who writes ineffective shock journalism in a sad attempt to gain notoriety using the planet-shrinking technology of social media that can facilitate disseminating my hemp-influenced musings worldwide. How can anybody take me seriously? Really? I have a few loyal readers a month who click on the link to The Jazzonian , my monthly e-storyletter. Considering the population of our planet alone, statistically speaking, I am writing for no one; although, they, for whom I write, are far more important to me than the entire population of Klingons who populate Uranus.

I am not delusional; I am King Lear impotently screaming my outrage as the emotional squall of discontent indifferently pummels my self-worth; I am ineffectively raging against the wind as it batters my weary wrinkled face, yet my rhetoric is as innocuous as a feather’s flatulence… hardly worthy of acknowledging. If you are personally outraged by anything I write, then I strongly suggest that you look inward for the source of your anger. It is probably as simple as admitting that the gilded façade you so meticulously erected to conceal embarrassing imperfections—to the sequacious approval of desperation—no longer hides the radical cracking of your structural foundation.

The current modus operandi for my writing, in general, is for the Revolution , the incipience of which has been a catalyst for the impassioned national conflict between the patriarchal and the matriarchal influence of governing policies.

Patriarchal influence is represented by the pyramid, with the few rising to the top (oligarchy, plutocracy, kakistocracy, or kleptocracy) and the majority comprising the foundation. Matriarchal authority can be represented by the circle, eternal and with equity among its constituency; however, the foundation of patriarchal authority (i.e. the status quo) is cracking, violently. There is a palpable energy in the offing, a puissance that can be felt but that is not yet visible, a pulsing analeptic that will overwhelm the status quo and bring about major economic and political changes that I cannot effectively delineate.

Unfortunately, some of my comments have been misinterpreted as political in nature, which is curious; I am totally ignorant when it comes to understanding politics. Again, I am too dense to understand such overwhelming complexity; although…

I can say that our current political divisiveness has led me to realize that the president of the United States, as a singular individual, has limited power… intentionally. Governmental power comes from a collective of the three co-equal authoritative branches. When all three branches are co-opted by a single group, we then have despotic rule by a few. Call it oligarchy or, in our case, plutocracy or kleptocracy, but, again, that’s a debate for more intelligent cerebration than I can provide.

When I vilipend Trump’s supporters, I am not addressing all of Trump’s voteries—many of them whom I adore, a few I love—these people are fans, I believe, of some of Trump’s policies. Not the man himself. That’s cool. The world would be very boring if everyone thought exactly as I (which seems to be the reason that Adam and Eve chose to eat of the forbidden fruit… they were bored out of their skulls. What good is having volition if you never use it? Sounds like emotional slavery to me, but I digress…).

My personal vitriol against Trump Supporters is against the people who errantly believe that this sad excuse for a human being is in any way emulous. I am not referring to people who support Trump’s policies. In my mind, these people are not Trump Supporters but supporters of Trump’s policies. There’s a difference. I’d like to pretend that I am sorry if you disagree, but I am not, so there it is…

If you are a Trump Supporter, i.e. someone who finds this deplorable man’s morality in any way emulous, and you loved me once in the past, I do not hate you; I am saddened that you’ve allowed your loving nature to be coerced by a pernicious shepherd leading his flock to the abattoir of mass ovine elimination. I pray you find peace… and love.

As previously delineated, I am not particularly interested in governmental affairs; I really don’t care about the president’s political agenda. Again, the president, by himself, is not very powerful. I simply abhor Donald J Trump as a man.

I enjoy writing for reasons that I cannot effectively elucidate. And I am passionate… easily riled to excess, and writing helps ameliorate my anger, but I try not to post or publish anything when I’m in the heat of irrational passion. Admittedly (and embarrassingly), I have posted distasteful vitriol on facebook, but each essay I write for The Jazzonian goes through extensive rewrites until I am satisfied with the results. That’s not to connote that everything I write is veracious but it does connote that I am satisfied with the content when it is finally published for public perusal.

I do, often, phrase the content of my musings awkwardly, and my messaging can be, and is, often misinterpreted, but I am a civil, peaceful dude. If anyone disagrees with anything I write, I welcome a debate. It doesn’t even have to be public. We can debate one-on-one through secure emails. To talk about me behind my back, especially with irrational militancy, is cowardly. How much of a warrior is a man who threatens a quadriplegic with physical redress over a conflict of words? Especially when the testosterone riddled warrior didn’t even read the content over which he has assailed me. But, again, I digress…

The essayistic content that is limned within the bastion of The Jazzonian is, often, hard-hitting and it is written to elicit a response. If you think my monthly e-storyletter is fraught with unacceptable vitriolic content, you should read my personal journal (which is nearly impossible… I use an antiquated PC that is not hooked up to the Internet). The content within my personal journal is not fit for public consumption. However…

I think that the best way I could express my current utter disdain for the president as a man is to quote from my journal dated August 24. I was going to send it in an email to either Stephanie Miller or to my friend Angela V. Shelton, who is half of the comedy duo called frangela. (If you are progressive, then you will love these comedic forces.) Forgive the stream of consciousness, and…

I must warn you that if you are sensitive to a more libertine rhetoric, you will want to stop reading now:

Thank you [Angela or Stephanie] for being our nation’s contemporary Cassandra, the mythological prophetess no ancient Grecian would believe. Fortunately the cloak of public apathy that hampered the entire 2016 presidential election is slowly disclosing the fact that, among many other nefarious and embarrassing offenses to civility, Brachydactylic Donny J[ackanapes] Trump the Kleptocratic Moron is a superficial thug, yet, somehow, he still has indignant, buffoonish, and rabid supporters even though he’s spent his entire adult life providing extensive evidence that he lacks intellectual and business acumen, which some of his base lauds as nearly infallible, but he bankrupted a casino… he fucking went bankrupt while running a business that is, for all intents and purposes, impossible to bankrupt… yet he did… he lost house money… more than once. Plus, he wants to fuck his daughter… Honestly, I do not understand how any-fucking-body can let that shit slide… fo’ real tho’… there is obviously more than a handful of red-neck dumb-fucks all over the fucking nation who envy Lot’s coitus with his daughters after his wife (I believe her name was Morton) is turned into salt when fleeing from, of all places, Sodom. And let’s not forget Trump’s fucking an adult film actress while his wife was recovering from bearing the clumsy oaf’s child (don’t really care which one). And it pains me to no end how insensitively DJ “little fingers” Trump miss-treated [sic] Karen McDougle. Yeah, she posed nude in a magazine… (Personally, I regret not posing nude when I was young and muscular, a fact that no one of any discernible cognitive ability can adduce when objectively assessing the condition of my current anatomical framework)… of course, I, personally, don’t understand people who criticize a Playboy centerfold for amoral conduct while lauding anything that the Kardashians do. I don’t judge; I’m not in their shoes, but, again, I would go back in time to take photographs of my unadorned vernal corporeality; although, at this point in my life, I am unable to comprehend the idea of going back in time to videotape my having sex with… anything; I just can’t imagine that I looked in any way composed when in the uncompromising thrust of a vernal, lusting realization of ejaculatory consummation with nubile muliebrity. Regardless… I nearly cried when I watched the interview of Karen McDougal; the look of incredulous devastation in her eyes when she explained that Donald J Trump—the dude she had been led to believe was an emulous businessman, a self-made billionaire (who received an interest-free million-dollar loan from his father, as we all do, and yet still squandered it)—to look into the eyes of total devastation when the man she must have childishly idolized offered to pay her for what she believed—with the “faith” of an alcoholic Baptist preacher who doesn’t make love while standing erect because it looks too much like dancing—was a sincere expression of true love (an oxymoron). Karen’s pudendal treasures were callously usurped by a manipulating sexual dictator, by a grafting, opportunistic slug who effectively wielded his soi-disant power to temporarily sate his worthlessly parasitic appetite for excessive carnal indulgence. Dumpty Trumpty has proven himself most worthy of the appellation snollygoster or a buffoonish algolagnist who refuses to acknowledge the mountainously obvious disparity between the svelte medical assessment from an inept White House doctor and the usurper’s visually gelatinous anatomical manifestation that he ineffectively tries to conceal by donning [pun intended] haute camouflage that is comically too large for his already porcine vastitude, baggy suits that would fit a man of substantially more grandiose nebulosity, a power[less] suit sartorially accessorized with a ridiculously long tie he errantly believes hides the possibility that his penis, that he’s named Mr. Pecker [nationally inquiring pun intended], is akin to an insignificant, desiccated orange Cheetoh.

