Saturday, February 21, 2004

Fear and GOP

go together like ugly on an ape.

How to defeat fear:

This is all you have to do to defeat fear: You don't. That is to say, you actually do the opposite, which is to promote the positive, educate yourself, drop your tired notions of how it's all supposed to work and pump out what the ancients knew to be a radiant kind of raw ego-free love. What, too fluffy? Tough.

...the more you know yourself, the less you fear. It is the only way. And you can start immediately.

The alternative: Fear means never having to dig very deep, never having to ask serious questions of the self. There, there now. Don't bother thinking for yourself. Let the priests and the government CEOs and the war hawks make it all better. Boom boom crush snicker.

There's some real wisdom to the column. Where does fear come from? Often from what is unknown. Often once you check out what scares you, it becomes a lot less threatening. Think about the fear small children have about monsters in their closets or under the bed at night time. At some point the child will peek into the closet or under the bed and realize there is nothing there, and subsequently sleeps easier. I remember hearing about how violent South Central Los Angeles was about two decades ago (certainly the mass media have historically been more than happy to feed that particular stereotype). As it turned out, there was this bookstore run by some socialists located in the area, so I went. Turned out to be perfectly cool. By the way, that bookstore was a great place for start building my library of Noam Chomsky books.

Fear's a great way to control others, I suppose. Someone must have wanted me to be afraid of South Central LA. Why? So that I'd "keep it white?" I don't know. A lot of people find it hard to venture out of their own turf, for fear that those "others" will be out to randomly pick them off. The reality is often another thing altogether. Someone wanted me to be afraid of Hell. Why? So I'd keep going to church and making sure there was plenty of cash in the collection plate? So I'd avoid my sexuality? In the end that hardly seemed like a good reason to have a faith, and so I walked away. And on the road back to faith, I've decided to embrace a positive, life-affirming approach that largely avoids the Manichean Heaven/Hell Good/Evil distinctions. My embrace of pacifism takes a similar approach: from both personal experience and from an understanding of social science research that the possibility to engage in violence is always there given sufficiently compelling situational factors. Check out Stanley Milgram's obedience experiments, for example. I am a pacifist not because I fear what I might do, but precisely because I understand what I might do, and desire to instead do better.

The realization that we can act in any of a number of different ways in any given situation is what the existentialists referred to as freedom. To embrace that freedom is what the existentialists referred to as "living authentically." To do otherwise is to live in "bad faith." That's what the fearmongers have to offer: bad faith. We can do better.

Some food for thought.

Sex, Lies, and Republicans

The sleaze factor is the enormous elephant defecating all over the GOP living room.

Arthur Doyle

Here's a brief bio.

An interview from the late 1990s.

Brief Discography:

Sessions as Leader:

Alabama Feeling (1978)

More Alabama Feeling (1993)

Plays and Sings From the Songbook (1995)

The Arthur Doyle Quartet Plays Live at the Cooler (1995)

The Songwriter (1997)

Do the Breakdown (1997)

A Prayer For Peace (2000)

Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe (2001)

The Basement Tapes (2003)

Sessions Led by Others:

The Black Arc (Noah Howard, 1969)

Babi Music (Milford Graves, 1976)

Transfixed (Rudolph Grey, 1988)

The Blue Humans Live NY 1980 (Blue Humans, 1995)

This is as complete a list as I can compile at present. Much of his recorded work has been made available on low-circulation indie recordings, and are often hard to come by. Thus far very little effort has been made to keep track of his creative works. About the closest I've seen to a decent discography is over at, and even they manage to miss a fair portion of his work. As time permits, I'll try to track down enough information for a more thorough discography, including labels, recording dates, players, etc. Much of the information I think is available from widely scattered sources, so hopefully a little elbow grease will get the job done. I also get the impression that he's either extremely under-recorded or has other recordings laying around waiting for a willing distributor. I was a fan of lo-fi punk back in the day, and also like lo-fi recordings of free jazz jams, and really dig what Doyle is playing. You can read some more of what I had to say about Arthur Doyle here.

