Category Archives: Music

Song of the Day #1878

Song of the Day: Whitney Houston Disconet Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Mike Carroll, features many of Whitney’s 80s’ hits, including “I Wanna Dance with Somebody“, “How Will I Know?“, “So Emotional“, and one of my all-time fave up-tempo Whitney tracks: “Love will Save the Day” (with that blazing vibes solo by Roy Ayers). Whitney is tragically gone nearly ten years now, but on this date in 1963, she was born. These tracks were from a happier time …

John Dewey H.S.: A Love Letter …

On Facebook, my friend Stephen Boydstun, made the following query:


You attended the John Dewey high school in Brooklyn, and I was wondering if there were differences in that school compared to other high schools that were advertised and how did its specialness stack up in your experience of it. Your 1977 yearbook is online, though not with very clear images. It indicates you were awarded a Regents scholarship. Does that mean a scholarship to go to college? The high school was free, right? Do you have a clear senior picture you could show us? Perhaps you have already written about some of this and could direct me to that spot.

I’ve only written in passing about my experiences at John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X, in Brooklyn, New York). But there’s so much to say.

As background, folks can indeed check out the John Dewey High School Archives here. Available on that site are my 1977 senior yearbook (my own yearbook is somewhere in my apartment, but my high school photo [ugh!] can be found on page 88), Graduation Program, and Senior Recogntion Night Program. I was indeed the recipient of a small Regents scholarship, though, more importantly, I received a Regents-endorsed diploma, because I successfully completed the necessary Regents exams to qualify (in Biology, English, Geometry, Social Studies, and so forth).

John Dewey was an extraordinary “free” public high school. I don’t know how my experiences in high school compare to those of others in standard high school curricula throughout the New York city public school system. But I can say that my high school years were among the most remarkable educational experiences of my life. The school stressed individual responsibility within a nourishing social environment, with gifted teachers who cared, and who offered challenging courses and extracurricular activities on a sprawling college-like campus. Check out “The John Dewey High School Adventure” (October 1971, volume 53, no. 2, Phi Delta Kappan International) by Sol Levine, who was the principal of the school when I was in attendance. A 1977 New York Times article also highlighted the school’s unique character.

In 1974, I entered the school as a sophomore (a tenth-grader), having graduated from a 2-year SP (“special progress“) program at David A. Boody Junior High School, which consolidated the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades into a two-year timeframe. Instead of the traditional fall and spring semesters, John Dewey High School provided students with five 6-week cycles throughout the academic year. Courses were graded on a pass-fail system, which placed less stress on grade-consciousness and more on augmented learning—though teachers could give students an “ME” (Mastery with Excellence) certificate. The school day was longer (8 am to 4 pm) than the standard NYC high school, which allowed for “free periods” in which we were expected to meet in study groups, clubs (both traditional and nontraditional), and on-campus activities. The school didn’t participate in interscholastic sports team competitions, but encouraged intramural play on its wonderful athletic field.

Sophomore Year

In my sophomore year, in addition to full-year studies of French, Advanced Geometry, Biology, and Business Education (Typewriting), I took courses in the following areas:

English

  • Introduction to Dramatic Literature
  • Introduction to Creative Writing (with Brian McCarthy, who also stoked my interest in science fiction, with the Science Fiction Club and the Palingenesis publication it spawned)
  • Introduction to Journalism
  • Introduction to the Short Story

Social Studies:

  • War and Peace (Twentieth Century)
  • Struggle for Democracy (Up to the French Revolution)
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Consumer Economics
  • Urban Economics

I was medically excused from gym, but took associated courses in “Human Sexuality” and “Psychology of Human Relations”.