I am familiar with words… with a slightly above average vocabulary and an innate sense of rhythm that gives an interesting syncopated cadence to the rhetoric. Oh, and I am a people watcher, but I am not intelligent. Again, I am a hemp-inspired jester trying to point out the ubiquitous hypocrisy that torments my rationality. I merely write words. If you are offended by them then stop reading; otherwise, look into your personal emotional vault and bring to light the true source of your anger.

Peace Through Music 
Word Origins
Harlot is first recorded in English in a work written around the beginning of the 13th century, meaning “a man of no fixed occupation, vagabond, beggar,” also the first main sense of the word herlot, which we borrowed from Old French. The recorded history of a word is sometimes all we need to scotch conjectures as to its ultimate origins. William Lambarde, in a 1570-1576 work, suggested that the word harlot came from the name of Arletta, or “Harlothe,” William the Conqueror's mother. As we have seen, Lambarde was unnecessarily besmirching her, for the history of harlot makes clear that “prostitute” was not its first sense. In fact, the word came to mean “male lecher” before it meant “prostitute,” but by the time Lambarde wrote, “prostitute” must have been thought to have been the main sense of the word, hence his etymology.

  • al·go·lag·ni·a (²l”g½-l²g“n¶-…) n. Sexual gratification derived from inflicting or experiencing pain. [New Latin : algo- + Greek lagneia, lust (from lagnos, lustful; see slg- below).] --algo·lagnic adj. --algo·lagnist n.
  • an·a·lep·tic (²n”…-lµp“t¹k) adj. 1. Restorative or stimulating, as a drug or medication. --an·a·lep·tic n. A medication used as a central nervous system stimulant. [Greek anal¶ptikos, from analambanein, to take up : ana-, ana- + lambanein, l¶p-, to take.]
  • at·ra·bil·ious (²t”r…-b¹l“y…s) also at·ra·bil·i·ar (-b¹l“¶-…r) --adj. 1. Inclined to melancholy. 2. Having a peevish disposition; surly. [From Latin ³tra bºlis, black bile (translation of Greek melankh½lia; see MELANCHOLY) : ³tra, black; see ³ter- below + bºlis, bile.] --atra·bilious·ness n
  • coch·le·ate (k¼k“l¶-¹t, -³t”, k½“kl¶-) also coch·le·at·ed (-³”t¹d) --adj. Shaped like a snail shell; spirally twisted. [Latin cochle³tus, from cochlea, snail shell. See COCHLEA.]hap·tic (h²p“t¹k) adj. Of or relating to the sense of touch; tactile. [Greek haptikos, from haptesthai, to grasp, touch.]
  • hel·ot·ism (hµl“…-t¹z”…m) n. 1. A system under which a nominally free social class or a religious, national, or racial minority is permanently oppressed and degraded. 2. A type of symbiosis, as among certain ants, in which one species is dominant and makes the members of another species perform the tasks required for their mutual survival.
  • hy·po·ge·al (hº”p…-j¶“…l) also hy·po·ge·an (-…n) or hy·po·ge·ous (-…s) --adj. 1. Located under the earth's surface; underground. 2. Botany. Of or relating to seed germination in which the cotyledons remain below the surface of the ground. [From Latin hypog¶us, from Greek hupogeios : hupo, hypo- + , earth.] --hypo·geal·ly adv.
  • im·pe·cu·ni·ous (¹m”p¹-ky›“n¶-…s) adj. Lacking money; penniless. See Synonyms at poor. [im-1 + pecunious, rich (from Middle English, from Old French pecunios, from Latin pec¿ni½sus, from pec¿nia, money, wealth; see peku- below).] --im”pe·cu“ni·ous·ly adv. --im”pe·cu“ni·ous·ness or im”pe·cu”ni·os“i·ty (-¼s“¹-t¶) n.
  • ir·ref·ra·ga·ble (¹-rµfr-g-bl) adj. Impossible to refute or controvert; indisputable: irrefragable evidence. [Late Latin irrefr³g³bilis : Latin in-, not; see IN-1 + Latin refr³g³rº, to oppose, resist; see bhreg- below.] --ir·refra·ga·bili·ty n. --ir·refra·ga·bly adv.
  • kak·is·toc·ra·cy (k²k”¹-st¼k“r…-s¶, kä”k¹-) n., pl. kak·is·toc·ra·cies. Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. [Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad; see CACO- + -cracy.]
  • schle·miel also shle·miel (shl…-m¶l“) n. Slang. A habitual bungler; a dolt. [Yiddish shlemíl, perhaps from Hebrew šµlumî’¶l, Shelumiel, a character in the Bible (Numbers 7:36).]
  • schli·ma·zel (shl¹-mä“z…l) n. Slang. An extremely unlucky or inept person; a habitual failure. [Yiddish shlimázl, bad luck, unlucky person : Middle High German slimp, wrong + mázl, luck (from Hebrew mazz³l).]
  • schlock also shlock (shl¼k) Slang. n. 1. Something, such as merchandise or literature, that is inferior or shoddy. --adj. Of inferior quality; cheap or shoddy. [Possibly from Yiddish shlak, apoplexy, stroke, wretch, evil, nuisance, from Middle High German slag, slak, stroke, from slahen, to strike, from Old High German slahan.]
  • schmaltz also schmalz (shmälts) n. 1. Informal. a. Excessively sentimental art or music. b. Maudlin sentimentality. 2. Liquid fat, especially chicken fat. [Yiddish shmalts, animal fat, sentimentality, from Middle High German smalz, animal fat, from Old High German. See mel-1 below.]
  • schmeer also schmear or shmear (shmîr) n. Slang. A number of things that go together; an aggregate: bought the whole schmeer. [Yiddish shmir, smear, smudge, from shmirn, to smear, grease, from Middle High German smiren, from Old High German smirwen.]
  • schmo (shm½) n., pl. schmoes or schmos. Slang. A person regarded as stupid or obnoxious. [From Yiddish shmok, penis, fool. See SCHMUCK.]
  • schnook (shn‹k) n. Slang. A stupid or easily victimized person; a dupe. [Yiddish shnuk, snout, schnook, from Lithuanian snùkis, mug, snout.]
  • schnor·rer (shnôr“…r, shn½r“-) n. Slang. One who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others; a parasite. [Yiddish shnorer, beggar, sponger, from shnorn, to beg, from Middle High German snurren, to hum, whir (from the sound of the musical instrument played by beggars).]
  • snol·ly·gos·ter (sn¼l“¶-g¼s”t…r) n. Slang. One, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles. [Perhaps alteration of snallygaster, a mythical beast said to prey on poultry and children, perhaps from Pennsylvania Dutch schnelle geeschter : Middle High German sn¶l, quick (from Old High German) + Middle High German geist, spirit (from Old High German).]
  • ter·ma·gant (tûrm-gnt) n. 1. A quarrelsome, scolding woman; a shrew. --ter·ma·gant adj. Shrewish; scolding. [From Middle English Termagaunt, imaginary Moslem deity portrayed as a violent and overbearing character in medieval mystery plays, alteration of Tervagant, from Old French.]
Bad Joke of the Week