Postscript: Here's what Thurston Moore had to say about Doyle's Alabama Feeling album:

Arthur is a strange cat. Not too many people know where he's from (Alabama is a good guess). He resided in New York City in the 70's and showed up in loftspaces spitting out incredible post-Aylerisms. Mystic music which took on the air of chasing ghosts and spirits through halls of mirrors (!). He hooked up with noise/action guitarist Rudolph Grey who was making the current No-Wave scene and with Beaver Harris (drums) they played gigs in front of unsuspecting art creeps apparently not "hip" enough to dig, let alone document, the history blasting their brains. Arthur did release this lo-fi masterpiece and it's a spiraling cry of freedom and fury. AKBA Records released a number of classic NYC loft-jazz sessions, most notably those of label boss Charles Tyler, a screaming tenor player who also blew with Rudolph in the late 70's/early 80's. Arthur continues to play/teach etc. in Binghamton, N.Y. and recently released in 1993 "More Alabama Feeling" on yours truly's Ecstatic Peace label (available from Forced Exposure/POB 9102/Waltham, MA 02254). From Moore's essay, "Top Ten From The Free Jazz Underground."

Friday, February 20, 2004

Civil Liberties American Style: Rhode Island Edition

Governor's Proposed Homeland Security Bill Under Fire

The salient passage to the article is:

The bill, which Carcieri introduced last week, also resurrects World War I-era laws that make it illegal to "speak, utter, or print'' statements in support of anarchy; speak in favor of overthrowing the government; or to display "any flag or emblem other than the flag of the United States'' as symbolic of the U.S. government.

In other words, Rhode Island's governor proposes a full frontal assault on the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Granted, in right-wing circles, that's the current fashion statement. I don't know very much about the composition of Rhode Island's current legislature, but I do hope they have the good decency and common sense to let this very bad bill die.

Advice For A Dictator

A bit of propaganda from none other than Joseph Goebbels. This can also be found at German Propaganda Archive.

More Thoughts on Proto-Fascism and the GOP

Billmon's excellent post deserves to be read.

Matthew Shipp

His discography

Arguably one of the most important figures in contemporary jazz. I began checking his work out about five years ago, when I picked up an album called The Flow of X. His piano style (and the compositions for that matter) was dark and angular, and the liner notes - where the composer muses on the similarity between jazz musicians and boxers - were a trip. The album grew on me over the next year, and once it hooked me, that was it. I consider it free jazz for punk fans. Since then, I've checked out a number of his other albums, as well as his work on dates led by others. One of my favorites from the 1990s is Critical Mass of which I wrote at

This is one of Shipp's mid-90s efforts, accompanied by Mat Maneri (v), William Parker (b), and Whit Dickey (d). Parker and Dickey play a seemingly understated (mostly) background role on this album, pushing Maneri's violin and Shipp's piano playing to the foreground. Overall, the tone of the album is dark. The more tense moments (especially the title track and "Density and Eucharist") might fit nicely as soundtrack material for a suspense film. The middle track ("Virgin Complex") has a meditative, mournful quality to it. The interplay between the musicians is fantastic, and the pieces continue to reveal more of themselves with repeated listening.

Until a couple years ago, Shipp worked exclusively in all-accoustic combos. That changed on David S. Ware's album Corridors and Parallels, in which Shipp played on synthesizers, adding a new dimension to Ware's free jazz combo. As curator for Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, Ware has taken an interest in blending electronics and jazz to the next level. In these last couple years, Shipp has collaborated with hip-hop artists (Antipop Consortium), turntablists (DJ Spooky), drum n bass cats (Spring Heel Jack), and is the guiding spirit behind the Blue Series Consortium - a sort of semi-stable leaderless electronic/accoustic combo that sounds like part improvised jazz group and part chamber ensemble. And of course this cat still leads his own sessions, and is a regular with contemporary free jazz sax legend David S. Ware. Only in his early 40s, Shipp has many years of creativity left, and I'm digging what this cat is doing.

Favorite Shipp-led albums:

Critical Mass, Nu Bop, and Equilibrium


Good and Evil Sessions: The Blue Series Continuum

Optometry: DJ Spooky

Antipop Vs. Matthew Shipp: Antipop Consortium

Also check out his work with the David S. Ware quartet, especially Go See the World.

