bits and pieces

I am just back from a visit to my son in Chicago and the rest of my family in Alabama, and am still frazzled — I’m definitely out of traveling shape. Moving around the country was simultaneously delightful, exhausting, and (sometimes) disconcerting. One of the disconcerting elements was the almost complete absence of masks in Alabama, the least-vaccinated state in the USA. I’m now back in Waco, which seems by comparison to offer a model of responsible masking. As a native of Alabama, I want to say to my people back there: Just get vaccinated, and then ditch the masks. 

Anyway, here are a few things I might write about at greater length if I were a little more coherent and energetic. 

My friend the Rev. Jessica Martin has begun her Bampton Lectures at Oxford, and all signs point to a brilliant set of discourses. I am looking forward to listening to them all and talking copious notes. 

Re: this thoughtful post by another dear friend, Adam Roberts, if I were to write an essay for the Journal of Controversial Ideas I would make the argument that “gender” is a word that is meaningful only in the context of grammar.

Yet another dear friend — I have so many smart friends! They are amazing! — Rick Gibson, writes in the Hedgehog Review about “the newest inhabitants of ‘liquid modernity.’” I’ll definitely comment further on this one. 

Ted Gioia: “We have nurtured two sharply contrasting musical cultures over thousands of years. One celebrates conciliation and the settled life of the rural world, while the other revels in the nomadic triumphs of the fierce and passionate human predator.” Country music is for herders and their animals; drum-driven rock is for predators. 

Every summer needs a song, and pretty obviously this is the one for 2021. One note: it’s significant that Lake Street Dive has been around for about a decade and is very much an indie band. How can you tell? Because the song begins with a slow intro before kicking into that irresistible groove. A song calculated to maximize streaming-service revenue would never do that: because Spotify only pays artists for listens of 30 seconds or more, studios are forcing their songwriters to frontload their songs’ choruses. “Hypotheticals” as a composition is a relic of the past; we’ll get fewer and fewer songs structured that way. Another reason — along with that sweet groove and Rachael Price’s amazing voice — to appreciate a terrific pop-R&B throwback number. 

May 12, 2021

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