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From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Frank Sinatra, Live at the Seattle Civic Auditorium in 1957, Full Concert

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

In the Billie Holliday post from last week, I noted that one of her biggest fans was Frank Sinatra, who even picked up some of her style by dropping just behind the beat in some of the phrasing.

So: in an effort to bring Big Jon back to the site, here is a complete recording of Frank’s 1957 concert at the Seattle Civic Auditorium (where McCaw Hall presently sits).

Several commentators have remarked that this is an even better recording than the famous show at the Sands a few years later, and I completely agree. Nelson Riddle conducts the orchestra through a fantastic set list, and Frank works in some pretty good jokes along the way. He’s clearly having a great time.

1. Introduction / You Make Me Feel So Young
2. It Happened in Monterey
3. At Long Last Love
4. I Get a Kick Out of You
5. Just One of Those Things
6. A Foggy Day
7. The Lady Is a Tramp
8. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
9. I Won’t Dance
10. Sinatra Dialogue
11. When Your Lover Has Gone
12. Violets For Your Furs
13. My Funny Valentine
14. Glad to Be Unhappy
15. One For My Baby
16. The Tender Trap
17. Hey Jealous Lover
18. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
19. Oh! Look at Me Now

Badger Korrektiv


Yep, just like the proverbial blister – showing up after the work is done. That is in fact JOB staying the hell out of the way of men who actually know what they’re doing as he heads to Twin Cities for something called the Argument of the Month Club as chauffeur for ten good men in Driver 8, including Matt Korger, Wisconsin’s Own Blogging Superstar of the Catholic Blogosphere, who was there to document the crash course with zaniness.

We were done in under 20 minutes with plenty of time for beer and appetizers…

Enough to make even the Old Man proud.

Field Notes

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.27.14 AM1.
The desire to go off the grid —
Take the family to an island like I said.
The ink sinks into the very fibers of the pages.
Give me the eyes to see into the murk
And the will to act on what I see and know.
To go off the grid while staying put,
That’s the trick.

What it comes down to is either
Material existence is the
Ultimate mystery or God is —
Or the infinity of permutations thereof.
But there is no escaping that it comes
Down to an ultimate mystery.
There’s no either/or about that.

Love. There’s the rub.

Another way to put it.
Either matter is the ultimate mystery
Or spirit is. But there’s
No getting round that the mystery
Is ultimate in either case.
Why is there something
Rather than nothing?
And if God (Spirit) is responsible,
Then how does one account for God?
Answer: one doesn’t.
But the same answer applies
To a strictly material universe.
So place your bets, brothers and sisters.

Tipping the scales.
Human intelligence would seem to point to
An ultimate intelligence.
Human love would seem to point
To an ultimate Love.
Human creativity would seem to
Point to an ultimate creator.
Human power would seem
To point to an ultimate power.
Human mystery would
Seem to point to an ultimate mystery,
Who is intelligent, loving, powerful —
And personal. And yet:
Human depravity would seem to point to
A fall from the grace of that mystery.
There’s the other rub.

Well now.


“We have both lived too deeply in our own generations to have much communication except with a mutual respect but that you accepted me as an equeal — even tho it was the exterior factor of a terriblee mutual grief that acted as the catylitic agent — settled something that had been haunting me about my relations with men since my tacit break with Ernest Hemmingway. I suppose like most people whose stuff is creative fiction there is a touch of the feminine in me (never in any sense tactile — I have always been woman crazy, God knows) — but there are times when it is nice to think that there are other wheel horses pulling the whole load of human grief + despair, + trying to the best of their ability to mould it into form — the thing that made Lincoln sit down in Jeff Davis’ chair in Richmond and ask the guards to leave him there for a minute
— F. Scott Fitzgerald to H.L. Mencken, 6 August 1935

[Emphasis mine.]

Four Short Poems Loosely Related to Ideas Developed by René Girard

Discipline and Begging for Attention
Needing others to need him, the dandy
feigns indifference, his modus operandi.

Beauty Will Indict the World
There is a great and terrible beauty
preserved from the antebellum
South, in records kept for business
so elegantly written on vellum.

Jealousy and the Politics of Dancing
How much he envied her well shod skill
at les chassés et croisés of the quadrille!

Perfect Match for Not-So-Perfect Catch
The kind of girl I like is the epitome
of the kind of girl who’d be rid of me.

Rally, Korrektiv, rally: Peanut Butter & Grace edition

One of Korrektiv’s oldest and greatest friends needs your help. Like, today. I have tried to instill the faith in my children mostly through yelling and donuts, so I’m personally very interested in this alternative “reading and discussing in a loving and thoughtful manner” approach.

From 13 Hours in Benghazi, by Mitchell Zukoff

As it happens, I just finished this account of the 2012 attack on the American “diplomatic compound” in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead. It’s a riveting read, written with the help of the surviving members of the security team, and makes good on its promise to stick close to the what that team saw on the ground:

[This book] is not about what officials in the United States government knew, said, or did after the attack, or about the ongoing controversy over talking points, electoral politics, and alleged conspiracies and cover-ups. It is not about what happened in hearing rooms of the Capitol, anterooms of the White House, meeting rooms of the State Department, or green rooms of TV talk shows. It is about what happened on the ground, in the streets, and n the rooftops of Benghazi, when bullets flew, buildings burned, and mortars rained.

