Tuesday, June 19, 2018

20 Day Music Challenge -Day Seven --John Hiatt

Peter Huston
June 16 at 11:43am ·
Day seven of the 20 day music challenge. John Hiatt, another skilled songwriter who does some singing of his own. Although this is not one of his best known songs it is very funny.


Let's start with a few of his big songs:















Here's a couple of his lesser known gems.









And here's one he wrote, sung by Rosanne Cash (another great talent both as a singer and song-writer)

Bonnie Raitt, another great talent herself, sings John Hiatt:



Monday, June 18, 2018

20 day music challenge -Day Six -- Celtic Rock

Celtic Rock (mostly) from the Eastern Canadian Seaboard. This was a big thing in the last 1990s and around the changing of the Centuries, not just in Canada but also in my life. 

Ashley MacIsaac, traditionally trained Celtic fiddlist, playing with Mary Jane Lamond singing.


Capercaillie -Beautiful Wasteland (Actually I think they are from Scotland, not Canada.) 


Leahy --Call to Dance 



There's a lot more I could share. Comment and perhaps I will. Better yet, feel free to add one of your own favorites from the genre. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

20 Day Music Challenge -Day 5- Michelle Shocked

Day Five of the Music Challenge.  (Thanks Hex'm Jai )

Today I choose Michelle Shocked, a very talented writer and singer whose music I have enjoyed but whose career seems to have been marked by tragic attempts at self-sabotage and visible problems with mental health. Still, Anchorage and this one, as well as many others, were great songs.

Taken from http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sonoma/08.22.02/shocked-0234.html
No copyright infringment intended.


Which is kind of interesting because there is also a lot there to like and be excited about and a lot of interesting stories about activism and personal attitude. (She reportedly told the record company that first tried to sign her that their offer was too much and wouldn't it be better if they gave her about a third of the amount offered and gave the other two thirds to two other deserving, struggling musicians.

Her politics are an interesting mix of left wing activism fueled by Biblical literalism (yes, she's a fundamentalist Christian with extreme progressive politics. Remember the part in there about Jesus hanging out and making friends with prostitutes,healing the sick, helping the needy, washing the feet of lepers, and chasing money lenders out of the temple? The parts America needs to think about more? She takes those parts seriously.)

Unfortunately, this manifests itself in ways that are inconvenient to her fans. Like right now, when I can't just link to youtube to share her songs. Instead you've got to go to Vimeo and watch them there. But I recommend you do. It will be worth it.

May '92 "Come a Long Way" single hits Billboard Top 100 from Michelle Shocked on Vimeo.
https://vimeo.com/99293685

I used to show this one a lot while setting up for my classes at Fudan University in Shanghai.


Sep '88 "Anchorage" hits Billboard Top 100 from Michelle Shocked on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/99288663This one's a classic. 


Saturday, June 16, 2018

20 Day Music Challenge --Day Four -- Blondie

I don't think anyone can really understand me without having some understanding of the Punk movement of the late '70s and early '80s. Talking Heads, Ramones, Blondie, et all, were so (in hindsight at least) so cheerfully shocking, so delightfully anarchistic, like Mickey Mouse on meth waving a molotov cocktail. Their DIY attitude and the firmly entrenched belief that attitude and enthusiasm can replace talent and change the world any day. To this day I know that if I walk into someone's place and see  "Please Kill Me! -The Uncensored History of Punk Rock" by Legs McNeil  on the shelf I know I've found a new friend. And it doesn't hurt to mention that in high school, Debbie Harry was in my mind the coolest woman anywhere in the world ever.



Early Blondie, the first two albums, was a much sillier band than the later albums indicated. They had a change of management and drummers. For instance,


Or this:





But, of course, there were the hits, major hits on a global scale. Almost everyone has heard this.


And this:





Interestingly, not only was Debbie Harry the lead singer and a driving force behind the group, Blondie (yes, Blondie was a group, not an individual) but she was also an important person in bringing rap and hip-hop to the mainstream and into the consciousness of most Americans. This song, Rapture, was the first rap song most Americans had ever heard.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Violence Dynamics -Boston --rambling thoughts on Schenectady, seminars, and street life

This is another blog post on the Violence Dynamics -Boston seminar I attended in late May, 2018. As stated the more I post on it, the easier it will be to justify it as a business expense on the taxes -particularly if I say repeatedly "BUY MY BOOKS!!!"


An excellent book
by Rory Miller,
one of the instructors
A few weeks ago, I attended an event in the Boston area called "Violence Dynamics -Boston." Since then my mind has been full of interesting ideas.