"The Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. It could be a major blow for those who believe that marriage should be between two bitterly and eventually overweight people of the opposite sex."
–Jimmy Kimmel
Tweets of the Month
"You happen to be coming of age... It did not start with Donald Trump, he is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years. A fear, an anger that is rooted in our past but is also borne in our enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes."
—Barack Obama

Until the inauguration of the 45th president of the U.S., I always assumed that the Keystone Cops were fictional.

Poverty is not the inability to feed the poor but a failure to satisfy the wealthy.
—98 percenters

Remember... If a tree falls in the woods, you better make sure that the lasagna is baked.

I believe that I’ve recently and serendipitously blundered upon the reason some elderly people dote so passionately on their pets: their family has abandoned them.

The reason some Trump supporters focus so fastidiously on minutia, including the listing of supernumerary annoyances (paper cuts) by marginal family members (anyone who has differing interests) instead of facing the more formidable catastrophes (Cancer) that is the realizations that their religion assists in pedophilia; that their marriages are a sham; that their college degrees do not connote perspicacity; that their roles as parents have been abysmal; that their opposition of marijuana is hypocritically juxtaposed against the fact that the majority of their adult lives have been compromised by bibulous indulgence; and that they elected a traitorous flunky as the most powerful man on the planet… and he’s bent on creating a despotic empire.

I’ve been railing rather harshly against hypocrisy, so, in full disclosure, I must report that I, too, am a hypocrite. As a youngster, I questioned people from the 19th century who were against slavery but still bought products made from the cotton that was available exclusively because of the slavery. In September, Amazon reached the trillion-dollar mark; its owner, Bezo, is one of the richest men on the planet, yet many of his minimum-wage employees qualify for food stamps and subsidized housing… and I use Amazon. I’ve got to either make a difficult choice or ignore the problem and pretend that it doesn’t affect me… or my post-terrestrial adjudication. Damn.

I vividly Remember that just over two years ago, the worst president of the modern era was George W[ar Criminal] Bush the Lesser. Now it’s Trump, both of whom lost the popular vote in their respective inaugural elections.

Colin Kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America. He did so not to disrespect our flag but to give meaning to the words of the preamble of our Constitution—“in order to form a more perfect union.” Well done, Colin, well done.
—John Q. Brennan 

I am not comfortable when one person, wealthiest guy in the world, Jeff Bezos, is today seeing his wealth increase, today, $250 million every single day, but there are thousands of workers who are employed by him who are earning wages so low, they are on food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing.
—Senator Bernie Sanders

Groovy Upcoming Events
  • Saturday, October 6 starting at 7 pm ET, Laura Coyle and Trey Wright will be playing at Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza & Grill in Woodbury, Georgia. I really dig these two.
  • Sunday, October 7 for brunch at Venkman's Trio Deluxe will play for the Bottomless Mimosa Brunch at Venkman's in Atlanta.
  • Monday, October 8 starting at 7:30 pm ET at the amazing RiverCenter in historic downtown Columbus, Georgia, the Winford Marsalis Quartet will be playing. According to the venue's website: "NEA Jazz Master, renowned Grammy Award®‐winning saxophonist and Tony Award® nominee Branford Marsalis is one of the most revered instrumentalists of his time. Leader of one of the finest jazz quartets today, and a frequent soloist with classical ensembles, Marsalis’ most current recording with his quartet is Four MFs Playin’ Tunes. On this album, the song takes center stage, with the band members bringing their considerable musical expertise to bear, as they focus on each tune as an important musical entity unto itself and not merely a vehicle for showcasing individual talent. Charles Gans from the Associated Press exclaims, “Saxophonist Marsalis leads one of the most cohesive, intense small jazz ensembles on the scene today…. This album shows that Marsalis’ quartet hasn’t skipped a beat with the change in the drummer’s chair, effortlessly playing often complex original tunes that are thoroughly modern while referencing past jazz masters.” The Branford Marsalis Quartet is one of the most innovative and forward‐thinking jazz ensembles around today!" Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Monday, October 29th starting at 7:30 pm ET at the amazing RiverCenter in historic downtown Columbus, Georgia, the U.S. Navy Band Commodores Jazz Ensemble will be playing. The U.S. Navy Band Commodores, the Navy’s premier jazz ensemble, celebrate their upcoming 50th anniversary serving the Navy and the nation through America’s quintessential art form: jazz. Under the direction of Senior Chief Musician William C. Mulligan, the U.S. Navy Band Commodores’ 2018 national tour highlights the legacy of innovation in Navy Music from John Coltrane, Artie Shaw, and Clark Terry to the world-class composers, arrangers and performers the comprise the unit in the present day. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Monday, October 29th starting at 8 pm ET, William Green will be playing at City Winery in Atlanta. Green will release his fourth CD, "Mind Rush" (Magic Dream Records) in July 2018. Fans can expect a combination of contemporary jazz, soul and gospel, mixed to provide music that is motivating for the mind, body and soul. Both motivational and inspiring songs are on the album. "My music is a combination of jazz and soul", he says. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Saturday, December 15th starting at 7:30 pm ET at the amazing RiverCenter in historic downtown Columbus, Georgia, the MCoE Holiday Concert will be presented. For over 50 years, the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band has taken great pride in entertaining the soldiers, military families, and civilians of the Fort Benning, Columbus, and Phenix City communities. The Band’s performances create esprit de corps among soldiers and veterans, as well as provide patriotic spirit within the civilian community. Currently, the MCoE Band, with its eight performing groups, accomplishes over 500 military missions a year in support of the military and civilian communities in and around Fort Benning. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Monday, December 17th starting at 7:30 pm at the amazing RiverCenter in historic downtown Columbus, Georgia, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas will be in town. I know it ain't jazz, but I really dig Chip Davis' musical prowess. According to the venue's website: "Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis has been America’s favorite holiday tradition for over 30 years! Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features Mannheim Steamroller Christmas classics along with a selection of compositions from Chip’s groundbreaking Fresh Aire series, which introduced the distinctive Mannheim sound to all of America. Experience the magic as the spirit of the season comes alive with dazzling multimedia effects and the signature sound of Mannheim Steamroller!" Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Saturday, January 19, 2019 starting at 7:30 pm ET at the amazing RiverCenter in historic downtown Columbus, Georgia, Kenny Brawner will channel the spirit of Ray Charles. According to the venue's website: "This concert/theatre work brings the music and the story of the great Ray Charles to vivid life! Portraying Ray, master pianist/vocalist Kenny Brawner leads his 12-piece orchestra and three sultry vocalists (a la the Raelettes) performing this American legend’s most popular hits: “What’d I Say?,” “I Got a Woman,” “Mess Around,” “Georgia On My Mind,” a blazing hot duet on “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and many more! The music is interwoven with monologues depicting how gospel, blues, jazz and country influenced Ray’s style, while also reflecting on American social history, his epic battle with drugs, and his triumphant return home to Georgia." Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Saturday, May 18th starting at 7:30 pm ET at the amazing RiverCenter in historic downtown Columbus, Georgia, Cantus Columbus will perform Say It With Music: The Songs of Irving Berlin. From the venue's website: "In this fourth concert homage to the founders of the American Songbook, the professional chorus Cantus Columbus and the distinguished string quartet Vega Quartet, directed by William J. Bullock, present tasteful arrangements of the songs of Irving Berlin (1888–1989). The concert follows previous collaborative tributes to Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, George & Ira Gershwin, and Jerome Kern." Fo' mo' info, click here.