Still and all, the mere existence of this account, or really even the fact that the compound was left relatively defenseless in the first place, is for this reader pretty damning of just about anybody ranking higher than the staff under contract. Including Secretary Clinton (who, it should be said, has taken “full responsibility”). It’s patently clear that the attack was well organized by a milita with access to some fairly heavy artillery—one of the many militias operating freely in the wake of the fall of the Qadaffi government.

Zukoff’s description of Ambassador Stevens is fairly brief, but he was by all accounts a brave man with a many years of experience in the Middle East. He most certainly knew of the dangers and decided to risk them. It’s now clear, as it seemed clear to many at the time, that the attack was in no way a response to the YouTube video that had sparked protests elsewhere in the Middle East, a version of the events pushed fairly heavily at the time.

The Benghazi attack played a part in the 2012 presidential campaign, and now that Hillary Clinton has just announced her candidacy, it will certainly play a part in the 2016 campaign as well.

The whole sorry mess is now in the hands of the brainwashers and spinmeisters who run U.S. politics, so thoroughly so that all that spinning and washing is all but impossible to avoid. In that sense alone, 13 Hours in Benghazi is a great achievement. R.I.P. Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty.

Percy Prequel


“I’ve just embarked on a ponderous novel on the same theme [as Tender is the Night] — save that the whole setting is different as possible. I’ve gone the whole hog. My ‘hero,’ surrounded by all the blessings in the world, simply goes out to the garage and shoots himself — fifteen years after the war.”

Louis Bromfield to F. Scott Fitzgerald, April 1934

Best Interview You’ll Read All Day

Maybe all week, all year … maybe your whole life.

In keeping to the old prisoner/work relief thread running through this blog, I refer you to theThe Marshall Project’s interview with Anthony Ray Hinton, convicted of murdering two fast food managers in Birmingham in 1985. 29 years old at the time, Hinton was sent to death row. He was released last week after spending 30 years there, much of it in solitary confinement.

In solitary confinement, a lot of people break up. They lose their mind, they give up, they commit suicide. Tell me about your experience. How you were able to hold onto yourself?

I come from a Christian background. My mom was strict. She always would instill in us that we don’t need anybody to actually play with. Get outside and play by yourself. She taught me to lean on Jesus and no one else. And when I got to death row, believe it or not, I witnessed people hanging. I seen people cut their wrist. I seen blood leaking from under the cell. I seen men who hung themselves. And so I became a person that got wrapped up in my sense of humor, and I tried to make everybody that I came in contact with — from prison guard to the wardens to the inmates — I tried to make everybody laugh. I would see a guard come by and I would say, “Hey officer.” He’d say, “Yeah Anthony, what can I do for you?” I’d say, “I need to run to the house for about an hour, and I’m gonna need to use your car. I’ll bring it right back, but I need to go.” And they would laugh.

You have to understand something: These crooked D.A.s and police officers and racist people had lied on me and convicted me of a horrible crime for something I didn’t do. They stole my 30s, they stole my 40s, they stole my 50s. I could not afford to give them my soul. I couldn’t give them me. I had to hold onto that, and the only thing that kept me from losing my mind was my sense of humor. There’s no man who’s able to go in a cell by yourself, and you’re there for 23, sometimes 24 hours a day, and you don’t come out. There’s not a human being that can withstand that pressure unless there’s something greater inside of him. And the spirit was in me where I didn’t have to worry about killing myself.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Satan didn’t come up on me and tell me, Well you ain’t never gonna get out of here. When I saw people going to be executed, every man in there would tell you he questions himself — is that ever going to happen to me? And when that little voice comes and says, Well they’re going to get you the next time, I would immediately tell him to get thee behind me, and I would turn on that switch of laughter. And I didn’t ever turn it off. To this day, even though I’m free, I still haven’t turned that sense of humor off. If you could have seen me in those 30 years, you would have said this guy can’t be human. This guy is crazy. This guy laughs and plays like he ain’t on death row. I didn’t accept the death penalty. You can’t make me take the death penalty. You can give it to me, but you can’t make me take it in my heart.

There’s a whole lot more—about the day his mom died, about what it was like to use a fork for the first time in three decades, and the importance of Mark 11:24. Which you don’t have to be in prison to appreciate. It’s there for everybody, and it’s there for you, too.



From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Strange Fruit, by Billie Holliday

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

At some point, that Kierkegaard quotation just seems plain wrong. Abel Meeropol first published Strange Fruit as an anti-lynching poem in The New Masses, and only later set it to music. There is a terrible beauty in the lyrics, in which he deploys a kind of warped sensuality to make his point. You don’t need to be Rene Girard to see the victims of lynchings as nothing less than reenactments of the Christian passion. What Girard helps us see (helps me see) is the way perpetrators of public lynchings directed mob violence in the guise of justice as a kind of let valve for societal tensions that can only be expelled through violence. In this reading, Meeropol connects the sacrificial impulse to the bounty of this “strange fruit” as a way of mocking an essentially pagan understanding of rebirth through said violence.

Billie Holliday was born 100 years ago on April 7th. Mark Steyn has written one of his ordinarily great article, in which he touches on Strange Fruit, Frank Sinatra’s devotion to her, and then Don’t Explain, a song she wrote with Arthur Herzog Jr, with whom she also collaborated on God Bless the Child. Here also are Cole Porter’s Night and Day, and then All of Me.

This BBC special, The Billie Holiday Story, is also worth looking up—somewhat better than the Diana Ross movie from my childhood.

Happy Birthday, Lady Day …

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.