Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw (born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky; May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004) was an American clarinetist, composer, and bandleader. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction.

Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists," Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Their signature song, a 1938 version of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine", was a wildly successful single[citation needed] and one of the era's defining recordings. Musically restless, Shaw was also an early proponent of Third Stream, which blended classical and jazz, and recorded some small-group sessions that flirted with be-bop before retiring from music in 1954.

Shaw was born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York City, the son of Sarah (née Strauss) and Harry Arshawsky, who worked as a dressmaker and photographer. His family was Jewish; his father was from Russia and his mother was from Austria. Shaw grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, where, according to his autobiography, his natural introversion was deepened by local antisemitism. Shaw began learning the saxophone when he was 13 years old, and by the age of 16, he switched to the clarinet and left home to tour with a band. Returning to New York, he became a session musician through the early 1930s. From 1925 until 1936, Shaw performed with many bands and orchestras; from 1926 to 1929, he worked in Cleveland and established a lasting reputation as music director and arranger for an orchestra led by the violinist Austin Wylie. In 1929 and 1930 he played with Irving Aaronson's Commanders, where he was exposed to symphonic music, which he would later incorporate in his arrangements.

Shaw first gained attention with his "Interlude in B-flat" at a swing concert at the Imperial Theater in New York in 1935. During the swing era, his big band was popular with hits like "Begin the Beguine" (1938), "Stardust" (with a trumpet solo by Billy Butterfield), "Back Bay Shuffle", "Moonglow", "Rosalie" and "Frenesi". The show was well-received but forced to dissolve in 1937 because the sound was not commercial. He was an innovator in the big band idiom, using unusual instrumentation; "Interlude in B-flat", where he was backed with only a rhythm section and a string quartet, was one of the earliest examples of what would be later dubbed third stream. His incorporating of stringed instruments could be attributed to the influence of classical composer Igor Stravinsky.

In addition to hiring Buddy Rich, he signed Billie Holiday as his band's vocalist in 1938, becoming the first white bandleader to hire a full-time black female singer to tour the segregated Southern US. However, after recording "Any Old Time" she left the band due to hostility from audiences in the South, as well as from music company executives who wanted a more "mainstream" singer. His band became enormously successful, and his playing was eventually recognized as equal to that of Benny Goodman: longtime Duke Ellington clarinetist Barney Bigard cited Shaw as his favorite clarinet player. In response to Goodman's nickname, the "King of Swing", Shaw's fans dubbed him the "King of the Clarinet." Shaw, however, felt the titles were reversed. "Benny Goodman played clarinet. I played music", he said. In 1938 DownBeat Magazine's readers agreed with Shaw's evaluation and named Artie Shaw as the King of Swing.

Shaw took himself seriously as an artist and valued experimental and innovative music rather than generic dance and love songs, despite an extremely successful career that sold more than 100 million records. He fused jazz with classical music by adding strings to his arrangements, experimented with bebop, and formed "chamber jazz" groups that utilized such novel sounds as harpsichords or Afro-Cuban music.

The long series of musical groups Shaw formed included such talents as vocalists Billie Holiday, Helen Forrest and, Mel Tormé; drummers Buddy Rich and Dave Tough, guitarists Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney, and Tal Farlow and trombonist-arranger Ray Conniff, among countless others. He composed the morose "Nightmare", with its Hassidic nuances, for his personal theme, rather than more accessible songs. In a televised interview of the 1970s, Shaw derided the often "asinine" songs that bands were compelled to play night after night. In 1994, he told Frank Prial (The New York Times), "I thought that because I was Artie Shaw I could do what I wanted, but all they wanted was 'Begin the Beguine.'"

During World War II, Shaw enlisted in the United States Navy and later formed a band, which served in the Pacific theater (just as Glenn Miller's wartime band served in Europe). After 18 months playing for Navy personnel (sometimes as many as four concerts a day in battle zones, including Guadalcanal), Shaw returned to the U.S. in a state of physical exhaustion, receiving a medical discharge. Following the war, the popularity of big bands declined as crooners and bebop came to dominate the charts. In the late 1940s, Shaw performed classical music at Carnegie Hall and with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein.