The purpose of Violence Dynamics was to teach people about violence. The attendees paid a lot of money to be there. They left satisfied. There were a variety of topics taught. The instructors were flown in from around the country and one from Canada. There are similar events around the country and the world. (As I write, the instructors are preparing for an event of this type in Bulgaria.)

I know a lot about violence. Okay, "a lot" is a relative term. "More than average" --let's just say I've had many positions over the years where my duties consisted of either dealing with real violence, preventing violence, dealing with or preventing or reducing the likelihood of violence, or simply cleaning up the mess after other people committed violence, and, more than once, when violence has
an Upstate New York
post-industrial, semi-
civilized lifeform
erupted at a social event people have looked to me as someone who they thought should go and deal with it. Usually I have. 

 I know something about violence and related subjects, so I went, watched, tried to figure the thing out and who the instructors were and what they know and don't know and the most interesting thing to me was the presentation on pre-attack indicators and the practice session on how to deal with street people. Do I know anything about street people? A bit. I am after all from Schenectady and lived downtown for many years.

Are there lots of strange street people in Schenectady? Well, let me offer a pair of videos to illustrate life in downtown Schenectady. First, a random encounter with a street person at a coffee house in downtown Schenectady.



So there we have it. A slice of life in Schenectady. I miss Schenectady sometimes. I left. I know why I left and it was good that I left. I moved to Ithaca, It was too clean for me, a bit like a park full of college students. Ultimately, I wound up in Albany with a few years in Shanghai and Boston in the middle. I can now visit Schenectady any time I wish. But I usually don't. Yeah lots of street people in Schenectady. So, how do we deal with it and them? Kind of like this.



Simple, we give them their own TV show on the Public Access TV. Yeah, it's a Schenectady thing. It makes sense to us.  The Unreal Variety Show -Schenectady Public Access Enjoy. Check it out. Maybe you can turn any lessons learned into part of a street survival seminar.

I mean I'd never thought of any of this, any of these life lessons learned, as a saleable skill that people would pay money to learn. But, not just apparently, but provably, (Randy King was flown from Alberta, Canada to teach this. And I'm sure with a bit of thought and imagination (and sleep) I could create a better one. ( Randy King and I are both contributors to this fine book: Beyond the Picket Fence  He wrote about what it's like to date "bad asses" like himself. Really. I wrote about how to adapt to life in Taiwan. I read the whole book. He told me he didn't. Randy King, like Rayford Faulkner, has a youtube channel but I don't think he has a TV show, at least not in Schenectady on public access.)



So I've been toying with ideas here. To some extent, like so much in society, teaching something like this is marketing, creating an image. (Which reminds me, does anyone know if Tammy Yard McCracken's PhD in Holistic Psychology is accredited? Does anyone know if the Eisner Institute, the on-line school it came from, is accredited? It's important to research these things as trauma counselors are notorious for exaggerating their credentials and making statements and pronouncements about things outside their area of expertise. It's endemic to the field.) Not only that, at an event like this one only needs to teach on a subject for an hour or two per subject, cascading through them, on a whirlwind presentation for a few days. (I recently got an invite to a very interesting traditional martial arts seminar --I'd rather not say which one in this context-- where a prominent practitioner of that art will be teaching for the day. --the cost, $150 dollars for four hours from 10am to 2pm. I am dying to know if there will be a break for lunch. I don't plan to attend at that price but I am 100% confident that many will and will not just leave satisfied but prize their experience.)

And speaking as an adult educator, who has taught at multiple colleges and universities including some whose names people would recognize, I not only have spent more than an hour or two teaching subjects I know little about. I've done it at prestigious places, on orders, and left the students and attendees feeling satisfied and pleased. For better or worse, it's part of the job, part of life, and part of society. (You can check out this book on the left and read my review of it on Amazon.com It's quite good.)

But this has me wondering, would anyone consider flying Rayford Faulkner, the legend, across the continent to teach seminars at over a hundred dollars a day per person on his unique approach to life and how to either embrace or avoid his understanding of life?
Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
A book on violence, not a very
good one. Shown for no reason. 
Always check credentials.


I remember years ago, I had a job working security in the Albany subsidized housing --a job that I promise was much less dramatic and dangerous and courageous than it sounds. Mostly what I did was hang out with the residents of the subsidized housing and make sure the front door on their building stayed shut. The residents supported keeping the door shut because if it was left open crack-whores (er . . . should I say "chemically addicted people who work in the sex industry"? No, too long. Crack-whores will work just fine. Besides it was the term in common usage at that time and place.) Most of what I did was hang out by the door at a table and talk to the people who lived there.

