Thursday, May 31, 2012

Random Thoughts and Doc Watson

Another icon has left the stage ever so gracefully.  Doc Watson.   There have been so many articles and obits published that I, surely, cannot add any more to all that; other than to say how delighted I was to see him some years ago at the (now gone--I hate to say defunct ---it signifies negativity) Bottom Line.My recollection was that it was, as it always was, just a brilliant performance.(with Jack Lawrence).  Jack Lawrence became the "replacement" (which Doc, I am certain never felt could be true---give his love for his son) for Merle.  Merle had died in a tragic tractor accident and it totally shattered Doc Watson, who believed, in a dream, that Merle wanted him to continue.  He did.  To all our joy.  

 The tributes pouring out for him are truly heartwarming and properly earned,.   I particularly appreciate those by fellow musicians who, among other things have mentioned:  '...Trying to pick up his notes and style and realizing that it was a lost cause---he just felt it..."

There is a wonderful interview that you can listen to on NPR .  Terry Gross did this some 13 or so years ago with him.  It is so honest and frank you feel you are sitting with an old pal on the back porch--go to .

It has always amazed and impressed me how a person overcomes blindness and poverty to learn such brilliant musical chops.  The drive and intensity that he had  must speak to the soul of a person.  I wonder, in this new electronic age, if we have or will have such intense and devoted people to their interests.  I hope so.

I will add that Doc Watson had a long and fruitful life and we mourn his passing while also realizing that it was a long---and fruitful life. How many of us can say that---long and fruitful?  Or even one of those items.

Going on to "Random Thoughts"  I will add that my life is (thank heavens not past tense yet) long---fruitful?   I guess the NY Times Sunday Magazine would rate it "neh".  Who knows.    I have, through my programs at WFDU (who I thank for keeping free form broadcasting alive and well---as opposed to the rest of the radio dial) met and become acquainted and friendly with many interesting people because of the 3 (now 2) programs I do there----Sunday Simcha (you should listen--vud'nt hoit) , Traditions, and Tabletalk (I no longer do)   

Since the 2 mentioned first are still on you can find out about them---but Tabletalk---interesting story.   It came about with an interview I did many years ago and it did not fit Traditions.  Our Program Director (Barry Sheffield) said we have a free 1/2 hour let's put it there---and from that Tabletalk was born.  That program presented some wonderful interviews and discussions.  Frankly, modestly, I do believe it was on an equal level w/  that of the NPR and major networks.  Authors of books on LaGuardia, History of the VW, Cold Case Files, Israeli Ambassador (before) to the U N and more.    The press of scheduling and, frankly, finances made me leave that program.   The other problem was that it was, unfortunately, opposite NPR and its Sunday Morning ---Wknd Edition.   Tough spot.

I have been able to present some wonderful interviews on Traditions with some great artists.  Hopefully many people feel the same way.  Think of Clay Eals (Biographer of Steve Goodman), Author of a book on Gospel Music, Kate Campbell ( a real winner), Mary Gauthier (at the very start) and ever so many more.  Julie Gold about her music and, even more important, her life.

The nicest part is that, while we at WFDU are all volunteers I have made some truly interesting acquaintences---and also some friends that I truly appreciate

All that said let us always recall Doc Watson (we will on Traditions) and appreciate the joys of  friendship and acquaintences that are more real than a visit on Facebook.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Not Folk Music----Robert Caro's Latest Book

Not really book review time since who made me the maven of books other than myself.  The average reader.  Just a few thoughts about part of what I have, so far, read in Rob’t Caro’s great and epic new tome about LBJ.  The book is truly a “page turner” ---all 600 or so of them.  

Besides the focus, as the title implies, as the title implies, it also goes into great detail about incidents, issues, and events leading up to “the passage of power”.

At this point one thing just leaped out at me.   Robert Kennedy.   All that research done by Caro does bring much minutiae into focus.  While one has to truly admire his idealism and all his other virtues (whatever they may be) one thing always eluded me.  RFK’s position on McCarthy’s (Joe) committee.  So well explained here as is his truly honest belief in this demagogue.  Another thing so well told is his utter devotion to his father and his utter hatred of anyone who might criticize this (my words now) megalomaniac.

I had always thought that his appointment to that committee was a fluke and he would have disowned it.  Wrong.  He wanted to head it but Roy Cohn (of infamous note) could or would not be ousted.  According to Robert Caro and his reliable sources.

RFK’s vicious hatred of Hoffa and his vendetta regarding him ( all in the book) is fascinating and also enlightening about his persona.

While it is true that in later years I, as many others, saw this knight in shining armor even those knights have something that one has to wonder about.  

Reading this book one has to honestly respect JFK .  LBJ had flaws and so did JFK.  We all do. But, JFK’s were of a personal nature  and LBJ’s were more of a political bent.  

This is not a review, as said.  I do, however, urge you to read this most readable book (as all his books have been—going back to Robert Moses). It truly surpasses most thrillers of the day.

An aside now---Perhaps  I should not have given up doing Tabletalk --some great conversations with people (authors) of real interest.