R.I.P

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:41 pm

I recognise it. Gorgeous. You can almost feel the oysters in your mouth. And again, I can't read the first line without hearing his Ulster accent. The king of consonants. You can taste the words in your mouth almost like he did the 'frond-lipped, brine-stung' oysters. The 'pure verb' ending is astonishing, coming as it does after the notion of eating the day and the perfectly placed 'tang'. A true master of his craft.
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Re: R.I.P

Postby martinfoyle » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:16 am

Yes, deep sadness at his all too sudden departure around here, indeed anywhere where life & its greatness is appreciated. Front pages this morning are dominated by it, here's the best one

http://instagram.com/p/dq2DO4l1rW/

Never met him, John sold him an office table once, our Dad met him a few times. The sadness is mixed with the celebrating a a life well lived, he leaves an incredible legacy.

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:28 am

Great cover. Perfect lines. I read an incredible stat that c. 60% of UK poetry sales of a living poet were, until yesterday, Heaney. Relatively low though the numbers may be, that's still incredible. Returned to Death of a Naturalist last night and was stopped in my tracks once again by Mid-Term Break. Another poem with a closing line that leaves you speechless.

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble,'
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Michael Rosen was speaking about it this morning, and saying that we falsely think that only science examines forensically what the substance of life is, but this poem does this in response to the news of the death of his younger brother.
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:39 am

This is one that as Martin says leaves a great sadness. I, too, found myself going back to his words last evening, but in my case his perceptive and often humorous prose- last night his Oxford Lectures The Redress of Poetry. They are to me the most vigorous defense of this art form by any modern writer. I could cite many poems with vigor but I think with Mr. Heaney it is best to let him talk-he did that so well. This little exchange with Simon Armitage about how the two of them came to poetry is expressive of how Heaney could hold one's attention:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23898891

You will find it in a side embedded piece.

This is good profile piece that I remember being quite good from The New Yorker back in 2000:

http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=2000-03-20#folio=054

His obituary from today's New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/31/arts/ ... 74.html?hp
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'


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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:26 am

Saddened to read yesterday of the passing of Oscar Hijuelos this past weekend. His The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is a beautifully written book that catches the immigrant experience freshly and vigorously. It richly deserved its Pulitzer Prize back in 1990.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... mg&cad=rja
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:32 pm

Saddened by hearing of the passing of the great Frank Wess at 91- another stellar member of the great Basie bands is gone. He sweetly serenaded my wife and I on our wedding night so many years ago in a small club in the Village as he was playing with a combo that evening along with Sir Roland Hanna. His humor was infectious. Like Dizzy Gillespie, he was an original. That is Frank on the flute in this clip. I love how none have charts in front of them- they just knew the music and how to play:

http://youtu.be/yhK8TV27sBo

and this from a later collaboration with Harry 'Sweets' Edison:

http://youtu.be/17ktLA7pSgA
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:26 pm

Note the passing of another jazz giant yesterday at the age of 83- guitarist Jim Hall. He brought blazing improvisation to the forefront in his playing. A personal favorite for me.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/c ... -hall.html
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:11 pm

Yet another good jazz musician has passed on- Stan Tracey:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/arts/ ... obituaries

Here he is performing with my father in law and Zoot back in the 1960's on a BBC television program:

http://youtu.be/ZR4ZfCh601k
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:51 pm

One of my all time favorite actors. He has passed on at age 81. Everyone admires Lawrence of Arabia but my personal favorite film role of his will always be Lord Jim:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... 7247,d.cWc
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:31 pm

Jack of All Parades wrote:This one has hit me hard- I met this great poet once and he could not have been more gracious and giving of his time to a young poetry lover. Seamus Heaney is dead- I did not think I would write those words for some time:

http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/30/seamus ... topstories

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/31/arts/ ... 74.html?hp

This is a solid assessment of him and his career from The New Yorker today:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/b ... -2013.html

Listen to him read his poem "Scaffolding" and you will have a clear sense of what made him so special as a poet, a teacher, and a man:

http://youtu.be/fNYBwF7lKLA

and finally this from a few years back on PBS as he talks about his past:

http://youtu.be/D6xVTN_5OSU


This short film appeared on today's NY Times web page and it is most touching in its remembrance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/23/opini ... ef=opinion
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:33 pm

I bought his Selected Poems ('66-'87) today on behalf of my mother-in-law for her to give her husband as a gift. A great selection. I enjoyed the tang of his Oysters once again in the queue (yes! in a bookshop! hooray for Christmas!), but I would have loved to get this one for myself:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seamus-Heaney-B ... 618&sr=1-4
£99.99 a bit steep, and I already have 4 of the 10 volumes, so maybe not, but a lovely Faber set. My father-in-law, from Dublin, didn't know much about Heaney's verse, but was engrossed in my Death of a Naturalist the other night. This led me to finding my Guardian '10 great poets of the 20th century' CD so we could listen to Digging and Death of a Naturalist.

I wonder which of his volumes from Field Work on you'd most recommend.

