Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday. When I was a kid (raised Methodist) we used to call it Shrove Tuesday. In Great Britain, it is a day to consume pancakes. We used to consume donuts. I rather liked having a reason to consume donuts. The word "shrove" is derived from "shrive", which refers to a confession of sins, a sort of summing up if you will, for the purpose of repentance and seeking the help of the Almighty to obtain Absolution for your sins. In the case of Shrove Tuesday, one seeks absolution starting the next day (Ash Wednesday). On Fat Tuesday, one parties, joins the greater Mardi Gras Carnivale, gorges on fattening foods, and marvels at the convenience and poetry of the human situation.

With Carnivale crossing my mind, I thought I'd wander over to You Tube and see if any clips were available from "Orfeu Negro", a.k.a. "Black Orpheus". It's the ancient story of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in Rio during Carnivale. The bossa nova score is by Luiz Bonfá and Antônio Carlos Jobim. The film's attitudes towards the poor blacks of Rio are no longer acceptable to many, and I doubt that the film gets many showings now. Perhaps that is why, instead of film clips, the entire movie is available on YouTube - for Free! One used to spend years trying to see a movie like this, waiting for a screening at a revival house in the big city, or going to a museum, or an arts group showing a worn 16mm print. Now it is available at a click. (And, when there is commercial potential left, a fee.) It is unfortunate that today's films buffs will rarely get a chance to see movies like this on a big screen. But still.... Black Orpheus, for free.

Today is Presidential Primary Day in New Hampshire, the first actual vote by the great unwashed masses for this season. New Hampshire is a mostly white state that bears little resemblance to most of the country. Unlike, say, the just held Iowa caucus, in a mostly white state that bears little resemblance to the rest of the country. After today there will hopefully be a respite from the incessant commercials for those campaigning for the nomination. I live in a state which borders New Hampshire. We've been inundated with these advertisements for months. Both political parties, their supporters, their shady secret Political Action Committees, their candidates, the media, and the general populace will have plenty to repent tomorrow. Sadly, this Carnival simply picks up and moves elsewhere for a bit, before moving on again.

It's been a pretty shameful show this time around. Of course, endless campaigning means endless ad revenue to the media, which is now presenting the contest to select the leader of the country as something akin to the reality game shows which pervade broadcast and cable television. It's a constant onslaught of "who insulted whom, who's winning" reporting, presented in the style of a Facebookland Twitterverse of the nasty and belligerent scripted and rehearsed quote. The media companies are supposed to be impartial in their reporting, but that school closed a long time ago. It isn't difficult to figure out which candidates the corporate conglomerates are backing if one pays attention. One must remember, however, that to the media, this is still show business. Here's the Governor of one state, acting very much like the schoolyard bully he is by most accounts. Here's the Governor of another state, scion of a political family with two Presidents already in the till, who is doing so badly in the polls he has called in his 90 year old mother to shill for votes as she pushes forward with her walker - in the snow. I could go on and address some of the real issues, but that proves ultimately (and extremely) disheartening. Reality seems to have little to do with it anymore.


Most of my radio show this past Saturday (February 6th) was spent visiting the airwaves and jukeboxes of late January to early February 1945. Frank Lowry, known for his whistling abilities, showed up a couple of times. The finale was a February 6th, 1945 broadcast with Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra. As always, I hope any listeners enjoy the show.