Maya Angelou

So I wanted to say goodbye to the amazing Maya Angelou. She enriched the world with her brilliance and her humanity.

 

maya angelou 6

This spectacular lady did it all. Even won a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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I think she spoke not just of pride of oneself but what it was to be human. Truly human, and humane, which should go along with being human.

maya angelou 4

She always seemed fearless to me, and I loved that she could combine that fearlessness with such a beautiful and hopeful outlook on the world. Even at its darkest, Maya never stopped believing in the light.

maya angelou 1

I am not like that (I do know how to laugh at myself, though.) But I am not always hopeful. I wish I could be, and I am trying hard. Maya is one to look up to and emulate in this regard. (And those lines rhyme intentionally, yes.)

So goodbye, Maya Angelou, and thank you for the inspiration. Now I’m done ‘cos I want everyone to go read some of her words. Go!

maya angelou 5

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Yom HaShoah

holocaust remembrance day

27 Nisan (yesterday) of the Jewish calendar is Holocaust Day (Yom HaShoah), or the even more awesome variation Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laGvura, which means Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.

From 1935’s Nuremberg Laws, designed to identify exactly who and what constituted a Jew, through the end of World War II in 1945, approximately six million Jews were exterminated by Nazi Germany. This means of roughly the nine million Jewish people residing in Europe during those days, two-thirds died.

These are facts. This happened.

Before you think I’m being simple or pedantic here, remember there are people who deny the Holocaust was that awful, they think that’s all just propaganda or something. Some even claim the Holocaust never happened at all. Some people feel it should happen again. All over the world these people exist. Even in Europe. Even in America.

I think Holocaust Remembrance Day should exist in every country, not just Israel. It’s not just for the Jewish people, but for all of us. Remembrance is recognized by many nations, though not always the same date. A number of European countries, including Germany, commemorate the day on January 27, the date in 1945 when Auschwitz was liberated. Israel chose April 27, 27 Nisan on their calendar, as a date in between the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Israeli Independence Day.

With parts of Ukraine reportedly now calling for “Jewish Registration”, and even Donald Sterling’s recent “Don’t bring black people to my games,” we must never forget the extremes that discrimination of any kind can go to.

It’s on our calendars, but it’s not really part of the mainstream in America. It should be, because some painful things must never be forgotten. So I urge you to take a few moments of your time today to think about this (I know it was yesterday, but I’m slow). Also you might read about the Warsaw Uprising and the Nuremberg Rally and such. Just as a reminder of how vigilant we must remain.

Because it could happen again. But we won’t let it, will we?

holocaust remembrance day

Herbie Hancock

So today is the birthday of Herbert Jeffrey Hancock, the coolest cat in the universe and my favorite jazz musician.

herbie hancock

Call me Herbie!

Herbie was sought out by Miles Davis to take the piano spot in his second great quintet starting in 1963 when Hancock was only twenty-three. (But that’s nothing; Tony Williams the drummer was seventeen!) Along with bassist Ron Carter, this trio became what I believe was the finest rhythm section in all of jazz. Oh yeah, I said it.

davis second quintet

The quintet at play–herbie, miles, ron, wayne shorter on sax and tony

Even while recording and performing with Miles for the next decade or so, Herbie was already making records of his own as a bandleader and composer. Classically trained, Hancock’s style is melodic and persuasive. His compositions also frequently cross over into funk, soul and pop arenas as they are some of the most accessible of all jazz music–in a good way. He’s one of the prime movers of post-bop jazz, i.e., fusion. If awards are your thing, Herbie’s racked up more grammys than God. Or even Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson. (Herbie’s fourteen is one more than Michael got.)

herbie and band

Herbie in the seventies with the Headhunters (I think)…

I just love Herbie’s creativity, his joy in music. For people who don’t think they can “get” jazz, I’m convinced he’s the guy to try. Like I said, accessible in a good way. Some day I will do my definitive Herbie Hancock post so look out for that.

T of V ecstatically wishes Mr. Herbie Hancock a beautiful birthday. He’s turning seventy-four today, and still producing great albums year after year. If you don’t know his work, please listen to some today.

herbie hancock

Damn, that man’s got soul. Happy birthday!

Happy Birthday, Internet!

So twenty-five years ago today, Al Gore gave us the internet.

gore meme

You’re welcome, bitches!

Psych! Uh, no he didn’t.