A Little Lunch Music
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts
Auburn, Alabama

On Thursdays at Noon, make a lunch date with the finest musicians from our region and beyond. A Little Lunch Music is an informal, come-and-go performance presented by JCSM and coordinated by Patrick McCurry. It features national and international performers as well as professionals and students from Auburn University and the surrounding areas. You can sit in and listen to the entire performance, dine in the Museum Cafe from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., browse the Museum Shop, or explore the galleries.

* * *

  • Thursday, August 23 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features Boyun Kim. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. On Thursday, August 23, from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Grand Gallery, the series will present a free concert by gayageum player Boyun Kim. The gayageum is a traditional Korean stringed instrument. The program will feature music by Byeong-ho Kim, Seong-cheon Lee, Yu-dong Ko, Geon-yong Lee as well as traditional and popular music from Korea, France, and the US. A gift from Friends of the Series has helped to make this performance possible.
  • Thursday, August 30 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features pianist Mary Staton. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. Pianist Mary Slaton will perform August 30. Her specialty is playing lush arrangements of standards and popular songs from most of the 20th century.
  • Thursday, September 13 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features pianist Vadim Serebryany. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. Pianist Vadim Serebryany, on the music faculty at Ithaca College in New York and formerly with Huntingdon College, will return to the series to perform on September 13. He will perform music from the canon of classical piano repertoire. A Little Lunch Music is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to enjoy lunch in the Museum Café before or after the performance.
  • Thursday, September 27 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features pianist David Bottoms. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. A Little Lunch Music is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to enjoy lunch in the Museum Café before or after the performance. On September 27, David Bottoms, a pianist, composer, and investment manager, will perform a tribute to the victims of 9/11. He performs the memorial program annually on September 11 for Bargemusic, a concert series in a renovated 1899 coffee barge just under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
  • Thursday, October 4 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features a showcase. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. On October 4, the series will become part of Showcase, the Work of Creative Scholarship. Elizabeth Benson is on the school's Department of Theatre faculty, and will present a lecture-recital of songs by Tom Cipullo. Benson will share the program with Alyssa Ross, who is faculty in the Department of English. Ross will do a poetry reading, "Women of The Harvard Observatory." Showcase: The Work of Creative Scholarship celebrates the very best creative work of Auburn University faculty and students in the fields of fine art, applied art and design, performing arts, creative writing and other related disciplines. The exhibition is on view Sept. 28 through Oct. 14.
  • Thursday, October 11 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features saxophonist Michael Pendowski. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. Auburn saxophone professor Michael Pendowski will lead a chamber music performance on October 11. His program is titled, "Jazz Influences in Classical Saxophone Music," and will involve guest artist J. P. Pendowski on piano and Auburn faculty violinist Guy Harrison. A Little Lunch Music is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to enjoy lunch in the Museum Café before or after the performance.
  • Thursday, October 18 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features Auburn Indian Music Ensemble. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. A regular installment of the series, the Auburn Indian Music Ensemble will return on October 18. The group is led by Chaitra Gururaj and combines community and student musicians as well as non-musicians, learning traditional music of India and performing on authentic Indian instruments. A Little Lunch Music is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to enjoy lunch in the Museum Café before or after the performance.
  • Thursday, October 25 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features KKR Trio. William Ransom directs the piano program at Emory University. He has appeared on the series before, and returns on October 28 with the KKR Trio to perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97, or “Archduke Trio.” He will be joined by violinist Helen Kim and cellist Charae Krueger.
  • Thursday, November 1 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features guest vocalists. Experience captivating live music and inspiring performances in the context of the museum's collection and exhibitions. The auditorium and iconic grand gallery provide settings for an extensive array of national and international performers as well as the region's professionals and students. On November 1, visiting faculty from Mississippi State University will perform a program of vocal music. Guest artists will be soprano Jeannette Fontaine, soprano Roza Tulyaganova, and pianist Christy Lee. A Little Lunch Music is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to enjoy lunch in the Museum Café before or after the performance.
  • Thursday, November 8 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Night Music features Samford University's String Quartet. The Samford University String Quartet, members of the school’s music faculty, will perform an eclectic program of traditional repertoire and new music on November 8. A Little Lunch Music is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to enjoy lunch in the Museum Café before or after the performance.
  • Thursday, November 15 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features Brazilian concert pianist Alessandra Feris performing a program of Latin American music.
  • Thursday, November 29 from noon 'til one pm CT, A Little Lunch Music features a mixed recital. On November 29, recent Auburn University graduates, soprano Jin Lee and pianist Christian McGee, will join saxophonist and Auburn University senior Nikolai Klotchkov for a mixed recital. All have performed for the series in recent years.
  • Thursday, December 6 from noon 'til one pm, A Little Lunch Music features flutist Stephanie Payne. On November 29, recent Auburn University graduates, soprano Jin Lee and pianist Christian McGee, will join saxophonist and Auburn University senior Nikolai Klotchkov for a mixed recital. All have performed for the series in recent years.