If you've got open ears and an open mind, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Human Rights American Style

Life in Gitmo. You can also read brief bios on five Britons being released from Gitmo.

Just For Kicks: What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

Tired of being underappreciated and manipulated by powerful "others,"

you fight back. Though possessing a cold, violent outside, you have a soft,

sentimental inside. You love your partner, you cherish family heirlooms,

and you want nothing more than to be geniunely happy -- but you don't mind

having to kill a couple of nimrods who happen to clutter your path.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

Shorter American Family Voices to George W. Bush

Your reality check bounced.

Scientists say administration distorts facts, censors and suppresses reports

"More than 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, issued a statement yesterday asserting that the Bush administration had systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad. "


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

For Once I Agree With Richard Perle

But when you discover you have an organization that doesn't get it right time after time, you change the organization, including the people.... I would start with the head.

It is in that spirit that I will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee this November. Bu$hCo has demonstrated time and time again that they can't get it right, so by all means let's change the organization in the White House, including the people, starting with the head.

Kerry & Edwards Ahead of Bush by Double Digits

Still way early in the game, but satisfying all the same. The Bushies didn't get a cakewalk in Iraq; looks like they won't be getting a cakewalk when it comes to a re-(s)election either.

Don't Forget March 20th - Takin' it to the Streets

Kurt Nimmo's thoughts are well worth reading. He does a good job of highlighting the stakes faced by the current generation of young people. Next year could very well be the year that the draft rears its ugly head, three decades after its demise. Why a draft? Someone's going to have to be cannon fodder for the state of perpetual war envisioned by the neocons who currently hold sway in the White House. The current all-volunteer military set-up simply is not able to support neocon foreign policy objectives. We're seeing already the strain on the full-time branches of the service, but the Reserves and National Guard as well.

Who's at risk? Young people, especially young men. If you're in your late teens or 20s and haven't included being killed or wounded on a foreign battle field in your plans, you might be in for a rude awakening. If there are young people reading this blog, all I can say is that your actions this year -- on the streets and in the voting booth -- will be critical. Ending mandatory military conscription the last time around was rather difficult when members of Kurt Nimmo's generation were working to end the draft. With an even more-solidly entrenched military-industrial establishment to deal with in this first decade of the new century, the task of ending a resurrected draft may prove to be more daunting. Our best hope is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Like Kurt, I'm not going to be directly affected if the draft is revived. If I am to believe the statistics, I'm at or just past the half-way point in my lifespan (I'm 38). I've been quite ready to be a conscientious objector in any case, and have been since the mid-1980s. My main concern is for my son, who will turn 8 just days after the scheduled March 20th demonstrations and who would be a potential draftee a decade hence. That's not the future I would want for him. It's on his behalf that I write and on his behalf that I will do whatever it takes to persuade our leaders that a perpetual war state is a very very bad idea.

Another Texas Scandal?

Rumors of TX Governor Rick Perry having extramarital affairs have been circulating. Not sure if any of that will turn out to be credible. Again, a healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing at this point.

Just a couple thoughts: Coming out is rather difficult under the best of circumstances given our society's hang-ups regarding homosexuality. It would be that much more difficult for someone who has so strongly identified with a group of excessively backward-thinking individuals (which comprises much of the Texas GOP). If, and at this point it's a big if, the rumors about Perry are true, my hope is that he can find a way to use his position of influence to highlight the struggles faced by gays and lesbians. To do so as a member of the GOP would be especially courageous. Whether or not Perry is up to the task, or if there's even substance to the rumors in the first place, remains to be seen.

US terror laws 'damage human rights'

I saw the handwriting on the wall about two and a half years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11. One of my initial concerns with the "War on Terror" was that it would effectively give carte blanche to any of a number of despots bent on persecuting dissident groups. In particular, I could readily imagine back then the Chinese government doing yet more harm to Tibetan opposition, under the aegis of "protecting the Chinese from terrorist threats:" or Israel's hardliners using the new US stance to escalate their own system of Apartheid against indigenous Palestinians; and so on. Seemed pretty obvious at the time, and even more so in hindsight. In essence it's a basic observational learning effect: modeling. By assuming a more repressive posture against its own dissidents, with little more than token resistance initially, the US government has modeled a potentially powerful set of behaviors to be imitated by any other would-be despot wishing to snuff out those annoying political opponents on their own soil.