His last prewar band, organized in September 1941, included Hot Lips Page, Max Kaminsky, Georgie Auld, and Guarnieri.

Like his main rival, Benny Goodman, and other leaders of big bands, Shaw fashioned a small group from within the band. He named it the Gramercy Five after his home telephone exchange. Band pianist Johnny Guarneri played a harpsichord on the quintet recordings and Al Hendrickson played an electric guitar, which was unusual in jazz recordings of the time. Trumpeter Roy Eldridge later became part of the group, succeeding Billy Butterfield. The Gramercy Five's biggest hit was "Summit Ridge Drive". A CD of The Complete Gramercy Five sessions was released in 1990.

Throughout his career, Shaw would take sabbaticals from the music business. This included studying advanced mathematics, as cited in Karl Sabbagh's The Riemann Hypothesis. His first interregnum, at the height of his success, was met with disbelief by booking agents. They predicted that Shaw would not only be abandoning a million-dollar enterprise but that nightclub and theater owners would sue him for breach of contract. Shaw's offhand response was, "Tell 'em I'm insane. A nice, young American boy walking away from a million dollars, wouldn't you call that insane?"

In 1954, Shaw stopped playing the clarinet, citing his own perfectionism, which, he later said, would have killed him. He explained to a reporter, "In the world we live in, compulsive perfectionists finish last. You have to be Lawrence Welk, or, on another level, Irving Berlin, and write the same kind of music over and over again. I'm not able to do that." and "I have taken the clarinet as far as anyone can possibly go. To continue playing would be a disservice." He spent the rest of the 1950s living in Europe.

In 1981, he organized a new Artie Shaw Band with clarinetist Dick Johnson as bandleader and soloist. Shaw himself guest conducted from time to time, ending his self-imposed retirement.

After Canadian filmmaker Brigitte Berman interviewed Shaw, Hoagy Carmichael, Doc Cheatham and others for her documentary film Bix: Ain't None of Them Play Like Him Yet (1981) about Bix Beiderbecke, she went on to create an Academy Award-winning documentary, Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got (1985), featuring her interviews with Shaw, Buddy Rich, Mel Tormé, Helen Forrest and others. Later in 2003, along with members of his original bands and other music professionals, Shaw was extensively interviewed by Russell Davies for the BBC Television documentary, Artie Shaw — Quest for Perfection, which became his last major interview.

In 1991, Artie Shaw's band library and manuscript collection was donated to the University of Arizona. In 2004, he was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

A self-proclaimed "very difficult man," Shaw was married eight times: Jane Cairns (1932–33, annulled); Margaret Allen (1934–37, divorced); actress Lana Turner (1940, divorced); Betty Kern, the daughter of songwriter Jerome Kern (1942–43, divorced); actress Ava Gardner (1945–46, divorced); Forever Amber author Kathleen Winsor (1946–48, annulled); actress Doris Dowling (1952–56, divorced); and actress Evelyn Keyes (1957–85, divorced). He had one son, Steven Kern, with Betty Kern, and another son, Jonathan Shaw, with Doris Dowling. Both Lana Turner and Ava Gardner later described Shaw as being extremely emotionally abusive. His controlling nature and incessant verbal abuse in fact drove Turner to have a nervous breakdown, soon after which she divorced him. Shaw even briefly dated actress Judy Garland in 1940.

In 1946, Shaw was present at a meeting of the Independent Citizens' Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions. Olivia de Havilland and Ronald Reagan, part of a core group of actors and artists who were trying to sway the organization away from communism, presented an anti-communist declaration which, if signed, was to run in newspapers. There was bedlam as many rose to champion the communist cause, and Artie Shaw began praising the democratic standards of the Soviet constitution. In 1953, Shaw was forced to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist activities. The committee was investigating a peace activist organization, the World Peace Congress, which it considered a communist front.

