Tyler Cowen is a king


I think his “dirty little secret,” if you will forgive the pun, is that once you get past the first album he wasn’t much of a true Dionysian, but rather a playful polyglot who assumed various poses.  Most of all I was impressed by his urge to create, and how strong and how internal that drive seems to have been.

Tyler Cowen on Prince.

That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine

is it time

for this Everly Brothers classic to be repurposed as a gay anthem?


Did not know this is like a DC semi-slur/term for dummy? via NY Mag via cuz.

By the time Costa got fired for using it, ’Bama had been around for quite some time, and its meaning and use had changed. Most likely, the word was first used to put down recent arrivals to D.C.’s black neighborhoods from southern states—especially Alabama, says cultural anthropologist and long time Smithsonian staffer John Franklin. “It’s had currency over several generations,” Franklin says. It was a way of calling someone a black hick: “There was some disdain for people who didn’t live in the city and weren’t sophisticated.” The word had particular weight during the Great Migration, when many African Americans left the rural South for northern cities. Then, the point was to differentiate the newer arrivals from the longtime Washingtonians—who worried that the countrified Southerners flooding the District would reflect badly on the whole community. It was, essentially, the way D.C.’s black residents called one of their own a redneck. (Around the same time, German Jews who had already been in the U.S. for a few decades coined their own slang term to put down their less sophisticated Russian and Polish cousins—and thus, “kike” was born, only becoming a generalized ethnic slur afterwards.)

Eventually, ’Bama lost most of the geographic connotations it once had, and melted into just another piece of regional slang. Even white kids like Costa learned what it meant, picking it up by osmosis from the culture around them. Costa says his own definition of ’Bama is that it refers to a person who is “stupid.” He spent most of his life in the Baltimore-Washington area, and says he and his friends grew up using “the B-word” all the time.


All Roads

Happening to watch half of Jarhead on TV (Saarsgaard so good! *) leads to reading screenwriter William Broyles Jr.’s Wiki page, which leads to reading his essay “Why Men Love War”:

A lieutenant colonel I knew, a true intellectual, was put in charge of civil affairs, the work we did helping the Vietnamese grow rice and otherwise improve their lives. He was a sensitive man who kept a journal and seemed far better equipped for winning hearts and minds than for combat command. But he got one, and I remember flying out to visit his fire base the night after it had been attacked by an NVA sapper unit. Most of the combat troops I had been out on an operation, so this colonel mustered a motley crew of clerks and cooks and drove the sappers off, chasing them across tile rice paddies and killing dozens of these elite enemy troops by the light of flares. That morning, as they were surveying what they had done and loading the dead NVA–all naked and covered with grease and mud so they could penetrate the barbed wire–on mechanical mules like so much garbage, there was a look of beatific contentment on tile colonel’s face that I had not seen except in charismatic churches. It was the look of a person transported into ecstasy.

And I–what did I do, confronted with this beastly scene? I smiled back. ‘as filled with bliss as he was. That was another of the times I stood on the edge of my humanity, looked into the pit, and loved what I saw there. I had surrendered to an aesthetic that was divorced from that crucial quality of empathy that lets us feel the sufferings of others. And I saw a terrible beauty there. War is not simply the spirit of ugliness, although it is certainly that, the devil’s work. But to give the devil his due,it is also an affair of great and seductive beauty.

Which leads me to decide to finally read Chris Hedges’ book War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning:

Chris Hedges was a graduate student in divinity at Harvard before he went to war. He spent fifteen years as a war correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, theChristian Science Monitor, and the New York Times, reporting on conflicts in El Salvador, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq.