Experts React to the Administration's Interference with Science

Yet another issue that won't go away, and with good reason. Props to Henry Waxman, as always, for his watchdog efforts.

The "Bush Paid For Abortion" Story Might Have Some Legs

Story in today's Daily Telegraph, a mainstream paper from Sydney Australia. For now I think some healthy skepticism is warranted. However, if true, it would be one more example of the Bush family mindset: one set of rules for them, and another set of rules for the rest of us.

Congrats to newly elected Rep. Chandler

It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind's blowing.

It may not be a big victory, but satisfying nonetheless. At least we know that Democrats can win in districts that have been pro-GOP, and against candidates who've identified themselves with Dubya.

In other special election news closer to my home, I read that Kel Seliger won the run-off for the Texas State Senate District 31 vacancy. No big deal, as both he and his opponent Kirk Edwards are Republicans, and both easily right-wing as all get out, and both were vying for a seat in the Texas panhandle (which is fairly hostile territory for anyone who isn't in the GOP). However, the thing I noticed was the Bush factor: Edwards' campaign ads invoked the Bush name quite prominently, and his campaign had the sort of nasty almost Rovian feel to them. My favorite Edwards ad was one that made hay over Seliger's apparent serving on the board of Planned Parenthood, and with that association implied that Seliger was "one of them immoral Bush-haters". Specifically, that ad stated that Seliger had been involved with Planned Parenthood, "which attacks President Bush." If it had worked it would have killed two birds with one stone: smear an anti-choice conservative as pro-choice, and as anti-Bush. Those tactics failed miserably.

The winds are shifting.

Monday, February 16, 2004

First Draft: Sixteen Turds

January 28, 2003

Dropped the fecal neutron bomb

Sixteen turds and spilt blood

Of thousands later

And we’re covered in shit

Waiting to hit the fan

Waiting to hit the fan

Sixteen turds and spilt blood

Of thousands later

And the stench remains

More turds are dropped

The shit’s backing up now

And you don’t want to be downwind

From the White Out House

Try to whitewash this shit

And it still stinks

Want the Quick Down-Low on the AWOL controversy?

Check this out, courtesy of American Samizdat's m prophet. There's some serious shit going down.

When Jello Biafra Dropped "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now"

He was prophetic:

Last call for alcohol. Last call for your freedom of speech. Drink up. Happy hour is now enforced by law. Don't forget our house special, it's called a Trickie Dickie Screwdriver. It's got one part Jack Daniels, two parts purple Kool-Aid, and a jigger of formaldehyde from the jar with Hitler's brain in it we got in the back storeroom. Happy trails to you. Happy trails to you.

I am Emperor Ronald Reagan

Born again with fascist cravings

Still, you made me president

Human rights will soon go 'way

I am now your Shah today

Now I command all of you

Now you're going to pray in school

I'll make sure they're Christian too

California Über alles

Über alles California

Ku Klux Klan will control you

Still you think it's natural

Nigger knockin' for the master race

Still you wear the happy face

You closed your eyes, can't happen here

Alexander Haig is near

Vietnam won't come back you say

Join the army or you will pay

California Über alles

Über alles California

Yeah, that's it. Just relax. Have another drink, few more pretzels, little more MSG. Turn on those Dallas Cowboys on your TV. Lock your doors. Close your mind. It's time for the two-minute warning.

Welcome to 1984

Are you ready for the third world war?!?

You too will meet the secret police

They'll draft you and they'll jail your niece

You'll go quitely to boot camp

They'll shoot you dead, make you a man

Don't you worry, it's for a cause

Feeding global corporations' claws

Die on our brand new poison gas

El Salvador or Afghanistan

Making money for President Reagan

And all the friends of President Reagan

California Über alles

Über alles California

Bolded text indicates where Jello speaks in sneering lounge-singer mode. Dead Kennedys were a great 1980s punk band.