Fo' mo' info on A Little Lunch Music, click here .

Autobiographical Stories
From the Vault

Searching for an Angel 

My adult life has been an interesting, humbling experience in paralysis, more specifically, in living, now twenty-nine years, without the ability to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living, yet within a mostly loving community of caregivers, including family, without whom I would perish from this terrestrial milieu as easily as a butterfly’s diaphanous wings flapping haplessly in the front, grinning grill of an automobile. 

Since February 2011, sans a handful of months, I’ve been writing a monthly essay, a Blog, and I post it to my website. Admittedly, I tend to publicly express a more tolerant, positive outlook on life, mostly a result of the tireless, shameless promotion of my singing and writing, which I still dream will earn me excessive remuneration and, of course, myriad morally ambivalent groupies with nubile bodies and formidable mental acuities that stimulate covetous conversation. I do, however, honestly believe that my life has been much more fulfilling because of my physical restrictions. I have had many opportunities to use cerebral reasoning unimpeded by aspects of my physiology that have been erased as a result of my paralysis, more specifically, my having no sensation below my shoulders, an aspect of my paralysis that limits the effects of terrestrial stimuli that encourage a more libertine expression of sexuality. To put it bluntly: I cannot feel the incredible enjoyment of genital stimulation that can directly result in pursuing immediate gratification of sensual urges. Instead, I have been able to overly cogitate both intended and unintended consequences that have discouraged settling for an intimate relationship with someone who is suitable for the moment instead of waiting for one who is undeniably the closest possible equivalent to perfection. Like Prince Hamlet, I’m still waiting. 

I recently chanced upon a friend with whom I went to high school, back when I, too, was a vertical (i.e., one who walks upright), and she is still drop-dead gorgeous, a redheaded beauty with a smile that would encourage Satan to think twice about embracing Christianity. Our meeting happened after a gig earlier last month, on April 17. As we were talking, I mentioned that the following day was to be the twenty-ninth anniversary of the accident that caused my paralysis. As is my style, I downplayed the accident in my inimitable way, saying that it was, in fact, a positive aspect of my life… which I still believe is true. Surprisingly, she got a bit upset, protesting rather vigorously, but with compassion, that she still feels the pain she felt upon hearing the news of my paralysis. I was very touched, but I maintain that her pain was, and probably still is, an extreme, emotional response to a very unexpected, heart-rending event that completely redirected any of the paths of Life I may have taken that, although not conducive to mental salubrity, seemed inevitable at the time, paths down the many roads toward superficial conquests. 

I was twenty-two years old with very little pragmatic experience, practically all potential, and my resources seemed to be limited to intense physical expression… I was a healthy, virile young man with seemingly boundless energy. To the Hollywood crowd of Capitalistic idolatry, the really attractive yet shallow people who view the Kardashian lifestyle as emulous and who plangently descant their faith in an economic system based on resource exploitation and militant cupidity as the paragon of human expression, the “look” I had at the time of my paralysis promised the false rewards lavishly proffered to the empty, ubiquitous expressions of human achievement in the current hierarchy of uninspired pop culture and a volatile political environment wherein very rich men with horrific toupees spew their unintelligible diatribe with Vesuvian intensity from the depraved depths of mindless, meandering hubris and the glorifying of specious fantasy in the guise of reality television and other menial mental obstructions that abscond infinitesimal attention spans that would better serve humanity if they could miraculously absorb the current scientific data accurately predicting extinction of the human species. 

Through the first few years of my life-altering paralysis, I tried to follow the specious path of “appearing” like I was a dude on the quick path of materialistic success instead of delving into the world of the mind. Shock and awe consumption was a false world fabricated with worthless yet shiny baubles that the planet’s population relentlessly pursued (and still does) as if the trinkets held the worthy secrets of Life whose answers should be the desired goal of every human on this planet. Not only was I drawn into an avarice-driven fantasy of materialistic commodities, but I was also drawn to the illusion of deceptive fascination— pulchritude! Sex! Then, I believed I had a chance to prosper within that illusion; now, I strongly believe that the main reason I dated very little while I was voluntarily incarcerated into this phantasmagoria is because the women that drew my attention subconsciously realized that my “appearance” belied my reality. 

I tried unsuccessfully to fit in the corporate world of illusions, the pasty-white blind following of flaccid masculinity that ignorantly strokes egocentric tumescence; the megalomaniac, testosterone-driven world of feminine supplication in which date rape is expected as is less pay for equal work; the supremacist’s rote gay-bashing; unhappy couples who have been forced into abrasive lifetime relationships denying marriage equality to same-sex couples who have been together for two or more score; miserable people denying other people their “pursuits of happiness” simply because they differ; unjustifiably arrogant agents of conflict whose ideologies are ordained by a spectral puissance that not only condones but encourages bigotry, slavery, and profit-driven imprisonment for suggestions that the status-quo isn’t perfect; the enforcement of archaic ideology; military aggression as the exclusive, primary option in every conflict; the selling of one’s soul to Hobby Lobby. 

I was trapped in a corporate prison watching mediocrity rewarded, not only within the corporation that indentured my services but everywhere. Lackluster music slithered through gold and platinum illusions while jazz and classical music struggled; exclusive rhythm usurped sublime melody and harmony; reality television popularized licentious, surgically altered women into celebrities; steroids became more important than the game; and couple after couple settled into marriages of convenience instead of emulous life contracts with an equal partner. It’s no wonder I felt my soul’s being sucked down the vortex of disillusion. 

I was then introduced into the world of jazz music for which I insidiously developed passion… for something much larger than myself. Initially, I didn’t realize that jazz had become a passion. It was, and is, a challenge that makes it impossible for people like me to master really quickly. Unless one is a freak, Jazz takes years to understand. I will never truly master the music, but I have learned enough to have fun and to not piss off other accomplished jazz musicians with whom I play. Jazz is a social event, and I’m proud to be a participant. I have now come to a point in my life wherein I am accompanied by a small notoriety. Nothing major, yet, but this year alone I’ve performed in my hometown of Columbus, Georgia; Auburn, Opelika, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama; and Atlanta… and people seem to dig my playful style. I would sing to myself if nobody listened, but it thrills me beyond expression that some people actually dig my passion. 

So the world continues its finite orbit around a medium-sized star that is the primary focus of our terrestrial existence, and my life seems to be blossoming, which is kind of weird because I passed my physical prime seemingly ions ago. I am a late bloomer, have been throughout life, but, in retrospect, maybe I subconsciously realized at an early age that this thing called Life is not a sprint limited to a few scant seconds but a casual, lifelong stroll. 

