Some things that have provided pleasurable diversion for me in the last few days:
A wonderfully written 5-part series by Errol Morris on the class of psychological afflictions which fall under the “unknown unknowns” descriptor, and how this can be extrapolated to the idea of people not being able to recognize their everyday incompetencies.
2. Soundtrack For a Revolution (It’s on Netflix “Watch it Now” or whatever the instant thing is called)
One of the most compelling and intense movies I’ve seen recently. It’s a history of the Civil Rights Movement, told with an emphasis on its protest songs that carried the people through their marches and boycotts. I sat down Friday night thinking I was getting into some history-lite about how Marvin Gaye brought the revolution to the airwaves, and instead got footage of the immediate aftermath of MLK Jr’s shooting, interviews with southern whites c. 1968 talking about how they’d never lived alongside “those people” and weren’t about to start, law enforcement inciting hysteria during peaceful assembly, and a list of people killed by horrific means because of their blackness- or association with such- during the period. All interspersed with new performances of “I’m Going to Sit at the Welcome Table” and such by Richie Havens, the Roots, Wyclef Jean, and others, as well as new interviews with people who were part of the protests.
I’m so inspired by the sheer determination of the movement, embodied in their refusal to resort to violent means. I find myself getting so pissed off about racism today that I want to smack a bitch, but these people, pissed off though they were, would not resort to physical intimidation to get their point across. When you can be picked up for something as ridiculous as “reckless eyeballing,” obviously you don’t want to give the police any excuse to say you were being a problem, but the theory of such an approach and the actual practice of it are miles apart. And yet through such incredible organization and leadership from within the movement, they were able to make it happen. (Not that their peaceful means resulted in any less arrests.) The movement isn’t a new concept for any of us, but for young’uns who didn’t see it play out in real time, seeing it revisited in this way is particularly powerful.
It still floors me that this was all so relatively recent in our country’s history, too. We see black and white images of it that make it seem like a bygone era, but it always puts it into perspective for me to remember that my parents were teenagers when this was going on. It’s scarcely more than a generation ago.
3. The Bad Plus
I became a jazz-head in the last few months. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up my Motorhead or anything, but my sphere of influence has widened considerably. The bulk of my new interests come from KPLU, and it’s opened up a whole new world of piano inspiration for me. You get tired of playing the same old pop songs after a few decades; this new genre is something I hadn’t studied before and gives me something to aspire to. The Bad Plus are one of my favorite of the more contemporary groups.
4. These haircuts. I feel an asymmetry coming on.