Just change a few names and the song remains the same.

"Think! It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

Read This

Just do it. Ponder it. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Say Hey

to Guerilla Funk.

Some tunes and thoughts to bend your mind.

Move Bush! Get out the way! Get out the way!

An account of how the MLK Anti-Bush protest last month went down.


Stupid DOE Tricks

Censor 'Scooby-Doo'? Words fail

The government is refusing to caption Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, apparently fearing that the deaf would fall prey to witchcraft if they viewed the classic sitcoms.

Read the rest.

I say, give me a break!

Shorter Lee Stoop

Just because I get a kick out of forwarding emails with racist/ethnic slurs to friends doesn't mean I'm a bigot

Shorter James at the Left End of the Dial: Ever heard of modern racism?

"I don't think America can stand by and hope for the best from a madman..."

Which is why I won't vote for Bush this November. One term is more than enough.

Bush obfuscations may sink him, reads one column I read this morning (and where I got the nifty quote). Nothing really brand new to my eyes in that column, nor likely to be brand new in the eyes of my regular and semi-regular reader(s). What is noteworthy to me is how the issues that many of us on the anti-war side raised simply will not go away:

1. Saddam was not linked to 9/11, no matter how much the Bushies would love to link the two, no link has been found.

2. Saddam posed little if any danger to the US, contrary to the "imminent threat" mantra that the Bushies were chanting in the run-up to war.

3. That decision to invade Iraq had been made long before 9/11 in any case: a point that becomes all to evident when one takes into account PNAC propaganda, and the eyewitness account of Paul O'Neill.

4. Saddam was a bastard, who committed numerous human rights abuses; the vast majority of those abuses occurred back in the 1980s when Reagan and Bush I were more than happy to send money and chemical & biological weapons to Saddam and back when Rumsfield was more than happy to shake Saddam's hand.

Truopolis Times

I just love their main page.


Sunday, February 15, 2004

More Musings on American Fascism

Some fascinating posts around blogtopia:

Remember, "may you live in interesting times" is supposed to be a CURSE!

Disturbing Undercurrents

Terroristic Threats

This quote from Michael at Musing's Musings sums it up fairly aptly: things among the right-wingnuts are beginning, rhetorically speaking at least, to look and feel a lot like late-Weimar Germany. The post-9/11 political landscape has, indeed, become more hostile. My guess is that the right wing will only escalate things over the next several months. Hopefully I'm wrong, of course (and this is one time where I really would love to be wrong). It's how I read the tea leaves, though, given what I've read and experienced over the last few years.

Update: To give credit where credit is due, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo coined the term "blogtopia." It's definitely a blog worthy of your time. Stop by and say hey.

A Little GOP Hypocrisy From Downstate Oklahoma

Enid lawmaker O’Neal is under investigation in sexual battery case complaint. The story itself details the rather unpleasant incident. What makes it striking is that the lawmaker in question, Mike O’Neal (R-Enid), has authored two pieces of legislation that are his claim to fame:

1. “Defense of Marriage Act,” proposes a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would define a marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

2. January 2003, introduced a bill limiting the use of incompatibility as a reason for divorce.

Given his interest in the sanctity of marriage, one would expect state Rep. O'Neal to be a fine upstanding citizen, who would refrain from such behaviors as sexual assault. I guess not.


I've been reading The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind off and on during the past few days. I'm about a third of the way through, and have some initial impressions.

One thing that I find especially striking is not the information itself (a lot of it seems like stuff I've read in various places over the last year or two), but the psychology of the White House inner circle. About the best way to characterize that psychology, as I see it, is with the term groupthink. The concept of groupthink comes from Irving Janis, and is found in groups characterized by the following:

1. The inner circle is highly cohesive -- not only ideologically (most of them are neoconservatives) but also personally.

2. This cohesiveness invites a high degree of conformity among members. This has the following effects:

a. Members are likely to suppress their own misgivings about a pet proposal agreed to by the majority.

b. Certain members of the group may act as "mind guards" to filter out information that is contrary to their pet policy proposals and to silence those who express viewpoints that are contrary to their chosen course.