He was a precision marksman, ranking fourth in the United States in 1962, as well as an expert fly fisherman. In his later years, Shaw lived and wrote in the Newbury Park section of Thousand Oaks, California. He died on December 30, 2004 at the age of 94. According to his publicist, he had been "in ill health for some time, but I don't know the specific cause of death." In fact, Shaw had long been suffering from diabetes. In 2005, Shaw's eighth wife, Evelyn Keyes sued Shaw's estate, claiming that she was entitled to one-half of Shaw's estate pursuant to a contract to make a will between them. In July 2006, a Ventura, California jury unanimously held that Keyes was entitled to almost one-half of Shaw's estate, or $1,420,000.

Shaw did many big band remotes, and he was often heard from the Blue Room of New York's Hotel Lincoln. It was the location of his only regular radio series as headliner. Sponsored by Old Gold cigarettes, Shaw broadcast on CBS from November 20, 1938 until November 14, 1939.

Artie w/wife Lana Turner.
At the height of his popularity, Shaw reportedly earned $60,000 per week. For a comparison, George Burns and Gracie Allen were each making US $5,000 per week during the year the Artie Shaw Orchestra provided the music for their radio show. He also acted on the show as a love interest for Gracie Allen. I only bring this up because my brother-in-law is impressed with how much people earn.

Shaw made several musical shorts in 1939 for Vitaphone and Paramount Pictures. He portrayed himself in the Fred Astaire film, Second Chorus (1940), which featured Shaw and his orchestra playing "Concerto for Clarinet." The film brought him two Oscar nominations, one for Best Score and one for Best Song ("Love of My Life"). He collaborated on the love song "If It's You" sung by Tony Martin in the Marx Brothers' film, The Big Store (1941). In 1950 he was a mystery guest on What's My Line?, and during the 1970s he made appearances on The Mike Douglas Show and The Tonight Show.

Many of his recordings have been used in motion pictures. His recording of "Stardust" was used in its entirety in the closing credits of the film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Martin Scorsese also used the Shaw theme song, "Nightmare", in his Academy Award-winning Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator.

He credited his time in the Navy as a period of renewed introspection. He entered psychoanalysis and began to pursue a writing career. His autobiography, The Trouble With Cinderella: An Outline of Identity, was published in 1952 (with later reprint editions in 1992 and 2001). Revealing downbeat elements of the music business, Shaw explained that "the trouble with Cinderella" is "nobody ever lives happily ever after." He turned to semi-autobiographical fiction with the three short novels in I Love You, I Hate You, Drop Dead! (1965, reprinted in 1997), which prompted Terry Southern's comment: "Here is a deeply probing examination of the American marital scene. I flipped over it!" Shaw's short stories, including "Snow White in Harlem," were collected in The Best of Intentions and Other Stories (1989). He worked for years on his 1000-page autobiographical novel, The Education of Albie Snow, but the three-volume work remains unpublished. Currently, through Curtis International Associates, the Artie Shaw Orchestra is still active.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Sunday Edition (.006)

“If something is going to happen to me, I want to be there.” -- Albert Camus, The Stranger

This is the 6th edition of the NTD Sunday Edition. Please enjoy all the news that's fit to print and some that isn't.

• I saw where a guy from Wise County was convicted of murder and other crimes and I remembered once when he was a high school teen, he went berserk and went after somebody in the school cafeteria. I stopped him. I put him down nice and easy and even padded the back of his noggin so when he hit the floor he didn't crack his skull. True story. I may have prevented a mass execution. And what am I having for dinner tonight? Beans! Anyway, I wish that young man had turned out differently. When I had him pinned on the floor, I told him to take it easy. Apparently he did not take my advice. Like so many others, he was just naturally pissed off about his station in life. I know it's not an excuse.

• President Obama came into office seven years ago pledging to end the wars of his predecessor, George W. Bush. On May 6, with eight months left before he vacates the White House, Mr. Obama passed a somber, little-noticed milestone: He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president.

