Sunday, August 20, 2017

Paul Oliver

An obituary in the NY Times by William Grimes:

Paul Oliver, a Briton who wrote some of the earliest and most authoritative histories of one of America’s great indigenous musical forms, the blues, died on Tuesday in Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, England. He was 90.

Mr. Oliver first heard black American music as a teenager in England during World War II. While he was gathering crops for the war effort at a harvest camp in Suffolk, not far from an American military base, a friend asked him if he wanted to hear something unusual.

“He took me down to a kind of hedge between the two farms, and there was this extraordinary crying and yelling,” Mr. Oliver told the web publication in 2009. “I couldn’t call it singing, but it was quite spine-chilling. He said, ‘Do you know what this is?’ I said, ‘No, I’ve no idea,’ and he said, ‘You’re listening to blues.’

“He wasn’t quite right, really,” Mr. Oliver added, “because we were actually listening to field hollers, but nevertheless I found it quite extraordinary.”

The extraordinary sounds sent Mr. Oliver on a lifelong quest as a record collector, field researcher and historian, the British counterpart to Samuel Charters, the American historian whose groundbreaking book “The Country Blues” appeared in 1959, the same year Mr. Oliver’s biography “Bessie Smith” was published in Britain...

“He possesses broad sympathies and deep insights lacking in most American writing on the blues,” the folklorist Benjamin A. Botkin wrote in The New York Times Book Review in 1960, reviewing Mr. Oliver’s second book, “Blues Fell This Morning,” one of the first efforts to examine closely the music’s language and subject matter.

After taking a trip through the American South in 1964, interviewing and recording blues singers, Mr. Oliver wrote “The Story of the Blues.” Published in 1969, it was the first comprehensive history of the genre and remains an indispensable work...

Brett Bonner, the editor of the magazine Living Blues, said in an interview: “Paul was one of the founders of blues scholarship. He and Sam Charters set the template for everything that followed. They also set the stage for the blues revival of the 1960s. Without them, people like Mississippi John Hurt, Son House and Skip James would not have had second careers.”

...Encouraged by librarians at the United States Embassy, Mr. Oliver won a grant from the State Department and received financing from the BBC to travel to the United States and record blues artists. His journey through the South led to an enormously popular exhibition at the embassy that was attended by the singer and guitarist Lightnin’ Hopkins, whom Mr. Oliver had interviewed at his house in Houston.

The exhibition became the starting point for “The Story of the Blues,” which was accompanied by a double album tracing the music’s development from its African roots to the 1960s.

Mr. Oliver edited nearly a hundred interviews from his trip for “Conversation With the Blues” (1965), an oral portrait of the music and the American South that included indigenous musical artists of every description...

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Taylor Swift and what Trump brags about

From the NY Times:

Taylor Swift’s unfiltered testimony about a former radio host who she said groped her attracted a lot of notice for its directness and for the skill with which she parried his lawyer. The trial was a rare, high-profile glimpse into the dynamics of sexual assault cases...

The story includes accounts by women like Erika Rosney who've been sexually assaulted:

As a girl and younger woman, I did not recognize sexual harassment or assault as such. It’s not something we learned about in school or in my household. It wasn’t until college that I learned about it and by then there had been so many instances. It happened at work, school, social gatherings, everywhere.

Looking back on those situations as an adult, I feel humiliated. It makes my skin crawl and also makes me so sad because I did not have the tools to stick up for myself. I don’t think many girls do. I think if I had role models to demonstrate how to respond, I would have been more empowered and less ashamed.

Rob's comment:
What kind of people vote for a man who brags about doing this?

See also Who Is Killing American Women? Their Husbands And Boyfriends.


How we stop those assholes

Good advice from Kevin Drum:

The truth is that white supremacist groups are pretty small. Their views are so obviously vile that they just don’t appeal to very many people. Generally speaking, then, the answer isn’t to fight them, it’s to outnumber them. 

If they announce a rally, liberals should mount a vastly larger counter-rally and…do nothing. Just surround them peaceably and make sure the police are there to do their job if the neo-Nazi types become violent. If antifa folks show up with counter-violence in mind, surround them too.

Nonviolence isn’t the answer to everything, but it is here. The best way to fight these creeps is to take their oxygen away and suffocate them. Fighting and bloodshed get headlines, which is what they want. So shut them down with lots of people but no violence. Eventually they’ll go back to their caves and the press will get bored.

Of course, all of this depends on our president not doing anything further to support their cause. If that happens, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.

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