Song of the Day #1948 & 1949

Songs of the Day: This Track is a Planet Killer / Milky [YouTube links] are two songs composed by Soy. (to appear on their upcoming album “Johnathan”), with my dear friend Eric Fleischmann on vocals. The starkly different tracks, which follow one another, are united as part of a live performance that debuted on 2 January 2022 [YouTube link]. The first track is full of punk fury; the second is an ambient-alternative instrumental. The full 50+ minute official video can be viewed here. When Eric isn’t protesting on campus or writing about the work of Laurence Labadie or subjects as varied as historical materialism and the anarcho-punk movement, he’s busy wreaking havoc on stage with his bandmates: Mose Hatcher (bass), Max Folan (guitar, vocals), Noah Michalski (drums), Lex Puckett (guitar), Shaan Dahar aka HHP (guitar, backing vocals).

Soy.

Ski Visits

If ever there was a need to lift Ski’s spirits, this was the week. My sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra, was visited by her long-time colleague and dear friend, Matt Mandery and her two godchildren, Genevieve Teresa Gonzales and Sara Gonzales-Thomas—who is on her way to Boston as part of the cast for tomorrow’s opening night performance of “Wicked” at Citizens Bank Opera House. Also along was Alex Gonzales (our cousin “Sandy”, loving mom of Genevieve and Sara). A blessing indeed!

Ski and Matt

Sandy, Sara, and Genevieve (with Ski)

Ski and Sue

Yesterday, we learned of the passing of a very dear friend, Sue Mayham (1958-2022). A graduate of the class of 1976 from Brooklyn Technical High School, Sue first met my sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra (Ms. Ski), in the early 70s when my sister asked her to start the Twirlers as part of the BTHS Cheering Squad. Sue was never a student of my sister’s, but she used to slip into Ski’s classes almost every day to listen to lectures on Shakespeare and Chaucer. After Sue graduated, Ski and Sue became lifelong friends. So loving was their connection that it spread to our families. Sue was also kind enough to sit for an interview with me back in 2017, as part of my 9/11 Memorial Series. As I wrote in that article:

A native Brooklynite, [Sue] first attended P.S. 241, a short distance from the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, before moving onto the Packer Collegiate Institute, where she remained through the eighth grade. She decided to take the entrance test for one of the city’s … specialized high schools, one which had only recently opened its doors to young women. She entered Brooklyn Technical High School in downtown Brooklyn as a freshman and was among the first women graduates of the formerly all-boys school. She was actually in the third class in which women were included, in a school of 500 girls and 5,500 boys. For Sue, Tech was a school that thrived on the brilliance and energy of its student population, but it particularly nourished a young generation of strong, powerful, and brave young women. She would move on to Pace University, where she received a BBA in Marketing, preparing her for a career spent on Wall Street. She worked for numerous banks over the years, but on 9/11, the Bank of New York was her employer. 

The interview detailed Sue’s heroic efforts on that day, exhibiting her strength of character and her love of people.

Upon hearing of Sue’s tragic passing, my sister was hard hit emotionally. She writes:

My recollections of Sue go back to my first years at Brooklyn Tech, where I not only had the pleasure of interacting with her in my classes but on the cheering squad—who could forget “The Sting” (our first Half-Time song)? I even went to Sue’s Sweet 16 Party. Later in life, Sue became a loyal board member of the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation. When I became the Executive Director of the Foundation, I was thrilled to work with Sue again to bolster the role of young women at Brooklyn Tech. She started the Ruby Engineers, and was present at all Ruby events, including those where it was clear that she was already experiencing the effects of her ailments. However, this never stopped her from attending functions and participating in so many activities. It is fitting that her last day also marked the Jubilee of Elizabeth II—a strong woman in her own right. Sue was a leader and the dearest of friends for fifty years. My heart is broken. I will miss her so very much.

RIP, dearest Sue. (See too the Facebook post by the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation).

Ski and Sue, 2012

Song of the Day #1947

Song of the Day: Can’t Feel My Face features the words and music of Ali Payami, Savan Kotecha, Max Martin, Peter Svensson, and Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, who performs this song. This was the third single from the artist’s second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness” (2015). It hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 three separate times in August-September 2015. Check out the official video and a beat-driven dance remix by Martin Garrix. Today, “Gardenview“, a new album by Nataly Dawn (one half of the duo constituting Pomplamoose) debuts, and it features a creative mash-up of this song with Michael Jackson‘s “Billie Jean” and the Justin Timberlake hit, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” Check it out here.

E.T. Turns 40!

Forty years ago on this date, “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” debuted as the final film at the Cannes Film Festival. After its finale concluded, the audience rose to its feet in a lengthy standing ovation. It would not debut in the United States until June 11, 1982, to rave critical reviews and enormous popular success.

The film was both a thrilling sci-fi adventure and an enchanting, loving story of the magic of childhood. Its terrific cast, iconic images, famous lines, and spectacular Oscar-winning, Grammy-winning John Williams-penned score [YouTube link] were key ingredients in its status as one of Steven Spielberg’s landmark films.

