Month: November 2017

Hüsker Dü: Savage Young Dü

Hüsker Dü Savage Young Dü The Numero Group Hüsker Freaking Dü, kids.  I’m not sure why I’m even bothering to write an actual review here.  Away back in time, in 1979, in the frigid climes of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bob Mould, Grant Hart, and Greg Norton met at a record store.  They formed a band.  Mould played guitar and sang.  Norton played bass.  Hart played the drums and sang.  Mould and Hart wrote the songs and took turns on lead vocals.  They were vicious.  Perhaps the fastest band on the planet.  The took punk and sped it up.  They were louder and more vicious than anything else, and that includes so-called speed metal, with the possible exception of Bad Brains.  Eventually, over the course of the 1980s, they mellowed some and began to make albums of more melodic music, but they never lost that viciousness. They were hampered some by the generally weak recording quality of SST records, though even their Warner years were somewhat muddied by poor mixes.  And then they split amongst great acrimony at the start of 1988.  Mould had a drinking problem and was domineering and controlling.  He also was managing the band after the suicide of their manager, David Savoy, in 1987.  Hart had a bad heroin addiction.  Norton, whom I’ve always felt sorry for in between these two, got married and became a chef....

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame

If there is anything human to remember of the 20th century when its last survivors have finally died, it will likely be remembered through the frame of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s viewfinder. Armed with a 35mm Leica camera and an unerring eye, Cartier-Bresson sought to capture the “decisive moment” of history and humanity, from a Gestapo informer exposed at the Dessau DP camp in 1945 to a couple leaning into a kiss at a Paris sidewalk café. Cartier-Bresson’s photography framed the 20th century with expansive depth of field, capturing the historic and the intimate in the sharpest possible focus. His great...

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Robert Plant: Carry Fire

Robert Plant Carry Fire Nonesuch/Warner My buddy Rob says that Robert Plant became a musician over the past decade.  I think that’s a bit harsh, Plant wasn’t just a pretty face in Led Zeppelin.  Take, for example, the writing of ‘Kashmir,’ which took several years for the band to put together.  Jimmy Page wrote the bulk of the music, with input from both John Bonham and John Paul Jones, but also from Plant.  Plant was, of course, the lyricist for the band.  And writing lyrics for ‘Kashmir’ was particularly challenging for Plant due to the complexity and time signature...

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The White Poppy

November 11 is a day of great significance for me; a day of reflection, sorrow and gratitude. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month every year, I stop whatever I am doing and mark two minutes of silence. If I am able, I  do this while I watch the Remembrance Day commemoration at the Cenotaph in Ottawa on the CBC. I do this, in part, for deeply personal reasons. My late father served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, along with his sister and two brothers, during World War II. My maternal grandfather had...

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Listen to Veterans: the Student, Citizen, Soldier Oral History Project

Veterans of the armed services aren’t visible in our public and political culture because they aren’t statistically significant.  That’s what Tom Landers, an Army veteran and a graduate student in History at Salem State University, reminds us in an oral history with historian Andrew Darien for an important oral history project that launches for Veterans Day. Support for veterans’ benefits and accolades for their service spike during campaign season, but once the spotlights fade, political leaders shirk their promises.  U.S. veterans fade back into the shadows of American society.  We rarely see or hear them speak for themselves about...

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