Junior Year

I engaged in full-year studies (all five cycles) in French, Chemistry, Trigonometry, and Music (The History of Jazz, 3 cycles of which were attended in my junior year, 2 cycles of which were completed in my senior year—during which I actually taught several weeks on the history of jazz guitar and the history of jazz violin). I also took these courses in the following disciplines:

English

  • Psychological Approach to Literature (2 cycles)
  • Shakespeare (2 cycles)

Social Studies

  • The Kennedy Years & After
  • American People
  • The Holocaust (the first such course ever offered on a high-school level, taught by Ira Zornberg, under whom I came to edit the social studies periodical, Gadfly)
  • Futuristics

I began my studies with the Law Institute, led by two wonderful teachers, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Wolfson:

  • Justice, Judges, and Jury
  • Supreme Court & Civil Liberties
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Business Law

I also took one elective course in “Photography”—where I learned to take and develop photographs, as well as various “DISKS” (“Dewey Independent Study Kits”) in such areas as Medieval History and the Renaissance.

Senior Year

In my final year at John Dewey High School, I undertook full-year studies of Advanced French, Anthropology, three cycles of Calculus, and Advanced Placement American History (taught by Larry Pero, Chair of the History Department, for which I earned college credit with St. John’s University). I also studied the following courses in English:

  • Man, Nature, and Survival
  • Individualism in American Literature
  • Introduction to Film
  • Public Speaking

And I completed my studies in the Law Institute with the following courses:

  • Law in an Urban Society
  • Fieldwork and Legal Research

Never giving a second thought to the issue of “Grade-Point Average,” I fully embraced the enriched atmosphere of learning that John Dewey High School provided for its students. I graduated with honors for growth, personal achievement, and personal contributions in English, French, Music, and Social Studies, and received recognition for my extra-curricular activities.

I also received the English Achievement Award for Excellence in the Communication Arts, the James K. Hackett Medal for Demonstrated Proficiency in Oratory, the Publications Award for Demonstrated Excellence in the Field of Journalism, the John Dewey Science Fiction Club Award, the Chemistry Teachers Club of New York Award for scholarship in chemistry, a certificate of merit from the Association of Teachers of Social Studies of NYC, and the Honorable Samuel A. Welcome Award for Excellence in Legal Studies.

Most importantly, the teachers at John Dewey High School, unafraid to show their own political predilections, encouraged me to develop my own political and intellectual interests, whether or not they agreed with the directions I was taking. Indeed, once I had discovered Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand, while enrolled in my Advanced Placement American History course, the libertarian trajectory of my politics was seeded, nourished, and challenged by my teachers. A greater gift from American educators I could never have received.

From what I understand, the school is more traditional today than it was in its inception, but I’ve retained friends among my former peers and faculty and will always have a depth of love for the high school that more than prepared me for a rigorous and rewarding undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral education at New York University.

Song of the Day #1877

Song of the Day: 1983 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Mike Arato and John Matarazzo, captures the essence of a year in which dance music once again began to dominate the pop charts, led by the success of MJ‘s all-time best seller, “Thriller,” all of whose cuts took over the Billboard Dance Chart for eleven consecutive weeks. Some of those thrilling cuts are here, as are such post-disco hits as “The Safety Dance“, “Just Be Good To Me“, “Rockit“, “Holiday“, “I.O.U.“, “Let the Music Play” (the first truly massive freestyle single), “Angel Eyes“, “Flashdance … What a Feeling“, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)“, “She Blinded Me with Science“, “She Works Hard for the Money“, “Maniac“, and “I’m So Excited“, among others.

I Want My MTV: 40 Years Later!

On this date, forty years ago, MTV was born and changed the sights and sounds of music. In tribute to what it used to be …

Song of the Day #1876

Song of the Day: 1982 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Casey Jones, is another one of my all-time favorite Disconet dance medleys. This is just a superb knitting together of dancefloor staples such as “Love Come Down“, “I Specialize in Love“, “Keep On“, “Planet Rock“, “Play at Your Own Risk“, “Megatron Man“, “Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)“, “Let it Whip“, “Do Ya Wanna Funk“, “Come and Get Your Love“, “Babe, We’re Gonna Love Tonight“, “Gloria“, “It’s Raining Men“, and “Mickey“. The medley incorporates R&B, hip hop, Hi-NRG, electro-pop, and the alternative sounds of the era. I digitized this lively medley from the original vinyl, uploaded for the sole purpose of entertainment with no copyright infringement intended. (And another H/T to Ryan Neugebauer for his YouTube Tech Tips!)