They had interesting experiences. Their lives were very different from mine. Many were recovering drug addicts. Recovering drug addicts, whatever else one can say about them, often tell great stories.

One day one of them who I considered a friend told me about how one can find a crack house and a source of crack in a new environment. It was interesting. I've never actually tried the technique out --after all, I've never needed crack or thought it was something I'd wish to try. I've got enough bad habits and don't need to add to them.

On the other hand, I have bragged to a lot of my friends that I do, in fact, know how to find a crack house in an urban environment. And this, by itself, combined with my experience at the Violence Dynamics seminar in Boston, has made me realize that this is, in fact, a saleable skill. Somewhere, some place, there are people who will pay a great deal of money to learn how to find crack houses. And most of them have no need to know this knowledge and no desire to find crack. They just wish to be able to say they know how to do this and would be willing to pay money to learn it.

Which has me wondering, could I, should I package this? Might I find a drug addict or two or three (and perhaps buy them an unaccredited PhD in psychology to boost their standing among people who don't check credentials?) and then arrange to fly them around the country, continent, or even to Bulgaria to teach people with good dental plans skills they don't need to know but would like to know if for no reason except that it's something that people like themselves usually don't know? Really, this would work. A couple years ago, I attended a one day workshop seminar on human trafficking held here in Schenectady (another field, by the way, where it is very important to check credentials among trauma therapist types. --they lie like rugs and when they try to tell the truth they often use bad statistics.) And among the presenters was an ex-teenage prostitute, now an adult, presenting for an hour and a half. She did this regularly and she seemed to be enjoying herself and quite proud of her new status as an expert. You could see it by the way she held her head and body language.

So . . . I confess, although my background includes many interesting jobs and experiences, I was not a teenage prostitute. But I do have my own unique skills and talents. And it all comes down to packaging.

Music Challenge -Day Three -Laura Nyro

This is by Laura Nyro, a woman who I had not knowingly recognized until very recently but who I learned this year had written several very popular, very catchy songs in the late 60s and early 70s before she died at a tragically young age. Songs such as "Wedding Bell Blues" "Stoned Soul Picinc" and this one (although lesser known it was once a radio hit when sung by Barbra Streissand) have all been stuck in my head at one time or another and sung off key badly by me when going about my daily business.
From Wikipedia:
Laura Nyro (/ˈnɪəroʊ/ NEER-oh;[1] born Laura Nigro, October 18, 1947 – April 8, 1997) was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs. Her style was a hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop, jazz, rhythm and blues, show tunes, rock, and soul.[2]
Between 1968 and 1970, a number of artists had hits with her songs: The 5th Dimension with "Blowing Away", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Sweet Blindness", and "Save the Country"; Blood, Sweat & Tears and Peter, Paul and Mary, with "And When I Die"; Three Dog Night and Maynard Ferguson, with "Eli's Comin' "; and Barbra Streisand with "Stoney End", "Time and Love", and "Hands off the Man (Flim Flam Man)". Nyro's best-selling single was her recording of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Up on the Roof".[2]
In 2012, Nyro was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3][4]






Thursday, June 14, 2018

Day Two of the music challenge -- Dengue Fever, Cambodian inspired American pop music from Southern Californa

I have been nominated by a friend to pick 20 of my favorite bands or music artist. Day four, Dengue Fever from the Los Angeles, USA, Southern Californa area. An American band made mostly of non-Cambodians who often play music with Cambodian lyrics with sounds and rhythms heavily influenced by the sounds, rhythms, and textures of classic Cambodian pop music of the 1960s and '70s.

For a good introduction to the story of post-independence Cambodian pop music you could do worse than this fine film:
I really enjoy the band Dengue Fever and even went out and bought four of their five CDs. (I probably will get that fourth one and their DVDs at some point. Hmmmm? Perhaps as good a reason as any to start a Patreon account. :-) ) It's gotten so bad, I've had students complain that I was using them too much in my ESL classes. ( see https://huston-china-international-education.blogspot.com/2017/03/assessing-students-writing-through.html _


As I am still saddened and confused by the loss of Anthony Bourdain to suicide (one of my literary heroes and a man whose work I great enjoyed and appreciated ) it's worth mentioning that one of the actresses in this video, Errin Hayes, had a recurring role in the short lived TV series, Kitchen Confidential that was inspired by his book of the same name. I watched Kitchen Confidential (like so many other shows and movies) on pirated DVD in China.

The band plays in English . . .