While on Amazon their robot recommends to me Ernst Jünger’s Storm Of Steel —

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 10.50.07 AM

that’s a pass for now, but I will check out Ernst’s Wiki page:

Throughout the war, Jünger kept a diary, which would become the basis of his 1920 Storm of Steel. He spent his free time reading the works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Ariosto andKubin, besides entomological journals he was sent from home. During 1917, he was collecting beetles in the trenches and while on patrol, 149 specimens between 2 January and 27 July, which he listed under the title of Fauna coleopterologica douchyensis (“Coleopterological fauna of the Douchy region”).

leatherhead beetle

a leatherhead beetle in Death Valley illustrates the wiki page on coleopterology

which leads me to the wiki page for Wandervogel:

Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward. The name can be translated as rambling, hiking, or wandering bird (differing in meaning from “Zugvogel” or migratory bird) and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society and get back to nature and freedom.

which leads us both to the Japanese pastime of sawanobori, which looks semi-fun:


a bit silly but in the best way

and to History Of The Hippie Movement, subsection “Nature Boys Of Southern California” and thus to Nat King Cole’s song Nature Boy:

which has maybe the longest wiki page of any of these, culminating in

The song was a central theme in Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! “Nature Boy” was initially arranged as a techno song with singer David Bowie’s vocals, before being sent to the group Massive Attack, whose remix was used in the film’s closing credits. Bowie described the rendition as “slinky and mysterious”, adding that Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja from the group had “put together a riveting piece of work,” and that Bowie was “totally pleased with the end result.”

And just like that we’re back to Bowie.

*Saarsgaard on Catholicism:

In an interview with the New York Times, Sarsgaard stated that he followed Catholicism, saying: “I like the death-cult aspect of Catholicism. Every religion is interested in death, but Catholicism takes it to a particularly high level. […] Seriously, in Catholicism, you’re supposed to love your enemy. That really impressed me as a kid, and it has helped me as an actor. […] The way that I view the characters I play is part of my religious upbringing. To abandon curiosity in all personalities, good or bad, is to give up hope in humanity.”


It’s not just Bowie — this week music also lost Red Simpson, writer/performer of the above song (discussed briefly in this book).

Red Simpson

From his NY Times’ obituary I learn that he performed regularly at Trout’s:


pic from this interesting blog: https://wayfarenotes.wordpress.com/ “Stories of Music Towns you Haven’t heard of yet”

Joseph Cecil Simpson was born on March 6, 1934, in Higley, Ariz., the youngest of 13 children, and grew up in Bakersfield, where he learned to play guitar as a child. His red hair earned him his nickname.

He enlisted in the Navy during the Korean War and served on the hospital ship Repose, where he played with a shipboard group, the Repose Ramblers.


Speaking of Simpsons, I can’t hear about a ship like this without thinking of the Simpsons’ landing on the USS Walter Mondale:

but the Repose had a dramatic history:

Arriving on 3 January 1966, she was permanently deployed to Southeast Asia and earned the nickname “Angel of the Orient.” Operating mainly in the I Corps area, she treated over 9,000 battle casualties and 24,000 inpatients while deployed. Notably, USS Repose was on station during the 1967 USS Forrestal fire that killed 134 sailors and injured 161.


the Forrestal fire.  Future Senator John McCain’s plane was destroyed in the fire — one of many exciting events in his not-boring life.

According to Wiki Red’s last release was “Hey Bin Laden” but I cannot find that tune on YouTube.

I wonder if Red liked Bowie.

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Special Snowflakes


Wandering into a hipster-type boutique in the East Village to buy a present for an Evil Santa/White Elephant type thing during a brief stop in NYC, I heard this song playing:

I really liked this album when it first came out, still do I guess.  From the wiki page for the album:

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Pecknold admitted that his girlfriend of five years found the stress this album placed on their relationship too much, and ended things. Upon hearing the completed album, she realized that Pecknold’s efforts were worth it, and they tried to work it out. The couple has since split up.


Added to this, he stated they wanted to record very quickly, saying he wanted to do the “vocal takes in one go, so even if there are fuck-ups, I want them to be on there. I want there to be guitar mistakes. I want there to be not totally flawless vocals. I want to record it and have that kind of cohesive sound. Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, to me, is the best-sounding album because it sounds like there were only six hours in the universe for that album to be recorded in. So I want it to have that feeling.

