Tuesday, November 6, 2012

States of Swing

Don't Be That Way: Back in the good old days, when Abq Jew was growing up (as much as he did), voting was considered a mitzvah d'Oraita - a commandment straight from the Torah.

Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory, however, were not unequivocal about the matter. And Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) points out the degree of the Rabbis' uncertainty about dealing with the government.

On one hand:
[Rabban Gamaliel the son of Rabbi Judah the Prince said:] Be careful in your relations with the government; for they draw no man close to themselves except for their own interests. They appear as friends when it is to their advantage, but they do not stand by a man in his time of need.(Pirke Avot 2:3)
But on the other hand:
Rabbi Chanina, an assistant of the High Priest said: Pray for the welfare of the government, since but for fear of it men would swallow each other alive. (Pirke Avot 3:2)
Both of these statements - both of these viewpoints - are, Abq Jew fears, true. Yet, as F. Scott Fitzgerald informs us:
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
From which we may deduce that either: a) Abq Jew's intelligence is first-rate; or b) these two ideas are not opposed; or c) Abq Jew has lost the ability to function.

And by the way - it is now considered correct to use "either" as "one of many", and not only as "one of two", although Fowler (A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Second Edition; avoid recent editions like the plague) considers this "loose".

And split infinitives? Fowler (Second Edition again) says:
The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; and (5) those who know and distinguish. . . . Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, and are a happy folk, to be envied by the minority classes.
But back to voting. Here we are in America, the Goldene Medina, where the voices of Sarah Silverman and other prominent Jewish thinkers call out to American Jews and Jewish Americans alike to get out and vote.

Abq Jew stands with Sarah Silverman, although he tries not to stand too close. It is important for New Mexican Jews and Jewish New Mexicans to vote. In fact, New Mexico voters are so important to both presidential campaigns that both President Obama and Governor Romney have flown right over us, on their way to those undecided Swing States whose votes and voters matter to the Electoral College Bowl.

Ah, Swing States. States that Swing, States that Sing. Entire States where Swing is King. Which brings us to Benny Goodman, the King of Swing. Wikipedia tells us:
Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader; widely known as the "King of Swing".

In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America. His January 16, 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music."
Yes, we are approaching the 75th anniversary of that blessed event. Says Wikipedia about the recording thereof:
The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert by Benny Goodman, Columbia Records catalogue item SL-160, was first issued in 1950. It was one of the first records of Benny Goodman music issued on the new long-playing format, and one of the first to sell over a million copies. A landmark recording, it was the premiere performance given by a jazz orchestra in the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City. It is the first ever double album. This album was also sold in a set of nine 45 rpm records in the same year by Columbia.
And Fred Kaplan states in his eMusic Review:
This is the one that started it all, that pushed jazz into the concert hall (Carnegie, no less) and proved jazz could be high art and dance music, too. But its virtues aren't merely historical — this thing cooks like crazy. It's the high water mark of the swing era. From the opening number, "Don't Be That Way," when Gene Krupa takes his wowza drum break, Harry James comes roaring in with his crystal trumpet solo and the whole big band picks up its pace, you'll be sold. There's lots of pops and clicks, and they do get in the way, but the joy shines through.
We'll be hearing a lot about Swing States all day today, and maybe all night until past Count Basie's One O'Clock Jump. And then, Abq Jew fervently hopes, not for a long, long time. So sit back and enjoy!

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