I've found it helpful to read Paul O'Niell's experience as Treasury Secretary in the above light. At this point, it becomes clear that points 1 and 2 are both covered from the very beginning. While there may have been some ideological disagreements among some of the Bush inner circle, they are united in one very important sense: loyalty to the man, George W. Bush. The pressures to conform, not surprisingly are quite high, and it seems to me that it wasn't long before O'Neill began to feel the heat. O'Niell's big problem was that he didn't really fit in with the expected group norms. Most importantly, he strikes me as someone whose loyalty was not to Bush but to a set of ideas (my agreement or disagreement with those ideas is an entirely different matter altogether). It's that loyalty to ideas rather than the Prez that goes against the grain, and inevitably was going to lead to some ugly conflicts.

I'm hoping to have more to say within the next couple weeks.

Suffice it to say, it's been an interesting read.

Fascism Between the Lines

Well worth a read. Nimmo hits on a theme that I've looked at periodically. In a nutshell: neoconservatives, like right-wing authoritarians more broadly, are rather adept at compartmentalized thinking. They can see fascism's ugly head in other movements, but they seem unable to recognize it in their own ideology or practices.

Why Care About An Aging Baby Boomer's Going AWOL 30 Years Ago?

This is why. A man who dodged serving in Vietnam has cavalierly sent a large number of our young men and women into war. Put most succinctly: What matters to all our senses is that he is a president who struts around as a war hero, who dodged Vietnam and most of the National Guard drills and who with less shame than anybody we have had maybe ever, sends your kids to a war that he ducked as if he was allowed to do it by birth.

While coming from a well-to-do and well-connected family appears to have its perks, let's keep in mind that to date 541 US soldiers have died, and many more will bear the permanent scars of war. And for what? WMDs? There are none. An imminent threat to US security? There was none. Saddam's alleged connection to Osama bin Ladin? There was none. We were sold a bill of goods, and way too many people are paying the price with their own blood.

Keep this in mind when we remember last year's State of the Union Address, and its 16 words (and more) of lies. Keep this in mind when we recall Bush prancing around in his flight suit last May declaring the end of combat operations in Iraq. Keep this in mind when Bush delivered his infamous "bring them on" taunt a few weeks later.

Then ask him this question: by what right does he have to send people into battle, when he himself was using his family connections to dodge Vietnam?

Update: Add this to the list. I find Colin Powell's comments from 1995 to be especially fascinating, and have to wonder what Gen. Powell is thinking these days, given his avowed anger toward those who used their privilege and connections to dodge the war.

Pharoah Sanders

Tenor sax player whose initial claim to fame was his stint in John Coltrane's band from 1965 up until Trane's death in 1967. Also plays alto sax, flute, bailophone, kalimba, and various percussion instruments.

I described one of Pharoah's albums as "world music with teeth" due to his weaving of various ethnic elements and his bands' tendency to kick out the jams and make some serious noise. A few years ago, I received a John Coltrane box (The Last Giant) that included just a brief snippet from Trane's last known live recording, which was for a gig organized to raise funds for the Olatunji Center. The thing that impressed me was this Pharoah Sanders cat who was flipping out on the tenor sax, producing a blur of high-pitched sound (yeah, I know, on a tenor of all things). It was sure different enough to make me interested in learning more. Within a few months I'd picked up a couple of Pharoah's solo albums and was hooked.

With a career spanning four decades, he's definitely changed over the years. One might say that since the waning days of the 1970s he's really mellowed out. However, there are at least a few constants that may be heard in any Pharoah Sanders recording or performance:

1. A marked dichotomy between the loud and dissonant and the gentle and meditative. It's not uncommon for a typical recording to feature a track that is pure free-form jamming, followed immediately by a track that invites the listener to relax and embrace the one-ness of the universe. Sometimes that dichotomy plays out in the same track.

2. A synthesis of various musical traditions and elements from around the globe: especially African and Middle-Eastern. Regardless of whether he mines free jazz territory, hard bop, or veers into smooth jazz the listener is often treated to a plethora of percussion instruments, exotic instrumentation like kalimbas, pipas, sitars, etc.