Song of the Day #1875

Song of the Day: 1981 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Mike Arato (who DJ’d at Uncle Sam’s in Long Island!) and John Matarazzo, is a swirling compendium of some of the best hits of that year, including: “Pull Up to the Bumper“, “Nights“, “Try it Out“, “Give it to Me Baby“, “Hit ‘n Run Lover“, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“, “Walk Right Now“, “Your Love“, and “Lay All Your Love on Me” (yep, from that great ABBA Disconet Remix [YouTube link]). While the rest of the world was walking on disco’s grave, the rest of us were dancing the night away in the clubs of the day!

Song of the Day #1874

Song of the Day: 1980 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], produced by John Matarazzo and Mike Arato, features such dance gems as “Fame“, “Funkytown“, “Twilight Zone“, “Vertigo/Relight My Fire“, “Celebration“, “Love Sensation“, “Rapture“, “Upside Down“, and “Another One Bites the Dust“, drawing from the pop, alternative, and rock sounds of the day.

Pete Alonso: HR Derby Champ Again!

I don’t care if you’re a Yankees fan (like me) or a Mets fan! Two cheers (for two consecutive wins) to the Mets’ Pete Alonso for winning the Home Run Derby again! Great show! And the kid’s got rhythm too (see below) —

JARS: Dedicating and Rededicating …

Over the last twenty-one years of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, we have lost key members of the JARS family. In 2005, one of our cofounders—the man with the vision to create this journal—Bill Bradford, passed away. This was followed by the deaths of original Advisory Board members Larry J. Sechrest in 2008 and John Hospers in 2011. David Mayer, who joined the Board of Advisors in 2012, died in 2019. And in June 2021, we were greatly saddened to learn that Steven Horwitz, another Advisory Board member from the class of 2012, lost his battle with multiple myeloma.

It is in Steve’s memory that we will dedicate the forthcoming December 2021 issue of JARS, published by Pennsylvania State University Press.

But dedications of this sort require rededications to our mission—as we continue to be the only nonpartisan, biannual, interdisciplinary university-press published, double-blind peer-reviewed scholarly periodical devoted to the critical examination of Ayn Rand and her times. To that end, we are proud to announce the addition of four new Advisory Board members and one new Editorial Board member (and fuller bios for these folks will follow in our December 2021 issue):

We are also pleased to announce that Roger E. Bissell, another prolific contributor to JARS since its debut in 1999, has become an Associate Editor. Roger is an independent scholar living in Antioch, Tennessee. A research associate with the Molinari Institute, he has edited no fewer than ten books and is the author of more than three dozen scholarly essays in philosophy and psychology and four books, including How the Martians Discovered Algebra: Explorations in Induction and the Philosophy of Mathematics (2014) and What’s in Your File Folder? Essays on the Nature and Logic of Propositions (2019). He is also the coeditor, with Chris Matthew Sciabarra (me!) and Edward W. Younkins, of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom. A lifelong professional musician, he has an M.A. in music performance and literature (University of Iowa) and a B.S. in music theory and composition (Iowa State University).

In welcoming these individuals, we remain profoundly grateful to all of our editorial and advisory board members for their continued support, which is integral to our ongoing intellectual journey.

Stay tuned for what promises to be a blockbuster December 2021 issue of JARS!

Song of the Day #1873

Song of the Day: 1979 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Jersey native John Matarazzo and Brooklyn-born Mike Arato, is one of my all-time favorite Disconet gems. It was heard not only in clubs but played by Paco on “Disco 92, WKTU” in New York City, typically blaring from car radios on 86th Street in Brooklyn [YouTube link]. It features snippets from classic disco tracks such as “This Time Baby“, “Don’t Stop till You Get Enough“, “Dancer“, “Heaven Must Have Sent You“, “Don’t You Want My Love“, “I’ve Got the Next Dance“, “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You“, “The Break“, “Come to Me” and “There But for the Grace of God Go I“—a song by Machine of raw social commentary that provided one of the quintessential disco riffs of all time. This superb dance medley was done the old fashioned way, without digital sampling, and with all the talent that a remixer could muster!