But today is the 25th anniversary of the day Sir Tim Berners-Lee, British computer scientist and all-around awesome muthafucka, sent a historic proposal upstairs to his bosses at CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research. (Hey, that doesn’t spell out “CERN”!)  Well, anyway, the proposal included this pithy quote– “a ‘web’ of notes with links between them”. At the time, Berners-Lee saw networking as crucial, primarily as a way to improve the flow of information between professionals in the computer field. About a year later, Sir Timmy had created the world’s first browser and editor in his spare time.

CERN would later pass a vote to make the web free to the world. And let’s take a second to give Big Al his due here. Vice-President Gore, who was always a technology futurist, in the nineties pushed accessibility and promoted legislation to improve the internet. So yeah, he was an instrumental figure, but he didn’t “invent” it. I also don’t believe he ever said he did. People just misquoted him. He would definitely claim he helped give it to us, which is kind of true.

But the main man…is Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

timmy!

T of V urges you all today to raise a glass to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the real goddamn inventor of the internet. Cheers, sir.

tim-berners lee

I bid you go forth and disseminate!!!

A Damned Shame

So in the midst of something of a chaotic weekend, the news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely passing hit me hard. Not only for the loss of a great talent (I do love this guy’s work), but also for the way he was taken from us–apparently by the demon Heroin.

This is an issue we’re going to learn more about as the investigation into Mr. Hoffman’s death continues, and this quickie post is not to launch an anti-drug crusade other than to say:

This should not have happened.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman leaves behind a body of work that inspired and often amazed me. Not enough can be said about the detail and humanity he invested into each character he played. But the worst part is that he leaves behind friends and family, including three children, who must be feeling not much else except:

This should not have happened.

hoffman dead

1967-2014

 

David Bowie

{Another birthday, another tribute. I think this may qualify as a regular feature now.}

Today is the birthday of the ever-amazing David Bowie who, even at the robust age of 67, absolutely tops the list of dudes I would probably sleep with.

david bowie

The chameleon, the actor, the consummate re-inventor. But, above all, one of the most electric and talented people in the world. I mean, this guy just steps on a stage and your jaw drops.

david bowie

If you’re one of those pseudo-fans or critics who’s written Bowie off and claim he hasn’t produced anything great since the goddamn seventies, well, let’s have a quick mock debate.

Pseudo-Fan: Well, we all know Bowie peaked with his Berlin trilogy. I’ll grant you that the Scary Monsters and  Let’s Dance albums have a few great tracks. But it’s all downhill since then. He hasn’t been relevant in decades.

T of V: Fuck you, you’re an asshole.

T of V wins debate!

david bowie

I’m not trying to brush aside the exceptional quality of Bowie’s so-considered “classic” period of the seventies. Hell that’s my preferred Bowie era, too. But the man has remained an eclectic innovator through all the decades and never repeats himself. That’s a formidable feat. He began brilliantly and remains brilliant today. He’s produced strong work in every decade and I think he’s still at the top of his game as a creator, musician and performer.

david bowie

Today we celebrate the sensational career of David Bowie, every single bit of it. And he certainly has a few more surprises in him. Through all of his ch-ch-ch-changes, his greatness remains the same.

david bowie

The Professor

{Yeah, I missed posting on Friday. Deal with it.}

Yesterday was the 122nd birthday of the Professor of my soul, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. J.R.R. to his multitude of friends and admirers.

tolkien

Professor Tolkien is the writer of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and tons of supplemental material. The world of Middle-earth is a creation that was much more than a setting for high fantasy. It is a living, breathing world with various races, cultures, and language. Language above all, the glorious languages the professor worked out.

Your books sang to me, professor. You created a living world that was completely immersive and beautiful, even at its darkest. In fact, that was the point. You showed how literally the smallest of us could overcome the most grandiose evil. In the real world, your little nation helped kick Hitler’s fucking ass after all. How wonderful when art informs life!

Professor, your works have created and driven thousands upon thousands (probably millions!) of other creators, inspired us to try to carry on your tradition and make worlds of our own. But you were one of the first, and by far the greatest. Even if we never climb as high as your pinnacle, the striving is most of the point. Your noble characters never gave up, and never failed to do what was needed at the crucial time. We as your followers should take that as an example and always continue to strive. That was your most important legacy and message to us.

T of V salutes Professor Tolkien today and we raise our Green Dragon ales high.

Ollo vae, Val’istar. Guren glassui, lle ume quel. Aa menle nauva calen ar’ta hwesta e’ ale’quenle!

{Don’t pick on my elvish, I took it from a web site.)