Talking of poets and death, an engrossing radio programme this morning with Andrew Marr, on the mend from his stroke, interviewing Clive James, rasping with emphysema and in remission from leukemia, recorded at his home a mile or so from my place. Several 'best of the year ' lists have cited his new Dante translation as an essential one, and the way he talked about it, and the sheer gorgeousness of the book (having 'looked inside' on Amazon, the thrill of the hard covers and the lovely paper as a physical object was an object lesson in the eternal superiority of the book as a tangible thing over a digital file) had me drooling. The flow of the poetry feels natural and highly readable. I've never read it by anyone, so I think this must be on my wishlist for post-Christmas spending. Shame it's not a parallel text as I know enough Italian to read and enjoy it in its own right, but at 560 pages, it's probably just as well it isn't:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Divine-Comedy-C ... ine+comedy

James read several of his recent poems, very direct and hard-hitting, and quipped that ghis publisher are dying for him to pop his clogs so they can publish The Last Poems. Much as he admires Eliot and the somewhat overlooked Louis MacNeice, Yeats and Larkin are his 20th C titans.
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:32 pm

Otis- how nice that image of your extended family listening to the poet within your home. There is a new Heaney translation this week in the New Yorker that thrilled me. Blithely I would say get all his volumes. I have the American Selected Poems Open Ground Poems 1966 to 1996 and then every single volume after that. As to essentials I would point you to Field Work, The Haw Lantern, The Spirit Level, District and Circle and his last volume Human Chain. That final volume celebrates his marriage, his family, children and friends. Re reading it lately it seems to reaffirm for me his connectedness to the things of this world. District and Circle shows a man alert to the challenges of life in the modern world- the 'dangers' that can exist in even the most innocent seeming of 'things'.

I, too, have been standing in lines at bookstores. It is the only time of the year that they are crowded, probably not enough to keep many of them going, but it makes me feel good non the less. A particular substantial tome is under my tree and wrapped- the second volume of TC Boyles Collected Stories. I also got a copy of The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner. I am excited to start turning the pages.

The news that Mr. James is hanging in there is heartening. His The Divine Comedy translation is punchy and earthy and it has a muscularity that makes it most readable. It has supplanted my Allen Mandelbaum edition. By all means buy it. I read his blog when I have the chance and find myself revisiting his essays with regularity. And he is damn right about MacNeice. He needs to be trumpeted more loudly for the strong poet he is. One of the best purchases I made this year is buying a used copy of his Collected Poems in hardcover by Faber on Amazon. He gives Auden a run for his money.

Let us celebrate strong poets and powerful, memorable verse that consistently leaves that 'tang' and 'brine' upon your inner mind!
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:52 pm

Belated and only caught in the New York Times end of the year compilation The Lives They Lived. The great poet and critic, John Hollander, passed back on 8/17/13- see his obituary in the Times

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... Wc&cad=rja

A master at verse and capable of working at a high level in so many forms. He poetry was witty, ironic, and widely learned. His criticism a model to be emulated. There never seemed to be a thing he could not do in poetry. This one hits hard.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:20 am

Well the new year is not starting off auspiciously- saddened by the news that Phil Everly has passed at age 74, He and his brother, Don, were as close to angelic harmony singing that I will ever hear in my lifetime.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/arts/ ... 74.html?hp

http://youtu.be/5Z3qOzsVviI
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Poor Deportee » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:42 pm

How can nobody has referenced Pete Seeger's passing in this thread???

Seeger's folk style wasn't really my cup of tea, but only a fool would fail to recognize the scale of his contribution to American music. Fare thee well, Mr. Seeger.
Last edited by Poor Deportee on Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:43 pm

Cos only JOAP posts on here and he hasn't?

Was awaiting the story of him meeting Pete at his local town music event (I think), referenced elsewhere.
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Who Shot Sam? » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:42 pm

Sad news. I saw Pete a few years ago at the Newport Folk Festival. There's been some Twitter chatter about naming the soon-to-be-built replacement for New York's Tappan Zee Bridge after Pete. That would be a lovely gesture.
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:01 pm

Good idea.

Yay! I was wrong about posting here. Diversity!
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:08 pm

Otis, I have been out of town attending a business conference and strangely, as in real life, I was in the same city, as when he was alive and when he passed. Pete was my neighbor for most of my sentient life. His youngest daughter, Tinya, was my friend in middle school. He was everybody's neighbor in the city we both call home, Beacon, New York. Every fall as I raked and bagged the leaves in my parent's yard I would stack them at the street corner so that he could collect them in his truck for mulching on his property down the road and up on the mountain. I still recall how in awe I was that he almost single-handily built the home he occupied on the mountain ridge with his family overlooking the Hudson River and down into the Highlands. He was always around my town on Main Street and when approached he was always gracious and gave you a moment of his time, usually with a gentle but conviction-ed reminder of a civic event he wanted to share with you. Every year for decades and decades he would perform in our local schools, at our town's riverfront or on the steps of our civic offices. He and his wife, Toshi,, fostered music in the schools in my town quietly providing the funds needed to keep music alive in our elementary schools. I have always admired that he stood up to the House Un-American Activities Committee back in the late 1950s and told them to go to hell. He suffered professionally for that but he kept his dignity and his principals. He would often say yes he had been a communist for awhile in his youth but that he had been one with 'a small c'. I can still picture him standing tall, his posture ramrod straight, his banjo across his front and his head slightly tilted as he would sing out loud and clear with his deep tenor and encourage you in the audience to join in. And that is what he did all his life- join in. Activist, singer, song writer, performer, archivist, historian, conscious, concerned citizen, environmentalist and parent he led a full and engaged life. I last saw Pete at a local restaurant on Main Street about a year ago and he firmly and gently reminded ms about the Occupy Wall Street movement. That was Pete. Every town should have a Pete. Thankfully mine did for many, many years. Today I feel a substantial void in my town.