(Remember now that after reading this for the first time when the album first came out, I went back and gave a good hard listen to Astral Weeks, which I found totally boring even though I’m obsessed with the Van Morrison song “And it Stoned Me”:

Morrison, in 1985, related the song to a quasi-mystical experience he had as a child:

I suppose I was about twelve years old. We used to go to a place called Ballystockart to fish. We stopped in the village on the way up to this place and I went to this little stone house, and there was an old man there with dark weather-beaten skin, and we asked him if he had any water. He gave us some water which he said he’d got from the stream. We drank some and everything seemed to stop for me. Time stood still. For five minutes everything was really quiet and I was in this ‘other dimension’. That’s what the song is about.)

Anyway, we’re talking about snowflakes.  Here are the opening lyrics of the song Helplessness Blues:

I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me
But I don’t, I don’t know what that will be
I’ll get back to you someday soon you will see
What a striking and succinct summation of what we might call “the hipster dilemma.”  The same album starts out with these words:
So now I am older than my mother and father
when they had their daughter
now what does that say about me
Now, ain’t that exactly an anxiety that drives sensitive youngish people of “my generation,” what I will crudely call hipsters, crazy?

A snowflake, from the wikipedia page “snowflake,” which I am free to use and remix provided I attribute the photographer, Dakota Lynch.

The snowflake is a powerful image.  At what point did the idea that “every snowflake is unique” get taught to every schoolchild in America (or at least snowy America)?  Here is George Will turning the idea of “special snowflakes” on its head, in a piece about the recent fusses at Yale and elsewhere:
On campuses so saturated with progressivism that they celebrate diversity in everything but thought, every day is a snow day: There are perishable snowflakes everywhere. The institutions have brought this on themselves. So, regarding the campuses’ current agonies, schadenfreude is not a guilty pleasure, it is obligatory.
It’s possible Peggy Noonan beat him to it.  Addressing (more or less) young people in a May column about “trigger warnings”:
I notice lately that some members of your generation are being called, derisively, Snowflakes. Are you really a frail, special and delicate little thing that might melt when the heat is on?
Forget the point they’re making about kids today, let’s stick with the metaphor.  There’s something interesting in the fact that snowflakes are wondrous and individual, our symbol for special uniqueness, but also that snowflakes are weak and useless unless heaped in an enormous pile of other snowflakes, completely subsumed as individuals and lost forever into a mass of snow.

Snow and ice: how are they different?

The song could equally be “I was raised up believing I was somehow unique, a snowflake distinct among snowflakes” etc “but now after some thinking, I’d rather be a snowflake in a huge snow pile melting into individual nothingness but perhaps collective somethingness among other snowflakes.”
Snowflakes: worth thinking about!  More from wiki:
In 1988, Nancy Knight was documenting snowflakes for the National Center for Atmospheric Research and found two identical snowflakes of the hollow column type.
Was all set to have a laugh at whether this was the best use of Nancy’s time but then found this wonderful obituary of her.  No one who took part in the National Hail Research Experiment will be mocked on this page.
Nancy’s colleagues recall her spirited approach to hunting for hail and other items of interest. “Some of my most hilarious memories of Nancy on field campaigns were driving,” says Karyn Sawyer, the former director of UCP/JOSS. “We’d be rocketing along a dirt road somewhere, and she’d insist that we stop because she had spotted an interesting bird.”

Nancy Knight w/hail

Helytimes Top Ten Albums Of 2015

3) Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music.

Technically came out in 2014.

Ordinarily I hate people’s photos of concerts but look how Sturgill & gang look like a little colored diorama here at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles:


2) Fleetwood Mac, Rumours.

Technically came out in 1977.

1) Grimes, Art Angels

Thank you, and please nominate your faves to helphely@gmail.com

In searching for these found this video for Tusk which I suspect will also appeal to Helytimes readership.



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