CONCERT REVIEW: MARTHA ARGERICH, CHARLES DUTOIT & THE RUSSIAN CLASSICAL MASTERS (10/5/08) The passions of Argerich and Dutoit seemed to be drawn from different hemispheres. Indeed. Argerich is Argentine-born and a resident of
BOOK REVIEW: 'THE OPEN ROAD: THE GLOBAL JOURNEY OF THE FOURTEENTH DALAI LAMA' (9/17/08) Tibet is a land rich not just in history, but also in irony. "The Roof of the World" holds a special place in the popular imagination because of the movie Shangri-La and other gauzy Hollywood treatments, as well as one individual, the Dalai Lama. But those celluloid depictions are fawningly unrealistic, while the Dalai Lama is typically reduced to a caricature. LINK.
BOOK REVIEW: "TWILIGHT AT MONTICELLO' & JEFFERSON'S PARADOXICAL VIEWS ON SLAVERY (6/27/08) Befitting the life of the great man himself, his Monticello seems much larger on the inside. It also is full of hidden passageways, secret chambers and other surprises. Indeed, if you like your dead presidents simple, then Jefferson is not your man. LINK.
BALLET DEBUT REVIEW: MARK MORRIS'S 'ROMEO & JULIET, MOTIFS OF SHAKESPEARE (7/8/08) As oft danced as Serge Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet has been over the last 70 years, the great Soviet composer's original score and all of the original accompanying dances have never been performed. Yes, never, and therein lies a tale. LINK.
JONI MITCHELL: AN APPRECIATION (6/1/08) Being young is to love Joni's music. Growing older is to understand why you do. She also taught me a most valuable and lasting lesson not just about her but all musicians. LINK.
PYNCHON'S 'MASON & DIXON,' AN 18th CENTURY MUSING ON ALL THINGS (5/18/08) A pun-filled send up on the clockwork-like machinations of and metaphysical musings on the universe disguised as an 18th century novel. Or at least I think it is. LINK.
A BAKER'S DOZEN: BEST BOOKS ON VIETNAM (5/3/08) Must reads for any serious student of the Vietnam War, ranging from a Bernard Fall classic published on the eve of the disastrous American build-up to the definitive Pentagon history of the war to a book on the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia to three fictional accounts. LINK.
THE ENDURING MYSTERY OF THE ANASAZI (4/14/08) Except for the distant cry of a raven, there were only the sounds of my children, a friend and I peeling and munching on orange slices. It was noontime and we were squatting under the cottonwoods in a ravine beneath The Castle, an exquisitely constructed silo-like structure of sandstone at Hovenweep, a cluster of Anasazi ruins. LINK.
OLIVER SACKS' 'MUSICOPHILIA' (3/30/08) It is a testament to the complexity of the brain that despite decades of research we still have relatively little understanding of why many of us enjoy music so deeply. LINK.
JACK KEROUAC: AN APPRECIATION (3/12/08) Kerouac had many of the ingredients that make up the tortured artistic soul. That is obvious from the body of his work, some 25 or so novels and other books in all, but does not explain why his prolific but relatively short life produced a mere handful of books that arguably are worth reading today. LINK.
GRAM PARSONS: COSMICALLY TRAGIC MUSICAL TROUBADOR (2/8/08) I had the opportunity to listen to a lot of the music that influenced this legendary singer-songwriter. That made my respect for Parsons the music innovator all the deeper and my contempt for Parsons the friendship-abusing junkie all the deeper. LINK.
BOOK REVIEW: 'LEGACY OF ASHES' (1/11/08) Although it may not be the best metaphor, if the Central Intelligence Agency had been a baseball team over the last 60 years, its record would be something like 5 wins and 95 loses in big games. Yes, the CIA has been that bad. LINK.
BILL GRAHAM: AN APPRECIATION (1/8/08) The concert impresario was known for three things: Foul language, picking up trash wherever he encountered it, and a deep and abiding love of music -- if not necessarily musicians -- that he parlayed into what is without question the most extraordinary run of concerts in rock 'n' roll history. LINK.
THE SUMMER OF LOVE RECONSIDERED (6/9/07) It has been 40 years since the Summer of Love and those unlovable right-wingnut Republicans, led by their knuckle-dragging shoot em' up poster boy, are waging class warfare anew against a favorite target. But is it possible that Ted Nugent has a point? LINK.
BALLET REVIEW: 'THE SLEEPING BEAUTY' (6/7/07) While this version of Sleeping Beauty is recognizable to anyone familiar with the oft-told fairy tale, it is a radical departure in some respects, which begs the question as to whether it will stand the test of finicky critics and balletomanes who usually like their classics served straight up. LINK.
NEIL YOUNG'S 'LIVE AT MASSEY HALL' (4/11/07) Once in a while an album comes along by a favorite musician that is like listening to him for the first time all over again. LINK.
THE WORST MOVIES OF ALL TIME (5/22/06) Rabid grandmothers, giant snakes, hot rod pursuing ghosts and just about anything from outer space tends to provoke laughs rather than screams. Besides which, cinematic elitist zombies like myself need to have movies to look down on. LINK.
REBIRTH OF A LEGEND: THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH (12/3/05) What set this concert apart was that Harrison and Shankar recognized that musicians have responsibilities beyond performing and selling albums, and they acted on those responsibilities. LINK.