My favorite piece of his music is this. He did not write the words as they came from the King James Bible and the Book of Ecclesiastes. But his beautiful melody and his inspired choice of this poetry have always seemed to musically embody Pete for me.

WSS- I agree wholeheartedly that naming the new Tappan Zee Bridge,when it is constructed, after him would be a most fitting memorial to the man.

http://youtu.be/W4ga_M5Zdn4
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:10 pm

Great stuff. Few towns of 15.5k inhabitants have a resident as legendary in them. His death was the first item on the BBC4 news that morning.
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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:18 pm

Otis- his life was given strong testament in yesterday's New York Times as he occupied a sizable portion of the front page and two whole pages in the first section of the paper and an appreciation on the Editorial Page. If that does not testify to his importance I do not know what does?
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:49 pm

These two videos epitomize Pete for me- engaging, impassioned, and human:

http://youtu.be/NHbTWJ9tjnw

http://youtu.be/u90qRE2F7CM
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Poor Deportee » Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:16 am

That's a great post, Chris. Thanks for that. Beyond the music itself, you are describing a man who was, perhaps above all else, a great citizen of his town and his republic. This is an old idea of civic virtue that used to be commonplace and has now almost completely sunk down below a conception of human beings as privatized consumers whose "patriotism" amounts to boorish flag-waving and chanting at sporting events and electing punitive politicians to brutalize scapegoats both domestic and foreign. Dylan called Seeger a "Great Man;" your description amply captures what that actually means. You are lucky to have known him.
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I hope no living thing cries over his bones

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Re: R.I.P

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:13 pm

Otis and PD- thank you for the kind words. PD- Pete wore his fame casually and he never let it get in the way of any contact another person might have with him. I never met a more disarming and unassuming man in my life. And yes, PD, he is the definition of 'citizen' for me. He did not preach at you but guided and conjoled and led by example. Some of my favorite images of him involve his shirt sleeves being rolled up. That was Pete- 'my sleeves are rolled and I am ready to pitch in'. He always seemed to embody for me the image of the Roman citizen and consul-Ciccinatus- who when his term was up saving and serving the Republic -simply went back to his farm and served his local community.

He was very much a man of my community. My town over the decades came to look forward to his annual community get togethers down at the river side in town on the banks of the Hudson River- The Sloop Festival, The Strawberry Festival, The Pumpkin Festival, the Corn Festival. Every year he would lead a public reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the City Hall on the Fourth of July. I cannot remember when he did not have a concert in one of my city's schools. He loved to go to the elementary schools in town and get together with the little kids and lead them in sing alongs. He was instrumental in celebrating Dr Martin Luther King in my town and it was his suggestion this year that we enhance his remembrance by conducting a recreation march down on our Main Street in song and spirit. Unfortunately, he could not participate as planned because his health was failing.

In the summertime my family particularly looked forward to going down to the Hudson River in town to the park he helped to have constructed for the Strawberry Festival for some delicious strawberry shortcake and a day of music that he would spearhead and lead. His wife, Toshi, would be in the preparation tent hulling strawberries and cooking the homemade shortbread which the berries would cover. And the river would be inviting and swimmable because for decades he had led the campaign to clean it up.

I did not know him intimately. I knew him enough to say hello and for him to remember my name, basically because of my youthful friendship with his daughter. But we all came to feel we knew him in town. He helped to make me proud to say I was from Beacon because if a man of his character and achievement lived in my hometown than it could be not half bad. I was struck by a subtle irony last evening when I returned home from a business session in NYC that kept me in lower Manhattan since Monday. My local weekly newspaper had a banner headline- The 'Spirit of Beacon' has passed. It struck me as both sad and true. Sad because one of our biggest civic hearts had ceased to beat and ironic that this same paper back in the Sixties when I was growing up would have probably run a headline more like Communist sympathizer Pete Seeger to perform at local High School with intimations that he might be spreading some form of sedition. The only sedition I ever heard this man spread was that of a deep and abiding love for his country and what it could be and his fervent wish that it live up to the principals its documents and institutions expounded for all its citizens. He consistently thought our commonality in music would overtime achieve that goal.

Late January will always be a hard time for me now. In the last years I have felt the loss of two significant Americans at this time of the year. We lost a 'great' man on Monday, the 27th. I will always be greatful I got to spend sometime in his shadow.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'


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