3. A strongly spiritual emphasis, which shows up not only in the titles of albums and songs, but also within the music itself. I get the impression that Pharoah is somewhat akin to a Deist - I can't say I know for sure, but from what I've gleaned from liner notes and elsewhere he sure seems to be grooving on that vibe. In any event, he promotes a distinctly gentle vision emphasizing universal love, harmony, and tranquility.

I've made it something of a personal mission to get a hold of practically anything this cat has recorded. Most of my personal favorites were recorded during his extended stint on Impulse! However, he's managed to release a number of other adventurous and beautiful albums during the 1980s, 1990s, and into the new millinium.

Some that I truly dig:

Tauhid: His first for Impulse! It's a bit different from his other Impulse! recordings, in that it emphasizes the mellow, meditative vibe to a much greater degree.

Black Unity: One 37 minute piece that perhaps is his most successful at integrating his rather diverse and divergent styles and interests. If you were to have just one of his albums, this is the one to get.

Thembi: It's a roller-coaster ride of an album that rewards the listener with two tracks at the end that showcase the bailophone and point to some of jazz's African roots. The last track in particular, in which Pharoah's sax screeches above the trance-inducing din of percussion and bailophones is especially compelling.

Journey to the One: Eclectic is the key word for this album. A bit of hardbop, a bit of world music, and even the occasional vocal tune. His own playing sounds especially Coltrane-esque, with its warm gentle tone.

Elevation: Sadly this one has been out of print for a long time. It's a gorgeous album from is early 1970s Impulse! days. A rather diverse outing of Nigerian highlife, chants, screech-fests, and meditative bliss.

Love in Us All: Another out of print Impulse! album, with two extended tracks. The meditative track is called "Love Is Everywhere", which includes vocals and chanting. The free-form jam is "To John" which is dedicated to his late mentor John Coltrane, and nicely captures the spirit of Trane's last years on this earth.

The Trance of Seven Colors: Credited to Maleem Mahmoud Ghania and Pharoah Sanders. This one is primarily an album of ritual healing music of Morocco's Gnawa tribe, with Pharoah's sax work added to the mix. The album reminds me of what Pharoah was trying to accomplish in parts of Thembi. Unfortunately the album is out of print, although I do see copies of it on Ebay from time to time.

Solomon's Daughter: Credited to Franklin Kiermyer. Pharoah lends his sax for this date, that is very reminiscent of John Coltrane's classic quartet. You can read my brief review of that album (and some of Kiermyer's other recordings) here and here.

He's got quite an extensive discography thanks to the many sessions he's led, and to his busy schedule as a sessions player.

Just Because It Needs To Be Said

Marriage is love.

Rock, Rap and the Election

by Dave Marsh and Lee Ballinger at Counterpunch.

Worth reading and pondering, as a reminder that voting is one of many tools available to those of us in the liberal and progressive camps. To me, the "Anyone but Bush" mantra is important given what's at stake here in the US. I think Marsh and Ballinger are a bit to quick to dismiss that strategy. However, I do believe that the effort to outsource Bush is merely the beginning, and not the end, and to that extent I find Marsh and Ballinger's words a valuable reminder. By all means vote. But: don't think that one can simply spend a few minutes in a voting booth and be done with it. Meaningful change requires a fair amount of individual and collective elbow grease, and a willingness to stretch our imaginations. Can you imagine the US with a decent universal health care program? I sure can. Can you imagine a US in which its citizens view today's legal prohibitions regarding gay marriages in much the same light that we view last century's racial segregation laws? I sure can. Can you imagine a US that while still quite capable militarily of protecting itself and its interests refrains from acting as a military aggressor; and refrains from supporting brutal dictatorships to further its own short-term interests? I sure can. What about actions? Protests are good insofar as they go. What else? Are there needs in your community that you can help to address? Would you spare a few hours of your time to directly work on those community needs?

Some food for thought.

Wake Up!

This Parched Earth examines the increasingly desperate water situation around the globe.