If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama’s term — a near-certainty given the president’s recent announcement that he will send 250 additional Special Operations forces to Syria — he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.

Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and spent his years in the White House trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate, would have a longer tour of duty as a wartime president than Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon or his hero Abraham Lincoln.

• The US Senate has agreed to pass a bill allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Huh? Didn't bin Laden do it from a cave in Afghanistan?

The bill would allow victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil or surviving family members to bring lawsuits against nation-states for activities supporting terrorism. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill. Saudi officials reportedly threatened to sell off billions of dollars in U.S. assets if Congress passed the bill.

• The time is right. Rocky Horror is coming to the small screen. 

• I am off Facebook completely. Not only have I shut down my author account, but I've shut down my personal account and my half-dozen bogus accounts, including splendora79, bigbosshoss44, savedbyscreech, hackyou, googlethis, and my Indian name, fartnomoreforever. Now if I could just figure out how to avoid Google.

• Portland school board bans climate change-denying materials -- Environmental groups in the great northwest say the science is clear, so textbooks should be too.

In a move spearheaded by environmentalists, the Portland People's Republic Schools board unanimously approved a resolution aimed at eliminating doubt of climate change and its causes in schools.

“It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis,” said Lincoln High School student Gaby Lemieux in board testimony. “Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.”

The resolution passed Tuesday evening calls for the school district to get rid of textbooks or other materials that cast doubt on whether climate change is occurring and that the activity of human beings is responsible. The resolution also directs the superintendent and staff to develop an implementation plan for “curriculum and educational opportunities that address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.”

• Moving on to more important matters, the Target Bathroom Policy continues to hold the nation in suspense. As retailer Target sees its stock plummeting and sales dropping in the midst of a boycott over its recently announced pro-transgender bathroom policy, the company’s CEO is insisting the weather is the cause of falling sales, not the company’s bathroom policy.

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Target CEO Brian Cornell pegged the downturn in the company’s fortunes to the cold weather as opposed to anything the company itself is doing or not doing.

“It’s been a very wet and cold start to the year and it’s reflected in our sales,” Cornell told the paper. “We haven’t seen anything from a structural standpoint that gives us pause.”

In other words, the weather is responsible for the downturn, not Target’s “structural” transgender bathroom policy.

Indeed, a month after the initial announcement, the Target CEO came out to double down on the transgender agenda, so it appears the company is digging in heels instead of looking for ways at appeal to customers.

"Well? Are you?"
Still, Cornell’s weather assessment does not quite tally with other reports stating Target has taken a major hit since it announced its transgender policy.

Granted, most retailers have been down over the first quarter and the start of the second quarter this year. But Target has been on a downward trend exceeding the fall of its competitors. Target, for instance, says it will post a $1 to a $1.20 adjusted earnings per share, which is well below the $1.38 analysts expected. Further, at 1.2 percent, the company’s sales are below the 1.5 to 2.5 percent annual target it had hoped to realize. With the tumble, Target warned that its sales might be flat by the end of the second quarter.

A closer examination, however, shows that sales and the company’s reputation have taken a particular hit since its April 19 pro-transgender bathroom announcement, a decision that sponsored a major boycott movement that earned 1.2 million supporters in only a week’s time.

A recent Business Insider article noted that Target’s reputation has tumbled six points among consumers in the last several months. In the months prior to the bathroom policy announcement, 42 percent of consumers said they would shop at the department store chain. But in the month following the bathroom policy announcement, the number dropped to 36 percent.

The reports also found that consumer perception of the Target brand is at its lowest in two years.

Whatever the cause of the drop, since April 19, Target has lost nearly $6 billion in stock values.

Blue Moon
• We are treated with the occurrence of a Blue Moon which happens, you guessed it, only occasionally. And it’s happening this weekend.

In fact, Saturday (last night) and Sunday will offer a dual opportunity for stargazers to get excited because aside from the infrequent Blue Moon Saturday evening there will also be some high-jinks from Mars on Sunday evening.