I’ve watched many couples come and go; even the few that have endured seem mostly arrangements of convenience; although, I have seen a few emulous relationships that defy even my cynicism, relationships that have maintained passion, and by passion, I don’t mean the Hallmark Channel’s orgasmic reaction to bodily functions that have evolved over eons as an instinctual encouragement to propagate the species; I speak of a union with a partner wherein the quotidian is enchanting; wherein a couple reads, together, Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare with equal enthusiasm; I speak of sitting quietly, together, on a porch looking over stretching pines and hardwoods and not wanting to be anywhere else on the planet; I speak of hoping beyond despair that a lingering sickness doesn’t become final suspiration; I speak of falling into a pair of brown eyes and realizing that I will never drown there. 

I am maturing, turning into a human being that while far from perfect will one day carry enough positive energy to encourage an intimate relationship with someone special. My partner will have to need me as I need her, and maybe there is someone out there… waiting for me specifically, me, a man who cares more for a sunset than a gilded butterfly, a man whose passion kindles, a man who will relentlessly encourage his partner to release illusions from the past that spur detrimental emotional anxiety, a man who never fails to see fascinating potential in his partner’s future. She is out there, and I will reach out to her very soon to explore the enchanting possibility that we may one day be one. Ultimately, she and I may not become that emulous couple sustaining passion until we shuffle off our mortal coils, but we will always be friends, and I promise that I won’t slip into an emotional contract simply for convenience or because I am afraid of dying alone. However… 

What if she is the one? 

Peace Through Music 
Russell (Rusty) Allen Taylor 
May 1, 2015
Peace and Love
Columbus, Georgia Jazz
Another Blast From the Past
An essay written in 2012
Tangible Phantasmagoria 

As a child, years before I was introduced to the malevolence that is embraced by some dark individuals in our society, the negative, misguided aggression that quickens from a possible fear of the unknown combined with emotional distress resulting from chemical imbalances or through stimuli I have no way of comprehending; back in the time of my personal overly protected, egocentric childhood; the magical, seemingly internal epoch wherein I was always safely embraced in embryonic security; a maternally protected age wherein every human adult was a positive influence; when all music I heard was harmonious; when my personal family unit was the most puissant energy in the ever-expanding Universe (to the infinite power of Infinity and beyond); I would fantasize about my life as an adult. In these prepubescent dreams, I would be a part of a loving community wherein everyone totally adored music, especially live music, and they would spend every available moment of their lives either actively listening to incredible musicians or performing music themselves. 

Every Friday evening in our cozy community, Jazz at The Loft hosts a live jazz act. Tonight's event highlighted local icon Jan Hyatt and a few of Columbus' finest musicians. All friends of each other. All friends of mine. And the audience was sated with additional friends, each supporting live music as in my childhood dreams. As an adult, my dreams have grown. I am currently offered the opportunity to sit in on jazz classes at CSU; I have recorded a CD of jazz vocals entitled Southern Standard Time with a few musically inspiring friends of mine; I am privileged to be a Lifetime member of the Columbus Jazz Society (google it), a non-profit group of music lovers that hosts a monthly jazz jam/meeting highlighting some of the finest jazz musicians in the Southeast; Columbus State University's Jazz Ensembles develop wonderful jazz musicians under the current leadership of Dr. Alex Pershounin, and they are encouraged to play live as often as they can (check out the CSU Jazz facebook page); and, basically, the positive influence of Jazz is not only embraced by our fair city, but it is growing. Personally, I hope jazz and its positive influences become pandemic throughout the Chattahoochee Valley, that it expands its influence across this wonderful planet, and, via binary-defined waves rebounding from planet to the satellites that orbit Earth, I hope its influence spreads Universally. 

Thank you Jan Hyatt and the Usual Suspects for being such an emulous inspiration. This evening's performance was the tangible realization of my childhood fantasy. Hopefully, my adulthood expectations will soon come to fruition and Columbus, Georgia will become the destination for jazz enthusiasts around the world. I may be reaching too high, but the most impossible dream begins with its first step. 

Peace Through Music 
Russell (Rusty) Allen Taylor 
September 7, 2012
NY Times Op-Ed
The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. 

President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hell-bent on his downfall.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. 

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision-making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation [that kills the planet], historic tax reform [that benefit the really wealthy], a more robust military [enriching CEOs] and more.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

The result is a two-track presidency.

Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

The writer is a senior official in the Trump administration.

Sophisticated Lady is a really groovy tune written by a Duke Ellington team that describes a woman’s haunting memory of unrequited love and its affecting her present bout of lugubriousness that is emphasized by the insidious attack on her liver through her prodigal behavior, including her inebriety, her smoking of deleterious tobacco, her excessive haute fashion as well as her dining in decadent restaurants; in essence, she tries to erase the painful memories of the loss of a time when she believed she was happy with a man she is unable to replace.

Sophisticated Lady – Dm
They say into your early life romance came,
and in this heart of yours burned a flame,
a flame that flicker’d one day
then died away.

Then with disillusion deep in your eyes,
you learned that fools in love soon grow wise.
The years have changed you somehow;
I see you now.

Smoking, drinking, never thinking
of tomorrow, nonchalant.
Diamonds shining, dancing, dining
with some man in a restaurant;
is that all you really want? No.

Sophisticated lady, I know,
you miss the love you lost long ago,
and when nobody is nigh, you cry.

by Duke Ellington/Irving Mills/Mitchell Parish © 1933

Make Concert Stages Accessible

The next time you go see a live musical group, check out the stage. Does it have a wheelchair ramp leading from the audience to the stage or are their steps? Is there a wheelchair ramp backstage? Is there handicapped parking where the performers load and unload? Chances are that the venue doesn’t provide these accommodations. It’s like this: my biggest challenge as a quadriplegic jazz vocalist is finding accessible stages on which to perform. I was once raised up to a five-foot high stage using a forklift and a wooden palette because the stage was not wheelchair accessible. Fortunately, I didn’t die. Point is that there are
few wheelchair accessible stages; otherwise, I’d sing much more often.

It’s easy to see why this isn’t a mainstream problem: there are few “physically challenged” performers, but that’s merely an excuse encouraged by indifference. We handicapped performers exist and are eager to share our dreams with fans who dig what we do. But why are we unconsciously ignored? That’s easy: Being unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living is a major downer; the wheelchair, quite frankly, is a symbol of lost hope. Let’s face it; it’s a marketing problem, and this is where you come in to save the day.