It even spawned a Grammy-winning album [YouTube link], released on November 15, 1982, narrated by Michael Jackson, who, 15 days later, would release a little gem of his own called “Thriller”.

I saw this film when it came out in the summer of ’82 and would see it again many times in the years thereafter, including a staging of it on the big screen at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic providing the score in live accompaniment. That May 2017 cinematic screening was one of the most moving and overpowering experiences of my life. (Folks can check out a Hollywood Bowl screening of it on YouTube.) The film remains one of my all-time favorites. Check out an edited version of the rousing finale below.

Robb Elementary School Shooting

This is not a post about the culture of violence that has been embedded in this country for eons. This is not a post about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of gun control or the societal crisis in mental health. It is simply to acknowledge the horrifying and tragic murders of 19 children and 2 teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

My heart goes out to all of those who have lost loved ones and all of those who continue to be affected by the madness of violence.

RIP

“Better Call Saul” Mid-Season Finale – Wow!

NO SPOILERS HERE!!! But just got finished with the mid-season finale of “Better Call Saul” (which started up its sixth and final season on April 18).

Whew! Shocking.

That’s all I’ll say. Can’t wait till July 11, when AMC begins the final six episodes of the show.

Ed Younkins is Savvy

My dear friend Ed Younkins (with whom I coedited, with Roger Bissell, The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom) has published an essay in The Savvy Street that explores “New Perspectives on Ayn Rand’s Ideas“. Ed writes:

I believe the key is that the concern of every individual should be with truth as an integrated whole. When constructing one’s own worldview or conceptual framework, it is legitimate to take a selective approach with respect to existing philosophical positions because consistency with reality is all that really matters. It is thus appropriate for a person to extract what is true and good from the writings of Ayn Rand and others and to use those components as a basis for a better interpretation that allows for a superior understanding of what would constitute a morally right socioeconomic system. By integrating, modifying, and synthesizing ideas of others with one’s own ideas, it is possible to get closer to a comprehensive, logically consistent view of the world and a foundation and justification for a free society. Eschewing labels, each person has the ability to select the best ideas from a variety of sources, adapt them to his own purpose, and add his own views and integrate them to serve his own ends. The key is to use one’s own independent rational judgement. I have used this approach in some of my articles.

Our mutual friend and coeditor, Roger Bissell, provided some terrific additional commentary on Facebook here and here, which I reproduce below:

Some of us are old enough to remember that 7up used to be called “the uncola.” Chris himself has a long-running internet presence he styles in delightfully quasi-Hegelian fashion as “Notablog: The Blog of Chris Matthew Sciabarra.” For my part, I have received so many letters and emails addressing me as Dr. Bissell (I am master of one trade, doctor of none) that I sometimes refer to myself as “the undoctor.”Some may see this all as painfully negative and a sign of the “nihilism” of our times. But I can’t help noting that many of these are the same people who insist on defining logic as “the art of non-contradictory identification.” LOL. …

Five words: “The Divine Right of Stagnation.” This syndrome, so tellingly depicted in “Atlas Shrugged” and discussed in the essay of the same name in “The Virtue of Selfishness,” is a virus that has devastated the Objectivist movement since the very founding of the Ayn Rand Institute. You can rail against Open Objectivism and defriend people who push for research and development and expansion of Objectivism all you want, but all you do is betray that you, too, have fallen prey to the wasting, withering malady best encapsulated by James Taggart’s soliloquy about feeling threatened by new ideas and the lurid outburst “We’ve got to make those bastards stand still.”

To those who protest the idea of new, post-Rand Objectivism, I will remind readers that in her final years, Rand publicly acknowledged that Objectivism was incomplete and had gaps and that they would be worked on in the future and NOT by her. So, by whom? Only the anointed and officially approved? That, I think, is what it will ultimately amount to. Even now, we have already seen hints that Peikoff’s (and others’) writings will *eventually* be endorsed as “official Objectivism.” Will the defrienders and purists rail against this, too? Perhaps—but ultimately, who cares? And guess what? In the meantime, the “bastards”—whatever we decide to call ourselves—are NOT going to stand still.

Here, here, Roger!

Gracie’s Ghosts

There’s a real ghostly mystery developing around the residence of the Mayor of the City of New York. As if the presence of the last mayoral inhabitant of Gracie Mansion wasn’t enough to scare the bejesus out of anyone, it appears that the current resident attests that there is an other-wordly presence in the house.

During the May 10th broadcast of the NY Yankees game, Mayor Eric Adams told Michael Kay that he wasn’t too thrilled about his new digs.

“I don’t care what anyone says, there are ghosts in there, man,” Adams said. Some have claimed that it’s the ghost of the daughter of original owner Archibald Gracie, who built the country home in 1799. The mansion was later incorporated by the city, briefly used as the Museum of the City of New York and became the official mayoral residence in 1942.

But Adams attests that he sees stuff moving “all the time, man, all the time! They’re creeping around.”

I’m hoping that some of these entities might join the Mayor’s cabinet, say “Boo” — and scare away all of the city’s problems!

Baby Giraffe Gets Braces!

This is just sweet …