Mars will be in opposition, meaning the Earth will be passing directly between Mars and the sun. That could make Mars brighter than any star or planet in the night sky.

If you watch the southeastern part of the sky Saturday night you might be able to see the shining Blue Moon while the Red Planet also beams a bright rusty-orange glow at the same time. Mars will be bright for the next couple of months.

The last Blue Moon happened in July of 2015. The next one won’t happen until January of 2018. Traditionally, a Blue Moon is what people called an extra moon in a season.

Seasons typically only see three full moons, making 12 full moons in a calendar year. The fourth full moon in a season and 13ths for a year is rare.

A warning: A Blue Moon is not actually blue. It is mostly bright white but can take on a bluish hue depending on the season and conditions.

• Hey! There was a reported shooting at the White House. No pics, no video, just take their word for it. Do I think it happened? Nope. Likely another staged incident. Nothing to get excited about.

• This green stone bracelet was discovered in 2008, and after a detailed analysis, scientists concluded that its age is 40.000 years! This might not only be the oldest piece of this kind of jewelry we know of but one of the oldest, if not the oldest artifact that required the use of tools.

The bracelet was found in the Denisova cave located in Siberia’s Altai mountains. The mountains got their name from a hermit Dennis (Dionisij) who lived there in the 18th century. The first findings were made during the 1970’s and consequently led to more excavations. At the moment, there are 22 layers in the cave that are being researched, strata that cover the period of time from the 18th century AD to 120.000 – 180.000 BC.

• Joe Biden is like low-hanging fruit. He's just too easy. But here we go anyway: Vice President Joe Biden told the U.S. Military Academy's class of 2016 on Saturday that greater diversity, including more women and openly gay soldiers, will strengthen the country's armed forces.

"What the... !?$"
More than 950 cadets received their degrees and commissions as second lieutenants. Among them were the first seven women to be commissioned into combat divisions since combat restrictions for them were lifted.

The vice president saluted class president Eugene "E.J." Coleman for publicly coming out as gay.

Wow. West Point 2016.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Truth Is What The Government Says It Is

Americans are hopelessly separated from one another by differences between race, sex, education, class, intelligence, talent, morality, and so on. It's true. It's a deliberate fragmentation of our society by the globalists, or the socialists, if you prefer. Labels, being what they are, help us to define and, yes, even to discriminate over what is not preferable to ourselves. We were warned about the communists. They even told us what they were going to do. And yet, we allowed it all to happen.

For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to live under communism, allow me to enlighten you. Under communism, misery is spread around and shared -- no one has to be miserable alone. If you're a minority communist, then you will be placed in a position where you can lord over white people, most likely in some low level bureaucratic job that'll pay just enough to cover your union fees each month.

Under communism, you won't have to worry so much about getting shot in an armed robbery because guns will be banned from the civilian population. We wouldn't want voters hurting themselves now, would we?

Also under communism, everyone will be equal, except those who rule. They need extra political clout and limousines and fine cigars, so we'll make sure they live in situations that will cause the common people to admire and respect their position. Heck, they're practically gods anyway, so why shouldn't we treat them as such? Makes sense to me and Nancy Pelosi.

Communism also gets rid of lies. That's right, that pesky free speech clause is gone under communism and people can no longer make up lies about the government or about man-made climate change. Listen to me: the government is good and people are soylent green! Ha ha, free speech is stupid and Shakespeare should have been arrested and hung for being a white devil!

Under communism, the government is going to give you a job so you don't have to worry about going hungry or without a roof over your head. You also don't have to worry about thinking for yourself. The government is going to do that for you. It's going to be utopia!

You can go to church if you want, but we aren't going to encourage it. Eventually, we plan on phasing out religion altogether.

Welcome to the new world order where truth is what the government says it is and if you don't work for the government, why, what good are you? We may be fragmented and we may all hate one another due to racism but forget about all that because we're communists now, comrade, and the only thing that matters is the success of the glorious state! I've got a tingle running down my leg!