Physical handicaps are wrapped in lugubrious imagery, but not every moment of life in a wheelchair is steeped in mournful decay. Believe it or not, I laugh every day… some days more than others, but if life were perfect, I, for one, would take a bite of forbidden fruit to find some excitement from the decay of entropy (the hypothetical tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity). What I’m trying so desperately to connote here is the fact that having a physical challenge can, at times, be fun and inspirational. What we need is positive imagery, and here’s where I ask for a favor from you, dear reader, and it has to do with social media, more specifically, using the ubiquitous #hashtag: will you help by coming up with a #hashtag meme that has positive connotations for the handicapped and send it to me. This could be fun. Maybe I can come up with prizes for creative contributions. Regardless, this could be the beginning of a social movement that witnesses an outcry of creative energy by talented people who have difficulty overcoming the obstacles that are hidden from people who can hop out of bed running full tilt. By the way, I’ve come up with a possible #hashtag meme that might work: #FantastAbility. What do you think?

The gauntlet has been dropped. Do you accept the challenge? Please reply to this email with as many suggestions as you want, and challenge your friends as well. Let’s see if we can extend this conversation internationally. (Actually, when you send in your suggestions, include the name of your hometown city. We’ll see how far this request goes.) Let’s make the wheelchair a symbol of fun… or grace… or intelligence… or, dare I say it? Let’s make the wheelchair Sexy!

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Jazz Etiquette 
There are few absolutes in life, but this is a definite one: do not stand in front of the bandstand playing air guitar, air trumpet, air bass, or air drums. This activity irritates the musicians. It is disrespectful to both musicians and fellow listeners. It also makes the air player look like... well, there's really no need to spell this one out. Please, save those air moves for the National Air Guitar Championships held annually in Las Vegas.

In today’s society, texting is as ubiquitous as sunshine is to day. Please, do not text while watching live jazz; if you're not into the performance, leave. Along the same line, turn off the cell phone. If you are so important that you cannot miss calls, perhaps you - and everyone else in the audience – would be better served if you did not go to hear live music. If you'd get upset watching somebody else do it then it's wrong for you, too.

Try not to get up and walk out in the middle of a song. It is rude, akin to walking away from someone who is speaking directly to you. Likewise, please refrain from talking during the music. No one came out to hear about your day. More often than not, other audience members came to hear the music.

Most jazz musicians and seasoned listeners will agree that it is acceptable to clap after the solos that each musician takes. However, it is a good idea to keep this applause to an enthusiastic minimum because the next musician usually has already well begun her solo. By the time the claps and cheers fade, the audience has missed a good section of the next solo. Be a good listener. Learn to notice the interaction amongst musicians on stage. An understanding of their communication with each other will help novice listeners, and those not familiar with the song, to learn when the song has ended. Clap, cheer, whistle, or shout, after the last notes of the song are played, not during.

The most important rule of etiquette when it comes to live jazz deals with the type of common sense your grandmother believes you possess: be respectful. Other than that, have fun. Jazz is inclusive and strongly embraces peaceful harmony. It is the type of music that demands active listening to maximize the musical experience to its most positive conclusion. If you have an uncontrollable urge to get aggressively plastered, go listen to a more kitsch musical performance. Hardly anyone there will notice.

Peace Through Music

Interesting Blogs and Websites by Interesting People

  • A Blog by Dallas Smith
  • A Blog by Susan E. Mazer
  • Collaborating since 1984, Susan E. Mazer and Dallas Smith create some of the finest contemporary instrumental music available. Our compositions for harp and woodwinds merge the aesthetics of jazz, classical, and world music into an experience that feeds both the intellect and spirit. Extending beyond the boundaries of genre, our unique sound has a richness in melody, rhythm and sonority. Visit their website by clicking here.
  • Now available in more than 750 healthcare facilities in the U.S. and Asia, The C.A.R.E. Channel’s stunning nature video and original instrumental music provide a therapeutic tool for use at the patient bedside, waiting areas, and public spaces in acute care hospitals, residential care facilities, hospice/palliative care units, cancer centers, children’s hospitals, and rehabilitation centers.
  • The Rude Pundit - Proudly lowering the level of political discourse.
  • Randy Hoexter is a jazz pianist, composer and educator living in Atlanta. He is currently the Director of Education at the Atlanta Institute of Music. His recent release, “Fromage” Featuring bassist Jimmy Haslip, Drummer Dave Weckl, and the finest of Atlanta jazz musicians has been receiving rave reviews. His previous recording “Radiant” with Mike Stern, Dave Weckl and more, also received critical acclaim.
  • Jimmy Haslip  World-renowned bassist
  • Sam Skelton  Saxophone/woodwind virtuoso and educator
  • Trey Wright  Gifted guitarist and composer
  • Kit Chatham  Brilliant percussionist and drummer
  • Carl Culpepper Virtuoso guitarist and educator
  • Jazz Evangelist Great jazz blog and reviews.
  • Wonderful freelance writer Candice Dyer.
Weekly Area Jazz Jams
Eighth and Rail
Every Tuesday 7 - 10 pm CT
The Eighth and Rail in historical downtown Opelika, Alabama is the venue for a wildly groovy weekly jazz jam as hosted by the Jane Drake Jazz Band. It's a cozy celebration of life that has become a buzzing collection of jazz-loving fanatics gathered together in a coterie of peaceful, fun-loving positive energy. I am downright proud as a peacock with enhanced LED-flashing feathers to participate in the jam on a regular basis, and I really love it! Proprietor Mike Patterson makes the wonderful sushi and Miss Tiffany keeps the affable atmosphere at a lovely level of emotive satisfaction. Plus... they serve an awesome cheesecake that'll make you wanna slap yourself so hard as to tell horrific knock-knock jokes to mimes. No lie. We have really talented musicians come in from the bi-state area: Auburn, Montgomery, Tuskegee, Columbus, LaGrange, Fort Valley, et al. The jam begins at 7 pm and ends at 10 pm CT. Hopefully, I'll see you there.

Eighth and Rail
Venkman's Jazz Jam
Every Tuesday starting at 8 pm ET
Venkman's is a nightclub in Atlanta, a venue that Joe Gransden uses for his weekly jazz jam. This is where the Who's Who of the Atlanta Jazz Scene come together to dazzle us mortals. It's free and starts at 8 pm ET. Fo' mo' info, click link below. I've participated in this jam a couple of times, and I love it as well. Joe Gransden always welcomes me with a smile that will melt antarctic glaciers in the middle of winter, which, oddly enough, is during June through August... when it's so hot and humid in middle Georgia that my toenails sweat. Nevertheless, Joe's band often includes keyboardist Kenny Banks (sometimes Kevin Bales), drummer Chris Burroughs and bassist Craig Shaw, and these cats kick it. When I find the transportation, I'm going.

Red Light Cafe Jazz Jam
Every Wed at 8 pm ET

I have not been to the weekly jazz jam at Red Light Cafe, but it is hosted by the Gordon Vernick Quartet, and I am a huge fan of Gordon's, so I'm planning to go soon, and when I do... Ha! I'm very likely to get excited. Fo' mo' info, click here .
Apache Cafe in Atlanta
Every Wed at 9:00 ET
Al Smith's Midtown Jam Session @Apache Cafe!  Contemporary Jazz , Soul, R&B vocalists jam Session. Featuring live band led by keyboardist Al Smith! Vocalists are invited to sign the list and jam with the band, musicians can sit in too... a must attend! Different Dj spinning on the back patio each week! SPECIAL GUEST HOST EVERY WEEK! Doors open at 9pm and list-sign up is at 9pm. Event admission, the day of, at the door, is CASH. Fo' mo' info, click here .
Brin's Wings in Montgomery
Every Wed from 6 to 9:00 CT

Brins Wings in Montgomery presents Coleman Woodson Jr. Jazz Jam from 6-9 CDT. No cover. Fo' mo' info, click here .
La Salle Bleu Piano Bar in Montgomery
Every Wed from 6 to 9:00 CT
Jazz jam La Salle Bleu Piano Bar, 9 until, no cover. Fo' mo' info, click here .
The Suite in Columbus, GA
Every Thursday at 9:00-11:30 ET
Thursday, January 11 from 9-11:30 p, EDT Live Jazz - Big Saxy Thursday, The Chemistry Project Band starting at 9 pm at The Suite Bar and Grill .
Irish Bred Pub in Montgomery
Every Sun at 9:30-12:30 CT
Third Thursday jazz jam session at the Irish Bred Pub Montgomery, 78 Dexter Ave, Montgomery, Alabama 36104, Corner of Dexter Ave and Perry St, 3 blocks from Capitol. Fo' mo' info, click here .
1048 Club in Montgomery
Every Sun at 9:30-12:30 CT

The 1048 Cafe is in Montgomery, AL. The weekly Jazz Jam led by Sam Williams, 9 pm CDT, $5 cover. I don't really know that much about it, but the 1048 has a jazz jam every Sunday from 9ish 'til whenever. Apparently the jam draws some incredible musicians. Fo' mo' info, click here .
The Suite in Columbus, GA
Every Sun from 6:00-11:30 ET
Michael Johnson and the Silent Threat Band plays at The Suite in Columbus, GA from 6-11:30 pm ET at The Suite Bar & Grill, 5300 Sidney Simons Blvd. Fo' mo' info 'bout the band, click here .
Piccolo's Lounge, Auburn

It's not a jam, but the Piccolo lounge offers a comfortable, clubby environment. Leather club chairs, a cozy fireplace and comfy banquettes serve as a relaxing getaway. Enjoy a single malt scotch and relax and unwind from a hectic day or meet friends to hear live jazz every Friday and Saturday night, of non-home football game weekends. Fo' mo' info, click here .
Jazz Association of Macon
We Promote Jazz in Macon
and Middle Georgia
Our purpose is to:

  • Encourage and support creation, presentation, and preservation of jazz music.
  • Support the creation of new audiences for jazz music.
  • Provide education and information about jazz.
  • Encourage young musicians to learn and appreciate jazz.
  • Develop a network among local and regional jazz advocates.
  • Increase awareness of jazz events and musicians in our community.

To read their blog, click here .

Area Musicians
Actually, this is a link to a page of my personal website, but it makes it much easier t maintain. It is a dynamic list of area musicians that will, hopefully, be continually updated until I can no longer do it. If you are a musician who is not listed or you are listed but with invalid info, please let me know, and I'll make the appropriate revisions. Thank you, and click here to visit the link.
High Museum of Art: Atlanta Jazz
Live jazz in the Robinson Atrium at the Atlanta High Museum of Art every 3rd Friday of the month. Fo' mo' info, click here .
On-line Radio
  • WCUG 88.5 Cougar Radio - Columbus State University.
  • KUNR 88.7 Reno, Nevada.
  • KNCJ 89.5 Reno, Nevado.
  • Saturday Night Jazz hosted by Scot Marshall and Dallas Smith (Columbus, GA native) - Scot and Dallas bring their rich musical experiences together in "Saturday Night Jazz" to feature music which ranges from the latest releases to jazz classics and occasional recordings by local artists, as well as announcements of upcoming local jazz events in the Reno-Tahoe area. "Saturday Night Jazz" is supported by the Reno Jazz Orchestra and For the Love of Jazz. Dallas' program airs on KUNR ( from 10pm-12am PST/1am-3am EST. The 9pm-1pm EST broadcast is on KNCJ (streaming via the kunr.orgwebsite).
  • WCLK 99.1 Atlanta's Jazz Station, Clark Atlanta University.
  • Adore Jazz - Adore Jazz makes listeners relax, feel, think and smile through listening to the finest vocal jazz.
  • WTSU 88.9 Troy State University - Ray Murray's Jazz Radio Show Saturday nights at 10 pm Central Time.
  • WVAS 90.7 Montgomery - Jazz, Blues, News, and views.
Jazz Matters @ The Wren's Project
Preserving a musical culture, tradition & Art Form
Jazz Matters , Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that believes Jazz Matters, because music matters.  Jazz is America's only original art form and this national treasure was created by African Americans.

It is our vision to Preserve a Musical Culture, Tradition & Art Form by:
  • educating & developing new audiences;
  • inspiring new Jazz artists; and
  • providing a forum for artists to perform and perfect their craft

Peace Through Music
And here we are… at the end of yet another monthly issue of an e-newsrag that has little or no effect on… well, on anything. Like a bolt from Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, I jumped, feet first, into this month’s rhetorical flurry with a fury meant to stir the emotional embers of passion; instead, I whimpered like King Lear. What I was trying to do was write something stirring, like the following quote from the movie about the three billboards that still rings in my ears:

Y’know what I was thinking about today? I was thinking ‘bout those street gangs they had down in Los Angeles, those Crips and those Bloods? I was thinking about that buncha new laws they came up with, in the 1980’s I think it was, to combat those street-gangs, those Crips and those Bloods. And, if I remember rightly, the gist of what those new laws were saying was if you join one of these gangs, and you’re running with ‘em, and down the block one night, unbeknownst to you, one of your fellow Crips, or your fellow Bloods, shoot up a place, or stab a guy, well then, even though you didn’t know nothing about it, and even though you may’ve just been standing on a street corner minding your own business, what these new laws said was you’re still culpable. You’re still culpable, by the very act of joining those Crips, or those Bloods, in the first place. Which got me thinking, Father, that whole type of situation is kinda like your Church boys, ain’t it? You’ve got your collars, you’ve got your clubhouse, you’re, for want of a better word, a gang. And if you’re upstairs smoking a pipe and reading a bible while one of your fellow gang members is downstairs fucking an altar boy then, Father, just like those Crips, and just like those Bloods, you’re culpable. Cos you joined the gang, man. And I don’t care if you never did shit or you never saw shit or you never heard shit. You joined the gang. You’re culpable. And when a person is culpable to altar-boy-fucking, or any kinda boy-fucking, I know you guys didn’t really narrow that down, then they kinda forfeit the right to come into my house and say anything about me, or my life, or my daughter, or my billboards. So, why don’t you just finish your tea there, Father, and get the fuck outta my kitchen.

Peace Through Music